Encouragement & Real Stories of Changed Lives

Full of new ideas, insights, and inspiration.

New Year’s Resolutions: Will I Walk on Water or Stay in the Boat?

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I usually don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. There are enough things I fail to do on a regular basis -- why would I add to the list? But, this past year I did. I made a big one: I resolved to give up fear. Fear of man, that is.I decided that I was not going to allow the fear of man to influence me in any way. I would follow God wherever He led me, and I would do whatever He told me. I would not be intimidated into silence or complacency. I would be His to use however He saw fit regardless of the consequences.Wish I could say that I have had a successful year ... that I have been God’s faithful servant, and that my resolution has become my reality. But, alas, I have not conquered my fear of man. That desire to please people is hard to shake. And it comes dressed up in so many disguises. But it has been an interesting year, and I've learned some important things: God honors my desire to please Him. Even when I fail and allow my fear to keep me from doing what I know I should, He is right there with me, cheering me on. He does not condemn my weakness or shame my pitiful efforts. He reminds me that His power is made perfect in my weakness, that He loves me still and that He is with me and for me. Sometimes God takes me to lonely places to teach me to be strong for Him. I don’t always like this. I like a good party with good girlfriends and lots of laughter. But, giving up my people-pleasing ways sometimes means I walk alone with Him. There is always more at stake than I can see. Choosing God over man (or myself) always involves something bigger. It's never just about the thing before me. It's usually about something more significant and someone else. Sometimes God lets me participate with Him in something really big and cool! I often remind myself that I have to get out of the boat to walk on water, which can be scary and seemingly crazy. But, I can trust God and walk on water or follow man and stay safely in the boat. I’d rather walk on water.So, you may be asking and rightly so, what in the world does this have to do with neighborhood Bible studies? Well, EVERYTHING, maybe. We know that it's God's desire to reach the lost. We know that there are lost people all around us and in our neighborhoods. We know that we have been called to love our neighbors. And we know that sharing the Word of God with our neighbors is the most loving thing we can do.What then keeps us from beginning a neighborhood Bible study? Is it the fear of man? The fear of rejection? The desire to be seen in a certain way? The desire to be accepted? The fear of not measuring up or of not being qualified? What keeps us from taking the next step? Perhaps it’s time to trust God and step out of the boat. Perhaps it’s time to make your own resolution. Perhaps it’s time to give up fear and follow God! And if you get to walk on water, you’ll never want to ride safely in the boat again ... I promise.Lisa Hankins is a native Georgian and the leader of a Neighborhood Bible Study with a passion to help others find healing by trusting Christ with their brokenness. Lisa lives with her husband Richard and their two sons. When she is not shuttling her boys to various activities, she is busy serving as the sponsorship coordinator for an orphanage and school in Uganda called Hands of Love. Her favorite verse is Hebrews 10:25: Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
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Lord, don't I need new furniture?

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And in today’s story, the key to a successful neighborhood Bible study is an old, sunken in couch.Just as we promised here is Part 2 of Nancy Samra's story. Part 1 was posted Monday, December 5th. Scene 3: My husband built the houses we lived in. At this point in time, we had a brand new home but my husband was changing businesses, requiring us to live on a strict budget. As a result, the living room couches were in desperate need of replacement but were not going to be replaced. I was upset with God because, after all, since I was willing to open up my home for Him the least He could do was provide nice furniture. I thought for sure it would happen when one of our friends sat down on the couch and sunk down so low we had to help her up. Now my husband would see the need for new couches. But all he did was turn the couch upside down and pound a board across the bottom.We were having a neighborhood Bible study with couples. Some of the attendees had a couple on their street they wanted to bring. Although the wife was willing, the husband was not. I will never forget his first evening. The two men came into my home literally dragging this third guy in. Oh, oh, I thought to myself.Not only did this man stay for the evening, he and his wife continued to come back time after time. One of those times he prayed to receive Christ.  We were all overjoyed. When I asked him why he came back when he was so resistant, he told me that walking up to my house was threatening but when he came into my living room that first night, my furniture reminded him of his childhood home.Lesson learned:  Physical appearance or size does not matter.  Willingly open your home with whatever God has provided for you and He will do the rest. SCENE 4:  I was hosting a weekly neighborhood women’s Bible study at my home. On one particular morning, the phone kept ringing with the all kinds of reason why each lady would not be there that morning.  Finally, it came down to only one lady who was able to attend.I told my husband that I was going cancel this week's study and we would pick it up next week. My husband told me that I could not do that. When I asked him why he replied that if I were to cancel on the woman who could come, I was telling her she wasn't important. Needless to say, I took his advice and let her come, explaining after she got there that it was just going to be the two of us.  She asked all kinds of questions that day. She did not know the Lord and was too embarrassed to ask these questions in front of the group.  She prayed to receive Christ and later on so did her husband and two sons. Eventually, they joined our church and began serving the Lord in all sorts of ways.Lesson learned: Numbers do not matter. God is a personal God who is interested in individuals. Success is never based on how many people are in attendance. SCENE 5: Fast forward to today. I am a mentor mom for my daughter’s neighborhood Bible study. I got grand-mothered in when we were temporarily living with my daughter and her family while we looked for a place to live.  We were living in a brand new condo when my husband was diagnosed with dementia.  I saw the handwriting on the wall and knew that if I was going to care for him at home, Iwas going to need my children's help and I needed to make it convenient for them.  Well, our condo sold before we found a house.I attended while I lived with her but told myself I was too old and needed not to be there when I moved out of her home. I had heard about a book called, Giddy Up Eunice, and read it just before I was going to tell everyone that I wouldn't be back to Bible study. It was all about the need for the older women to mentor the younger ones. It was God convicting me not to leave the group, not to buy into Satan's lies concerning age. I stayed on and have seen much fruit from my time with these young women.Lesson learned: Age is not a barrier to service, especially old age. In fact, my son says I am at the prime of my serving years. One of the fringe benefits of having Bible studies in our home is the impact on my children. All their growing up years this is what my children saw. As a result, they figured this what you are supposed to do and I never said otherwise. All of them have had Bible studies in their homes and joy of all joys, my granddaughter had a Bible study this summer with eight of her high school friends, some of whom do not attend church.As I look back, I see how I’ve been wooed with a grace I don’t deserve. I’ve experienced love like I could never imagine. It’s the quiet whisper of a breeze, the powerful pull of the ocean’s tide, thunder across the skies, deep rumbling laughter. It’s beautiful, it’s scary, it’s wondrous.It’s understanding that God’s character is predictable but His activities are unpredictable. I have learned that instead of just accepting His unpredictability, I can actually appreciate and embrace it because HE IS an AMAZING GOD! Haven't you enjoyed reading Nancy's story?  Would you take a minute and respond and let her know how she encouraged you?As you set your thoughts on the new year think of the lesson's Nancy has shared with us.  Am I willing to trust the Lord with opening my home?  How do I evaluate success in reaching out to my neighbors?  Am I willing to fail?  Am I worried about my age, my ability, my knowledge?  
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Hospitality is not from the hands; it's from the heart

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Lean in close and “listen” to this story from Nancy Samra. Nancy has been a member of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan for 26 yrs. Widowed after 48 years of marriage, she is a mother of three, grandmother of eleven and spiritual mom to a number of others. Her greatest joy is being able to continue to serve the Lord. Her son, Jim Samra, is the head pastor of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids. This is the story of her loosening her grip on her plans, desires and dreams. We will post it in 2 separate posts. We don’t want you to miss ANYTHING! PART 1

Play On! Scenes from the Film of my Life

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Want to join me for some Nescafe? In Macedonia?

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Macedonia or BustI am still pinching myself.  Was it only two weeks ago that I was in Macedonia watching God’s amazing work through years of prayer unfold before me?  Before I get ahead of myself, let me tell you what had happened at our NBS2go prayer meetings.  Our simple prayer and cry to the Lord was “Awaken Hearts around the world.”  We had been sensing a new meaning to “GO” but had not been given specific direction to follow.Last February, Brenda (missionary to Macedonia since 1991) discovered NBS2go on the Internet. This was an answer to prayer to find “simple, transferable and easily translatable” Bible Study resources.  She contacted us for permission to translate our materials.  She wanted to train her leaders how to use them during their National Women’s Conference.  At the end of August, Brenda extended an invitation to attend their conference.Linda, Debbie and I (of the NBS2go leadership team) had the privilege of going and serving!  It was the largest gathering of its kind in the history of Macedonia with 550 women in attendance. People in Macedonia are very relational. Many women came by invitation to experience something different.  The Gospel was shared from the first word spoken to the closing prayer by a team of Macedonian women’s leaders.  The testimonies, skits, worship and message were built around the theme of “Our God is An Awesome God.”  Our experience was like that of a “fly on the wall” (how often do we wish to be present yet not visible at the same time experience something we can only imagine being a part of).  It was truly amazing and surreal! We jumped in and helped to decorate before the conference sharing our ribbon curling skills while listening to piped in English 80’s elevator music. The Lord provided a translator with a lovely British lilt to her voice during the conference sessions.   We hugged and encouraged those who have been serving the Lord on the missionfield.  We drank Nescafe and listened to stories of changed lives. The Spirit of the Lord was present.We could see the vision of NBS2go right before us and were grateful to partner with Brenda and her team in Macedonia. Grateful and full of hope,Michelle Coons 
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That babe in the manger

Christmas time is here...well, not yet of course.  But as we prepare our hearts for this time of year we may also want to "put on our gift list" something quite different.  How about giving our neighbors the opportunity to gather, to connect and to hear the life changing message of forgiveness through that babe in the manger.  Listen to Gale Johnson of East Renton Community Church of Renton, WA as she shares a simple idea of reaching out to her neighbors.  You will love this! For more information to set up your own "Christmas Gathering" please click here.As always, please share with us if you plan to host a gathering or any other ideas.  We love hearing from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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What is NBS2GO?

NBS2GO = Neighbor Bible Studies 2GO - nbs2go.com is simply the packaging of ideas, resources, and inspiration to equip believers to launch and multiply Bible study groups.


What's the big deal about a Bible study group?

Like a one-room schoolhouse, a Bible study group brings together a wide range of seekers and Christ-followers to study, discuss, and encourage one another toward life application of God’s Word. This blending of spiritual maturity levels creates a dynamic, life-transforming community. Friendships are formed, and group members are equipped to minister to others where they do life. Life transformation and multiplication!

NLT Scripture references on nbs2go.com and in publications, unless otherwise noted.

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