by Leslee Stewart

When my mom was a little girl, growing up in the First Baptist Church of Norman, Oklahoma, her pastor taught her a simple but important spiritual lesson that has served as cornerstone of her life, and mine:

“Get yourself a Bible promise and stand on it, because God’s Word never fails.”

Growing up, when I would go crying to my mom about something that had gone wrong – a friend hurt my feelings, I failed a test – mom would often quote Preacher Hallock’s famous line to me.

When I was in high school, I remember asking God to show me a verse in the Bible that could be “my verse” – a verse that, no matter the situation, I could turn to as God’s promise specifically for me. I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but one day God led me to Proverbs 3:5-6:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.”

As soon as I read those verses, I knew they were my “Bible promise.” Throughout high school and even into college, those verses became a strong foundation for me. When I was scared about leaving home to head to college, they were there saying, “Trust in Me…” When I started getting serious with a boy, they were there saying, “I’m directing your path…” It seemed no matter the situation, my Bible promise was the perfect answer to calm my fears and put my mind at ease.

After college, I married that boy I got serious with and we started our young married life – a life that quickly became centered on our growing careers and expanding social life. Life was good and we were happy. There weren’t a lot of uncertainties, so I found myself drifting further away from my walk with God. I would still pray and go to church, but mostly I was doing what I wanted to do and directing my own path.

Then life started throwing me some curve balls – a couple of career changes, two moves across country, lingering health issues, and the birth of our two kids. It didn’t take too many of these uncertainties to come my way before I found that “leaning on my own understanding” did nothing to bring me peace and comfort.

So I dusted off my Bible promise and really started practicing what Preacher Hallock had taught my mom all those years before. When I didn’t know what to do, I trusted in the Lord. When I felt myself getting frustrated, I let go of trying to figure it out (leaning on my own understanding), and gave it back to God. The more and more I practiced my Bible promise and gave control of my life and daily situations to God, the more peace came my way, even when I didn’t have all the answers.

God loves hearing our prayer requests, but sometimes we need to stop asking Him what to do and look to the Bible to find out what He’s already said about our situation. Remember, His Word never fails, so ask Him to show you a Bible promise you can stand on, no matter what.

Do you have a Bible promise? If so, we’d love to know it and what it means to you. Share yours in the comments below.

 

Leslee Stewart oversees communications for GFC Beautiful. She is a wife, stay-at-home mom of two boys and former communications executive. She openly admits she owns too many throw pillows, loves junky old furniture and can sing all the parts of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Today we have a testimony from one of our Beautiful Small Group leaders. She shares the story of one of her small group members whose life was transformed through the study of God’s Word.

“I wanted to share a testimony from one of the ladies in my small group. The transformation she has experienced in just a few weeks is nothing short of a miracle.

Our small group is studying the book of Daniel. One of our members, Kathy, has never been in a Bible study before and was concerned about how to look up scriptures and answer the study questions each week. Overall, she thought it would take a long time for God to heal her and open her eyes to the truth of her past.

But in just two weeks, God has convicted her and changed her already. Kathy’s story is for those who struggle, those who doubt God and have fought against studying His Word, or for those who make excuses why they don’t need to be in a Bible study. Kathy was just like that. She has said she used to be someone who had no problem telling people off, especially those who deserved it.  But the more Kathy started reading God’s word, the more God began to transform her heart. She had tried everything – Christian counseling, self-help books – but nothing really helped her until she began this in-depth study of God’s Word.”

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Sometimes we will look to books, teachings and even other people to try and solve the problems of our lives. But God has every answer we will ever need in his Word – the Bible. At some point in our walk with God we begin to grow from being bottle fed – having the answers provided by others, to eating meat – seeking God’s Word for the answers ourselves. And when we begin to dine on the meat of God’s holy Word, we begin to see amazing transformations take place in our lives. As one of our previous bloggers wrote, we move from “head knowledge to heart knowledge.”

And there’s a difference between just reading the Bible and actually studying the Bible. Like the testimony above, there are some powerful, topical Bible studies which will open your eyes to really understanding what God is saying through his holy Word. Popular Bible study teachers Beth Moore and Kay Arthur have authored studies on almost every book of the Bible. And at Beautiful, we offer topical Bible studies each semester as part of our Beautiful small groups.

Bottom line, it doesn’t matter what book of the Bible you’re studying. God will speak to you no matter what your need or what you are struggling with. The important thing is to get in the Word and stay there!

by Julie Jaunese

Have you ever felt that you were running on empty constantly?  You are doing for everyone and you are taking care of people in your family or circle of friends.  You are fulfilling the call to, “love one another,” but you are feeling less than fulfilled yourself. 

The first thing to ask is, “Am I doing so much that I am not finding time for devotions and meeting God one-on-one?”  Sounds simple, doesn’t it.  Some of you may even say you are reading through the Bible.  But are you taking time to think about what you are reading? 

For me, a “spiritual growth spurt” is when God’s word goes from “head knowledge” to “heart knowledge.” When I’m going through a dry spiritual season, I find there are several things that can be done to make my devotion time more fulfilling:

  1. In John 16:13 Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of Truth….But when He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth.“ God has sent us His Holy Spirit – our Helper – to help make your time with Him fulfilling. He has sent you a guide because truth needs a guide. According to the book Divine Mentor by Wayne Cordiero, “God has assigned His Spirit to be our Guide – the Guide who will deposit God’s very wisdom into our lives.“
  2. Read a smaller portion of God’s word.  Perhaps 10 verses or even less.  Try reading in a translation that speaks most clearly to you. Both the New International Version (NIV) and New Living Translation (NLT) are written in plain English. If there is a name in the portion you have read, figure out why the name is there.  If God has named a person in His word, there is a reason he/she is there.  Read to find out the reason.
  3. Read the word in the morning and ponder it all day.  Think about what you read.  Pray, then read the same passage again in the evening. 
  4. Consider keeping a journal detailing what you read.  Writing out what you read not only helps you remember it, it also gives you a log to look back on months later.  You may also want to write who or what you pray for that day.
  5. Get into a small group.  A small group inspires you to read the word.  It gives you reason to study God’s word, keeps you accountable, and gives you an opportunity to share what God has laid on your heart in your studies.

Our guide (the Holy Spirit) and what we read and memorize is important to our spiritual life.  We can call on our guide to help us witness to others when we know what God’s word says.   After all, we are all called to be self-feeding and when we make Him a part of our day we are re-energized and can handle whatever comes our way.

Julie Jaunese has been married to her husband Michael for over 40 years. She has two daughters and two grandsons with a third grandchild on the way. She works at Moffitt Cancer Center and hosts two women’s small groups, the Yada Book Club and the Fabulous Fems. Mike and Julie have been part of Grace Family Church since it began with 40 people in a house.

by Misty Umholtz

I read a quote once that will impact me as a parent for the rest of my days. At the end of his life, the man said he wished he had spent more time praying for himself than he did praying for his kids.

Now, I pray that my kids will love the Lord their God with all their heart, mind and strength. I pray that they will walk with the Lord all the days of their life never turning away from the straight and narrow path. I pray that they would know the voice of God and the presence of the Lord from a very young age. I pray that they would have a natural bent to the things of God and have a desire for purity, righteousness and the ways of the Lord. I pray that they will have a love for the Word of God, prayer and worship. I pray that their first love would be Jesus.

And that is all good. But you know what is even more important as a parent? It is imperative that I am praying all of those things for myself. It is more powerful if I am a living example of what I want my kids to become.  If I can say to them as Paul did, “Follow my example, as I follow Christ.” ( 1 Corinthians 11:1)

And if we need help growing in our own relationship with God, we need to seek out a mentor so that we can follow them as they follow Christ. We have to be bold and keep asking godly women until we find one that has time to teach us the ways of the Lord so we can turn around and teach our kids how to follow God.

Our kids will inevitably learn their alphabet, numbers, math, reading and they will pick up many other skills along their path in this life. But who is going to teach them how to fear and honor God in all they say and do? Who is going to teach them how to enter into the presence of God and worship Him in spirit and truth? Who is going to teach them how to pray and believe for miracles? Who is going to teach them how to be still and wait on God? Who is going to teach them how to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and His leading? Who is going to teach them how to study and research the Bible to find the will of God for their lives?

If we think that taking them to church for one hour once a week will instill all of this into their little hearts and minds, we are sadly mistaken. God says for us, the parents, to teach our kids at all times of the day, when we wake and go to sleep, when we walk and when we eat, and all the times in between. (Deuteronomy 6:2-9) 

We can pray and ask God to show us every day how we can teach our kids about Him in creative ways.

Christian bookstores have excellent resources. They have kids’ devotionals and all kinds of Bibles for every age group. They also carry great picture books, CDs, and DVDs to help with the spiritual enrichment of our children. The Bible says faith comes from hearing and hearing by the word of God, (Romans 10:17), so we need to saturate their little eyes and ears with things for the kingdom of heaven. We can fill our homes with educational and age-appropriate material that will capture their attention.

Here are some other ways we can teach them about God in our day-to-day lives:

  • Family prayer time and family devotionals and Bible reading. If your husband isn’t comfortable doing it, just invite him to sit in while you do it.
  • Pray out loud in the car, while we take a walk, as we do the dishes and laundry. Let our kids hear what we pray for. Turn on our own worship music in the house or car and let our kids see how we worship God.
  • Teach them one or two line Bible verses every week or month starting as soon as they can talk. God says how can a young man keep his way pure? By hiding God’s Word in his heart. (Psalms 119:9) We can get these verses out of our own Bible reading, our kid’s books or Bible reading, or from church. I give my kids one M&M for each verse they memorize, so they love doing them! We can also make up hand movements and songs for them as well.
  • Build time into their schedule from a young age to be able to have their own quiet time with God.  Teach them how to pray, read their Bibles or picture books and turn on their own kid’s worship music.
  • Keep a prayer journal for them until they are old enough to write in it themselves.  Record what and who we pray for so we can expectantly wait for God to answer.
  • Talk about characteristics and attributes of God as we see His creation all around us. Thank Him for animals, flowers, rain, the ocean, etc.
  • Put on a kid’s praise and worship DVD and have a dance party in the living room.

This is a call to rise up, women of God, and answer the question, who will teach your kids how to walk with God? With creative ideas and the power of the Holy Spirit, you can do it.

Misty Umholtz loves being a wife and mom of two small children. She enjoys ministry and she also likes football, which should win her an award for “dream wife.” But on the other hand, her love for shopping might disqualify her from that possibility. You can read more about Misty on her blog, Finding Meaning in the Mayhem.

By Elaine Morley

Last year my ears started perking up and my soul stirred when anyone talked about accountability partners. An accountability partner is someone you can go to for good Christian advice who will help hold you accountable to live a Christian life based on biblical principles.  As women, we often have many friends, but most want to make us feel comfortable. Very few friends want to help us become better women, wives, mothers and friends. An accountability partner is someone who won’t just say, “Well you are only human,” when you mess up. She’s like that one true friend who will tell it like it is, even if it means you’ve got something funny hanging from your nose.

Even though I understood the value to this type of relationship I didn’t know how to choose someone and get started, or what the rules were for this type of relationship.  So I decided to do some research, including talking to a friend who has had a long term accountability partner.

When choosing an accountability partner, it’s a good idea to exclude your mother, husband, and others who are so close to you that they might come with relationship baggage.  Even if you have a great relationship with these people, you may find that your deep personal relationship prevents you from being completely open, honest, and vulnerable.  Look for someone who has a heart for God, is willing to be honest when they see you falling short of what God asks you to be, and has the humility to want honest but loving feedback from you.  You must be equal partners in the relationship for it to work – this isn’t a mentor/mentee relationship. It’s vital that both of you are at a place in your life where you’re willing and able to accept and give counsel.

I believe my partner and I have a successful relationship because above all else, even with our pride, we both desire to live a life that pleases God. Other than that, we have many differences: I’m married and she’s not; she’s in her 20s and I’m in my 40s; she’s fun and outgoing and I’m quiet by nature.  Despite the differences in our life stages, it has been a great match.

Once you become accountability partners there are some solid rules you must follow. 

  • Honor each other’s privacy by keeping all discussions in confidence. Don’t even hint to others about anything you discuss because trust is the foundation for your relationship. 
  • Keep the person high on your prayer list. This is more of a best-practice than a rule but it’s important to pray for each other often. 
  • Encourage each other with applause or humble correction.  Don’t let your partner fall into a pit because you are uncomfortable pointing out that the hole is right in front of them. 
  • There must be a commitment on both sides to stay true to your time together.  It’s easy in our busy lives to let things like this slip off our schedules.  Make time with your partner a high priority, but be flexible as life’s changes make it necessary to adjust when you meet.

My partner and I talk once a week over the phone.  In each meeting we start with two questions: “What is a hit you had this week?” and “What is a miss you had?”  When we talk about our “hit” we talk about a situation where we hit God’s target for who he wants us to be.  This is a great time of encouragement, congratulations and thanksgiving that God is forming us into his image.  This is not a time of pride but a time of grateful humility that recognizes that God cares so much for us that he helps us surrender our ways to his ways.  When we talk about our “miss”, we talk about where we fell short of God’s desires for us and we talk about what God wants us to learn from this miss.  Again this is a time of great encouragement and we often share our own lessons from similar situations or share bible verses that help us understand God’s will in the situation.  Knowing that we will be talking about these two things each week helps us stay on track because we know we are going to have to talk about what action we did or did not take, what we said or didn’t say, and how we represented Christ to the world.

I want to encourage you to build a trusting relationship with another Christian woman and see if that opens up the possibility of taking the next step into an accountability partnership.  And if you are blessed to already have several strong and trustworthy Christian women in your life, I encourage you to start looking closely at each of them and find your match.

 

Elaine Morley and her husband, Paul, have been married for 20 years and have called Grace Family Church their home for the past seven. She has two wonderful step-children who still live in Minnesota, but visit Florida often.  She serves as a Beautiful small group leader and loves the friends she’s made at Grace who help strengthen her walk with God.