by Sharon Tubbs

I rarely get lost. Give me the directions, a map and I’m good—at least most of the time. I take after my father this way. Long before Mapquest or GPS, he sketched routes on a map from Point A to Point B, then memorized them. He’d load the whole family into that old Bonneville or the Buick and hardly ever made a wrong turn on our summer road trips. By example, he trained me to see the big picture, to chart the course, to estimate the necessary minutes or hours.

The only problem is, much to my dismay, these mapping skills don’t always translate to other areas of my life. No matter how much I try to sketch an exact route for my future, obstacles get in the way. They force me to stop in my tracks or to take a detour. I’ve even gotten lost. I looked around and thought, Where in the world…? I get flustered, trying to figure out the next step beyond that blind turn ahead. I begin to doubt that I’m on the right course at all. Am I living in the right city? Am I pursuing the right dream? Is my life really on track?

You might be there, too. Your intended route and arrival plans have been altered. Roadblocks are ahead, with huge unavoidable signs:

“Detour: He’s not the one, girlfriend!”

“Wrong path—peace that way!”

“Ahead of Schedule—stand still for now!”

“Sorry, but you can’t get there from here!”

Not exactly the signs we all want to see, right? The good thing is, we can find comfort in God’s Word. There, He assures us that His plans are better than we can even imagine.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…
Ephesians 3:20

He inspires us to make goals, but also to be open to His guidance along the way.

A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9

He lets us know that, as long as we strive to live for Him, to know Him and to please Him, we don’t have to worry about getting lost. Even if we make mistakes, He’s faithful to redirect us.

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way. Psalm 37:23

Those verses bring such comfort. They inspire me to recognize the Holy Spirit as my divine GPS system. Sometimes, He directs me through circumstances and opportunities that He allows to come my way. Sometimes, He alters my desires, and the pathways I used to crave don’t appeal to me anymore. Other times, He “speaks” to me through my Bible study and prayer time. His words leap off the page or echo in my heart, and I know He’s telling me what to do next.

Of course, I still cherish what my Daddy taught me about getting from Point A to Point B on the literal highways and byways. But when it comes to life, only my Heavenly Father can direct me along the best path for His glory.

sharon

 

Sharon Tubbs works with the Women’s Ministry at Grace Family Church. She is also an inspirational speaker, author and business owner. As she continually strives to reach her potential in Christ, Sharon’s joy comes from inspiring others to do the same by truly seeking and knowing Him. 

by Dani Catherine

I turned 28 on April 15th, and to be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. Why would I, a girl who loves celebrating (and birthday cupcakes!), not want to celebrate another year down and a new age? Well within the last month, circumstances have happened that have left me heartbroken. I have been left with a lot of questions. And coming up on a new year, I found myself asking God “Why isn’t my life the way I had dreamed of by it now?”

My faith started to become dim.

So I asked myself a few questions; what was I truly having faith in? Was I putting my faith in the dreams I created? Was I putting my faith in the love that was lost? Was I putting my faith in something else rather than God?

Truth is, I was.

It was a wake up call to discover that I was truly putting my faith in something other than God.

In Hebrews 11:1, it says, “What is faith? It is confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen.” This verse encourages me to put my faith in the invisible things of life and not the visible. It encourages me to move my confident assurance away from self-centered principles to the deeper pieces of my soul.

Although things aren’t how I thought they would be, I believe that God is using all this messy stuff, the difficulties that don’t seem to make sense- for something greater. For something more than I could ever ask for! (See Ephesians 3:20).

As I have walked through this season of life, storms have come. But, one thing I must do is persevere.

I know it is hard. I know the anguish and hopelessness that you may feel during seasons of difficulty, but hold on to Hebrews 10:35-36 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”

Don’t let go of the assurance that Jesus Christ has for your life. His promises are greater than you can imagine. Stay strong, keep on and persevere.

Dani Catherine

 

Dani Catherine works at GFC as the Ministry Assistant to the Beautiful Ministry. Dani loves to bake, scream her head off at hockey games, drink tea, paint, snap photos and spend time with her dog Jeter! 

by Renee Scott

Today we recognize Good Friday which symbolizes Jesus Christ’s agonizing death on the cross. He gave up His life for the entire world. Whether or not you recognize and rejoice in His passionate sacrifice for us, He still died on your behalf. Regardless of your past mistakes or present faults, Christ wants you to be a part of His family.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)

He desires that ALL might be saved. All means ALL and that includes you!

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17 (NLT)

You may have never walked into a church or been offered a relationship with Christ. Well, today is your day! We extend His love, grace, and mercy to you as a wonderful and precious gift that God gave us over 2,000 years ago. Did you know that salvation is only a two-step process? The scripture below shares the steps that are necessary for salvation. It begins with a confession of your wrong doing and your dependence on God to forgive your sins. It culminates with a belief in His death and resurrection.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 (NLT)

Jesus Christ is a gift to you today!

You don’t have to understand everything about the Bible before accepting Christ in your life. As you grow in your relationship with Him, He will reveal the hidden treasures of His word. Think about it, if you waited to figure out everything about marriage or having children before making the plunge, you may never do it. The same is true for your Christian journey. Receive Him in faith and He will guide you the rest of the way.

Recite these words with me:

“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

If you decided to receive Christ today, welcome to God’s family!:)

Here are your next steps:

  • Tell someone else about your new faith in Christ.
  • Seek fellowship with other followers of Jesus. Develop a group of believing friends to answer your questions and support you.
  • Get baptized as commanded by Christ.
  • Find a local church where you can worship God.

Happy Resurrection Day!

Renee Scott

 

Renee Scott is co-founder of the popular blog, www.doubleportioninspiration.blogspot.com ,where she shares encouragement and inspiration to men and women all over the world.  She’s been a member of Grace Family Church for four years. She loves to run and recently completed her first half marathon. She is a wife of over 14 years and mother of two children.  

by Debbie Altman

A pastor at our church shared a challenge that he was practicing.  “As you lay down to sleep every night, ask yourself…Did I love God today?  And did I love my neighbor?”  These are the two greatest commandments and the Bible says that they encompass all the others.    

It made me think about how easy it is to pray to God to ask Him for all the things that I need, (and want…) rather than ask Him how I did today at loving Him, and loving my world.  Or to ask Him if there is anything that He might want from me. Ouch! 

“Search me Oh God and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”   Psalm 139:23-24    

jumbo_shot52315672It takes an attitude of humility to ask God on a regular basis to reveal to us where we might need to change. It might take a lot of courage.  It may even hurt.  But honestly, one of my favorite things about the Lord is that He loves me so much that He doesn’t want to leave me the way I am!  How pitiful that would be!  As painful as it is sometimes, I would so much rather be made aware of areas where I am falling short and given an opportunity to change, than to go through life messing up with no one caring enough to tell me…before I suffer the consequences. That is so much more painful.

This principle is so important to us, that my husband Craig and I have established a habit over the years of  “state of the union” talks.  We affirm one another,  and also share areas where we feel our marriage could be improved.  (Not always in that order! ) And we also had “state of the family” talks to allow our children to share their thoughts about how we could improve as a family.  Be careful what you ask for!  But it is so good and healthy.

At other times, we are fully aware of the areas we need to change, yet we feel that we fail time after time. I definitely have those areas in my life. Help! 

“I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” Phil 4:13

“Greater is the Spirit in you than the spirit that is in the world.”  1 John 4:4

“He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”  Hebrews 11:6

You’re right…you can’t do it!  But His power in you can.  We must surrender…

-willingly admit what needs to change,

-ask for forgiveness, and

 -persistently cry out to the Lord as a little child for His help.  

This is a journey ladies, and none of us have arrived…at least I know I haven’t.  And this is where His amazing grace covers us and washes us. But I hope that I never take this great love for granted, and never stop asking Him to “search me…”

debbieDebbie is the wife of Pastor Craig Altman, and together, they founded Grace Family Church 18 years ago.  She is a former RN and mother of a 27 year old married daughter and 26 year old son.  She is also known as “Nona” to her precious granddaughter. Debbie enjoys family, reading, the beach, and is inappropriately competitive at board games.  

by Becca Christensen

The book “I Like Giving” , came to me by way of a review copy. I was unprepared for the affect the stories would have on me. I rode a plane from Tampa to Indianapolis, with tears streaming down my face as I read story after story of people’s incredible, life-changing generosity.  Formsma opens the book with the story of a woman on welfare who is surprised with a Thanksgiving meal, a day she and her kids otherwise would have gone hungry.  Later in that same story, 7 years later, she’s off welfare and working as a nurse when she meets the woman who provided that meal (she’s one of her patients).  That meal motivated her to give any way she could even while she was in need and to increase that giving when she was back on her feet.  Wow.

What stood out to be about Formsma’s creation of Ilivinggiving.com is that he desired to be generous but he was sick of just responding to everyone’s requests for money.  He wanted to give to causes he was passionate about and he wanted to live his life seeking out opportunities to give.  The website shares those stories but it does not ask for your money.  The concept of both the book and the website is for you to give to the causes and people you care about that are already in your life.

I’m twenty-eight.  I’m not married.  I own a home.  I’ve got a lot of expenses and things on my plate.  Sometimes I get caught up in that and I don’t feel like I can give.  To that Formsma writes, ‘Watch out for these nasty four-letter words: debt, fear, and busy.  They steal joy with the greatest of ease.  Be aware of them as they compete with the nudge to do for others’.

A few chapters later I underlined this from Michael’s story, ‘I look for ways to live my life as a gift to others however I can’.  This followed the statement that he’s not in a place financially to give away a lot of money.  He went on to say what he can give is his time and his talent.  Hey, I can do that too!  In fact, so can you.  Everyone brings something to the generosity table and that was a great reminder for me.

Matt’s story (page 169) hit home when he wrote, ‘It was as if the act of giving had opened me up to realize all the ways I am blessed’.  Yes.  When I give, when I live generously, I am reminded of how richly the Lord has blessed my life and how much I have.  It takes the focus off what I don’t have and reminds to be grateful for what I do.  I love that about giving.

So whether you help someone move, buy a homeless person a coffee, donate money to worthy causes, or take time to call someone who’s having a bad day – give.  Give because it is more blessed to give than to receive.  Give so that others will pay it forward.  Give because you can’t take it with you anyway.  Then bask in the joy that giving brings you and make note of the blessing that you feel from it as a result.  God loves a cheerful giver.

I highly recommend “I Like Giving”.  It will inspire and challenge you in equal measure.  You will nod your head in agreement and you may cry tears of awe and inspiration from the stories you read.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Have you read any good books lately? Share your comments below! 

Becca Christensen_croppedBecca Christensen works at Grace Family Church as a Ministry Assistant. She loves to travel, entertain, read, spend time with family, and root on the Indianapolis Colts. In addition to contributing to the Beautiful Blog, Becca leads a table at Beautiful Monday Nights. You can read more about Becca on her  blog, www.beccachristensen.wordpress.com.