Cultivating Your Child’s Heart for Worship

Editor’s Note: This summer we will post a new blog every other Thursday. In August, we will start a new series. I am praying that you would be refreshed and enjoy your SUMMER!

Today I woke up with a song on my heart called the Goodness of God. One of my favorite verses in this song is when it says, “with every breath that I am able I will sing of the goodness of God.”  So many of us wake up with a song on our hearts or we are singing His praises during the day.

We were created to worship God, and as parents, we are also responsible for helping cultivate a heart of worship in our children.

John 4:23 says, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.” I want to be that kind of worshipper to my King, and I want that same experience for my children.  

Something that the Lord has been working on with my family and me over the past few weeks is setting a good foundation. I like to think of it has having good “roots.” I have this picture on my phone of a huge tree that my dad recently had to dig up. I showed this picture to my kids and we talked about all the roots that were on that tree and how that relates to our life. When we have God’s Word in us, then we will have roots that look just like that tree. We can stand tall and firm in Jesus because we are rooted in Him and our foundation is strong. Matthew 7:24 says, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” 

One of my jobs as a mom is to help lay that kind of foundation in my children. To become the true worshipper that John 4:23 talks about, we must position ourselves in a way that we can enter into His presence.

In our house, our children know that we listen to Christian music. It plays in our cars, in the background while doing chores around the house, and it plays when my children go to sleep. We talk about why we listen to this type of music. Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” If we are sowing good seeds into our hearts and minds, then we have prepared ourselves to receive the Spirit in order to become the true worshipper.  

As we worship in our home, I talk to my kids about why we close our eyes and lift our hands. I tell them that when I close my eyes, I like to picture Jesus sitting before me as I worship Him and thank Him for all He has done in our lives. I also show them that by lifting my hands, I am giving everything I have to Jesus because He has given me everything! I am surrendering to Him. 

One thing that I love about playing Christian music in our home and cars is that when my children worship at church, they already know most of the songs. We have cultivated our hearts and made them ready to receive the Spirit and all that God has to offer us. I believe this allows them to be able to close their eyes, lift their hands, and come into God’s presence because the songs are already written on their hearts.  

We were made to worship our God.

When we as parents prepare our children and their hearts to become a true worshipper, we are setting them up to receive the destiny God has for them.  

Start off by laying the foundation of why we worship. Show them that the songs we sing are scriptures in the Bible. My daughter loved being able to see this! Once you have laid the foundation, train them on how to worship and what it looks like in your home. Deuteronomy 11:18-19 says, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

As we train our children to become true worshippers, we are allowing the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and direct the path of our children. Every time they worship, the Holy Spirit is putting His thumbprint on their hearts and they learn to hear His voice and obey His commands. What an awesome thing to learn as a child!

We would like to thank Kaylene Vanbebber for writing this post!

This Is How I Fight My Battles

Have you ever been living your life in peace, and then seemingly out of nowhere, WHAM! You are spiritually knocked to the ground. You scramble to your feet still dazed and confused by what just happened as though you were caught in the shockwave of an explosion. Quickly you try to assess any damage to yourself and those near you and try to administer spiritual first aid. This happened to me recently, so let me get right to the point. SPIRITUAL WARFARE IS REAL!

I have read about it before, I knew theoretically it was real, but I had never experienced a full-on attack at this scale. Why am I telling you this? So that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes–2 Corinthians 2:11. Make no mistake, our enemy’s mission is to steal, kill, and destroy. I don’t want to become a casualty of this war, and don’t want you to either!

I think sometimes we view war and warfare as a manly endeavor, but I assure you that our enemy indiscriminately targets men, women, and our children. He does not war by gentlemen’s rules. So, each one of us must put on the full armor of God, take up the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, and stand firm against the enemy.

As we grow deeper in our relationship with the Lord and firmly establish our obedience to Him, we expand the kingdom of God. Because of this, we become targets of the enemy. Don’t fear, don’t retreat, and don’t surrender. Be ready.

The actual definition of warfare has a connotation of strategy and preparation. So how do I prepare myself for victory in this battle?

  • Establish God’s Word as the authority in your life. Victory belongs to the Lord, but you have to equip yourself to fight in this battle with the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Don’t be untrained with your weapon. If it were not for the solid rock of God’s Word, I would still be lying paralyzed on the battlefield.

Warfare Strategies that have worked for me:

  • Pray in the Spirit.

Ephesians 6:18, which comes right after putting on the full armor of God, says “With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”

Praying in the Spirit has helped me be still and listen to what God was speaking to my heart. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.

  • Meditate on God’s Word. 

Joshua 1:8 says 

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.”

The word meditate in this verse is actually speaking and not just thinking. Simply put, I speak God’s Word out loud over myself. Speaking His truth over ourselves is powerful.

  • Worship…worship…worship

2 Samuel 22:4 says “I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies.

This has been SO powerful to me. Some of my recent favorite battle songs that have made faith and courage rise up in me include “Surrounded”, “Raise a Hallelujah”, and “Tremble.” I encourage you to compile your own battle playlist.

  • Gather with strong believers who will cover you in prayer and speak God’s Word over you. 

1 Peter 5:8 says “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

In nature, lions target the weak that are separated from a herd. Isolating yourself makes you more vulnerable. So, I have shared my experience with strong Christian friends who will rally around me. I encourage you to do the same.

My hope is that we are all battle ready, because like it or not, spiritual warfare is real. Great news about this battle is found in John 16:33 – “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” Stick close to Jesus, dear sisters. Be bold and courageous! He wears the victor’s crown!

We would like to thank Racheal Kasner for writing this blog!

Mindset of Peace

Editor’s Note: We have asked a few women to share their talks from our last Life Giving Saturday. If you weren’t able to attend, this is a perfect opportunity to hear these women’s hearts. We know they will encourage you!

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Philippians 4:4-8 (ESV)

I’ve read and/or heard these verses countless times in my life. But over the course of a few weeks last summer, the Lord unveiled this passage in a new and fresh way to my heart. In the past, I’ve had a tendency to read these verses as individual thoughts, rather than how I believe it was meant to be read: as one principle – a promise sandwiched between responsibilities that we carry as believers. 

In verse 7, scripture promises that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds in ways that are beyond our understanding. However, we aren’t passive onlookers in this process; we have a role to play. Surrounding this verse, we are commanded to rejoice and pray out of a place of gratitude rather than anxiety, and we are also instructed to use some serious self-control when it comes to our thought life. 

The Greek word “guard” used in verse 7 means to protect by a military guard to prevent hostile invasion. When I began to study this word several months ago, the Lord gave me a mental picture of a walled city. This city was in the shape of a circle, and it was surrounded by a concrete wall a couple stories high. There were gates spaced throughout the wall and several armed guards stationed at each gate to protect the city. As I saw this picture, Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “every time you focus on a problem that you’re facing rather than focusing on me, and every time you agree with fear and anxiety about the future, you send away a guard that is there to protect your heart. Your thought life is leaving your heart open to invasion from the enemy.” 

I don’t know about you, but if I’m not careful, it can be easy for me allow my thoughts, feelings, and prayer life to be guided by my circumstances. This can lead me down a path of worry and fear really quickly! However, the Lord is calling me higher than that. I want to allow His goodness to shape these areas of my life. I want my heart to be filled with gratitude, and my mind to be filled with thoughts of things that are honorable, pure, lovely, excellent, and worthy of praise. I want my prayer to focus on what’s on God’s heart, rather than be solely focused on what I’m worried about.

Here are some practical things that can help us fix our minds on things that bring life and peace:

  • Read God’s word and think about it throughout your day
  • Write down scripture and post it where you’ll see it often
  • Play worship music, and engage in worship while you work
  • Go back from time to time and look at pictures that remind you of God’s history of goodness in your life
  • Make it a habit to practice gratitude

When I am intentional about practicing these principles, I feel the guard of peace surrounding my heart and mind, even in the middle of real life. Would you join me in this journey? Let’s be women who are governed by peace rather than ruled by fear. 

We would like thank Catherine Dunn for writing this blog!

Worship is a Choice

I grew up in a traditional church with traditional worship. I love the theology of hymns and the memories that they stir up in my heart. Hymns like: “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name”, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”, “The Old Rugged Cross”, “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing”, “How Firm a Foundation”, just to name a few.

The words of these songs were written on my heart from a very young age. But to be honest, I really didn’t know what they were talking about, other than Jesus and God and the Cross. It wasn’t until I went to church camp in the 7thgrade that I experienced what we call “modern worship”. The worship team was cool and had long hair and played loud guitars and drums. I had never seen anything like this before. We rocked out to Dennis Jernigan and Vineyard worship songs. We sang lyrics like, “Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for You.”

I wasn’t just singing lyrics that I didn’t understand. I was entering into a relationship with a Loving Father, Who knew me, was pursuing me, and longed for me to surrender my heart and life to Him. So I did. I entered into this holy place of worship. From the depths of my soul, God became alive to me.

That was 30 years ago. I’ve learned so much since Jr. High. Worship is a choice. There have been times in my life where I’ve chosen not to worship. There have been other times that worshiping was all I longed to do. Being a worship leader has pushed me to go beyond what I can naturally do, see, and experience. Spending time in worship has made the Scriptures come alive.Worship has heightened my senses to Who God is what His plan is for me. It brings peace when everything else is falling apart.

Psalm 62:5-8 says, “Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

This is the kind of truth that comes from a heart of a worshiper.

After all these years of worshiping and going deeper in my relationship with God, I can go back to those precious hymns and hear the wisdom from worshipers of long ago.

“O for a thousand tongues to sing

My great Redeemer’s praise

The glories of my God and King

The triumphs of His grace.”

Yes! Let us be worshipers whose souls sing out from obedient hearts. Let us bring praise to God, Whose grace has triumphed over sin and death. Let us worship our great Redeemers, Whose love invites us into freedom and victory!

We would like to thank Allison House for writing this post!

7 Must-Wins: Worship

7 must winsWe are continuing our fall blog series, “7 Must-Wins.” With a uniquely personal twist toward us as women, we will address seven topics that must be understood and walked out in order for us to have success in this life. To start with Part 1 of this series, click here.

Music has always been part of my life. Whether we were singing hymns at church, on a family road trip (where we listened to anything from ‘50’s and 60’s Rock n Roll, Classical, Motown, to college fight songs), or playing the piano, music was always there. Perhaps this is where God began to lay the groundwork in my heart to become a worship leader. Maybe it’s just because I really like music! Either way, music is where worship began with me. Not with Motown or college fight songs, mind you. But when I was 12 years old, I attended church camp and heard (what we in the church world call) contemporary worship for the first time. I was hooked. Because this wasn’t just about singing some songs about Jesus. It wasn’t just about a really cool band, whose members had long hair and tattoos (Um…I had never seen that in church before). I had an experience. In fact, the best way I can describe it is that I truly, purely, experienced the Presence of Jesus. For the first time in my life, I connected with my Savior. I felt alive! Why? Because He is my Life-Source!

In John 4, Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman who was drawing water from a well. It was very unusual for a male Jew to speak to a female Samaritan. In fact, according to the Law, Jesus would’ve been considered “unclean” by drinking from this woman’s vessel. It’s interesting to me that the Samaritan woman is who Jesus tells first that He is the Messiah. According to the world’s standards, she was most unworthy. She had been married 5 times and was living with another man. Why would Jesus reveal Himself as the Son of God FIRST to this person? Because she was dead in her sin. She needed to be connected to her Life Source. Jesus says to the woman, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (vs. 13-14, emphasis mine). You see, the water we receive from the Father becomes something inside of us…NEW LIFE! Isn’t this good news!?! Why wouldn’t we want to be connected to our Life Source?

When we worship, we become more aware of God’s Presence. God’s not looking for accolades or compliments. He’s looking for our hearts to be connected to His. He loves us SO! His desire is to be in relationship with us at the deepest level.

So what’s music got to do…got to do with it? (Because everything is a song to me…) Music is a vehicle to not only express our worship, but also to touch our emotions. You can hear a song that was popular when you were in high school, and you will literally FEEL what you were feeling during that time in your life. (Which could be good or not so good…) When I hear a college fight song or a Motown song, I immediately think of the many road trips we took as a family when I was growing up…good times. When we listen to someone singing, playing guitar, playing the keys, or even playing a pipe organ (‘cause that still happens), and they are worshipping Jesus, our hearts become vulnerable to the One who created them. Our Creator God is lovingly speaking to us, connecting to us, revealing Himself to us. And when we respond…OH FRIEND…that spring of water wells up inside of us and WE FEEL ALIVE!!!!! Because we ARE ALIVE!!! Praise Jesus!

Jesus goes on to tell the Samaritan woman, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (vs. 23)

Are YOU the kind of worshiper the Father seeks? Is your worship observable? Are you aware of God’s Presence in your life right now? Do you recognize that He is revealing Himself to you? Are you connected to your Life Source? Come and take a drink…

This post was written by Allison House. To read more about her, click here. 

**To read Part 4 of this series, click here. 

The Truth About Worship

The Truth About Worship

When I was asked to write this post on worship, my first thoughts were, “I’m not a worship leader! I can think of many women more qualified to write this post than me.” Then came the gentle voice of Truth—a voice that told me that I did have something to say on worship. This patient Holy Spirit voice reminded me of my identity in Christ.

My worship comes from knowing the truth of who I am in Christ, and who God is in me. I am chosen by God (as are you) to declare the praises of him who called me out of darkness (1 Peter 2:9). Although I’ll probably never lead worship from behind a microphone and guitar, I have been called to worship in my everyday life, just by walking in who He create me to be.

I can clearly remember the season of my life where this revelation became cemented in my spirit. Very soon after Kirby and I married, he was diagnosed with stage 3B cancer. In that season, I ran headlong into this tension between the facts in our life and the truth of the Word of God in our life. Let me explain: the fact was that my husband had life-threatening cancer, but the Truth of the Word says that by his stripes, Kirby is healed. The fact was that I was a scared young bride who had no idea how to care for a husband with cancer. The Truth says that I have been given everything I need for life and godliness. I found that as I chose to embrace the facts—but believe the truth in my life—I began to position myself to follow the Holy Spirit guiding me through my everyday. And out of that place, worship began to flow naturally.

When worship flows out of the truth of who we are in Christ, it goes way beyond Sunday morning. True worship evolves into serving our life groups, loving our husbands, discipling our kids, being excellent in our careers, and so much more. When we choose to say yes to our identity in Christ, we can begin to truly engage in worship in our everyday.

I love the way the Message Bible puts it:
“Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” John 4:24

Here’s what is at stake: If I allow my circumstance (facts) to determine whether or not I worship, then I won’t worship. My decisions will sway in whatever direction the wind blows. So let’s allow the Truth to win the day in our hearts, sister. Let’s choose to worship in Spirit and Truth – the truth of who God is and who we are through Christ. Let’s choose to engage.

This post was written by Catherine Dunn. To read more about her, click here

Daily Worship

worship_imageWhen I called my dad for his birthday this year, he reminded me of something that a family friend had told me. He got a word from the Lord for me about worship. Dad said that this was biblically-based because of Romans 12:1—

“Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship” (TNIV).

I don’t often just stop and think about worship. There’s the obvious “worship time” during church, or even during my personal time with the Lord, but worship is more than that. Worship is how I live my life. It’s something that I do daily, consciously putting the daily activities of my life in the hands of the Lord. There are some obvious times that I feel compelled by the Lord to do something (usually something I wouldn’t ordinarily want to do) or in a burst of joy just thank Him in the middle of the day. But in what other ways do I express worship for the Lord?

From personal experience which I know many of you can relate to, I work with people and students throughout my entire day. By the end of a really long day, it is hard for me to continue to be kind to those around me. But in the last couple years I’ve had to learn that I must give my day to the Lord. As I’m driving to school I pray for whatever situation I might encounter. I’ve even dubbed a song that I use to pray over my students this year! It’s amazing to see personalities and hearts change throughout the year, more than just academically.

I know that the people that I have relationships with–whether I am aware of it at the time or not–weigh the way that they approach situations based on other situations that they’ve had throughout the day. I have the opportunity to be a positive influence in their day, even if that means simply smiling, asking about their day, and actually listening.

Recently I’ve had to ask myself, Does the way that I convey myself around people actually reflect my heart? In some cases sadly, I would have to say that no, it doesn’t. But by focusing on God’s point of view in every situation, it helps me to tune my actions to match my heart. My words can be more than just rote conversation. Rather, it can be an uplifting encouragement that comes directly from the Lord! I pray that you can face the daily pressures of life and still experience the unique joys that surround you every day. God can surprise you! What ways does the Lord use to speak to you, even in the midst of the busyness of the day? I cannot wait to see what God does with the people around me as our hearts become more focused on worshiping Him!

This post was written by Hannah Dillard. 

That Face to Face Place

worship 3Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. (Psalms 100:4 NKJV)

We’ve probably all heard this verse or even sung it in Sunday School as kids. What a simple yet profound instruction: this is how you get into the presence of God Almighty, who has provided a way for us to meet with Him face to face. Be thankful…praise Him…bless His Name, and you might just find yourself front and center with the Throne, face to face with the King of Kings.

While this is a worthy goal of our worship, to enter in and just experience His Presence, to give Him the glory that He deserves, I think that there is something more.

There are so many things about God that I don’t fully comprehend. There is so much of His awesomeness that I’ve yet to grasp. But I do know one thing:  There’s always more.

In Old Testament times seeking an audience with the king meant taking your life in your own hands, or more accurately, putting it in the King’s.  If you wanted to enter into the King’s presence, you would come in, kneel before the throne, and wait. In the few seconds that I’m sure felt like an eternity, the King would either raise his scepter, a signal that permission was granted to approach, or leave it down, at which point you would be taken away and promptly escorted to your own execution.

Thankfully we don’t serve a King like that. We serve a King that gave up everything He had to give so that we could come before Him–boldly, with confidence, accepted–as his kids.  But you know, because He’s made a way to freely come, I think sometimes we have a tendency to lose the reverence, lose the awe of the encounter.  We come in, not focused on meeting with the King, but thinking about our last fight with our spouse, or lunch plans, or whatever. And guess what–we’re human. We’re called sheep numerous times in the Bible, and I don’t think it was a compliment. So I’m not here to send anyone on a guilt trip.  If so, I’d need to be the first to pack my bags.

But think back to that Old Testament picture. Someone seeking an audience with the king had a pretty important matter to discuss. He must have had a worthwhile case to plead; one worth risking everything in the hope that the king would intervene.  And I bet you my last dollar, he came in knowing what he was going to say.

A while back a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer. It came as quite a shock as she was a young mom who was vibrant and healthy. The Sunday following that news, my worship took on a whole new meaning. I had decided I was going to fight for her with everything I had. Those weren’t just songs that morning, they were weapons. They were launch pads for faith to be unleashed.  I had the enemy in my crosshairs.  It was an incredible time of worship!

It might not be a friend with cancer.  It might be a lost family member, or a marriage on the rocks, or a physical illness, but we ALL have circumstances in our lives where we need the King to intervene. We all have places that are totally beyond our control (and probably more than we care to admit!) And we all have instructions for coming face to face with the King. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks, bless His Name, enter boldly. But then what?

Worship is a powerful mixture of Spirit and Truth. When we align our hearts with the truth of God’s Word, something happens. Faith happens. When that faith is focused on a specific target, it paves the way for the miraculous. And when we get to that face to face place, let’s not take it for granted. Let’s know why we came. Let’s ask the King to act and see if He doesn’t delight to respond.

This post was written by Becca Wilhite. To read more about her, click here

Our Values: Prayer and Worship

freedomsPrayer and worship create an atmosphere where everyone can experience the presence of God. Pastor Brad expounded on these core values in a powerful way during the “DNA of Harvest” series. Download the talk as soon as you can!

I’d like to share with you what prayer and worship mean to me day in and day out. I don’t see how one can separate prayer and worship. Prayer in this season of my life feels more like an opportunity to re-align myself with God’s heart. I still pray to ask for things from Father, but I also want to sense an increased closeness to hear what He wants to say to me. I want a deeper relationship with Him. Prayer and worship give me a pathway to come to Him and enter into that for which my heart so deeply longs.

It’s a chance to focus my attention on Him and what’s truly valuable in life. Worship inevitably begins to flow from my heart when I wait upon Him. I can’t help it. The more I focus my attention on who He is, what He’s done for me, what I will accomplish in the earth for His Name’s sake, I just can’t help but be grateful and awed, humble and exuberant, fierce and at rest. He’s so interesting! Prayer and worship open my eyes to see Him. I don’t want to miss it because I’m more taken with my issues, my problems or my pain.

Father taught me through prayer and worship that I am valuable to Him. He knows what I’m faced with each day. He’s not going to hang me out to dry, so to speak. Sometimes my circumstances may not look like I’d hoped, but He’s promised to never leave me nor forsake me. Prayer and worship give me an opportunity to declare His truth over my circumstances. I’m not denying that I may not feel good or that I’ve messed up in some way. What I am doing is choosing to recognize that He is greater than my pain or my regret. I am still right with God through the finished work of the cross in Christ. I will make Him my focus and allow Him to transform me rather than trying to fix myself out of my own resources.

Take a moment to think about the things you want to pass on to the next generation that you possess right now. I want my kids to have learned from me that no matter what their life experience is, they can always rise above it with prayer and worship. They can experience what gold will not buy and education will not provide if they will humble themselves and fix their gaze on the Lover of their souls.

This post was written by Jodi Leigh LaFrance. To read more about her, click here.