Thursday, December 10, 2015

Cultivating a Heart of Worship

Photo Credits: Kori Wissmann

Hello from across the miles! My name is Hannah and I am the ninth of 13 siblings who, with my parents, are my very best friends and role models. God has given our family the incredible opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ through music all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico. This was not something that our family had ever imagined doing, but God opens doors that no man can open and I am so grateful!

Photo Credit: Bethany Beasley

I’ve seen God answer so many different prayers over the years, and we’ve been able to tour places that most people only get to read about. But life on the road is also a significant amount of work and I have my challenges just like you. Life doesn’t always go as we plan, and we often run into unexpected problems. Maybe we are discouraged, or having health issues. Maybe something happened with a school or home project. Perhaps it’s just a wrong attitude that we are having a hard time changing.

That is the perfect time to cultivate a heart of worship, because God is so much bigger than our problems. I’ve found that when I take my eyes off of myself: what I feel like or what my “problems” are and instead focus on who God is and what He has done, then I am left in awe of God’s awesome power, faithfulness and goodness. He sees the big picture. If I fully trust that He will mold me into who He wants me to be for His glory, then worshiping and surrendering to Him with my whole heart is the best thing I can do. You can read in Psalms where David worshiped God when he was on a mountain top and you’ll find that he had the same heart of worship when he was in a valley with King Saul in pursuit of his life. Having a heart of worship and gratitude is not based upon outward experiences, but it is a constant trust in who God is. 

Sometimes worshiping Jesus is exactly what it takes to help me change my attitude or surrender my problem. Here are a few practical ideas which I have found to be helpful in cultivating a heart of worship:

                        Start each day in the Word.
There is nothing like starting each day with a firm foundation of truth! The Bible is living and active, and it is His very precious gift to us. There is nothing that can take the place of God's Word!

                    Memorize Scripture.
We need spiritual food just as much as physical food, and memorizing scripture is a wonderful way to keep God’s Word constantly before you.

                  Play worship music.
Music can be an extremely powerful tool and is often used to create an atmosphere in a room. Sometimes when I don’t exactly know what to pray I simply sing the lyrics of a worship song that says it for me.

Look to the needs of others.
Usually when I take time to see the needs of others, my wants become so minor, and I am soon just grateful for the blessings God has given me.

Photo Credit: Wissmann Family

Life is not about me. I don’t want it to be. It’s about Him! Having a heart of worship not only changes us and our perspective, but as we worship our Creator for Who He is, people around us get to “taste and see that the Lord is good!” 

Our family has adopted Psalms 40 as our theme, because it sums up the work God has done in our lives:
“I waited patiently for the Lord: and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth — praise to our God: Many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.” 
-Psalms 40:1-3-

That is who God is. It is what He has done in our lives. And I pray it is a description of what He does in yours as well.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Who I Am In Christ

Who I Am In Christ sheet found HERE.
“And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men.”
-Colossians 3:3-

In high school, you’d never find me on the basketball field or on the cheerleading team and certainly not running laps around the track. You’d probably find me in play practice or in a music rehearsal. I was totally the theater girl and would often get too wrapped up in the different roles of women that I would play in shows rather than focusing on the unique woman that Christ made me to be. 

I think that it’s so important in a high school experience to get involved because, hey, you only high school once (isn’t that how the saying goes?), but so often what we do becomes our identity of who we believe ourselves to be.

During my freshman year Health Class (moment of silence for those awkward times), a friend’s mom came in and we were talking about body image and self worth. She handed us a small, pink, laminated piece of paper that was titled ‘Who I Am In Christ". I took it home and taped it to my bathroom mirror and would read through the promises while I was getting ready in the mornings. 9 years later - that little pink paper filled with truth still hangs there.So, ladies, let me encourage you in 
saying that what you do is not all that you are. You are deeply loved as a daughter of Christ and, because of that, all of these promises are yours.

Isn’t this wonderful news?! You see, it takes the pressure off of our performance when we know that it’s not about us. As daughters of the King, everything that we do points to our infinitely greater heavenly Father. Eternally, whether we know every line perfectly in the play, know every dance step, sing or play every note correctly, or score the most points doesn’t matter. You are so much more than the things that you choose to fill your free time with. 

I love old hymns and this is a line from one of my favorites: 
“The bride eyes not her garment, but her dear bridegroom’s face. I will not gaze on glory, but on my King of Grace. Not at the crown he giveth, but on his pierced hands. The Lamb gets all the glory in Emmanuel’s land.”

The Lord recognizes our beauty and the proper use of the good gifts that he gives us. But, more importantly, let us delight in His beauty and the free grace he gives us to utilize the gifts that he freely gives us each day. 

So print your own version of the ‘Who I Am In Christ’ out and put it on your mirror, or throw it in a Ziploc baggy or a page protector and put it up in the shower. Be tenderly reminded that you already are everything you need ever be in Christ.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Nourished by God's Word

Being healthy is important, don't get me wrong. What if I told you that there was something even more important to have first? Proverbs 3:7-8 states: "Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones." 

How backwards we must have it these days to believe that being healthy first will be what brings us joy. I am reminded that this is an opportunity for us to get to know the Lord even more, and let Him be the FIRST source of health in our bodies. Here are two insights I wish I had known about health as a teen girl:

I can never be fully healthy in a physical manner, if I'm not healthy spiritually. The verses in Proverbs 3 sum it up best. How can you be healthy if God is not filling your soul? How you can you be full of joy and hope if all you have is physical health? The answer is…it's very hard and almost impossible. As a 20 something, I am now understanding what my 14, 15, 16 year old self had trouble believing. And this lesson is necessary for you to embrace. You are so much more than a physical being. You have a heart and a soul. These are deeply spiritual parts of you that need something more than the physical things this life has to offer. Just as you need physical health to fuel your body, you have to have spiritual health to fuel your life!

Being healthy spiritually allows you to pursue health in a way that is safe (for your body, mind, and ESPECIALLY your emotions). I know there are so many people and sources telling you to look a certain way, to be a certain way, to have certain physical attributes. But let me remind you first that the Lord created you, and those are not things He requires of you. As a teen girl, it can be hard to remember that your value doesn't come from society's standards. No matter your appearance, the Lord loves you and HE wants your heart. And knowing this helps you to pursue health in a logical way. When you are at peace with the Lord and who He has made you to be, it takes off the pressure to conform to this worlds standards. Rather than approaching health in order to look and be a certain way, you can pursue being healthy, strong, and able to live your life for the Lord!

As you are nourished and strengthened by the Lord, you will then be able to become physically healthy as well. Will you take the time to pursue God as your first form of health? 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Monthly Scripture Memory Program: December (John 1:14)

As we shared in September, one of the heartbeats of Grace Engaged is the scripture memory program that we hope y'all will join in with each month! Each school year we will be picking one "theme" to look at in scripture and for the 2015-2016 school year we have chosen "grace" as our theme. For the month of September we memorized a portion of 2 Corinthians 8:7 and for October we memorized a portion of Ephesians 2:8. For November we memorized Hebrews 4:16 and for December we are memorizing John 1:14 which states: "The word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."

One of the things that we are passionate about here at Grace Engaged is encouraging ladies to know that we have a Savior who not only loves us big and beautifully but one who is fully involved and present in our lives. 

This is especially important for those that are struggling with a difficult season of life. Despite the joy of the Christmas season, the holiday season can be especially difficult on people who are dealing with painful seasons of life. As much as there are things to celebrate there is just as much pain to cry through. The contrast of joy with the abundance of heartbreak and pain seems especially poignant at this time of year. It is at this season more than others the beautiful names of God, specifically the name Immanuel, God with us, becomes even more important. Immanuel is with us as we live and breath. This Christmas season and beyond let us celebrate the joy of having a Savior who has fulfilled the promise stated so long ago from the book of Isaiah. The beautiful promise of Immanuel, God with us. 

What a beautiful thing to be thankful for in this month as we celebrate the birth of our Savior. Happy December friends! May you be encouraged as you memorize this verse!