Song to listen to: “Glory of Love” by Peter Cetera, David Foster, & Diane Nini

In honor of the release of the new “Karate Kid” movie (I’m not sure how I feel about that…but hey—they remake everything at some point), I thought I would bring back an oldie but goodie that has been a favorite devotional song for me since…well, since the first “Karate Kid II” came out. As an interesting side note, the song was originally recorded for inclusion in the soundtrack for Rocky IV, but was passed up. It was instead added to the soundtrack for Karate Kid II.

I have always looked at God as my knight in shining armor, my hero, my rescuer, my prince. He has always been by my side—by day or by night, in peace or in battle, in joy or in sorrow. When I look at these lyrics, I see a conversation, a promise between my beloved Yahweh and His beloved bride—and to me personally. (Read any part of the Song of Solomon and more in Revelation to see an analogy of God’s relationship with the church, His bride.)

I have divided up the lyrics in the way that I imagine God and I sharing this song together, but please read the words and let it minister to you as God shows you personally.

God: Tonight it’s very clear

As we’re both lying here

There’s so many things I want to say

I will always love you

I would never leave you alone…

Time and time again in God’s love letter to us (His Word) He promises never to leave us or forsake us.  (Deut. 31:6, 8, Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5). In fact, in the Hebrews passage, the original Greek is almost impossible to translate due to the fact that it is so strong, so emphatic that it contains a triple negative insisting that God will never leave us!  He loves us and has so much to say to us that He gave us an entire book of stories, poems, songs and covenant promises to show us His devotion and faithfulness. How great, how beloved a God we have!

Me: Sometimes I just forget

Say things I might regret

God: It breaks my heart to see you crying

Me: I don’t wanna lose you

I could never make it alone…

How many times have I stuck my foot in it? How many times have I failed by my words and deeds? I can remember so many times I sat alone, tears pouring down my face, as I contemplated my regrets and the hurt I have caused myself and more importantly, my Best Friend, the God I love. I felt so dirty and unworthy, and…alone. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that His heart was broken too—not only because of my sin, but my tears and sorrow as well. My pain was His pain, and He wanted nothing more than to breech that gap with His love.

God: I am the man who will fight for your honor

I’ll be the hero you’re dreaming of

We’ll live forever

Knowing together that we

Did it all for the glory of love

There is just something so appealing, even to the strongest of women to have a man fight for your honor! I have a painting in my living room that shows an elegant medieval maiden tying a delicate strip of cloth, her favor, on a noble knight’s arm. I can envision him riding proudly out to meet his foe, glancing at the streaming white token of his lady embellishing his hard armor. He knows it is his job to protect her, to defend her honor, to love and treasure her heart. He wants to be her hero. Dear ones, this is a perfect picture of or Savior. He is geared up in His armor, with your token bound to His arm—ready to fight all who impute your honor.

“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

Me: You keep me standing tall

You help me through it all

I’m always strong when you’re beside me

I have always needed you

I could never make it alone…

The Enemy longs for us to believe the lies he perpetuates. “You are unworthy of love. You are worthless and damaged. You are not good enough. You will NEVER be good enough!” Don’t believe his destructive lies! God loves us HOW we are and WHERE we are. He knows we are not perfect. He knows we have a long way to go. But He also knows that His love will be the catalyst that causes change. Don’t let the enemy (or people) tell you otherwise. Keep standing tall, strong and confident. You are not alone. He is right there beside you.

God: Just like a knight in shining armor

From a long time ago

Just in time I will save the day

Take you to my castle far away

I am the man who will fight for your honor

I’ll be the hero that you’re dreaming of

We’re gonna live forever

Knowing together that we

Did it all for the glory of love

We did it all for love

Is there a little girl out there who doesn’t dream of her knight in shining armor? A precious daughter who longs for her hero to come to her rescue? Her fairy tale come true? “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.” –Rev. 19:11a

Although there are mortal men out there who fill the role nicely, there will never be a more steadfast and loyal knight than God Almighty, the King of Kings. He desires to be everything to us, our hero, our deliverer, our savior, and He has fought and continues to fight daily for our honor.  In His promising  to “save the day” and take us to His “castle far away”, we can rest in knowing that we are loved and treasured.   Our Knight, our Hero, our King and Savior assures us there is glory and eternity in His love. He is everything we are dreaming of, and He is coming.

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” –John 14:2-4

Songs of Encouragement for those “not so good” times…

Over the last 10 years or so, I have definitely been working on my crown in heaven when it comes to the trials and tribulations department. Since I was married 13 years ago, my faith has been stretched beyond anything I had dreamed or imagined, and I haven’t always come out shining as I should, but I have grown and hopefully am in the process of becoming more like my King.

The last 8 years have been especially trying for us as a family as we have dealt with so many different stressful and disheartening situations: unemployment for over 4 1/2 years (two different times and currently!), an unexpected pregnancy, undiagnosed diseases that caused other medical problems, a severe and lingering back injury, loss of homes, loss of cars, loss of friends and loved ones, loss of personal dreams, multiple moves, condemnation and judgment from fellow Christians, marital issues, hormonal and mental issues…I could go on and on, but this is supposed to be an encouraging site, not a discouraging one! Now this isn’t to say good things haven’t happened in the last 8 years—they have. In spite of everything, God always provided manna, direction, and joy– even in the most unlikely of places. And I could write a book about those glorious, memorable moments. But for those of you in the fire, for those of you where I am now where hope seems far away and sometimes lost, and for those of you who need something, anything to lift your spirit up and show you God does care—this list is for you.

These are just a few of the plethora of songs that spoke to me when I needed encouragement. They are in no particular order, and honestly, I don’t know if I could even rate them, as each of these songs was meaningful to me at a specific time in my life. There are many other personally encouraging songs, but these are the ones currently on my iPod right now. Please feel free to add your favorites to my list in the comments section and how they got you through a dark time in your life!

Due to length, I have not added the lyrics. Please go to my lyics link to look up each whole song, or go to your favorite lyric site of choice. You can also listen to them online or download them for your own iPod or MP3 player!

1)    Walk By Faith performed by Jeremy Camp

(look for an upcoming devotional on this one!)

2)    Praise You In This Storm performed by Casting Crowns

3)    Give It All To You performed by Yellow Cavalier

4)    Blessed Be The Name performed by Tree 63

5)    Shackles (Praise You) performed by Mary Mary

6)    Stand In The Rain performed by Superchick

7)    I Will Rise performed by Chris Tomlin

8)    Step By Step performed by Rich Mullins

9)    My Deliverer performed by Michael Card

10)  Revelation by Third Day

11)  Atmosphere Remix performed by Toby Mac and DC Talk

12)  Stay Strong performed by Newsboys

13)  Praying For Sunny Days performed by Hyper Static Union

14)  God Is In This Place performed by Plus One

15)  I Will Not Be Moved performed by Natalie Grant

16)  Looking For You performed by Kirk Franklin

17)  Peace performed by World Wide Message Tribe

18)   Don’t Give Up performed by Michael W. Smith

19)  Lift Up Your Eyes performed by The Crossing

20)  Great Is Thy Faithfulness performed by Higher Praise/Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale  (although you can look up the lyrics anywhere)

And here’s your bonus one which I forgot to put on here when I first posted this: You Are There performed by Higher Praise/Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale

Read, listen, and be encouraged, my friends!

And let’s hear it—what Christian songs encourage you when you need it most?

Song to listen to: “Pocketful of Sunshine” by Natasha Bedingfiel, Danielle Brisebois, & John M. Shanks                        (I recommend either opening another window with the lyrics or printing them out to follow along.)

Okay, this devotional is for all of you who were worried that this blog might be all obscure music you didn’t know! This is one of my absolute favorite songs, and in fact, many of my closest friends claim this is my theme song. It always brings a smile to my face and makes my day just a little more bearable.

You know those moments, those days, those weeks and months when you want to shout (like the TV commercial): “Calgon, take me away”? This “Pocketful of Sunshine” is for you!

As I listened to this song a couple of times and got past the “feel good” part of the lyrics and music, I realized how much this was like one of the psalms of David. So many times David would be going through a rough patch and was looking for his “pocketful of sunshine” to get him through.  There are a plethora of Psalms where you can see the sentiment of this song, and if you have the time this week, glance through the book of Psalms to see what you can find! For those of us whose plates are beyond full, just go to Psalm 91. Today the link is to the New Living Translation because I liked the way it was worded, but you are welcome to use any version of the Bible you choose:

Read (or listen) to the lyrics of “Pocketful of Sunshine” carefully then read Psalm 91. Although they are not identical messages by any means, notice some of the amazing similarities!

I got a pocket,

Got a pocket full of sunshine

I got a love and I know that it’s all mine

Oh, oh, oh

On those all too frequent rainy, dreary days where we feel like the sun will never come out, where life never seems to get better, where there seems to be little hope and life is feeling somewhere between blah and outright desolate—these are the days you wish you could reach in and pull out that “pocketful of sunshine”.  You want to be able to find that ray of hope, that beam of light, that assurance from God that everything will be all right. There are many days (I know for me) when it is hard to have that hope and faith that the sun will come out again. But we can have that pocketful of “SONshine”—the reassurance that God is there for us—a glimpse of heaven that lives in our heart, He is the “love that I know is all mine”. I love singing the lyrics and imagining reaching into my pocket and there He is–waiting for me with a love that is beyond my comprehension.

Do what you want,

But you never gonna break me,

Sticks an’ stones are never gonna shake me

No, oh whoa, oh

Wish that you could,

But you ain’t gonna own me

Do anything you can to control me

No, oh No-o

When rainy days come, when we wonder where the sun/Son went, we are so very vulnerable, and that’s when the enemy moves in. He wants nothing more than to break us, to make us feel as though life is hopeless, helpless and full of despair. He wants us to feel worthless, unimportant, apathetic and alone. He wants to assail us with arrow after arrow—to make us believe that we have no value and that there is no reason to have faith. His “sticks and stones” are designed to make us powerless and worthless, so therefore we are not a threat to his mission to destroy God’s creation.  He wants to own us, control us—more so since we are God’s beloved children.

Take me away (take me away)

A secret place (a secret place)

A sweet escape (a sweet escape)

Take me away (take me away)

Take me away (take me away)

To better days (to better days)

Take me away (take me away)

A hiding place (A hiding place)

But dear ones, we have HOPE!!!! There IS a place we can go. Our heavenly Father makes a way of escape for us so that we can find refuge and healing. There is a secret “hiding place” under His wings where the rivers of life flow in us and through us. We are revived and refreshed. His angels take charge over us and minister to us, so we can face those rainy days with renewed strength and power. (Psalm 91:4-6, 11-12)

There’s this place that I go

Where nobody knows

Where the rivers flow

And I call it home…

And there’s no more lies

And the darkness is light

And nobody cries

There’s only butterflies…

Not only that, but we have an eternal future. Our future is in the One who has promised us a home in heaven with Him. It where our Living Water dwells and we will never thirst again. God promises there will be no more tears or crying or pain. The old things have passed away and the new has come! (Revelation 21:1-6)

Do you remember the old song “Bullfrogs and Butterflies?” It is a children’s song from the 80’s (do I dare date myself?) and the chorus went like this: “Bullfrogs and Butterflies, we’ve both been born again.” It describes the metamorphosis that frogs and butterflies experience when they change from tadpoles and caterpillars into their new creation. When we become a child of the King we are new creations in Christ. We have changed from lowly caterpillars to beautiful butterflies. I can just see it now—the fields upon fields of all us beautiful butterflies in God’s heavenly kingdom! Now THAT is something to REJOICE about!!!!

The sun (SON) is on my side

And takes me for a ride

I smile up to the sky

I know I’ll be all right…

Please let this “modern psalm” comfort you today. There is hope, there is life and there is joy to be found in Him.  He has promised us unconditional love, a sweet hiding place, victory over our enemies, better, sunnier days, and a future as beautiful butterflies. So remember—when your days are rainy and grey, and your life seems sucked away, that there’s no need to cry or whine, when you have a pocketful of SONshine…..

(I can’t help myself—it’s the poet in me…)

Be blessed today!

We would love to hear your song suggestions or requests! Post them here and we will happily consider them for future devotionals!

Although this should go without saying–please–no songs with inappropriate words or messages.

I look forward to getting some new music!

–Joa Jane

Songs to Listen to: Superman soundtrack (specifically “Can You Read My Mind? instrumental), Star Wars soundtrack (specifically “Throne Room/End Title”).

I thought I would begin this blog with one of my earliest personal devotions. As a high schooler, I was a huge fan of music soundtracks. (I know…I was a GEEK, but I still love them!) One of the first ones that I had was “Superman”, and I found myself thinking so much about God when I was listening to it. In my mind, He was Superman. Strong and powerful, yet gentle and true. Superman could stop a speeding bullet or a powerful earthquake, yet he was still willing to rescue a stranded kitten from a tree, or make sure that everyone, even seemingly insignificant people, were safe. Often when I would listen to the track “Can you read my mind?”, I would imagine the scene from the movie where Lois Lane and Superman were flying through the sky, I could see Lois, tightly clutching Superman’s hand as she looked around her—both fearfully and exuberantly. Although she knew Superman would never let her fall, she was still a bit apprehensive. It was so high! They were so far off the ground! The “what ifs” of her situation hung with her, even though she knew she was safe. Yet she was excited. Her hero was holding her hand.  He was looking at her with a teasing and indulgent smile. She was flying through the air, seeing everything from his perspective and experiencing his joy. And I could visualize myself in her shoes, fearful, exuberant, as I grasped my beloved God’s hand and beheld the world below me–safely in His arms. My God. My hero. My Superman.

I know that sometimes people have a difficult time listening to music with no words, but I believe that oftentimes it lends itself to even more intimate worship. Our minds are free to put any thoughts or images or meditations to the music, and it is a powerful and beautiful thing. One of my favorite ones was the ending song from the “Star Wars” soundtrack—the one where Luke and Han Solo receive their medals from Princess Leia and everyone in the room is applauding their valor and heroism.  I remember being at camp one summer and walking through a wide and lush path in the forest. It was an uphill climb, but the way was covered with long, wavy grass and flanked on both sides with huge majestically royal pine trees that seemed to reach to the sky.  I would trek up that hill listening to that song, imagining myself walking up the hall of heaven to the throne of God. Angels lined the path, cheering me on and applauding as I walked up the hill to “finish the race He had set before me.” (Hebrews 12:1-3) I always reached the top full of joy and hope, knowing that when my “race” was over, I would make that trek for real and see my Savior face to face.

Pick a soundtrack or instrumental piece to listen to today—either something from “Superman” (like “Can you read my mind?”), the “Throne Room/End Title” from “Star Wars” or any other music you find inspiring. Think about your relationship with God—your personal, intimate relationship with your Creator, your Beloved, and see where the music takes you.

To God Be The Glory,

Joa Jane