Friday Fun: It’s the Little Things (Sing Your Thanks)

Sing Your Thanks

Not that long ago, I wrote about how Your Joyful Heart is a Weapon to Fight for Your Joy. We can do some serious battle in song. I’m a musician, so this comes naturally to me. But sometimes it is difficult for people to actually connect the dots, to tie their story into the lyrics they are singing. It takes practice to get beyond the melody, and get in to the meat of the words, allowing them to begin to be your own life song. It takes practice to sing your thanks.

So for this week’s edition of Fun Friday, I want to help you sing your thanks. I want to help those of you who have trouble relating real life to the songs you sing on Sunday morning. This weekend, a fun (and valuable) goal for you can be to find your song. And then to sing it. Loudly!

Friday Fun - Sing your thanks

What’s Your Theme?

So what should you sing about? Well, first you need to figure out what your current life theme is. Start by asking yourself some questions, and take time to really answer them.

  • What is going on in my life right now?
  • What are my areas of celebration?
  • Where are my biggest needs?
  • What hurdles am I facing?
What’s His Character?

Now that you’ve asked yourself some probing questions, try these:

  • What do I know is true about God’s character?
  • Where do I need to see Him work in my life?
  • Where have I seen Him work in my life before?
  • Why should I trust Him?

Then start searching out some study materials about the characteristics of God you have seen at work lately, or that you really need to see now. Narrow it down to one or two qualities of God’s character.

Find Your Jam

Then take that theme into a song search. If you want help searching songs by theme, check out Praise Charts. Their detailed list can help you narrow down some songs before searching your music player for them. And whether you want to use SpotifySiriusXMEdit, Apple MusicAmazon MusicEdit, or another method to listen, what you want is to find a song that matches your current life theme. 

Sing Thanks

Now Sing!

Once you’ve found a song or two that fits your current situation, put it on repeat! 🙂 It takes time for songs and stories to harmonize! What do you hear? Is this your song? Pray through the lyrics and allow God’s Spirit to speak to you about how He is moving in you. Study how your life is woven in its storyline. Sing it as a petition, and sing it in dependence. Allow Him to remind you what to thank Him for, and declare it as your own praise. Sing your thanks, and sing it loud!

So if you decide to trust me here at  Joy Let Loose, and to find your jam for Friday Fun, you can spend the whole weekend singing your thanks. Because song is so powerful, I believe you’ll enter next week a little more joyful, and a little more confident in God’s character. Your joyful heart really is a weapon to fight for your joy. And it’s Friday – so fight at the top of your lungs!

What’s your jam this weekend?

Elizabeth Joy

Your Joyful Heart is a Weapon to Fight for Your Joy

We fight for joy with the weapon of a joyful heart. There’s no question we live in a world that wants to steal our joy. Cynicism, circumstance, doubt, and negative self-talk are on the prowl for the believer’s joyful heart. And the amazing thing is that the joyful heart is the very weapon needed in that fight.

Joyful Heart is a Weapon

A Weapon in the Battle

In February I wrote about 7 things that Scripture tells us about joy. You can see that the final three go hand in hand: 

  • Joy Must Be Fought For
  • Joy is a Weapon
  • The Joy of the Lord is our Strength

More often than not, joy is a choice. Essentially, we can choose to be joyful. We can lay hold of it, or we can discard it and choose to be swallowed by something else. A strong dichotomy? Maybe. But I want to tell you that the weapon of a joyful heart is one that is stronger than most others. To express joy is to win.

To express joy is to win. Click To Tweet
The Song of Joy

I believe one of the chief reasons Scripture instructs and encourages us to sing is that song is a powerful weapon. It is light that pushes back the darkness that wars for our souls. Melody makes aggressive waves against evil forces. After all, what thing could confuse and infuriate the enemy more than the hopeful song of a child of God?

The believer's song is light that pushes back the darkness. Click To Tweet

Music has the power to open us up to things beyond ourselves, and to unlock places inside of us that have been hidden. Because the movement of melody and rhythm help to unearth emotions and cement lyrics in our minds and hearts in a way nothing else can. That’s why we often remember Sunday’s songs better than sermons. Their words of truth swirl around our heads with melody and arm us for defence against lies and discouragement. And as we let the song pour out of our mouths, we wield a weapon of hope against despair.

Please hear me: A joyful heart expressed in song is not just for the singer. Our celebrity culture has convinced so many that singing is only for the elite. But, singing is an absolute necessity for every believer. When you regularly pour yourself out in songs to the Lord, you will not easily give in to sin.

When you regularly pour yourself out in songs to the Lord, you will not easily give in to sin. Click To Tweet

A joyful song will strengthen you against temptation and discouragement,  self-exaltation and hopelessness.

Sing!

If you are happy, sing your  joy.

When you are suffering, sing your  need.

If you are tempted to sin, sing your  dependence.

When you have sinned, sing your  confession.

If you are weak, sing your  strength.

When you are forgiven, sing your freedom.

Unusual Warfare

We see the weapon of a joyful heart winning the battle in the story of King Jehoshaphat, found in 2 Chronicles 20:1-29. A formidable army declared war on his people, and he knew it spelled inevitable disaster. King Jehoshaphat stood before his people and praised the Lord, declaring his hope in God’s protection. And then God gave him some unusual instructions: He said that Jehoshaphat needed to put the singers at the front of his army as they went to battle. Their sole purpose was to sing praises to God and rejoice! With the song in front, God said that Jehoshaphat’s army wouldn’t even need to fight!

Jehoshaphat’s response to God in that moment was to bow low in worship. And all of his people stood and praised God with a loud shout. In that moment, their praise was the voice of their inner joy – their trust in God. And God’s unusual strategy proved victorious! The weapon of joy defeated the oncoming army. The enemy army was confused. They turned against one another and destroyed themselves! King Jehoshaphat’s victory was only attributable to facing opposition and darkness with a joyful heart in joyful song. 

Find it.  Learn it.  Sing it.  Win.

So we need to arm ourselves for battle. If hopeful song from a joyful heart is a weapon against despair and hopelessness, cynicism and self-exaltation, how do we find songs to learn and sing in our everyday lives? Hopefully your arsenal is being filled every weekend in your worship services. I want to give you a great list of songs to download or stream. I’ll help you find them. Then you can learn them, sing them, and WIN with joy!

Few writers these days war with joy as well as Rend Collective. Their essence of sung faith is celebration and hope. Their heart cry is to push back the darkness with joyful song. Check out The Art of Celebration and As Family We Go (Deluxe Edition)

Lyrics like “We cast aside our shadows, trust You with our sorrows,” will be prepare you to push back the dark with joyful hearts! I guarantee your soul will lift. 

Travis Ryan is another artist gifted to bring strong songs of hope. Check out Until My Voice Is Gone is gone to learn lyrics like: “No other hope can make our hearts courageous, No other peace can make us stand up brave;  No other Love has earned our full affection, No other God deserves our highest praise.”

There are SO many awesome songs that we can use to make the soundtrack of our lives as we bring God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. Paring down a list of recommendations is an incredible challenge! But here is a free printable of some awesome songs for war. I hope these encourage you, lift your soul, and undergird your joyful heart.

Essential Playlist for a Joyful Heart

Download the PDF

What about you? What songs are your weapons of joy? Share in the comments below!

Elizabeth Joy

 

What Joy Looks Like: And Other Places Joy Lives

Joy Language

It has been ten weeks since I launched  Joy Let Loose, and I’m so thankful for reader engagement so far! The journey to the place that joy lives, so it spills out and impacts people around us is one so many of us crave, and it is possible through Jesus Christ. Our God is a joy-giver!

At this ten week point, I re-assessed to make sure I’m on track with my writing to convey what I intend to. I decided to run a word search through Wordle to get a visual representation of what we have been thinking about over the last ten weeks together. I was pleased with the results, and affirmed that I have been remaining in the intended lane for this blog.

 

Visual Joy and Other Places it Lives
The Focus of Joy Let Loose
Other Places Joy Lives

Thankfully,  joy is more than simply the subject of my blog. It is something I am contending for in all areas of my life. I am thankful to have opportunity to write for other venues as well, lending my voice to different aspects of life. At the end of February, one of my articles appeared with Annesley Writers, whose monthly theme was “Beauty”. I found it a challenge to write this article because it sits so close to home, and is something I tend to keep in the shadows.

You see, gains and losses have been a pattern for my whole life as I’ve struggled to be… enough. Malicious, the lie taunts me with forked tongue and tempts me to trust its razor sharp voice as it slices me open again and again. You are fat. You are ugly. You are less than. Tears sting and salt snakes its way down my cheeks and the familiar ache creeps into my jaw.

Head on over to Annesley to read this article, Steel. While you are there, please browse other authors’ writings. Because you will find that joy lives there!

Steel, the Quest for Beauty

 

Teaching Worship

Next week I have the opportunity to teach a three-day intensive course about worship to people currently pursuing ordination. This is another place  joy lives for me. After all, I love the discoveries people make when they dig deep in to the theology and philosophy of corporate worship, and begin to see our patterns of worship inside the larger context of God’s Story. We need to be reminded again and again of God’s faithfulness through all of time. William White says, “We are a forgetful people. We need storytellers. We need someone to lay the drama of God’s love before us. We need to be reminded of the uncommon grace of God.:

We need to be reminded of the uncommon grace of God. Click To Tweet

Please pray for me and for the students I teach. Because I want God to be visible, and celebrated for all of His goodness?

Where Your Joy Lives

Some of you have been faithful readers for the last ten weeks. You’ve taken the Morning Joy Challenge, contributed ideas of Family Traditions, and begun praying the morning prayers, or memorizing Joy Scriptures. Thank you for coming along with me! Others may have stumbled on this post through Pinterest or through a variety of blogging groups I belong to. Regardless how you got here, you are on your own journey, and I’m confident it includes a desire for  joy. God has made us to discover His joy, and let it loose! While I’m busy finalizing my teaching curriculum, and then pouring out to ministry students next week, I would love to hear from you!

Please Let Me Know!
  • What aspects of joy are you focusing on in your life?
  • Are there questions about the joy journey that I can address in upcoming posts?
  • Will you share your living joy testimony with our readers at  Joy Let Loose?

Please add your voice to the comments below. I will be eager to respond!

Elizabeth Joy

 

Why We Need to Know if We Are Starving For Joy

We need to know if we are starving for joy. One of the other places I write is Seedbed’s Worship Design Collective, where worship leaders encourage others who slug it out in the trenches of the Church, week in and week out. Several months ago, as I was discovering God calling me to a new journey, I wrote an article for the collective about seven things Scripture shows us about   joy. Though the original article was addressed specifically to worship leaders, the truths within are broadly applicable, and will serve as the foundation for upcoming posts on  Joy Let Loose. We absolutely must discover if we are starving for joy.

Why We Need to Know if We are Starving For joy

 

Starving for Joy:  June 7, 2016

 Just a few short days ago, Chewbacca went viral as Candice Payne, clad in his toy mask, exploded on the Internet. In a matter of just 48 hours, her live Facebook video skyrocketed to nearly 150 million views, as people belly laughed it across the world. Just two days in, she had already appeared with numerous internationally acclaimed networks and personalities. What is it that this lady—a fellow worship leader—demonstrated, alone in her car after a trip to Kohl’s, that we all loved so much? And what is it that we worship leaders can glean from Candice bursting into our lives? 

We hunger for  joy.

150 million views of a gleeful woman in a mask is a good indicator that people are hungry; people watched and shared Candice’s video because her evident joy sparked something in them. If this is true, then I would suggest that the people who file into our sanctuaries on weekend days and nights are similarly hungry. They long to know joy, but they are looking to others—perhaps to us—to provide it.  Continue reading “Why We Need to Know if We Are Starving For Joy”

3 Morning Prayers, and Why I Commit to Pray Them

Sometimes I need to be reminded to pray. As I start the morning, and move into all the day holds, it is easy to forget I’m not in it alone, that I don’t have to do it all by myself. So I wrote some morning prayers to help.

 It’s also easy to underestimate the possibility of participating fully in life on this earth, and finding the joy within it all. Because prayer is a lifeline, a direct line to the Author of the universe, and the One who is intimately acquainted with our hearts. These encounters with God remind us Who God is, and who He’s forming each of us to be. And morning prayers help us to head into the day, remembering that there is always more happening than what we can see, and it is a trust-fall into the sure arms of a strong God.

 

Prayer is a trust fall into the sure arms of a strong God. Click To Tweet

 

It is important to learn to pray – it doesn’t exactly come naturally. That Jesus taught His disciples to pray is a good indicator that it might be a learned thing. His model of prayer in Matthew 6 is an awesome springboard to learn some important elements of connecting with God. Studying and praying the prayers of others (ancient or modern) and planning or writing out our own words can help us to learn to pray with depth and richness, rather than just stumbling over repetitive clichés. And the more we practice our prayers, infusing them with the truth of Scripture, the more easily we will pray meaningful, spontaneous prayers as life events occur. So we won’t feel lost for words, wondering what to say, but instead we will find joy in the communication.

I’ve written three morning prayers that I plan to use each day, as part of my  Morning Joy Challenge. And there are several reasons I want to incorporate these into my life as I begin each day:

1) They are reminders of the three Persons of the Trinity, each with His own role in their union, and in my life. This will help me not to only focus my attention on one part of the Godhead, and will help to increase my perspective of God. 

2) They will help to weave Scriptural themes into my prayers.

3) They will build my confidence in God’s active involvement in my day to day life because He has placed His Spirit within me.

So, on our journey toward joy, I invite you to join me by incorporating these morning prayers into your routine.  Continue reading “3 Morning Prayers, and Why I Commit to Pray Them”