If you attend church regularly, you probably take the time to sing at almost every service. Whether you use a hymnal or a projector screen, sing works by Martin Luther and John Wesley or Hillsong and Chris Tomlin, your musical expression is labeled as worship.
There is a great power in worship that we do not always consider or tap into. Worship – as a personal and corporate expression of the truths God, as well as thankfulness, adoration and praise – has the ability to change our way of life. As we confess those God truths and confess our need to align with them, we encourage ourselves to think with the mind of Christ, to see with the eyes of Heaven, and to allow our hearts to beat with Heaven’s heartbeat.
That is the basic foundation of the project This Is Our Love, brought together by World Vision Canada, Crossroads Christian Communications, and Dr. Jody Cross. It is a devotional accompanied by a CD of sixteen worship songs gathered around a single purpose: to provide the Church with songs that will challenge and encourage us to take the Gospel we have received and combine it with the worship we declare, and allow ourselves to be changed to the point that God uses us to meet needs, reach the lost, and live the love of Jesus Christ outside of the walls of our buildings.
When I heard about this book I was excited at the possibilities. I agree that our worship should affect our daily living, otherwise we are just singing songs and not participating in a spiritual event with the living God. To take the tool of worship and put such a fine point on it, to reprogram our minds and hearts for love and service, is a tremendous idea.
The book itself is well laid out. The lyrics to one of the songs precedes the chapter that tells the song’s story and explains how we can incorporate its truth into our lives. Following the devotion is a prayer to get you started, some discussion questions, and a few concrete steps to put the message of the song into action.
As a devotional, it works well. It is simple and easy to read. The messages are clear and easy to grasp. Some of the songs are well-suited to congregational singing, while a few are wordy and may take some getting used to before incorporating them in church. To approach the book and CD with this devotional mindset, This Is Our Love will certainly be a blessing to you. If you would like to know some of personal thoughts on the content, keep reading.
Personally, I felt let down by a couple of elements. As I began reading I had somehow come to the conclusion that these were all new songs presented and compiled for the purpose of this book. While the title song fits this idea, the rest of the pieces were previously released on other CDs. They are not new or fresh. When I connect that with the fact that the book was written based on the songs chosen, and not primarily to communicate the message that the project was designed for, I was disappointed.
I also feel like a huge opportunity was missed in the text of the devotion. Dr. Cross writes the devotions, and within each one talks about the inspiration of the song and the heart of the songwriter. While I appreciate that kind of “backstage access,” it is mostly expressed in the third person. There are only brief quotations from the songwriter. I would have liked to see a larger portion of those sections in the songwriters own words.
Generally, though, it is a great concept and works as a devotional guide. The questions are thoughtful and reflective, and would create powerful discussion in a small group. I believe that readers will be challenged, and that is worth the read.
Book has been provided courtesy of World Vision and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at Churches.WorldVision.ca/resources