I didn't expect anything fresh from the book Fresh Air. It seems like most Christian authors are churning out books about how to enliven your relationship with God, how to escape the boring, how to make our Christian walks more relevant and radical. This, of course, is a great goal. But the answers to the problem always seem like more of the same, relentlessly repetitive and ultimately uninspiring or impractical.
Fresh Air started out well enough. I remember reading it and thinking it was okay---not amazing, eye-opening, and life-changing, but decent enough, easy to read, and written by a likeable and genuine author. I was so thoroughly unimpressed with another book I read recently on a similar topic (energizing your Spiritual walk) and someone had asked me for an alternative. This book could be it, I thought, providing a great walk-through of spiritual disciplines like prayer, Bible study, church life, financial stewardship, and worship.
It's not until I got to the chapter on Worship that I really fell in love with the book. He addresses the differing styles of worship in what I find to be an entirely new way. Yes, here is what is "fresh!" about this book. As a worship leader in a church with blended worship, I've encountered many people who say that they really are worshiping God passionately and with their whole hearts, but privately---so no one else would know. They argued that no one should judge the way they worship.
In some ways, they are right. I can't pronounce judgment on anyone's actual worship of God. Yet, part of a worship leader's job is being spiritually sensitive and aware of the congregation's participation. So, I was eager to hear what Chris Hodges thought of this issue.
He avoided the discussion of musical styles and song choices entirely. Instead, he came at this from the perspective of love languages, referring to Gary Chapman's book. Just like humans have love languages, Hodges argues, God Himself has a way of best receiving love and He tells us exactly what that looks like in Scripture. We can't say to Him, "I love you, but I really just want to worship in the way that makes me feel comfortable." Similarly, we don't tell our spouses, "Well, I love you, but only privately, in my heart. I'm not going to show you any outward affection."
I loved this fresh take on an overly discussed issue. Hodges then walked through the seven different words for praise in Scripture and what each means. Two of the words involve raising your hands. Five of the seven involve loud, even clamorous praise, including shouting and musical instruments like resounding cymbals. If we're really willing to put aside personal preference and what makes us feel good, and instead focus on what God specifically tells us to do in the Bible, our praise and worship may indeed be revolutionary. Let's let the Bible speak for itself.
He concludes the book with a discussion of the Holy Spirit, again asking people to put aside denominational doctrine and trite arguments we've based on tradition and go directly to Scripture itself. What does the Bible actually say? Many people might try to argue with him on this one also, but they'd be arguing with God's inerrant word and perhaps adding to Scripture in an effort to justify their own feelings.
All in all, this book is extremely practical and refreshing and greatly exceeded my expectations. It consistently challenges the reader to go back to God's Word and stop doing what we've been told to do, what we've always done, what we're comfortable doing, and start asking God what He wants us to do. When I say it like that, it sounds so basic, but really this book could provide a breath of fresh air for many Christians and the churches they attend.
I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Fresh Air: Trading Stale Spiritual Obligation For a Life-Altering, Energizing, Experience It Everyday Relationship with God by Chris Hodges offers inspiration to get unstuck from the routines in relationships not only with people, but with God.
Most of us go about life due to the "have to" things. We "have to" do this, we "have to" do that. Hodges asks the reader to change the attitude of "have to" to "get to". Instead of saying "I have to spend the day with extended family 200 miles away" to "I get to spend the day with extended family", and so forth. While we all have the doldrums, scripture offers ways past that and out of spiritual depression.
By looking to God's word, Hodge argues that we can find new inspiration in our daily lives to invigorate our most important relationships. Not only will you be closer to God, but through this foundational relationship you can also then get closer to the others in your life.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinion here is entirely my own.