Monday, January 21, 2013

Open Your Hymnal by Denise Loock

Open Your Hymnal:  Do you ever catch yourself singing a song in church without paying attention to the words? Open Your Hymnal is a collection of thirty meditations that transport the wisdom of classic hymns and gospel songs into the twenty-first century. Introduce yourself to the rich spiritual heritage that hymnals contain or gain a new perspective on songs you’ve sung since childhood. Whether you sing in the choir loft, the worship team, or the pew, the refreshing biblical insights in this book will enhance your appreciation of the words you sing every time you open a hymnal.

Open Your Hymnal Again: Giving God glory, honor, and thanks nourishes our souls and invigorates our faith. For centuries hymn writers have exalted God’s sovereignty and splendor in their lyrics. With biblical insights and practical applications, the 31 devotions in Open Your Hymnal Again use the worship models of hymns and gospel songs to awaken a fresh wonder for God in your heart. Open Your Hymnal Again and worship with me.

About the Author:
Denise K. Loock is a freelance writer, editor, speaker, and Bible study teacher. Denise has taught weekly women’s Bible study at local churches for 14 years. Over the last 8 years, she has developed and taught her own Bible study curriculum: The Life of Joseph, The Life of Moses, The Life of Joshua and the Books of 1 and 2 Samuel. She also developed an adult Sunday school curriculum for a 12-week study on worship.

Denise is the founder of, a website devoted to helping Christians dig deeper into the Word of God. Each devotion on the website takes an insightful look at a Scripture passage and provides a practical application. Then readers are given a few ways to dig deeper into a biblical word, person, or topic so that they can improve their Bible study skills.

Denise speaks at women’s retreats and luncheons. She has also developed a one-day seminar designed to help Christians study the Bible on their own. To learn more about “Chew Your Own Food” seminars visit and download the brochure.

Denise has a BA degree in Elementary Education and Secondary Education English from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. She has a MA degree in Twentieth Century British Literature from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.

Denise taught high school English for seven years, first at Temple Christian School in Detroit, MI, and then at The King’s Academy in West Palm Beach, FL.

From 1987-2007, Denise taught freshmen composition and literature at three different colleges: first at Cairn University, then at Mercer County Community College in New Jersey, and finally at Somerset Christian College, also in New Jersey.

In addition to her writing and speaking, Denise works as an Associate Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She lives in Waynesville, NC with her husband and two cats. Son Jeff is a sophomore at University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Daughter Kelsey is a freshman at Western Carolina University.


Saving the Day – Every Day
 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.” Luke 1:49 (NIV)

   Mighty Mouse was my favorite cartoon when I was a child. Maybe the little fellow appealed to me because I was small, too. Or maybe I was just mesmerized by the tiny mouse speeding through the air—one arm lifting a runaway train above his head while the other arm steered him past skyscrapers and mountains.
   Thanks to Mighty Mouse, I just naturally associate the word mighty with superhuman strength and miraculous acts of heroism. But in the Bible, mighty refers to much more than physical strength.
   Hebrew has two words for mighty. One is primarily used for heroes and soldiers—gibbowr. Israelites would have used that word for Mighty Mouse. The other word, abiyr, is used only of God and is translated “Mighty One.”
   Jacob is the first person mentioned in the Bible that called God Abiyr, which literally means “the strong.” Near the end of his life as he blessed Joseph, Jacob said, “But his [Joseph’s] bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob” (Genesis 49:24).
   Neither Jacob nor Joseph had been a soldier, so why did Jacob use the word mighty? Jacob was not referring to God’s physical strength or His military triumphs; he was thinking of God’s strength of character—His unchanging nature and His eternal faithfulness. Those were the attributes of God that had sustained Joseph all the years he was separated from his family. And Jacob knew it.
   It took Jacob almost all of his 147 years to recognize that both he and his beloved son were totally dependent on God. For most of his life, Jacob had relied on his own cleverness and charisma. Finally, though, he humbly acknowledged that God alone was “The Mighty One,” the only reason he and his son Joseph had overcome so many difficulties in their lives.
   We often run to our mighty God when enemies tower over us or circumstances threaten to overwhelm us. Yet God’s might—his unwavering, rock-solid character—is not just a “here I come to save the day” attribute. God’s might is our morning coffee, our lunchtime sandwich, and our evening rest.
   English preacher and writer Philip Doddridge wrote the lyrics to Great God, We Sing Your Mighty Hand almost 300 years ago. In this classic hymn, he too explores the many ways in which God’s might sustains His people every day:
By day, by night, at home, abroad,
Still are we guarded by our God.
By his incessant bounty fed,
By His unerring counsel led.
   Take time this week to acknowledge the evidence of God’s might in every area of your life—not just the battlegrounds. You can begin with Mary’s words in Luke 1:49, “For the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.”

Rest and Reflect: Think of five everyday ways God demonstrates His might in your life and then thank Him for each one.

Unearned Favor for Undeserving People
But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. Romans 5:20 (NKJV)

   Have you ever noticed that Paul began all his letters with a greeting that included the word grace? Usually he added the word peace and sometimes he included the word mercy. Always, however, he highlighted grace.
   The word grace appears 170 times in the King James Version of the Bible. The first time we read of God’s grace is Genesis 6:8 –“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (KJV). That we can easily understand because Noah was “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God” (v. 9).
   Moses also found grace in God’s sight. In Exodus 33 God rewarded Moses’ faithful service and humble devotion by allowing him to view His glory in a way no other human being ever had (vv.17-23). God told the Israelites, “my servant Moses he is faithful . . . with him I speak face to face” (Numbers 12:7-8). So where does that leave the rest of us, who haven’t built any arks or parted any seas? That’s the whole point of grace. It has nothing to do with who we are or what we do. Grace is a gift—the unearned favor of God given to undeserving people like you and me.
   Every blessing we receive every day of our lives is a gift of grace. That’s the reason Paul begins his epistles with “grace to you.” We are justified by grace (Romans 3:24). Spiritual gifts are products of grace (Romans 12:6). The ability to witness is a manifestation of grace (Romans 15:15-16). In 1 Corinthians 3:10 Paul says that God’s grace enables him to begin a work and let others finish it. In his next letter, he tells the Corinthians that generosity is a result of grace (2 Corinthians 8:1-7).
   No wonder hymn writer John Newton used the adjectives “amazing” and “precious” to describe God’s grace. In his classic hymn, he expressed overwhelming gratitude for the unearned favor of God that saves us, teaches us, comforts us, and guides us:
Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
   Many American hymnals omit the final two stanzas that Newton wrote, but in them he focuses on the ultimate gift that God’s grace made possible—eternal life in heaven:
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forebear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.
   Someday we will join John Newton, Paul, and the angel choirs in heaven. We will sing praises to the One who enabled us to recognize and receive God’s grace and to enjoy forever “a life of joy and peace.” Unearned favor for undeserving people that will never end—that’s amazing grace.

Rest and Reflect: David praised God for many acts of grace in Psalm 33. What would you add to his list?

Purchase Open Your Hymnal at:

Open Your Hymnal Again:

Denise Loock is giving away a copy of Open Your HymnalTo be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your e-mail address. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.


Anonymous said...

This book sounds interesting. I love the Hymnals. Denise you sound like a busy lady, and also interesting. Please enter my name for this book.
Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

Judy said...

After reading the excerpt I knew this book, Open Your Hymnal, was one that I'd love to read. Thank you for this giveaway and thank you for featuring Denise. I hope to learn more about her.


cjajsmommy said...

I would love to be able to send a copy of this book to a friend in prison on death row who loves hymns. If I win, this book would go to him. djragno (at) hotmail (dot) com

apple blossom said...

nice excerpt. love to win this book thanks. I love old fashion hymns.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Patsy said...

This sounds great!


Teela said...

Here he comes to save the day, Mighty Mouse is on his way....I loved Mighty Mouse too! My husband is a pastor of a small bi-vocational church and we sing from the hymnal not from a screen and I get what you said about just singing,not thinking about the words. I would LOVE to win your book. Thank for your giveaway.

spangldlady said...

I often read [and sing] the words of the old hymns and find peace and joy. I regret that many churches are not singing these wonderful hymns so that our young people learn and lean on their words coupled with daily reading of the Word. These hymns sustained our POWs many time as they remembered and sang them together. I would love to win this book because it would be an encouragement for devotional time each day. The interview was great. Please enter my name. Blessings! Darlene


lgm52 said...

Sounds very interesting. Would like to have a copy!

Library Lady said...

My mother died in December from Alzheimer's.
As she lay dying, my sister's and I sang to her, "Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound".
When we were singing, "When we've been there 10,000 years" etc. our mother had the sweetest smile on her face.
Shortly after she walked into the arms of Jesus.
Janet E.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the chance to win.
Elizabeth N

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