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Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala
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Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

by Jim Cymbala

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This is a very good book that focuses on the need for prayer (and the lack thereof) in churches today. He does a very good job of balancing the sovereignty of God with the responsibility of people, which is a difficult task indeed when handling the topic of prayer. His call is simple and straight-forward, we need to stop focusing on the unimportant and come back to seeking God. This book caused me on many occasions to stop and spend time seeking the face of God and cry out to Him through prayer. I believe that this is a book I will recommend to many people in the future, as well as reading it semi-regularly myself. ( )
  NGood | Feb 19, 2014 |
Enjoyed this book about allowing God’s Spirit to invade our hearts. Some of my favorite quotes include:
“I discovered an astonishing truth: God is attracted to weakness. He can't resist those who humbly and honestly admit how desperately they need him.”
“After all, people weren't hungry for fancy sermons or organizational polish. They just wanted love. They wanted to know that God could pick them up and give them a second chance.”
“Because I had been a basketball player, it never dawned on me to evaluate people on the basis of color. If you could play, you could play. In America it would appear that there is more openness, acceptance, and teamwork in the gym than in the church of Jesus Christ.”
“Each service is two to two-and-a-half hours long. We have always felt we had to give the Holy Spirit time to work; we couldn't rush people through some kind of assembly line.”
“Yes, the roughness of inner-city life has pressed us to pray.... But is the rest of the country coasting along in fine shape? I think not.”
“I have seen God do more in people's lives during ten minutes of real prayer than in ten of my sermons.”
“What does it say about our churches today that God birthed the church in a prayer meeting, and prayer meetings today are almost extinct?"
“If the times are indeed as bad as we say they are; if the darkness in our world is growing heavier by the moment; if we are facing spiritual battles right in our own homes and churches, then we are foolish not to turn to the One who supplies unlimited grace and power. He is our only source. We are crazy to ignore him."
"We are like the church at Laodicea. In fact, we have so institutionalized Laodiceanism that we think lukewarm is normal.”
“The apostles weren't trying to finesse people. Their communication was not supposed to be ‘cool’ or soothing. They aimed for a piercing of the heart, for conviction of sin. They had not the faintest intention of asking, ‘What do people want to hear? How can we draw people to church on Sunday?’ That was the last thing in their minds. Such an approach would have been foreign to the whole New Testament.”
“Spiritual ‘construction’ that uses wood, hay and straw comes easy--little work, little seeking, no travail, no birthing. You just slap it up and it will look adequate--for awhile. But if you want to build something that will endure on Judgment Day, the work is much more costly."
“People pay attention when they see that God actually changes persons and sets them free. When a new Christian stands up and tells how God has revolutionized his or her life, no one dozes off.”
“As we open up our church meetings to God's power, they will not always follow a predetermined schedule. Who can outline what God might have in mind?”
"Does anyone really think that America today is lacking preachers, books, Bible translations, and neat doctrinal statements? What we really lack is the passion to call upon the Lord until he opens the heavens and shows himself powerful."
“Anytime people get hungry to truly know the Lord, the Holy Spirit quickly puts a shovel and broom into their hands.” ( )
  dannywahlquist | May 14, 2013 |
Rated: B+ ( )
  jmcdbooks | Jan 28, 2013 |
By simply recounting his journey from an inexperienced minister in an inner city church with 20 members, to 8 churches with 8000 people weekly in NYC, Jim Cymbala makes his powerful testimony. His point? One builds the church through prayer to God. ( )
  jjvors | Aug 24, 2012 |
Jim Cymbala was a familiar name to me, as I had read some of his articles in Charisma magazine. The Charismatic books are the most widely read books in Christendom. I've not really been impressed with one to date—there is always a running theme under them all which I do not adhere to.

Jim was thrown into the role of Pastor by the hand of his father-in-law. Jim had no formal ministerial training(and I suspect still hasn't), and make no mistake about it, he takes pride in that fact.

Preaching the word systematically isn't important to Jim—only giving the Holy Spirit time to work in 2 hour services with no thought put into them is. This mode of thinking is to say that the Holy Spirit could not inspire man's reason, could not inspire his writing, or a sermon. This goes against the essence of the Scriptures themselves. C.S. Lewis argued that reason itself was the supernatural element within nature, and I agree with him. The Charismatics though have made reason synonymous with the carnal mind. This is eisegesis and not exegesis. The carnal mind is not synonymous with the human mind. The carnal mind is biblically defined as the mind which is sinful, which is unrepentant. We are transformed by the renewing of our mind—we don't throw our mind out as being hopelessly carnal.

More than anything else, Jesus taught. The Word opens the way for the Holy Spirit. Prayer is vital, worship is vital, letting the spiritual gifts operate within the church are vital, and the preaching and teaching of the Word is vital. If a church comes to only focus on any one of these things, at the expense of the others, they are lacking.

"The New Beginning" for Pastor Cymbala and his church came when he felt that the Holy Spirit prompted him to begin a prayer service. The total emphasis of the book is on prayer. Within the book there are several stories about how prayer brought about action on God's part: Jim finds a mysterious envelop filled with just enough money so that the church's mortgage payment may be made. Jim's wayward daughter receives a visitation from the Lord, and returns home repentant, after his prayer team focused on her. These are impressive stories that I don't believe can be refuted—they show the Holy Spirit working on the heart of man, bringing man to action, to repentance. I only wonder why there are not more of them, and less railing against what Jim has never been familiar with. At times Cymbala seems to depolarize, with critiques of the chaotic weirdness which has gone on in the name of the Holy Spirit. He recognizes there is a problem in the Charismatic world, and that the lack of biblical doctrines being taught is the cause. Then on the next page he says:

"Does anyone really think that America today is lacking preachers, books, Bible translations, and neat doctinral statements?"

I would answer him, "No, but we are lacking in the use of those good materials, as people are lazy, and want a magical Christianity of expediency, which requires no use of their mind—and to excuse this, they have condemned the mind and head knowledge.

I don't disagree with Pastor Cymbala in that prayer moves the heart of God. The book is a wonderful testimony to that; however, the underlying theme that condemns learned expository preaching, that would condemn a series of sermons that a Pastor may have labored for months on, and says that because these sermons were not spontaneous, emotional, intuitive, and untaught, that the Holy Spirit could have no part in them—this is simply wrong. J. Vernon McGee said a man need not be educated to begin preaching; though he should wish to grow in the wisdom and knowledge of the Word, and hopefully Seminary is in his future plans. I believe if a man is proud of his lack of knowledge, something is terribly wrong with his doctrine—or un-doctrine rather.

There is such a bias in the Charismatic world against formal education, against reason, against science, which we call the general revelation of God. It's so sad. Pastor Jim Cymbala shows us there is no doubt at all that he is not educated in biblical doctrines by this statement:

"North American Christians must no longer accept the status quo. No more neat little meetings, even with the benefit of 100 percent correct doctrine." (153)

This is the underlying Charismatic theme: Biblical truths and the teachings of Christ inhibit the Holy Spirit. I would say that when a church is operating outside of biblical doctrines, THIS is what inhibits the Holy Spirit.

As you can tell, this highly irritates me. I could not enjoy the biblical truths that WERE in this book, for the glaring error in it. Perhaps someday I will come to the level of maturity where I can eat fish and spit out bones, as my friend Pastor Alex says. It angers me so, because other people are choking on the bones. Pray for Jim and I.... ( )
  endersreads | Jul 24, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0310211883, Hardcover)

As though blowing oxygen upon the dying embers of a fire, pastor Jim Cymbala revived a broken-down church in a rough-shod inner-city neighborhood through Christian faith. Twenty-five years ago, the Brooklyn Tabernacle could barely draw 26 people to a Sunday service. Nowadays the congregation is 6,000 strong--filled with converted prostitutes, pimps, drug addicts, and homeless people, as well as yuppies and wholesome families. Although he's quick to give God credit for this miraculous success story, Cymbala admits that there may be a few human decisions that led to this Christian triumph. Most significantly, he made sure his church community embraced everyone, from all walks of life--no matter how distasteful or foreign. "Christians often hesitate to reach out to those who are different," according to Cymbala. "They want God to clean the fish before they catch them. If someone's gold ring is attached to an unusual body part, if the person doesn't smell the best or the skin color is not the same, Christians tend to hesitate." Thus, Cymbala encouraged his congregation to adopt the very same tolerant and accepting attitude as their God does. The results? Let's just say a church thrives in Brooklyn. Accomplished cowriter Dean Merrill helps this tender true story stay satisfying and highly readable. --Gail Hudson

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:29 -0400)

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