Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review - Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala

I had heard about Jim Cymbala long before I read this book. Many had recommended this book to me and over time became more eager to read it. To confess, when I read a book by a Pentecostal/Charismatic author, I get a bit nervous, even though I consider myself Charismatic in my theology. I think of the guys and gals on T.V. and all the junk they write, that is what I expected. But to my surprise, once I started his book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, I didn’t want to put it down.

Jim Cymbala has been the pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle for over thirty-five years. He has seen and experienced much in those years at a church located in an area full of poverty, drug use, and prostitution amongst other evils. He is passionate, has a wife who loves God and uses worship to express that love, and has a church that has a burden for those in the churches community struggling under the weight of sin.

This book details the many experiences the church has had under his leadership. You will read of those mentioned above being delivered from those sins, wonderful church growth and personal struggles and victories on an amazing level.

This book isn’t so much of a how-to book but a book on what can happen when a church seeks God in prayer and devotes themselves to His mission. He explains how the church has a weekly prayer night every Tuesday. It began with a modest size group but has grown to the thousands each Tuesday. They give thanks, intercede and give supplications for any and all needs brought to the church during the week and any discussed that night.

The results are nothing but miraculous. The story that touched me most was the story of how his daughter who had ran from God for years came back to the faith in a dramatic way. Another story he writes is one of man who came to the prayer meeting that at the end came up to Cymbala, who thought that the homeless man only wanted money but only wanted prayer. I could go on.

Some things that his church does has peeked my interest - the weekly prayer meeting I previously mentioned and how they have a group of people praying during the church service for the service and those in attendance. The thought of having prayer warriors praying during the service is real exciting. We are in a spiritual battle and those prayers could make the difference.

With all of that said there is one main issue I have with the book and that is the emphasis Cymbala places on prayer during the church service over all other activities, including preaching. He quotes Matthew 21:13 where Christ says that His house shall be called a house of prayer not a house of preaching. Which is a good point. But he never addresses Acts 5:42 where Luke writes the following, “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.” Notice that when that when the apostles went to the church (temple) this text says that they did not cease to preach. This happened every day. Doesn’t this show how important preaching is? Doesn’t this show us what the main purpose was when the apostles went to church? I believe so and it was preaching. Please understand that I am not devaluing praying, I just want to view it and preaching the way Scripture does.

That disagreement doesn’t diminish my appreciation for this book and how encouraged I was from it. There are many chapters (The Lure of Novelty; The Lure of Marketing; The Lure of Doctrine Without Power to name a few) that I have been meditating on since I finished.

If you or your church need to be reignited, if you or your church haven't experienced God move in mighty ways in quite some time, you need to read this book. It won’t disappoint.