Archives for posts with tag: Fresh Fire

Fresh Wind Graphic
Summer Reading Challenge. Chapter 7 Commentary.

We live in a world that wants what is new, exciting and novel, and the church is not immune. Cymbala writes, “the truths of the gospel don’t seem spectacular enough. We’re restless for the latest, greatest, newest teaching or technique. We….search for a shortcut or some dynamic new strategy that will fire up our churches.” As churches have seen fads come and go, there are basic scriptural teachings that have stood for centuries, concerning corporate and personal spiritual growth. It is not instantaneous or flashy, but old fashioned spiritual endurance, which takes time and personal responsibility, produces spiritual growth.

The two tenets for growth in our relationship with God are spending time reading and meditating on His teachings (Prov. 3:1), and communicating with God in prayer (Jer. 29:12-13). We hear this truth time and time again, but in our fast-paced world it is easy to ignore and forget it. If we wish to be used for God’s kingdom, we have to make this a personal daily priority. And as a corporate body we need to meet in prayer. Corporate prayer carries great benefits in hearing one another lift our voices in prayer to God, uniting the body in worship, humbling ourselves, showing our need for Him, and seeking God’s way for our life and ministry.

All great revivals were preceded by groups of people praying. Cymbala gives the example of one young leader of the 1904 Welsh revival, who led most of his meetings in prayer, rather than preaching. It makes me wonder how many of us would attend those services today. A second example of revival takes place during Ezra and Nehemiah’s leadership of God’s people. In Nehemiah, chapter 8, it states the people stood from early morning to mid-day to hear Ezra read God’s Word. The people upon hearing the scriptures read, humbled themselves before God, recognizing their sin. Are we willing to gather to hear only the scriptures read to us? Would this capture our attention today? Would it bring conviction to our hearts?

Nothing moves God more than to see His children’s desperate need for Him, and their cry for His help. But we struggle with humbling ourselves. We try to do too much using our own gifts or talents, staying within our comfort zones, accomplishing little for God. But when we humble our hearts before Him, step out of our comfort zone, He is ready to do much more than we could ask or think!

Cymbala writes, “Let’s forget the novelties. If we prevail in prayer, God will do what only He can do. How He does things, when He does them, and in what manner are up to Him. The name of Jesus, the power of His blood, and the prayer of faith  have not lost their power over the centuries.” God has given us what we need and it has stood the test of time. It is simple, it is basic. We need to make ourselves available to Him, humbly acknowledging His sovereignty over us, and watch Him accomplish His work through us. Let’s give God our time, by coming together in prayer and reading His Word. He has given us everything we need, so we can confidently move forward, claiming victory in His name!

Sue Buch

 

 

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Fresh Wind Graphic
Summer Reading Challenge. Chapter 3 Commentary.

When I read the title “A Song for the Desperate,” I thought … How appropriate for me!  I remember my desperate moments and the circumstances which drove me to the cross and kept me there in dependence (the best place to be).  Just as some of the stories depicted in this chapter, God will track us down (as the hound of heaven) through music, message, or messengers (Christians – us).  Sometimes God allows the rebel to lose all hope so that he/she reaches the point of total surrender to God, the Creator.  This spiritual awakening begins new life for the individual and from that salvation moment on, even in “fear and trepidation,” the believer is to share his/her story of how Jesus forgives and redeems.

For us, for Grace Church, several points can be made from this chapter:

  • God sometimes allows us (and our loved ones) to be broken and desperate so that we (they) look to Him for hope
  • God can redeem the worst of sinners and He wants to use us in the process
  • We must “give the Holy Spirit time to work” and not get in His way (might this alter our carefully orchestrated church service time frames?)
  • We must not grow weary in our mission and our outreach
  • Prayer must be our “life-line” and our priority, “born out of a whole environment of felt need”

Do I — does Grace Church — have a yearning to pray?  Do we pray?  How many of us are excited to participate in our prayer gatherings?  Do we as individuals and as a corporate body have “driven” prayer lives?  Do we truly believe that prayer moves God?  Are we, as individuals and as a church, alive or dead in our prayer lives? According to Cymbala, the best preaching and teaching cannot make up for the “prayerless” church.

Farra Morrow

Fresh Wind Graphic
Summer Reading Challenge. Chapter 2 Commentary.

My main take-away from this chapter was that I really need to get praying! These words, on the first page of the chapter, stopped me cold:

If we call on the Lord He has promised to answer.

If we don’t call on Him He has promised nothing—nothing at all. It’s as simple as that.

Cymbala’s image of the church as a spiritual hospital and of prayer meeting as the emergency room urges us to pray together. His lessons on essence trumping form when it comes to prayer meeting—and his admission that he had been using the form to protect himself due to his fear—urge us to authentic prayer.

I was amazed that simply praying together rekindled New Yorkers first love for God. When praying, people sensed the presence of the Lord, and people began to feel loved. Cymbala discovered that people aren’t hungry for fancy or polish – love is what they are looking for.

Cymbala and his church family knew that a lot of churches give lip service to the idea that God can do anything; their church needed to have active faith that anyone who walked in from the streets of NY, regardless of his or her problems, could become a trophy of God’s grace. God formed a core of people in the church who wanted to pray, who believed that nothing was too big for him to handle…and who believed that he would build his church in their tough neighborhood. They knew that as long as they kept calling out for his blessing and help, he had fully committed himself to respond.

Chapter two’s bottom line: No matter what the pastor preaches or what we claim to believe in our heads, our future depends on our prayers.  There is no hope but in prayer – Andrew Bonar

Sue Weaver

Fresh Wind Graphic
Summer Reading Challenge. Chapter 1 Commentary.

Fresh Wind Fresh Fire is the story of the early beginnings of the Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC. But there is a story behind the story, and that is how a church was radically transformed when its people learned to spontaneously call upon the Name of the Lord and expect God to act in a big way.

But the story would not even exist had the church not been brought to the brink of extinction. Total desperation leads to total dependence on God – this could summarize the almost fatal events that catapulted the church into a future filled with glory.

There are some important lessons to learn in this first chapter. First, getting out of the way is the way  to invite God to do something supernatural. As long as we insist on charging ahead with man-made strength and cleverness, whether perceived or real, God is not going to show up with His own brand of bigness.

What Jim Cymbala learned early on was the simple act of “calling upon the Lord.” This was not new. Already in Genesis we read that “men began to call upon the Name of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:26). Calling upon the Name of the Lord was an act of worship. It was boldly inviting His presence and domain into a dark place and engaging Him with all of one’s being. That is what the patriarchs did, that is what Moses and Aaron did and so many others have been in the habit of doing throughout the ages.

Re-reading this first chapter reminded me that the most natural time to call upon the Name of the Lord is when we are at our most vulnerable point: “God is attracted to weakness.” (p. 19). Another reminder is that you cannot call upon the Name of the Lord with an arrogant attitude. It must be an act of humility – prostration, not posturing; submission, not staging. Only broken people can truly understand the need to call upon the Name of the Lord.

Those of us who aspire to see God once again work miraculously in the hearts of our people must pay attention to this statement: “I despaired at the thought that my life might slip by without seeing God show himself mightily on our behalf.” Yes, like Jim and Carol Cymbala, we ought to developed a holy aversion to the very thought that we are here merely to “mark time.” God has much better things in mind for us and if want to take Him seriously, we must find out what those things are.

I trust that as we read this book together this summer we will learn how to call upon the Name of the Lord in our personal lives and at Grace Church. When we do that, I wonder: Will we see a fresh wind and fresh fire from God in our midst as well.

The fire is getting warm and the wind begins to rise on the horizon. God is daring us to call upon Him. Who will answer the call?

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade