Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire: What Happens When God’s Spirit Invades the Heart of His People, by Jim Cymbala with Dean Merrill (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997)188 pages, hardback, $16.99. Obtain from Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
This book should be required reading for every pastor. It is a powerful testimony to the power found in one’s weakness. Cymbala is the pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle. The book shows how a church can allow prayer to direct everything the church does, from worship to establishing new ministries. However, the strength of the book lies in what it discloses about why the Brooklyn Tabernacle grew so fast. True, prayer was the foundation, but all one has to do is read the book to see that the prayer of this pastor was backed up by courageous actions. Cymbala is a person of what I call “deep, active faith.” He not only prayed, he was also totally dependent on God – no salary, no pension, no denominational support, no seminary training. Today’s professional pastor will either hate or fall in love with this book.
1. Anyone who underestimates the power of prayer is a fool.
2. Anyone who thinks that all Cymbala did was pray is a fool.
3. What makes Cymbala’s prayer more powerful than most of the rest of us is what went along with that prayer-weakness. Cymbala did not have to have a salary or a pension. He didn’t have to have the comfort of a denomination to support him or bail him out. He went without an adequate salary for several years. He worked another job to make ends meet. Another thing, he took risks, not just one, but many. When they ran out of room, he got them more room. And another, he actually believed what he prayed. Finally, he was not willing to tread water.
The problem with most of today’s pastors is that most are too well fed, to afraid to take risks, to willing to tread water and collect a pay check. Too concerned about the well-being of their families. Folks, prayer doesn’t amount to much to those whose hearts are not broken over the lostness of God’s people. That’s where it has to start. Not with seminary nor with denominational approval, nor with the guarantee of an income or pension.
I am often saddened by the shallowness of most clergy I meet. More professional than missionary or apostolic. Perhaps its time for us to not just pray but also to weep over the lack of power God is willing to invest in us. When I went looking for pastors to begin churches without any salary backing, I could find only five. ONLY FIVE. Something has gone wrong. I fear we are sick unto death.
Indeed, Cymbala has something to say to us – our power is in our weakness, in our willingness to work for the shear joy, our willingness to weep over the lostness of the people in our churches. BUT LET NO ONE PASS OFF CYMBALA AS SIMPLY A MAN OF PRAYER. Far more is at stake than just a prayer meeting or a time of prayer. Its not enough just to go into our closets and pray. It’s what we are willing to give once we emerge from our closet that God blesses.