Second ... I need to add a disclaimer before reviewing this book. I do not feel qualified to review any book, much less this particular book. I don't figure I'll do it justice, but maybe I'll be able to interest you enough to read it for yourself.
Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala with Dean Merrill
"What Happens When God's Spirit Invades the Hearts of His People"
This book was a late add to my spring reading list. It was in the house because the men of our church are reading it for their Wed. night Bible study and Ronnie picked up a copy. He teaches the kids on Wed. nights, so he isn't trying to read it along with the other men. I picked up the book after church Wed. night and read about half of it before going to bed. I had never heard of Jim Cymbala before reading this book, but I would guess that most everyone has heard of his church and their choir. He has pastored the Brooklyn Tabernacle for more than 35 years. His wife, Carol, directs their famous choir. This book tells the story of how God took a struggling congregation of about 20 people and an untrained pastor and transformed them into what they are today.
I was a little skeptical at first. You see, I go to a church with less than 100 active members and I love it. Although I grew up in a much larger church, I don't think I would be comfortable there now. I love the intamacy of a small church. We are truly family and some of them know me better than my biological family. So if this book was going to be about creating a mega church - I was not interested. I am not trying to be negative about large churches, they just aren't for me.
But that is not what it is about at all.
Pastor Cymbala spends much of the book talking about the early church. How did God use them to turn the whole world upside down? And, why is the church today so stagnant? He finds his answer in the New Testament church. God used those ordinary people because they were available to be bothered by the need around them. They begged God to use them to show HIS power to those they encountered. They weren't satisfied to simply attend a service and hear about God, they wanted, no they needed to experience this fresh wind and fresh fire that Cymbala is talking about. They were given a fresh indwelling of the Holy Spirit for whatever task God had set before them. With this fresh fire they boldly proclaimed the gospel in the face of impossible odds. The result ... lives were changed then and we are still building on their foundation today.
So, what is the answer for the church today? Pastor Cymbala reminds us that God hasn't changed, we have changed. He encourages the church to return to the foundation of our faith: the Word of God and claim the promises found there through fervent prayer. We don't need a new program for the church, we need fire from heaven to come and ignite our souls desire to reach the world around us for Christ.
My final assesment? Read the book. It is well written and easy to read. If nothing else you will find a great look at the early church and get the opportunity to evaluate your own prayer life and church in the light of their fire for God's work.