Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire
God has used this book to have an incredible impact on me. The author writes from personal experience about his learned dependence upon God. This gives added weight to his words. His praise to God for how great He is, and how He has been the one to change lives was enough to bring me to the point of worship as I read. This story would be a blessing to anyone in ministry.
As I read through the book I was astounded as I read about the transforming power of God. As Cymbala writes he is very humble in his recounting of the events that have led to the work of God in the Brooklyn Tabernacle. I could really relate to his experience of “being in over his head” in ministry. His statements about how tools, strategies, and truth were not enough on their own. I found as I was reading his story, I was seeing that without crying out to God for Him to move and work, nothing substantial would happen spiritually. Chapter after chapter, Cymbala keeps coming back to the biblical truth that only Christ can build His Church, only the Father can draw people to Himself, and only God can bring about spiritual life-change.
There were times as I read that I was cautious, especially when he spoke about the place of sermons and biblical teaching. As I read I could see his point, that without the Spirit of God moving through those presentations of truth, nothing substantial would happen spiritually. Another thing that really caught my eye was his critique of church growth. On some issues he was absolutely right. On the other hand, I think that some church growth strategies (ministry strategies) are just ways to reach out to others in the hope that they will come to Christ. This means that church growth strategies (just like sermons and Bible studies) must be accompanied by the crying out of believers to God that He would move and change lives (without it, nothing).
In regard to the ways that I will personally use the information from this resource, where to start? I really believe that God is bringing me through a time much similar to Cymbala’s (and much like yours Dr. Bixby) where I am realizing that all the right answers, doctrines, and strategies are nothing if I/we are not crying out to God for Him to work. I have come to begin to see through this book (and lack of spiritual results, with much frustration) that I really need to fall upon God. Asking Him to move, to work, and to change my life and others. I have begun to truly pray with dependence upon God to work. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how this has impacted me personally.
In regard to how this will be used for the church I am in, it has already begun to be used. I had a “Life Action” journal speaking about revival on my shelf at home and began to read through it. It ran along the same lines as “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.” I talked with the group of people that come to prayer meeting and read through one of the articles together. So as a result of that meeting we as a group have begun to pray for revival in our lives, in our church, and in our community. We have asked God to start with us, to show up and change us. We are praying for people to be saved and for us to be a witness to them for Christ. I believe that God put me in your class, to read this book so that He could begin to move in me, this church, and this community. I have been pounding my head against a wall (your story hit home, much the way I was feeling) and God has let me know that what I was doing was incomplete. I have begun to pray and to encourage others to really humble themselves before God and cry out to Him for help. This resource has already changed our prayer meeting. It has also (along with your class) helped to give us a starting point for our upcoming “Friends & Family Banquet.” We are calling for prayer support for this outreach and for all of our future outreaches. Instead of just off-handedly asking people to pray for something, we are giving a list of things to pray for and passionately asking them to cry out to God for those people who are not believers who will be attending.
I really enjoyed this class. I think that you are a great guy, and I pray that God will continue to enable you to serve Him to the fullest. I have told my wife and father-in-law that I believe the group of guys that we had in this class was put together by God. I haven’t laughed so hard in awhile with the way that things have been going, it was like medicine for the soul. Thanks for being a big part of that.