I just finished reading Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Overall, this book is about the power of prayer and the Holy Spirit in our lives and our churches. I will just include some quotes that stood out to me...and very little commentary...As Samuel Chadwick said long ago, the greatest answer to prayer is more prayer. (p. 29)
The format of a prayer meeting is not nearly as important as its essence--touching the Almighty, crying out with one's whole being. (p. 30)
On Sunday mornings, changing the whole direction of the meeting was not unusual. After all, why should we hang onto some order of service if people were willing to get saved? God could use the choir, or anyone else, to turn the whole service into a prayer meeting if he wished. (p. 39-40)Early in the dance ministry, it was not unusual for our rehearsals to go this direction. I remember one night, after many of us had driven to Poway from Orange County (an hour and a half drive), we began praying at the start of our rehearsal and didn't stop until it was time to go home. It was right. No one danced that night, except in our dialog with the Lord. I treasure it in my heart as a very special, Spirit-led evening.
Am I the only one who gets embarrassed when religious leaders in America talk about having prayer in public schools? We don't even have that much prayer in many churches? Out of humility, you would think we would keep quiet on that particular subject until we practice what we preach in our own congregations. (p. 72) (Ouch!)
In the New Testament we don't see Peter or John wringing their hands and saying, "Oh, what are we going to do? Caligula's bisexual...he wants to appoint his horse to the Roman Senate...what a terrible model of leadership! How are we going to respond to this outrage?" --Let's not play games with ourselves. Let's not divert attention away from the weak prayer life of our own churches. In Acts 4, when the apostles were unjustly arrested, imprisoned, threatened, they didn't call for a protest; they didn't reach for some political leverage. Instead, they headed to a prayer meeting. Soon the place was vibrating with the power of the Holy Spirit (vv. 23-31). --The apostles had this instinct: When in trouble, pray. When intimidated, pray. When challenged, pray. When persecuted, pray. (p. 72-73)This one is tough for me to swallow. I absolutely agree and know that the number one thing we are to do is to pray about everything. God is far more influential and powerful. He is in control. I, also, understand that the time this was written was during the oppressive Roman rule and the government was Caesar. In America today, "we the people" are the government and so we have a job to do. We must pray, but we must also do what we should to influence righteousness, justice and truth in our nation. The president is not a king (even if he may think he is). He is subject to us and we must understand that. My husband is a police man. When he sees someone breaking the law, he doesn't pray that they will stop, he pulls them over and writes them a ticket. He has a job to do. Prayer is certainly beneficial, but he still must act as well. In the same way, you and I are the government (according to the Constitution) which means our job is to help govern. We do this by voting, lobbying, contacting our elected leaders, etc. Yes, we should first pray. And we should not put aside our responsibility to do the work we are responsible to do. Do not allow yourself to be walked all over. I don't say this out of pride, I say this out of truth. It is the intent of the founding of our nation, of our Constitution. Will we uphold the laws of our land (the Constitution)...or the made-up laws that political leaders dictate? Know the difference, and above all, pray. Don't hide and pray, just pray! And be righteously (not pridefully) deliberate in all you do. Our most powerful offensive and defensive weapon is prayer. There is a responsibility to do both: pray and act. Prayer is most important. Action is also important, though not nearly as effective as prayer. When we pray, we bring the incomparable, victorious force of God and his angels on our side. Nothing we can do compares to the work that God and his angels can do. That being said, we shouldn't sit idly by and do nothing. Our Founders obviously didn't just wait for a free nation to magically appear. They sought out the truth of government in scripture and made it happen. "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." (Jas. 4:17) (Ironically, as I finished this book, this subject of "action" was addressed in the last chapter. Continue on below. Also, The Five Thousand Year Leap addresses the power of the government within the people.)
"Act as though it's all up to you; Pray as though it's all up to Him." ~Glenn Beck
"These men (of the Acts church)...did not 'say their prayers,' they really prayed." -J.B.Phillips (p. 73)
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,Oh what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry every thing to God in prayer. (hymn: What A Friend We Have in Jesus) (p. 85)
These Christians (Hudson Taylor, the Moravians, American Frontier revivalists, etc.) were not bulls in a china shop, but they did speak the truth in love---fearlessly. (p. 98)
As a minister I firmly believe that I am not allowed to preach what is not in the Bible. It is an exciting enough book as it stands. It is not something dull that we need to spice up. If we do and teach all that Jesus did and taught--and no more--we will have plenty of thrills. Otherwise, let us be silent where the Bible is silent. (p. 166 Sort of a keep-it-simple message, huh?)
"We are measuring everything by the Word. Every experience must be measured up with the Bible. Some say that is going too far, but if we have lived too close to the Word, we will settle that with the Lord when we meet Him in the air." -William J. Seymour, 1906 (p. 117)
The things of God have a circumference. They are a preserved written body of truth. It is like a well---and no one has ever fathomed the depth o f God's truth. ~To go into the power of the gospel, or of prayer, or the Holy Spirit, or divine love is to plunge ever deeper and deeper into God's well. ~The tendency today, however, is merely to splash around in truth for a while...and then jump outside the well to the surrounding soil. "Look at this---God is doing a new thing!" people proclaim. In six months or so, of course, the novelty wears off, and they jump again to a new patch of grass. They spend their whole lives hopscotching from one side of God's well to another, never really probing the depth of the living waters inside. ~Inside the well there is no cause for leaving or jumping our. Who will ever fathom the fullness of the love of God? Who will ever exhaust the richness of his mercy to fallen human beings? Who will ever understand the real power of prayer. ~Leonard Ravenhill told me..., "People say the church today is 'growing and expanding.' Yes, it's ten miles wide now---and about a quarter-inch deep." (p. 117-118)
"If you have only the Word, you dry up. If you have only the Spirit, you blow up. But if you have both, you grow up." (p. 152)
The Bible teaches that we are always either drawing nearer to God or falling away. There is not holding pattern. (p. 164)
These heroes (of the Bible) did not just sit back, as many do today, saying, "Well, God promised, and I'm sure he'll fulfill His word." They stepped up and took action to make the promise become a reality. They understood that God's work in the world is usually a joint project; He works with us as we yield ourselves to work with Him. (p. 170) (I guess this sort of addresses my political ramblings above.)
Apathetic churches across the land will be revived only by the people of deep spirituality who refuse to accept the status quo. (p. 170)I thought the above quote very interesting. Since I know that I, and probably most Christians, when we look for a church, are looking for something that's not stagnant and when we find an "apathetic" church we move on to something non-apathetic, never considering that maybe we are the ones that can make a difference and inspire such a church to go deeper.
When I first started to work at Disneyland, I was pleasantly surprised to find a handful of Christians within the Lion King cast. Most were lukewarm in their walk. I, freshly saved and healed from my own incredible sin, was deeply passionate about the Word of God and prayer and the effectiveness of both, as well as our ability to act immediately in response to God's direction in various situations. It was incredibly exciting to see others around me, who before were just hanging out as Christians, start stepping up to the plate and be bold, purposeful and deliberate in their faith. We can make a difference. I often talk about how influential we are to our children in regard to politics, history, and Jesus. But do we extend that influence to others? What about your "status quo" church? I think it's time to dive into that fathomless well and stop bonking our heads in 1/4-inch deep puddles. You (and I) can make a difference! I think that is incredibly inspiring.
When it comes to spiritual matters, you and I will never know our potential under God until we bond with our King and go out in His name and establish His kingdom. Sitting safely in the shelter of Bible discussions among ourselves, or complaining to one another about the horrible state of today's society, does nothing to unleash the power of God. He meets us in the moment of battle. He energizes us when there is an enemy to be pushed back. (p. 173 - emphasis mine)Cool book...with many great truths.