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Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire: What Happens When God's Spirit Invades the Hearts of His People Paperback – March 31, 2003
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As though blowing oxygen upon the dying embers of a fire, pastor Jim Cymbala revived a broken-down church in a rough-shod inner-city neighborhood through Christian faith. Twenty-five years ago, the Brooklyn Tabernacle could barely draw 26 people to a Sunday service. Nowadays the congregation is 6,000 strong--filled with converted prostitutes, pimps, drug addicts, and homeless people, as well as yuppies and wholesome families. Although he's quick to give God credit for this miraculous success story, Cymbala admits that there may be a few human decisions that led to this Christian triumph. Most significantly, he made sure his church community embraced everyone, from all walks of life--no matter how distasteful or foreign. "Christians often hesitate to reach out to those who are different," according to Cymbala. "They want God to clean the fish before they catch them. If someone's gold ring is attached to an unusual body part, if the person doesn't smell the best or the skin color is not the same, Christians tend to hesitate." Thus, Cymbala encouraged his congregation to adopt the very same tolerant and accepting attitude as their God does. The results? Let's just say a church thrives in Brooklyn. Accomplished cowriter Dean Merrill helps this tender true story stay satisfying and highly readable. --Gail Hudson --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Twenty-five years ago, Cymbala, worn out from pastoring two congregations, devoted himself solely to the dwindling band of worshipers at ramshackle Brooklyn Tabernacle. Today, the old building has been replaced, there are 6,000 worshipers at four Sunday services, the church choir wins Grammies and sings for Billy Graham's crusades, and Cymbala is asked to speak all over the world about how he did it. Although he believes he didn't do it--God did--Cymbala does have a secret: the church is first and foremost a house of prayer, he says, a place where souls can call on God. Accordingly, Cymbala established Tuesday-night prayer meeting as the most important church function (later, church members began a "Prayer Band" to intercede round the clock for all and sundry). With professional Christian writer Merrill's help, Cymbala tells not his church's story as much as the stories of individual souls whose saving illustrates the truth of his testimony that God responds to prayer made in repentance and faith. Cymbala considers his work part of the revivalist tradition of nondenominational Christian evangelism, and he cites 300 years' worth of the great revivals and revivalists often, adding greater interest to a book that voices some of the oldest Christian wisdom with the vivid immediacy of telling tomorrow's news. Ray Olson --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top customer reviews
Jim Cymbala became pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle in 1971 without any formal training other than a college sociology degree and a few years of business experience. The church was on the verge of collapse. It had fewer than twenty worshippers, few resources, and appeared unable to make its monthly mortgage payments. When this book was written in 1997, the Church had grown incredibly. The original church now has four Sunday meetings (each 2 ½ hours) at a facility that needed to be built to accommodate 1,600 attendees, plus BT has started another 6 churches in the greater New York area and another ten elsewhere. But Pastor Cymbala makes clear that the goals of his church have nothing to do with the dreaded modern ABC trinity (attendance, budget and cash) that others use to measure success of churches.
Pastor Cymbala shares the “secret” of how BT survived, thrived and transformed people’s lives. The secret comes down to one simple word: prayer. It is made clear that the Brooklyn Tabernacle and its members needed to be transformed, but are their issues any more urgent than my issues or the issues of other people in my congregation? Maybe, but it doesn’t matter! My church and I (and probably all of humanity) need to take seriously the Biblical examples of centering worship and life around prayer.
The Brooklyn Tabernacle has a strong music ministry. Pastor Cymbala’s wife Carol is the choir director and accompanist and writes some of the songs, even though she cannot read music. There are many examples on YouTube, iTunes and elsewhere of the remarkable music made by this choir; but, as the book makes clear, this wonderful music is much less a result of talent and training than it is of the choir’s ongoing commitment to and reliance on prayer.
This book contains some amazingly powerful examples of answered prayers. Perhaps the most poignant is the story of Pastor Cymbala’s daughter Chrissy, who rebelled against her earthly and heavenly fathers in her late teens. If there is anything missing from this book, it is explanations of how BT deals with unanswered prayers. I think I know the answer: pray with more focus, pray with more frequency, pray with more intensity, pray with more unity and listen for God’s answer more fervently!