Is this your church on Sunday morning?
Hymns and praise choruses are sung, a sound doctrinal sermon is preached, our church services are timed and orchestrated perfectly.
Too often, however, there is little of the presence of God that produces awe, conviction of sin, overflowing joy, and life-transforming ministry.
We can easily settle for “church” instead of God.
And every succeeding generation shaped in that mold makes it harder for anyone to dare ask, “Where is the Lord?”
- JIM CYMBALA
So Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle (wish I had visited there last month!) wrote Spirit Rising to encourage our watchfulness for the Spirit (also read Francis Chan’s Forgotten God; Chan wrote the forward to Spirit Rising).
I won’t say you’ll come away as an expert in the Holy Spirit after reading this book, but you should come away with a greater appreciation of your need for him.
Cymbala divides the book into three parts:
- God’s agent on earth
- When God’s Spirit moves
- When we surrender to the Holy Spirit
Each section includes theological discussion and real-life experiences. I loved reading the stories by Roma, Diana, and Annes.
Cymbala notes the change in the apostle Peter before and after the Holy Spirit filled him.
With three and a half years of excellent discipleship under his belt, Peter learned the harsh truth we all have confronted — it’s one thing to know the Word, but it’s quite another to obey it.
Even the best discipleship training and spiritual accountability proved insufficient for Peter, because no outward teaching can compare to the inward power of the Holy Spirit.
If you need proof, look at Peter on the day of Pentecost when the Spirit was poured out. Though the political climate hadn’t changed from the time Jesus was arrested and crucified, Peter now preached boldly about the name of Jesus to massive crowds. This was a new Peter! He was filled with the Spirit.
...Jesus had been with Peter, but now the Spirit was in him.
That change by that indwelling is meant for us as well.
Christ’s plan was to replace “me” with “him” through the Spirit’s presence. That is a far more radical idea than starting to attend church more regularly or reading the Bible occasionally. It’s more of a “corporate takeover.”
Cymbala concludes Spirit Rising with a section entitled “Where do we go from here?”
Does the Spirit want to do everything we have read about or not?
If he doesn’t, then the Bible is a very misleading book.
If he does, then our seeking his help, strength, love, wisdom, and direction is not in vain.
Each time the Holy Spirit prompts us to move in a new direction, let’s obey immediately. This will help us develop a deeper sensitivity to his voice.
As believers in Jesus who want to actively fulfill God’s purpose in our lives, we can only do it with the Spirit’s power in us. I pray for us to have greater awareness to follow the Spirit’s leading, less timidity from our fear of failing, and more overflow of love for each other.
* * *
My thanks to Edelweiss
for the review copy of this book