from my notebook

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Archive for the category “Jim Cymbala”

Supernatural Evangelisim

Jesus instructed His followers in Acts 1 and Luke 24 to wait for power to be witnesses before they carried out the Great Commission. With all the packaged evangelism programs and methods being marketed to the church today, it’s easy to forget that we still need that power from the Holy Spirit before “going and telling,” even if we’re just involved in lifestyle evangelism, which is the most effective in my opinion. The best methods of canvasing a city or sharing a personal testimony can be destroyed by an ungodly lifestyle.

1 Peter 3:15 says, “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” The key to any kind of evangelism is for others to “see” enough of a unique hope in us to ask about it, and it takes a life empowered by the Holy Spirit to live that way.

While Christians bounce from one outreach method to another to bring people to Christ and into the church, the Holy Spirit is saying, “Let me help you.” Much more is needed than saying a prayer beforehand. Joyce Meyer comments that when we fail to wait for the Holy Spirit’s power we end up operating in the flesh.

Consider these quotes from Jim Cymbala in Fresh Power
“Without seasons of prayerful waiting for fresh power, we will see little or no divine assistance in doing God’s work.”
“The other important key to their [Jesus’ followers] prayerful waiting on God was their regular practice of ‘praising and blessing God.’
“God can do more in one day than we can accomplish in ten years of human effort…far more is accomplished by persevering in prayer than in taking charge of things myself.”

Now more than ever we need supernatural help to evangelize the world around us. That supernatural help only comes through prayerful, worshipful waiting.

What Really Changes Us

Lives are not impacted and changed by sermons, music, programs, presentations, or anything we do. Jim Cymbala states in Fresh Power

“God has given us a very simple equation if only we have the faith to reach out and experience it:
1. The Holy Spirit’s power is our greatest need.
2. This power and blessing is freely promised to all of God’s people.
3. This promise can only be fully received through sincere praying in faith and through waiting on God for his blessing to come.
This is what happened in the New Testament, and this is the only thing that will satisfy our souls’ thirst.”

Jim Cymbala Quotes On The Holy Spirit

The degree to which we understand and experience the Spirit of God will be the exact degree to which God’s plan for our churches will be accomplished.

Oh, how we need to wake up to the fact that the Holy Spirit’s blessing and power is the key to everything.

– from Fresh Power

Who’s Afraid of the Holy Ghost?

You might think it an odd question, but unfortunately our churches are full of people who get a little uneasy at too much talk about the Holy Spirit (don’t even think about calling Him the Holy Ghost). People are okay as long as everything is on the surface, and they can control what’s going on, but they don’t want an unseen power (even if it belongs to God apparently) in control. Strange things might happen. People might get healed or delivered from some addiction or infirmity, or someone might…might…should I say it…I think I will…someone might speak in tongues!

Jim Cymbala puts it this way in Fresh Power. “I am aware that some people shy away from the Holy Spirit because they have grown up in churches where his name is almost politically incorrect. Instead, the focus has been solely upon the Word of God–studying it, dissecting it, memorizing it, comparing one version against another, analyzing the Hebrew and Greek texts, making promises to obey the Bible in all things… Yes, we all must honor and love the Word of God, but there is no getting around the fact that the Bible makes tremendous statements about the Spirit of God!”

Bottom line, if we’re calling on and worshiping the right Spirit, the wrong thing isn’t going to happen. We must trust the Holy Spirit just like we trust Jesus for our salvation. The Spirit of God is powerful enough to thwart any attempts of Satan to manifest counterfeit displays. Until we learn to trust Him, our church services will offer nothing but a social club, perhaps a very moral, mission-minded club, but still no power to make a real difference. “Some with this complacent attitude are afraid of anyone rocking the boat when others begin to hunger and thirst after the living God,” Jim Cymbala writes. Well-meaning Christians need to stop fighting the passion of those who want more than their churches are offering and start trusting the one in whom they believe – all three persons of the Trinity.

Something From Heaven

From Fresh Power by Jim Cymbala:
“How long has it been in many of our churches since God ‘did awesome things that we did not expect’? What stops us today from drawing a line in the sand and setting our hearts toward God in fervent prayer that he will come and revive his work in us as well as in our churches? Why don’t we stop rationalizing and justifying the spiritual impotence all around us? Why not rather humble ourselves and seek God with all our heart for ‘something from heaven’?”

“The very mention of God’s promise of ‘something from heaven’ makes people nervous if it seems that the boat might get rocked or if there might be a departure from the order of service printed in the church bulletin.”

“When strangers visit our churches today, they need to see something happening that reinforces the message of salvation.”

A.W. Tozer from Of God and Men:
“We may as well face it: the whole level of spirituality among us is low. We have measured ourselves by ourselves until the incentive to seek higher plateaus in the things of the Spirit is all but gone.”

Samuel Chadwick, a British pastor in the 19th century, in The Way to Pentecost:
“The remedy…is not in reproach and bitterness but floods and rivers, winds and sun. The answer is in the demonstration of a supernatural religion, and the only way to a supernatural religion is in the abiding presence of the Spirit of God.”

Misguided Messages

Often times the message from the pulpit or small groups is we need to pray more, we need to study the Bible more, or we need to witness more. And time and time again the response is half-hearted at best. Why? Because the pastor nor anyone else has the power to effectively persuade others into obedience. Only the Holy Spirit can do that, and that’s where the church’s efforts are often misguided. Consider this from Jim Cymbala in Fresh Power:

“The root problem is the need for the Holy Spirit to come in power and birth a true spirit of prayer. In other words, we must first secure the Spirit’s presence and grace; then we can move out in powerful praying for all kinds of other needs.”

When the Holy Spirit is present and convicting people, we don’t have to twist arms and make people feel guilty. So the question is how do we “secure the Spirit’s presence?” The answer can be found in Psalm 22:3, praise and worship. Consider this comment from A.W. Tozer in Born After Midnight:

“Without doubt the emphasis in Christian teaching today should be on worship. There is little danger that we shall become merely worshipers and neglect the practical implications of the gospel. No one can long worship God in spirit and in truth before the obligation to holy service becomes too strong to resist. Fellowship with God leads straight to obedience and good works. That is the divine order and it can never be reversed.”

Enough to make you think the typical church service is putting its emphasis in the wrong place. Instead of holding the sermon in such high importance, perhaps we should spend more time creating genuine worship among the congregants.

The Stigma of Tradition

The American Heritage College Dictionary defines “tradition” as “a mode of thought or behavior followed by a people continuously from generation to generation.” Traditions represent a wonderful piece of one’s culture, but holding too tightly to them can also prevent change and progress.

Consider these statements from Jim Cymbala’s Fresh Power –
“We are probably organized far too much. The early church had a beautiful spontaneity and freshness, without being chaotic or disorderly.
“What often holds us back is what I call ‘cultural religion’ — our blind devotion to the way we were raised in church and the atmosphere we experienced every Sunday. Are we making such an impact on the world for God that we can’t humble ourselves in prayer for a change in the status quo? Revival comes when people get dissatisfied with what is and yearn deeply for what could be.

Many churches today are trying to counter this staleness within the church with grand state of the art facilities complete with coffee shops, elaborate indoor playgrounds, and innovative lighting and audio visual systems. Personally, I think all of these elements are great, but they are not the key to reaching the unchurched and developing the churched spiritually.

“Now, worship is the missing jewel in modern evangelicalism. We’re organized; we work; we have our agendas. We have almost everything, but there’s one thing that the churches, even the gospel churches, do not have: that is the ability to worship. We are not cultivating the art of worship.” – A.W. Tozer in Worship: The Missing Jewel

Discontentment

More thoughts on why the true seekers of God are discontinted with the typical church service.

From Fresh Power by Jim Cymbala – “Church services today in many places have become totally predictable, timed to the minute, devoid of any spontaneity, and with little or no sense of the Spirit’s presence.” “The very people who are thumping the Bible the most vigorously are often the ones trying to have a church without the Holy Soirit. They think that teaching alone can cause their members to live a ‘victorious Christian life’ — but it can’t be done without experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit.”

This mechanical, lukewarmness is nothing new. There are of course accounts in the Bible, but to bring it into perspective to the older generations who have shaped the church of today, A.W. Tozer made the following statement in a sermon preached during the first half of the previous century. “I say that a Christian congregation can survive and often appear to prosper in the community by the exercise of human talent and without any touch from the Holy Spirit! All that religious activity and the dear people will not know anything better until the great and terrible day when our self-employed talents are burned with fire and only that which was wrought by the Holy Ghost will stand forever!” – A.W. Tozer, Tragedy in the Church: The Missing Gifts

Thus where we are today. Perhaps we should take Jim Cymbala’s advice – “If the spirit of our churches bears no resemblance to those in God’s Word, then we had better humble ourselves and admit it.”

Don’t Let The Revolution Be About "Me"

“O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary…” – Psalm 63:1 & 2

Unfortunately, many of us feel that way week after week upon leaving our local church services. We have longings and thirsts for the presence of God that require both alone time with Him and coming together with others to spend time in worship and teaching. We keep longing for the presence of God in the “sanctuary” but leave still thirsty.

Jim Cymbala writes in Fresh Power, “It is not enough to teach and preach about the Spirit. We must experience him personally in new depths, or we will accomplish little. Without the Holy Spirit there is no quickening of the Scripture. Worship is hollow. Preaching is mechanical, never piercing the heart. Conviction of sin is almost nonexistent. Faith is more mental that heartfelt. Prayer meetings fade away. Church meetings become routine. And Christian people stay lukewarm at best.”

Sound familiar? I hope not, but for many it does. It is this unsatisfied thirst that is causing more and more serious Christians to flee the traditional church and look elsewhere. While we have a responsiblity to find a place where we can both serve and grow spiritually, we must not jump ship without making sure it is God’s will. Sometimes God leaves us in a “dry and thirsty land” to bring about change, and sometimes He is testing us. He wants to know that we will praise Him and worship Him for who He is and what He has done no matter where we are, regardless of whether our needs are being met.

As you live out your part of the revolution, make sure your focus is always on Him, no matter the circumstances, and not on your desire for more of Him. Don’t let the revolution be about you.

What’s Missing?

Exerpted from ChrsitianPost.com

“I’m afraid that in a number of our (Christian) churches around America, we’re preaching an oxymoron of an Old Testament Christianity,” Jim Cymbala, senior pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York, told summit attendants in Springfield, Mo. “We’re preaching Jesus and we’re preaching laws, but we’re missing the dynamic element of the one who is able to make you … what God wants you to be.”

“How sad to travel around the country and world and see churches trying to have a Christianity that represents the New Testament without an understanding and an emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

Pentecostal preaching is supposed to penetrate into people’s hearts and not be clever or showy; music is supposed to penetrate and not just entertain churchgoers; sinners are supposed to feel uncomfortable; and the power of the Holy Spirit is not “user-friendly and seeker-sensitive. It says ‘get in or get out'”.

With all that, “when fire (Holy Spirit) comes, there are changes in people’s lives,” Cymbala said. “This is what makes Christianity unique – God Almighty dwelling in a man or a woman.”

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