out of 5
Review by Murray
Jim Cymbala is the pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle. Although he didn't found the tabernacle, it was just a handful of parishoners when his father-in-law gave him the assignment back in the early 70s. It now attracts some 8,000 weekly seekers and has satellites thoughout the land. Ironically, Fresh Wind Fresh Fire is about not seeking numbers in your church but seeking the Holy Spirit. He, if given the opportunity, will grow your church and depth of worship. I've read numerous books by Jim but this is the most biographic and personal. The story of his daughter and her trevails away from God and miraculous return is a good example of Jim's ability to put The Word into the real and everyday. I use the words "miraculous" and "everyday" very purposely. God does work in the supernatural sense in the world today, both on top and under the radar. Jim is gifted in plain speak and approaches his ministry without haughty eloquence and claims of high standing. He argues that preaching is just a small part of the life of a church body. Any overemphaisis on the Sunday service is a detraction from the real work. Deep prayer and reaching out to the community is where the action is and belongs. I remember a story from the book where a woman gave an emotional, personal testimonial for the fifth service of the weekend and Jim was exhausted when the service ended. He was sat down on the steps leading into the sanctuary just as the service ended and noticed that a homeless man was approaching. When he got within five feet or so Jim was overwhelmed with his stench. He thought to himself how he just couldn't deal with this man just then and raised his hands to stop his approach. He started to give him some rote blessings when the man spoke and said, "I don't want that junk, I want what that redheaded wowan has who was just speaking." He rushed Jim and buried his head against his neck and wrapped his arms around him sobbing. Jim said he was imediately empowered by the Spirit. The man's stench turned into a beautiful aroma that was more enticing than anything he had ever smelled. The Lord said to him at that moment, "Jim, if you and your wife have any value to me, if you have any purpose in my work--it has to do with this odor. This is the smell of the world I died for." Jim writes, " I can affirm the existence of Jesus Christ all I want, but in order to be effective, he must come alive in my life in a way that even the pedophile, the prositute, and the pusher can see." Jim lives in Brooklyn where he has countless opportunities to address his particular calling. He is a true inspiration to me and reminds me that I need to be constantly authentic in my faith and always have the courage to testify my personal experience with the Lord and how I called upon Him after 40 years in the desert, lost and hungry without hope. I called for the first time with real purpose and brokeness and He answered. Jim has seen this time and time and time again and knows how to make it real and believable to the hardest skeptics and that's a gift. Fresh Wind Fresh Fire is a wonderful introduction to experience the gifts God has granted Jim in his ministry.