Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire
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Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire

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Jim Cymbala's Book same title, my notes and the truth I was able to get. Great Book!

Jim Cymbala's Book same title, my notes and the truth I was able to get. Great Book!

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    Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire Presentation Transcript

    •  ABOUT THAT TIME, I came down with acough that would not go away. Ihacked and hacked for six weeks, to thepoint that Carol could hardly get anysleep at night. I was spitting up phlegmevery day. One day I went out on a party fishingboat with twenty or thirty tourists. The skywas an azure blue, and the warm Watersof the Gulf of Mexico lapped soothinglyagainst the sandy shore. Seagullsswooped and squawked overhead.
    •  The Sun felt good for my congestedlungs. As we launched out toward deepwater, the others laughed and talkedabout the fish they hoped to catchthat afternoon. I held a pole in my hands, too. . . butmy mind wasnt on fishing. I moved down toward the end of theboat, away from the crowd, andstared at the far horizon.
    •  I began mulling over the manyideas and strategies I had heardor read on church growth. One Christian leader had told me; "Forget about the institutionalchurch building; home meetingsare where its at these days. Youmight as well sell your building;God is doing a new thing."
    • A once-large and historicBaptist church a few blocksaway had invested heavily ina fleet of buses, trying to bringin large numbers of children.The only results were highinsurance rates, chronicvandalism, and anunchanged church.
    • I had attended larger churchesthat seemed to center onbringing in popular speakers andsingers, whoever was hot at themoment.This helped market the church. . .at least to other Christians.As one pastor told me with asmile, "I dont steal sheep fromother churches, but I do like toleave my gate wide open."
    •  "Whether that was a validapproach or not, it took money,so forget it-nobody would cometo downtown Brooklyn for the littlehonorarium we could afford. Moreover, Carol and I had franklyadmitted to each other thatunless God broke through, theBrooklyn Tabernacle wasdoomed.
    • We couldnt finesse it along.We couldnt organize andmarket and pro-gram ourway out.The embarrassing truth wasthat some-times even I didntwant to show up for a service-thats how bad it was.
    •  We had to have a visitation of theHoly Spirit, or bust. "Lord, I have noidea how to be a successful pastor," Iprayed softly out there on the water. "I havent been trained. All I know isthat Carol and I are working in themiddle of New York City, with peopledying on every side, overdosing fromheroin, consumed by materialism,and all the rest. If the gospel is sopowerful. . ."
    •  I couldnt finish the sentence. Tears choked me. Fortu-nately, the others on theboat were too far away to noticeas they studied their lines in theblue-green water. Then quietly but forcefully, inwords heard not with my ear butdeep within my spirit, I sensedGod speaking:
    •  If you and your wife will lead mypeople to pray and call upon myname, you will never lack firsomething fresh to preach. I will supply all the money thatsneeded, both fir the church and firyour family, and you will neverhave a building large enough tocontain the crowds I will send inresponse.
    •  I was overwhelmed. My tears intensified. I looked up atthe other passengers, stilloccupied with their fishing. Nobody glanced in my direction. I knew I had heard from God,even though I had notexperienced some strange vision,nothing sensational or peculiar.
    •  God was simply focusing on theonly answer to our situation oranybody elses, for that matter. His word to me was grounded incountless promises repeated inthe Scrip-tures; it was the verything that had produced everyrevival of the Holy Spiritthroughout history.
    •  It was the truth that had madeCharles G. Finney, Dwight L.Moody, A. B. Simpson, and othermen and women mightily used ofGod. It was what I already knew, butGod was now drawing me out,pulling me toward an actualexperience of himself and hispower.
    • He was telling me thatmy hunger for him andhis transforming powerwould be satisfied as Iled my tinycongregation to callout to him in prayer.
    •  As the boat docked later thatafternoon, I felt wonder-fully calm. A few days later I flew hack to NewYork, still the same young pastor I hadalways been. But all the modern trends and newideas about church growth were nowirrele-vant. God had promised to provide, torespond to our cries for divine help.
    •  We were not alone, attemptingthe impossible in a heartlessworld. God was present, and he wouldact on our behalf. A holy excitement came overme. I actually looked for-ward to thenext Sunday morning on AtlanticAvenue.
    • Lord let this Word cometrue in our church TheBridge Network, God isnot a respecter ofpersons what He did forthem He will do for us ifwe seek Him!
    •  WELCOME BACK, PASTOR CYMBALA,"people said when they saw me thatmorning."Did you have a good rest inFlorida? Hows your cough?" I told them my cough was muchbetter, but inside, I couldnt wait to tellthem something far more important. Early in the service I said, "Brothers andsisters, I really feel that Ive heard fromGod about the future of our church.
    •  While I was away, I was callingout to God to help us-to help me-understand what he wants mostfrom us. And I believe Ive heard ananswer "Its not fancy or profound orspectacular. But I want to say toyou today with all the seriousness Ican muster:
    • From this day on, the prayermeeting will be thebarometer of our church.What happens on Tuesdaynight will be the gauge bywhich we will judgesuccess or failure becausethat will be the measure bywhich God blesses us.
    •  "If we call upon the Lord, he haspromised in his Word to answer, tobring the unsaved to himself, to pourout his Spirit among us. If we dont call upon the Lord, he haspromised nothing-nothing at all . It‟sas simple as that. No matter what I preach or what weclaim to believe in our heads, thefuture will depend upon our times ofprayer.
    • Lets call uponthe Lord to dowhat He hassaid he will do!
    •  "This is the engine that will drive thechurch. Yes, I want you to keep comingon Sundays-but Tuesday night is what itsreally all about. Carol and I have set ourcourse, and we hope youll come alongwith us." A minister from Australia (or perhaps itwas New Zealand) happened to bepresent that morning-a rare occurrence.I introduced him and invited him to say afew words. He walked to the front andmade just one comment:
    •  "I heard what your pastor said. Heressomething to think about: "You can tell how popular a church isby who comes on Sunday morning. "You can tell how popular the pastoror evangelist is by who comes onSunday night. "But you can tell how popular Jesus isby who comes to the prayer meeting." And with that, he walked off theplatform. That was all. I never saw himagain.
    •  2 Corinthians 4:3-4 (3) But if our gospel be hid, it is hid tothem that are lost: (4) In whom the godof this world hath blinded the minds ofthem which believe not, lest the light ofthe glorious gospel of Christ, who is theimage of God, should shine unto them. We really do not pray for God to savepeople because He already has in ChristJesus but we pray To pull do strongholdsand barriers to their salvation
    •  Joshua 24:15 (15) And if it seem evil unto youto serve the LORD, choose you thisday whom ye will serve; whetherthe gods which your fathersserved that were on the other sideof the flood, or the gods of theAmorites, in whose land ye dwell:but as for me and my house, wewill serve the LORD.
    • IF MY ANNOUNCEMENT to thatcongregation sounds strangeand overbearing, considerthat it was not a whole lotdifferent from what CharlesHaddon Spurgeon, the greatBritish pulpiteer, had said in asermon almost exactly ahundred years before:
    •  The condition of the church may be veryaccurately gauged by its prayermeetings. So is the prayer meet-ing a grace-ometer, and from it we may judge of theamount of divine working among apeople. If God be near a church, it must pray.And if He be not there, one of the firsttokens of his absence will be aslothfulness in prayer.
    •  That first Tuesday night, fifteen to eighteenpeople showed up. I had no agenda orprogram laid out; I just stood up and led thepeople in singing and praising God. Out ofthat came extended prayer. I felt a new sense of unity and love amongus. God seemed to be knitting us together. Ididnt preach a typical sermon; there wasnew liberty to wait on Gods presence.
    •  In the weeks that followed, answers toprayer became noticeable. New peoplegradually joined, with talents and skills thatcould help us. Unsaved relatives and total strangersbegan to show up. We started to think ofourselves as a "Holy Ghost emergencyroom" where people in spiritual traumacould be rescued. In most hospitals, the ER isnt decorated asbeautifully or fashionably as the rest of thebuilding, but its very efficient in saving lives.
    • We were a prime example ofwhat the great Scottishdevotional writer Andrew Bonarwrote in 1853:"God likes to see His people shutup to this, that there is no hopebut in prayer. Herein lies theChurchs power against theworld."
    •  We have sent politicians out therewithout the backing spiritual powermany have failed or given up likeGovernor Fayose who used to be inDeeper life to Obasanjo who gave his lifein prison & the former senate President tomention a few! It‟s our power against the world & tosucceed in anything at all we must takeadvantage of the only thing we havethat an unbeliever does not have;access to God!
    •  So week after week, I keptencouraging the people to pray.And of course, as Samuel Chadwicksaid long ago, the greatest answerto prayer is more prayer. We were not there to hear oneanother give voice to eloquentprayers; we were too desperate forthat. We focused vertically, on God,rather than horizontally on oneanother.
    • Much of the time we called outto the Lord as a group, allpraying aloud in concert, apractice that continues to thisday.At other times we would joinhands in circles of prayer, orvarious people would speak upwith a special burden to express.
    •  The format of a prayer meeting is notnearly as impor-tant as its essence-touching the Almighty, crying out withones whole being. I have been in noisy prayer meetingsthat were mainly a show. I have beenwith groups in times of silent prayer thatwere deeply spiritual. The atmosphere of the meeting mayvary; what matters most is that weencounter the God of the universe, notjust each other.
    •  I also began to ease up in the Sundaymeetings and not control them: sotightly with a microphone. The usual format-two songs, thenannouncements, special music by thechoir, the offering, then the sermon,finally a benediction- was graduallylaid aside as God began to loosen meup. I didnt have to be so nervous oruptight-or phony. I had only beenprotecting myself out of fear.
    • After all, people werenthungry for fancy sermons ororganizational polish.They just wanted love.They wanted to know thatGod could pick them up andgive them a secondchance.
    •  In those early days on AtlanticAvenue, as people drew, near tothe Lord, received the Spiritsfullness, and rekindled their firstlove for God, they naturallybegan to talk about it I on theirjobs, in their apartment buildings,at family gatherings. Soon they were bringing newpeople.
    •  From that day to the present, morethan two decades later, there hasnever been a season of decline inthe church, thank God. By his grace we have never had afaction rise up and decide to splitaway. God has continued to send peoplewho need help; often I cant evenfind out how they learned of us.
    •  The offerings improved to the pointthat we could make some buildingrepairs. We replaced the tumbledown pewswith fiberglass chairs that lockedtogether. More important, however, peoplebegan to sense the presence of theLord in that humble place. They feltloved. Hardened people wouldcome in and break down evenduring the singing. The choir began to grow.
    • Lets pray for people tobe committed to Godnot to the Church first.Its God first and thencommitment to thechurch and its people
    • CAROL HAD LOVED MUSIC fromthe time she was a teenager.She came by it honestly-herfather had been an operasinger before his conversion,and her grandmother was apianist.Growing up around the citymeant that she had absorbedthe sounds of many cultures..
    •  Inside her head, the classicsblended with black gospel,traditional Scandinavian hymns withcontemporary worship chorusesand Caribbean rhythms. At the age of only sixteen orseventeen, a dream had enteredher heart of directing a large choirsomeday-not a stiff, formal choir,but a choir of the common people
    • Carol did not have acompetent accompanist atthe church, so she had to playthe piano and lead the groupsimul-taneously.She doesnt know how to readmusic, so she figured out thesongs in her head and thentaught the group by rate.
    •  Even so, the number of singersbegan to climb, eventuallyreaching fifty or so. The platform was not nearly largeenough to hold them; they wouldjust stand all across the front andSing, overwhelming the smallbuilding with their sound. Practices were held on Fridaynights.
    •  That may surprise readers who findthat other weekend events would betoo stiff a competition for peoplestime. But the urban schedule is dif-ferent;people are too rushed during theweek with their jobs and the longcommutes on trains, buses, andsubways. They finally relax when Friday eveningcomes, knowing they dont have toget up early the next day.
    •  Carol would begin with a half hourof prayer. Often a spirit of worshipfell on the group. Someone mightvolunteer a testimony or feelimpressed to read Scripture. Carol might offer a shortexhortation. Many nights there was more prayerand worship than there waspracticing; sometimes the choirnever got around to singing at all.
    •  This experience put people in awhole different frame of mind. The choir wasnt just coming up withtwo "specials" to sing before thesermon; rather, the members wereengaged in full-scale ministry. The band members were asuntrained as Carol. Joey Vazquez,who became the bass player,learned the instrument "on the job."
    •  He had been plunking around ona bass at a friends house oneday; at choir practice the nextnight, his friend jokingly said thatJoey knew how to play. Carol assumed the friend wasserious and put Joey to work. Thatwas the beginning of his career asa bass player; he is still with thechurch today.
    •  Our drummer, MichaelArchibald, a man from Trinidad,has likewise never had lessons.Jonathan Woodby, our organist(and one of the best in America,we think), cannot read music.Yet these two have performed ontwo Grammy Award- winningalbums.
    •  They didn‟t winGrammys from skill ortechnical knowledgealone or even disciplineits Gods grace on themas a group that gavethem recognition in theworld
    •  The choir played a crucial role when westarted hosting monthly rallies incooperation with Teen Challenge, amin-istry to drug addicts and gangmembers that was started in Brooklyn in1958 by David Wilkerson. Together with Teen Challenge, werented a big Baptist church. For the firstrally we advertised the film The Cross andthe Switchblade, which tells theconversion story of the notorious gangleader Nicky Cruz.
    •  As more churches got involved in therallies, Carol formed a multiracial "NewYork Challenge Choir" made up ofpeople from the Tabernacle plus anyothers who wanted to sing-eighty ormore voices altogether. It was about this time also that Carolwrote her first song. She took theChristmas carol "Joy to the World" andcreated a new melody for it. Again, shedidnt know how to write it down, butsimply taught it to the choir by rote.
    • John 3:1-6(5) Jesus answered, Verily,verily, I say unto thee, Excepta man be born of water andof the Spirit, he cannot enterinto the kingdom of God.(6)That which is born of the fleshis flesh; and that which is bornof the Spirit is spirit.
    •  That which is born of the flesh ishuman source but that which isborn of the Spirit is from heaven. Anything we come up with ourown thinking alone is flesh butwhen we allow the birth of ourideas and project be of the Spirit. No one is going to come to ourprograms or give us awards untilthey are spiritually birthed
    • The biggest distributor ofChristian choral music inAmerica got acquainted withus, liked the music, and atdown with Carol one day toask: „So what is the formula here?What makes this work?”
    •  She began to talking about thechoir prayer meeting. The visitorsaid to himself, She didn’tunderstand my question. I want toknow what makes the music soinspirational. It was months before he realizedthat the life of the music comesfrom prayer. That‟s the formula.
    •  Prayer cannot truly be taught byprinciples and seminars andsymposiums. It has to be born out of awhole environment of felt need. If I say,“I ought to pray,” I will soon run out ofmotivation and quit; the flesh is toostrong. I have to be driven to pray. Yes, the roughness of inner-city life haspressed us to pray…. But is the rest of thecountry coasting along in fine shape? Ithink not.
    •  Then Lanny Wolfe, a well-known gospelsinger and songwriter, visited a service,he was captivated by the choirs sound,now up to one hundred voices. He encouraged Carol to write more."You have an eclectic feel thats totallydifferent," he said. “ The songs you write are unlike anything Iwould do, or Bill Gaither, or anyone else." Lannys encouragement meant a greatdeal to both of us.
    •  Since then, of course, Carols musichas gone far and wide across thecountry and is sung in all kinds ofchurches, whatever the style of theirworship. After selling one million units ofBrooklyn Tabernacle sheet music,Word Music gave Carol an award in1994. Ironically, the Tabernacle has notbought a single piece of her music-itwouldnt do any good for a choir thatdoesnt read music.
    • PRAYER IS THE SOURCE of theChristian life, a Christians life-line.Otherwise, its like having a babyin your arms and dress-ing her upso cute-but shes not breathing!Never mind the frilly clothes;stabilize the childs vital signs.It does no good to talk tosomeone in a comatose state.
    •  Thats why the great emphasis onteaching in todays churches isproducing such limited results. Teaching is good only wheretheres life to be channeled. If the listeners are in a spiritualcoma, what were telling themmay be fine and orthodox, butunfortunately, spiritual life cannotbe taught.
    • Pastors and churches have toget uncomfortable enough tosay, "We are not NewTestament Christians if wedont have a prayer life."This conviction makes ussquirm a little, but how else willthere be a breakthrough withGod?
    •  If we truly think about what Acts2:42 says-"They devotedthemselves to the apostlesteaching and to the fellowship, tothe breaking of bread and toprayer" We can see that prayer is almost aproof of a churchs normalcy. Calling on the name of the Lord isthe fourth great hallmark in the list.
    •  If my church or your church isntpraying, we shouldnt be boastingin our orthodoxy or our Sundaymorning atten-dance figures. In fact, Carol and I have toldeach other more than once thatif the spirit of brokenness andcalling on God ever slacks off inthe Brooklyn Tabernacle, wellknow were in trouble, even if wehave 10,000 in attendance.