I just finished reading Jim Cymbala’s book Fresh Power and it has again revived my thirst for God. One of the most impactful insights from the book is the revelation that if we can explain the success of our churches in terms of programs, personalities, or well-oiled machinery without the power of the Holy Spirit, then we’ve missed the point. Cymbala appeals to A. W. Tozer who proclaimed that if the Holy Spirit were removed from our midst today, most of our largest and most rapidly growing churches would continue as they are because their growth is attributable not to the powerful working of the Holy Spirit, but to a marketing structure, business plan, and organizational genius that is very humanly originated.
We do need to operate in the “fresh power” freely available from the Holy Spirit, God’s operative agent in the world today. We do need to continue the writing of the Acts of the Holy Spirit in our modern world. For the Brooklyn Tabernacle, which Cymala pastors, the secret of this abiding power and presence of God is not merely to be found in a great choir, great preaching, or great buildings. It is found in their Tuesday night prayer meeting which serves as the fuel source for all else that happens.
I believe my favorite chapter is the second, entitled Of Cemeteries and Insane Asylums. Pastor Cymbala writes about the two extremes of today’s Christianity. The insane asylums represent the excesses of the charismatic movement. It describes the counterfeit revivals, the get-rich-quick Christianity, the mass-miracle-crusades without discernment or validation. This is Christianity that has zeal but little truth. The cemeteries are those circles of modern Christianity much like my own denomination, which have so reacted against the charismatic movement that we’ve become boxes of bones with no life. We have our truth, and like Charlton Heston and his rifle, the world can peel it from our cold, dead hands. Shame on us!
What an atrocity that we are so closed to the potential activity of the Spirit of God that we completely deny the possibility that God would want to invade our space, enliven our worship, and move us to a new level of power-filled witness. How we desperately need a fresh infilling of His presence. As we seek a proper biblical balance in all things, let us seek the fullness of power of the Holy Spirit, and let us seek to defend the truth in a pluralistic age. God, may You enliven today’s church by Your mighty Holy Spirit, and may this work begin in me!