Spirit Rising (book review)

Every time I read or hear Jim Cymbala speak, I know I’m hearing from a man who is hearing from God. This is a humble man who has his spiritual ears tuned-in to the Holy Spirit’s voice, and in Spirit Rising we hear a clear call for us to tune-in to the Spirit’s voice as well.

As I began to read this book, a quote near the beginning jumped off the page and into my heart—

Many of us want more of God but not to the point of being ridiculed. Our Western minds think, I will serve the Lord, but I will remain in control as I do it. But whether we like it or not, that’s not how the church began. The church began with Spirit-controlled Christians who yielded themselves to God. That’s radical, yes, but that’s the way the Lord did it.

Some might say, “Yeah, but we’ve improved upon the New Testament style of Christianity.” If that’s true, I want to see the spiritual fruit our improvements have produced. People may have mocked those first, “unsophisticated” Christians, but thousands got saved in the first four chapters of Acts. The Word of God was treasured. The churches were filled with sacrificial love. A holy excitement pervaded the atmosphere. Have we really improved upon that?

Through a closer look at the New Testament church, through personal experience, through the voices of notable leaders in the church’s history, and through personal testimonies, Pastor Cymbala makes it clear that today’s Christianity is sadly missing an intimate connection with the Holy Spirit. The subtitle—tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit—is an apt description of what you will find in this book.

If you are hungry for more of God’s presence in your life, in your church, in your community, please dive into Spirit Rising and be prepared to have your spiritual eyes opened!

Prayer Focus: Elections

As this week marks the beginning of a “new year,” (as students are heading back to school and we’re all settling in to our fall routines), we are taking time to focus our prayers.

Today’s pray focus is on our governmental elections. 

Election day in the United States is just two months away. As Christians we have a responsibility to pray for those who are in authority over us. We have a responsibility to know where political candidates stand on the issues. And we have a responsibility to vote. We can also pray that God will raise up leaders who call on His help and honor His Word in their decisions.

I love praying Scriptures. Here is an important passage related to today’s prayer focus—

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. (1 Peters 2:13-17)

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior. (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

Mark Driscoll has an excellent post called Pray For Our Leaders. He says,

We should be informed citizens who take our privilege of voting seriously. Our involvement with the political process is what makes the form of government in the United States work. But God has something much more in mind for us when it comes to our political involvement.

When it comes to politics, there is one thing in particular that pleases God. What pleases God is that we pray for our leaders, regardless of who they are and what political party they represent.

I encourage you to read the rest of Pastor Mark’s post by clicking here.

UPDATE: Here are the things we prayed for today…

Week of prayer – government

Myopia

Myopia is also known as nearsightedness. It occurs when light entering the eye is focused incorrectly, making distant objects appear blurred. Nearsightedness is a type of refractive error of the eye. If you are nearsighted, you have trouble seeing things that are far away.

Myopia is a problem physically and spiritually.

Consider the Apostle Paul. He was in prison, and yet he wrote:

Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the Word of God more courageously and fearlessly. (Philippians 1:14)

The definition of nearsightedness says that an incorrect refracting of the light makes far object blurry, so we tend to focus only on what’s near to us.

How many of us would have blamed Paul if from his prison cell he cried out, “Why me, O God? What have I done wrong? Please get me out of here!”

This would have been a very myopic view, where Paul was only concerned about what was close; namely, himself and his needs! But Paul allowed the light of God to be properly refracted in his spiritual sight, and he could see the big picture.

As a result of his imprisonment, many other brothers were now encouraged to speak out more boldly than before. 

If you’re going through some trying times, don’t give in to myopia. Lift up your spiritual eyes to your loving Heavenly Father. He can shine the light of His Holy Spirit in a way that just may help you to see what He is accomplishing. Through this you will be encouraged AND be an encouragements to others.

As Billy Graham noted, “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”

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