“Only the Holy Spirit can make the things of Christ real and alive to people,” writes Jim Cymbala in his new book, Spirit Rising. As Francis Chan puts it in the Foreword, “This book is not about asking for the Holy Spirit’s help. It is about asking Him to take over.”
With the passion of an Old Testament prophet, Cymbala writes with a Biblical foundation and stories of life transformation. The power of the Holy Spirit is not a phenomenon of 2,000 years ago, but the potential transforming power of the Holy Spirit in one’s life today. The book is divided into 3 parts:
1. God’s Agent on Earth
In this first part, Cymbala looks at who the Holy Spirit is. He sees the Holy Spirit as being “underappreciated and underpreached in the twenty-first-century church.” He seeks to give the Holy Spirit “His due”.
I appreciate his emphasis on the work of the Spirit. The Bible is clear about the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. The activity of the Spirit is not limited to the stories of the Scriptures, but are seen in the transforming work He does through the Scriptures in changing lives.
2. When God’s Spirit Moves
When God’s Spirit moves the Word of God comes alive in the lives of people. Joy becomes a reality in life no matter the circumstances and Cymbala uses some dire circumstances in people’s lives to show how joy still came through.
When God’s Spirit moves there is power and there is love. As God’s people gather in prayer and immerse themselves in the Word, they hear the Spirit speak and they see the Spirit move.
3. When We Surrender to the Holy Spirit
Remember this is book is not about getting the Holy Spirit’s help in life, it is surrendering to the Holy Spirit’s work. Such surrender empowers love at work in one’s life. Such love drives Paul in his mission work and in ours. Such love empowers us to love the unlovable and overcome fear. We live not in our power, but with the Spirit’s power rising in our lives.
Two strengths of the book is an emphasis on what God’s Word says and stories of transformation in the lives of people. Roma’s story in part 1, Evelyn and Diana in part 2, and Terry’s and Annes story in part 3 are stories of incredible life change. Out of the most horrific situations, God has brought healing and hope through the work of the Spirt.
In the closing chapters Cymbala focuses on what I know him for, and that is a man of great prayer. One of the great quotes from the book for me is : “The Spirit helps us to do prayer … He reveals our critical need of daily grace by contrasting God’s strength with our human frailty.” The result is: “The Spirit readjusts our priorities based on eternal values.”
As he closes the book, Cymbala asks two great questions:
1. Who know how God can use you if you step out in faith and let the Holy Spirit take control?
2. Why have we settled for anemic Christian living and lifeless church routines when the living Spirit of God is available for the asking?
Spirit Rising challenges me to take that step of faith as the Holy Spirit is in control and to never settle for anemic Christian living.
I give Spirit Rising 4 out of 5 stars. I greatly appreciate what Jim Cymbala has to say, I simply wish there had been more examples of churches today where the Spirit is rising. Brooklyn Tabernacle Church is a great church, but it is not the only church where the Spirit is rising. As he lifted up the saints of yesteryear from Booth to Finney to Moody, I wish he had lifted up more today.
I received this book as a gift from Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review. My thanks to Zondervan for such a generous gift and uplifting book to read. For those wanting to go deeper with Spirit Rising there is a small group study with a DVD and 6 Sessions called When the Spirit Moves.