|Shining the light of Christ in stormy seasons|
|Written by Leslie Santamaria|
|Tuesday, 02 September 2014 05:04 PM America/New_York|
Brooklyn Tabernacle pastor Jim Cymbala urges refocus on early church practices and spiritual renewal
When Hurricane Sandy swept through New York City one October evening in 2012, Jim Cymbala, pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle, saw the lights of Lower Manhattan go dark. When he saw the devastation Sandy left behind, he felt the storm was a relevant metaphor for the current state of the Christian church.
Based on several warning signs, Cymbala believes the church is in the early stages of a big storm.
“Our light in the world is flickering and we must face that reality,” he writes.
In Storm: Hearing Jesus for the Times We Live In (Zondervan), written with Jennifer Schuchmann, Cymbala discusses what he calls “calamitous” signs: the shrinking number of evangelicals, the lack of personal transformation and the decline in biblical literacy.
Believers are tempted to blame forces outside the church for these problems, Cymbala says, because our culture is increasingly antagonistic to biblical faith. Yet, the New Testament church thrived in worse conditions. Rather than blaming external targets, members of the early church concentrated on “the simple instructions Christ gave them and expected his grace to help them,” he writes.
While he acknowledges that some churches are fruitful, Cymbala adds, “on the whole we are not seeing anywhere near the fruit in our churches that we read about in the New Testament.” He draws readers back to these early church principles: devotion to prayer, focus on Christ and reliance on the Holy Spirit.
Hannah’s Old Testament prayers are the model Cymbala suggests for today. He describes them as desperate, but also filled with deep faith.
Cymbala also reminds readers that the New Testament church was a powerful witness only because of God’s Spirit.
“We can still experience the stirring power of his presence today,” he writes.
The author also beseeches the church to remain salt and light in the world.
“A Holy Spirit renewal with a return to the New Testament as our authoritative guide is the only hope,” he writes.
Learn more at zondervan.com.