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Book Review by Gary F. Zeolla
Fresh Power: Experiencing the Vast Resources of the Spirit of God (c) 2001. This book is available from Books-A-Million.
The main idea of this book is that Christians need the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. And with this sentiment this writer gives a wholehearted “Amen.” But, unfortunately, when the subject of the need for the Holy Sprit comes up today Christians in more traditional churches back off due to being afraid that the excesses seen in charismatic circles is what is being promoted. But Cymbala manages to promote the need for the Holy Sprit but at the same time rebukes charismatics for their excesses.
He writes, “While some churches such as I have been describing might be referred to as cemeteries … others on the other side of the spectrum are more like asylums. We have some horrendous abuses going on in the name of the Sprit of God. Many in the so-called charismatic movement have done bizarre things that are not only outside New Testament teaching but actually contradict it” (pp. 26,26, ellipse in original).
But the need for the power of the Spirit in the lives of all Christians is illustrated by Cymbala when he discuss how there seems to be little different between the behavior of Christians and non-Christians today. For instance, the rate of divorce among Christians is actually higher than among non-Christians! (p.22). Cymbala also discusses how the Church seems to be having little impact on the surrounding culture. But he doesn’t just decry such problems but presents examples of how things can change.
Cymbala himself is the pastor of a large church. And he relates many stories of people whose lives were changed by the power of the Holy Spirit operating in his church. But he isn’t promoting just his church but relates how people have been changed by the Spirit outside of his church as well.
One of the most amazing stories he tells is in regards to “the Son of Sam”-the infamous serial killer in New York City in the late 1970’s. His real name is David Berkowitz. He tells the story of Berkowitz’s childhood and how he grew up to be the hated-filled killer that he was. But then Berkowitz was converted by the Holy Spirit and is now serving God in prison.
Such changes in a person require more than just the initial experience of salvation. As Cymbala writes, “Just as forgiveness can only come through Christ’s work on Calvary, daily living for the Lord can only be done through the Spirit” (p.159, italics in original).
Overall, this is a very good book. The stories of changed lives are very encouraging and are worth the price of the book itself. But most of all, the overall message of the need for more of the Sprit in the Church at large and in the lives of each and every Christian is much needed today.
The one deficiency in this book is the use of the NIV for most of the Scripture quotations. As I relate in detail in my book Differences Between Bible Versions, the NIV is not a very reliable version of the Bible. So I would suggest when reading Cymbala’s book to have a more reliable version like the KJV or NKJV on hand to compare Scripture quotations.
But with that one caveat, I would highly recommend Fresh Power.
The above book review was posted on this Web site February 17, 2002.
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