It's not that often that I have the time to sit and just read, much less finish a book in a week. However, this week I have been able to do both, read AND finish a book in a week!
Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, by Jim Cymbala (with Dean Merrill) is a re-read for me. I first read Cymbala's books back in the early 2000's. At the time, Cymbala had also published Fresh Faith and Fresh Power, both of which I read. Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire came as the third book to me in what I considered as Cymbala's Fresh Series (my naming).
Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, has given me a fresh start. Or maybe I should say, a fresh RE-START. The last couple of months have been absolutely insane for me and my family. I've picked up a number of responsibilities at the church to are well beyond my job description. At the beginning of the year, we were without a lead pastor, and having been a lead pastor for a couple of years, I was more than happy to help out with the preaching, some leadership, and a number of other responsibilities. However, it stretched me further than I anticipated leaving me to place some of my youth pastor responsibilities to the side for a short time. I also found myself questioning what God was doing with me during this season. So leaving for vacation, I knew I needed a book that would encourage me to reconnect with God, and my calling.
Today, I finished the book. In fact, I finished the book in 3 days, which is crazy. I finished it because I knew that God has been challenging me this summer to to seek Him. In July, it was announced that the church was bringing in a transitional pastor, someone who would service the church in areas of preaching, teaching, and pastoral care, while helping our leadership get ready for a new full time pastor. The timing was perfect. I had started to feel a bit overwhelmed by the fact that I have had to lay down some of our student ministry tasks in order to preach and teach. Student and family ministry our my passions, my joy! And thus far, I haven't been able to give it my best. This led my to ask God what he wanted from me? How was I to proceed? Then came the announcement, and my answer.
A fresh start. That is what September is going to bring, a fresh start and a fresh perspective. Since the announcement I have begun feeling a re-newal of passion. I have been able to focus on the very thing I was hired to do. I went away on our student ministry trip and was able to be completely present with my students. I went to camp and was able to be at camp. And, now as I finish out the last couple of days of our family vacation, I am thinking everything is going to be just the way God wants it to be.
Why? Because this fresh start is just what God has in store for me. Cymbala's book reminded me of the importance of prayer and waiting on God. It reminded me, like it did years ago, that I need to live by faith, trust God, expect him to move, and plant myself on my knees. September will begin with a hope, not in what I can do, but what God is going to do. Me? I'm going to pray and I'm going to do.
God proved himself over and over again as He led Cymbala and the folks at the Brooklyn Tabernacle. God proved himself in those early days of student ministry. The same fresh faith I found in the early 2000's, is the same fresh faith I feel now. I am excited and looking forward to this coming season.
Do I still have questions? Yes, but those questions no longer lead to the anxiety I was feeling earlier. I have been called to serve students and their families. That's what I love to do. And this fall, that is what I will be doing. Well, that and the other exciting ministry opportunities that have begun to show themselves. (I'll share some more on that later.)
It's going to be an exciting year and I can't wait to see all that God has in store.
If you're in a place where you're beginning to feel a little run down or disconnected from what you thought your calling was. Maybe you're feeling a little overworked and under appreciated. Perhaps you just need to be reminded that God is still active and moving. Or maybe, you need a little nudge to get your prayer life back on track. Let me recommend to you, Jim Cymbala's book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. It will recharge your faith, call you back to prayer, and give you a fresh hope in the power of God!