Pastor Alec Rowlands of Edmonds, Washington's Westgate Chapel, invites readers on "a quest to discover what it means to experience the awesome, yet very tangible presence of God" in his September 1 release, "The Presence." He notes, such spiritual encounters with the living God, in relationship with the Holy Spirit "produces changed hearts, resulting in changed lives that bring glory and praise to God."
He writes with authority from an unforgettable encounter he had with the supernatural presence, power and glory of the "untamed Lion of Judah" when he was eleven-years-old, an experience that changed his life and influenced everything he thought and did from that point forward.
However, he warns, such happenings are never a substitute for faith, nor are they to be "elevated above scripture" or sought after for the experience alone. Yet, he also believes "our highest purpose is to know, experience, enjoy and glorify God." Because that is the "spiritual birthright" of those "reborn in Christ."
Still, how can God be enjoyed when for many Christians He remains a "distant, disengaged disciplinarian" and their salvation is viewed as merely "a change in status," writes Rowland. It's as if they have their ticket to heaven since they walked the aisle of salvation and have no interest in their spiritual birthright which is to "know, experience and glorify God."
That describes an intimate, vibrant personal relationship through the power of the Holy Spirit which is what God wants with His children and what His children need according to Rowland. The seeming paradox is that pursuit of God's presence is both the "journey and the destination, he writes." Although "God rewards those who earnestly seek Him," according to Hebrews 11:6 and Acts 17:27, such encounters only occur "in ways and times that God knows will be best for us and will advance his purpose in our lives," writes Rowland.
Rowlands compares our search for God's presence to that of a "little kid playing hide-and-seek with a parent." No parent hides from a child where they can't be found, parents play the game out of "a desire to love and be with their child" which is a wonderful analogy of how God wants to be in relationship with us.
Because God is more than a "genie in a bottle" who grants wishes. He wants to be known and loved in return because "love" is a two-way street and "must be nurtured." Yet such spiritual encounters, fueled by the Holy Spirit aren't common in churches across America. That lack leads to a "growing hunger for God," notes Rowlands and a dissatisfaction with the "Christian life" in general that he believes has led to a decline in church attendance. A fact further illustrated by the rise in "nontraditional spirituality to fill the void."
In The Presence, Pastor Rowlands uses the Bible and personal anecdotes about himself and others as examples of encounters with God through the power of the Holy Spirit. He provides answers to questions like, what is God's Presence and purpose with a spiritual encounter? What should I look for, how should I prepare and what part does the Holy Spirit play?
Filled with spiritual insights and practical advice, The Presence encourages and invites readers into genuine spiritual renewal and revival for those who are hungry for more of God.
'The Presence, Experiencing More of God,' by Alec Rowlands, Forward by Jim Cymbala, Tyndale Momentum, 2014, 272 Pages, 978-1414387246, $15.99
Midwest Book Reviews—"Gail's Bookshelf:" August 2014
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The Presence Participant's Guide: Experiencing More of God
Have you settled for far less of God than He wants to reveal? Do you feel close to God in your everyday life . . . or does He too often seem distant and silent? Maybe, like many Christians, you live somewhere between those two extremes. You occasionally sense God’s presence, but at other times feel as if He’s a million miles away.
The wonder of closeness with God is available to you here and now. This workbook, a companion to The Presence DVD curriculum (and book) by Alec Rowlands, walks you through six sessions of seeking God. Rowlands reveals the ways God makes His presence known, how you can prepare for it, and how experiencing it will transform everything. As you draw near to God—as you are consumed by His love and your life is rearranged by His grace—you’ll find fulfillment, purpose, and an unmatched sense of adventure. If you’re feeling a hunger for more of God, you are already on your way to discovering: He is good. He is powerful. He is here. (The Presence DVD and book are available separately.)
Spirit Rising: Tapping into the Power of the Holy Spirit. by Jim Cymbala w/Jennifer Schumann
What will God do when you open your life to the Holy Spirit?
Christianity is impossible without the Holy Spirit. So why do we talk so little about him? In Spirit Rising, Pastor Jim Cymbala combines biblical insights with stunning stories of the Holy Spirit’s work to help you experience God’s power in a new way.
Nothing will change your prayer life, your church, or your study of God’s Word more than opening your heart to the Spirit. So if you want more excitement and joy, come discover a deeper understanding of how the Holy Spirit moves—and how you can join him.
“Jim Cymbala invites you and me to raise our sails and ride the warm winds of God’s Spirit. His careful study and personal credibility merge to create this guide to power-packed living.”
—Max Lucado, Pastor and bestselling author
Transforming Prayer: How Everything Changes When You Seek God's Face, by Daniel Henderson, Foreword by Jim Cymbala
Praying Christians are hungry to learn how to connect with God in a way that takes them beyond the typical grocery-list approach. Transforming Prayer explores the profound difference between seeking God's hand (what he does for people) and seeking God's face (who he really is). With captivating stories of the transformative power of personal worship and its connection with prayer, this book equips readers with practical tools for a more effective personal and corporate prayer life.
Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire: What Happens When God's Spirit Invades the Hearts of His People, by Jim Cymbala, w/Dean Merrill
The Times Are Urgent God Is on the Move Now Is the Moment to … ask God to ignite his fire in your soul! Pastor Jim Cymbala believes that Jesus wants to renew his people—to call us back from spiritual dead ends, apathy, and lukewarm religion. Cymbala knows the difference firsthand.
Thirty-five years ago his own church, the Brooklyn Tabernacle, was a struggling congregation of twenty. Then they began to pray … God began to move … street-hardened lives by the hundreds were changed by the love of Christ … and today they are more than ten thousand strong.
The story of what happened to this broken-down church in one of America’s toughest neighborhoods points the way to new spiritual vitality in the church and in your own life. Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire shows what the Holy Spirit can do when believers get serious about prayer and the gospel. As this compelling book reveals, God moves in life-changing ways when we set aside our own agendas, take him at his word, and listen for his voice.
When God's People Pray Participant's Guide: Six Sessions on the Transforming Power of Prayer (Zondervangroupware(tm) Small Group Edition), by Jim Cymbala
This participant’s guide will help you to understand, personalize, and apply the powerful, life-changing concepts described in the six video sessions of When God’s People Pray Small Group DVD.
It includes questions to think about, session outlines with room for note-taking, discussion questions, Bible studies, a prayer journal, and more. Prayer can change lives and circumstances like nothing else can. What are the keys that unlock its power, that turn prayer from a mere activity into a vital link with God and all his resources?
In When God’s People Pray, Jim Cymbala, pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle, shows you and your small group truths about prayer that God has used to turn his own church from a tiny, struggling inner-city congregation into a vital, thriving community of believers who pray with passion, focus, and faith. Featuring teachings by Jim Cymbala and video interviews of ordinary people who have received extraordinary answers to their prayers, these six sessions will help you pray with new confidence. Six sessions [Show thumbnails for the following sessions.] God’s Heart for Us The Amazing Power of Prayer Obedience in Prayer The Word of God and Prayer Why Prayer Matters Creating a Prayer Ministry in Your Church
One Cry: A Nationwide Call for Spiritual Awakening, by Byron Paulus, Bill Elliff & Jim Cymbala
One Cry: A Call to Spiritual Awakening is a challenge, a plea for readers to shake off spiritual apathy and wake up to the hope of God moving with extraordinary power in our day. It paints a picture of both desperation and hope - without spiritual revival our country has no hope, but when it comes we will need no other hope. Drawing on an abundance of stories from ordinary people who have experienced the power of life-changing revival in their own lives, this books provides a contemporary roadmap for spiritual awakening and real revival.
Passionate and story-rich, One Cry engages readers to seek God urgently at this moment in history, it inspires them with hope for what God can do, and it invites them to join a growing movement of believers who are uniting in one cry for revival and spiritual awakening. It is a summons to join together in a single focus, passionate prayer for revival in our nation like hasn't been seen in nearly two hundred years.
Breakthrough Prayer: The Power of Connecting with the Heart of God, by Jim Cymbala
From the Book Meet three who discovered the power of “breakthrough prayer.” “My husband and I had a dream of helping desperate young women. But no banker in his right mind would finance such a venture. So we prayed and God broke through every single obstacle we faced. That was just the beginning of the wonderful roller-coaster ride we call ‘faith.’” —Grace (chapter 7)
“Voices inside my head were constantly screaming at me. I became like an animal in the street, muttering or yelling out a stream of profanity as people passed by. One day I screamed out, Jesus, help me! O God, you’re my only hope! That was the breakthrough prayer that saved my life.” —Danny (chapter 2)
“Talk about breakthrough prayer! I was buried under 110 stories of steel and concrete after the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers when God heard my cry for help.” —Genelle (chapter 3)
The Life God Blesses: The Secret of Enjoying God's Favor, by Jim Cymbala
God Is Searching for People to Bless Jim Cymbala believes that God plays "favorites"--that certain people experience his blessings more abundantly than others. Have these people learned a formula or a simple technique that will guarantee his blessing? Or is there something more profound at work in their lives?
In The Life God Blesses, Jim Cymbala points out that God is constantly searching for people to bless. He’s not looking for men and women with special talents or unusual intelligence or great strength but for those who possess a certain kind of heart. Find out how to have a heart that God cannot resist and you will become a channel of his blessing for your family, your church, and your world.
Lord Change Me, by James McDonald, Forward by Jim Cymbala
prepare yourself for an incredible, life-changing experience. Change is difficult, but it's made even harder without practical guidance on how to do it. You will find that guidance in Lord, Change Me. James MacDonald is serious about the business of change according to God's Word. While many tell us that we should change and be more like Christ, MacDonald actually teaches us how to do it. Lord, Change Me is split into three sections as the model for approaching change:
• The Preparation for Change: choosing the right method and partnering with God to select the areas in need of change in your life.
• The Process of Change: exploring the biblical method of saying 'no' to sinful patterns and 'yes' to the things God desires for you.
• The Power to Change: explaining how to experience the power of God personally and continuously.
This is a book about a different you. There are no warm fuzzies within these pages. Rather, MacDonald is a direct, to-the-point pastor with a heart for seeing lives completely transformed by the truth of the Gospel. If you're serious about changing your life, this book is just what you need.