One Holy FireOne Holy Fire
Nicky Cruz
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Nicky Cruz shares lively, never-before-published stories from his ministry that will quicken readers' hearts and spark their souls. Stories of physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. Of masses coming to salvation in Jesus Christ. Of hand-to-hand spiritual warfare. Of the supernatural provision and presence of God's Spirit in every area of his life and ministry. Cruz also explores the promises in Scripture regarding the Spirit's work on earth, addressing such questions as: What does it mean to "walk in the Spirit"? How does a supernatural God do business in a natural world? Why has the body of Christ been so slow to come to grips with the Spirit's power and presence? In his first new book in eight years, the renowned author of the Christian classic Run, Baby, Run introduces readers to the Holy Spirit. He challenges them to live according to the Spirit's moment-by-moment guidance. And he inspires them to open their heart and let the Spirit ignite their soul.
     

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Introduction

A Gift to Embrace

God is the giver of amazing gifts, overwhelmingly wonderful gifts. But there's such a thing as our not knowing how to receive them. That was the case for me when my firstborn child, Alicia, arrived at Presbyterian Hospital in Brooklyn, New York.

I was only twenty-three at the time, a young married man with a horrible past and a relatively new faith in the Lord. I was still trying to figure out how to be a decent husband to my beautiful bride, Gloria, and suddenly I found myself with the task of being a father to a precious little girl, as well. How could I possibly measure up?

Just a few years earlier a court-appointed psychologist had told me that I would never be normal. Five times he looked me in the eyes, point blank, and said, "Nicky, there is no way you can ever have a normal family. With a past like yours you'll never be able to make a marriage last. You'll be a wife beater, and you'll abuse your kids if you ever have any." He also told me the reason: "You have a dark side in your life—a side that's killing you, slowly but surely. You don't know how to love, and you don't know how to be loved."

Now here I was, a new husband and father, and those words haunted me at every turn.

From the moment we brought Alicia home from the hospital, Gloria could tell something was wrong. Several times I caught her watching me from across the room as I would bend over our daughter's crib and make faces. I'd tickle her under her tiny arms and brush her face with my hands, but I never picked her up. I didn't know how.

One evening, when Alicia was four weeks old, Gloria decided to confront me about this. I had just taken a shower and was leaning over our baby's crib, making gestures with my mouth and laughing at her reactions. Gloria could no longer keep silent. "What's the matter, Nicky?" she said. "What are you afraid of? Why don't you ever hold our baby?"

I didn't know what to say. I was too proud to admit my fears, so I just stood looking at her, speechless.

There was a lot of my background that I'd kept hidden from Gloria. She knew that I had a sordid past—much more brutal than most—but I'd never told her just how painful and abusive my childhood had been. I was convinced that she would never have married me if she'd known about the horrible things I had experienced—and done. So I never told her everything. "Tell me, Nicky," Gloria persisted. "Why don’t you ever want to hold Alicia?"

Finally I said to her, "I don’t know how."

She seemed surprised by my answer. "Then let me show you," she said.

Gently she scooped Alicia into her arms and instructed me to extend my hands toward her. She slowly placed Alicia into my arms and told me to bend my elbows and let her roll toward my chest. I did as she said, as slowly and gently as I knew how. I'd never held a baby, and I was afraid I might hurt her.

I wasn't wearing a shirt, and as I held her tiny body against my chest, I could feel the warmth of her soft skin against mine. Her eyes were open, and she was looking up at me, smiling, cooing. At that instant a wave of emotion began to well up within me. This wasn't what I expected. The feeling was like nothing I had ever experienced. As I held my precious daughter tightly against my chest, I could literally feel the tenderness and love running through my heart, right down to my soul. It was overwhelming. Tears began forming in my eyes. Such emotion. How could I have possibly prepared myself for such a moment of pure and innocent love?

For the first time in my life I understood what it meant to be a father—to be part of a family. It was as if God was telling me, Nicky, this is my gift to you. You've trusted me with your soul, and now I entrust you with this beautiful child. Never forget that she belongs to me. Take care of her. Protect her. Teach her. Love her as I have loved you.

In a million words I couldn’t describe the feelings of awe and gratitude that came over me at that moment—the feelings that completely enveloped my heart and spirit as I stood cuddling this precious gift that God had so graciously given me. It was a gift that I didn't deserve and could never repay. I suddenly saw Alicia as so much more than a child; she was my future, my chance to start over, my chance to restore the years I had wasted.

My past was over. This was my life, my new destiny and responsibility before God.

I pledged to Jesus that from that moment on, I would faithfully care for my daughter—I would willingly do anything for her, even die for her. I suddenly understood as never before the importance of a child's coming into this world and how to receive such an incredible gift from God. I understood my responsibility as this child's father to be the strong and caring masculine image in her life, her hero. I would not shirk that responsibility, and I committed to God that this child, and any other child he chose to entrust to my care, would faithfully follow their Savior. No one was going to tear my children out of the loving hands of Jesus!

The battle for the souls of my children began at that very moment.

And also in that moment I finally understood what it means to receive an irrevocable, irreplaceable gift from the Savior.

If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, then you, too, have been given an incomparable gift by God—the gift of the Holy Spirit. God has entrusted to each one of his followers a measure of his power, a small piece of himself. It is a gift that none of us deserve, and one that we can never repay, yet he gives it freely and willingly to all who put their trust in him.

But with this gift comes great responsibility. Through the Spirit's power we are to take the message of God's love to the world around us—to use our position and authority in Christ to not only teach the world how to live, but to lead others into the arms of the Savior. It's an honor and a responsibility that should not be taken lightly.

My Most Significant Message

Thirty years ago my first book was published. Run, Baby, Run is the story of how God saved me from a life of hate and violence in the street gangs of New York, and the book continues to sell well, ministering consistently to the most helpless and hurting of our society. Prison chaplains around the world use it as a tool for outreach in their ministries, and it's even required reading in high schools all over the United Kingdom and Finland.

After Run, Baby, Run I wrote a number of other books attempting to expose the anger, violence, and hopelessness of life in the inner city. Each one offered concrete solutions to solving these problems, and the Lord has graciously blessed those efforts. We've been able to reach millions with our message of hope. Since my last book was released eight years ago, I've been approached by a number of publishers who wondered whether and when I was planning to write again, I never entertained those offers because I didn't really have anything new to say.

In the past several months, however, that has changed. God has planted in my heart a new message of hope as well as a deep burden to share it. This message is about freedom and spiritual abundance, about living a life in complete communion with Jesus, about breaking through our earthly limitations and making a powerful impact on the world around us. It's about you and me finally finding our places within God's magnificent kingdom on earth. It's about seeing people the way God sees them. Most of all, it's about learning once and for all to embrace the supernatural strength of the Holy Spirit and allowing him to release his wisdom and power within us. What a transformation we'll experience as we discover and embrace God's unmatchable, unmistakable power in our lives.

I believe this is the most important and significant book I've ever been called to write. That belief has nothing to do with the messenger and everything to do with the message.


Excerpted from:
One Holy Fire by Nicky Cruz, copyright 2003. Used by permission. All rights reserved.