I was recently in Whiting, New Jersey at America’s Keswick where I was speaking at a New Year’s Conference. For the past seventeen years or so I have preached at the Keswick Summer Conferences. I have also preached at a fall event. However, this was my first time to be in New Jersey in the winter time. It was chilly to say the least. But as always, there was a spiritual warmth and a felt sense of the presence of God.
The CEO of America’s Keswick, Dr. Bill Welte, has become a dear friend and brother. He is a man of God. Bill walks with God. He is a man of prayer. I often tell him he reminds me of stories I read about George Mueller. Here is a good example. During December Bill and his staff and friends of Keswick prayed for God to provide $250,000.00 to the ministry in order to meet the current needs and to end the year financially in the black. God did as I have often seen Him do at America’s Keswick. He answered exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we asked or thought. Almost $400,000.00 was received. God is good. He still answers prayers.
Bill gave me a copy of Jim Cymbala’s book, Storm, Hearing Jesus for The Times We Live In. Then he organized a Sunday trip to Brooklyn and took me to Sunday worship at Brooklyn Tabernacle. This was my second time to worship at BT. Several years ago I attended Tuesday night prayer meeting. I still remember talking to some friends at Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan about my plans to attend the 7 pm prayer meeting and I was told to arrive by 5 pm. I arrived a few minutes before 5 pm and a line of people had already formed and was growing by the minute. I waited two hours for prayer meeting…spent over two hours in a powerful prayer meeting…and I sensed the presence of God.
Last Sunday I saw that long line again. This time for the noon worship service. The first worship is at 9 am, the second is at noon, and the third is at 3 pm. Over 4000 people attend each of these three services. During the forty-five minute wait for the service to begin we were greeted by numerous greeters, ushers, genuinely friendly servants of God moving through that vast theater auditorium shaking hands, handing out bulletins, chatting with folk and answering questions. The anticipation level increased by the moment. Then there was the choir…!!!
Then there was the preaching. But first let me say…I was taken by the fact that there were people of every race, color, and culture in that building. My heart danced. Isn’t this the way church is supposed to look? The family of God…a little slice of heaven. Now back to the preaching…, no, just one more thing. I sat there in those pre-service moments keenly, soberly aware of the Presence of God. I found myself saying to myself that this place is a place of prayer and these people are a people of prayer. I was enveloped in the results of praying people Why is BT like this? What is the source of this life, and vitality and energy? God… in answer to prayer. Now, back to the preaching…it was simple, conversational and personal. IT WAS ANOINTED. It appeared to be from the overflow of Jim Cymbala’s walk with God. God was in the House.
In Cymbala’s book I mentioned above, he wrote: “If pastors preach with the passion that comes from being with Christ, won’t an audience fall more in love the Lord?” I say yes.
Then he wrote this: “THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE PULPIT…One of the beautiful results of the Holy Spirit’s blessing is a changed pulpit with powerful preaching. Today we suffer from a distinct lack of the prophetic when it comes to preaching.” Cymbala makes an observation that should cause every preacher to examine his own heart. He said, “I must observe that too many of us pastors are satisfied to preach and lead church services without craving the Spirit’s help and blessing.”
I say…Come Holy Spirit…come upon my life…my preaching…my ministry, for without your anointing it is all meaningless motion.