On Tuesday, June 19, 2012 I had the privilege to finally visit the renown Brooklyn Tabernacle Church in New York. What a day it was! We left at 11AM and returned at 6AM (next morning) but it was worth the trip! In the last six weeks, I have been in a DOZEN states but its a privilege to roll for my Redeemer!
My dear friend, Guy Latimer introduced me to Pastor Rod Horner who is one of the most gifted, anointed ministers of worship on the planet and for half a decade ministered with the legendary Brooklyn Tabernacle Church and choir. This week, Rod arranged a trip for a dozen friends and we drove from Maryland to New York City on Tuesday. He graciously scheduled a meeting with Pastor Jim Cymbala and some of his staff and prior to the service we had dinner with members of Alvin Slaughter’s family. Cynthia Slaughter is a member of their legendary choir. She is as quiet as a church mouse but when she is on stage singing for the Lord she is a POWER HOUSE! I asked her at dinner does she still get a little nervous before she sings with that angelic ensemble? She smiled and said: “Yes, but immediately I feel as if a freight train is roaring down the track and I know its the Holy Spirit.” WOW! When was the last time you knew the Lord wanted to explode like a volcano in you and around you? That is not emotion but devotion and not feelings but faith! Part of the problem in our churches today and individual walk is that we are not EXPECTING God to move in our midst.
Pastor Jim Cymbala walks with God. When we walked into the service they escorted us right down front and folks had been standing in line for nearly three hours before the doors opened to get a seat. Without question, they’re HUNGRY for God. The moment I walked in the doors, I don’t recall ever feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit like I did that night. The Ghost that is Holy was in that church!
The music was second to none and hearing a couple thousand sing praises to the only True and Living God was HEAVENLY to say the least. The choir didn’t sing a selection that night. Actually, they didn’t have to because that evening the entire church was the choir! They were not only the church but the choir coming together as a body of believers singing praises, crying out to the Lord and pleading Him in prayer to minister to hurting people like only HE can.
Pastor Jim Cymbala the beloved author, pastor and choir leader of arguably the world’s most respected music ministry HUMBLY came out and lifted UP Christ. Yes, the “greats are gracious” and he is not just a minister or musician but magician. He learned long ago the fine art to dissapear so Christ would appear. He decreased so God would increase and he knew that him being anonymous was his proper place because JESUS alone is The Famous One. That night Pastor Cymbala shared his heart how the church almost closed its doors within days after he took the position there. The outgoing pastor told him: “The church has $300 to its name. Attendance is at an all-time low. We have three ushers and one of them is stealing money from the church.” He said on his way out: “Good bye, God bless and good luck.” Definitely not words of comfort for an incoming clergy.
En route to the Brooklyn Tabernacle the theme from one of my favorite TV shows: “WELCOME BACK KOTTER” danced in my head as we crossed the Brookyln Bridge. However, the moment I stepped in that church that song dissapeared like teens on MYSPACE! 🙂 From then on it was ALL God! Yes, the Holy Spirit was thick and the sanctuary gorgeous but what also blessed me was when Pastor Cymbala shared the very first service as pastor he stood up to preach he felt as if demonic hands were choking his neck and words could not come out. He noted it was as if a black curtain had been dropped between he and the few in attendance. He was gasping for air and couldn’t even put a sentence together. When words finally came from his mouth he said: “I cannot preach here because something is dead wrong in this place.”
At that moment, one of the ushers came running down the aisle and literally threw himself “spread eagle” on the altar and confessed his sin. At that moment, revival broke out, the grip on his neck was unloosed and the Lord came down and touched that place. As he was ministering, I couldn’t help but think how many Christians, pastors and leaders would have quit, thrown in the towel, got out of Dodge and abandoned their post God called them? Far too many would have thrown in the towel instead of trust God for a break through. Just two hours before I was whistling “Welcome Back Kotter” but thanks to God and Pastor Cymbala for not forsaking the call years before they were together Tuesday night in front of thousands WELCOMING BACK CHRIST in our midst.
Yes, it’s easy to see the stage publicly now but very few saw the stress privately then. Many long for the large but can’t honor God in the small. We want to reach the world but won’t stick with the stuff on our street. We desire packed balconies but can’t give our all to the faithful few. The people I have admired met over the years had one thing in common: They didn’t quit!
My dear friend and one of my mentors, Dr Johnny Hunt preached at The Brooklyn Tab the week before! I missed him by seven days!! Pastor Cymbala is to prayer what Jentezen Franklin reminds us in fasting. Both are awesome, anointed men of God. I belive it was Charles Spurgeon who said: “I never went a whole hour in prayer but I never went a whole hour without prayer.” Pastor Cymbala reminded us we need to have a hunger and passion for prayer. The days of five minutes prayers are useless. We need to truly press into God and not give up until we get His answer. We need to pursue CHRIST with every fiber in our being.
In ROCKY III, Mickey (Rocky’s manager) said to Balboa: “Kid, the worse thing that could have ever happened – happened to you. You got civilized.” Rocky was nearly un-beatable before reaching the belt but complacency kicked in, cruise control took over and the passion and power was no more. In life and ministry, prayer is not only the car but the gas that fuels the engine! Dr Billy Graham was asked if he could re-do one thing in his ministry of seven decades and without hesitation he said: “I would have preached less and PRAYED more.”
The Brooklyn Tabernacle is having an outreach that will be launching in the Fall for the DC Metro area. Worship Pastor Rod Horner has been asked to lead the worship and they will have a similar format like the one in Brooklyn. The beauty is it will be held on Tuesday Night’s and the goal is not to start another church but be the Church Christ commands while watching God move among various denominations with folks coming from all over Virginia, Maryland, DC, PA and beyond to lift up the Name of JESUS on a weekly basis! Former Attorney General and U.S. Senator John Ashcroft is even going to participate in the services and the gorgeous Word of Life church (seats 1,500) in Springfield, VA has graciously donated their facility to host this exciting outreach. That is the church coming together! It will be a time of praise and PRAYER. The first inaugural service will be THIS TUESDAY, June 26, 2012 and will have one in July and another in August but officially kicking off EVERY TUESDAY starting in September. GOD IS TOO GOOD! They have invited me to preach the opening service next week and Lord willing, will preach once or twice per month from there. Folks from McLean Bible Church and countless others are desiring to partner not to build a church but ADVANCE the KINGdom!!
Pastor Rod Horner and I will be doing radio interviews in the near future on WAVA 105.1 FM and we will have a website up and running in near future. Ironically, my first ever ministry job was in the late 1980’s and I was a part-time Janitor at First Baptist Church of Waldorf, MD. I prayed un-ceasingly while pushing that vacuum in the sanctuary of my home church that God would use me for His glory but if it was His will to travel the globe with the Gospel. By God’s grace, next week I preach the opening service for the revival that our Nation’s Capital desperately needs and the following month blessed to be the International Evangelism Chairman for the 2012 Olympics Outreach in London. Today, some see TBN, Fox News or me preaching at some crusade but they forgot or didn’t know my ministry in private. Yes, Ray Charles, Ronnie Milsap, Gordon Mote and Stevie Wonder can all SEE what God was doing with Pastor Jim Cymbala in New York today. However, he would have missed it – we all would have missed it if he prematurely called it quits. Millions relate to The Brooklyn Tab as Praise and Prayer but I learned firsthand PERSEVERANCE is part of the process. Think now of all the folks whom will miss out if you sign that resignation, give up on the dream, abandon God’s call for your life or throw in the towel. What ever you do – DON’T QUIT!
May we never get over of being saved. What thrilled my heart is that Pastor Jim Cymbala used the words “SOUL WINNER” repeatedly in his sermon Tuesday. May we never get tired of seeing souls saved and may we never be satisfied with just getting to Heaven but praying and taking as many others with us possible. Today, I am still that janitor wanting to be used by God. Some see the platform publicly but not the prayers privately. This picture below was shared by my good friend, Dr Rick Via ministering recently in Uganda. This faithful individual below is the epitome of what it means to be HUNGRY for God to use him, HUNGRY for God to meet needs and HUNGRY for the Word of God. Some count the crowds on Sunday. God counts the crowd in prayer meeting. Our strength is not the size of a sanctuary or dollars in savings but our TOTAL dependency and hunger for God. Without Him, we are riding a bike with no chain. Motions don’t equate ministry! May we all hunger to totally tap into God. That one man on the beer commercials implores the world to “stay thirsty.” Jesus says: “Drink from me and you will NEVER thirst again.” In love, we would do better to “STAY HUNGRY MY FRIENDS.”