Friday Night Worship at 583
Park Avenue in Manhattan, 2/25/2011
It is wonderful to be here with all of you tonight. This [the Upper East Side] is home territory because I taught for many years at Convent of the Sacred Heart, on 91st Street and 5th Avenue. Lady Gaga was one of my students. All of my students heard the Gospel including her, and she got a special warning because I knew that she wanted to be famous. I told her, “Stephanie, you may get the fame that you are looking for, but it is not going to make you happy.” So if I have any prayer request for her tonight, please pray with me for her. Some of my students did come to know the Lord—she has not yet—but we are going to keep praying.
I am speaking tonight on the theme, “The Lord Is My Strength,” because the reality is that we are living in days when other refuges will fail. This world has wars, earthquakes, fires, floods, troubles in the Middle East. My major at Yale was actually history, focusing on the Middle East. I had Iranian professors, and got to study the history of Islam and the troubles in that part of the world—as well as the life of the Jewish people of Jerusalem living under Islamic rule in the 1820’s, 30’s, and 40’s.
The world is full of troubles, but Psalm 31: 23-24 declares, “Love the Lord, all his saints! The Lord preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” (NIV) I don’t know what some of you may be struggling with— difficulties in your lives, in your jobs, or your families. But I know that God never changes, and His love never changes. We may be surprised by what happens, but God is never, never surprised. Yes, the world is being shaken, and I wish that I could tell you that the shakings were going to stop. But they are not—not until Jesus comes, because God is judging the proud. He is bringing down the high and the mighty, the cruel and the oppressive, and He is saving people out of every nation on this earth.
You may not know much of this part of history, but one of the reasons for all of the troubles going on in the Middle East right now is because millions and millions of Muslims are turning to Christ, and the devil doesn’t like it. There was actually a mullah who went on the air eight years ago on Al-Jazeera radio to give the estimate that around six million Muslims were turning to Christ every year. And those numbers may be larger now. God is shaking the nations because He is going to have a harvest out of every nation and every people. And He is going to have a harvest from New York City as well. Hebrews 12:26-27 says,
As a little boy loving the Lord, I made two decisions. I never wanted to be a preacher, and I never wanted to live in New York City. I grew up near Boston! Well, I have been praying for revival in New York City now for thirty nine years, since my freshman year at Yale. And I also know a famous former New York Times reporter, also from Boston. Can God bring people from Boston to pray for New York? Yes! That reporter has lived here and prayed for revival here since 1953. God is gracious!
Chris White Speaking at Friday Night Worship
I have been in full time ministry now for four years and was in part time ministry for many years. Back in August 2001, we had had a very, very full summer, working at Yale, working at Columbia University, working in other places as well. We were going to go on a camping trip, and I will never forget the night of Monday, August 27th, 2001. We were going with our four boys to upstate New York, and I thought, “Ah, out in the woods, under the trees, I will finally sleep!” We had little boys who didn’t let us sleep much sometimes! My wife fell asleep instantly, but I was left sitting on the edge of the camper bed.
I could not sleep, because I had this awful sense that something terrible was coming on New York City. I sat there on the edge of my camper bed for two hours, crying out to God for mercy for the city, that whatever it was that was coming, that He would remember mercy in the midst of that judgment. That was two weeks and one day before September 11th, and I spent that day at the Convent of the Sacred Heart holding the hands of a number of my students whose parents were supposed to have been in the World Trade Center that day. Thank God that none of those parents died. They were all late to their appointments that day. Where was Jesus on September 11th? Rescuing countless lives from death! Only one relative of one of my students died and that was the fire captain who led the last charge up one of the towers, and the tower came down as he went up. At his funeral, they read, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” That man saved many, many lives.
The world is being shaken, and I wish that I could tell you that New York is not going to be shaken again. But I have times still when I fear that it will be. I remember not that long ago driving in on the Palisades Parkway from Pennsylvania, and I could hardly see the highway in front of me because I was weeping, knowing that more trouble is coming on this city of New York. And I was asking God for mercy, “Lord, in the midst of judgment, remember mercy.”
There is a Psalm that God has used much in my own life. I don’t have time to tell you the whole story, but I will tell you a part of it. I went through nine surgeries on my knees and most of my doctors here in New York were basically saying that I would never be walking normally again. Yale was offering me a full scholarship to come back and finish my degree once they knew that I could walk—and would not be back again in the hospital for another surgery, for another round of physical therapy. I spent six years of my life in my 20’s and 30’s on crutches, but God is faithful, and God is good. Psalm 46 was one of those Psalms that the Lord used to touch my life, and I would love to read it, and leave these words with you tonight—because we do not know what will be shaken next:
There is a river whose streams shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be moved; God shall help her, just at the break of dawn. The nations raged, the kingdoms were moved; He uttered His voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah
Come, behold the works of the Lord, Who has made desolations in the earth. He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge. (NKJV)
I told you that I could not tell you the whole story, but when I was going through one of those battles with my knees—and it looked like I would not be walking—God gave four consecutive confirmations using this Psalm that He was with me through my troubles. One of those confirmations came when I went up to lead a Bible study at Yale, something I did for twenty five years. A young man came in all excited to say to me, “Chris, Chris, I have something for you!” And I said, “What?” He said, “Well, I will tell you later after the meeting.” And I said, “Thank you very much—you got me all excited, and then you didn’t tell me what it was!”
He told me after the meeting that he was in the library at Yale that very day. Now you need to know that Yale has around 11 million books. He pulled a book off the shelf, and when he pulled the book out, a bookmark fell onto the floor. And he said, “I want to give you that bookmark.” Now God had just spoken to me through Psalm 46 that morning. What was on the front of the bookmark? “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” And then he said to me, “Chris, turn it over and see what is on the back.” Now I was not even a student at Yale at this point. I had withdrawn and was applying for readmission, waiting to be able to walk and be part of the school again. Someone had placed a Dymo label on the back of the bookmark with the words, “Please pray for Chris White.” Does God know your name? Does He know your address? Absolutely! Does He know what you are struggling with? Absolutely! He is with every one of us.
Front of the bookmark
What I have to say to you tonight is that the days are coming when none of us will be able to stand in our own strength. Isaiah 40:28-31 says,
Have you not known?
Have you not heard?
The everlasting God, the Lord,
The Creator of the ends of the earth,
Neither faints nor is weary.
His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (NKJV)
Back of the bookmark from Yale
Suffice it to say, by the grace of God, I am walking today. And the younger of our twin sons—I don’t have time for this story either—was a cripple here at Hospital for Special Surgery. There was no hope for him ever to walk in his life, but in the midst of an evangelistic campaign right on the Cross Campus at Yale University, the two-year-old boy who had never walked ran down the field kicking a soccer ball. God is faithful!
I just want to tell you one more story before I close. We have preached for many years in Colombia, South America. I just made my twentieth trip down there, and it is a nation that has been through much trouble. In 1985, there was a volcano that exploded in Armero, Colombia. The geologists warned the people in the city to flee, but they didn’t flee, in part because a local priest said, “Don’t worry, nothing will happen.” When that volcano exploded, a wall of mud and water came down, and it swept away 25,000 people in a matter of less than an hour. The city has never been rebuilt—it is a memorial to what happened.
But right in the heart of that city, there was a prayer meeting in a little evangelical church. There were just a handful of people praying in that church, but when that wall of mud came down, it split in two and went right around that church and the houses next to that church. Among the few survivors in the city were those who were praying and their immediate neighbors. You don’t think prayer makes a difference? Prayer makes all the difference in the world! In this generation, as the nations are shaken, may we be among those who become intercessors before God to cry out for those nations: “Lord, have mercy! Lord, save! Lord, remember mercy in the midst of judgment.”
Though as I said before, I don’t know the struggles that some of you may be passing through, I know the Lord and I know that He is faithful. And I know that He has the answer for every need in this place. In Him is life, in Him is healing, in Him is joy, in Him is liberation. In Him is a life that is really worth living. Can we just bow our heads, and everyone here be praying? I am going to give two invitations…. If there is anyone here tonight, you are not sure that your sins are forgiven, you are not sure that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, tonight is your night to know Him….
Copyright ©2011 Christopher N. White. (Message given at Friday Night Worship at 583 Park Avenue in Manhattan, 2/25/2011)
Bible Versions Quoted:
NKJV: The New King James Version, Thomas Nelson, Inc.: Miami, Florida, 1982.
NIV: The New International Version, The Zondervan Corporation: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1995.