The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.
(Ps. 92:12-15 NIV)
I have been given a rare gift: a free Sunday morning. I have eagerly chosen to spend it in attendance at the Stone Briar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. I have come to hear the prince of preachers, Chuck Swindoll. Sitting behind Chuck in worship is like watching a child on Christmas morning. Chuck sways, then smiles, then sways again. He glances at the choir, then the orchestra, then at the hymnal. His voice soars over ours.
At the appointed time, he bounces into the pulpit. He’s approaching 80 years of age, but you wouldn’t guess it. His voice rings with the same clarity and certainly it did 29 years ago when I first heard it on a cassette tape. (Remember those?) I was living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The tape contained a lesson from a preacher to preachers about preaching. He spoke of the expositional sermon as the highest craft.
Today, I am listening once again to the master craftsman.
He positions himself in a pulpit like a symphony conductor before an orchestra. He flows from paragraph to paragraph with steady energy and clear thought. He scarcely consults his notes, he constantly studies his audience. He quote scriptures as often as he reads them. His listeners never budge. I am watching Rembrandt at work.
I first met Chuck at a booksellers conference in 1991. In an autograph line, he shook the hand of each reader, looked each person in the eye and said, “I really hope you enjoy this book.”
Yesterday, at a book signing, I did my best to look each reader in the eye, shake each hand and say, “I really hope you enjoy this book.” Chuck is contagious.
Chuck consults no trends. In this day of short sermons, he takes his time. In this era of tight jeans, he wears a suit and tie. Stool and music stand? Are you kidding? Chuck stands behind a wide-winged walnut pulpit. Yet, he is every bit as relevant as today’s news.
Today Chuck celebrates birthday number 79. I gladly join my voice to the large chorus of well wishers.
Thank you, Chuck, for five decades (!) of faithful service. May God grant his church a hundred more preachers just like you. And may God grant you a thousand more trips into your familiar workshop, your pulpit.
© October, 2013
Video link: Glorifying God by Chuck Swindoll