The Moody Church in Chicago Is Celebrating Its 150th Anniversary; Erwin Lutzer Visits New Mexico
By Boaz Wadel
The Moody Church in Chicago is celebrating its 150th anniversary. Founded by evangelist D.L. Moody in December of 1864, the church has a storied and marvelous history.
From the crusades of D.L. Moody to the Spirit-led pastorate of R.A. Torrey to the expository teaching of Harry Ironside, Alan Redpath, and Warren Wiersbe, The Moody Church's place in American Protestant history is a given.
Yet under the pastorate of Dr. Erwin Lutzer, the church has grown in influence, size (a new facility was added), and impact, both here in America and abroad. Born in 1941, Lutzer-a Christian Missionary Alliance pastor from Canada-has been the senior minister at Moody since 1980.
In a recent interview with Pastor Skip Heitzig, Lutzer told the story of how Warren Wiersbe asked Lutzer to fill the pulpit for him 10 minutes before the start of service, due to the fact that Wiersbe was feeling under the weather. Lutzer obliged. And though Dr. Lutzer was just visiting The Moody Church, he has stayed ever since-35 years of faithful teaching.
Inside the Moody Church in Chicago
In addition to his pastoral duties, Lutzer is the featured teacher on three radio broadcasts: "Running to Win," "The Moody Church Hour," and "Songs in the Night." The author of 30 books, Lutzer was also awarded a Gold Medallion for his book Hitler's Cross.
Dr. Lutzer recently joined Pastor Skip Heitzig in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Together, they recorded video and radio interviews, answered questions on a live, call-in broadcast, and hosted a book signing.
As I listened to Skip Heitzig interview Lutzer prior to Calvary Albuquerque's Saturday evening teaching, I was struck by the passion Lutzer has for the things of the Bible and a Christian worldview. He told Pastor Skip, "I've been preaching for 40 years and still haven't preached all the ideas I have." He later said, "God gives wisdom, new ideas, and lessons to share. Preaching is still exciting to me." This wonderful desire for the things of God is refreshing, particularly coming from a man 72 years of age. Most men his age are thinking of retiring; Lutzer is thinking of creative outlets to further the gospel.
Dr. Lutzer preaching at Calvary Albuquerque
At the beginning of his teaching at Calvary Albuquerque, a 2-minute video was shown to the congregation (a total of 13,000 members over four services), highlighting the history of The Moody Church. The congregation erupted in applause at the end of the video, giving Lutzer a standing ovation as he approached the pulpit.
Dr. Lutzer went on to teach from Matthew 14:22-33 in a message entitled, "How to Survive a Storm." In seven "lessons," as he called them, Lutzer outlined seven elements Christians should incorporate in their lives to endure the difficulties they will face:
1. Storms are often encountered in obedience to Jesus.
2. Storms should remind us of God's promises.
3. Even when we can't see God in our trial, He can see us.
4. Jesus comes to us at the right time.
5. Our fears might be Jesus in disguise.
6. The water that threatens to be over your head is under Jesus' feet.
7. Our ability to walk is dependent upon the focus of our eyes.
I was honored to host Dr. Lutzer for lunch after Calvary's four services. As I sat talking with one of The Moody Church elders, Michael Pitts, I watched as Dr. Lutzer engaged those sitting around him, including leaders from Faith Comes by Hearing and Lenya Heitzig. For over two hours, we ate and talked. It was a wonderful time to learn about The Moody Church and Dr. Lutzer. Not only did Michael let me know that "Pastor Lutzer writes every word in his books," but he also said, "Lutzer is one of the easiest people to be around. He is a kind gentleman. In my 14 years working alongside of Dr. Lutzer, I've seen how gracious he is to others. He's truly a fine individual."
Yes, Lutzer is that kind.
Michael also mentioned that Dr. Lutzer is passionate about people, ensuring he spends time with individuals in all he does. Yet, Pitts tossed in, "His happy spot is studying and writing. At both he excels."
Dr. Erwin Lutzer and Dr. Skip Heitzig
I can't help but think that D.L. Moody would be well pleased with the progress of the church he founded: a continued legacy of strong Christian witness and exemplary Bible teaching. The influence Moody had continues with men such as Erwin Lutzer.
As I paid a visit to Moody Bible College last year with my family, I was impressed with the legacy of the various Moody institutions-an enduring heritage of a man who dedicated himself to Christ and God's people, saying, "The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to Him."
My hope is that the Lord would continue to raise up more people "fully consecrated to Him." In doing so, future generations will be afforded the opportunity to hear the good news of Christ proclaimed, in addition to seeing men and women live the most glorious existence imaginable: a life dedicated to Jesus Christ.
We've seen it in people such as Moody and Lutzer, and we'll continue to see it-by God's grace-in other people, consummated on the day when earthly history has its end and eternity will just be getting warmed up.