Dear Visionary Leader:
Architect William Van Alen had a grand structure in mind when he set out to design a skyscraper that would help revitalize a tired section of Manhattan in the 1920s. But it wasn’t until automobile tycoon Walter P. Chrysler stepped up as financier that the race was on to build the world’s tallest building. Van Alen and Chrysler found themselves pitted against one of Van Alen’s former partners, who was in the process of constructing the Manhattan Bank Building (now Trump Tower) with the aim of claiming the “world’s tallest” title. Here’s how Chrysler and Van Alen managed to hoodwink the competition–and the entire city of New York–to win the day.
At the heart of the skyscraper wars of the ’20s and ’30s was the bravado of the industrial age–the quest to be the first, the biggest, the smartest, the best. In communicating to Van Alen the scope of what he wanted for their project, Chrysler demanded nothing less than “a bold structure, declaring the glories of the modern age.” Another of Chrysler’s demands was a top-floor office suite and exquisite apartments for himself.
To make it so, Chrysler financed the construction entirely with his own money, intent on making the building a legacy for his children to inherit. Van Alen and Chrysler set out to create a grand structure informed by French Art Deco…and the automobile. This included ornamentation on the exterior of the building fashioned after the hood ornament and radiator cap of the 1929 Chrysler Plymouth.
On paper, the Manhattan Bank project at 40 Wall Street, with its 60-foot spire, looked to stand 85 feet taller than the Chrysler Building. The latter was expected to ring in at 925 feet. But Chrysler and architect William Van Alen were determined to claim the tallest-building title–so much so that they secretly constructed a spire for their own tower…and kept it hidden until the last moment. The 186-foot steel structure was built inside the Chrysler Building in four sections, then hoisted into place atop the building and riveted together, all in a mere 90 minutes. From the ground to the top of its surprise peak, the final structure measured 1,046 feet, handily beating the Manhattan Bank Building.
Unfortunately, the victory was short lived. The Empire State Building surpassed the Chrysler Building in height a mere 11 months later. However, the Chrysler Building is still, to this day, the tallest brick building in the world. And though it may not remain the tallest of skyscrapers, its classic mix of machine-age aesthetic with jazz-age poetry makes it arguably one of the most beautiful and well-respected. In 2005, it was voted by 100 prominent New York architects, engineers and critics as their favorite tower of all time.
It took more than 10 million bricks to construct the Chrysler building! It took one brick at a time, squarely placed, to build a superstructure. And so it is with our lives; we must learn to build our lives one brick at a time, against all odds, for the glory of God.
In Nehemiah 6:9-10 we read, “For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands. Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee.
The devil came to Nehemiah and said, “Nehemiah, they’re after you. Run for your life!” He tried to put dismay into the heart of the man of God. The devil is the sinister minister of fear, and if he cannot stop us by slander; if he cannot stop us by distraction; then he will try to fill our hearts with fear, because fear weakens us. Look at verse 9: “For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened.”
Fear will weaken a church. Fear will weaken a preacher. It’s hard to serve the Lord with the icy fingers of fear on you. Fear turns your blood to ice water. It weakens your knees, and it stops you from the work of God. Are you afraid? Are you afraid that the work might not prosper? Are you afraid of what the devil may do to you, if you take a stand for God? Over 365 times–one time for every day in the year–God has said in the Bible, “Do not fear.” Isaiah 41:10 tells us, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee.”
The devil loves to make us afraid. He loves to get people cowering. But this is what fear will do: Fear will degrade our Lord. Fear is an insult to God, who said, “I will be with thee.” Fear will destroy your life. You will become like the man who jumped on a horse and rode off in all directions. You won’t get anything done. Fear is infectious. It will disturb your friends and delight your foes. When your enemies see you afraid, it will nerve them. But, friend, when they see you full of courage, it will unnerve them. “Be thou full of courage” (Joshua 1:9). We need men and women of God today who are not afraid of the devil, who refuse to be intimidated!
Did you know that the devil has a special demon who is a demon of fear? Second Timothy 1:7 says, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” There is a spirit of fear–a demon spirit of fear. It does not come from God. Are you a worrywart? One lady said, “Don’t tell me it does no good to worry; most of the things I worry about never come to pass.” My, how the devil wants to make us worry and fill us with dismay!
Find out what God wants you to do. What has God called you to do? If God has called you to do it, don’t let the devil intimidate you and keep you from your God-given goal.
When the devil could not defeat Nehemiah with distraction, defamation or dismay, he tried one more thing. He doesn’t give up easily, does he? This time the devil tried deception. Perhaps this was the hardest thing of all for Nehemiah to spot.
In Nehemiah 6:12, we read, “Now, you go in the temple and shut the doors behind you, and close the doors to save your life, because they’re coming for you.” But, notice what Nehemiah said: “And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him”–underscore that phrase, “I perceived”–“I perceived that God had not sent him; but that he pronounced this prophecy against me: for Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.”
Shemaiah was not a true prophet of God, but he pretended to be prophesying for God. He pretended to be on Nehemiah’s side. He said, “Nehemiah, I love you so much. I’m so concerned about you that God has given me a message for you. And this is hot from Heaven: Flee into the temple, Nehemiah. Shut the doors. God wants to preserve your life, and He sent me to tell you this.”
However, this message wasn’t from God at all. Shemaiah was a hireling. Nehemiah said, “I perceived that God had not sent him.” Nehemiah was not going to be deceived by the devil. The Bible says, “Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1). There are a lot of people–perhaps some are in your life right now–who pretend to be speaking for God who are not speaking for God. The devil has his deceivers all over the world today.
In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, we read, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ–and, listen to this next verse–“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
Ministers of Satan, who appear as ministers of righteousness. False apostles, deceitful workers. The Bible says that Nehemiah perceived that this man was not of God. How did he know?
Number one: What this man told Nehemiah didn’t square with the Word of God. Shemaiah said, “Go into the temple and shut the doors behind you, and you’ll be safe there.” Nehemiah said, “I’m not going to sin.” This man was asking him to sin. How? Nehemiah was what we would call a layman, and that part of the temple was reserved for the priest only. Thank God Nehemiah knew the Word of God!
Number two: Not only was there the outward, objective evidence of the Word of God, but there was something subjective within Nehemiah. The Bible says we have no need that anyone teach us: “Ye have an unction from the Holy One” (1 John 2:20). I know in my own life, there’s a little bell within me that jingles when I hear the Word of God, and there’s something else that sounds when I don’t. The Holy Spirit of God, when we’re walking close, will help us to perceive whether a man is or is not a man of God, and whether his words are from God or another source.
How easy it is to be deceived, if we’re not walking in the light of God’s Word! You’d better keep your knees on the floor and your face in the Bible, in these days in which we are living.
We don’t have to stumble in the darkness; we can walk in light. We don’t have to be deceived by the devil; we have the Word of God, “a light that shineth in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19), and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Listen again to what the devil tried to do to derail Nehemiah and his team of workers. The devil tried derision; he tried discouragement; he tried danger; he tried discord; he tried depletion; he tried distraction; he tried defamation; he tried dismay, and he tried deception–but none of it worked!
In Nehemiah 6:15-16, we read, “So the wall was finished”–the devil was not able to stop the work–“And it came to pass, that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God.”
My prayer is that we will do things in such a way that people will say, “That was of God! They didn’t do that by themselves.”
We need to do something so great, grand and glorious that it cannot be explained by promotion; it cannot be explained by propaganda; it cannot be explained by personnel; it cannot be explained by psychology. It can only be explained by the power of God.
Aren’t you hungry for the people of this world to see something that causes them to marvel, “What’s happening there? It must be the work of God!” God is in business. The world is hungry to see something that cannot be explained by human power or effort. What is there about my life or your life that cannot be explained? What is there, in your heart and in your life, that cannot be explained apart from God?
These are days for us to be supernatural, not superficial. These are days for us to be walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. These are days for the men and women of God to get a message from God and say, “Let us arise and build; and all of the dirty tricks of Hell will not stop us, so help us God.” And, one day, it will be done, and people will say, “We perceive that this is the work of God.”
“To God be the glory, great things He has done.”
Until The Last Person Has Heard,