Pastor Chuck Smith

To the CCNF family,

Pastor Chuck Smith is in heaven

We are sad for ourselves, but glad for him.

God used Pastor Chuck mightily, for over 40 years, to touch literally millions of lives.

When I was growing up, my mom listened to him every morning in Rochester.

When I met Chrissy, and visited her home in Syracuse, her dad gave me a bunch of Chuck Smith audio tapes to listen to.

When we were weary of ‘church’, and stumbled into a Calvary Chapel back in 1986, it was like taking a refreshing shower as we were taught through God’s Word simply, thoroughly, and in context for the first time.  It was so simple, yet so profound, that I wondered why I had never experienced that anywhere else before.

Pastor Chuck signed 3 of my Bibles over the years.

I had the privilege to meet him (briefly) several times.  He was a very humble, down to earth man.  It didn’t seem to matter to him whether you were the pastor of a church of thousands, or of a small church.

The last time I spoke with him was two years ago in Canandaigua, when he was visiting.  Pastor Bil Gallatin invited all of the senior pastors to meet for lunch.  Pastor Chuck signed my current Bible.  We were going through Romans at the time here, so I asked him what his favorite commentary for that Book was, and he mentioned ‘William Newell’.  I of course went out and got it.

Pastor Chuck has been so instrumental in my life, because he taught me that I could read and understand God’s Word if I would do it with a humble and open heart.  He was right.  Before that, I relied on others to teach me – and of course because all were human I was eventually disappointed.  But Pastor Chuck taught me to read the Bible for myself, and to then let the Holy Spirit teach me.  Sometimes He teaches directly during private Bible study, and sometimes He uses others.  As I did read and grow, I didn’t become a recluse, because the Word showed me that I need others as much as they need me.  ‘Iron sharpens iron’.  When the church stands together in love, the world takes notice.  The ‘church’ is not supposed to be a monument standing between people and God.  The church should point people to Jesus.  And I should be making the church stronger with the gifts that God has given to me.  When my vertical relationship with Jesus is strong, then my horizontal relationships with others are also strong.

Pastor Chuck was raised up in the late 1960’s – in many ways a less violent, more idealistic time than we are in today.  But he was used mightily by God until October 3, 2013 when Jesus took him Home.   He never compromised the Bible – not one Word of it – but he also didn’t throw up any unnecessary human barriers.  I think he realized that hurting people (which is everybody to one extent or another in every generation) throw up their own barriers – but God’s Word can heal us so that we trust Him enough to take them down.  Pastor Chuck knew that once a person accepted and believed the Word of God, the Holy Spirit would be faithful to start cleansing him or her from the inside out.  And so Pastor Chuck was very gracious.  He never made those who were hurting feel that they were inferior to him.  In fact, the Lord gave him (I believe) a supernatural ability to give others a sense of belonging.  That love and respect for all people that I saw in my few, brief encounters with Pastor Chuck is his human trait that I will remember the most.  Calvary Chapel was (and is) a great place for ‘misfits’.  I never would have become a pastor through the traditional paths of that time.  But somehow God created a path for me and many others that was ‘out of the box’, but also right and true.

There are three main sayings of Pastor Chuck’s that I will never forget.  They are (and I am somewhat paraphrasing them)…

(1)  ‘When you’re in a situation that you don’t understand, fall back onto what you do

understand.’  (i.e., Jesus and His Word)

(2)  ‘I’d rather err on the side of grace than on the side of judgment.’

(3)  ‘Simply teach the Word of God simply.’

I feel very fortunate, because the Lord allowed my life to intersect several times with a man that I believe was a modern day Martin Luther or John Wesley.  I am honored to be affiliated with the Calvary Chapel movement.  But I know that Pastor Chuck would never want us to become ‘Smith-ians’ or ‘Calvary Chapel-ites’ first – he wants us to be Jesus’.

The Calvary Chapel movement is now in the 4th generation, which is historically when ‘denominationalism’ sets in.  As I am learning by fellowshipping with some other local evangelical pastors (from Presbyterian, Mennonite, Pentecostal, and Baptist churches), you can have a ‘label’ and still be strong men of God – but the most important thing is to love Jesus and believe His Bible.  That is where CCNF must always remain.  There must never come a time when what are becoming our ‘traditions’ water down the pure simple truth of God’s Word.  If that ever happens at CCNF, then it will be time for us all to find another church to attend.

Also, we must never rest on the ‘laurels’ of our past.  Though our history is rich, if we stop reaching out to others, we will die out, even if we cling to God’s Word.  We may be ‘right’ – but it will be ‘dead’ right.

So, please continue to grow in your passion for Jesus.  Grow in your love for His Word, and for others, so that it will be impossible not to reach out to them with the good news of Jesus.  And, of course, please keep the Smith family in your prayers, as well as all of the Calvary Chapel churches.  Pray that we will always be a church where the hurting may be healed, where souls may be saved, where apathy will never set in, and where pride will never ruin what the Holy Spirit has done and is doing.

We are so grateful for the life of Pastor Chuck.  He pointed us to Jesus so clearly.  May we continue on in all the things we were taught, until the whole world comes to know that Jesus is King, Lord, and Savior.

Pastor Mark


Categories Church News | Tags: , | Posted on October 7, 2013

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