As I finish singing my two opening songs, I begin to introduce a man who needs no introduction. The entire congregation packed with people rises to their feet with deafening applause as he slowly but surely makes his way out, overwhelmed with emotion at the sight of all the people. We all sing together “How Great Thou Art” and as I walk off, he jokingly says, “Well, it’s the Beauty and the Beast!” Everyone bursts into laughter (because he’s certainly no beast) and also because of this endearing, Grandfatherly-type humor that we’ve all come to know and cherish over the years. This is one of the few precious memories I have with Pastor Chuck on tour. And while every single place we went greeted him with the same overwhelming reception, it was never the flashy, glittering applause that excited him. If Chuck had it his way, he would probably just sing hymns around the campfire and that would be his perfect idea of a “concert.” While he was never fond of being in the celebrity spotlight, he filled the role of Pastor, Teacher, Father and Grandfather to thousands and was always gracious to everyone who came up to him. He had a unique ability to show the love of Christ to people just through his glowing, warm smile.
I am so thankful for him for so many reasons. He gave me the opportunity to sing and step into my ability as a worship leader at such a young age at Calvary Chapel. We shared a great appreciation for classic music and hymns, and he even put-up with my love for Broadway show tunes at various concerts and events. I remember I once left a pair of pink high heels sitting on stage after singing. I couldn’t find them anywhere and he showed up first thing the next morning carrying them saying, “Do these belong to you?” Seeing Pastor Chuck hold up my pink high-heels is definitely an image that is forever etched in my memory!
If anyone could win award for being short and sweet, it would be Chuck. When I came back to California after a season of performing on the east coast, I was discouraged telling him that I guess I was never meant to make it on Broadway; he replied, “Crystal, you want the narrow way, not the Broad-way.” I thought to myself, wow only Chuck could sum-up God’s entire will for my life in one short sentence! But I have taken that one-liner with me throughout my life. Maybe the Lord doesn’t have Broadway in mind for me, but He does have the narrow way, which leads to abundant life in Him – and He has that in mind for all of us. What a constant encouragement it has been to me through the ups and downs of life. I know I am just one of the many people who have been deeply impacted by Chuck Smith and I feel very blessed to have known him and served under His ministry for the last 10 years. Mike and I were so thankful to be the last wedding he officiated before going home to be with the Lord! I will never forget him choking up and whispering, “Love you Crystal” before saying, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” It was one of my favorite moments of the ceremony. (Although Mike may have felt like Chuck beat him to the punch!) J I often feel like he’s just on vacation and is going to come back at any moment. I suppose that’s normal with any loss…we certainly weren’t made for goodbyes, they are so unnatural for us here on earth. But I KNOW that He is with the Lord along with my Grandparents and so many others, and while no one will ever replace them and we will never stop missing them…it’s so comforting to be certain of where they are, in Heaven with Jesus – having the time of their lives! I can’t wait to lift up my voice with him once again and hit all the high notes perfectly to all our favorite hymns!
Crystal Cooper Amren
Streams in the Desert was so excellent today…and worth putting up! It served as a great exhortation to me to “walk worthy of the manner to which I am called.”
I believe that many of you who will read this (hopefully) have a “higher calling” as well…one that is not to be taken lightly or flippantly, but a very special, anointed call for minsitry. Now, that in no way puts us above others with some sort of a “holier than thou”, cocky or arrogant disposition…it is simply recognizing the privilege – the glorious honor – of being in the ministry, being called “for such a time as this” and in turn, obeying the Lord and His commandments with every fiber of our being. The older I get, the more I realize that if I am, in fact, going to commit my life to being “upfront”…singing on platforms and stages proclaiming and glorfying the name of Jesus to the best of my ability, then – by golly – my life better reflect that – in every possible way! 🙂
I think sometimes this means going “the extra mile” to do so. And that is why we have discernment! Enter Holy Spirit, right? Duh! Because anything good that comes of us or our lives, is ONLY by the power of the Spirit. Sure we are in no way perfect, and little pitfalls, roadbumps, a.k.a. real-life, every day examples of our “humanness” are inevitable, but I hope all of you will agree with me that absolute surrender and total, complete, sold-out obedience is the goal! Hence, the personal meaning behind this devotional for all of us! So let us continue on runnin’ the race set before us with endurance 🙂 Keeping eachother accountable through knowing and loving Jesus more, and through more God-filled, Spirit-controlled lifestyles and hopefully this will eventually being about the “instant obedience” this devo talks about. 🙂
“On that very day Abraham…did as God told him.” ~ Genesis 17:23
Instant obedience is the only kind of obedience there is, for delayed obedience is = disobedience. Each time God calls upon us to do something, He is offering to make a covenant with us. Our part is to obey, and then He will do His part to send a special blessing. The only way to be obedient is to obey instantly – “on that very day”, as Abraham did. I know we often postpone doing what we know to do, and then later do it as well as we can. Certainly this is better than not doing it at all. By then, however, it is at best a crippled, disfigured, and partial attempt toward obedience. Postponed obedience can never bring us the full blessing God intended or what it would have brought had we obeyed at the earliest possible moment. What a pity it is how we rob ourselves, as well as God and others, by our procrastination! Remember, “on that very day” is the Genesis way of saying, “Do it now!”
Other GREAT verses:
“If they obey and serve Him, They shall spend their days in prosperity and their years in pleasures.” ~ Job 36:11
“For merely listening to the law doesn’t make us right with God. It is obeying the law that makes us right in his sight.” ~ Romans 2:13
“And this is love – that we walk in His commandments…” ~ 1 John 2:6
“God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.” ~ 1 Peter 1:2
II Corinthians 6 (that’s right – all of it!)
I know most of you are already aware, but I want to encourage all of you to pray for Pastor Chuck as he announced on Sunday, Janurary 1st, 2012 that he has lung cancer. It is very difficult to understand why God allows these things in our lives, but no one has a better attitude than Chuck! His positive outlook is (and always has been) unmatchable and is truly infectious. I have heard him say many times, “When you don’t know what to do, go back to what you DO know.”
What we DO know is that the Lord is holding the future and He is not going to give up on Chuck. Now if you’re an Eeyore like me with the blood type “B Negative” you were thinking, “How could God allow this to such a faithful man, especially at the beginning of a brand new year?! What is going to happen now!?” But what the Lord has shown me is this,
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.
I know the Lord is going to use this and work in ways we cannot see…but let’s please continue lifting him (and Kay!) up in prayer! Even though they are both pillars of Godly strength, they are not exempt from needing comfort and encouragement. And if you can make it out tomorrow night to communion at Costa Mesa, I encourage you to be there. Pastor Chuck will be doing the usual Prophecy Update and I’ll be priviledged to sing 🙂 Also Thursday night, Greg Laurie will be interviewing him at Harvest OC. Both of these events are at 7PM and are going to be very special. Our God is Healer and He is also in control 100% so really there’s nothing to fear or worry about. Also I am sure that no one loves this man more than me so I want to pass along the prayer request 😉 As Pastor Chuck would say, “The worst thing that could happen is that I could die, and well, wouldn’t that be glorious to go and be with the Lord!” Thank you all