Have you ever had those times in your life while you are in the moment...you really get it...you understand just how precious or extraordinary this time or this person with whom you are with is. There is something different, something very special about a person. Maybe they are extraordinarily kind or gracious or very honest and real in contrast to this all to often plastic world we live in. Or there is that something there, and you can tell that God has His hand upon this person...and is working in them and through them. And it's quite remarkable...and you "get it" at the time...during it...not afterward in reflecting back...but in the moment. That makes it a very precious time indeed.
When I think about Chuck Obremski...and remember when I first heard him preach...and look back over the years that I've been able to participate in his Bible study...and what God has now grown into a lovely, wonderful church...it takes my breath away. You see, I remember quite clearly when I first walked in that door and heard Chuck preach.
It was January 1999...my second week attending Calvary Church Santa Ana. In addition to attending the regular service I had wanted to get fully involved, including a Bible study. So looking in the church bulletin...I found this one Bible study called Kindred. I knew which building was in...and it was easy to find.
So that second week...I walked in the doors. I can even remember about where I sat. The gentleman who sat next to me and the people who were around me were all very kind, considerate and caring. Even back then at Kindred...each week they ask whoever is visiting for the first time that week to stand up. Back then you would say you name and where you were from...and the congregation would applaud and those around you would welcome you. It was a very warm and inviting setting and group of people.
Of course there was a time of worship with songs of praise and thanksgiving...and some of those good old hymns. The gentlemen who lead the worship team had and continue to have real love for the Lord...and made worship fun. But they also helped you to focus in on who God is and why He is worthy of our praise and worship.
Hold on to your hats folks...because that was just the beginning. Then it was time for Chuck to preach. Even back then...Chuck was a very powerful preacher. Back before the cancer, before our church was founded...back when it was just a weekly Bible study...it was quite evident that God was using this man to preach His word in a very powerful and dynamic way.
I affectionately refer to Chuck as my "kick butt pastor"...and that he is. He is one that speaks the truth from God's word quite boldly. He holds nothing back. Yet it is not done in a fashion to beats you over the head. But instead the Holy Spirit is working in that Word that's going out...and convicting the hearts and minds of believers. Helping us to grow and develop into the person God would have us to be. Also reaching out to the non-believers...and giving the no nonsense message..."Hey...you are lost in your sin and perishing." But there is good news...God has a plan to save you from your sins. Because He loves you...He provided His Son Jesus Christ to pay that penalty for your sin so that though Him you might be saved.
You couldn't sit in in that Bible study and not hear the Word of God...and clearly hear the gospel message preached each week. Oh I have been most blessed in my life by hearing and sitting under some great preachers...but there was something very different about Chuck. Sure, some of it was style. I really love his no nonsense way of speaking, I loved Chuck's way of being very open and real...sharing from his life and his heart. Not setting himself up as a paragon on virtue by any means...but knowing that God was in the process of transforming him. Using him for His purposes and growing him up. Chuck has always freely shared about what he was like before he became a Christian...and also stories about his Christian walk since then.
You see I need that "kick butt pastor"...the one who freely and plainly preaches God's word. I need someone who doesn't sugar coat it...but gives you that message in a straight forward manner. Knowing that God...through His Holy Spirit will work in you through the cleansing of His Word. And that pastor for me has been Chuck Obremski.
You could also see quite clearly that God's hand upon this ministry. Sometimes it was confusing to see exactly what God was doing...or where He was going...but you knew God was at work. This was especially so as we transitioned from a Bible study into a Church. Some of the things didn't make sense from a human perspective...but God had a bigger purpose and plan in mind. It was "A God Thing". God was at work...and sometimes those growth periods and changes are quite confusing and painful.
I remember on that last week...as we prepared to say goodbye to Calvary Church and start out on our own, Chuck asked for everyone who was planning on making that move to raise their hand. Nearly everyone in the room raised their hand. You know when you hear God's word given so clearly and undiluted...you begin to crave it and look forward to hearing it each week. Those weeks when we just had one service...so our our entire congregation could be together as one...we had no Bible study. Man oh man alive...it made me all the more eager for Bible study the next week. You see, I'm one who is a super mega bonehead...and I need God's word to help me so I at least improve or grow each day and week.
But with our eyes fully on God...and trusting Him...with our beloved Pastor leading...we stepped forward in faith. With no official church building...we stepped out...and God provided. Each week for two years we met at the Elk's club in Santa Ana. The first week we met in the auditorium which proved to be too small to accommodate our growing group. There after we meet in the largest room they had. That required the service of some willing servants in setting up and tearing down the chairs and platforms each week. And God provided...and continued to provide for each different area of ministry or service. God raised up some godly men among us willing to serve as Elders for our church. Each step...our God has provided.
About six months after we started our church, Chuck was diagnosed with cancer. And it turned out to be another time...where things were a bit confusing. Not exactly sure what God was doing...yet knowing and trusting that He was at work and had everything fully in hand. With Chuck and the leadership of church elders...we continued to move forward trusting God in faith. All the while seeking God's wisdom, guidance and direction each step along the way.
Through it all Chuck's preaching has became even more intense, dynamic, passionate and straight forward. Each day, each week has become more precious...since we don't know how much more time God will allow us on this earth with our beloved Pastor. God is using Chuck's preaching to reach out an touch people's lives who other wise wouldn't take the time to hear some "preacher boy". But because of the circumstances they are in...they are more open to hearing from someone who is in quite desperate circumstances...but whose faith is unyielding. Who in the midst of great pain and suffering continues to trust his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. One who doesn't cry out and ask "Why God?"...but instead asks, "What God? What do you plan to do with this cancer and how are you going to use it for your purpose, plan, glory and kingdom?"
So you see...in the midst of this time...from when I first heard Chuck preach the Word of God...I got it. I knew just how special man is and that God was using him greatly to teach His word. How precious this time was and is and continues to be.
I remember a call on the Dennis Prager's show...in which the caller was asking about seeing God...or seeing Him at work in our lives. Dennis responded to the caller that sometimes we recognize God after He has passed by. Kind of like Moses when he asked God if he might see Him. God was unable to let Moses see him directly. Instead he protected Moses in the clef of the rock and permitted Moses to see His afterglow that passed by. Probably in most situations in life...you can see God's work or His presence after the fact.
Yet there are those rare occasions in which you can see God at work in the present. It is truly a sight to behold and one that is very precious.
So while I am very grateful to recognize the extraordinary person that Chuck is...and how God is at work in him and using him...I wonder. I wonder what it would be like if I sought to look deeper at each person God brings into my life and look for that thing that makes them special or unique. In each situation and circumstance...look for God's hand and see what work He is seeking to accomplish.
I continue to praise God for what he is doing in and through my beloved Pastor Chuck Obremski...and look forward to seeing God's plan in action. It was, is and will continue to be "A God Thing".
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