The Mighty Work of God in the Life of Chuck Smith

PASTOR CHUCK SMITH - FATHER OF THE JESUS MOVEMENT (1927 - 2013)
PASTOR CHUCK SMITH - FATHER OF THE JESUS MOVEMENT (1927 - 2013)

... the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:6b-7

Chuck Smith Autobiography: A Memoir of Grace
Chuck Smith Autobiography: A Memoir of Grace

A poignant autobiography of Pastor Chuck Smith.

 

Moved from tent to mansion

On October 3rd, 2013, at 3 a.m. Pastor Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapel and father of the Jesus movement of the 1970s, left this world and on into the next after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 86.

God did such a mighty work through him - one that impacted an entire generation, a generation that continues to bear the fruit of his ministry to this very day. It will continue to bear fruit for years to come.

In a message he gave back in the 1980s, Pastor Chuck spoke about the tent we live in here on earth, a temporary and fleeting residence, and how when we die we will be leaving our tent for our eternal residence. In this message, he spoke of his death, which of course would occur several decades later -

"And one of these days, should the Lord tarry, you will no doubt pick up your paper and read 'Chuck Smith died last night. Pastor of Calvary Chapel etc., etc., etc.' Don't believe it. That's poor reporting. If they're going to tell the truth, they're going to have to say Chuck Smith moved last night out of a decrepit, old, holey tent, leaky tent, into a beautiful new mansion. Hey, you don't need to weep for me, because I've moved out of the tent to the house of God, not made of hands, you see."

It brings to mind the song, "This World is Not My Home:"

This world is not my home I'm just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

The vow

A few months prior to his birth, Chuck Smith's sister Virginia was struck with spinal meningitis and collapsed in her mothers arms. Maude Smith, who had recently committed her life to Christ, carried her dying daughter two blocks away to a little church. The pastor told her to take her eyes off her daughter and just worship Jesus. Maude's husband and Virginia's father, Charles Smith, received word that his daughter was dying at a nearby church. Not yet a man of God, he determined to go to the church and beat the pastor up. But when he got there he broke down and wept when he gazed upon his lifeless daughter. But as prayers and worship were going up, little Virginia opened her eyes and went on to make a complete recovery. When her daughter came to life, Maude Smith vowed to the Lord that she would serve him and do whatever He called her to do for the rest of her life. From that day forward, Charles Smith became a follower of the Jesus who healed their daughter.

Two months later, Maude gave birth to Charles Ward Smith. When he was born, Maude told the Lord, "Lord, through my son I will fulfill my vow to you." How reminiscent Maude's vow was of Hannah's vow of dedication of her son Samuel. Having been barren, she went to the temple in Shiloh and prayed the Lord would give her a son,

O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant...and give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life..."(1 Sam. 1:11).

After God granted her a child, the boy Samuel, she took him back to the temple when he was weaned and fulfilled her vow, saying,

"I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord" 1 Sam. 1:28

Interestingly, Chuck Smith was not to hear of his mother's vow for many, many years.

Lord, through my son I will fulfill my vow to you."

— Maude Smith

His calling

Young Chuck was raised on the Word of God. Maude read and taught him the Scriptures and taught him to read at age four. He often sat and read the Bible while his mother did her household chores and he memorized verses. Chuck gave his heart to Christ at church service at age 14. It was a joyous experience and his faith grew stronger each day.

Chuck wanted to be a doctor and began his studies toward that end. During that time he attended a young people's camp that changed his life forever. The speaker told the young people "You have only one life, it will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last."

This remark resonated with young Chuck. Later that day he sat with his Bible under a pine tree and thought about what he'd heard - "You have only one life, it will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last." He sensed the Lord saying, "You can be a doctor and help people physically, but they will die. But if you devote your life to helping people spiritually, you will help them eternally. Do you want to give your life for something temporal or eternal?"

Chuck Smith chose the eternal.

You have only one life, it will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last."

— Pastor at Youth Camp
CHUCK AND KAY SMITH - 64 YEARS OF  MARRIAGE
CHUCK AND KAY SMITH - 64 YEARS OF MARRIAGE

Pastor Chuck's bride - Kay Smith

In 1948, Pastor Chuck met a beautiful girl named Kay at a sporting event. With Christian chivalry, he dusted off a spot for her on the bleacher bench and love blossomed. Six weeks later they were married. He quipped to Pastor Greg Laurie during an interview, "They told us it would never last. But they're all dead now." At his passing, he and Kay had been married 64 years.

Many Calvary Chapel pastors credit Kay for their coming to Christ. Pastors Skip Heitzig and Greg Laurie have both said that before they knew the Smith's and before their conversions, they used to walk past the Smith's house with friends. They later found out that Chuck and Kay used to sit out on the porch and Kay's heart would be burdened for the lost hippies that flowed through their community. She took that burden to the Lord. Kay prayed many a hippie into the kingdom of God. She was as much an integral part of that revival as her husband. God used them both to reach out to a generation no one had any hope for.

Birth of Calvary Chapel and Jesus Movement

Chuck had to struggle just like every other preacher. In his early years of ministry he served God as an evangelist. Through the years he served as pastor in a variety of churches in the Foursquare Gospel denomination. He had seasons of disappointment and trial in ministry and seasons of very fruitful ministry. In 1965, Chuck Smith was pastoring and enjoying a thriving, growing church in Corona, California. At the time he was also holding a Bible study in Costa Mesa for a group of shut-in's in a trailer park. Someone heard about a fledgling church in Costa Mesa called Calvary Chapel and asked if he'd consider pastoring there to get it moving forward. He loved south Orange County and told them he'd pray about it; however his wife Kay was none too interested and it became a slight bone of contention between them. But God moved in Kay's heart and they left their bustling, growing, church in Corona and answered God's call to ministry at Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa. The church building was small and located on the outskirts of town and the congregation consisted of about fifty people.

While pastoring there in the early years, Pastor Chuck's feelings on hippies were less than hopeful and positive: "It's important that I confess my initial revulsion at the hippie movement, long haired, bearded, dirty kids on the streets were miles away from me in their thinking and attitudes," wrote Chuck Smith in the history of Calvary Chapel. But his wife Kay had developed a burden for them and they would go down to Huntington Beach, sit in their car, and pray for them. Chuck's daughter brought home a friend one day, a recent convert of Christ, who ministered to the hippies on the street. Inspired and moved, he asked John to introduce him to hippie. John showed up one evening with Lonnie Frisbee in tow - a Jesus look-alike hippie who was on fire for the Lord. As God had now given Chuck Smith a heart for the hippie generation, He partnered with Lonnie Frisbee and the Holy Spirit began to draw the restless, rebellious hippies, strung out on drugs, and transformed them into what the non-believing world called Jesus freaks (meant as an insult, but really a compliment). The move of God on this generation through Chuck Smith's ministry was in truth, a great revival.

Chuck Smith, a balding, middle aged preacher, was an unlikely conduit for such a great move of God on a generation of young, rebellious, free love, drug addicted youth. He appealed to the youth because of his love and acceptance of them as they were. He made no demands, presented no expectations for the kids to cut their hair and put their shoes on before or once they came to the Lord. To him it was about becoming a new creation inside, not outside.

Many of the hippies and other troubled youth who came to Christ in their dirty jeans and bare feet, later became pastor's as well. Pastor Chuck encouraged and mentored many of them until they were called to ministry. Their first impressions of Pastor Chuck and Calvary Chapel so put them at ease and drew them in, that God was able to reach these young ones that otherwise might not have been.

Chuck Smith preaching at one of his famous ocean baptisms.
Chuck Smith preaching at one of his famous ocean baptisms. | Source

Resistance within the church

The older, conservative people in the church resisted the wave of "filthy hippie" converts. In fact, they found them repulsive. At one point, they put up a sign on the door that said "No bare feet." Pastor Chuck dealt with it swiftly by calling a board meeting. "If our plush carpet leads to closed church doors to even one bare-footed young Christian, then I believe the carpet should be removed." he said. "If dirty blue-jeans worn by the new believer are offensive to us and cause concern about transferring some of the dirt to pristine pews, let's get rid of the upholstered pews...No, let's never, ever close our church doors because of someone's appearance - never!" God had given Pastor Chuck a unique love for this motley generation, breaking all stuffy traditions. The Holy Spirit worked in the heart of many of these traditionalists in leadership and they came to love the "dirty" new congregants, with newly cleansed souls.

Through God's move in his heart, Chuck Smith opened his arms to a generation of young people no one else thought worth loving or saving. He dropped his middle age disdain for the counter culture and yielded to God's call to to love them and bring them the good news. At Pastor Chuck's memorial service Tom Stipe, who had served with him in the early days said, "He dedicated the Jesus movement to God. It wasn't his idea. It was God's idea, and he was just cooperating with it." Pastor Chuck never let others forget that the Jesus movement was not born of his own ambitious efforts to create a mega-church, and a name for himself. He believed and said that the Jesus movement and Calvary Chapel were a miracle, wrought by God "The results you now see," he wrote, "happened by the power of the Holy Spirit; not by might or by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord," referring to Zechariah 4:6. Chuck Smith was a humble man, in awe more than anyone at what God was doing in the church, and in his life.

"There is one particular Scripture that comes to mind when thinking over the miracle of Calvary Chapel; 'Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all the we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout the ages, world without end. Amen' ( Ephesians 3:20). ~ Chuck Smith -The History of Calvary Chapel

Expository Bible teaching

Chuck Smith was a faithful, Spirit empowered, Bible expositor, taking his congregation through the Bible, book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse throughout his decades of ministry. His gift was exposition in simple terms that the kids could relate to. Pastor Greg Laurie, once one of the hippies who was mentored by Pastor Chuck and went on to become a pastor and evangelist himself, attests to the power of Pastor Chuck's teaching of the Word of God, "His emphasis on Bible exposition not only changed a church, it changed a generation."

Chuck Smith often shared the story about how he came to be a Bible expositor. As he told it, when he was a member of the foursquare Gospel denomination he was a topical preacher. He told how he'd go through his two year litany of topics then ask the denomination to send him to a new place where he'd start his litany of topics again. It came to him one day that perhaps this wasn't working too well and decided maybe preaching through a book in the Bible would be a good change. He decided First John would be the place to start. So he told his congregation the plan and gave them a homework assignment, which was to go home and read the book and find out the three reason's why John wrote the book. He was inundated with calls all week because people were having trouble finding the third reason. His answer was the same every time, "Keep reading." From that first book series, he went on to teach and exposit the Bible this way for the rest of his ministry. It was when he began to teach this way that his ministry really took off. He fed the people what they needed, and they couldn't get enough.

In the interview by Pastor Laurie, Smith told him that reading and teaching the Bible this way changed his spiritual life forever. The Bible came alive and the truths were more evident than the way he'd done it before. This was a move of God in his life. Pastor Chuck remained faithful to the exposition of the Word throughout his lifetime. He remained endued by the Spirit with love for people. Through his ministry God raised up literally thousands of pastors, teachers and evangelists, all once broken, rebellious, and hopeless youth who went on to exposit the Bible themselves. This is to be Chuck Smith's legacy. It will live on in the thousands of lives that were taught the Word of God through his ministry.

* Currently there are nearly two thousand Calvary Chapel churches world wide, and several Bible colleges.

Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking God uses only 'special' people - the strong, the intelligent, the beautiful. We don't think He has a place for the rest of us. We are so wrong!”

— Pastor Chuck Smith

Chuck Smith on the beginnings of Contemporary Christian music

Chuck Girard and Love Song testimony

Altering the landscape of Christian music

Chuck Smith also paved the way for contemporary worship music. It all started with Chuck Girard and Love Song, the hippie band who sang the now historic songs, Welcome Back and Little Country Church. The little country church was none other than Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, CA in it's very humble beginnings. Many more Christian bands sprang up, welcomed with open arms by Chuck Smith. He offered them all a chance and a platform to sing God's praises in this new genre.

The famed Maranatha Music came from Chuck Smith's ministry and they graced believer's everywhere with their new contemporary praise music. They were much like the Hillsong we have today. They made countless records of their praise and worship songs and traveled the world to carry the good news.

In recent years, Pastor Chuck went on a tour with Love Song and the Maranatha singers with the desire to bring a new generation into a saving relationship with Christ.

Pastor Levi Lusko of Fresh Life Church in Kalispell, MT said of Chuck Smith's participation in the contemporary music scene, "He altered the landscape when it comes to Christian music by embracing modern worship and giving birth to Maranatha music..."

In remembrance of you

Chuck Smith will be remembered for his radiant, beaming smile - a reflection of the radiant, beaming love he had for God, and God for him. He touched several generations and millions of lives. Said Pastor Tom Stipe, "Chuck will be remembered as a great man of faith, who let sinners and rejects into his house, into his car, into the house of God." His whole life exemplified the grace of God. Pastor Chuck Smith will be deeply missed and fondly and affectionately remembered.

Dear Pastor Chuck - "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you..." (Phil. 1:3).

Chuck will be remembered as a great man of faith, who let sinners and rejects into his house, into his car, into the house of God. And here we are."

— Pastor Tom Stipe

© Lori Colbo. October 2013. All rights reserved.

Chuck Smith sings "The Love of God'

The Love of God - Chuck's favorite hymn

by Frederick M. Lehman (1917)

The love of God is greater far

Than tongue or pen can ever tell;

It goes beyond the highest star,

And reaches to the lowest hell;

The guilty pair, bowed down with care,

God gave His Son to win;

His erring child He reconciled,

And pardoned from his sin.

Refrain:

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure--

The saints' and angels' song.

2. When hoary time shall pass away,

And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,

When men who here refuse to pray,

On rocks and hills and mountains call,

God's love so sure, shall still endure,

All measureless and strong;

Redeeming grace to Adam's race--

The saints' and angels' song.

Refrain

3. Could we with ink the ocean fill,

And were the skies of parchment made,

Were every stalk on earth and quill,

And every man a scribe by trade;

To write the love of God above

Would drain the ocean dry;

Nor could the scroll contain the whole,

Though stretched from sky to sky.

Pastor Chuck's last sermon

Sources

A Lifetime of Impact: Greg Laurie interviews Chuck Smith, Harvest: Greg Laurie, January 5, 2013. Published Oct. 3, 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a64YADx_Ymk

Chuck Smith: A Memory of Grace, June 1, 2009. The Word for Today Publisher, Costa Mesa, CA

Pastor Chuck Smith: A Life Well-Lived, Levi Lusko blog, Oct. 3, 2013 http://levilusko.com/archives/pastor-chuck-smith-a-life-well-lived

Calvary Chapel.com, Calvary Chapel History link to The History of Calvary Chapel, Chuck Smith http://calvarychapel.com/assets/Uploads/articles/history-cc.pdf

© 2013 Lori Colbo

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10 comments

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 3 years ago from Manhattan

I loved Chuck Smith too and it was a Calvary Chapel church that was my very first church. I saw him a few times. It will be great to see him in heaven.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

What a beautiful life lived for Christ. We know he has heard those words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant!" I love that song too, and I am always mindful that this world is not our true home, but it is temporal and passing away.

Thank you for this comprehensive article on the life of one on fire for the Lord! We can all learn a lot from his examples as to how to live for Christ.

Looking forward to meeting him one day too.

Up and more and sharing

God bless you sweet sister. In His Love Always, Faith Reaper


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

I am only vaguely familiar with Chuck, I do recall years ago him going in among the real bad sinners as Jesus would do. Glad to read the whole story and it made me want to cry but I am tough so I will just have a headache instead, lol. I really remember Love Song, just the best gospel group I ever heard! Up and sharing.

Hope you will visit this weeks hug Lilliana, she really touched my heart (her situation) and I am hoping she will get active here again and we can all make a difference to her.


CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

I hadn't heard of him before. Thank you for writing such a great article about him.


Rayne123 3 years ago

I have to be honest, as God knows I would be lying if I said I know of this guy, because well I don't.

However what a beautiful story.

I love the story, the daughter was then healed even though the father wanted to beat up the pastor for what he said. I mean in all honesty we would all feel the same way. Our eyes would be right on our children and anything said is not justified at the time.

Jesus healed her, wow he is amazing, the powers he has. I know Jesus is powerful and mighty but to actually hear the stories strengthens the faith to some point.

I want to be able to heal like that. If anyone can do anything we must all realize it comes from above.

There is no one in this world that has the power through their own hands to raise the dead or heal the very sick like Jesus does.

Even doctors have very little healing power when you think about it.

Great hub. I will have to look up more information on this pastor

Thank you

Blessings

Laurie


lambservant profile image

lambservant 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Brie Hoffman - My first church was a Calvary Chapel too. I visited Pastor Chuck's church on one occasion. His church is very close to where my sister lives. Thanks for you comments.

Faith Reaper, glad you could stop by. I can't wait to get to heaven either and say hey to Pastor Chuck. His was a life that glorified the Father.

Hello Jackie Lynnley, nice of you to stop by and comment. Please, never resist tears. God collects are tears in a bottle, not headaches. No need to be tough. God wants our hearts tender. Pastor Chuck's story is so moving, you can't help but tear up. I will check out the Hug Hub (and say it three times in a row - hug hub, hug hub, hug hub.) Blessings.

Craftytothecore, I am glad you got to meet him here. He's not as well known as Billy Graham, and he would prefer it that way, but nonetheless, he is known and loved by thousands.

Laurie (nice name), go on Youtube and you will find some wonderful tributes and interviews with him. He is just such a lovable man. I never had the pleasure of getting one of his famous hugs. Will catch up in heaven. Healing power belongs to God alone, we are just vessels.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

Good Morning Lori,

What a wonderful tribute to God's man. Thank you for sharing about his life and ministry. My only hope now is that God raises up another in his place.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Actually there has been a lot of talk about this even before he died. As far as his church, his son-in-law who has been the associate pastor for some time was voted as new senior pastor. But there will be no "replacement" as far as anything else because his life and role was unique to him. Many think that Chuck Smith was in charge of all the Calvary Chapels, but he was not. They are not a denomination per se, so each one is independent but do all share what they call the Calvary Chapel distinctives which you can google and find. His work will be carried on by all the men to came to faith and pastoral ministry through his ministry.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean

A great tribute to a man of God. The essence of his work lives on, because the story of his life and ministry inspired me deeply. Thank you.


whomtheSonsetFree profile image

whomtheSonsetFree 3 years ago from USA

What an extraordinary man of God Chuck Smith was. A Christlike and loving demeanor. May God bless and be with his entire family.

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