Over the past couple of years many of my friends met Chuck Obremski vicariously through my e-mail updates and various "posts" on this "blog". Many have commented how they climbed aboard the "cancer coaster" with the man they never met but somehow got to know and love.
Blogging buddy Susan Bunts has faithfully kept me updated during Chuck's battle. I commend her for painstakingly noting Chuck's sermon outlines before he went "home" and jotting down the tributes paid to her beloved pastor. Thank you so much, Susan!
Here are some thoughts from the special service yesterday at Kindred Community Church:
This weekend I had the privilege of attending two services that celebrated the life of my beloved Pastor, Chuck Obremski.
One was the memorial service for Chuck held at Anaheim Stadium. David Fisher at Pilgrim Scribblings posted the recap of the services from the Kindred Prayer Team "You Finished Strong". It fully captures the services...and I encourage you to click on the above link. It will give you a picture of the man that so many people loved, mourn at his passing...and celebrate that he is home with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Today at Kindred we had a service as a church family to remember and celebrate our very own dear Pastor. We had the opportunity to have fellow members of Kindred get up and share how Chuck had touched theirs lives and what they remembered about him. It was very touching...and amidst tears...I jotted down some notes as people spoke. My apologies to fellow Kindred members...but I didn't get each person's name. So...instead on some I'll record their words, sans name. Words paying tribute and respect our our Pastor in a life lived to bring glory to God.
On the Tuesday before Chuck died, he said, "I feel like I'm being crushed".
When selecting our sound technician Mike Farrel, he commented to him, "It's not about me, it's about the Word." That was always Chuck's primary focus.
Chuck had a great and sometimes irreverent sense of humor. So while some of these notes on the more humorous references may make you pause...trust me, his jokes and daily comments were great...and helped bring some humor and perspective to life. Mike had long hair for many years...always pulled back in a pony tail. When Chuck was loosing his hair due to chemo...many of the Kindred guys stood in unity with him and shaved their heads. Mike too shaved his head. When Mike visited Chuck towards the end...Chuck comment, "Mike, I love you. I love you so much more, since you've cut your hair." You've got to love it...it's totally Chuck.
Lloyd Cotton shared a funny story. Chuck was always pretty well composed...but Lloyd liked to sneak up and get him. While over at the Elk's Club in Santa Ana, after service Chuck and Linda would greet people as they left. Lloyd loved to sneak up behind Chuck and tickle his butt. One day he told Chuck, I just love sneaking up on you and tickling your butt and giving Linda a big hug. Chuck commented, "Lloyd, I'm counting on you keep those two things straight."
Les Nesbitt shared that he had known Chuck for 18 years. As a doctor he was able to be with Chuck during some of his surgeries. When awakening from surgery one time, true to the Chuck we know and love he said to Les, "I know it's not heaven, because Les is here."
"You see God shining through Chuck. He was God's tool." When Chuck was preaching he had a way about him of looking out at you and catching your eye during key points of his sermon. It was always very convicting. When bringing a friend to church to hear Chuck preach...the friend commented afterwards, he didn't keep with the customary 5 second rule of looking at you...but it seemed more like 15 seconds.
Chuck and the Kindred family have always been there behind me and my family.
Chuck always shared the plan of salvation. Hebrews 12:2 - "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." This person when on to say that Chuck endured the "cancer coaster" in his desire to share the gospel message to the very end.
One of the Ram's wives commented that the football players would hear Chuck's stories and sermons. That he really came across to the players...and brought many players to the Word of God.
A gentleman shared the scripture, Galatians 6:9 - "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." He further stated that following a difficult situation he felt he was at the end, but he knew who he could call for help and direction. Chuck challenged us to live a life worthy of the calling. Each of us is challenged each day and we have a choice. We can walk a life worthy of our calling...we can make right choices. We can go with our heart or go with the Word of God.
Ruth Stingley from Kindred's Prayer Team shared that Chuck opened up the Word of God for her. He ministered through his entire family with love and care for all. She encouraged the Obremski family that God would continue to use them greatly.
A gentleman commented that he was looking for a Pastor that didn't put him to sleep when preaching. The first time he heard Chuck...he knew he had found the right place. He further shared that he was motivated by what Chuck taught.
One Kindred member commented that when listening to Chuck preach she didn't look at her watch.
Victoria said that she called Chuck many times a week. He always made time to talk to her...that he always had the time for everyone of us.
David Garrett from Kindred's Praise Team shared that he visited Chuck during his last week...and Chuck finished strong. He liked people. Chuck studied the Bible for hours each day and practiced it. It was never about what Chuck thought, it was always about what the Bible said. David had the chance to bring his guitar and sing songs with Chuck on his last visit. Even while in such a weakened condition, Chuck still tried to sing along and was taping his foot under the sheet.
A young lady at Kindred said that she had been hearing Chuck preach for about a year and a half. That she wanted very much to attend "big church" and would ask her parents to attend this service and not the services for younger members. She also said that she was really nervous about getting up to speak but she recalled Chuck's admonition, "Don't just keep talking, do it!".
One member shared that she had called Chuck when she needed advise about spending the holidays with family and wanting to share the Word of God. Chuck guided her to book that would help her and during the holidays, she was able to share the Bible with her family.
A young gentleman shared that when he first heard Chuck...he just loved the jokes. But before long...what brought him back time and time again was hearing the Word of God. He also said that Chuck treated him like an adult, not a child. He also shared that at one of the prayer meetings for Chuck, Chuck in turned prayed for him and the rest of Kindred members.
One young lady shared that she had grown up with Chuck and the Obremski family. How much can you do when you really love well? Because of Chuck's influence, when she talks to people now, it's about what really matters. Chuck was the one person who was able to make fun of her...but she still felt loved. Some of the things she learned from Chuck: Don't loose heart, look at the difference that one person can make when they live a life sold out to Jesus Christ. Make people feel important...even if it's something simple like a smile or a hello. Love deeply and make people feel like they are important and matter. You can only feel a great loss when you have a great love for someone.
Charlotte said that Chuck was faithful to his promise. She was thankful to God for a Pastor who taught us the Word of God and lived it. He lived victorious life and shared the way to make victorious choices. He always made her feel that he had the whole day to talk to her. She encouraged us that we too need to finish strong.
Bob shared that Chuck lived the Word of God. That he brought life and meaning to the Word of God.
A young lady shared that she too had grown up with Chuck and the Obremski family. Chuck's greatest gift was that he was encourager. Even in his last week, he encouraged those that came to the hospital to visit him. She then share the following scripture - Psalm 73:23-28
23 Yet I am always with you;you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.
Jack Grogger, Chuck's son-in-law, encouraged us that after Jesus death and resurrection, the disciples went on to teach the Good Word. We are not to quit...but finish strong.
Dave Dunn finished up with some final observations. Chuck was a true example...faith in action. He got the Word of God out...and never lost an opportunity to share the gospel. He loved people and wanted everyone to hear the gospel. He focus was always with the gospel...he never lost his focus. As Chuck finished his leg of the race, he encouraged us, "Don't drop the baton!". We have tears of a temporary parting. Chuck was an ambassador of the gospel called home.
2 Timothy 4:6 - For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.