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Where’s the Fire in Middle Georgia Preaching? FPD’s Chaplain Charley Chase Explains Why He Wasn’t Burning Before, But is Now

March 21, 2015 Culture and Lifestyle, Edition 6, Opinion, Religion 11 Comments
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Macon, Georgia, March 22, 2015:

Being in the Bible Belt with as many churches as Macon has, you might think there’d be more fire flaming from Macon’s pulpits. There’s still some fire, though, if you know where to look for it.

Macon Monitor staff and friends had the opportunity this past week to hear one fired-up preacher, Dr. Charley Chase, who, despite being of grandparental age, manages to get the rapt attention of a difficult-to-reach cohort, including hundreds of high-school students, perhaps the most difficult of all to reach.

Chase has been the chaplain for First Presbyterian Day School in Macon, Georgia, for the past eight years, and you can see why. The Monitor invited Chase to explain what fires him and his student followers.

 

Monitor: What had you done before coming to FPD, and how did that inform your work with young people in the past few years?

Chase: I’d served in parish ministry for 30 years before coming to FPD. For most of that time, my preaching wasn’t really on fire. It was more like a birthday candle than a nuclear blast. I had a sort of Road-to-Damascus moment shortly before I came to FPD, though, and began to re-explore the New Testament.

 

Monitor: Was Paul a guide for you in that process?

Chase: Yes. Paul was a great preacher and evangelist after he converted to Christianity. He wrote and preached about what it took to be on fire for Christ. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” Paul wrote. Giving myself more fully over to Christ, and to die to my old ways, has helped me to experience in recent years some of what Paul’s fire must have felt like to him.

 

Monitor: Having been a preacher and pastor for thirty years before your “Damascus” moment, you must sense a danger in lukewarm approaches to sharing Christianity.

Chase: Of course. It’s so easy for preachers to lose track of the fire of Jesus in the weekly grind of sermonizing, and just seeing to the institutional life of the church. That spills over to those listening. Uninspired preaching is one reason so many Christians are blander than hospital food, and live lives no more appealing than a steak is to a vegetarian.

 

Monitor: What advice do you have for preachers who are in a rut?

Chase: Let me offer a golf analogy. It’s no surprise that sometimes you’ll hit a water shot where the ball goes astray. But just because you hit a bad shot doesn’t mean that you’ll never hit another good shot. Jesus offers you a mulligan, whether you’re a preacher or someone else who may have lost the way. The important thing is to accept that grace, put another ball down, and swing true. I’m playing my own mulligan here at FPD.

 

Monitor: How do you keep that fire fueled?

Chase: I’ll let Paul answer. In Romans chapter twelve, he tells Christians, “present your bodies as living sacrifices to God.” That’s the fire. Notice what he says before this: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God. . . .” That’s the fuel.

 

Monitor: What do you understand Paul to be referring to as the mercies of God?

Chase: They’re all that God is and does for us through Jesus Christ. In other words, the fuel is an appreciation for what being a Christian is. Paul is saying, “Appreciate what being a Christian means — grasp the wonder and glory of what God is and does for you through his dear Son — and you’ll burn with devotion to him.” The fuel for the fire of devotion to God is appreciating what a Christian is.

 

Monitor: You’re working with young people who are in the process of trying to figure out what a Christian is. What do you tell them?

Chase: The standard answer is, “Someone who has accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior.” But that’s not going to light a lot of fires. It’s more like a wet, green twig, unable to be lit, much less used to light, a fire. It’s no wonder our lives are flickering candles with such a low view of what a Christian is.

 

Monitor: So what is a higher view of what a Christian is that can capture the hearts and imaginations of young people?

Chase: Paul has got the answer for them in pointing to the mercies of God. Even skeptical teenagers can taste the deliciousness of God’s mercies. Who wouldn’t want to be the focus of God’s work on the emerging masterpiece that is you? The personal, individual love of God for a person, for all eternity, is irresistible.

 

Monitor: But sometimes bad things happen, and optimism may seem to have been foolish. What do you tell young people about the tough times that inevitably will come their ways?

Chase: On the cross, Jesus had the toughest time of all. But God was working his amazing plan through the cross. Because of this, anyone who trusts Jesus is taken off of spiritual death row, with all the charges dropped, and assured an eternity of beauty and bounty. It’s a breathtaking gift of mercy, and is an invitation to burn hotter than Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace in passionate commitment to living for the Lord.

When people are around us Christians, they ought to see a pleasure in belonging to Jesus, and a delight in pleasing him, that makes them think, “Jesus Christ really is the one thing worth everything.” It makes me want to sing the line from the old hymn, ‘Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.’

 

Currently there are "11 comments" on this Article:

  1. Laurel Blount says:

    Had the pleasure of hearing Pastor Chase this morning, as he continued his series on “The Fuel and the Fire.” He is a wonderful man and a passionate speaker, intent on communicating the truth to those around him!

  2. Gordon Landreth says:

    As with so many others, I enjoyed sitting under the preaching and teaching of Charley Chase while he pastored in Corpus Christi, Texas. Charley drew people to God’s mercy and grace. He made Christianity exciting. He delivered the Word, while true and pure, in a message we could identify with and apply to our lives.

    In Charley’s answers to the Monitor he notes that many pastors lose track of their mission in the daily grind of overseeing the congregation they are shepherding. I have said of Charley, “Hire this man to preach, and then hire someone to run the church!”

    On a personal note, when Charley and Sue left Corpus Christi I told him I was raised with three sisters. I didn’t have a brother until I met Charley! FPC is blessed to have this man of God! He absolutely impacted this man’s life!

    • Ronald W McKinney says:

      Martin Luther said to Erasmus, “Your God is too small.” Dr. Chase has a high view of the character of God. What comes to mind when you think of God has to do with who you really are. Knowing God, in the face of Jesus Christ, changed the Apostle Paul from a God hater to a lover of Christ. All because of the amazing grace of God. He seems to be a mad man at times as he gave himself for the glory of God. I appreciate Dr. Chase being candid in how God has worked in his own life. It is apparent that there is a renewed desire to express the joy of being in Christ. Our faith should not be boring and familiar. It should be dynamic and refreshing. All because of Christ. Enjoyed the article and appreciate the Monitor for publishing something so encouraging. Dr. Chase is a real encourager.

  3. Charley Chase is one of the most passionate and articulate speakers I have ever heard preach the gospel. I was fortunate to be in his congregation in Dothan, AL. His uplifting style and love for the Lord were always very evident. His sermon delivery and knowledge certainly made indelible marks on the congregation.

  4. Leah Sexton says:

    As a former high school student and basketball player of Dr Chase I can say without hesitation that this man’s passionate desire for God radically changed my view on Christianity. I didn’t truly understand what living and being a Christ follower meant until I met Dr Chase. He lives and breathes genuine passion for the Lord. I’m thankful Dr Chase didn’t live half heartedly because by his example I found out for myself how much I wanted to live on fire for Christ.
    Dr Chase has influenced countless hearts for the glory of God and God has used this man to exemplify the truth of what he earlier quoted from Paul, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain,”

    Thank you Coach Chase for living on fire.

  5. Tom Mobley says:

    Though I’ve never had the pleasure of hearing Charley Chase preach, he is a man that carries the fragrant aroma of Christ with him wherever he goes! My son played baseball at FPD his senior year and Charley and I worked the press box together. I so enjoyed our fellowship on game days! Maybe one of these days my family and I can slip in to hear the fire that God has put in his belly to preach the unending truths of God’s Word!

  6. Alan Wood says:

    I like the idea of interview articles. I hope to see more of them and would also like to do some of my own in the future. They are both enlightening and also a great way to shine a light on people in Middle Georgia with something important to say that have gone unrecognized for too long.

  7. Ashley Blann says:

    This article is a wonderful representation of Dr. Chase’s passion for sharing his fire for the Lord to those he meets. I had the absolute pleasure of playing basketball for him during my high school career at FPD, and he displays this passion in all areas of his life. No matter if the team won or lost, or the issues on or off the court, Dr. Chase would remind us that God has a plan and that He loves us immeasurably more than any of us could understand. He made himself available to discuss any aspect of life I wanted to, and always prayed over me before we spoke and afterwards. This man is the real deal. He walks what he talks.

    I am honored to have had the pleasure of being mentored by him throughout my entire high school career. His fire for the Lord is catching and cannot be extinguished. I will forever be thankful to him for being such a positive influence in my life. I will forever count him as my close friend and mentor.

  8. Thank you for posting this interview with Dr. Charley Chase!

    I am blessed to hear him preach Sunday after Sunday, and he never fails to preach with passion–no matter what sadness or suffering he may be experiencing on any given Sunday. He encourages our congregation to love God with all our hearts, minds, soul, and strength and to praise the One who loves us far more than we can imagine. Week by week, he provides a feast for those of us who are hungry to know more truths about God and to apply those truths to our daily lives. For example, just this past Sunday, he reminded us that we are God-made–not self-made–and that God will complete the good work He began in us. Our job is to yield to Him (Romans 12:1), who, as Pastor Charley so often says, “has the will and skill to do us good.”

  9. Angela Smith says:

    Charley is a wonderful preacher and teacher who brings scripture to life. It was truly a blessing to call him pastor from 2000 until 2006. Our family was greatly impacted by this man and his ability articulating scripture.

  10. John Neville says:

    I was so blessed to sit under his preaching when he lived in Mississippi. He is a most passionate preacher and pastor. I really miss his sermons and lessons.

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