Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Power of Christmas Traditions

The power of tradition is to memorialize something considered exceptionally important or sacred to a culture and to function as a vehicle to pass down important values from ancestors to their descendants. For example, old European and early American culture gave us many of our most wonderful Christmas traditions, mixing the biblical accounts of the Nativity with other beloved practices. These are the familiar images of baby Jesus in a manger, the wise men, Mary and Joseph, shepherds, angels, Christmas trees, church services, seasonal songs, traditional carols, giving gifts, spreading good will, sharing fictional stories like A Christmas Carol and even old St. Nick. These are all traditions our Christian ancestors initiated and handed down so that future generations might know how much they loved their most valuable treasure; God's original Christmas present: Jesus Christ.

Although our mixed-up world has largely moved away from the true heart and soul of the holiday, Christmas traditions were intentionally designed to stir feelings of goodwill and love among people because the one celebrated is an expression of good will and love from God. What a great idea; to rejoice at God’s gift to the world by transforming an entire home, village, town or city with colorful lights, garland, the sounds of heartwarming songs and celebrating by giving gifts to one another in a common expression of Christmas joy. I believe that we must never forget the main message communicated through our beloved holiday traditions, contending vigorously and reminding the world boldly of their original meaning.

We surely know that God is never far away regardless of how far many have drifted and the great hope for our generation is, as always, in the tireless, timeless work of bringing the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ back into the center of human life. Our ancestors knew this and memorialized it in our Christmas traditions. Therefore this year as we turn our hearts towards Christmas once again, I encourage everyone to keep Christmas as Christmas; a day when we memorialize and celebrate God’s gift of His own Son, Jesus Christ, to the world.

"Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

"Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" Luke 2:8-14

And echoing the words of the immortal Linus, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Apostle John Kelly - A Testimonial

It has been a great privilege to be associated with Apostle John Kelly for the past twenty plus years. His personality and ministry style set him apart as a man uniquely equipped to impart vision and direction to a generation of Christian leaders hungry to influence the world for the cause of Christ.

My first exposure to Apostle Kelly's ministry was at Ravena Bible Training Center in upstate New York circa 1987. As an up-and-coming on-fire Christian with a faith-message background, I was excited (though somewhat skeptical) when told that an 'apostle' was coming to speak at a Saturday morning men's breakfast. I figured that in order to prove he was a true apostle he would probably tell awesome stories about the miracles he performed or somehow flex his apostolic muscular prowess through prophecy or healing.

What I got that morning however was much more... he was surely anointed with the Holy Spirit, but John Kelly was logical, earthy and confident with an east-coast style manliness that flowed naturally and was closer to my Bronx-born, WWII veteran father’s personality than any Spirit-filled minister I had ever been exposed to. Prior to Kelly every preacher I considered really anointed had a southern accent. This new perspective blew my mind.

In addition, I found Apostle Kelly to be amazingly perceptive and there was nowhere to hide from his dead-on insights. I still remember feeling sick to my stomach listening, for the first time, to his now often-quoted lines like (speaking on authority), "If you cannot make your own children obey you, how do you expect a demon to?" Ouch! Through the years, I have come to believe that many of John Kelly's one-liners are among the most profound sayings anywhere, having the power to shine a light on critical inconsistencies. I personally quote John Kelly in my ministry far more than any other contemporary source.

The overall feeling I was left with that morning reminds me of an old song by Roberta Flack called "Killing Me Softly with His Song." The song tells of a woman listening, for the first time, to a particular singer performing and how his song cuts into her soul. Well, the song I could have written about that men’s breakfast might have been named, "Bludgeoning Me Mortally with His Message." And although it was a painful experience, it was the most liberating teaching I have ever heard and left me with two life-changing impressions to this day: 1. Jesus loves the east coast too! 2. Apostle John Kelly represented a vision of unapologetic, strong-side manliness in ministry that, to this day, has never been matched. For that, I am ever grateful.

I tell people that John Kelly is more prophetic by accident than most prophets are on purpose. He has a great gift of being able to tie heaven and earth together and see opportunities and project trends in the church and in the culture before the wave breaks on the horizon. My wife, Nancy, and I are very fortunate to have benefited immeasurably from Apostle Kelly’s wisdom throughout our ministry as we have endeavored to build based on the principles he has forwarded in his teachings and from his personal instruction to us.

In 1990, John and Helena invited me to a local diner one fateful evening and offered me an assignment to pastor a small church plant in the rural Catskill Mountains of New York State. I accepted, of course, and soon found this tiny village, Margaretville, population 600, is so remote that I felt, at first, like Kevin Costner’s character in the beginning of Dances with Wolves. Over the next eighteen years, however, (as I am writing now) that church has grown-up to become a major beacon to the region and a multifaceted apostolic life generator affecting thousands of lives and moving millions of dollars over the years for the cause of Christ. This is John Kelly’s legacy in one small spot in the world.

During the 22 years I have been associated with Apostle John Kelly; he has won many great victories and faced much painful hardship and adversity including physical limitations and the betrayal of friends. Through all this he has shown himself to be a gracious and consummate leader and an innovator. His ability to forgive is astounding. His sense of humor is refreshing. His intelligence is reassuring. His humility is disarming. His insight is profound. His love and compassion are surprisingly delicate but vitally important balance weights to his otherwise warrior attitude. His courage is not rhetoric but real. Apostle John Kelly is the only minister that I have ever really tried to emulate and Catskill Mountain Christian Center is, in no small part, a testimony to his influence.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Purpose of Christmas - A Recommendation

I’m writing today to recommend a book. The Purpose of Christmas by Rick Warren. I believe that it will be a blessing to you personally and make a great Christmas gift for friends and relatives. I LOVE THIS BOOK.

I must confess that I do not care for many of the typical light-reading illustrated Christmas gift books being published today, but this is unlike any I have read before. It is a small book and easy reading but it definitely connects the dots in clearly explaining why Jesus’ birth is an event truly worth celebrating. It will reignite your pure faith and has the potential to lead many to salvation. I recommend this book for our home groups (as a December study guide), for family devotions, for unsaved friends & relatives and for your entire gift list. The message is very positive so everyone will enjoy it.

In the book, Warren approaches the purpose of Christmas by describing it as a time for Celebration, a time for Salvation and a time for Reconciliation. In each of these sections he offers relevant illustrations, answers from a mall survey on prevailing attitudes towards Christmas, and outstanding explanations of vital biblical concepts. The book definitely ministers to the heart and illuminates the head.

The following is a reader review from “Like most people, I've "done" Christmas every year since I was a baby, but honestly, I had never really thought about it much personally. Of course I knew it was the birth of Jesus, but didn't figure that had any relevance to me. It was just an historical event. Then, a week ago, a good friend of mine gave me a copy of this book. It was short, so I thought I'd read it. WOW.... I mean seriously... I had no idea! How did I miss this all these years? Warren explains why Christmas is such a "big deal" around the world, but more important is how he clearly lays out the implications and benefits to your personal life. I did what he said and I will never be the same person anymore. I'm free! I still don't know enough to explain it so I just ordered 9 copies to give to my friends. This will be the best Christmas because now I get it. JONATHAN FARADAY”

I bought my copy for the $17.99 cover price at Barnes & Nobles last week but saw it last night at Wal-Mart for $12.00. Also, at the Amazon link below, you can buy it for $12.23 plus shipping and at the same web page there is also a 2 minute video presentation of Rick Warren talking about the book (It is worth looking at the video).

Again, I encourage every CMCC family to buy a copy for your own and another for everyone on your list.

See You Sunday,

Pastor Bob Engelhardt

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines Thanksgiving as: A public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness; also, a day set apart for religious services, especially to acknowledge the goodness of God, either in any remarkable deliverance from calamities or danger, or in the ordinary dispensation of his bounties.

As Christians, being thankful is at the very heart of our faith because we are formerly spiritual orphans who have been adopted by God. We have taken advantage of His offer to be joined with His Son, Jesus Christ, and in doing so, become sons and daughters in His family. Another benefit of our adoption for which we are thankful is freedom from sin. Sin is like a universal birth defect in the human species—a spiritual malignant tumor in our hearts that poisons us with cravings for a variety of ungodly pleasures and keeps our moral compass perpetually off course. Now that we are His children, we are free from sin. The scalpel has been laid to the roots! The tumor has been removed and for that we are very thankful.

Unfortunately, due to memories and phantom pains, even though we don’t want to be, we are still sometimes tempted by impulses to return to our fatherless sin-sick behaviors. We are thankful and confident, however, in our Father’s plan because He is the Great Physician. The surgery of His Word, the radiation therapy of His love and the chemotherapy of His Holy Spirit are zapping sin cells and renewing our minds to live with Him in sin/cancer-free bliss. And not only is sin eradicated, but we are also thankful because beyond the limitations of this life, awaits fullness of our adopted status as permanent residents of His eternal city. We are very thankful people!

The Scripture has quite a bit to say about Thanksgiving. Here are five examples:

  1. As believers, it is not only when things are good that we give thanks, but also when the chips are down. The most powerful thanksgiving can come when things are really bad. For example, Jonah gave thanks from the belly of a fish after intentionally running from obeying God: “But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving” (Jonah 2:9) Sometimes, when it really hurts, in the darkest night, in the deepest trouble, with literally no options, when destruction is seemingly certain… that is the time to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving!

  2. We should be living fire hydrants, gushing continually with thanksgiving especially when we see the grace of God increasingly affecting, not only our lives, but our family, community, country and the world. “For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:15)

  3. Thanksgiving is to prayer what peanut butter is to jelly. Here is the promised peace you’ve been looking for! “ anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

  4. Robust, hearty, overcoming Christian faith is full of thanksgiving. “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

  5. Christians must continue in watchful, attentive prayer, always remembering to keep an attitude of thanksgiving. “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2)
I am very thankful this year for all of you who call CMCC your church home. Nancy and I are in our eighteenth year of serving you—thank you for making our work a delight. We are grateful to you and to Jesus for making CMCC a productive and prosperous vehicle for His Kingdom. In a region where there was not a potent expression of God’s glory, there is now a living, vibrant church, blazing with the glory of God. Jesus Christ is being lifted up in this region! The church is growing, poor folks are being fed, children are learning and the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

Happy Thanksgiving 2008
Pastor Bob Engelhardt

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Really Love Christmas!

I know that many people think the Christmas season starts too early and is too commercialized but I love it all. Every time I see a commercial selling Christmas gifts, I think of the perfect gift that God gave the world—His son, Jesus. I think of the gift of the little baby Jesus in the manger. I think about the gift of salvation. I think about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I think about the gifts of the Wise Men. I think about the gift of God’s love. I really love Christmas!

When I think of the cost of buying presents for everyone on my list—how expensive they are—I think about the cost that Jesus paid on the cross. I think of the cost God the Father paid giving the life of His precious Son as a ransom for mankind, fallen in our sinfulness. I think of the incredible price paid for my salvation. I really love Christmas!

Whenever I see a Christmas tree, the evergreen reminds me of God’s eternal love. The ornaments remind me of the fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit. The lights remind me that Jesus is the light of the world. Christmas snow reminds me ‘though my sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow.’ Christmas snow also reminds me of purity, new beginnings and second chances.

When I think of children waiting for Christmas to come, I think of how God’s children are waiting for Jesus to return. When I see the happiness on the faces of little children wild with anticipation and hope of the wonderful treasures that Christmas might bring, I remember that “the joy of the Lord is my strength” and how I so desperately anticipate one day seeing my Savior. I really love Christmas!

When I am tempted to lose heart at a world that has traded in Jesus for Santa Claus, I am reminded that even that whimsical childhood fantasy reminds me of Jesus—a tale of a magical event where all good children are given gifts. It reminds me of the Holy Spirit, everywhere in the world at the same time, giving gifts, blessings, comfort and joy to anyone in the world who dares to believe. Even Christmas cards remind me of God’s greeting card to me… His Word, the Bible. I really love Christmas!

At Christmas:
I remember to have faith like a little child.
I remember it is better to give that receive.
I remember that God has given me so many wonderful things to be thankful for.
I remember that the greatest is love.
I remember to care for my neighbor.
I remember to forgive those who have hurt me.
I remember to appreciate my family.
I remember just how much I love Jesus Christ.
I remember how much I love the Church.
And I remember just how much I love all of you.

So, although it is still pretty early, let me be the first this year, to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas season.

I pray we all really shine this year!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Election Reflections

Here are five points of reflection on this week's elections:

Since the first 20 African slaves were brought to Jamestown Colony in 1619, nearly 400 years have passed. From that time forward people of African ancestry in our country have struggled and faced injustice and unwarranted hatred on their painful road to the place we are today. That one of Africa’s progeny now holds the highest office in our nation marks a great day of victory for all Americans. I encourage everyone to consider the true-life message of freedom embodied in this moment and join me in congratulating all of our African-American fellow-citizens.

America is truly the greatest country in the world and on some level I feel we are suddenly a lot closer to the dream famously articulated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28, 1963. Following is an excerpt from that awesome speech:

“…And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, From every mountainside, let freedom ring!”

Again, I whole-heartedly celebrate the accomplishment of those who have suffered to make this day possible and I offer my genuine heartfelt praise to God and good wishes to all who have longed for this moment in time. It is a wonderful statement of validation for our neighbors of color—you absolutely deserve this blessing.

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” Acts 10:34-35

We are instructed to pray for our governmental leaders. This is the sacred duty of Christians. The Church was born under Roman rule and Rome was neither sympathetic nor partial to Christianity. Under this hostile environment the following words were written by the Holy Spirit through Paul to Timothy: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4

As children of God we pray with the faith that ultimately God is in control. “that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men.' Daniel 4:17

We are to obey the law of the land. “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.” Romans 13:1-7

Again, remember that Roman rule was not sympathetic toward Christianity and yet the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Peter wrote: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, 14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men-- 16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” 1 Peter 2:13-17

In the Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln identified our country as having a government, ‘of the people, by the people and for the people.’ This reveals that in America, we have the unique governmental form that is designed to be guided by the vigorous involvement of her citizens. As Americans, therefore, it is both our privilege and our duty to passionately engage government to influence policy with righteous values and ideals, especially when we perceive error. And, regarding the prevailing political views reflected in our recent presidential elections, we have much work ahead.

It is, therefore the American responsibility to stay active, as guided by conscience; influencing, informing, complaining, peacefully protesting and broadcasting the views and values which will hold our nation accountable to God’s morality. In addition, for people of faith, it is our biblical mandate to vigorously oppose unrighteousness and defend the innocent in every arena of life. The Bible teaches the following:

“Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:17

“Defend the poor and fatherless; Do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; Free them from the hand of the wicked.” Psalms 82:3-4.

There are many issues sure to be forwarded by our new government that will require our spirited dissent. Whereas the former administration had sensitivity towards issues important to conservative Christians, the new administration has a troubling track record. This, in combination with a liberal congress creates a potential perfect-storm of anti traditional-Christian sentiment in coming years.

Furthermore, our responsibility as Christians is to monitor the government to make sure our liberty to worship freely and evangelize the lost is never taken away or even reduced. We have to remain ever vigilant and vocal in order to support and defend the freedoms necessary to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ both at home and abroad. Jesus said to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15)

A few other issues are on the radar that will require our voices are: the expansion of abortion and infanticide rights and practices, the traditional definition of marriage, proper use of military, our support of Israel, bioethics, overbearing taxation and maintaining our freedom of religious expression in the broadcast community. These are all important items to us as Americans and Christians.

In closing, most important will be our hearts when engaging these issues. It is necessary to learn to disagree passionately with an unrighteous position, practice, policy or law and not hate the persons who advance it.
Pastor Bob Engelhardt

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I Couldn’t Help My Son—A Small Thing to Others, A Big Thing to Me

I've served our region for over seventeen years as pastor of Catskill Mountain Christian Center (, a local church and ministry organization in Margaretville, NY. Between our church, school, radio, food program and many other activities, we've touched literally thousands of area families over the years and have been glad to do it. I love serving God and helping our neighbors.

Besides my love for God, my family and faith in Jesus Christ, I am also very proud to be an American. I believe this country, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the premise that all men are created equal, is a bright and shining star in human history. I believe that America is worth fighting for, and if need be, dying for. To date, two of my five children have proudly served in the U.S. military--one marine and one soldier. The soldier, Paul, is the reason for this writing.

Paul was honorably discharged from the Army at the end of last January shortly following his 15 month tour as a cavalry scout stationed in Baghdad. He came straight home from the military to Margaretville with a chest full of medals and documentation of exemplary service on over 200 combat missions including having his Humvee blown up twice by IED explosions and personally apprehending the number four high value target on the brigade's list. Needless to say, at 24 years old, after the sustained pressure of 15 straight months at war, like warriors before him, he was in the mood to celebrate when he arrived safely home.

Within 30 days of his return, he went out one evening with his girlfriend and met up with a couple of his buddies in the town of Oneonta, about an hour from Margaretville. He had a few beers after dinner and was stopped by the police while driving home. Paul was cooperative with the process and has a clean driving record. However, even though he only registered a .08 blood alcohol content the officer gave him a full DWI anyway. His appeal to the policeman that he had recently gotten home from fighting in the Iraq War made no difference.

As a minister and responsible citizen, I do not condone drinking and driving. However, as an American, a father and one who knows right from wrong, I am convinced that the ones who voluntarily fight our country's battles and come home with medals of courage and valor on the battlefield do deserve some measure of special treatment and understanding. There must be adequate allowance for decompression for a combat vet and consideration by authorities, especially on a relatively low test result less than 30 days home. As it turns out, the officer, DA and judge do not share my feeling.

Paul went to court and had his ticket reduced from a 'Driving While Intoxicated' to a 'Driving While Ability Impaired' which is, "exactly the same deal anyone else would be offered in this situation," said the assistant DA. Paul has had his license marked and driving privilege restricted for three months. He also has to pay lawyer fees, court fees and State mandated fines in addition to submitting to the full range of classes as that of a problem drinker. I believe that the DA and judge should be ashamed.

A valiant young man, a hometown boy, a real-life hero just off the battlefield is treated ‘exactly the same as anyone else.’ This is not justice. It is simply easier than doing the right thing. Drinking and driving is understandably a serious issue but when a brave American soldier fresh home from war gets no consideration from his community... no gratitude, no understanding, no thanks, no empathy or thought that it might be a somewhat understandable lapse in judgment after 15 months at war. Just treat him ‘exactly the same as anyone else.’ This is America at her worst. It is politically motivated, cookie-cutter justice by authorities at peace with quietly convicting a young hero rather than forgiving his perfectly understandable mistake because it might stir up a public relations mess.

Paul was not looking for special treatment but I expected it on his behalf. Retaining legal counsel and believing in the system, we found there is even a provision in the law for this kind of circumstance called a motion for the ‘Furtherance of Justice’ which when presented, the judge simply refused to consider. It seems that a soldier in this particular courtroom is not given any special treatment. He has earned no deference for his service. He is treated the same as everyone else. There was no official willing to stick his neck out for a kid who stuck his neck out for us. Unbelievable. And we in soft, no-fault, politically correct America can pretend that everyone is treated fair. Actually, true fairness is when both sides of an issue are fully measured and weighed. Unfortunately, it seems that modern justice is so blind that she cannot discern the balance of weights on her scales.

I am mostly disappointed that I could not help my son. I believe that he is a hero and I wanted to be a hero for him, but words fell on deaf ears as I respectfully argued on his behalf. I feel terrible about it. The ADA privately told me he was concerned with the public outcry (code for special interest groups) if he gave Paul any special treatment and the judge admitted that when he was a police officer he wouldn't have given Paul the ticket in the first place. A young man, at the request of his country, drinks the bitter cup of war and our local community offers him zero consideration in the wake of his sacrifice—none dare risk their precious political career for the sake of a lone American soldier.

Oh America, how far you have fallen from the nation who once honored her courageous heroes with parades and gratitude. I am so deeply concerned for your future.

-I'm sorry Paul. Daddy knows you are a true hero and not only do you not deserve this outcome but should have been lovingly protected by the authorities and sternly warned against this behavior ever happening again. Unfortunately, it takes courage to do the right thing. I am proud of you, son.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cremation Vs. Burial

Dear Pastor Bob,
I recently had a conversation with a respected friend about the Christian view of cremation vs. burial. They believe cremation shouldn’t be practiced by Christians because it is scripturally wrong. Is this true?

Answer: Dear Reader,
This is an interesting subject especially since the historical position of both Christianity throughout her two thousand years and classical Judaism has been unambiguously committed to earth burial and against cremation. Only in recent times has there been a breakdown in this biblically based tradition. Here are a few commonly sited reasons for burial:
  1. The body is constructed by God to: a) hold human life, b) to function as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), and c) to be resurrected unto eternal life. Therefore, intentionally destroying human remains by fire is disrespectful to God because bodies are containers of the very special life specifically created in God’s image (Genesis chapters one and two).
  2. God’s people in the Bible were always buried. Abraham, Sarah, Rachel, Isaac, Rebecca, Leah, Jacob, Miriam, Aaron, Moses, Joshua, Joseph, Saul, Jonathon, David, Solomon and many others are sited as being buried. It is important to note that fire was certainly available to the ancients if they had decided to burn their remains but they universally site burial as the way they cared for their dead loved ones. There is no instance in the Bible of a righteous person having their body intentionally burned after death... always buried. The only righteous people burned are burned as martyrs. Only pagan religions burn their dead as a funeral practice.
  3. The most important reason for burial is that Jesus was buried and He is our example in life and death. We believe that as Jesus was buried and raised from the dead, we are buried and wait to be raised in the resurrection. This is what baptism represents; burial and being raised from the dead. Burial and resurrection is a central theme of our faith. Earth burial is a way that we express our faith in the Savior.

The scripture says "Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). It is ancient Jewish tradition and 2,000 years of Christian tradition that we are following when we are buried. It is a prophecy of our hope in Christ. It is only during the last century that liberal, pagan and atheist practices began eroding this traditional Christian thinking.

Pastor Bob

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Church Family Update

Hi Church Family,
Happening this week at CMCC:

***Winner’s Circle Business Institute classes are starting up this Thursday, October 2 at 7:00 pm in the CMCC chapel. It is not too late to sign up. This is for anyone who is in business or desires to start a business in the future. "And you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. Deuteronomy 8:18

***Thanks to everyone who donated money for the purpose of bringing Bishop Julius Wafula Macheusi and Christine Macheusi over from Kenya.. Bishop has arrived and Christine will follow in a couple weeks. Please keep them in your prayers that the Lord would open many doors so they might find new long term ministry partners here in the US. The Macheusi’s oversee a network of over one hundred churches, a large central church, a vocational school educating 80-120 college age students, a water project, serving thousands potable water and many other facets of ministry. They periodically come to the US and stay here at CMCC while connecting with other churches and ministries to raise funds for their work.

***Pray October! Each Monday through Friday in October the church will be open for prayer at 6:00 a.m. for one hour and at 9:00 p.m. for one hour. For the past month and a half Paul Engelhardt has been meeting for daily prayer with a few people including Jay Coffin and Jeff Surgent and they have built a great momentum. Come and add your heart to this emerging tsunami! Join the family to get your tank filled with the Holy Spirit and with power. “…for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." Galatians 6:7

***This coming weekend, Pastor David Engelhardt from the State of Washington will be our guest at CMCC. David is an associate pastor at Christian Life Center in the city of Walla Walla where he oversees generational ministries.

***Saturday evening at 6:00 pm is a special fundraiser Italian dinner prepared by world famous Chef Ron Scungilli (aka Odato). Contact the church office for details. 586-4848

*** Saturday at 9:00 pm youth event with Pastor David Engelhardt.

See you Sunday!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Church Family Update

Hi Church Family,

***Well, sorry to say, summer is just about over and all that we love about this time of year is beginning to turn toward autumn. The good news is that we have re-ignited our CMCC life-giving machine to full power.

Our academy is back in session and mid-week service, Beacon University classes, Senior Citizen’s fellowship dinners, True Beauties and Royal Rangers have all started up again. In addition, we have a full plate of guest ministers, conferences and fresh activities coming up during this next season.

Looking backward just one more time, let’s praise God for the summer of 2008 by remembering some of the life we enjoyed at CMCC:
  • During June we hosted a ministry weekend with Pastor Bob and Cara Grimm from Washington State which concluded with some CMCC members taking a quick sight-seeing trip to New York City. We also hosted Susan Brown of Arising to Excellence Ministries in Texas for a series of women’s meetings and we participated in the unveiling ceremony of the Trooper David Brinkerhoff Memorial at the Middletown Town Hall.

  • In June, CMCA graduated four seniors from high school: Deanna Barto, Sarah Keator, Morgan Spaulding and Lani Odato. Pastor Alan Babcock from Greenville , NY gave the commencement address at the graduation ceremony. Our academy also hosted a year-end picnic at Little Pond State Park. In early June, I began a summer Sunday evening weekly discussion meeting with our CMCC college-age kids.

  • In July, famous Christian author, psychologist and apostolic leader, Dr. Larry Keefauver, spent a weekend training our leaders, meeting with our college group and ministering Sunday morning. Also in July, over forty youth and parents from CMCC attended the 3 day ‘Generation Youth’ conference in Utica featuring national speakers and top music performers. In addition, our youth group conducted several fund raising activities including a car wash, two bake sales and a Sunday church barbeque to raise money for their own conference, entitled 'Sanctified'.

  • In July, high adventure was enjoyed by ten CMCC members under the leadership of Pastor Renard Barto as they traveled to a remote mountain village in Mexico to bring the love of Jesus. This ten day trip was conducted in partnership with Victorious Life Christian Church in Troy, NY.

  • In August we packed our chapel out with young people for a concert by Christian rock band, ‘After Edmund.’ We also hosted our ‘Sanctified’ youth conference featuring Pastor Mark and Mary Meyers from Florida. Pastor Mark also led a ‘praise & worship’ night and preached on Sunday morning. We received the following letter from Mark and Mary Meyers shortly after their five day visit:
    Dear Catskill Mountain Christian Center Family,

    What can we say to show our love and appreciation to all of you!! You guys are one incredible group of people and we have been bragging about all of you since we have returned home to Orlando!!!

    You generosity, you kindness and love towards us, and your love and service to the Lord is just an incredible testimony of how the Body of Christ should function. It was such an honor and privilege for both of us to be with you, and you made us feel right at home!! What a blessing to have the opportunity to minister to the incredible young people and then to experience His presence in an awesome way with your church family on Saturday evening. And then to top it off by having the honor to minister and hang-out with all of you on Sunday!!

    Our lives were truly blessed and changed! You are so blessed to have such awesome pastors and leaders in Pastor Bob and Nancy, and then they are blessed to have all of you in their lives and working along side of them to tell people about Jesus and to further His Kingdom.

    As good as it has been so far, we are convinced that the Lord has great plans for all of you and your best days and CMCC's greatest days are still ahead of you. Keep dreaming and keep chasing after God because He loves you so much! We consider you family and please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers and we look forward to seeing you in the future!! We love you!! Mark & Mary

  • Also in August we had a Royal Rangers camping trip and we hosted a summer movie night with a viewing of the movie, ‘Bella.’

  • Finally, in August we said goodbye to six of our young people who are headed off for a year of study at Elim Bible Institute. Lauren and Lani Odato and Sheila, Ryder, Jared and Morgan Spaulding are all taking a year off of their academic careers to become strengthened in their walk with God. Marie Spaulding, the mother of four of the students wrote the following narrative about how the Lord provided financially for her children to attend:
    Our children, Sheila, Ryder, Jared, and Morgan, were accepted to Elim Bible Institute earlier this year. We began to pray and thank the Lord for all He was doing in our lives. We visited the Elim campus and felt the presence of God all over—we loved it.

    Next, we started the financial planning step and unfortunately, although we tried every option, we could not get the financing. We eventually concluded that God must have a ‘plan B’ for our children. Although initially somewhat disappointed, we accepted it by faith and our children prepared to go back to SUNY Delhi. All was well.

    On Sat. August 23, I sent a short e-mail to Elim stating our children would like to attend next September instead of this year. The following Monday we received a phone call telling us that my e-mail had been forwarded to the president of the college and he wanted to see what was needed to get my kids there. I was so filled with a sense of God’s presence that I could hardly breathe. I gave them our information and waited.

    On Tuesday August 26th, at 3:30pm the call came in. It had been arranged for our children to have work study jobs, partial scholarships, and with their saved money and our monthly payments – All four children are in! Our God can move mountains. We are thankful for our Father’s love and provision. -Marie Spaulding.

***One of CMCC’s effective ministries is our web site: Jessica Moore does a wonderful job keeping our site updated with fresh and relevant material. The web site includes streaming sermons from various guest ministers, many of Nancy's messages and my Sunday messages. It also includes our monthly calendar, upcoming events and my blog, ‘The Way I See It,’ with posts on a variety of subjects. Following is the web site report for this past summer: Summary
During June through August 2008, the web site had 1,450 unique visitors of which, 647 were first-time visitors. Total page loads were 3069. Nationwide visitors came from 18 US states: NY, OH, VA, AL, MA, CA, OR, LA, NJ, PA, WA, TX, NE, TN, DC, IN, CO and ME. Internationally, our visitors came from Kenya , India , South Africa , Germany , and Canada .
‘The Way I See It’ Blog Report
During June through August 2008, ‘The Way I See It’ had 370 unique readers. Of this amount, 292 were first-time visitors. Total page loads were 487. Nationwide, our blog visitors came from everywhere! Readers hailed from 25 of the 50 states: NY, FL, GA, LA, WA, MN, NJ, OH, IA, CA, MS, MI, TX, KY, CO, AL, MD, NV, AZ, IN, PA, OK, VA, MA, TN. Internationally, blog readers came from Australia, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Egypt, Canada, Puerto Rico, Latvia, Germany, France, Finland and South Africa.

***We sometimes get letters or e mails from people who have visited one of our services or attended one of our activities. The following was received recently:
Good afternoon Neighbor, Today I attended your Sunday service. Until now I did not fully understand what the Lord Jesus was saying to us when he said Love thy Neighbor, I do now. I am your neighbor, a brother in Christ, a devout Christian and a new friend. I know that when I seek the Lord, all I have to do is look and I will find Him. I have read your literature and was pleased to see your statement, "We believe in the Bible, trinity, born of a virgin, raised from the dead and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” I will see you again next Sunday.


*** Winner's Circle Business Institute - Orientation, this Friday, September 12 at 7:00 pm. This is the beginning of a new arm of ministry at CMCC. It is our commitment to help God’s people to be successful in business so each one “may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 1:2). This training will integrate video lessons, live instruction, guest presenters and lab work. Anyone interested should attend this meeting.

***Ministry Weekend with Ron DePriest, September 20-21. Ron is author of two books. The first is his testimony book of his early life entitled, Loco, which tells of his background as an abused child, abusive man, life as an outlaw biker, inmate in San Quentin prison and ultimate surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. His story of redemption from a life of unbelievable violence is riveting. His second book is entitled, The Spiritual Mentor—Unlocking the Treasures of Coming Generations.

Today, Ron DePriest functions as founder of World Impact Network. He has a master’s degree in psychology and a PhD in Theology. He has been in ministry for over 30 years, during which he has appeared on many Christian TV and radio programs including PTL and the 700 Club with Pat Robertson.

All men are encouraged to come and bring a friend to hear Ron DePriest share at a men’s breakfast on Saturday, September 20 at 9:00 am. Ron will also be our guest minister at Sunday service on September 21.

***On October 3-5 Pastor David Engelhardt from Christian Life Center in Walla Walla , Washington will be our guest. David will minister to the academy, youth group and on Sunday morning, October 5th.

***October 18-19, Ed Turose from Pittsburgh. Ed is an ordained minister who is also a motivational speaker and sales professional for Coca-Cola. He has a vision for releasing and encouraging marketplace ministries.

***October 30th – November 2nd Women’s conference and Sunday guest Naomi Dowdy. Naomi Dowdy is a true apostle and general in God’s modern army. She planted and raised-up a 5,000 member church in Singapore and now travels globally strengthening churches and functioning as a mouthpiece for the modern apostolic movement. It is a wonderful stroke of God’s grace that we have been so honored to get Naomi for our conference.

***November 13-15 CMCC annual men’s conference entitled Freedom Forum, at Frost Valley YMCA camp. This year’s keynote speaker is Pastor Tom Carey from Holbrook Long Island. Pastor Tom Carey, ably assisted by Denise, his wife of 27 years, and a strong leadership team, shepherds the flock at Word of Jesus Worship Center in Holbrook, L.I., just 50 miles east of New York City.

Swept into the kingdom during the revival of the 1970s, Pastor Tom has served in leadership in several churches since the mid 1980’s and as senior pastor since June ’95. Although he has ministered in Haiti, Puerto Rico, England, Ireland and Wales, Pastor Tom knows his calling is to the nearly three million souls on Long Island, New York.

Motivated by a heart for unity, he has helped organize several pastoral fellowships, serves as an elected trustee of the Suffolk County Evangelical Ministers Fellowship, and is the host church for the Long Island Regional Coalition, a semi-monthly gathering of Fivefold Ministers.

Pastor Tom’s humorous and practical approach to biblical truths will leave you not only informed, but challenged to allow God to work in you both to WILL and to DO His good pleasure according to Philippians 2:13.

***Spanish classes! For a long time, it has been our desire to reach out with the love of Jesus to the Spanish language members of our community. In fact, the vision is to hold a regular weekly, Saturday evening, Spanish language or bi-lingual service. To prepare, we are planning to form a weekly home group dedicated to studying the Spanish language. Rodrigo Villaseca has volunteered to tutor the group so we are looking for serious Christians with the commitment to be equipped for this important work. Membership will be limited. Call Katie at the church office to sign-up. 845-586-4848

***Every four years in the US we have the opportunity to choose a new president. Because this is a very powerful job and so much rides on this office it is vital for us all to pray fervently for God’s wisdom on the American people when choosing our new president. Our democratic form of government was designed to work best when people of good will are informed, active and passionate about righteousness.

How can we ever hope for God’s blessing to continue on our country when we have voted for representatives who protect the process that has killed 40 million innocent Americans in the past few decades? How can we expect God’s blessing on a country whose people vote for leaders committed to protecting smut on TV, the internet, in movies and spend public money on blasphemous arts & entertainment? How can we remotely hope for God’s blessing on a nation that ravages and bludgeons the institution of marriage and the concept of family by empowering a veritable Disneyland of deviant social and sexual mores? How can we expect God’s blessing on a country that prefers immorality to righteousness?

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6

See you Sunday!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Question and Answer: Tithing

Dear Pastor Bob,
I was questioned the other day about where it is in the Bible regarding tithing 1/10th of your income. I found it in Numbers 18, but was wondering if it was in the New Testament as well. And if it says 1/10th of “your income", specifically.

I would appreciate your insight into this, so I can "argue" back accurately. Thanks.

Answer: Dear Reader,

1. The word 'tithe' literally translates, 'a tenth part.' It is a self-defining word. The following notes accompany the word 'tithe' in Strong's Dictionary:
1) tithe, tenth part
1a) tenth part
1b) tithe, payment of a tenth part
-Strong's Greek & Hebrew Dictionary

2. The concept of tithing is established in the Old Testament way before the law was given: Abraham tithed to Melchizedek in Genesis chapter 14. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is revealed as a priest according to the priesthood of Melchizedek. (See Hebrews 5:10) Therefore, as children of Abraham by faith (Galatians 3:7) we tithe to Jesus through His church.

Many issues of faith are established in the Old Testament and carried into the New Testament. Jesus said, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone" (Matt 23:23) And in Luke: "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Luke 11:42

Notice in both cases the Scripture quotes Jesus as saying, "These you ought to have done." Jesus validates the tithe as the appropriate measure of giving. As a matter of fact, the tithe (10th part) is the universal measuring stick of biblical giving.

3. Actually, the New Testament standard of giving goes way beyond the tithe. If we were going to use the New Testament to determine the appropriate amount to give we should consider Acts 4:32-36: "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common...Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need."

How's that for a measuring stick... Giving everything!

4. Tithing is only a dilemma for people who give less than 10%. I have never met a person who gives more than 10% of their income to the church complain about the teaching on tithing. Only people who begrudge God His portion are offended and become legalistic. In the New Testament, Jesus teaches us: "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." Luke 6:38 (NKJV)

Because the Old Testament clearly establishes ten percent as an acceptable measure of giving to God, the Church has recognized this amount as a bare minimum measure for a grateful child of God under the New Covenant. This is a wonderful and right use of Scripture.

5. Leviticus reveals the tithe as the Lord's property: 'And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD's. It is holy to the LORD. Leviticus 27:30 Because we monetize wealth today and measure it in dollars rather than land and goods, the principle carries over to the money system.

6. In the New Testament, Judas, the betrayer, robbed from Jesus (John 12:6) by stealing money from the box. Church members today rob from Jesus treasury by refusing to tithe:

"Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field," Says the LORD of hosts; "And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land," Says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:8-12 (NKJV)

Tithing is how the church is funded. It is God's plan to finance the organized establishment of the New Testament Church. People who consider themselves committed Christians and belong to churches but do not tithe are robbing God. It is no different than sneaking into a movie theater without paying admission or sneaking into a college class without paying tuition.

7. Why don't more people, if they are truly Christians, ask the opposite question... "Why does the Church only ask for a measly ten percent? Doesn't the pastor want us to be really blessed?" Consider the following:

"And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" Acts 20:35

“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:33

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 2 Corinthians 9:6

The very reasonable amount of ten percent is used in the New Testament because it was established in the Old Testament and not specifically abolished by Jesus. The principle of 'an eye for an eye' was established in the Old Testament but abolished by Jesus and replaced with 'turn the other cheek,' which is much harder. If Jesus were to abolish any Old Testament principle, He would replace it with something harder, not easier!

8. Tithing is not 'works righteousness' but the biblically established expectation of minimum giving. It is the 'outworking' of our faith. "Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” James 2:17-20

I hope this helps. This is just a brief synopsis of a very important subject.
Blessings, Pastor Bob

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Church Family Update

Hi Church Family,

  • Crazy Hats this Saturday, August 23 at the annual Margaretville Street Fair. Come try your hand as a high-fashion hat designer as we dazzle the crowd with our handmade newspaper creations. See Stephanie for details. 586-3150

  • Street closing. Starting Monday, August 25, Main Street, Margaretville will be closed in front of the Ming Moon restaurant for a week or more. Plan on some inconvenience in coming to CMCC during that time as only the west approach will be open and our parking lot might have some extra cars.

  • A new floor for our CAP food program. The following was written by Family Table CAP staff member, Stephanie Seminara, commenting on the work done, mainly during August, when some regular activities here at CMCC were on hiatus:

    Resurfacing the floors in our warehouse and store in recent weeks was no small task. In the warehouse, 24-plus pallets of food and other materials had to be moved from section to section in the room and the surface stripped and prepped to allow the special epoxy-based product to be applied.

    When the warehouse floor was complete, the entranceway, hallway and store floors had to be addressed. It was decided that Saturday night was the best time to break down the store because Sunday would provide the best drying time before reopening as soon as the new surface was cured. At precisely 3pm, as promised, a swarm of our teens led by Paul Engelhardt descended on our store and in short order had the place stripped bare. All shelving was broken down and removed and all food was boxed up and taken away. As the shelves and brackets flew out the door and were turned into a neat pile, it reminded me of a kid's erector set.

    Exactly 4 days later, with the floors looking new, the store was reassembled and we were back in business. Because much of the work was done at night, I do not know everyone who participated, but thanks to Paul Engelhardt and Bob Lanzilotta who led the project and all others who worked behind the scenes.

  • Sign-up your children for Royal Rangers or True Beauties. Our Royal Rangers group is for boys ages 8-17 and True Beauties is for girls ages 10-14. Both groups meet at CMCC Mondays from 6:45 - 8:45. Starting back up September 8th. Call Katie at the church office for more info: 586-4848

  • Attention Catskill Mountain Christian Academy parents. Any outstanding school fees must be paid in order for your children to start school this September. Also, this year’s curriculum, which is due to be purchased now, will not be ordered for students until outstanding and currently owed fees are received.

  • Last weekend CMCC teens and young adults gathered for their long anticipated SANCTIFIED Conference. And it was no disappointment! Leading off with over 200 attending was a rock concert by breakout band ‘After Edmund’ on Thursday night. From that point forward, the entire weekend built a sense of holy energy. The band, hailing from Georgia, performed music from their debut CD, ‘Hello.’

    During intermission, our youth performed a powerful dramatic presentation depicting the struggle of a young woman and the victory, peace and protection of Jesus. There were very few dry eyes in the house at the end of the skit.

    On Friday, over 60 attended a day-long event with well-known youth and worship leaders Rev. Mark and Mary Meyers from Lake Mary, Florida. The Meyers have spent the past twenty years leading youth and worship in mega-church settings and now travel and impart their passion to youth nationwide. Our young people were encouraged in who they are in Jesus, and asked to think about the question “If I were to die today, what would people say about me?”

    The evening ended around the fire pit at Pastor Engelhardt’s home and the kids made smores, took turns talking about what the day had meant to them, and discussing the question, “What do I want people to say about me?” The common message that ran throughout the weekend was an encouragement for kids to ‘be real’ with themselves, and with God, and to protect their relationship with Jesus at all costs.

  • Last Saturday evening Mark Meyers led a group of CMCC singers and musicians in a special praise and worship evening. The love of God flooded everyone’s heart in attendance as Pastor Meyers drew on a broad variety of both new and old music and shared his powerful gift as a singer and musician. Mark has the rare ability to reach into people’s hearts and unlock their inner love for God and also to reach into God’s heart and bring forth His inner love for His people.

  • 10 of CMCC’s finest returned from a 10 day mission to a remote village in southern Mexico on August 4th. Led by Pastor Renard Barto, the CMCC contingent included Alicia and Deanna Barto, Bob Roe, Dave Stewart, Jim and Jake Johnson, Chris and Greg DiBennedetto, and Sharon Rose Engelhardt. I asked the members for feedback and received the following:

    CHRIS DIBENNEDETTO: It was quite an experience. Not only the travel adventures but just about any interaction we had with the people there. It was great being part of a team to help fill various needs as they arose. From the medical clinic to the hair cutting area to praying for the people, I honestly feel I was ministered to as much as they were.

    Although the language barrier was challenging at times, I remember thinking, at my host families' house, as they would pray before meals when the father would end with "in el nombre de Jesus"(in the name of Jesus), could there really be any more important common bond than that? At our last meal there, I shared that thought with the family and the mother just cried. What a deep love of Jesus they have. I am very thankful for the opportunity to have gone. And it's good and humbling to find out we are not as indispensable as we thought we were!

    ALICIA BARTO: It was AMAZING!!!!! Definitely another life changing mission trip. Despite all of the obstacles we encountered, we still brought the Word of God to this very secluded little town in the middle of nowhere. We did hair cutting, medicine, house to house evangelizing, and had a service every night. And in everything we did from the hair cutting to the medicine, we were sharing the love of Jesus with the people of the town.

    Probably what touched me the most was going house to house. Just the fact the these people basically have nothing, yet they opened up their homes and offered us everything. The people of this town were really open to receiving the Word of God. That was also something that I wasn't prepared for. I was not expecting these people to be so soft hearted and ready, but they were, and we did everything we could to let them know how much Jesus loves them and what He can do for them.

    Another thing that touched me, was that on Sundays at church, for the offerings, if people didn't have money to give, they gave whatever they could. Whether it be food or money, people always offered all they could. I met some great people down in Mexico that became good friends. Everything was so amazing. Overall it was an awesome experience that I will most likely never forget!

    JIM JOHNSON: I had wondered for awhile before the trip, why me? I really couldn’t fathom what I could do that would be valuable there: I had never evangelized before and I don’t know how to speak Spanish. I wasn’t sure what I could do. Needless to say, I had many experiences to change my narrow thinking but the most memorable or heart touching was the last night in San Sebastian.

    At the end of the service that night the Pastor asked that anyone who wanted to receive Jesus or had healing issues to come forward. I was walking around the outskirts of the tent praying and looking at the crowd. There were many people I was drawn to go and stand near and pray for. For example there were the 3 old men that had been in attendance every night and I had prayed for them before. There was the little girl that must have been 13-15 and had huge longing eyes filling with tears as she watched the Pastor. There was the older teenage boy that we had reached 2 days before while evangelizing, but you could tell that he still wasn’t sure.

    But the person I was drawn to most strongly was a young man of approximately 19-23 years old. He was standing alone with his head bowed down, hands held together in front of him and shoulders drooped down. He looked a cross between sad and just overwhelmed. I stood behind him and prayed laying my hand on his shoulder. I prayed for peace and prosperity. I prayed that he would be healed of any ailments. I prayed for his family. I prayed anything I could think of since I couldn’t speak with him. I truly think its the longest I have ever prayed for someone up close like that.

    As I was standing there, now with my hand on his head, a translator came and talked to him. When she was finished speaking with him she turned to me with teary eyes. She told me that he wanted to thank me for praying for him and that he appreciated it very much. However, what he wanted most was to be hugged because he had never been hugged in his life. This was the final breaking of the soul for me. I stood there with tears rolling down my cheeks hugging this young man and him hugging me back very hard. I had finally realized that I didn’t need to speak Spanish, I didn’t have to be an experienced evangelist, it didn’t matter what talents I did have. In a simple hug I was able to show the true love of God. The love He gave to all of us through his Son to share with all the world.

  • Jessie Moore reports that she knows a family who recently visited CMCC for the first time on a Sunday. In her e-mail, the visitor mentioned, “…what a great church you have! We are planning to come next Sunday with hopefully some others…” Praise God that CMCC is obtaining a good report among those who visit. This is testimony to the friendly spirit that the CMCC family walks in. Pastor Randy Johnson calls us, “The Church That Love is Building.”

  • Thanks to Pastor Kevin Beutel, Julie Odato and all who worked to serve Jack Rosa’s family after the death of Jack’s father, Orville Rosa. Orville was formerly the mayor of Margaretville for 18 years so there was a large turnout at the funeral and a meal was prepared in our fellowship hall after. The family wrote the following: Thank you all for your kindness to us all at the time of our father's passing. We appreciate so much the use of your church, your many prayers for our family, your beautiful music, and your generous assistance in preparing lunch for our loved ones. May God bless you always. The Rosa Family.

    See you Sunday!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Church Family Update

Hi Church Family,

***Roll out those lazy, crazy, hazy days of summer… I hope you are enjoying this spectacular time of year—I sure am. In fact, I actually thought we were going to have a slower paced summer here at CMCC this year but it seems the opposite has been happening... and it’s been great fun! Maybe August will slow down, but then again, maybe not. Here’s what’s happening.

***Last week a group from CMCC traveled to Florida to enjoy two nights at the now famous Lakeland Revival. Ron, Julie, Lauren and Lani Odato, Dee Iommi, Paul Engelhardt and I took the trip and completely enjoyed the experience. It was my second time to Lakeland and, as before, the worship alone was worth the effort. It is disarming and deeply moving to be in the midst of over five thousand people who are pouring out their hearts to Jesus for several hours on end. Seven days a week for over 100 days in a row, people from all over the world (30 nations were represented while we attended) are congregating to enjoy this holy phenomenon.

Apparently there is a lot of controversy surrounding this outpouring especially since the leader, Todd Bentley, is so non-traditional, sporting tattoos and various piercings and is sometimes a little ‘out there’ with some of his rhetoric and healing claims. Oh well. The proof of the value of the event, for me, is the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit in worship and the hunger for God from so many people. To the person who is in a receiving state of mind and becomes like a little child in faith, there is a softening of the heart that is simply supernatural. Todd Bentley did not speak at either of the services we attended this time and it was announced that he would be taking some time off.

***I was honored to give the invocation and benediction at the unveiling of the Trooper David Brinkerhoff Memorial at the Town of Middletown office building on Sunday afternoon, June 29. Trooper Brinkerhoff is the selfless hero who lost his life in a fire-fight while protecting our community from a desperate criminal last year. Others offering comments at the ceremony were Assemblyman Cliff Crouch, New York State Police Superintendent Harry Corbitt, Middletown Supervisor Len Utter, and memorial organizer Heather Gockel.

A hundred or so police officers, community leaders and residents also attended the event and lent a show of support to Trooper Brinkerhoff’s family who unveiled the black granite monument. As a part of the ceremony I was presented a beautiful plaque by NYS Police, Troop Commander Kevin Molinari as thanks for CMCC’s support and fundraising efforts on behalf of the Brinkerhoff family. CMCC hosted a Trooper Brinkerhoff walk-a-thon and memorial service last year and gathered over $10,000 for the fallen hero’s family. Stop by my office some time to see the plaque.

***43+ CMCC youth and adults are off this week to the 3-day-long, Generation Youth conference in Utica, New York. This promises to be an awesome time for our young people as several thousand teens gather and receive top notch ministry, music and encouragement from some of the best youth ministers in the nation. Thanks go out to our leaders, chaperones and coordinator, Brad Keator.

***Pastor Renard Barto is leading a group of 10 CMCC members on a mission to Mexico on July 25. The eleven day trip will include ministry to remote Indian villages located outside of Mexico City. We are teaming up with our sister church, Victorious Life Christian Church in Troy, NY for this holy adventure and are looking forward to the great reports.

***This past Sunday we enjoyed the ministry of Dr. Larry Keefauver, long time friend and apostolic associate of CMCC. Dr. Larry led a large church for over 20 years and is the author of over fifty books with 2.5 million in total print. His message on Sunday morning on ‘confidence’ got rave reviews from everyone in attendance and is available for listening on our website under Streaming Sermons: Later in the day on Sunday Dr. Keefauver also met with our leadership team and then the Sunday evening college-age group.

***Each Sunday this summer we have been giving out ‘CMCC Hero of the Faith Awards.’ Like CMCC’s version of the Oscars, these certificates acknowledge the finest qualities of God’s children—those members whose joyful and faithful service over a long period of time demonstrates their love for Jesus in an outstanding and visible way. So far, Marie Spaulding, Michelle Beutel, Mike and Chris Tuch, Brad and Lynn Keator, Bob and Irena Lanzilotta and Dean and Jeanne Malaxos have received this award—a framed certificate along with a gift bag. Each one of these heroes has served the Lord for years on end in various capacities, joyfully working in service to the King. Congratulations!!!

***This past Saturday evening, 20 some-odd CMCC members motored over to Maryland, NY to help celebrate the Word of Faith Church’s 25th Anniversary. Founded by Pastor Frank and Peggy MacCracken 25 years ago, the church has been a close friend to CMCC over the years.

***Healing Reports:
1) If you were at church this past Sunday, you heard the wonderful report from Diane Villaseca. She told how after praying for healing the day before for her painful hand (a condition that had affected her for some time) the pain instantly and completely disappeared. This happened on Saturday morning and when she testified at Sunday service, she was still pain free. Praise Jesus!

2) This is an e-mail from Ross Gill:
Pastor Bob: As I mentioned on the phone earlier, God has definitely and completely healed me just a few weeks ago. For 5-6 years, I've had acute and chronic pain in my hip muscles. Whenever I experienced a muscle spasm the pain was so intense that I would fall to the floor. Over time this situation became worse despite doctors, chiropractors and a physical therapist. I asked for prayer at church. One of these times, Brad Keator prayed and correctly stated that I would be afflicted 3 more times then after God would completely heal me. A few weeks ago, Pastor Renard Barto prayed for me. That day the Lord completely healed me and I am back to full health and exercising daily, as I was years ago. God is incredible. -Ross

***Summer Church Picnic!!! This Sunday, July 20, join the CMCC family for a BBQ immediately after service. Held right in CMCC’s back yard, the $5.00 per person donation will support our upcoming youth conference. Menu to include: Dogs and burgers, mac and potato salad, baked beans, chips, drinks and dessert. Come out and have some fun with the nicest people around.

***We have a number of plans currently in various stages of development and want to keep these items as a priority on everyone’s prayer list. As Pastor Alan Babcock used to teach, “Never initiate more than you can saturate in prayer.”
  1. Second story for our main building which will be able to expand our services to the community and the Kingdom of God even more. This has become an obvious need over the past year as we have come to the place where we are utilizing every foot of our present facility. Our present space is full with activity.
  2. Business school and entrepreneurial empowerment program. This September we will launch the Catskill Mountain Business Institute, a program for anyone presently operating a business, desiring to start a business or interested in getting increased wealth to fulfill God’s desire to establish His Kingdom.
  3. Young adult’s residency program. We are considering a number of options to be able to empower and affect young people.
  4. New flooring for CAP. We are tearing up the old carpet in the food warehouse and store to replace it with an impervious epoxy-like painted surface.
  5. Two grants are currently under review by the USAID for foreign-aid projects. If approved, one will fund a program in Kenya, the other in the Dominican Republic. Each of these grants represents 4 million servings of nutritious food to be shipped and distributed by our ministry. Thanks to CitiHope for their guidance in these new waters.
  6. Senior citizen’s housing project. On a recent trip to Texas, I learned of a company that partners with churches to build housing projects for low income people or senior citizens with government help. It is an interesting proposal that we are doing our due-diligence on to determine whether it is viable for us.
  7. Reprisal of our radio ministry. We have been off the air for a full year and a half after thirteen straight years of broadcasting. We must fulfill Jesus’ command to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) Our voice of common sense Christianity fueled by radical faith, hope and love is desperately needed in a world increasingly disoriented and cynical.
  8. Women’s care center. Part of our second story project will be dedicated to a women’s care center where we will meet women in crisis and help to bring them to wholeness, life, and personal empowerment. Pregnancy concerns, domestic issues, anger management, parenting, nutrition, housing assistance and plenty of encouragement will offer hope to women in stressful situations. In doing this we are drawing on Nancy Engelhardt’s years of experience as a co-founder and the original executive director of Abow Pregnancy Distress Center near Albany, a highly successful ministry to women.
  9. Church planting. We have one potential church plant being sown into the soil right now and our vision is to raise-up a network of New Testament churches as the Lord directs.
  10. Growth and expansion of our school of ministry. We will grow into an entity that offers teaching and awards diplomas and certificates on a variety of subjects for a variety of reasons.
  11. Development of Bethesda Ministers Association. We will start an apostolic network for the purpose of empowering and covering a full range of ministry activities.

***Following is a great letter and a prayer request… Congratulations Melissa!!!! Send her your congratulations at "Melissa S. Wyckoff" <>

Dear Pastor: Your daughter has graduated law school and is the proud recipient of her Juris Doctorate. Graduating law school isn’t the end of the journey, for my next hurdle will be to pass the bar exam. I am writing to ask you to keep me in prayer. More than ever I need my church family to be by my side fighting for me. Already, I can feel a lack of focus and my endurance isn’t as strong as it should be to study. Distractions are numerous and mental fatigue is abundant. I cling to Jeremiah 29:11- God does have a hope and a future for me and it is already starting to play out. It is easier to say everything is in God’s hands and it is easier to say that I trust God, but the longest journey is from the head to the heart. Every day I struggle to trust Him and to give Him full control. Please continue to lift me up in prayer. My bar exam is July 30th and 31st. Love in Christ, Melissa Wyckoff

*** But I will sing of Your power; Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; For You have been my defense And refuge in the day of my trouble. Psalms 59:16

See you Sunday!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Church Family Update

Hi Church Family,

The book of James says: “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2:17-18

As we close in on the end of June I was looking over our calendar from the first six months of 2008 and thought to share a synopsis with you. Sometimes we can forget what a powerhouse of life and activity we have here at CMCC. Here goes:

So far this year, we’ve had the following special ministry events: Strongman Steve Carrier and Team Mega-Force (over 100 people made decisions for Christ in these meetings); Evangelist Randy Goudeau, the young Louisiana-born church planter currently working in New York City; Caryl Mallory from Wycliff Bible Translators; Youth and music ministers Mark & Mary Meyers from Orlando; Paul Moore, Sr. from CitiHope International in Andes; Former NFL star, Paul Costa; Rev. Bob & Cara Grimm from Walla Walla, Washington and Sue Brown from Arising to Excellence Ministries in Dallas. Also, many of us took an overnight trip as a group, attending the two day Battle-Cry youth event at the Meadowlands in New Jersey where thousands of youth gathered as T.D. Jakes and other notable speakers and music groups ministered.

Additionally we’ve had monthly women’s meetings with special guests including Mrs. Kris Mirocco and regular men’s meetings including an eight week Saturday morning video series teaching on the subject of ‘honor’ with John Bevere. So far this year, we’ve also had a CMCA school spelling bee, family game night, coffee house, Valentine’s dinner, 24 hour prayer vigil, CMCA awards ceremony, Good Friday Passion film presentation, Easter sunrise service, Easter breakfast and Little Pond school picnic.

Our regularly scheduled activities included 26 weeks of Sunday morning services with record high attendances, Wednesday mid-week services (with separate worship team), weekly home groups, weekly prayer meetings, and twice weekly music practices. We also conducted weekly Power Kids, adult and children’s Sunday school, True Beauties, Royal Rangers and Youth Group. Our Beacon University/Christian Life School of Theology program continues to feed the minds and satisfy the souls of some of our most intelligent members through weekly college level studies. We are always providing pastoral counseling, marriage and pre-marriage counseling, funerals and bereavement counseling, hospital visitation, and prayer ministry in addition to leadership development and personal discipleship to our expansive leadership team.

Catskill Mountain Christian Academy, finishing its thirteenth year, continues to educate students with excellence in a full academic program, caring for the minds and spirits of 50 children from pre-k through senior high. Seven hours a day, five days a week for forty weeks a year our facility is home to a world-class school program. CMCA students continue to score well above average in standardized tests, including the SATs, and a large majority of our graduates continue to move immediately into higher education. This week, four academically prepared and spiritually mature young scholars will graduate from CMCA and move forward in their lives. We pray for God’s protection and good success for Deanna Barto, Sarah Keator, Lani Odato and Morgan Spaulding.

Our senior citizen weekly dinner/fellowship, in its eight year, continues to serve a free hot meal to 30-50 local seniors each Wednesday evening and our Nursing home ministry rolls on, as it has for over fifteen years, presenting a song service each month to the residents of Mountainside Nursing Home. Home group leaders meet regularly for training and problem solving, our prayer team is coordinated and active and our usher team is well equipped to protect and serve at every service.

The power-house CAP program/Family Table, our rural food initiative, is caring for the needy in our region, having provided over two hundred thousand dollars in food-aid so far this year alone. Another major portion of our Main Street, Margaretville facility is occupied by this life giving grocery store/warehouse. The Family Table store buzzes with activity during store hours six days each week as the blessing of food is available to income-eligible families. The Family Table also holds monthly evening work parties including dinner and fellowship for the CAP membership. Since starting four years ago we have distributed over 1.2 million dollars worth of groceries to local families below the poverty line, serving thousands of our neighbors in need.

To put the icing on the cake is the unseen work of maintaining the CMCC facility and grounds and running the business/administrative office. Each week cleaners are cleaning, fixers are fixing, books and finances are being kept in order, bills are being paid, trucks are being fixed, broken furnaces repaired, insurances are being negotiated, snow is being plowed, grass is being cut, our web site maintained, meetings organized, sermons prepared, classes taught, and the list goes on and on. Literally thousands and thousands of man-hours of work are being conducted under the covering of CMCC, all for the glory of the King! To Him alone: To Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God, be all praise for ever and ever! This is our purpose. This is our cause.

On a more personal note, but still part of the productivity of CMCC so far this year:
  • Nancy and I conducted ministry weekends at both the City of Refuge Church in San Antonio, Texas and at the Word of Jesus Church on Long Island.
  • I was a conference speaker at the Eagles Wings Ministries annual national minister’s conference in Pennsylvania.
  • Nancy and I had the privilege of representing CMCC last month at the United Nations in New York City at the 60th Birthday Party for Israel along with many notable dignitaries.
  • I spoke in April to a group of mainly police officers at the 1st anniversary memorial event of Trooper David Brinkerhoff’s tragic death here in our town.
  • Nancy served on the board of directors of the Pregnancy Distress Centers of Ulster County.
  • Both Nancy and I have preached at various regional churches including Greenville and Athens.
  • My latest book revision, The Sovereignty of God, originally written in 1901 by A.W. Pink and revised, edited and updated by me came out within the past two months. Published by Bridge-Logos Publishers this book is the second Pure Gold Classic I’ve revised—the first being four years ago, entitled Power, Passion and Prayer by nineteenth century revivalist Charles Grandison Finney. I spent nearly every spare moment for over seven months in 2007 on the Pink manuscript and it is a good feeling to finally see it in print. My first sole authorship book, Family Church, is now being edited by the publisher and will be out sometime next year. The Sovereignty of God is available for purchase from the church office.

A couple closing thoughts. I have had the necessity to travel a little more this year and participate in several organizations that will ultimately benefit the work of CMCC. As a member of the International Coalition of Apostles, the ecclesiastical advisory board of the International Christian Wealth Builders Foundation, the board of directors of CitiHope International, a member of Your Ministry Consultation Services, Eagles’ Wings Ministries and several other organizations that we are closely affiliated with, my active participation by attending various meetings and conferences enables CMCC to be connected with the greater Body of Christ and draw resources from some of the most cutting edge, godly and prophetic ministry partners available.

Nancy and I along with the other elders/trustees of CMCC are constantly prayerfully considering new opportunities and trying to make our church run in a way that pleases Jesus. We are highly fortunate to have had seventeen years of growth and life and never take one moment for granted. We are deeply grateful to the Lord for the good He has given and our deepest most heartfelt prayer of all is that we can continue into the future with unity, hope and love. Our hearts desire is to make a place for people to be able to serve the Lord and grow in His grace as we work together to represent God’s interests in this generation and prepare the way for generations still to come.

Some things out there in the future that are in various stages of development are:

  1. Second story for our main building which will be able to expand our services to the community and the Kingdom of God even more.
  2. Business school and entrepreneurial empowerment program.
  3. Young adult’s residency discipleship program.
  4. New flooring for CAP.
  5. Two grants are currently under review by the USAID for foreign-aid projects. If approved, one will fund a program in Kenya, the other in the Dominican Republic.
  6. Senior citizen’s housing project.
  7. Reprisal of our radio ministry.
  8. Women’s care center.
  9. Church planting.
  10. Growth and expansion of our school of ministry.
  11. Development of Bethesda Ministers Association.

Finally: I hope that you are as excited about the future of Catskill Mountain Christian Center as I am. To everyone who has worked with love on behalf of our Lord and Savior... thank you. "For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. Hebrews 6:10
See you Sunday!