Saturday, May 17, 2008

What A Week!

***The ministry of Dr. Paul Costa last weekend at CMCC was truly special. It started on Saturday evening, May 10th when some of our men met at the Engelhardt’s home for an impromptu meeting with Dr. Costa who shared insight on economic development for Christians. According to Costa, this is a time in the history of the church where God is giving creative ideas for making money for the sake of supporting the work of God’s Kingdom. He told of a start-up business that he is personally involved with that proposes to grow and harvest algae as a fuel source (like ethanol) and he went on to encourage the guys to dream, think, create and work strategically to invest their time, faith and money in creative endeavors.

On Sunday morning May 11th at our main service, Dr.Costa encouraged us to open our eyes of faith and believe God for the promised miraculous power to heal the sick and expect signs and wonders. The Notre Dame educated former NFL star has a unique ministry style that is non-emotional and intelligent, and his faith is so matter-of-fact that he is the veritable anti-type of the stereotypical healing evangelist. During his ministry Sunday morning several notable reports of people feeling a healing touch from God were reported including relief from pain in problem knees, back pain gone, and arthritis pain subsided. In particular was the testimony of one of our members who is battling serious lung disease and on his way out of church remarked that he had not breathed so freely in months! Thank you Lord Jesus!

On Sunday evening Dr. Costa met with our college-age group and taught the kids how to pray for one another for blessings and healing. Of special note was the way Dr. Costa did not actually pray for the people himself but taught our members how to pray for others and be open for the genuine power of God to be displayed.Great fun!

***Last Monday a group of CMCC members traveled to Latham for the annual Alight Care Center banquet. Alight is a help & health center for women-in-need run by our friends at Victorious Life Christian Church in Troy. The center offers pregnancy counseling, parenting classes, anger management classes, clothing and referral support. Alight saw over 3,000 clients in the past year. Attending from CMCC were Pastor Bob and Nancy Engelhardt, Pastor Renard and Gina Barto, Lynn Keator, Marie Spaulding, Stephanie Seminara and Toby Roe.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Bob Paeglow, a physician from downtown Albany who has sacrificed big-money medicine to serve, mostly for free, the poorest of the poor in inner city Albany. His office, ‘Compassion in Action/Koinonia Primary Care’ is part of a larger ministry called the Capital District Prayer and Healing Center where their mission is caring for people spiritually and physically. Dr. Paeglow has been widely recognized for his good work and received many honors including winning the Albany Medical College Humanism in Medicine Award and being named a2006 People Magazine Hometown Hero. There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; And one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches. (Proverbs 13:7)

***This past Wednesday evening’s mid-week service was a very special time of impartation from Nancy Engelhardt when she taught a message entitled, ‘So Close and Yet So Far.’ Using the story of the healing of Naaman the Leper by the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 5), Nancy focused on Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, who secretly took the payment offered by Naaman despite Elisha’s orders not to take it.

Gehazi was the closest servant of the greatest living prophet of the time and yet his love of money twisted his heart and in the end, he ended up with the very leprosy that was cleansed from Naaman. In our materialist society it is vital that we remember the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not covet’ (See my blog entry for April 28th). The truth is that we can be very involved in church and good work and never catch God’s heart. What a shame to think that all of the effort and sacrifice that goes into our faith could be for nothing if we don’t obey when it counts. So close and yet so far! Come out this Wednesday evening at 7:00 pm for a great mid-week boost.

***On Thursday evening, May 15, Pastor Bob and Nancy Engelhardt along with CMCC members Ron and Julie Odato attended a 60th Birthday Party/Banquet for Israel at the United Nations in New York City. The event was supported by a diverse group of religious, government and business leaders from both the Christian and Jewish communities and was lead by Rev. Robert Stearns of Eagles’ Wings Ministries. Because of CMCC’s support over the years for Eagles’ Wings mission in building bridges with Israel, our group was given VIP status, enjoying a special pre-banquet reception. This sunset reception was held outdoors on a magnificent terrace several stories up in the UN complex overlooking the East River.

The banquet was attended by Pat & Shirley Boone, Paula White, Michael Little (President of CBN), Rev. John Hagee (the keynote speaker) and many other national leaders from the Christian community. In addition, the Jewish community was very well represented includingspeakers: Asaf Sharif, the Counsel General of Israel in New York; and Rabbi Dr. Schlomo Riskin, an internationally renowned educator, speaker and author. Other distinguished members of the Jewish Community were businessmen/philanthropists Ziel Feldmen, Harvey Krueger, Irwin Hochberg, Robert Rothenberg, and Israel Borovich (Chairman, El Al Israel Airlines).

An especially touching moment was a presentation by German pastor, Rev. Daniel Mueller, leader of one of Europe’s largest evangelical churches. His church has supported Israel since 1982 through social work, community improvement projects and establishing 38 schools in Jerusalem. He is a pioneer in establishing Jewish-Christian relationships and his humble presence at the 60th birthday of modern Israel, given the still-vivid memory of the Holocaust was truly powerful.

***From 2002-2004 CMCC had a billboard on Route 28 near Pine Hill, visible to westbound traffic. Over the years many have shared how they miss seeing our words, ‘Welcome to God’s Country’ and how it used to warm their heart. Well, we are back in business! Within the next four weeks the same spot will be used to post our new and improved ad and greeting to those coming into our region. It will still say “Welcome to God’s Country,” but this time we are adding a full-color photo of our campus and our most recent slogan:Catskill Mountain Christian Center, A World-Class Church with a Hometown Heart. I think you’re going to love it! Thanks to Jessie Moore for the design work.

***Please keep Sherry Bush in your prayers for healing as well as Matty Beutel, Irena Lanzilotta and Lee Jenkins. As always, please also remember our brave American heroes protecting us from harm in the military, law enforcement and fire service.

***Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Question and Answer: Gifts of the Spirit

Hi Pastor Bob, I have some questions.

I’m taking a theology course, and the author of the textbook talks about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He says "the first generation of Christians experienced spectacular signs and wonders which the second generation apparently did not. Citing 1 Corinthians 13:8, the author says that the gift of tongues evidently died as did the gift of prophecy because the gifts were only for the founding period of the church and then withdrawn.

What does this scripture say/mean? Can you tell me from what perspective/ doctrine the author is coming from? Thank you.

Answer: Dear Reader,

Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. (1 Corinthians 13:8)

The interpretation you cited is a common anti-charismatic position on the gifts of the Spirit. It is called Cessation Theology, meaning the gifts ceased after the entire body of Scripture was compiled. It is wrong doctrine for multiple reasons:

1. There have been documented miracles throughout the church age.

2. It causes us to be guilty of the indictment against false Christians... "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" 2 Timothy 3:5

3. This Scripture clearly interprets itself further down as to when the gifts will pass away along with knowledge... For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 1 Corinthians 13:9-10

The gifts will pass away, ‘When that which is perfect has come.’ So then, when will ‘the perfect’ come? ‘The perfect’ will come when Jesus returns. He is the ‘Perfect’ one. Anti-charismatic teaching claims that ‘the perfect’ refers to the complete collection of the Scriptures but this is theology based on their desire to reconcile their pre-conceived position. It is clear that, although the complete Scripture has been around for 2000 years, our understanding and power is still pretty imperfect.

Paul is saying that when Jesus returns and His Kingdom comes in its fullness we will not need the gifts and knowledge because, "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." 1 Corinthians 13:12. The gifts will pass away when, "I SHALL KNOW JUST AS I AM KNOWN." It is easy to agree that we do not see the Kingdom this clearly yet. Paul says that we will have a complete, open, pure and reciprocal knowledge of God and His plans and purposes. Honey, we ain't there! The gifts are still vital for seeing God's Kingdom still coming.

4. The gifts are given as garden tools, to weed out the works of the flesh and produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5).

5. Even if tongues were not practiced for a long time it only proves what Jesus said, "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24). Although Jesus is directly referring here to His death and resurrection, it reveals a universal spiritual law. The gifts were largely lost to the church for a long time but the seed of God's Word has sprung up again at the beginning of the 20th century and produced incredible life again for the past one hundred plus years.

These are just a few thoughts off of the top of my head so let me know if they help at all. I love this subject!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Question and Answer: The Nature of Faith

A recent insightful question was posed to me and I thought the conversation was worth posting.

Q: Hi Pastor Bob, I was reading Hebrews 11 and was wondering what it means when it says "Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing." Hebrews 11:13 and it says it again in 11:39 "Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised." He gave the examples of Abraham and Sarah, but they were promised a child and they had Isaac. Is he just referring to Heaven and being there? What does this mean? Thanks! Have a great day!

Hi, great question! This really speaks to the true nature of faith. Faith is being so convinced of the truth of the Gospel that even death cannot separate you from that truth. Once you get hold of any promise of God, that truth becomes more certain than the laws of nature.

Jesus spent His entire earthly ministry trying to convince His disciples to increase their faith regarding, not just the promise of eternal life, but the reality of the unseen Kingdom of God invading the time-space dimension. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen"(Hebrews 11:1).

Therefore, your question accurately identifies the real point of contention between many evangelicals and Spirit-filled Christians. Evangelicals tend to only believe that faith is for our eternal salvation and not for issues of the present age. Many feel that fighting the fight of faith is standing for Jesus in the face of persecution. They do not typically believe actively for the promises of God to be manifested in the here and now.

Spirit-filled believers agree with all of the above and also include the segments of the Bible where we are instructed to have faith for God's manifested glory in our present lives. We believe in the importance of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) as well as the gifts of the Spirit (1Corinthians 12-14).

We believe that the fight of faith includes finding all of the promises of God revealed in His Word and exercising our faith to reveal the full range of God's power. We believe that God is pleased with this more aggressive fight of faith. Mark 11: 23-24... Jesus commanded His disciples to "Have faith in God. "For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them. Mark 11:22-24 (NKJV)

I hope this sheds a little perspective on this. When you fight the fight of faith for salvation or any other promise, you believe until...
Blessings, Pastor Bob