Friday, January 30, 2009

Psalms 23 - Part I

"The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His names’ sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Psalms 23 is one of the most famous passages in the Bible. It is commonly read at funerals and frequently depended on whenever someone needs comfort from God. The references to green pastures, still waters, comfort for the soul and having no fear in the valley of the shadow of death have strengthened the hearts of many over the centuries.

But is there more to this famous piece of literature than meets the eye? Certainly Jesus referring to Himself as the Good Shepherd immediately hearkens our mind back Psalms 23. However, comparing the individual verses to specific events recorded in the Gospels holds amazing discoveries. We find, embedded in this most famous Psalm, incredible insight into our Christian lives.

The first and most obvious truth to embrace from the start is that Jesus would love to personally be your shepherd. We are each called to be sheep in His pasture and because of that, every once in awhile we must take perspective and ask ourselves, “Am I presently being led, protected and comforted by the Good Shepherd?”

Truthfully, we can be committed Christians and easily fall into false religion or pseudo-faith instead of maintaining relationship based faith. In fact, religion has got an insidious ability to cause us to think we’re doing righteousness, but in reality we’ve actually walked away from the true path and are missing the mark. We typically will be attracted to some facet or portion of work or some cause that will consume our attention and keep us from focusing on the Good Shepherd.

Therefore, the essential relationship that we need to look to continue to cultivate and refocus on in our lives is our relationship with Jesus. Who is Jesus to you? Who is Jesus to you, personally? I’m not referring to what part of Christianity you like or what it is about Jesus that you relate to. What about you and Jesus?

In fact, there are hundreds of different agendas in our hearts and we are all just trying to gain ground, obtain satisfaction, achieve upward movement, and feel acceptance or some sense of true north. Many times this can lead to some pretty incredible double mindedness and confusion.

You’ll never be confused, however, if Jesus is your Shepherd. If you’ll spend a life eating His flesh and drinking His blood (John 6), looking to Him, focusing on Him and bringing your spirit back into orientation with the teachings and the person of the Good Shepherd, you’ll never be confused, distracted, led away or deceived. Your life must focus on the Good Shepherd.

Psalm 23, the first half of verse number two says, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures.”

Consider Jesus’ earthly ministry in direct correlation with this verse:

Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. Matthew 14:19

Then He commanded them to make them all sit down in groups on the green grass. Mark 6:39

Then Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. John 6:10

Three Gospel accounts specifically note that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, made His sheep to lie down in a grassy place. The original Greek meaning of the words used in the Gospels to describe this grassy place is “the place where the grass grows and animals graze,” in other words, a pasture.

“He makes us to lie down in green pastures.” When He was ready to feed the multitudes who had come to Him, Jesus asked them to lie down in green pastures. That should hit something in our prophetic mind. A flag should go up alerting us that this is a prophetic correlation that hooks Jesus directly to Psalms 23.

To the Christian, this teaches the responsibility of gathering in a calm place in a group to be fed by the Shepherd. Sounds like church! Our lives sometimes get filled with so much busyness and so much turmoil and so much confusion that we wouldn’t ever think about going and sitting down in a grassy place to be fed by the Shepherd.

Imagine, just sitting in a meadow somewhere quietly and allowing Jesus to feed your soul. Many consider themselves far too busy to gather together for a Sunday Church or a special meeting just to have their souls nourished from Jesus’ word. It is also interesting that Jesus fed the multitudes through the hands of His disciples indicating the correlation to the church as His means of legitimate ministry.

Remember the sisters Mary and Martha? They had a problem. Jesus was visiting their house and Mary simply sat at Jesus’ feet listening to Him speak. At the same time, Martha was acting responsibly. She was concerned about so many things; serving the guests and tidying up; she was doing the things that had to be done. After all, doesn’t God help those who help themselves?

But good-old ‘too-spiritual-to-be-earthly-good’ Mary over there, all she wanted to do was get out of the work. She wouldn’t move from Jesus feet. But when Martha finally complains about her sister, Jesus judges that it was Mary who chose the better part. Mary chose to be fed by the Good Shepherd.

You see, if Jesus is going to restore your soul, you have to sit at His feet. You have to sit down with the sheep. You have to see yourself as a sheep. Unfortunately, we tend to see ourselves, as John Kelly used to say, as ‘Lambo:’ the sole warrior sheep for God. We are part lamb and part Rambo; the lonely wounded warrior; never truly part of the flock.

Actually, we Americans don’t like to be a part of the flock at all. We think that people who follow a leader are mindless, weak and gullible. The Good Shepherd says goodbye Lambo and welcome to ‘sheepdom.’

The multitudes that Jesus fed in that pasture were following Him, one Gospel says, for three days. They were tired. They were worn. They had been following after Jesus, and Jesus, in effect said, “I want to refresh you now.” Some people do not feel refreshed in church because they are not following Jesus in between Sundays. I don’t refuel my car if I haven’t run the engine since last week. In the same way, I am not hungry for the Word of God if my faith motor is not running, motivating me each day to follow Jesus.

Psalm 23 prophesies of Jesus, the Good Shepherd saying, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.” Do you think God wants to send a message today? There is a time set aside each week for you to stop striving, sit down in the green pastures of the Church and be fed by His disciples so that the Good Shepherd can restore your soul. That is why it is important to be in a church where there is green, fresh grass growing.

You do not want lite-grass, diet-grass, or user friendly grass. You want fresh green grass and you want to eat it in church among the other sheep.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gratitude for Your Support in 2008

Please accept my sincere thanks for your generous giving to the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ in 2008. In May of 1987 a small group of feisty Holy Spirit-filled Christians meeting in each other’s homes, borrowed churches and community halls, chartered their growing Bible study, naming it Christ Community Church of the Catskills. Twenty two years and a name change later, Catskill Mountain Christian Center stands in our region as a magnificent, living and vibrant beacon of God’s love and evidence of the power and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. CMCC is arguably the most active church in Delaware County, touching literally thousands of lives each year both spiritually and through works of service.

The book of James says, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 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 2:14-18

Through your giving, 2008 was a year of unprecedented productivity for CMCC on every level. Most notably, our average Sunday attendance was significantly higher and our Family Table food program distributed a record amount of food valued at $450,000 to over one thousand local low income families.

Further evidence of the great faith of CMCC members is as follows: services every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening, nursery care, Sunday school, Power Kids, home groups, nursing home ministry, senior citizen’s dinner fellowship, regular women’s meetings, men’s meetings, leadership training, pastoral counseling, Bible studies, True Beauties, CMCC Rangers, youth group, CMCC School of Ministry, music ministry, prayer ministry, usher team, financial counseling, personal discipleship, building maintenance and cleaning, snow removal/lawns and grounds, altar/prayer ministry team, after church coffee hour, hospitality, missions support, administration, financial team, web site administration and crisis counseling.

A major program of CMCC is Catskill Mountain Christian Academy, a full pre-k through twelfth grade school in its fourteenth year of providing an excellent education for children whose parents value the integration of Christian faith with academics. Led by my wife Nancy with an incredible staff of holy and dedicated professionals, in 2008 CMCA graduated four college-ready seniors. The school is a tremendous responsibility and a true labor of love.

Our website: has become a powerful communication tool, enabling CMCC to touch thousands of people. 2008 saw over 9,000 total page visits and almost 5,000 different computer addresses logging in; 2,000 of them were first time visitors. 14 different states from the U.S. and 10 countries from five different continents visited our website in 2008.

In 2008 we worked towards two separate potential new church plants, six of our youth went off to study for a year at Elim Bible Institute, two groups took trips to the Lakeland, Florida revival, and 10 CMCC members took a two week mission trip to a remote village in Mexico. Besides what I just mentioned, here’s a rundown of special events in 2008 from my calendar:
  • Evangelist and strongman Steve Carrier with 100 decisions for Christ
  • CMCA spelling bee
  • Family game nights
  • Coffee house
  • Men’s breakfast meetings
  • 30 attended Battlecry, a major youth event in New Jersey
  • Andes Hotel Valentine’s dinner
  • Evangelist Randy Goodeau
  • Caryl Mallory from Wycliff Bible Translators
  • Pastor Mark and Mary Meyers ministry weekend
  • Good Friday Passion of the Christ movie
  • Easter sunrise service
  • Rev. Paul Moore from CitiHope International
  • 24 hour prayer vigil
  • Former NFL star Paul Costa ministry weekend
  • 60th Anniversary of Israel celebration at United Nations in New York City
  • Joint motorcycle ride with a New Jersey Christian motorcycle club
  • Alight Care Center of Troy, New York annual support banquet
  • Pastor Bob and Cara Grimm ministry weekend
  • Lakeland Outpouring trip
  • Susan Brown, Arising to Excellence Ministries, women’s meeting
  • Pastor Alan Babcock, CMCA commencement speaker
  • Four seniors graduate Catskill Mountain Christian Academy
  • Trooper David Brinkerhoff Memorial dedication
  • Dr. Larry Keefauver ministry weekend
  • Mexico mission trip for 10 members
  • After Edmund concert
  • CMCA youth conference
  • Ron Depriest ministry weekend including men’s breakfast with Christian Motorcycle Association
  • Bishop Julius Wafula Macheusi from Kenya arrives for eight weeks
  • Winner’s Circle Business Institute
  • Pastor David Engelhardt Ministry weekend
  • Harvest party
  • Naomi Dowdy ministry week
  • CMCC women’s conference in Kingston with Apostle Naomi Dowdy
  • Margaretville community Christmas celebration, parade float, live Nativity
  • Family Table children’s Christmas party
  • Various church Christmas parties
  • Christmas Eve candlelight service
  • New Years Eve fellowship and prayer.

And on top of all of the above our pastoral staff visits the sick, prays for the discouraged, responds to emergencies. We hold weddings, funerals, baptisms, baby dedications and conduct marriage and family ministry. My second nationally published book came out in 2008 (The Sovereignty of God revision) and I am on the ecclesiastical council of the International Christian Wealth Builders Foundation and CitiHope International. I also represented CMCC at various regional and national ministry related conferences and Pastor Kevin Beutel represents CMCC at the local Greater Margaretville Area Interfaith Council. Pastor Randall Johnson serves on the board of the Ulster County Pregnancy Distress Centers and Pastor Renard Barto and his wife, Gina are active as foster parents and involved in the foster care community.

CMCC is affiliated with the National Association of Evangelicals, the International Coalition of Apostles, Open Bible Faith Fellowship of Canada, Your Ministry Consultation Services, the International Christian Wealth Builders Foundation, LEAD – Leadership Education for Apostolic Development, CitiHope International, Eagles Wings Ministries, Bethesda Missionary Fellowship of Kenya, Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, Central Catskill’s Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Margaretville Area Interfaith Council.

In closing, I am very grateful to the Lord Jesus Christ for His faithfulness and to you for your generosity to His Kingdom. I look forward to what the future holds as we continue to serve Him together in 2009 and beyond.
Pastor Bob Engelhardt

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Fresh Offerings

When sharing your faith, it is sometimes humbling to honestly tell others how much God has done for you. When you are transparent, however, your personal witness is a powerful tool to open people's hearts. Consider the power of the personal testimonies at this link:

We really have a lot of good things going on this January to keep your heart warm and your mind active. I believe that the winter is the very best time to focus on your faith and make important adjustments in habits and attitudes, moving forward in the most important things in life. "For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." Galatians 6:8-9

In addition to all of our regular activities, here a few fresh offerings:
1. CALLING ALL MEN: Driven by Eternity
Saturday mornings at 9:00 am with Pastor Renard Barto.

Driven by Eternity offers a compelling look at what it means to truly live a life that counts. Many people today are building their lives on cultural thinking, emotional feelings, tradition and assumptions of who God is rather than basing their beliefs on the permanent truth of God’s Word. In this video series, John Bevere argues that these people have been deceived and will one day face God for His laws that they have overlooked, ignored or chosen to disobey. Driven by Eternity tackles the notion that it really doesn’t matter how you live or what you do once you’ve become a Christian. Bevere reminds readers that once you make a decision to follow Jesus, everything matters - even more.

2. Fire in the Winter
LEARN TO BURN at this mid-week service series with Pastor Bob Engelhardt. Wednesdays at 7:00 pm.

Fire warms the cold heart! Fire burns away the impurities! Fire lights the way! Fire bakes the fresh bread! Fire ignites the soul with passion! "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Matthew 3:11

3. CMCC School of Ministry
Achieving Transformation through Education
Thursday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00 pm with instructors Dean Malaxos and Ross Gill providing two classes of college level learning: God’s Design for the New Testament Church and The Making of a Godly Leader.

4. A.L.I.V.E. - Abundant Life Intersects Vital Empowerment
Saturday mornings, 9:00-10:30am. A fun Bible study series & breakfast club led by Sharon Engelhardt for girls ages 11—16. Define yourself—find your voice—fulfill God’s purposes for you!

5. Special Guest Ministry
Pastor Jim Jorgensen. One of our favorites! January 25, Sunday Service, 10:00 am

6. W.O.W. - 2009 is Mine!

Women of the Word - 2009 Kickoff Meeting Sunday evening, January 25, 6:00 pm, The Chapel - Ladies, this is YOUR year, for victory, strength, peace, purpose, Holy Spirit power. Come, be encouraged, be refreshed by the presence of God.

I hope everyone can make a number of these happenings. As you can see, at CMCC we work double-overtime to ensure a full plate of regular and special activities to keep the Christian heart well cared for. It is our honor to serve you, the King's children.
See you Sunday!
Pastor Bob Engelhardt

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Harvest

Have you shared your faith with anyone lately? 2009 is the year of harvest and harvesting requires God's entire family working in the fields and bringing in the proverbial sheaves. Your friends, co-workers, neighbors and family members are waiting for you to share Jesus' love with them, and winter is the perfect time to do it. Here are a few ideas:

-Invite someone to church.
-Invite someone to your home to share a meal.
-Write a letter to a loved one.
-Bake some cookies and surprise your neighbor, including a note that says, 'Jesus loves you.'
-Send personal notes to friends via email.
-Invite someone to church.
-Buy someone a book (like 'The Case for Christ' by Lee Strobel).
-Bring a friend to home group.
-Begin praying for everyone in your neighborhood and look for opportunities to serve them.
-Buy a friend a large print, easy-reading version of the Bible.
-Volunteer at CMCC's Family Table as a prayer minister.
-Serve at the Wednesday evening Senior Citizen’s Dinner.
-Invite someone to come to church with you. Meet them outside, stay with them through the service and then take them to lunch afterwards.

The nice thing about sharing your faith is that you can be fun and creative doing it. If you look around your world and pray about it, God will show you all kinds of opportunities. Here are two ideas of what other people are doing:
  1. I was very inspired last night to see the winning quarterback of the college football championship game, Tim Tebow of the Florida Gators, with John 3:16 written so the cameras couldn't miss it. You gotta love this:

  2. And then I came to work this morning and watched the linked clip below, sent to me by Jim Kiley of Word of Jesus in Holbrook, NY. I really hope you take a couple of minutes to watch because it will definitely elevate your day and inspire you to use whatever God has given you to share His love:

    "God has given us the task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. We are Christ's ambassadors, and God is using us to speak to you. We urge you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, "Be reconciled to God!" For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ." 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (NLT)

    See You Sunday,
    Pastor Bob Engelhardt

Friday, January 2, 2009

Matthew Jacob Beutel

I'm sorry to have to report that Matthew Beutel, 10 year old son of our own Pastor Kevin and Michelle Beutel, has passed away from complications related to his severe cerebral palsy. Matty's short life was a glorious gift to everyone in CMCC. Please hold the Beutel family up in prayer including Matthew's brothers, Noah and Cameron. I will notify you of arrangements.