Sunday, August 30, 2009

CMCA Celebrates 15 Years

CMCA Visits the MET in NYC. Photo by Bob Engelhardt

This Wednesday Catskill Mountain Christian Academy (CMCA) will begin its 15th year of academically excellent, intellectually stimulating and spiritually uplifting Christian education. Once again this year, a select group of parents will choose a more difficult road, sacrificing time and money, and acting contrary to their own personal comfort and the prevailing public opinion for the sake of their children. I honor all of those involved in CMCA, for their exceptional courage and commitment.

CMCA was formed to serve the purpose of helping parents to preserve their children's identities as Christians. It is our strategy to keep our children in a faith-filled environment while instituting a spirit of excellence in academic achievement. We at CMCA do not believe it is healthy for our children to be taught two versions of truth: one sacred and one secular. We believe that God should be completely integrated into the fabric of every area of our children's lives. Therefore CMCA is committed to educating children with a holistic view of all of life and truth being understood through the lens of Christian faith.

We do not deny other people the right to train their own children according to their values, but we feel it is a vital importance to give our children every chance to succeed in God's truth. Students of CMCA receive an unapologetic intermingling of biblical worldview with academics, something that understandably public schools cannot do. Separation of church and state is for the state to dispute, but it does not affect God's Word which instructs parents to "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).

In short, public schools, in order to respect diverse beliefs, diminish the relevance of spiritual truth in the minds of students. CMCA unapologetically teaches that God joyfully expresses His will to the human race through the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed in the Holy Bible. This is the highest form of truth and should be celebrated in human life every second of every day. And that is why we happily open our doors next week to honor God by educating our CMCA children academically and 'in the Light'.

BTW: Our students continue to score above the national average on standardized testing including the all-important SATs.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ministry Week in Walla Walla

I had a great time of ministry last week with the Christian Life Center of Walla Walla, Washington. Led by Senior Pastor Bob Grimm and assisted by Pastor Lon Stokes and, my son, Pastor David Engelhardt, this growing church of 400 is a glowing example of a contemporary church committed to New Testament order, sound doctrine and the presence of the Holy Spirit. I was very impressed with the sense of expectation of growth and intelligent wisdom of their leadership team and the openness of the people (I was also impressed with the massive elk head mounted on the wall of Pastor Grimm's office).
Flying out from Albany early Tuesday, August 12th, I changed planes in Chicago and Denver before arriving in Pasco, Washington; and then after another hour on the road arrived at CLC in time to make their Tuesday night 'The Rising' youth service. CLC's expansive youth ministry, led by my son David, includes an 'off-the-hook' worship band and the hundred-or-so kids are as fired-up and expressive in worship as any I have seen. I shared the about the Tenth Leper (Luke 17) and the importance of lavishly expressing gratitude to God. Great time! Wednesday, David and I drove about three and a half hours out to Dworkshak State Park in Idaho to get settled in for CLC's annual Men's Camp. The scenic drive took us past the Clearwater and Snake Rivers, through many small and a few mid-sized towns in addition to some spectacular countryside of rolling hills covered with wheat fields. Notable were numerous historical landmarks of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition including the town of Lewiston, Idaho. At camp, I was provided with a nice camper-trailer that I affectionately dubbed the 'executive suite' while most of the other men stayed in cabins which were also pretty nice.

Thursday through Saturday was the Men's Camp. Several women of the church volunteer each year to come along and cook for this event, providing food that is just far too good to be called camp food. During the day the guys enjoyed recreation including swimming, boating and fishing on the forty-five mile-long Dworkshak Reservoir. Other activities included four-wheeling, archery, hiking and indoor ping pong, pool table and board games. Each evening after dinner was incredible worship led by David and his team and then I gave the teaching followed by prayer ministry. The younger late-night crew stayed up until the wee-hours playing cards and such.

On Thursday I had my first experience riding a four wheel ATV and quickly learned how this sport could easily become addictive. Literally riding over-the-river-and-through-the-woods, the feeling is sort of like a cross between a dirt bike and a snowmobile and is extremely fun. For awhile I felt like a kid again. I was also reminded what happens to men on motorized vehicles with no speed limit in place and no innocent bystander's safety to be concerned with-a race. No fighting it-it's just nature. As the newcomer to the sport (on Pastor Bob Grimm's personal machine), I really didn't stand a chance to win but I gave it a good go and enjoyed myself completely!

For my teaching series I started by sharing the theme Scripture for the week from 1 Peter 2: 9-10: But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. From this scriptural base I shared through the three days:

1. My personal story of faith.
2. The significance of the anointing.
3. Blind Bartimaeus and the unseen realm.
4. The crisis of unemployed manliness.
5. Genesis chapter one and the Gift of the Holy Spirit.
6. Cutting free from sin traps.

The men were challenged and encouraged and CLC provided a competent and anointed payer team to pray for the men who desired it after the sessions. This resulted in numerous very encouraging reports telling of breakthroughs for several of the nearly 70 guys in attendance. A man named Tom shared at Sunday morning service how he received prayer to be filled with the Holy Spirit and felt like there was an empty hole filled inside of him enabling him to understand the Scripture that says, "...out of your belly will flow rivers of living water (John 7:38)."

I rode back to Walla Walla after camp ended on Saturday afternoon with CLC associate Pastor Lon Stokes. Pastor Stokes is a seasoned man of God with over thirty years in various ministry assignments from leading a foster-care ranch to functioning as a senior pastor for over twenty years. He is a very good and godly man, and is also an avid outdoorsman and conservationist.

On Sunday morning I preached at both of CLC's main services, telling of the good things God has done here at CMCC, and encouraging the church to continue fighting the good fight of faith. Finally I presented a teaching on the principles of authority specifically for the CLC leadership team on Sunday evening and off to the airport and home on Monday... whew.It was a joy to see what God is doing in another church clear across the country and it is a pleasure to come home to the Catskills and participate in what God is doing here. I am unbelievably privileged to serve the Lord Jesus Christ-I daily walk in the knowledge of being chosen, royal, holy and special along with all those who trust in the name of Jesus. Jesus rescued my soul from despair absorbed my poisonous past and called me His friend. In my darkest night I found the brightest light.
See you Sunday,
Pastor Bob Engelhardt

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Holy, Chosen, Royal, Special

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10

I love this description proclaiming God's children: chosen, royal, holy and special. This is not simply feel-good apostolic lip service; it is a creative proclamation of the Word of God. It is the same technique God used creating the heavens and earth in Genesis; as if God is saying, "...let them be chosen, royal, holy and special." It is God speaking, "who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did." (Romans 4:17) In order to grow into God's purpose, all Christians should have this proclamation often on our lips and permanently tattooed on our minds: we are chosen, royal, holy, and special.

The Mystery of the Seed

In gardening, a seed packet may bear a photo of lovely red tomatoes but inside are crusty little pieces of grain that do not look anything like a tomato. Through faith we plant the odd looking particle in the ground and in time and under proper conditions, the seed will produce an amazing tomato factory. No one is surprised by this miracle, although to some alien not informed of the process it would have to seem absurd. How can such a thing be? An entire system for a reproductive tomato kingdom self contained in a tiny seed.

Faith as a Mustard Seed

That is how God's Word works. His words are spiritual seeds having the power to produce fruit in the lives of His people. The picture on the outside of God's seed packet is Jesus Christ, the perfect juicy red tomato we are to become like: chosen, holy, royal, special. His example and testimony serves as a vision and prophecy for our continuing growth and development.

Seeds and Sons

This scriptural proclamation correlates with John's Gospel where it says, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God..." (John 1:12) The children of God take on the identity of our adopted Father. We, who were not a people but are now the people of God, have been pronounced chosen, royal, holy and special and now we are actually becoming chosen, royal, holy and special. It is not by our will power or positive mental attitude; it is a transformation through faith in the Word of God.

This Scripture also serves as a warning sign. If we see that our lives are, instead of tomatoes, producing spiritual fruit more like lemons, poison ivy, thorns, weeds, cacti or briars, we have a problem. Instead of chosen, holy, royal, and special we feel ignored, low class, dirty and common, we are missing the point of becoming children of God. Honestly, growing up in Jesus' tomato patch is not always easy but it always has the same objective... to grow into the master's image. "Then He said, "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it?9 "It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches." (Luke 13:18-19)