Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas. It is my great privilege to be spending my twentieth Christmas as pastor of Catskill Mountain Christian Center this year. I am so grateful to God for the faithful souls of the many people I have come to know and love in this region over the years. The past two decades have flown by quickly as together we’ve built a dynamic church and ministry center serving thousands of people each year, socially, physically and especially spiritually.

Maybe the most amazing aspect of the Christmas story to me is the decision by God Almighty to have Jesus born in a manger, outside the comfort of a hospital or even a cozy home. It seems funny in a modern world fixated with safety that the Creator of the Universe would entrust His only begotten Son to a peasant couple without enough influence or money to manage a safe human dwelling for childbirth. Cold, dark, anonymous and lonely, what could God be saying through this mystery? Three thoughts:
  1. God is showing what He thinks of our value system. In a world obsessed with financial success, God entrusted His own Son to common folks rather than rich folks. I guess He wants us to know that there is more to life than money.
  2. God is not impressed with a special location or building. Church buildings are nice as gathering places but Jesus does not need a temple or fancy location to dwell within. He’s most comfortable among His sheep.
  3. When God is doing something really great, popular culture won’t budge for Him or even notice. A small handful of select people were the only ones highly favored by God to be in on the divine caper: Joseph, Mary, shepherds and wise men.
That we would be vigilant to consider God’s values and stand watch for Jesus being born in the hearts of humble folks in our generation.

Christmas Blessings,
Pastor Bob Engelhardt

Friday, December 17, 2010

White Like Snow: A Book Review

Book Review by Paul Moore II, CitiHope International

White Like Snow by Robert Engelhardt is one of the most encouraging and insightful books I have enjoyed in decades. Accessible as a daily devotional, a seasonal study, or as a cover-to-cover read through; each chapter shared biblical wisdom and practical reflection on how to passionately pursue God in the ever changing landscape of my life’s journey. Pastor Engelhardt astutely infuses pillars of the Christian tradition, such as the 10 Commandments and the 23rd Psalm, with life and relevance as I have not tasted in them for years. It is disarming and refreshing to be reminded of the profound simplicity in the plain truth these often underappreciated cornerstones of faith have for us today.

The greatest quality of the work is the prolific use of scripture in the context of every observation Pastor Engelhardt makes. One feels the comforting hand of Biblical text with each turn of the page and they serve as guiderails for each season he walks with us through. A humble confidence is imparted as key scriptures are sited and even reiterated, chapter by chapter. More than that, the reflections made were often so enlightening, I found myself going back to the original text to read more of the context in the Bible myself.

Few modern Christian works can boast so wonderful a legacy as one which compels us to discover truth not just by reading the author’s perspective, but by reading it in scripture for ourselves. To me, reading White Like Snow often feels more like a loving conversation with a strong, learned father who is passing on truth, filled with compassion but without compromise. It is filled with encouragement and conviction both. It is an apologetic for core beliefs but is also an invitation to consider uncommon revelations. I give this book my strongest recommendation and believe it will be a tremendous blessing to all who enjoy it as I did.