Thursday, July 30, 2015

“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. Matthew 24:32

July 29, 2015

Hi Church Family,

It is a wonderful thing, this Catskill Mountain Christian Center, and I am glad to be a part of it with you. Every day at CMCC we are lifting up Jesus before our families, our community and the heavens, rejoicing in His presence, power and love. Who would ever have thought that God Almighty would care so deeply and unfold such magnificent plans for our humble mountain community? Praise the Lord! His mercy endures forever as He has dealt with us bountifully!

I love the way Jesus loved people. I mean, take any text and think about the message of God’s love through His son, Jesus. A sickly woman pushes her way through a crowd just to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and: BAM… healed! A crooked tax collector climbs a tree just to get a glimpse of the Savior and: BAM… a brand new heart! A career fisherman sees Jesus walking on the water and asks to join Him and: BAM… Peter walks upon the water. A military officer asks Jesus to heal his servant and: BAM… long-distance healing achieved. We can go on and on! I can only hope that when we appear before Him one day soon in eternity we will be acknowledged as a group that kept Jesus’ testimony alive and believed that what He did for the people in the Bible, He would do for us!

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) This is the Jesus we preach at Catskill Mountain Christian Center. There is no hole too deep, no sin so egregious, no failure so great, no habit so powerful, no memory so bad, no trauma so devastating that the Lord Jesus Christ cannot find you, redeem you, heal you and multiply blessings to you! BAM… that’s the word of God to the members of CMCC and all who will hope for His best!

As usual we will take a break from many of our regular ministry activities throughout August. This is our way of showing our gratitude for your hard work and hopefully allowing some more free time to enjoy our glorious summer in the Catskills! Sunday services will continue as usual and the Family Table will be open but most other activities will cease for the month. There is a also youth event/concert event scheduled with details forthcoming.

Just to bring you up to date on recent happenings here at CMCC:

Our Spanish service is changing time from Saturday evening at 6:00 PM to Sunday afternoons at 1:00 PM. We have discussed this for some time and our hope is that Sunday might be more convenient for folks. We have grown as a ministry team to a place where I believe we are ready for multiplication to occur. If you have not experienced one of our Spanish services yet, come check it out sometime! You’ll be glad you did. Thanks to all who are sacrificing time and talent to make this outreach possible. 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)

In June, Pastor Bob Engelhardt attended The Future Conference in San Diego, CA.  Many national frontline leaders shared their stories and strategies for bringing the cause of Christ to bear in our generation. There were over three thousand in attendance. The governing council (of which Pastor Bob is a member) of the United States Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (USCAL) also met during this conference with Joseph Mattera articulating the Four R Vision of USCAL: Revival, Restoration, Reformation and Reconciliation. This is a very exciting vision and will have an impact on our bright future!

Also in June, Nancy Engelhardt was keynote speaker at City of Refuge Church in San Antonio, TX. She presented her insightful teaching on Malachi 3 (as she recently preached here at CMCC) with amazing results. It is always wonderful to see chains fall off under the liberating Word of God!

On June 19 Catskill Mountain Christian Academy held its annual year-end awards, recognition and celebration program. This marked the completion of twenty years of scholastic excellence and faithfulness to God as students received awards for academic achievement, character development and spiritual life. The evening was highlighted by musical performances of various student string ensembles under the direction of CMCA music teacher Mrs. Marie Tucker.  

On June 20-21 we hosted a ministry weekend with Pastor John and Cecilia Bennedetti from Mexico. Activities included a men’s meeting on Saturday, Sunday morning message, and a woman’s meeting with Cecilia on Sunday evening.

Our Bluegrass Concert Series is in full swing each Wednesday evening throughout the summer. In partnership with CitiHope International, this is the fourth summer we’ve hosted live music in our front lawn gazebo. Various bluegrass bands from throughout the greater region are on deck to entertain, so bring your lawn chairs and toes for tapping! Arts and crafts are offered for children and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time to taste a piece of good old American pie.

John Kelly, head of the International Coalition of Apostolic Leaders (ICAL) was in town for a series of meetings from July 1-8. Apostle Kelly is an old friend of CMCC and very important church leader having come to Margaretville after preaching at a conference in Brazil before 120,000 people. He preached at CMCC Sunday morning and taught a series for our FaithConnect pastors and leaders group. Kelly and Pastor Bob are writing a book together this coming year.
On Sunday July 5 CMCC hosted our annual summer family picnic. Our own CMCC lawn was the venue this year with a dining tent providing shelter from the sun. Lots of good food and good fellowship with good friends provided the perfect recipe for a real good day!

A group of seventeen CMCC youth plus chaperones drove to Mars, PA to attend summer camp, Uncommon Faith, hosted by Church at the Heights in Pittsburgh. Organized and led on our side by Sheila Spaulding, the kids were blessed beyond measure with fun, games, worship and relevant teaching. Thanks to all who helped and financially supported this major operation. Apart from a few minor bumps and scrapes everyone was delivered home happier, healthier and (most of all) holier!

Pastor Stas Karpenko was our guest minister on Sunday, July 26. He leads Ufa Bible Ministry in Bashkortostan, Russia. Ufa is a predominantly Muslim city of one million people in the Ural Mountains region of that country. He and his wife, Lilly, also operate an ESL (English as a second language) school in their city. As usual, the CMCC family gave generously in an offering to support the Karpenko’s work. Thank you all for your giving hearts!

Finally, from my poetic side:

The Shell Game Swindler

He runs the shell game for your soul
Distracts you with the latest poll
Just take a pill then rock and roll
Mass confusion is the goal

The cups keep swirling figure eights
While doing life is spinning plates
But deep within your conscience grates
Questions of eternal fates

You cannot be so sure they say
They’re moving too fast anyway
Besides we need our fun and play
We won’t accept your judgment day

And all the people watch their shows
But where the prize is no one knows
Still time as rushing water flows
The end reveals the cup you chose

Come now all you slow of heart
One cup has not moved from the start
The cross and empty grave impart
How the swindler to outsmart

Enjoy your summer!

Pastor Bob Engelhardt

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

Photo courtesy of Dick Sanford,
Catskill Mountain News
I was privileged to give the following address honoring America's fallen heroes at the Memorial Day ceremony in Margaretville, NY:

Beloved friends and neighbors we are gathered together today to remember those who have fallen in battle defending our country.

This world of ours is hard. it holds many dangers. Those we call warriors, among them our family members, neighbors and friends, answer the call to face these dangers; taking up arms, using the unforgiving brute power of military force. Young Americans from every sector of society answer the call to defend our country as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guard. Most serve with honor and then return home to tell us of both the gallantry and horrors of war. Some do not come home. It is for this latter group, the brave souls who made the unthinkable sacrifice of laying their lives down that we gather today... to remember.

You see, we are the living. It is our sacred duty to gather and honor their sacrifice. But their sacrifice is also a call for us to action. Should we neglect the opportunity to forward the cause of good here at home, the purpose for which our fallen warriors have sacrificed themselves becomes even more tragic. Should we take advantage of our time here and press forward the higher values that America represents; goodness, honor, strength, family, faith, neighborly kindness, compassion and liberty; the sacrifice of the fallen remains a point of pride and great worth.

It is sometimes hard to imagine the audacity of the original founders to believe that a nation conceived on the principles of freedom and liberty could be attainable and maintainable in such a hostile world. Their doing so manifests a deep faith in the power of goodwill among countrymen, but that faith has been tested over and over again on battlefields around the world. Since the Declaration of Independence was issued by the Continental Congress in 1776 well over a million men and women have died on battlefields at home and abroad, defending this unique and wonderful vision. A Nineteenth century French political thinker named Alexis de Tocqueville, curious about what makes America so great wrote what he believes is the key: He said, "America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."

As the member of a family with many former and current military members, Memorial Day has over recent years become very personal. The following piece was written by my brother-in-law, James Capra. "The phone call is still fresh in my head because it was unusual for my brother to call me so early in the morning. I met the call with an upbeat hello only to hear back the broken voice of my brother saying …'They got him…they got Tony, the notification team just left…' My nephew, Tech Sgt. Anthony (Tony Jr.) L. Capra, was an Explosive Ordinance Technician in the US Air Force. On the morning of April 9, 2008, Tony Jr. defused a massive IED in Golden Hills, Iraq. What Tony Jr. didn’t know was that the bomb was tied to another device which was a booby trap and in an instant, Tony Jr., a son, a brother, a husband, the father of five, and the oldest of twelve children was gone. We had suddenly become a family that understood the true meaning of Memorial Day."

Americans are brave on the battlefield. We are opinionated. We are strong. We are compassionate and we are motivated. We openly disagree about many things but at the end of the day we have a country worth fighting for. We have a country that is the envy of the world. A country that still holds the promise of opportunity for those who would take the challenge. Famous singer Gloria Estefan was on TV last night performing at the annual Memorial Day presentation at the US Capitol. She spoke of being a Cuban immigrant and how proud her father was to join the US military. She was raised a military kid, living in many places and her father fought in Vietnam. She said afterward he suffered many symptoms of having been exposed to Agent Orange and that it contributed to his death. Yet she spoke of America in glowing terms... her love for America, her appreciation, her gratitude, her passion for our land.

So today we remember our heroes. The fallen but not forgotten. The brave sons and daughters who have consecrated America with their blood. We owe them a debt we can never repay... we will not forget... we will not forsake their acts of gallantry.