Friday, September 24, 2010
Originally from Lewistown, PA, Earlene read The Banner and attended Pinecrest conferences, and for almost 20 years, she dreamed of coming as a student for a season of “going deeper in the Lord.”
Earlene arrived for school in January 2010 and was assigned her work duty, first as Office Assistant and then as Bookstore Manager.
As a student at Bethany, Earlene says that God has enabled her to “be still, become more focused, hear more clearly, and to start stepping out and speaking and doing what I hear Him say with more confidence and clarity.”
Now, she says, accepting the position of Director of Admissions is just “another step in saying, ‘Yes, Lord, I’m available.’”
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
In this morning’s chapel service, the song of the congregation rose together as we sang, “Worthy, Worthy, You are Worthy, Worthy is the Lord” from the song entitled “Alabaster Jar.” We are taking that proclamation into to the streets of the local city of Utica this Saturday.
Bethany’s students will be participating in the festival “Worship in the Parks: A Tribute to Our Creator.” Two worship teams from the school will take part, as well as Third year student Samuel Torres, who will be one of the featured speakers.
As God has brought us together to this school to become a family, we will now go out and tell the local area and the world why He is worthy. This is only the beginning.
- Stephanie Polivka, Third Year student
Thursday, September 2, 2010
On August 30, we spoke to the student body in chapel about purity, and it was 2:00 in the afternoon before some of them had finished doing business with God, getting cleansed, forgiven and recommitting themselves to pursuing a holy, upright life before Him. It was wonderful to see their response to Him, and we believe this is only the beginning of what God intends to do in their lives.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Picataggi's interview with host Dan Dunn aired at 11:30 a.m. on September 1 on the station's Spotlight program, which highlights ministries, authors and spokespeople from various public and community organizations.
You can listen to the interview at: http://www.bethanybtc.org/Resources.htm?http%3A//www.bethanybtc.org/resources/radio_spot.htm
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
“We have a great group of students this year,” commented Director of Admissions Clay Laughridge, who also noted that the incoming First Year class is the largest since 2003, with students from Nigeria, South Korea, Canada, Bolivia, Cuba and Tanzania, as well as students from as close as New York state to as far away as Oregon, Texas, Florida and Virginia.
“As we start this new school year, we are so encouraged by the desire for God we see in the students the Lord has brought in this year,” observed President Jack Picataggi. “There is a real excitement and anticipation among the students, faculty and staff for what He is going to do this year.”
Third Year student Daniel Canton agreed, remarking that God has been moving and that “the teachers, the students, the staff, all seem to just really be open to what God wants to accomplish in all of our lives during this school year.”
Second Year student Jesse Spradlin said that already this year, “God is showing Himself faithful and revealing to me that the best is yet to come.”
New to the course schedule this year is the Devotion class for First Year students, taught by Dean Joanne Picataggi, which is intended to help students develop a consistent personal devotional life from the start of their time at Bethany.
Mark Mills-Powell is joining the on-campus faculty from Cambridge, England, to teach Church History and James for the first three weeks of the First Quarter. Bethany Board member and 1974 Pinecrest graduate Tom Worth is also returning to teach Romans.
Registration for the First Quarter is open until September 3; Second Quarter Registration is October 19.
Monday, August 9, 2010
From Pinecrest’s earliest days, a sign has hung in our Small Chapel with the words, “Occupy ‘Til I Come.” We have always believed this sign signifies God’s mandate for us as Christians to be representatives of His kingdom in the earth.
Since our founding in 1968, we have endeavored to “occupy” the unique role God has called us to as a “School of the Spirit,” where students can come apart to surrender their lives to the Holy Spirit for His training and transformation and to establish a vital relationship with the Lord. For over four decades, Pinecrest has been set apart as a place where God would know His people and His people would know their God.
As we look back over Pinecrest’s history, we acknowledge those who have gone on before us and paid the price to forge ahead in God’s purpose for this place. Many students and visitors have come and partaken of the presence of the Lord and the spiritual truths expounded upon in our pulpits; many lives have been changed and healed by the Spirit of the Lord and all He has done in and through Pinecrest. Joanne and I feel truly privileged to be a part of what God is accomplishing in and through this ministry.
Several years ago, Joanne and I visited The Bible College of Wales and met with Mr. Samuel Howells, son of founder Rees Howells. We asked him to lay hands on us to pray and impart, and as he did, he prophesied that we would lead a school in which God would raise up “end-time anointed ones.” We believe the Lord is in the process of preparing His Bride and that Pinecrest has stood for this day since He brought her into existence.
Now, the Board of Directors has prayerfully made the decision to change the school’s name to Bethany Bible Training Center. I view this change not as the end of what Pinecrest is and has always stood for, but rather the next step in God’s continuing purpose for us. I believe that, as in the Bible when God changed Abram and Jacob’s names to Abraham and Israel, our name change signifies a fresh equipping and enabling to accomplish the plans of God’s heart for our school.
In the Bible, Bethany was an insignificant house in a town outside Jerusalem, but when Jesus was there, it became a glorious temple for His presence. That is what we believe for Bethany as a Bible school. We could plan the most rigorous class schedule taught by the most prestigious Bible teachers with worship led by the most skilled musicians. But the truth is, without Him, all these things—our best-intentioned plans—are meaningless. God’s presence, His love and His grace is what changes us from who we are into who He has called us to be: ambassadors of His kingdom in the earth—to “occupy ‘til He comes.” No man can accomplish that!
So we desire God’s presence. We want to prepare our lives to be His habitation, that His very heart will abide in us as His people. Our prayer is that the Lord can look at our lives individually and at Bethany Bible Training Center corporately and say, “Here I have found a resting place. Here is a people through whom I can freely express My heart and My desires.”
In 2007, when Joanne and I returned to Pinecrest after my installation as President, we added another sign to the Small Chapel along with the sign, “Occupy ‘Til I Come.” This new sign echoes the cry of the Spirit and the bride in Revelation, and we feel it expresses to God this desire to be a habitation for Him. The sign, and the cry of our hearts—the very purpose of Bethany Bible Training Center—is this:
“Come, Lord Jesus.”
Saturday, August 7, 2010
We will continue to add more content in the future, including new audio messages, devotional articles, and updated news, so keep checking back for updated information and resources.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Twenty-two Biblical Studies and six Advanced Biblical Studies graduates were awarded diplomas, with graduates Ryan Maillard, from Trinidad, and Benson Ng’ang’a, from Kenya, also receiving ordination certificates from the Pinecrest Ministerial Fellowship.
Second Year graduate Alberto Rios led worship, selecting songs that had been a recurring theme and heartfelt cry from the students throughout the year: “The Stand,” “Stronger,” and “You Won’t Relent.” President Jack Picataggi commented on the song choices, “That’s why we’re proud of our graduates. Those songs show their hearts. They have given their all to the Lord, and you as their family and friends should be extremely proud of what they’ve begun and what they have covenanted with the Lord through their years here at Pinecrest.”
Dean Joanne Picataggi spoke to the parents: “Jack used the phrase, ‘You have given us your children.’ And I looked at them and thought, ‘Yes, some,’ but I see sons and daughters of God and disciples of the Lord. They may have come here one way, but they’re leaving another.”
The student body sang a special song of their choice, “When I Think About the Lord,” as an exclamation of thankfulness to the Lord for His faithfulness and hand of deliverance in each one’s life.
Faculty-selected class speakers Christa Callahan and Benson Ng’ang’a, from Second Year, and Ashley Dedee, representing the Third Year class, also shared on their experiences at Pinecrest.
Christa Callahan spoke on God’s love in the person of Jesus Christ. She said, “At Pinecrest, I found what everyone is looking for. I found Love. But I didn’t find it as a feeling, I found Love Himself, Jesus Christ.”
Benson Ng’ang’a urged the graduates and their families that it is time to turn back to God and to understand that we cannot live by bread alone, but we must trust God at His Word.
Ashley Dedee summed up her three-year experience with God at Pinecrest in one word: faithful. She emphasized that this was only the beginning, and that God still desired to do a transformation within each graduate as they left.
Graduation speaker Jack Picataggi spoke out of Isaiah 54 and exhorted the students to not despise barren times, but to allow those times to propel them into God’s promises. He challenged them to enlarge their tents and that the Lord would, out of barrenness, produce what was even beyond their natural expectation.
As the 2009-2010 school year closes, we have great expectation for what God has in store for the upcoming year. Registration for the 2010-2011 school year will be held on August 23.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Saul was the ultimate anti-Christian. He was so against the teachings of Christ that he petitioned for special permission to capture and imprison Christians and went around “breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples (Acts 9:1-2).”
And God turned him into one of the greatest soldiers in His army. Talk about a victory. Saul does a complete 180 and starts spreading the news he was trying so hard to stifle, going on to write over half of the New Testament.
I don’t know about you, but this gives me hope. I have noticed again and again that the Lord tends to take our biggest obstacles and make them His greatest victories.
I was in the Air Force for eight years and was discharged for a minor offense. I came home and tried to find direction, attending church with my parents out of obligation, but I was not walking with the Lord, and God was the last thing on my mind. I intended to finish my computer engineering degree and land a six-figure computer job. Of course, the Lord had a different plan.
When my pastor announced they were visiting Pinecrest to lead worship, I heard a voice tell me to go too. I thought it was my conscience telling me to be nice to my parents. I didn’t realize until later that it was God.
While I was at Pinecrest, I heard the Lord tell me to ask about being a student, and my mom suggested I talk to the Dean. I walked over to Joanne Picataggi to ask about school and said, “Hi.” She looked at me and said, “Do you want to go to school here? You’re accepted.” My stunned answer was, “OK.”
I applied and was accepted, but I didn’t know how I would pay for tuition. The day before I left for school, I received confirmation of my approved funding for Pinecrest from the VA (Veteran’s Administration). Now, I’m graduating from my third year at Pinecrest.
There I was—defeated. I was discharged from the Air Force. I had drunk away what little savings I did have and was stumbling around blind with no direction, when God set my path and took complete victory over my life.
I want to encourage you, especially if you’re going through rough times, if you feel blind and lost and don’t know where to go or what to do next: trust the Lord. He has a great victory planned. I didn’t think getting discharged was a great victory, but look what the Lord has done. Have faith in what the Lord can do for you.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
I know what it means to build a house, the work it took. My dad’s hands and face bear the marks of his years spent building. He built a place where we could rest and be ourselves. After all, isn’t that what makes a house a home? It is a place of freedom—to come as you are.
Much like my dad, we too are building a house, but one for the Lord. Haggai 1:8 says, “Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified.” God is calling us up, away from our own personal building projects, into the hidden mountains of our hearts to build Him a home where He can rest and come as He is.
He asks us to bring only our humanity and recognize the magnitude of what He accomplished on the cross for us. Because those two things—who He is, and who God has made us to be—bring Him glory.
Let us be meticulous in our caring for this house. The Scripture doesn’t say, “Let God come and build,” it says, “You build.” The Lord is glorified through the labor we invest into building our lives as a habitation for Him. Just as the house my dad built was beautiful in its completion, so too will our lives be. He is worth it all!
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
While in Africa, I worked mainly with the PEFA Organization (Pentecostal Evangelistic Fellowship of Africa) and their local churches in the Southern Nynzia Region of Kenya. I travelled around speaking and participating in different churches, open air meetings and crusades.
I was also given the privilege of teaching math and science at Pinecrest alumnus Peter Midodo's primary school, Joy Schools International, and I was able to start an introductory computer class that will continue to give the children an opportunity to use and learn about computers.
I would say that the greatest thing I received from my internship experience was an increase in my own faith in God's faithfulness. He was faithful in so many practical things, such as giving me the words for preaching even 10 minutes before I was to speak, keeping me healthy and safe throughout my travels, and connecting me with and providing for me through the people there. There were times of hardship, trials and difficulty, though which God was always with me, but there were also many times in which God moved in miraculous ways that could only have been attributed to Him.
- James Culver, Third Year student
Friday, April 2, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
I started participating in a weekly prayer group a few months ago, and the book of Daniel was what we began studying. That particular season in my life was very hard for me. God was prodding at a lot of things that He wanted to get rid of. I was a mess. Everything was just too hard for me and I was done with it. I felt as if God could never get me through all the things that were going on in my heart and life. I was about to give up on it all and even the prayer group I had just started.
Then one day in prayer group, we were reading through Daniel and something struck me. Daniel made a resolve. A resolve is a decision that is purposed in your heart. That night, I resolved in my heart that I would press through and get through this with God. I decided right then that no matter what came against me or how much it cost, I would let God have all of me.
In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego made a similar resolve when they were faced with being thrown in the fire. These men were going to be killed; even the guards who were heating the fire were burned. Despite this, these men made a resolve in their hearts that they would serve God only and not back down.
After reading this, I began to see how the Lord was working in my heart. It started with a resolve and a decision to press through, then my coming to a place where I decided, "God, even if you completely mess with everything in my life, I know You are faithful. You are faithful."
The question burning in my heart is, "Are you going to make a resolve before God?" I don't know what fire or issues you're being faced with, but there is one thing I know: pressing into God is the only way. The only way is straight. We have to press through. We have to resolve. There is something that God wants to do in you that can only be done if you press in and determine to be obedient to Him. Let go, and let God be God.
Ashley Dedee is a Third Year student from Albany, NY.
Friday, February 26, 2010
The Orange, Hot Pink, Black and Purple teams competed for points in icebreakers and games throughout the weekend, with the Orange Umpa Lumpas winning first place and the “Think Pink” team claiming the team spirit award. Activities included sledding, Wii bowling and tennis tournaments, The Amazing Race, and Balloon-a-Pallooza-Rama.
As fun as the games were, though, the important thing was that God really met the youth in a personal way. On the first night, speaker Pravash Mukherjee, from Norfolk, Virginia, challenged each person to write one thing they were expecting from God during the weekend. As the conference concluded on Sunday, many of them testified that God had met them in ways they hadn’t even expected.
Here are a few of their testimonies:
The minute I walked in the doors here on Thursday, I felt God really strongly, and I was like, “Oh boy,” because I knew God wasn’t thrilled with the way that I was leading my life, and I didn’t really want to change. On Friday, we were singing, “I don’t want to talk about You like You’re not in the room,” and I really realized, God, I want to feel Your presence again, I want to open up to You again. And I confessed a bunch of things to God, and I made a commitment I was going to totally turn my life around and I was going to repent. I feel like God’s really changed my heart this week towards Him and helped me to start again and live a new life in Him.
These past couple years that I’ve been coming to Youth Week and Challenge and all these other youth conferences, I’ve always been struggling. I’d come, I’d meet God, and I’d go back home, and I’d be around friends, and I’d just go back into my life. I was always struggling to stay with God. I realized for the first time in my life, probably about a month after this past Youth Week, that I can’t just come and meet God just for a week or just for a weekend, I have to come, and I have to stay with Him, 24/7, all the time. It can’t just be for Youth Week, it can’t just be for Challenge, it can’t just be every Sunday, just normal life—I have to be with Him all the time in order to stay on track.
Before this week, I was kind of feeling like I couldn’t feel God, like I didn’t know His voice, and I was really longing for that. I was praying in Chapel, and I was like, “Oh, I just want to hear Your voice.” And I realized that I wasn’t listening. He’s been talking; I just haven’t been listening to Him. And also that I have the key to His heart, and it’s not someone else who needs to come tell me what God’s going to do for my life and how my path’s going to go—God is going to tell me. Someone else doesn’t have to tell me what He’s going to do for me because I’m going to know. I just think that’s really awesome.
These last four months have been such a pain for me. I was just frustrated and depressed all the time. These last two months, I wasn’t praying at all, I kind of gave up on God. I felt like I didn’t have anyone by my side, even if I had a bunch of people, I felt like I didn’t have friends. I really felt alone.
I tried to find myself in every possible way, everywhere. In school, I tried for sports, I just tried to be the best, but I couldn’t be the best. Then I tried to do the same thing in my studies. And then the college stuff came, and I was just going crazy, because I was trying to get the grades, I was trying to get applications, I was trying to get everything done. At the same time I was frustrated and depressed, I felt I had no friends. I turned my back to God.
Then, this Challenge, I just didn’t expect anything. I came here and I was like, ok, this is just a weekend, I’m going to have it and leave and be done with it.
[Friday night,] they started playing the “You Won’t Relent” song, and I love that song, and I just started breaking. I was there in the back, and I was just breaking and breaking. And then God told me, “You need Me. You don’t need anything else but Me.” And I found myself again with Him. Because He’s the one that completes me—nothing else but Him.
For two years now, I’ve been wanting to become a lawyer. I’ve been starting to save up money now. Well, God said, “Missionary,” and I was like, “What? You’ve got to be kidding me! No!” I’ve never thought about being a missionary, ever. And just right then, I was like, “Really? Are You sure? Me?” I didn’t know what I was saving up money for. I thought I was saving it up for college. Now I know that I’ve been saving it up for a missions trip, and it’s just amazing how God can change your plans drastically. He loves us so much. I’m so thankful. It’s just amazing.
I’m not like a very out-there person—I’m kind of shy and timid, but I was praying last night, and the Scripture came to mind: “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power.” And, it really just kind of inspired me. I have the keys to the kingdom, I have the power—what am I so afraid of? I can go out there and reach out to people, and God’s got my back.
I didn’t know what to expect when I was going to come here, and I’m really glad I did, because I’ve just felt really passionate about God, but I never knew how to express it. I’m usually composed and try to keep my emotions concealed with regular life, so I’ve felt that I’ve had a heart full of passion for Christ but I was never able to let it out. I just wanted to cry out to God, I wanted to be able to shed tears for Him of joy and just rejoice in everything He’s given me, and I could never do that.
This weekend was amazing, because I was just on my knees, crying, and then after the baptism in the Holy Spirit, I just cracked, and my heart poured out to God in a way that was so passionate. It’s amazing, because I never thought that I’d be able to express my emotions to Him. He’s just given me that, and it’s amazing—through the music, through everything, I just want everything I do—every way I walk, talk, speak—I just want to show my emotions to Him. It’s amazing He’s given me the gift to actually be able to do that now.
God has met me in every way that I have sought Him. I was looking for healing, and He healed me. I was looking for answers, and He answered me. I was looking for the Spirit, and He came, and I was looking for truth, and I asked it to hit me in the heart. I was expecting something hard and something explosive. But you know what, it didn’t come like that. It descended so gently, and it overflowed, and it was so awesome, and it was so 100%, and it was so complete. It was the most content I’ve ever felt in my whole life.
I was looking for people to fill in places in my heart that only Jesus Christ could fill and only the Spirit could fill. I always look for people, and I’m insecure like that. I felt complete, and I wasn’t looking for people anymore. That was so cool.
I always struggled with worship, and I always get distracted with things. But just seeing you guys worship really ministered to me. And seeing everybody’s hands raised and everybody dancing and everybody giving their heart really made me give my heart to God because I saw you guys, and I saw how dedicated and how much you love God, and how hard and how deep you guys were worshipping. And I wanted to worship that deep, too. This is our generation, that we’re going to take back, and we’re going to go back to our homes. We all came from different places—we’re all going to go back to our homes, and we’re going to light our home towns on fire. We’re going to light our schools on fire. I want to go home and light my home on fire, light my church on fire again. I want to give it back to God—I want us, this is us—our time, and I want us all to give it back to God. And I love Him, and I want us all to love God.
My church at home is really falling apart, and that can be very discouraging to me, that my own church is falling apart. So, God said, “I want you to go home, and I want you to help your church.” I know that I’m only one person, but that one person in the Old Testament slayed 800 people at one time. So, if that guy can do that, then I’m sure that I can help my church and I can grow stronger in Him and I can read His Word more and help those in my school. I’m very happy I came to Pinecrest.
Youth Week 2010 will be held from July 18-24.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
On January 17 we had an outstation to Hearts Ablaze, a church in Albany pastored by Pinecrest graduate Stephen Addo. During worship, God really gave us His joy, as we thanked Him for all He has done and made a proclamation that we would not stand by and watch our families or our situations be overcome by the enemy. God is bigger and greater than any obstacle we face. First Year student Job Wafulu from Kenya preached a sermon on allowing God to make us into the leaders He wants us to be.
More recently, I participated in an outstation to Faith Deliverance Tabernacle in Schenectady, NY on January 31. God met us there from the get-go. The church was absolutely beautiful, with a giant stained glass portrait of Mary Magdalene bowing at Jesus’ feet. As I was thinking of how beautiful the church was, the congregation started filtering in, and I realized that the people, too, were beautiful. They had hearts full of welcoming hugs and kisses towards strangers.
God truly met each one there that day through worship, and Third Year student James Culver preached a grounded sermon on Philippians 3:1-14, in which he challenged us to realize that all our achievements are counted as rubbish in comparison with knowing Christ. How true that statement is.
- Stephanie Polivka, Second Year Student
The Pinecrest outstation group with members of Faith Deliverance Tabernacle
Friday, January 15, 2010
"This is the information that I have from Haiti. The church has collapsed with people inside and are still in. The ladies' group had a regular meeting when the earthquake hit the church; up to now, no one can count the number of dead people inside the church.
Concerning my family, I had the chance of talking to my family members today. The way it was explained, it was a miracle. My house collapsed with everyone inside, but God got them out at the right time.
My wife was inside the bedroom getting ready to go to church, but for some reason, there was a delay in looking for an item, which explains the reason she was not in the church at the time the church collapsed. At the moment she decided to leave the room to go outside, the roof caved in on her bed. She ran to help the others but could not.
The house collapsed with my children inside, but our God is the God of miracles. God created a way for the children that were upstairs. I cannot explain that. When the roof upstairs fell, it created a hole on the second floor and the kids fell inside the hole created by the roof of the second floor. Believe it or not, they fell right on their feet. Some of my children were hurt, but they are all fine. The house is gone, but God is going to do something different.
I have not been to Haiti to look at the damages, but based on what I was told, there is nothing left; we have to start from nothing to build. We will need all the help necessary to help the people." (Edited for grammar)
We continue to lift up the nation and people of Haiti in prayer.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Today, classes were postponed as students met in the Chapel to pray for Ernst and the nation of Haiti. They joined in singing “It Is Well with My Soul,” declaring the faithfulness of God in the midst of tragedy.
An offering was taken to support Ernst, his family and church. For those who would like to contribute to this fund, please contact the Business Office at 315-429-8521.