Thursday, May 20, 2010

2010 Pinecrest Graduation

Graduate David Mwita with President Jack Picataggi

Pinecrest Bible Training Center celebrated the conclusion of its 42nd year with a graduation ceremony on May 8. Graduates entered to the processional song, “Jesus Paid It All,” and to a Chapel filled with proud parents, teachers and friends from around the world.

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.

Second Year graduate Stephanie Polivka shared a song she had written entitled “Liberty,” based on the verse, “His mercies are new every morning” in Lamentations. She encouraged her fellow graduates, as Benson had, to believe the Lord at His Word to step into His promises.

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

A Great Victory

Immediately [Paul] preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.” –Acts 9:20

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.

- Chris Hannan, Third Year graduate

Chris and Hannah Hannan

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Father's House

My father takes down barns for a living, and he built the house where I was raised. I grew up with 200-year-old beams over my head and wood floors under my feet that my dad laid himself. He used such detail in everything. It was a perfect setting amidst a forest of white birch overlooking a pond.

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!

- Laura Swift, Second Year Student