Friday, December 23, 2011

Where is Jesus?

Recently, I was reading my Facebook page and noticed what a recently married young woman I know had written on her wall. Apparently, she was decorating her home for Christmas and had put out a nativity set complete with shepherds, sheep, some wise men, Joseph, Mary, and of course, baby Jesus. Now, we get to what she posted on her wall. She said, “My cat stole baby Jesus and now we don’t know where He is.” Of course, I smiled at the thought. Then I quickly thought, “I know where He is. He is all grown up and living in your heart!” How quickly we lose sight of who Jesus is today and where He really is: alive and well, fully mature, and ever making intercession for each and every one of us He calls His own. Now, if we really take a moment and reflect on that one thought, it tends to give us peace and assurance. Ahh… all is well. He knows where I am and I know where He is.

Personal struggles, relationships, the busyness of the Christmas season, and life in general have a way of stealing Jesus from us to the point where we too can say we don’t know where He is. Maybe for some of us, it’s the little things that steal Him away from our hearts and minds; wrapping presents, preparing for a test, our favorite show on television, staying a little longer in bed in the morning, or even a good book. How easy it is to let our thoughts, emotions, people and events steal Jesus from us. Now, I can hear what you are saying - “I thought He never leaves us or forsakes us.” It’s true. He never does. But we often let things into our hearts that crowd Him out to the point where there is no room for Him. You see, He really is all grown up. He doesn’t just need a small manger anymore, but rather the totality of each and every one of our hearts. Little baby Jesus is now the mature Son of God. And He still seeks a place to lay His head and His heart. Neal A. Maxwell said, “Each of us is an innkeeper who decides if there is room for Jesus.”
This Christmas season, consciously make room for Him. Don’t let Him get lost in the trappings of the season, or buried beneath the circumstances of your life. Welcome Him afresh with wonder and awe of who He really is – King of kings and Lord of lords!

- Wendy Levey, Faculty

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fall Coffeehouse

Students, staff and faculty enjoyed coffee and performed specials during this Fall's coffeehouse

Annette, Wendy and Rod

Shane, Jordan, Sam and Luke

Luke and Josh

Victor and Mark

The Kitchen performs a special

Monday, September 19, 2011

Thoughts on the New School Year

Each school year, I have heard it said by someone here at the Bible school that this looks like it’s going to be the best year we have ever had. This time I’m not going to say that, but I do want to say that this year the students have come in with great desire for the Lord and real anticipation for Him to come and meet with them. I also believe that God loves to see that in our hearts because it gives Him a platform upon which to come and meet with us – in the worship, in the classroom as well as our prayer closets.

One aspect that has really excited me personally this quarter is a class I am teaching to Second Year, called The New Covenant (formally Hebrews). So far, this year we have had a few times of going around the table discussing different topics. The participation of the class, and their thoughts on the different subjects, has just been outstanding. Today our topic was, “Just who is this priest called Melchizedek?” It was great to hear what they thought. At the end of class, one fellow commented that after hearing all the different thoughts and ideas, he felt like his head was exploding. It was dizzying. Some said Melchizedek was a man, he was a vision or he was a type of Christ, and others said he must be Jesus. They were truly thinking and changing their minds as the topic went around the table.

To me, this is what Bible school is about. Us taking a subject and allowing the Holy Spirit to come in and teach us through the use of each one of us adding what we each feel He is showing us. For me as a teacher, there is no better outcome of a class than to get them all thinking and speaking into the subject, and then the Holy Spirit taking all of our thoughts and what is right from each one and teaching us.

I have one other thought concerning our chapels. The presence of the Lord has been coming in and our worship has been holding at a really high point. So, when we get to class, I feel that it gives us a great platform from which to begin.

- Jack Picataggi, President

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Internship Report

Vangast Bitukenja is the pastor of Tanzania Assemblies of God Upendo Revival Christian Center in Dodoma, Tanzania and has spent more than twenty years in ministry. He has a heart to reach the Muslim people with the love of Christ and has travelled on missionary trips to the Muslim nation of Zanzibar, despite being previously jailed for sharing the gospel there.

Vangast and his wife, Rehema, are the proud parents of four biological children and three adopted children. He graduated from Bethany’s Advanced Biblical Studies Program in May 2011.

Vangast recounts his second- and third-quarter internship experience with New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ in Buffalo, N.Y., pastored by Willie and Verdis Griffin and presents a call for the American church to pursue godliness and holiness.

I have learned many things during my internship at New Jerusalem Church. One of among many is the life of Pastor Griffin and his wife, Verdis. To be honest, these servants of God have taught me a big lesson through their lives about true love. Their church has been a place where I have experienced the extraordinary presence of God and have sensed, felt, and touched the true love of God. In this church, love is not only spoken, but is being put into action. For the people in this church, love is the lifestyle of their daily activities.

The second thing I learned from the Griffins is how they teach their people through example. They also do before they tell their people to do something. I have seen the way they devote themselves to God and the work of ministry. They are ready to help their people anytime, are so humble, and they help people and work as if they were many years younger than their actual ages.

On another note, from my time in the United States, it grieves me to say that I believe that much of the church in America is now in compromise. Instead of the church influencing the world, to a large extent the world is influencing the church. I am saddened when I see church leaders who fear to correct and rebuke sin because they don’t want to offend people. They want to have big numbers in their churches. Of course, not all are like this, but I have seen it in some churches which I visited and in how some pastors treated their people. That is why I say this.

In some churches I visited, I didn’t experience the move of God; I saw how to collect money. Many plans were made only to honor people rather than God, and bishops were mentioned more often in conferences than the name of God. When we elevate our money, plans, and people above God, this is a great sign of a dying church.

I urge American churches to change their vision and start planning to receive missionaries from other countries. To be honest before God, America as a nation has gone down spiritually. I don’t mean that American churches should stop sending missionaries to other countries, but I am challenging them to see the reality. Many people are focusing on sending missionaries, but I believe that there is also a need for missionaries to come from other nations who may help America to rise again.

May God continue to purify His church around the world and raise up godly leaders, like the Griffins, who will shepherd His people into the fullness of God’s purpose for this hour.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Buy Oil

In February 2010, Stan Smith underwent emergency surgery to remove a large brain tumor, and some doctors are describing his recovery as “miraculous.” Nevertheless, ongoing medical treatment and some of its side-effects have made travel impossible for now. 

If you would like to donate to a fund to help Stan and JoAnn with their financial needs during this time, please contact our Business Office at 315-429-8521, Ext. *812 or Or, donate directly to Stan and JoAnn’s ministry at We hope those of you who have been blessed by Stan’s ministry will be willing to be a blessing to him now.

Buy Oil
by Stan Smith

There are many good things to say about the anointing, but I’m going to boil them down to a single thought: the oil Jacob poured on the rock represented God’s manifest presence. The house where God lives must be a house that makes room for His manifest presence.

As a teenager, a troubling question made its way around the churches: if God withdrew His presence from the church, how many of us would know the difference? And how many of us would continue doing what we’d always been doing, totally unaware that God Himself had left?

I didn’t know if I could answer the questions well, but I resolved early in my Christian life that I would build my own ministry on God’s manifest presence, in such a way that if He withdrew, I would be unable to continue.

In John 14:21-23, Jesus gave a simple recipe for His manifest presence:

“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him…If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."

This isn’t a call to live under the law; it is a call to grace, which we enter into by repentance and faith. And it is a call to intimacy, a life of hearing and responding to His voice.

In the beginning of my ministry, I didn’t know how to access the voice of God. If He spoke, I was likely to mistake it for my own thoughts. I missed a lot in my early days.

But I always looked for scriptures I could act on, and there are plenty. I learned that a deep walk with God doesn’t consist in prowling around in the obscure passages of scripture; it consists in finding the simples commandments and acting on them.

They’re simple, but they aren’t necessarily easy. Humble yourself. Submit to God. Serve one another. Love one another. In everything give thanks. Pray without ceasing. Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord.

And I John 1:9 is one I’ve needed when I’ve sinned: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It’s easy to say, “Yeah, yeah; I already know that.” It’s better to take a few minutes to do it, and to do it as often as necessary.

Jesus talked about oil in the parable of the ten virgins – it’s in the first few lines of Matthew 25. He told of ten virgins who needed oil in their lamps so they could participate in the part of the wedding that happened in the middle of the night.

I won’t try to explain the wedding customs in Jesus‘ day, but suffice it to say that His hearers found the story very believable. The point was this: five of the virgins were wise because they had bought oil during the day, and five were foolish because they had not.

It wasn’t a big purchase. I’m guessing they needed to spend about as much as someone might spend for a flashlight battery today.

In more than forty years of following Jesus, I’ve seen that this parable holds a key for all of us. It is impossible to pay a great price today to buy all the oil we’ll ever need. But we can make a small transaction today, exchanging a few minutes here and a small effort there to invest in God’s manifest presence.

Small investments add up.

Don’t be fooled by get-rich-quick schemes. See if you can find a small opportunity to buy oil before you go to bed tonight. Look for another before lunch tomorrow.

Buy oil. Small investments add up.

Stan Smith is a 1975 graduate of Pinecrest Bible Training Center and a passionate worshipper who uses his diverse gift-mix to equip the church, assuring the whole body of Christ that God wants to walk them into rich encounters with Him. Stan and his wife JoAnn live in Avila Beach, California and often minister together in prophetic teaching and in gifts of prophecy and healing. Stan has taught in Bible schools and was a pastor for 17 years, engaging in prison ministry, inner-city evangelism, and travel to many nations. Stan continues his writing ministry at

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bethany Welcomes Guest Teachers for the Third Quarter

We are pleased to welcome Mark and Paulette Swiger and Dan Beaulieu as guest teachers for the Third Quarter. Mark and Paulette will be teaching Evangelism and the School of Missions and Outreach; Dan Beaulieu will be teaching the School of Preaching, Kingdom Principles, and Principles of Leadership.

Mark and Paulette Swiger are graduates of Pinecrest Bible Training Center who have served the Lord together for over 30 years. For the first twenty years, they pastored in small non-denominational churches. In 1996, they accepted a call to serve in the nations of the world, and since then, they have ministered on five continents, conducting more city-wide campaigns in India from 1996-2006 than any other international ministry. The Swigers currently reside in Fort Mill, South Carolina.

Dan Beaulieu is a Pinecrest graduate, a member of Bethany’s Membership Board, and the pastor of The Fellowship of Believers. He and his wife, Joan, live in Winstead, Connecticut.