Tuesday, November 20, 2012

God Is Returning

Before departing for Thanksgiving break, the Lord spoke His heart through various prophecies. "The Lord will have an army uniformed to His will. The world will be in confusion but His people will not be shaken."
"God is returning and what he is returning for is what we have of Him inside of us. We need to refute everything other than Him not because it's "bad", but because it's worthless and not lasting."  May we be in union with His heart.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

First Quarter at Bethany

We are almost in our second quarter of school and I am pleased to report to you that this year has begun with some very exciting situations. First, we have gotten in about ten international students from almost as many different countries. Second and even dearer to my heart, our chapels have been absolutely outstanding. The very first morning as we began to worship, the Lord’s presence swept in, and it just got better and better with each song. What was really great was that the next day it happened again, and the next chapel, again. Into the second week He has just continued to sweep in by His presence, meeting, blessing and speaking to us prophetically. One aspect to His coming so far, is that it has been in such a gentle, sweet way, not in driving music or in war-like beats, but truly in a gentle worship, highlighted by the students’ voices. This year a young man, Samuel, who has been a missionary to China for several years, brought his violin. It has added a wonderful dimension to the worship and the Lord has at points really anointed Samuel’s playing.

Each year that I have been here at the school, which when added up equals sixteen years, I have heard it said or have said myself that “this year is unique because:” and we would give our reasoning for such a statement. Always the statement, to me, has been sincere and not just said for hype or any such reason. So I can genuinely tell you, for me this is different in that the Lord has come right in, despite our being unsettled and just getting started. You almost have the impression that He is eager to come and get going with what is in His heart for this year. Whatever His reason is, I say, “Lord, come.”

The level of hunger and desire for the Lord is high and that is always a good quality to measure by. The maturity level of the students is very well balanced as well, which strongly affects where we can and will go for the year.

Please pray and believe with us that the Lord will be blessed by us, and that we can receive all that He has for us this year. A year’s time at Bible school is always an amazing journey, full of possibilities and so much potential, yet we want His best!

- Jack Picataggi

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Youth Week 2012

We just finished our 2012 Youth Week and all I can say is that these young folks came ready to go, and go they did. The normal process is that the first couple of days are uphill, and then we start to get a real flow of worship, the word and their hearts responding to the word.

Usually we start Sunday night with worship and a bit of orientation. Then the youth go on to snack bar and off to their rooms to get to know each other and their counselors. If all goes smooth, we’re off to a good start.

Sunday night worship began, they pushed back the chairs, and almost all of them came up front and they stepped right into worship. It was great! Monday night, after another great time of worship and the word, ten came up to get saved and another twenty or so came up to dedicate their lives more fully to the Lord. Next thing, Pastor Ken Gerry asked them how many would like to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit (we usually get there Thursday night) and the Lord filled many of them as they opened their mouths and began to speak in tongues as the Spirit fell on them. It was tremendous! The next morning, Tuesday, we prayed and encouraged them further in the Holy Spirit. One young man in particular got so filled with the Holy Spirit in the 9:30 am service that he was still there until 3:00 pm, speaking in tongues and interceding for many issues in prayer as the Lord just continued to sweep over him. I don’t know about you, but for me that is just down right exciting to witness!

Well that’s not the end; it was only Tuesday morning. I have to confess, I was really wondering how that could be built upon. What the Lord did was to increase the level of His presence and the depth of our worship reflected that depth as well. These young people worship like they had been in a place of free worship all their lives. Pastor Ken and I just kept saying to them and each other how glad we were just to be there and participate with them.

On Saturday morning before they left, we went around the room and each one gave a short testimony. Almost every one of them spoke (that in itself is a miracle) and what they said was how much the Lord had done in them and that they were going to go home and stand for the Lord in their homes, in their schools and in their churches.

In the end, I believe that the Lord strengthened them and set them on fire to be able to go back home and take what they had gotten from the Lord and stand fast in the liberty they had gained.

- Jack Picataggi, President

Testimonies at Bethany

This first devotion is a reflection on chapel at Bethany, written by Brianna Franco. Brianna just completed her first year of the Biblical Studies Program.

“After being at Bethany for a year, I look back at my time here and realize that God has changed me in such a dramatic way. God has used a number of ways to change me, including work duties, living in the dorm, study hours, classes and most of chapel. I can sincerely say that chapel has changed my life.

Growing up, I attended a private Christian high school and I quickly learned that chapel is nothing without God showing up. Any group of people can get together and sing a few songs, but if their hearts aren’t open and receptive and God isn’t invited, then that entire meeting will be nothing more than just a meeting. After attending several Youth Week and Challenge conferences, I always desired to find a place to truly cultivate the worship that I was so passionate about. I came to Bethany as a student fully prepared to dive into all that God had for me. I wanted to take advantage of every possible minute to seek and get closer to God. And chapel is where it all began.

I’m not one to hold back in fear of dancing or singing, but this year God pushed me to the limits of what I thought I could do in a corporate meeting. Once I directed my focus off of “what I can get out of chapel” to “how God wants to use me to give”, then my prayer life also began to change. I truly believe that worship is the door to the heart of God and chapel time was a gateway to enter into God’s heart.

Worship is often a word that we misuse. Worship is not a time of day, but a lifestyle. Through worshiping in chapels, I learned what it was like to worship God in everything that I do. Whether that was engaging in a conversation or a relationship, or working on a specific task during my work duty or setting aside an allotted time during my day for personal devotion, all I desired to do was worship God.

I have gained so much from my times in chapel alone. I have never felt the spirit of God move the way He had during certain chapels this year. Chapels have given me a sense of hope that God is still faithful to move and to encounter us in special ways that people no longer believe Him for. Chapels have been a time of declaring who God is and who we are in Him, for not standing on anything but His word. Chapel, in the beginning of the year, also enabled me to prepare myself for the warrior that I was becoming and ultimately became. Chapel was a place of peace and refuge when the stress of being a student and entering into the stage of adulthood was overwhelming.

One of the things I have learned that has impacted me the most is that God goes where He is welcomed and stays where He is wanted. Through chapels this year, a hunger was cultivated to make a house of devotion in me where God would want to stay so that I can experience Him everyday the way that I can experience Him in a chapel service. I know that God is no where near being done with working in me and I only hope to continue growing in all that God has for me in the future. I thank God for where He has brought me and for the things that He revealed to me. I am beyond blessed and appreciative to be a part of a school such as this where we have the opportunity to worship God and let Him be free to do as He wishes.”

Kaela Norman has attended Youth Week, Bethany’s annual summer youth conference, for the past few years. Kaela will be attending Bethany as a student for the first time this year.

“The first time I ever came to Bethany was when I was fifteen, attending my first Youth Week. I already had a pretty good relationship with the Lord, but had never experienced an encounter with the Lord the way I did there. Walking around Bethany I heavily felt God’s presence, like it was His home. I knew that wherever God was, I wanted to be. That is why I decided that I want to attend Bethany for college. I know that Bethany is a place where God’s Spirit dwells and therefore is the perfect place to get close to Him. I feel as though the Lord wants some time with me, undistracted, so that He can show me His plans before I venture out into the world.”


Monday, May 14, 2012

Memorial Service for Stan Smith - Manlius, NY

There will be a memorial service for Stan Smith on Saturday, June 30 at 11:00 A.M. The service will be held at:

Community Covenant Church
107 Pleasant St.
Manlius, NY 13104

Manlius is located about ten miles outside of Syracuse, NY

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Stan Smith - Home with the Lord

Stan Smith

As many of you may already know, Stan Smith went home to be with the Lord on May 3, 2012. Stan was a graduate of Pinecrest Bible Training Center and started his ministry at Pinecrest Retreat Center in Setauket, Long Island, New York. Stan was never religious, but was truly a lover of God and of His people. He will be greatly missed by all thosed who loved and knew him.

Along with the memorial service, held at Agape Church, there will be one in the south hosted by Bob Lake and another to be held in the north hosted by Tom Worth. As the dates and locations are set, we will post them here on this blog.

Below you will find a copy of the obituary written by Stan’s lifelong friend, Dr. Tom Worth and revised by his wife, JoAnn DeJoria Smith. You can also read the article written by Dr. Tom Worth on Charismanews, an online publication of Charisma Magazine.

Please be mindful of his wife JoAnn and the ministry they started, and in lieu of flowers, please consider sending donations to:

1168 Kristen Court
Nipomo, CA 93444

You may also donate on gospelsmith.com. Your donations would be greatly appreciated.

“Stanley Roland Smith, Jr., 59, died at home, early in the morning, May 3, 2012, with his wife, JoAnn by his side. Stan was born November 11, 1952, the only child of Stanley Roland Smith, Sr., and Charlotte Hale Smith. His father was a musician who had played the French horn under Toscanini and his mother is a well-regarded Christian writer. He was born in New York and grew up in Georgia. He graduated from Druid Hills High School in Atlanta in 1970. He was a graduate of Pinecrest Bible Training Center, Salisbury Center, NY, and had his B.A. from Canada Christian College, Ontario. After graduating from Pinecrest in 1975, he served faithfully as a Minister of the Gospel for the rest of his life. He began his ministry in Setauket, Long Island at the Pinecrest Retreat Center.

Then he was a Bible teacher at Faith Haven in Woodstock, Ontario, where his son, Christopher was born to him and his wife, Deborah Smith. He served as a pastor in Adrian, Michigan, and then pioneered a church in Detroit where he served as a pastor for well over a decade. There, he would go into the roughest areas of Detroit, such as Clarke Park and tell people about the Savior.

He made mission trips overseas to places as various as India, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Latin America, and England. Throughout his career he was in demand as a visiting preacher in many churches. He spent the last twelve years of his life in the Central Coast of California with his wife, JoAnn DeJoria Smith, whom he married in 1999. During those years he and his wife JoAnn attended Agape Church. Stan was often called upon to preach or minister prophetically during their time at Agape. They also travelled on various mission trips to China, Peru, Korea, Switzerland, England and spoke in many churches across the United States. When Stan was no longer able to travel they planted and pastored a church in Nipomo called The Gathering.

He also wrote books and tracts on practical Christianity and a memoir of his wife, telling of her conversion. In his later years, he strengthened and taught many believers over the Internet through his website www.gospelsmith.com and on Patricia King’s television programs. Several of Stan’s articles were and are posted on Elijah List, Patricia King’s site and Identity Network. Not the least of his gifts was his original musical ability on keyboard, guitar and vocals. He wrote songs and choruses, which are still being sung in congregations to this day. But his great interest was in exploring spontaneous musical expression in worship services, seeking to convey creatively what he sensed the Spirit was saying. He was a midwife in that sense, helping many into greater freedom of expression and deeper creativity.

And yet all these descriptions and accomplishments hardly convey the mystery of the man. Those who knew him would all alike confess that he was one of the most original characters we have ever known. He was a man of the Spirit and yet he was very down to earth. He centered his life in Jesus Christ. He was a deep thinker and a capable and practical theologian. All who heard him preach and teach and prophesy were brought into fresh focus on the Lord Jesus. He was not perfect, and he had his blind spots, and he was deeply sensible of his faults, but the difference was that he freely admitted as much and had a disarming candor in confessing those things. None of us will forget his infectious sense of the absurd and his kindly humor. He was a delightful conversationalist. He was a loyal friend. He coped gracefully with brain cancer for the last two years of his life. During those years the two paramount aims of his life came into clearer focus: he loved God and he loved people. He may have been the smartest man many of us have ever known, and yet—all of that was eclipsed by love, the love of Jesus.

He is survived by his wife, JoAnn DeJoria Smith, of Nipomo, California, his mother, Charlotte Hale Pindar, of Savannah, Georgia, his son and daughter-in-law, Christopher and Danielle Smith, his grandson, Garrett and his granddaughter, Sydney, all of Three Rivers, Michigan. His stepdaughter and her husband, Heather and Bryan Hutchens and their children, Robert and Kathleen, also survive him.”

Stan Smith's Memorial Service will be held at:
Agape Church
950 Laureate Lane
San Luis Obispo, California 93405
(805) 541-0777
May 19, 2012 at 11 a.m.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

God is Love

I Corinthians 13 is probably one of the most well known passages of Scripture in the Bible. Personally, I have always been drawn to it, and I couldn’t help but wonder why. Why do people like it so much? Is it because of the beautiful words, or the poetic nature of it? I tend to think that people are drawn to the idea of love.

You see it everywhere you look. From the time children are little they see it in fairy tales; the princess is swept off her feet by Prince Charming and they live happily ever after. You see it in school, girls and boys looking for love to make them feel “loved.” We see it now every time we turn on our televisions, people wanting to be equal and “just love each other.” Everyone wants to love and be loved. But really, do we even know what love is?

Love isn’t anything that we could conjure up on our own. Love isn’t butterflies in your stomach, or roses on your doorstep, or doing the dishes after dinner. Love is something from God’s heart, not ours. The concept of love has been so polluted, that when true love is sitting right in front of people, knocking at their door, they turn away.

In I John 4:8, it says that God is love. Take the portion of scripture in I Corinthians and replace the word ‘love’ with the word ‘God.’ Our whole walk with the Lord is our own personal love story. God is the very meaning of love. So, in the times where we feel as if we can’t love someone, remember that God has put his very heart inside us; we need to depend on that, and not our own hearts. This world needs a heart, it needs His heart – that with each heartbeat pulses a love that nothing else can compare to. We need to lay down our hearts of stone and flesh, and take on the heart of love itself – Jesus Christ.

- Alissa Stupiello, Second Year student