Starting Again Title Slide

Believing in the Yield

By Karen Polich

The longer we live, the more opportunities we have to start again. Life is like that. Some beginnings are more difficult than others. When we find ourselves in the messy seasons of life, it can signal a time when we need to start again. We can apologize, rebuild, change our path, forgive or refocus. How we choose to embrace those moments can determine what the yield will be.

The turn from a real mess that leads towards spiritual blessing can be a highly discouraging space. Still engulfed in the pain of the mess, despite best efforts, there just isn’t any relief in sight. It’s not simply out of view, it feels like any type of blessing doesn’t exist.

Pastor Michael M. Cooks sermon series, Starting Again, continued, studying Haggai 2:15-23. (Listen here.) As God’s people struggled to rebuild the temple, Haggai reminded them to first look back. Why did this matter? It helped them see how far they had come. Starting again, they had an enormous task and the progress was small. The key was that they were moving forward in obedience to God.

Haggai 2:19a “From this day on, I will bless you.” Understand, the temple was not close to being finished, yet God chose to bless His people as they moved toward Him by starting again.

“We are not to live in the past, but it is important to visit the past.” – Michael M. Cook

Remembering what it was like when ______ (fill in the blank) keeps us moving in the right direction. Our past does not define us but helps inform us of how far we’ve come in starting again. It reminds us of where we don’t want to go again.

Today can be the beginning of the rest of our lives. How God blesses us is up to Him, but our willingness to believe in the yield as we move forward is the beginning of making the turn out of the mess until we have moved far beyond its reach.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

God works in a unique way for each of us. Each a one of a kind creation, His blessings reflect our originality. The yield will be our own. When He pours out blessings, it may not be because of what we have finished, but because he sees a new work in progress.

Are we moving forward?

“We never harvest in the same season in which we planted.” – Michael M. Cook

 

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Who Can You Help Today?

By Karen Polich

Proverbs 11:25 The Message (MSG)
25 The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;
those who help others are helped.

In the midst of our busy lives, opportunities surround us. We have moments with those close to us and cross paths with strangers as we engage in the day’s to-do list. While we may be consumed with our responsibilities and the need to get things done, we can choose to help others along the way.

How wonderful is it when someone steps in and brightens your day? Even on a great day, a kind word or a helping hand is a blessing. When a day is going from bad to worse, the generosity of another can be the catalyst to a new outlook.

God gives us opportunities to impact others. Sometimes we get to help in “big” ways, while other times it’s something done in the moment. It may not always be life changing, but the little things we do can have real impact. Life is meant to be lived with others. When we take the time to help those around us, we are often the ones who receive the biggest blessing.

A tiny shift in our focus can open our eyes and hearts to the needs around us, bringing blessings we didn’t expect. When we are looking, we can see needs everywhere.

Be intentional. Who do you know that could use a word of encouragement? Simple words of encouragement can lift someone’s spirits.

Slow down and pay attention to those around you. We are often in a rush to get to the next thing. Today, let’s take a closer look at who God puts in our path. How can we influence even a small part of their day?

Demonstrate grace. We all tend to show our worst side when the pressure is high. If someone is less than pleasant, be kind anyway.

When we take the time to slow down and see things around us, our view changes. What kind of day do we want to have? How can we share that with someone?

What if today, we were all intentional about helping someone else? What kind of impact could we make?

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The Importance of Remembering

By Karen Polich

A full life can flood the mind with memories, some so sweet we would re-live them again and again. Other memories might be best forgotten.

While bringing both joy and pain, the ups and downs shape us into who we are.

Pastor Michael M. Cook’s ongoing sermon series, Starting Again, has gripped my thoughts when it comes to new beginnings when circumstances don’t always allow for a clean start. The baggage of life can’t always be simply put down. Sometimes starting over means doing so while carrying a heavy burden. In confident faith, we can give those burdens to God, but issues must still be dealt with. The best way to move forward is to remember God is not only walking the path with us, but has shown His faithfulness before.

1 Samuel 7:12 (NLT) Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah.[a] He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!”

When the storms are raging, can you feel God’s presence? Do you remember all He has done?

The Lord has provided. Even when it may not look the way I’ve hoped, He has been there. Through grief, disappointment, unexpected events, and in those times when I was surprised with more than I could have hoped for. He has always been there.

Sometimes making a small change can begin the process of building something better. It can start a positive chain reaction. Simply writing down times when God has shown His steadfast love and faithfulness gives me the push of confidence I need to move forward and start again.

Even when it is hard we have the promise that His mercies are new each day. Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV) Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Starting again? Begin by simply making your list today of what God has done in your life. Remembering can be the spark that starts a fire.

Starting Again Title Slide

Our Finest and Best

By Karen Polich

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV) “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Have you ever felt that you were bringing your absolute best and it was not good enough? When our finest and best falls short, what do we do?

Disappointment is unavoidable in life. The result of unmet expectations, it comes and goes. Waves of sadness roll through our stories, but even in the midst of disappointment, we are able to move on and keep going. Discouragement goes beyond those moments and settles in. Stuck in discouragement, we lose hope, courage and confidence. It becomes difficult if not impossible to keep trying. Even when Disappointed or discouraged, God wants us to start again.

Pastor Michael M. Cook shared three concepts from Haggai 2 for us to remember when we are starting again. Listen to his sermon series, Starting Again, here.

  1. God’s presence in the present. We are not alone. But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. Haggai 2:4
  2. God’s provision in the past. The Bible gives us story after story of God’s provision for His people. It is significant to remember all God has done in our lives. God is with us every step of the way.
  3. God’s plan for the future. Disappointment can block our view of God’s plan. He is constantly at work even when we stop seeing it.

When we find ourselves needing to start again, what choice will we make? Will we put it off? Make today the day. Set your heart on starting again. It may be a relationship, finances, rebuilding life or simply reconnecting with God right where we are. Begin with writing a short list of how God has provided in the past.

Even when things aren’t going well, God has a plan and purpose. Standing too close to the struggle, we not only lose sight of His bigger picture, but forget to even look for it. God will always use our faithfulness. It might be today, or it could be for another generation, but He is always at work. God’s plan is wide and long, we must be willing to trust Him even in moments of discouragement.

Keep bringing your best. God is faithful.

 

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5 Ways to Avoid Spiritual Drift

By Karen Polich

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. Hebrews 2:1 (NIV)

An adventurous afternoon of snorkeling came with clear waters and vibrant colors. There was so much to see as the tide carried me along. After several minutes exploring the wonders below the surface, I looked up and realized how far I was from where we started. Focused on the underwater beauty, I didn’t notice where I was going.

Ever wondered how you got somewhere?

Life is full of seasons and change, drifting shouldn’t be one of them. At times we may be so focused on our circumstances that we don’t notice where we are headed. We can avoid the drift in our spiritual life by taking steps to ensure we know where we are going or at least who we are traveling with.

  1. Get connected. “No man is an island.” (John Donne) God did not create us to exist in isolation. We need other people. Connections lead to inspiration, encouragement and accountability.
  2. Spend time with God. Make it a priority to study His Word every day. He has given us the tools we need to stay on track, but we have to use them. Spiritual growth won’t happen if we don’t seek God. Keep a prayer list and make note of when God moves through your prayer life.
  3. Count your blessings. In easy and hard seasons, look at what God is doing. How has He shown His faithfulness in the past? Notice the little things and the big ones.
  4. Encourage someone. Even a few words in a passing moment can change someone’s day. When we look for opportunities to encourage others, we become more aware of where we are. Shifting our focus outward quickly changes our perspective.
  5. Be intentional. Much can be said about the person who is intentional with their time and resources. Floating through life without intention won’t take us where we want to go. Choosing to live with intention means we are aware of who and what we focus on.

Seeking God first will center us on the path best traveled. Take time today to develop a plan to avoid drifting away from the best God has planned.

Starting Again Title Slide

Initial Movement

By Karen Polich

“Has it occurred to you that the heart of God desires to come alongside of and behind those that desire new movement in their lives?” – Michael M. Cook

Life is full of “starting over” moments. We need to take the first step. Willingness to begin again after a failure, a broken relationship, setbacks and hurdles is crucial. It can be an enormous challenge we’d rather not tackle.

Haggai 1 tells the story of God’s people in the process of rebuilding after returning from years in exile. There were fields to cultivate and houses to repair, but what about God’s temple? The temple represented God’s presence on earth.

God sent a message through Haggai to rebuild His temple. The answer? “The time has not come”. (Haggai 1:2) Leadership didn’t say “NO”, they said “LATER”. There were so many important things to do. Not focused on God as the center of everything, the people experienced a drought.

God will do what is necessary to get our attention. We often forget God is not obligated to bless our lives regardless of our behavior. He is to be the center from which everything else we do stems.

How often do we say we’ll do something “later”? When we respond with ‘later’, we think we have said yes, but that’s the danger. Later is NOT a ‘yes’ response, but a ‘no’ in disguise.

Later I’ll…rebuild my life, start giving, develop that relationship, make things right. The list goes on and on. When will we take the critical step of ‘now’?

Just as God helped His people when they finally answered His call to repair the temple, He will be there to help and encourage us as we start again.

Are you ready to challenge yourself with a deeper look into the hard areas of life? Are there places you are avoiding with a ‘later’ response as God is whispering to you, “Start again”?

Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Starting Again, here.

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Three Reasons Why We Love Parents’ Day Out

By Cara Lewis

Parents’ Day Out has been such a saving grace for me. My son, Noah, was in the program last year and my three- year old daughter, Paige will be starting the program with the new school year. I was so excited to start this journey, but little did I know what a blessing it was going to be for my family and me.

Here are three reasons why we love Parents Day Out.

1. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. It is no secret that I love my children with all my heart, but sometimes a little time away is a good thing. I love that I can take them to our own church and know they will be loved and cared for of as if they were family. It puts my mind at ease. I am able to get some mommy errands done that are much easier to do when my children are not present.

2. Learning is fun. Parents’ Day Out is more than childcare. The teachers and staff provide the best curriculum and make learning fun. The amazing crafts they do are almost endless. The kids are so proud and excited to show you what they have made. I was astonished at how well my son was prepped for kindergarten. He went in barely knowing any letters and finished in May not only knowing his letters, but also the sounds and he was even able to put together small words.

3. Train up a child. Last but not least, actually the most important, Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” I love the fact that my kids are being taught in an environment that glorifies God.

If you are the parent(s) of young children and are looking for a great place where they can be loved and trained, I want to encourage you to consider AFBC’s Parents’ Day Out. If you are on the fence about this amazing childcare/preschool program, I say give it a go. It is one of the best and most affordable programs you will find. You will not be disappointed.

Parent’s Day Out is a community childcare/preschool program provided by Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church. We are here to serve families by providing a Christ-centered atmosphere giving parents much needed time during the week. Offered for children ages six months through pre-kindergarten, Parent’s Day Out is available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. The 2016 fall semester begins August 16th.  Learn more and register here.

Quitting Time

Great is His Faithfulness

By LuAnn Edwards

Have you experienced a place in time when you felt you couldn’t go on? Everything changed. Life took a dramatic turn. Nothing would ever be the same again. Are you there now? Has despair taken over?

My friend Kate is experiencing that place right now. The loss of her young teenage son has devastated her and her family. Life as they knew it came to an end last month.

Pastor Michael M. Cook finished his series, Quitting Time, this past Sunday. Jeremiah, Chapter 32, takes place just before the Babylonian captivity of Israel. The Lord instructs Jeremiah to purchase some land. Jeremiah obeys God but wants to know why. He knows captivity, death and devastation are near; why buy the land? Listen to the podcast here.

God’s response to Jeremiah restores our hope. When we feel like God cannot help us, He says, “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?” (Verse 27).

The captive situation the children of Israel found themselves in was not the end. Fifty years later the people returned to Israel, and God restored their fortunes. They returned to their homeland and were able once again to purchase land and thrive.

In the dark times of despair we think God cannot help us, but God can do all things. Nothing is too difficult for Him. Like the story of Jeremiah, where a time of restored hope would again prevail over the people of Israel, Kate and her family will laugh again, hope again and enjoy life again.

Likewise, the situation you may find yourself in today is not the end. If you feel like you can’t go on, don’t give up. Wait. See what God will do. Our God loves us; His compassions never fail. Great is His faithfulness.

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God’s Call To Men

By Kevin Linthicum

At no other time in the history of our country has there been a greater need for men to rise up and become the leaders God has called us to be. God demands and commands our greatness.

Muhammad Ali once said “I am the greatest”. What was he trying to communicate? Was he, in fact, the greatest? How do we identify greatness? When watching a team sporting event, how do you identify the greatest athlete on a team? Which athlete was greater, Brian Piccolo or Gayle Sayers? Is Tiger Woods the greatest golfer, and if he is the greatest golfer, what makes him great?

The dictionary defines greatness as, remarkable in magnitude – eminent, distinguished – markedly superior in character or quality – remarkably skilled.

In his book Kingdom Man, Dr. Tony Evans said, “The greatest player on any team whether corporate, family, ministry, or sports team, is the player who makes certain that his contributions work best with the goals and strategies of the team.”. The men’s fall Bible study at AFBC will be discussing Dr. Evans’ book Kingdom Man. Has God called us to be great? Why or why not?

1 Thessalonians 4:1-3 (The Message) One final word, friends. We ask you—urge is more like it—that you keep on doing what we told you to do to please God, not in a dogged religious plod, but in a living, spirited dance. You know the guidelines we laid out for you from the Master Jesus. God wants you to live a pure life.

I am praying that God will do something extraordinary in our men’s group as we grow together through this study. I hope you will join us August 7, 2016 at 5:00 pm, at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church. We will be making a time investment that could change the direction of our lives.

If you have questions, or if you would like to participle in this study you may contact Kevin Linthicum. kevin@fbcabq.com or 505.205.9992

 

 

Quitting Time

Scroll Warning – Listening to God’s Voice

By Karen Polich

Weighed down by the garbage in your life? If you find yourself on a path to an uncomfortable encounter with God, keep going. Don’t quit. What may seem like impending judgment can bring a meeting full of compassion. Fearful? Let fear work in your favor. You were created for more; more than struggles, more than sin! God created each of us for His glory, not to live a life void of His abundance.

Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon, Scroll Warnings, hit right at the heart of turning your life around when you feel like quitting. Listening to the podcast will take you into the story of Jeremiah and how God’s “judgement” is REDEMPTIVE. (Jeremiah 36) This is one you don’t want to miss as he weaves Jeremiah’s story into our lives. Listen HERE.

There is great danger in a calloused heart, where hard places grow from sin, hurt and exposure that de-sensitives. A hardened heart has stopped listening, hearing and caring. This describes King Jehoiakim.

In scripture we find King Jehoiakim not listening to the words on the scroll. His hardened heart leads him to burn the scrolls. While it is a tragedy for God’s people to not hear His voice, far worse is the defiance of a king, bringing down an entire nation.

Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts. Hebrews 4:7(b)

Ignoring the truth will not make it go away. – Michael M. Cook

Others will pay the price for a hardened heart. Listen for God’s voice. Throw the garbage out and lean in to hear what He has to say. You may just find the compassion and grace you desperately need.