Month: May 2014

What is Prayer Worth?

By: Kevin Linthicum

I still remember sitting in the airport in Shreveport, Louisiana, waiting on a flight that would begin my first journey to Malawi, Africa. I had many questions and to be honest I was a little fearful of what the journey would include.

I recall praying and specifically asking God to protect our group. The only person I knew in the group was Dr. Ben Rogers. Dr. Ben had a wealth of experience in Malawi; I knew his experience was valuable. Therefore, I stayed close to him. I had also been praying for peace and direction for this trip. There were many unknowns and I was anxious about the unknown.

My first day on the ground in Malawi, I learned the value of prayer.

We were sitting in a small village and a family brought out a small child. The family asked if I would be willing to pray for the child. The little boy, no older than five, was being abused by the witch doctor. This single event brought my prayer life to a new place. For the first time in my life, I realized the significance of praying on behalf of others.

This lesson will continue to have tremendous impact on my life. Each time someone asks me to intercede on their behalf, I am reminded of that little boy in Malawi and the value that family placed on prayer. The lesson for us today is to never underestimate the value of praying for others.

John 16:23-24

In that day you will no longer ask me anything. I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

The Other Side of Pain – “Hope Killers” (Part 2)

The Other Side of Pain – “Hope Killers” (Part 2)

By: Karen Polich

Craving God’s Word

1 Peter 2:1-3 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

What kind of appetite do you have for God’s Word? Do you crave God with the intensity that Peter writes about? Are you soaked in His Word? Continuing last week’s sermon on “Hope Killers”, Pastor Cook presented a challenge to go deeper, to crave more and to have a true hunger for the Word.

Pastor Cook discussed three appetite inhibitors:

  • Unconfessed sin
  • Ulterior motives
  • Spiritual diet

Are any of these holding you back from a true longing for God? Are these things that you allow to steal your hope during difficult times? Are you filling your mind with nourishing things that are helping you? Opportunities are there every day. Opportunities to seek God know Him and build a desire for more. How can this craving be developed? Reading God’s Word every day will begin to change minds and lives. There is so much more of God that can be found by absorbing Him through the power of His Word.

I ask you, do you have a true longing for more? Are you ready to see God change your heart and move in your life? He can be the source of joy and hope no matter what season you are in. He wants us to crave Him, to be fully devoted. I pray that today, you will long for more and feed the desire He has ignited in you.




Gaining A New Perspective

By: Stewart Linthicum

“Have I been viewing the Bible all wrong?”

This thought has plagued my mind continually for the past few months. I have been wrestling with the idea that the way I have grown up viewing the Bible is skewed.

Part of my job focuses on marketing and communication, and that means I spend a fair amount of time trying to understand how other people will react to what I write, create, and distribute. I am always trying to figure out how the world is viewed through the eyes of other people, so it seems normal that I would question the way I view the Bible.

I recently read an article by Brian Zahnd titled, My Problem With The Bible. In this article, Zahnd discussed how the Bible was written. If you look back through God’s Word, you clearly see that it is written from the perspective of the oppressed, the enslaved, and the defeated. This is unique, because as most of you can figure out, history is written by the conquerors. As Americans, we are citizens of a superpower. We have been the conquerors. This puts us in the same group as the Egyptians, the Babylonians, and the Romans. This is not a bad thing, it just means we have to shift the way we view the Bible.

Think about it, Jesus taught that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. To some Americans this might be a bit unnerving.

In a podcast interview Pastor Oscar Muriu of the Nairobi Chapel in Kenya spoke about Easter and Holy Week from the perspective of the African people. Pastor Muriu said that when the African people read the Easter story they see injustice, oppression, suffering, misrepresentation, and power. He says “It is easy for us to empathize with the suffering Christ.”

Muriu went on to describe how Easter in the west has become a domesticated story.

“The power of the story has been compromised and they can’t see the wonder, power, and statement of Easter.”

As I listened, I couldn’t help but be convicted. I am grateful that I have not experienced much injustice, oppression or suffering in my life. Does that mean it is harder for me to connect with God’s Word?

These thoughts continue to flood my mind. At the end of May, I will be traveling with Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church to Lilongwe, Malawi on a mission trip. I have wrestled with choosing what stories and scriptures to share with the people of Malawi. After all, their view of the Bible is likely much different than mine. The stories and scriptures that speak to me may not have the same impact on the starving men and women living in the villages. However, those people can understand and relate to a Savior who spent forty days fasting in the wilderness. They can have hope because their Savior has suffered hunger just like them.

Brian Zahnd said it best:

“I have a problem with the Bible, but all is not lost. I just need to read it standing on my head. I need to change my perspective. If I can accept that the Bible is trying to lift up those who are unlike me, then perhaps I can read the Bible right.”

The Other Side of Pain – “Hope Killers”

The Other Side of Pain – “Hope Killers” (Part 1)

By: Karen Polich

Are you killing your own hope?

1 Peter 2:1 “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”

Peter knows. He knows what it is like to destroy your own hope. Peter understands the pressure and temptations that come with difficult situations. He knows about lashing out at others when hurt or scared. Peter wielded the sword in the garden, he spoke the denials. If anyone can talk about what you need to rid yourself of to keep your hope as a believer, it is Peter. His words are clear. “Rid yourselves…” The internal sins of malice, guile and envy will be expressed externally through hypocrisy and slander. Our own shortcomings can tempt us to speak against someone to make them look bad, but we may only be tearing down ourselves. Our hurts and frustrations are not resolved when we choose to respond with a sinful heart. As Pastor Michael Cook has discussed in this series, hope conveys love with integrity, intensity and identity. (1 Peter 1:23) How can we do this?

 We can rid ourselves of hope killers because our hearts are different.

1 Peter 1:22 “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.” The heart of a Christ follower is different. It is a heart filled with the Living Hope. The hope that holds us together when we are hurt, wounded, and confused. We are going to experience situations in life that are difficult. We shouldn’t take up the things that will hurt us and do more damage. Rid yourselves of these things because they will bring you trouble, and that trouble will invade every area of your life. What about you? Are you choosing hope?

He’s The One

He’s the One

By: Susan Rasinski

“I can’t pray out loud.”

“I don’t like to pray in a group because I don’t sound as good as others.”

There are many reasons people give for not wanting to pray and we can understand each one. Who are we trying to impress?

Is it for the awe of those around us that we want to sound eloquent?

Why do we feel a need to say the right things?

It is not always easy to speak in front of others, but we need to realize we are talking to the One who created all things, the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings. He loves us more than we can possibly know. God says we are the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8). 1 John 3:1 (NIV) says that God lavishes His love on us.

So the next time you are asked to pray, take a moment to realize how amazing that truth is.

Close your eyes and talk to the One who cherishes you.

You are ushering your group into the presence of God.

Pray for our Malawi Mission Team

On Monday May 26th, Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church Outreach Pastor, Kevin Linthicum, will be leading a mission team to Malawi. The team will return to the US on Friday June 6th. This team consists of:

Gai Gai Anderson, Dalton Battle, Matthew Gonzales, Raymundo Gonzales, Arlene Lewis, David Leatherman, Kevin Linthicum, Stewart Linthicum, Robert Thomas, Amber Walker, and Randy Walker

While not all of us can travel to Africa, we can participate in this mission opportunity by praying for our “missionaries.” As a congregation we want to be intentional about how we pray. Please pray specifically for:

  • Safe travels
  • Safety while in the mission field
  • Physical strength and stamina
  • Good health
  • God’s protection and provision
  • Many open doors to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His love
  • Lives to be changed
  • Families of our “missionaries”

We invite you to join with us as we pray for this team and how God will use them to change the world!

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:13-14

I’ll Be Praying for You

I’ll Be Praying for You

By: LuAnn Edwards

“I’ll be praying for you.” How often have we tried to show comfort or concern by repeating these few words? Do we often forget to follow through with our promise to pray. When we do remember to pray, are we spending quality time with God or are we in a hurry to get to the next name on our list?

Prayer is a conversation with our Lord.

We should pray earnestly, Luke 22:44 (intently); fervently, Col. 4:12 (zealously); and pray in faith, James 5:15 (with belief, trust and confidence).

Several years ago, while reading a devotional during my lunch hour at work, I sensed the Lord trying to impress something upon me. The devotional included additional scriptures to compliment the reading each day. I pulled out my Bible and read 1 Samuel 15. I was overcome with the presence of God and the Holy Spirit speaking to me.

I wept as I read aloud this chapter about King Saul and his disobedience to God. I was moved as I realized that I, too, had been walking in disobedience. As I began to confess my disobedience, I asked the Lord to show me how I had specifically disobeyed. I asked Him to reveal my sin to me.

Later that afternoon, a business associate stopped in to see me. I asked Peggy about her nephew, a little baby named Jeremy that I had been praying for. She had asked me to pray for him a few months earlier when he had lost his vision in one eye. It was possible that he might lose sight in his other eye. With many others, I had prayed that the Lord would restore sight to Jeremy’s blinded eye and would heal his good eye as well. Peggy shared with me that the doctors believed Jeremy would now be able to see from the eye that was previously thought to be blind. After several surgeries, he was doing very well. We both thanked the Lord for His goodness and healing.

After Peggy left, I realized my sin and disobedience. Although I had been praying for Jeremy as I said I would, I wasn’t praying as I had been called to pray, to intercede on Jeremy’s behalf. I was not praying as earnestly or fervently as I should have been. I believed God was able to perform a miracle but fell short in my commitment to pray as I should. I asked Him to speak to me and lead me in this calling to prayer. He reminded me of a song, and I sang it to Him quietly and sincerely from my heart, right there at my desk, I thanked Him for speaking to me through His holy Word even though He spoke to me about my disobedience and sin.

I wish to honor Him through obedience and pray earnestly, fervently and in faith believing He will answer.

Please join me in committing to pray for those to whom we say, “I’ll be praying for you.”



The Other Side of Pain – Hopelessness

By: Karen Polich

What do you do when hope flees and you are in the midst of the gigantic times that overwhelm you?

How do you combat hopelessness in your life? This series continues to look at what is on the other side of so many things in our lives. Have you given permission to the world or the evil one to shape your mind?  What are you feeding your mind? We need to be able to demonstrate God’s grace in any situation with a spirit of determination and a mind prepared and ready for action.

Fortifying your hope in Christ.

1 Peter 1:13-16

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Are you ready to learn more? Click here.



Giving God Every Crevice of My Heart

Prayer: Giving God Every Crevice of My Heart

Romans 12, Colossians 3

By: Karen Polich

Like you, I pray, but I don’t always pray the way that I should.  I am great at praying for what I think I need, but that may not be what God knows that I need.  Sometimes I am focused, obedient, willing.  I listen well, have patience and put the needs of others before myself.  But sometimes I can’t get past myself; my worries, my needs, my hurts, my desires.  I am usually not such a good listener during those times. Thankfully God knows my heart and knows what is best for me. I am so grateful for His patience.

When things go awry, I pray. When things are great, I pray.

Praise, thanksgiving and the wonder of His mighty power and amazing grace consume me.  Blessings abound in all things.  I need only but look.  When I do, prayers become deeper. The prayers “in all things” are where I really grow as a Christ follower.  Praying Scripture and praying with pure honesty transforms. It is amazing what God will do!

 But do I give Him every crevice of my heart?

Do I give Him my pride and my shame; my mistakes and disappointments? Do I think too highly of myself? (Romans 12) Do I think eternally? (Colossians 3) Am I truly obedient? If I am obedient, I am doing what God is asking me to do when He is asking me to do it.

My rawest prayers come when I am in a place of sorrow or despair. I always find Him there, waiting for me.  He is patient, gentle and kind.  He holds my heart while I pour out my hurt.  There are seasons where I pray about the same hurt again and again. He always listens. His healing brings me closer to having an eternal perspective and a genuine testimony through the necessity of the hurt in developing my maturity as a Christ follower.

There are times when praying involves a tough situation.  People are involved and that can be tricky.  Am I bringing God the areas of the ripple effect?  The stuff that falls into the consequences of the decisions I make. Is the tendency to only bring God what most concerns and affects me?  What is the big picture? Do I stop and ask God to help me consider everything?  Will my decisions affect others? I know both sides of this. I have caused pain when my focus was on my own needs as the number one priority. I rushed to a decision instead of being patient and listening for God’s voice, making sure I considered every area while giving God the final say. I have also been the receiver of the pain when decisions were made without considering the fallout of relationships.

God truly uses all situations to work His good for His glory. His grace abounds even when I do things my way instead of checking with Him. Are there consequences? Yes, and they can be painful, but God can restore and renew a heart that has been broken or has caused the breaking. Genuine faith shines when God sees me praise Him even in difficulty.

Prayer is a gift. It deepens my relationship with our Heavenly Father. It reminds me that I am never alone. Prayer brings me into His divine presence where worship, confession, thanksgiving, and action can occur. There is beauty in prayer. God can move mountains when I pray. He desires every crevice of my heart.

What about you? Have you given Him every crevice of your heart?