Month: August 2014

Get Out of Bed and Connect With a Small Group

By: Sarah Battle

We all know how wild and crazy our weekly schedules get with family responsibilities and jobs. Weekends are filled with travel, sports, television and big screen box office movies. The bed on Sunday mornings pulls us in as if we are getting our best sleep. This is all part of life’s journey but so is growing alongside other believers.

We should think about each other to see how we can encourage each other to show love and do good works. We must not quit meeting together, as some are doing. No, we need to keep on encouraging each other. This becomes more and more important as you see the Day getting closer. Hebrews 10:24-25

Small groups are important to both a mature believer and a new believer. As you become engaged you find time to pray together, celebrate the joys in life, and help one another in our everyday journey. In a large setting you simply do not have time to get to know others on this intimate level.

Everyone needs personal touches and relationships to grow spiritually.

Growing up in church, we often used the term Sunday School for what we now know as Life Groups or Small Groups. The setting is still the same. Ample time is set aside to dive into the Word to gain a deeper knowledge of how to apply Biblical truths to everyday life. One reason we may use the catchy name “Life Groups” may be because we are not just setting aside time Sunday morning to gather but choosing to share life throughout the week.

Planned events from game time or dinner to serving at an event bring small group participants together. We share personal defeats and losses, seeking the power of prayer and direction. We also spend time celebrating life’s victories, thus spending time giving praise to the One who deserves the glory. A small group becomes part of your family. But note the key is TIME. Are you willing to give time to grow spiritually and become part of a small family?

Our Small Group meets during the 11 a.m. hour in Room 106. The class is geared towards married couples whether married less than a year or over ten. If your spouse is serving in other areas during this hour feel free to join us and have your spouse join when possible. We are excited about our next study beginning in a few weeks, This Changes Everything by Ben Stuart. The study will focus on how the world desperately needs Christians whose actions match their convictions. A young generation is rising up, and they need to see the power of the Gospel working its way out into our everyday lives. We have the potential for our outside to match our inside, our activity to match our God-given identity. When the Gospel lands in the human heart, we cannot stay the same.

Join us on Sunday to experience more. God is calling. Where is He calling you?

Click here to connect with this group

The “End Things” Approach to the Other Side

By: Karen Polich

Time moves quickly. Every day we grow closer to the last days. In the rush, we fill our days with responsibilities and deadlines. We look around and find that our time is spent on getting things done so we can move to the next thing.

Busyness consumes. It can lessen our focus on God.

We are called to more. God has called us to Him and His purpose. Pastor Michael Cook’s teaching from God’s Word looks at how we should approach this time.

1 Peter 4:7-11

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Having an “end things” approach takes intentional effort. Pastor Michael Cook shared what a Christ follower needs for this approach. Listen here.

We should be purpose centered people. Sin impairs our thinking. It is hurtful and comes with a cost.  God’s Word calls us to be alert and sober minded. We need sound judgment and an unwavering spirit that seeks God through prayer. Prayer moves God. When our fervent prayers touch God and He chooses to move, Satan can do nothing about it.

We should be others centered people. Deeply conveyed love doesn’t hide sin, it is there despite the sin. We are called to love deeply as Christ loves us. True hospitality comes when we open our lives, our homes and our giving to others completely, without grumbling. We are called to serve others through the gifts God has bestowed upon us.

When you look at the other side of the brokenness of the world, you see Christian love.

A Christ follower looks different because of God’s transformation. As He transforms us, He provides the resources needed to serve. The gifts He has given are not ours, but His. He trusts us to use these for His purpose and His plan. Choosing to serve brings praise to Him. Choosing to love honors Him. Seeking Him in prayer moves Him.

How is God leading you? What is He teaching you? Where is God calling you?



Answering God’s Call

By: Rebekah Pitz

Throughout my life I have heard the term “God’s calling,” quite often. I have heard people say that they have been “called to ministry,” or “called to be a missionary” or “called to full-time Christian service.” It was just a term that kind of got glossed over in mission’s conferences, or chapel services throughout my life. I know that it is our duty as Christian believers to be involved in some type of ministry so I never really felt “called” to ministry. I just did it because it says in I Corinthians 12:12- “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.” I knew that I was part of the body of Christ, so I knew I was essentially “called” to serve.

The question always remains “where” to serve in the body?

I have been serving the Lord through music for as long as I can remember. I began singing in church when I was three years old. I never stopped. In 2001, I graduated from Cedarville University with a degree in vocal performance. I was not sure what God wanted to do through my life, but I knew that it involved music in some capacity. For ten years I was the music director at my church in Dayton, Ohio before God moved us out here to Albuquerque. When we moved out here, I joined praise team and choir and about a year ago, God moved us to this church where I have been able to serve in that arena.

About 3 months ago, I was feeling under-the-weather and while my husband brought our children to church I stayed at home and decided to worship in my hammock. (I do not recommend skipping church, but if you do have the opportunity to worship in a hammock, you need to seize that opportunity!). I was reading my Bible and began praying about how God really wanted to use me at AFBC. Is there another place that He wants me to be, even if that stretches my levels of comfort?

Let me side-track for a moment and tell you about one of my favorite Bible stories. I have always been fascinated by the little boy Samuel. He was living with Eli the priest and one night he heard. “Samuel! Samuel!” Eli told him that he needed to answer, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” for Eli knew that it was God who was calling the young boy. I have often wondered what it would be like to audibly hear the voice of the Lord, as Samuel did that day.

Sitting on my hammock, I felt the Lord nearly audibly whisper “Rebekah, you need to raise up children to be worshipers in my name.” I sat in shock because this was such a new idea to me. But, because the Lord had “called me” I decided to pursue it and ask if they needed anyone to help in Kid’s Klub, Sunday worship times.

Unbeknownst to me, the children’s leadership team had been meeting together for over a year and had been praying for someone to come along to take over the music/worship portion of their services. My coming to them was a direct answer to prayer and it quite literally blew me away.

I cannot deny it. I have been CALLED by the Lord to do this. Because of this, I know that He will bless and I pray that He does so in such a miraculous way that lives will be changed.

Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” Where is God calling you? Are you ready to answer the call and serve Him today?


The Other Side of Difficult Days

By: Karen Polich

Difficulty can be described in many ways such as adversity, hardship, hindrance, or obstacle to name a few. Merriam-Webster defines difficulty as something that is not easy to do or deal with.

We all have difficult days. They can seem unyielding and merciless.

Pastor Michael Cook shared his thoughts on what is on the other side of difficult days.

God is supportive. You are blessed. You are blessed in the here and now. When hurting, spiritual character grows vastly. In times of suffering we tend to draw near to God. You are blessed all the way into eternity. You may be rejected by men, but you are accepted by God.

God has a word of instruction. Do not fear, do not be troubled. Regardless of what you face, you are called to move forward for the cause of Christ. You should be relentless. God pours His instructive nature of gentleness and respect into your life.

God gives a clear directive. You may walk through tough days, but Christ came. He came to sacrifice once and  for all. He came to bring you to God! Don’t be afraid, instead be concerned about the Holy One that controls the soul. God is there encouraging you.

I Peter 3:13-18, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”

The other side of difficulty holds great promise. What might God be doing in you during the struggle?

Listen to Pastor Michael Cook’s podcast here.


An Opportunity to Thrive

By: Chad Spriggs

Our lives are filled with opportunity.

Opportunity to advance our careers, buy our first home, have a baby, go on a family vacation, or even serve at our church.  Have you ever thought about the opportunity we have to connect with other believers in group life?  The most life transforming spiritual experiences I’ve encountered are in small groups.  What is it about group life that encourages so much spiritual growth?  Here is a list of three important reasons to take your next opportunity to engage in small group life.

Feeling You Belong

In John 4 we find Jesus connecting to a woman that has a colorful lifestyle.  After meeting him her life was never the same.  Come to think about it, the entire village was never the same.  When she realized that Jesus loved her no matter what she had done a deep sense of belonging flooded her soul.  Because of what she found in Christ she shared it with others, and their lives were changed forever.  Moving forward they had each other to encourage, lean on, and celebrate how Jesus changed their lives. Their sense of belonging connected them to Jesus and Jesus connected them to one another.  Connecting to a small group would give you an opportunity to find that same sense of belonging.

Following God’s Design

When Jesus began his earthly ministry he had hundreds if not thousands of people that followed him.  These people could not get enough of what Jesus was doing.  With so many followers it’s interesting that God’s design was for Jesus to invest in 12 in a very unique way.  God’s design is for us to relationally connect to him and others.  This happens best in a small group.  Those 12 changed the course of the world.  Those 12 found their strength in their connectedness to Christ and secondly their connectedness to one another.  If you want to grow into the person that God desires follow his design and get into a small group.

Finding a Common Purpose

In John 17 Jesus prays to the Father.  In this prayer Jesus prays for you and me.  Out of all the things that he could pray he prayed that we be united in one Spirit so that the world would see and know God.  Alone we are fragmented.  Together we begin to live out what Jesus prayed.  Small Groups give us an opportunity to bring Jesus’ prayer to life.

There is no better way to find belonging. There is no better time to align with God’s design.  There is no better way to find purpose.  There is no better opportunity for you to live out the calling of the Church, than to get into a small group and thrive.

Chad Spriggs serves the Lord as pastor of Cerrillos Community Church in Cerrillos, New Mexico. He is married to his best friend, Deanna and they are the parents of five.



Direction – 2014

“Lack of direction, not lack of time is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days,” Zig Ziglar.

Pastor Michael Cook laid out the direction of Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church and the three concepts that God has put on his heart. Listen here.

  1. We need to have an intensity about touching the lives of people. Are you willing to make an intentional effort to do something in the lives of others? What if it costs you something?
  2. Margin. Modern day living devours our margins. Our fellowship will work toward creating margin and becoming debt free. This should apply to our personal lives as well.
  3. Tool Box. We can take care of the things we need when we have margins.

Opportunity awaits to dig deep into prayer life and ask God about His direction. It is an opportunity to do something different, perhaps better. Being truly committed may involve sacrifice. It may change things about you, uncovering pieces of God’s intricate design.

Many choose to be a spectator watching from the stands instead of jumping over the fence to join the team. We have a choice about our time and our direction. God’s priorities can be our own. Someone “all-in” exudes passion. They have direction. Beautiful to watch, it can be contagious.

Going “all-in” creates a heart so completely engaged that lives can’t help but be impacted. What might God do if we all moved in His direction, committed to the core?




Connect, Grow and Share

By: LuAnn Edwards

Church fellowship, both within large and small settings, is something I cannot imagine living without in my walk with Christ. Small groups such as Bible studies, home groups and choir have all been extremely important to my growth in the Lord. With the exception of a few weeks, I have been a part of both large and small groups since accepting the Lord into my life 40 years ago.

As a young adult, I began attending a wonderful church where I was loved and accepted. Joy abounded within this fellowship and I loved developing relationships and getting to know this group of people. They were an important part of keeping me on track and helping me to succeed in my walk with the Lord.

However, there was a struggle going on inside of me.

I loved and needed this group of believers to pray for me, teach me, and encourage me in this new walk with Christ; but at the same time, it was all so new to me, and I just wasn’t sure I could measure up. I made a decision to not attend church; I felt I could be a Christian without it. But what happened is just what the devil wanted to happen. I returned to my old hangouts, hangouts that I should have avoided and friends who I allowed to easily influence me. It wasn’t long until I realized I did need my church’s fellowship and instruction. My caring pastor made a visit to my home to encourage me to return. He assured me that through Christ I could “measure up,” and the Lord had a definite plan for my life. Back to the church I went – back to bountiful blessings in the Lord!

My old friends were not happy with me. They didn’t want me to change and weren’t very accepting of my new faith. However, I felt the Lord drawing me toward my church and fellowship with other believers. These were the friends with whom I now wanted to be with; friends who helped to draw me closer to the Lord and not away from Him.

Fellowship is about encouraging and strengthening one another in love, showing concern toward each other, and growing together as we share the Lord. Fellowship is enhanced when it includes serving in ministry together. This may include singing and worshipping in the choir, raising money as a group to give to those in need, praying together, or sharing our faith on a short-term mission trip. When people connect in unity, much can be accomplished for the Lord.

Throughout the years, I have made many good friends and developed several strong relationships within the church and the small groups that I have been privileged to be a part of. It would be extremely hard to walk the Christian walk and grow in the Lord without others to walk along side of me encouraging, praying for and loving me along the way.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

How about you? Do you have that encouragement?

The Comeback of Christian Conduct

By: Karen Polich

What does your witness look like? Is it consistent? Do you control your tongue?

What if non-believers aren’t looking for Christ because they think they already see Him in you and I and it doesn’t look good?

What is our witness as a church body? Does the Church look different from the world? Do we hold on to insults and hurts, or do we truly seek to love one another and demonstrate what that looks like? People are attracted to those who sincerely care for others.

From the teachings in 1 Peter 3:8-12, Pastor Michael Cook discussed what true Christian conduct should be. We have a responsibility as individuals and as a member of the body of believers to live differently. How we live speaks volumes about us to non-believers.

Our witness depends on how we live among the brethren.

  • Like-minded – in harmony
  • Sympathetic – feeling for others
  • Brotherly – with intentionality
  • Kind hearted – showing compassion
  • Humble – with humility and submission

Does your life reflect these 5 elements?

Our witness depends on how we live in the world.

  • What is your disposition?
  • Don’t trade insult for insult.

God has a plan for you. That is where your focus should be.

Our witness depends on how we live with ourselves.

  • Turn from evil
  • Do good
  • Seek peace
  • Pursue peace

How many people give up the good life God has already given them for some dream life in the future?

We all have times when things don’t go well. Perhaps it is a difficult relationship or loneliness. It may be unkind words or lies that sting, leaving us feeling hurt. Reputations may suffer. Setbacks may keep coming at you. Whatever is going on in your life, you are not alone and as a Christian you are called to a higher standard. Your witness is determined by how you conduct yourself in both the best and worst of circumstances.

So, how is your conduct today?

Listen to Pastor Michael Cook’s complete sermon here.






By: Neema Anderson

The Monday of camp arrived and I was really excited.

I wasn’t quite sure what the theme Diverge meant but I was interested to find out.

Camp is always a good place for our whole youth group to grow closer and have a lot of fun. The van ride to camp was a crazy mash-up of funny hats and fake facial expressions as riders in each van made their very own live music videos. All of us were excited to get into the cold lake water, play sand volleyball, and have some really good worship and preaching. I couldn’t wait to worship alongside everyone with the band Gozur leading us.

The great thing about our youth group is that we like to include everyone. It was so much fun to play volleyball with 10+ people per team! Honestly, it was kind of silly but we didn’t want anyone to be excluded. Even when we were out on the lake everyone did the different activities together. It’s really cool to see everyone getting along.

One of the most meaningful moments was the last day during worship. Being by the lake and having fewer distractions made it easier for me to worship freely. In those moments looking out on the lake I was able to let go of the distractions, fears, and other hindrances and fully worship God. It was freeing.

The camp theme was Diverge so for every sermon there was a different definition for diverge. For the Apostle Paul diverge meant to become or be different in character and that’s exactly what Paul did.

For me one of the most impactful moments at camp was when Bruce Gale preached on Saul/Paul. I liked the other sermons but Saul/Paul stands out in my mind. I knew the story; Saul, a Christian killer, blinded by God then became (in my opinion) one of the most influential Christians in the Bible. In my mind that was the full extent of the story. But in that sermon Bruce talked about how God’s choice in me isn’t dependent on my perfection and that God’s love is bigger than my mistakes. These are things that I already knew in my head, just like I knew the story of Paul, but when I heard them side by side my perspective changed. This time Paul’s story reached my heart and everything I thought I knew I really understood in that moment.

Now here we are weeks after camp and what I learned from Paul diverging from his old self is still rippling through my mind and my heart.  God has a plan for my life that supersedes my own human wisdom so it’s about time that I start remembering that.