Month: February 2015

DNOW 2015 – Living in a Dying World

By Karen Polich

What happens when you bring together an amazing group of volunteers who pour themselves into fifty youth during an intense weekend of D-Now? A phenomenal spiritual experience occurs.

With eighty volunteers, eight homes, spot on worship led by Adam and Julie West and a solid message delivered by Jason Boggs, the youth that converged on Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church were challenged to analyze where they are in reference to where God wants them to be. We are living in a dying world where God has called us to be the salt and light. Struggles come but no one is walking alone. Burdens can be shared. Difficulties can be overcome together in the family of Christ followers.

Life changing decisions were made. Many teens made decisions to truly walk in God’s plan. Being the light in this world requires intention. Nine teens gave their lives to Christ after hearing the message of salvation.

We are all living in a dying world. After an amazing DNow event, the challenge is there for each of us to examine how we are choosing to live in this world. What do others see when they look at you and me?


True – Sights and Sounds from Hard Places

By Karen Polich

Do you stand out in your environment?

In his True sermon series, Pastor Michael Cook continued to examine the story of Samuel. Read 1 Samuel 2-3. Listen to the podcast here.

Hannah honored her promise to God and took little Samuel to live at the temple. He was under the care of the high priest, Eli. At a glance, we might assume that this was a “pure” environment surrounding Samuel, but it was far from what it should have been. Eli’s two sons had no regard for the Lord. In the midst of their immoral choices, Samuel stood out. He was different. Imagine a young boy running around in the temple “ministering before the Lord” while those around him were wicked. Eli verbally rebuked his sons, but the scoundrels were the ruin of Eli’s family. Their vile behavior against the Lord continued.

God called out to Samuel and told him of His plans to destroy Eli’s sons and remove Eli as the high priest. God chose to speak to Samuel, the little one, over Eli, the educated priest.

How can we live lives that are true and faithful? We can learn a lot from Samuel. His response to life around him was remarkably different than the behavior of Eli’s sons. They heard the same things and saw the same temple, yet Samuel honored God while Eli’s sons were detestable.

There are times when being true is quiet and subtle.

To be faithful and true in a difficult environment is challenging. We all have struggles along the way, but our faithfulness matters. Samuel answered the call from God. How about you? Is your heart open to hearing God when He calls?

The world needs people marked by faithfulness to God. How we deal with people around us reflects the love we have for Him. Are you standing out?






Worthless? No, I Belong to Christ!

By LuAnn Edwards

How could one person make me feel so miserable and worthless? “Lord, please give me strength and wisdom in how to deal with this difficult relationship.”

This is how I prayed several years ago, a few months into my new job. During the interview process, the Lord gave me a Scripture. It reads, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6). What I thought was a verse to help me get through the interview process, became a verse of strength and comfort during the job itself. God never left me in my time of struggle; He went before me each day preparing my way.

My new job found me working with someone who seemed to find fault with everything. Several years before, I wrote my own personal mission statement which I especially applied to my work ethic. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3: 23-24). I have always felt that my work should honor Christ, and I should do my best for Him. I earned respect and appreciation in other jobs through the years, but not in this one.

I prayed every day for the person making me feel worthless, hoping things would smooth over between us. I also prayed for the Lord to show me what I could do to make the situation better. I did not feel I could confront this person or go to their supervisor without causing problems for others. I spent time in God’s Word seeking comfort and peace. When I began to think that maybe I really was worthless, I reminded myself how Christ sees me. My Lord calls me His friend (John 15:15), I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Phil. 4:13), and I am God’s temple; the Holy Spirit lives in me (1 Cor. 3:16). Worthless? No way! I belong to Christ Jesus. He lives in me.

After a few more months, I received counsel from one of our pastors to look for a new job. Upon turning in my resignation, I experienced amazing freedom! I had been in bondage, suffering both physically and mentally. The pressure was now gone; the anxiety lifted.

God is faithful. He brought me through this difficult situation, and within a month He provided me with a new job. He has given me opportunities to share His love with others at work, offering hope and encouragement.

When we find ourselves in a difficult relationship, remember God is with us; He will not leave us. When someone makes us feel miserable and worthless, we need to know who we are in Christ. We can go to His Word to find comfort, strength and peace.

True – The Collapse

By Karen Polich

Being true matters. It matters regardless of circumstances. When life isn’t easy being faithful and being who you need to be is important. You may be in the midst of a challenging time right now. If not, can you think of a season that was heavy with difficulty? Can you feel the depth of despair that comes with the collapse? Pastor Michael Cook began a new sermon series, True, showing us that there is hope even in difficulty. (Listen here.)

In 1 Samuel 1, we learn the story of Hannah. She was a woman with a deep ache in her heart. Her husband’s second wife, Penninah, had children, but Hannah had none. If that weren’t difficult enough, Penninah provoked Hannah year after year until Hannah was in a place of collapse.

Despite the intensity of her pain, Hannah moved toward God. She had complete trust in Him and poured out her heart in fervent prayer. Hannah begged for a son. She pleaded for a son that she vowed to return to the Lord. God heard her and gave her a son that she named Samuel. True to her word, she gave him back to the Lord when he was young and he lived in the House of the Lord.

What can we learn from Hannah? We can learn to trust God, even in bleak circumstances. Hannah remained true and faithful, even when her pain seemed unbearable.

God often delivers a brilliant outcome from something that is unspeakably wrong. – Pastor Michael Cook

We can learn to trust God with the big things and the little things. Every challenge we face is an opportunity to lean in and grow closer to God. We will all face challenges. It is inevitable. How we choose to live within those challenges defines who we are.

What situation in your life gives you an opportunity to trust God more deeply?

What’s My Motive?

By Karl Lee

There are lots of thoughts concerning love. I often hear folks saying they love this or that. I hear I love my dog and in same breath I love my wife, husband, daughter, etc.

Love seems to be a word used rather loosely without much or any thought given to it.

Do I love my car? Why? What do I expect from my car in return for my love? Is it just the nature of man to expect something back for everything we do? When I do something good for someone, am I expecting them to do something good for me? What are my expectations when I tell my beloved I love her? Yes, you are right! I expect her to say she loves me. However, when I tell our cat I love him there is no expectation of any return affection.

Which brings me to this question? Can I love God just because He is God without expecting anything in return for my love? I know, you’re thinking, “I love God because He first loved me.” Bear with me here, let’s turn it around. Read 1 John 4:10, “This is love: not that we loved God, but He loved us and sent His Son …” He loves us! What are His expectations? We just read we didn’t love Him but He loved us so much He sent His beloved Son to us “as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Can I love God the same way? Can I love with a love so consuming that there is no thought of expecting God to repay me for my devotion? Is it possible for me to love God just because He is God?

Just a thought.

Days of Suffering – Aftermath of Suffering

By Karen Polich

A faith that is untested is really no faith at all. – Pastor Michael Cook

Concluding his Days of Suffering sermon series with Job 42, Pastor Michael Cook examined Job in the aftermath of all he had been through. Looking at Job’s life, we really have no excuse but to praise God in every circumstance.

In his repentance, Job recognizes God’s sovereignty. He knows that God is bigger than any struggle. When God sets His will on something, Satan cannot thwart it. Nothing can stop God’s purpose. Job sees God’s incredible power and the intimacy of his walk with God is deepened.

God was finished hearing from Job’s “friends”. He let them know He would listen to Job’s prayers on their behalf. These men had not spoken truth about God when they came to Job, yet Job shows forgiveness without bitterness. Job prayed FOR them, not for any punishment against them. He shows us what it looks like to extend the forgiveness God has given us to others. Without this kind of forgiveness in our own hearts, we miss the fullness of God’s forgiveness in our lives.

Job’s repentance and forgiveness brought about the reward of restoration. God restored everything to Job. His ability to see God in the suffering deepened his walk with Him.

Often we are more impressed with and focused on ourselves. An encounter with God gives us the opportunity to know Him with greater depth. It may mean being brought to our knees to bring our focus back to Him.

Big faith says, “God, I am going to trust you no matter what.” (See Psalm 34)

Can you praise God today in the midst of your circumstances?

Listen to the entire sermon series via podcast here.

Beyond the Walls

By AFBC Staff

Volunteering is not only good for others, it’s good for you. Giving back helps mood, mobility and relieves stress. Research shows that people who volunteer report lower mortality rates, lower rates of depression, fewer physical limitations and lower levels of stress than those who don’t volunteer, says Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. The health benefits are huge.

More importantly giving back makes an impact in the kingdom of God.

Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church takes giving back seriously. Pastor Michael M. Cook often reminds the congregation of what we refer to as The Big Three: worship, participation in small groups and serving.

Serving is not just important within the walls of the church but beyond the walls as well. The displays on the AFBC concourse Sunday January 25th were evidence of the church’s commitment to that philosophy.

Sharing information about volunteer opportunities were representatives from: Albuquerque BioPark, AmberCare, Animal Humane, Casa Esperanza, Gideons, Habitat for Humanity, Hope Christian School, The Rock at NoonDay, Respite Care, Special Spaces, Wings Ministry, Presbyterian Hospital and CareNet.

“I was intentional about providing a diverse range of organizations and opportunities,” said AFBC staff member Susan Rasinski. Susan was responsible for coordinating the Beyond the Walls event. “One of our goals was to expose church members to service possibilities in the community. The event was designed to be a win/win for everyone. I believe we accomplished our goal.”

Gary and Rhonda Warner recently joined the fellowship at AFBC. Participating in the Discover First class for potential new members, they heard first hand from Pastor Kevin Linthicum about our emphasis on serving. Relatively new to Albuquerque, they are looking for ways to get involved in both the church and the community. They found several opportunities that interested them. Talking to the organization’s representatives helped them to understand the needs of the organization. Gary signed up to get more information from several of the exhibitors.

What about you? What interests you?

There are more volunteer opportunities in our world than ever before. Here are a few positions that our members are involved in.

Joyce Brantley, Margie Gill, Billie Jordan, Lucille Stevens and Bill Robinson are readers at Petroglyph Elementary. One afternoon a week they go to the school and listen to children in Ms. Nancy’s kindergarten class read aloud.

Several of our members volunteer for the Rock at NoonDay. One day a month AFBC members come to the office and prepare the NoonDay mailing. Jim and Pat French, Jerry Bell, Steve Guerrero and Tom and Ginny Caizza are just a few that serve in that way.

Carlene Caruthers is a volunteer for Rust Medical Center. Those of you who know Ms. Carlene know what a bright cheerful presence she has. She welcomes people to the hospital with her dazzling smile.

Maybe you’re not sure how to find a volunteer position that fits you. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Find an activity that you’re passionate about. If you like kids volunteer to help children. Love books? The public library needs you. Enjoy building? Habitat for Humanity may be the perfect place.
  • Look for activities that fit your schedule. Do you have an extra day off each week? A morning or afternoon free. Some volunteer activities can be done from your very own home.
  • Make it a family or friend event. Ask a friend or family members to volunteer with you. Serving together makes it more fun.
  • Realize it’s never too late. We have more senior volunteers than ever before. Don’t let your age be a deterrent.
  • You’re never too young. There are lots of volunteer opportunities for teens and some of them can lead to paid jobs or even exciting careers.

Why not make this year the year that you reach beyond the walls and invest in the kingdom of God by giving of yourself and your time to make a difference in our community?


Prepare Yourself

By Karen Polich

Digging into God’s Word, Pastor Trey Sullins spoke about the importance of preparing yourself.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

The world we live in is sick and dying. Though we may want to protect and shield ourselves or our children from the world, we are called to engage within this world just as Jesus did. We are called to be the salt and light.

Pastor Trey asked, “Do you know how the enemy works?” So often we see others as the enemy, but the true enemy we battle is Satan himself. He creeps in little by little. He hits us where we struggle, but in small ways until we discover that we are consumed. Satan attacks us in the mind. How and what we think affects what we do. We find ourselves in a questionable place and begin to try to reason away the situation, slowly sinking into the pit that has been set before us. We don’t want to tell anyone we have failed or feel defeated. Our pride keeps us focused on ourselves. It is a battle and often the enemy looks like the face we see in the mirror.

We must take captive every thought. There is no partial obedience to Christ, you either are obedient or you are not.

What can we do? How do we prepare ourselves to defeat the enemy? We need His Word. We need daily time with our God and knowledge of the Gospel. The Truth will shine a light on deceptive things as they come.

Ephesians 6:10-18 gives us clear instructions. We are to put on the armor of God. Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 again. As followers of Christ, we have Divine weapons. Do not go to battle with weapons of this world. At our disposal are powerful weapons that can conquer anything. Those weapons will demolish any false reasoning and will destroy strongholds.

If you find that you look like the world, fitting in and using worldly methods, stop and take a good look. A Christ follower, should be different. We all struggle, but we can be prepared! We must go into the dark places to be the salt and light God has designed each of us to be. Victory is ours. John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

God has no equal and Satan has already been defeated. Accepting Christ is the beginning of the journey. Walking in the path God has laid before us and preparing ourselves is how we should live out our lives. Know the enemy so that we can flee from him.

It is our choice. We must prepare and make a commitment. We must be aware. There is always a comeback from the pit. We have God with us to do battle in this world.

Where are you today? Are you prepared?