Month: March 2015

More than Just Survival

By Kristi Sullins

Survive- To remain; to continue to exist.

Does this sound like where you are? Our world is made up of people who are continuing to exist. If we compare the goals and dreams of young children to those of adults who have had to face hardships, we see possibilities changed to practicalities. Our goals have changed to reflect our desire for survival.

We all have seasons of survival. The problem is when we take on survival mode as our way of life. It becomes so encompassing that we can no longer recognize that we are living just to survive. Do you find yourself in a time when you are just trying to make it through the day?

Do you find yourself saying?
If I can only get this bill paid…..
If I could only get this project done……
If I could only get through this week……..
If I could only get married…………
If I could only get this child to obey……..
If I could only get this promotion……….
If only this diagnosis is good………….
If I could only make this person happy………..

If only I could……then things will be good, but is that truth? Do you remember what it is like to do more than to survive, but thrive? The world we live in tells us that survival is normal, and exhaustion is what is best. The worst thing to do is to expect more.

The problem with that thought is that God promised us the “more”. Life more abundantly (John 10:10), joy more abundantly (Psalm 16:11), peace more abundantly (Romans 15:13) and strength more abundantly (Psalm 138:3) are the promises God gives us.

What you will not find in the Bible is the call to simply survive this life. One of the best examples of desiring more from this life is found in 1 Chronicles 4. You have to read verse after verse of genealogy in Chronicles, but tucked away in chapter 4 verse 10 you meet a man named Jabez who was bold enough to want more. He wanted what God would give him, and he asked for it. He asked God to bless him, but he didn’t leave it there. He asked specifically for an enlarging of his territories, and the presence of the mighty hand of God. He sought the strength God could give to keep him from evil, and from causing pain to others. He wanted more of God’s thriving. The best part is that God granted what he requested! He was granted the “more”.

If we are to take God’s word as truth then we must be ready to claim James 4 when he tells us that we have not because we do not ask, or we ask with the wrong motive. As children of God we get the choice to do more than exist in this world. We are called to display the life that is more abundant.

We are called to expect His “more”.

Surviving vs thriving has been at the forefront of my mind as we pray over God’s desire to use our church to minister to people. The past couple of years have felt more like a survival season than a thriving season. Now God seems to be filling our church with the boldness to ask for His “more”, and the anticipation of seeing His faithfulness displayed. He has also been preparing leaders for the changes that come with thriving.

Thriving takes more. Thriving takes preparation and sacrifice. Thriving takes faith and discipline. Thriving takes prayer and boldness. Thriving takes risks and vision. Thriving takes hope. Ask Jabez. Anyone can survive. It doesn’t take faith or dependence. It doesn’t take boldness or sacrifice. Just ask your unsaved friend or coworkers. No one needs God to survive this world, but only those with God can truly know the meaning of thriving despite this world.

We can choose to be comfortable surviving this world, or we can step out in boldness to ask God for His “more”. What will it be?

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. – God
Jeremiah 29:11- The Message

True – Rejected and Replaced

By Karen Polich

Being true matters.

Continuing his True sermon series, Pastor Michael Cook examined  what it means to be faithful and the bleak reality of seeking a false sense of security outside of God’s best. Listen to the podcast here.(1 Samuel 7: 15-17, 1 Samuel 8)

We find Samuel as an adult, leading God’s people when their hearts were scattered. Samuel was a man of integrity. He was true and faithful to the call of God. His years were spent visiting the same places over and over, delivering trustworthy judgement, counsel and communication to God’s people. His routine and behavior were consistent. Again and again he brought his best.

While Samuel was a reliable man of God, his sons were not. As Samuel grew older, the tribal leaders gathered and asked him to appoint a king. They wanted to raise an army and create more security as a nation. Samuel prayed and God was clear that they weren’t firing Samuel, but replacing God as their provider. They had forgotten that God had been faithful to His promises to make them into a nation. They ignored the calling that they were supposed to look different than those in surrounding areas who had kings.

We too look for security, and we often look to things other than God. There is nothing wrong with achievements or having strong finances or whatever it may be. The problem arises when we look to these things to find the security we already have in God.

God is interested in being God, while we tend to be interested in replacing Him. – Pastor Michael Cook

We can learn from Samuel. His focus was on God and his routine never wavered. He understood living out the fruit of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23)

When we have a solid routine in our lives, there is much to gain about what it means to be faithful. We should be bringing our very best in everything we do. A champion is not made without the discipline of a good training program. It takes accountability created through consistency. A champion gives their best and follows a routine. Over time that consistency bears fruit. It is the same in our lives.

What does your life’s routine look like? Does your security rest in His faithfulness?

A Little Child Shall Lead Them

By Michelle McFadden

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.  Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do. Matthew 11:25-26 NIV

On Sunday Pastor Michael Cook shared with the congregation the vision for the expansion of our current church building. As Pastor Cook stated, “Now is the time to move past just making do and use the right tools from our tool box to grow God’s kingdom.”

God has put Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church in a place where as a church we can choose to grow and meet needs. This means expanding our available tools. On Sunday our family saw the plans displayed for the building expansion and we began to get really excited about the idea of seeing this project through to completion.

Our children got excited, too. My husband, Curtis, and I have three young children. Our children run into church like it’s another home. We truly have a sense of family here and crave for others in our community to be a part of this family with us. But for this to happen we need tools, tools that come in the form of playgrounds, classrooms and space for our church family to grow.

We can have all the excitement in the world but now we need to take action. That action begins with prayer. After hearing the plans for the new project, our son Louis said to us, “Mom, Dad, every time we pass the church I want to pray for the new part to be built and I know God will provide it”. Louis is only eight. But he got it.

There is a definite faith and hope in his heart that made us say, “Yes! These little guys are our future and we want our kids to join us in praying for God’s presence and plan!”  They get it and want more people to join them in God’s purpose for our church. Curtis and I will be joining Louis as he prays in faith for the new part of our church. We encourage you to join with Louis and our family as we pray together. Let us come in humility, like a child and seek God first in prayer.

He called a little child to Him, and placed the child among them.  And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18: 2-4

People Matter

By AFBC

People matter. Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church focuses on people through six core values that guide us. These core values are the driving force behind our Kingdom work, holding our church family to a high biblical standard. They support our focus to reach people, plant seeds for spiritual growth, and provide the ability to experience true worship. They describe the culture we desire to create at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church.

OUR CORE VALUES:

Provide Impacting Worship (Romans 12:1-2; John 4:20-24)

Develop Greater Depth and Obedience in God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:22)

Understand that All People Matter to God (Romans 1:16-18)

Nurture Spiritual Development Through Serving Others   (1 Peter 4:10-11; Ephesians 4:11-16)

Demonstrate Authentic Biblical Community (Acts 4:32-37; John 13:34-35)

Strive for Excellence in All We Do (Colossians 3:17, 23; Philippians 4:8)

We are a church rich in history. Those who have come before us built a legacy that is today’s foundation. There have been seasons of joy and seasons of struggle. God’s love and mercy have brought us to where we are today. As we enter a new season in our journey, we can impact His Kingdom through the HOPE effort.

What is the HOPE effort?

HOPE reminds us that God has brought us through days of great challenge…years of indebtedness, contamination, fires and delays. HOPE brings encouragement to each household in our church family. The potential to add additional space for our children and consolidate our campuses will provide additional funds for the ministry budget. These tangibles represent much more than a project; these are all signs of a broader HOPE, of restoration and positive things to come.  Why? Because people matter.

The impact of the HOPE effort will allow potential growth for Sunday morning programs, Vacation Bible School and new week-day ministry opportunities. This space will provide and exceptional environment for children and affirm our commitment to nurture the spiritual development of young lives.

Our core values hold us accountable to Him as we minister to people.

Prayer is vital to the success of the HOPE effort. Pastor Michael Cook challenged us to pray diligently for God’s direction. We are challenged to pray earnestly for God’s plan, God’s purpose, God’s presence and God’s provision.

Please join us to pray for our church as we start this new journey.

Even Now

By LuAnn Edwards

In 1998 I was spending time fasting and praying for the Lord’s will to guide us in a decision my husband and I were making about adopting. I felt drawn to orphans in Cambodia and desired the Lord’s direction. We already had two older children, so starting over was a little intimidating. Isaiah 58 became a prominent passage in my prayer time.

These scriptures in Isaiah spoke to me about reaching out to children in need in a personal way. I was willing to make a life-long commitment to love and care for one of them. Verses 6 and 7 from Isaiah 58 talk about setting the oppressed free, sharing food with the hungry, and providing shelter and clothing for the poor. I believe the next few verses were promises to me that God would provide. God would be with me; when I called upon Him, He would answer.

The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

Verse 11 gave me the promise that even though I was growing older, He would satisfy me and keep me strong. My life would be like a fountain never running dry. I have drawn strength and comfort from these verses over the years. Even now.

Our daughter was nine months old when we brought her home 15½ years ago. I am not sure she will ever understand the love God has placed in my heart for her. When I look at her, I do not see a Cambodian child; I see my daughter. We may not look alike, but she is a part of me – a gift from God birthed in my heart.

Even now, when we are the worst parents on the planet, unreasonable and ignorant, even now, I adore her. There is nothing she can do to stop my love.

God’s love is like this for us. Romans 8:39 says that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Even when we get upset and fuss and complain, He still loves us with an everlasting love. A tender, compassionate love. A sweet, gentle love.

His love goes far beyond how I love. He loved me so much that He sent His son Jesus Christ to die for me. There is no greater love than this. Because I have accepted Jesus into my heart and life, I believe His promises in His Word are true and for me. I gain strength and comfort through the scriptures. Words written to me.

Allow the Lord’s love to comfort you today. May you find strength in His Holy Word; words written to you, too.

In Remembrance

By LuAnn Edwards

Graduation, my wedding day, the birth and adoption of my children—these represent memorable days in my life, days that I look back upon with fondness. While these were all special, the most memorable was the day I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart and life. Love flowed through me in a whole new way. Joy flooded my soul. Why?

On that day, Christ made me a new creature through His forgiveness. I received a special gift—Jesus and His salvation.

This past Sunday, Pastor Cook encouraged us to remember the Lord as we prepared our hearts for Holy Communion. He challenged us to look backward to what Christ did for us on the cross, to look upward at what He is currently doing in our lives, and to look forward to what He will do in the future.

“And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given to you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’” (Luke 22:19-20). We bring honor to our Lord by remembering as we partake of this sacred sacrament.

As I think back to the cross, I remember His body that was broken for me. He took my punishment. When I think of His blood being poured out, I am overcome with emotion; He died for me. Not only did He die, but He arose and conquered death! Through His death and resurrection, I received forgiveness and eternal life with Him.

My ongoing, personal relationship with the Lord inspires me to greet each new day with anticipation. Through His death and resurrection, I am set free from the bondage of sin. I remember where He brought me from and the gift of grace He continues to offer me. I experience freedom in Christ and celebrate that I am in Him and He is in me.

My future is bright for the Son will continue to shine! I am looking forward to an amazing time in my heavenly home. I will see family and friends who are already there and participate in a celebration of praise and worship in honor of my Lord.

Holy Communion is a time of remembrance— a time to look backward, remembering all Christ has done, a time to look upward at all He is doing, and a time to look forward at all He continues to do in those of us who have accepted His forgiveness and confessed Him as our Lord and Savior.

Do Real Men Bake Cakes?

A great time was had by all! This would certainly be said of AFBC’s annual Men’s Cake Bake on Sunday March 1st. The best part, by far, was the moment we surpassed the $8,000 goal that was needed for the 2015 camp programs and cheers erupted throughout the worship center.

Over 200 people enjoyed hamburgers and hot dogs followed by ample slices of cake baked by the men and youth of our church. Then auctioneer, Bill Larson,  took the stage urging the audience to be generous in their bidding, and they were.

This year we had 54 entries in four divisions, including Adult, Father/Child and Youth. New this year was the Tasting category. Jeff Tode took the top award in this category for his Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake.

There were a number of amazing entries which made the judging exceptionally tough. We are grateful to judges Geneva Nixon, Amy Powell and Kendall Harris, owner of Albuquerque’s Cake Fetish.

Grand Champion in the Adult Division went to JD Williams for his “Pasta Cake.” JD’s cake brought in over $1,600 in the live auction. Baking champion cakes must run in the Williams family because JD’s son Trenton won Grand Champion in the Youth Division with a bright pink confetti monster cake purchased by Janet Saiers. Winners of the Father/Child Division were the George Burnell family whose beautiful cross cake sold multiple times.

As always our seniors rose to the occasion with many of the senior men submitting entries. Ed Perdue and Dale Danielson won the award for the Best Non-Cake with their caterpillar made from cereal, chocolate, marshmallows and candies. Frank Gilmer had the only gluten-free entry- a fruitcake complete with a whole apple, banana, orange and nuts – still in their shells. Very creative, Frank!

Not to be outdone, our pastors did their share. Pastor Cook’s Italian Cream Cake was sold and then divided and sold again. Pastor Kevin entered a four layer Butter Pecan Cake that brought in more than peanuts. Pastor Trey’s Caramel Macchiato Cheesecake, which he insists should have won the prize for the best tasting cake, was popular with the Starbucks crowd.

The event drew to a close as we saw winners, arms laden with cake and faces smiling with the knowledge that they had just helped a whole bunch of happy campers. Our question was answered; yes, real men bake cakes especially when they have a really good reason!

True Decisions

By Karen Polich

Does God have your total devotion?

In his True sermon series, Pastor Michael Cook asked the question, “What is competing with God for your devotion?” (Listen here.) Read 1 Samuel 4, 1 Samuel 7.

The Bible is clear about God’s command: “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) In biblical days, idol worship was easier to spot than it is today. During those times idol worship often revolved around statues and false gods. Today the lines are blurred.

We may not bow down to a golden calf, but God doesn’t always come first in our lives. We allow other things to consume us. Our idols come in many forms. Our focus on success, control, a relationship, past pain or our bank account is a problem when it rivals the attention we give God. Often when one idol fails us, we quickly swap it out for another one. Idols build in our hearts and we decide to follow paths that turn us away from Him.

Discerning the need to add and subtract what rules our lives is a monumental decision. Clarity from God can give us the ability to identify what needs to be removed from our lives.

Remember Samuel? Samuel kept his focus on God. Eli’s sons were focused elsewhere. God prepared Samuel along the way while those around him served themselves. What needs to go or be adjusted so that God comes first? Does God need to be added as the center of our lives?

God’s preparation in our lives is frequently subtle and small. We can look back and see where He was moving us towards Him. Sometimes we don’t see it until we are in a big moment and it suddenly seems clear.

Could today be the beginning of a season of change, marked by a decision to give God our full attention?