Month: April 2015

Giving Stuff Away – 4 Reflections Concerning Generosity

By Karen Polich

If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life. – Billy Graham

We can do three things with our money. We can spend it, save it or give it away. Pastor Michael Cook continued his Stuff sermon series with a look at what it means to be generous.

Often we want to give. We really do. Our hearts feel the tug to be generous and help others. We’re ready until we encounter the struggle of giving versus ensuring having enough left for what we need.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Pastor Michael Cook shared four reflections concerning generosity.

1. Planting and harvesting. God moves in tangible and intangible ways. The Bible clearly teaches that those who organize their lives around generosity receive God’s blessing.

2. Decision and follow through. Intention is not decision. We can plan how we are going to give all we want but that does not make us generous. Acting on our decision is how we follow through with a real commitment to generosity. It is not how or what we give, it is that we give. Find a systematic approach that serves you well and implement it.

3. Attitude. God loves a cheerful giver. Why? Have we considered that God is a cheerful giver? His extravagance and generosity are beyond measure. Generosity brings more than we can imagine. Living generously pushes out the ungodliness in our lives.

4. Cycle of care. This goes back to wanting to give, but looking at our needs and not seeing enough. God is able. God will always take care of our needs. Do you believe God sees, loves generosity and will provide? YES! The question we must answer is, will we put our trust in Him? We give, God provides.

There is a certain beauty and value that comes with living a generous life.

Is your life being transformed through a heart of generosity?

Challenge: Commit to a yes or no. Be very careful about the lethal word LATER. There is never an easy, convenient time to give so waiting isn’t the answer. If you want to live a life of generosity, you must decide and act.

Project for the week:

1. Give away 7 items each day for the next 7 days. (If that seems too aggressive for you, give away 1 item each day for the next 7 days.)

2. Find one valuable item you own but don’t use. Give it to someone who needs it.

Visit for more information regarding the Hope Effort. Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here.

A Living Hope

By Gerry Wakeland

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1: 3 NIV

Our God is a God of hope. Not just any hope but a living hope, a hope that is alive within us.

This hope comes as the result of Christ’s death and resurrection. Along with this hope is the promise of “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for us.” (1Peter 1:4)

HOPE! It seems like such a simple word, but in fact, it has a significant impact in our lives. Think about it. We all have hopes. Right now, as you read this you are hoping for something. What it is?

Hope is a desire with the expectation of fulfillment.  In other words, it is trust. You might even say it is faith. For Christians, it is the belief that God has a plan for our lives and that plan is far better than our own plan. That plan includes His provision for our needs and fulfillment of our desires.

Our church fellowship has hopes too. Recently we launched the Hope Effort with the goal of raising the monies to expand our current facility. This expansion would add new classrooms for our children’s ministry and allow us to relocate our administrative offices to the church campus. With this expansion we hope to reach more lives for the Kingdom of God.

As Pastor Cook led the church leadership in a discernment process preparing for this financial campaign, he was very intentional about how we would view this project. He pointed out the many trials and storms our church family had weathered since relocating to the west side. Debt, fires, and contamination are but a few of those. Sadly, there came a time when many of us were losing hope.

In 1 Peter 1: 6-7, the Apostle Peter reminds us, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold – which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

As we the family of Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church look to the future, we do so with renewed hope. We trust that God will continue to do a great work not only in our church and through our church, but in and through each of us as individuals.

As you pray about how you and your family will be involved in the Hope Effort, think about how God may be stirring the hope that is living within you. Is He reminding you that you have an inheritance stored up in heaven? Perhaps He wants you to know that even through the trials that hope is alive.

“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with the inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your soul.” 1 Peter 1: 8-9 NIV

My Identity – My Stuff

By Karen Polich

The older I get, the more I come to believe that nothing I buy can take away my loneliness, fill my emptiness or heal my brokenness. – Fred Rogers

Our identity is something big. We do not get our identity in a position, a house, a car or anything else this world has to offer. We bring our identity to that job or home or whatever it is we may be chasing. Continuing his Stuff sermon series, Pastor Michael Cook took us into the importance of our identity.

Identity in our adoption. Your most defining moment was not in the one that dumped you but in the Father that rescued you! Ephesians 1:5

God chose you. You were selected by Him and nothing can change that. Nothing about your identity has been formed by something done to you, it is wrapped up in what Someone did for you.

Identity of our redemption. Redemption is being bought out of one position for another. Ephesians 1:7

Jesus did not pay for you in coinage, but with His very blood. Jesus really loves you, really.

Identity in our seal. Identity in Christ is reaching a deep understanding that we are marked by something far greater than a physical mark. We have the mark of the Holy Spirit on us. Ephesians 1:13

Salvation has nothing to do with you. You can’t strive for it or earn it. It is about what He did. Self-rescue is impossible. Your God will be your God when you succeed and when you fail. If you fall back into an old sin, God is still your God.

How many cheap substitutes will we seek? There are empty spaces of the heart and soul that God desires to fill with Himself. What if we cram so much “stuff” into those places that God Cannot occupy them?

Project of the Week: Spend one week fasting from any personal item you want to buy for yourself. (Work this out for you. It doesn’t mean miss meals or skip paying bills. It is about postponing something you think you need, focusing instead on our Creator.)

For more about the Hope Effort, visit Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here.

Building on Faith

By Karl Lee

Do you remember the story Jesus told in Luke 14:28-30? There was to be a tower built, but they failed to have enough money or materials to complete it. In any undertaking, no matter what it may be, there is the idea of first counting the cost for that particular undertaking.

Our church is now undertaking a building expansion.  As you may have noticed, nothing comes cheap. We will need everyone’s help financially if we are to accomplish this project.

So, what does that mean? That means you and I must give, with a willing heart, sacrificially, above our regular gifts and tithes.

Okay, I follow your thought. But where am I going to come up with a few extra bucks? I suppose there are a few things my wife and I could cut back on for a season. I’m considering cutting back on dining out at least one meal each month. That’s twenty-five to thirty dollars in savings! Even as I write this, I can think of a couple of other things I can do without.

Let’s go back to the Scriptures. Do you remember the story of the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness? Read Exodus 25. Moses was told by the Lord to ask the children of Israel for an offering to build the Tabernacle. The people were to give with a willing heart. Wow! Sacrificial giving and with a willing heart. Now take a look ahead to Exodus 36:6. Here we see Moses having to tell the children of Israel to stop giving for they had given in abundance.

What an awesome thing it would be if Pastor Cook had to ask us to stop giving because we had exceeded far beyond the need. Yes, in time there will be other projects as the needs of the church expand, but, dear saints, let us concentrate on this particular undertaking for there will be no building if the funds are not available.

May I encourage you to go to the Lord in prayer and seek His guidance on what your participation should be in giving financially to this undertaking! Think about what you might sacrifice (give up) to make this vision a reality.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV

God’s Outlook on “Stuff”

By Karen Polich

I don’t care too much for money. Money can’t buy me love. – The Beatles

Isn’t it amazing how much stuff we have? We all have stuff we need, stuff we want, stuff we would like to get rid of. Beginning a new sermon series, Stuff, Pastor Michael Cook took us into three moments where Jesus addressed our “stuff”.

There is a difference in my worth and my net worth. Read Luke 12:13-21.

A shout from the crowd puts a demand on Jesus. As Jesus responds, He speaks to every one of us.

Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Luke 12:15

What I have, or don’t, is not who I am.

Possessions can never deliver true happiness! Read Matthew 13:1-22.

When you live in “good soil”, you will be rooted and fruitful. Our hearts tend to seek stuff, but we are called to something very different.

The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the Word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. Matthew 13:22

Could it be that we have an empty space in our hearts to fill that can’t be filled by the stuff?

Followers often become financially independent but spiritually bankrupt. Read Revelation 3:17-20.

We often push to create stability in our lives, protecting our future.

You say,’ I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Revelation 3:17

The “STUFF” series is about what we have, what we need, what we want and who we are.

This is the beginning of a potential life changer. Jesus stands at the door of your heart, knocking…

  1. What is it in my life that is defining who I am?
  2. What is it in my life that is preventing me from growing?

Project for the week: Count your shoes (every pair) and your shirts. Share what you find by leaving a reply on our blog.

Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here. For more information about the Hope Effort, go to

It’s All About The Little People

By Michelle McFadden

My husband, Curtis, and I began serving in the preschool hall four years ago. We often wondered how we were going to survive.  It was the two of us outnumbered by 20 children, ages two and three. Getting crafts done, going potty, eating snack and being able to shower them with love quickly became a creative juggling act.

Time and time again God kept showing us it was about these little people, loving them and showing them the Savior.

Our passion is to serve these beautiful little faces, to see them light up when we talk about Jesus, even when we have to make do with the limited space we have. Believe me, with 20 playful two and three year olds, the room quickly overflows with love and little ones.

With three young children of our own, we see the preschool area as parents, too. Our children love being there even if space is tight. They don’t really see all the issues but are simply happy learning and feeling the love from their teachers and friends. As parents, we want them to have the space they need to learn and grow surrounded by their friends.

Our church family has set a goal to reach young families and God has blessed our efforts. Along with that goal comes the responsibility of providing adequate space for our preschool and children’s ministry. Almost from the time we moved into our current building we had pretty much filled the early childhood areas.

Recently Pastor Cook shared God’s plan for our church to grow. He talked about the people being what matters most. He talked about buildings and such as being only tools we use to serve the people. One of those tools is an addition to our current building.

Adding the much needed new space would allow us to reach even more families. Our existing programs could expand and we could offer more new programs. When families with young children visit our church they will see first-hand our church’s commitment to the spiritual development of young lives.

On Sunday mornings our children run into church like it’s another home. We want that for other children, too. But more importantly we want children to know Jesus. That can only happen when they have a place where they feel comfortable and loved, a place where Jesus is taught and modeled, a special place, all about the little people.

“But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these’”. Luke 18:16 NIV

Fond Memories of an Old Story

By Karen Polich

Easter Sunday celebrates the story that knits Christians together. Everything rests on this story. God’s promise was fulfilled. His Son gave the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. God’s Word gives us the perspective of the disciple John near the end of his life. (John 19:20-20:8)

How often do we look at this story with the idea that Jesus was a victim? The death of Jesus was a victorious death that fulfilled prophecy. Jesus a victim? No, not for a moment. Jesus is the eternal victor. God’s mighty hand was displayed through the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb. Our hope lies within the story of all stories. On Sunday, Pastor Michael Cook shared three features of how God demonstrated His power. (Listen here.)

Jesus controlled His death. The unknown of death can hold us in bondage, but death did not hold anything over Jesus. Satan tried to kill Jesus time and again, even at birth. Jesus taught repeatedly about His control over life and death. Death had no power over Him. (John 10:17-18)

Jesus orchestrated His burial. Jesus should have been sent to the open grave of thieves. Instead He was buried in a new tomb nearby. Joseph and Nicodemus were secret followers of Jesus. After His death, Joseph asked for His body so he and Nicodemus could prepare it for burial. With the Passover Sabbath approaching, it was critical that no bodies were left hanging so they were given permission easily. (John 19:38-41)

Jesus fulfilled His resurrection. The disciples looked upon Him and believed. (John 20:1-8) You and I are called to make a choice just like the disciples did. We have the full account in God’s Word.

Do you see the VICTORY in Jesus’ death?

Persistent Prayer and Faithfulness in Giving

By LuAnn Edwards

Many years ago, my husband Ken partnered with two other men in a farming business. We knew Clyde was a trustworthy man; we attended the same church. Sam, a businessman in town, put up most of the money with the agreement that if anything went wrong, all three men would be equally, financially responsible. I wasn’t sure Sam could be trusted since I didn’t think he was a Christian.

Within a couple of years, the business went broke, and we had to close. The main reason was Clyde. He misrepresented himself and the product he endorsed. He skipped town and to my knowledge never paid any of his debt. So much for thinking he could be trusted.

How would we ever be able to pay Sam back? We were a young family with two small children. We calculated it would take us 20 years. Bankruptcy was an option, but after praying about it we felt God wanted us to make every effort to pay our debt.

The Lord soon provided Ken with a new job, and we began paying Sam back $2,000 per year. After two years, I began praying specifically. “Lord, You know our faithfulness and how we have continued to pay Sam back. You also know we have not cut back on our giving to the church or Your work. Lord, at the end of five years, I pray that Sam will forgive us our remaining debt.” I also prayed for the Lord to give Ken boldness to ask Sam for the balance to be written off after we paid a total of $10,000.

That didn’t happen. After nearly three more years of persistently praying and asking the Lord for this specific need, we received a letter in the mail stating, “Thank you for not forgetting about our business venture that did not do very well or your obligation to the note. I do not feel you owe me any more money. Please consider your portion of the note ‘Paid in Full.’” At this time, we had paid $9,500 of our debt. The Lord answered my prayer $500 early, and Ken didn’t even have to talk to Sam. God moved upon his heart without our interference. Sam, the man I wasn’t sure could be trusted, was actually a generous and forgiving man.

Through this experience, I learned a few things. First, I learned that persistent prayer works, and God doesn’t always answer the way we pray. He often answers better.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).

I also learned not to judge people based on whether or not I believe them to be a Christian. I misjudged both men when I shouldn’t have judged either one. “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1).

The last thing I learned is that God is pleased with our faithfulness. We continued to pay our debt to Sam, while continuing to give our tithe and offerings to our church and the Lord’s work. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Cor. 9:6).

I believe God granted us a wonderful blessing through persistent prayer and our faithfulness in giving.

Are you persistently praying and being faithful in your giving to the Lord’s work?

True – Faithful to the End

By Karen Polich

God’s call on your life should be what you desire most. Faithfulness is essential.  – Pastor Michael Cook

In the final installment of his True sermon series, Pastor Michael Cook took us to the end of Samuel’s life and the lessons we can learn about being faithful and true. (1 Samuel 16) Listen to the entire True series here. There are four patterns in Samuel’s life that we can apply to our own.

Be faithful in the shadows. Samuel was. When he was young, he lived in the shadows of the priest, growing in stature and favor with God. He was doing the right things when no one was looking. Being faithful in the shadows means when the spotlight comes, you will be prepared. If you are young, don’t wait to be generous with your time and money. You are becoming who you will be. Don’t wait to do the right things. God’s call to be faithful is now. It is not intended for something to be done someday.

Embrace repetition in life. Samuel was consistent. He followed through with his responsibilities. People could count on him for fair judgement and dependability. If you are always looking for the next new thing, you will miss the rewards that come from being faithful to the things you do again and again.

Watch your step. Samuel was a man of integrity. He knew the value of doing the right thing for the right reason. It takes years to build your credibility and reputation. It requires discipline. A worthy lifetime can be torn to shreds in an instant. Choose wisely what steps you take.

Live to be missed. The Bible tells us when Samuel died, Israel cried. The people mourned the loss of God’s faithful servant. Are you living to be missed? People are drawn to someone who is faithful. Who are you impacting today and will your impact build a lasting legacy?

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

True faithfulness is something desperately needed in our lives. We can place faithfulness above ability, wealth, notoriety, and anything else that diminishes God’s call to be true. The choice is ours.