Month: August 2015

Because He Loves Us

By Robin Thomas

Recently I’ve been thinking about God and His love for us. Once more I wondered why it is that I have been a believer for most of my life and yet now, in my 40s, I still struggle with that concept.

From a young age, I’ve placed my faith and trust in Christ’s infinite love and ultimate death for all mankind. That’s easy for me to believe, a sort of generalized for God so loved the world … all of us, every single man, woman and child concept.

I love that. It’s what I’ve based my faith on. But lately I’ve found myself zeroing in on other believers that I know who demonstrate a genuine, passionate love for Jesus that puts my own faith to shame. They communicate with Him on a one-to-one, personal level. They call Him their best friend. Their relationship with Him seems to be as natural and effortless as breathing. It makes me realize there’s still a lot missing in my own relationship with Him.

I wonder sometimes if I really LOVE God, or if I just respect Him.

When I think about God, I have trouble going from Him being the Almighty God, Creator of the Universe (respect) to Him being as close to me as my very breath (love). I have trouble going from He died for all (respect) to He died for me (love).

As I thought about this, I gave myself permission to momentarily put aside all the other people in the world and just soak in the knowledge that He died for ME. Just for me. He loved ME so much that He gave His life for ME. HIM for ME. Him, in all His glory, for just plain old me.

That was surprisingly, really hard for me, because when it comes right down to it, I know that I’m just NOTHING. Why on earth would He bother giving His life for me? What’s in it for Him? It’s one thing to lump myself in with the rest of mankind and then I can sort of make that compute because, well, He died so that He could spend eternity with all of us and that’s a different deal.

But just me? One person? How is that even worth it? I’m hardly the life of the party. There’s nothing special or significant about me.

I realize the truth is that none of us is anything special, in and of ourselves. Not even the best Christians who ever walked the earth, the Billy Grahams and the Corrie Ten Booms. And yet, the Bible seems to indicate that He does love each one of us enough to give His life for us. I still had trouble with that. Perhaps I needed a picture to help me understand.

I thought of my cat Jasmine sitting on the counter doing nothing, looking all sweet and adorable. I tried to view her through the eyes of an impartial observer and I suppose I can see how, to somebody who doesn’t love her as I do, she is just a scrawny little cat, common and ordinary. Her crystal-blue eyes are one of her best features, but in my eyes, she’s absolutely beautiful, special and unique. I want to grab her and kiss her all over her fuzzy little face every time I see her. She’s my girl and I love her to pieces.

Then it hit me. My love is what makes her special. My love is the mystery ingredient that gives her significance. Without my love, she’s just an ordinary, scrawny little house cat. But viewed through my eyes of love, she becomes so much more.

By ourselves, minus God’s love we are nothing. NOTHING! But when we accept God’s love for us, we become something.

We have nothing to offer Him that could possibly justify His giving His life for us. God is already complete in His perfection, so we can lend nothing else to the mix. Why on earth would He die for us? Because He loves us.

Our World – Star Wars

By Karen Polich

Our Lord would much rather deliver those who cry out to Him than judge them. – Michael M. Cook

Pastor Michael Cook’s sermon series, Our World, continued with the story of God’s people and Deborah in Judges 4-5. Listen to the Our World sermon series here.

The Israelites never seem to learn. We find them back in the cycle crying out to God for deliverance. Once again, their sin has brought them into bondage.

God is always working for us. We find a woman, a warrior and a Wonder. Deborah, a prophetess was the moral compass of God’s people at this time. She sent for Barak to lead the army, but he would not go into battle without her. They faced a mighty opponent, Sisera who had nine hundred chariots.

God’s people could not win on their own, but had faith. Faith sees the way. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7

From the heavens the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera. Judges 5:20 God was with them. Even the stars were fighting for God’s people. They were victorious.

God is more than capable. He is at work in our lives even when we cannot see it. The one we fight against is sailing a doomed ship. Despite the crashing waves, seeming to ensure defeat, God’s tide is sure to win. In struggles, remember the worst cannot defeat you with God on your side. Have faith. He is working to deliver you.

Wrong cannot win. Faithfulness will not fail.  – Michael M. Cook

Never Too Old

By Gerry Wakeland
This week the seniors of Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church have enjoyed Senior Vacation Bible School. And all week as I have talked with colleagues around the country they have asked the same question…”What is Senior Vacation Bible School? Aren’t seniors too old for Vacation Bible School?

When Pastor Michael Cook accepted the call to Albuquerque’s First Baptist church in 2006 he had a number of ideas that would revitalize our fellowship. They weren’t all about buildings and locations. Many of them were about people.

One of those ideas revealed his passion for seniors and their health and welfare. This idea has turned into one of the most popular programs for the seniors of our church. We call it Senior Vacation Bible School and yes, it is patterned after the same named program for our children.

Four days every August seniors gather at AFBC to relive a most precious time in their youth, VBS. The week is full of songs and games, laughter and tears, creativity and crafts and grounded in great Bible teaching,

The morning starts off with breakfast. Anything from biscuits and sausage gravy to homemade granola and fresh fruit might appear on the breakfast buffet.

Worship Pastor Matt Snook opens our worship time with music. This year Dr. John Hatch, former Senior Pastor at FBC Lake Jackson, TX, taught lessons on the importance of the family in today’s society. His lovely wife, Alice enhanced the morning study with song.

Our seniors love games. The most popular game of the week was the AFBC rendition of Family Feud in which the Kolle Family faced off against the French Family. Amidst a lot of laughter and coaching from the audience, the Kolle Family won. Another popular game shared secrets from our church staff. You’ll never guess who broke his finger washing his hand. And just for the record, Pastor Trey is not the only daredevil on our staff.

The men spent the week building Crayola trucks which will be given to children at the Baptist Children’s Home. Some of the women helped the men by painting the trucks. Other women created some helpful gifts such as magnets, notepads and bookmarks that will be shared with the teachers at Petroglyph Elementary and carried with the Senior Choir when they sing at nursing homes.

And of course, we ended every morning with lunch prepared by the church staff. Pastor Kevin and Pastor Michael grilled. Pastor Trey smoked pot roast and Ms. Kristi made homemade chicken and dumplings. And Susan Rasinski made her very first peach cobbler just for our seniors, and it was yummy!

Friday ended with a special treat as Matt introduced our very own Senior Gospel Quartet comprised of Jim French, Carolyn Manuelito, Gail Kirby and Matt. They shared some old favorites as everyone clapped and sang along.

It was a great week. Everyone left edified by the Word of God, encouraged by the fellowship with other believers and excitedly looking forward to next year!

It just goes to prove that you’re never too old for Vacation Bible School.

Our World: Just the Ordinary

By Karen Polich

The culture of any nation is the sum of its spiritual beliefs, social structure, ethical standards and moral behavior. – Michael M. Cook

The Our World sermon series continued with how God uses the ordinary for His glory. (Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook via podcast here.)

God’s Word repeatedly shows the cycle of His people. There is peace, where God’s people are in harmony with God. Then comes the essence of sin, distracting and blinding. This is followed by the pain and consequence of sin, driving God’s people to cry out to Him. God’s deliverance follows. This sequence often happens in our own lives.

In Judges 2 -3, we see God’s people in the midst of this cycle. They seek God, fall into sin, hate the consequences of enslavement and cry out to God for help. Three judges were called by God during this time to teach God’s people. These were ordinary men God used for His extraordinary work. (Listen here.)

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. 2 Corinthians 10:4

Pastor Cook focused on three things God taught through these judges.
Experiencing God’s Presence. There is never a static moment in our life or culture. Each of us is either a change maker or is being changed by the world around us. God has given absolutes and standards for Christ followers.

Executing God’s Plan. God uses the imperfect for His plans. Whatever we have been given can be used for His glory. Our willingness to surrender to His calling is what matters, not any illusion of needed perfection.

Expecting God’s Power. God is in control and is never-changing. It matters not what is going on in the world, God remains the same.

What can we learn from these judges? Just like others God called in biblical times, there are key components of true Christian service. There is always a moment of surrender, giving everything we are to God. There is an element of availability where we bring what we have for Him to use. Then a moment comes when things are happening that can only be of the Lord.

The journey can be a long process but there is hope for all of us. Today, would you do what God has called you to do? He is searching us out, we need only to be open to His call.

When God Has Other Plans

By LuAnn Edwards

Isn’t it amazing how God can use us even when things don’t go the way we planned? If we are willing to follow Him, He can use us in any situation. He sometimes surprises us with what He can accomplish through us.

In June, my husband and I along with my sister and her husband took a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We loved spending time together and realized how much we are alike. Since we live 1500 miles apart and do not get to see each other often, our time together was very enjoyable.

I originally planned this trip to be a time for my husband and me to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. When I told my sister that Ken and I were taking a trip to Michigan, she asked if she and her husband could join us. I told her yes, but in my selfishness, I also told her, “It will be great to get away just the four of us.” That was my way of saying, “Please, no grandkids on this trip.” My sister’s grandkids are precious and spend a lot of time with her. However, I wanted this to be a “grown-up” trip only; after all, this was our anniversary celebration, right? I had it all planned!

The Lord had something else in mind. In the end we had my sister’s oldest grandson, along with other family members totaling 15 people! It turned out to be a wonderful blessing!

God’s Word says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). God did work; He worked in the heart of a nine-year-old boy, my sister’s grandson, Tey.

Tey was a pleasure to have along. He hiked with us, didn’t complain about the food or mosquitoes, and seemed to like hanging out with his Great Aunt and Uncle. We were all so proud of him when he was sworn in as a Junior Park Ranger and received his badge.

Tey was so open to our praying before each meal. He wasn’t accustomed to doing this at home. He thought it was so special that when he received his meal before the rest of us, he said he couldn’t eat until we all prayed. He even volunteered to pray a couple of times.

Something simple, this prayer of thanksgiving before a meal, spoke to his tender heart. Upon returning home, he taught his brother and sister to pray before their meals too. My husband sent Tey a recording of Bible stories that he is listening to and sharing with family members as well.

I am thankful Tey was able to join us on our trip even though it meant a change in my selfish plans. Only God knows what He has prepared for this young man. I am expecting great things and feel so blessed to have shared in just a small part of it.

God uses our testimony to influence those around us. Our consistent life with Christ will shape our eternal legacy. This legacy is an investment into the lives of the next generation for the cause of Christ.



Our World: Cultural Wars

By Karen Polich

The culture of any nation is the sum of its spiritual beliefs, social structure, ethical standards and moral behavior. – Michael M. Cook

There is a tendency to try to avoid the consequences of our actions. We will fight against the very thing we have created and squirm to get away from the inevitable. How many times are we willing to accept what comes from what we have done? The good stuff is easy, but what about the things we know we shouldn’t have done or neglected to do when we should?

Time and again, the Bible is clear in describing the law of consequences. We reap what we sow.  (Galatians 6:7-8)

Pastor Michael Cook’s sermon series, Our World begins with a look at cultural wars and how wrong actions lead to unwanted consequences. (Judges 1) Listen to the podcast here.

Judges 1 looks at the simple progression of God’s people.

They were fighting the Canaanites. Focused on doing God’s will, prayer and mutual cooperation were in place. God’s Word was the authority in their lives. They set out to defeat the Canaanites. Then they began fearing the Canaanites. Drifting began as they focused on what they could not do instead of what God could do. Intimidation set in followed by the infiltration of cultural things opposed to God. God’s people began following the Canaanites. Infiltration became more than specks of change. God’s people turned from His authority to the Canaanite way of life.

Surrendering to Gods authority can be hard, but if we aren’t seeking His authority in our lives where does that leave us? We will follow someone or something.

We can choose to guard our hearts and follow God’s authority, fighting for what we know is right. If we don’t, we will end up following what we know is wrong. We can wage this fight through love, allowing the Holy Spirit to do His work.

We reap what we sow. What seeds are being planted today?

We Are…People Who Serve

By Karen Polich

As Christ-Followers we are all called to serve. Service to others is a core value for Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church. Impact happens when people reach out and help others. Pastor Michael M. Cook finished his sermon series We Are… with why serving others matters.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

Your life is not about you. There’s more to life than our own story. God wants us to be part of His story. Who can be helped and where can an impact be made? Opportunities are everywhere. Putting others first broadens our perspective and changes us as well as those we serve.

Your life needs to have a mission bigger than you. (Mark 9:33-37) Giving ourselves away, we get to see how God is using us to influence others. Those moments can have great impact.

Something inside each of us will come alive and be awakened when serving others. Serving others helps us grow. Our hearts become fuller as we meet needs around us. Relationships blossom and lives are changed. The intensity of our troubles fades into the shadows when we serve.

Serving others brings a crispness to our lives like nothing else. – Michael M. Cook

Is there anything in your life you know God has called you to do and you are struggling? Charge ahead, serving others. Move beyond the “what ifs” and any discomfort. Let God transform you to become who He designed you to be.

Jesus, Ancient of Days is still serving… Where is God calling you?

Listen to Michael M. Cook via podcast here. Learn more about the core values of AFBC here.

We Are… Depth and Obedience in God’s Word

By Karen Polich

Every one of us has an authority that speaks to our hearts. Who you value as an authority is essential. It is who you allow to shape and mold your life.

Pastor Michael Cook’s sermon series, We Are… continues to examine the core values of Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church. In our fellowship at AFBC, God’s Word is the authority and our foundation.

In our own lives, we need to look at who or what is going to be the authority. What is influencing you? Is it culture, friends, feelings, tradition, your up-bringing, reason and rationale? Where is your focus? If we are seeking to please anyone, it should be God. Our obedience to His Word establishes the foundation of our lives. Obedience is key. (Psalm 119)

Focused on two power-packed truths, Pastor Michael Cook asked, “Who or what will we choose to be the authority in our lives?”

Hearing the Word of God is not enough. The Word should transform us.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2

Knowing the Word of God is not enough. At the heart of obedience is worship. At the heart of disobedience is rebellion. Partial obedience is still disobedience. We have a choice to make.

Could it be that God has something bigger in this world for us than ourselves?

Focused on doing our best to fulfill what we are called to do is at the core of who we are. For all, struggles will come but choosing God as the authority will create a heart of depth and obedience.

Is God the foundation of your life today?

Listen to the podcast here. Visit our website,, for more information about the core values and who we are.