Month: November 2015

The Day After

By Gerry Wakeland

The leftovers are wrapped up; the good china is washed and put away. The Pilgrim decorations are back in their box to be stored until next year and we are on to the next holiday. We have Christmas lights to be strung on the house, shopping to be done and cookies to bake.

STOP! Rewind!

Yesterday I woke up and thought about the men, women and children who made the daring voyage across the ocean to find a land where they could worship their God the way they chose. Many of them did not survive that trip. Their bones lay on the ocean floor.

Those that did land on the shores of the new world suffered terrible hardships that first year, starvation, disease, and Indian wars. They did so in the name of freedom. Trusting their God would save them. And He did. Those same men and women are our ancestors, our heroes. Where would we be today without them?

Yesterday I woke up counting the many, and I do mean many, blessings in my life. Why should today be any different?

Just because those Thanksgiving decorations sit in a box in the attic does not mean that our gratitude should reside in that box with them.

So take a minute and think about what you are grateful for today, Here’s just a short part of my list.

  • My Savior and the promise of eternity
  • Family and friends
  • Freedom to worship
  • Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church and all that it stands for
  • Our pastors and other church leaders who lead with integrity
  • Men and women like Robert Stockton, Wes Cox, Nathaniel Meisner, Esequiel Padilla and so many others who serve and protect our city
  • Men and women like Joseph Dorroh, Chad Morgan, Justin Leetham and others who serve our nation here at home and all over the world. And the veterans, many who sacrificed their lives, to guarantee our freedom and that of others.
  • Water that runs directly out of the faucet, already hot and clean and the fact that I did not have to walk for miles carrying it in buckets and I can use as much as I want. People in places like Malawi do not have that luxury.
  • Every morning I take a deep breath and am reminded of my mother who could not do that. Most of us take breathing for granted.

This is just the beginning; the list goes on and on, pages and pages. You can see that we really have a lot to be thankful for.

This year let’s try something different. Even as we transition from the reflections of a day focused on thankfulness inito the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations let’s take a moment each day to stop and say a prayer of thanksgiving. Let us always remember the sacrifices that were made so that we can be who we are and where we are today and let’s not forget the greatest sacrifice of all,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only son…” John 3:16

Compassionate Community – Time for Compassion

By Karen Polich

Who are you looking out for?

Pastor Michael Cook completed his sermon series, Compassionate Community, with five reminders. (Listen here.) Galatians 6:1-10

For most of us, we can’t easily take on much more. Margin? We just don’t have it in our busy lives. Compassion compels us to make room. When we lift the burdens of someone else’s life, we take that weight onto our shoulders. Are we willing to take on a little more and “carry each other’s burdens”?

Everybody should be looking out for somebody.

Five Compassion Reminders

  1. Centrality True compassion comes from a way of life. It is foundational to the Christian faith and can’t just happen on the fringe. Mark 10:45
  2. Priority Compassion can’t come from leftovers in life. We have to make it a priority as we meet the challenges of our day. We should set our standard of living after we set our standard of giving. 1 Timothy 6:18
  3. Family We give special people in our lives special priority. A compassionate community lets the world know how important it is to care for others, no matter who they are. Galatians 6:10
  4. Opportunity Our abilities intersect with the needs of others. We see it and step in to help. We should pray that God would make us specialists in identifying the burdens of others. Galatians 6:10
  5. Longevity We rarely reap the harvest in the season of sowing. We need to be in it for the long haul, adopting a lifestyle of compassion. Sometimes it can get hard, but consistency matters. What if the benefit comes more to us than the person we are helping? Galatians 6:9

Along the road of compassion will come heartache. Those we help may bring pain. It isn’t about us. It’s about extending ourselves for others. There will also be those who bring joy as we watch them heal. God calls us to a life of compassion.

It’s time for compassion! Who are you looking out for?

3 Simple Ways to Fill Your Heart with Gratitude

By Karen Polich

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Study after study shows the benefits of living a life full of gratitude. We know it is good for our health and well-being, but how can we fill our hearts with gratitude? Here are three simple ways to bring more gratitude into your life.

  1. Prime your day. Establish each day with thankfulness. In the morning, don’t bemoan what has to be done or how long your list is. What are you thankful for? Talk to God about it. Begin the day with prayer rich in gratitude. While you may wish you had MORE, (more sleep, more time, more friends, more clients, more money, more health, more MORE) stop and let God know what you are grateful for. You might need to hear it too.
  2. Reframe. Having a bad day or worse yet, stuck in a bad season? When you find yourself in the middle of bad circumstances, shift your focus. Don’t get trapped in everything that is wrong. This goes for the pit of comparison too. Comparing ourselves to others leads to dissatisfaction and chips away at our joy.
  3. Write it down. If journaling is your thing, then have at it and start a daily gratitude journal. Not into journaling? Start a gratitude list. At the end of each day, list three things you are grateful for. It doesn’t even need to be complete sentences. Just get what you are thankful for onto paper. Ending our thoughts (and our prayers) on a positive note for the day will grow gratitude. The list becomes a powerful tool to revisit in the future.

Gratitude gives us the opportunity to notice how life overflows with God’s goodness. Gratitude plants the seeds for contentment and joy. It can lighten our load and put spring into our steps.




Compassionate Community – The Compassion Formula

By Karen Polich

Want to live out true biblical compassion?

Listen here to Pastor Michael Cook’s sermon series Compassionate Community. Sunday he shared the compassion formula for becoming a true compassionate community. John 13:33-35 

Experiencing + Extending = Exhibiting

The formula seems simple, but is more than a linear equation. “Experiencing” is the key. Without truly experiencing God’s love and mercy, it becomes difficult to extend or exhibit compassion.

God’s love for us is not contingent upon our obedience to Him.

Pastor Michael Cook described four components of “experiencing”.

  1. God accepts us. For many believers, God’s love is a concept, not something they experience. God loves us in this very moment. He loved us six months ago, ten years ago, at birth and even before we were a thought to anyone on this earth. Romans 5:8, Romans 8:1
  2. God serves our needs. He takes care of our needs. Big, small, messy, simple needs are all covered by God. He cares for our spiritual and physical needs. Hebrews 7:26, Philippians 4:19
  3. God comforts our hearts. In those dark moments of heartbreak, God comforts us. Psalm 119:76
  4. God commits His presence. He will not leave us. God is there in all things. Romans 8:35-39

Once we have experienced God’s love and forgiveness, extending that to others happens naturally. Compassion will flow from our lives and be exhibited clearly for all to see. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Living out this formula is magnetic. True biblical compassion creates a life of impact.


No Bad Babies

By LuAnn Edwards

There is a story in the Bible about a compassionate mother who was willing to let her baby live with another woman, taking on her own personal heartache, to spare her child from a tragic outcome. She was willing to give him to another so he would have a chance at having a long and happy life (1 Kings 3:16-28). Allowing one’s child to be raised by another woman is not something new and reasons for doing so are often similar today.

In adoption, the birth mother desires for her baby to have a better life than she feels she can provide. She makes a courageous and unselfish decision when she allows someone else to become Mom to her child. We should be supportive as she anguishes over what she feels is best for her baby.

Often the child grows up feeling there must be something wrong with them. Why would their mother not want them? How could she just give them away? How bad a baby were they?

“The woman whose son was alive was filled with compassion for her son and said to the king, ‘Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!’” (1Kings 3:26a). As we look at the story of King Solomon’s wisdom in this situation, we do not see a bad baby, for how could a baby be bad? They may smell funny or may cry, but a baby is not bad, terrible or unlovable! This mother was filled with compassion for her child, and she did not want him to die; she wanted him to have a future—a good life.

I am thankful for the Cambodian mother who shared her daughter with me. She wanted her daughter to have a better life with plenty of food, good healthcare, and education. At the time of our daughter’s birth, her birth mother didn’t feel she could provide these things and unselfishly gave from her heart. I am the one blessed by her gift.

In Cambodia there is a mother who would love to wrap her arms around her daughter and hold her tightly. We share a common bond—two mothers deeply loving the same daughter.

November is National Adoption Month. Please be supportive of birth mothers who have sacrificed so much for the future of their child, of the adoptive moms who sometimes struggle to take her place, and to the children who often go through life, caught in the middle, not sure where they fit in. I am sure all involved would appreciate your prayers.


Compassionate Community – The Tabitha Touch

By Karen Polich

We often arrive at greatness in life through a long corridor of good, common and ordinary acts being done over and over again. – Michael M. Cook

Pastor Michael Cook continued his sermon series, Compassionate Community speaking to the legacy of Tabitha and her exceptional compassion. Listen here.

Who are you looking out for? Tabitha was looking out for the widows. Her focus was on the needs of those less fortunate. Read the scriptures here, Acts 9:36-42.

Tabitha                                                                You and me?
Focus: Others                                                                                                Focus: Self


Where are we on the spectrum? What is our focus?

Pastor Cook described three potential models for compassion.

  1. Somebody looks out for everybody. A group of any real size makes this difficult. Someone is bound to be left out of the “everybody”.
  2. Everybody looks out for everybody. While this sounds practical, it too has challenges of leaving some behind.
  3. Everybody looks out for somebody. This is the Tabitha Touch.

We can learn a lot from Tabitha. She was unexceptional in the fact that what she did to help the widows was not unique or rare. Sewing garments was a common thing, yet she lived an extraordinary life. Tabitha was consistent and humble.

True humility comes from having strength and power and using it for others.

Are we looking for something great to do in order to show compassion? These opportunities are rare. Most of us won’t be running into a burning building to save someone. While we wait, a parade of opportunities passes us by each day. In the small and ordinary, there are needs and brokenness.

The ability to show compassion and get involved in someone’s life over and over again goes beyond an act of helping and becomes a lifestyle. We can choose to be great.

“The signature of mediocrity is not the unwillingness to change. The true signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.” – John Collins, Great By Choice

Tabitha teaches us what it means to find ways to use what we have to help others. If we look around us, we will see the needs. There is opportunity in the everyday to come alongside someone and pour compassion into their life. Our willingness to bring compassion speaks to the state of our hearts and the life we choose to live.

We will all leave a legacy. Will it be one of compassion?

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is Here Again

By Kristi Sullins

Staring at a small chalkboard reminder of how many days are left until Christmas, I feel the tension build.  It is something I ignore most of the year, and no, it does not belong to me or it would have magically “disappeared” a long time ago.  As long as the number stays in the triple digits I am fine. As it gets closer to 40 than 50 I find myself wanting to throw it across the room.

The holiday season is here and the reality of what it brings is front and center.  I need to prepare for all the big events like musicals, meals, and gift giving while not forgetting the small things like costumes, cookies and class parties.  Somewhere in the middle of that is the ridiculous need for clean clothes and a house that exudes holiday cheer.

A recent Greenburg study of holiday stress states that at the holiday season “stress takes on a different character than any other time of the year as men and women alike make it their duty to provide their families with the best possible holiday”.  Do you imagine that stress character as a large, hairy beast?  I do.

As a small side note to the ladies, the average woman carries the bulk of the holiday stress as the battle for perfection in every detail of work and home keeps us from sharing our load.  We go without sleep as we stress about dollars, deadlines, and details.  I would love to take the very pious approach and say that it is time to slow down. And it is. As the mom of three with a full time job I just laughed as I wrote that.

The truth is that we have changed the reality of the holidays.  The impossible juggle of time and money replace the peace and joy that was meant to be.  Church attendance shrinks until you get to Christmas Eve where it soars again as everyone crams in a little time to celebrate “the Reason for the Season”.

Maybe it is time for us to be more intentional.

Let’s choose to rewrite the holiday season by looking at each detail and determining what is best. Can we sit to read a story with a dirty kitchen?  Will the world really end if our children help clean the house?  Detail by detail can we examine our plans with a heart open to what God would say is the best way to celebrate?

His desire is for us to be able to be thankful because He knows a heart choosing to be full of thanksgiving is a heart that can truly see all the ways they have been blessed.  His desire is for us to have eyes that are sensitive to those who are hurting because we are the hands and feet He most desires to use.

His yearning would be that in the midst of the chaos we would be overwhelmed again and again by the gift of Christ that He willingly gave for all of us.

He longs that we would use this holiday season as the perfect outreach tool to reach the lost because then we display an understanding for the hope Christ really gives.

Will you choose to journey through the next 8 weeks with a mind and heart set on being intentional in all of our choices so that we truly cry out “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)? 

Let’s do this together. We can take back the most wonderful time of the year and let God pour into our hearts.

Ladies, JOIN US for a relaxed night of fun. It can be the beginning of doing this year with more intention and less stress. Tis The Season is an event designed to help us slow down.

The Women of First ministry invites all ladies to usher in the holiday season with fun and festivity at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church. Tis The Season is a one-night celebration of the holidays. Join us for a delicious dinner, inspiring worship and creative activities. For questions please email November 13 at 6:15 p.m. Cost is $10. 



Compassionate Community – Compassion “In Tandem”

By Karen Polich

When transformational teaching and humble servanthood collide, fusing together in tandem, the magnetic overflow is compassion.

Pastor Michael Cook continued his Compassionate Community sermon series, teaching from Acts with a look into the early church. Listen to the podcast here. We find believers about fifty days post Jesus’ death.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. Acts 2:46

Why was it important that they heard God’s teachings daily? We have the gift of digging into our bibles, but they learned straight from the disciples who had lived with Jesus for the previous 3 years. New Testament text was yet to be written. The Jesus way was being taught daily by the disciples.

Along with daily teaching, they were living lives of humble servanthood. (Read “Why” Compassion) Transitional teaching and humble servanthood result in compassion. It is the fruit of a life focused on Jesus’ commands.

Solid biblical teaching and people helping people…

Things were going well and the church was growing. Then complaining and divisiveness started. (Why can’t we all just get along?)

Acts 6:1-7 tells us, In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Pastor Michael Cook broke it down into four parts that demonstrate transitional teaching and humble servanthood in tandem.

  1. The Crisis. Everything was going well and as it does, the whitewater moments hit.
  2. The Proposal. The Disciples knew they couldn’t do it all. They remained focused on teaching and chose seven men to oversee the needs related to the conflict. Neither teaching nor servanthood should be neglected. It takes many (THE BODY…)
  3. The Response. Everyone was pleased with the proposal. (FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT). The chosen men were full of the Spirit and full of wisdom.
  4. The Result. The Word continued to spread and the number of disciples grew. Compassion that stems from transitional teaching and humble servanthood moves lives in a mighty way.

Soaked in the Word over and over, God whispers into our hearts and lives are changed. More than a “church” experience, it becomes a way of living, a result of transformation teaching. Add to this a servant’s heart and compassion flows.

Who are you looking out for?