Month: May 2016

Freedom is Not Free

By Gerry Wakeland

On Monday May 30th the citizens of the United States will celebrate Memorial Day. As the daughter of military parents and the widow of a US Army veteran, Memorial Day holds a significant place in my heart and mind. Not only is it a time to pay my respects to those who have sacrificed their lives to insure my freedom, but it is a time to remember that the very freedoms we so often take for granted come with a great cost. The reality is freedom is not free.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, came into existence shortly after the Civil War, a war that took the lives of 214, 938 men, where brother fought against brother, father against son, neighbor against neighbor. In 1868, as the nation began to heal from the pain and bitterness of this tragic war they adopted the practice of placing flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers. In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill recognizing Memorial Day as an official U.S. holiday.

Since 1775 approximately 2, 852, 901 men and women have given their lives to preserve freedom. They made the ultimate sacrifice. Their families made sacrifices as well.

The Ed Kolle family has always been proud supporters of the military. When Linda was born her father was stationed in New Guinea. She was three years old before her father saw her for the first time. Shortly after she met her soon to be husband, Ed, he was shipped out on the USS Ticonderoga to Southeast Asia. He was gone for six months while Linda remained behind worrying, writing letters, and praying.

Ed served in the U.S. Navy from 1960 until 1970. It was a very tense time as our country fought a difficult war in Viet Nam. “For me my time in the Navy was a rewarding time. Being in the military in my generation was much different than today’s generation.”

Memorial Day brings back a lot of memories. Chante Coleman is the third generation in her family to serve in the armed forces.

“I remember my father talking about my grandfather fighting in the Korean War and then seeing my own father a Marine/Solider, deploy to Africa. Looking back, I recall how hard it was for me to say good-bye to my family as I left for Turkey in my own Air Force uniform. It’s important to remember not just on a single designated day, but every day, how thankful I am for the many good-byes our men/women in uniform have made to their families for me to be able to be with my family.”

Recently Tech Sgt. Joseph Dorroh returned from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan. I venture to say that Sgt. Dorroh saw things that most of us will never see. Every day he put his life on the line, prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to preserve freedom. Here’s what he has to say about what Memorial Day means to him:

“Memorial Day is a time to look back and remember those that came before me and willingly laid down their lives in defense of the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. It’s also a reminder of how important it is to take advantage of and appreciate the freedoms and rights we have in this country. Doing so makes the sacrifice of the fallen have purpose.”

Freedom does not only come through military action. In fact, for Christians the greatest freedom we have is freedom in our Lord Jesus Christ, who made the greatest sacrifice ever, giving His life for a world of sinners so that we might live a life of abundance (John 10:10).

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  John 15:13

On Monday May 30th let’s join together as a grateful nation remembering those who gave their lives protecting our freedom and that of thousands of others around the globe.  At 3:00 p.m. (local time) let’s pause for a moment of silence to pay our respects and then whisper a prayer of thanksgiving as you remember, freedom is not free.


Juggling and Managing

By Karen Polich

Life can be overwhelming. I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. Psalm 38:8

“God will not give you more than you can handle.” WRONG! This is one of the dumb things Christians say. The danger of this cliché is it points people inward instead of God-ward. Continuing the Dumb Things Christians Say sermon series, Pastor Michael M. Cook walked us through dealing with overwhelming times in life. (Listen here.) 2 Corinthians 12:9, Psalm 121:1-2

“God WILL put more on our plate than we can ever handle.” – Michael M. Cook

When things are going well, we are often satisfied with a small dabbling of Christ in our lives. In struggle, we may decide we want more of Him or question God when we should be calling out to Him. Where do you find yourself when life is on overload?

At times, we create situations that overwhelm us (example, Jonah), but at other times, the circumstances may be completely out of our control (example, Job).

What should we do to get through the overwhelming times in life?

  1. Never let the presence of a problem cause you to doubt the presence of God!
  2. Never let the power your problems cause you to doubt the power of God! 

As Pastor Michael M. Cook put it, “God will give you more than you can handle, but not more than He can handle.”

If you don’t find yourself in a place where you have learned to completely trust in God and you seek counsel or solace elsewhere, there is work to do. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Instead of trying to “be strong” we can discover God’s greatest power in our weakness. When there is no way out, He wants us to rely on Him alone. Are you giving Him all of your struggles?

“It’s not what happens to me that is so important, it’s what happens in me that makes all the difference.” – Michael M. Cook




Pray For Our 2016 Malawi Mission Team

Trip Dates:
May 26- June 8

While not all of us can travel to Africa, we can participate in this mission opportunity by praying for our missionaries. As a congregation we want to be intentional about how we pray. Please pray specifically for:

  • Safe travel
  • Safety in the mission field
  • Strength, stamina, and good health
  • God’s protection and provision
  • Planting and dedication of new churches
  • Open doors to share the Gospel
  • Training and new ministry opportunities
  • Lives to be changed
  • Families of our missionaries

We invite you to join with us as we pray for this team and how God will use them to change the world!


By Karen Polich

“I’m a Christian, so I shouldn’t judge.”

If we aren’t to judge, how can we make wise decisions or hold anyone accountable?

Don’t judge? Not so fast. It is not that simple. Jesus tells us to be careful. We need guidance and discernment that come only from Him.

Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series Dumb Things Christians Say examines what Jesus says about this. Listen to the podcast here. Matthew 7: 1-6, 1 Corinthians 5:11-12

Three reasons judging other people is dangerous.
1. We often don’t know the full story.
2. We invite God’s judgement on ourselves.
3. We have a bad case of “plank-itis”. Matthew 7:3

According to scripture, what are we to judge?
1. Judge yourself first.
2. Make wise judgements about fellow believers
3. Make sound judgements concerning moral and cultural issues.

“One of the most courageous things you will ever do is to judge/confront another believer!” – Michael M. Cook

God’s way is the way of grace. We need to seek God’s wisdom when it comes to holding others accountable. We also must remain aware of our own “sight problems” when it comes to our issues. Whatever situation we find ourselves in, we need to judge ourselves first. We should have solid people in our lives who will tell us the truth and will welcome the truth from us.

When it comes to our judgement of others, it must be led by the Holy Spirit in love, with prayer and God’s discernment and in His timing. It is never a comfortable thing to, however, when it is God inspired, it can have Kingdom impact.
“The goal of spiritual growth isn’t perfection, it’s becoming increasingly aware of weakness and then making constant corrections and adjustments.” – Henry Cloud


Forgiveness Does Not Mean Forgetting

By Karla Mcghan-Barthel

Sunday we started a new sermon series called Dumb Things Christians Say. I thought it was an interesting topic and I felt compelled to write about it because the message was so profound it hit my very soul.
We hear people say, “You forgive and forget,” and God knows I am guilty of saying those words too. But that is not something we do. Let me explain, when someone hurts you, whether physically or emotionally, you always remember. Just like you remember the fall you had that skinned your face and knees (yes, that was me) It doesn’t hurt anymore and it’s healed but I still remember it.
I used to think, you don’t forgive until you forget. I was reminded it’s not true. You CAN forgive without forgetting. However, by forgiving you are making a choice of not ever bringing that transgression up again with the other individual or other individuals. You have made that choice.
I once heard “forgiveness is easy, until you have to do it yourself’ and boy isn’t that the truth? Yet, the power of forgiveness is immense. Really, forgiveness is not about the other person. Even when you think it is or the other person needs to apologize, it is still not about them. When you forgive, you are letting go of the power that transgression has on you, regardless of the other person.
From a theological standpoint, God all knowing, omnipresent, all powerful doesn’t “forget”. How scary that would be if He forgot the covenant he made with Noah and wiped us out with rain again right? He remembers all of our transgressions, yet…wait for it…HE CHOOSES NOT TO BRING IT TO OUR ATTENTION OVER AND OVER AGAIN. As forgiven, saved, and believers He has already forgiven our sins; those we have made, are making, and are about to make. On that faithful day we meet Him again, He will not be like,”Hey that gum you stole, that was very bad and I want you to feel guilty for it forever and ever”.
“If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive.” – Mother Teresa

Forgive and Forget

By Karen Polich

“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until there is someone in your life to forgive;” – C.S. Lewis

Life is full of hurts. Some we cause, some we are the victims of. We spend a lot of time saying “I’m sorry”, or wishing someone would say it to ease the pain they have caused.

Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Dumb Things Christians Say, takes an honest look at why the concept “Forgive and Forget” is ridiculous and why forgiveness matters. Listen to the podcast here. (Matthew 18: 21-35)

Three truths about forgiveness:

  1. God specializes in unfair trades. 2 Corinthians 5:21, Psalm 103:10
  2. Forgiven people forgive people. Matthew 18:33, Colossians 3:13
  3. Forgiving does NOT mean forgetting.

Our God forgets nothing. He chooses to leave past sins buried.

It is hard to deal with pain, bitterness, abandonment, betrayal and every other kind of hurt. Beyond dealing with the wounds, we are called to forgive. Easy right? NO! Forgiveness can be a real challenge          .

“Our relational success is dependent on our ability to give and receive forgiveness.” – Michael M. Cook

Forgiveness is a process. It takes time to unfold and requires us to seek God. True forgiveness doesn’t come from us alone. We need God to help us and heal our hearts.

Forgiving does not mean we are accepting what was done as being okay. We can forgive and not put up with bad behaviors. We can forgive and maintain protective boundaries. Forgiveness will not include forgetting, but it does come with freedom.

Are we forgivers? Is there anyone you haven’t released from hurting you?

Unforgiveness is like a debilitating disease. It’s a prison of pain and bitterness that could be unlocked if I would walk the path leading to forgiveness. The person who hurt me carries none of it. I wear it like shackles, bound and destroying my best self. There is no freedom.

“If we really want to love, we must learn to forgive.” – Mother Teresa

God can do anything. He is bigger than any hurt. It may take time, but hearts heal. It starts with a willingness to forgive. Let God, who so freely forgives us, help us forgive.

Forget about it and move on? No. Forgive and move forward.

A Shepherd’s Pursuit

By Ty Haguewood

“So He spoke this parable to them, saying: ‘What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’” Luke 15:3-6

In Luke 15, Jesus is questioned by the Pharisees for eating with the tax collectors and sinners. Basically, they are pointing fingers at Jesus, calling Him out for hanging with sinners. Jesus, like He frequently does, responds by telling a story.

He begins to tell about this shepherd who notices that one of his hundred sheep is missing. The shepherd notices the sheep is gone and immediately leaves all for the sake of finding it. So he leaves, finds the sheep, throws it on his shoulders, and carries the sheep back to where it belongs, home. When the shepherd gets back home with the sheep, he gathers all his friends and neighbors and they party… he found his sheep.

Let’s be honest, what’s the big deal? This is kind of a weird story all for the sake of one sheep.

What if I told you this shepherd is God and we are the sheep? The reality is by nature we are all like this sheep; lost, broken, and hopelessly wandering around without purpose. We have no sense of belonging and are completely unaware of how far we are from where we should be.

Here is the great part!

The story didn’t end with a disappointed Shepherd, the story ended with a triumphant Savior. God so loved the world that He sent His Son…. WHAT?!? We were completely lost but God made a way. While you and I were broken and hopeless, God sent Jesus!

Jesus came and lived a perfect life. He was tempted, yet remained faithful. He was rejected and mocked, yet persevered. He was spit on, rejected, and denied, yet He found joy in what lay ahead. A life of obedience and faithfulness would ultimately lead to the death of Jesus. At Calvary, Jesus took on the sins of the world. Here the wrath of God was satisfied on Him.

Without the pursuit of God through Christ Jesus, we were destined for destruction.

But praise be to God; He saved us!! He pursued us, captured us, and brought us into the sphere of His love.

We hopeless sheep found hope in the loving arms of our Great Shepherd. We have hope in Jesus.

Our Faithful God

By Robert Thomas

In a few months, I’ll be moving out of my parent’s house to Texas. I’ve lived at home for 24 years. My parents supported me throughout that time. Not only will I be moving out, but I’ll be moving to a place where I’ll know hardly anyone.

Now for the first time in my life, I’ll be on my own.

When I started at Central New Mexico Community College, I was nervous. I was going from eight plus years of homeschooling to a public school experience. After a while, my nerves were calmed by the fact that I had been prepared for this next step, and I was going to be ok. However, the same thing happened when I transferred to the University of New Mexico. But once again, given some time, I was able to adjust and succeed in my studies.

The same nerves have struck me in many situations in my life. When I started my first job, when I moved to a new job, when I travelled overseas for the first time, when I preached my first sermon. People call me high-strung. I would normally disagree, but looking back, I can see why they say that. My nerves get the best of me more often than I choose to admit. With this move to Texas looming ahead, I’ve been thinking about my nerves a lot lately.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about Abraham.  Read Genesis 12: 1- 9 NIV

I cannot imagine what this guy went through when he first encountered God. I wonder what it was like. Was it a voice booming from heaven? “ABRAM, GO FORTH FROM YOUR COUNTRY.” Or maybe God came to him in a dream, speaking plainly. We read in the Bible about a still, small voice speaking to Elijah. Maybe it was similar to that. At any rate, Abram heard the message of God, and obeyed, leaving behind everything he knew in order to follow a God he’d never met, to a place he’d never been, in promise of a miracle. What a journey of faith this man experienced.

Abraham, who was originally called Abram, is remembered for his faith in God, but we cannot overemphasize the role of the man in this story. God was with him every step of the way, protecting Abraham and his wife when they were in trouble, and bolstering Abraham’s faith when he struggled. In the Bible, we not only see the faithfulness of Abraham as he followed God’s commands, we see the constant presence of God in his life. Surely, without God’s help, this journey would have been even more difficult than it already was. These people needed God every step of their walk, and God was there to meet them.

I think about the new experiences I’ve encountered in my personal life, and I know there are hundreds more new things God has in store for my future. Currently, I’m standing on the cusp of my own journey of faith, just like Abraham. At first, this makes me afraid; how can I be sure I’ll be ready for what comes next? What if everything doesn’t turn out ok? But the more I look at the past, the more I remember the times I spent in prayer, totally honest with God. I remember telling Him how unprepared I felt, how much I needed Him, and how much I was relying on Him.

Our Faithful God responded with peace and provision every time.

During times of trouble and fear in my life, there’s a verse I reflect on to remind me of God’s sovereignty. You could say this is one of the verses I keep in my “satchel”, to carry with me at all times. May this verse similarly comfort you during hard times.

 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;

            I will be exalted among the nations,

            I will be exalted in the earth.”

            The Lord Almighty is with us;

            the God of Jacob is our fortress.

                        Psalm 46:10-11