Month: August 2016

Servant Peril – Martha or Mary?

By Karen Polich

Are you a Martha or a Mary?

Early in Luke 10, Jesus lays out the simple concept of servanthood: Love God, love your neighbor. (The good Samaritan) Easy, right? That’s what we do to fulfill true servanthood by pouring ourselves into others. What happens when we become so busy serving that we lose sight of our relationship with the Lord? Without a deep relationship, what do we actually have to give others? Servant peril is no place we want to be.

Martha was always “doing”. Each time she is mentioned in the Bible, we encounter her at work. Marthas extend themselves, working, getting things done and making things happen. Where was Mary? At the feet of Jesus. (Luke 10:38-42, Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon, Servant Peril, here.)

Martha was quick to commit, worked hard and was distracted. The critical piece is her distraction. She was distracted FROM Jesus BY her ministry. This is what NOT to do when serving. We don’t want to forget Jesus and our relationship with Him. That relationship is the whole point!

“In order to say yes to Christ, you have to be willing to say no to something else.” – Michael M. Cook

Lost in her distracted busyness, Martha was out of touch. She was laying it out for Jesus, telling Him what to do. Can you imagine telling Jesus what to do? It disrupted the entire atmosphere. Jesus was grieved and corrective. He doesn’t love us for who we are or what we are doing. He loves us simply within the relationship we have with Him. All we need to do is choose Him first.

In our own lives, do we take the time to be a Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet before setting on the path of a Martha? Without investing in Jesus, we have little to offer anyone else.

When we are out of touch, we become disruptive to the Kingdom work happening around us.

What is the remedy for the Marthas? Before we tackle the work at hand, we need private time with God. Pray, spend real time with God, making it a priority. To have something to give, we need to fill our own lives. An empty vessel has nothing to share. Let’s choose Him first and then see what comes from our “doing”.







Blessed To Be A Blessing

By Gerry Wakeland

Just a few days ago Karen Polich wrote a post reminding us that there are needs all around us. Some of those needs are physical while others are financial. Some are critical while others are every day essentials. Needs can be just a one-time issue or consistent every day, every week occurrences. There are needs everywhere. God desires all of us to help meet those needs, especially in His church.

In the church setting help often comes in the form of volunteers. People like you and me who are willing to invest their time and talents in God’s Kingdom work. At AFBC we place a strong emphasis on volunteering.  Our volunteers range in age from 4 to 95. They serve in many different ways. Some are teachers and Life Group leaders. Others serve on the First Impressions team on Sunday morning. We saw many of our students serving at the recent Legacy Banquet. Earlier this week four-year old Nolan Sill helped our senior ladies with their crafts at Senior Vacation Bible School.

We have a number of people who serve in the community. The Rock at NoonDay and Ronald McDonald House are just a couple of examples. We have parents that serve at their children’s schools. Pastor Cook often reminds us, it doesn’t matter where you serve, what matters is that you serve.

On Sunday August 21st long time member of AFBC Lucy Stevens was presented with the Legacy Award. This award is given to those who have made a significant investment in our church. Not a financial investment, but an investment of time and service. When we asked Lucy what inspired her to be such a committed servant she responded, “God blessed my marriage, my children, and my life in so many ways.  How could I not be His servant?”

Perhaps you are already serving somewhere in our church and enjoy what you are doing and are willing to sign on for another year. Maybe you want to invest in another area of ministry, try something new and different. There are so many ways you can help.

As the AFBC Volunteer Coordinator I am often asked, “How do I find the right place to serve. I have three questions I use when helping match someone to a place to serve.

  1. What is your passion? We all perform at our optimum when we are working in an area we love. Are you good with people and are energized by being around them. Then the First Impressions Team may be the place for you. Do you long to make a joyful noise to the Lord? Pastor Matt would love to have you join our choir.
  1. What are your spiritual gifts? God has gifted each of His children with gifts that equip them to serve the Body of Christ. Do you have the gift of teaching? Encouragement? If you’re not sure what your spiritual gifts are we have a simple assessment that can aid you in discovering them. Any of our staff would be happy to help you with this.
  1. What are your skills? Have you received some type of special training? Dealing with finances? Nursing? Construction skills? Are you good with crafts? Do you play a musical instrument, like to cook? We all have things that we are especially good at. It’s a blessing to be able to use them for the Lord’s work.

As we prepare for worship this Sunday, let’s remember that one of the ways we worship is through serving and begin to ask the Lord where He would have you invest your time in His Kingdom.

For more information about serving at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church visit the First Stop Info Center on Sundays or contact Gerry Wakeland at

Believing in the Yield

By Karen Polich

The longer we live, the more opportunities we have to start again. Life is like that. Some beginnings are more difficult than others. When we find ourselves in the messy seasons of life, it can signal a time when we need to start again. We can apologize, rebuild, change our path, forgive or refocus. How we choose to embrace those moments can determine what the yield will be.

The turn from a real mess that leads towards spiritual blessing can be a highly discouraging space. Still engulfed in the pain of the mess, despite best efforts, there just isn’t any relief in sight. It’s not simply out of view, it feels like any type of blessing doesn’t exist.

Pastor Michael M. Cooks sermon series, Starting Again, continued, studying Haggai 2:15-23. (Listen here.) As God’s people struggled to rebuild the temple, Haggai reminded them to first look back. Why did this matter? It helped them see how far they had come. Starting again, they had an enormous task and the progress was small. The key was that they were moving forward in obedience to God.

Haggai 2:19a “From this day on, I will bless you.” Understand, the temple was not close to being finished, yet God chose to bless His people as they moved toward Him by starting again.

“We are not to live in the past, but it is important to visit the past.” – Michael M. Cook

Remembering what it was like when ______ (fill in the blank) keeps us moving in the right direction. Our past does not define us but helps inform us of how far we’ve come in starting again. It reminds us of where we don’t want to go again.

Today can be the beginning of the rest of our lives. How God blesses us is up to Him, but our willingness to believe in the yield as we move forward is the beginning of making the turn out of the mess until we have moved far beyond its reach.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

God works in a unique way for each of us. Each a one of a kind creation, His blessings reflect our originality. The yield will be our own. When He pours out blessings, it may not be because of what we have finished, but because he sees a new work in progress.

Are we moving forward?

“We never harvest in the same season in which we planted.” – Michael M. Cook


Who Can You Help Today?

By Karen Polich

Proverbs 11:25 The Message (MSG)
25 The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed;
those who help others are helped.

In the midst of our busy lives, opportunities surround us. We have moments with those close to us and cross paths with strangers as we engage in the day’s to-do list. While we may be consumed with our responsibilities and the need to get things done, we can choose to help others along the way.

How wonderful is it when someone steps in and brightens your day? Even on a great day, a kind word or a helping hand is a blessing. When a day is going from bad to worse, the generosity of another can be the catalyst to a new outlook.

God gives us opportunities to impact others. Sometimes we get to help in “big” ways, while other times it’s something done in the moment. It may not always be life changing, but the little things we do can have real impact. Life is meant to be lived with others. When we take the time to help those around us, we are often the ones who receive the biggest blessing.

A tiny shift in our focus can open our eyes and hearts to the needs around us, bringing blessings we didn’t expect. When we are looking, we can see needs everywhere.

Be intentional. Who do you know that could use a word of encouragement? Simple words of encouragement can lift someone’s spirits.

Slow down and pay attention to those around you. We are often in a rush to get to the next thing. Today, let’s take a closer look at who God puts in our path. How can we influence even a small part of their day?

Demonstrate grace. We all tend to show our worst side when the pressure is high. If someone is less than pleasant, be kind anyway.

When we take the time to slow down and see things around us, our view changes. What kind of day do we want to have? How can we share that with someone?

What if today, we were all intentional about helping someone else? What kind of impact could we make?

The Importance of Remembering

By Karen Polich

A full life can flood the mind with memories, some so sweet we would re-live them again and again. Other memories might be best forgotten.

While bringing both joy and pain, the ups and downs shape us into who we are.

Pastor Michael M. Cook’s ongoing sermon series, Starting Again, has gripped my thoughts when it comes to new beginnings when circumstances don’t always allow for a clean start. The baggage of life can’t always be simply put down. Sometimes starting over means doing so while carrying a heavy burden. In confident faith, we can give those burdens to God, but issues must still be dealt with. The best way to move forward is to remember God is not only walking the path with us, but has shown His faithfulness before.

1 Samuel 7:12 (NLT) Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah.[a] He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!”

When the storms are raging, can you feel God’s presence? Do you remember all He has done?

The Lord has provided. Even when it may not look the way I’ve hoped, He has been there. Through grief, disappointment, unexpected events, and in those times when I was surprised with more than I could have hoped for. He has always been there.

Sometimes making a small change can begin the process of building something better. It can start a positive chain reaction. Simply writing down times when God has shown His steadfast love and faithfulness gives me the push of confidence I need to move forward and start again.

Even when it is hard we have the promise that His mercies are new each day. Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV) Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Starting again? Begin by simply making your list today of what God has done in your life. Remembering can be the spark that starts a fire.

Our Finest and Best

By Karen Polich

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV) “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Have you ever felt that you were bringing your absolute best and it was not good enough? When our finest and best falls short, what do we do?

Disappointment is unavoidable in life. The result of unmet expectations, it comes and goes. Waves of sadness roll through our stories, but even in the midst of disappointment, we are able to move on and keep going. Discouragement goes beyond those moments and settles in. Stuck in discouragement, we lose hope, courage and confidence. It becomes difficult if not impossible to keep trying. Even when Disappointed or discouraged, God wants us to start again.

Pastor Michael M. Cook shared three concepts from Haggai 2 for us to remember when we are starting again. Listen to his sermon series, Starting Again, here.

  1. God’s presence in the present. We are not alone. But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. Haggai 2:4
  2. God’s provision in the past. The Bible gives us story after story of God’s provision for His people. It is significant to remember all God has done in our lives. God is with us every step of the way.
  3. God’s plan for the future. Disappointment can block our view of God’s plan. He is constantly at work even when we stop seeing it.

When we find ourselves needing to start again, what choice will we make? Will we put it off? Make today the day. Set your heart on starting again. It may be a relationship, finances, rebuilding life or simply reconnecting with God right where we are. Begin with writing a short list of how God has provided in the past.

Even when things aren’t going well, God has a plan and purpose. Standing too close to the struggle, we not only lose sight of His bigger picture, but forget to even look for it. God will always use our faithfulness. It might be today, or it could be for another generation, but He is always at work. God’s plan is wide and long, we must be willing to trust Him even in moments of discouragement.

Keep bringing your best. God is faithful.


5 Ways to Avoid Spiritual Drift

By Karen Polich

We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. Hebrews 2:1 (NIV)

An adventurous afternoon of snorkeling came with clear waters and vibrant colors. There was so much to see as the tide carried me along. After several minutes exploring the wonders below the surface, I looked up and realized how far I was from where we started. Focused on the underwater beauty, I didn’t notice where I was going.

Ever wondered how you got somewhere?

Life is full of seasons and change, drifting shouldn’t be one of them. At times we may be so focused on our circumstances that we don’t notice where we are headed. We can avoid the drift in our spiritual life by taking steps to ensure we know where we are going or at least who we are traveling with.

  1. Get connected. “No man is an island.” (John Donne) God did not create us to exist in isolation. We need other people. Connections lead to inspiration, encouragement and accountability.
  2. Spend time with God. Make it a priority to study His Word every day. He has given us the tools we need to stay on track, but we have to use them. Spiritual growth won’t happen if we don’t seek God. Keep a prayer list and make note of when God moves through your prayer life.
  3. Count your blessings. In easy and hard seasons, look at what God is doing. How has He shown His faithfulness in the past? Notice the little things and the big ones.
  4. Encourage someone. Even a few words in a passing moment can change someone’s day. When we look for opportunities to encourage others, we become more aware of where we are. Shifting our focus outward quickly changes our perspective.
  5. Be intentional. Much can be said about the person who is intentional with their time and resources. Floating through life without intention won’t take us where we want to go. Choosing to live with intention means we are aware of who and what we focus on.

Seeking God first will center us on the path best traveled. Take time today to develop a plan to avoid drifting away from the best God has planned.

Initial Movement

By Karen Polich

“Has it occurred to you that the heart of God desires to come alongside of and behind those that desire new movement in their lives?” – Michael M. Cook

Life is full of “starting over” moments. We need to take the first step. Willingness to begin again after a failure, a broken relationship, setbacks and hurdles is crucial. It can be an enormous challenge we’d rather not tackle.

Haggai 1 tells the story of God’s people in the process of rebuilding after returning from years in exile. There were fields to cultivate and houses to repair, but what about God’s temple? The temple represented God’s presence on earth.

God sent a message through Haggai to rebuild His temple. The answer? “The time has not come”. (Haggai 1:2) Leadership didn’t say “NO”, they said “LATER”. There were so many important things to do. Not focused on God as the center of everything, the people experienced a drought.

God will do what is necessary to get our attention. We often forget God is not obligated to bless our lives regardless of our behavior. He is to be the center from which everything else we do stems.

How often do we say we’ll do something “later”? When we respond with ‘later’, we think we have said yes, but that’s the danger. Later is NOT a ‘yes’ response, but a ‘no’ in disguise.

Later I’ll…rebuild my life, start giving, develop that relationship, make things right. The list goes on and on. When will we take the critical step of ‘now’?

Just as God helped His people when they finally answered His call to repair the temple, He will be there to help and encourage us as we start again.

Are you ready to challenge yourself with a deeper look into the hard areas of life? Are there places you are avoiding with a ‘later’ response as God is whispering to you, “Start again”?

Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Starting Again, here.