Month: September 2016

A Goal Achieved

By Gerry Wakeland

Having a goal is a good thing. It keeps us focused and on track. Sometimes we can have a goal and not even realize it. I believe this to be the case in Dr. Lenton Malry’’s life.

Recently Dr. Malry’s memoir was published. It’s the story of a man from modest beginnings that through persistence, perseverance, and prayer has accomplished much not just for him but for many others. Did he plan to write this book? Not really, but looking back Malry wanted to impart his message of encouragement to a new generation. Times are tough and he wanted to be able to share from many years of experience that you can do what you set your mind to do.

I first encountered Dr. Malry at the door to the sanctuary of the old downtown church. Dressed in his suit and tie, standing tall as a sentinel on duty, he was shaking hands and handing out bulletins, like any good Southern Baptist deacon.

As time passed, I came to learn there was a lot more to this humble servant. This was a mighty man of God who had influence in many corners of this nation.

Dr. Lenton Malry is a man of firsts:
• the first of his family to graduate from college
• the first African American teacher at the Kinlichee Elementary School on the Navajo reservation
• the first African American principal for Albuquerque Public Schools
• the first African American elected to the New Mexico State Legislature and
• the first African American to earn a PHD in education from the University of New Mexico.

He and his wife Joy were the first African Americans to become members of Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church.

“I remember the first Sunday we attended the church downtown on Central and Broadway. People actually got up and walked out.” Joy Malry

That did not stop the Malrys from placing their membership with AFBC and getting involved.

Thankfully times have changed. Dr. Malry and Ms. Joy are valued members of our congregation. He has been a deacon for over 40 years, serving as both Deacon Chair and Vice Chair. He has taught both Sunday school (now called Life Groups) and the senior high students’ Training Union class. To this day he continues to serve as a greeter and usher.

He likes to recall a time at the peak of his career, one the busiest times for him, Ms. Ruth Hosley came to him and asked him to serve as the Director of the RAs (Royal Ambassadors). He tried every excuse to get out of it but Ms. Ruth would not take no for an answer. “You can just make the time,” Ms. Ruth told him.

In 2005, Malry was on the Pastoral Search Committee that brought Pastor Michael Cook to AFBC in 2006.

Lenton Malry has made a number of wise decisions in his lifetime. Perhaps the wisest was when he asked Joy Dell Green to be his wife. For the last 58 years Joy has supported him in all of his endeavors, cheering him on, praying for him and making sure he tows the line.

While some may consider Let’s Roll This Train an inspirational memoir, it really chronicles a piece of New Mexico history through the life of an inspirational figure. Malry never imagined as a poor black child growing up on a small rural farm in Louisiana that someday he would look back and see the impact he has made on the state of New Mexico particularly Bernalillo County and the city of Albuquerque.

Most importantly Dr. Malry has made and continues to make a mighty impact on the Kingdom of God. Almost every Sunday morning you still find him standing tall at the front door of the church. He’ll greet you with a bright “good morning” and a firm handshake as he hands you a bulletin. He mentors many of the younger deacons as they take their place in the leadership of the church. And he’s always among the first to step up to the plate when there is a financial need.

Dr. Malry’s book, Let’s Roll This Train will be available for purchase on the concourse on Sunday, October 2nd.

Expectations and Standards

By Karen Polich

Once Jesus has entered our life, we all start with the same potential for Kingdom impact.    – Michael M. Cook

What expectations and standards matter in our lives? We all face the ultimate final exam. It is not a judgment of salvation, but a life audit that looks at our service. This exam is not related to our salvation, which is a matter of its own. We either choose Christ or we don’t. (If we don’t, the final exam doesn’t really matter.)

Good works do not take you to heaven but they do accompany you to heaven. Michael M. Cook

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

I’d like to do more than escape from the flames. We have a choice about how we establish our standards and expectations. We can begin each day with a goal to serve Him. What we do with that opportunity is up to us.

Yet, there is no comparison or envy that comes with the judgement. The calling on each of our lives is as unique as the creation God made us to be. My potential is mine and your potential is yours. Jesus is the cornerstone. The similarities come in the principles impacting the time when we will stand before Jesus Christ.

God is concerned with every single minute of your life. – Michael M. Cook

We will all have a life reviewed. It is impending. It will be intense and exhaustive. There will be no negotiation or argument. It won’t resemble anything like a debate. It will simply be what it is. We will have a labor rewarded because we are called to be co-laborers with Christ. How and what we have done will be reviewed. What matters is the “why”. It isn’t about quantity, but about the quality and motives of our heart. Did we do what we could? Was excellence (our very best) at play?

We don’t work “for” God, we work with Him so He can work through us. Think about that the next time you are bringing something to God in prayer. How can He work with you, not for you? How can He help you stay focused on the prize?

Setting standards and expectations with our eyes on Christ brings new perspective to the daily distractions of this world. What really matters? How can I be a person of excellence in His eyes?

Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Forming the Church We’re Called to Be, here.



When Days are Hard

By Karen Polich

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

What is our reaction to a bad day or a bad season? We have a choice when it comes to handling difficult situations. Will we react in the moment, or reflect and respond? Reactions usually involve emotions getting the best of us. Learning to respond with God at the center can lead to better outcomes.

“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

Tough times provide opportunities to seek God and His grace. We can use difficulties to make us more intentional about diving into the Word and deepening our prayer life. God will speak to us when we seek Him. His ways are not our ways, but He will cover whatever circumstance we face and shape us along the way.

In a struggle, we can grow weary and see things only from our own perspective. The outlook is bleak and discouragement fills our hearts. It can be as simple as a busy day going awry and causing missed deadlines, or as complicated as devastating news that leads to a season of difficulty. With eyes only on the struggle, we run the risk of developing a habit of trying to “do life” on our own

In good times and bad, allowing God to work in us is key. If we establish the habit of putting Him first in all things, we will be better equipped to walk with Him during struggles. The times of overload and anguish will be less lonely and we will automatically seek His guidance.

It is not up to us to “be strong”. It is up to us to seek Him and His strength.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Are you facing hard days? Look to God and allow Him to walk with you through the struggle.

Know Your Church: Recognize Yourself

By Karen Polich

Even with a mirror, we don’t always recognize what we look like and the state of our hearts. Pastor Michael M. Cook’s latest sermon mapped out three categories of individuals who make up the Church. Taking time to assess which category we fall into may be the beginning for forming the Church we’re called to be.

The natural individual. (1 Corinthians 2:14) The natural lacks a spiritual component. This individual has not been saved and has no appreciation for the things of God. They will drop out, move out or lash out when it comes to God’s call. While they have looked at the Gospel and may be very “moral”, there is no understanding. (1 Thessalonians. 5:23) But in Christ you are made alive (Ephesians 2:1)

The carnal individual. While possessing both a physical and spiritual nature, the carnal is dominated by the old nature and controlled by the flesh. The physical overwhelms the spiritual and there is a lack of maturity and growth. (1 Corinthians 3:1-2) How do you know if you fall in the carnal category? Jealousy and strife mark the carnal individual. This Christian will eventually kill everything touched and puts selfish interests ahead of anything else. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6

It hurts the heart of God to see Christians in the carnal state. “This is not an identity you have. This is an activity you have chosen”. – Michael M. Cook

The spiritual individual. (1 Corinthians 2:15-16) Converted in Christ, this person is obedient and yielded to the spiritual side over the physical side. Jesus resides in their hearts and presides over their life. Jesus is preeminent in their life. This individual lives the life change that comes from the Holy Spirit. The spiritual individual is growing and seeking God, choosing to let Him lead the way.

Do you know Christ? If not, seek Him today. Know Him, but choosing the carnal? Pray for God to set you on a path that leads to the spiritual. Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Forming the Church We’re Called to Be, here.

A Tree Firmly Planted by Streams of Water

By Kristin Overman

One of my desires for my boys is that they know and love Scripture, but not for head knowledge. I desire that they have the ability to use the truths in Scripture so that when situations come up, Scripture is what pops into their heads. I want the Bible to be the lens through which they interpret life and the factor that helps them make decisions.

The Bible is to be our guide for life. Psalm 119: 9 says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word.” There are benefits in knowing and following God’s word. I pray Psalm 1: 1-3 for my kids, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked… But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.” I tell my boys that God’s way is always best and brings blessings.

We have to know His way to follow it.

We read the Bible together every morning. I am not perfect and sometimes we miss, but it is a habit. Whenever I teach my kids anything I try to connect the information so that it makes sense. We read stories that go together, for example all the stories of David or the miracles of Jesus. We’ve done things such as read the parables of Jesus and learn what a parable is, or the tabernacle furnishings and learn their uses. When we finish a section we review. I try to make it fun. We act out stories, draw pictures, or play ‘who said’ games where we guess who said a certain quote. I use props before I read such as a bunch of toy frogs for the plagues. They’ve found ‘manna’ (crackers) on the floor. We’ve gotten out toy soldiers to reenact the story of Gideon. In all this, the point is to know who God is, His plan, and His way.

Wherever you are it is never too late to start. Open the Bible, the ‘Light unto our path’ to guide and establish your kids as a ‘tree firmly planted by streams of water’.




The Message of the Cross

By Karen Polich

The message of the cross lays out God’s plan. The cross is the first and last word on salvation. There is no debate or discussion. No other way, no other plan and no other action leads to salvation. We choose the cross where Jesus sacrificed Himself for our sins once and for all, or we choose to turn from it.

Apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no salvation.

Pastor Michael M. Cook discussed three elements of the cross in Reforming Our Message, part of the Forming the Church We’re Called to Be, sermon series. Listen to the podcast here. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)

Through the cross, Jesus saves anybody. There isn’t a different plan for different people based on culture, ethnicity or any other factor. We are all free to choose the cross. When we choose the cross, the power and wisdom of God come. (1 Corinthians 1:24) God will not only tell you what is right, He will help you do what is right.

Through the cross, Jesus separates everybody. The cross is the great divide. We are either perishing or being saved. (1 Corinthians 1:18) People reject, ridicule or receive the cross.

“God never said, I’ll show you and then you will believe. He said believe and I will show you.” – Michael M. Cook

Through the cross, Jesus sanctified somebody. Salvation is past, present and future. Past salvation was the moment in which He saved me, giving me complete freedom over sin. Present salvation is the power of practice over sin. Future salvation will be the complete freedom from the presence of sin.

The average Christian doesn’t always see the need for the cross. “I have my salvation. I’m done. What more is there?” We need the cross every single day. When we come to the cross, we are pardoned. When we give Jesus authority over our life and put ourselves on the cross, we have power over sin.

Imagine the throne of your life and the cross next to that throne. Jesus on the cross, I rule my life. Flip that and give Jesus authority to lead my life which places me on the cross and you see the life of someone who has put Christ at the helm.

We all have a choice as to who rules our life. Me or Christ? To live a successful and victorious life in Christ, we must die to ourselves on the cross and make a daily covenant to be a Christ follower, putting Him in the driver’s seat.

Are you living the message of the cross?

What Legacy Will You Leave?

By Gerry Wakeland

Recently I was given a gift. It was more than just a book. It was the result of many hours of blood, sweat and tears. My Footprint for God is a product of Kenn Edward’s passion for helping people see how they can build their spiritual legacy and leave their footprint on this earth. In a sense, this book is a part of Kenn’s very own footprint.

I have to admit I have come to that point in my own life where I am starting to think about the legacy I will leave for my children and more importantly, my grandchildren. Kenn reminds us that our true legacy is intangible. It’s not money or material items. It’s how we will be remembered. It’s the footprint that we leave behind.

Our spiritual legacy is about investing in people, family, friends, even strangers God places in our path. It’s about financing Kingdom work in many different ways. My Footprint for God is filled with personal stories from Kenn’s many years in financial and estate planning and nearly 40 years of teaching God’s Word in small group settings.

In his book, Kenn covers a comprehensive list of practical financial issues and provides the tools needed to work through these issues. Estate planning, wise giving and good stewardship are only a few of the topics. Each one is supported by scripture helping the reader understand the biblical principles behind Kenn’s sage advice.

“It’s Not Mine” is the title of Chapter Four. It was my favorite. It reminded me of a sermon I heard years ago that taught us everything we have belongs to God and He just allows us to hold it. Learning that concept changed the entire way I treated my possessions and my finances. Scripture teaches us that we are blessed to be a blessing. Kenn’s teaching reinforces this philosophy.

This book also helps us to view financial issues that we tend to overlook or avoid. Matters like how to handle our resources if we were to remarry. How do we deal with yours, mine and ours? What do we leave to our children when we are called home? Tough but necessary topics.

For those melancholy readers who love charts, you will find a number of very helpful forms that can be reproduced. Other resources are available at no charge on Kenn’s website.

If you struggle with financial matters this book will be a great tool for you. It will also be an encouragement, instilling the confidence that, yes, you can do this. If you know someone struggling in this area, My Footprint for God would be a great investment in their life or a great wedding gift for a young couple just starting out.

This material is designed not just for individual study; it can also be used for small groups. It comes complete with discussion questions and exercises for each chapter. In my opinion money is a hard topic to discuss. Working through these issues with other Christians can be a helpful way to study financial principles. It may be the spark needed for someone to look more closely at their own relationship with God.

Whether you study alone or with others in a group, I encourage you to get this book and put it to work for you. Start now to build your own footprint for God. Start by asking yourself, “How do I want to be remembered?”

For more information about Kenn’s ministry or to purchase your own copy of My Footprint for God, visit

The Wedding Rehearsal

By Ty Haguewood

This past summer, I had the opportunity to officiate my brother’s wedding. This was the first time that I was officiating a wedding so you can imagine how nervous I was. The entire process was a new experience for me. I haven’t even been to that many weddings before.

Their wedding was in Cabo de San Lucas, Mexico, which was beautiful. The wedding ceremony was on a Saturday evening which left the wedding rehearsal to be on Friday evening. I never understood why we needed a wedding rehearsal. Weddings are easy, right? Wrong! There are so many aspects to a wedding ceremony. The wedding rehearsal served as the preparation and final walk through of the official wedding ceremony. Keep thinking along those lines.

If you grew up in church or even attended church, you most likely have an understanding of the Lord’s Supper. As I planned and prepared to lead the church in the Lord’s Supper, I was struck by the reality that most have a weak view of the Lord’s Supper. For many the Lord’s Supper is just something we do that involves coming forward, eating crackers and drinking juice. The Lord’s Supper is so much more than that!The Lord’s Supper is when we remember what Christ has done.

If we stopped there, we could walk away with a weaker perspective on what it means to come to the table. Believers have something great ahead of us. The book of Revelation, chapter 19, speaks of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb where there will be a beautiful wedding between Christ and His purified Bride (the Church).

This will be a HUGE celebration that we do not want to miss.

The Lord’s Supper is the wedding rehearsal, for believers, preparing us for the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. The Lord’s Supper helps believers remember all that Christ has done, but it should also give us hope of what is to come. If we have repented and believed, we can rest assured that the Lord’s Supper is just a small glimpse of the celebration that we will be a part of on the day of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.

Let us come to the table with a spirit of expectation, knowing that soon we will be in Heaven worshiping our God together. On that day, we will shout in one accord: “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.”  – Revelation 19:6


Back to School

By Bethany Bentley

Full disclosure, I do not go to school, I’m in online school. But all summer, Pastor Ty Haguewood was talking to the students about how we were going to reach our communities for Christ. During youth group we split up into school groups and talked about how we were going to take the Gospel to our city, to our schools. Now the time has come. We’re back to school.

Nobody enjoys going back to school, it’s stressful and hard. Starting over at a new high school in junior year is hard. Starting high school at one school while all your middle school friends are at another school is hard. Starting college classes after not being in a classroom for the first time in three years is hard. But soon enough the stress will die and everyone will get used to it all again, like every year.

But as the stress dies down and everyone gets used to school again, let me say this: don’t. Don’t get used to it. Don’t go through the motions again. Don’t sit inside your own little bubble in every class. Don’t sit alone at lunch like you do every year. Don’t get stuck in a rut, like we all do every single year.

Don’t sit silently; let’s be as excited about the Gospel on Monday mornings as we are on Sundays and Wednesday nights. Let’s say we’re going to bring friends to church and then actually do it. Let’s really go sit with that one kid at lunch and share the Gospel with them. Let’s say we’ll go live and breathe and speak the Gospel to our classmates and actually do it.

More than that let’s share the gospel with our friend that we’ve grown up with, that we know is still living in their sins. That friend that we are so terrified of losing; of having them reject us if we share the Gospel. It’s scary. Facing rejection is scary. It’s said over and over and over again in church, fear shouldn’t stand in the way of evangelism, and that’s true.

Here are three things to remember:
1. Sometimes fear gets in the way of sharing the Gospel.
2. You are not an utter failure when fear does get in the way.
3. Don’t become weary.

When you can’t physically make yourself go sit with someone or open your mouth to talk, you are not a failure. Yes, it’s important to share the gospel in our schools, but in those times when we are just too scared to talk, we can pray. We can sit and pray and talk to God and ask for the courage to speak, or for Him to be glorified while someone else speaks.

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

Don’t become weary. In those moments when we feel like we’ve poured out so much of ourselves into others that there couldn’t possibly be anything left to give, turn to God. Turn to the Word. Don’t just tell others to pray and read the Bible, do it yourself. You can’t pour out into others if you’re not being poured into. That’s why we have church programs and small groups to recharge and come back to the Gospel.

At the end of the day, every single one of us needs the Gospel. The Gospel is not just for the lost. We all need to be reminded that the God who created the universe saved us and loves us. So let’s take that love to our schools.

Bethany Bentley lives in Albuquerque, NM with her parents and younger brother. She is a member of Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church and attends school online. Bethany is an accomplished photographer and her work has been published in Albuquerque Magazine.