Month: November 2016

Enough Grumbling

By Robert Thomas

This past Sunday I got to visit home in Albuquerque after spending my first semester at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth. I am so happy to have this experience, and I am blessed in many ways. I have a great job, I am learning a lot about ministry, I have a family at home who loves me and is supporting me, and I enjoy life in the dorms. It seems like a complete picture.

However, recently I have been walking through a matter of my heart, which I have struggled with ever since moving to Fort Worth. I have been unnecessarily bitter about the silliest thing: I share a dorm room with a roommate.

It feels even sillier saying it out loud. How can I be in the midst of such an incredible experience, but I still harbor bitterness in my heart? It is childish and selfish; in spite of the blessings in my life, I have focused on this one thing I was unhappy about. Ignoring the fact that God has ordained that I would live with someone and that it is also a blessing, my heart was cold and angry.

I often found myself wondering why God would allow this to happen. In other words, I was acting spoiled rotten.

I have recently been reading about the Israelites in the books of Exodus and Numbers. They were a spiritually young people during this time. The Bible tell us the story of how God chose this people, then promised to protect and bless them. God had a master plan for Israel, as Exodus 19:3-6 tell us, and He intended to grow and protect them as they strove toward being the people He commanded them to be. However, the Israelites had a difficult mindset, and their tendency was to grumble and complain, responding faithlessly and without gratitude to the blessings their God was giving them.

Their story is characterized by rebellion and dissatisfaction with God, because when they heard the plan of God, they did not like it. Their reaction was like picky children rejecting their dinner. Even if they vocally agreed to follow God’s commands, their hearts were revealed in their attitudes and actions. The first generation of people coming out of Egypt, the generation God rescued with His own hands, died in the wilderness because of their lack of endurance, fear of God, and lack of faith in Him. It is tragic.

Does this not remind you of the attitudes people have today? Our world needs a savior now more than ever. People need the hope and forgiveness that comes from Jesus Christ, but even today, we are a people with the same attitude as the Israelites in the wilderness.

This is often true for believers and non-believers alike. Even when we think we see God working in our lives, we always find room to critique. We indulge in bitterness, and we are all too quick to cry out to God in dissatisfaction. We blame Him for our discomfort, focusing on ourselves. We grumble against Him, and in so doing, we show contempt for the things God has allowed us to go through. Just like how I found something to complain about at seminary, many times we will singularly focus on our own dissatisfaction, and we step into sin.

We should not act this way. As Job says in Job 2:10, will we really accept blessings from God, and not trouble? Why should we be so quick to argue against the wisdom of the God of Creation? Is our plan really better than His? Are we really so faithless as to grumble about our discomfort, when it just reveals our shortsightedness? Does God not work all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28-29)?

Remember this during this holiday season, and think about making the resolution in your own heart to avoid grumbling and complaining. Instead, put your faith in God, showing gratitude for the things He does, and honor Him with your actions.

Listen to the sermon podcast here.

The Coming of Hope

By Kristi Sullins

The short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is typically associated with chaotic schedules, increasing debt and exhaustion. Somewhere into the journey of adulthood we lose the wonder of waiting. The anticipation of parties with friends, school being out, and the unknown of Christmas morning is traded for duty, demands and disappointments.

Enter the need for Advent. Advent comes in this in-between time, and it calls us back to the wonder of waiting. We are reminded of more than just the reason for the season, but the reality of the wait.

The first week of Advent is a time to have a renewed focus on the hope given to those who were waiting for more.

More than just sacrifice; more than just slavery; more than just struggle. Isaiah was one prophet God used to give His people hope in the One who would come to them. He tells us in Isaiah 9:6 that God was sending the One who would be Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father and Prince of Peace.

This was God’s promise to His people. It was a promise that would require patience for it would be about 700 years from the time this promise was given to the time it was fulfilled. That time was not filled with peace and joy. It was filled with bondage and the unknown. 400 years of that time was filled with silence from the God who had never left them. Even when they had wandered from Him He had spoken to them through leaders and prophets. Then silence. The silence forced them to hold to the hope given to them through the prophets, and then they waited. Waited through dark years when rulers changed, the law was forgotten, traditions were lost and holding on to hope was a struggle. Still they waited and hoped for the promise of the one who was coming for them. Coming to bring them hope and a future.

What are you hoping for today?  Have you reached a point where you would honestly say you no longer “waste” your time with hope?

I encourage you to start this season of Advent off with a renewed prayer for hope. We no longer have to wait for our Messiah, and His coming offers us hope. Hope in a God who keeps His promises in His own perfect timing. Hope in a God whose plan is perfect. Hope in a God whose love is without measure, and freely offered to all who would seek Him. Hope, not in a world that is constantly shifting, but in a God who sent His Son to be the savior of the world.

Would you take time to reread Isaiah 9:6-7?  What do you hope for?  Are you struggling with the patience it takes to wait for God to fulfill His promises?  Hebrews 6:18-19 reminds us that because of the unfailing character of God we have an anchor for our hope. It is time for Advent, our season of hope.

Common Mistakes Men Make

By Kevin Polich

Common mistakes men make stem from allowing impulses to drive their behavior. As men, we see something we want and we take it. What feels good in the moment is often our undoing.

We can learn much from Samson and his inability to control his behavior. Have you ever read through the story of Samson from start to finish, letting it soak in? Read Judges 13-16 here.

Samson’s impulses continued to be his undoing. You can listen to the sermon series, Manology, via podcast here.

Pastor Michael M. Cook detailed four major mistakes that come when we are driven by our impulses. (From Judges 14-15.) Lust gets us in trouble. Samson wanted the Philistine woman regardless of anything else. We disregard advice from those we trust. Samson ignored the warnings of his parents. When we disregard the advice of the believers in our life, we are in great danger. Drunkenness brings nothing that improves of builds up a man’s life. Samson made a huge wager while under the influence. Anger is destructive. Samson blamed everyone else for his problems. His anger and revenge became a cycle that went on and on. He tried to justify it when he should have taken responsibility.

“When as men are we going to rise up and take responsibility for the choices we make?” – Michael M. Cook

Think about those “Why did you do that?” moments. It’s defeating when we’ve blown it. What can we do to live the way we should? Here are three things to help us be the men God has called us to be.

  1. Resolve to do what is right. James 4:17 Is there an area in your life where you know what you ought to be doing, but you aren’t doing it right?
  1. Don’t be afraid to cry out to God. Samson cried out and God revived him. It seems crazy, but how many times has God met me in my troubles? Despite his destructive ways, God still gave Samson new opportunities.
  1. Remember where God will meet you. God meets us in our brokenness, not in our pride.

There is hope for every man. God can build us into the men we should be. We must seek Him and trust Him. We must be willing to cry out to Him in our brokenness. Moving beyond the common mistakes men make, we can be more and live a life of freedom.


The Potential in Every Man

By Kevin Polich

Potential is God’s gift to us in our lives. What we do with it is our gift back to Him. – Michael M. Cook

Every man is given an incredible amount of potential. Pastor Michael M. Cook began his Manology sermon series on Sunday. This series is an opportunity for us as men to be intentional about who God wants us to be. It’s a chance to do better and be more. It’s may also be a tough few weeks to spark growth.

Pastor Cook gave us four God-given gifts that set the standard for living out our potential. (Listen to the podcast here.)

You are set apart to do great things for God. (Judges 13:1-5) God has given each of us special skills and has a purpose for us. It isn’t the same for each of us, yet we are prone to comparing ourselves to others. Where do I measure up? Those comparisons can take a toll on a man’s self-image.

God measures differently. He looks at who He made us to be and His potential.

You have great parents. (Judges 13:8) Parents are significant and set the standard. Regardless of good or bad parents, God’s potential isn’t hindered. A rough background can motivate us to give better than we got. Solid parents give us a solid start. It’s still our own actions that matter.

You have a great name. (Judges 13:24) Samson ruined his great name and blocked his potential. As a man, name and reputation is valuable. If your name is tarnished, get to the business of restoring it.

You have a clear direction in life. (Judges 13:5) Living with intention? If things are not going well, it may not be an issue of time, but an issue of priority. We each choose how we will react in every situation. What matters most and has top priority in your life?

As Pastor Cook discussed, men exist with a level of fragility. There is a quiet fear of failure that tugs at our core. But it shouldn’t define us. When we seek God’s potential, there is nothing to fear, yet it doesn’t always feel like that way. Am I making a difference and anywhere near my potential? God has set each of us apart but sometimes the question remains, “For what?”.

“Even if he can’t put words to it, every man is quietly haunted by the questions, ‘Am I really a man and have I got what it takes’”? – John Eldridge from Wild at Heart

This sermon series may be the spark that sets a fire for us to discover our potential. Are you ready for more?




By Pastor Michael M. Cook

Starting this Sunday morning, November 13th, we will begin a man-focused sermon series called MANOLOGY. For a number of years, the American family has witnessed a larger and larger decrease in the central male figure in the typical household. Statistics only touch the surface of the monumental challenges this causes in our society.
• 23.6% of US children (17.4 million) lived in father absent homes in 2014. US Census Bureau, 2015

• In 2011, children living in female-headed homes with no spouse present had a poverty rate of 47.6%.
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services 2012

• Disengaged and remote interactions of fathers with infants is a predictor of early behavior problems in children and can lead to externalizing behaviors in children as early as age one.
Ramchandani, P. G., Domoney, J., Sethna, V., Psychogiou, L., Vlachos, H. and Murray, L. (2013) Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 54, 56–64.
• According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of children with an incarcerated father grew 79% between 1991 and 2007.
Glaze, L.E., & Maruschak, L.M. (2010). Parents in prison and their minor children. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Stats.

The good news after reviewing these alarming trends is that God has a clear plan that can successfully be followed and achieved. The men I visit with on a weekly basis desire to be a positive influence in societal, marital and parental responsibilities. They have a heart to do so, yet most are lacking the skills and direction to make it happen.

I want to encourage all of our men not miss a single Sunday through mid-December. Each of the next four weeks will contain powerful, scriptural information concerning a man’s potential, his greatest vulnerability, his common mistakes and hidden strengths.

Pray for a great result from this power packed series. I look forward to seeing each of you as we take part in Manology.

Church Choices, Life Choices

By Karen Polich

Choices aren’t always easy. At times there is not a clear answer on right and wrong. Continuing the sermon series, Becoming the Church We’re Called to Be, Pastor Michael M. Cook laid out how to handle the “grey areas” of life in 1 Corinthians 8. Listen to the podcast here.

At first glance, this text may not seem applicable to us today, but look deeper. The Corinthians expressed personal liberty in their behavior and saw no issues with their choices because they weren’t choosing something that went against their walk with God. Their knowledge of God was how they determined right and wrong. Paul pointed out several problems with this.

While knowledge is essential, it is not sufficient. Ultimately, love limits liberty.

In this case, the food didn’t bring them closer to God or push them farther away. The issue was the impact of decisions on the new believer and non-believer.

Their situation is a prime example of the grey area. These areas bring real challenge. How do we live them out? How do we answer questions from the grey area that our children and grandchildren ask?

We are free in Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:17, Galatians 5:1) But what if fully exercising our freedom causes others to head down the wrong path?

Love is the key. Knowledge says go for it, love says, how does this impact someone else?



Pastor Cook gave five terms to assist the believer in filtering right and wrong.
Excess. Do I need it? Is it right or wrong for me? Hebrews 12:1
Expedience. Is it useful? 1 Corinthians 6:12
Emulation. Is this going to allow me to walk as Christ leads? How would Jesus handle this situation? 1 John 2:6
Example. Would this represent righteousness? Is it a good example to others? Romans 14:13
Evangelism. If I do this, would it benefit those who do not know Christ? Colossians 4:5

As Christ followers, we have a biblical responsibility for each other. At times, we may need to give up our liberty and freedom out of love for another. What are we teaching with what we do? The last thing we want to be is a stumbling block to someone else. In the grey areas, we have to decide if we will choose “me” or “we”. Choices may not hurt me, but we must consider others.

What life choices are you making in the grey areas? When the choice isn’t clear, remember LOVE is the key.


The Spiritual Growth of a Child

By Pastor Trey Sullins

PART TWO (Read PART ONE here.)

Once a child has accepted Christ as their savior, a parent’s next question is often, “When is my child ready for baptism?”

Baptism is a wonderful act of obedience any believer can take. It is the outward demonstration of what Jesus has done in their life. For children, it can be both an exciting time as well as a frightening one.

The Bible teaches that baptism is the physical act of obedience that occurs after a person has given their life to Christ and accepted His gift of eternal life. There are some religions that have “infant baptism”, which is designed to insure salvation and dedication to God for the child before they can make that decision for themselves. AFBC believes the Bible teaches that as parents we dedicate our children to God and train them in His Word, but that is not salvation. It leads them toward salvation which they must choose on their own.

I like to use the analogy of the wedding ring. I ask the child if they know what it is. Often times they do and I am able to take it off and hand it to them. I then ask the question, “If I take off my wedding ring am I still married?” Some will answer yes and some will say no. Then I ask them, “If you put the ring on, does it make you married?” Then most of them get the idea that it is just a ring. I go on to explain that the ring is something I wear to show people that I am married. The ring doesn’t make me married, but is a symbol of my being married. The ring is like baptism. When you ask Jesus to come into your life and forgive your sins, you get baptized to show other people that Jesus is now your “boss”.

Recently we had a number of the children in our church experience baptism. It has raised a number of questions among the other children. They want to know about baptism. What does it mean? Can I do it too? This is a great time for parents to begin a dialogue with their child to determine if the child is ready for baptism.

You will want to ask questions like:
“Why do we need to be baptized?” The obvious answer is, “Because God said so” or they might say, “To show others that Jesus is my boss.” You might also inquire, “Why do you want to be baptized?”

This type of conversation with your child will give you a better understanding of their level of comprehension.

When you feel your child is ready to be baptized, you can then communicate with a pastor that your child understands that they are a sinner and have accepted Jesus into their life and is ready to show others, through baptism, that they are now followers of Christ.

Foundations of Marriage

By Karen Polich

The Bible lays out the foundations of marriage in 1 Corinthians 7: 1-16. Paul gives a clear picture of a Godly marriage. A God built marriage is centered in Christ and soaked in His Word. Not married yet? Seek God first. Married to a non-believer? Seek God and honor the vows you have taken.

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin

On Sunday, Pastor Michael M. Cook shared the biblical outline for the foundations of marriage and three keys areas of a Godly marriage; happiness, harmony and permanency. Listen to the podcast here.

We should experience happiness in a Christian marriage. God was the creator of marriage and established the sanctity and purity of a monogamous relationship. It is between one man and one woman. Happiness comes when we honor our husband or wife above our own desires. If happiness is lacking, we need to go to God in prayer. He is the ultimate authority on marriage.

We should exhibit harmony in Christian marriage. God calls for physical, psychological and spiritual harmony in marriage. Marriage is a partnership. It is meant to be lived out together. When God is at the center, marriage bears fruit. Harmony is essential and needs to be in place in each area. When harmony is lacking, lean into each other and make the effort to bring harmony.

We should expect permanency in Christian marriage. It is a life-long contract, not an experiment. Longevity is part of God’s design. When the Word of God is at the center of marriage, it establishes stability. Make prayer a priority. A God-centered marriage brings serenity into the home.

“A happy marriage is a long conversation which always seems too short. ” – Andre Marios

Allow the Holy Spirit to reign in your life. Make Him the center of your marriage. God has laid out the foundation to build a marriage designed by Him.