Month: January 2017

The Gift of Forgiveness

By Michael M. Cook

Jesus doesn’t make bad people better; He makes them new.

The forgiveness of Christ is remarkable. It extends beyond all sin. Our mistakes and shortcomings don’t define us. He is eager to meet us where we are. Have you experienced the magnitude of His forgiveness? Spend time today thinking about these five characteristics of forgiveness.

Gracious. Romans 3:24 says, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Grace is not earned. It is truly a gift.

Complete. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace (Ephesians 1:7) I am writing to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of His name. 1 John 2:12 There is nothing missing in His forgiveness. Nothing.

Ready to Forgive. You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Psalm 86:5 that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19 His goodness and love are evident in His forgiveness.

Certain. “… to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ Acts 26:18

Unequaled. Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.  Micah 7:18 There is nothing like the forgiveness that comes through Christ. It is life-changing, life-giving and the ultimate gift.

If you’ve never accepted His gift of forgiveness and new life, simply say to Him: “Thank you Jesus for dying on the cross for my debt. I accept your gracious gift of forgiveness and want to follow you.” If you’ve already done this, thank God for this gift. Want to talk to someone? Call us at 505.247.3611 or email

Blending Jesus

By Karen Polich

Jesus + Anything Else = Trouble – Michael M. Cook

A blended Jesus quickly derails a life. Faith can become so weakened that Jesus isn’t even part of what or who is being worshiped.

Beware of the blender. There is no need to add anything to who He is. Life around us shouldn’t guide who we serve. As we grow in our faith, have we ever thought that our relationship with Him is not weakened by what is taken away as He makes us new, but by what we add in? How can you start with something already in its purest form and then choose to add anything to it?

Pure Jesus. He’s the One. Pure faith comes when we don’t blend cultural beliefs and ideas into “our Jesus”.

Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Fragile Growth, to learn more about an unblended Jesus. He shared three elements of “pure” Jesus. (Colossians 2:6-23)

New Life. We are made new in Christ. It is God who is cutting things away from our hearts, bringing us closer to Him and who He has called us to be.

Christ did not come to make bad people good or good people better. He came to bring life. He came to make dead people live. We are made alive in Christ. Trust Him, embrace Him, be careful not to add anything else to the mix.

New Identity. Think of it as related to the debts we cannot pay. How do we reconcile all that we cannot change? There are words we shouldn’t have said and those we know we should have. There are the things we did or didn’t do. All of the things we’ve done in our imperfection. None of it is who God created us to be. What’s the answer for it all? It takes something beyond this world, beyond what we can do. He has taken it away and nailed it to the cross. We can do nothing, but He can everything. He alone brings salvation through grace.

New Freedom. We are made new, filled by the Holy Spirit and given new life. Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil. Hebrews 2:14

Seek Jesus at His purest. He is the One.

What Can I Do?

By Kristin Overman

Every year I take my kids to the state fair. Since I am not a big crowd person, I always try to go early or on a day that is not busy. The boys totally wear me out. That is how I feel about politics and trying to influence it, a little person in a big crowd. I’ve felt that I can’t do anything to influence our nation. But God has begun to show me that there is something I can do.

There are stories in the Bible about God’s people working alongside kings and rulers, even evil ones. They influenced circumstances and were used by God. Daniel served as an adviser for Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius in the Babylonian and Persian empires. All three kings were power-hungry, narcissistic men. Belshazzar had a drunken party with the holy utensils from the temple in Jerusalem.

Esther was married to Artaxerxes, who paraded his previous wife, Vashti, before his drunken friends. Girls were taken from among the populace to be part of his harem and boys were taken to be eunuchs. He wasn’t much of a supporter of individual rights. History also notes that these rulers from Persia were known to make laws during drunken parties. There wasn’t representation of the people.

Joseph served Pharaoh who got advice from possessed sorcerers. He had the power to sentence men like the royal baker to death without a just trial by his peers. The people under him did not have any fair system of justice.

What can we learn from Daniel, Esther, and Joseph about politics? What can we do? Most of us are just little people in a big crowd. We are not advisers to rulers or spouses to kings. We don’t sit in the dinner halls of presidents. But we can do the things that they did. The Bible notes that Daniel and Esther prayed and fasted.

Do we use our voice to talk to God as much as we use it to talk to others? Do we use our voice to petition our government leaders? Daniel, Esther, and Joseph petitioned their rulers. Daniel asked to be allowed to follow God’s commands over the king’s. Esther petitioned for the life of her people. Joseph presented a plan to save Egypt from the famine. We can petition our leaders also. And, we can do it without risking our lives. Even though I feel intimidated, I’ve taken my boys up to Santa Fe and spoken with my Representatives in person.

Daniel, Esther, and Joseph proclaimed the truth. Daniel proclaimed who the true king was and confronted the kings about sin. Esther exposed the truth about Haman, the king’s closest adviser. Joseph proclaimed the truth to Pharaoh about his dream. We can proclaim truth to anyone we are in contact with.

God has shown me other things I could do. I can provide for those who defend freedom, God-given rights, and godly ideas. There are Christian political organizations that need support. They work on the front-lines. Organizations exist that fight for the rights of unborn babies, freedom of speech on college campuses where Biblical ideas are attacked, parental rights, and freedom of speech for churches.

Yes, God is sovereign and we should not worry, but God also uses His people. His sovereignty is not a reason to not act. I want to be a part of God’s setting up kingdoms and kings and work with the evil and lost people in my world, even the political world, because, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke.

Unfolding a Mystery of God

By Karen Polich

How much potential and possibility do we have in our Christian life? It is difficult to fathom how God can live in us and we in Him. The mystery is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27b) Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Fragile Growth, explored this mystery related to living out our full potential. Listen to the podcast here.

Colossians 1:24-29 24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

This speaks to the possibilities in every disciple’s life and helps clarify the potential in a “God transformed” life.

Christ is not diminished in us. It is a challenge to understand. His presence, received through salvation will be something that changes us. His presence released, strengthens us. It is not us, but Christ living in us and loving through us.

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. John 14:20

In the Christian life, we have tremendous help through the Holy Spirit. Will we use it? No matter the pressure faced in life, help is at hand. He resides in us. We need to move out of the way and let Him lead.

The power of Christ in our lives communicates something about our potential. We can exchange our strength for His. We often try to get to the point where we can do things on our own, which is impossible. We can’t, but He can. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

The prospect of Christ in us reveals the hope of glory. Often we swim in failure. Without hope where would we be? We have hope now and hope in the future. There is more waiting for us beyond today and this life. (Romans 8:11, Psalm 17:15)

How great in the Kingdom, can we be in terms of Kingdom building for the cause of Christ? What is our full potential in Christ? As we grow spiritually in fragile space, know that the Holy Spirit is there to strengthen us as we live a life transformed by God.






Giving Matters

By Trevor Jordan with Karen Polich

Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops. Proverbs 3:9

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Trevor Jordan and learn more about his perspective on giving and why it matters. Trevor grew up with parents who stressed the importance of tithing to him from an early age. Read on to learn more from Trevor.

As a kid, I wondered how God uses the money. My parents would put five dollars in my hand and let me place it in the offering. They were building the habit. As a young kid and then a college student, I didn’t have much of anything to give on my own. My parents helped me see that in any situation, we can and should give God what we have to give. It may hurt, but maybe it is supposed to so we are reminded that He comes first.

Now I see God in action with the resources we give. That sense of pride I feel when I see kids climbing on the rock wall or hear stories from a mission trip comes from giving. I get to be a part of something greater than me. God gives me the opportunity to invest in Him and His work. That’s a wonderful thing. As a shareholder, I have a stake in His church.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

You and I get to be a part of what God is doing through our giving. Every time we walk into the building, attend an event, or work with pastors who don’t have to split their time at another job in order to make ends meet, we are part of that. We are honoring God with our resources. Stewardship is obedience. God has called us to give Him our firstfruits and He blesses us when we are obedient.

Invest in God, in yourself and in the Kingdom.

God doesn’t need our money. His accomplishments are not dependent on us, yet He invites us to be part of His work. When we give to Him, He gives in return. He lets us be part of His amazing Kingdom work. It’s an investment that impacts my life in many ways. Having a heart of obedience that understands it’s all His has helped me grow in my relationship with God.

When we give from an obedient heart, we honor God. It’s an investment worth more than we can imagine.


Center Point

By Karen Polich

He created you and everything around you.

We all have a center point, the authority we give our allegiance to. Who (or what) is at the center point of your life? Take a look at life and evaluate what is the center piece. Where is your worship? Is God the center? Is it money, time, work, an upcoming wedding, fitness, the next vacation, or children?

What happens when Jesus is the center? Get ready. When Jesus is at the center you know, He won’t leave things the same. He’s going to ask you to love those who hate you. He’ll drive you to give more away. Your time, resources and priorities will become His. He’s not going to leave you alone.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—  if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Colossians 1:15-23

Why should Jesus be at the center?

  1. He made you and everything around you. The Son is the image of the invisible God. He is God, full and complete. Jesus lived among us in flesh, fully God. (Hebrews 1:3, John 14:9) Jesus is the first-born over all creation. Everything was created through Him and for Him.
  2. He bought us. (Colossians 1:19) We have been reconciled to God through Christ.

When Jesus is the center point, we see fruit and results in our lives.

Fragile growth is just that, it’s fragile. God never intended for us to stay as we are. He has plans and a purpose for every life. When we put Jesus at the center point of our lives, we can live life as it should be. What is your center point?

Listen to Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Fragile Growth, here.





Choose Joy

By Becky Cook

Tucked away in a Christmas bag from my mom this year was this picture. I almost missed it. Days after Christmas I found it, just a sliver of paper down in some Christmas tinsel. When I looked at it I was overcome with laughter. I could not help but understand the tears of these children and yet at the same time also feel the laughter that was coming from those behind the camera. God just spoke to me through this picture. In the midst of ending 2016 and ushering in the new, fresh year of 2017… we have got to choose JOY.
I hate taking pictures. I don’t want to see what I really look like on the outside. We expect “picture perfect” lives. We don’t want people to see the real US. We can throw fits, cry our eyes out and live in defeat of what life hands us. These kids are miserable. Probably uncomfortable and if one cries its’ a lot easier for everyone to cry. Behind the camera is someone just wanting to capture the sweet little faces of JOY. But the smiles are covered with tears.
Life is hard We think we will be happier if we just had what everyone else has. The perfect life, the perfect relationship, the perfect family, the perfect weight, the perfect health, and on and on. Our journeys don’t work like that.

As the new year rolls in, I am claiming to choose JOY this year.

I may not like the twists in my journey, I may not understand the ups and downs it will bring, I may be overwhelmed with so much JOY I don’t know how to handle it, but I am confident that “He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it”…. I serve a God who has more for me than I can think or even imagine, so I will trust and choose JOY. He knows the plans and His picture of my life will be perfect.
We live in a world that needs salvation, grace, peace, love and most of all JOY. Let’s be the walking examples of this. It’s ok to cry… JOY comes in the morning. These kids will look back one day at this picture and what a story it will tell. It will bring laughter to their lives and so much more meaning to the ones on the other side of the camera. Let the struggles of 2016 be a reminder of God’s presence to walk with us each day and never forsake us, even when we might have lost faith.
Let the new year of 2017 be ushered in with “unspeakable JOY” and a stronger faith in the promises given to us from a GOOD GOOD Father….

Shaping a Path

By Karen Polich

How would you describe your life right now?

God has called us to bear abundant fruit. As believers, it is not finished simply when we choose to follow Christ. Salvation through God’s grace is only the beginning. Growth through God’s path should follow.

Pastor Michael M. Cook began a new sermon series, Fragile Growth, from Colossians 1:3-14. What path are we on and is it God’s path for us? Listen to the podcast here.

Let’s look at our lives, praying for God to awaken us from any drifting. What areas are bearing fruit? Where can we grow? New growth is fragile and brings us to a vulnerable place, but as Paul reminds us, we can start with faith, love and hope. When we have faith in Jesus Christ, love for God’s people and hope, we can begin to bear fruit.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people – the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. Colossians 1:3-6

Paul reminds us we should be ever growing in our walk with the Lord. Many understand the grace of God. It is seen in the image of the crucifixion. God sent Jesus Christ to save us by His grace. What is sometimes missed is the way of God. God’s path for our lives is what sets us up for real growth.

Why do we see believers whose actions contradict their salvation? It is simple. Understanding God’s grace is not the same as understanding God’s path. The space between is where fragile growth occurs. It is where we develop into the difference makers we are called to be.

Examine where you are today. What steps can be taken to bring about the abundant fruit that comes when we go the way of God?

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:8