Month: March 2017

What’s a Church Supposed to Do?

By Karen Polich

What is the church? Some might say it’s a building, an address, a specific denomination or a charitable organization. Those things don’t define what a church is or its purpose. The church serves a purpose that has not changed.

Guest pastor, Dr. Earl Craig, shared four “centers” of the church. (Listen to the podcast here.)

The church is a healing center. (Acts 3:1-10) The church exists to help fix problems. (James 1) Hurting and broken people find hope at this center. When trials arise, we should go back to the basics of Who God is and His promises. We should pray and cling to His Word, seeking Him. Do you have a go-to verse you focus on in times of trouble?

Trials are not meant to impair us but to improve us. Some problems are not meant to be solved. They are meant to be endured. – Dr. Earl Craig

The church is a training center. (Ephesians 4:1-6, 11-15) A call to follow God is a call to prepare. Every Christian is called. We should be prepared. A call to serve in any area is always a call to prepare. What are we doing daily to prepare?

The church is a warning center. (Matthew 25:1-46) Jesus gives us warnings about our readiness in this passage. Warning people of danger is not being negative. It is a sign you really care.

The church is a power center. (Ephesians 6:10-17) It is OUR responsibility. We must “put on” and “take”, just as this passage describes. God provides what we need, we must choose to use it. We should feel empowered and encouraged to be who God has called us to be.

What is next for you as a Christ-follower? Your answer determines the kind of Christian you are going to be.

Dr. Earl H. Craig was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. He attended Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, on a golf scholarship. Dr. Craig has a Master of Theology and Doctorate of Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He served as Senior Pastor for over twenty years in three churches. Dr. Craig moved into stewardship ministry with RSI and became a Senior VP. This allowed him to be in over 130 churches a year for over 25 years. Dr. Craig has served on the Board of Directors for Dallas Baptist University, Mississippi College, Southwestern Seminary and Dallas Athletic Club. He and his wife Ann have been married for 48 years. They have a son and daughter and four grandchildren.

The Call to Ministry

 

By Mike and Becky Cook

The call of ministry in life is an ongoing commitment to the phrase, “Here am I, send me.”

It doesn’t state a location, a length of time or any other detailed requirements. It’s just a selfless, heartfelt surrender to go! At times, it causes deep pain as the grip of control has to be completely released in all areas of life. Many believers find in times of surrender, God has free reign to move in ways that are beyond our understanding.

Change brings struggle and struggle causes growth in our faith!

As we embark on our 5th journey of ministry we leave Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church with Philippians 1:3-6 on our hearts. We let go of an amazing church, precious church family members, a staff that is family and a state we will always LOVE!
We want to thank all of you for your sweet notes, cards, and gifts of love that were shared with us at our reception. Our hearts are full of gratefulness to God for the time we had with AFBC.
God has an amazing plan for His body of believers in Albuquerque and “He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it!” The best is yet to come! Stay faithful to your part in this incredible body of believers and just enjoy watching God reveal Himself and His plan for the church.

With our deepest love and gratitude,
Mike and Becky Cook

Press On

By Karen Polich

Pastor Trey Sullins delivered Sunday’s message, teaching God’s Word and His plan for His church. Colossians 1:18a says, And He is the head of the body, the church. AFBC is wrapped up in Jesus. This is His church. We are called to be the hands and feet. In times of change, it is about moving forward in obedience.

“God will move in a mighty way. In times of change we are called to press forward, not shift into neutral.” – Trey Sullins

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

Jesus is the head of the church. He sets the course. The body carries out the ministry of the church and is made up of all who claim to be followers of Christ. We are never called to move backwards or stand still in ministry. We are called to move forward and follow God’s plan for our lives and His church. When a pastor leaves, the ministry of the church doesn’t stop until we get a new pastor. The ministry continues and during this time, more than ever, each member should commit to serve and minister as God directs.

Don’t be like the children of Israel. When something they didn’t like happened, they complained and struggled. They resorted to what they knew from the past, forgetting all that God had already walked them through. The leadership of Joshua and the elders was strong and followed God. When Joshua and the elders died, the next set of leaders did not trust or follow God and began worshiping idols and trusting in other things. This led to the next generation of Israelites not knowing what God had done and trusting in His provision. This responsibility did not only fall on the leadership, but the people themselves. We are all responsible for our relationship with Christ and our obedience to what He has called us to. AFBC is God’s church to which you are called.

We are called to pray for AFBC, but more importantly, we are called to pray for the team of individuals that will seek God’s man for AFBC. Pray daily for each member. Pray that we focus on God’s agenda and not our own. We must stand firm and keep our eyes focused on Him. If not, we run the risk of the next generation not following God. Where are you today? Are you seeking His will and moving forward?  I am moving forward, are you going with me!

A Firm Foundation

By Karen Polich

Guest Pastor Dennis Garcia shared Sunday’s message, A Firm Foundation, from Matthew 7:24-29. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

Life will always have difficulties, challenges and transitions. The foundation we build upon is what matters. One is eternal and one is temporary. Which foundation are you building life on?

“Jesus is the only foundation on which to build a solid life and a solid church. Every other foundation will fail you.” – Pastor Dennis Garcia

Pastor Garcia shared five steps for building a firm foundation.

  1. The Bible is our guide. (Psalm 199:105)
  2. Prayer is our life line. (Philippians 4:6-7)
  3. The Holy Spirit is our power for Christian living. (Galatians 5:16)
  4. The church body is our support system. (1 Thessalonians 5:11, John 13:34)
  5. The world is our mission field. God can use us to reach others.

Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and life’s challenges will not overtake you. A strong foundation will prepare us for anything.

Rejoice, He Makes Things New

By Karen Polich

Philippians 4:4-8 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

The Bible if full of stories about leadership changes. As AFBC embarks into new transitions, Pastor Cook’s message from Acts 20:13-38 focused on three areas tied to biblical transitions.

Accomplishment. God has done great things here. We’ve moved to a new location. AFBC has a people from all generations and the body is service oriented with a focus on others.

Affirmation. When things change, there is always and ending, neutral zone and a new beginning.

Anticipation. Stay close to God. He is about to make all things new.

Pastor Michael M. Cook reminded the church body of three reasons Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church’s greatest days are ahead of her.

  1. It’s a remarkable place. As a church, this place is full of people seeking to follow Christ.
  2. You know who you are and what God has called you to accomplish.
  3. There is strength in the balanced and diversified fellowship.

Take time today to pray for God’s plan. There are great days ahead.

 

“It Was Michael Cook Or No One” Celebrating 11 Years of Ministry

When Pastor Cook took the reins of AFBC the church was at an all-time low. Membership was declining and there was an internal struggle about moving to the west side. Church leadership was looking for a man, the man, that would lead them forward, into the promised land, you might say. God called Michael M. Cook to be that man.

“He was the only one. We didn’t have a second choice or even a third. It was Michael Cook or no one.” This is the story that Dr. Lenton Malry frequently shares about bringing Pastor Cook to Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church in January of 2006.

That was eleven years ago, and on Sunday, February 19th, Pastor Cook announced to the congregation that he would be leaving AFBC to accept a call at Oakland Heights Baptist Church in Longview, TX.

While serving at AFBC, the church made the move to the west side, first to Petroglyph Elementary School and in early 2010 into their brand-new home on Paseo del Norte. This past year, Pastor Cook led our church through the expansion of our children’s department, and now AFBC is home to a thriving Parent’s Day Out program in our new preschool hall. Now seven years later AFBC continues to grow and thrive.

Those years were not the easiest, and time and again, AFBC found itself in the midst of new challenges.  However, Pastor always put the people of the church first. He carried many home-cooked meals to members, sick or grieving. He counseled and prayed, mentored and taught, listened and encouraged, all the traits of a good shepherd. And he coached, one of the many gifts that come naturally to him. While at AFBC he has invested much of his time in developing a winning team, a team that will continue long after he has moved back to Texas, an accomplishment he can be proud of.

Now God has a new assignment for he and Becky. Oakland Heights is facing some challenges and God has asked him to step in. He will be missed, but we send him on to his new position with our prayers, knowing that God will use him again to do great things for His Kingdom.

Connection Offerings

By Karen Polich

There’s something about our habits. We usually do what we usually do. We usually don’t do what we usually don’t do. How do we make the shift? – Michael M. Cook

We all have a role in the body of the Church. Pastor Michael M. Cook wrapped up the Fragile Growth sermon series on Sunday. This eight week series focused on moving forward in our growth as followers. Connection Offerings, teaches from Colossians 4:7-18; looking at five people and their traits. What if we adopted these traits? Listen to the podcast here.

Availability (Tychicus). He was available and dependable. God is more concerned about our availability than our ability. Are we ready to say “yes” when He can use us?

Useful (Onesimus). He was faithful. We see in Philemon 1:11 that he had failure in life, but God still used him. Failure does not have to be final. In failures, we have a choice to give up or move on. It is important as a believer to have the capacity to move forward. God can do anything. There can be new starts and things can turn around. It’s all possible.

Reconciliation (Mark). There is a fine line between we are not right with each other and we are now right with each other. Choosing a church is simply a matter of deciding which group of radically flawed individuals you will commit your life to.

Be careful and be slow to write people off. – Michael M. Cook

Prayer (Epaphras). He was always “wrestling in prayer”. The opposite of prayer is self-reliance. What does a prayer warrior recognize? God is able to do things that we are not able to do. It is heavy, hard work. Not a prayer warrior? What would get you to become one? What can God accomplish that you can’t?

 Generosity (Nympha). Everything she had was at God’s disposal. Is this how we live? Much can happen when we have a generous heart and hold nothing for ourselves.

Whatever condition we find ourselves in, we are all in this together. What would it look like if we all adopted these traits, wrestling in prayer as we give and make ourselves available for His Kingdom? We are all needed somewhere right now.