Month: June 2017

Where Do You Turn?

By Karen Polich

At times, things move along in an easy fashion. Everything seems to fall into place and blue skies abound. Then there are seasons which push us past our limits.

Think about your worst day or hardest season. Was it just one thing that went wrong or did circumstances pile up? Tough days and hard seasons happen. When you find yourself at a low point, on the brink of breaking, where do you turn?

You are not alone.

Jeremiah was intimate with the darkness found in low places. Jeremiah experienced what a horrible day looks like, and he was not alone. Called by God, Jeremiah was a prophet who shared what no one wanted to hear. He had clear instructions to follow and his obedience put him in a place of despair. He felt humiliated and alone. Crying out to God, he finds himself in a pit, but still expresses trust in his lamentation.

Jeremiah 20: 7-10 (NIV)
7 You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived;
you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.
8 Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the Lord has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
9 But if I say, “I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.
10 I hear many whispering,
“Terror on every side!
Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!”
All my friends
are waiting for me to slip, saying,
“Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we will prevail over him
and take our revenge on him.”

In the midst of his pain, Jeremiah is talking, feeling and trusting. Numbness and silence are not our friends. Emotions cannot be selectively numbed. It is all or none. Shutting out the pain shuts out all of the joy too.

In the midst of a hard day or a tough season, God is with you!

Despite any circumstances, He loves you and brings the ultimate hope to any situation. You are never alone. Take time to study His Word and develop a habit of going to Him in good times and bad.

Jeremiah 32:27 says,’ “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? ‘

Components of the Gospel, Continued…

By Karen Polich

“In your own faith, how firmly established and steadfast are you? Are you deeply rooted or easily moved?” – Kevin Linthicum

Colossians 1:13-23

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 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[a] 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.

Last week Pastor Kevin Linthicum started his two-part sermon series on the Gospel, and shared the components that sin is a reality. There is a penalty for sin and the penalty must be paid. The remaining components bring the great news that leads to eternal salvation.

The penalty was paid by Christ. (Romans 5:8, Romans 5:10) One of the greatest challenges in sharing the gospel is the reality that a person even needs to be saved. What if they are happy where they are? We have the joyful expectation that comes only from the sanctification of Christ as Lord in our hearts. This is the account we give for the hope in us.

Salvation is a free gift. (Ephesians 2:6-8, Romans 3:24-26, Titus 3:5) It is truly free.

You and I need to accept this free gift. (John 1:12, John 6:37, 1 John 5:11-12) When the gift is extended, we have to receive it.

Who have you shared the gospel message with recently? It should be an outpouring of our hearts when Jesus has been given authority in our lives. As a follower of Christ, we should be ready to offer an account for the hope in us. Guard against spiritual apathy. When we become indifferent to the lost, we need to take a hard look into our own hearts.

While the way is narrow, (Matthew 7:13-14), a choice can be made to turn from the broad path and enter through the narrow gate. Sharing the message of Christ doesn’t mean forcing acceptance of such a gift. It should be done with gentleness and patience. Be available for God to use you. He will do the work of the heart.

Listen to the podcast here.

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing it Home as a Family

By Bethany Bentley

We went to camp with a lot of expectations. We were ready to have that “night where the whole youth group cries together”, ready to worship with thousands of students, ready to make new friends, ready to play loud rounds of Uno, just like we did last year. We had a lot of those things.

But this year was not like last year. We had our old moments, our new moments, our angry moments, our joyful-beyond-words moments, and the moments when we were all really done with the humidity and the giant hill.

I don’t think any of us would trade any of these moments for a repeat of last year. Here is a list of my moments.

So much brokenness got brought into the light in our small groups. We poured ourselves out and allowed Christ to bring restoration. We got to watch God grow and heal our friends. Many of us took steps and leaps in our faith, and it had less to do with being in Oklahoma and more to do with all of us just seeking God. He met us where we were.

We saw Delia Pierce respond during the altar call on the last night, after so many of us had been praying for her all week. Sarah and Becca Woffard were jumping. Jay Magnant threw both his hands in the air in praise. Everyone was crying; it was amazing.

The small groups prayed for each other one night. The middle schoolers came together in friendship and openness. The high school boys listened to and prayed for the middle school girls, and they did it in gentleness and love. The girls bonded over similar struggles. It was incredible to see.

During the ‘open-mic night’ many of us shared what God is doing in our lives. Connor Powell made us all cry, laugh, and took us on an emotional roller-coaster that none of us were ready for. Tyler Geldmacher, though terrified of public speaking, got up and shared how much God has stretched him the last few days, weeks, and months.

As a family we laughed, cried, and praised God for what He was doing.

By the end of the week, we saw those who had been quiet and distant finally surrender to Christ. We watched several of our friends surrender to ministry. During our in-cabin worship we were able to just lay it all down and worship with complete abandon.

More than anything else, we left feeling like a truly united family. But this is only the beginning. Students, let’s take what we learned at camp out of Oklahoma. Let’s apply it all on our campuses and in our homes. The battle starts now, let’s start fighting as a family. This is only the beginning.

Components of the Gospel

By Karen Polich

“God’s will for us is what He wishes to be done by us.” – Kevin Linthicum

God’s will is simple, straightforward, and rarely easy. It requires an intentional effort on our part and clear obedience.

After his recent sermon series, Discipleship, deeper questions about the gospel message arose. In response, Pastor Kevin Linthicum began a two-part series, Components of the Gospel, for those seeking to disciple and be discipled. Listen to the sermon podcast here.

As communicators of the gospel, it is not our job to convince anyone. We are to be proclaimers of the gospel, communicating the Word of Truth. God will take care of the rest. The gospel is constantly bearing fruit – with or without us. Remember, it will not always be easy and will require perseverance.

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. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. Colossians 1:5-12

We are called to show unconditional love for others through Christ. We are also called to seek out His will. To be filled with the precise and correct knowledge of God’s will in your life will transform your journey with Christ.

“When you determine you are going to be obedient in what God has called you to do, your knowledge of Him will be greater and you will know Him more. To walk in a manner worthy of the Lord has everything to do with making due use of the opportunities given to us.” – Kevin Linthicum

Led by the Spirit, we will see opportunities around us each day. God has qualified us in Christ. When we have accepted Him, we should continue to grow in our knowledge of Him and share that knowledge with others.

The first three components of the gospel include:

  1. An understanding of the reality of sin. (Romans 3:10, 23, Genesis 3) Sin is sin. We are all born into sin and our sin separates us from God. There is no one righteous, not even one.
  2. A penalty for sin. (Romans 5:12, Romans 6:23, Colossians 1, Ezekiel 18:20) We often try to sugarcoat this. The penalty of sin is death! There is no way around it without Christ.
  3. The penalty must be paid. (Romans 2:!2) The payment for sin is death, but as we will see in the conclusion next week, we can choose not to be eternally separated from God. The good news is, the penalty has been paid by Jesus.

To be continued next week…The great news of the gospel.

 

Never Waste a Moment

By Krisit Sullins

Vacation Bible School has arrived here at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church. The decorations are being hung.  Crafts are being prepped and snacks are being planned.  After years and years of experience, we have a routine and a plan.  However, the reality is much greater than the plan.

For those who lead in ministry, volunteers who give their time, and those who, at all stages of life, find a way to serve, this week is a week of moments.  Moments that are made when teachers, in costumes, make the stories of the Bible come to life.  Moments when adults and children worship together.  Moments when our youth give up their time to decorate, lead and invest.

The best moments are when you see a child grasp the reality of God’s great love for them.

As the AFBC family prepares for Vacation Bible School, our prayer is that God moves in a mighty way.  Our theme, “Finding Messiah”, sets the stage for children to discover how they can know Jesus was truly the Messiah, sent to save us.  We will journey through the Bible finding proof within the stories in the Gospels.

This is more than a program we do, or just an average week in the summer.  It is a time that will be filled with moments for the children who attend.  Often a moment is all God needs to change everything.  Christ, Himself, understood the importance of taking a moment of time to be with children.  He knew their value in the Kingdom.

As each volunteer prepares for VBS, we pray they would see the importance of the task at hand and would embrace the sacrifice it requires to make a Kingdom impact.  We pray for each family that will be connected through VBS, that they would be changed by learning about the Messiah who loves them.  And we pray that God would move in His mighty way so that by Thursday night it would be clear that all that had been accomplished was through Him.

May each of us be able to answer like Peter when Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16

A New You

A New You by Ty Haguewood

You are loved. You are redeemed. The old is gone, the new has come. Do you believe that?

If you are like me, I have struggled to believe I am a new creation. We are quick to take the title, “New Creation” but slow to let that sink in. Think about it. 2 Corinthians 5 tells us those who are in Christ are new creatures. I don’t always feel that way.

I struggle to believe the old is actually gone. There are three major reasons we often hold on to the old self and refuse to embrace the new creation Christ has made us to be. The three major setbacks are:

  1. Not trusting what the Lord has said
  2. Being afraid of change
  3. Fearing sacrifice.

Maybe you have been all three? I have.

The Word of God tells us exactly what believers are in Christ yet we don’t trust. We have to get to the point that we actually trust God at His Word. We are to believe the entirety of Scripture even the parts that we struggle to embrace. It’s hard to embrace this new identity because we don’t trust God with what He says, the process of change, or the sacrifices that may accompany following.

There is a beautiful freedom that comes with taking God at His Word. You haven’t experienced true freedom if you have yet to believe what He says.

We have been set free by the blood of Jesus to walk in our new identity that comes with such a great purpose. You are loved and then given the opportunity to tell the world about the same love you have experienced in Christ Jesus.

We cannot fulfill our purpose as believers if we haven’t first embraced the new identity Christ has lavished upon us.

Making Time for God

Making Time for God by Elizabeth Thomas

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans. – Proverbs 16:3

I don’t know about you, but I love summer. As a teacher, I probably look forward to summer more than my students do! I know people like to joke about teachers having so much time “off”, but I really covet the time that I can spend unwinding from a tough school year and gearing up for the next one.

As much as I wish summers were relaxed and stress-free, we all know that is not true. Summers can be busy, hectic times filled with summer camps, family trips, swimming lessons, etc. Life certainly doesn’t slow down during the summer, it often speeds up!

When life becomes hectic, it can be easy to forget about spending time with God. During times when our lives are structured and consistent, it is easier to plan time each day to focus on our relationship with God. I know that during the school year when my schedule is set and my routines are in place, I have specific times set aside to spend on my quiet time. But during the summer, routines are different and plans tend to change frequently. It can be difficult to “find time” for God.

I am embarrassed to admit that I struggle to have daily time with God. The God that saved me, the God that loves me, the God that sacrificed His life for me – that is the God that I don’t always make time for. When I sit back and realize that I have let my life become so busy that I have lost my connection to Him, I feel sick. Have things in my life suddenly become so important that I have lost sight of my true purpose in being here? My mission as a follower of Jesus is to know Him and to tell others about Him. And to know Him, I have to spend time with Him.  

My goal this summer is to not let the hectic bustle of this world distract me from God. I am going to put my focus on Him, make time for Him first, and let the rest of my plans fit around that schedule. Will you join me?   

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You. – Isaiah 26:3