Month: November 2017

A Trip I Will Never Forget

By Libby Edwards
All I heard were people yelling my name in a different language, and trying to touch me like I was famous.

I was meeting my birth parents in Cambodia for the first time.

But before I met them, I toured Cambodia; it was fun seeing everything. We went to the ocean and it was great jumping off rocks and feeling the water hit my face. It was
really cold, but it was worth it. One time I was walking up some steps at the beach to get back to the hotel I stepped down and saw a scorpion. I jumped and ran to my friends; it was scary. We also saw a lot of the old temples and several monks wearing orange. It was weird seeing people praying to their god and not ours, but it was a good experience. The food was really good too; I ate a lot of noodles and egg rolls. It was fun spending New Year’s Eve in Cambodia; it was a lot different, but cool.

The day I went to meet my birth parents was one of the coolest and scariest days.

We got there by a road we called the bumpy road because it was really bumpy. We were flying up in the air and hitting our heads on the roof; it was something I probably won’t forget. Once we got there, people surrounded our van and it was really weird. When I stepped out everyone started saying my name and other words I didn’t understand. I was so confused. We sat inside their house and waited for my birth parents. I was scared and thinking, “What are they going to think of me?” As soon as my birth mom saw me she started crying and gave me a hug. I don’t like hugs but I thought I should give her one anyway, so I did. After that we started talking through our translator. Then some lady came up to me and started braiding my hair; I had no idea who she was, but I just went with it. I made balloon animals for the little kids and they were so happy. Later we said our goodbyes and headed off.
My parents said I showed Christian love to my birth parents and their friends in my attitude toward them. “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:10). After we got back home, my parents told me the people we thought were my birth parents, turned out not to be my birth parents. The first thing I said to my Mom and Dad was, “You mean I hugged that lady for no reason?” It was fun anyway seeing them and seeing how happy they were to meet me even if they weren’t my birth parents. It was a trip I will never forget!

Libby Edwards is an 18-year old senior at Hope Christian School. She is a member of
Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church where she serves on the worship team for The Peak Student Ministry. An accomplished musician, Libby enjoys writing her own original music.

Poor in Spirit

By Robert Thomas

In Matthew chapter 5, we read the beginning of Jesus’ most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon, Jesus teaches many things that contradict the world’s teaching, but reveal the type of life that God desires for His people. Instead of using worldly ways of thinking and behaving, Jesus encourages us to abandon what the world thinks, and counteract it with spiritual truths. Jesus begins this teaching with this thought: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

These words are part of the very core of what it means to be a Christian. Jesus isn’t talking about being physically poor, He’s referring to the state of our souls.

To be blessed, which could also be translated “happy”, or “fortunate”, is a benefit to the one who is poor in spirit. Although each person is spiritually dead inside because of their sin, Jesus still encourages His followers not just to be poor in spirit, but to acknowledge they are poor in spirit.

To live like we’re poor in spirit, we must first acknowledge our need before the Lord.

Instead of trying to be self-sufficient and solve our spiritual problems on our own, we must recognize our utterly desperate spiritual bankruptcy and come to Christ in humility, begging for forgiveness from our sins. To be a follower of Christ whatsoever, we must conclude that without Jesus, we are dead inside and have no hope of ever saving ourselves. Spiritual poverty is deeply rooted in the very Gospel itself – humanity is lost and in desperate need without a Savior, and Jesus came and died to pay the price for our sins. Since the price is paid, we can come to Jesus in belief and repentance and receive eternal life.
Living like we’re poor in spirit isn’t something only new believers have to worry about, because the Lord has always wanted His people to depend on Him for their every need. Belief in Jesus as Lord and confession of our sins isn’t just a place to start, it’s a model that should color every day of our lives. Throughout the Bible we are reminded that we should come before the Lord daily to confess our deep continual need, but probably the best example of this is the way Jesus lived his life. He would often go off by Himself to seek sustenance and guidance from the Lord, and He taught His disciples to pray each day for their daily bread from the Lord.

In our lives today, we cannot afford to forget our spiritual poverty, and we cannot escape the fact that without the Holy Spirit and the words of God constantly pouring into our lives, we are spiritually destitute.

We cannot ever reach a state of self-sufficiency in our walks with the Lord; we cannot ever become spiritual enough that we eliminate the need to consistently return to His presence to be filled. But take heart! The Bible promises that the mercies of the Lord are new every morning, and in His presence we find our true fulfillment and joy.
Pattern your life after Jesus, and live like He did. Live poor in spirit, because Jesus tells us that the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.

Look After the Orphans

By Gai Gai Anderson

The month of November is Adoption Month. That in itself should make us think about James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

I can remember ten years ago when Angella and I flew back from Uganda, July 13, 2007, and she landed in the USA for the first time. God had answered many prayers through several years for that moment to happen. Small 2 ½ year-old Angella had become our daughter, to look after from then on. The adoption was finalized on November 17, 2007, on Adoption Day in Albuquerque.
Christians don’t often think of themselves as following a religion. After all, God calls us to a personal relationship with Him, not a religious experience or set of rules. James, the writer of James 1:27, had seen religious leaders flaunting their so-called spirituality in front of the masses. After seeing these leaders, perhaps there were Christians spread throughout the land wondering what God thought about religion. Am I supposed to be a religious person? What does that look like? James felt he needed to address the issue.
We have no problem with the last part of this definition of religion that says God wants us to keep the world’s views from polluting our lives. We know as followers of Christ we are to be set apart from the world and to be holy. In addition, our church serves widows by assigning deacons to support, encourage, and help meet their needs. Even those who are not deacons “love on” the widows in our fellowship.

Haven’t we forgotten the children? We are to look after orphans in their distress.

Every Christian couple and even Christian single adults should pray about adopting a child. Not so they can claim to be religious, but because God tells us to look after them. To some people this may be to sponsor a child somewhere in the world through Compassion International or World Vision. Some of you, no doubt, have been called to adopt a child from here in the States or from another country. To the Anderson family it looked like a precious, extra small, 2 ½ year old Ugandan girl who turned into a beautiful, tall, 13-year- old Ugandan-American.

Yes, keep yourselves from being polluted by the world and continue looking after widows; but pray about how “look after orphans…in their distress” is to be lived out in your life. Be a “religious” person in the true sense of the word.

Living with Balance

By Karen Polich

Not much about our lives is perfectly laid out. How do we find balance?

Our focus point is key in living with “balance”. When our focus is in the right place, we can make the adjustments we need. When we are firmly focused on Christ, we can put everything into perspective. We are gifted with the perfect filter for everything we do.

“So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.” 1 Corinthians 10:31-33

We are called to do all things for the glory of God. It’s that simple.

Matt Snook & Ty Haguewood delivered Sunday’s message on balance in our lives and with our finances. You can dive in with them on the podcast.

When it comes to our finances, it’s just one more area where we have the opportunity to glorify God. As we live out God’s call in our lives, advancing the Kingdom is the goal.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:19-24

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 This scripture reminds us our dependence should be on God in all things. There is no reason to trust our own efforts or riches above Him.

When our focus is on Him, all the correcting and adjusting become easy and constant from the perspective His will. We can become out of balance with great things as well as bad things, but when God is at the center, and our hearts stay on Him, we will seek the light and live our lives His way.

God has designed happiness and holiness to sync with Him. He is the source of our balance and our joy.

Do you need to shift your focus back to Him? Spend time with God today and ask Him to restore His balance in your life.