The Hope Effort


By AFBC Staff

“I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.”
Psalm 118:17

While the Apostle Paul frequently admonishes us not to look back the psalmist reminds us that it is good to recount the deeds of the Lord.

On Sunday October 4th Pastor Michael M. Cook took us for a journey, a journey that led us back in time. Is it possible that just a short season ago our church was 7 million dollars in debt? We were struggling with a property that could not be sold, interest payments that were hard to meet and frankly, a future that was unsure.

Pastor Cook shared that as of today we have sold the downtown property, paid off all debts and settled with the BNSF Railroad. We have 1.6 million dollars in the bank and are completely debt free. God is faithful!

Let’s sit back and rest? No! There is work to be done. Souls to be won! We must move forward with fervor. Pastor Cook now redirected our attention to the future.

Where do we go from here? Pastor Cook reminds us that whatever we choose to do we must be united in thought and deed. The enemy would like nothing more than to divide our congregation.

In 2013 – 2014 our church leadership conducted a needs assessment and identified five areas that needed to be addressed by our fellowship. These are what we consider “Tools for Success.”

• an outdoor play area for our children
• additional classroom space for children and preschool ministry
• the relocation of our church offices to the main campus
• signage
• storage

We are thrilled to report that today through monies from the Eternal Stones project and gifts from the congregation, our children are all smiles as they slide down slides and climb on the bars in the new playground.

Earlier this year AFBC launched the two year Hope Effort to raise just under 1 million dollars to provide for additional needs, namely the addition of the space that will accommodate the children’s/preschool ministry and church offices. To date we have had approximately $496,000 pledged to the Hope Effort. Of that amount approximately $141,000 has been received. As you can see, we have a little ways to go.

Setting our sights on these important improvements is all well and good. But Pastor Cook reminds us that we cannot neglect our general operating budget to fulfill our desires for the future. We must be good stewards and take care of today.

Pastor Cook proposes a two phase approach. Phase One would include using a portion of the funds from the railroad settlement to complete the building addition and the signage on the corner of Paseo del Norte and Richland Hills. It would also allow us to place $225,000 in a reserve fund should we need it in the future.

Phase Two challenges the fellowship to a new project, a basic building that would be situated to the north of the existing building. This new building would allow a large multi-purpose room that could be divided into smaller rooms. It would also provide a needed storage area. Off the back of the building would be a recreational area that could include basketball hoops, etc.

On Wednesday, October 14 at 10:30 a.m. and Sunday, October 18 at 3:00 p.m. we will be holding our quarterly church conference. At this time Pastor Cook will discuss the details of these projects and offer the congregation and opportunity for discussion. Plan now to attend.

Stuff, Struggles & God’s Offer

By Karen Polich

You can’t have everything. Seriously, where would you put it? – Steven Wright

Take a good look into your life. Many of us have full closets but empty hearts. Pastor Michael Cook wrapped up his Stuff sermon series with what God says in the midst of our struggles with stuff.

Revelation 3:17-20 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Are we in a place where we have more stuff than ever before but are enjoying less? Homes are three times larger than fifty years ago and lack nothing to fill them. The abundance of stuff can distract our faith. God reminds us we are refined through His fire and clothed through His purification.

God is here, calling us. We tend to focus on the stuff more than Him. He wants to share our lives. The wealth of a Christ follower comes not with stuff, but in Christ. How do we handle our stuff? Over the last few weeks, Pastor Michael Cook has taught us the importance of shifting our focus from stuff to Christ, leading to a truly generous life.

Ready for the next step? Christ whispers into our hearts with endless places to start.

Here are just four possibilities of first steps as we move out of the struggle of stuff.

Edit your life. Start with one area and begin to edit things out. We don’t have to start big. One thing after another, week after week and our lives will be changed.

Begin a gratitude journal. Write down one thing you are grateful for each day. Gratitude trains our heart, combating comparison and the desire for something “better”.

Serve consistently. As God blesses us with stuff, our heart naturally turns inward. Serving others takes our heart back. Serving grows gratitude.

Give faithfully. Don’t wait! It will never get easier to give. Abundance doesn’t lead to giving, intentional generosity does. Whatever you have, be generous now. Developing a spending plan is a great place to start.

Our needs and wants can crossover, but God is ready to do something great in our lives regarding stuff. He stands, He calls, He knocks…

Challenge: Ending the struggle over stuff can begin today. We can choose to seek Christ first, living generously and being who God created each of us to be. Want change in life? Take a new step today.

Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here. Learn about the Hope Effort at



Will God Provide?

By AFBC Staff

Do you ever doubt that God will provide for your needs?

On Sunday, Kristi Sullins taught the 4 year olds of AFBC an important lesson about how God provides for our needs. Sharing from the story of Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17: 8-16), Kristi recounted how this widow was down to the last meal for she and her son when Elijah came along seeking food. Kristi creatively painted a picture of the widow’s obedience to God by feeding Elijah and how God blessed her for it.

As the children sat crowded on the rug in their small classroom they drew pictures of their needs. “Food,” was a quick response from Kariela Polich, “watermelon.” “Mac and cheese,” Aidan McFadden chimed in. Soon the children were all shouting out their favorites.

“Friends” became a common reply and it was precious watching the children wrap their arms around one another affirming that response. Yes, we all need friends. God often provides for our needs through friends.

The children’s list continued to grow. Clothes, a house, mom and dad were all things of high priority to our children. It was evident they understood the concept of need, but their understanding was on a very basic, very personal level.

Across the building in the PreTeen classroom the discussion was quite different. These kids in grades 5 and 6 have a greater understanding of need. Since their preschool days they have been taught Bible stories that demonstrated how God provides. Now at this stage of instruction they can look beyond the personal level. They have listened as Pastor Cook has shared the needs of our church family.

When asked for their thoughts about the Hope Effort, they excitedly offered their opinions. James Woffard spoke up and said, “Our preschool classes are full and they need more room.” Carolyne Savage quickly agreed, “Most of us are packed to the eaves.” Students Kendall Mitchell, Bailey Dobson and Mikaela Glade chimed in saying that the more space we have the more people can come to our church.

Out of the minds and mouths of youth often come the most profound words, “We need to expand for the next generation.” Mady Kettler is not just thinking about today but she’s looking toward tomorrow.

Coming from a different perspective Sophia Sullins said, “Kids are loud and wild and they need a place to be free.” Looking at things on a more personal level, Jeremiah Leetham commented, “With more room we won’t have to sit on the floor.” To which the girls all responded that they like sitting on the floor. Maybe chairs are not as much of a need when you are a preteen.

Not to be left out, the always practical Jameson Anderson who helps Robert lead this group said, “Saving $50,000 is good!” Robert Thomas summed it all up. “It’s like we’re trapped in a flower pot that’s too small. We need a bigger pot so that our plant can grow.” Well said, Robert.

Seriously, the students in the PreTeen class recognize the challenge before us. They understand that they need to be part of the solution. And they trust that as they are obedient God will provide.

What about you? Are you a little anxious like the Widow of Zarephath, wondering if you will have enough. Are you willing to take that step of faith and give of what you have?

She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.

1 Kings 17:15-16 NIV

Enjoying Our Stuff

By Karen Polich

What are the things in your life you really enjoy? The Creator is whispering to all of us, “Enjoy…”

Pastor Michael Cook concluded his Stuff sermon series with a deeper look at enjoying what we have. Wealth is not always a friend of faith. At times we can become so enamored or distracted by what we have that we miss the One who blessed us with all of it.

Often the more we have, the more we experience spiritual drifting. We focus on what we have and what we can do because of what we have. Life begins to operate around the personal. We focus on our kids’ activities, the travel we can easily do, or just the task of caring for the possessions we’ve surrounded ourselves with. How do we keep our hearts moving toward God with gratitude?

1 Timothy 6:17-18  Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

Serving and sharing will keep our hearts where they need to be. Spiritual growth should never suffer because of the blessings God has bestowed upon us. Our greatest challenge may not be that we are rich, but that we don’t feel rich. When we don’t know and don’t understand how rich we truly are we fall short when it comes to generosity.

He says, “Enjoy…just don’t forget about Me!”

Doing anything for others is better than offering everything “if they need it”! When we become doing people instead of offering people we are truly investing in others. This rescues us from self-focus. When our focus is on others, we can fully enjoy everything God has given us. Our stuff should be a tool that brings glory to God through our generosity. We can all live generously. God has blessed us beyond measure.

Are you a giving, sharing person? Enjoy your stuff, but keep your focus on Him.

Project for the week:

  1. Serve someone in a place that is out of the ordinary for you.
  2. Find out how much you are giving away. What is the percentage? (You just did your taxes.) Knowing how much of your life you are giving away is critical.

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give –Winston Churchill

Visit for more information regarding the Hope Effort. Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here.

Ten Apples

By Karl Lee

I like a good story, how about you? I find that some stories just stick in your head and at times sort of pop up in your mind. Of course a good story always begins with, “Once upon a time” This is one of them:

Once upon a time there was a man who had nothing and God gave him ten apples. God gave him three apples to eat, three apples to trade for shelter from the elements of the weather, and three apples to trade for clothing to wear. The last and tenth apple he gave to the man so he could it give it back to God in gratitude for the other nine.

The man ate the first three apples. The next three apples he traded for shelter from the sun and the rain. The last three apples he traded for clothing to wear. Now it came to the tenth apple; the apple he was to give back to God in gratitude.  The man looked at the tenth apple and it was the reddest, biggest, juiciest looking of all the apples. The man began to reason that God had all the other apples in the world…so he ate the tenth apple and gave back to God the core!

Isn’t it amazing that God provides us with enough apples to supply our needs and often more than our needs. Yet we find ourselves reluctant to give back to God generously a portion of what He has given to us.

Looking back at the story we might consider the blessing the man could have received had he not only given back to God the tenth apple but also one of the other apples. It is not that he was deprived of his lifestyle as he had shelter, food and clothing it was self-love was greater than love and gratitude to God.

Do you remember the story in Luke 21 of the rich men and the poor widow putting money into the temple treasury? The rich men had given from their abundance; the poor widow gave all she had. What was Jesus’ comment toward her? He said, “She has given more than all of them.” How can that be? Because she gave from her heart, cheerfully and generously.

If we can only pause long enough to remember it is God who owns everything and has granted us the privilege of managing a portion of it. We can take a lesson from the man in the story. His reasoning was erroneous. He acknowledge that God had all the other apples in the world. Where he erred was his failure to acknowledge God also owned the apples he gave the man for his subsistence.

Not out of our abundance should we give back to God what is His, but also out of a willing and cheerful heart.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. Psalm 24:1

Giving Stuff Away – 4 Reflections Concerning Generosity

By Karen Polich

If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life. – Billy Graham

We can do three things with our money. We can spend it, save it or give it away. Pastor Michael Cook continued his Stuff sermon series with a look at what it means to be generous.

Often we want to give. We really do. Our hearts feel the tug to be generous and help others. We’re ready until we encounter the struggle of giving versus ensuring having enough left for what we need.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Pastor Michael Cook shared four reflections concerning generosity.

1. Planting and harvesting. God moves in tangible and intangible ways. The Bible clearly teaches that those who organize their lives around generosity receive God’s blessing.

2. Decision and follow through. Intention is not decision. We can plan how we are going to give all we want but that does not make us generous. Acting on our decision is how we follow through with a real commitment to generosity. It is not how or what we give, it is that we give. Find a systematic approach that serves you well and implement it.

3. Attitude. God loves a cheerful giver. Why? Have we considered that God is a cheerful giver? His extravagance and generosity are beyond measure. Generosity brings more than we can imagine. Living generously pushes out the ungodliness in our lives.

4. Cycle of care. This goes back to wanting to give, but looking at our needs and not seeing enough. God is able. God will always take care of our needs. Do you believe God sees, loves generosity and will provide? YES! The question we must answer is, will we put our trust in Him? We give, God provides.

There is a certain beauty and value that comes with living a generous life.

Is your life being transformed through a heart of generosity?

Challenge: Commit to a yes or no. Be very careful about the lethal word LATER. There is never an easy, convenient time to give so waiting isn’t the answer. If you want to live a life of generosity, you must decide and act.

Project for the week:

1. Give away 7 items each day for the next 7 days. (If that seems too aggressive for you, give away 1 item each day for the next 7 days.)

2. Find one valuable item you own but don’t use. Give it to someone who needs it.

Visit for more information regarding the Hope Effort. Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here.

A Living Hope

By Gerry Wakeland

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1: 3 NIV

Our God is a God of hope. Not just any hope but a living hope, a hope that is alive within us.

This hope comes as the result of Christ’s death and resurrection. Along with this hope is the promise of “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for us.” (1Peter 1:4)

HOPE! It seems like such a simple word, but in fact, it has a significant impact in our lives. Think about it. We all have hopes. Right now, as you read this you are hoping for something. What it is?

Hope is a desire with the expectation of fulfillment.  In other words, it is trust. You might even say it is faith. For Christians, it is the belief that God has a plan for our lives and that plan is far better than our own plan. That plan includes His provision for our needs and fulfillment of our desires.

Our church fellowship has hopes too. Recently we launched the Hope Effort with the goal of raising the monies to expand our current facility. This expansion would add new classrooms for our children’s ministry and allow us to relocate our administrative offices to the church campus. With this expansion we hope to reach more lives for the Kingdom of God.

As Pastor Cook led the church leadership in a discernment process preparing for this financial campaign, he was very intentional about how we would view this project. He pointed out the many trials and storms our church family had weathered since relocating to the west side. Debt, fires, and contamination are but a few of those. Sadly, there came a time when many of us were losing hope.

In 1 Peter 1: 6-7, the Apostle Peter reminds us, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold – which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

As we the family of Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church look to the future, we do so with renewed hope. We trust that God will continue to do a great work not only in our church and through our church, but in and through each of us as individuals.

As you pray about how you and your family will be involved in the Hope Effort, think about how God may be stirring the hope that is living within you. Is He reminding you that you have an inheritance stored up in heaven? Perhaps He wants you to know that even through the trials that hope is alive.

“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with the inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your soul.” 1 Peter 1: 8-9 NIV

My Identity – My Stuff

By Karen Polich

The older I get, the more I come to believe that nothing I buy can take away my loneliness, fill my emptiness or heal my brokenness. – Fred Rogers

Our identity is something big. We do not get our identity in a position, a house, a car or anything else this world has to offer. We bring our identity to that job or home or whatever it is we may be chasing. Continuing his Stuff sermon series, Pastor Michael Cook took us into the importance of our identity.

Identity in our adoption. Your most defining moment was not in the one that dumped you but in the Father that rescued you! Ephesians 1:5

God chose you. You were selected by Him and nothing can change that. Nothing about your identity has been formed by something done to you, it is wrapped up in what Someone did for you.

Identity of our redemption. Redemption is being bought out of one position for another. Ephesians 1:7

Jesus did not pay for you in coinage, but with His very blood. Jesus really loves you, really.

Identity in our seal. Identity in Christ is reaching a deep understanding that we are marked by something far greater than a physical mark. We have the mark of the Holy Spirit on us. Ephesians 1:13

Salvation has nothing to do with you. You can’t strive for it or earn it. It is about what He did. Self-rescue is impossible. Your God will be your God when you succeed and when you fail. If you fall back into an old sin, God is still your God.

How many cheap substitutes will we seek? There are empty spaces of the heart and soul that God desires to fill with Himself. What if we cram so much “stuff” into those places that God Cannot occupy them?

Project of the Week: Spend one week fasting from any personal item you want to buy for yourself. (Work this out for you. It doesn’t mean miss meals or skip paying bills. It is about postponing something you think you need, focusing instead on our Creator.)

For more about the Hope Effort, visit Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here.

Building on Faith

By Karl Lee

Do you remember the story Jesus told in Luke 14:28-30? There was to be a tower built, but they failed to have enough money or materials to complete it. In any undertaking, no matter what it may be, there is the idea of first counting the cost for that particular undertaking.

Our church is now undertaking a building expansion.  As you may have noticed, nothing comes cheap. We will need everyone’s help financially if we are to accomplish this project.

So, what does that mean? That means you and I must give, with a willing heart, sacrificially, above our regular gifts and tithes.

Okay, I follow your thought. But where am I going to come up with a few extra bucks? I suppose there are a few things my wife and I could cut back on for a season. I’m considering cutting back on dining out at least one meal each month. That’s twenty-five to thirty dollars in savings! Even as I write this, I can think of a couple of other things I can do without.

Let’s go back to the Scriptures. Do you remember the story of the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness? Read Exodus 25. Moses was told by the Lord to ask the children of Israel for an offering to build the Tabernacle. The people were to give with a willing heart. Wow! Sacrificial giving and with a willing heart. Now take a look ahead to Exodus 36:6. Here we see Moses having to tell the children of Israel to stop giving for they had given in abundance.

What an awesome thing it would be if Pastor Cook had to ask us to stop giving because we had exceeded far beyond the need. Yes, in time there will be other projects as the needs of the church expand, but, dear saints, let us concentrate on this particular undertaking for there will be no building if the funds are not available.

May I encourage you to go to the Lord in prayer and seek His guidance on what your participation should be in giving financially to this undertaking! Think about what you might sacrifice (give up) to make this vision a reality.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV

God’s Outlook on “Stuff”

By Karen Polich

I don’t care too much for money. Money can’t buy me love. – The Beatles

Isn’t it amazing how much stuff we have? We all have stuff we need, stuff we want, stuff we would like to get rid of. Beginning a new sermon series, Stuff, Pastor Michael Cook took us into three moments where Jesus addressed our “stuff”.

There is a difference in my worth and my net worth. Read Luke 12:13-21.

A shout from the crowd puts a demand on Jesus. As Jesus responds, He speaks to every one of us.

Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. Luke 12:15

What I have, or don’t, is not who I am.

Possessions can never deliver true happiness! Read Matthew 13:1-22.

When you live in “good soil”, you will be rooted and fruitful. Our hearts tend to seek stuff, but we are called to something very different.

The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the Word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. Matthew 13:22

Could it be that we have an empty space in our hearts to fill that can’t be filled by the stuff?

Followers often become financially independent but spiritually bankrupt. Read Revelation 3:17-20.

We often push to create stability in our lives, protecting our future.

You say,’ I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Revelation 3:17

The “STUFF” series is about what we have, what we need, what we want and who we are.

This is the beginning of a potential life changer. Jesus stands at the door of your heart, knocking…

  1. What is it in my life that is defining who I am?
  2. What is it in my life that is preventing me from growing?

Project for the week: Count your shoes (every pair) and your shirts. Share what you find by leaving a reply on our blog.

Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here. For more information about the Hope Effort, go to