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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.

Strong Foundation

By Karen Polich

We can choose to set our life on the foundation of Christ’s sacrifice for us and approach each day with the full confidence that comes when we truly live by faith. Great season? Faith. Crushing season? Faith. Serving Him in all things? Faith.

This is what sets us apart. Living by faith is what opens doors for others to see the glory of God.

His light shines through us when we focus on Him. Paul did not refer to “jars of clay” because of their strength. He referred to them because though fragile, they served a great purpose for what filled them.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 6-9

This isn’t shaky ground. We can walk through life with the confidence that comes from God.

Yet, we often sit in worry and fear. It’s easier to live with confidence when the path is smooth, but God has called us to be used in His kingdom regardless of circumstances. God chose to fill us with His mighty power. We are “jars of clay”, fragile and sometimes broken, the perfect place for Him to shine.

How has God worked in your life? Write down what He is doing and has done. How has He shown His strength and faithfulness? Share His goodness with others. You might be the encouragement someone else needs today.

Have faith and choose to live a life filled with confidence. It is God who works through us in all things. What better foundation could we ask for?

 

Praying for Obedience

By Gai Gai Anderson

Pastor woke up from a restless night of sleep and looked at the clock. 4:00 a.m. Wow. Another night of waking, praying, and wondering what God is doing in his family’s life. His ministry is going well, God is touching lives, and his wife and children are happy; but God seems to be nudging his heart to be ready for something new.

Later in the morning, as he sits at his desk pondering the last few days, the phone rings. Someone from Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church is on the other end. “Hello, Pastor, this is a member of the pastor search committee at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Our search committee has been praying for the man God wants to lead us into the next season of our life here at our church. We think you could be that man…”

Later on in the evening, Pastor talks to his wife about the phone call, and they begin to pray earnestly about what God is leading them to do. Should they pursue this opportunity for service at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church?

When Abraham was called to go to a place God would show him, he had to make a decision whether he would follow God’s leading or stay in the place where he was already. He listened to God’s voice, gathered his family together, and set out on a journey that would take him into the future God had for him. This journey would touch generations to come.

We want God to give us the pastor He has already been preparing for the ministry here at our church that will touch generations to come. Obedience is the key. Our prayers have taken many different routes in the last several weeks. As we end our focused prayer time led by the pastor search committee, we feel it is time to pray for the pastor God has for us to be obedient to his calling. Let’s be unified in our prayers this week as we pray for God’s working on the other end of this scenario—God’s man to be obedient to his call to be the pastor of Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church.

Let’s pray he will trust God with his whole heart and not rely on his own understanding in this time of searching for God’s will in his life (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Let’s pray that God will give him a vision for what He is about to do in his life, and he would heed God’s wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 29:18).

Let’s pray that he will follow Jesus’s example and spend necessary time alone with God seeking His will (Mark 1:35).

Let’s pray that he will go to God for the true wisdom that he needs to take the next step in God’s plan (James 1:5).

Let’s pray that he will be obedient to God’s call (just as Abraham was), and that he would have the faith to take the first step on the journey (Hebrews 11:8).

 

Giving Thanks for our Pastors

By Karen Polich

October brings Pastor Appreciation Month. Sunday, October 8th is Pastor Appreciation Day so let’s show our pastors how important they are by showering them with gifts that say “thank you”. Express your gratitude to the pastors who are serving you every day and consider thanking those who have influenced your life over the years.

Pastors and their families have brought joy into our lives. They teach us, lead us and point us toward God. They are there when we need encouragement and they celebrate when we are in seasons of joy. Here are three easy ways to show pastors and their families how much their work is appreciated.

  1. Hand written notes of thanks and encouragement can brighten a busy day and remind a pastor that every detail of their works makes a difference. Take time to send a note to the pastors who have impacted your life.
  2. Pastor Matt and Pastor Ty love food. Gift cards for favorite restaurants, a home cooked meal dropped off, crockpot fixings for fall soups in the office or delicious desserts are sure to bring smiles.
  3. Gift cards for a movie night give pastors time with family and friends and a refreshing break.

Let’s make it a month where our appreciation can’t be missed by those who serve us faithfully. Find ways to show our pastors appreciation. Have a creative idea? Be sure to post your thoughts in the comments.

 

Praying for Growth and Momentum

By Karen Polich

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

As Christ followers, we should seek growth in our lives. It doesn’t happen without our choosing to be intentional in our relationship with Him. Corporate prayer for Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church over the past weeks has been a blessing, showing how His people seek Him with a fervor and passion for His will. Baptisms, new members, growth in the attendance of ministries and personal growth of His people are all reflections of the work God is doing at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church.

God is not stagnant. He is ever moving, constantly active, and faithful to complete the works He began.

It is something inspiring to see at AFBC. In a season of change, God remains steadfast. His promises never fail and He has called us to bear fruit.

Our prayer focus for the next week is one of growth and momentum for the work God is doing. Praying for our church in these areas shows hope for things yet to come and gratitude for the work He is doing now. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1a

Is your life reflecting this? Are you rejoicing over what God has done in you as you ask Him to continue to grow you in new ways? “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) When we choose to abide in Him and seek His will, we will bear fruit worthy of His Kingdom.

Over the next week, pray for God’s plans in your life. Ask Him to use you and see where He leads.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

Praying for our Pastors

By Karen Polich

Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only… James 1:22

Pastors take on role after role to serve others. They teach, preach, counsel, lead, disciple, pray and worship; that’s just on a Sunday morning.  On “quiet” days, hours are spent seeking God in the Word, making hospital visits, working on budgets, and meeting need after need of their congregation. What can we do to help them keep their hearts renewed? We can pray.

We can embrace praying for our pastors and staff with eagerness. Knowing people are praying lightens burdens and multiplies joy. The pastors and staff at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church pour themselves into service, giving their time and talents to answer God’s call. We need to pray for them with a fervor that ignites passion and purpose, not just in the hearts of the staff but in the hearts of the congregation.

The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. Luke 18:27

God is at work, building up His Kingdom. We have the opportunity to seek Him and ask for His guidance and strength for those who serve Him and lead the church. Take time to pray over the next week for the pastors and staff as they live in obedience to His call.

Here are some ways we can pray for our pastors.

  1. Intimacy with Christ. Ask God to strengthen their relationship with Him. Pray for the opportunity to worship and grow closer to the Lord. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
  2. Pray for leadership grounded in Truth. Ask God to give them protection and time to grow together. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
  3. Pray for the opportunity to refresh and refuel. Ask God to grant times of rest. “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
  4. Pray for discernment and the wisdom that can only come from God. “For the Lord gives wisdom and from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6

Make praying over those who serve a priority this week. God will continue to do great things as we seek Him.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, What Do You See?

By Karen Polich

Right now we are all reflecting something. The influences in our lives pour out onto those around us. Despite the influences of the world, we can choose to reflect Him. Who or what are we reflecting?

Sunday’s sermon, delivered by Steve Freeman reminded us that we have a choice when it comes to what we reflect. He gave us three things we can do to shine His light. Listen to the podcast for more.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.  Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 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. James 1:19-27

Pursue God’s desire for your life. Spend time with Him, studying His Word. Be kind and slow to speak. Encourage others. Love them and bring them into your world to see Christ. God desires for us to love our neighbor and love Him. He calls us to be consistent in these two areas.

Be the real deal. We should be a mirror of His love for us. We need to be consistent in our behavior. Jesus is the perfector of our faith. Seek Him.

Talk is cheap. Action means everything. How often do you help someone who can give you nothing in return? We have the power to change lives for eternity.

Today, let’s choose to be intentional about the reflection others see in us. Shine His light right where you are. It might be the only source of Him someone else sees.

 

Seek Wisdom

By Evan Anderson

God has promised His people that He would never leave nor forsake them. (Deuteronomy 31:6) Time after time He has proven Himself faithful to them, even amid trials and tribulation.

James writes to a scattered people during their trials and oppression with the purpose of encouraging them in their pursuit of faith. He writes this, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:7) James tells these people that when they are lacking wisdom, they need to run to God.

We will all face trials and oppressions. As disciples of Christ, when we lack the knowledge of what to do, we are called by God to run to Him in dependency and security.  This wisdom of God that He promises to all who ask Him is founded not from a place of human intelligence, but from a place of submission.

We are not called to be wise in our own self, we are called to be submissive to the one who is all wise and sovereignly in control. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction”. In addition, Proverbs 3:7 tells us, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.” The wisdom we are given by God drives us more to dependency on God, not to self-glorification. God is the source of wisdom, we are not.

Know that when you ask God for wisdom in difficult situations, God will freely give it for the betterment of your soul and sanctification.  God has given us His Word and every ounce of wisdom from God should stem from the Word of God.  God’s wisdom from His Word helps direct and inform us on how to live.

We may not always be gifted with the understanding of why life has taken a dramatic turn, but God’s wisdom informs us on how to take that turn in a way that pleases and glorifies Him.

During this season in the life of our church, we desperately need to devote time to pray and ask God to grant wisdom to our leaders, pastors, teams, and everyone within our church body.  We need to dive deep into God’s Word expecting Him to draw us closer to Him, and to grant us the wisdom to make the choices we need to make today. All of this is said because only a wisdom that comes from God will truly enable us to endure our trials with joy and humility.