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Self-Condemnation

By Ty Haguewood

I do not always feel good enough. In fact, I don’t feel good enough most of the time. I don’t know if you have ever felt that way. If you have felt not good enough or struggled with self-condemnation, I am right here with you.

Over the last few months, I have realized the severity of self-condemnation. Self-condemnation is not a small issue. Self-condemnation shows us a lot about our belief in God. I want to share three faults of self-condemnation.

Self-Condemnation Distorts the Good News of the Gospel

Self-condemnation is an assault on the good news of the Gospel. God has promised to redeem and rescue His people from condemnation. He doesn’t save people so that they would return to condemnation. Self-condemnation leaves the believer in a state of hopelessness that God never intended for believers to stay in.  It takes the good news out of the Gospel and leaves the person hopeless.

Self-Condemnation Belittles the Price Jesus Paid to Forgive Us

Self-condemnation belittles the blood-bought identity that God purchased for us. As believers, we must not forget how costly it was for God to save us from condemnation. Self-condemnation says the payment didn’t clear because I am somehow not good enough. There is no question that we are not good enough. Nowhere in the Gospel does God make any claim giving us credit for being good enough. The good news of the Gospel is that God is good enough and He made a way for us.  The believer who chooses to return to condemnation demeans the cost Jesus paid for them to be rescued from it.

Self-Condemnation is a Sorry Attempt to Take Control from God

Self-condemnation is an attempt for us to become the judge of our souls. We look at God’s promises and tell Him they are not good enough. We start trying to judge if God should or should not love us, as if we have any say in the matter. God loves you regardless of your approval. The perfect God of the universe does not bow to our approval. As believers we must remember who chose to save us. God did not ask our permission to sacrifice His only Son to save us from the condemnation we deserve. He simply asks us to follow Him.

How Can We Fight Against Self-Condemnation?

We can fight against self-condemnation with the promises of God. If you feel like you are not good enough or somehow still condemning yourself, run to the promises of God and believe them. Stop what you are doing, turn off this blog, and immerse yourself in the Word of God.

You are loved.                               

You have been redeemed.

You have been purchased.

You have been pardoned.

You have been given new life.

 

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.

 

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?

 

The RPT Process

By Ty Haguewood

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I don’t know about you but that passage seems impossible to actually live. How could I possibly rejoice always when everything around me is burning? How could I possibly pray without ceasing? I already struggle to pray once a day. How could I possibly be thankful in all circumstances? ALL CIRCUMSTANCES? Life is tough and often unpredictable. One-day things can be going well and then you get a phone call that radically changes everything.

Our circumstances, whether we want to admit or not, impact us all the time.

A sudden loss of a loved one, an unexpected promotion, a call from a childhood friend, whether our circumstances are good or bad doesn’t matter. It is inevitable that we will be affected. So if our circumstances are ever changing, how could we possibly fulfill Paul’s words to rejoice, pray, and give thanks?

The RPT (Rejoice, Pray, Thanks) Process is important to the believer because it reminds us that our circumstances are not our God. God is not impacted by our circumstances. He doesn’t change who He is because something crazy happened in your life. God is not absent from our circumstances; He is above them. This is good news for us. We have a hope that is external to our circumstances. We have a hope that will never change. We have a hope that we can trust.

This strong challenge from Paul to rejoice, pray, and give thanks is not a command for you to always be happy about your circumstances but rather to find joy in the One who is above your circumstances. I believe this text gives us a practical guide for our daily fight to rejoice, pray, and give thanks.

Let’s break this down.

Rejoice (R) = to be glad/ filled with joy

Pray (P) = our response to God’s Word

Thanks (T) = the overflow of a heart that has experience this joy

How can we rejoice, pray, and give thanks daily?

Let’s start with rejoicing. Wake up in the morning and go to the source of all joy.

You have access to God through His Word. Spend time with Him. Visit the words and teachings of Jesus in the four gospels, hear the songs of praise from the psalmists, explore the well of wisdom in the proverbs, and be challenged by the life lessons Paul has to give you. Every day you can go and fill your cup. Start by rejoicing (R). Experience joy.

After you have been filled with joy from the promises of God, respond to Him in prayer (P). Prayer, simply put, is our response to God’s promises in His Word. You have personal access to the King of Kings; talk to Him. Write or verbalize your response to the joy you have just experienced in His Word. Don’t be intimidated by prayer. The Lord wants to meet with you.

After rejoicing (R) and praying (P), hopefully you will be left with a great feeling of gratitude. We cannot fake authentic gratitude. Either we are grateful or we are not. The thanksgiving (T) part of this process is last because it is of the utmost importance to go to God first to understand why we should be thankful. If your cup of joy has been filled and you have responded in prayer, thanksgiving should be the fruit of this process. We give thanks because of what we have tasted and experienced.

Like everything, this will be a process. I hope you will fight to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances. Wake up every day and fight to grow. Start now!

Listen to the sermon podcast here.

 

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