Christ

Worthless? No, I Belong to Christ!

By LuAnn Edwards

How could one person make me feel so miserable and worthless? “Lord, please give me strength and wisdom in how to deal with this difficult relationship.”

This is how I prayed several years ago, a few months into my new job. During the interview process, the Lord gave me a Scripture. It reads, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6). What I thought was a verse to help me get through the interview process, became a verse of strength and comfort during the job itself. God never left me in my time of struggle; He went before me each day preparing my way.

My new job found me working with someone who seemed to find fault with everything. Several years before, I wrote my own personal mission statement which I especially applied to my work ethic. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3: 23-24). I have always felt that my work should honor Christ, and I should do my best for Him. I earned respect and appreciation in other jobs through the years, but not in this one.

I prayed every day for the person making me feel worthless, hoping things would smooth over between us. I also prayed for the Lord to show me what I could do to make the situation better. I did not feel I could confront this person or go to their supervisor without causing problems for others. I spent time in God’s Word seeking comfort and peace. When I began to think that maybe I really was worthless, I reminded myself how Christ sees me. My Lord calls me His friend (John 15:15), I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Phil. 4:13), and I am God’s temple; the Holy Spirit lives in me (1 Cor. 3:16). Worthless? No way! I belong to Christ Jesus. He lives in me.

After a few more months, I received counsel from one of our pastors to look for a new job. Upon turning in my resignation, I experienced amazing freedom! I had been in bondage, suffering both physically and mentally. The pressure was now gone; the anxiety lifted.

God is faithful. He brought me through this difficult situation, and within a month He provided me with a new job. He has given me opportunities to share His love with others at work, offering hope and encouragement.

When we find ourselves in a difficult relationship, remember God is with us; He will not leave us. When someone makes us feel miserable and worthless, we need to know who we are in Christ. We can go to His Word to find comfort, strength and peace.

Life Changing Christmas

By Ken Edwards

Unique gifts are not easy to find. It takes work to find the right gift that truly expresses our feelings and our love. There is a heartfelt joy when we see that smile from ear-to-ear when they receive that prefect gift.

The best gift might be a special toy, or the newest electronic gadget this year. For some clothes may be perfect while others will cry, “Next package please.” Gift cards can be an easy way to shop, but we lose the joy of finding the right gift.

Our goal should be to inspire a special moment that changes the life of both the giver and the receiver. Unfortunately, Christmas has become more about, “What will I get” rather than “What can I give.”

What happened to the idea that our mother told us about; “It’s not the gift, but the thought that counts”?

Here is an idea that may bring some of that back into our Christmas. Something that is unique, expresses our love and leaves a lasting impact. A gift that teaches our family about giving and not just receiving. This sounds too good to be true, but it’s not.

There are many simple, low cost ideas that make good teaching moments with our children. Try turning this Christmas into a family ministry Christmas. Here are five low cost ideas that could change your life and someone else too.

Bake some cookies and deliver them to a shut-in down the street. Use this opportunity to pray with them in front of your children.

Send a military care package with goodies to someone away from home this Christmas. Get your children involved with the packing. Include a small Bible or devotional book, and explain to your children the importance of studying God’s Word.

Take a hat or some winter gloves to a homeless shelter like The Rock at Noon Day Ministries. See if you can volunteer with an age appropriate activity for your children.

Sponsor a child in an orphanage or make a special donation for a missionary. Then keep their picture on your refrigerator. When you pray for them at the mealtime, you will remind your family that we can carry out the Great Commission in our own family.

Make some inexpensive craft items for the residents in a local nursing home. The residents love children, and your visit may bring a special joy to them as they interact with your children.

Unique gifts are not easy to find. When we make the effort, we may find that magical moment that changes the life of both the giver and the receiver.

During the hustle bustle of this Christmas season, remember, the greatest gift ever given was the birth our Savior Jesus Christ.

Christ’s Arrival

By LuAnn Edwards

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…” (Psalm 23:4). I was feeling very depressed while all alone in a hotel room. My friend had gone off for the day leaving me with nothing to do, which caused me to identify with the words I read that day from the Bible I found in the drawer. I prayed and asked God to help me to get my life on the right track; I was heading the wrong way and I knew it.

I grew up believing I was a Christian. I attended church, held onto the strong morals my parents taught me, followed the Ten Commandments (as best I could), and I believed in God. What more was there?

After graduating from high school, I found myself heading in the wrong direction. I didn’t always hang out with the “good kids,” which brought my parents much distress. After a couple of years of trying to find out who I was, I began to think more about the Lord.

Two months after praying in the hotel room, my mom and I started attending a nearby church. On our first visit, I knew this was where I needed to be, but I was afraid. “What did God want from me?” The church was just beginning a series of evangelistic services they called a revival, and I remember discussing with Mom whether or not we should attend. “What will they do to us? Will they make us go down to the front and pray for us?”

On the last night of the revival, something was stirring inside of me. During the prayer time at the end of the service, my mom looked at me and said something like, “If you go forward to pray, I’ll die of embarrassment!” I said, “I’m NOT going up to the front of the church – don’t worry!” We both knew we needed to pray to accept Christ into our lives but weren’t quite ready to take that first step.

The following Sunday, during the prayer time, I looked at Mom and said, “I have to go, NOW!” She nodded her head in understanding. I went forward and really met Jesus that day. He became my Lord and Savior. I realized then that in my head I always thought I was a Christian because I believed in God. However, I never knew Him in my heart. On this wonderful day, Jesus became my life. I was able now to confess Him as Lord. I began a life-long relationship with Him on that beautiful day. Soon after, Mom accepted Christ into her heart and life. Romans 10:9 says, “That if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

My hope and prayer is that each person reading this believes in their heart and not just in their head that God raised Jesus from the dead and you are able to sincerely say, “Jesus is Lord.”

I am so very thankful for Christ’s arrival in my life. Have you accepted Him into yours? If not, this Christmas could be your merriest one ever if you’ll invite Jesus into your heart and life.

A Perspective on Victory

By Kristi Sullins

One of my favorite parts of being a pastor’s wife has been the opportunity to build friendships with people from all over. 15 years of ministry has given us scattered “family” that we stay connected to through email and social media.

It was one of these connections that God used to take me on a journey of understanding.  At the beginning of the year I was introduced to a blog about a little boy named Ben.  His mom Mindy had started a blog to journal their journey through Ben’s battle with cancer, specifically, a brain tumor.  As a mom, my soul became caught up in their journey, and I found myself praying for this little boy often.

In the beginning, the prayers came as a claim of the healing I knew that God could bring.

Surely, He would bring victory and healing to this four- year old boy.  I would watch for her blogpost with confidence that there would be signs of healing.  Month after month, post after post, this is not the story she shared.  Each post revealed a reality much different than what I had claimed.  As thousands around the country joined in prayer, I held onto the fact that God’s power would be clearly revealed if He would just heal Ben.  His grace and sufficiency was on full display in the life of this sweet family, but we did not see the power and healing we were all praying for.

The reality of God’s plan came into full view recently when God brought Ben home.  Local papers in Buffalo, NY, posted that Ben had lost his battle with cancer. My mind agreed.

It was while in the shower, I questioned God.  I laid out what I thought would have been best and pointed out all the times He had worked miracles.  It was then that God had what my dad always called “a come to Jesus meeting” with me.  What did I define as a victory?  Had my human heart lost perspective on what a God victory really was?  He walked me through the realities in my life.

Were the struggles of the church that I love failures?  Could I see victory in a church that had walked hard roads for so long that they would not dare move without God? Could I see it in a job loss and unplanned move that dropped us right in the will of God?  Could I see victory in the death of a beloved saint of our church as evidence that there are still those who live their lives serving God?

Was I willing to hand over the black and white definition of my world to see that in the death of a four- year old boy an entire city was impacted by the life of this boy and his family who constantly pointed to God?

Our human hearts tend to take on the world’s definition of wins and losses, victories and failures.

We hold God to that tainted standard and then suffer defeat when His perfect plan does not match up with our sightless one.  The clearest example of failure and victory is in the death of our Christ.  On the day of His death the Jews were clear that this Messiah was a failure.  Three days later it became clear for those who knew Him that by His death and resurrection there was VICTORY.

Oh, that my heart will be softened to God’s definition of victory, and that my eyes will search for His victories in all parts of this journey.

 

 

 

 

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

By Trason Sullins as told to Gerry Wakeland

When I decided to go with my grandparents on a mission trip to Haiti I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pretty sure that it would be very hot and there would be lots of kids. I knew it would be a different culture from New Mexico.

As my departure date grew closer we discovered that my Grandpa, Mike Campbell, would not be able to go with us. So I went with my Nana, Marie Campbell and members from her church, Long Hollow Baptist Church in Gallatin, TN. There were 23 altogether.

We flew from Nashville to Miami and then on to Port-au-Prince. From there we drove 12 hours and finally arrived in Jeremie. We stayed at the guest house and were pretty lucky because it was solar powered. We even had internet at the pastor’s house.

The first day we met our interpreter. His name was Dou Dou and he is 40 years old. He is married and has two kids.

The Haitians speak the Creole language which is a mixture of French and Spanish. It helped that I had taken Spanish in school. Some of the words I remember are allo, which means hi. Merci means thank you. And Jesu means Jesus.

In Haiti we served in three different villages. At Guest House Village there were about 26 people. In the village of Emmanuel there were about 50 people and in Londun there were approximately 200. In each of these villages we held Vacation Bible School for the children. In Emmanuel I got to tell the Bible story. I told the story of the unfaithful servant. We acted it out as a drama and it was amazing. I loved being able to share.

One of the local restaurants provided our meals. The grilled goat was amazing. It was chopped up and mixed with seasonings. They had the best rice. And coke.

We played games with the kids. Soccer was the favorite. There is so much more freedom in Haiti. We just hung out with the kids and we felt safe.

Haiti is a very poor country. Most people have only two meals a day and children have no shoes. Many of the children were making things like bracelets and selling them to make money. I felt bad because there was so much competition.

Church in Haiti is very different. First of all, it was two hours long. The preaching and singing were loud and energetic. The kids started out separate but we all ended up together.

What would I tell people that are interested in going on a mission trip?

  • Go somewhere that people don’t have as much stuff
  • Go on a mission trip not just a vacation
  • Go somewhere that’s not a travel destination
  • Go to share the love of Jesus

What would I tell youth who want to go on a mission trip?

Just go!

I learned a lot on this trip. I learned not to complain about what I don’t have. I learned how to share the gospel with the kids. Probably the most important thing I learned was to be grateful for what I have. I can’t wait to go back.

 

Why I Praise Him

By LuAnn Edwards

If you attend Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church, you may have seen me singing in the choir or with the Praise Team. You may have asked yourself the question, “Why does she raise her hands?” There are several reasons why I praise my Lord. A few of them include: (1) The truth has set me free (John 8:32); (2) He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3); and (3) Praise makes the enemy flee (2 Chronicles 20:1-24).

Christ set me free; I am so thankful to Him for this.

I was heading the wrong way in life and have a pretty good idea of what my life would be like without Him. He rescued me from a miserable existence. Had I continued on the path I was taking, I would be living without hope, trying to fulfill myself with meaningless relationships and material things. How can I not praise Him for all He has done for me?

The Lord desires my worship, and praise is an expression of that worship. Praise brings me into God’s presence and fills me with His joy and peace. To sincerely praise Him, we must do so in humility and true devotion; how can we truly praise Him and have animosity in our hearts toward others? Praise allows me to lift up the Lord and glorify Him. Do I only praise Him in church? No! I praise Him at home and in my car and even when I am alone at work. At times, I praise him loudly with singing; or I may worship Him quietly while listening for His still, small voice. I believe He desires this of me, and I totally enjoy honoring Him in this way. (Psalm 34:1; Psalm 98:4; Psalm 134:2; Psalm 150:4; Eph. 5:19-20.)

Praise sends the enemy running! The story of Jehoshaphat (found in 2 Chronicles 20) crying out to God for the people of Judah shares a wonderful truth from God’s Word. Jehoshaphat heard that armies were coming to attack them, and he knew they did not have the power to fight back. He prayed and looked to the Lord for help. The Lord spoke through one of the men saying, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s” (v 15). God told them they were to march down against the enemy, but they would not have to fight. Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah bowed before the Lord and began to worship Him. Some stood and offered praise to the Lord with a very loud voice. The next morning they went out to face their enemies. Jehoshaphat stood and told the people to have faith in the Lord. He then appointed men to sing to the Lord and praise Him saying, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever” (v 21). As the people began to sing praises, the Lord set ambushes against their enemies causing them to kill one another, and they were defeated! Judah did not have to fight!

What battle are you facing today? Try giving thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever. He will inhabit your praises, and His truth will set you free!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Other Side of the Fire

By: Karen Polich

Sometimes life can feel like you’ve been thrown into the fire. A setback turns into more than simply a tough situation. The flames just keep growing hotter no matter what I do. Encountering stumbling block after stumbling block, difficult days pile up on hard times. Sound familiar?

Walking through tough times is never easy. Some may take the approach of “it happens, no big deal”, while others may decide that God must have abandoned them. Pastor Michael Cook reminded us that neither approach should be our focus.

When God seems like He is not making sense, know that He is making sense like never before.

Our perspective is not His. While circumstances might not make sense to us, we can choose to trust Him, despite the fire. Continuing his teachings from 1 Peter, Pastor Cook gives us three things to look for when we are in the midst of the fire.

Instruction in the Fire
Peter makes it clear that we should not be surprised by difficulty. A Christian understands that tough times are going to come. As a follower of Christ, we can choose to trust God, even when we are discouraged and don’t understand. God’s Word tells us to rejoice in the suffering! Have you ever looked at suffering in your life as something that belongs to Christ, you are simply the vessel?

Evaluation of the “Why” of Suffering
Sometimes we may suffer because we choose to serve the Lord Jesus. Other times we may suffer because we have made a stupid decision. Sin takes you to a place of suffering.

Explanation of Difficulties
Part of what we go through is separation. God wants to know our hearts. There are those living Godly lives and those who are not. This is everywhere, even among Christian families and in churches.

Like a great coach who prepares his team for anything that may happen, Peter wanted Christ followers to be ready for anything that might come into their lives. He did not avoid suffering, but kept his focus on someone higher and on the understanding that God will do and allow things for our good.

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God: And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
1 Peter 4:12-19

To hear Pastor Michael Cook’s complete sermon, listen here. How do you see the other side of the fire?

The Other Side of Pain – The Battle We Face

The Other Side of Pain – The Battle We Face By: Karen Polich

Are you arguing for Christ or against Him?

You really are the best argument either way. When someone looks at you, at your personal life, they see Christ. What do they see?

1 Peter 2:11-12 Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us.

We are engaged in a battle every day. The environment we live in is hostile. How do we handle that? Peter teaches two simple concepts.

  • Be determined to overcome personal sins.
  • Be dedicated to win over a lost society.

Our time here is temporary. Peter warns us to abstain from sinful desires. Is he only talking about the big things? No, it is in the details. Pastor Cook talked about those things that can creep in and then begin to rot your soul; the small, unseen, insidious sins. Song of Solomon 2:15 says, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” Our lives should resonate with Jesus Christ. Why? Someone is always watching. The world loves a failure in the Church, so don’t give them evil in your life to slander Jesus with. Our failures usually come when we are focused on self instead of on Christ. Let it be that your good deeds show them who Jesus is. The world may still slam you, but God’s righteousness will shine. Righteousness is God’s incredible perfection that He pours into our hearts and lives. We are changed from the inside and can focus on Him. In the battle we face, are you arguing for Christ today?