God

Bringing it Home as a Family

By Bethany Bentley

We went to camp with a lot of expectations. We were ready to have that “night where the whole youth group cries together”, ready to worship with thousands of students, ready to make new friends, ready to play loud rounds of Uno, just like we did last year. We had a lot of those things.

But this year was not like last year. We had our old moments, our new moments, our angry moments, our joyful-beyond-words moments, and the moments when we were all really done with the humidity and the giant hill.

I don’t think any of us would trade any of these moments for a repeat of last year. Here is a list of my moments.

So much brokenness got brought into the light in our small groups. We poured ourselves out and allowed Christ to bring restoration. We got to watch God grow and heal our friends. Many of us took steps and leaps in our faith, and it had less to do with being in Oklahoma and more to do with all of us just seeking God. He met us where we were.

We saw Delia Pierce respond during the altar call on the last night, after so many of us had been praying for her all week. Sarah and Becca Woffard were jumping. Jay Magnant threw both his hands in the air in praise. Everyone was crying; it was amazing.

The small groups prayed for each other one night. The middle schoolers came together in friendship and openness. The high school boys listened to and prayed for the middle school girls, and they did it in gentleness and love. The girls bonded over similar struggles. It was incredible to see.

During the ‘open-mic night’ many of us shared what God is doing in our lives. Connor Powell made us all cry, laugh, and took us on an emotional roller-coaster that none of us were ready for. Tyler Geldmacher, though terrified of public speaking, got up and shared how much God has stretched him the last few days, weeks, and months.

As a family we laughed, cried, and praised God for what He was doing.

By the end of the week, we saw those who had been quiet and distant finally surrender to Christ. We watched several of our friends surrender to ministry. During our in-cabin worship we were able to just lay it all down and worship with complete abandon.

More than anything else, we left feeling like a truly united family. But this is only the beginning. Students, let’s take what we learned at camp out of Oklahoma. Let’s apply it all on our campuses and in our homes. The battle starts now, let’s start fighting as a family. This is only the beginning.

Never Waste a Moment

By Krisit Sullins

Vacation Bible School has arrived here at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church. The decorations are being hung.  Crafts are being prepped and snacks are being planned.  After years and years of experience, we have a routine and a plan.  However, the reality is much greater than the plan.

For those who lead in ministry, volunteers who give their time, and those who, at all stages of life, find a way to serve, this week is a week of moments.  Moments that are made when teachers, in costumes, make the stories of the Bible come to life.  Moments when adults and children worship together.  Moments when our youth give up their time to decorate, lead and invest.

The best moments are when you see a child grasp the reality of God’s great love for them.

As the AFBC family prepares for Vacation Bible School, our prayer is that God moves in a mighty way.  Our theme, “Finding Messiah”, sets the stage for children to discover how they can know Jesus was truly the Messiah, sent to save us.  We will journey through the Bible finding proof within the stories in the Gospels.

This is more than a program we do, or just an average week in the summer.  It is a time that will be filled with moments for the children who attend.  Often a moment is all God needs to change everything.  Christ, Himself, understood the importance of taking a moment of time to be with children.  He knew their value in the Kingdom.

As each volunteer prepares for VBS, we pray they would see the importance of the task at hand and would embrace the sacrifice it requires to make a Kingdom impact.  We pray for each family that will be connected through VBS, that they would be changed by learning about the Messiah who loves them.  And we pray that God would move in His mighty way so that by Thursday night it would be clear that all that had been accomplished was through Him.

May each of us be able to answer like Peter when Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:15-16

Ten Necessary Characteristics of People Called to Mission Work

By Karen Polich

Sunday was a time of worship and commissioning for those headed abroad this summer for mission work. Pastor Kevin Linthicum shared ten characteristics necessary in mission work. Acts 13:1

  1. Be called by God. A decision to embark on a mission trip must be driven by the Holy Spirit.
  2. Be willing to set the financial component aside; it is the least of your worries. God is faithful. He will provide for those He calls. Preparations are critical, but the money side should never take priority.
  3. Be led by the Holy Spirit. An individual needs to be mature enough as a follower of Christ to be led by the Holy Spirit.
  4. Be able to learn what it means to empty themselves. You must be willing to let God lead in all areas of the mission work being done. You should be set aside and He should be the messenger.
  5. Be bold. Speak the Gospel with tenacity. He has called you to proclaim the Gospel. It is not a time for timidity.
  6. Be a team player. No matter the size of the group, work together. Build each other up and help one another.
  7. Be singularly focused. Let the Gospel message be the sole purpose of your efforts.
  8. Be able to deny yourself. It’s not about you, but about Him and His Kingdom.
  9. Be a problem solver not a problem causer. Distractions will come, but stay focused on the goal.
  10. Glorify and honor God through the proclamation of the Gospel. This should be the sole focus of every effort.

This summer, pray for the mission work being done throughout the world. God has called many to go, beginning with our Malawi missions team who are leaving this week. Those He calls, He equips. We can each be a part of the work He is doing throughout the world with prayer. Pray for those away on missions. Those prayers will make a difference. Also, remember we are all in the mission field, regardless of location. Ask God to help you see those around you in your mission field today.

What’s a Church Supposed to Do?

By Karen Polich

What is the church? Some might say it’s a building, an address, a specific denomination or a charitable organization. Those things don’t define what a church is or its purpose. The church serves a purpose that has not changed.

Guest pastor, Dr. Earl Craig, shared four “centers” of the church. (Listen to the podcast here.)

The church is a healing center. (Acts 3:1-10) The church exists to help fix problems. (James 1) Hurting and broken people find hope at this center. When trials arise, we should go back to the basics of Who God is and His promises. We should pray and cling to His Word, seeking Him. Do you have a go-to verse you focus on in times of trouble?

Trials are not meant to impair us but to improve us. Some problems are not meant to be solved. They are meant to be endured. – Dr. Earl Craig

The church is a training center. (Ephesians 4:1-6, 11-15) A call to follow God is a call to prepare. Every Christian is called. We should be prepared. A call to serve in any area is always a call to prepare. What are we doing daily to prepare?

The church is a warning center. (Matthew 25:1-46) Jesus gives us warnings about our readiness in this passage. Warning people of danger is not being negative. It is a sign you really care.

The church is a power center. (Ephesians 6:10-17) It is OUR responsibility. We must “put on” and “take”, just as this passage describes. God provides what we need, we must choose to use it. We should feel empowered and encouraged to be who God has called us to be.

What is next for you as a Christ-follower? Your answer determines the kind of Christian you are going to be.

Dr. Earl H. Craig was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. He attended Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, on a golf scholarship. Dr. Craig has a Master of Theology and Doctorate of Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He served as Senior Pastor for over twenty years in three churches. Dr. Craig moved into stewardship ministry with RSI and became a Senior VP. This allowed him to be in over 130 churches a year for over 25 years. Dr. Craig has served on the Board of Directors for Dallas Baptist University, Mississippi College, Southwestern Seminary and Dallas Athletic Club. He and his wife Ann have been married for 48 years. They have a son and daughter and four grandchildren.

Press On

By Karen Polich

Pastor Trey Sullins delivered Sunday’s message, teaching God’s Word and His plan for His church. Colossians 1:18a says, And He is the head of the body, the church. AFBC is wrapped up in Jesus. This is His church. We are called to be the hands and feet. In times of change, it is about moving forward in obedience.

“God will move in a mighty way. In times of change we are called to press forward, not shift into neutral.” – Trey Sullins

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14

Jesus is the head of the church. He sets the course. The body carries out the ministry of the church and is made up of all who claim to be followers of Christ. We are never called to move backwards or stand still in ministry. We are called to move forward and follow God’s plan for our lives and His church. When a pastor leaves, the ministry of the church doesn’t stop until we get a new pastor. The ministry continues and during this time, more than ever, each member should commit to serve and minister as God directs.

Don’t be like the children of Israel. When something they didn’t like happened, they complained and struggled. They resorted to what they knew from the past, forgetting all that God had already walked them through. The leadership of Joshua and the elders was strong and followed God. When Joshua and the elders died, the next set of leaders did not trust or follow God and began worshiping idols and trusting in other things. This led to the next generation of Israelites not knowing what God had done and trusting in His provision. This responsibility did not only fall on the leadership, but the people themselves. We are all responsible for our relationship with Christ and our obedience to what He has called us to. AFBC is God’s church to which you are called.

We are called to pray for AFBC, but more importantly, we are called to pray for the team of individuals that will seek God’s man for AFBC. Pray daily for each member. Pray that we focus on God’s agenda and not our own. We must stand firm and keep our eyes focused on Him. If not, we run the risk of the next generation not following God. Where are you today? Are you seeking His will and moving forward?  I am moving forward, are you going with me!

Connection Offerings

By Karen Polich

There’s something about our habits. We usually do what we usually do. We usually don’t do what we usually don’t do. How do we make the shift? – Michael M. Cook

We all have a role in the body of the Church. Pastor Michael M. Cook wrapped up the Fragile Growth sermon series on Sunday. This eight week series focused on moving forward in our growth as followers. Connection Offerings, teaches from Colossians 4:7-18; looking at five people and their traits. What if we adopted these traits? Listen to the podcast here.

Availability (Tychicus). He was available and dependable. God is more concerned about our availability than our ability. Are we ready to say “yes” when He can use us?

Useful (Onesimus). He was faithful. We see in Philemon 1:11 that he had failure in life, but God still used him. Failure does not have to be final. In failures, we have a choice to give up or move on. It is important as a believer to have the capacity to move forward. God can do anything. There can be new starts and things can turn around. It’s all possible.

Reconciliation (Mark). There is a fine line between we are not right with each other and we are now right with each other. Choosing a church is simply a matter of deciding which group of radically flawed individuals you will commit your life to.

Be careful and be slow to write people off. – Michael M. Cook

Prayer (Epaphras). He was always “wrestling in prayer”. The opposite of prayer is self-reliance. What does a prayer warrior recognize? God is able to do things that we are not able to do. It is heavy, hard work. Not a prayer warrior? What would get you to become one? What can God accomplish that you can’t?

 Generosity (Nympha). Everything she had was at God’s disposal. Is this how we live? Much can happen when we have a generous heart and hold nothing for ourselves.

Whatever condition we find ourselves in, we are all in this together. What would it look like if we all adopted these traits, wrestling in prayer as we give and make ourselves available for His Kingdom? We are all needed somewhere right now.

 

 

Family Part Two – Children

By Karen Polich

God’s plan for families begins with parents who seek Him first and follow His direction. This partnership has a profound impact on children. God’s Word teaches us how, when living with trust, we can lead our children in His ways.

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. Colossians 3:18-21

Children obey your parents. For this to function, there must be structure in the home. Proper leadership establishes direction. Children crave structure and order. When they have it, it brings freedom. When they know the boundaries, they too can begin to grow into who God created them to be. Structure in the family means there is accountability. It is the same for each of us with the Father. It also means mercy and grace can flow into the lives of children. Parents can teach them about forgiveness and why boundaries matter. God has set boundaries in every life for our own protection.

Fathers, do not embitter your children. Children crave approval from their fathers. Fathers must be willing to say “I’m sorry”, when they are harsh beyond what is needed or speak with words that should not have been said. Leading children comes with great responsibility. Children are fragile and fathers are called to love them. Leading from a “God first” life builds trust.

To live with submission, love and obedience, we must start with trust. Trust is over all of it. Husbands and wives, you must put God first. Seeking Him before anything else builds the trust that leads to obedience. An obedient life bears the fruit of a life with God at the center. Obedience is a mixture of submission and love. When we yield to the Father, we can live the life He intends for us, a life beyond our imagination.

What would our lives look like if we were doing everything we are supposed to do from a biblical perspective? Do not settle for anything less. He offers us His best. We can choose to embrace it.

Listen to the Fragile Growth sermon series here.

 

 

What Can I Do?

By Kristin Overman

Every year I take my kids to the state fair. Since I am not a big crowd person, I always try to go early or on a day that is not busy. The boys totally wear me out. That is how I feel about politics and trying to influence it, a little person in a big crowd. I’ve felt that I can’t do anything to influence our nation. But God has begun to show me that there is something I can do.

There are stories in the Bible about God’s people working alongside kings and rulers, even evil ones. They influenced circumstances and were used by God. Daniel served as an adviser for Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius in the Babylonian and Persian empires. All three kings were power-hungry, narcissistic men. Belshazzar had a drunken party with the holy utensils from the temple in Jerusalem.

Esther was married to Artaxerxes, who paraded his previous wife, Vashti, before his drunken friends. Girls were taken from among the populace to be part of his harem and boys were taken to be eunuchs. He wasn’t much of a supporter of individual rights. History also notes that these rulers from Persia were known to make laws during drunken parties. There wasn’t representation of the people.

Joseph served Pharaoh who got advice from possessed sorcerers. He had the power to sentence men like the royal baker to death without a just trial by his peers. The people under him did not have any fair system of justice.

What can we learn from Daniel, Esther, and Joseph about politics? What can we do? Most of us are just little people in a big crowd. We are not advisers to rulers or spouses to kings. We don’t sit in the dinner halls of presidents. But we can do the things that they did. The Bible notes that Daniel and Esther prayed and fasted.

Do we use our voice to talk to God as much as we use it to talk to others? Do we use our voice to petition our government leaders? Daniel, Esther, and Joseph petitioned their rulers. Daniel asked to be allowed to follow God’s commands over the king’s. Esther petitioned for the life of her people. Joseph presented a plan to save Egypt from the famine. We can petition our leaders also. And, we can do it without risking our lives. Even though I feel intimidated, I’ve taken my boys up to Santa Fe and spoken with my Representatives in person.

Daniel, Esther, and Joseph proclaimed the truth. Daniel proclaimed who the true king was and confronted the kings about sin. Esther exposed the truth about Haman, the king’s closest adviser. Joseph proclaimed the truth to Pharaoh about his dream. We can proclaim truth to anyone we are in contact with.

God has shown me other things I could do. I can provide for those who defend freedom, God-given rights, and godly ideas. There are Christian political organizations that need support. They work on the front-lines. Organizations exist that fight for the rights of unborn babies, freedom of speech on college campuses where Biblical ideas are attacked, parental rights, and freedom of speech for churches.

Yes, God is sovereign and we should not worry, but God also uses His people. His sovereignty is not a reason to not act. I want to be a part of God’s setting up kingdoms and kings and work with the evil and lost people in my world, even the political world, because, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke.

Unfolding a Mystery of God

By Karen Polich

How much potential and possibility do we have in our Christian life? It is difficult to fathom how God can live in us and we in Him. The mystery is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27b) Pastor Michael M. Cook’s sermon series, Fragile Growth, explored this mystery related to living out our full potential. Listen to the podcast here.

Colossians 1:24-29 24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

This speaks to the possibilities in every disciple’s life and helps clarify the potential in a “God transformed” life.

Christ is not diminished in us. It is a challenge to understand. His presence, received through salvation will be something that changes us. His presence released, strengthens us. It is not us, but Christ living in us and loving through us.

On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. John 14:20

In the Christian life, we have tremendous help through the Holy Spirit. Will we use it? No matter the pressure faced in life, help is at hand. He resides in us. We need to move out of the way and let Him lead.

The power of Christ in our lives communicates something about our potential. We can exchange our strength for His. We often try to get to the point where we can do things on our own, which is impossible. We can’t, but He can. But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

The prospect of Christ in us reveals the hope of glory. Often we swim in failure. Without hope where would we be? We have hope now and hope in the future. There is more waiting for us beyond today and this life. (Romans 8:11, Psalm 17:15)

How great in the Kingdom, can we be in terms of Kingdom building for the cause of Christ? What is our full potential in Christ? As we grow spiritually in fragile space, know that the Holy Spirit is there to strengthen us as we live a life transformed by God.

 

 

 

 

 

Giving Matters

By Trevor Jordan with Karen Polich

Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops. Proverbs 3:9

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Trevor Jordan and learn more about his perspective on giving and why it matters. Trevor grew up with parents who stressed the importance of tithing to him from an early age. Read on to learn more from Trevor.

As a kid, I wondered how God uses the money. My parents would put five dollars in my hand and let me place it in the offering. They were building the habit. As a young kid and then a college student, I didn’t have much of anything to give on my own. My parents helped me see that in any situation, we can and should give God what we have to give. It may hurt, but maybe it is supposed to so we are reminded that He comes first.

Now I see God in action with the resources we give. That sense of pride I feel when I see kids climbing on the rock wall or hear stories from a mission trip comes from giving. I get to be a part of something greater than me. God gives me the opportunity to invest in Him and His work. That’s a wonderful thing. As a shareholder, I have a stake in His church.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

You and I get to be a part of what God is doing through our giving. Every time we walk into the building, attend an event, or work with pastors who don’t have to split their time at another job in order to make ends meet, we are part of that. We are honoring God with our resources. Stewardship is obedience. God has called us to give Him our firstfruits and He blesses us when we are obedient.

Invest in God, in yourself and in the Kingdom.

God doesn’t need our money. His accomplishments are not dependent on us, yet He invites us to be part of His work. When we give to Him, He gives in return. He lets us be part of His amazing Kingdom work. It’s an investment that impacts my life in many ways. Having a heart of obedience that understands it’s all His has helped me grow in my relationship with God.

When we give from an obedient heart, we honor God. It’s an investment worth more than we can imagine.