Enough Grumbling

By Robert Thomas

This past Sunday I got to visit home in Albuquerque after spending my first semester at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth. I am so happy to have this experience, and I am blessed in many ways. I have a great job, I am learning a lot about ministry, I have a family at home who loves me and is supporting me, and I enjoy life in the dorms. It seems like a complete picture.

However, recently I have been walking through a matter of my heart, which I have struggled with ever since moving to Fort Worth. I have been unnecessarily bitter about the silliest thing: I share a dorm room with a roommate.

It feels even sillier saying it out loud. How can I be in the midst of such an incredible experience, but I still harbor bitterness in my heart? It is childish and selfish; in spite of the blessings in my life, I have focused on this one thing I was unhappy about. Ignoring the fact that God has ordained that I would live with someone and that it is also a blessing, my heart was cold and angry.

I often found myself wondering why God would allow this to happen. In other words, I was acting spoiled rotten.

I have recently been reading about the Israelites in the books of Exodus and Numbers. They were a spiritually young people during this time. The Bible tell us the story of how God chose this people, then promised to protect and bless them. God had a master plan for Israel, as Exodus 19:3-6 tell us, and He intended to grow and protect them as they strove toward being the people He commanded them to be. However, the Israelites had a difficult mindset, and their tendency was to grumble and complain, responding faithlessly and without gratitude to the blessings their God was giving them.

Their story is characterized by rebellion and dissatisfaction with God, because when they heard the plan of God, they did not like it. Their reaction was like picky children rejecting their dinner. Even if they vocally agreed to follow God’s commands, their hearts were revealed in their attitudes and actions. The first generation of people coming out of Egypt, the generation God rescued with His own hands, died in the wilderness because of their lack of endurance, fear of God, and lack of faith in Him. It is tragic.

Does this not remind you of the attitudes people have today? Our world needs a savior now more than ever. People need the hope and forgiveness that comes from Jesus Christ, but even today, we are a people with the same attitude as the Israelites in the wilderness.

This is often true for believers and non-believers alike. Even when we think we see God working in our lives, we always find room to critique. We indulge in bitterness, and we are all too quick to cry out to God in dissatisfaction. We blame Him for our discomfort, focusing on ourselves. We grumble against Him, and in so doing, we show contempt for the things God has allowed us to go through. Just like how I found something to complain about at seminary, many times we will singularly focus on our own dissatisfaction, and we step into sin.

We should not act this way. As Job says in Job 2:10, will we really accept blessings from God, and not trouble? Why should we be so quick to argue against the wisdom of the God of Creation? Is our plan really better than His? Are we really so faithless as to grumble about our discomfort, when it just reveals our shortsightedness? Does God not work all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28-29)?

Remember this during this holiday season, and think about making the resolution in your own heart to avoid grumbling and complaining. Instead, put your faith in God, showing gratitude for the things He does, and honor Him with your actions.

Listen to the sermon podcast here.

The Day After

By Gerry Wakeland

The leftovers are wrapped up; the good china is washed and put away. The Pilgrim decorations are back in their box to be stored until next year and we are on to the next holiday. We have Christmas lights to be strung on the house, shopping to be done and cookies to bake.

STOP! Rewind!

Yesterday I woke up and thought about the men, women and children who made the daring voyage across the ocean to find a land where they could worship their God the way they chose. Many of them did not survive that trip. Their bones lay on the ocean floor.

Those that did land on the shores of the new world suffered terrible hardships that first year, starvation, disease, and Indian wars. They did so in the name of freedom. Trusting their God would save them. And He did. Those same men and women are our ancestors, our heroes. Where would we be today without them?

Yesterday I woke up counting the many, and I do mean many, blessings in my life. Why should today be any different?

Just because those Thanksgiving decorations sit in a box in the attic does not mean that our gratitude should reside in that box with them.

So take a minute and think about what you are grateful for today, Here’s just a short part of my list.

  • My Savior and the promise of eternity
  • Family and friends
  • Freedom to worship
  • Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church and all that it stands for
  • Our pastors and other church leaders who lead with integrity
  • Men and women like Robert Stockton, Wes Cox, Nathaniel Meisner, Esequiel Padilla and so many others who serve and protect our city
  • Men and women like Joseph Dorroh, Chad Morgan, Justin Leetham and others who serve our nation here at home and all over the world. And the veterans, many who sacrificed their lives, to guarantee our freedom and that of others.
  • Water that runs directly out of the faucet, already hot and clean and the fact that I did not have to walk for miles carrying it in buckets and I can use as much as I want. People in places like Malawi do not have that luxury.
  • Every morning I take a deep breath and am reminded of my mother who could not do that. Most of us take breathing for granted.

This is just the beginning; the list goes on and on, pages and pages. You can see that we really have a lot to be thankful for.

This year let’s try something different. Even as we transition from the reflections of a day focused on thankfulness inito the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations let’s take a moment each day to stop and say a prayer of thanksgiving. Let us always remember the sacrifices that were made so that we can be who we are and where we are today and let’s not forget the greatest sacrifice of all,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only son…” John 3:16

3 Simple Ways to Fill Your Heart with Gratitude

By Karen Polich

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Study after study shows the benefits of living a life full of gratitude. We know it is good for our health and well-being, but how can we fill our hearts with gratitude? Here are three simple ways to bring more gratitude into your life.

  1. Prime your day. Establish each day with thankfulness. In the morning, don’t bemoan what has to be done or how long your list is. What are you thankful for? Talk to God about it. Begin the day with prayer rich in gratitude. While you may wish you had MORE, (more sleep, more time, more friends, more clients, more money, more health, more MORE) stop and let God know what you are grateful for. You might need to hear it too.
  2. Reframe. Having a bad day or worse yet, stuck in a bad season? When you find yourself in the middle of bad circumstances, shift your focus. Don’t get trapped in everything that is wrong. This goes for the pit of comparison too. Comparing ourselves to others leads to dissatisfaction and chips away at our joy.
  3. Write it down. If journaling is your thing, then have at it and start a daily gratitude journal. Not into journaling? Start a gratitude list. At the end of each day, list three things you are grateful for. It doesn’t even need to be complete sentences. Just get what you are thankful for onto paper. Ending our thoughts (and our prayers) on a positive note for the day will grow gratitude. The list becomes a powerful tool to revisit in the future.

Gratitude gives us the opportunity to notice how life overflows with God’s goodness. Gratitude plants the seeds for contentment and joy. It can lighten our load and put spring into our steps.




Choose Gratitude

By Michael M. Cook

While many people believe God is real, many also believe He is only “watching them from a distance” and has no real desire to know them personally.

Actually, God is very interested in you and desires for you to have a personal and meaningful relationship with Him.

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the gains of sand! Psalm 139: 17-18b

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11

God showed how much He loved us be sending His only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. 1 John 4:9

By the world’s standards, we each have a life of incredible blessing, and the Lord is aware of the reading on our “Gratitude Meters”. He knows you, knows what He’s done for you, and has a clear reading of your thankfulness right now. God is very aware of your heart response to His grace.

When you choose an attitude of gratitude toward the Lord, something changes in your life. Thankfulness leads to wellness at a deeper level.

Celebrating “the gift of Jesus” provides your faith the opportunity to grow. Faith grows in the soil of thankfulness.

A Great Year Ahead

By Karen Polich

A new year brings the excitement of possibilities. The anticipation is energizing. What do you want to accomplish? What needs do you have? Make 2016 great with three simple things.

God first. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Life is full. The demands of our responsibilities and the choices we face can keep us busy, if not overwhelmed. Put God first in every area and watch as He moves in your life. Dig into the Word, making time with Him a priority. His abundance will seep into every circumstance. If you haven’t already, join a small group. Get connected with others focused on God. Spend time in prayer. Be intentional about your relationship with God.

Rest. Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. Psalm 62:5

Study after study shows we are most productive when we get proper rest, yet our culture continues to applaud those burning the candle at both ends. Created to glorify God, our best isn’t available without proper care and rest. Do you need to go to bed earlier? Try adding thirty minutes of sleep each night and see what happens. Do something to relax. Enjoying a hobby can boost your energy. Carve out the time you need to have a well-rested body and mind.

Gratitude. Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. I Chronicles 16:34

Take the time to be thankful for God’s blessings. Stop today and give thanks for His blessings in the past year. Be intentional about gratitude this year. Keep a list of three things you are thankful for each day. Serving others brings huge amounts of gratitude into your life. Give your time to others by volunteering or through simple acts of kindness. Gratitude keeps the negatives of this world in perspective. Gratitude creates abundance, helping us see the needs of others around us.

What will you make of 2016? Focus on God will bring transformation that is better than any resolution or goal. Will you allow God access to your life like never before?



What Are You Thankful For?

By Gerry Wakeland

This is the time of the year when our hearts and minds turn to thanksgiving. Have you ever wondered what goes through the mind of a preschool child? I asked a few of the children from our church, “What are you thankful for?”

These were the answers that I received.

• “God!” Kariela Polich exclaimed excitedly.
• Two-year old Jewell Dorroh replied that she was thankful for her Mommy and Daddy and big sister.
• Ella McFadden is thankful for God and Wawa and Papa. Her older brother Aidan placed Mom and Dad at the top of his list.
• Five-year old Micah Overman is grateful for the video games he will play on Thanksgiving. His three-year old brother Noah is going to build a robot on Thanksgiving.
• Dylan Metros is thankful for balloons, “BIG balloons,” he said.
• Trenton Pitz is thankful for his Mom and Dad.
• Brycen McGahn is grateful for his Mommy and Daddy and then he quickly added that he loves his toys.
• Savahanna Case is thanking God for her Grandpa and Nanny this year.

What are you thankful for this year?