Hope

Fond Memories of an Old Story

By Karen Polich

Easter Sunday celebrates the story that knits Christians together. Everything rests on this story. God’s promise was fulfilled. His Son gave the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. God’s Word gives us the perspective of the disciple John near the end of his life. (John 19:20-20:8)

How often do we look at this story with the idea that Jesus was a victim? The death of Jesus was a victorious death that fulfilled prophecy. Jesus a victim? No, not for a moment. Jesus is the eternal victor. God’s mighty hand was displayed through the ultimate sacrifice of the Lamb. Our hope lies within the story of all stories. On Sunday, Pastor Michael Cook shared three features of how God demonstrated His power. (Listen here.)

Jesus controlled His death. The unknown of death can hold us in bondage, but death did not hold anything over Jesus. Satan tried to kill Jesus time and again, even at birth. Jesus taught repeatedly about His control over life and death. Death had no power over Him. (John 10:17-18)

Jesus orchestrated His burial. Jesus should have been sent to the open grave of thieves. Instead He was buried in a new tomb nearby. Joseph and Nicodemus were secret followers of Jesus. After His death, Joseph asked for His body so he and Nicodemus could prepare it for burial. With the Passover Sabbath approaching, it was critical that no bodies were left hanging so they were given permission easily. (John 19:38-41)

Jesus fulfilled His resurrection. The disciples looked upon Him and believed. (John 20:1-8) You and I are called to make a choice just like the disciples did. We have the full account in God’s Word.

Do you see the VICTORY in Jesus’ death?

People Matter

By AFBC

People matter. Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church focuses on people through six core values that guide us. These core values are the driving force behind our Kingdom work, holding our church family to a high biblical standard. They support our focus to reach people, plant seeds for spiritual growth, and provide the ability to experience true worship. They describe the culture we desire to create at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church.

OUR CORE VALUES:

Provide Impacting Worship (Romans 12:1-2; John 4:20-24)

Develop Greater Depth and Obedience in God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17; James 1:22)

Understand that All People Matter to God (Romans 1:16-18)

Nurture Spiritual Development Through Serving Others   (1 Peter 4:10-11; Ephesians 4:11-16)

Demonstrate Authentic Biblical Community (Acts 4:32-37; John 13:34-35)

Strive for Excellence in All We Do (Colossians 3:17, 23; Philippians 4:8)

We are a church rich in history. Those who have come before us built a legacy that is today’s foundation. There have been seasons of joy and seasons of struggle. God’s love and mercy have brought us to where we are today. As we enter a new season in our journey, we can impact His Kingdom through the HOPE effort.

What is the HOPE effort?

HOPE reminds us that God has brought us through days of great challenge…years of indebtedness, contamination, fires and delays. HOPE brings encouragement to each household in our church family. The potential to add additional space for our children and consolidate our campuses will provide additional funds for the ministry budget. These tangibles represent much more than a project; these are all signs of a broader HOPE, of restoration and positive things to come.  Why? Because people matter.

The impact of the HOPE effort will allow potential growth for Sunday morning programs, Vacation Bible School and new week-day ministry opportunities. This space will provide and exceptional environment for children and affirm our commitment to nurture the spiritual development of young lives.

Our core values hold us accountable to Him as we minister to people.

Prayer is vital to the success of the HOPE effort. Pastor Michael Cook challenged us to pray diligently for God’s direction. We are challenged to pray earnestly for God’s plan, God’s purpose, God’s presence and God’s provision.

Please join us to pray for our church as we start this new journey.

Days of Suffering – A “Grave” Subject

By Karen Polich

You need never fear the grasp of death when you are in the grip of God!  – Pastor Michael Cook

Pastor Michael Cook continued his sermon series on the book of Job and brought us to Chapters 18 and 19. (Listen to the podcast here.) Bildad continues his assault on Job. He wants him to know that he is going to die a horrible death because of his supposed hidden sins. He goes on and on about the fate that awaits.

It reminds us that the world will shake us at times, especially surrounding death. Darkness may seem like it will engulf everything and that there will be no way out. When death looms, it is all around. How much thought have you given death? Until you have been faced with the pain that accompanies death, probably not very much. There is such finality when death is viewed with worldly eyes.

Job doesn’t view death through worldly eyes. He responds to Bildad with a faith that awakens, a belief that there is more. He questions why Bildad doesn’t leave matters between God and Job alone. He reminds him that there is no getting away from God. Job understands something very important. He has looked at his own life and the death that surrounds him and is focused on knowing that he will see God with his own eyes when his flesh has disappeared.

I myself will see Him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! Job 19:26

 

 

The Other Side of Difficult Days

By: Karen Polich

Difficulty can be described in many ways such as adversity, hardship, hindrance, or obstacle to name a few. Merriam-Webster defines difficulty as something that is not easy to do or deal with.

We all have difficult days. They can seem unyielding and merciless.

Pastor Michael Cook shared his thoughts on what is on the other side of difficult days.

God is supportive. You are blessed. You are blessed in the here and now. When hurting, spiritual character grows vastly. In times of suffering we tend to draw near to God. You are blessed all the way into eternity. You may be rejected by men, but you are accepted by God.

God has a word of instruction. Do not fear, do not be troubled. Regardless of what you face, you are called to move forward for the cause of Christ. You should be relentless. God pours His instructive nature of gentleness and respect into your life.

God gives a clear directive. You may walk through tough days, but Christ came. He came to sacrifice once and  for all. He came to bring you to God! Don’t be afraid, instead be concerned about the Holy One that controls the soul. God is there encouraging you.

I Peter 3:13-18, “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.”

The other side of difficulty holds great promise. What might God be doing in you during the struggle?

Listen to Pastor Michael Cook’s podcast here.

 

Hope in the Midst of Hurting Marriages – Part III

By: Karen Polich with Curtis & Michelle McFadden

God designed more for marriage.

His Word calls husbands to an uncompromising commitment to consideration. “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” (1Peter 3:7)

Pastor Michael Cook continued the “10 Characteristics of Consideration”.
1. Be the spiritual leader.
2. Tenderness.
3. Intimate conversation.
4. Affection.
5. Give her security.
6. Time.
7. Help.
8. Romance.
9. Personal development of her life.
10. Spend time with God.

Curtis and Michelle McFadden share their thoughts.

 

Reflections of a husband.
These sermons grabbed my attention. I was reminded that I need to improve as a husband. My wife is my friend, life partner and lover. Our relationship is second only to my relationship with the Lord. I liked how the ten characteristics of consideration started and finished with God. Husbands need a solid foundation in making important decisions. A strong relationship with God starts with daily time spent with Him. This will allow me to be the spiritual leader in my household, not that my wife cannot, but because God has instructed me to lead my family.

I need to have a routine to date my wife. During our younger years, before marriage and three lovely kids, I wanted to know Michelle as a person. What she liked to do, her favorite foods, hobbies and activities. I just wanted to spend time with her. Time becomes scarce but I cannot make that an excuse. Weekly dates might not always work, but I need to spend time with my wife daily. Have a cup of coffee, talk to her during dinner, pray with her before bedtime, so when the kids are gone and life slows down I will not be sitting in front of a stranger. I need to constantly study and learn the subject of Michelle.

Reflections of a wife.
A recent survey found that on average husbands and wives spend only 37 minutes together a week. I was shocked until I took a look at my own life. With three young children, it takes creativity to spend quality time together. Neither of us can really be a helpmate without quality time. We have been known to put our kids to bed when there is still daylight just to have a date night in our home. These have been special moments when I have seen my confidence build as a woman and truly felt like my husband helped me see the gifts that God has given me. This is why time is so precious to me. Time is all the areas of security, romance and personal development.

Knowing that my husband is called to honor me as we are coheirs in God got me to thinking, “Hurray, bring on the chivalry!” It doesn’t mean I just want him to give in to all I say or think. There will be disagreements. God made us unique. This is where I realized I may not be allowing my husband to honor me. Society tells us to be “superwoman” or “supermom”, that we can do it all and on our own. Not true. I have seen what this does to me and how it hurts my husband as well. As a wife, I should welcome the honor my husband shows me.

I was deeply encouraged to pray for my husband. I would never want his prayers to be hindered. Without that connection to God, it could lead to disaster in our home. I pray his relationship with Christ always stands firm and that it remains a priority.

To listen to Pastor Michael Cook, click here.

 

 

Hope in the Midst of Hurting Marriages – Part II

By: Karen Polich with Matt & Nicole Dobson

What is destroying marriages today? Self-centeredness.

Chaotic and hurting marriages are not what God designed. His Word calls husbands to an uncompromising commitment to consideration. “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” (1 Peter 3:7)

This week Pastor Cook began to look at what husbands are called to do in marriage. Husbands, consideration is key. It will give insight and understanding.

4 areas of “consideration” for husbands.
1. Be the spiritual leader. You must be IN God’s Word.
2. Show tenderness. You don’t treat your wife the way you treat others.
3. Intimate Conversation. You honor her like nothing else when you listen.
4. Affection. Value her and show her genuine affection.

Husbands, are you studying your wife? Always learning her ways?

Matt and Nicole Dobson share their insight and perspectives on Pastor Cook’s teaching.

Thoughts of a husband.

Nicole & Matt Dobson

Nicole & Matt Dobson

To have an uncompromising commitment to consideration for my wife, I have to be willing to compromise. I have to be able to see through her eyes. Without compromise there can be no consideration, I will only be focused on myself. Pastor Cook’s visual of the cast iron skillet and the fine china plate really put things in perspective. Strong and sturdy versus fragile. As a husband, I am responsible for keeping myself in check. I have to turn off work and turn on being a husband when I get home. Listening to my wife and not focusing on myself and my day is what I should do. A major effect comes from the choice I make. I really studied the end of 1 Peter 3:7, “so that nothing will hinder your prayers”. How I handle my relationship with my wife affects my relationship with God. I am called to treat my wife as I should so that my prayers will not be hindered. It goes back to being the spiritual leader of our relationship. I have always focused my leadership on teaching and continuing my own learning of God’s Word. I haven’t put my focus as a spiritual leader on praying for my wife and our marriage. Dramatic results will come when I am praying for her and for our marriage daily. It is extremely important. For people thinking about marriage, this information is critical. I believe it is equally important to learn what the bible teaches about divorce. God’s Word is clear on what we should and should not do regarding marriage.

Thoughts of a wife.
I was struck by the thought that if my husband is going to study me like a book or school work, then I need to give him something worth studying. Since the sermon, I read Proverbs 31:10-31 where God’s Word talks about a wife of noble character. It is my job to be that kind of wife. It can be tough to remember that the Bible does not instruct me to fix or change my spouse. It can be my first thought, but it isn’t God’s will. We have many relationships on earth, none more important than the one we have with our spouse. Who we choose as a spouse is the most important decision we will ever make.

Listen to Pastor Michael Cook’s full sermon here and learn more.

Finding Hope as We Celebrate Our Nation’s Independence

By: Karen Polich

There is no greater apologetic than your life. It is the foundation of reaching others. Not a sinless life, but one that is upright and blameless. When others can see how Christ has transformed your life, true impact can occur. We live in uncertain times, much like 1st century Christians. In celebrating our nation’s independence, Pastor Michael Cook reminds us that we are called to show respect for our nation, submitting ourselves for the Lord’s sake to the authorities among men, for it is God’s will. (1Peter 2:13) Peter speaks to 1st century Christians who had deep hatred for Rome. They were frustrated and hurt. Peter reminded them that they were called to live on a different level, submitting to a greater Authority. (1Peter 2:11)

Peter speaks of three motives regarding being faithful to our government.
1. Submit to human authority in obedience to God.
2. Imitate our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus did not lash out or fight, but instead took the position of calling us to repentance. (1Peter 2:21-25)
3. Glorify Him. We honor God when we are obedient. God is always faithful.

There is still a battle, even as we submit ourselves.

We are engaged in a battle for what is right. We can’t change everything, but we can change some things. Our responsibility as Christ followers is to do all we can to build God’s Kingdom. God has not called us to submit only to the authorities we agree with, He has called us simply to submit and show proper respect for everyone. (1Peter 2:17). It may not always be an easy task. Pastor Cook talked to us about this and shared the words of radio personality Paul Harvey regarding the battle we face. Listen to Paul Harvey’s “If I were the Devil” from 1965 here.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get discouraged by the things that I see. I long for simpler days and less confusion, days where I don’t feel like I have failed to fully protect the innocence of my children because of the rampant images and sounds available to fuel the demoralization of our minds. But then, I am reminded that I am engaged in a battle that has already been won. God gave us the ultimate gift of salvation through Christ Jesus. I find hope in His Word, in His promises. I am called to be an obedient follower of Christ. To live a life that reflects the words of Peter and to do it for the Lord’s sake.

 

Hope in the Midst of Hurting Marriages – Part I

By: Karen Polich with Kevin Polich

What is on the other side of marital struggle?

The trouble doesn’t happen overnight, it builds over time with little things. But there is hope! God’s Word calls wives to a personal commitment of submission toward her husband. (1 Peter 3:1-6) This is something a wife chooses. It is hard. It is learned and it is scary. Adoration for a husband brings beauty to a marriage, motivating a husband like nothing else. The perfect picture of submission can be found looking at Christ in Philippians 2: 5-11. Continuing his series, The Other Side of Pain, Pastor Michael Cook began looking at marriage. To hear the sermon, click here.

A wife’s perspective.
Submission, a simple word that creates such a commotion in our culture. Should it? As a wife, God calls me to submit to my husband. Not as a servant or a lesser partner, but with confidence and trust. It is liberating. I can be me, basking in the love of a husband who honors me. My actions speak far louder than my words. I have a choice. How do my actions speak to my husband? I can show him how much I respect him when he chooses to do the right thing. I can honor him with gentleness. Belief in him and his abilities to provide for and lead our family is what I want to display. We are on this journey together, with God at the center. As a wife, I have the opportunity to champion him through my actions.

A husband’s perspective.
What impacted me? Hearing this sermon made me more aware of what our marriage looks like and who my wife chooses to be. It is comforting to see the confidence she has in me, confidence in who I am and what I do. I think the biggest part of this is trust. First, we both have to trust God. When we do this, it becomes easier to follow His plan for our marriage. This is how we work together as true partners.

What about you? What are your thoughts on Pastor Michael Cook’s message?

The Other Side of Pain – Hope in the Midst of Life’s Work

The Other Side of Pain – Hope in the Midst of Life’s Work By: Karen Polich

How is your work life? Are you excited every day, anticipating another great day with an amazing boss and wonderful coworkers? Is it a grind? Do you sigh heavily as you prepare yourself for another day doing something that you simply don’t want to do? Has your hope diminished?

1 Peter 2:18-25

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.” When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness, by His wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Pastor Cook discussed Peter’s words and what we are called to do. God has given us instructions with His clear intention that we endure whatever our circumstances may be. We are called to be a living and active illustration. (Romans 8:35-39)

What might God be working in your life? Does He have you walking through a difficult situation right now? Could He be after the process of your growth? We are called to follow the footprints of Christ. Your actions may be the only glimpse of Christ a difficult boss sees. Are you seeking out the opportunity to shine as His example? Excellence in all we do as we follow Him. That is the hope on the other side.

Want to hear more from Pastor Michael Cook? Listen here.

The Other Side of Pain – Hope in Loneliness and Isolation

The Other Side of Pain – Hope in Loneliness and Isolation

By: Karen Polich

1 Peter 2: 4-6

As you come to Him, the Living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.”

Loneliness…something Pastor Cook says he sees so often; loneliness leading to a sense of isolation. What is on the other side of that loneliness and isolation? The Living Stone.

We have a Savior who relates to our circumstances.

He understands. He was rejected. He experienced the things that we experience and when we come to Him, we are not alone. He is the Living Stone, our foundation. We are connected to a Savior who understands us and we are connected to each other by the Living Stone.

Peter takes us back historically to when Solomon was building the temple. He reminds us of the victory and the living foundation of Jesus Christ. The rejected stone becomes the perfect fit. (1 Kings 6:1, 1 Kings 5:15, 1 Kings 6:7)

At times, when we feel lonely, we tend to cut ourselves off. We cut ourselves off from those around us whom we love and from the Church, the very place we can get help. Peter wants us to understand that we are different. We have a Savior who receives every sinner. We are different because our identity lies in the holy connection with Christ. This connection makes us part of a holy and royal priesthood. We are distinct and have our identity in Christ.Colossians 3:3-4 says, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in Glory”.

What are your circumstances today? Whatever today looks like, there is hope and you are never alone. You are becoming a living stone through the Living Stone of Christ.