Hope

A Living Hope

By Gerry Wakeland

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1: 3 NIV

Our God is a God of hope. Not just any hope but a living hope, a hope that is alive within us.

This hope comes as the result of Christ’s death and resurrection. Along with this hope is the promise of “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for us.” (1Peter 1:4)

HOPE! It seems like such a simple word, but in fact, it has a significant impact in our lives. Think about it. We all have hopes. Right now, as you read this you are hoping for something. What it is?

Hope is a desire with the expectation of fulfillment.  In other words, it is trust. You might even say it is faith. For Christians, it is the belief that God has a plan for our lives and that plan is far better than our own plan. That plan includes His provision for our needs and fulfillment of our desires.

Our church fellowship has hopes too. Recently we launched the Hope Effort with the goal of raising the monies to expand our current facility. This expansion would add new classrooms for our children’s ministry and allow us to relocate our administrative offices to the church campus. With this expansion we hope to reach more lives for the Kingdom of God.

As Pastor Cook led the church leadership in a discernment process preparing for this financial campaign, he was very intentional about how we would view this project. He pointed out the many trials and storms our church family had weathered since relocating to the west side. Debt, fires, and contamination are but a few of those. Sadly, there came a time when many of us were losing hope.

In 1 Peter 1: 6-7, the Apostle Peter reminds us, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold – which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

As we the family of Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church look to the future, we do so with renewed hope. We trust that God will continue to do a great work not only in our church and through our church, but in and through each of us as individuals.

As you pray about how you and your family will be involved in the Hope Effort, think about how God may be stirring the hope that is living within you. Is He reminding you that you have an inheritance stored up in heaven? Perhaps He wants you to know that even through the trials that hope is alive.

“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with the inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your soul.” 1 Peter 1: 8-9 NIV

My Identity – My Stuff

By Karen Polich

The older I get, the more I come to believe that nothing I buy can take away my loneliness, fill my emptiness or heal my brokenness. – Fred Rogers

Our identity is something big. We do not get our identity in a position, a house, a car or anything else this world has to offer. We bring our identity to that job or home or whatever it is we may be chasing. Continuing his Stuff sermon series, Pastor Michael Cook took us into the importance of our identity.

Identity in our adoption. Your most defining moment was not in the one that dumped you but in the Father that rescued you! Ephesians 1:5

God chose you. You were selected by Him and nothing can change that. Nothing about your identity has been formed by something done to you, it is wrapped up in what Someone did for you.

Identity of our redemption. Redemption is being bought out of one position for another. Ephesians 1:7

Jesus did not pay for you in coinage, but with His very blood. Jesus really loves you, really.

Identity in our seal. Identity in Christ is reaching a deep understanding that we are marked by something far greater than a physical mark. We have the mark of the Holy Spirit on us. Ephesians 1:13

Salvation has nothing to do with you. You can’t strive for it or earn it. It is about what He did. Self-rescue is impossible. Your God will be your God when you succeed and when you fail. If you fall back into an old sin, God is still your God.

How many cheap substitutes will we seek? There are empty spaces of the heart and soul that God desires to fill with Himself. What if we cram so much “stuff” into those places that God Cannot occupy them?

Project of the Week: Spend one week fasting from any personal item you want to buy for yourself. (Work this out for you. It doesn’t mean miss meals or skip paying bills. It is about postponing something you think you need, focusing instead on our Creator.)

For more about the Hope Effort, visit afbchope.com. Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here.

Building on Faith

By Karl Lee

Do you remember the story Jesus told in Luke 14:28-30? There was to be a tower built, but they failed to have enough money or materials to complete it. In any undertaking, no matter what it may be, there is the idea of first counting the cost for that particular undertaking.

Our church is now undertaking a building expansion.  As you may have noticed, nothing comes cheap. We will need everyone’s help financially if we are to accomplish this project.

So, what does that mean? That means you and I must give, with a willing heart, sacrificially, above our regular gifts and tithes.

Okay, I follow your thought. But where am I going to come up with a few extra bucks? I suppose there are a few things my wife and I could cut back on for a season. I’m considering cutting back on dining out at least one meal each month. That’s twenty-five to thirty dollars in savings! Even as I write this, I can think of a couple of other things I can do without.

Let’s go back to the Scriptures. Do you remember the story of the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness? Read Exodus 25. Moses was told by the Lord to ask the children of Israel for an offering to build the Tabernacle. The people were to give with a willing heart. Wow! Sacrificial giving and with a willing heart. Now take a look ahead to Exodus 36:6. Here we see Moses having to tell the children of Israel to stop giving for they had given in abundance.

What an awesome thing it would be if Pastor Cook had to ask us to stop giving because we had exceeded far beyond the need. Yes, in time there will be other projects as the needs of the church expand, but, dear saints, let us concentrate on this particular undertaking for there will be no building if the funds are not available.

May I encourage you to go to the Lord in prayer and seek His guidance on what your participation should be in giving financially to this undertaking! Think about what you might sacrifice (give up) to make this vision a reality.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV

It’s All About The Little People

By Michelle McFadden

My husband, Curtis, and I began serving in the preschool hall four years ago. We often wondered how we were going to survive.  It was the two of us outnumbered by 20 children, ages two and three. Getting crafts done, going potty, eating snack and being able to shower them with love quickly became a creative juggling act.

Time and time again God kept showing us it was about these little people, loving them and showing them the Savior.

Our passion is to serve these beautiful little faces, to see them light up when we talk about Jesus, even when we have to make do with the limited space we have. Believe me, with 20 playful two and three year olds, the room quickly overflows with love and little ones.

With three young children of our own, we see the preschool area as parents, too. Our children love being there even if space is tight. They don’t really see all the issues but are simply happy learning and feeling the love from their teachers and friends. As parents, we want them to have the space they need to learn and grow surrounded by their friends.

Our church family has set a goal to reach young families and God has blessed our efforts. Along with that goal comes the responsibility of providing adequate space for our preschool and children’s ministry. Almost from the time we moved into our current building we had pretty much filled the early childhood areas.

Recently Pastor Cook shared God’s plan for our church to grow. He talked about the people being what matters most. He talked about buildings and such as being only tools we use to serve the people. One of those tools is an addition to our current building.

Adding the much needed new space would allow us to reach even more families. Our existing programs could expand and we could offer more new programs. When families with young children visit our church they will see first-hand our church’s commitment to the spiritual development of young lives.

On Sunday mornings our children run into church like it’s another home. We want that for other children, too. But more importantly we want children to know Jesus. That can only happen when they have a place where they feel comfortable and loved, a place where Jesus is taught and modeled, a special place, all about the little people.

“But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these’”. Luke 18:16 NIV

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.