The RPT Process

By Ty Haguewood

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I don’t know about you but that passage seems impossible to actually live. How could I possibly rejoice always when everything around me is burning? How could I possibly pray without ceasing? I already struggle to pray once a day. How could I possibly be thankful in all circumstances? ALL CIRCUMSTANCES? Life is tough and often unpredictable. One-day things can be going well and then you get a phone call that radically changes everything.

Our circumstances, whether we want to admit or not, impact us all the time.

A sudden loss of a loved one, an unexpected promotion, a call from a childhood friend, whether our circumstances are good or bad doesn’t matter. It is inevitable that we will be affected. So if our circumstances are ever changing, how could we possibly fulfill Paul’s words to rejoice, pray, and give thanks?

The RPT (Rejoice, Pray, Thanks) Process is important to the believer because it reminds us that our circumstances are not our God. God is not impacted by our circumstances. He doesn’t change who He is because something crazy happened in your life. God is not absent from our circumstances; He is above them. This is good news for us. We have a hope that is external to our circumstances. We have a hope that will never change. We have a hope that we can trust.

This strong challenge from Paul to rejoice, pray, and give thanks is not a command for you to always be happy about your circumstances but rather to find joy in the One who is above your circumstances. I believe this text gives us a practical guide for our daily fight to rejoice, pray, and give thanks.

Let’s break this down.

Rejoice (R) = to be glad/ filled with joy

Pray (P) = our response to God’s Word

Thanks (T) = the overflow of a heart that has experience this joy

How can we rejoice, pray, and give thanks daily?

Let’s start with rejoicing. Wake up in the morning and go to the source of all joy.

You have access to God through His Word. Spend time with Him. Visit the words and teachings of Jesus in the four gospels, hear the songs of praise from the psalmists, explore the well of wisdom in the proverbs, and be challenged by the life lessons Paul has to give you. Every day you can go and fill your cup. Start by rejoicing (R). Experience joy.

After you have been filled with joy from the promises of God, respond to Him in prayer (P). Prayer, simply put, is our response to God’s promises in His Word. You have personal access to the King of Kings; talk to Him. Write or verbalize your response to the joy you have just experienced in His Word. Don’t be intimidated by prayer. The Lord wants to meet with you.

After rejoicing (R) and praying (P), hopefully you will be left with a great feeling of gratitude. We cannot fake authentic gratitude. Either we are grateful or we are not. The thanksgiving (T) part of this process is last because it is of the utmost importance to go to God first to understand why we should be thankful. If your cup of joy has been filled and you have responded in prayer, thanksgiving should be the fruit of this process. We give thanks because of what we have tasted and experienced.

Like everything, this will be a process. I hope you will fight to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances. Wake up every day and fight to grow. Start now!

Listen to the sermon podcast here.


Praying for Obedience

By Gai Gai Anderson

Pastor woke up from a restless night of sleep and looked at the clock. 4:00 a.m. Wow. Another night of waking, praying, and wondering what God is doing in his family’s life. His ministry is going well, God is touching lives, and his wife and children are happy; but God seems to be nudging his heart to be ready for something new.

Later in the morning, as he sits at his desk pondering the last few days, the phone rings. Someone from Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church is on the other end. “Hello, Pastor, this is a member of the pastor search committee at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Our search committee has been praying for the man God wants to lead us into the next season of our life here at our church. We think you could be that man…”

Later on in the evening, Pastor talks to his wife about the phone call, and they begin to pray earnestly about what God is leading them to do. Should they pursue this opportunity for service at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church?

When Abraham was called to go to a place God would show him, he had to make a decision whether he would follow God’s leading or stay in the place where he was already. He listened to God’s voice, gathered his family together, and set out on a journey that would take him into the future God had for him. This journey would touch generations to come.

We want God to give us the pastor He has already been preparing for the ministry here at our church that will touch generations to come. Obedience is the key. Our prayers have taken many different routes in the last several weeks. As we end our focused prayer time led by the pastor search committee, we feel it is time to pray for the pastor God has for us to be obedient to his calling. Let’s be unified in our prayers this week as we pray for God’s working on the other end of this scenario—God’s man to be obedient to his call to be the pastor of Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church.

Let’s pray he will trust God with his whole heart and not rely on his own understanding in this time of searching for God’s will in his life (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Let’s pray that God will give him a vision for what He is about to do in his life, and he would heed God’s wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 29:18).

Let’s pray that he will follow Jesus’s example and spend necessary time alone with God seeking His will (Mark 1:35).

Let’s pray that he will go to God for the true wisdom that he needs to take the next step in God’s plan (James 1:5).

Let’s pray that he will be obedient to God’s call (just as Abraham was), and that he would have the faith to take the first step on the journey (Hebrews 11:8).


Praying for Growth and Momentum

By Karen Polich

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8

As Christ followers, we should seek growth in our lives. It doesn’t happen without our choosing to be intentional in our relationship with Him. Corporate prayer for Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church over the past weeks has been a blessing, showing how His people seek Him with a fervor and passion for His will. Baptisms, new members, growth in the attendance of ministries and personal growth of His people are all reflections of the work God is doing at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church.

God is not stagnant. He is ever moving, constantly active, and faithful to complete the works He began.

It is something inspiring to see at AFBC. In a season of change, God remains steadfast. His promises never fail and He has called us to bear fruit.

Our prayer focus for the next week is one of growth and momentum for the work God is doing. Praying for our church in these areas shows hope for things yet to come and gratitude for the work He is doing now. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1a

Is your life reflecting this? Are you rejoicing over what God has done in you as you ask Him to continue to grow you in new ways? “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) When we choose to abide in Him and seek His will, we will bear fruit worthy of His Kingdom.

Over the next week, pray for God’s plans in your life. Ask Him to use you and see where He leads.

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

Praying for our Pastors

By Karen Polich

Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only… James 1:22

Pastors take on role after role to serve others. They teach, preach, counsel, lead, disciple, pray and worship; that’s just on a Sunday morning.  On “quiet” days, hours are spent seeking God in the Word, making hospital visits, working on budgets, and meeting need after need of their congregation. What can we do to help them keep their hearts renewed? We can pray.

We can embrace praying for our pastors and staff with eagerness. Knowing people are praying lightens burdens and multiplies joy. The pastors and staff at Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church pour themselves into service, giving their time and talents to answer God’s call. We need to pray for them with a fervor that ignites passion and purpose, not just in the hearts of the staff but in the hearts of the congregation.

The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. Luke 18:27

God is at work, building up His Kingdom. We have the opportunity to seek Him and ask for His guidance and strength for those who serve Him and lead the church. Take time to pray over the next week for the pastors and staff as they live in obedience to His call.

Here are some ways we can pray for our pastors.

  1. Intimacy with Christ. Ask God to strengthen their relationship with Him. Pray for the opportunity to worship and grow closer to the Lord. “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
  2. Pray for leadership grounded in Truth. Ask God to give them protection and time to grow together. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
  3. Pray for the opportunity to refresh and refuel. Ask God to grant times of rest. “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
  4. Pray for discernment and the wisdom that can only come from God. “For the Lord gives wisdom and from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6

Make praying over those who serve a priority this week. God will continue to do great things as we seek Him.

Seek Wisdom

By Evan Anderson

God has promised His people that He would never leave nor forsake them. (Deuteronomy 31:6) Time after time He has proven Himself faithful to them, even amid trials and tribulation.

James writes to a scattered people during their trials and oppression with the purpose of encouraging them in their pursuit of faith. He writes this, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:7) James tells these people that when they are lacking wisdom, they need to run to God.

We will all face trials and oppressions. As disciples of Christ, when we lack the knowledge of what to do, we are called by God to run to Him in dependency and security.  This wisdom of God that He promises to all who ask Him is founded not from a place of human intelligence, but from a place of submission.

We are not called to be wise in our own self, we are called to be submissive to the one who is all wise and sovereignly in control. Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction”. In addition, Proverbs 3:7 tells us, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.” The wisdom we are given by God drives us more to dependency on God, not to self-glorification. God is the source of wisdom, we are not.

Know that when you ask God for wisdom in difficult situations, God will freely give it for the betterment of your soul and sanctification.  God has given us His Word and every ounce of wisdom from God should stem from the Word of God.  God’s wisdom from His Word helps direct and inform us on how to live.

We may not always be gifted with the understanding of why life has taken a dramatic turn, but God’s wisdom informs us on how to take that turn in a way that pleases and glorifies Him.

During this season in the life of our church, we desperately need to devote time to pray and ask God to grant wisdom to our leaders, pastors, teams, and everyone within our church body.  We need to dive deep into God’s Word expecting Him to draw us closer to Him, and to grant us the wisdom to make the choices we need to make today. All of this is said because only a wisdom that comes from God will truly enable us to endure our trials with joy and humility.



Where Do You Turn?

By Karen Polich

At times, things move along in an easy fashion. Everything seems to fall into place and blue skies abound. Then there are seasons which push us past our limits.

Think about your worst day or hardest season. Was it just one thing that went wrong or did circumstances pile up? Tough days and hard seasons happen. When you find yourself at a low point, on the brink of breaking, where do you turn?

You are not alone.

Jeremiah was intimate with the darkness found in low places. Jeremiah experienced what a horrible day looks like, and he was not alone. Called by God, Jeremiah was a prophet who shared what no one wanted to hear. He had clear instructions to follow and his obedience put him in a place of despair. He felt humiliated and alone. Crying out to God, he finds himself in a pit, but still expresses trust in his lamentation.

Jeremiah 20: 7-10 (NIV)
7 You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived;
you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.
8 Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the Lord has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
9 But if I say, “I will not mention his word
or speak anymore in his name,”
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot.
10 I hear many whispering,
“Terror on every side!
Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!”
All my friends
are waiting for me to slip, saying,
“Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we will prevail over him
and take our revenge on him.”

In the midst of his pain, Jeremiah is talking, feeling and trusting. Numbness and silence are not our friends. Emotions cannot be selectively numbed. It is all or none. Shutting out the pain shuts out all of the joy too.

In the midst of a hard day or a tough season, God is with you!

Despite any circumstances, He loves you and brings the ultimate hope to any situation. You are never alone. Take time to study His Word and develop a habit of going to Him in good times and bad.

Jeremiah 32:27 says,’ “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? ‘

Fasting for the Purpose of Drawing Near to God

By Kevin Linthicum

Doing without… We live in a time when the thought of doing without is outside the normal thought process. When we determine we want something we simply get it. Many of the things we have are not even things we need, but things we want. We are a selfish, self-serving, and self reliant culture. Initially, I wanted to call the Malawi Mission Team to a time of prayer and fasting, but the more I began to pray over the process, I came to realize the entire church needed to be called to a time of prayer and fasting.

Acts 13:2-3, While they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

In this passage, we see the church called to prayer and fasting before sending the missionaries out on the first journey. As we prepare to send our team off next week, I want all of us to take seriously the call to prayer and fasting.

For some, it will be the first time to exercise the discipline of fasting. I want to encourage each of you to seek God during this process. When you begin to feel hunger pains, you should be reminded of the purpose of the fast. We are attempting to draw near to God, seek God’s provision, seek God’s protection, and seek God’s will. I am waiting with anticipation to see how God will use this time of fasting and praying to help our team become stronger.

I believe the following text with all my heart. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. Ephesians 3:20

Use this time of fasting and prayer to strengthen your own journey and believe He can do far more than we could ever ask.

The AFBC family has been called by Pastor Kevin to a church-wide fast that begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 20 and ends at 12:00 p.m. (noon) on Sunday, May 21. We encourage you to join us as we fast and seek God together.

Fasting 101

By Karen Polich

Fasting 101 may sound like a boring sermon topic, but on Sunday Dr. Trey Sullins delivered this fast-paced message with passion and purpose. Listen to the podcast here. In his message, he focused on two areas, fasting and praying and respect for holiness.

Sullins’ message is a direct response to Pastor Kevin Linthicum’s call for the church to fast in preparation for upcoming mission trips to Malawi and throughout the world.

Fasting and praying. At its core, fasting is sacrifice. It’s getting rid of the things of the world and focusing on God. It is an outward expression of an inward devotion. Fasting is an act of worship. Nowhere in the Bible is fasting required. It is a choice of the heart. Fasting is a time of giving God all the honor and glory. Sacrifices are not easy. We can choose to make the sacrifice for Him.

In scripture, many fasted to seek God. Nehemiah, Daniel, David and Esther are examples of fasting during times of need, mourning and repentance.

Respect for holiness. What goes on in our hearts and the act of that is what is holy. We are made holy through Christ. (1 Peter 2:9, Colossians 3:12) We are often clear on what is unholy, but uncertain about what is holy. Holiness comes with a separation from the world and a holy pursuit of God and His call on your life.

And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:10

What about families? In 2 Chronicles 20:1- 29 King Jehosaphat called everyone to fast a pray, begging God to show up in their time of need.

In this process, the pursuit of holiness and the respect for holiness was being taught. Fasting is an opportunity to teach our children what it means to respect holiness. It is the act that brings holiness.

Not sure where you are with this? Search out God’s Word. As a church, we will be fasting from midnight Friday, May 19 until noon on May 21. If you choose to fast, immerse yourselves in it all day long. Talk about it as a family; pray as a family. For children or young adults, or those with health concerns, fasting is not necessarily about food. We can fast from many things. Also, it is not for everyone to see. It is for us to walk through as we would during a normal day. It’s not for social media and loud boasts, but a true focus on God.

“The end product of any fast is God’s will.” – Dr. Trey Sullins

The challenge is to embark on this journey with God, pursuing God and pursuing holiness.

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!

Rejoice, He Makes Things New

By Karen Polich

Philippians 4:4-8 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

The Bible if full of stories about leadership changes. As AFBC embarks into new transitions, Pastor Cook’s message from Acts 20:13-38 focused on three areas tied to biblical transitions.

Accomplishment. God has done great things here. We’ve moved to a new location. AFBC has a people from all generations and the body is service oriented with a focus on others.

Affirmation. When things change, there is always and ending, neutral zone and a new beginning.

Anticipation. Stay close to God. He is about to make all things new.

Pastor Michael M. Cook reminded the church body of three reasons Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church’s greatest days are ahead of her.

  1. It’s a remarkable place. As a church, this place is full of people seeking to follow Christ.
  2. You know who you are and what God has called you to accomplish.
  3. There is strength in the balanced and diversified fellowship.

Take time today to pray for God’s plan. There are great days ahead.