Pray

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.

 

Praying For Our Pastors

By Gerry Wakeland

October is Clergy Appreciation Month here in the United States. It’s a time when we pause to say “thank you” to our pastors and church leaders. Perhaps you have already given your pastor a note or a card, maybe even a small gift. Every one of those gestures are sincerely appreciated.

No one other than a pastor’s wife or children know the demands made of our leaders. They are available to the flock 24/7 ready to pray with us, cry with us, counsel us and sometimes rescue us. They even go to sporting events to cheer our children on. They make great sacrifices to fulfill the call God has placed on their lives. It seems only fitting that one out of 12 months of the year we would pause and express our gratitude for these sacrifices.

Wait…we only have to be grateful for our pastors one month out of the year? That’s not even a tithe. It seems a little unbalanced when we think of all they give each and every day. They don’t ask for anything in return. They give out of love and obedience.

There must be something that we can do on a more regular basis. Of course there is.

We can pray.

I am reminded of the words in Matthew 26:40, “Couldn’t you keep watch with me one hour?” All Jesus asked of His disciples was one hour of prayer.

Recently I heard someone say this, “Time is more valuable to me than money.” It made me stop and think. I came to the conclusion that maybe he was right. We live in a fast-paced society with many demands on our time. Are we willing to sacrifice sixty minutes a day in prayer? Are we willing to spend a portion of that time praying for our pastors and the needs of our church when we have so many prayer requests of our own?

There are those in our church who have made a commitment to pray for our pastors, our church and its leadership every day. At least one has taken that commitment one step further. Every morning at approximately 7:30 he makes his way to the steps of AFBC and kneels to pray. Would you be willing to join him?

Maybe morning is not the best time for you. Can you stop in on your way home from work? When you’re out running errands? What if you picked up your kids at school and all of you came by to pray? If you’re coming to the church for a meeting or a Bible study could you come a little early and stop to pray on the steps.

Many of us pass by our church at least once, if not several times a day. Could you, would you, take the time to stop and pray? It might be the greatest gift you could give our pastors.

I’ll meet you on the steps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastors Are People Too!

By Kelsey Bruxvoort

Growing up as a Pastor’s Kid I loved the attention. How could you not love getting candy and cookies all the time because people found you cute as a button. However, I hated the fact that I felt pressure to be perfect in every way, from how I looked to how I acted to what I said.

Those expectations are not just of pastor’s kids they are of pastors and their wives as well. People automatically look to pastors as the example of godliness. Now, several years later, I can look back and understand that pastors are people, too.

Because of my experience growing up as the child of a pastor I can see that there are several things that we can do as members of the congregation to support our pastors and their families. Here are a few.

We need to give our pastors permission to be who God created them to be. We are all of the same sinful nature. We should not place unrealistic expectations on them. Let’s not compare them to the previous pastor or to the television evangelist we watch on Saturday night.

God created each of us with a purpose. This goes for pastors too. First and foremost our pastors are children of God and should be encouraged to live as such. God wants our body and our head to work together. To make this happen pastors, just like all other individuals, need to take care of themselves physically and spiritually.  They need to allow for rest, for time to spend with God, for time to enjoy hobbies. In other words, they need balance. God created the Sabbath for a reason and He created it for all of His children.

We need to help protect our pastor’s time and commitments. I can remember so many times when my father was not able to attend my school or sports events because of church commitments. It still hurts to think about it. We need to understand that pastors have families and need to spend quality time with them. It’s okay for them to say no to some of the invitations that we as members of the church issue. They can’t possibly attend every meeting, every gathering, every celebration and party. We need to allow them to set realistic priorities. I believe that God would have their priorities be, God first, family next and then the church. In the world we criticize men and women who put their careers before their family but in the church we expect that of our pastors.

We need to pray for our pastors and their families. We need to pray for

  • their spiritual protection
  • their opportunities to transform lives
  • their ability to set good boundaries
  • their health and welfare

And finally, we need to encourage our pastors.  The Apostle Paul tells us to “encourage one another and build each other up.” We need to do this consistently, not just during Pastor Appreciation Month. A card, an e-mail, a text, a gift card, these are all great ways to show our pastors that we care about them.

God has given our pastors an awesome responsibility to lead and guide His church. God has given us an awesome responsibility to support and encourage our pastors.

Remember, a healthy pastor means a healthy church.