Compassionate Community – Compassion “In Tandem”

By Karen Polich

When transformational teaching and humble servanthood collide, fusing together in tandem, the magnetic overflow is compassion.

Pastor Michael Cook continued his Compassionate Community sermon series, teaching from Acts with a look into the early church. Listen to the podcast here. We find believers about fifty days post Jesus’ death.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. Acts 2:46

Why was it important that they heard God’s teachings daily? We have the gift of digging into our bibles, but they learned straight from the disciples who had lived with Jesus for the previous 3 years. New Testament text was yet to be written. The Jesus way was being taught daily by the disciples.

Along with daily teaching, they were living lives of humble servanthood. (Read “Why” Compassion) Transitional teaching and humble servanthood result in compassion. It is the fruit of a life focused on Jesus’ commands.

Solid biblical teaching and people helping people…

Things were going well and the church was growing. Then complaining and divisiveness started. (Why can’t we all just get along?)

Acts 6:1-7 tells us, In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Pastor Michael Cook broke it down into four parts that demonstrate transitional teaching and humble servanthood in tandem.

  1. The Crisis. Everything was going well and as it does, the whitewater moments hit.
  2. The Proposal. The Disciples knew they couldn’t do it all. They remained focused on teaching and chose seven men to oversee the needs related to the conflict. Neither teaching nor servanthood should be neglected. It takes many (THE BODY…)
  3. The Response. Everyone was pleased with the proposal. (FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT). The chosen men were full of the Spirit and full of wisdom.
  4. The Result. The Word continued to spread and the number of disciples grew. Compassion that stems from transitional teaching and humble servanthood moves lives in a mighty way.

Soaked in the Word over and over, God whispers into our hearts and lives are changed. More than a “church” experience, it becomes a way of living, a result of transformation teaching. Add to this a servant’s heart and compassion flows.

Who are you looking out for?


We Are…People Who Serve

By Karen Polich

As Christ-Followers we are all called to serve. Service to others is a core value for Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church. Impact happens when people reach out and help others. Pastor Michael M. Cook finished his sermon series We Are… with why serving others matters.

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

Your life is not about you. There’s more to life than our own story. God wants us to be part of His story. Who can be helped and where can an impact be made? Opportunities are everywhere. Putting others first broadens our perspective and changes us as well as those we serve.

Your life needs to have a mission bigger than you. (Mark 9:33-37) Giving ourselves away, we get to see how God is using us to influence others. Those moments can have great impact.

Something inside each of us will come alive and be awakened when serving others. Serving others helps us grow. Our hearts become fuller as we meet needs around us. Relationships blossom and lives are changed. The intensity of our troubles fades into the shadows when we serve.

Serving others brings a crispness to our lives like nothing else. – Michael M. Cook

Is there anything in your life you know God has called you to do and you are struggling? Charge ahead, serving others. Move beyond the “what ifs” and any discomfort. Let God transform you to become who He designed you to be.

Jesus, Ancient of Days is still serving… Where is God calling you?

Listen to Michael M. Cook via podcast here. Learn more about the core values of AFBC here.

Beyond the Walls

By AFBC Staff

Volunteering is not only good for others, it’s good for you. Giving back helps mood, mobility and relieves stress. Research shows that people who volunteer report lower mortality rates, lower rates of depression, fewer physical limitations and lower levels of stress than those who don’t volunteer, says Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. The health benefits are huge.

More importantly giving back makes an impact in the kingdom of God.

Albuquerque’s First Baptist Church takes giving back seriously. Pastor Michael M. Cook often reminds the congregation of what we refer to as The Big Three: worship, participation in small groups and serving.

Serving is not just important within the walls of the church but beyond the walls as well. The displays on the AFBC concourse Sunday January 25th were evidence of the church’s commitment to that philosophy.

Sharing information about volunteer opportunities were representatives from: Albuquerque BioPark, AmberCare, Animal Humane, Casa Esperanza, Gideons, Habitat for Humanity, Hope Christian School, The Rock at NoonDay, Respite Care, Special Spaces, Wings Ministry, Presbyterian Hospital and CareNet.

“I was intentional about providing a diverse range of organizations and opportunities,” said AFBC staff member Susan Rasinski. Susan was responsible for coordinating the Beyond the Walls event. “One of our goals was to expose church members to service possibilities in the community. The event was designed to be a win/win for everyone. I believe we accomplished our goal.”

Gary and Rhonda Warner recently joined the fellowship at AFBC. Participating in the Discover First class for potential new members, they heard first hand from Pastor Kevin Linthicum about our emphasis on serving. Relatively new to Albuquerque, they are looking for ways to get involved in both the church and the community. They found several opportunities that interested them. Talking to the organization’s representatives helped them to understand the needs of the organization. Gary signed up to get more information from several of the exhibitors.

What about you? What interests you?

There are more volunteer opportunities in our world than ever before. Here are a few positions that our members are involved in.

Joyce Brantley, Margie Gill, Billie Jordan, Lucille Stevens and Bill Robinson are readers at Petroglyph Elementary. One afternoon a week they go to the school and listen to children in Ms. Nancy’s kindergarten class read aloud.

Several of our members volunteer for the Rock at NoonDay. One day a month AFBC members come to the office and prepare the NoonDay mailing. Jim and Pat French, Jerry Bell, Steve Guerrero and Tom and Ginny Caizza are just a few that serve in that way.

Carlene Caruthers is a volunteer for Rust Medical Center. Those of you who know Ms. Carlene know what a bright cheerful presence she has. She welcomes people to the hospital with her dazzling smile.

Maybe you’re not sure how to find a volunteer position that fits you. Here are a few suggestions.

  • Find an activity that you’re passionate about. If you like kids volunteer to help children. Love books? The public library needs you. Enjoy building? Habitat for Humanity may be the perfect place.
  • Look for activities that fit your schedule. Do you have an extra day off each week? A morning or afternoon free. Some volunteer activities can be done from your very own home.
  • Make it a family or friend event. Ask a friend or family members to volunteer with you. Serving together makes it more fun.
  • Realize it’s never too late. We have more senior volunteers than ever before. Don’t let your age be a deterrent.
  • You’re never too young. There are lots of volunteer opportunities for teens and some of them can lead to paid jobs or even exciting careers.

Why not make this year the year that you reach beyond the walls and invest in the kingdom of God by giving of yourself and your time to make a difference in our community?



By Gerry Wakeland

The room was overflowing, filled with the excited chatter of supporters and volunteers who came together to dedicate the beautiful new home of The ROCK at NoonDay.


Danny & Roberta Whatley

Executive Director, Danny Whatley thanked everyone for coming and introduced former KRQE newscaster, Dick Knipfing who emceed the evening. Board Co-Chairs Jim Roach and Ruthie Horn Robbins recognized the many individuals and businesses that made the new building possible.

Chet Stewart was in Calvin Horn’s Sunday School class when the dream of NoonDay was birthed. Chet shared a little bit of that history with the guests. In 1982, through a great spiritual renewal, God gave Calvin Horn a passion to provide a hot meal and message of hope to the homeless and working poor in downtown Albuquerque. He went to his men’s Sunday School class at AFBC and shared his vision. Not long after, this group of men along with other volunteers from AFBC began preparing and serving lunches in the Fellowship Hall at the church downtown. The first meal was served on Thanksgiving Day in 1982.

A little known fact that Chet shared was how they came up with the name NoonDay. While most people think it was because they were serving lunches the truth is that it was taken from the scripture Isaiah 58:10 which says, “and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” This was the start of the ministry that became known throughout the city as NoonDay.


Trey Sullins & Ollie Allred

One of the first people that Calvin Horn approached to serve on the newly established ministry board was Ollie Allred. “Ollie, you could be a big help to us,” he said. Ollie admits that at first he was not much of a proponent of Calvin’s idea. But Calvin persisted and one day after church Ollie went home and gave it some serious consideration. He thought to himself, Jesus would not turn these people away. It was then that he went back to Calvin and agreed to serve on the board and has continued to serve for over twenty-five years.

Throughout the years this thriving ministry has grown and evolved into one of New Mexico’s largest feeding programs. NoonDay has served over 108,000 meals in the past year and anticipates that by the end of 2014 they will have served at least 120,000. In addition to serving meals, they function as a day shelter for the homeless and provide a number of additional resources for those who need help.

Along with growth comes change. Danny Whatley shared some of the changes with me. “NoonDay is now The ROCK at NoonDay. Some have asked why change the name. The answer is, while maintaining our present base of support, we need to introduce and re-introduce this amazing ministry to a new generation of supporters.” However, as the Director, I promise that we will maintain the high level of integrity that has been a hallmark of this ministry since its beginning. Our mission remains the same, to see the homeless and hurting find a relationship with Christ as we meet their physical needs showing them the compassion of Christ, sharing the Word of God and presenting a clear path to a relationship with Christ.”

To be more effective in fulfilling their mission, they have moved into a new building at 2400 Second Street which will allow them to accomplish more than they could at the old facility downtown.


Ed & Linda Kolle

But some things never change. AFBC members are still very active in the ministry of The ROCK at NoonDay. Our own Ed Kolle was instrumental in getting tile laid in the new building. Ollie Allred, Dr. David Robbins and his wife, Ruthie, Jim Roach, and Dr. Phil Uphold serve on the Board of The ROCK. Many of our members fulfill Calvin Horn’s vision by serving meals each day. One Monday a month our seniors stuff the NoonDay mailing. And throughout the year we are faithful to collect much needed items for our less fortunate brothers and sisters and their families.

Reflecting on the evening, Pastor Michael Cook shared these sentiments, “As my eyes swept through the crowd at the NoonDay grand opening, I was gratefully reminded of the immense passion that the Seniors of AFBC demonstrate for missions and ministry. I have never served a congregation that has so many faithful and giving seniors.”

The ROCK at NoonDay is a perfect example of how God gave one man a passion, a dream to make the world a better place and with God’s guidance and the help of many of God’s people this dream continues to be a reality.

. . . being confident of this, the He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 NIV

What dream has God given you and what are you doing about it?

Click here to learn more about The ROCK at NoonDay.

The “End Things” Approach to the Other Side

By: Karen Polich

Time moves quickly. Every day we grow closer to the last days. In the rush, we fill our days with responsibilities and deadlines. We look around and find that our time is spent on getting things done so we can move to the next thing.

Busyness consumes. It can lessen our focus on God.

We are called to more. God has called us to Him and His purpose. Pastor Michael Cook’s teaching from God’s Word looks at how we should approach this time.

1 Peter 4:7-11

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Having an “end things” approach takes intentional effort. Pastor Michael Cook shared what a Christ follower needs for this approach. Listen here.

We should be purpose centered people. Sin impairs our thinking. It is hurtful and comes with a cost.  God’s Word calls us to be alert and sober minded. We need sound judgment and an unwavering spirit that seeks God through prayer. Prayer moves God. When our fervent prayers touch God and He chooses to move, Satan can do nothing about it.

We should be others centered people. Deeply conveyed love doesn’t hide sin, it is there despite the sin. We are called to love deeply as Christ loves us. True hospitality comes when we open our lives, our homes and our giving to others completely, without grumbling. We are called to serve others through the gifts God has bestowed upon us.

When you look at the other side of the brokenness of the world, you see Christian love.

A Christ follower looks different because of God’s transformation. As He transforms us, He provides the resources needed to serve. The gifts He has given are not ours, but His. He trusts us to use these for His purpose and His plan. Choosing to serve brings praise to Him. Choosing to love honors Him. Seeking Him in prayer moves Him.

How is God leading you? What is He teaching you? Where is God calling you?



Answering God’s Call

By: Rebekah Pitz

Throughout my life I have heard the term “God’s calling,” quite often. I have heard people say that they have been “called to ministry,” or “called to be a missionary” or “called to full-time Christian service.” It was just a term that kind of got glossed over in mission’s conferences, or chapel services throughout my life. I know that it is our duty as Christian believers to be involved in some type of ministry so I never really felt “called” to ministry. I just did it because it says in I Corinthians 12:12- “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.” I knew that I was part of the body of Christ, so I knew I was essentially “called” to serve.

The question always remains “where” to serve in the body?

I have been serving the Lord through music for as long as I can remember. I began singing in church when I was three years old. I never stopped. In 2001, I graduated from Cedarville University with a degree in vocal performance. I was not sure what God wanted to do through my life, but I knew that it involved music in some capacity. For ten years I was the music director at my church in Dayton, Ohio before God moved us out here to Albuquerque. When we moved out here, I joined praise team and choir and about a year ago, God moved us to this church where I have been able to serve in that arena.

About 3 months ago, I was feeling under-the-weather and while my husband brought our children to church I stayed at home and decided to worship in my hammock. (I do not recommend skipping church, but if you do have the opportunity to worship in a hammock, you need to seize that opportunity!). I was reading my Bible and began praying about how God really wanted to use me at AFBC. Is there another place that He wants me to be, even if that stretches my levels of comfort?

Let me side-track for a moment and tell you about one of my favorite Bible stories. I have always been fascinated by the little boy Samuel. He was living with Eli the priest and one night he heard. “Samuel! Samuel!” Eli told him that he needed to answer, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” for Eli knew that it was God who was calling the young boy. I have often wondered what it would be like to audibly hear the voice of the Lord, as Samuel did that day.

Sitting on my hammock, I felt the Lord nearly audibly whisper “Rebekah, you need to raise up children to be worshipers in my name.” I sat in shock because this was such a new idea to me. But, because the Lord had “called me” I decided to pursue it and ask if they needed anyone to help in Kid’s Klub, Sunday worship times.

Unbeknownst to me, the children’s leadership team had been meeting together for over a year and had been praying for someone to come along to take over the music/worship portion of their services. My coming to them was a direct answer to prayer and it quite literally blew me away.

I cannot deny it. I have been CALLED by the Lord to do this. Because of this, I know that He will bless and I pray that He does so in such a miraculous way that lives will be changed.

Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” Where is God calling you? Are you ready to answer the call and serve Him today?