Farewell Savannah and Chelsey

“You build a church from the children’s department up.”

I was visiting with a friend from college days. He has served as co-pastor of The Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California, for over thirty years. The church has experienced consistent, healthy growth to the point that it now has three campuses. He knows what he is talking about. He has seen first-hand how to reach people through a local church. He went on to explain that if you reach children you reach their parents. Young families add life to the church. Churches must heed Jesus’ command to let the children come to Him.

As a church, we will continue to prioritize children. I am sad that we will be doing so without Savannah Schones and Chelsey Powers leading us. Savannah has served as the Children’s Coordinator since April of 2017. During that time, she has advanced the children’s ministry with an attention to detail and an abundance of Christ’s love. She has devoted her whole self to the impacting of children with the good news of God’s Word. She has spent countless hours making sure that leaders are in place to teach and love on children.

Unless they move, she and her family will remain an active part of First Baptist Church. She has plenty on her plate as a wife and mother who home schools. I applaud her decision to prioritize her family. I will miss serving with her on staff but look forward to serving Jesus with her family in the church.

Chelsey is also stepping aside in order to prioritize her family. Ministry requires so much that family can end up with the leftovers. I am thankful that Chelsey has recognized the toll being taken on her children and is intentionally making changes to improve the situation. She has creatively led out with our children by developing relationships and providing opportunities for their spiritual well-being. She will also remain in the church serving Jesus with us.

A farewell fellowship for both Savannah and Chelsey will be held this Sunday, August 9, at 5:00 p.m. in the South Commons. Make a point to come and encourage these wonderful women and thank them for all they have done in building the church from the children’s department up. A basket will be available for cards of encouragement.

Joyfully your shepherd, Earl  


FBC Happenings

  • Farewell Reception for Savannah Schones & Chelsey Powers this Sunday, August 9 at 5:00 p.m. in the South Commons
  • Farewell Reception for Scott and Katy Townley next Sunday, August 16 at 2:00 p.m. in the Family Life Center
  • This Sundays Sermon “God Buried Moses” Deuteronomy 34:1-12
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • Feel free to continue and watch the FBC Worship Services anytime after 11:00 a.m. Sunday on the website at: http://www.fbcweatherford.com, on the First Baptist Church Facebook Page, on FBC Weatherford Media on YouTube, or listen at noon on 95.5 FM The Coyote

Joyfully Your Shepherd

It seems appropriate that I am beginning my twentieth year as your pastor in 2020. What a year it has been and continues to be. We are living through a pandemic, social unrest, and political polarization to degrees I have never seen during my 64 years. Still, God has given me an abiding peace that He remains in control of the world and His church.

Know that Nancy and I love you very much. For 19 years you have been kind and supportive of us and our families. It has been, and continues to be, a great joy to serve the Lord Jesus with you in this place. We count it a joy to be your friends. Our lives are enriched by knowing you.

Thank you for being genuine. We are all sinners saved by God’s grace and continue to mature in our relationship with Christ. This means that we occasionally sin and fall short of expectations – both God’s and our own. Still, we continue on in our quest to remain faithful followers of Jesus. As we have been accepted in Christ, we accept one another. The authenticity with which you live your lives refreshes my soul.

Thanks for stepping up and serving with the gifts God has given you. I realize that we seem to always be seeking additional servants in multiple areas. However, that is because you do such a good job reaching out. So many of you faithfully serve in multiple ways. Thank you for placing Jesus at the top of your list and serving Him with zeal and integrity.

Thanks for pushing through pain, disappointment, and injustice to continue living for Jesus. Life has handed many of you more than your share of hurt, yet you remain devoted to Jesus. I asked a friend recently how things were going. He responded candidly, “I don’t have it as bad as Job did.” He was smiling. His smile made me smile. Smiling during the storms of life is not hypocritical. Smiling during the storms of life testifies of faith in Jesus.

You are a wonderful church, and I am greatly blessed to be your pastor. The passing of the years has only increased my love for you. These challenging days have allowed us to show our love for one another as at no other time. Thank you. As Jesus shepherds me, it is my joy to shepherd you.

The best is yet to come, Earl


FBC Happenings

  • Sundays Sermon “God Answered Moses” Exodus 33:7-17
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • Feel free to continue and watch the FBC Worship Services anytime after 11:00 a.m. Sunday on the website at: http://www.fbcweatherford.com, on the First Baptist Church Facebook Page, on FBC Weatherford Media on YouTube, or listen at noon on 95.5 FM The Coyote

Bear Good Fruit!

We are individually responsible to God for the actions we take, the attitudes we maintain, and the words we speak. Our heart reveals itself to others and to God in each of these ways. Who we are evidences itself in what we do. Jesus compared it to a tree and its fruit in Luke 6:43:

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit.”

I have read these words of Jesus hundreds of times. Recently I noticed the beginning of verse 44 in a way I had never seen it before. That is why we need to consistently read the Bible as we grow, and as life changes.

“for each tree is known by its own fruit.”

Did you see what I saw? “Its own fruit.” Not the fruit of others who may be in the same family or the same profession or the same race. When it comes to our relationship with God, we cannot be lumped together with others in order to be applauded or condemned. This world tends to paint with a very broad brush. God deals with individuals. I am glad that He does.

During the years I have been in ministry, many pastors and priests have been in the national spotlight for stealing money, abusing children, and committing adultery. I have done none of those things. However, some people who do not know me might think poorly of me, until they get to know me, because of my profession instead of my character

“for each tree is known by its own fruit.”

In recent days, the same thing has happened nationally to our police officers. They have been condemned by masses of people because of the actions taken by those who share their profession but not their integrity. Such condemnation contradicts the M.O. of God

“for each tree is known by its own fruit.”

Integrity invites investigation as it evidences itself in all professions. Integrity does not deserve guilt by association. Any of you teachers want to be lumped in with other teachers whose mug shots have appeared on the nightly news? Of course not. We all long to be valued for the content of our character, not the color of our skin, or the criminals in our profession.

Bear good fruit! Earl


FBC Happenings

  • Sundays Sermon “Idols In Our Lives” Exodus 32:1-6
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. No Nursery or Childcare at this time.
  • Feel free to continue and watch the FBC Worship Services anytime after 11:00 a.m. Sunday on the website at: http://www.fbcweatherford.com, on the First Baptist Church Facebook Page, on FBC Weatherford Media on YouTube, or listen at noon on 95.5 FM The Coyote

Doing Life Together

David was having more than a bad day. He was having a bad year as he stayed one step ahead of the murderous intent of King Saul. David was surrounded by a few hundred “losers” who followed him faithfully. King Saul had the entire army of Israel at his beck and call. Saul was jealous of David’s relationship with God and feared that David would replace him as king. He was trying to eliminate the competition.

David had done nothing to enrage King Saul, but he became the target of his wrath. Time after time David escaped by the skin of his teeth, but Saul kept coming. The Lord stirred up hope within David, and he wrote several Psalms to celebrate God’s goodness. Surely David, the man after God’s own heart, was more than competent to handle the undeserved attempts on his life with a swagger and a smile. Or, was he?

“And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God.” I Samuel 23:16.

David and Jonathan were close friends. They had been through a lot together, and God had knit their hearts as one. Even though Jonathan was the official heir to Saul’s throne, he knew that God had other plans. He not only accepted but celebrated the fact that David would one day be king. He came to David and reminded him of the fact. He would not be killed by Saul. He would replace Saul. The two made a covenant with one another, and Jonathan went home.

David’s situation did not really change. However, he was encouraged and better able to face the storm he found himself in because of time spent with a friend. It is amazing how God encourages us with the presence and conversation of a Christian friend. When he was nearing his execution date, Paul requested that Timothy come soon for one last visit in order that Paul might be filled with joy.

God encourages us through the presence and conversation of other believers. You can send a card or make a call or host someone in your home. The method may vary, but the outcome is still the same. When we share life, we are encouraged. When we face life alone, we grow weary. During a pandemic we have to be more creative, but we can still encourage others.

I Samuel 23:16, Earl 


FBC Happenings

  • Sundays Sermon “God Led Moses” Exodus 13:17-22
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. No Nursery or Childcare at this time.
  • Feel free to continue and watch the FBC Worship Services anytime after 11:00 a.m. Sunday on the website at: http://www.fbcweatherford.com, on the First Baptist Church Facebook Page, on FBC Weatherford Media on YouTube, or listen at noon on 95.5 FM The Coyote

Farewell to the Wards

This Sunday, July 12, will be Tracy and Kathleen’s final Sunday serving with us. Since November of 2014 Tracy has served as the Missions – Outreach – Ministry Pastor. He was the first to serve in the newly created position on the First Baptist staff. He has faithfully guided us in expanding our vision and our reach to places around the world and in our own community.

Tracy led out in establishing an ongoing partnership with the Dominican Republic, where he led trips a couple of times each year. Leading the trip included planning, fundraising, purchasing, overseeing, and countless other essential responsibilities. He led our monthly Membership Matters class as new people considered becoming official members of First Baptist Church. He and Kathleen have led a life group during the years they have been here. Tracy also began and leads the Celebrate Recovery ministry that meets in our church weekly.

Tracy has also been a valuable part of the preaching rotation in the Gathering worship services on Wednesday nights. His perspective always challenged us with Biblical truth. Nancy and I also enjoyed the fact that he interjected humor in his sermons – ad hoc, because that is how he lives life. A smile rarely leaves his face.

Kathleen served in many ways and excelled as she led in worship. She sings from her heart with confidence and excellence. I often reminded her that she sounded just like a professional Christian recording artist I listened to decades ago. She always glorifies God and encourages the church as she leads in worship.

They are moving to Amarillo, Texas, where they will teach in schools that are made up primarily of children from refugee and minority populations. God has brought a great ministry opportunity to them, and they are going in obedience to His call. We will be able to pray for them and stay in contact with them as they continue to minister in another location.

Make a point to let them know how much you have benefitted from their ministry. Let them know that you love them and will miss them. A farewell reception will be held for Tracy and Kathleen in the South Commons area this Sunday, July 12, at 5:00 p.m. A basket will be available for cards of encouragement. We will also be praying for them at the end of both morning services.

I will miss them, Earl


Not Knowing by Seth Odam

I had a welcome for the ages in the 9:00 a.m. service last week. I thanked all of you for joining us for worship and then I flexed my young youth minister muscles by connecting our nation’s independence to the freedom that is found with the Cross of Christ. If that is where I had stopped, we all would have carried on with our Sunday like normal and I likely wouldn’t have thought twice about what I said on stage. I didn’t stop there. I had to make sure and get this point across.

“A lot of times, we don’t really know what we are doing.”

Nailed it. Just what you wanted to hear from your newest staff member before you began to worship. As I walked back down to my seat, I asked myself why those were the words that came from my mouth. I realized I said it because that is truly what my life has felt like over the last three months. Starting a new job during the most tumultuous time of my short life has had me saying that phrase over and over to people who ask me how I’m doing. It’s true; a lot of times I really do not know what I’m doing.

I’ve given several different people that same answer, and each person’s response has been eerily similar. Everyone always asks me to let them know when I figure it out. This made me realize that I’m not alone. Everyone else is trying to figure things out just like I am. We all are going through something, and each of us is doing our absolute best to figure out today just to be given a new day to face  tomorrow. 

Then it all clicked. Even though we don’t know what tomorrow, or five months, or five years from now will look like, having a relationship with Jesus gives us purpose and direction when we don’t really know what we are doing. Cross of Christ has given us absolute certainty even when our world is rocked with chaos. If we always knew exactly what to do, we wouldn’t look to Jesus for guidance, comfort, and strength.

Paul says this in 2 Corinthians 12,

“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I’m thankful to be part of a staff who may not always know what we are doing but who fully believes in working for Jesus.

I’m excited to pursue Jesus with you! Seth


FBC Happenings

  • Sundays Sermon “God Used Moses” Exodus 7:1-13
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. No Nursery or Childcare at this time.
  • Farewell Reception for Tracy & Kathleen Ward, this Sunday July 12 at 5:00 p.m. in the South Commons. A basket will be available for cards.
  • Feel free to continue and watch the FBC Worship Services anytime after 11:00 a.m. Sunday on the website at: http://www.fbcweatherford.com, on the First Baptist Church Facebook Page, on FBC Weatherford Media on YouTube, or listen at noon on 95.5 FM The Coyote

New Members

Gage & Casey Dowling and David Stelting

Don’t Quit

I write a lot of cards and send them to people each week. It is one way I encourage people. I try to write legibly enough for those reading them to follow the main line of my thought. My intent in writing is not to make an A in penmanship but to remind people that they are cared for and thought of.

The cards I use, with one exception, have images on the front that I have either sketched or painted. The one exception is a picture of Pa-pa, painted in high school by my friend, Nate. All of the other pictures have been created by yours truly. Through the years, I have taken time to put on paper or canvas many of the ideas that surface in my mind. The images are usually based on the Bible, my past, or quail hunting.  

The first images I created were done with map pencils on white paper. I remember sitting at the desk in the study and sketching away with pencils I had kept from high school days. I enjoyed shading in areas with darker pencils and making certain Bible verses come to life. The pictures were simple, yet fairly pleasing.

A little over a decade ago, my children bought me an art kit that included a large canvas and some tubes of basic oil colors. I tried a few times to paint images that included clouds and landscapes. I stole a couple of ideas from the internet. Many paintings came from pictures in my past. I painted Nancy’s childhood home, my grandparent’s barn, the scene looking west from where I was raised, and several pictures of quail.

Recently I painted an updated version of “Jesus wept.” Over twenty years ago I sketched a picture of Jesus weeping. I always sent the card with that image to grieving families. I realized that the sketch was somewhat lacking – total black and white with definite reality issues. The new picture is done with oils and seems to reflect the empathy of Jesus more than the old sketch.

Over time I have gotten better at sketching and painting, simply because I have continued to spend time doing so. I just finished a painting of an elk, based on a picture taken by Ryan Terry. I like how it turned out. In most things, we usually improve if we don’t quit.

Don’t quit!                                                 Earl


FBC Happening

  • Sundays Sermon “God Persuaded Moses” Exodus 4:1-17
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. No Nursery or Childcare at this time.
  • Farewell Reception for Tracy & Kathleen Ward, next Sunday July 12 at 5:00 p.m. in the South Commons. A basket will be available for cards.
  • Feel free to continue and watch the FBC Worship Services anytime after 11:00 a.m. Sunday on the website at: http://www.fbcweatherford.com, on the First Baptist Church Facebook Page, on FBC Weatherford Media on YouTube, or listen at noon on 95.5 FM The Coyote

Daddy’s Shadow

Everyone should be so privileged as to have a daddy like I had. I realize I am biased in my assessment of his qualities and abilities. However, most who knew him would confirm my conclusions. He was far from perfect, but he was genuine in his commitment to Jesus and to his family. I have kept an old black and white picture of us in my study for many decades. The picture tells a story.

We are both holding our Bibles as we face east in the front yard of the home where I was raised. Evidently we are headed for church. The shadows behind us indicate that it is fairly early in the morning. We will read the Bibles in Sunday school and worship. I may look at the pictures in mine during the sermon. I am not yet aware of just how significant the Bible is, but daddy is showing me. He will continue to do so.

Daddy is holding his Bible with hands that are calloused from swinging a hammer, and using a shovel, and pushing a wheelbarrow. Still a carpenter, he will soon transition to bricklaying, so he won’t have to climb ladders. Most likely one of his fingernails is blackened from blunt force trauma. He cleans up after work, not before. He has shown me the importance of going to work and doing a good job. He will continue to do so.

Behind us a bit of the barn, the lot and the loading chute can be seen. Daddy works construction full time and farms three quarters of land after work and on weekends. He grows wheat, cotton, and alfalfa. The eclectic herd of cattle has to be moved between pastures in order to insure enough grazing. He has taught me about perseverance in sowing, waiting for rain, and celebration of the harvest.  He will continue to do so.

We are both wearing a coat and tie. It must be Easter. Little does Daddy know that the young son beside him will one day be wearing a coat and tie and holding a Bible while preaching sermons, funerals, and weddings. The large shadow he is casting has influenced his son more than he realizes. It will continue to do so.

And so it does, Earl


FBC Happenings

  • Sundays Sermon “God Called Moses ” Exodus 3:1-12
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. No Nursery or Childcare
  • Feel free to continue and watch the FBC Worship Services anytime after 11:00 a.m. Sunday on the website at: http://www.fbcweatherford.com, on the First Baptist Church Facebook Page, on FBC Weatherford Media on YouTube, or listen at noon on 95.5 FM The Coyote

New Members

Jeremy, Lisa, Madison, and Kayleigh Pebley

Heat and Light

David DuMond refers to it as “the heat and light treatment.” When I applied a little heat through Duke’s shock collar, he saw the light! I realize I need to supply more details, so here goes.

Nancy and I take our Brittany Spaniels with us on our morning walk that spans about three miles. If you have seen us, you might question who is actually walking whom. An occupational therapist told me that I would not have a problem with balance as I grow older if I continue to walk those two dogs. Great news! Not about the growing older but about remaining steady.

Anyway, many times on the walk we meet David and Karen DuMond walking their sweet dog, Hazel. She is a big, loving, golden retriever. In spite of her sweetness, Duke always felt the need to bark like his hair was on fire. He did the same to every person and dog we met. It became apparent that he was not going to naturally calm down and behave.

Nancy made the suggestion. It was a good one, as hers usually are. I dug out the shock collar I use on Duke during hunting season. He was more than willing for me to strap on the bright orange “hearing aid.” Maybe he thought he was headed out for a hunt. He was not.

On the first walk, when he met another dog and began his barking, I merely punched a button on the controller I was carrying, and he learned what I meant when I said “No.” The shock was not severe but did cause a little yelp. One more encounter required another buzz. After that Duke stopped his nonsensical barking while we walk. I applied the heat, and he saw the light. He still sees the light, not because I buzz him all the time, but because the probes on the collar remind him of that possibility.

Dr. Tolar taught a class I took in seminary called “Biblical Backgrounds.” I remember him stating, “As an historian, I can show you what happens to societies where laws supporting social order are not made and enforced. That society ceases to exist.”

Praying for our leaders, Earl


FBC Happenings

  • Sundays Sermon “Jesse – Father of David ” I Samuel 16:1-13
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. No Nursery or Childcare
  • Feel free to continue and watch the FBC Worship Services anytime after 11:00 a.m. Sunday on the website at: http://www.fbcweatherford.com, on the First Baptist Church Facebook Page, on FBC Weatherford Media on YouTube, or listen at noon on 95.5 FM The Coyote

Thank You

Living through this pandemic has reminded me of the greatness of my love for you, the flock of God, whom I am privileged to shepherd. I consider it an awesome opportunity to share God’s Word and God’s love with you. Absence from you during these days of physical distancing has truly made my heart grow fonder of you. The love I have for you has been placed there by God. That love has grown over the years.

I have been able to walk through grief with many of you. Occasionally I sit and think about the brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone on to be with Christ. I miss them. So do you. We wept and reminisced and prayed. God used those times to knit our lives together. I don’t know all you have been through, but I have been through some of it with you. That binds my heart to yours.

I have celebrated with many of you as God answered your prayers and miracles occurred. I have been there when some family members were baptized and other family members were healed. I have welcomed many of you into the local church and enjoyed sharing life with you. I have never had so many friends in one location. I have been starved for opportunities to interact with you because time with you enriches my life.

I have buried my daddy and my brother during the years I have served as your pastor. Nancy has been diagnosed with CLL, and our children have left the nest. Through it all, you have supported and loved me and my family. Thank you so much! We have been through many changes together, and many more are yet to come. I have not been a perfect pastor, and you have not been a perfect church. However, we love one another, and I consider myself greatly blessed of God to be your shepherd.

The longer I live, the more aware I become that most people are having a hard time in one way or another. The events of recent months in our nation and world have challenged all of us in unprecedented ways. Through it all, I am thankful that we have been able to remain united in our surrender to and love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks again for your patience, your prayers, and your encouragement.

I love you, Earl  


FBC Happenings

  • Sundays Sermon “God Prepared Moses ” Exodus 2:11-25
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. No Nursery or Childcare
  • Feel free to continue and watch the FBC Worship Services anytime after 11:00 a.m. Sunday on the website at: http://www.fbcweatherford.com, on the First Baptist Church Facebook Page, on FBC Weatherford Media on YouTube, or listen at noon on 95.5 FM The Coyote

Head Shopper

During the “stay at home” days of the pandemic, I took over the role of head shopper for our home. Nancy has a compromised immune system that hinders her ability to fight back against viruses. I am almost in the “old” category but otherwise am in fairly good shape. She agreed to let me do the shopping. However, she aided and coached me along the way.

I have shopped with her often during our nearly forty-two years of marriage. I enjoy spending time with her, even while pushing a shopping cart. That was my primary responsibility throughout the years. I pushed the cart while she did the shopping. I didn’t have to think or look or compare prices. At times I held the list and marked off items as they went into the cart. Even though I had logged a lot of time in stores, I had never really been the one in charge.

Early on in the pandemic, Nancy made out shopping lists in the order I would encounter the items, beginning in the produce section and ending with the frozen cool whip. I still had trouble finding certain items and would call for advice quite often. My task was complicated by the fact that many had hoarded several of the items I was hunting. Many shelves were empty. Still, I usually had a successful journey, with the help of Nancy.

As I continued to shop once a week, the lists became more random, and my calls became less frequent. Thanks to her guidance and encouragement, I became much more familiar with where things were and what things were. I still may get the stick instead of the tub margarine, but I am making progress. I find it fulfilling to pull into the garage with the week’s groceries in tow. Nancy has mentored me into a competent shopper.

We need to do for growing Christians what Nancy has done for me. We need to mentor them into maturity. Don’t just tell them what to do. Answer calls and provide practical instruction. Celebrate their growth and increase their responsibilities. Move them along to the point that they can accomplish everything you can. You are not seeking to replace yourself but rather, to reproduce yourself. This allows much more service of Jesus to take place. We must do our part to help others do their part.

I love you, Earl 


FBC Happenings

  • Sundays Sermon “God Spared Moses” Exodus 2:1-10
  • Family Worship in June, Sunday at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. No Nursery or Childcare
  • Feel free to continue and watch the FBC Worship Services anytime after 11:00 a.m. Sunday on the website at: http://www.fbcweatherford.com, on the First Baptist Church Facebook Page, on FBC Weatherford Media on YouTube, or listen at noon on 95.5 FM The Coyote

New Members

Conleigh Clay, Canyon Clay, Parker King, and Sutton Jarnagin