Safe Near Jesus

The sound of Freckles’ barking alerted me to the fact that something was out of the ordinary. I had taken her and Duke out to a place south of town where I have permission to let them run. Weekly I transport them in the dog box to a place where they can run without restraint. It is not the same as a quail hunt, but it is a lot better than our back yard. We usually finish in less than an hour. I walk while they run in and out of trees and up and down the hills.

I looked toward the frantic barking. Freckles definitely saw something. Apparently it was frightening because she was backing up. My fears of a porcupine did not materialize. Instead, I saw a pack of nearly grown coyotes advancing toward my bird dog. I counted at least three heads coming from the trees. I yelled for Freckles to come, but she could not hear my voice over the sound of her own barking. I began to yell and run toward the coyotes. 

They backed away, and Freckles ran after them as Duke fell in behind her. Initially, I thought I might lose both dogs in the trees out of my sight. Time passed, and my dogs showed back up. They were winded but alive. I checked for blood. There was none. We continued our trek to the north before bending back toward the truck. Freckles and Duke had been protected by the presence of their master. Coyotes fear humans.

As we journey through life, we will be approached by the one who seeks to steal, kill and destroy. We are no match for Satan’s power. Jesus is. As we abide in Him, remaining close to our master, our lives remain secure. We never know where or how Satan will come at us, but as long as Jesus remains nearby, we will remain secure. Peace in life does not come from choosing secure paths but from going where our master leads us.

          Satan flees when we submit ourselves to God.

                                      James 4:7,


FBC Highlights

  • June 16 LifeGroup Attendance – 549
  • Sunday Sermon – “Genuine Happiness” James 1:1-18
  • This Sunday, June 23 – Observance of The Lord’s Supper 9:00 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.
  • Membership Matters – Sunday, June 30 at 10:30 a.m. – Parlor
  • Farewell Reception for the Hogan’s – Sunday, June 30 at 6:00 p.m. – FH
  • Falls Creek 2019 will be July 15-20

Happy Father’s Day

I thought about you today. Actually, to be honest, I think about you every day. This day was different. I was with the family before I preached a funeral. Several in the extended family came up from Hobart. One of them mentioned something about being a bearcat. I smiled. Then the zinger from the lady who had known you when you were alive.

“Your daddy was a great man. He was full of the love of Jesus.”

I responded, “And he faced a lot of challenges.”

“I know. He was very proud of you.”

Tears pooled in my eyes as the funeral director came into the room and began to give instructions about what was about to happen. For some reason, I really missed you in that moment. I wished I could have just five minutes to visit with you. I would like to tell you about what has been going on in my life. There is so much good to share. 

I was asked to lead in prayer. I did before heading into the chapel and having everyone stand in respect for the grieving family as they entered. After the family was in and the congregation was seated, the first song was played. It was the same song that was sung at your funeral over eleven years ago. More tears. I thought this would be over with by now. 

Actually, I am glad that it is not. I don’t ever want to forget you. How could I? I shave your face every morning. I look a lot like you. I am forever telling people that my daddy was a bricklayer. Those who know always respond, “That is hard work.” I smile and thank God that you worked so hard to provide for us. Heart-bypasses slowed you down, but they did not stop you. Thank you for teaching me to be a man of God on multiple fronts. 

I am still pastoring the First Baptist Church in Weatherford. I love it. Can you believe I am still preaching? Your burr-haired boy remains a bald-headed minister. I also have two bird dogs. Jason and Lynn are still healthy, and Nancy still loves me. Mama still enjoys life to the fullest with a wide circle of friends. Sandra and Sheri grow beautiful flowers and live wonderful lives. Rex…well, you know about Rex. 

See you later Daddy,


FBC Highlights

  • Sunday Sermon – “Good Fathers” – Luke 15: 11-32
  • LifeGroup Attendance – June 9 – 577
  • Falls Creek – July 15 – 20
  • SERVE Weatherford – July 8 – 13. Be looking for opportunities to volunteer
  • Pray for the Dominican Republic mission team – June 15 – 22
  • Pray for Children at Cross Timbers Camp
  • Pray for Youth at Super Summer

Search Committee Selection

God’s plan for individual churches includes multiplied staff members. As God causes His church to grow, He uses individual staff members to accomplish various tasks according to His timing and will. 

Paul stated in I Corinthians 3:5-8: “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor.”

John Hogan’s resignation as the worship pastor of First Baptist Church makes the tenth time a staff member has done so while I have been your pastor. I have come to see this as a part of the life of a local church. God’s ongoing plan includes changing staff members. I will miss John, Stephanie, and Cade very much. I look forward to what God has for us in the future.

We secure called staff members through elected search committees, as defined in our constitution and bylaws. All members of FBC are eligible to list up to five members of the church to serve on the committee. Those five who receive the most recommendations to serve will be asked to serve. The first five to accept the opportunity to serve will form the search committee. This committee will be selected on June 23. If you will not be present on the 23, you can bring your recommendations by the church office.

This committee will fulfill a huge responsibility. As you pray about who God would have to serve on the committee, keep in mind that they need to have a love for Christ and His church. They need to be humble servants with no personal agenda. They need to be willing to wait on God’s timing and follow God’s leadership. 

I cannot overstate how important it will be to hire the right person as our worship pastor. Hiring the right person begins with selecting the right search committee. Thank you for praying about this issue and letting God lead you in this process.  

The best is yet to come,


FBC Highlights

  • Sunday Sermon – “A Great Calm” – Matthew 8:23 – 27
  • LifeGroup Attendance – June 2 – 637
  • Deacons Meeting – This Sunday @ 5 pm in the Fellowship Hall
  • Foster Care and Adoption Q&A – Sunday, June 9, 12 – 1 pm
  • Falls Creek – July 15 – 20
  • SERVE Weatherford – July 8 – 13. Be looking for opportunities to volunteer

Living With Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” – Romans 15:13

“They keep saying God didn’t cause the cancer. Maybe so. But, He sure could have stopped the cancer. So many prayers were offered by so many people – and it didn’t help a thing!”

The sentiments vented by the grief-filled spouse honestly expressed what many people are afraid to say. I listened and cried, while giving assurance that God has a big set of shoulders upon which we can confidently cast every burden. We can tell God anything. He understands, and He lends assistance even when we are disappointed in Him.

One of the many things I enjoy about growing older is the opportunity to approach things with a bit of perspective. The names and faces change, but the same painful life issues surface repeatedly. None of us are immune to the thoughts voiced by the broken-hearted spouse who was adjusting to the deafening silence of an empty home. Sitting alone, eating alone, and sleeping alone wear on the soul.

Three questions are often asked of God when life falls apart. The first question is “What the ______?” Fill in your own word. How could God allow this to happen in your life when you are seeking to do what is right? Many people who don’t seem to be giving God the time of day have never experienced what God has allowed on your doorstep. The pain was unexpected and definitely undeserved. At this point life seems extremely unfair.

Question number two: “What did I do wrong?” There had to be a cause. If a different path had been taken earlier, this could have been avoided. Maybe that action that was taken, or not taken, resulted in the devastating consequence that eliminated life as you knew it. If only you had done things differently. You blame yourself because it seems like the natural thing to do. This is not a healthy place to be. 

The final question in my oversimplified observation: “What do I do now?” This is a good question because it indicates a choice to continue living. And, make no mistake about it, continuing to live after a devastating loss is a choice. Wallowing in pain must be replaced by living with hope. This happens with the acceptance that even though the life hoped for will never become a reality, the God of all hope remains forever faithful. 

Romans 15:13,


FBC Highlights

  • Sunday Sermon – “Fishers of Men” – Luke 5:1 – 11
  • Foster Care and Adoption Q&A – Sunday, June 9, 12 – 1 pm
  • Registration for Vacation Bible School – June 3-7, is available online
  • Falls Creek 2019 will be July 15 – 20

Watch Out for the Other Guy

The cold north wind cut through my jacket like a knife. I should have worn a heavier coat. I didn’t feel it would be necessary, since I was only walking from the parking lot into the church and then back again. I was on the “back again” part of the journey. I had spent some time in my study while Nancy hosted a D-Group in our home. I benefitted from the solitude as I began the process of preparing another sermon. It was Sunday.

By the time I exited the building to get into my truck, some were beginning to gather for various events. The wind seemed brutally cold. As I walked toward my truck, I looked to the left to see if any cars might be approaching. None were. About the time I took a step, I noticed a vehicle to my right. It was barreling to the south against the flow of traffic. I stopped and stepped back. I thought of the irony of a preacher being run over in the church parking lot. 

It was my fault. I failed to watch out for someone who was headed the wrong way. “Watch out for the other guy” was emphasized repeatedly as a safe driving campaign many years ago. I remember seeing the commercials on television. “Watch out for the other guy” is also emphasized in Scripture. I read it just the other day.

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’ Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.” Paul’s blunt letter to the Corinthian Christians reminded them that they could not run with dogs without getting fleas – lots of them.

We tend to become like the people we spend the most time with. While we are called to evangelize those who have no knowledge of God, we are not to adopt their lifestyles. We can and should befriend and include people in our lives for the purpose of sharing the gospel with them. Jesus said we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We should do so with caution. Many people are headed the wrong way. Don’t let them run over you!

I Corinthians 15:33-34, 


FBC Highlights

  • May 19 LifeGroup Attendance – 682
  • Sunday Sermon – “Prioritizing God’s Kingdom” – Exodus 20:15 – 17
  • THIS SUNDAY, May 26th – One service at 10:30 am. No LifeGroups
  • Church office closed May 27th for Memorial Day
  • Foster Care and Adoption Q&A – Sunday, June 9, 12 – 1 pm
  • Registration for Vacation Bible School – June 3-7, is available online
  • Falls Creek 2019 will be July 15 – 20

Learning from Our Mistakes

“In Jesus’ name, amen.”

The prayer before the evening meal at our house had ended abruptly. I was in grade school when we had gathered around the peninsula bar in the kitchen to share a sumptuous meal together as a family. Daddy prayed. He had barely said a word when an explosive sound resonated through our house after originating in the wood burning fireplace. Mama quickly confessed that she had tossed a black cat firecracker into the edge of the fire as a prank like her children had been doing.

One of us explained to her that we had been occasionally throwing some caps into the fireplace. They made a small noise and caused no residual damage. I was willing to forfeit a few caps I used while playing F-Troop in order to watch them pop and burn. I have no idea where Mama found the firecracker. She did clean up the ashes that covered the hearth. 

The fire was slow to get started so Daddy retrieved some lighter fluid from the garage to help it get going. He poured some into a paper cup in the garage and then brought it inside and tossed it on the smoldering fire. The flame jumped from the firebox and covered his arm. He lost all the hair and some of the skin. It looked awful. Turned out that in the early morning darkness, he had mistaken a can of Coleman’s white gas for a can of lighter fluid. His mistake proved quite painful. He still took us to meet the bus. 

I was exploring near the wood pile on the south end of our house when I saw the cute little bug with the orange furry tail section running between the logs. I decided to pick it up and show it to one of my sisters. I had never seen a cow ant before. The bite I received was one of the worst I ever experienced. I mistook a pain-causing ant for a cute little bug and paid the price for my error. I never made that mistake again. Neither did my Mama. Neither did Daddy. 

My brother, Rex, had a poster in his room that pictured a pig covered with mud. The caption read, “If we learn from our mistakes, I am getting a fantastic education.” We really can and should learn from our mistakes. 

I love you, 


FBC Highlights

  • May 12 LifeGroup Attendance – 694
  • Sunday Sermon – “Prioritizing Life and Marriage” – Exodus 20:13-14
  • Membership Matters Class – May 19 at 10:30 a.m. in the Parlor
  • All Church Meal / Family Meeting in the FLC – Sunday, May 19 at 11:30 a.m.
  • GriefShare….Loss of a Spouse Seminar – May 19 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • Registration for Vacation Bible School – June 3-7, is available online
  • Falls Creek 2019 will be July 15 – 20
  • May 26th – One service at 10:30 am. No LifeGroups

A Mother’s Love

Image result for bird nest

She refuses to quit.  Her choice of location lacked foresight, yet she continues to devote herself to success in spite of ongoing interruptions.  Why would a purple finch put down roots in a flower-covered wreath near some human’s front door?  I don’t know why, but I do know that she did.  Under ongoing surveillance she gathered materials and constructed a nest.  Every time – and there were plenty of times- we entered or exited our house, her progress was impeded.  Nevertheless, she completed the task.

          Once the structure was stable and softened, the egg laying began.  Daily we tabulated the count.  One small egg appeared, then two and eventually four.  After the miniature eggs filled the small nest, the incubation started.  At her post, the mother-to-be sits and waits.  When I turn the knob to open the door, she pokes out her head before flying away as I walk onto the porch.  Sometimes I turn the knob and watch through the side window just for fun.  When I get out of my truck I see her fly away about the time I slam my door. 

          I wonder if the bird periodically regrets building her nest in such a busy place.  I wonder if she inwardly regrets not setting up the nursery in a tall tree like most birds do.  Did she ever consider forgetting the four speckled eggs and starting over in another location?  After all, don’t bad circumstances validate deserted responsibilities?  Apparently not.  The bird will not leave her post.

          She demonstrates a mother’s love.  Sacrificially she provided as best she knew how for the offspring who were to come.  When threats appeared she refused to abandon her responsibility.  She offered no excuses, she altered no goals and she minimized no task.  Mothers do the same thing all the time as they act consistently and selflessly to secure the welfare of their children. 

          She also illustrates the faithfulness of God.  Isaiah 49:15 quotes the Lord as asking and answering His own question:  “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?  Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”  As God watches over us we are secure-no matter what the circumstance.

                   I love you a lot …

                   God loves you more,


FBC Happenings

  • May 5 LifeGroup Attendance – 663
  • Sunday Sermon “Prioritizing Family” Exodus 20:12
  • Senior Recognition Sunday – May 12
  • Mission Recognition Night – May 15 at 6:30 p.m.
  • Membership Matters Class – May 19 at 10:30 a.m. in the Parlor
  • All Church Meal / Family Meeting in the FLC – Sunday, May 19 at 11:30 a.m.
  • GriefShare….Loss of a Spouse Seminar – May 19 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • Registration for Vacation Bible School – June 3-7, is available online
  • Falls Creek 2019 will be July 15 – 20

New Members

Alec Stutzman Chase Stutzman