A Labor of Love

My hunting pants ended their career on a positive note. During a down year, they were part of a very successful quail hunt. On a somewhat windy day, we found birds and limited out shortly after lunch. Freckles and Duke had a grand ole’ time. So did Kendall and Earl. We still put in nine miles of walking, but it seemed a lot shorter when we were finding birds.

When Kendall and I hunt, we do not look like we just walked out of a hunting store. Our boots may be patched and our vests may be pinned. Eventually our hunting pants become frayed and torn by heavy cover and barbed wire fences. Earlier in the year I got caught on a fence and created a large tear in my pants. Nancy discovered that they were beyond traditional sewing machine repair. She opted to use duct tape!

When I came home from work one day, she showed me her handiwork. It was the only thing she could find that would work. I had some new ones in a box under the Christmas tree, but she was willing to help me make due until then. I thought it was neat that my pants matched my dogs’ boots. The duct tape held, and I kept using the pants even after I had opened the new ones.

The main reason I did so was because of the effort that Nancy had put into repairing my hunting pants. How could I toss what she had done into the trash? I was aware of the effort she supplied for me because she loves me. I appreciated what she had done. No way was I going to throw those pants away before the duct tape gave way.

God is the same way with our acts of service on behalf of others that evidence our love for Him. He is aware of what we do and why we do it. When we serve others because we love Him, He sees and He smiles. He appreciates our efforts, even when no one else knows about them. During my early years in ministry, I kept a copy of Hebrews 6:10 tacked to the wall next to my desk.

“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” God appreciates your efforts.

So do I, Earl

FBC Happenings

  • Sunday’s Sermon – “Peter’s First Sermon” Acts 2:14-37
  • LifeGroup Attendance on January 19 – 670
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m. Taco Soup
  • Membership Matters Class – this Sunday, January 26 at 10:30 a.m. in the Parlor
  • GriefShare this Sunday, January 26 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • RE: Weekend Registration is open for Youth. Deadline to signup is Sunday, January 26. Contact Seth for more details.

A Simple Fix

The music would not play. I was leaving after a good visit with a church member and instinctively pushed the power button on my radio to enjoy some tunes while I travelled home for lunch. Nothing happened. I checked to see if the antenna was still attached. It was. I looked to see if the number of the station was lit up. It was.  88.9 KLOVE. The radio was getting power. Apparently the connection to the speakers was bad.

Oh boy! This was the kind of thing I would have enjoyed dealing with back in the day. Back when vehicles had lots of accessible space in which to run wires and trade out stereos. I actually did so a few times. However, the dashboards of vehicles today are so packed that I shuddered to think how many things I would mess up by taking on the project myself. My final test proved my point. I put in a CD, and it would not play. I started singing to myself as a temporary fix.

I drove past an auto dealership on the way home. Maybe it was time to trade trucks. The old Tundra has been with me for well over a decade. Before that, someone else put over a hundred thousand miles on it. There is a time for every season under the sun and one of those seasons is trading vehicles. Was that season upon me?

I hoped not. A dog box fits perfectly in the bed of the truck I drive. The truck is older, but it still gets the job done. Kinda like me! There is a peace in parking anywhere without concern for who might ding the paint. I don’t avoid others. Others avoid me. Besides, I put new tires on it last year, and most people recognize me when I arrive. Nancy recently repaired the driver’s side upholstery. The back seat is not really big enough for people, but it is perfect for shotguns and lunches.

My thoughts of trading vehicles vanished when I twisted the power knob clockwise. When I did, the music played. Apparently I had turned the volume completely down before turning the power off. What a simple fix. I was glad I hadn’t dismantled the dashboard in an attempt to solve the problem. Often, the problem is not so catastrophic as it originally seems.

His praise continues! Earl

FBC Happenings

  • Sunday’s Sermon – “When God Shows Up” Acts 2:1-13
  • LifeGroup Attendance on January 12 – 745
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m. Salisbury Steak
  • GriefShare this Sunday, January 19 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • RE: Weekend Registration is open for Youth. Contact Seth for more details.

Heading Home

All four of us ended up in the ditch located just north of the barn where we often played while our mothers met to drink coffee. The four sisters arranged their busy lives to include a weekly time with their mother back at the home place. I was never privy to their discussions but did enjoy spending time with my cousins, making our own fun.

The aforementioned barn had milking stalls, a hay loft, and a room filled with horse harnesses and collars and an old crème separator. It was like stepping back in time. A grain bend on the north side of the ground floor was often filled with oats for the horses. The cupola on the top of the barn was accessible from below when enough hay was in the loft. From inside it, we could see for miles.

Other barns held tractors and combines that we crawled onto and imagined driving as we anticipated the future. A mulberry tree provided ammunition to use as well as snacks to eat. It was our form of paint ball wars. We built hay cabins, knocked down wasp nests, and explored the chicken coop. After a hard rain, we might venture into the plowed field and look for arrowheads. We roamed unsupervised, but we never got hurt.

Never, until ending up in the ditch on the north side of the barn. Our older cousin, Barbara, had ridden Gray Eagle down to the timber. Gray Eagle was an old, gentle horse that our grandparents kept for their grandchildren to ride. The four of us younger cousins had walked. The timber was about a quarter of a mile from the house. When it came time for us to go back home, we probably whined to ride the horse. Barbara helped each of us onto the top of Gray Eagle. Yes, there were four of us, and we were not very old.

All went well for a brief time as Gray Eagle lumbered through the pasture toward the road that headed home. Once he turned toward home, his speed increased, and we could not slow him down. We were lined up from smallest to largest, holding tightly to one another. By the time Gray Eagle made it to the barn, he was in a dead run. We fell as one from his back when he made the final turn. We survived.

When we set our eyes on home (heaven), we cannot be held back.

I Peter 1:6, Earl

FBC Happenings

  • Sunday’s Sermon – “Rejecting God’s Offer” Acts 1:15-26
  • LifeGroup Attendance on January 5 – 629
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m. Okie Gumbo
  • GriefShare (13 Sessions) begins this Sunday, January 12 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • RE: Weekend Registration is open for Youth. Contact Seth for more details.

Old Bird Hunter

Nancy’s sister, Sally, texted her and asked if I could use some 12 gauge shot gun shells that she and her husband Jerry were getting rid of. They had discovered them while downsizing and cleaning out their home office. Jerry said he would never use them. I was excited when I realized they were high brass shells I could use hunting pheasants. The one unique characteristic was that the shot was copper coated.

I knew they were old. Before steel shot became available for duck hunting, the first effort to limit exposure of water fowl to lead was the coating of the shot with copper. That was years ago. I didn’t realize how many years ago until I opened a box of the shells in the sunlight while hunting in Kansas. On the side of each shell had been printed: “Ducks Unlimited 1986.” The shells were 33 years old! Still, they worked just fine in my double barrel. Age did not compromise their effectiveness.

About half way through the hunt I realized that the gun I was shooting was 43 years old! For Christmas, when I was in college, I had received it from my parents. The side by side guns are no longer made by Browning, but mine works wonderfully well for me. The two-shot limit forces me to aim better. Not much can go wrong with a double barrel. It breaks down into three parts. I have scratched it up through the years, but it still fires faithfully.

My final insight was that the man carrying the gun and shooting the shells was 63 years old! The years have left their mark on me, but I am still in great shape for the shape I’m in. I walked over the fields and through the weeds with relative ease. The good pair of boots I wore minimized joint pain. The thousand miles I walk each year had my stamina where it needed to be. I wasn’t the fastest, but I didn’t embarrass my hunting buddies. Age does leave its mark, but it does not need to eliminate effectiveness.

This old guy enjoyed a successful week of pheasant hunting while using old shells and an even older gun. Never allow the year of your birth to determine the usefulness of your life. If God gifts you with relatively good health, enjoy every day and live it for His glory!

Preacher/Bird hunter unlimited! Earl

Happy New Year

FBC Happenings

  • Sunday’s Sermon – “Witnesses For Jesus” Acts 1:1-14
  • Regular Schedule for Worship & LifeGroups this Sunday – 9:00 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.
  • LifeGroup Leader’s Lunch is this Sunday, January 5 at 11:30 a.m. in the FLC
  • GriefShare’s Loss of Spouse Seminar, January 5 – 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • All Wednesday Evening Activities resume next week – January 8
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m. Beef Noodles
  • GriefShare (13 Sessions) begins January 12 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • RE: Weekend Registration is open for Youth. Contact Seth for more details.

Hide the Remote

At least four workers stopped by the room to try their hand at getting the television back on. Nancy recruited the first one, after which they recruited one another. No one had the answer. I was surprised, since most of them were young. When it comes to technology, usually the younger generation handles problems with ease. 

I caused the problem. Nancy and I had stopped by an assisted living facility on a Saturday afternoon to visit a couple of ladies who were rehabbing. The lady who is an avid sports fan was watching a football game involving teams from other parts of the country.

“Don’t you want to watch the OSU game?”

They were playing West Virginia, and I knew she would enjoy that game more than the one she was watching.

“I don’t know how to find it,” she said, as she pointed toward the remote on the table.

I picked up the remote and tried to find the guide. I accidently pushed “menu” and up popped a series of options. My difficulties were compounded by the fact that I don’t wear my contact on Saturdays. Eventually I was wearing the ladies’ glasses and trying to figure out what to do. After I pushed a button related to channel selection, everything went blank.

No. I don’t know what I did or I could have corrected it. Now, there was no game to watch. Every effort I made turned up a screen that told me no source was detected. I tried multiple options as a source. I failed to locate any source. So did the first workers who came in to assist. Eventually a young man selected something and handed me the remote.

“It is selecting all available channels. It will take about five minutes and then you will be good.”

He handed me the remote and asked me to simply hold it until the television ended its search. I minded and waited. Eventually a picture with sound reappeared. We found the OSU game, and I laid the remote back on the table before offering a quick prayer. Shirley Parker laughed and laughed. I had been her entertainment for the afternoon. Nancy and I expressed our love and left the building.

When we help someone, there is always a chance that we may mess something up. Still, it is better to fail at doing something than it is to succeed at doing nothing.

Hide the remote! Earl 

FBC Happenings

  • This Sundays Sermon “Workers in the Harvest”
  • Sunday, December 29 – One Worship Service only at 10:30 a.m. NO LIFEGROUPS…CHILDCARE FOR BABIES – 3’s
  • Church Office and FLC Closed January 1 …. Happy New Year!!
  • Loss of Spouse (GriefShare) – Sunday, January 5 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor

Christmas Memories

The pungent smell of cedar permeated the cold north room. A tree had been chopped down near the base of one of the Wichita Mountains, and mounted on a stand made of wood scraps retrieved from the pile beneath Daddy’s workbench. Once stabilized, the tree was covered with decorations that had been hibernating in the attic. Momma put on the lights. My siblings and I unpacked and added the ornaments. We took turns climbing the stool and hanging bulbs on the top part of the tree. By the time we added the icicles we did more tossing than draping. We never made the cover of Good Housekeeping, but we always took pride in our work.

The vivid smell of sweets filled the kitchen. Fudge and divinity, peanut brittle, fresh coconut and five-pound candy, sugar, and chocolate chip cookies filled the containers that lined the countertop. Round morsels made of nuts and sugar and other delicacies lay ready for us to pierce with a toothpick before dipping them into melted chocolate and lining them on wax paper. We had teachers and special friends who would receive a round tin, each filled with a variety of treats. We never made the cover of Taste of Home, but we always took pride in our work.

The unmistakable smell of Lava soap greeted us as we entered the back door. The sink in the utility room was used by Pa-Pa to remove grease and grime from his hands. A bar of the heavy duty cleaner always rested near the faucet. Ours was only one of eight families that invaded my grandparent’s modest frame home and celebrated the birth of Christ. Aroma that seeped from the multiple dishes being carried in soon overwhelmed the cleaner. We always had a great time, even though they had only one bathroom.

The pleasant memories I have from the past reinforce my enjoyment of Christmas. This truly is one of the most wonderful times of the year. Enjoy the entire month. Replace your sighs with smiles and your frustration with satisfaction. Go out and make this a merry Christmas.

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas….. Earl

FBC Happenings

  • This Sundays Sermon “Born to Save” Matthew 1:18-25
  • LifeGroup Attendance on December 15 – 661
  • Sunday, December 22 – Worship Service at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. NO LIFEGROUPS…CHILDCARE FOR BABIES – 3’s
  • Church Office and FLC Closed December 24 and December 25
  • December 24 – Christmas Eve Service with Lord’s Supper at 5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 29 – One Worship Service only at 10:30 a.m. NO LIFEGROUPS…CHILDCARE FOR BABIES – 3’s

A Godly Heritage

The frost on the grass revealed the path of my exit from the front door of my mother’s home.  Barely twelve hours had passed since Daddy died in room A 4 of the Elkview General Hospital.  After reading my Bible, I ventured out into the cold, calm morning to take a walk.  It was Sunday.

I duplicated the route I had traveled countless times with Daddy when I came to visit.  This morning I walked alone.  On my left, as I headed south down the blacktop, the sun silhouetted the trees on Elk Creek as it rose above the horizon.  God’s action reminded me that life was continuing.  On my right, the Wichita Mountains appeared as the darkness dissipated.  They had not moved.  Neither had God.  He remained ever faithful.

On my back was an oversized, brown, hooded sweatshirt that I had borrowed from the utility room.  It still had jersey gloves in the pockets – the same gloves Daddy had worn.  As I journeyed onward with his coat on my back I thought about the heritage Daddy had passed down to me and others.

He passed down the heritage of faith.  Trust in Jesus only for the purpose of eternal life.  Good works and good intentions get no one to heaven.  The only way to be right with God is by grace through faith.  In spite of our sin God forgives because of what His Son Jesus did for us on the cross.  From faith in Jesus comes abundant life today and forever.    

He passed down the heritage of service.  Do for others without expecting anything in return.  Serve through the local church without growing weary in well doing.  Don’t ask what is in it for you.  Give, visit, teach, volunteer, sacrifice…and don’t keep score.  Keep serving because it is right, not because it pays.

He passed down the heritage of work.  Whatever you do, do it with all your might, as unto the Lord.  Anything accomplished in life requires a fair amount of effort – whether laying bricks, raising wheat, or preparing sermons.  Minimal talent can be maximized with tireless zeal.  Sweat is not a four letter word. 

 I finished the walk and hung up Daddy’s sweatshirt.  I did not lay aside his heritage.  I will continue what he passed down.  May I be found faithful. 

Firstborn son, Earl Wesley Stephenson

  • This reprinted article first appeared in December of 2007. Twelve years have passed and I still think of Daddy often. I am blessed.

FBC Happenings

  • This Sundays Sermon “Light in the Darkness” John 1:1-5; 14-18
  • LifeGroup Attendance on December 8 – 688
  • Sunday, December 15 – Christmas Worship Service at 6:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 18 – Movie Night “THE STAR” 6:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary (NO WEDNESDAY MEAL OR CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES THAT EVENING)
  • Sunday, December 22 – Worship Service at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. NO LIFEGROUPS…CHILDCARE FOR BABIES – 3’s
  • Church Office and FLC Closed December 24 and December 25
  • December 24 – Christmas Eve Service with Lord’s Supper at 5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 29 – One Worship Service only at 10:30 a.m. NO LIFEGROUPS…CHILDCARE FOR BABIES – 3’s

New Member

Lea Ann Dozier