Remain Calm and Carry On

Farmers learn to lean on God in ways that most of us will never experience. They work hard and plan carefully but can neither control the weather nor determine the markets. There is a sense in which they partner with God Himself as they live their lives and raise their families. In theory, we all do the same. We all remain dependent on God. Farmers experience this reality more up close and personal.

I still remember the day when Daddy and I were loading up our fishing poles to go down on Elk Creek and try to catch some catfish. The rains the night before had caused the creek to rise, which caused the fish to bite as they made their way upstream in search of new sources of food that were appearing in abundance. Timing plays a huge role in most life events and that is certainly true of fishing on Elk Creek.

Momma came to the back door and informed daddy that someone had just called and informed her that the wheat “Down Yonder” had been hailed out during the storms that rolled through the night before. Harvest was only weeks away. Without hesitation, Daddy hopped into the pickup, as did I. We headed for the creek. No sense in crying over spilled milk or hailed-out wheat. Daddy remained calm and carried on. We never missed a meal.

As a church we must remain calm and carry on in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, which has interrupted life as we have known it. Thanks for being present this past Sunday and adjusting to the plates at the doors and the lack of traditional handshakes and snacks. We will continue doing our best to make FBC a germ-free zone.

Our new challenge is to maintain unity and momentum as a church without meeting together on Sundays. Expectations have escalated for us to do our part in controlling the spread of the coronavirus. We will post new sermons to our web site on Sundays at 9 a.m. These sermons can be watched at any time after they are posted. The sermons, along with worship music, will also be played on 95.5 F.M. each Sunday at noon. Many are planning to gather in homes and watch together. Why not invite others to watch with you? It sounds a lot like the early church!

Acts 2:42-47, Earl  

FBC Happenings

  • This Sunday’s Sermon – “Living With Grief”
  • LifeGroup Attendance on March 15 – 402

Farm Memories

After speaking at the CBA chapel service, I contacted a friend to see if he was home. On my way back to Weatherford, I planned to stop and enjoy his company. I am blessed with many friends whom I am always encouraged to spend time with. He was in the field hauling hay with his tractor but would be back to the home place in just a few minutes. He asked me to park on the south side of the shop and wait. I was glad to do so.

During the minutes I waited, I exited my truck and surveyed the equipment and supplies that were stored beneath the shed on the south side of the shop. I was especially impressed at the parallel parking job done with the old John Deere tractor that had forks on the front. There were several rolls of barbed wire on a couple of pallets. My mind raced back to my childhood. Building fence was never one of my favorite activities, but I did enjoy the time I spent with Daddy, as well as the variety of tasks required.

When Terry arrived, we went inside the shop, just as it began to rain. We discussed some significant issues related to God, country, and life. We laughed several times. The decibel level caused by the rain hitting the sheet iron roof escalated. I thought of Daddy’s barn, south of the house, where we retreated when the rain stopped the farming and the bricklaying. There is no sound like it – especially if it comes after the land has been dry for some time.

He was wearing coveralls, and I was wearing a coat. We were surrounded by implements and tools. One tractor was missing. I volunteered to take him to pick it up down south a few miles. How many times had I helped with tractor transfers during the days of my youth? Long before I was legal, Daddy had me driving out of necessity. Usually I followed right behind him. 

Our visit ended, and Terry stepped out to get in the tractor and drive it home. He checked the oil, just like Daddy taught me to always do. I noticed the tractor was pulling an off-set disc, just like the one I used to plow with back in the day. The tractor started, and I headed to Weatherford. I love life as God allows it to become. I also enjoy precious memories.

I love you, Earl

FBC Happenings

  • Sunday’s Sermon – “Facing the Funeral” John 11:17-37
  • LifeGroup Attendance on March 8 – 650
  • GriefShare this Sunday, March 15 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • Spring Break is March 16-20. No Wednesday Activities that week.

Where To Hang Your Hat

“Never hang your hat on another person’s nail.”

My friend made this statement as we were discussing Biblical truth. Initially, I struggled to understand exactly what he was referring to as I thought of the utility room in the home where I was raised. There on the wall were multiple dowel rods protruding from the hat and coat rack Daddy had made to accommodate everyone. I didn’t build it, but I did use it daily. Mine were the hats with the largest circumference.

My friend explained that he was not talking about hats. He was talking about convictions. His explanation of his Southeastern Oklahoma parable aided me in my understanding, just like Jesus’ explanations of His parables helped the apostles understand. Most of us are slow learners. Illustrations that shed light on truth sometimes need a bit of clarification. Especially if you were raised on the opposite side of the state.

The apostle Paul uses this principle in Romans 14 while expounding on debatable issues like diet and special days. Today, many would refer to these as “wisdom issues.” These are things that are not specifically forbidden or affirmed in Scripture that genuine Christians disagree about.

“Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.” (verse 5)

Never hang your hat on another person’s nail. Just because another genuine believer believes in and practices sober-minded drinking of alcohol is no reason for you to follow suite if you are not fully convinced that by God that it is okay to do so. The same could be said for activities on Sunday and watching certain kinds of movies. Wherever you land on debatable issues needs to be your decision as you are led by the Spirit of God. Do not merely imitate the behavior of others. Remain fully convinced in your own mind of the actions that you take.

We must remain aware that our actions affect others. Pride puffs up, but love builds up. I am aware of certain things that are not “forbidden” in scripture that cause great harm to many. I opt not to participate because, as a follower of Jesus, life is not about me. We are to do all that we do for the glory of God. If we cannot do what we do for the glory of God, we shouldn’t be doing it. We should hang our hat on God’s nail.

I love you, Earl

FBC Happenings

  • Sunday’s Sermon – “Hearing The News” II Samuel 12:15-23
  • LifeGroup Attendance on March 1 – 712
  • Daylight Saving Time Begins on Sunday, March 8. Be sure and turn your clocks forward one hour on Saturday evening.
  • GriefShare this Sunday, March 8 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • MEN OF GOD Prayer Breakfast is this Monday morning, March 9 at 6:00 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall
  • Women on Mission this Tuesday, March 10 at 7:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m. Frito Chili Pie

The Nicest Loser

Nancy and I have hosted a New Year’s Eve spade party every year for over a quarter of a century. It is a great party that requires set up and clean up, but very little else. The food preparation is shared by guests and Nancy. The card playing occupies the time spent together. No periods of awkward silence occur as spades are played by all. There is plenty of laughter shared by those who attend. Many of you have been our guests through the years.

Men and women play as partners determined by a drawing as we begin. We usually have three tables. Once we had five. Teams play until a team at one table reaches 250 points. At that time, everyone finishes their current hand and those with the winning scores move up, while those with the losing scores remain at their table and change partners. It sounds more complicated than it is. Usually Nancy fares much better than I do.

Not this year. I didn’t do anything great, but she never won a game. She began at the middle table and stayed at the middle table for four hours. During that time, she had different ones play on her team. I was one of them. None of us were able to conclude a game with the highest score. Nancy continued to smile and deal and bid and laugh and lose. It was just a game, and she didn’t get the cards necessary to win.

It was her party, and she could have cried if she wanted to – but she didn’t. There is a lot more to life than winning. Joy in life comes from healthy relationships and acts of service. Nancy is never more in her element than when she is hosting and serving, even if she is not winning at cards. She has always considered our home to be not only place of refuge but also a place of ministry. No one ever doubts how much you care when you share your home with them – even if they drub you in spades!

The most important noun in the English language is relationship, not victory. Any actions you take to include others in your life will bless them as well as yourself.

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”

Mark 8:35, Earl

FBC Happenings

  • Sunday’s Sermon – “Stand Up For Jesus” Acts 4:1-22
  • LifeGroup Attendance on February 23 – 663
  • All Church Pulled Pork & Baked Potato Feast is this Sunday, March 1 at 11:30 a.m. in the Family Life Center. Donations will be accepted for the upcoming Mission Trip to The Dominican Republic
  • GriefShare this Sunday, March 1 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m. Chicken Strips

New Member

Mary Howard

Jesus Wept

Many a child has quoted the verse as a means of avoiding being shut out. When the teacher asks for the recitation of known verses, some boy or girl usually states, “Jesus wept.” They know neither the context nor the full meaning of the verse, but they can remember it. I am certain that I did the same thing more than once while growing up. When all verses count the same, why not quote the shortest one in the Bible?

Through the decades, this verse has grown to mean very much to me. Jesus wept while standing near Lazarus’ tomb, as the crowd harassed him for not doing more to keep his friend from dying. The tomb that held Lazarus was near other tombs that held other bodies. Think cemetery. Think grief. Think physical death. Think emotional pain. Jesus knew that it was only a matter of minutes before Lazarus would exit the grave and join his sisters for supper. Still, Jesus wept. Tears flowed down His face as the harsh reality of sins’ effect in this world ripped at the hearts of those He loved.

When I think of Jesus weeping, I am reminded of I Peter 5:7, which is a loose quotation of Psalm 55:22. “Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” We are told to cast our anxieties onto Jesus because He actually cares for us. As He wept with Mary and Martha, He also joins with us in our time of pain. He does not condemn us for our sadness but supports us in our grief. Psalm 55:22 lists the reason for casting our cares on the Lord: “and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

Many burdens in life are too heavy for us to carry. One of those burdens is grief. Jesus understands the overwhelming nature of burying a loved one in a cold, dark grave. Jesus understands the fact that we need His help. Jesus remains available and willing to help us as we grieve because He cares.

Beginning March 8, I will preach a four sermon series I have titled “Jesus Wept.” The sermons are titled: Hearing the News; Facing the Funeral; Living with Grief; and Waiting for Heaven. Jesus wept because Jesus cares.

So do I, Earl  

FBC Happenings

  • Sunday’s Sermon – “Another Short Sermon” Acts 3:12-26
  • LifeGroup Attendance on February 16 – 658
  • Membership Matters Class this Sunday, February 23 at 10:30 a.m. in the Parlor
  • GriefShare this Sunday, February 23 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • FBC Movie Night “OVERCOMER” this Sunday, February 23 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m. Beans w/ Ham and Fried Potatoes

New Member

Cooper Null

Read the Instructions

Nancy reluctantly informed me that water was standing in the bottom of the dishwasher. Only two days earlier she had discovered water seeping out of the cabinet beneath the kitchen sink. We had diagnosed that problem as a dripping garbage disposal. After sopping up the mess and waiting for the stores to open, I had attempted the unthinkable and changed out my own garbage disposal!

Years ago I decided that for the sake of my own mental peace, as well as the health of my marriage, and the status of my bank account, I should always call a professional when it came to plumbing. I usually cost myself more money by trying to save money when it came to all things related to plumbing.

I did seek the advice of a professional. Scott Steinly assured me that I could change out the garbage disposal, as long as I purchased one with the same model number so that everything would line back up. I was excited to find the exact model number and begin the replacement. I found not one, but an entire shelf filled with the model number I needed. I made a mental note that this must happen quite frequently to many people.

 I cleared everything from beneath the sink and began the removal, followed by the replacement. I spilt a little water and struggled with one of the connections before calling Nancy into the kitchen to listen to the hum of the new disposal. Mr. fixit was back on his game!

Nancy and I both knew that somehow the water in the dishwasher was related to my plumbing job. I removed the dishwasher drain where it attached to the disposal and discovered that there was no drain hole. At that point I dug the directions I had not read from the recycling we keep in the garage. There, in black and white, it told what to do if you have a dishwasher. Use a screwdriver and hammer to remove the knock out plug in the side of the disposal. I won’t share all the details, but I did get to remove and reinstall the disposal.

I complicated my life by failing to read and heed the instructions. We do the same thing when we fail to read and heed the Bible. Many of life’s problems are self-inflicted by those who think they are smart enough to bypass God’s guidance.

Still learning, Earl  

FBC Happenings

  • Sunday’s Sermon – “Leaping in Church” Acts 3:1-11
  • LifeGroup Attendance on February 9 – 780
  • There will be a Come and Go to meet Seth Odam (Student Pastor Candidate) this Saturday, February 15 in the South Commons Area from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
  • Observance of The Lord’s Supper this Sunday, February 16 at 9:00 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.
  • GriefShare this Sunday, February 16 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • 55 & Up Potluck Dinner, February 18 at 6:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m. Baked Potato Bar

Waiting on God

We showed up with buckets in our hands and smiles on our faces. Nancy and I had been invited to pick up pecans. Nancy is a great cook and requires pecans for some of her better recipes. (i.e. Italian Crème cake) When we are given opportunity to gather some pecans, we take advantage of it. The pecans in the store don’t compare with those we can pick up ourselves. Doing so is a treasure hunt that always reminds me of growing up.

I remember going with my mother and other family members to pick up pecans on Elk Creek in various locations. Seems like I was always using an empty Folger’s or Crisco can, back when they were made of metal. After filling the can, we would empty them into a gunny sack. I’m not sure where they came from, but we always had plenty. One year I picked up pecans to sell. Eventually I took them in to the Coop and cashed in. I felt like I was rich.

During those times of gathering pecans, we aided our efforts in various ways. Sometimes we used a cane pole and flailed the pecans in the tree to speed their exit to the ground. I was not above tossing a stick up into a dense grouping of pecans. My favorite, however, when I grew older, was to climb up into the tree and move from limb to limb in order to shake the branches and bomb those beneath the tree with pecans. I never fell.

As Nancy and I picked up the pecans, I glanced up into the tree and told John Stevenson, “If I were a little bit younger I would climb up in the tree and shake a lot of pecans out.” He just smiled and said, “You better not do that.” Maybe he was thinking about visiting me in the hospital.

 A few weeks later, John and I were visiting in the common’s area at church when he made an insightful statement. “You are always talking about waiting on God’s timing. Instead of climbing a tree and shaking it, just wait a couple of weeks and God will have all the pecans on the ground for you.” How true. When we wait on the Lord, things go much better than when we try to rush the Lord.

Isaiah 40:31, Earl

We will vote on calling Seth Odam as our Student Pastor on February 16. There will be a Come and Go to meet Seth on February 15, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. in the South Commons.

FBC Happenings

  • Sunday’s Sermon – “Healthy Churches” Acts 2:42-47
  • LifeGroup Attendance on February 2 – 705
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m. Taco Soup
  • GriefShare this Sunday, February 9 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • This Sunday, February 9 at 5:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall, there will be an informative meeting about upcoming Mission Trips to the Dominican Republic and Slovakia.

New Members

Benjamin Tucker, Pierson Tucker, Garrett Decker, and Randy & Amy Barnett

Learning by Doing

Duke had no idea what he was in for the first time he went to hunt quail. Taping his feet was like tying a calf after it had been roped. He would not hold his legs still. By the time I finished, I wondered out loud how I could continue. Maybe I should just let him pick out the grass burrs with his teeth! When I loaded him into the dog box, he stuck all his feet outward. Eventually I figured out how to back him in. As we drove out of town, he howled like a coyote.

From the start, Duke showed a lot of heart. He rarely slowed down for anything. That was part of the problem. He went into attack mode when he saw cattle, rabbits, or other dogs. A shock collar helped him stop some of those antics. He loved to go hunting, even though he didn’t really know what he was doing. He had never attended bird dog school.

The more he went hunting, the more he learned about finding birds, pointing birds, and ignoring cattle. He remains as still as a statue while I wrap his feet. He loads into the dog box without incident. Now he howls when we are returning home. He doesn’t want to quit! When he was given opportunity to hunt, his instincts and abilities came to the forefront. This would not have happened if he had remained in the back yard, waiting to be fed.

So many times in life, we learn by doing. This is especially true as we serve Jesus. The way to learn how to reach out to others is to reach out to others. You learn to host others in your home by inviting others to share a meal. You learn how to lead a D-Group or a life group by leading a D-Group or a life group. You learn how to give by giving and seeing God supply your needs. I learned how to preach by preaching.

There is a place for basic training in most things we do. However, training will never substitute for doing. Eventually, you have to break the huddle and run a play if you want to achieve success in life. Planning and preparing are not the same as going and doing. God enables us to do what He calls us to do – if we do it!

Thanks for all you DO! Earl

FBC Happenings

  • Sunday’s Sermon – “A Massive Response” Acts 2:37-41
  • LifeGroup Attendance on January 26 – 743
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m. Chicken Strips
  • GriefShare this Sunday, February 2 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor

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.