God and Money

“You really get to know someone when it comes to money.” 

This is one of the many things my daddy told me that has proven to be completely accurate. Those with pure hearts have no problem paying bills, enjoying paychecks, and sharing blessings. Those with selfish hearts reveal their love for money by keeping what they owe, expecting what they have not earned, or cheating those who trust them.

Jesus said it is impossible to serve both God and money. He didn’t say “challenging” or “rare.” Jesus said “impossible.” When money becomes the driving force in life, God takes a back seat to all other decisions. When time, energy, and thought are devoted to maximizing money, the pursuit of the kingdom of God will be minimized.

Years ago, in another church, one of the most committed Christians I have ever known over-extended himself in a business venture after he had retired with plenty of money. He explained to me one Sunday night when he came to church for the first time in months:

“I don’t know whether God or Satan gave me this business, but, either way, I have it. Until something changes, I cannot come to church.”

He went from sharing his faith and leading a small group to never darkening the doors of the church. Eventually, the wheels fell off of his life. I still shake my head when I think of where he is now in comparison with where he once was. It all started with money.

I heard a preacher say that when we baptize a person we should have them leave their wallet in their pocket. When God saves us, He takes over. He reserves a portion of our money to be given back to Him (at least a tithe/tenth) in order to constantly remind us that He remains sovereign owner of everything we handle. To not give a tithe is to embezzle from God.

Mishandling money will kill your witness for Jesus. Beating someone out of five dollars will keep sown gospel seeds from sprouting and growing. Non-Christians aren’t necessarily aware of whether you attend church or not. Non-Christians are very aware of whether you pay your bills or not.

“You really get to know someone when it comes to money.”

 Daddy was right,

  Earl


FBC Happenings

  • This Sundays Sermon “Do Not Be Anxious” Matthew 6:25-34
  • LifeGroup Attendance on September 22 – 686
  • Membership Matters Class – Sunday, September 29 at 10:30 a.m. in the Parlor
  • GriefShare – Sunday, September 29 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m. Chicken and Noodles

A Regrettable Haircut

When I stopped by the Raintree Meadow apartments to pick Nancy up, she greeted me with silence. I was a junior at OBU, and she was in the Dietetics program at the OU Health Sciences Center. She lived in Midwest City. On the weekends when we returned to Hobart to see our families, we coordinated so as to travel together. We were not officially engaged but planned to marry after completing college.

The silence continued for the entire trip. Periodically, Nancy looked over at me with disappointment. What I had done was on display for all to see. I had gotten a standard military haircut from a local barber in Shawnee. Before that haircut my wavy black locks were touching my shoulders. I had not lost my strength like Samson, but I had created a bit of tension with the love of my life.

My journey from long hair to white walls had begun in the cafeteria. One of our group was going away for the summer to a Marine Core boot camp. He was in the reserves, and eventually made a career out of military service. He showed up at supper with his fresh haircut, compliments of Johnny Jett, the local barber.

A discussion began about who would be willing to get the same kind of haircut. “I will get one if you will.” Promises were made, and the pressure applied. By the time I volunteered under peer pressure, I was about sixth or seventh down the line. I felt good about the chances that someone else would not follow through, and I would be off the hook.

Guess what? You guessed it. Johnny Jett did a booming business that week. One by one my friends sat in the barber chair and came back to campus to show off their new look, and prove that they were men of their word. My time came, and I allowed my hair to be buzzed off. I proved I was a man of my word. However, I would have been wiser to have not given my word in the first place on this particular issue. Just because someone else does something does not make it right.

Nancy eventually spoke. My hair grew back before it fell out. By that time Nancy and I were happily married! Hair was not nearly as important as we originally thought.

Lucky me!

Earl


FBC Happenings

  • This Sundays Sermon “Sin No More” John 5:1-15
  • LifeGroup Attendance on September 15 – 785
  • GriefShare – this Sunday, September 15 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m. Chicken Croissant Sandwich

Long Hair and Old Songs

I grabbed a couple of CDs before I headed to Hobart to visit my mother. On the way down I listened to a mix of worship songs a friend had burned for me as a going away present when we moved from Holdenville. While listening to the songs, I travelled back in time to when Jason and Lynn were in high school, and Nancy and I were running from one event to another. I smiled as I remembered that stage in our lives. I counted my blessings.

On the return trip to Weatherford, I listened to songs sung by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Many years ago someone gifted me with a CD of their greatest hits. I turned the music up loud as I sang along, remembering every word. We went down on the corner, ran through the jungle, watched the bad moon a risen’, and heard things through the grapevine. As I sang along, I was struck by the similarity of the songs. The words changed much more than the rhythm. 

However, in my mind, the music took me back to the days of long hair, big biceps, bigger dreams, and a rapid body metabolism rate. A couple of burgers and a few servings of baked beans and potato salad often preceded several bowls of homemade ice cream. The summers included plenty of work and plenty of fun and little, if any, worry. I sang along with John Fogerty when he declared, “Someday never comes,” but I didn’t worry about it. The same was true for wondering “who will stop the rain?”

Those were wonderful days. I enjoyed American legion baseball and dates with the dentist’s youngest daughter. Even shelling black-eyed peas while watching “Let’s Make A Deal” proved to be a fun activity while waiting between the morning and evening sessions of two-a-day football practice. The songs I listened to that day were more about memories than they were about music.

I am convinced the same is true about the music we sing as we worship. Songs mean much to us because of the way they remind us of God’s faithfulness and goodness during certain stages in life. We delight in various styles of music because they remind us of various stages of our walk with God. This is why we sing new songs and keep the old.

 I have decided to follow Jesus,

 Earl


FBC Happenings

  • This Sundays Sermon “Have Faith in God” Mark 11:20-25
  • LifeGroup Attendance on September 8 – 760
  • GriefShare – this Sunday, September 15 at 4:30 p.m. in the Cry Room
  • 55 & Up Potluck Lunch on Monday, September 16 at 11:30 a.m. in the FH
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m. Soft Tacos

Bearcats in Heaven

“How is my favorite guard?”

After a brief pause, Nate recognized me in spite of the cap I was wearing that covered my bald head. Decades had passed since the last time we visited. Back in the day, he had speed to burn in the Hobart Bearcat backfield, and I had the responsibility of creating a gap for him to run through. A leg injury cut his career short, but our friendship continued.

We passed from Francis Willard Elementary School through Eugene Field Elementary School into Junior High and eventually became members of the Hobart class of 1974. Nate was a great athlete, but he was much more than an athlete. Nate was also an artist and a good student and a fine person. I still have a painting hanging in my study that he did of my grandfather. I still remember a cobra he sculpted. I enjoyed art. Nate became an artist.

Throughout his adult life Nate has remained a renaissance man. He provides tech support and paints signs and owns and operates a barbeque restaurant. I had surprised him in his restaurant, which is located in the building that once was the Dairy Queen located at the end of the drag on Main Street. His gray whiskers looked classy against his black skin.

“Let me introduce you to my business partner. She has been a friend of our family for over thirty years.”

Then came the sentence that made me so happy that I had interrupted my visit with my mother to see if I could catch Nate.

 “This is who led me to Christ.”

 Carolyn smiled. Nate went on to recount what I had said to him.

 “Don’t you remember? You said you didn’t want me to think you were weird.”

I did remember. We were leaving the art room in the basement and I told Nate I loved him and Christ loved him. I don’t remember what I said after that. Nate did. Later on in life he had surrendered his life to Christ. He had been playing keyboard at his church for thirty years. His wife had passed in 2008, and he had dealt with a bit of cancer, but he still found much for which to praise the Lord. We will enjoy heaven together.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9,

Earl 


FBC Happenings

  • Sundays Sermon “Healthy Churches” Matthew 18:10-14
  • LifeGroup Attendance on September 1 – 614
  • GriefShare – this Sunday, September 8 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • FBC Movie Night “Breakthrough” this Sunday, September 8 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m., Beans w/ ham and fried potatoes

New Member

Gage Harrelson

I Problems

My first clue that something was wrong came before I exited the garage. I looked at my phone and could not make out the name of the person who had texted me. One of the last things I do before heading for work is place a contact in my left eye that assists me in reading. The plan works to perfection most days. This was not one of those days.

During the morning my vision did not improve. I pulled out my glasses and used them as I typed on my laptop. My eye felt slightly irritated. Occasionally I rubbed on my eyelid in order to move the contact back into place if it had drifted. No luck. After lunch I had Nancy inspect my eye with a really bright flashlight. She saw no signs of a non-compliant contact.

That afternoon I dropped by the optometrist’s office to have a professional look in my eye. I received the assurance I had hoped for. The contact was not in my eye. I must have dropped it. That evening I searched the counter top and the bathroom floor in vain. Apparently Nancy had swept it up while cleaning the house.

The following morning, I again popped a contact into my left eye before heading out the door. My eye felt a bit irritated. I assumed it would get better in a few minutes as my eye moistened. I could see, but it was a bit fuzzy. I wondered out loud why I was suddenly having contact issues. Nancy asked me if I might be to the point that I needed to consider not using contacts. I wouldn’t hear it.

After lunch, my eye felt so scratchy that I pulled out the contact and tossed it in the trash. I wear daily disposable contacts. I spent the afternoon visiting and didn’t read anything. My left eye felt great. Before supper, I sat in my chair to read a bit. I noticed that I could do so without my glasses. My suspicions proved true when I pulled another contact out of my left eye. Apparently, I had been wearing a couple of them that morning. No wonder my eye felt weird. My eye problems had been self-inflicted pain producers.

The same is true of “I problems.” When people choose to make life all about themselves, they pierce themselves with many a pain.

Life remains a joyful journey!

Earl


FBC Happenings

  • Sundays Sermon “Living in the Real World” James 5:13-20
  • LifeGroup Attendance on August 25 – 825
  • GriefShare – September 1 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • NO EVENING ACTIVITIES on Sunday, September 1
  • Church Office Closed on Monday, September 2
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m., Salisbury Steak

Baptized at Crowder Lake

Callen Schmitz, Summer Bass, Michael Bone, Reydon Bone, Chloe Hibbert, Lynica Austin, Nakylie Austin, Carol Moses, Abbie Moses, Bailee Pond, Andrea Stalder, Alycia Parker, Reese Roof, Ava Foster, Erin McLain, Julian Rucker, Jalenda Yount , Kent Yount

A Full Belly

Nancy and I called first to let the owners know we would be stopping by. We had heard they had a Brittany Spaniel that needed a home. When we entered their house to say “hi” to Gus, we couldn’t believe how skinny he was. He was built more like a greyhound than a birddog. When we took him for a walk around the block, we noticed his hip bones and his ribs. When we took him home with us, his owners gave us a partial bag of the food they had been feeding him. The food was extremely expensive.

Gus finished the bag then never tasted that variety again. He had no problem transitioning to a more reasonably priced source of nourishment. We consistently fed him large portions which he consumed willingly. Within a few months we noticed that his hip bones and ribs disappeared. He was not genetically predisposed toward leanness. Gus had become malnourished on high-dollar food because he wasn’t fed an adequate amount.

The same thing happens to some Christians. They prefer “meaty” teaching to the point that they rarely consume the rations made available by God to keep them healthy. They opt for high profiled podcasts instead of local preachers. They bypass daily Bible reading because they more than make up for it when they read the latest book by a best-selling Christian author. They skip church but attend occasional conferences and major events.

One ribeye steak each week may taste really good but will not keep flesh on your bones. You have to eat foods that may not be so impressive. Leftovers provide nourishment each time they are served. We have to eat something in order to remain healthy. Peanut butter may not be served in fine restaurants, but it does satisfy hunger.

Spiritually, there are cumulative effects to reading the Bible, listening to sermons, and participating in small groups. Spiritual health requires consistent intake of spiritual food, whether it is considered “meaty” or not. A full belly of simple truth is healthier than an empty belly of super truth.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

 II Timothy 3:16-17,

 Earl


FBC Happenings

  • LifeGroup Attendance on August 18 – 792
  • Observance of The Lord’s Supper – August 25 – 9:00 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.
  • Membership Matters Class – August 25 at 10:30 a.m. in the Parlor
  • GriefShare – August 25 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • Crowder Lake Baptism – August 25 – 6:00 p.m.

If the Shoe Fits

The shoes felt tight. I had been excited to buy them to compliment the pair I already owned. I wore them quite often because they were so comfortable and looked nice with jeans. The new pair was the same style, the same size, and made by the same company, yet they hurt my feet. Maybe the canvas fabric was not as pliable as the leather on the other pair. I walked around the house and wondered if I needed to return them.

When I unlaced them to see if I might need to loosen the fit, I noticed that I had placed the insoles I wear into the wrong shoes: right insole in the left shoe and left insole in the right shoe. Now wonder my feet hurt! I swapped the insoles back to their appropriate shoes and all was well with my feet. I wore the shoes the next day.

The insoles were not at fault for causing my pain. They have been my friends for several years now. After an attic ladder broke with me on it, and I landed in a heap on the garage floor, I had gone to receive some badly needed physical therapy. During my treatment, it was discovered that I have very flat feet that caused my aging body to shift toward the middle. After I started using the insoles, my back began to feel better than it had in years. 

All I have to do is put them inside the appropriate shoe. Round pegs don’t fit in square holes and left insoles create problems inside right shoes. There really is something to be said for finding our place and functioning there. When we discover where God has created us to be, we are wise to remain there. This is true in the jobs we work.

This is also true in the service we provide in the body of Christ. When we take on a role we do not enjoy, our service of the Lord seems to be more of a bother than a blessing. No member of the body of Christ should dread fulfilling their role in service. We are all necessary, but we are all different. Never apologize for the unique plan God has for your life.  Find your spot and serve with joy!

 Pastor-teacher,

  Earl


FBC Happenings

  • Sunday’s Sermon – “Waiting For The Lord” James 5:1-12
  • LifeGroup Attendance on August 11 – 713
  • GriefShare’s Loss of Spouse Seminar, August 18 – 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • Back To School Bash (Food and Inflatables) – August 18 – 6:00 p.m.
  • All Wednesday Evening Activities resume next week – August 21
  • Crowder Lake Baptism – August 25 – 6:00 p.m.