Set Free

Demons from hell had invaded his body, removed all hope, and replaced it with rage.  He couldn’t stand to be around people and people couldn’t stand to be around him.  Attempts to shackle the mad man had proven futile.  Those who traveled the road near the tombs he inhabited did so at their own risk.

He was written off as crazy and dangerous – a real threat to society.  Everyone ignored him.  Some even considered taking his life as a safeguard to others.  Who to blame for his condition ceased to be an issue.  What to do became the priority.  And no one had a solution.

Then Jesus arrived by boat and walked into the cemetery.  In a matter of minutes Jesus set the man free from the control of Satan.  Nosy bystanders gasped as he clothed himself before sitting down with Jesus and asking sensible questions.  The change frightened them.

Our world is still filled with people who are controlled by the forces of hell.  Jesus can set them free.  Free from addictions and attitudes and anxieties that Satan furnishes liberally.  Freedom from sin’s stranglehold comes only through faith in Jesus Christ.

I love you,

Earl 


FBC Happenings

  • Sunday Sermon – “The Church Divided” James 4:1-12
  • LifeGroup Attendance on July 28 – 574
  • GEAR UP – August 11, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in the Family Life Center
  • Crowder Lake Baptism – August 25 – 6:00 p.m.

New Member

Cade Kelsey / Zack & Elissa Saunders / Kirby & Joni Sheperd

An Unwelcome Guest

“What is that on your head? It is big!”

This is how Nancy greeted me when I entered the garage after completing my morning walk with Freckles and Duke. She had ridden her bicycle and made it back before we did. I had altered our route a bit to avoid a dog and arrived safe and sound and ready for breakfast. I would feed the dogs and then myself.

But first, I needed to deal with whatever the big thing was on my head. Maybe a bloom had fallen from a tree. Hopefully, I had not walked under a bird or attracted a horsefly. I reached up and brushed across my forehead. She was right. Something was big, and it fell to the garage floor a few feet away. Nancy didn’t see it, but I did. I shuddered when I bent to examine it more closely. It was a slug!

That’s right. I was wearing a slug on my head. How did it happen? How long had it been there? Did it clean my skin like a snail scrubs the side of an aquarium? Would the slime come off with a single washing, or would I finally be forced to shampoo, rinse, and repeat? Why didn’t I take a selfie to include with this article?

Nancy, with the assistance of a tissue, picked the slug up and threw it into the trash can, which we later transported to the dumpster. We got rid of the slug as quickly as he arrived. He was not welcome on my head, and we let him know by the way we treated him (or maybe it was a her). He just showed up out of nowhere, and we made sure he didn’t stay.

Some churches do the same with those guests who show up unannounced. Oh, they don’t take them to the dumpster, but they make sure they never come back. This takes place when they refuse to speak, refuse to smile, and refuse to scoot over. People know when they are not welcome. Let’s make every guest who attends First Baptist Church feel welcome. Smile! Speak! Scoot over! We only have one opportunity to make a good first impression.

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers.”

 Hebrews 13:2,

  Earl


FBC Happenings

  • Sunday Sermon – “Wisdom From Above” James 3:13-18
  • LifeGroup Attendance on July 21 – 627
  • Membership Matters Class, this Sunday at 10:30 a.m. in the Parlor
  • Summer Wrap-Up Service, this Sunday at 6:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary DR Mission Trip – CrossTimbers – Falls Creek
  • GEAR UP – August 11, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in the Family Life Center
  • Crowder Lake Baptism – August 25 – 6:00 p.m.

Hope is Alive

Hope is Alive sponsors mentoring homes that provide a sober living environment for recovering drug and alcohol addicts. They understand the shame, brokenness, and family turmoil that addiction causes. They get to watch all of this fade away daily through their mentoring homes. They are a tribe of recovering junkies, drug addicts, and alcoholics who have found a new life worth living. Mentoring homes are created for the comeback story of a life renewed and lifetime clean and sober.

Hope is Alive is coming to Weatherford! They will begin a mentoring home for men where they will implement their three phase program that facilitates total recovery, in every area of the residents lives. Residents pay their own rent and work more than 25 hours each week while completing required behavior training. It takes eighteen months to fully complete the program.

Individual residents of Weatherford are assuming responsibility to purchase a home, and then provide resources monthly for the home to function. This will be a joint effort by churches and individuals in our community. Currently I am part of a task force that has been working out details to get the home in Weatherford. We are hosting a fund-raising event on August 22 at the Ballroom on the campus of SWOSU. The dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Would you be willing to attend? I would like to have you as my guest for the evening. Hope is Alive will be present to explain in more detail about their ministry. Funds will be raised for the purpose of purchasing a home and maintaining monthly support. The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma has already committed $50,000 toward the purchase of the home. We will need about $300,000 more.

We must do something. The opioid crisis has been at the forefront of the news for some time now. We know the devastating consequences of addiction. Some of us have lost loved ones. Others have lost families and relationships. This is not theory. This is tragedy. Won’t you do your part to make the Hope is Alive mentoring home a reality in Weatherford? If I can put you down as my guest for August 22, please let me know. I will send you a personal invitation. If you cannot attend the event, but would like to make a donation, let me know.

 Thank you,

  Earl


FBC Happenings

  • Sunday Sermon – “Taming the Tongue” – James 3:1-12
  • LifeGroup Attendance on July 14 – 619
  • 55 & Up Potluck – July 24, 11:30 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall
  • GEAR UP – August 11, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in the Family Life Center
  • Crowder Lake Baptism – August 25 – 6:00 p.m.

Remain Calm

Quail season neared completion, so I opted to take the dogs out for a short hunt on Saturday, after having gone earlier in the week. Freckles and Duke were staring me down from the backyard where they live. They think every day should be a hunting day. Knowing February 15th was coming soon, I loaded them up and took them to a nearby location where they could run free. I took my gun in case we found some quail.

The weather was pleasant, and the dogs were pleased, as was I. I don’t have many places I can actually drive in and park, but this was one of those places. We made our way north through thickets and trees without finding birds. Our success was the fact that we were outside in God’s creation. Duke and I headed back south on the east side of a small canyon. Eventually Freckles caught up with us.

When she showed up, her face was covered in blood, as was her chest and her front legs. She looked like she had lost an encounter with a bobcat. I called her, and she came. She was so interested in hunting that she could hardly stand still for me to examine her. She obviously was not hurt very badly. I discovered that she had cut her tongue on something. That kind of thing can happen when you leave it hanging out. The small wound produced a lot of blood.

I called the vet and received assurance that Freckles would be just fine. She pointed a covey of quail and some singles on the way back to the truck. I opted not to take a picture of her pointing while Duke honored. It wasn’t the image I wanted anyone to have of quail hunting. Before we headed home, I called Nancy and warned her of what she was going to see when we came home.

“It looks a lot worse than it is.”

She opted not to look. It wasn’t long until all bleeding stopped. Freckles gobbled down her food and continued on with life. It really was not a big deal to her.

Initially, some situations in life appear to be much more disastrous than they actually are. Before panicking, realistically examine the source of and the solution for the problem. Anything that can be fixed, replaced, or cleaned up is not really that big of a deal.

Remain calm,

 Earl 


FBC Happenings

  • July 7 LifeGroup Attendance – 610
  • Sunday Sermon – “Saving Faith” James 2:14-26
  • Falls Creek – July 15-20
  • 55 & Up Potluck – July 24, 11:30 a.m. in the Fellowship Hall
  • GEAR UP – August 11, 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. in the Family Life Center

New Member

Crue Doyal

Never Forget

His uncle took possession of the dog after it had been run over and injured by a car. After nursing it back to health, his uncle allowed John to assume ownership of the “Heinz 57” canine. He named his new pet Rusty. His hind quarters were white, while the rest of his body was a rusty brown. They became the best of friends. John was six years old.

A small store, as well as an elementary school, sat across the street from where John’s family lived. Periodically, John went over to the store and bought a Hershey’s candy bar, which he shared with Rusty under the ramp that led into the store. The shade was cool in the summertime. Besides, every growing boy needs some time away from his sister. John and Rusty spent the summer playing and doing what everyone did when life was simpler and time wasn’t so rushed.

When school started, John headed across the street to begin first grade. His younger sister stayed behind and continued to enjoy life as it came. One day she and a friend were playing in the front yard on a swing. His sister squealed with joy while her friend pushed her higher and higher. Rusty thought John’s sister was in trouble and bit her friend in a defensive move. The girl was diabetic. The girl’s grandmother threatened a lawsuit if Rusty was not put down.

When the authorities showed up to get Rusty, they could not get Rusty into the cage in the back of the truck. John was summoned from school to come and call Rusty into the truck. With a broken heart, John obediently crawled into the bed of the truck and called for Rusty to come. Rusty immediately responded to his best friend’s plea. John never saw Rusty again. He still remembers that day when he did what had to be done, even though it caused great pain.

We must forever remember Calvary’s cross, where God had to turn away from watching as Jesus, the lamb of God, took away the sins of the world. The joint venture “paid in full” the sin debt owed by all of us. Jesus, like a lamb led to slaughter, opened not His mouth as He willingly laid down His life. We can remember His death as we anticipate seeing Him in heaven.

Romans 8:32,

Earl


FBC Happenings

  • Sunday Sermon – “Mercy For All” – James 2: 1-13
  • LifeGroup Attendance on June 30 – 602
  • Church Office will be closed on Thursday, July 4th
  • SERVE Weatherford is July 8-13. Contact Tracy to volunteer.
  • Falls Creek is July 15-20

New Members

Paige Morris Cassidy Moses Nedra Smith

Farewell, my friend

John Hogan’s final time to lead us in worship will be this Sunday, June 30. I will miss him. He has served faithfully in multiple ways as God has used him to lead us in knowing what worship means and participating in it willingly. During the four years he has served at First Baptist Church, we have grown in our ability to participate in worship as a multi-generational church.

John has the unique ability of combining various styles of music in such a manner that we all feel included. He utilized hymns and choruses and praise songs in such a way that we could sing from our hearts the truths of God’s Word. Certainly John has a preferred style of music, but it did not show in the songs he used. What a great job he did leading out in a potentially divisive area of church life.

John pastored the flock entrusted to his care in the worship ministry. He watched over and encouraged the choir, the band members, the sound technicians, the Kidz Praize leaders, and so many more. He is a minister that leads worship, not a musician that leads songs. There is a difference. I have greatly benefitted from the time we have spent yoked together while leading Christ’s church. I pray God’s best for John, Stephanie and Cade as they follow God’s lead.

Our search committee for the next Worship Pastor of First Baptist Church was selected last Sunday. Ginger Read, Brennan King, Allison Kendall, Scott Steinly and Sarah Yount received the most votes by our congregation and each volunteered to serve. Remember them in your prayers as they seek God’s direction. They do not have an easy job.

During the interim, Brennan King will lead us in worship. Brennan has led worship in the Wednesday night Gathering service for the past two years. He has served as John’s replacement when John has been away. He will do a great job. Remember him in your prayers. We are greatly blessed as a church that he is available and willing to serve.

If my count is accurate, this is the seventeenth called staff member I have said goodbye to during my years as a pastor. The staff changes, but the head of the church remains Christ. That is why everything is going to be just fine.

The best is yet to come,

 Earl

FBC Highlights

  • June 23 LifeGroup Attendance – 602
  • Sunday Sermon – “Can You Hear Me Now?” James 1:19-27
  • 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

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,

                                      Earl

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