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

Christian Community

The severity of Jesus’ temptation by Satan was magnified by the fact that He was alone. For forty days Jesus lived in the wilderness without food or water or human contact. It was in the context of isolation that Satan approached Jesus and sought to lure Him away from His God-given purpose. Even though cut off from all human contact, Jesus successfully resisted the repeated temptations of Satan.

You are not Jesus. You require Christian community in order to refute the lies of Satan and resist his pull toward compromise. The local church is central in God’s plan for our Spiritual survival and growth. It is in the local church that we are mentored and held accountable. Every Christian who becomes isolated from the local church becomes vulnerable to Satan’s destructive actions. Peter compares Satan to a prowling, roaring lion. Lions hunt and kill animals that have separated from the herd.

Every Christian needs to surround himself or herself with other believers who will share life with them and help them stay on track in their walk with Jesus. We offer these opportunities as a church in LifeGroups and D-Groups. Our intent is not to overload you with something else to do. Our intent is to provide opportunities for relationships to form and deepen over time. This safeguards us from the evil one. We tend to make far less foolish choices and take far less foolish actions when we are consistently involved in Christian community.

Jesus often spent time alone with His Heavenly Father. We should do the same. Jesus also spent a lot of time with a small group of men where He was able to encourage and be encouraged. I am sure that He did the bulk of the encouraging. However, even Jesus asked His D-Group in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Could you not watch and pray with me for an hour?” Jesus benefitted from close relationships. So do we.

When you participate in a LifeGroup or a D-Group, you are not just adding numbers to the weekly count. You are protecting your heart, your marriage, and your future. Satan plays for keeps, and we should do the same. Be intentional. Don’t allow yourself to remain alone while you are living for Jesus. Isolation opens the door for Satan to pounce and devour.

I love you, Earl

FBC Happenings

  • This Sundays Sermon “Standing Before God’s Throne” Jude 24-25
  • LifeGroup Attendance on December 1 – 593
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m. Slider Sandwich and Broccoli Soup
  • Thursday, December 12 – 55 & Up Trip to see the Christmas Lights in Yukon
  • Wednesday, December 18 – Movie Night “THE STAR” 6:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary (NO WEDNESDAY MEAL OR CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES THAT EVENING)

The Power of Praise

Flock of Common Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) makes a pattern of birds in the trees

Before I sat down she informed me that she had gotten rid of “the birds.” She was pleased, and I was interested to hear how she had accomplished the feat. After her husband died, she had faced many issues as she adjusted to life without him. One issue she had not anticipated was the arrival of hundreds of grackles in the trees surrounding her home.

She had considered having her son, who is an avid hunter, come over and hone his marksmanship with a pellet gun. She thought better of doing so. Neighbors may have not appreciated the shots fired. She tried fake snakes and owls. She researched on the internet and ordered items she eventually returned. Nothing worked. The birds spent every evening in her trees, serenading her well into the night. They were “driving her crazy.”

“Apparently they don’t like classical Christian music,” she quipped.

I settled into my designated seat and smiled. This was going to be good. She is not only a good story teller but an extremely funny person. She misses her husband but still enjoys life. She had purchased a couple of CDs of classical Christian music and given them to a friend whom she thought would enjoy them. Her investment was only 50 cents at the Etc. Shop. As it turned out, the music was not appealing to her friend. She gave the CDs back.

“I agreed. It wasn’t very good. Just two guys banging on pianos.”

I laughed out loud. Few people in their 80’s have a problem expressing how they really feel. I love it! She went on to explain how she played the CDs on her front porch at full volume several evenings in a row. The birds stopped by, but they did not stay. Eventually, they quit stopping by. Now they were someone else’s problem. She had resisted the urge to mount a speaker in the back of a truck and drive around the neighborhood in order to harass all the grackles out of her side of town.

The next time you are frustrated with the world’s solutions that do not work, praise the Lord for His goodness. As you praise the Lord in the midst of your problems, He will show up to comfort your soul and fight your battles. You don’t have to yell His praise, but you do need to declare it.

Psalm 103, Earl   

Happy Thanksgiving

FBC Happenings

  • This Sundays Sermon “Standing Against the Devil” Ephesians 6:10-20
  • LifeGroup Attendance on November 24 – 633
  • The Church Office and Family Life Center will be closed for Thanksgiving on Wednesday, November 27~~Thursday, November 28~~Friday, November 29
  • Next Wednesdays Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m. Meatball Sub Sandwich

Worship Pastor Vote This Sunday

This Sunday, November 24, we will be voting on the candidate the Worship Pastor Search Committee has recommended to us as a church. After months of seeking God’s will, they are recommending Brennan King to serve in this role. I completely support and greatly rejoice in their recommendation. Brennan currently does a great job as our Interim Worship Pastor. He continues to impress me with his heart, his skill set, and his work ethic.

Brennan has a heart for Jesus. Brennan has a heart for worshipping Jesus. Brennan has a heart for people. Brennan has a heart for leading people in worship. He remains so easy to get along with because he does not make things about himself. He counts his blessings and celebrates all that God has given Him and done for him. Brennan has a great heart.

Brennan has a wide-ranging skill set. When it comes to music, he can play multiple instruments. His voice is of superior quality. He coordinates the band and hears things as they are and moves them toward where they need to be. He plans and rehearses and leads with expertise. Brennan was mentored for years by two great worship leaders – Kristy Talley and John Hogan. What he has learned from them now flows through him.

When it comes to creativity and the use of video, Brennan continues to amaze me. He comes up with ideas to enhance worship and strengthen the church. The ideas require more effort from him, yet he keeps coming up with them. He initiated and shot and edited all the videos designed to introduce the staff to the church. He shot and edited video from the Crowder Lake Baptism. He knows what he is doing when it comes to video and technology.

Brennan has a great work ethic. There is a good chance he developed it on the farm where he was raised. He offers to help in multiplied ways, even though he is currently only part time. He tried to help Nancy and me trim bushes one day. He has the ability to see what needs to be done and the willingness to help get it done. Brennan works hard.

There will be a meeting and greeting time for Brennan and his family on November 23 in the South Commons from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Feel free to ask any questions you may have and offer as much encouragement as possible. I look forward to continuing to serve with Brennan King.

How blessed we are! Earl

FBC Happenings

  • This Sundays Sermon “Standing in the Gospel” I Corinthians 15:1-11
  • LifeGroup Attendance on November 17 – 702
  • Membership Matters Class – this Sunday, November 24 at 10:30 a.m. in the Parlor
  • Churchwide Thanksgiving Meal – this Sunday, November 24 at 5:00 p.m. in FLC
  • The Church Office and Family Life Center will be closed for Thanksgiving on Wednesday, November 27 – Friday, November 29 Happy Thanksgiving

Growing Older

Periodically I am reminded of my age. Friends ask me when I am going to retire. Youth refer to me as “sir.” Discounts abound at various establishments. Before I left for Falls Creek this year, Nancy asked me to not run the 5K. She didn’t want me hurting myself. The last thing my mother said to me on the Sunday before I left for camp was, “Remember how old you are.” Believe me, I do. Every time I look in the mirror I am reminded of my age. Still, this is a great stage in life, and I am glad I get to participate.

One afternoon, the first man I visited was nearing 102 years of age. He was watching Casa Blanca on his television. He told me that he had been there on Christmas Eve of 1942. He reminisced about World War II by telling personal stories about General Patton (they called him B & G), friends lost, and POW’s saved. Still, he smiled and thanked me for stopping by. He was obviously happy to be participating in life.

My next stop was a wonderful lady who is 94 years old. We had a great conversation about the good ole’ days that included milking cows, gathering eggs, and visiting with neighbors. She obviously missed life as it had been. She also talked about the Thunder basketball team and the health of her friends and the benefits of walking every day. She was glad to be participating in life even though she no longer lived on a farm.

The next friend I visited had been struggling physically. Family had pitched in to help him negotiate day by day. He is the lone survivor of eight siblings. He pointed out pictures on the shelves. I mentioned some kerosene lanterns he has accumulated. His 95 years have not deleted his passion to live. He and his daughter rehearsed recent domino games. He was glad to be participating in life.

My final stop of the day was a lady who was only in her 80’s. She gifted me with a jar of jelly before we sat down and visited about the faithfulness of God through the years. On my way out, she handed me a book she thought Nancy would enjoy. As I backed out of the driveway, my heart rejoiced as I anticipated growing older. I, too, can continue to celebrate each new day the Lord provides.

Glad to be participating, Earl

FBC Happenings

  • This Sundays Sermon “Stand Together: I Need You, You Need Me” Galatians 5:26 – 6:5
  • LifeGroup Attendance on November 10 – 665
  • Vote on the 2020 Budget – this Sunday, November 17 at 9:00 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.
  • Surviving the Holidays (GriefShare) – this Sunday, November 17 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • Wednesday Evening Meal at 5:00 p.m. – Ham