A Lifetime is a Long Time

“A lifetime is a long time.”

My mother made this insightful observation as we visited on the phone recently. We usually visit briefly in the evening about the events of the day. Junior Dickerson inspired me to check in with Momma every day after Daddy died on December 15, 2007. Junior had called his mother every day for decades after his father died. We can and should learn from those who are further along in life than we are.

“A lifetime is a long time.”

Momma asked me if I had seen the special on the life of Eddie Sutton that had aired on the previous evening. I had not. Eddie had been presented as a real man with strengths and weaknesses. Nothing was glossed over in his life’s story. His problems with addiction reminded my mother of my brother’s struggle that led to his premature death. I don’t know that misery loves company, but I do know that it appreciates empathy. We are not alone as we journey through life.

“A lifetime is a long time.”

Long enough to eventually experience disappointments and challenges never considered possible during earlier decades. Long enough to eat a few words that implied immunity to the pain some families feel. Long enough to bury friends and lose jobs and develop cancer. Long enough for hearts to ache and homes to burn and cars to wreck and churches to struggle.

“A lifetime is a long time.”

Prayers offered decades earlier are answered and appreciated more than they would have been if time had not passed. New friends and new challenges come into life. Revival is sent by God into weary souls and struggling churches. Marriages that had grown cold reignite and bring immeasurable joy to both husband and wife. Peace replaces chaos and joy replaces grief. The ship thought gone forever finally comes in.

“A lifetime is a long time.”

Pa-pa used to say about Kiowa county – “I’ve never seen this land so dry that it does not become too wet, nor so wet that it does not become too dry.”   

We cannot fathom all that will happen in a full, long life. However, we can confidently rest in the unwavering love of God. He remains with us wherever we go. Even through the valley of the shadow of death.

I love you, Earl


FBC Happenings

  • This Sundays Sermon “Salty Christian Living” Romans 12:9-13
  • Loss of a Spouse by GriefShare meets this Sunday, January 17 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • Precepts Class “1 John, 2 John, and 3 John” begins this Sunday, January 17 at 6:00 p.m. in the Family Life Center
  • GriefShare begins January 24 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • Services are being posted on the church website, the church YouTube channel at FBC Weatherford Media, and on the church Facebook page at 9:00 a.m. each Sunday.

Sports

I played sports at Hobart while I was growing up. Being a Bearcat was a big deal in the Southwestern Oklahoma town. I wasn’t great at any of the sports I played, but I did enjoy participating and winning more than losing. I still have my letter jacket hanging in my closet. I can still sing the HHS fight song. I made some wonderful memories on the gridiron, the mat, and the diamond. Then one day the band stopped playing.

Oh, the band still played for all the Bearcat sporting events. It just did not play for me. I moved on to real life. I never played another football game. It is hard to find 21 others who would like to strap on the pads and go at it. Besides that, I had no pads to strap on. I did play softball for a few years and pinned a couple of high school guys at Falls Creek. For the most part, however, all the time, energy, and emotion I had invested in sports evaporated into thin air after I graduated from high school.

My commitment to sports was minor when compared with many in today’s world. There is little time left for a balanced approach to life. Often, family time is sacrificed in order to make more time for sports. Academics suffer for the sake of workouts. Involvement in church takes a back seat to tournaments and competitions that take place on Sundays. It has become accepted that many will not attend worship on Sunday during certain seasons. Those seasons continue to grow. The local church continues to shrink.

I wonder what God thinks about all of this? As a youth, I assumed God was a Bearcat fan. I have changed my mind. I don’t think God really cares who wins a game. God cares about the people who are playing the game – both teams! He uses all things to accomplish His purpose in and through us. I assume this includes all activities, including sports. However, when anything takes His place in our lives, He is not pleased and problems develop. Make sure God’s kingdom remains your priority.

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all things shall be added to you.”

Matthew 6:33, Earl


FBC Happenings

  • This Sundays Sermon “Strengthening The Church” Romans 12:3-8
  • The Gathering Service and TeamKIDS resume on January 13
  • Loss of a Spouse by GriefShare on Sunday, January 17 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • Precepts Class “1 John, 2 John, and 3 John” begins on Sunday, January 17 at 6:00 p.m. in the Family Life Center
  • Services are being posted on the church website, the church YouTube channel at FBC Weatherford Media, and on the church Facebook page at 9:00 a.m. each Sunday.

Love Strengthens the Church

This year Nancy decorated our home a bit differently for the Christmas season. She trimmed the tree in white, silver and gold. It looked awesome. She opted for nativity scenes that were large and simple. She used less decorations with more impact. Rather than place the Christmas cards we received in a basket as in previous years, she displayed them on the buffet counter. We received so many cards this year! Thanks for loving us.

This Sunday, January 3, we will offer live worship at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Childcare will be provided for children through 3 years of age. LifeGroups for all ages will begin on Sunday, January 10. Remember that LifeGroups for children over 3 and youth are offered only at 10:30 a.m. Worship will continue to be livestreamed. I am thrilled that we are again meeting in person. Many of you have told me that you enjoy the worship online, but long to be together. I agree with you.

This has been a challenging month. We went for several months knowing few who had the coronavirus. Then, multiplied persons in our church tested positive for the virus. I was one of them and really struggled. My funeral count for the year is up to 30, and some of the more recent have been as a result of the coronavirus. The virus is spreading and affecting lots of people.

Still, we can meet responsibly. Doing so begins with each of you. If you feel nervous about attending, stay at home. If you have any symptom whatsoever, please stay at home. Feel free to wear a mask or not. You will not be judged by anyone for what you do. Once you enter the church, you are responsible to do what you feel is right. You take a risk by coming to church just like you take a risk when you go to get groceries.

I have tried to lead as best I can. This is one of those unique situations in life when I am going to disappoint some people, no matter what I do. I appreciate your support during this crazy time. I have never felt more needed, more loved, or more limited. I find great peace in admitting that I am not in control and God is.

“But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.”                                       I Corinthians 8:1 (NLT), Earl


FBC Happenings

  • Church Office will be closed this Friday, January 1
  • New Sermon Series beginning January 3 “Gospel Living” Romans 12
  • This Sundays Sermon “Living Sacrifices” Romans 12:1-2
  • January 3 – Family Worship Only at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. (Nursery for Babies-3 yr old)
  • January 10 – Family Worship and LifeGroups at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • The Gathering Service and TeamKIDS resume on January 13
  • Loss of a Spouse by GriefShare on Sunday, January 17 at 4:30 p.m. in the Parlor
  • Precepts Class “1 John, 2 John, and 3 John” begins on Sunday, January 17 at 6:00 p.m. in the Family Life Center
  • Services are being posted on the church website, the church YouTube channel at FBC Weatherford Media, and on the church Facebook page at 9:00 a.m. each Sunday.

    

Christmas Memories

One of my first Christmas memories was made in the Koonkazachey school. My father attended the school when he was growing up. He told plenty of stories about events that occurred in that one room schoolhouse. My favorite story was about the time he and some friends discovered a bumblebee nest on the playground. They made paddles to swat the bumblebees with as they let them out of the hole one at a time after tossing a coat over the entrance. “We all ended up getting stung” is how daddy concluded the story.

The community came together for Christmas at the school. Many, if not most of those in the community were related to me. My uncle Kenneth dressed up as Santa and passed out brown paper sacks to all the children. The sack had an orange and an apple to provide volume and weight. The sack also had an assortment of nuts and several pieces of candy. There were some chocolates, some orange slices, and a few hard candies that tended to stick together. That was all I received, and it was wonderful!

Through the years Christmas continued to be a highlight of the year. There were Christmas programs at church and extended family gatherings. The smell of the cedar tree daddy cut on a mountain filled the front room of our home. Our stockings continued to contain items similar to those at the Koonkazachey school. A time or two I received a large dill pickle. It was always so exciting to dump out the stocking and rummage through the treasures.

I received a gun on at least three different Christmases. The guns were probably my favorite gifts while growing up. I took one of those guns with my daddy later Christmas morning and killed my first quail west of our house. My mother always provided the best of food for breakfast and we shared a meal with extended family at noon. The homes always had more people than space, and it was awesome. I usually sat on top of the chest deep freeze on the back porch when we went to Ma-ma and Pa-pa’s.

Through it all I developed a great appreciation for family and a deep love for God. He gave the ultimate gift of His Son. My love for Jesus was enhanced by the annual celebration of Christmas. It still is.

Joy to the world! Earl  


FBC Happenings

  • Christmas Eve Caroling and Communion at 5:00 p.m. on the East steps
  • New Sermon Series beginning January 3 “Gospel Living” Romans 12
  • January 3 – Family Worship Only at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. (Nursery for Babies-3yr old)
  • January 10 – Family Worship and LifeGroups at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • The Gathering Service and TeamKIDS resume on January 13
  • Services are being posted on the church website, the church YouTube channel at FBC Weatherford Media, and on the church Facebook page at 9:00 a.m. each Sunday.

A Bad Day Bird Hunting

A coyote jumped from the waterway and headed north. Duke charged after him – briefly. He didn’t really have enough energy left for such a chase. It had been a long day. We were on the last leg of walking in the last field of the day. When we finished, Kendall’s phone showed that he had walked 10.2 miles during the day. I walked about the same amount. Duke and Freckles had gone at least twice as far – probably more.

I booted the dogs and had them loaded in their box by 8:00 a.m. I picked Kendall up and we headed out to hunt quail, just like we have done since I moved here in 2001. I have no idea how many times we have hunted together. We both have a passion for quail hunting that drives us to keep going and keep walking. During all the years we have hunted, only one time did we return home with no birds. We almost repeated that feat.

We hunted land that we hunt every year. Last year we almost limited out on the same places. This year we found one covey and killed two birds. That was right before lunch. We ate lunch in the truck before continuing the hunt. Every place we walked held positive memories from previous years. We remembered when coveys were in the tree rows and in the plum thickets and in the fence lines. As we walked, the dogs covered the wider area in front of us. They circled back periodically and we encouraged them. We needed someone to encourage us!

Kendall said it was the worst hunt we have been on in ten years. I agreed. While walking the last field I tripped and fell one time. I was tired. It is amazing how much more energy it takes when you aren’t finding birds. At one point I feared I had lost my phone. Thankfully, I had left it in the truck. I received a text that a friend of mine had died shortly after noon. Nancy informed me that another friend had been put on a ventilator. Duke lost two of his boots. Kendall’s knee that had been replaced a few months ago burned like fire.

Days sometimes do not go as planned. Still, God remains faithful. His steadfast love endures forever. Circumstances remain unpredictable and sometimes painful. God remains our strength, our shield, our song, and our salvation.

Praise the Lord! Earl


FBC Happenings

  • Christmas Eve Caroling and Communion at 5:00 p.m. on the East steps
  • New Sermon Series beginning January 3 “Gospel Living” Romans 12
  • January 3 – Family Worship Only at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. (Nursery for Babies-3yr old)
  • January 10 – Family Worship and LifeGroups at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • The Gathering Service and TeamKIDS resume on January 13
  • Services are being posted on the church website, the church YouTube channel at FBC Weatherford Media, and on the church Facebook page at 9:00 a.m. each Sunday.

Kindness

I am grateful that many people who contracted the coronavirus experienced minimal symptoms. I was not one of those favored individuals. I ran a significant fever for almost a week. The fever made me miserable and exhausted. I found myself sleeping more hours at night than at any point during my lifetime. I supplemented my rest with naps during the day. I did not intend to sleep. I just could not stay awake.

Through it all my blood oxygen level remained at a good level. I walked every day to avoid blood clots and keep my lungs clear. I shortened the length of my excursions, but made sure to pound the pavement every day. I spent time on my stomach for the sake of my lungs. I sought and received good medical treatment. I was made keenly aware that I am not in control. I am in decent shape for a 64-year-old man. My commitment to fitness and my love for Jesus did not exempt me from some painful realities caused by the coronavirus.

As a result of what I have been through, I have renewed my commitment to show kindness to all people. The central listed fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 is kindness. It is number five out of nine. I need to show kindness to those who are ill. I need to show kindness to those who have lost loved ones. I need to show kindness to those in the store who may or may not be wearing a mask. I need to lead First Baptist Church in such a way as to show kindness to our community and our hospital and our health care workers. I will continue to smile and trust God to bring this pandemic to a merciful conclusion.

My leadership to suspend in person worship and lifegroups through December was motivated by kindness. We have had a major outbreak of the virus among our church family. Nothing would make me happier than if all the cases in Weatherford dissipated between now and the end of the year. Currently, I am immune to the virus and chocked full of antibodies. I am not the issue. People like my friend Jimmy Carder are the issue. He died from coronavirus and I miss him.

We cannot guarantee the control of the virus. We can show kindness to others.                

Thanks for your prayers and support, Earl


December Worship Services

  • Services are being posted on the church website, the church YouTube channel at FBC Weatherford Media, and on the church Facebook page at 9:00 a.m. each Sunday.

Church Update….

Church family…..here is an update regarding services through the rest of 2020. In order to proceed together in worship while maintaining the appropriate amount of caution at this time, we will be having virtual services throughout the month of December.

There will be no in-person LifeGroups or in-person Worship Services throughout December.

We so appreciate your prayers and thoughtfulness as we continue to work towards gathering together in-person to praise the name of Jesus. Services will be posted on the church website, the church YouTube channel at FBC Weatherford Media, and on the church Facebook page at 9:00 a.m. each Sunday.
Sincerely,
FBC Weatherford Staff

Thankful For Your Prayers

“Well, do you think we are going to make it?”

A good friend and fellow servant of Jesus stopped by my study to say “Hi.” After I assured her that eventually we would make it through all the challenges associated generally with 2020, and specifically with Weatherford’s First Baptist Church, she went on to say, “Every time I think about all the mess that is going on, I pray for you.” She explained that the decisions I had to make seemed like they could be overwhelming. I agreed before we chatted a bit about pheasant hunting and funerals.

During this season of Thanksgiving, I want to thank all of you for your prayers on behalf of the church staff. I am finishing up 38 years of full-time ministry next month. In many ways, this has been the most challenging year I have ever faced. My weekly routine, that included in-home visitation, vanished like an Italian Creme cake in my refrigerator. Our budget was cut over a quarter of a million dollars for 2021 in order to keep spending more in line with giving. I rarely see some friends that I used to see often. I have preached 25 funerals this year. That translates into many members struggling with massive amounts of grief.

Which brings me back to the focus of this Thanksgiving article for 2020. I am thankful for your prayers. The effectual, fervent, prayer of a righteous person accomplishes much. Many members are not comfortable being in the building. I understand and support each one of you. Prayers can be offered by believers and heard by God for anywhere. Thanks for interceding on behalf of the staff as we seek to shepherd this wonderful church.

In John 10, Jesus said that a hired hand leaves the sheep when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches the sheep and scatters them. You are blessed to have a staff made up of those who care about you and want God’s best for you. We will not turn tail and run just because the going has gotten a bit rough. We are standing beside you because we love you and because you are praying for us.

We are going to make it! It won’t be quick and it won’t be easy, but God will use this mess to advance His kingdom and bless His people. Thanks again for your prayers.

I love you, Earl


Happy Thanksgiving


FBC Happenings

  • Sundays Sermon “The Promised Messiah” Isaiah 9:1-7
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • NO Gathering Service, TeamKIDS, or University Meal until January 13
  • The Church Office will be closed Wednesday, November 25 – Friday, November 27 for Thanksgiving
  • December 20 & December 27 – NO LifeGroups / Worship Only at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. (Childcare available for Birth – 3 year olds)
  • Virtual Christmas Eve Service will be posted on the Church website, youtube, and Facebook on December 24 at 5:00 p.m. Provide your own communion elements.
  • Feel free to continue and watch the FBC Sunday Morning Worship Services live streamed on Facebook at 9:00 a.m., also available on the website at: http://www.fbcweatherford.com at 11:00 a.m., or listen at noon on 95.5 FM The Coyote

New Member

Matthew Milner

The Mission Continues

Article by Seth Odam

It was my joy to lead a team of twelve servants, ranging from high school to young adults, to Santa Cruz, California, to work alongside Santa Cruz Baptist Church in an effort to help wildfire victims in their community. Our team primarily did cleanup for the Brock family who lost their entire home back in August. With shovels, wheelbarrows, and five gallon buckets we filled two thirty-foot dumpsters full of rubble. One dumpster was filled with all of the metal scraps that make up a home. Things like the microwave and kitchen chairs were left unrecognizable from the blaze. The other was filled with ash, broken glass, and other household debris. Along with that, the team placed 45 hay waddles around the properties of surrounding neighbors to prevent their foundation from washing away during the winter rains.

With good ol’ western Oklahoma work ethic we finished faster than expected! Successfully clearing the site of the debris met a tangible physical need for the Brock family, but it also opened the door for the pastor of Santa Cruz Baptist Church, Drew Cunningham, to connect and build relationships with the unbelieving neighbors who were also affected by the fires. Our presence made an immediate impact, but more importantly we were able to help set into motion years of ministry for Santa Cruz Baptist Church as they will continue to serve these fire victims even after the fires fall from the headlines. We witnessed these unbelieving neighbors not only accept our help, but also saw them jump into action to serve each other.

Living like Jesus isn’t normal everywhere.

Living like Jesus is noteworthy everywhere.

Let us continue to live on a daily mission to imitate Jesus in how we serve and love others. Thank you for supporting us in your giving and in prayer. You make an eternal difference! Seth


FBC Happenings

  • Sundays Sermon “The LORD Our Righteousness” Jeremiah 23:1-8
  • This Sunday, November 22 at 6:00 p.m. – Vote to approve the proposed 2021 Budget and the 2021 Committees.
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • NO Gathering Service or TeamKIDS until January 13
  • The Church Office will be closed Wednesday, November 25 – Friday, November 27 for Thanksgiving
  • December 20 & December 27 – NO LifeGroups / Worship Only at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. (Childcare available for Birth – 3 year olds)
  • Virtual Christmas Eve Service will be posted on the Church website, youtube, and Facebook on December 24 at 5:00 p.m. Provide your own communion elements.
  • Feel free to continue and watch the FBC Sunday Morning Worship Services live streamed on Facebook at 9:00 a.m., also available on the website at: http://www.fbcweatherford.com at 11:00 a.m., or listen at noon on 95.5 FM The Coyote

Thanksgiving Family Meeting

The pandemic that began many months ago continues to influence our actions as a church. I am thrilled to see so many of you actively engaged in church on multiple fronts. Many of you are present in person. Several of you watch over the livestream. Many of you continue to serve others while taking appropriate actions to stay as safe as possible. We have intentionally made all members of FBC feel loved and included, whether they are on campus or online. From the beginning, my goal, as your pastor, has been to lead us to still be loving each other and serving Jesus as one when this is behind us.

This year, one tradition that has been cancelled is the all-church Thanksgiving meal. We have not been serving food since the pandemic began. We have coffee on Sunday mornings and snacks at Celebrate Recovery on Monday evenings. That is about it. We are trying to remain smart about things in order to limit risks.

Instead of the Thanksgiving meal, we will be meeting in the Worship Center on November 22 at 6:00 p.m. to praise the Lord and approve plans for the future. The time together will include a video of many of you giving reasons you praise the Lord even in 2020. I look forward to positive church family time. We will also be voting to approve the budget, as well as new committee members for 2021. These are the two major actions we take every year. Approved committees then operate throughout the year within the parameters of the approved budget.

Another item we will be acting on will be a joint recommendation coming from the building and grounds committee and the stewardship committee. They are recommending that we hire Sawatzky Construction to add about 1400 square feet of space to our second floor by filling in the open area above the choir room with a concrete floor. The choir room will continue to be phenomenally functional and the additional space on the second floor will provide opportunity for increasing our ministry to children and their families. Money for the project will come from current funds on hand.

As we continue to navigate uncharted territory, let us do so with a vision toward reaching as many people as possible and making them into disciples of Jesus Christ.

I love you, Earl



FBC Happenings

  • Sundays Sermon “Getting Out of God’s Way” Acts 11:1-18
  • Sunday, November 22 at 6:00 p.m. – Vote to approve the proposed 2021 Budget and the committees for 2021.
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • TeamKIDS – Wednesdays from 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. for Bed Babies – 6th grade
  • The Gathering – Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary; live streamed on Facebook at 6:30 p.m., also available on the website at: http://www.fbcweatherford.com by noon on Thursday
  • The Church Office will be closed Wednesday, November 25 – Friday, November 27 for Thanksgiving
  • Feel free to continue and watch the FBC Sunday Morning Worship Services live streamed on Facebook at 9:00 a.m., also available on the website at: http://www.fbcweatherford.com at 11:00 a.m., or listen at noon on 95.5 FM The Coyote