Never Come Back?

The man I was visiting with on the phone knows more than most about the status of Baptist churches in Oklahoma. He is aware of trends and realities in all sizes of churches. In the midst of our discussion about other things, I turned the conversation by asking a question.

“In comparison with before the pandemic, where are most Baptist churches in Oklahoma today?”

His response was immediate and specific.

“Most churches are from 60% on the low side to 80% on the high side. During the pandemic, many people our age (he is also in his 60’s) went to the lake. They became accustomed to online church, and many of them will never come back.” He continued, “For the first year pastors were elated that the giving remained consistent in spite of the decline in attendance. This year, that has changed. Since people are only loosely connected to their churches, their giving has decreased accordingly.”

“Many of them will never come back.”

The matter-of-fact comment kept resurfacing in my mind. Never? How could genuine followers of Jesus ditch His bride, the church? How could they “Get out of the habit and stay out of the habit?” I don’t really have an answer for my question, but I do accept the reality of the situation.

Moving forward, my strategy is to continue building bridges to as many people as possible without building walls in the paths of anyone. All who choose to return to active involvement in Weatherford’s First Baptist Church will be welcomed with open arms. Those who opt to remain detached will remain on the church rolls with hundreds of others who never darken the doors of the church. I will speak to them when I see them and pray for them when I think of them.

I will not allow those who are detached to determine the future of the church. God will provide members who want to attend and serve and lead. Those members of the body will remain my focus as we move forward in making disciples for the Lord Jesus. We are not in uncharted territory.

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

I John 2:19, Earl



  • This Sundays Sermon “Build the Church” I Corinthians 3:1-17
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • 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

Be Sure of One

When I pulled the trigger, it sounded like a bomb went off. My 12-gauge, side by side shotgun also kicked against my shoulder like a mule. I was in the middle of a quail hunt and had just fired a shot. In reality, I had just fired two shots! When I broke the gun over to replace one shell, I discovered that two shells had been fired.

I reloaded and continued to walk. Usually the gun fired one shell. Occasionally the gun fired both shells. Any time both barrels fired at the same time, everyone looked my way. Even the dogs seemed a bit concerned. Quail hunting should not be done with a howitzer. One of the men I was hunting with had an extra gun that he offered for my use. I took him up on his offer.

For the rest of the day I did my best to adjust to the new gun. If you hunt, you know how difficult it can be to shoot another person’s gun. I missed several shots I usually make. The day ended well, and I had a great time in spite of my gun problem. The next morning, I shared with Nancy what I should have done.

“I should have loaded only one shell at a time and used my gun as a single shot!”

It could not have bruised my shoulder and pierced my ears with only one shell in the barrels! I would have been able to hunt with a familiar gun and increased my success rate. Daddy used to tell how his dad hunted with a single shot, and usually had as many birds as anyone at the end of the day. “Be sure of one” is good advice on a quail hunt as well as on a baseball diamond.

Sometimes we attempt too much for anyone’s good. I like to call it being a mile wide and an inch deep. Doing so tends to compromise quality on all fronts. Focus on doing whatever you do well and you will have more and more opportunities to do things well. Usually, those who accomplish great things in life did not set out to do so. They just excelled where they were, and things grew from there.

Be sure of one, Earl  



  • This Sundays Sermon “Proclaim the Gospel” II Thessalonians 2:13-17
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • 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

The Good Fight

Article by Brennan King:

That first crisp fall morning. The smell of peanut dust during harvest. The sound of bullfrogs on the pond on a cool summer night. The crackle of a campfire. For as long as I can remember, I have been nostalgic towards my upbringing and have associated so many things in my adult life with memories I made in my youth.

I grew up in northern Caddo County, the son of a farmer and a teacher. During the summers, I can remember walking countless rows of peanuts, having balancing contests with my brother on the Wheel Moves, riding on the lawnmower with my mom, and sitting on the tailgate of dad’s old pickup having watermelons right out of the field. During the fall we would sack peanuts from sunup to sundown, and I can still smell that cool crisp October air thick with peanut dust. If you could bottle that smell, I’d buy two bottles. Winters were spent breaking ice in the stock tanks for the cattle to drink, pulling calves from heifers, who always seemed to have their calves during the absolute worst weather, and riding on a car hood attached to the ball hitch of dad’s truck when it snowed. Though I am the baby of my family and got away with far more than my brother and sister, I still learned the value of a hard day’s work, even if I didn’t particularly apply it to myself as often as I should have.

Our memories have a way of forging us into who we are, what we do, and how we carry ourselves. I was blessed enough to have many memories of attending church for the entirety of my life and learning that sometimes it takes hard work to follow Jesus. But like anything worth doing, the work was and is made worth it by knowing that we are pleasing our Savior, and that through our work His name is known. We must remain diligent in our work to spread the good news of Jesus to all. It won’t be easy, things worth fighting for seldom are. It is my prayer that we are a constant beacon of Christ’s light at FBC Weatherford. Thank you for your part in being a place for the lost to find refuge, for the hurting to find peace, and the broken to be loved well.

I am thankful for the memories I made growing up where I did. It seems like yesterday I was living them.

Time just gets away from us. Brennan



  • This Sundays Sermon “Abide in Christ” Colossians 2:6-12
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • 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

New Member

Reed Yount

No Idols

We gathered around the outdoor fireplace and enjoyed being together. The sun had set. The air was cool but not cold. One of our daughter’s high school friends took part in our conversation as we watched the flames dance in the darkness. We enjoy monitoring and smelling a good fire in the fireplace. Daddy used to say it is cheaper than a psychiatrist. The hypnotic impact of glowing coals on the soul cannot be overstated.

When we set decorations out for Christmas that year, we discovered that a nativity we used outside had decayed to the point of no longer being usable. Made of plywood, painted and screwed to a wooden base, the depiction of Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus needed to be disposed of. While the fire roared, I retrieved the nativity from the storage shed and tossed it into the fire. I will never forget the shocked look on the friend’s face. The preacher had just tossed the main Christmas characters into the fire!

We still laugh about that event. In reality, I did not toss anyone into the fire. I tossed representatives of realities into the fire, much like some of the good Old Testament kings did with Baal idols and Asherah poles. We are to have no idols. We serve only one God. Nothing material should ever be elevated to sacramental status. We should revere the Word of God and the Son of God. We should not revere Bibles and crosses.

When I was the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Holdenville, the church secretary cleared out old, outdated items from the church building on Fridays when no one was watching. Systematically, she kept the church functional and decluttered. The building always looked like a church, not a storage shed. Way to go, Irma! No one ever missed a thing.

Nancy and I are attempting to do the same thing at our home. We remove things we most likely will never use again, not because we don’t have precious memories but because we have a vision for the future. Our lives need to be more about relationships and less about stuff. There is a time to keep, and a time to cast away.

Ecclesiastes 3:6, Earl



  • This Sundays Sermon “Resolved To Live” Philippians 2:3-11
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • 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

Doing Life Together

The snowflakes fell straight to the earth. Mammoth in size, they blanketed the streets of Hobart in less than an hour. Nancy and I were enjoying our first winter together as husband and wife. It was Saturday night, and the snow packed roads would cancel our trip to the Bessie Baptist Mission on the following morning. We were free to stay up late without affecting the delivery of the sermon I had prepared. We opted to walk in the snow.

The deepening snow insulated the earth and created an eerie silence. We walked together out of our garage apartment and east down Iris. There were no cars or people – just snowflakes and one another. I don’t remember how far we walked or how much we talked. I just remember how wonderful it felt to be together on such a magnificent night as that one. We have never forgotten that winter night in early 1979.

That was the first of forty-four winters together. Our family expanded. Our traditions adapted accordingly. We moved four times and lived in seven different houses. We returned to Hobart for the funerals of three of our parents. We watched our children graduate from high school and college. We welcomed new members into our family. At times, our hearts broke simultaneously. At other times, our joys multiplied exceedingly. I have preached a lot of sermons and Nancy has served a lot of meals. She still likes my preaching and I still savor her cooking. We delight to do life together.

Which is how it should be and how it can be when followers of Jesus get married and stay married while submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Marriage is not essential in order to be fulfilled as a follower of Jesus. Some wonderful Christians never marry. For those of us who do marry, our relationship with our spouse can grow beyond anything we ever imagined. Like our relationship with Christ, it has unlimited possibilities for increasing satisfaction and joy.

This Christmas, as you celebrate the gift of God’s Son, don’t forget to also celebrate the relationships God has gifted you with. Enjoy every day and embrace every opportunity to enrich the lives of those God has placed in your life. Healthy relationships happen intentionally. No one just gets “lucky” when it comes to a great marriage or a great friendship.

Love one another, Earl  



  • This Sundays Sermon “The Arrival of Jesus ” John 3:16
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • 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

Skunks Stink

It is an odor like no other. Being raised in the country near a small creek meant encountering skunks from time to time. Many times they were flattened on the road. Occasionally they appeared in the barn or from the brush or at the dog food bowl. I caught more than one in the steel traps I bought at Strange Hardware when I aspired to be a trapper. I remember Daddy shooting a skunk under the car in the garage. I can recognize the smell of a skunk.

I couldn’t figure out where the smell was coming from. Earlier in the day, I had shot a skunk to keep the dogs from being sprayed. In the aftermath of the skunk’s demise, Duke had grabbed it by the neck and shook it back and forth like a rag doll. Duke got some residue on his face. We kept our distance from him for the rest of the day. He rode in the back of the truck in the dog box. However, when I sat in the front of the truck to ride to various locations, I still smelled “skunk.” When we paused for lunch I smelled “skunk.”

When the hunt was over, Nancy came out to say “hello” while Kendall and I cleaned birds on the tailgate. She noted that she could smell skunk before she scurried back inside. After I unloaded everything, Nancy raised the garage door. The smell of skunk seemed to have followed me into the garage. Duke was in the back yard, doing some time in isolation. Where was it coming from?

My hunting vest passed the smell test. My boots did not. Then it dawned on me. When Duke was violently shaking the dead skunk, I tried to get him to stop by sticking my boot into the fray. Eventually Duke stopped his antics. I am not sure that I contributed to changing the situation. I am sure that is where I got the skunk smell on my boots.

The choices made by others can and do leave their mark on us when we care enough to be involved. The wife of an addict suffers consequences of choices she does not make. The parent of the prodigal feels pain caused by actions they have no say in. The friend of a backslider wrestles with disappointment caused by another. Involved people suffer consequences created by others.

Skunks stink, Earl



  • This Sundays Sermon “The Joy of Salvation ” Matthew 2:1-12
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • 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

The Phone Chair

Article by Tamra Misak:

A friend called telling me that Grammy was not doing well.  I arrived in Colorado Springs in time to spend about an hour with her.  Everyone had left and it was just the two of us. I told her that we were going to have a sleep over for her birthday (she was turning 99, although she told everyone she was turning 100).  We were lying on the bed and she died in my arms, two and a half hours before her “100th Birthday”. 

Grammy always loved a good party and I think she wanted to spend her birthday in heaven.  She had been ready to go Home to be with her Lord, my Papa, and my aunt who recently died. 

When I visited in October, I walked a family friend downstairs and asked her to help me understand why 2-3 people still visited Grammy daily. She responded by saying, “Let me tell you why”.  I learned even more about relationships and how to maintain them when people shared stories about Grammy and Mary Kay.

  • It’s about intentionality.  These ladies boldly sought out new relationships and maintained friendships. They intentionally opened their homes and hearts in such a way that friends became family.  They wrote letters, made phone calls, checked in, and prayed for “their people” daily. 
  • It’s about communication. They talked and listened to others. Her prayer book is filled with pictures and names that she prayed for daily. In the last months of her life, she didn’t leave her apartment. I tried to coax her out and asked her, “don’t you get bored?” She quickly replied, “No, I talk to my Lord and that is enough.”
  • It’s about action.  Both my grandparents and my aunt served others in so many ways. They have been described as true neighbors to all.  It’s about modeling Christ’s love to others.

The amazing thing about God’s love is that it is unconditional!! He loves us no matter what! Imagine if we applied Romans 8:31-39 to our relationships?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  What will separate us from the love of Christ?

Grammy’s “phone chair” where she made all of her calls now sits in my house to remind me to carve out time for my relationships – earthly and heavenly.

Grateful, Tamra



  • This Sundays Sermon “The Hope of Peace” Luke 2:8-14
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • 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

New Member

Madilyn Brumbelow

Friendship

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

He knew it was coming. At least, that is what he told me as we visited in his truck in the parking lot of the Harmony Baptist Church after Sunday evening worship. I had announced that I was moving to Holdenville to pastor the First Baptist Church. He had not known where or when, but he had known it would happen. We had forged a close friendship during the decade spent doing life together while serving the Lord in the local church. We had split wood, studied scripture, watched OU football games and served Jesus. Life without my friend was going to be hard.

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

We met early on after moving to Holdenville. Nancy and I invited his family to come over for supper. He wondered what he had done that merited having to go eat with the preacher. He soon discovered that I was a forgiven sinner who needed friends like he did. I was born one day before him. His children were similar in age to ours. We ate together, and served together, and laughed together. He led a life group and excelled at doing so – because he was so relatable. We cheered against each other during Bedlam but shed some tears when we said our goodbyes before my family moved to Weatherford.

“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Over the last twenty-one years, Nancy and I have been enriched by the multiplied friendships God has blessed us with. Shortly after beginning my first pastorate, an older pastor advised me not to make friends in the church where I served as pastor. I smiled and nodded -but did not comply. Life would be long and overwhelming for any pastor who had no friends. The same is true for anyone who has no friends.

Friendships, like a good row crop, must be planted, cultivated and irrigated. You receive from friendship what you put into friendship. To have a friend you must be a friend. An investment of time and energy and transparency must be made. No investment pays higher dividends.

Proverbs 18:24, Earl



  • This Sundays Sermon “The Love of God” Luke 2:1-7
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • 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

Longing for Heaven

“I really want to go to heaven.”

We were visiting in her room. She was praising the Lord with zeal and joy I rarely see. She was so happy to see me after our separation due to the pandemic and other health issues. At one time she arrived before most on Sunday mornings, and we were able to enjoy a brief conversation. I had visited in her home before her husband died and many times since. She was always positive. This day she was more so than ever.

She bragged on how well she was being taken care of. The bed I was sitting on had been delivered that day so she would be more comfortable while sleeping. The wheelchair she sat in was new as well. She could not say enough positive things about the caregivers and the Chaplin and the food. She had put on weight since she arrived a couple of weeks earlier.

Her eyes shone as she talked about studying from Isaiah. Her bible lay open on the floor with many verses underlined. How wonderful Isaiah was as a prophet. He spoke of Jesus coming! He was killed for his faith. She transitioned to Paul. She loved Paul also. What he had written was so wonderful. She studied his letters and respected his life.

Neither Isaiah nor Paul thrilled her like Jesus. The many guests who came to visit her knew that the topic of discussion was to be Jesus. She loved talking about Jesus and hearing others do the same. Time was coming to an end on this earth. She was making improvements, but she knew she would never get well. Time on earth was drawing to an end. Hospice care was being provided, and she was grateful.

She enjoyed life as God supplied it. She looked forward to being with Jesus and other believers. She was so thankful that I had come. She was so happy that Nancy was doing well. She was thrilled that our granddaughter had just turned two.

I led us in prayer before exiting the room. She continued to thank me and praise Jesus. Once again I had discovered that Jesus was right. It is more blessed to give than to receive. God has some incredible people. I am thankful I get to pastor many of them.

I love you, Earl  

P.S. Inez Redd is now with Christ, which is better by far.



  • This Sundays Sermon “The Promised Messiah” Isaiah 9:6-7
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • 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

Thankful

We arrived just as the sun was coming up. I was in a bit of a hurry and needed to be home as soon as possible. When I loaded the dogs it was dark. By the time I made the drive and unlocked the gate, the darkness was beginning to fade. It was not as dark as it was when I went coon hunting a couple of times in Eastern Oklahoma, but it was far from bright. Duke and Freckles dove off the back of the tailgate when I opened the doors on the dog box.

They immediately headed East, like they do every time. One of the reasons I felt comfortable letting them run in the semi-darkness was their familiarity with the area. I could see the outlines of their figures as they frolicked without their leashes. Talk about enjoying freedom! I squinted a bit as I strained to see what seemed to be three dogs where there should have only been two.

I picked up the pace to see what was about to happen. To my surprise, Duke and Freckles left the third object behind and continued North. I convinced myself that the “dog” was actually a fence post I had never seen before. I went over to investigate. Before I arrived, the “post” moved. I could see clearly enough to realize it was a skunk with tail locked and loaded. It ran out of sight. I did not follow.

A bit later, when Duke and Freckles circled back to check in, I was shocked to smell no residue of skunk on them. How did they pull that off? They seemed to be huddled up, and yet the skunk opted to have mercy on the two of them. I am not sure if they were grateful. I know I was.

“Thank you, Lord.”

 I continued my audible conversation with Jesus as I made the trek around the half-section.

 “How kind of you to keep that skunk from soaking my dogs. I appreciate it very much.”

I moved on to other matters of prayer that are more significant in the grand scheme of things. Still, walking in close fellowship with Jesus means praying for the nations as well as appreciating the small things. Many of the greatest blessings in life are the horrible things that could have happened but did not.

Thankful, Earl



  • This Sundays Sermon “The Faithfulness of God” Lamentations 3:19-24
  • Family Worship and LifeGroups, Sundays at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.
  • 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