Tuesday, November 5, 2019

2020 Memory Verses

2020 Memory Verses

January – Psalm 119:11
February – Romans 3:23

Lent Plus (1 Verse each week)
1 March – Matthew 5:3
8 March – Matthew 5:4
15 March -Matthew 5:5
22 March – Matthew 5:6
29 March – Matthew 5:7
5 April – Matthew 5:8
12 April – Matthew 28:5-6
19 April – Matthew 5:9
26 April -Matthew 5:10

May – Matthew 5:11-12
June – Proverbs 22:6-7
July – Proverbs 27:17
August – Proverbs 31:30-31
September – Romans 13:8
October – 1 Corinthians 10:31
November – Psalm 100
December – John 15:13

All are in NIV unless otherwise noted.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Liturgists 2020

Liturgists 2020

5                              Rick Reeves
12                           Garrett Stegall
19                           Larry Walker
26                           Robert Wascom

2                              Sam McConnell
9                              Danny Rush
16                           Gerald Stegall
23                           Kathy Stegall

1                              Rodney Chilton
8                              Robert Rush
15                           Ethan Delp
22                           Libby Spence
29                           Older Elementary

5                              Grace Schneberger
12                           Dana Ellis
19                           Lori Schneberger
26                           Candace Bond 

3                              Marcee Hose
10                           Laci Stegall (Senior Sunday)
17                           Gage Stegall
24                           Dylan Walker
31                           Joe Thompson

7                              Sharman Spence
14                           Lynn Ferrari
21                           Dyanne Thompson
28                           Luke Schneberger

5                              Danny Rush
12                           Rick Reeves
19                           Rick Ellis
26                           Kenzie Delp

2                             Camryn Bond
9                              Elders
16                           Kendra Walker
23                           Carl Hose
30                           Junior/Senior Youth

6                              Garrett Stegall
13                           Kathy Stegall
20                           Robert Wascom
27                           Rick Reeves

4                              Danny Rush
11                           Des Simmons
18                           Larry Walker
25                           Kylie Denbo

1                              Robert Wascom
8                              Rick Ellis
15                           Dana Ellis
22                           Rick Reeves
29                           Senior Adult Class

6                              Rodney Chilton
13                           Kathy Stegall
20                           Dyanne Thompson
27                           Joe Thompson

Monday, June 17, 2019

Give us more faith

Jesus told the woman in John 8 that nobody was left to condemn her and neither did he.  He sent her on her way saying go and sin no more.

No more sin!  Do you hear me?  No more sin!

In Luke 17, Jesus said, You are going to stumble here and there.  You will sin.  He goes on to say that if you are the instigator of sin, you will wish that you weren’t, especially if you are leading children in the wrong direction.

Then he tells them to forgive each other.  If your brother sins against you and then comes to you seeking forgiveness, then forgive him.  If it happens again and he comes in repentance, then forgive him again.

That’s enough though, right?

No.  Forgiveness must continue so long as there is repentance.  Elsewhere we might read that we forgive our brother seventy times or even seven times seventy times.

That’s pretty staggering.  It’s no wonder that the disciples thought that they needed more faith. 

I can forgive once, maybe twice, but seven times is really pushing it.  I’m going to need some superpowers to keep on forgiving.

I’m sure the disciples were thinking about other directions given by their Lord. Love your enemies.  Turn the other cheek.  Go the extra mile.  Render unto Caesar.  The list of things that challenged the disciples just kept on going.

How could they do all of these things?  Jesus was going to have to give them more faith.  That’s all there was to it.

God’s chosen people left Egypt with great possessions, flocks, and even some folks that did not come from the bloodline of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  They left slavery behind them.  They said goodbye to bondage.
Then some started wishing they were slaves again.  At least they would know where their next meal would come from—eaten in slavery but guaranteed nonetheless.

Some started longing for the days of bondage again.  At least they were not thirsty as slaves.

God provided water and manna and meat to his people.  They were never going to starve or die of thirst, but the people could only see what they didn’t have right now. 

The disciples could only see that what Jesus had been asking them to do was more that they believed they could do.  They needed something more.  They needed more faith.

While we are told to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence; sometimes our requests can be somewhat irreverent.

Why did you lead me here to this place with no water?

Why don’t we have anything to eat?

How can you expect me to obey your commands with this little bit of faith that you gave me?

So, Jesus puts his disciples in the shoes of being the master.  Your servant comes in from a long days work in the field.  Do you:

a.    Tell him to sit down and take a load off.  Bring him the remote and tell him you will make his supper.
b.    Thank the servant for doing what is expected.
c.     Tell him to make supper.  I’m hungry.  That’s your job.

Jesus said you just need to do your duty.  You just need to do your job.  Quit complaining. Quit whining.  Do what you are supposed to do.
So how do we in 2019 relate?

If you would just take the faith that you do have and do the things that Jesus told you to do, you would be amazed at the results.

We need to stop asking Jesus to increase our faith and start demanding more of ourselves.  Jesus gave us life when we were sentenced to death.  This gift of salvation that we call grace came by faith.

Will that same faith not take us to greater things?  Jesus has taken our burdens.  The battle belongs to him.  Can we not step out in obedience to him with the faith that we have?

Jesus has promised to forgive every sin that we confess.  Can we not step out in faith knowing that when we try and fall short, we are confident of his forgiveness?  We never really fail for he will put us right back in the race with the pardon that he promised.

What if I used my faith to do the things I know to do?

Would I still have enough time in the day if I read my Bible for a full half hour every day?

Would I still have enough to pay my bills if I trusted God with the first 10%?

Would I still be able to accomplish all that I want to accomplish if I used my Spiritual Gifts more each week?

Would I still be okay if I worked at everything as if I as working for God and not for men?

Would I still enjoy my life if my prayer truly was thy will be done?

God loves to give us good gifts, but how do you think he feels when we think what he has given us is not enough?  How do you think he feels when we say gimmie, gimmie, gimmie?

He has given us all a measure of faith.  What if instead of asking for more faith, we put more of our faith in action.  What if we did what we knew to do with the faith we have?

Think of the woman In John 8 again.  She was brought before Jesus to be stoned.  Jesus told the mob, let he who is without sin throw the first stone.  Slowly from the oldest to the youngest, the stones fell and the crowd disbursed. 

So he asked the woman, who is there to condemn you?

None sir, she answered.

Then neither do I.  Now, go and sin no more.

Now what if she had continued the conversation?  What if she said, that was a neat trick how you got rid of the crowd?  Thanks for that but if you are serious about this go and sin no more, I’m going to need some more self-discipline or a better husband or something that I don’t have now.

She might have received the same lecture from Jesus about the servant coming in from working in the field.

What about us?  Having received salvation that we didn’t deserve—let’s call that grace—and promised eternity, how would Jesus feel about us saying that we need some extra faith to live the way you want us to live?

I think he would tell us that we are beneficiaries of a wonderful gift called grace.  It was a gift that was not earned.  It was a gift of the Father that came by Jesus and was received by faith.

I think he would tell us to take the same faith by which we received this gift and put it to work.

Instead of granting our request to increase our faith, I think he would say increase what you do with the faith that you have.

Do your duty.

If 20 years ago, someone had dropped half a million dollars in the collection plate, I don’t think we would have enjoyed the same journey of faith that took place in this congregation as we stepped out with little in our bank account but full of faith as we acquired, reconfigured, and paid for this building.

If just over a decade ago, someone on the session would have said, we’ve never done that before, we likely would have never stepped out in local evangelism that we call Walk A Block for Jesus.  We had zero experience but had the faith to do our duty.

If after a season of serving meals on Tuesdays with few in attendance, we would have thrown in the towel, Chewy Tuesdays would have been a flash in the pan.  While our first efforts fed few with much, our faith prompted us to change the model and take meals and love to kids and some shut-ins in our community.

If when you leave this place, you find a place to quietly dispose of the cards you were given, you will likely never know the joy of fulfilling your commission.  But if you did your duty and talked with at least three people each week, you will find that when the cards run out, your desire to share the good news and invite people to come into the covenant community was still going strong.

Your faith will help you fulfill your commission.

We have the faith that we need to do the things that we have been told to do.

We don’t need God to increase our faith.  We need to increase what we do with the faith God has already given us.

Let’s work on our prayers.  Instead of asking God for more faith, ask him to help us put what faith we have to work.

Lord, help me increase my response to your great love by putting my faith to work.

Lord, help me to do my duty.

Lord, help me to forgive and love and share your good news with the faith that is already within me.

Lord, help me do more with the faith that I have.


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Liturgist List for 2019

Liturgists 2020

5                              Rick Reeves
12                           Garrett Stegall
19                           Larry Walker
26                           Robert Wascom

2                              Sam McConnell
9                              Danny Rush
16                           Gerald Stegall
23                           Kathy Stegall

1                              Rodney Chilton
8                              Robert Rush
15                           Ethan Delp
22                           Libby Spence
29                           Older Elementary

5                              Grace Schneberger
12                           Dana Ellis
19                           Lori Schneberger
26                           Candace Bond 

3                              Marcee Hose
10                           Laci Stegall (Senior Sunday)
17                           Gage Stegall
24                           Dylan Walker
31                           Joe Thompson

7                              Sharman Spence
14                           Lynn Ferrari
21                           Dyanne Thompson
28                           Luke Schneberger

5                              Danny Rush
12                           Rick Reeves
19                           Rick Ellis
26                           Kenzie Delp

2                             Camryn Bond
9                              Elders
16                           Kendra Walker
23                           Carl Hose
30                           Junior/Senior Youth

6                              Garrett Stegall
13                           Kathy Stegall
20                           Robert Wascom
27                           Rick Reeves

4                              Danny Rush
11                           Des Simmons
18                           Larry Walker
25                           Kylie Denbo

1                              Robert Wascom
8                              Rick Ellis
15                           Dana Ellis
22                           Rick Reeves
29                           Senior Adult Class

6                              Rodney Chilton
13                           Kathy Stegall
20                           Dyanne Thompson
27                           Joe Thompson


 6             Rick Reeves                      Pulpit Supply (Rev. Swint)
13           Garrett Stegall                   Pulpit Supply (Rev. Swint)
20           Larry Walker
27           Robert Wascom

 3             Danny Rush
10           Scout Troop 310
17           Gerald Stegall
24           Kathy Stegall

 3             Rick Ellis
10           Rodney Chilton
17           Ethan Delp                          Pulpit Supply (Rev. Nease)
24           Libby Spence
31           Elementary Youth

 7             Camryn Bond
14           Grace Schneberger               Palm Sunday
21           Dana Ellis                             Easter Sunday
28           Lori Schneberger
 5             Pam Kauk-Delp
12           Laci Stegall                          Senior Sunday
19           Dyanne Thompson
26           Kenzie Delp

 2             Joe Thompson
 9             Marcee Hose
16           Dylan Walker
23           Kristy Denbo
30           Jr/Sr High Youth

 7             Church Campers
14           VBS Students
21           Rick Reeves                           Pulpit Supply
28           Rick Ellis                               Pulpit Supply

 4             Sharman Spence
11           Gage Stegall
18           Robert Rush
25           Luke Schneberger

 1             Garrett Stegall
 8             Robert Wascom
15           Larry Walker
22           Des Simmons
29           Senior Adult Class

 6             Candace Bond
13           Kathy Stegall
20           Danny Rush
27           Grace Schneberger

 3             Camryn Bond
10           Veterans
17           Ashley Reeves
24           Joe Thompson

 1             Gerald Stegall
 8             Rodney Chilton
15           Lynn Ferrari
22           Dana Ellis
29           Elementary Youth

Looking ahead...

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Not yet ready for Prime Time

In a letter dated 17 September 2018, the Moderator of the Arkansas Presbytery sent a petition to amend the CPC Constitution on matters relating to persons ordained as elders and ministers of word and sacrament with regard to marriage, ordination, and service to a particular church as a session member.  That letter was forwarded by our stated clerk to pastors in the Red River Presbytery.

While discussion began at this year’s General Assembly; this correspondence may accelerate the process.  It will surely be a topic for discussion at the Presbytery meeting this month.

My thoughts are twofold.  First, this petition in its present form is insufficient.  Second, a broader discussion is required before producing an amendment.

To the structure of the proposed amendments:

Why would these not be addressed in 2.6 and 2.7?  If these are criteria for satisfactory service on a session, why not address them as essential to ordination as ministers and elders?

Both may be necessary if this is to go forward.  Addressing only in 4.2 and 7.2 is flawed and will cause issues if the standard proposed is sufficient for self-disqualification but not applicable during the licensing and ordination process.

To intent and syntax:


When persons find themselves – Is this intentionally self-disqualification?

makes those persons ineligible to serve as an elder on a session of a church:  Does the elder retain his/her ordination and is he or she eligible to serve elsewhere in the denomination.


When persons find themselves – Is this intentionally self-disqualification?

makes those persons ineligible to serve … in any of the [aforementioned] relationships on a session of a church:  Does the minister retain his/her ordination?  Are probationers and licentiates retained in their ministry programs?  May they serve elsewhere?

To the unstated but precipitating question:

This general language and the unstated context is obviously about ordaining as ministers of word and sacrament and as elders individuals who are homosexuals and bisexuals and who are sexually active in such partnerships.

These practices are sinful.  If they were not, grace need not be applied.  Read:  We are people of whosoever will not whatsoever goes.  We must minister to this community but not conform to the worldly model that states these practices are no longer sinful. 

The problem with the proposed amendments is that we create our own taxonomy of sin and set aside one group of people as especially sinful.  Yes, the word abomination is powerful.  The death penalty is prescribed by the Law of Moses.

But a stronger word than abomination or detestable is hate.  God hates divorce.  Should ministers who have been divorced disqualify themselves?  They have been forgiven.  They don’t continue in their sin, or do they?  They have not reconciled and been reunited with their original partner.

I understand that this line of thinking is contrary to the nature of our denomination who receive members, ordain ministers, and elders who have been divorced.  But if God truly hates divorce, should we ordain divorced men and women?  Should those already divorced be disqualified from further service should they desire to continue in that condition?

What if they remarry another partner?  According to Jesus, they have moved from their divorced status to adulterer status.  Adultery made the top 10 list, so this does not seem to be an improvement.  Instead of continuing in divorce, they continue in adultery.

What about shacking up?  Is that condition covered in the proposed amendments?  I see so many people these days with a 10-year fiancĂ© who may or may not one day make this a sacred union, but the consummation of the present union is already complete.

What about the obese?  The proverb states that we should be so vigilant here that it would be like holding a knife to our throat whenever we ate more than we could metabolize.  Whoa!  That could thin our ranks (double entendre intended).

But that’s biblical wisdom, not law, and besides the context seems limited to dining in fine company.  So gorging at home is surely not as bad.  In our ordination of ministers and elders do we discount God’s wisdom and apply only those things prescribed by commandment or decree?

But God’s grace covers all of these things, well, except homosexuals who continue to practice?  

Continue to practice seem to be the operative words, until we want to forgive divorce or remarriage resulting in adultery but not the homosexual or bisexual lifestyle.

There should be a higher standard for ministers and elders but placing our own taxonomy on sin creates issues of hypocrisy.  I don’t think we can be myopic on this single issue of homosexuality while ignoring God's other counsel on marriage and produce a quality position on who may serve in an ordained capacity.  We might even have to look beyond marriage if we are to truncate grace with continuing in factors.

Personally, I don’t like the idea of homosexual pastors and elders, but I like even less institutionalizing hypocrisy. 

We need to have a full discussion on this issue before making changes to our Constitution.  The Arkansas Presbytery Petition may have jump-started the discussion, but it is insufficient to move forward in its present state.

The petition should be rejected in its present form and returned to Arkansas Presbytery for revision.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Church Year 2019

I have shared with many that I often do my annual sermon planning in late summer.  The Church year begins with Advent (end of November/first of December) and messages generally focus on this special season.  I have often used the lectionary.  I have preached the Confession of Faith for a year disguised as traditional sermons based on the supporting texts and have worked in the One Month to Live challenge, Paul’s letters, and other thematic seasons. 

First Light has been several years of working our way chapter by chapter through books of the Bible, including Leviticus, Proverbs, and the Psalms.

While I believe the Holy Spirit was at work in these planning sessions; He has also nudged me to change a message or two when the time came.

This Church Year (2018), we have moved topically in the traditional service, venturing into love, love and action, love and peace, and we will wrap up with rest. 

First light tackled Leviticus and then Hebrews, which will wrap up soon.

For the next Church Year, we will begin with Advent scriptures and then continue our topical journey with faith, truth, and mercy.

Next year’s First Light services will focus on Gifts and Gifts of the Spirit.

Some may just want to gather for worship and be surprised by the message.  That’s great.  Worship is truly about what you bring more than what you receive.  Others may want to have a general idea of what’s ahead.  Now you know.


Pastor Tom

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Moderator's Report for the 2018 Elders' Retreat

Moderator’s Report for the Elder Retreat
August 2018

We have been blessed with rain, but still pray for more.  This is Oklahoma.  Summer ministries are complete.  The school year begins to take hold of the community again.  Much is happening in the life of this body of believers.
Please talk with your elders about what’s happening.

Connecting the Disconnected.  We are still connecting.  We must not leave this as a fall event in which we check the box once or twice.  Connection is the starting point.  Inclusion is the goal.  We must have eyes to see the new faces in the congregation, meet with them, and start to get to know them right away. All should be equipped with gospels and GOD LOVES YOU wristbands.
Chewy Tuesdays was a success.  Pat and Marcee did a great job as coordinators.  Many were blessed!
Backpack Ministry. We gave out 92 backpacks full of supplies and made connections with many families.  The church spent $1000 from its budget and received other donations.  Donations made now help us buy in the offseason.
Online presence.  We continue online with a blog-based website and FB page.  Our FB live is hit or miss.  Church history is back online!  More to follow.
Coffee Talk.   Breaking until the fall.
Building Loan. The loan will be paid off before the end of the year!
Walk A Block for Jesus.  The turnout was average, but we prayed in many places, made many contacts, and had some attend worship the following Sunday.  The WAB came in slightly under budget.
October Presbytery Host.  Kathy Stegall and Robert Wascom are co-coordinators.  Please attend the worship service at 9 am on 20 October.
Food.  We continue to give out food and good news on a regular basis. 
Church Historian.  Carl Hose and Lynn Ferrari have stepped forward and become the new church historians.  I have challenged both to get the stories that make our history come alive. This includes oral and video.  Please help.
Session Clerk.  Pat Stuart has stepped forward to be the new Session Clerk.  We recognized Gene for his service at the retreat.  Thank you Gene Reeves!
Budget.  The FY 19 budget is $149,842.  We are blessed to be a blessing.

Worship.  We still need a viable worship committee.
Memory Verses.  We continue these each Sunday but with less fidelity than at first.  They are not being recited in all Sunday School classes every week, and fewer children seem to be learning them outside of the worship service.  This is a matter of efficacy.  This is one way that we change direction in our community.  Let’s re-ignite the memorization fire.  This is God’s word!
2020 – The Year of the BibleAsk your elders about this.
A Time for Children.  A decade ago, the session asked that I do the children’s lesson, so the kids would get to know me.  I think that most of them have come to know me.  I will continue the memory verse with them but would ask that we look for qualified volunteers to do a short children’s message/object lesson.  I have materials but would like someone else to do a special lesson each (or most) Sundays.  Talk with Tom until we get an education committee.
Worship in Drama.  Except for the short dramas that Joe Thompson and I do, this ministry has atrophied due to many reasons, but mostly busyness.  Pray for this ministry. It reaches some that traditional messages do not.
Building & Grounds.  The session is still doing the work of the Building & Grounds committee. We need a viable committee.  Dean McConiha has stepped up to be the committee chair.  Now we need to fill out the committee.
Church Van.  So far, the van (1999 model) is holding up, but we need to plan for the future.
Education.  The session has been only level of oversight on curriculum.  There is no education committee.  Sunday School Superintendent needs to sit in on some classes, especially children and youth.  We need a committee.
Playground Project.  This is stalled again though the concrete is set, and the GaGa Pit is in place (and is being used).  Brian Schneberger leveled the dirt around the concrete base.  The basketball goal remains in the storeroom.  We have had an additional donation of $1500 and perhaps more on the way.
Southeast Corner Project.  This is still in concept phase. 
Reverence.  We are comfortable with each other and in God’s house but sometimes we forget we are to be reverent.  There is a lot of conversation during hymns, prayer time, and other corporate elements to our worship.  We love fellowship but sometimes it overshadows our worship.  (Leviticus 19:30)
Ministerial Alliance.  Pray for all the churches in our community.  The Church of Christ is without a pastor again.    All have challenges.
Security.  Cameras are installed.  Procedures need attention.
Local Benevolence.  We have helped many people this FY—more than all previous years.  We are generous.  With those in this body whom we help, we are extraordinarily generous. We are blessed to have funds to help those in need.  We have met local needs with over $2700 this Fiscal Year.
Connecting Senior Adults and Youth.  We talked about connecting our senior adults with our youth via technology (e.g. kids teaching grandma how to use a smart phone or watch our FB live service at home when they can’t make it in).  We need a champion for this project.

Breakfast for the Teachers.  We have added this as a recurring ministry.
Birthdays.  Larry Walker will remember to lead us to sing Happy Birthday on the last Sunday of each month.
Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home.  We will show some CPCH videos over the next few months. Perhaps the director will speak to us on 21 October.
Gayla Hite Israel Presentation.  Gayla will share pictures and stories of her Israel trip on 29 August 2018.
Children’s’ Choir.  We will seat the elementary school children in the choir section on the last Sunday of this Year.  This may become a recurring thing.

Tom Unique
Summer Routine.  If you don’t see my truck in the morning, stop in anyway.  I probably walked and plan to continue until the weather tells me otherwise.
Nominating Committee.  I am Mission Synod’s representative to the Denominational Nominating Committee and will be absent 1 Sunday each year to meet in Memphis, Tennessee.
Oklahoma Pastors Meeting.  The Oklahoma pastors meet at the Clinton CPC on 19 October (the day prior to Presbytery).
Other connections.  On 11 November 2018, I am preaching at the Marlow CPC.  It’s Veterans Day and the Marine is preaching unity. Service at 6 pm.
Vending Machine.  I am always on the lookout for ways to eliminate the transactional and increase the transformational part of our discipleship as a church. 
Pulpit Supply.  9 September – Gideons.
2019:  6 & 13 January – Rev. Amanda Swint
17 March – Meeting in Memphis – TBD