Friday, June 17, 2016

I have nothing to sell -- A Manifesto by Morris Pepper

Here is the reading that we did a few Sundays ago.  It was by a man that influenced many Cumberland Presbyterians over the past few decades.  He is with the Lord now, but these words that he left us are worth considering as we take the good news of life in Jesus Christ to the world.

A Manifesto

I have nothing to sell. Many people think the minister is a peddler whose commodity is religion. Preaching is making a sales talk. Visiting means cultivating prospects. Evangelism is doing a “hard sell.”

I have nothing to sell.  Religion is not a commodity.  God is not on the counter or in a catalog.  God’s love and mercy are not Wall Street items.  God’s blessings will not be found in bargain basements.

I have nothing to sell.  I have a witness to make.  There are some things which I believe, convictions arising from my thought and life, which I know from within.  Of these I witness.  They are not mere blessings of tradition.  They are real to me because God is real.  But they cannot be bought or sold.  They can only be witnessed.

I have nothing to sell.  I have a message to communicate.  It is a story of Jesus Christ, a story of redemption.  It is a promise, a promise of what can happen here and now.  It is the gospel, the good news of God’s love told by one who knows it firsthand.  I am a storyteller, a proclaimer, an announcer—not a cocky salesmen with a hot line.

I have nothing to sell.  I have a friendship to offer.  Some are like Job who would like to recapture the days when “the friendship of God was upon my tent.”  Others have never known such a relationship.  Many are afraid of God.  Still others are rebellious.  To these and others I say, “God loves you.  Won’t you let God be your friend?”

I have nothing to sell.  You can’t buy salvation.  You can’t buy faith.  You can’t buy heaven.  You can’t buy God.  Nor can you sell them.  My job is to offer you an adventure, not to sell you a bill of goods—to invite you to join a mission, not a Cosmos Club.

I am not doing hard sell, soft sell, or using psychology.  I don’t have any tricks to pull out of the bag.  So don’t raise your sales resistance.  I am an educator, a teacher, a pastor, a counselor—but please, not a huckster!  I am a witness, a communicator, an announcer, a reporter, but never a peddler.
For we are not like so many, peddlers of God’s word; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.

Henry Morris Pepper (1910-2002)

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Fellowship Teams

Updated 12 February 2018

                2018 Fellowship Teams                          

Team 1.   Phil & Chrissy Delp                    
Tom &  Sharman Spence         
 Anne Spence                                                
Pam Delp                             
Heather  Spence
Ethan & Amber Delp
Dillon & Kenzie Delp     

Team 2.  Rodney & Donna Chilton           
Gerald & Kathy Stegall            
Lori Schneberger
Candace Bond
Lynn Ferrari
Tony & Shanna Dorman
Team 3.  Laci & Garret Stegall
Rick & Dana Ellis 
Nora McCullough 
Dyanne Thompson 
Dean & Angie McConniha
Gayla Hite
Karen Alexander
Robert Plaza

Team 4.  Amanda & Danny Rush
Rick & Vicki Reeves 
Terri Davis 
Gene & Patsy Reeves
Don Foust
Kendra Walker
John & Ashley Reeves
Brenda Price

Team 5.  Tom & Sheila Collins
Robert & Linda Wascom
Buffy & Dora Westreicher
Victoria Glover
Jennifer Fisher
Kristy Denbo
Marcee Hose
Pat Stuart
Coleen Leftwich

There is no longer a Christmas Team.  The Christmas meal will be included into the team rotation.

They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

Acts 2:42 (The Message)

News & Updates

Up to Date Updates as of  16 February 2018.

Ash Wednesday was 14 February 2018.  This is the season of Lent.

Men of Integrity meet at Rudy's Superette on the 4th Saturday of each month. We break for November and December.  The next Meeting is 24 February 2018.

Spring 2018

Clean Up
17 JAN
Men/Younger Elem
24 JAN

Women/Older Elem
31 JAN

Jr/Sr Youth

Men/Younger Elem
14 FEB
Women/Older Elem
21 FEB

Jr/Sr Youth
28 FEB

Men/Younger Elem

Women/Older Elem
14 MAR

Jr/Sr Youth
21 MAR
28 MAR

Men/Younger Elem
Women/Older Elem
11 APR

Jr/Sr Youth
18 APR

25 APR

9 classes   
4 worship services 

1 special meal and activities

Men of Integrity meet at Rudy's Superette on the 4th Saturday of each month. We break for November and December.  The next Meeting is 24 February 2018


 *      Dates to remember:  2018
*   *    *                   23 February – Ladies Night of Fun @ COC (6-10 pm)
*        3 March – RRP Committee Meetings in Denton TX
*      12 March –  CP Nominating Committee meeting
*      19-23 March – Spring Break (No F4)
*      24 March - Men of Integrity @ Rudy’s (9 am)
*      25 March – Palm Sunday
*      26-27 March – Holy Week Services (Noon)
*      28 March – Come and Go Communion (5-7 pm)
*      30 March – Community Easter Service (TBD)
*      31 March – Love Ambush (aka Easter Egg Hunt) - TBD
*        1 April – Easter:  Sunrise Service – 6:30 am.  Breakfast by the men at 7 am.  Main service at 11 am.
*      28 April - Men of Integrity @ Rudy’s (9 am)
*      29 April – Fellowship Meal – Team 5
*        5 May – Hotdog Days (Atwoods) - Grade School Campers
*        6 May – Baccalaureate @ 3 pm at BFDC High School
*      19 May – Hotdog Days (Atwoods) – Jr/Sr High Campers
*      24-26 May – Youth Yard Sale
*      26 May - Men of Integrity @ Rudy’s (9 am)
*      23 June - Men of Integrity @ Rudy’s (9 am)
*      25-29 June – VBS/30 June – VBS Pool Party
*      1-6 July – RRP Church Camp
*      8 July Campers’ Testimonies
*      28 July - Men of Integrity @ Rudy’s (9 am)
*      29 July – Fellowship Meal – Team 1


Just a short note from Pastor Tom

This is the day that the Lord has made. 
Let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

Our entire lives are to be filled with thanksgiving and praise for God.

  For the Christian there is no such thing as despair.

  Christ has overcome the world!

  He made us.  We are his.

  He loved us more than we can even imagine.

  We didn’t deserve it.

  That’s grace.

  So how are we to live as people who were loved when we didn’t deserve it? 

How are we to live as people who are being shaped in the likeness of Christ?  How are we to live?

The short answer is abundantly.  To understand abundance, we must set ourselves on a daily course to become God’s light and love in this world.

To live this life fully, we must time and time again give fully of ourselves, even when we think there is nothing left to give.

To be truly rich we must first be rich towards God.
You don’t learn this stuff from the world.

We serve a Master—there’s a term that Americans don’t like—who tells us to be first we must be last.
He tells us to be servant of all.
That’s really tough medicine.  Sometimes it’s just too tough.

But we don’t just through in the towel.
God has given each of us his own Spirit to walk beside us daily.

Each of us has direct access to God.
Each of us is called to be a member of the Body of Christ.
Each of us is called to grow closer to God individually and to worship him with other believers.

We don’t go to church.
We are the church!

Jesus told us that we are the salt of the earth.
He said we are the light of the world.
He told us to take a message of good news to the entire world.

We as followers of Jesus Christ are truly strangers in this world.
Our God-inspired way of living makes us foreigners in a self-centered world.

But we are in good company.
Prophets and saints alike have been rejected by a world governed by sin.
We are obedient to God and that makes us different—it makes us uncommon.

We are destined to be brothers and sisters of Christ.
God ordained this before the creation of the world.

So let us profess our faith in Jesus Christ.
Let us surrender to God’s perfect will and be shaped as God intended.

Let us love others as God has loved us.


Nursery Schedule.  All volunteers are asked to check this schedule frequently.  If you would like to help in this ministry, please contact Amanda Rush.


7th Kendra & Ashley
14th Amanda & Kid
21st Lori & Grace
28th Sharman & Victoria

4th Krist & Des
11th Laci & Donna
18th Dyanne & Kendra
25th Ashley & Amanda

4th Donna & Kristi
11th Sharman & Victoria
18th Lori & Grace
25th Laci & Des


Welcome to the Cumberland Presbyterian Church website. 

It is our hope that you may come to know us a little before you ever come through the door, though nothing will replace those first handshakes and hugs that say, we really are glad to see you!

Our motto is God's Love in Action.  We may not be the best at citing the precise scriptures that tell you about God's love and salvation through Jesus Christ.  We may not always sing the hymns at the tempo the composer desired.  We may not have the most well orchestrated transitions between the children's message and the prayer.

It's not because we don't know our Bible.  We do.
It's not because we don't know the songs.  We do.
It's not because we are not reverent in worship.  We are.

It's because we know with certainty that God loves us more than we can imagine.
We know that we, not the building, are the church.
Our testimony to you is our love.

How else could we respond to the grace of God?

We are real people with real struggles in today's world, but we have the peace of the Lord.
We want you to know life to it's fullest, the depths of God's love and grace for us, and the One whom we call Lord and do our best to follow.

We want you to know Jesus Christ!

Here is something to think about.  We don't go to church.  We are the church!  That's right, we who follow Jesus are the church.  Individually, we might be called disciples.  Collectively we are the church.

This does not mean that we don't gather together.  We do.  We come together to worship God, to serve our Lord, and to grow in grace together. 


That's a little taste of who we are.  Come and gather with us and get to know us better.  We love the Lord and we are on a mission to take his love to the world.

The Spiritual Autobiography of Tom Spence

The following seems like it was yesterday.  It was among my first assignments once I answered God's call.  It still speaks to how quickly God can take those whome he called and set them on the course he prepared before the foundation of the world.

The Spiritual Autobiography of Tom Spence
May 2008

I begin in the present.  I am the stated supply of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Burns Flat, Oklahoma.  One year ago I became the moderator pro temp[ore] of our session and was instrumental in the formation of a pastoral search committee.  At that point, I did not envision that I would be the fruit of that search.  That is not to say that I did not expect to fill the pulpit on a regular basis.  I did.  I also expected to reassure the congregation that we would be just fine, that the head of our church was not the pastor we didn’t have but Christ himself, and that Christ would still be the head even when we did find a pastor.

I knew that I was called to be moderator.  I knew that we were a larger church than when I filled the pulpit between pastors before (2003) and that I would need more help filling the pulpit.  I discovered that we had grown more than in our numbers.  Our ministries had grown and were still growing.  I knew that I needed to be more involved—more than just filling the pulpit, preparing the bulletin and newsletter, and more than just waiting to see what the search committee would find.  I was called to minister to this congregation.  Still, I did not expect God to call me to full-time ministry.  In hindsight, I was in denial—ok, blind—to the fact that God was calling me.

In December 2007, several of the elders, search committee members, and some others from the congregation found our way into the vacant pastor’s study.  This was following an evening service and this was an impromptu continuation of the fellowship that had begun that evening.  Someone asked if I had considered the ministry.  The conversation became dominated by that topic.  I told everyone that I thought my ministry was to serve the congregation while we searched for another pastor.  I did tell them that I would ask God if he was calling me. 

I asked.  He answered.  People that previously had not said much to me, told me this was my calling.  Instead of the cordial nice sermon remark at the end of the service, peopled hugged me and simply said, go get ordained.  People gave me this message in places other than church and many were from other congregations and some were pastors from other denominations.  None of them knew of my promise to pray about this. 

I would have preferred an email from God, marked important—better yet:  URGENT!  In fact, after praying, I checked my inbox more frequently than normal.  My answer was to come from God’s people not my computer.  My choice was simple.  Kick against the goads and continue to pull my own yoke or accept the one Christ offered.  I knew the answer.  In a single night, I began my trek to the ministry.  I searched the denomination website and was disappointed that there wasn’t much there, but I picked a couple email addresses that I thought were appropriate and I also emailed George Estes who had worked with our church in a period of revitalization and whom I kept in the loop on various things going on in Burns Flat.  He guided me to Dr. Campbell and the appropriate committee of my Presbytery.  I completed pastor information forms and sent them to the denomination, Red River Presbytery, and made one for our search committee.  One of the first things I learned as a Marine officer was that an officer must never be timid and that was the last thing that I was at this point.  I had my marching orders and wasn’t going to be indecisive.  I take comfort in that my Marine Corps background was in perfect harmony here.  God did not give us a spirit of timidity.

At the time I gave my package to the search committee, I discovered that they had a candidate that many were excited about.  I gave them my packet in a sealed envelope and asked them not to open it if they were actively pursuing a candidate.  I knew that I was called to the ministry, but not certain that it would be to my home church congregation.  The last thing that I wanted to do was cause any dissent in the committee.  At the elders retreat a few days later, I asked for the session’s blessing and endorsement to pursue ordination via the program of alternate studies.  The session was as excited about my choice as I was.

Some paperwork, interviews, intelligence and psychological evaluations and reports, meetings, and more meetings later bring us to present day:  Tom Spence, stated supply at Burns Flat Cumberland Presbyterian Church, endorsed for the PAS by Red River Presbytery, and ready to dive headfirst into this program.

My childhood involved attendance at churches all over the United States; most of them were Disciples of Christ denominations.  Sunday School and Vacation Bible School were important events in my life.  I was baptized as an adult in the Episcopal Church and married by an Episcopal Navy Chaplain, but most of my adult life was spent in the Presbyterian Church with a few ventures into Baptist congregations.  I had never heard of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church until I moved to Burns Flat in 1999.  The first service I attended told me that this would be our church home.  Before joining, I invited the Pastor to the house and we discussed several things.  I wanted to make sure of the central beliefs of this denomination and to make sure it wasn’t some off the wall sect.  Jim Fisk was the pastor at the time and he gave me a one-minute history of the denomination and answered my questions.  He was interested in how a Marine officer had reconciled being a professional combatant and a Christian as his son was currently serving in the Army. 

A significant part of my adult life was as a U.S. Marine Corps officer.   I see no dichotomy between battle and serving God.  God has called many to battle.  While my time in a combat zone was only one year out of twenty; preparing for battle on a daily basis has helped me in my current spiritual journey.  I truly enjoyed my time in the Marine Corps.  Among other things, I learned to be a life-long learner in the Corps.  To learn and master new skills every year is still a passion of mine.  To teach, train, mentor, and see the fruits of your efforts in young men and women is an experience that few enjoy to the extent I experienced as a Marine.  I believe that my time in the Corps was a blessing from God.
I have no road to Damascus experience.  I was taught, I believed, and I have grown in my faith.  That’s not to say I have not had trials.  I have and for the most part they have strengthened me.  Those that have not are because I struggled against what God wanted me to do.  Surrender is a tough word for a Marine to pronounce, but I learned when I surrendered all to Christ, He gave me victory. 

All in my family are saved.  Sharman, my wife, and I both love our church family.  She is an elementary teacher and that is also her ministry.  Burns Flat is a town with a large transient population.  Many children that she teaches have parents in prison, using drugs in their presence, or absent from their lives.  Much of the love that these children receive comes from Sharman in the classroom.  We cannot go anywhere in southwest Oklahoma without getting hugged by knee-high people.  I have also become an expert shopper of crayons, pencils, and folders.  If K-Mart is having a blue light special on school supplies during PAS, I will need a 1-hour excused absence to go buy a cubic meter of crayons. 

Both my children, Heather and Christopher, are out of the house and doing their best to make their own way in the world.  I have no grandchildren yet, but cherish the fact that God through his grace has better prepared me for that role now that I know Him better.  My body is 52 years old and I put it through some pounding during my time in the Corps; but, my excitement to pursue fulltime ministry is as intense as any I have experienced.  I get out of bed in the morning ready to see what God wants me to do today!

Semper Fidelis!

Tom Spence