Tom with kids in Kuwait

Tom with kids in Kuwait
Tom with kids in Kuwait

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Herd of Angels

Herd of Angels

Cast:  2 men
Set:  Can be just about any place for casual conversation or can be set as a Sonic Drive-in commercial spoof with both sitting as in a car at the drive in.  The drive-in set permits cast member to conceal script notes on a makeshift dashboard.

For the drive-in spoof version, use these two additional lines:

Man 1   [Reaching into Man 2’s Sonic bag]:  These buy one get one wings are really great!  Especially the free part.
Man 2  Everything seems to be free for you every day.


You know how you told me that Christmas was not all about presents?
Yes
Understanding Christmas being all about presents was easier than what you church people are selling.
What?
Take that herd of Angels.
What herd of Angels?
Angels, we have a herd on high.  And they are singing sweetly over the plains as well.  A singing herd of angels, yeah right.
That’s not exactly…
Oh if that was all, then I would have thought nothing of it, but you guys promote lying.
We surely do not!
That little town of Bethlehem.  How still we see you lie!  It is 2016 and they are still singing about their lying.
You don’t understand the grammar and syntax of the verse.
Sin Tax!  I knew it.  They are just after your money.  But putting a tariff on transgressions, that takes the cake.
Can we get back to Christmas?
I don’t know why.  Emanuel and Gloria seem to have monopolized the whole business.  I don’t know who Gloria is, but if she doesn’t’ answer after the first 3 or 4 times you sing out her name, she is not going out with you so just give it up and try another girl.
It’s about God with us and giving glory to God.
That’s not what the song says.  It’s got something to do with a day old excel spreadsheet.  It was Greek to me.
Actually it was Latin and it means Glory to God in the highest!  In Excelsis Deo. 
Yeah, that’s it.  That day old excel spreadsheet stuff.
Let me try to explain.
I would rather that you didn’t.
Why?
Because I don’t want to listen to you explain why virgins are round.  Pregnant women, yeah, but…
What!
Round yon virgin, mother and child…
How about we go to church together this Sunday and I will explain things as we go.  Would you give it another try?
Sure.
Really?
You betcha.  Not because I think I will understand it any better, but there is a girl that I’ve got to meet.
Who?
Mary Didjano.  The way everyone was singing about Mary did ja know, I’ve got to meet her.
I’ve got my work cut out for me here.
You have no idea.  I haven’t even gotten to the part where they don’t’ even find out the name of the kid before they write the song.
I have no idea what you are talking about.
Neither did anyone else.  They just kept singing What child is this?  It was like a song about the first day of school.
OK.  I give up.  Christmas is about presents.  You win.
Really?
Sort of.  Christmas is about a really big present that God gave us when he came into the world as a baby named Jesus.  Hang with me next Sunday and I will make sure you understand everything.
Yeah OK, as long as you introduce me to Mary Didjano.
We have to get there early though.
Why?
We don’t’ want that herd of Angels to get all the good parking spots do we?
Exit.

The end.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Christmas Psalm of the Disconnected...and those sent to call them home

Another disconnected number,
Another voice mail not set up.
Never see the folks at worship,
Did they really need this stuff?



People took their hard earned money,
And were generous beyond belief,
Just to see the food and presents go unclaimed,
When many prayed they’d bring relief.

But let’s not be too hasty,
Let compassion and mercy reign.
Not everyone can remember,
How to get back to the church again.

Even if they remember
Or just take a gander or a guess,
They still have to go through those doors,
Why can’t they send it UPS?


I don’t want to go in that building
It brings on a different sort of pain
The people are ever so friendly,
But keep calling on the Name.

Yes, it’s the name of Jesus
And they call him all the time
I know that I should follow him
But I’m still looking for a sign.

Those people who follow Jesus
They also call him Lord,
Though they preach forgiveness and love,
It seems Jesus brought a sword.

It’s one that severs with both edges
It divides muscle, heart, and soul.
And if I don’t outrun it,
I will soon lose all control.


And be forced to face up to my life,
As I’ve never done before.
But if I can get my stuff and get gone,
I will go flying out that door.

Back to the land of comfort,
Keeping a safe distance from God.
But the people just keep on coming,
Now look where the saints have trod.

They have come even to my door step
Good news and tidings they must bring.
But I just want to be left alone,
Please don’t let them sing.

About a babe born in a manger,
And no crib for this King’s bed.
Please just let them go to the next house.
And I’ll go slip off in to bed.

For Christmas is about Santa,
And not some tale of old.
Christmas brings visions of video games,
They are the new silver and gold.


But these people keep on calling,
They just won’t go away,
They say that are called to bring good news
About this coming Christmas Day.

I am so not ready to talk about God you see,
I must put this elf upon the shelf.
Besides these people will just tell me,
That life is more than living for myself.

If I can just get the food and presents
Without having to listen to their spiel;
Then I will have a holly jolly Christmas,
I mean really, what could their words reveal?

It is the same old story,
That my parents used to tell,
About a God of glory, and
A love they knew so well.

But I’m on my own and doing fine,
Well except for the bills and rent.
But I’m not ready for the story
Of God with us in his first advent.

It is the story of the ages
Told in this modern century.
So many people living without God,
Despite the saints bringing news to set them free.

So where does that leave the commissioned,
Who have heard no time and time before.
Why the same place that they started,
Bringing good news to every door.

So we wish you a Merry Christmas
And the best in the New Year.
Our prayers are always with you,
That God grants you ears to hear.

Merry Christmas!

Believe the Good News!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Short Skits: Thanksgiving Mouse

Thanksgiving Mouse

Cast:  1 person—adult or youth—who does not mind scurrying around on the stage.

Equipment:  Wireless microphone.  Costume optional



Hello,  It’s me again.  Your friendly neighborhood church mouse.  Looks like most of the crowd has wandered out.  You wouldn’t believe what people say in these pews when they don’t know I’m listening.

I don’t know what health insurance is, but I am glad I don’t have any.  I mean, what are they going to do if my leg get’s caught in a trap?  Send for an ambulance?  I think that costs extra any way.  In any case, people sure do complain a lot about it.  I don’t have it.  I don’t complain.  I am glad just to live indoors.

Wow!   [Scurries to a spot on the stage].  O Boy, O boy, O boy.  One of the kids dropped a piece of candy.  [Puts into mouth].  Mmmmm.  Peanut butter cups, my favorite.

And the election.  Boy that was something.  You would think that the end of the world was coming.  Can you believe it?  People get to vote for who they want to lead and they complain about the choices.  I can’t vote and I don’t complain about it. I’m just glad to get out of the cold.

Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!  [Moves to another spot on the stage].  Goldfish.  I love Goldfish, especially the colored ones.  Yum, yum, yum.

And the weather, really, these people complain about the weather.  It’s too hot or too cold.  The wind blows too much or too little or out of the wrong direction or the rain comes at the wrong time or the snow drifted in front of the doorway.  Man, I am just glad to be alive to enjoy whatever the weather is.  This is a pretty good life, hot or cold.

OMG!  Can it be?  [Moves carefully to another spot on the stage].  PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSING FLOW…   Yes, it’s a piece of a cheese cracker.  It’s a little dry but when you are a mouse, any cheese is good cheese—well except when they put it in the middle of a sticky trap.  At least with the old style lever traps it was over in an instant, but not with these new sticky jobs.  It’s rodent crucifixion, that’s what it is.  But you won’t catch me complaining.  I am too wise for that sort of temptation.  I am thankful for what is provided—crackers, crumbs, or candy—I am thankful to have it.

You should have heard the people complaining about property taxes a few minutes ago.  I can’t imagine owning my own house.  I just find places to hide in them.  It seems like paying taxes because you own a whole big house would be something exciting.

Now what is that over there?  Oh, it’s money.  I don’t think I can use this, except to chew it up and insulate my nest for the winter.  I think I will drop it into the offering plate.  I think these people need it more than I do.  I mean, they are always complaining about not having enough of it.

Complain, complain, complain.  I guess that is what human life is all about.

What’s that you ask?

Oh, today’s message, it was about thanksgiving.  Good stuff, you know.  I think it must rank right up there somewhere behind complaining.

I know that I am thankful.  Thanksgiving means big meals and lots of food dropped on the floor.  I am not just a church mouse.  I am a thankful mouse.

[Exit stage singing]

Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the holy one, gives thanks because he’s given Jesus Christ his Son…


--The End.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Paradoxymoron

We know the term oxymoron.  We know the term paradox, but could there be such a thing as a paradoxymoron.  I say yes, and hereby present the term for public usage.

A paradoxymoron is a truth revealed in an oxymoron.  Here is the example that led me to coin the term:  Living Sacrifice.  The Apostle Paul used the term in an extended pericope about discipleship.  At first, it seems like a simple oxymoron.  Other than the scapegoat, Old Testament sacrifices did not get to live.  So how can you be a living sacrifice?


Here is the paradox.  Only in giving your life fully to God can we realize the Abundant Life that Jesus talked about in John’s gospel.  Only by sacrificing all that we are can we become all that we were made to be.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Are we ready to turn back to God?



God Bless America

JESUSAVES

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14


Who is ready for this?

Are we ready to turn back to God?



JESUSAVES
God Bless America

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14


Who is ready for this?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tom Spence to sign books on Alumni Weekend


Western Oklahoma author and 1974 Mangum High School graduate Tom Spence will be signing his books at El Charro on Friday, 27 May 2016 from noon to 2:00 p.m. 

His newest release is Acceptance of AuthorityThis is the book that will change America.   This is the book that will reduce prison populations and increase graduation rates.  This is the book that America has been begging to be written.

Tom will also have a variety of his books published by Tate Publishing.  Two of the most hard-hitting books, especially for those in western Oklahoma, are Throw Away Kids and PoMo Poverty.  In these companion selections, Tom goes beyond identifying society’s problems; he brings us to solutions that don’t wait on the government to fix or ignore the problems.

Tom is an ordained minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the pastor of the congregation in Burns Flat, Oklahoma. 

As a pastor, he returned last summer from his second trip to Africa to train pastors and church leaders in Kenya and Uganda.  He has served as moderator of the Red River Presbytery but perhaps is best known as the guy who gives out wristbands that read:  GOD LOVES YOU – LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

He is a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer that served in all four Marine Divisions, including a tour training reservists.  He has served in Iraq and Kuwait, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, aboard Marine bases on the east and west coasts of the United States, and has a substantial amount of service afloat.  His final tour was as a program manager in charge of maintenance and modifications of Marine Corps ground training systems and simulators around the globe.

Tom served as both student and instructor at the Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia—the Crossroads of the Corps, and proudly boasts that he successfully avoided a tour in the Pentagon for his entire career.  Tom wrote two books specifically about the Marine Corps.  The first was a first person collection of observations and anecdotes titled Sea Stories.  The other was Christianity for Marines.

Tom will also have with him, two unique books with fast moving dialogue where two men—The Conversation—and two women—Going Up—drop their defense mechanisms and actually talk about important things.

Please join Tom on Friday, 27 May 2016, buy a few books, get something to eat, and enjoy your alumni weekend.

Check out this review  and interview conducted by Serious Reading for Tom’s novel set against an end times background—Even the Elect.


Book Signing by Tom Spence
El Charro
 1101 N. Louis Tittle, Mangum, Oklahoma
27 May 2016
12:00 – 2:00 p.m.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Cool Beans

OK, so I read the short piece on the Baseball Glove and it got me thinking.
Good.  Thinking is good.
Good.
What were you thinking?
How do I respond to my salvation?  How do I respond to this wonderful gift?
That is asking, what must I do to be a disciple of Jesus?
Yes!  Exactly!  What must I do to follow Jesus?
Realizing that you can’t earn your salvation:  It is 100% a gift from God.
Yes, but wanting with all of my heart to love him back.
That, my friend, is discipleship.  Our very lives constitute our reply of, “Thank you, Lord!”
This is what is meant by work out your salvation…
With fear and trembling.
It is the most important that we do after receiving this fantastic gift of God’s love that we call salvation.
Yes!
But fear and trembling?
Let’s try giving it the consideration of the most important thing you will do today.
So everything that I do with my life from this point forward is important.
It is your response, your thank you, your I love you back to God.
Discipleship?
Yes, discipleship!
Now that’s just, well, cool beans.
Cool beans?  OK, I can see that.  We get a lot of latitude in responding to God’s love that we know in Jesus.   Then cool beans it is.
Cool beans it is.
I have decided to follow Jesus.
That’s cool beans.

Want more like this?  Try The Conversation.

Friday, March 25, 2016

A word in favor of religious extremism


Today if you want to be considered a bona fide American, you must condemn religious extremism.  I say let’s embrace it; especially in the case of Christians.

The Muslims that are bombing innocents are not extremists, not radicals, and not really doing anything on God’s behalf.  They are criminals.  They are outlaws.  They are cowards hiding their cowardice behind religious mantra.

Cowards!

I don’t like cowards.  I don’t keep company with cowards.  If they want to try their cowardice in this part of the country they will be introduced to a quasi-religious sect known as rednecks.  If you are dressed in black with a hood and sporting an AK-47 in these parts, you are likely to end up shot and nailed to a fence post.

Enough about cowards.  This is about religious extremism and why I am for it.  The last command that Jesus gave his disciples before he went to Gethsemane and the cross was to love one another.

In fact he told his disciples that they were to love one another as much as he loved them, and he loved them with his very life—giving it to us all as an atoning sacrifice for our sin.

The old command was to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.  This new command raised the bar even higher.  We were to love as much as Christ loved us.

That’s a tall order.  That takes commitment.  If we loved one another that much, the world would label us extremists. 

I could live with that label.


If you were accused of following Jesus, would there be enough evidence to convict you?



Friday, February 19, 2016

In Familiar Genre

I can't wait until March 2nd.  Why?


It is perhaps the quintessential day of the year for aspiring writers. It has nothing to do with announcing Pulitzer Prize winners. It is Dr. Seuss Day.

Theodore Geisel had been a struggling writer for years. One day he was challenged to produce a book with only fifty words. He did it. You know it as Green Eggs and Ham. Ever since then, America and the world have known him as Dr. Seuss.

The rythmn and idiom of many of these books still sticks with us as adults. In fact, many an event may be lightened up a bit by describing it in Seussology.

Here is something I wrote in familiar genre over a decade ago about the 2000 election. Most of those reading Dr. Seuss books for the first time were not even born when America experienced this once in a lifetime event.

Do you recall our friend Chad?

In Familiar Genre

Did you vote on that November Day?
Did you sing along the way?
Did you vote for good, not bad?
Then why are all the voters sad?

Did you punch through your ballot or just make a dent?
Will the machine know your true intent?
Did you vote out of duty or because it was rad?
Did you get to meet the infamous Chad?

You talked about Dubya, Nader, and Gore,
But you never mentioned Chad before.
He's on the news a lot these days,
But they never let you see his face.

He's quite athletic, that's for sure,
With all the swinging and hanging he endures.
But now I've heard of pregnant Chad,
Is there something you haven't told me, dad?

Did you leave out something about the birds and the bees
Chad's a guy, right? Like you and me.
I'm not saying that this is bad,
But is he mother or father, this pregnant Chad?

Was he even married? Did he elope to Niagara?
Could this be the result of Palm County Viagra?
Look, I'm still sorting out puberty and pimples,
Please tell me this had nothing to do with his dimples.

You said this voting was about an election,
But it sounds like this Chad didn't use any protection.
Yes I know about that. You needn't get sore,
I've seen eight years of the news about Clinton and Gore.

You should be proud of my thirst for political knowledge,
I've even applied to the Electoral College.
I can handle their schedule and still drink lots of beer,
It seems that they only meet once every four years.

And if my grades fall even the slightest amount,
I'll send them all back for another recount.
Again and again, until they're real mad,
It seems to have worked for this fellow named Chad.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Can a Democrat be a Christian too?

Can a Democrat be a Christian too?

Many will skip the discussion and go straight to the comments section depositing an assortment of derogatory terms. The title is provocative by nature and the concomitant of that is that I know it will receive assorted hateful responses based upon that alone.

What a dilemma, post a vanilla headline and hope someone says, “I was sure in the mood for something non-provocative today. The last thing I want to do with my mind is use it to think.” The alternative is to post a more provocative title and accept that some will skip the piece and go straight to the abuse, but perhaps in this latter mode, I will reach a few more who might read the few lines meant to move us out of our comfort zones just a bit, maybe more.

So I ask the question, Can a Democrat be a Christian too?
And the answer is….
No!

OK, Now I’m jumping to the comment section and posting my obscenities like a good Christian should.

But permit me a second question and answer.
Can a Republican be a Christian too?
No!

What? Do I think only Libertarians or Tea Partians or is it (Tea Partiers) can be Christians?
No.

The question itself is not a matter of party affiliation but of identify.
My identity is in Christ alone. I am a Christian.

I register Republican, but that is not my identity. I agree with some things the party stands for and disagree with others. Politically, my preferences lean more to being Libertarian, but pragmatically, I don’t think a true Libertarian would work out well as president or judge or governor.

I am not the party with which I am registered. I belong to Christ alone. I follow Christ. My allegiance is to him. I love America and cherish the very liberty that we enjoy every day, register as a Republican, and vote my convictions.

If I know absolutely nothing about the candidates for the commission on legalized gambling in the third precinct of the fourth district, then I might vote for the Republican candidate. Why? My general leanings are for smaller government and more liberty and that’s the general direction of the party, though the stated goal seldom is realized.

But my identity is as a Christian.

I am not permitted a second and third and fourth identity. I live as a Christian and fulfill many roles.

Son
Husband
Father
Brother
Grandfather
Pastor
American
Oklahoman
Writer
Marine
And surely some others.

Some of these are callings. I know without any doubt that I was called to be a Marine officer. I know with even greater certainty that God called me to ordained ministry. But I have only one identity. I am a child of God. I am a Christian—by definition committed to following Jesus wherever he leads me.

I am not following any political party wherever they lead me. On any given day I can change my political affiliation. I follow Christ forever. He is Lord. He is King. He called me servant, trusted servant, and even friend. My identity is in him.

That identity gives me incredible freedom. I can live fully. My future is not in the hands of the next president. My identity does not come from a political party. I belong to Christ. I am a Christian.

I am also free to challenge the thinking of the world in which I live, and today’s challenge is this.

Let’s stop calling each other by our party affiliation. Let’s stop condemning each other because of our party affiliation. That’s not who we are, at least that’s true for most.
Some sadly, have given their identity to a political party and are slave to it. But we who know Christ are set free and are slave to nothing in this world. We should not fear anything in the world. Jesus said, “I have overcome the world.”

If we have political issues to discuss, consider, evaluate, and even promote; let’s do it as a people who preserve each other’s dignity. If you differ with me, you are not evil by definition. The converse should be equally true.

Our politics, social groups, geography, and culture are not our identity. We are Christians. We might be blessed to live in a country where we can register with the party of our choice. We might be privileged to live in Oklahoma, North Carolina, California, or Nebraska—OK, that’s a stretch to say privileged to live in Nebraska. We like to sing, I’m Proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free, but we must remember that we follow Christ. We are Christians.

Am I saying that we need to restructure our syntax so as to never say, “I’m a grandfather,” or “I’m an American?”
Absolutely not!

But we need to understand that the identity of every Christian is in Christ. It’s not Christ plus the Republican Party. It’s not Christ and the Democratic Party. Our identity is in Christ alone.

So let’s back off this vitriolic bashing of Republicans and Democrats. Those are political parties and not who we are. Elections do not have to bring out the worst in us.

We are Christians and we should be known by our love.




Saturday, January 30, 2016

Position to remain vacant through 2020

Just for fun, how about We the people decide not to fill the chief executive position this term.  No that doesn’t mean that Obama stays in office.  He goes home but we just don’t fill the position.  The same for vice president.  With the legislature impotent from self inflicted gridlock, let’s just do without an executive director for a while.

But what if we are attacked?

I am confident that General Joe Dunford will do what is necessary to provide for the common defense.

But what about appropriations?

You don’t need the president’s signature if you have a two-thirds majority.

But that would require representatives to work together.

What a noble idea.  Let’s try it.  If we can manage that, then in 2020 let’s have a presidential election and see if we can’t find someone presidential.  Until then, let’s just not fill the position.

We the people of the United States in order to get back on track towards forming a more perfect union have decided not to fill the positions of president and vice president for this term.  Please check back for the 2020 election only if you have a heart of service and will truly serve the people.

The Management