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Monday, December 29, 2008

Twelve Days


It bothers me that the world has highjacked Christmas. The celebration begins earlier and earlier each year. When I was younger, the lights did not come on and the Christmas music didn't start until after Thanksgiving. This year, I think I heard some in the stores before Halloween.

Before Christmas is Advent, and it is NOT a time of celebration. Advent is a time for contemplation; a time to prepare our hearts; a time to look forward to the blessings that God offers through His Son.

Then on Christmas there is the announcement that Christ has been born - we have a Savior, Emmanuel, God with us, and the celebration begins. And...there are set aside twelve days of celebration. Unfortunately again, the world has pooped us out on celebration. We are ready to pull down the decorations as soon as the presents are open. We are ready for the music that we have heard everywhere to be gone as we rush back to our everyday lives.

We have celebrated during the time of preparation, and now the only contemplation we have is how to lose the weight we've gained from the partying and how to pay the bills from the presents.

Would that the people of God could take back this celebration of ours from a world that has abused it so.

So, with that, I wish you a very Merry 5th Day of Christmas (did you get your golden rings). May your celebration continue! Remember Epiphany is coming - and for that event, we who are gentile believers have a lot to celebrate - God's light is revealed to us, bringing salvation, not to the Jews only, but to all the world! Hallelujah!

Richard

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sharing the Light


"Joy to the world, the Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King!"

So begin the Christmas Eve service at First Baptist Church of Jefferson, Georgia after a 30 minute prelude time and some brief housekeeping items (how to hold candles, etc.).

Then the reading of John 1:1-5 by the McNally family: the Word became flesh...He is the Light. The lighting of the "Christ" candle - the white candle - representing His coming in purity, love, and light.

"Away in a Manger" - that's where the Light of the world lay that first Christmas night.

Luke 2:1-20 gave us the story of that evening.

Thank you Steven Hix and Renee Ansley for sharing the message that God became man, sacred became secular, God's love is revealed in our love, incarnation, the Light entering our darkness to shine in our hearts: "Lo, how a rose e'er blooming" with "The Rose."

Communion/the Lord's Supper/even Eucharist (a term very unfamiliar to most Baptists, but it is a great thanksgiving). The Light became flesh and dwelt among us. He grew and lived and loved and shared and taught and died for our sins. Thanks be to God!

Then the invitation to those baptized in the past year to come forward and lead in the candle lighting portion of the service - lighting their candles from the Christ candle - light received. Then they went to light the candles of others...sharing the Light of Christ in representative fashion. Then those who received shared. May we share not only the candle light but the Light of Christ in the coming year with those who do not know, who have not heard.

"Silent Night! Holy Night!"

Amen!

May your day of nativity celebration have been blessed and may your coming year find you in the midst of God's love and light!

Blessings,
Richard

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pageant of the Holy Nativity


First Baptist Church of Jefferson, Georgia presented The Pageant of the Holy Nativity this past Sunday evening, December 14 at 6:00 p.m. This tradition began in 1946 and is under the leadership of a very capable Pageant Committee.

This year is my second year to attend, however, as the choral director (also for the second year), I have to honestly say that I have never seen the pageant. The reason, of course, is that the choir is positioned in the baptistry, which in our church is off to the side, behind a stand of trees that grows miraculously the week before the pageant and disappear the following week.

However, judging from the responses of the people, this year was a highlight and a blessing to many. I am especially grateful to those who gave of their time and effort to stand in the baptistry for almost an hour and do an outstanding job of presenting the music for the pageant.

The following musicians were a part of this year's wonderful choir: Renee Ansley*, Charlene Barber, Darryl Bradley, Gwen Brooks, Gerald Clark, Allie DeNovo, Mary Donahue*, Claire Guined, Jim Hix*, Steven Hix*, Steve Kinney*, Bonnie Meaders, Scott Piotrowski*, Penny Waters, and John White. As always it would be impossible to make this presentation without the leadership and musical skills of the choir organizer and organist, Glenda Tolbert. Thanks so much to all!

May your Christ birth season be highly blessed,
Richard

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fantastic!


Fantastic Music

Just a brief note to say what a fantastic job the Adult Choir of First Baptist Church of Jefferson, Georgia did with their Christmas music this year.

The program started with a great presentation by our preschool Tiny Tunes Choir led by Mrs. Claire Guined and Miss Marie Barnwell. This was followed by a wonderful presentation by the Children's Choir. Both groups had a great attendance and sang with strong voices very well.

Then the Adult Choir presented a variety of styles highlighting the truths of the Christmas season and their director was/is very proud of them.

Fantastic Food and Fellowship

Tonight, the First Baptist Church of Jefferson held their annual Christmas Banquet. This year it was located in the Jefferson High School Cafeteria.

The food was top-notch and prepared and catered by Mrs. L'Resu Thompson, one of our own who also did a fantastic job with the Thanksgiving meal. (If your church or group is in need of a caterer, I highly recommend L'Resu, and if you contact me, I will try to get you in touch with her.)

The entertainment for this year's festivities was provided by our Music Department. The Tiny Tunes (see above) gave a good showing and sang well and this Children's Choir Director is so very proud of the 3 members of the Children's Choir who were present for the banquet and bravely got up and did an outstanding job on one of their Christmas songs. An adult ensemble followed this with Chuck Bridwell's humorous adaptation of Jingle Bells and the Nutcracker Suite entitled "The Nutcracker Jingles."

So far, the Christmas season at First Baptist has gotten off to a fantastic start. Next in our seasonal line-up is the traditional, historical, annual presentation of the Christmas story in The Pageant of the Holy Nativity which will be this coming Sunday evening in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church at 7:00 p.m.

May God bless as we recall the truth of the season that God became man so that through His death we could have eternal life. Now that really is...

FANTASTIC!!

Blessings,
Richard

Monday, December 1, 2008

An FBCJ Christmas

Today is the first day of December and already Christmas is in the air.

Yesterday, November 30, began our traditional observance of Advent. The theme of the day was "Hope."

This coming Sunday, December 7, in addition to being the 2nd Sunday of Advent, we will offer our Christmas music ministry presentation. This is "new" (how can I say that as this is only my 2nd Advent/Christmas season at First Baptist?). Instead of a morning presentation on different Sundays for the children and the adults, we will be offering one early evening of Christmas music involving 3 of our choirs.

The program, which we have entitled, "The Carol...For God So Loved," will begin at 5 p.m. It will feature a few songs from our preschool choir, The Tiny Tunes, and a couple of songs from our Children's Choir. Then our Adult Choir will make their annual presentation - see the details below on this program presentation. Please note that the 5 o'clock hour will allow everyone to invite guests even from other church fellowships in our area who will begin their services at a later time.

The following Sunday, December 14, will feature the annual presentation of The Pageant of the Holy Nativity at 7 p.m. This is a special tradition for the people of Jefferson, Jackson County, and the surrounding area.

In between these 2 events will be the Christmas banquest on Wednesday, December 10. I mention this meal in this post because the program will feature tidbits from the Music Ministry. Besides a couple of familiar Christmas carols, there will be brief presentations by the Tiny Tunes, the Children's Choir, and an adult ensemble.

Besides the weekly observance of Advent, the church will host it's annual Christmas Eve service - a brief but highly meaningful service (I'm told as I have not had opportunity yet to attend one) to bring a focus to the true meaning of the holiday with a Communion service being the focal point of the event.

I hope that the reader will avail himself/herself of the opportunities of the season to be involved in the music and messages as we share the good news that Christ was born to save sinners such as you and I.

Notes on the Adult Christmas Music Presentation


Adoration - a beautiful a cappella call to worship our Savior.

He Is Born - based on the traditional Il Est Ne this lively arrangement by Barry Talley will set a tone of celebration.

Let Carols Ring - a Swedish Christmas Carol setting by Charles Black calls for singing and caroling to celebrate Christ's birth.

In the Bleak Midwinter - the Christina Rossetti/Gustav Holst piece arranged by Jerry DePuit, reminds us that Christ comes to save us in the midst of our winter of sin, and that the gift He requires of us is our heart.

Angels' Carol - by John Rutter, reminds us that Christ came to bring peace, joy, love, light, and hope. We join the angels in singing, "Gloria in excelsis Deo!"

God So Loved - Claire Cloninger and Robert Sterling call to mind the text of John 3:16 as they state God's great love that caused Him to dwell among us.

Just Beyond the Manger - Joseph Martin carries the theme further by reminding us that as we look just beyond the manger, we will see the cross - the tree that is not decorated with red and gold, but upon which He hung the Brightest Star of all.

Some Children See Him - this Wihla Hutson/Alfred Burt song arranged by Jay Rouse reminds us that the Christ child is not for me and mine, but has come to all the peoples of the world (our mission responsibility comes to mind) and that each of us regardless of color or race must lay aside eartly things and bring to Him the offering of our heart as a true act of worship.

For Unto Us a Child is Born and Hallelujah - these choruses from Messiah by G.F. Handel will not only bring a focus to the close of our presentation, but will also bring forth celebration in our hearts as we go forth from worship to proclaim to our world that the Christ child has been born. Hallelujah!

Blessings,
Richard

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Today I Went to Church

Today, I went to church.
It was harder
than I imagined.

I listened,
but her voice
was silent.

I tried to sing,
but only managed
tears.

Were you there
when they laid Him
in the tomb...

No,
but I stood
at my beloveds grave.

Were you there
when He rose up
from the grave...

No,
but through Him
I know hope.


In Christ,
Richard

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Memorial Service

First, thank you to all who have prayed, who have sent cards, who have called, who have given gifts, including that of time.

Thank you to those who came and stood in line to honor the memory of Donna and show your support. Thank you to those who attended the memorial (funeral) service honoring her life and legacy.

The service was a wonderful time of inspiration and encouragement to me and a time of worship for all who could sense the hand of God at work.

First was the processional "The Strife Is O'er" played gloriously on the organ.

Then there were the hymns "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" and "My Savior First of All" sung by the congregation.

Dr. Jim Nelson, pastor of the First Baptist Church, Toccoa, Georgia comforted us with scripture upon scripture and a time of prayer. Later in the service, his message was one of hope and blessing. (Thank you Jim!)

We were honored to have some of the men of the Sons of Jubal (the Georgia Baptist Convention Men's Chorus) who gave up their Saturday afternoon to drive all the way to Toccoa to sing two of Donna's favorite songs from their repertoire, "Because of Love" and "Untitled Hymn."

After Jim's message, there was only one soloist who could sing at Donna's service. Thank you to my brother-in-law, Kenny, for working so hard to get her solo, "Amazing Grace" from a concert we did a few years ago onto a CD so that she could sing and close the service. It was amazing in itself when everyone in the congregation stood and joined their voices with hers to sing "When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing His praise than when we first begun."

After such an amazing service, we were escorted out to the majestic greatness of "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" once again played on the marvelous pipe organ at First Baptist.

Blessing and honor and glory to Him Who sits on the throne and unto the Lamb. 25 years of marriage cut so short by Donna's untimely death, yet God still shows Himself faithful.

On my other blog, Richard's Ramblings, I just described my sense of being lonely. However, I am not alone.

Praise be to God for His unspeakable gift!

Richard Dickson

Friday, September 5, 2008

Deny Himself

I've been thinking about this topic since the Lenten season when our church theme was basically the text of Matthew 16:24.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

"That's just the way God made me."

"My personality is a bulldog and that's just the way I respond when attacked."

"I just can't worship with that kind of music."
(Variations on this come from all sides of the music style spectrum.)

So often it appears that when we read "deny himself" we normally put something at the end:

- deny himself candy
- deny himself another helping of food
- deny himself a hot shower
(just fill in the blank: deny himself ___________)

However, the phrase just says, "Deny himself." Somehow I believe this means to deny himself himself.

For example, I am basically a shy person. This means that in a social situation I prefer to be off by myself in a corner somewhere - that is my comfort zone.

Unfortunately for me (myself, that is), God has called me into ministry - a public ministry - the ministry of music, with pastoral responsibilities. Hey, the shy guy has to get up in front of hundreds of people and lead in worship. Wow!

It is not enough for me to say, "but I'm a shy person and I can't do that." I have to respond to God's call and deny myself to be who Christ wants me to be. It becomes...

- a denial of who I am,
- a denial of me,
- a denial of my wants,
- a denial of my desires,
- a denial of my personality.

In effect, it a becoming less of who I am and becoming more of who Jesus is - conformity to His image, His personality, His very likeness.

So once again, it's not about me...
it's all about HIM!

Your preferences - be like Jesus!
Your personality - be like Jesus!

Then Jesus said, If you will come after me, deny yourself...

Blessings,
Richard

Friday, June 20, 2008

Live It Out Loud

This Sunday, June 22, the sermon that will be presented by Dr. Appleton at First Baptist Church of Jefferson, GA is entitled "The Will to Confess." The scripture passage for this sermon is Luke 18:35-19:10, the stories of the blind man at Jericho and Zacchaeus. The correlated reading for earlier in the service is 1 John 1:7: "if we walk in the light as He is in the light..."

Before I spoke with Dr. Appleton about the direction of the sermon, I noticed that both men spoke up (confession). The blind man had to tell Jesus what he wanted: "I want to see." Zacchaeus told Jesus what he would do. Both were commended by Jesus: "your faith has saved you" and "today salvation has come."

In the first instance, Jesus knew what the blind man needed, but suppose he had just mumbled or been so in awe that he couldn't speak. What if he had decided he didn't like being in the center of the crowd or had just asked for a blessing? (As I was writing, I almost wrote "just asked for an autograph" - how 20th century!)

No the man spoke up - he confessed his need, and Jesus in mercy granted sight.

Zacchaeus had Jesus invite Himself home for lunch. Of course, He knew that Zacc was interested because of the trouble he went to just to see Jesus. Being in the presence of Jesus caused Zacc to know and understand the error of his way resulting in his great confession of intention.

So how should we "walk in the light, as He is in the light"? To follow the example of these men, it means to speak up about our need for what Christ has to offer and then to speak up about the changes that Christ has made in our lives.

Dr. Appleton's comment on the sermon direction: Will to put yourself in a position so that Jesus can do His thing. (At least my paraphrase.)

* * * * * * *

This Sunday, we will let the children from Vacation Bible School sing a couple of their songs in the 10:50 a.m. service. One of these has a great message and actually could fit the topic of the day: "Let My Actions Match My Passion."

Our songs will reflect our recognition of Christ's ability ("Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus" and "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing" - the choir sings "This Is the Day" by Warren Angell and Rose Marie Cooper), as well as the work He has done in our lives ("He Lifted Me" and "I Will Sing of My Redeemer"). We respond to God's call with "Just As I Am, O Lamb of God, I Come."

Walking in the Light ...

Let's just Live It Out Loud (in word and deed)!!

Blessings,
Richard

Friday, June 13, 2008

Father's Day

May I first remind the reader, that to me, Father's Day is not about being a father as much as having a father - and that makes it a celebration for everyone: man, woman, boy, or girl because we all have one.

(At this point, I take personal privilege and say to my dad, "Happy Father's Day! I love youl! Thank you for your sacrifices all through the years of my life, as well as your love and support. May God continue to bless you and mother.")

Now I do realize that some do not have good fathers. I remember many years ago after a sermon as a guest preacher in a former church, that a man approached me with the pain his wife felt because of an abusive father. I recognize that this is painful to the heart of God as it blasphemes the nature that He has chosen to identify Himself.

Thankfully for the fatherless, and for those who have father's who do not deserve respect, we all do have a Father - He who is the Perfect Father: loving, kind, merciful, and full of grace while also exercising discipline toward His children out of His great love for us.

So at this point, I thankfully wish our God and Father, a Happy Father's Day!

-------

This Sunday at First Baptist Church of Jefferson, Georgia, we will celebrate not just the gift of father's, but the Father of us all, and recognize that we have a responsibility to follow the example of our godly ancestors as well as provide a godly example for those who come after us. Rev. Bruce Fields, Associate Minister at First Baptist Church, Gainesville, Georgia will preach on "What's a Father to Do?" using the text of Ephesians 6:1-4. May God have His way with each of us as we seek to follow our Lord's perfect example.

Blessing,
Richard

Thursday, June 5, 2008

In Our Place

We have a wonderful opportunity in a couple of days to show our loyalty to our Lord and to His church - we can be in our place of service on this Sunday, the Lord's Day.

In our services, we will sing of our Lord's love for us and our need to love others in His name. We will be blessed by the ministry of Dr. Jon Appleton, former pastor of First Baptist Church, Athens, GA who served previously as the Interim Pastor of First Baptist Church, Jefferson.

We also have the opportunity to be involved in the final preparations for Vacation Bible School: Outrigger Island - Living God's Unshakeable Truth ("Know the Truth, Speak the Truth, Live the Truth") which will be each evening Monday - Friday, June 9 - 13, 5:30-8:00 p.m.

And if that is not enough, there will be a Church-wide Swim Party in the afternoon and a variety of other meetings. (See the church website, www.fbcjefferson.org, for more information.)

This is no time to rest - to sit on our laurels. There is work to be done, ministry and service to be performed. The Lord's church needs to move forward and it needs each one of us to be ...

In Our Place!

Blessings,
Richard

A Skunk, a Retractable Leash, and God

Now if that title gets your interest, you will need to wander on over to my other blog Richard's Ramblings. At the very least, you will see a picture of my "baby."

Blessings,
Richard

Sunday, June 1, 2008

God Has Not!

Well the deed is done. Dr. Cary Hilliard, having resigned a few weeks ago, has preached his last sermon as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Jefferson, Georgia.

Today was his last Sunday. The service was good. He had requested a celebrative service based on the theme of Baptism: A New Beginning so we sang several favorite gospel hymns and the choir presented a favorite by Mary McDonald "I Must Tell Jesus with Blessed Assurance."

There were, of course, the tears, the goodbyes, the hugs, the well wishes, and the fellowship meal in his honor. (That did remind me of Christmas, as all the eating began without the guest of honor being present.)

However, throughout the sermon there was the admonition to look ahead, to look forward, to rely on God's presence and His Spirit to continue moving ahead.

I was present in one of our Sunday School classes as they spoke of this event. I took the opportunity to mention that my desire was for the church to move forward - to grow if possible - at least to not sit down. I used the thoughts of President John Kennedy to challenge the class to "ask not what our church can do for me, but what can I do for my church."

Then the statement was made: "Pastor Cary has resigned, but God has not!"

Let us remember that our Leader is still seeking to lead and still seeking followers. May we be true and faithful to our calling.

Blessings,
Richard

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

In Memoriam - Dottie Rambo

My first exposure to Dottie Rambo was actually at a Andrae Crouch Concert in Atlanta when I was much younger.

Dottie Rambo died early Sunday morning, May 11 in a bus accident. If the links are still good, you can read the story from the New York Times or Yahoo! News.

Through the years, I haven't followed her career, or life, very closely, but some of the songs she has written have impacted me as a musician. One that has been very special to me was within arm's reach as I read of her passing just a few minutes ago. She co-wrote with Jimmie Davis "Sheltered in the Arms of God."





May God bless and strengthen her family in the days, as well as touch the lives of those who were injured in the accident.

Richard

Friday, May 9, 2008

Reason to Visit

New every day!

I realize that visiting DicksonHome.net every day could be boring as it was basically the same thing all the time.

Change has come. I have added links to top news stories and a "Today in History" section. I am looking for other ways to make it interesting as well.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mother's Day

For my mother: I love you! I appreciate you so much, not only for what you did for me as a child and youth, but your continued prayers, love, and support through my adulthood.

For my mother-in-law: Though departed, I love you for bringing my wife into this world and seeking to raise her to be the fine lady that she is today.

Mother's Day IS a day to honor our mothers (not the mothers among us, but our own personal mothers).

Far too often it appears that Mother's Day is about mothers: I am a mother, you are not a mother. By doing so, I fear we miss the point of the day. For me, it's not about whether or not you are a mother, but that I have a mother ... and you have a mother.

When the day degenerates into a celebration of motherhood, then pain results for those who have not been able to be mothers, or for those who have lost their children either in childbirth, childhood, youth, or even later in life.

I can celebrate and you can celebrate because we all have a mother. Be grateful for her and bless her!

* * * * * * *


This Sunday, our stated theme at First Baptist Church of Jefferson is "The Faith of a Mother."

We will give praise to God for the beauty and greatness of all His creation, especially parent (mother) and child - family. We will also sing of the wonderful legacy of those who have or have had a mother of faith.

We also recognize that mothers, like all of us, need for our Lord to deal in and work through each of our lives, especially as the choir sings "Lord Jesus, Think on Me," a simple but wonderful prayer anthem.

Together, we wil acknowledge our need for faith and the importance it plays in our lives.

So, as we gather, each in our respective house of worship, may we seek to grow in our faith and our walk with our Lord. May we honor the Lord who has been good and given each of us a mother.

- If you are a mother, be all you can be in the Lord!

- If you are not a mother, be all you can be in the Lord!

Thank You, Lord, for my mother!!

Happy Mother's Day!

Blessings,
Richard

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Basic Christian Library

What are some of the books that one might find in a basic Christian library?

I have posted some recommendations with links for your consideration.

There are Bibles, reference books, and devotional books. I also included a link to "The Chronicles of Narnia" since there is much interest in the movie "Prince Caspian" that is coming out in theatres.

It is a long page with a lot of information, but I hope it will prove helpful.

You can find my recommendations on my website, Dickson Home, by clicking here or on the link on the sidebar and then clicking on the menu link to "Recommended Reading."

Blessings,
Richard

Vacation Bible School Pictures

If you are working in Vacation Bible School this year (2008) and using LifeWay's Outrigger Island literature, you may be interested in the pictures that I have posted on my website.

There are pictures from the Georgia Baptist VBS Training at Toccoa, GA and the Tugalo Associational Clinic at Martin Baptist Church.

To view the pictures click here or on the link in the sidebar to Dickson Home and then click on the menu item labeled VBS Pictures.

Blessings,
Richard

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Embrace Eternity

The way to life is straight and the gate is narrow. The way to destruction is broad and many are on that path.

One of the difficulties that we face as we travel this life is to keep eternity in sight. It is so difficult to see past the health issues, the financial issues, the job issues, the family issues, and whatever your particular issues are.

It is necessary though to realize that this life is lived in the context of an eternity and that each of us will either find eternity in heaven or hell. Therefore, it is in our own best interest to live our life with eternity in view.

This Sunday the choir will sing the wonderful anthem Untitled Hymn. It seems a strange title (similar to Vaughan Williams tune SINE NOMINE - without name). However, as I thought about the text - we are weak and wounded, we fall down, we cry, we hurt, we die, and yet God is there calling us to Himself and offering to us His strength, His protection, His love, and His eternity - it seemed that the love and blessings of God are beyond our ability to label/to title, so how appropriate that this anthem of God's goodness in our weakness should have this title. Yet it is appended with the call of Christ Himself who said, "Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" - Come to Jesus.

Blessings,
Richard

VBS Pictures

Just a brief note to let my readers know that pictures from the Georgia Baptist State VBS Training Conference in Toccoa, GA are posted on my website at DicksonHome.net. There is a link is in the sidebar.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Give Forgiveness

What we all need, what we all want, what we need to give, and what we usually don't want to give - forgiveness.

Luke 19:1-10 tells the story of Zacchaeus, the publican of Jericho, who was so short that he had to climb a tree to see Jesus who invited Himself over for a meal (how many remember the song: Zacchaeus was a wee little man ... [everybody sing]?).

Well, short story long, Zacchaeus' life was changed - radically - and he made some changes in his lifestyle because of it. It was so radical that Jesus declared that salvation had come to that house. Zacchaeus had received forgiveness from God.

Matthew 6:14-15 does bring us up short if we see what it says, if we forgive, we will be forgiven by God, but if we don't forgive, we will not be forgiven by God. Ouch!

Romans 14:13 tells us not to judge one another, but to judge ourselves as to whether we are causing our brothers and sisters to stumble in the way.

It is clear that we are to give forgiveness.

*******


This is the sermon topic for this Sunday (April 20, 2008) in our Live Like You Were Dying Theme. In our music, we emphasize this by offering ourselves to be God's vessel in Sanctuary and noting that we ourselves are debtors to God's grace in Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.

We recognize that we need to freely give forgiveness as we have freely received forgiveness from God by singing Freely, Freely and that we have a call to live the Christ life in We Are Called to Be God's People.

The Adult Choir challenges us to live this out by sharing the anthem Lift Your Light by Mary McDonald.

Then we sing a wonderful text by Gloria Gaither entitled I Then Shall Live with the line "as one who's been forgiven." After a testimony in the 10:50 a.m. service and the sermon, we offer the response invitation Living for Jesus.

Forgiveness - we definitely need and want it.

Forgiveness - we definitely need to give it.

Blessings,
Richard

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Choral Anthems - April

As you are aware (possibly), the theme for this month at FBC, Jefferson is Live Like You Were Dying. This past Sunday, the choir anthem was Your Love Compels Me to coordinate with the subject of "Love Deeper."

This coming Sunday, with the subject of "Speak Sweeter," there is no adult choir anthem as the children will be singing in the services.

The remaining 2 Sundays in the month (and in the theme) will be:

- April 20: "Give Forgiveness" with a repeat of the favorite anthem, Lift Your Light.

- April 27: "Embrace Eternity" with another favorite, Untitled Hymn.

Each choir member should make every effort to be in rehearsal as we prepare these and other anthems for presentation in the coming weeks. We also invite former choir members and anyone else who would love to be a part of the great Adult Choir of First Baptist Church, Jefferson, Georgia to come join us each Wednesday, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. for a tiring but inspiring rehearsal.

Blessings,
Richard

DicksonHome

For those who are interested, you are invited to visit my webpage: DicksonHome.net. You can either click on the link in the sidebar or here to access the pages.

You will find some pages dedicated to "our girls" including Abby, as well as the babies we have lost.

There are others pages as well, although most are not updated very often.

Anyhow, for what it's worth, feel free to browse around.

Blessings,
Richard

Sweet Talkin'

Actually, it will be Speak Sweeter. That is the title given for the emphasis this week in our Live Like You Were Dying series at First Baptist Church, Jefferson, GA.

The scripture passages are Ephesians 4:29-32 in which we are encouraged to speak in ways that edify others and Ephesians 5:15-21 in which we are to speak to others in songs, hymns, and spiritual songs and speak to God with thanksgiving.

This Sunday, our Children's Choir (grades 1-5) will be helping lead in worship in our services at 8:30 and 10:50 a.m. by sharing a couple of the songs they have been preparing.

Let's hold back on the "corrupt communication" of this life and learn to "speak sweeter" - oh, come on, just do some sweet talkin'.

Blessings,
Richard

Friday, April 4, 2008

Easter Goes On

At First Baptist Church, Jefferson, Georgia, we continue the Easter season by entering into a series with a new theme: Live Like You Were Dying.

On this first Sunday of the new theme we are urged to "Love Deeper."

The text comes from 1 Peter 4:7-11 in which with the knowledge of the end approaching, we are to have a fervent love for each other, and from Mark 12:28-34, The Great Commandment:

The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. (29-31)

In our worship this Sunday, we will begin by expressing our love for God: "I Love You, Lord," "My Jesus, I Love Thee," and "O How I Love Jesus." We acknowledge that to love God is the greatest thing that we can do in all of our life with "The Greatest Thing" (know, love, and serve the Lord).

Then the choir transitions by expressing that it is God's love for us and our love for Him that leads us, yea, compels us, to love and serve those around us in the Doug Holck anthem "Your Love Compels Me."

Finally, the music portion of our service ends with us expressing our love for each other in "I Love You with the Love of the Lord," and a statement of the love passage of 1 Corinthians 13 that, unless we love, all our actions are in vain, in the song, "The Gift of Love" by Hal H. Hopson.

May we love God and each other more deeply. In doing so, we acknowledge that although we are dying we live through Christ who loves us so.

When we live like we are dying, then Easter goes on ...

Blessings,
Richard

Celebration of a New Covenant

OK, there was an event recently that went by this name or something similar, but I'm speaking of the REAL thing!

Different church traditions call it different names with sometimes very different understandings of what is taking place. In my faith tradition, we usually call it The Lord's Supper, however, I like to call it a Celebration of Communion.

It is a time to celebrate what Christ has done for us and a time to enter into communion, fellowship, even theologically "koinonia" both with our fellow worshipers and with the spirit of Christ. As we gather around the table of the Lord, we recognize His presence among us (in my faith tradition, it is a memorial supper, not a sacrament or salvific experience in which Christ is present with the host - bread and wine/fruit of the vine - or the host becomes the very body and blood of Christ), remember the price that He paid for our salvation, and look forward to His return.

The event in itself is a portrayal of the first such occasion where Christ, Himself, took the bread and said, "This is my body broken for you," and then the cup saying, "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many."

Although we celebrate this several times during the year (some traditions more than others), there is that special celebration on the Thursday before Easter that is called Maundy Thursday. Our bulletin for that evening stated that "Maundy Thursday gets its name from the Latin phrase mandatum novum, which is translated "new commandment."

At First Baptist Church, Jefferson, GA we celebrated this last Maundy Thursday with a service of worship. Since we were not having a Good Friday service, ours took on the character of a combination Maundy Thursday/Good Friday service in which the outline was provided by a service of Tenebrae (or shadows) in which the light was gradually extinguished (as pointed out by someone else, the reverse of Advent where light is added each week). At the end of our service we proceeded silently to the cross in our church yard, where the purple draping was replaced by black.

Music was a factor in our service. We shared congregational singing together with "O How He Loves You and Me," a more recent chorus about God's love for us, "Hallelujah! What a Savior," an older hymn declaring the merits of our Lord, and the wonderful old hymn, "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded."

Additionally we had a soloist share with us a song she had recently sung in one our Sunday services, proclaiming the truth of Christ's substitutionary sacrifice in "The Day he Wore My Crown."

Of course, the choir had opportunity to sing, sharing with the congregation "And All the World Was Silent" by Charlotte Lee and Douglas E. Wagner in which the silence of sorrow was wonderfully expressed. They also sang, "Broken for You" by Steve Wilkinson and David T. Clydesdale a text that told again the story of that first communion. Finally, the choir presented (again) "Written in Red" by Gordon Jensen acknowledging the love that was shown to us on the cross of Calvary by our Lord.

It was a very fitting and moving celebration ... a celebration of Christ's new covenant with us.

Blessings,
Richard

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Passion Sunday

Actually, Passion Sunday is the same day as Palm Sunday. It is my understanding that designating this Sunday as Passion Sunday allows those churches that do not have Good Friday (or Maundy Thursday) services to transition from the celebration of the Triumphal Entry of Palm Sunday to the pain and sorrow of Gethsemane and the Crucifixion.

The texts for Year A are those of the Passion:

- Isaiah 50:4-9a with its prophecy of Christ's humiliation at the hands of the Roman soldiers.

- Psalm 31:9-16 which calls to my mind Job 13:15, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." This cry of grief with the strength of trust calls to mind the trial before the Sanhedrin. (One can also look a few verses earlier and find one of Christ's quotes from the cross: "Into thine hand I commit my spirit" - Psalm 31:5.

- Philippians 2:5-11 the great passage on the mind of Christ, in which, He humbled Himself, taking on the form of man and submitting to death on the cross, thereby receiving glory and honor from His Father.

- Matthew 26:14-27:66 (or the shorter passage of Matthew 27:11-54) which tells the story from Judas' betrayal through the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, the trial before the Sanhedrin and Pilate, the Crucifixion, and the Burial.

May God bless us as we recall not only Christ's triumph, but also His sacrifice for us that He might save us from our sins.

Blessings,
Richard

The Power of Invitation

Actually, "The Power of Invitation" was the sermon title for Sunday, March 30, 2008. It was based on the Scripture texts of Mark 16:14-16 and Luke 19:1-10.

Mark 16, of course, records a post-resurrection appearance of Christ in which He issues the Great Commission. Each of the other gospels, as well as Acts, also record this Great Commission: Matthew 28:18-20 (the most familiar), Luke 24:46-48, John 20:21, and Acts 1:8.

Luke 19, on the other hand, is the story of Zacchaeus and his conversion. To him, the invitation was given and he responded in faith.

Today, the invitation is also given: the invitation to come to Christ in repentance receiving the salvation that He so freely offers through His death on the cross. But, we who believe also have the invitation to join Christ in His mission - to be as it were, His hands, His feet, His heart to those we meet each day.

The choir sang a wonderful older anthem by Eugene Butler that expressed this Great Commission by quoting the text from Mark, "Go Ye into All the World." This is expanded with the quote from John 15:12-13 about our need to love others as Christ loved us and the great passage of strength and comfort found in John 14:1.

Let us then respond to Christ's invitation: yes, to salvation, but even beyond that to love as He loved and to know His peace in this world.

Blessings,
Richard

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Palm Sunday

March 16, 2008 was Palm Sunday, that Sunday one week before Easter on which the church has traditionally celebrated the triumphal entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. For Year A (for those not familiar with the Lectionary, there is a 3 year cycle of scripture readings labeled Year A, B, and C.) in the Revised Common Lectionary, Matthew 21:1-11 is the Gospel passage that tells the story of this event.

However, I would like to focus on the Psalm reading for the day: Psalm 118:1-2,19-29.

This Psalm begins and ends with the same ascription of Thanksgiving:

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever. Psalm 118:1

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Psalm 118:29

Within this Psalm we find the verse that gives us the clue to the reason this passage was selected as a Palm Sunday reading. Verse 26a states: Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

But within this text, we find hints also of the sacrifice that is to come:

- For thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. (vs. 21)

- The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. (vs. 22)

- Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord. (vs. 25) This appears to be the translation of the Hebrew "Hosanna" - yasha` 'anna' (from the BlueLetterBible).

- Bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. (vs. 27)

And, in the midst of this Psalm of praise and salvation, we find a very familiar text: This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (vs. 24)

So, we find this Palm Sunday is a day of joy and gladness - a day of celebration and a day of looking forward both to the sacrifice of Christ for our salvation that would occur just a few days later and to the day when Christ appears again in glory and power, when once again He will be hailed as king - King of kings and Lord of lords.

* * * * * * *


On this Palm Sunday, I had the privilege of leading the Adult Choir of First Baptist Church, Jefferson, Georgia in three anthems - a mini-musical of sorts. First and most related to the Palm Sunday gospel text we sang the traditional anthem "The Palms" by Faure and arranged by Dudley Buck. Secondly, we recognized the significance of this day as Passion Sunday (hopefully my next posting) by singing the much loved anthem "Written in Red," introduced by reading John 3:16-17. Finally, we closed this portion of the service by reading Psalm 24:7-10 that begins: Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in, folowed by the anthem "Crown Him." I was very proud of the choir and their presentation of this portion of the gospel/good news story.

May we find ourselves always blessing our Lord for the great things He has done for us.

In Christ,
Richard

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Good ... and Behind

It is Easter Sunday and I feel I must wish my readers a Happy, Joyous Easter before it passes.

Of course I am behind on my posting, but I do still hope to comment on this past week - Holy Week. It has been a very full week and many wonderful things happened, especially with the choir (this is Music Musings!).

One of my greatest joys is to announce the good news on Easter and I again had that opportunity in our sunrise service this morning. So, one more time before this day comes to an end:

Christ is risen! - He is risen indeed!
CHRIST IS RISEN! - HE IS RISEN INDEED!
CHRIST IS RISEN! - HE IS RISEN INDEED!

And that dear reader is VERY GOOD NEWS!

Blessings,
Richard

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Train Whistle

Imagine you are standing at the station amid the hustle and bustle and then your ears catch a faint sound - are you sure - can it be? Yes, there it is again and clearer than before. You know the train is almost there because you can hear the whistle.

With the text for this past Sunday (again my apologies), we hear the whistle that alerts us that we are almost to the celebration of Christ's death and resurrection. With a different analogy, it is a preview of things to come.

Psalm 130 tells us that there is forgiveness and hope.

A Song of Ascents. Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared. I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. O Israel, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.
(Psa 130:1-8)

You did notice the similar analogy of the watchman waiting for the dawn!

Then in the Old Testament passage of Ezekiel 37:1-14, we have the familiar passage of the dry bones being brought back to life. If there is hope for bones, there is certainly hope for us. This is matched with the Epistle reading from Romans 8:6-11 where we read that it is the Spirit who gives life.

And finally, the Gospel reading of John 11:1-45 gives us the grand preview with the story of the raising of Lazarus - the dead brought back to life - the look ahead to the resurrection of Christ and then through Him our own resurrection from the death of sin and our entrance into eternal life.

* * * * * * *


This Sunday, our pastor, Cary Hilliard was back from his trip to Israel, and in keeping with our Lenten theme - deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Me - he brought a message on "setting your face to Jerusalem" from Luke 9:51 entitled "A Pilgrim's Progress."

Again, we find that look ahead, that feeling of anticipatiton about what is to occur.

The choir sang a wonderful anthem, "Even the Heavens Are Weeping" by Joseph M. Martin that emphasized both in the text and the music the emotional impact of Christ's sacrifice for us.

* * * * * * *


May God bless as we set our faces toward Jerusalem anticipating the great revelation of God's grace, mercy, and love demonstrated through the cross and the empty tomb.

Blessings,
Richard

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Light of Hope

As I read through the passages for the 4th Sunday in Lent, as always I look for a connecting theme. On first reading there did not seem to be a unifying thread in the readings, but then I realized that each of the passages deals with the hope that there is light in the darkness.

Lent is a time of reflection, a time to recognize our sinfulness and our need for a Savior and here about half way through this season, hope is introduced. It really is a good time for this to appear as we might possibly, if we are honest with ourselves, begin to foster despair.

The Old Testament reading of 1 Samuel 16:1-13 is about the selection of David as the next king of Israel. In those dark, early days of Israel when God had removed His Spirit from King Saul, Samuel is sent to find and anoint a young man who would be a man after God's own heart. A man who would lead Israel into its brightest days. A man who would be the ancestor, by human descent, of our Lord Jesus - the very Light of lights in our sin darkened world.

Psalm 23, although primarily about the Lord being our shepherd includes the passage about God's presence as we go through that dark valley of the shadow of death and the hope that is ours eternally as we deal in the presence of God forever.

The Gospel passage, John 9:1-41, tells us about the man born blind. Jesus gave him sight, taking away the darkness of his world, causing great consternation for the religious leaders of the day, especially when Jesus declared that they themselves were blind because they would not see. This scripture also contains one of the great I AM statements of Christ: I am the Light of the world!

Paul, in the Epistle reading of Ephesians 5:8-14, writes about Christians, once in the darkness of sin, are now light in the Lord and need to walk as children of light having no fellowship with the world of darkness, but reproving it instead. He issues the call: awake, rise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

On this 4th Sunday, the choir sang (apologies for the tardiness of this article) an arrangement of a "chorus" from just a few years ago, "Here I Am to Worship." I selected this anthem for this time because of "the bridge" - "I never knew how much it cost to see my sin upon the cross." As we consider the First Baptist Church, Jefferson Lenten theme: deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Christ, we have to recognize that we could never die for our own sins and satisfy the righteousness of God. The cost for our sin was not our own death, but the death of Christ who took our sin upon Himself as He hung on the cross and died.

Christ is not the light at the end of our tunnel - He is the Light in our tunnel. The hope that He offers in our darkness is such that our only real response is to put aside our self, take up our cross - our means of death, and follow Him regardless of the road or the destination - in this we find ourselves worshipping Him.

-------


As our pastor is away completing his trip to Israel, once again Dr. Todd Wilson is our guest preacher. His sermon, "A Disciple or Just One of the Crowd" based on the texts from Matthew 8:18-22 ("I will follow, but ...) and Matthew 13:24-30 (tares sown among wheat) also reinforces the need to examine ourselves - am I truly a disciple (have I denied my self, taken up my cross, following Jesus) or am I just one of the "fickle" crowd who come for any number of reasons.

-------


Despair because of our sin?

No. Christ is our Light; He is our Hope. Let us follow Him as His disciples.

Blessings,
Richard

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

How's Your Heart?

On this third Sunday of Lent, we look in on the people of Israel as they journey from Egypt to Canaan and we find them at a place that would be named Massah and Meribah. Here they found no water and true to form they began to grumble and complain. The Old Testament passage in Exodus 17:1-7 bluntly states that by complaining they were actually tempting the LORD.

Psalm 95 begins with the exhortation to sing to the LORD; to come before Him with thanksgiving, making a joyful noise; to come worship and bow down. But, it ends with the admonition to not harden our hearts as in the day of provocation, a reference to the Exodus passage. The grumbling and complaining of the people was evidence of a hard heart.

Then, John 4:5-42 relates the story of a woman who could have had a hard heart, but in her conversation with Jesus, it was softened to the point of belief and salvation that led to a vibrant witness to God's mercy and love. It is the story of the Samaritan woman that Jesus met at the well.

Finally, although the trials, troubles, and temptations of our life could lead us to hardened hearts, the epistle reading in Romans 5:1-11 tells us that the alternate route is for tribulations to work patience, which brings experience, and results in hope.

This final passage is rich in that it uses several of the big, theologically rich words of our faith like justified, reconciled, and atonement. The big three are also found in this passage: faith, hope, and love. And we must not fail to notice the trinitarian nature of the passage with the mention of all three persons of the Godhead: God, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

The passage also contains that verse that shows us the vastness of God's love for us:

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

So, as we journey with Christ to the crucifixion during this lenten season, how are our hearts? Are they hardened with grumbling, griping, and complaining, not recognizing the goodness of our Creator God, or are they soft and moldable so that we can receive and experience all that God has for us through the riches of His Son, Jesus?

As we come together in our journey this Sunday, let us lift our eyes to the cross of Calvary and realize that the cross we see and the amazing love portrayed there demand of us our soul, our life, our all. Listen carefully as the choir presents "The Wondrous Cross" a setting of the text of "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" using an Appalachian Folk Melody arranged by Lee Poquette.

* * * * * * *

In the absence of our pastor, Cary Hilliard, who is experiencing the wonders of traveling to Israel, Dr. G. Todd Wilson will be presenting the message. Dr. Wilson who is a former pastor at First Baptist Church, Jefferson will be using as his text Acts 20:7-12 and entitling his message, "Sleeping During the Sermon" - we probably should plan to stay awake for this one (SMILE).

Blessings,
Richard

Monday, February 18, 2008

Words from the Past

In going through some items in the cleaning process, I found the following article that I had written many years ago. The thoughts are still appropriate and still of interest, so with the idea of preservation I present them here (with paragraph editing - for some reason, I didn't divide the article into paragraphs back then):

*******


Dear People...

Why do I like new songs?

Ladies, suppose your husband came home from work for the last 25 years, kissed you at the door, and said, "I love you!"

Now suppose one day he came home at lunch, handed you a rose, and said, "I love you!" It wouldn't make the other way less special, but it would probably make your fountain bubble.

Old songs are wonderful. They speak to my heart and even sometimes give me goosebumps, but sometimes they get so familiar that I don't really pay attention to them. But a new song allows me to say the same thing (or hear the same thing) in a fresh way. My mind becomes more alert and again the truth of God's love and the foundations of our faith are revealed to me.

I love the old songs - they are part of my heritage - but I also love the new songs.

"O sing unto the LORD a new song." (Psalm 96:1)

Blessings,
Richard

Friday, February 15, 2008

Which Way?

In the Old Testament reading for this, the second Sunday of Lent, God tells Abram to get out, to leave, and go to a land that He would show him (Genesis 12:1-4a). God made great promises and the passage ends with Abram's obedience: "so Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him."

The Epistle reading is Romans 4:1-5, 13-17, in which we are told that Abraham's belief was counted as righteousness. Abraham believed, acting in obedience, showing us that the way to travel is by faith and not by works - the promise is not through the law, but through faith.

Psalm 121, a song of ascents or degrees, is believed to be a song that the pilgrims of that day would sing as they approached ("went up to") Jerusalem - a song for the journey. The promise of God portrayed by this psalm is that He is the protector and provider for this journey of life that we find ourselves on.

And then, in the Gospel reading (John 3:1-17), we find the story of Nicodemus, who was told that the journey begins with a new life and that it is because of God's love:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

-------


So, as we look again at our Lenten theme of "denying ourself, taking up our cross, and following Jesus," we see that this journey began in the heart of God with His love and we enter it and live it by faith. We also recognize that it comes with the promise of God for His provision and protection.

Specifically, this Sunday, we find Christ's own promise for the journey:

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

The choir supports this message by singing a setting of this text, "Come to Me, All Who Labor" from 1975 by John Purifoy.

Which way? By faith!

Blessings,
Richard

Friday, February 8, 2008

Lent, Love, & Self-Denial

This Sunday is the first Sunday of Lent (2008) on "the church" calendar.

Although a season generally not mentioned among Baptists, it like Advent provides the individual with an opportunity to examine himself/herself in the light of Who God is. For Lent, we recognize our sinfulness and recognize the great love of God, Who gave Himself for us on the cross of Calvary.

For this Sunday, the scripture readings found in the Lectionary are:

(1) Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7 - Adam & Eve make that fateful choice that brings sin upon mankind.

(2) Psalm 32 - David's great cry of confession and recognition of God's blessing of forgiveness.

(3) Romans 5:12-19 - As death reigned through the offence of one man, so through the righteousness of One came justification of life.

(4) Matthew 4:1-11 - The temptation of Jesus by the devil.

How fitting as we begin this season of Lent that the celebration of love (St. Valentine's Day) follows by just a few days. We know from scripture that love is of God for God is Love. So, on this first Sunday of Lent, the choir sings "God Loves" by Phillip Langrave.

In the first stanza, we acknowledge God's love in sending His Son, Jesus and working His work of love through Him so that even I, though undeserving of His love, can know His love and be set free by it.

Then, in the second stanza, we sing of our need to love God in return for His great love and to show that love in all of our life: "in what I think, in what I do, in how I live."

And finally, there is a world that needs to know of this great love. How awesome that God would use the time and talents that He has given us in such a way that our very lifes should bear witness to those who are lost in sin and that His love through us can show that He cares for them. Yes, God loves!

*******

So, we come at last to the Lenten Theme for First Baptist Church, Jefferson, Georgia: Take Up Thy Cross.

For this first Sunday of Lent the scripture reading is the passage that contains those very words: Matthew 16:24-27

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul.

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.


And in the sermon, we are challenged by the words of Jesus that he who would be great, must be a servant.

*******

How is God to use us as His servant, His conduit of love unless we deny ourself, take up our cross, and follow Him?

Blessings,
Richard

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Majesty and Glory of Your Name

Sometimes you think you know someone and then, at some instant in time, you realize that you didn't truly know them at all. Imagine with me how Peter must have felt that day.

Peter "knew" that Jesus was special; different shall we say. Peter knew that Jesus could heal the sick, blind, and lame - even raise the dead. Peter knew that Jesus could feed a vast multitude of people with just a few loaves and fish. Peter even knew that Jesus could walk on water and calm a storm with just a word. Why, Peter even "knew" that Jesus was the Messiah. But, on this day, Peter was challenged with the realization that he didn't really know Jesus at all.

Together, Jesus, Peter, James, and John climbed the mountain, then suddenly Jesus' appearance was changed - He was shining with a glory far beyond any earthly glow. And with Him appeared Moses and Elijah - the apostles were looking at a heavenly scene.

Peter, not knowing how to handle this new revelation, talked of building 3 tabernacles to honor the three. Then there was the Voice, the Voice that spoke out of the cloud - the cloud of glory with images of the dedication of Solomon's temple, where those who ministered could no longer stand - and said, "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear Him."

Jesus was not only Peter's Master and Friend. "Messiah" and "Son of God" were no longer words of a Spirit revelation. Jesus was revealed positively to be God, the Creator, the Lord of life and death. This was so life changing that years later, Peter wrote of this startling revelation:

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. (2 Peter 1:16-18)

This coming Sunday is Transfiguration Sunday on "the church calendar." The Adult Choir of First Baptist Church, Jefferson, Georgia is scheduled to sing the contemporary classic by Tom Fettke "The Majesty and Glory of Your Name."

With this anthem, we recognize and acknowledge the majesty, glory, and authority that Christ had from the Beginning. Christ is the Creator of heaven and earth, yet in all of His glory, He was mindful of man. He has shown His love for man by becoming lower than the angels, becoming a bond slave, giving Himself in death on a cross that you and I, mere humans in comparison with the great God of glory, might know Him and dwell with Him eternally.

What else can we say but "Alleluia! - Praise the Lord!"

O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas.

O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Psalm 8:1-9

Blessings,
Richard

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Schedules Galore

Dear People,

I thought it might be helpful to post some of the schedules that I am working from in planning our worship at First Baptist Church, Jefferson, GA. All are in .pdf format and therefore require that your computer have Adobe Reader which most computers have on them and which is available as a free download from Adobe.com.

I have included Pastor Cary's Sermon Themes (please note that all schedules posted are tentative and subject to change at any time). It would enhance your worship experience if you are able to read the posted scripture passages each week and prepare your hearts through prayer.

Also included are the First Quarter of 2008 Anthem Schedule and the Solo Schedule.

I hope that these schedules will aid you in your planning and in your worship experience.

Blessings,
Richard

Monday, January 21, 2008

Opening Statement

In this blog, I hope to post items relating to the music ministry at the church I currently serve, as well as tidbits and musings about the music that we will be singing and sharing.
Blessings,
Richard