CHRISTMAS 2012

First Baptist Carrollton announces our 2012 Christmas Production . . .Image

Book & Lyrics by Karla Worley

Music by Robert Sterling

Based on the Novel by Marjorie Holmes

This beautiful and moving musical follows the love story of Mary and Joseph as they seek to follow God’s miraculous plan for their lives, leading to the birth of the Messiah – Jesus Christ. Along the way, the characters of the Nativity are all there: shepherds, angels and kings, all playing their part in the story of the first Christmas. The musical score is reminiscent of “the best of Broadway” with soaring and memorable melodies. The musical examines the very human feelings and reactions of Mary and Joseph, their parents, and the entire community of Galilee to the highly unusual events that led to the birth of Christ. It is our hope and prayer that thousands of people from North Texas will come and experience the first Christmas and the hope God gave us in His Son, Jesus Christ.

PERFORMANCES

Friday, December 7, 7:30 pm

Saturday, December 8, 3 pm & 7:30 pm

Sunday, December 9, 3 pm

AUDITIONS – Auditions for singing and speaking roles in TWO FROM GALILEE for high school age and above will be held October 3-4. Email mchapman@fbcc.org to schedule an audition and to pick up a script and CD.

Click HERE to see a 10 minute highlight film of the musical as it was performed at The Promise Theater in Branson, Missouri in 1998.

In the Year of Our Lord 2012

The year 2012, according to the Mayan calendar and a 2009 adventure/action movie, is supposed to be the end of the world – December 21, 2012 – to be precise. Thankfully, I don’t believe in all of that hocus-pocus, but I have to say that so far, 2012 has been a challenge! I think of myself as an upbeat person, so I hope this post won’t sound “whiny” . . . but this year has been tough.

We’ve been dealing with those big “life-changes” that everyone must face, so hey, I shouldn’t be surprised, right? In January, we noticed that Jennifer’s mother’s condition was deteriorating faster and faster. Lots of doctors appointments and sleepless nights for Jennifer followed, seeking answers and solutions, but it became obvious – Virginia was slipping away. In March, the decline was like a boulder rolling faster and faster down a hill, and she slipped peacefully into the arms of Jesus in the early hours of Palm Sunday morning, April 1. We both lost our dads in 1997 and 1999 – so this was not a first – but all the same, it was and has been hard. It was a great blessing for her to go on to Heaven, but she has been such a constant presence in our lives on a daily basis since her husband died in 1997 – it seems she should still be here.

Mitchell, our eldest of two sons will be leaving in less than two months for college in St. Louis. We’ve already started the “grieving process” over the idea that he won’t be with us at home. It’s important to note that we are a blessed to be a close family – we enjoy spending time together – so the idea of one of our quartet so far away is hard. I think Michael, Mitchell’s younger brother, may have the hardest time. I’m hopeful – I know there are a lot of good and exciting times ahead as we move into this phase, and I’m confident that Mitchell has some great opportunities ahead of him at Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre. Mitchell had offers from schools MUCH closer to home, but everything seemed to point in the direction of St. Louis when a decision had to be made . We knew he was going away to school – we were just not thinking out of Texas! – so we’re being pushed out of our comfort zone, as he is, and I am proud of him for being willing to go for it. But still . . . it sure feels weird right now, and I know his departure will be another “big deal” to work through.

A few days ago, our Pastor Emeritus, Dr. Wayne Allen passed on to Glory. Dr. Allen came into the Ferguson family’s life in 1987 at a time of great spiritual upheaval as we left a church our family had been a part of founding. It was a painful time, particularly for my parents, and Dr. Allen’s godly leadership and example was a “balm in Gilead,” restoring our faith in the church and church leaders. Dr. Allen and Theresa led Jennifer and I in our pre-marital counseling and he performed our wedding. As we served here at the church part-time during the early years of our marriage, the Allens were a rich blessing in our lives and so critical in those formative, early years. So, in a personal way, it’s the end of another chapter.

There are other changes looming with very close friends that will have a big impact on us as well. I realize that this is a normal, natural progression in life – things change, people leave us, and very often, for their own good and in God’s gracious, sovereign purpose. We then, are left to deal with these changes, make adjustments and keep serving and following God on the journey. As I write this, I’m struck by the fact that I know many people – many in our church family – who have passed through much deeper waters than these, dealing with serious health problems, the pain of divorce or estrangement with children, the death of a spouse or a even a child. In comparison, my list of concerns and complaints seem small. But – it’s important to be honest about how these things impact our attitudes and our daily walk with Christ and with others.

So – with all of these changes and probably more to come in our lives that we cannot anticipate, it’s good to remember the following promises of God, a God who never changes – the ONE constant in our lives where we must find our peace and security.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:35-39


Are You a Volunteer, or Do You Have a Calling?

While going through some old papers over the holidays, I came across some notes I presented to the Choir at my first full-time church, Memorial Baptist in Grapevine, Texas. They are now called The Church at the Cross. It was my first full-time assignment as a Minister, and I was the first full-time Minister of Music the church ever had. I know it’s a cliche, but it truly was a “match made in heaven.” It was a rich five years for me and Jennifer, and “Baby Mitchell,” as well as the young and energetic congregation . . . they would try anything, which is a good thing if I’m the one leading!

In the Old Testament, God led David to  “appoint” the Levites as the worship leaders in the temple and for His people. They were given a “calling” from God to serve. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul goes into great detail regarding the gifts of Spirit, given to believers to serve and support the entire Body of Christ, each with his or her own particular part (body-part, in Paul’s metaphor) to play.

I believe that God gifts people in the church with musical abilities and a heart for worship and then, “calls them out,” to serve, just in the same way as he calls pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets (Ephesians 4:11-12). I hope that as choir and orchestra members, you have a strong sense of “calling” to the worship ministry in our church, and that it’s more than an “activity” or “personal interest”. 

At any rate, these are the notes I found from twenty years or so ago that I wanted to share:

1. Volunteers give up what they believe belongs to them (time, finances, etc.) to serve the organization. Called Worship Leaders are giving back what they know belongs to God – He gave them their talent and love for musical worship in the first place.

2. Volunteers look at their schedule to see if their service fits their personal agenda. Called Worship Leaders adjust their schedule and personal agenda to fulfill their calling. 

3. Volunteers seek to help and serve the cause of the organization, or sometimes, the leader of the organization.  Called Worship Leaders are ultimately serving one person – the Lord Jesus Christ. 

4. Volunteers “move on” to other activities when organizational change occurs, or difficulties arise. Called Worship Leaders remain faithful to their calling, no matter what. 

5. Volunteers receive the satisfaction of knowing that they “did their part” to help the organization. Called Worship Leaders receive the deep spiritual blessing that only comes from being obedient to the call of God on their life. 

Here’s the bottom line:

The church doesn’t need more volunteers. She needs more called-out servants of Christ.

The Sounds of Christmas

It’s hard to believe that it’s come around again so soon, but it has – CHRISTMAS! And, just as quickly as it comes, it seems to pass. Every year, it’s my prayer that we will make the most of the season as individuals, as families, and, certainly, as the church. We have a unique opportunity to touch thousands of lives at Christmas. Our church has a long-standing tradition of musical events that seek to share the love of Christ and the gospel with people in Carrollton, and far beyond. The Singing Christmas Tree, under the direction of Rip Cannon, began in 1975 – it was a bold, new outreach that continued for over 30 years.

Last year, we began something bold and new with a musical version of Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. God blessed us with approximately 7,000 attendees, and I am believing God for 10,000 people this year . . . not merely to have a big number, but to maximize the potential of what God has given us and to make the most of all the hours and all the dollars expended into this cause.

It all begins with THE SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS Concert, Sunday, December 4, at 6:00 pm. We have used THE SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS to describe and advertise all of our Christmas events in 2011. I want to take just a few paragraphs to examine the meaning behind THE SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS:

MUSIC . . .

Only a guy like Ebenezer Scrooge doesn’t like Christmas music! Sure – even the carols have become commercialized, and people rarely stop to think what they are hearing (or singing) when “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” or “Joy to the World!” or many other carols are played on radio, TV, YouTube – whatever . . . but I still relish in the fact that in the midst of all the “noise” of Christmas – the true “song” of Christmas is still there, declaring, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, Christ, the Lord!” We have the honor and privilege of lifting these songs to the public, both as praise, and as proclamation, all through December. What a blessing is ours . . . relish it!

JOY . . .

My heart and emotions always swell with joy at the end of A CHRISTMAS CAROL when Scrooge is redeemed. Then, on Christmas morning, he seeks to bless Bob Cratchit and family, to reach out to his nephew Fred, his own family, as well as all of London to start his life anew with love and joy in his heart. We see him restoring relationships with those he has hurt, but, most importantly, we see that because his relationship with God is restored, he is a new person – he is, literally, born again! Only new birth in Christ can bring the authentic joy and change of heart that this story relates. This is why we have chosen as our theme scripture, 2 Corinthians 5:17:

Therefore, is any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away. Behold! all things are become new!

Listen for the JOY of new birth as we share Christ together this Christmas, and pray for salvation to come to many this year.

WORSHIP . . .

What a rich experience worship should be for the Christian at this time of year. The call of Christmas, to me, is clearly found in the carols . . . O Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord! Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King! We are joining the angels, shepherds and wise men as we worship in a song that has been sung for centuries. As we sing and play the story of Christmas, it’s the story of salvation: God, sending His Son to take on flesh, to become sin for us, that he might sacrifice Himself on our behalf, that we might be forgiven and have eternal life. As we worship, we are reminded that Christ is our Emmanuel, meaning, GOD WITH US. We are not alone! The presence of Christ – God with us – should be at the forefront of our mind and heart in this season.

My prayer for us as worship leaders, is that in spite of the extra rehearsals and long hours, in spite of the added stresses and pressures that this season brings, that it will still be a rich and meaningful season of worship in each individual heart; that we will find the space and time to quiet ourselves before the Lord and gratefully experience the mysytery and wonder of God’s incarnation in Christ and worship Him fully, in spirit and in truth. Do not allow Satan to distract you or discourage you during a season that should be characterized by loving worship for Christ, that expresses itself in love for others as well – which leads me to to the last point – the sound of . . .

SERVICE . . .

I am grateful to be part of a congregation that is focused on the community around us, and the world at large, and not only on ourselves and our own needs. We see this through our Christmas Store, our fundraising for Bea’s Kids and The Friendship House, as well as international missions, activities at Central Elementary, and many other activities I’ve forgotten to mention! This simple fact is key: IT’S NOT ABOUT US! I pray that as Choir & Orchestra members, actors, technicians – whatever – we understand that our presentation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL or in a worship service or concert, is not an effort to draw attention to ourselves, but to SERVE OTHERS. Our efforts are, as Rip described them through so many years, a GIFT to the COMMUNITY. We desire for the congregation on Sundays, and the audiences at A CHRISTMAS CAROL, to sense our love for God, but, also . . . our love and concern for THEM.

At the end of 2 Corinthians 5, after Paul talks about becoming a “new creation” in Christ, he tells us that we are “ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us . . . be reconciled to God.” He says, that we have been given the “ministry of reconciliation” to share Christ in His fullness with the world. THAT is what this season is about . . . loving Him, worshiping Him, and sharing Him . . .

It is over all too quickly, so embrace it while you may!