April 2011

Every Christian is Deeply in Debt

April 29 2011 by D.E. Parkerson

Acquiring entirely too much debt is an easy thing to do in America. The experts on Madison Avenue are very skilled at convincing us that we need to buy lots of things.  We are told that it is the only way to keep up with the proverbial Jones family — and we swallow the bait — hook, line and sinker!

I saw two interesting television ads recently. In the first ad an automobile dealer said: “Need a car? No problem! Got bad credit? No problem! We’ve got what you want. Come in today, and we’ll put you behind the wheel.” It would be no problem for the dealer to put you in a car. Paying for it, however, could well be a problem for anyone who became victim of such a sales presentation.

The second television ad was that of a law firm: “If you owe more than you can pay, we can help you settle for thousands of dollars less.” Then a satisfied client said, “I owed $30,000 and this firm enabled me to pay only a fraction of what I owed.” It didn’t seem to bother him in the least that he escaped paying an honest debt.

It was a great thing for civilization when the wheel was invented. It was a sad day, however, for many people when plastic was invented — for credit cards are made out of plastic. Those who lack discipline have learned that all they have to do to have anything they want is to go into a store, pick it up, carry it to a clerk, take out a plastic credit card, hand it to the clerk, and say: “Charge it.”

I read recently the story of a door-to-door salesman who was selling vacuum cleaners. When he said to one woman, “It will cut your housework in half,” she bought two of them. She had been trained to buy anything she wanted, not what she needed.

One man said to a friend, “My wife had some plastic surgery last week.” He explained further by saying, “I took a pair of scissors and cut up her credit cards.”

It needs to be said at this point that men are as guilty as women when it comes to overusing credit cards. Incurring too much debt is a very easy thing to do for anyone who lacks discipline. Even Uncle Sam has incurred too much senseless debt. The members of Congress have discovered that it is much easier to spend other people’s money than it is to spend their own. Overspending has become an addiction.

The Bible teaches that no one should incur more monetary debt than can be reasonably paid. This is especially true of Christians. It needs to be said, however, that there is another kind of debt that Christians owe that can never be paid in full.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome: “I am obligated,” he said, “to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and to the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome” (Rom. 1:14-15). He was in debt to the Romans, not because he had borrowed anything from them, but because Christ had given him the gospel to pass along to them.” He had an obligation to discharge, a duty to perform, a debt to pay. Every Christian is a debtor, whether we acknowledge it or not. Our debt is discharged only by daily passing on to others the good news concerning Jesus Christ who took upon Himself the penalty for sin that those who believe might have eternal life.

The apostle Paul was in debt. I am in debt. If you are a Christian, you are in debt. You believe in paying your debts, don’t you? If so, don’t pull out your credit card and say, “Charge it.” The only way you can discharge this debt is by sharing the good news found in John 3:16 with someone who needs to hear it.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University (B.A.), Southeastern Seminary (M. Div. and Th.M.), and Campbell University (D.D.). He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on Sept. 30, 1996, he has served 10 North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958. He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)


(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
4/29/2011 8:57:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments



That is What Easter Means!

April 22 2011 by D.E. Parkerson

Three Roman crosses stood silhouetted against a darkening sky. Three men dying in such agony made it a grim scene indeed. After six agonizing hours of suffering, the Roman soldiers examined the three men. One of them pierced Jesus’ side with a spear. When they were certain that He was dead, they went back to their barracks.

The enemies of Jesus even asked Pilate to set a watch of soldiers at the tomb for at least three days. “He had said He would rise again after three days,” they kept reminding one another. Pilate granted their request, and the grave was sealed.

Then, on the first day of the week, the word began to spread throughout the city: “Jesus has risen from the grave. He is alive! He is alive just as He said!” This news was not accepted without some evidence. The disciples at first refused to believe.

Then, a few days later, Jesus suddenly appeared in their midst. They were filled with hope again. Despair was quickly swept aside by unwavering conviction. Their hearts began to overflow with an unconquerable joy.

The resurrection of Jesus is a historical event! It is the only thing that could have transformed a band of discouraged and defeated disciples into men who went out to tell the Good News to a waiting world. In the nearly two thousand years since that day those who have believed the good news have had the shattered pieces of their lives put together again. Sin no longer has the power to separate anyone from God.

The message of Easter is simply this: God chooses to love us regardless of the thoughts of our minds, the deeds of our hands, and the attitudes of our hearts. Our sins, no matter how black or numerous, can be absolved as we bring them to God in a spirit of penitence. Old things pass away, and all things become new.

On the night before Jesus was crucified He had met with His disciples in the upper room to celebrate the Passover Feast. It was here that He revealed to them the shocking news that one of them would betray Him. They all, with puzzled looks on their faces, began to ask, “Lord, is it I?” (Matt. 26:22).

Before the last rays of a crimson horizon had given way to the darkness of night, Jesus had said to them, “All of you shall fall away because of me this night” (v. 31). Jesus, in His gentle way, said to Peter, “before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times” (v. 34). Peter, not wanting to believe this, compounded his problems by saying, “Though I should die with you, yet I will not deny you” (v. 35).

Later, after he had denied Jesus three times, he heard the cock crow. He immediately remembered what his Lord had said, felt the anguish that comes with guilt, slipped away to a private place, buried his face in his hands, and wept bitterly.

“Look what an awful mess I’ve made!” Peter cried to himself. “Will He forgive me for what I’ve done? Can I ever look Him in His face again? What can I do to make this up to Him?” As you already know, Jesus did forgive him!

Have you ever denied Jesus? If so, know this: your past deeds may have been ugly — and they may trouble you deeply — but Christ will forgive you (1 Jn. 1:9). His forgiveness has always been available to those who seek it. It still is!

That is what Easter means!

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University [B.A.], Southeastern Seminary [M. Div. and Th.M.], and Campbell University [D.D.]. He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on Sept. 30, 1996, he has served 10 North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958. He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.)
4/22/2011 8:59:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments



When Paradise Lost Became Paradise Regained

April 15 2011 by D.E. Parkerson

John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, concludes with the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. When he had finished the poem he asked his friend, Thomas Ellwood, to read it. When Elwood had finished reading it, he said, “You have said much here of Paradise Lost, but what do you have to say of Paradise Found?”

This forced Milton to write a second work entitled Paradise Regained, which captures the compelling hope of the ultimate resolution of mankind’s fallen sinful nature through God’s redemption to the fullness of His intended purpose.

This second work by Milton deals with the hope of the home in heaven that God gives to every believer. A life with nothing to look forward to is a life of emptiness and despair. It is hope for something beyond this moment, for something beyond us, that drives the passions of the human soul. When all we have is the present moment, we end up saying to ourselves, “There has to be more to life than this.”

Jesus said to His disciples when He was about to leave them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, that you may also be where I am” (Jn. 14:1-2 NIV).

Jesus was fully aware of the kind of difficulties and dangers they would face following His return to be with the Father. Also, He had a mission for them — a mission that would not be easy for them to carry out. He wanted His words of hope to transform what they viewed as a dead-end street into a wide-open highway.

It was in speaking of this hope the Apostle Peter broke out in ecstatic praise as he declared, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4). The message of Easter is the message of hope. It is the hope of the day when heaven will be the eternal home of every believer. It is not a vain hope, for it is guaranteed by God Himself who raised His Son, Jesus Christ, from the grave.

When British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was making plans for his funeral, he asked that his body lie in state in the heart of London under the massive dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, that great architectural masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wrenn.

Churchill then requested that a trumpeter be stationed on each side of the balcony that circles the dome. At the end of the service the trumpeter on one side of the dome was to play taps. When he was finished the trumpeter on the other side was to play reveille. One spoke of the end of life here, the other of God’s wake-up call. That is the message of Easter. It is the message of hope. It is the hope of hearing God’s wake-up call, when we will be welcomed by God to our eternal home.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University [B.A.], Southeastern Seminary [M. Div. and Th.M.], and Campbell University [D.D.]. He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on Sept. 30, 1996, he has served 10 North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958. He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
4/15/2011 9:35:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments



“My God ... Why?”

April 8 2011 by D.E. Parkerson

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me (Mark 15:34)?” There is a mystery behind these words spoken by Jesus from the cross which we cannot penetrate.  

The Son of God had taken our life upon Himself. He had faced our temptations and borne our trials. He had suffered all that life could place upon Him. He had known the failure of friends, the hatred of foes, and the malice of enemies. He had faced the most searing pain that life could offer. There was only one experience He had not yet known — He had never known the consequence of sin.  

The major thing that sin does: it separates us from God. It builds a high wall between us and our Creator that no human can scale. Jesus had never been separated from the Father before the cruel hours He spent nailed to a Roman cross. In this one terrible moment He took our penalty for sin, which is death, upon Himself. He, who knew no sin, experienced what it was like to be a sinner.  

Jesus, for the very first time, knew what it was like to be separated from the Father. That is why we need never fear to go to Him when sin has built a wall between us and God. There is no depth of human experience which Christ has not shared.  

“My God, why?” is a question that most of us, in time of great pain and suffering, have shouted in the direction of heaven. It is comforting to know that the Son of God has shared this experience before us, and that He did it for us. He turned the apparent tragedy of His crucifixion into a basis for universal blessing with the song of victory: “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit” (Luke 23:46).  

It is in these words from the cross that we discover the key to a proper and beneficial response to our times of suffering. It is true that Christ’s sufferings were on our behalf, but they also came as a consequence of living in this distorted world.

God does not afflict us with suffering. He does, however, enable us to bear it, and even to discover meaning and often some purpose for our conflicts and afflictions. The Christian’s proper response to suffering is to realize that no one in our world, not even those who love and serve God, are immune to hardships, pain, and suffering. And to realize, as the Apostle Paul said, “In all things (yes, this includes hardships and suffering) God works for the good to those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  

The Christian’s attitude to the difficult moments of life should always be to face them, accept them — and allow God to use them to achieve His purpose in our lives and through us in the lives of others. I have known many saints of God who faced extreme difficulties in this way, and they became instruments through whom God richly blessed everyone around them. This becomes possible only by the grace of God.  

Following the cry of abandonment expressed by Jesus, John’s Gospel tells us that He died, having said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Thus, Jesus died with triumph on His lips. His assigned mission had been completed. Following the terrible darkness that had covered the earth during His hours upon the cross, the light returned. Several days later He went home to the Father to prepare a dwelling for those who trust Him. 

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University [B.A.], Southeastern Seminary [M. Div. and Th.M.], and Campbell University [D.D.]. He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on Sept. 30, 1996, he has served 10 North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958. He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
4/8/2011 7:52:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments



If You Could Read Your Own Obituary

April 1 2011 by D.E. Parkerson

One morning in 1888, Alfred B. Nobel, inventor of dynamite, awoke to read his own obituary in the newspaper. It was his brother who had died, and the French reporter carelessly reported the death of the wrong brother. Nobel was totally shocked by what he read. His obituary described him as the dynamite king, the man who had invented explosives. To the world he was nothing more than a merchant of death.

Horrified by what the world would consider his legacy to be, Nobel resolved to change his life and to do something positive for society. He left his entire fortune to be awarded to individuals who have done the most for the benefit of humanity. The result was the Nobel Prize — five prizes are awarded each year, the most notable being the Nobel Peace Prize.

Even thinking about your obituary appearing in the newspaper is disconcerting. When yours does appear one day, will it have nothing more than the usual list of names, dates, and personal facts? Or will it reveal a legacy that made the world a better place to live?

James Moffatt once said, “When a man leaves this world, be he righteous or unrighteous, he leaves something that will grow and spread like a cancer or a poison, or he will leave something like the fragrance of perfume or a blossom of beauty that permeates the atmosphere with blessing.” If you could read your obituary in today’s newspaper:

What would it say about your priorities?
Jesus told the story of a rich man we call Dives who became so preoccupied with making money that he could not see the beggar named Lazarus sitting just outside his gate. Lazarus would have loved to have some of the crumbs which fell from Dives’ table, but Dives never even knew he was there. There is nothing wrong with being successful in life. Our world is tremendously blessed by the generous bequests of persons who have legitimately earned much wealth, but whose sole purpose in life was not accumulation.

What and how much do you own? Or does the wealth you have accumulated own you? Is pleasure your number one goal in life? America is full of “Good-Time-Charlies” and “One-Night-Stand-Anns,” persons who believe in the hedonistic philosophy that “you only live once,” so why not “eat, drink, and be merry.”

What would it say about your relationships?
Who will it say have been the important people in your life? How important are the members of your family? How faithful are you to your mate? And how much time do you make in your schedule for your children? What are your attitudes toward others? Do you have prejudice in your heart toward any person or group? Is there ill will in your heart against anyone? If so, you need to know that maintaining anger in your heart against anyone is like taking poison into your own body and waiting for the other person to die.

What would it say you had invested in the lives of others? The person who is wrapped up in himself makes a very small package. If your world revolves around yourself, what you invest in the lives of others will likely be very small. The people who live longest in our memory are those who have been committed to the goal of serving others.  

Where will it say you will spend eternity?
“Happy are the dead who die in the Lord. Yes, says the Spirit, for they will rest from their labor, for their deeds follow them” (Rev. 14:13). Though your obituary will hopefully not appear in today’s newspaper, one day it will be there. At that time what is written will remain forever written and cannot ever be changed to the slightest degree. It is only while you are living that you can influence what it will say.  

Is there anything about your life that needs changing? If so, you need to change it while you are living. When your obituary appears in the newspaper, it will be too late.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University [B.A.], Southeastern Seminary [M. Div. and Th.M.], and Campbell University [D.D.]. He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on Sept. 30, 1996, he has served 10 North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958. He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)

(SPECIAL NOTE — Thank you for your continued support of the Biblical Recorder site. During this interim period while we are searching for a new Editor/President the comments section will be temporarily discontinued. Thank you for your understanding and patience in this. If you do have comments or issues with items we run, please contact dianna@biblicalrecorder.org or call 919-847-2127.) 
4/1/2011 9:57:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments