August 2009

Skipping Work To Celebrate Work

August 31 2009 by D.E. Parkerson

On the first Monday each September Americans celebrate the value of work, believe it or not, by taking the day off from work. It is a day that is enjoyed by both management and labor, by employers and employees.

Employers or supervisors who are fair, think clearly, work hard, and are goal-oriented always deal honestly with their workers. Productivity and creativity suffer when supervisors do not exhibit these qualities.

Good bosses are neither accidental nor automatic. Those who fail to demonstrate the qualities mentioned above generally fall into two categories:

First, there are those who are incompetent. Some people in responsible positions have been promoted to their level of incompetence. They take credit for every achievement, but blame others for every failure. They are difficult to work for because they are negative and discouraging rather than affirming and encouraging.

Second, there are those who are intolerant. They may be competent and knowledgeable, but no one can please them. They are frequently workaholics, and are perfectionists by nature. Enough is never enough.

Their job means everything to them. They are high-achieving, hard-charging, and tough-minded.  Unlike incompetent supervisors, they are often overqualified. When their expectations are not met, it is always the employee’s fault. They often accuse others of being underachievers. The problem is that they are “overexpecters.”

A deacon in a former pastorate was the CEO of a large corporation’s factory in the city. Integrity was the cornerstone of his relationships with every supervisor and worker under him. Because he dealt fairly and honestly with everyone, he had earned their respect. His workers would have gone to the jumping off place for him.

The factory was purchased by new owners, who came to town, took notice of how he functioned, called him into conference and told him that he had to function differently. “You are too kind to those under you. Productivity will increase and we will make more money if you push and drive the employees who are under you.”

Randolph Sutton went to his office, typed out his resignation, gave it to them, cleaned out his desk, and said to them, “I am a Christian. I can’t operate that way.” At this point he got in his car and drove home.  e was 62 years old. Few corporations will hire 62-year-old executives, for they are thought to be over-qualified and too expensive.

The story does not end there. The new owners in only a few years were forced to declare bankruptcy. They saw their employees only in terms of how much they could add to the company’s bottom line. They had never learned that integrity pays great dividends in the workplace, while greed often leads to bankruptcy.

To quote Paul Harvey’s famous line, “Now you know the rest of the story!”

(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 September 30, 1996, he has served nine 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.)


8/31/2009 10:46:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments



Happy are those who mourn ...

August 24 2009 by D.E. Parkerson

I was attending the North Carolina Baptist State Convention’s annual meeting in Ashville several years ago when a message scrolled across the message board for me to call home. I sensed that the message I would receive would not be a pleasant one.

A beautiful teenage girl who was a member of our church had been missing for several weeks. The authorities had found her body in some woods several miles from Wilmington. I returned home post haste because I knew her family was heartbroken.

Tragedy sometimes strikes suddenly, doesn’t it? No one wants to ever have the kind of experience this fine family was going through. Yet it happens. Our human resources are totally inadequate at such times and our eyes fill with tears.

It was my responsibility as pastor to minister to the murdered girl’s parents. What does one say at such times? I had no wisdom with which I could wave a magic wand and make their hurt disappear. I did what I was called to do: I sought to be the ambassador of God, who alone could provide the comfort and strength they needed.

In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4). Blessed is often translated happy. This verse contains an important truism: one can never be comforted unless he first weeps. Tears cannot be dried until they are first shed. Rainbows never form in tearless eyes.

The person who keeps his emotions — particularly grief — pent up inside never finds release and comfort. However, he who “sows in tears shall reap in joy” (Ps. 126:5). The Psalmist also reminds us that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5).

To understand this Beatitude, remember that it does not promise deliverance from sorrow but rather happiness in the midst of sorrow. Jesus taught, “In the world you have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

Sorrows sometimes come one after another. William Shakespeare, in Hamlet, expressed it this way, “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.” At such times we need comfort that Christ alone can give.

The shortest verse in the Bible tells us why this is true — “Jesus wept” (Jn. 11:35). Did any two words ever speak such eloquence? Could any descriptive statement make us appreciate more the humanity and compassion of Christ?

It was at the tomb of Lazarus that Jesus wept, along with Mary and Martha, sisters of the deceased. He could have talked sentimentally about his friend and their brother. But He spoke only with His eyes that were filled with tears. There can be no greater show of love than to weep with those who weep.

In times of sorrow I encourage you to do what the Psalmist did: “In my trouble I cried to the Lord, and He answered me” (Ps. 120:1).

(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 September 30, 1996, he has served nine 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.)

8/24/2009 10:16:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments



Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep ...

August 17 2009 by D.E. Parkerson

Christian parents have for generations taught their small children to pray a simple prayer that begins with the words, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.” It is a good beginning, for it creates in a child’s mind not only recognition of God’s sovereignty, but also seeks to instill a sincere dependence on Him.

Children, with continued guidance, later learn to add their own thoughts to their prayers: “Bless mama and daddy, and grandmamma, and granddaddy, etc.” One little girl prayed, “And God, please make my brother stop hitting me.” After a pause she continued, “And Lord, as you will remember, I’ve mentioned this before.”

The honesty of children’s prayers is both wonderful and amusing. For example, a six-year-old girl kneeling beside her bed one night remembered her baby sister in this way, “And dear God, I’m saying prayers also for my little sister, Becky, because she’s too little to pray for herself. Why, she isn’t even toilet-trained.”

The tragedy is that many children drop the habit of praying long before they become adults. Other interests and priorities claim their attention, and time spent in prayer gets pushed to the periphery, or is left off each day’s agenda altogether.

Because evening is wind down time, we may think our prayers lack power and conviction that is available earlier in the day. However, prayer at any time of the day can have powerful effect on our lives and on our world. For instance:
  • Queen Mary said she feared the prayers of John Knox more than she feared all the armies of Scotland.
  • John Wesley’s prayers brought spiritual renewal to England, sparing his fellow citizens the horrors of the French Revolution.
  • Revival spread throughout the 13 original colonies in America when Jonathan Edwards prayed.
Prayer has shaped history many times. History could be altered in constructive ways again if Christians fell on their knees regularly in believing prayer.

Matthew 14:23 tells us Jesus sought to be alone with the Father after an extremely exhausting day of preaching, teaching, and healing the multitudes. If the Son of God during the days of His flesh thought that the end of a tiring day was a good time to pray, surely each of us should see the importance of ending each day with prayer.

Tonight, why not speak honestly and openly with the Lord about your concerns, and make your petitions known? Then cast all your care on Him, and commit yourself afresh to Him.  

Recognize, as the early American preacher, Phillips Brooks, once said, “Prayer is not conquering God’s reluctance, but taking hold of God’s willingness.”

Nothing lies outside the reach of prayer except that which is outside the will of God. But even God, who is sovereign and has unlimited power, cannot answer a prayer that has not been prayed.

(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 September 30, 1996, he has served nine 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.)


8/17/2009 3:17:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 1 comments



Maximizing Your Retirement Years

August 10 2009 by D.E. Parkerson

“I know what I’m going to do when I retire — absolutely nothing!”

So spoke a man in a television ad some years ago that was promoting the value of setting aside funds for retirement years. Like many others in our world, he obviously regarded work as inescapable drudgery, and the years beyond 65 as the opportunity to do nothing more than sit in a recliner and vegetate.

I could not think of a worse way to spend retirement years. A greater boredom could not exist than doing “absolutely nothing” for the rest of your life. God intends the years beyond 65 to be a person’s finest and most enjoyable years.

The Bible tells us of a time when Abraham was depressed. He was above 90 years of age, and he and his wife Sarah did not have a son as God had promised. The Bible describes him as “sitting in his tent with the flap rolled down.” It is the kind of thing that happens to persons who believe their dreams will never come true.

It was at this point that God took him outside his tent and said, “Look toward the heavens, and count the stars, and see if you are able to count them. So shall your descendents be” (Gen. 15:5).

Abraham was focusing on his problems, not on the One who is the problem solver.

Abraham did as he was told, for he rolled back the flap on his tent, walked outside, and looked up at the stars. He saw that the earth was much bigger than plot of ground on which he had pitched his tent. He went forward to found a nation.

He realized, as Robert Browning said, it is “the last of life for which the first was made.” It dawned on him that old age is not determined by the number of years you have lived, but by ceasing to look forward with anticipation to further accomplishments.

A noted psychologist, after an extensive survey, said, “If a person’s curve of efficiency is still upward at 50 to 55, then it may be expected to continue upward far along into old age. But if it is on a decline at this time, then it will continue downward from that time on.”

Bud Wilkinson, former football coach at the University of Oklahoma, once said, “I’m going to put off dying till it’s the last thing I’ll do. If I knew where I was going to die, I would stay away from that place.” He knew that having a sense of humor is vital to growing old gracefully and joyfully. In fact, it is not a bad thing to have at any age.

Some people grow old and grouchy. Others just grow old. Regardless of how old you are, it is my prayer that you will look upon your senior years as a wonderful time to serve both God and others. It is way out in front of “doing nothing.”

(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 September 30, 1996, he has served nine 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.)

8/10/2009 10:23:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments



A Task That Is Humanly Impossible

August 3 2009 by D.E. Parkerson

Jesus gave His followers a mission that was humanly impossible to achieve. A “heaven-sized task” can only be achieved if heaven’s power accompanies those who attempt it. When Jesus said, “Go ... make disciples ... baptize ... teach,” He also said “and I will go with you always — even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).

To achieve its divinely assigned mission the church must be IN the world, but not OF the world. Subtle and dangerous trends, however, have infiltrated the church. The line that separates it from the world is often all but obliterated. The beliefs and practices of the world are now accepted by a shockingly large number of professing Christians.

A.W. Tozer, in Keys to the Deeper Life, wrote, “The moral climate of the church is not that of the New Testament, but that of Hollywood and Broadway.” To the degree that this is true, it is a harsh but sobering criticism.

A recent Gallup poll on religion in America finds that more than 70 percent of all those polled believed themselves to be Christians. When pressed to explain why they thought that, many said they were Christians because they were church members, or because they try to live by the Golden Rule, not because they had accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and had committed themselves to being His disciple.

The church that patterns its doctrines and policies after those of the world simply does not understand the demands of genuine Christian discipleship. It may continue to exist, and may do many excellent things in its surroundings, but it cannot and will not achieve its divinely assigned mission.

In The Cost of Discipleship, the great German pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, warned Christians that “cheap grace” is not what God grants. The strength and hope of our relationship with the living God arise from His nature and from the sacrifice Christ made at Calvary. Our lives are to rehearse that sacrifice daily (Rom. 12:1-2).

Leonard Ravenhill of England said, “The H-bomb has disturbed everything but the church. The world sleeps in darkness; the church sleeps in light. The world is not waiting for a new definition of the gospel but for a new demonstration of its power.”

In his book, By the Power of God, Samuel Shoemaker stated: “Our greatest sin is not our sins of passion or our less obvious sins of attitude; it is our ineffectiveness in the presence of so much unmet need when we have access to so much power.”

God holds every church responsible for all the good it could do in the world — if only it were filled with Holy Spirit power. We are vessels, to be sure, but vessels to be emptied and refilled continually. The proper order is receiving, followed by giving. It is not continual receiving without giving.

(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 September 30, 1996, he has served nine 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.)

8/3/2009 6:39:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments