December 2009

The Recycled New Year’s Resolution

December 31 2009 by D.E. Parkerson

I retired as pastor of Sanford’s First Baptist Church on September 30, 1996. Since that date I have served as the interim pastor of nine churches. Now, after six fulltime pastorates and nine interims the time has come to fully enjoy being retired.

Needless to say, I have lots of extra time I never had, and I spend it by reading. For more than 50 years most of my reading time had to be devoted to preparation for an assignment of one kind or another. I now have time to read biographies, books dealing with history, mysteries, well-written fiction, etc. 

I enjoy this very much. I recently checked Bill Cosby’s book, I Am What I Ate . . . and I’m frightened!!! out of the New Hanover County Library. Cosby, as you know, is an excellent comedian, and his books are as entertaining as his comedy skits on television.

I am reading Cosby’s book on the day before Christmas Eve, and it reminds me that the resolution I and many others make at the beginning of each year will need to be made again on January 1. I try to keep my weight within a range of three pounds, but the Christmas season makes that difficult. I am five pounds over my chosen limit again.

Someone asked me fairly recently, “What is your favorite dish?” I replied, “My favorite dish is food — American food, Chinese food, Mexican food, Greek food — anything so long as it is food.”

David Early, my fellow minister at Sanford’s First Baptist Church for many years is well over six feet tall and has an appetite as robust as mine. He has a narrow waist and stands on legs about the size of hoe handles. I asked him a few years ago how he stayed so skinny, and he replied, “You have to choose a skinny daddy.”

I had never thought of that. By the time he suggested it as the way to deal with weight gain, it was much too late for me to choose a skinny daddy.

All the extra delicious goodies tend to multiply in the days leading up to and including Christmas and New Years’ day. Church suppers. Parties galore. Desserts of all kind. Bacon. Sausage. Hot dogs. Pizza. Cheese. Nobody enjoys cheese more than I do. 

I think I would enjoy eating sawdust if it was covered with cheese.

Dr. Robert Andrews, our family physician and a fine member of the church of which I was pastor, slid a book under my office door several years ago containing information about the kinds of foods a person should eat to be healthy and live a long time. His suggestions were on target, of course, and he was looking out for my best interests.

I appreciate doctors who take a personal interest in their patients. I try most of the time to take the advice he gave. But every year there seems to be an abundance of extra goodies within easy reach.

What do I do?

I rationalize by remembering the words found in Deuteronomy 8:10 — “When you have eaten and are satisfied, you can bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.”

Then, on New Year’s Day I recycle that same resolution I’ve made for at least the last 30 or 40 years: “I RESOLVE TO LOSE FIVE POUNDS!”

(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.)    
12/31/2009 6:53:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments



Beyond the Manger: A Cross

December 23 2009 by D.E. Parkerson

When I was in Israel in 1973 I saw what might have been the very fields where shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks on that eventful night when an angel appeared suddenly and said, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10).

It was the most meaningful night in history, for it was the time God invaded the earth in a unique and powerful way. In the tiny village of Bethlehem God’s Son, the Living Word, “became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory” (John 1:14). Jesus came for one purpose — that He might become Savior. And, as John expressed it, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). Today, however, there are millions of people who have not received Him as Savior and Lord.

One reason could be that His birth is often wrapped in an aura of romance, poetic imagery, and fanciful imagination. Admiring a baby in a manger in one thing, surrendering to Christ as Savior and Lord is something altogether different.

Savior is Christ’s supreme title. He delivers all who trust Him from the power and penalty of sin. He has the power to set you free from the guilt of past misdeeds, and also the grip of sin in your daily life. He can set you free from an empty, hollow life, and empower every day of your life with purpose and peace.

No person is without a past.  The mistakes of youth, the vanity of self-seeking, the hungry pursuit of empty pleasures, the unrestrained fantasies and outrageous behavior, the sowing of “wild oats” — all of it stains the soul, corrupts the character, and defiles the body. No one is exempt from these human experiences.

Some may believe they have no need of a Savior — but the time may come when they will realize their mistake. The moment they realize the magnitude of their spiritual need and cry out, “Be merciful to me, a sinner!” Christ will hear their cry and provide cleansing from sin.

God transforms the lives of all who trust Him. He reshapes their goals and re-creates a new character in them. From that day forward their salvation is secure, for “there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Growth toward spiritual maturity becomes a lifelong journey.

Christmas is not just about the baby Jesus in a manger. Beyond the manger Jesus would be nailed to a Roman cross. He who was born at Bethlehem had come to die, to take our place in death. It was the only way He could become Savior. Is He your Savior? If not, He can be — today!

(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.)  
12/23/2009 3:16:00 PM by D.E. Parkerson | with 1 comments



That Is Why Jesus Came!

December 14 2009 by D.E. Parkerson

“While I was walking on the face of the moon” are the words with which American astronaut James Irwin often began his talks. It was the kind of arresting opening that made his listeners want to hear more.

I have never had any desire to walk on the moon. I haven’t lost anything there that I want returned. But I admire Colonel Irwin’s courage for doing so. It had to be a thrill to look from the moon and see the earth suspended in space like an iridescent jewel.

Colonel Irwin often shared in his speeches that as he walked on the face of the moon the thought came to him: “Man walking on the moon — this is the greatest event of human history.” It was at this point, he would say, that he heard an inner voice speak to his heart, “I did something greater than that.  I walked on the earth!”

He often said in his speeches that he returned from the moon not to be a celebrity but as a servant of the Lord of the universe who came and walked on the earth in the person of Jesus Christ.

Christians celebrate each Christmas the event that split human history into B.C. and A.D. — the Incarnation — God taking upon Himself the form of human flesh — deity clothed in the garb of humanity — the Sovereign becoming the Savior.

Malcolm Muggeridge was correct when he said: “The coming of Jesus into the world is the most stupendous event of human history.” What the Old Testament character Job had prophesied — “He will stand upon the earth” (Job 19:25) — came true.

Job’s prophecy of our Lord’s coming to earth can refer to either His incarnation or His second coming. Both represent the Son of God standing upon the earth. His first coming at Bethlehem was to rescue lost mankind from the power and penalty of sin. His second coming will be in mighty triumph.

During the First World War, a soldier in the trenches in Europe saw his friend wounded out in no-man’s land between his trench and the enemy’s line. He asked his officer, “May I go and bring Him back?”

His officer refused to give his permission. “If you go out to bring him back you will also likely be killed. Therefore, I cannot let you do that.”

But, disobeying his officer, he went out to save his friend. He managed to bring him back, only to fall mortally wounded as he staggered into his trench.

The officer was angry. “I told you not to go,” he said. “Now I have lost two good men. It was not worth it.” “But it was worth it, Sir, because when I got to him, he said, ‘Jim, I knew you would come.’” It was unspeakable love that brought Christ from heaven to earth on that first Christmas, then led Him out into the “no-man’s land” where a Roman cross awaited, there to be crucified that He might bring us back from death to life, from defeat to victory, from sin to salvation.

That is why Jesus came over 2,000 years ago! And it is why He is coming again!

(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.)
12/14/2009 9:01:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 1 comments



Traditional Christmas Customs

December 11 2009 by D.E. Parkerson

On December 25 Christians around the world will once again celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, God’s promised Messiah, into the world. That is why the day is called “CHRISTMAS” (CHRIST-MASS). The incarnation of God is very significant to every Christian. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).

No one has to be told that many of the customs and observances surrounding Christmas are unsupported by scripture, and have no intended relevance for the living of the Christian faith. Even so, though they are not specifically Christian, they provide us an annual day when we can celebrate the fact that “God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).

One of the customs observed at Christmas is the tendency to have family reunions and community gatherings. These gatherings provide needed time for communicating with old friends, and for reconciling differences between family members, church members, and others. On these occasions, should we take the opportunity, we can remember that Christ has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19).

Even though the spirit of commercialism and covetousness tends to intrude, the practice of exchanging gifts at Christmas is a good time to be reminded of the One who “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him would not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

In homes all across America and around the world many gifts will be exchanged on Christmas morning — to and from family members, friends, co-workers, classmates, etc. While we are giving gifts to one another, it will be singularly appropriate to give a special gift to our Lord and Savior — first “ourselves,” and then special gifts that will minister in His name and for His glory.

Another wholesome custom at Christmas is to give special emphasis to children. This reminds us as parents, and as a community, of our responsibility to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

The Christmas tree and other Christmas traditions have been adequately divested of their original pagan connotations so that Christians can, in good conscience, utilize them to encourage the spirit of love and reconciliation that honor Christ.

It is unlikely, of course, that December 25 is the actual birth date of Christ. The precise date is not as important as the fact that we celebrate the birth of Christ, “Emmanuel“ (God with us). May you and all your loved ones have a Christ-blessed Christmas!

(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.)
12/11/2009 3:39:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments