December 2010

Imaginary Tomorrows and Empty Yesterdays

December 29 2010 by D.E. Parkerson

Meredith Wilson’s, “The Music Man,” was one of the all-time most popular Broadway-type musicals. It involved the story of a fly-by-night flimflam man who bilked small town people out of money by promising to create a boy’s band. In one town after another, once he had gotten financial backing, he would skip town before a single note was played. That is, until he got to River City, where he met and fell in love with a librarian named Marian.

Overall “The Music Man” was an energetic musical comedy with a lot of toe-tapping songs that were very memorable, though they contained little substance — except for one memorable line, that is.

Professor Harold Hill was offering his genuine love to Marian the librarian, but she wasn’t certain that it was the real thing. She was always looking to the future, so much so that she never got around to living for today. Hill said to her, “You pile up a lot of tomorrows and you’ll find you’ve also collected a lot of empty yesterdays.”

Isn’t this what lots of people are doing today? Those who are always looking wistfully in the direction of tomorrows run the risk of missing out on the joys of today. In piling up tomorrows they soon learn they have also collected lots of empty yesterdays.

If we knew all the good things contained in our tomorrows, we would likely be so excited that we would overlook the responsibilities and opportunities that come our way today. And if we knew the bad things our future contained we would likely be paralyzed with worry or grief. 

Isn’t this what Jesus was talking about when He said, “Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:34, NIV).

The apostle Paul underscores this truth by saying, “Be very careful, then how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). In other words, let us not be so preoccupied with what happened in our yesterdays or could possibly happen in our tomorrows that you miss the joy of living today. 

Every year we have lived in the past has contained both successes and failures. There are no exceptions to this. Let us be grateful for the successes we have had and learn from the mistakes we have made.  It is the wisest way to move forward. The author of the book of Proverbs expresses it this way, “Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only the ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil” (Prov. 4:25-27, NIV).

If you ask God, He will guide you one day at a time. This is the only way to keep from piling up imaginary tomorrows and collecting empty yesterdays.

(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 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.)      
12/29/2010 1:37:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments



Birthday Celebration: You are Invited!

December 20 2010 by D.E. Parkerson

The giving and receiving of gifts during the Christmas season is a long-standing tradition in our country. Who among us does not enjoy receiving gifts? Christmas, however, is about much more than the giving and receiving of material gifts.

Most of us will be exchanging gifts with family members, church friends, co-workers, classmates and others. Some of the gifts we receive we will probably not really need — and may not be able to use. Hopefully, however, all of the gifts we are given will be appreciated.

Allow me to suggest that the all-time best gift anyone has ever been given is God’s only Son, Jesus Christ. John 3:16 reminds us that when God loved, He loved the whole world. When He gave, He gave the best He had. Those who have received this gift will never be the same afterward. The apostle Paul, realizing the value of God’s gift, said, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15).

There were many places that you and I might have chosen for the Son of God to make his entry into the world. Hebron, for example, is where Abraham and other members of his family were and are buried.

We might have chosen Jerusalem. Mount Zion, the highest place geographically in the Holy Land, is the site to which Abraham traveled and was willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. It is where Solomon’s temple and the royal palace were located in the days of Israel’s greatest glory. Solomon’s Temple was later erected on this site.

We might have chosen Athens as the place for Christ to be born. It had been the home of Alexander the Great and of Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and many other great philosophers.

Multitudes of Christians would perhaps have chosen mighty Rome, the political capitol of the world at the time. Any king born in the center of everything happening that was important would have received much attention and had almost instant influence.

Fortunately God does not do things the way we do them, for He chose lowly Bethlehem. The message proclaimed to the shepherds by angels on the historic night when Christ was born continues to thrill all who hear it.

He who had in the beginning created all things was Himself created in a human womb. He who was larger than the universe became an embryo. Divinity became flesh and dwelt among us. He who was and is eternal entered an arena where He would die.

Having said all of that, you are invited to His BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION.

Guest of Honor: Jesus Christ.

Date: Next Sunday, but the date is flexible.

Time: Whenever you are ready.

Place: The church of your choice, but He will meet you anywhere at any time.

Attire: Come as you are.

Tickets: Admission is free. You couldn’t afford it anyway. Besides, He has already paid for everyone. It cost Him everything He had.

Gift Suggestions: Your life.

R.S.V.P. If you want what He has to offer, you must respond. Please do so soon! Before it is 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 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.)    
12/20/2010 2:39:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 3 comments



The Correct Way to Approach Christmas

December 10 2010 by D.E. Parkerson

I get excited every time the weatherman predicts snow. That is because I have a little kid living on the inside of me. Unfortunately it seldom snows where I live. In Wilmington, N.C., our schools close within 30 minutes after the first snowflake falls. Kids are so excited that there would be no need to continue classes.

Children who live where it frequently snows during winter find this kind of precaution both needless and humorous. They wait until at least several inches of snow have fallen to call off school. Among the many things they do to enjoy the snow is to roll the snow into a ball and push it down the hill. The farther down the hill it rolls the bigger the snowball gets and the more other things are added to it.

At the beginning the snowball picks up grass stems and leaves, then small sticks, and later bigger sticks and even stones. These added things are foreign to it, and make it larger, but they detract from its purity and beauty.

In the same way, as Christmas has been rolled down through the centuries, it has gathered numerous foreign things which really do not belong to it. These are accretions, things it has gathered down throughout two millennia — the tradition of Santa Claus, Christmas trees, toys, dinners, presents and parties, etc.

None of these accretions were included in the original Christmas. They are not necessarily bad in and of themselves — that is, unless we put more emphasis upon these additions to the season than upon the essential meaning of Christmas — which is adoration of the Son of God who was born in Bethlehem. If we ever totally lose the spirit of adoration, we will have forgotten what this holy season is all about.

Luke 1:39-55 records the lovely song that Mary sang (the Magnificat) when she first learned that she had been chosen to be the mother of the King of Kings. Her magnificent prayer teaches us that genuine worship and prayer always includes:
  • Submission. Mary submitted herself to the will of God. This is a vital element of both worship and prayer. The true purpose of prayer is not to badger God into doing OUR will, but to submit ourselves to HIS divine will. Jesus made this clear in His prayer in Gethsemane, “If it be possible let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not as I will but as You will.”
  • Gratitude. Gratitude, an inner feeling and attitude of the heart, is best expressed in thanksgiving and praise. To lose one’s attitude of gratitude is to become so self-centered that we take for granted all the blessings of God.
  • Intercession. In intercessory prayer we pray for others. We rise above the level of seeking things solely for ourselves to seek them for others.
  • Adoration. Mary’s song begins with pure adoration, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Selfless adoration has a cleansing, invigorating power that we can get in no other way.
It is in the spirit of submission, gratitude, intercession, and adoration that every Christian should approach the celebration of the Savior’s birth. All the other things that surround Christmas are unimportant and totally secondary by comparison.

(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 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.)    
12/10/2010 2:44:00 PM by D.E. Parkerson | with 2 comments



Job Description: Church Watch Dog

December 3 2010 by D.E. Parkerson

Several years ago a group of undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin, skilled in writing, formed a club called “The Stranglers.” At each meeting a member would read a story or essay he had written.  The others literally tore it to pieces. No holds were barred.

Another club at the same school, consisting of young ladies, called themselves “The Wranglers.” They, too, read manuscripts aloud to one another. But their criticism was constructive in nature. They looked for strong points as well as weak ones. Every effort, however feeble, was encouraged.

Twenty years later an alumnus of the university studied the careers of the members of both clubs. Of the bright young talents in “The Stranglers” not one had achieved journalistic success. However, there were several successful writers who had been members of “The Wranglers,” including Marjorie K. Rawlings, author of The Yearling.”

The ultimate goal of both clubs was that their members become successful writers. One club succeeded in achieving that goal, but the other failed. Why the difference? One majored on criticism, the other majored on encouragement.

Who among us cannot remember those persons along the way who offered us encouragement? We remember and appreciate those who encouraged us by saying, “You can do it! I believe in you!” There is something about expressing confidence in a person’s ability that actually strengthens that ability. We also remember those persons who were caustic and critical.

That is why our willingness to encourage others, to expect the best from them, to wish them success, is extremely important. This is especially true in our homes. Children who often hear a parent say “You will never amount to anything!” face an uphill struggle in life. They often become part of our prison population.

Another place where encouragement is greatly needed, but often found in short supply, is the church. How quick many church members are to criticize other believers. How prone they are to detect the “mote” in a fellow church member’s eye, while overlooking the “beam” in their own eye.

Most churches have at least one watchdog — some have a lot more. Watchdogs keep their eyes on others and growl. They are always the first to hear of something wrong. They are self-appointed detectives. They see clearly the faults of others, and are more than willing to tell others about them, but ignore their own faults.

I am reminded of a man in Sicily who fell asleep on the sofa. His mischievous son rubbed a piece of limburger cheese across his mustache and quickly left the room. When the man awoke he sniffed the air and said, “Something in this room is rotten.”

He walked through other rooms, sniffed again, and said, “This whole house is rotten!” Walking out into the yard he sniffed again and said, “The whole world is rotten! It was not the world that was not rotten. The problem was under his nose!

Does your church have any self-appointed watchdogs? If so, should you ever catch them asleep in church, rub some limburger cheese under their nose.

(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 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.)  
12/3/2010 5:08:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 5 comments