Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

cell phone engagement — August 3, 2022

cell phone engagement

My friend was anticipating it – and seriously excited about it.  She loved the guy with all her heart.  The day finally came that he popped the question.  On bended knee, he presented a small box containing an expensive gift.   She opened it and found a brand-new sparkly cell phone.  He then asked her to marry him.  She said yes. 

The box contained an engagement ring of another kind.  But at least it came with unlimited data.  Hey, I bet it even helped with their communication skills.

Hmm?  At the wedding – after they did the vows – I wonder if they exchanged Otter Boxes!

Either way, I am happy to report that they have lived happily ever after. 


On the topic of marriage.  A couple is not truly married until vows are exchanged.  A cell phone is not necessary or even a wedding ring – but vows are.  The vows spiritually and legally bind a man and a woman together.

These days a couple may look like they are married and act like they are married and even think like they are married – but are not. 

And it may not make a difference to them until there is a death.  In my work as a hospice chaplain, I have seen it demonstrated several times.  A couple chooses to live together, sometimes for decades.   Then he dies, but the house was in his name, it goes to his kids, and she ends up homeless. – losing husband and home at the same time. 

That is probably not your worry, but yours may be similar.

Some of us were raised in church.  We did Sunday School, VBS, sat in the pew every Sunday, laughed at the preacher’s corny jokes.  We memorized the verses and could beat most anyone when it came to the Bible drills. 

We had church in us, around us, beneath and over us – so we have assumed all along that we are true believers.

But it’s possible that we are not – if we haven’t given ourselves to Jesus at some point.  Like the marriage vows, there needs to be a point of commitment to Christ. 

The apostle John put it this way, “But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children.”  John 1:12 NET Bible ®

The word “receive” is a verb – an action word.  It is something that a person does.   When they do it, God reciprocates by making them His children. 

But what does it mean to “receive?”   It is a hardworking verb in the New Testament.  It was used to describe the taking and grasping of something with your hand.   With salvation we take and grasp the message with our hearts. 

Elsewhere it was used to describe John who invited Mary into his home. (John 19:27).  With salvation we invite Christ into our lives.  

It also carries the idea of recognizing and responding to the authority of another.   This is precisely what we do when we receive Christ. 

My first job was doing fast food.  I did not like the manager much.  Consequently, I quit that same job five times, and was fired another four.  I was young and stupid for sure.  I failed to properly respond to his authority. 

Jesus told us that He had the authority to forgive our sins.  (Matthew 9:6) This is because He died for those sins and was raised again.  To receive Him, is to submit ourselves to Him and His authority.

Have you done that?  Have you ever stopped and made a conscious decision to receive Christ and the gift of forgiveness He died to provide for you?

If you haven’t, please do it now!  The blessings and benefits of truly knowing and belonging to Christ are superb. 

A PRAYER: Jesus thank you for allowing me the opportunity to receive you.

This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com

May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

the proposal — April 28, 2021

the proposal

We had been married less than a month but were serious about succeeding so we went to away to a weekend seminar.  We lodged in the basement of some friends, on the floor, in sleeping bags.  

In the middle of the night I began to stir.  I was laying on my back at the time.  So, I opened my eyes, and was startled to find my new bride’s face a ½ inch away from mine – nose to nose. 

I jumped up with my heart hammering away.  I asked, “What in the world are you doing?” She said “I was afraid that you died, and I was checking to see if you were still breathing.   


I guess she didn’t want to lose a good thing!   And marriage is a good thing.  It provides mutual blessing for a couple, and a wondrous pathway towards understanding God.

Did you know that Jesus presented Himself as a bridegroom multiple times in the Scripture?  (Matthew 9:14-17, 22:1-14; 25:1-12; John 3:29)

The collective church is even referred to as His bride and our future with Him in heaven is described as a marriage.  For instance, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him glory, because the wedding celebration of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” – Revelation 19:7

Thinking of our relationship with the Lord in this way has helped me work through some difficult theological issues such as, “What does it mean to receive Christ as Savior?”

John 1:12 says, “But to all who have received him—those who believe in his name—he has given the right to become God’s children.”  These two words “believe” and “receive” tell us how to become God’s child.  They are synonymous and yet distinctly different. 

To believe in His name is to accept as fact that Jesus is the divine Son of God who ably bore the penalty on the cross for our sin, and then rose again.  

OK but what does it mean, “to receive Him?”  It seems like it should read, “to receive the gift He offered” but it is focused on receiving “Him” instead. 

Let’s process that question through a proposal grid.

When I decided to invite Sharie to be my wife.   I took her on an outing to a local park.   She thought me weird because I was wearing a big overcoat on a warm spring day.  This was to conceal the box that held a beautiful engagement ring – the most expensive gift I had ever purchased.  

I was excited and had every intention of giving it to her that day.  I did not expect her to pay me for it or make a pledge to never hurt me in the future, or to commit herself to at least 30 years of marriage to merit it. 

But I did have expectations.  I hoped she would say, “Yes I will marry you!”   And in that yes, would be an implied commitment to be with me, and to dwell with me and to do life together.  Basically, I wanted her to receive me – to accept and embrace and commit herself to me. 

But what if I should offer the ring, only for her to say, “Thanks!  I’ll take the ring but forget about a mushy commitment.  See ya!”

Fortunately, she wanted my ring and the me that went along with it! 

I think of Jesus’ invitation in a similar way.  When it comes to salvation, He doesn’t expect us to merit it or to earn it or to qualify through a commitment to be perfect.  He knows how feeble we are.

But He does expect to hear us say, “Yes, Jesus I will be yours.  I will go with you and dwell with you and be with you.”   In other words, “I want the ring and I am committing myself to the mushy relationship that goes with it.” 

There most certainly is a commitment involved – not to an ideal, or a moral code or an organized religious body but to the marvelous person of Jesus. 

So, think of Jesus as being on one knee before you, cradling in his hands a jewelry box containing the gift of heaven, while on His lips are the words, “Will you receive Me?”  

So – will you? 

A PRAYER: Lord I long for more than dry religion.  Give me a relationship with You. 

Scripture references are from the NET Bible®

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