Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

wheelbarrow economics — September 1, 2021

wheelbarrow economics

My grandson is impressed with Texas A&M University.  He is familiar with their logo featuring a big T in the center with the A&M as bookends in a smaller font.   I would copy it here, but I might get gigged by the university.

He loves the logo but isn’t reading it correctly.  He recently declared that when he grows up, he is going to attend ATM university.  

Hmm? ATM?  A money dispenser could be handy when he goes to pay for his education! 


A college education is pricey? But then again, what isn’t?  Where will we ever get the money to finance it all?   Could the answer be, “Give it away?”

I was converted when I was 19 years old, but my wallet was not.  It was still steeped in its heathen self-centered ways.  But my first pastor, Rev. Peter Courlas, helped me along.  He taught on money from 2 Corinthians.  It was all new to me and oh so uncomfortable. 

In chapter 9 money was compared to seed.  I learned that the one who sows sparingly will reap sparingly and the one who sows bountifully will reap bountifully. (9:6)  Evidently, God gives to us based on the same measure that we give to others. 

This concept has been abused by some.

I had a friend who received a form letter from a prominent TV evangelist.  He asked for a “seed gift” of $10.   The letter promised that God would return that amount 100 times – a $1,000 divine rebate to the giver.

My friend wrote back suggesting that it would be wiser if the evangelist gave him $10, so that God would multiply it back to the evangelist.  The preacher did not reply. 

It doesn’t quite work that way.  Paul explains in verses 10-11 “Now God who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your supply of seed and will cause the harvest of your righteousness to grow. You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God.” NET Bible®

God provides the seed (money) to the sower (giver) not to enrich us but to enable us to give to others.   He doesn’t give to us and expect it to remain with us.  He expects us to be a pipeline of blessing.  

Maybe this will help.  The concrete truck pours the concrete into your wheelbarrow, so that you can wheel it to the backyard and dump it where you are building the patio.   But, if you return with the wheelbarrow still full of concrete, the truck is not able to fill it again.

If we are slow to pour, God is slow to refill.   Sow sparingly, reap sparingly.   God is not so concerned with the money but with what we do with it.

Well, the pastor poked me in the eye.  My new bride and I had to make some adjustments.  We decided to give a minimum of 10% of whatever we received.  We chose 10% not out of a lawful obligation but because we are math impaired, and we could figure 10%  

Our income was small back then and 10% of small was even smaller – but we were faithful.  Soon after that decision, we headed off to many years of private biblical education – almost every tuition dollar came from our pockets.  We did not take out a loan. 

During those years we still gave away our seed, and God was faithful to supply what we had committed to give and so much more.  We graduated debt free. 

Today we continue to invest the value of that biblical education in the lives of others.

Have we ever felt financially secure?  No way!  We do, however, possess a sense of security that transcends our bank account.   It comes from years of watching God provide for us in unexpected ways.   

If money or the lack thereof is an issue for you, you might want to chew on 2 Corinthians 9. 

A PRAYER: Lord I am still sometimes challenged to let go of what You have given.  Help me to pass it on!

This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  

what if God chewed tobacco? — May 1, 2019

what if God chewed tobacco?

Jim Johnson – 773 words

I was new to Dallas and had just landed a well-paying job as a casual – unloading semi-trailers. As a casual, I would call into work each evening and if there was enough freight that day, I was given the green light to come in. Being a casual was perfect because I was also doing school. Not a problem to skip a day at the dock because there was always another casual who was eager to work.

The foreman hailed from west Texas. He had a drawl that reached to Lubbock and back. My northern ears had not yet adjusted. On top of that, he typically had a plug of tobacco tucked in his cheek. It was easier to put socks on a rooster than to understand him when he spoke.

My first day, he handed me a clipboard with the number of the truck that I was to unload and then he spoke to me. It sounded like, “slurburshebedee.” I said, “What?” He repeated, “slurburshebedee!” I asked again and evidently crossed a line. There was fire in his eyes and a rivulet of tobaccy juice oozing from the corner of his mouth. I saved myself by saying, “Oh I got it,” as if I understood, and then went to my truck.

This became our ritual. He would speak a couple of words, and I would pretend that I understood. But one day, he came to my truck and wanted to chat. Oh no! He spoke – I tried to decode. When he paused, I figured he had come to the end of a sentence, so I would nod my head yes, or chuckle, or say “I bet.” He could have been telling me that his wife had just died, and I chuckled and said, “I bet.” Two minutes later he was gone. Looked like I pulled it off again.

The next day I had a test at school, so I didn’t call in at work. The day after, I did, and was given the green light. But when I reported to the foreman, there was fire in his eyes again. I got the message this time. That day in the truck, he had asked me to become a regular and work full time. I nodded yes, so he told me to report the next day – which I didn’t, and he was not happy. I kept my job as a casual, but only for a couple weeks more. My loss!

Soooo – what if God had a cheek stuffed with Red Man Chew? What if He spoke so that every one-syllable word had two? What if John 3:16 read as, “slurburshebedee?”

Fortunately for us, God spoke with crystal clarity in His Word. It is so clear that it is to be used as a precision tool, like a lathe, to shape us (2 Tim 3:16-17). Is there anything unclear about the words, “You shall not steal?”

Though clear, we still hear a muddled message. Jesus said of His disciples, “You have ears but are unable to hear.” (Mark 8:18). This is because we allow our preconceptions and self-centered conditions to confuse His message. We want God to say what we want to hear, which keeps us from really hearing what He has said.

The better way is to lay aside our personal baggage, take His Word at face value and respond in an appropriate way.

As a pastor, I found that a sermon on giving was about as welcome as an outhouse breeze. (We say that in Texas!) But I’m not a pastor now and I ain’t got a dog in this fight (we say that too!) So, let me use giving as an example.

God spoke about it in 2 Cor. 9. There He said, “The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. (2 Cor 9:6) NET Bible® His point: The one who generously gives their money toward God’s purposes, will be generously blessed by God (and vice versa)

The truth is clear – but we muddle it up: “That’s not what it means” or “that was a promise given exclusively to the Corinthians” or “I can honor God in other ways” – or whatever.

Not cool. The better way is to lay aside our personal baggage, take His Word at face value and respond in an appropriate way no matter the issue.

It has taken some time, but now, not only do I understand a Texas drawl, I can speak it. Ya’ll hear? But with God, I am still working on listening clearly and responding fully.

And should my beloved former boss be a reader, may I say, “slurburshebedee!”

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