Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

does it hurt? — March 22, 2022

does it hurt?

“He saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”  – Titus 3:5

According to Paul, a person is put through the wash when they are saved.  It reminds me of my Haiti experience.

Our mission team was in Haiti to put a roof on a church building.  I stayed with a family in a house that made my walk-in closet look big.  But the hostess was most gracious. 

It was at the end of day two for me.  I was desperate to bathe, but the new towel and washcloth, that I had used the day before, were missing.  Someone snatched them from the line.  Great!  It was going to be a stinky, sweaty week for me. 

Another day passed and the purloined linens reappeared.  Evidently my hostess took them down to the river, with her laundry, to wash them for me. 

However, she used the old beat-them-with-a-rock method.  They came back to me frayed and tattered with holes in several places and the fabric had a nice sandpaper feel.

She was all smiles – delighted to have been so hospitable.   I thanked her for her kindness and then took the washcloth and sanded off a layer of dirt from my arms.

_________

The washing took something new and made it useless.  When Jesus washes us, however, he takes the useless and makes them new. 

Theologians call this phenomenon, “sanctification” and it affects the Christian in three ways.

– Sanctification takes place the moment that we come to faith. 

It is then that God declares us as belonging to the clean ones.  In laundry terms, we have been placed in the special laundry basket of the redeemed.

Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, who were at time, grossly immoral, and yet he said, “to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 1:2)   Paul addressed their sad lifestyle later in his letter, and yet nevertheless he recognized that they were saved and set apart for God. 

Because we enjoy the new birth, we also are given a new capacity to live righteously.  Doesn’t mean we will, but we have it within us because we have been sanctified.  All this is painless by the way, but not so with the second installment of sanctification.

– Sanctification takes place progressively throughout our lives.

This kind of cleansing is experienced.  This is where God trains us, corrects, teaches, refines, and transforms us, progressively, each day, so that we increasingly resemble the precious Son of God.   

Think of this as loading the laundry into God’s washing machine.  The churning and spinning and hot water can be uncomfortable for us, but necessary to work the dirt free.

But beware!  The darkness within us can be as stubborn to remove as that stain on your shirt.  This is because we have a part to play in this kind of sanctification.  Paul wrote, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires.” – Romans 6:12

– Sanctification is eventually completed.

This happens when we meet Jesus, face-to-face.  Paul wrote, “But our citizenship is in heaven—and we also eagerly await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself.” – Philippians 3:21

It will be then and only then that we will become perfect.  Think of this as pulling your wardrobe for the day from the dryer – the colors are sparkling bright, and the smell is meadow fresh. 

That will be you and me some day, thanks to God who sanctifies us!

A PRAYER: Thank you Lord for cleaning me up and getting me ready for heaven.

This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com

May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you

Scripture references are from the NETBible ®

dis-concert-ed — March 24, 2021

dis-concert-ed

I was in the home of a friend who was approaching the end of his life.  It was my privilege to be with him, and to encourage, and read Scripture, and pray and sing for him. 

So, we were sitting in the kitchen facing each other, while I serenaded him with my voice and guitar.  

As I sang, I happened to spy a Texas sized roach as he scrambled forth.  This guy was brazenly bold.   It was a brightly lit inhabited room.  No scampering in the dark for this guy.

He stopped under the chair of my friend.  He then cocked his head upward and focused his attention on me as if he was listening to the concert. 

I didn’t know whether he was flattering me or needed to be flattened by me

As I launched my second song, he scampered off.  Simon Cowell could not have been more cruel.

____________

Music has always been a blessing to me, so I have tried to use it to bless others. 

And the Lord has given me a few ego inflating opportunities.  I have sung before a couple thousand at one time, had a song that I wrote recorded in Nashville, and I preached and sang in Haiti and had it broadcast by radio to the whole nation.  Those were the kind of opportunities I lived for – until I met Christ. 

Once I met Jesus, I took my guitar and laid it at His feet and told Him it was His to do with as He pleased.  He seemed to say “Go ahead and pick it up and use it for me.  Tell folks what I have done for you and what I can do for them.  And when it is all said and done, I won’t be interested in the far-flung places that you sang, or the large crowds at your concerts.  I will only want to know if you had been faithful – faithful with every opportunity – big or small.” 

At least that’s what I heard when I read Luke 16:10, “The one who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much.’”  NET Bible®

I, therefore, have tried to ever be faithful especially with the little.  These days I do several concerts each week for crowds of one – individuals who are facing their last days and need encouragement from sweet old hymns like “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” and “When We All Get to Heaven” 

My friend in the kitchen lost the use of his eyes long ago.  And he didn’t get started with Jesus till, as he says, “It was too late.”  So, he doesn’t have a storehouse of truth to rely on.  But he savors the truth filled hymns.  He ponders the words after each is sung. 

As for me, I get more pleasure from that, than from singing to a sea of unknown faces. 

In conclusion…If my friend had gotten up and exited the kitchen, leaving the roach behind to listen, I suppose I would have continued to sing.  Maybe he needed the encouragement too. 

On the other hand, I hope there aren’t any roaches in heaven. 

So, what is your “little” and what are you doing with it? 

A PRAYER: Lord I really desire to hear you say to me, “Well done Thou good and faithful servant.”  May it be so.

something’s afoot — May 20, 2020

something’s afoot

Some folks have a foot fetish.  I, on the other hand, have a foot phobia.  I do not like feet – not big ones, not small ones.  I do not like them in a box.  I do not like them in my socks. 

Which is why I also avoid foot washing services.  For you non-initiated, a foot washing service, is a rite in some Christian denominations where the members kneel before and wash the feet of one another.  This is done out of obedience to Christ who called us to follow His example.

The Lord and I have argued about this at times.  Lord, I want to be an obedient disciple.  I am glad to tithe, even willing to up it to 11%.  And I am happy to read my Bible and pray every day – but can we just forget about foot washing?  Fortunately, my faith tradition has spiritualized foot washing as deeds of service for one another. 

But then I went to Haiti.  The big crusade was about to begin, and several thousand folks were expected to jam the soccer stadium each evening.   I was the guest speaker and it was a big deal.

My face was plastered on posters and banners throughout the Port au Prince area.  My voice would be broadcast throughout the nation by radio.  My ego was more inflated than a ticket to Disney World.

The sponsoring churches and pastors met beforehand to pray for a great moving of God.  It was then that my translator garbled something to me about a foot washing.  I went into near cardiac arrest.

The bigtime preacher and the key pastor were expected to start it off, on the platform, in front of the church.   He began.  He knelt at my snow white, soft, tender feet and washed away the lint from my socks.

I then knelt at his aged, black feet and I saw Haiti.  He had seldom worn shoes which caused his feet to be calloused and stained with the texture of tree bark.  His toenails were distorted and strange.  I was more than repulsed. 

But – I went to Haiti to touch people with the Gospel.  Should I not be willing to touch this good man’s feet in order to do that?  I poured the water and gently toweled his feet dry.

As I did, something died within me.   It was a putrid pocket of pride.  By washing his feet, He washed my heart.  This was exactly the kind of cleansing I needed before I should stand before the throng and proclaim the truth.

Something also happened in the hearts of the Haitians who were present.  They witnessed the great white hope from Texas, as he humbled himself at the feet of one of their own.  They saw me wash the dust and the dung of Haiti from this beloved pastor’s feet and it was as if I were washing theirs.

It was in that singular moment that I had earned the permission to speak the Gospel to them.

Humility is probably the most understated of virtues and yet its power to impact is exponential. 

Paul reminds us that Christ “humbled Himself” in order to accomplish the redemption of mankind.  He chose to submit Himself to self-serving leaders who twisted justice into the form of a cruel cross.  Jesus humbled Himself to reconcile all men to Himself (Colossians 1:20)  

Pride tends to be met with pride while humility provokes a humble response in others.  Perhaps that’s why Paul told us to embrace Christ’s attitude.  (Philippians 2:5) 

You said some exceptionally hurtful words to your wife.  Now she says, “I’m leaving.”   Humble yourself!   Wash her feet by taking responsibility for your part in the mess.  The words, “I am sorry,” have dressed many wounds and averted countless disasters. 

Your son is angry that he must do chores.  As a parent, you feel you have the right to demand it, but your demands are met with defiance.  Humble yourself.  Wash his feet by helping him gather up his dirty laundry. 

The group that you lead is dead-locked and the infighting is out of control.   Humble yourself.  Wash their feet by laying aside your agenda to support that of another.  

The crusade ended and was regarded as a raging success.  The Lord used me and my team to reach many spiritually hungry Haitians for Jesus.

He washed away the sins of many, but it began with the washing of the feet of one.

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