Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

swim pit — July 8, 2020

swim pit

I guess we get what we deserve! 

It was a sweltering summer day and our gang of kids was griping that no one had a swimming pool.  So, somebody said, “Hey let’s just build one!  “Cool” we said.  But, “Who’s yard will we dig it in? 

They told me to ask my dad.  I almost wet myself at the thought and Steve’s mom would throw a hissy fit.  But Tommy, well his mother was a single mom and she worked full time.  Perfect!  We could dig while she was away.  Tommy said she never went into the yard anyhow. 

Monday, we gathered our hardware, went to Tommy’s and began to excavate.  There was a bunch of us, so dirt was flying every which way. 

We worked most of the day and had a pretty good-sized pit to show for it.  Tuesday, we decided that we kinda dug, digging. Wednesday, we made plans for a diving board.   

By Friday the pit was about 2 feet deep with maybe an 8-foot diameter.  We amazed ourselves.

We planned to finish it the next week – but then came Saturday.   That’s when Tommy’s mom used her weekend respite to clean the house.  She took the trash to the alley.  On the way, she stumbled onto, or maybe it was into our pool.

She made some blistering calls to our parents – and our audacious aquatic plans were sunk.

Worse – We were ordered to return to the scene of the crime on Monday and fill in what had become an abyss.  “Why?” we asked.  “It’s what you deserve!” they said!

What a summer bummer. The sun was furiously hot and the labor exceptionally meaningless as we back filled our pointless pit.

I guess we really do get what we deserve! 

The toddler gets flicked on the hand when he defies mom.  The school kid flunks the test when he fails to study.  The teen that abuses his phone, loses his phone.  The collegian that cheats is expelled.  The young man loses his license for his third DWI.  The young lady gets an STD because of promiscuous sex and so on.  Sometimes the consequences are not immediate, they seem to catch us later.

Even the Scripture echoes the theme. 

Paul the apostle charged us when he wrote, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  (Romans 3:23) All Paul?  Absolutely.  We have all missed the mark and usually more than once. 

Again, says Paul, “The wages of sin is death.”  (Romans 6:23)   It was his way of saying, “If you do the crime, you do the time.”  The justness of God requires a person to satisfy the law when they break it.  He requires a death sentence – an eternal, infernal death sentence. 

We get what we deserve!  – With only one blessed exception.

The apostle Peter put it this way, “Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God, by being put to death.”  – 1 Peter 3:18NET Bible ®

Jesus stepped between us and the wrathful judgment of God – the just for the unjust – to bury our sins and to bring us to God.  Jesus took what we deserve.  How disturbing and yet comforting.

Time never seemed to erase the scar we left in Tommy’s backyard.  The site of our former swimming hole was filled with dirt, but it settled in lumpy and uneven ways.  It sported more weeds than grass.  It was a lawn mower no-man’s land – a nasty place in the yard.  And that’s kind what it looks like when we attempt to self-atone for our moral mistakes. 

With Jesus it’s different.  The Scripture says, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” – Isaiah 1:18   When Jesus does His work, we end up way better off than we were before – new on the inside. 

So, will you face eternity knowing that you will get exactly what you deserve OR will you step aside and allow Jesus to bear your burden?   Pick up a Bible, find the Gospel of John, chapter 3, verse 16 to find out how!

the weepy wheel watcher — August 14, 2019

the weepy wheel watcher

james ray johnson

This is the story of Wyn the weepy Wheel Watcher.  My friend Wyn is an avid fan of Wheel of Fortune.  He is even registered to win prizes. 

So, one day a studio contestant spun the mighty wheel and it came to rest on the “Mystery Wedge.”   He flipped it over and found that it was worth $5,000.   Then Wyn’s first name and last initial was projected on the TV screen.  He was randomly selected as the lucky Wheel Watcher.  If the studio contestant could solve the puzzle, then both he and Wyn would become $5,000 richer.

Well the boy was good with his ABC’s and he solved the puzzle.  They both won.  Wyn had 24 hours to contact the show and claim his prize.

No problem – except that on that particular day, Wyn was out watering his veggies instead of vegging out on the sofa.  So, he didn’t know that he had become a winner. 

No problem!  The show also follows up with a phone call – except that Wyn will not answer his cell phone unless he recognizes the number.  Vanna White was not in his contact list – yet. 

No problem!  The show also follows up with an email notice.  Now Wyn does look at his email, but not often.  He checked it the next day and finally got the news.   Fantastic!  He could do a lot with $5,000 bucks – except that he didn’t check his email until after the deadline had passed. He was 15 minutes too late and $5,000 the poorer.  Wyn lost! 

Now you may be saying to yourself, “That’s a nice story – a little goofy – but it’s got nothing to do with me.” But – it does.

Scripture pictures a similar scenario. Christ is in the role of the studio contestant, while everyone else passively sits at home and watches.   And – whatever He wins, we win.

Vanna tell them what they’ve won. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even though we were dead in offenses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you are saved! – and he raised us up together with him…” (Ephesians 2:4-6) -NET Bible®.

Did you catch the word “with?”  We were made alive together with and raised up with Christ.  He won the contest when He defeated sin and death at the cross.  The proof of His victory was in His resurrection. 

Because Christ was raised from the dead, we who have believed in Him are also entitled to the same prize.  This is our ticket to the resurrection and eternal life – a very desirable prize.

I serve as a Hospice Chaplain.  My job is to sit with and listen to and encourage and pray for those who are dying.  Can you guess what they most often want to discuss?  The future, of course!  They want to know if they will live even after they die.

It’s a rich privilege to tell them they can.   John 3:16 is a reminder, “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  -NET Bible®. The person who has trusted Christ as Savior in this life, will enjoy His company in the next.   It’s already been won.  We need only claim it. 

But there is a limited time?  The deadline falls the moment we take our last breath in this life.  15 minutes after is just too, too late!  

Wheel of Fortune is the most watched program on TV, with an average of about 2 million people tuning in each day.  I bet one of Wyn’s countless friends was watching the day his name was chosen. 

It would have been nice if one of them would have called.  Wyn might have answered his phone for a friend.  That friend could have asked, “Hey Wyn, did you know that Pat Sajak has a check for $5,000 with your name on it? ” But alas, no one cared enough to call.

So how much do you care?  Isn’t there someone in your circle of family or friends, who needs to know that Jesus has won for them the gift of eternal life?  

I can think of an easy, non-offensive and fun way to do that.  Send them the link to this blog!

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