Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

giftless — July 21, 2021


It was Father’s Day and my grandchildren honored me with handmade cards and gifts.  My little grandson wanted to join in, but he wasn’t prepared, so he slipped away and used a king-sized marker to scratch out a sweetly illustrated card. 

He even enclosed a five-dollar bill.  When I opened it, I was amazed, but his brother was angry – because it was his money that was given.   I handed the five back to brother over the protests of my precious gift giver.  Then the sad little guy wrapped himself up and cried because he had nothing to give his granddad. 

His tears broke my heart and also alerted me to my own condition.  For there is a day coming when I will eagerly want to give a gift to someone that I love.  Let me explain if I may.

When we enter the Kingdom of God, we do so only by the merit of Jesus. Paul said, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works…“  (Ephesians 2:8-9)We cannot work to be saved.

But, once we have been saved, we are expected to work.  Paul went on to say that we have “been created in Christ Jesus for good works….” (v. 10)

God expects the saved to work – to love Jesus and to practice His teachings.

A worker is usually compensated with a paycheck, and the Christian is rewarded in a similar way.  Scripture speaks of “crowns” that can be earned.   

There is the crown of rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19) which consists of the people we have led to Christ.  The crown of glory (1 Peter 5:1-4) is given to those who have labored to care for and disciple other Christians.  The crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:6-8) will be given to those who love Christ and live in the light of His return.   The crown of life is given to those who lose their life for the cause of Christ (Revelation. 2:10)                         

Jesus will one day review the life of each Christian and award these crowns accordingly.  Some of us will be receive one or more; the less faithful will be denied a crown.  (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10)

In Jesus’ day, a crown represented authority.  It is thought that those with crowns will be awarded responsibility in ruling along side Jesus in His Kingdom.  (Revelation 2:26)

Now fast forward to heaven where this scene takes place.  “Seated on those thrones were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white clothing and had golden crowns on their heads.”  (Revelation 4:4)  

The white robes of redemption suggest that the Elders represent us, the church of the redeemed with their heads adorned by the crowns they had earned.

But then something unexpected happens as they prepare to worship. “The twenty-four elders throw themselves to the ground before the one who sits on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever, and they offer their crowns before his throne…”    (Revelation 4:10-11)

They wanted something to give to Jesus who had given everything for them, so they took the only thing of value that they possessed – the crowns that they had earned in this life.   

You and I will be among that group someday, there in the presence of Jesus, awed by his majesty and overwhelmed with gratitude for what He had done for us.

We will fumble around, searching the pockets of our white robes looking for a gift to give. Nothing there, however, but righteous lint. 

But what about the crowns?  Those could be offered.  Some of us will reach up, find the gift, and then gladly lay it as His feet.

Others will reach up and find only air.

I wonder if they will wrap themselves up and cry because they had nothing to give to the one they love?

A PRAYER: Lord help me to serve you well this day, so that I have something to offer You then.

Scripture references are from the NETBible ®

lie medicine — June 5, 2019

lie medicine

Jim Johnson

My mom, Anna Johnson, moved on to higher ground last week after a full rich life of 88 years.  Thank you, by the way, for your precious thoughts in response to my brother Doug’s Facebook tag. Mom had just celebrated Mother’s Day, her birthday and her 67th anniversary with my dad who she left behind.  She was a wise and resourceful mother to five and my blog this week pays tribute to her ingenuity. 


Five kids – one crime – no one did it.  What does a mom do?   

My mother was a stay-at-home mom who possibly day-dreamed of being a stray-from home mom.  There were five of us kids and we were well-behaved (while we slept).   She ran a tight ship.  The wrath of mom was not something you wanted to risk.

So, it was, that one of us broke something that was dear to mom and then hid the damning evidence.  She eventually found it and growled, “Who broke it?” 

There were 4 quick replies, “Not me!”  We pinned it on Markie, the youngest.   He was too little to protest- the perfect fall guy.

Mom knew that one of us was lying – but who?  And how would she get to the bottom of it?   Dad had outlawed water boarding.  So, she introduced us to her mysterious “lie medicine.”  Lie medicine is a substance that identifies a liar.   It did not merit the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

She had each of us drink a liquid.  It tasted like water, but the label said lie medicine.  She told us that it would cause the hands of a liar to turn blue. 

This was frightening!  Each of us had told a lie at one time or another (probably within the last 12 hours).  If the lie medicine worked, then mom would become the mother of Smurfs.

But surely the stuff wasn’t legit.  Why hadn’t we heard of it before? No, she was manipulating us to get the guilty to confess.  So, we stood our ground. 

She pressed on.  Mom lined us up, oldest to youngest, and told us to hold out our hands, palms down.  She took my hands in hers and then flipped them over. Nothing to see but a little dirt and a wart.  I breathed a sigh of relief. Then onto my sister Sandy.  She too was clean. 

The suspect list had been narrowed down to Doug or Carol.  Mom moved on to Doug – her prime suspect.  She flipped his hands and there it was – a shockingly dark, blue stain.  He was terrified and swiftly confessed, providing every deceitful detail. 

We were stunned and scared.  The lie medicine worked.  Mom never had to use it again.  She had to only threaten to – and we broke.

Eventually we discovered her diabolical secret.  Mom had cunningly dabbed her finger in blue food coloring and touched it to Doug’s palm.

I must hand it to her, though, the thought of having our sins revealed, motivated us to be honest.

I wonder if that’s why Jesus has a similar plan for us? 

According to 1 Cor 3:10-15 and 2 Cor. 5:10, there will come a time when Christians will line up and Jesus Himself will check our palms (so to speak).  We will give an account then for what we did with our lives. 

It will be a time of gain, for we will be rewarded for our gold, silver and precious stone moments in life.  But it will be a time of pain as well – a time that we will likely meet with reluctance.  Paul associates it with the fear of the Lord.  (2 Cor. 5:11) 

Why reluctant?  Paul put it this way, “…wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.”  (1 Cor 4:5) NET Bible®

Jesus, on 3 occasions, also told His disciples that what is hidden now will be revealed then.  (Luke 8:17; 10:21; 12:1-3) The lies, the unseen motives, our embarrassing thoughts – all revealed.  Most of us will be singing the blues (and maybe seeing the blue too)

Good news though, mom never kicked us out of the family for lying and neither will the Lord ever reject those who have entered His family through their faith in Jesus.  But as was with my family – and most every family – there is accountability. 

Better to drag the hidden into the light today. Confess it to Him (1 John 1:9) so that there is nothing to reveal in the future.  Better to live in a way today – that creates a blueless tomorrow.   By His power and grace, we can do that!

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