Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

aroma — September 15, 2021


Seven young grandkids were gathered around my wife to celebrate her birthday.  She was honored with crayon and construction paper cards and gifts of pipe cleaners and macaroni. 

There was one gift that was especially unique.  She gently pulled the tape and paper from the box.  It was an ALTOID tin.  Oh great – another grandkid who lacked tact. 

She shook the tin, but it did not answer.  She lifted the lid with anticipation, but the box was empty – completely vacant.  Not even a mint!

She looked at the face of her little giver for a clue.  He was beaming with pride and joy.  So, she tactfully asked, “Well – what is it?”   He said, “Smell it.”  She lifted it to her nose and detected the fragrant scent of a perfumed oil. 

Hmm – what was percolating in his little mind?  He must have smelled that oil at one point and it so delightfully filled his senses that he thought he should capture and share it.

Now whenever his grandma needs something sweet to smell, she’ll have it in her purse. 


Maybe we all need something sweet to smell because the news these days – well it stinks. 

Yesterday (9/10/21) I watched a news clip of an African American man who is a conservative political candidate in California.  He was assaulted by a woman who was wearing an ape mask and hurling racial insults and eggs at him.  How vile!

On the same day I read of a report in Long Beach California.  A 12-year boy was riding the city bus with his grandmother when a 40-year-old man boarded.   He sat down next to the boy, and without cause or warning began to pummel the boy’s face with his fists.   

He threw him across the bus and then busted the boy some more, while not one of the many passengers or the driver tried to stop it.   The man took the boy’s bag and then got off the bus. 

A culture with a stench!   I was sickened as I took in the news.  Jesus spoke of a day when, “most people’s love will grow cold.”  (Matt 24:12.)  Feels like we’ve arrived.

Our world could use more fragrance and less ferocity, and this is the Lord’s plan on how to do that.   

Paul revealed it in 2 Cor 2:14-15.  He wrote, “…thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and who makes known through us the fragrance that consists of the knowledge of him in every place. For we are a sweet aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing…” NET Bible ®

The apostle says that God’s people are that fragrance.  We carry with us a sweet aroma of Christ both to the saved and the unsaved. 

The message we proclaim of God’s unmerited grace, and His rich mercy and forgiveness toward sinners.  That’s a breath of fresh air especially in this day of “cancel culture.”     

Couple that message with selfless deeds of kindness and service to others, and a sweet fragrance begins to dispel the stench that the evil has imposed on us.

My friend Kathy lives in Galveston and she recently took a picture of a telephone pole in the alley near her home.  There is a homemade box tacked to it about 5 feet up the pole.  It holds three ice-cold bottles of water.  They were left there for the men who pick up the trash.  This kind person puts them out every trash day.

Can you smell it? – so fragrant so sweet!

These days evil and righteousness are competing for air space.  In all honesty our world sorta smells like a bathroom after someone has tried to hide the odor with a can of Glade – an uncomfortable  mixture of smells. 

But Jesus said that the gates of hell will not overpower His church.  (Matthew 16:18) Not even the smell of hell. 

So, with the Lord’s promise and His power let’s be fervent to live and to speak the Gospel.  Let’s refresh the air

A PRAYER: Lord this sometimes seems to be a hopeless ambition, but we know it is not.  Help us to be faithful in our work and our witness.    

This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 

planting a new church — July 1, 2020

planting a new church

It is quite popular these days to include the word “point” in the name of one’s church.  I know of a Lake Pointe, North Point, Life Point, Center Point, New Point, Mission Point and City Point Church and there are many more. 

I have occasionally toyed with the idea of planting a new church.  I already have a name.  It would be, “What’s the Point” Church. 

In my work as a Hospice Chaplain I have encountered many church dropouts who think of the church and wonder, “What’s the Point?” 

These folks were often raised in church and have sweet memories.   But somewhere along the way they were wounded by church people.

One young man was falsely accused by a church lady of stealing from her purse.  Another person was pointed out by the pastor from the pulpit.  Another was turned off by ugly church politics. 

There are those who are disgusted by the hypocrisy that grips so many in the church.  Then there was the adulterous pastor.  And what about the church board that tried to cover up the abusive Sunday School incident.

Some have been repulsed by the pastor that drones on about money and the monthly tithe reminder envelopes that come in the mail.  Others gave up on the church because they were forgotten during their hospital stay. 

These wounded understand what the church ought to be and are discouraged by what it is.  They rightfully wonder, “What’s the point?” 

What can we say to these dropouts?  What can we do to make sure that we do not become, or cause the next casualty?

1. Remember that we continue to be sinners, saved and sustained by grace.

Take a spiritual selfie.  What do you see?   Can you honestly say that there is never inconsistency in your own spiritual life?   We understand that we are sinners saved by grace.   Once redeemed we remain to be sinners, sustained by grace.  The apostle John wrote to Christian people saying, “If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” – 1 John 1:8

          Most of us do not want to fail the Lord and or each other – but we do, and we will because we are still made of flesh.  Expect to be disappointed by others.  If needed apply Galatians 6:1, “If a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness.”  Don’t skip the last half of this verse.  “Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too.”

I had a seminary professor that used to say, “If you should ever find the perfect church, don’t join it, because you’ll ruin it.”

 2. Keep your eyes on Jesus

The author of Hebrews pictured the Christian life as being a race.  He then advised us to keep our eyes, “on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”  Hebrews 12:2. 

          Every competitive runner knows that taking even a fraction of time to glance at the other runners, slows you down.   We need to stop looking at others and fix our eyes ahead on Jesus who stands at the finish line

He is our master.  He is the one to whom we answer, and He will one day address the dumb things that each of we Christians have done.   Let’s leave the judging to Him. 

3. Keep His commandments

When I served as a pastor, there were times of frustration when I asked the Lord, “Are you sure that the church is your best idea for managing your people?”  He ignored me because He already answered the question in Matthew 16:18. “…I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”   He expects us to be an active part of a local church (Matthew 18:15-18; Hebrews 10:25)

Recently my grandson asked, “Why do some Christians give up on church?”  I explained to him much of what I wrote above.  Then I said,” Buddy, I have personally been so wounded by church, that I would probably drop out if I could.  But I can’t – because my Savior expects me to continue to be an active part of His church.”   He says to me, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.” (John 14:15)

My mom was a fantastic cook but there was a time that she burned dinner.  I was so upset, I vowed that I would never eat again.  That’s ridiculous of course. 

We will be burned at times by church people, but never should we forsake Christ’s church.    The blessings of being with the people of God far outweigh the bumps along the way.

Biblical references come from the NET Bible ®

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