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Jesus not cheeses — October 16, 2019

Jesus not cheeses

james ray johnson

After years in the delicacy doldrums, I buried my teeth in the most savory, sensational pizza ever to grace a plate. And I was invited to take home a load of leftovers.  Ah, but with what?

Let me backtrack.  My roots are Irish, but I went to a school where most were of Italian heritage.  I became enculturated.  I learned a few Italian phrases (some of which I was disciplined for repeating) and I was enamored with the cuisine. 

Italian mothers staffed the cafeteria, thereby filling the halls with daily, heavenly, Roma aromas.  Friday was the exception – that was stinky fish stick day.

But I, was made to take my lunch – always and forever.  I could expect one of 3 sandwiches in my Howdy Doody lunch box: peanut butter and pickle, bologna, or Braunschweiger.  The last one I could not pronounce or digest.   

But I got a break in 8th grade.  Our little garage band was invited to perform at the school banquet.  The cafeteria ladies served up the finest, spiciest, most wonderful pizza.  Heavenly stuff!

The band followed dinner and dinner followed the band – or at least this member.  I had a tough time singing I was so stuffed. 

I learned there was a mountain of leftovers.  They offered it to me, and I wanted it – all of it, every beautiful old-world pepperoni disc and stringy piece of mozzarella – BUT – I had nothing to carry it in. 

SO, I did what I had to do.  I removed my guitar and lined the empty case with pizza.  I carefully layered in each piece with the skill of a stone mason so that no space went to waste and then I latched it shut. 

It was a solid pizza guitar – 5” thick – and really heavy to carry.  I would have assigned it to a groupie except we didn’t have any. 

I got it home, gathered my family, put the case on the kitchen table and then dramatically opened my treasure chest to the astonished crowd.  They dug in and I had a couple more myself.   

Now you may be wondering one of two things: “Why do I bother reading a blog written by such a doofus?” or “What could the point of this story possibly be?”

In answer to the second question – it’s all about Jesus. (not cheeses)

May I compare my Jesus to pizza?  Why not?  He compared Himself to bread in John 6.

there is an enticing aroma to Jesus.  

Paul wrote, “Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.”  (Eph. 5:2)   He compared Jesus’ work on the cross to the sweet incense offerings of the Old Testament.   The news that someone died so that others could live – that’s unsettling – its humbling – its enticing.

An aroma directs our noses to the source of joy.   This aroma may be wafting around your work place.  That girl at the other desk is different.  She is patient when challenged and she helps others when she could be advancing herself.  She endured her chemo treatments with courage from above.  She has been changed by the grace of the Lord.  She smells a lot like Jesus.

But how miserable to smell, and yet not be permitted to partake.  Not a problem.

we are invited to taste

The Psalmist wrote, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  (Psalm 34:8). David invites us all to experience the Lord – to feast on His mercy and grace – to personally know and enjoy Him.  Not a simple sample, but a banquet of His goodness. 

Last night my wife and I went to say our evening prayers.  I asked how I might pray for her.  She thought about it and said, “I really don’t have any concerns at the moment”.  Neither did I.  The Lord has been so ridiculously good to us.  We could think of nothing but to use our prayer to thank Him.  We have tasted and found the Lord to be extremely good.

And while Jesus completely satisfies, we will nevertheless long for more.  As the author of the hymn wrote, “More, more about Jesus; More of His saving fullness see, More of His love who died for me.”  When we have truly connected with Jesus, we never tire of Him.  

So, dig in and enjoy!

But remember, others are still suffering from the Braunschweiger blahs while Jesus offers so much more.  He said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life and may have it abundantly.”  John 10:10

If you are fortunate enough to know Jesus, open that guitar case to your friends and family.

Bible citations from NET Bible ®

one letter — August 21, 2019

one letter

james ray johnson

Have you seen that list of church bulletin bloopers and wondered, “Did they just make that stuff up?”   Well, I was a pastor and I have an authentic collection of my own.

My sermon notes were supposed to say, “the Most High God.”  But this is what came out – “Jesus was the Son of the Moist High God.”  Evidently there is a humidity problem in heaven.

I cited a Miranda Lambert song in a message, “You’re Running with the Fastest Girl in Town.” My spell checker rendered it this way, “You’re running with the fattest girl in town.”   Oops.

One of my most embarrassing typos happened when I was still preparing for the ministry.  During that time, I was also a printer, serving the needs of the Bible college and the community. 

One day Linda dropped by.  She was opening a new pizzeria in town and wanted me to create menus that she could distribute door-to-door.

It was a fun job.  I did the typesetting and used a font with flourish. Black and red ink gave it an Italian pop.   And at the top of that 11 x 17 sheet was the name: Linda’s Pizza Pantry.    She gushed over the finished product and I was proud of my work.

She then gathered her troops and delivered one to every household in our hamlet of 5,000.  At the end of the day, however, she returned with the leftovers to point out a typo. 

It was at the top, in a brazen, 42-point, bright red font: “Linda’s Pizza Panty.”   Panty???  Oh no!  Did it really say Panty?  It did, and Linda’s face was as red as the ink on the page.   She and her pizzeria became the talk of the town. 

One letter can make a huge difference!

The resurrected Jesus stood before Thomas and told him to put his finger through the gaping holes in his hand.  This was evidence that Jesus had died, but the voice speaking to Thomas was evidence He was alive. 

His faith took a giant leap forward.  He said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God.”   (John 20:28)   He was stunned as he recognized and then affirmed the Deity of Jesus.  Thomas essentially said, “Wow, You are God for sure.” 

His words became one of the foremost confessions of faith in the New Testament.

BUT one errant letter could have wrecked it all.  The word for God in the original language of the New Testament is “Theos.”   So, what if John had been sloppy when he recorded his Gospel?  What if he had accidentally added a letter to “Theos” to get ”Theros” instead? 

“Theros” is the word for summer.   So, Thomas would have gone on record as saying, “My Lord and my summer.” 

Ah but it didn’t happen.  It couldn’t happen.  Why?  Because the words that John wrote were precisely those that God wanted to have written.  According to 2 Timothy 3:16. “Every scripture is inspired by God.” -NET Bible®.    

The word inspired literally means “God breathed.”  Which is to say that God penetrated the hearts and minds of those who recorded the Scripture with His precise words.  They were put to ink exactly as they were given.  The passage says it applies to every Scripture. 

Once the Scripture had been revealed, it was faithfully preserved.  The Pharisees tried to argue away the truth, but Jesus said, “The scripture cannot be broken.” – John 10:35 -NET Bible®.    He didn’t allow the critics to side-step the words of Scripture simply because they retained the authority of having been God breathed.

Today we have Bibles, which continue to preserve the original and exact words that God first gave to Moses, David, Matthew, Paul and so on.  People who according to Peter, were carried along by the Holy Spirit when they spoke the very words of God. (2 Peter 1:21)

I recently scoured the net looking for Linda’s Pizza Pantry.  Alas, it appears she may have closed her doors.  (I hope that wasn’t my fault!)  Not a problem with the Scripture. It will be around for eternity.  (Isaiah 40:8)   

So, forget that pizza you are thinking about right now, and taste the truth of the Scripture instead.  It has directed mankind in the past and will carry us into the future.

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