Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

neither rain nor snow — December 23, 2022

neither rain nor snow

Time to pay the bills.  I do it the old school way, by writing checks.  I tucked a $5,000 check into one envelope.  Then pasted a stamp on it and a return address sticker with Christmas graphics on it (even though it was June).   Will the folks at Chase Bank notice?  

I had several urgent errands to run and stopping by the mailbox was last on my list.  That was a mistake because I worried about that envelope all morning long. 

What if it should slip down between the car seats and get lost?  What if I go in for an Egg McMuffin, and someone should see it in the car, break in and take it?   What if I just forget about it?  The late fee and the interest would be painful.

I got to thinking, “Hey this is pretty much par for me.  When I have something on my mind, I get chained to a mental cycle of distraction and burden.  This is especially true when the issue is troublesome.

Well, I finally pulled up to the big blue box and dropped it in the slot.  And poof, my angst went down the chute along with the envelope.  

Mail is occasionally misplaced by the USPS.  But did you know that the exact figure is about a half a percent which is incredible when you consider the volume of mail that goes out each day, and you consider that there are people like me whose scribble on the envelope can’t be read.

Regardless, once I dropped that letter in the box, I was relieved, and I carried on the rest of the day without a fret.  

I wonder if that’s what the Spirit of God had in mind when He inspired Paul to write, “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 NETBible.com

“Do not be anxious,” he said.  I kinda wish He hadn’t said that because I am the type of person that gets anxious knowing that I should not be anxious.   Nevertheless, He said, “Do not be anxious for anything.”  

Anything that causes a person anxiety is now off the table.  Health hindrances, financial foul-ups, relational rollercoasters or even unmailed bills.  All anxiety is to be shunned.

In its place should be prayer, specific petitions concerning whatever issues we face. Requests should be posted to an all knowing, all powerful, completely motivated by love – God.   It should be partnered with thanksgiving. 

Why thanksgiving?  Because He has allowed us an opportunity to be challenged and to grow and He has given us the means by which to handle our anxieties and because our prayers are welcomed and encouraged, and because our God has pledged to answer and because we know that whatever answer He gives will be good for us because He loves us.    

And once those prayers have been dropped in the heavenly blue box, the peace of God will flood our hearts.   We will rest in confidence knowing that “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stay our divine courier from the swift completion of His appointed rounds.”  (My apologies to the USPS for modifying their motto)

And the delivery stats for an earnest prayer are the best.  They arrive at their destination nothing less than 100% of the time.

I don’t know about doing a New Year’s Resolution.  Mine usually end up as New Year’s Frustrations.  But maybe you and I can begin praying that God will remind us to pray. 

We can let the emotional strangulation we sometimes feel, become the trigger to post a prayer to heaven.

So maybe I should conclude with a prayer:  Lord I am certain – absolutely certain that I would be more able to handle the challenges of life, if my first response were to pray.  Would you help me, and us to develop that habit this year? 

This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com

May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you!

the day God came to be — March 6, 2019

the day God came to be

I remember the day that God was born – in my experience that is.  He had always been more of a dusty theoretical concept to me until He opened my eyes to His hidden, spiritual, eternal reality.

I remember being stunned to find that God was truly alive and that He interacted with me, on my turf, on a minute-to-minute basis.  He answered my super specific prayers and spoke to me by directing me to a perfectly appropriate passage of Scripture.  I was mystified by the way He loved me by providing just the right car at just the right price.

I found significance in the details of life because the God I came to know was all powerful and all knowing – everywhere all at the same time.  I wondered at the way He ordered every aspect of life according to His gracious and sovereign plan and I was grateful to be a part of it.

I will admit, though, I sometimes took it too far.  I remember closing my eyes and running my finger over the pages of my Bible.  When I stopped roving and opened my eyes, I expected God to give me a personalized message.  Today I wonder what would have happened if my finger had landed on Job 19:17, “My breath is repulsive to my wife” -NET Bible®

When I dressed for the day, I would sometimes ask God to help me pick out a shirt.  Now I just ask my wife (although God was nicer about it.)

Yes, sometimes my wide-eyed wonder was a little excessive.  The dog was exhibit A. I shared a home back then with 2 others who were also new to and awed by God.   A dog had been given to us.  He was a big mangy dirty-white cur, but we knew that God was in the details and that He must have wanted us to have the beast.

The dog was nameless so one of us suggested that we ask God to show us the name He had in mind for the dog.  We circled up and prayed a prayer that ended in this way, “and Lord we thank you for the dog – Amen.”    We opened our eyes and dropped our jaws because we knew that God had just answered our prayer.  “Amen.”  The dog’s name was to be Amen! 

Contrary to his name, he turned out to be the dog from hell.    The word Amen is used in the Bible as an affirmation of what had just been said.  It means “So be it.”  At our house it meant, “So eat it.”   The dog was a bottomless pit.  And when he had finished his dog chow, he would chow down on our shoes.   

Eventually we had to go our separate ways and none of us could take the dog with us (at least that’s what we said.)  So, we gave him to a priest who seemed to be thankful to have a dog with a sanctified name (although I hope he sprinkled him with some holy water too!)  

He later told us that the dog had escaped from the rectory.  The priest canvased the neighborhood looking for him crying, “Amen!  Amen!”  He nearly started a revival.  An African American woman opened her front door and shouted, “Praise the Lord.”  (Hey, I am not making this up!)

Well, I am a lot older now and unfortunately that sense of awe I had for God has become as dulled as my other five senses.   I wonder what happened? 

What I initially believed about God has not been undermined or contradicted by anything that I have experienced with God since.  He has been the same yesterday, today and forever – the same, ever, awesome God. 

So, what can I do to recapture that wonder?  When I take time to marinate my mind with a passage of Scripture, I do hear His voice – and it stirs me.  When I review my prayer journal and I see the multitude of specific answers to my prayers, I am moved.  God shows up in new and fresh ways whenever I step out in faith and do a mission trip – and that is awesome.  Or maybe I need to write about Him – like in a blog.  Yep even as I think about and type these God thoughts, my heart is moved to worship.

Go and do likewise and may the Lord be with you, Amen.  (not the dog)


I recently watched this clip and the Lord stirred me.  One of my most favorites songs of worship: Knowing You.  Watch it without tearing up.  Can’t be done!

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