Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

the devil and december 7th — December 10, 2019

the devil and december 7th

Just last week the U.S. paused to remember Pearl Harbor Day.  On December 7th, 1941 Japan mounted an unprovoked attacked on U.S. naval and air forces in Hawaii.  The nation picked itself up and went to war. 

American forces began to work their way through the South Pacific snapping off each tentacle of Japanese domination, but the battle would not be won.  Japan was a fanatical, formidable and determined foe, willing to sacrifice everything to forestall defeat.

The war would not be won until it was taken to their home, the very island of Japan.  Only then was victory attained.  Only then did the flag of surrender fly over Japan. 

We all have our own war to wage.  The Scripture refers to Satan as our adversary (1 Peter 5:8).   At the beginning of time, he entered our air space, and inflicted a crippling surprise attack on Adam and Eve and the human race they sired.

The battle between man and menace raged for many worn torn years.  But the war would not be won until it was taken to his home.  Earth, the throne of his dominion – his place of power – must be invaded if there was to be victory. 

So, Jesus came. 

The apostle John wrote, “For this purpose the Son of God was revealed: to destroy the works of the devil.”  (1 John 3:8)

Christ was God clothed in flesh.  He chose to don that not so gay apparel, in order to meet the devil on his own turf and bring the battle to his stronghold.

The first skirmish took place in the thirsty Judean wilderness where Jesus resisted the relentless voice of the devil who tried to badger Him to compromise.  From there Jesus rolled through the promised land liberating the demon possessed and alleviating the diseases they inflicted. 

Satan’s simpering minions cowered when Jesus appeared. “They cried out, “Son of God, leave us alone! Have you come here to torment us before the time?”  (Matthew 8:29)

However, Satan dealt a knockout blow when his mole betrayed Christ into the hands of the bloodthirsty leaving Him on a cross until He had bled the last drop.

Three days later, Christ unexpectedly but decisively won the battle and the war when He triumphantly emerged from the dead.   

Japan surrendered September 2nd, 1945.  Soon after they released their prisoners of war. Among them were 14,473 emaciated but grateful Americans.  

Paul spoke of the devil as holding people captive to do his will. (2 Tim 2:26) and when Jesus invaded his domain, Jesus also set the captives free. (Ephesians 4:8)

Jesus has defanged the devil and one day will return to this earth to put him away forever. 

So a second and most important purpose in the Incarnation of Christ was to defeat the devil. 

Now you may be thinking, “Christmas is about the incarnation, and this devil stuff is out of place.  If it were part of the Christmas story, we would be singing about it – right?”  

Well maybe we should.  Forget “Ding Dong Merrily on High” and let’s sing (with Munchkin like voices) “Ding Dong the devil’s dead.”  

Or maybe we could amend a few carols to include the theme.  For instance “Away in the manger no crib for a bed, but He died on a cross now the devil is dead.”  Or how about “Silent night, Holy night, the devil ran away in fright.”

Too much? 

I hear you.  But the theme actually is implicit in a few our Christmas Carols like O Come, O Come Emmanuel.   The verse goes, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel; that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.” 

The song captures the pathos of our situation with a haunting melody and minor dissonant chords.  It colors the human condition with sadness, thanks to the evil one who once held us captive.

Fortunately, we also have carols like Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.  The verse goes, “Come thou long expected Jesus, born to set Thy people free.”   Jesus – God who chose to be born as man in order to invade and defeat the devil on his own turf – He has set us free.

Hey why settle for a verse when you can hear the whole song!   Relish His victory as you listen to the link below: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus by Fernando Ortega https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dmO8UPlWoo

PS: What did the sheep in the manger scene say?

“Fleece Navidad.” 

All Bible references from the NET Bible ®

right field! — May 1, 2019

right field!

Jim Johnson – 687 words

I have two grandsons who began little league this year.  Their mom equipped them with more gear than the Rangers on opening day.  Give me one reason why every kid needs his own batting helmet?  OK – besides head lice?

Unfortunately, both boys started the program late in the game (no pun intended).  Their peers have been playing for years.  (Some already have the scratch down).  My boys are seriously improving every day, but they started out being exiled to the bane of baseball players everywhere – right field.

For fun, I googled this question: “Why is right field so bad?”  Wikipedia weighed in.  “Right field has developed a reputation in Little League as being a position where less talented players can be “hidden” without damaging a team’s defense in any significant way.”  A lofty ambition!  “Hey coach I want to go in.  Hide me where I won’t damage the teams defense in any significant way.” 

The ball hardly ever makes it to right field and every right fielder knows it.  I chuckle as I watch the many right fielders bear their boredom in the uttermost part of the field.  One twists like a contortionist, another gazes into the sky and another lays down in the fields of clover.

I sheepishly admitted to my son-in-law that I am the carrier of the right field gene.  I earned the position in my kindergarten year.

I filled up the boredom by pretending my glove was an army helmet, or by spectating at the spectators, or by stomping on bees who were sipping from the clover.  Yes, I am the one who is singularly responsible for the decline of the bee population.  

When I heard the crack of the old ash bat, I would look for projectiles coming my way.  No worries!  T-ball had not been invented yet and it was kid pitch all the way.  The chances of a kid throwing a strike, and another getting a hit were about the same as me getting signed to the Phillies. 

One shimmery bright afternoon, the coach sent me in to stomp on bees.   The score was – me seven – the bees zero.  Then I heard the bat pop and the spectators scream.  I looked up to find every eye locked on me. I panicked as I scanned the field for the ball.   

I found it – or actually – it found me.  I looked up and it hit me right on the head.  When I came to, I was surrounded by my dad, the coaches, Babe Ruth and the rest of the 1932 Yankees.  It’s possible the hit addled my brain a little.  Maybe my dad wasn’t actually there.

A painful lesson learned:  You can’t play the game unless you pay attention.

I have graduated from little league, but I am still in the game.  The visiting team maybe dressed in red (and I am not talking about the Cardinals).  Paul the apostle tells me that the evil one sends flaming arrows my way (Eph. 6:16).  He referenced the weapon of the Roman legions – hollow cane arrow shafts, filled with flammables to devastate their enemies. 

Satan launches his arrows of temptation and deceit to defeat and trip us up.  When we bat, he pitches low and outside and suckers us into swinging.   When his arrows find their target, it puts him on the scoreboard. 

Paul told us to pay attention, “by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”  (Eph. 6:16) NETBible®  He referred to the Roman scutum, a wooden shield the size of a door.  It was covered in layers of leather which were thoroughly wetted before battle.  It effectively intercepted and extinguished flaming arrows. 

We have a shield. Because of our faith in Christ, we have the wisdom to discern truth from error, and the power to resist Satan’s worst.

Someone, however, must hold up that shield, pay attention and be ready for battle.  Someone must take their eyes off the bees and keep them on the game.  The flaming arrows come even to those who play right field. 

%d bloggers like this: