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Barred at the Pearly Gates!
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Pastor Pete felt feather-light as an angel carried him way, way, way up in the skies.  They went way out through the farthest reaches of outer space, till they saw what looked like a prism in a pyramid shape.  As Pete and the angel got closer, they could see it was God's Holy City, awesome beyond anything on earth.  It hung in the Highest Heavens like God’s crown jewel. Pastor Pete's tongue, so full of fury just a moment ago, had no power to tell  how beautiful it all was.  Best of all, Pete thought, he'd never again have to badger anybody for money.  Why, you wouldn't need any up here! Surely heaven was his now, and money worries were a thing of the past.

 

Somehow the pastor recognized who was waitin' for him at the Pearly Gates.  The angel set him on his feet. "Oh, I know you!" Pete said.  "You’re the Apostle Peter, and I see your keys!  Jesus gave you the keys to the Kingdom, didn’t He?"

 

 "All those who abide in Christ their Living Vine have the right to enter here," St. Peter said.  "I am only His humble servant.  Tell me the truth, now, Pastor Pete. Did you abide in Christ your Living Vine, or did you fall away from Christ as a dead branch fit only for the fire?"

 

"I died doing my duty," Peter told him. "I wasn’t sitting in front of my computer downloading lascivious stuff.  I wasn’t running around with other women.  I wasn’t even watching a ball game on TV.  The Lord was the last thing on my mind before I dropped dead."

 

"Really and truly?" St. Peter raised his eyebrows.

 

 "Yes, St. Peter.  I was speaking out in defense of God’s holy offering in the church.  What nobler way could I have died, than while taking a stand in the pulpit against defrauding the Lord of what is rightfully His?"

 

"You were the one who defrauded the Lord, Peter," St. Peter said.  "You robbed His people of peace. You despised the poor saints.  You robbed the Christ within them of dignity.  You peddled a deceitful doctrine to pry money out of God’s people, and you hoped they wouldn’t discover the real truth about tithing. Is that not so?"

 

"Not exactly, St. Peter.  I was planning to tell them sooner or later. But my congregation wasn’t  mature enough to receive the entire truth just yet.  Just like you can’t tell a tiny child the whole story about how babies are made."

 

"But you thought your brethren were mature enough to have their pockets picked by a worker of iniquity posing as a minister of righteousness," St. Peter frowned. "Why do you think you’re standing here now?"

 

"Well, St. Peter, those stingy people got on my nerves so bad it gave me migraine headaches, and my high blood pressure finished me off."

 

"I believe you know why you died prematurely," St. Peter said.

 

 "Was it all that caffeine I chugged down before church?"

 

St. Peter shook his head.

 

"But now that I’m here, St. Peter, I just can’t wait to see my mansion!"

 

"What about Jesus?" St. Peter looked very sad.  "Where is He on your list of priorities?"

"Oh, I want to see Him too, St. Peter, but what a blessing, that I’ll never have to worry about money ever again!"

 

"That part is true, Peter. But there will be no mansion.  You have no inheritance in the Kingdom of God."

 

 "What!" Pastor Pete's mouth hung open. "I preached my heart out!  I supported overseas missions. In the name of all decency, I demand that you tell me why I can’t go to heaven!"

 

* * * *

Sounds like Pastor Pete’s in a peck of trouble now, folks.  It’ll rain snowballs in Fire Lake before he  slips past St. Peter to get into Paradise.  Why isn’t St. Peter throwin’ out the welcome mat for one of Planet Earth’s most popular parsons?  There’s plenty more to come…