Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know August 27, 2013

Filed under: Holy Spirit — Janie Kellogg @ 12:46 pm
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The early morning light dawns and we awaken to another day. Who knows what will happen in this day—the next 24 hours? We don’t, but thankfully God does. He gives light so we can at least see where we are going.

 

Ever think about what would happen if the sun didn’t come up some morning? We would likely start our day as usual, using lights generated by a man-made power source, but eventually we would feel the strain of life without sunlight. In short, it would be devastating because light sustains life. Without it both plant and animal life would be altered, crops would fail to grow, food supplies would dry up, and our bodies would long for natural light as man-made sources diminished. All I can say is “O God, keep the light on for us!”

 

Our spiritual life is equally dependent on God for light. It has been many years since I began my quest for spiritual light. I describe it as my pursuit to find God. Yet, the truth is that God has actually been pursuing me, attempting to pry me loose from the world, the love of it, and the world’s way of thinking.

 

I have wanted loose. It just isn’t that easy. But gradually, I feel its hold on me giving way. Blinders are beginning to fall at my side and the puzzle pieces are coming together. Spiritual light sustains life too, and I really do need to see where I am going.

 

Susan Klein writes: “You don’t know what you don’t know. What else have I been missing all my life because I’ve been trusting in my own insight rather than trusting God?”1 (Read that again.)

 

How many of us are courageous enough, or better yet, humble enough to admit that we don’t know it all? The next question is equally challenging: If we know that we don’t know what we don’t know, then shouldn’t we be looking for it?

 

In politics we often hear the term “failed policies.” You know, some politician has a plan to improve things, but instead things get worse. That, my friend, is a failed policy.

 

Do we not do the same thing with our plan to follow God? We inevitably do things our way. We base our beliefs, and therefore our actions, on what we’ve been taught. We are sure our doctrine is right. Yet when we aren’t successful, do we ever stop to consider if we are following “failed policies?”

 

Jesus encountered a group of well-established, doctrinal folks called Pharisees. Do you want to know what it was that they didn’t know? They didn’t know that Jesus was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the very One they were looking for. They missed it big time, even with all their years of training, memorizing scriptures, and keeping the law—they missed the most important truth in all of history: God Incarnate! And He was right there under their noses.

 

What about us? Are we tired yet of our failed doctrine? Tired of doing training exercises that yield no results? Missing what might be the most important truth of the gospel? Are we missing the very thing we have been looking for and searching for? Could it be right here under our noses?

 

What do you think Paul meant when he wrote: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”2 Was he not looking for some things he didn’t yet know?

 

In the next few weeks I am going to share some thoughts about the Christian life that may have been right here under our noses all the time (at least mine anyway). It is perhaps the missing link to discovering the victorious life, the puzzle piece that’s been out of place or even lost. It is the simple word: Obedience. Well, come to think of it, it may not be so simple after all.

 

We will begin with “learning to lean.” You see, learning to lean on God is like learning to let your dance partner lead on the dance floor—there just cannot be two leaders. Dancing with God can be a beautiful thing once we learn how to allow Him to lead. But take note, the dance will never happen short of total obedience.  ~Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Susan Klein, The Secret Place, August 17, 2013

2Philippians 3:10

 

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What No One Told You about YourSelf August 20, 2013

I don’t think it is a big surprise to anyone that life is hard. If you haven’t figured that out yet, you either haven’t lived long enough or you’ve been really lucky. There is no escaping the difficulties of life—relationships, careers, finances, death—just life in general.  These struggles occur on the physical side of life.

 

The spiritual side of life is no different. Oblivious to many people, there is an enormous struggle going on in the hearts of men. The truth is we are subject to a mighty force called Self from the day we are born. Like the physical side of life, there is no escaping this struggle.

 

I fear that many of us have been misled about our Self. I have chosen to capitalize this word to give it the proper emphasis, acknowledging its power and position. We seems to have the idea that Self is the real me—the “I’ve gotta be me” mentality. It is considered to be something akin to personality, to be cultivated and protected, or else it might go away and the real me lost.

 

Strong individuality is part of the American culture. We have been taught that “rugged individualism” is linked to patriotism, courage, and success. We are proud when we can hold our heads high and declare, “I did this.” Even greater honor is given to one who says, “I did this by myself.”

 

It has taken years of grappling with this issue for me to see Self for what it is. It may come as a shock to you, as it did to me when this was clearly spelled out. As long as my idea of Self was merely a concept, I considered it in the gray area—the things I don’t have to take a stand on. But once I know the truth, I become accountable for what I do with that truth. (Read that again.)

 

J. Oswald Sanders, an internationally-known theologian, wrote this about Self: “In the heart of the believer, Self occupies the same relation to Satan as does the Holy Spirit to Christ, it is Satan’s representative in the heart. Even after many gross forms of evil have been evicted, Self remains to contest and usurp the claim of Christ to the throne of the redeemed life. It is guilty of high treason against the King of Kings, and is therefore worthy of death.”1

 

I believe we must wake up to the fact that our spiritual lives are being attacked, overrun, and controlled by this force known as Self. Like his father, Satan, Self is an all-out liar. He is also Selfish, Self-centered, Self-indulgent, Self-confident, Self-conscious, Self-willed, Self-assured, Self-exalting, and Self-justifying. In America, we even have what is known as the Self-made man. While we sometimes boast or jest about these qualities, in reality, they are the marks of Satan reigning in a life.

 

Do any of these describe you? They certainly describe me! Even in subtle ways that are difficult to detect and believed to be part of my personality, yet so totally unlike my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Unless we recognize what is going on in our personal world, we will not be able to do anything about our predicament. Our muddled interpretation of Self will keep us paralyzed, and we will continue losing the battles, yielding to its power, and remain defeated Christians. Furthermore, our progress to be transformed into the image of Christ is on hold.2

 

The first step to freedom is the acknowledgment of bondage. The person who claims he or she has no bondage is simply not a candidate for freedom.

 

Until we acknowledge Self for what it is and admit that Self is reigning in our hearts rather than Jesus, we have no hope of being set free from its dominion over us. A mental ascent to the idea that we are legally set free from Self is not enough. Yes, we are legally free because of faith in the sacrificed blood of Jesus, but unless we appropriate that truth and apply it to our own personal lives, we will remain in bondage. After our eyes are opened to this truth and we knowingly allow this to continue, we are participating in “high treason against the King of Kings.”

 

Now I know and now I am accountable. I have never in my entire life been so motivated to oust the culprit of Self from the throne of my heart. I denounce this Self-led rebellion against my God, and by the mercy and grace of God I will find His provision for ridding my life of its control. Does anyone out there care to come along with me? ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1J. Oswald Sanders, Christ Indwelling and Enthroned, CCWM, Santa Ana, CA, 1949, pg. 46

22 Corinthians 3:18

 

For other related posts see poem “Since Self Is On the Throne,” Treasure in Earthen Vessels, March 6, 2013 (In Poetry Category)

 

 

Why Do You Call Me “Lord, Lord?” August 13, 2013

Filed under: Lordship of Christ — Janie Kellogg @ 12:44 pm
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The words “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things I say?” are troubling to me. Apparently there are some people this applies to or else Jesus would not have asked the question. (Luke 6:46) Could it be me?

 

How many times have I called Jesus my Lord? Probably thousands of times by now. Every time I say that He is my Lord and Savior, or refer to Him as Lord Jesus, or bow my head and pray, “Dear Lord,” I am calling Him Lord.

 

But is it true? Or is it only lip service, pretense, or something that sounds spiritual? Perhaps it is learned behavior or wishful thinking. But is it T-R-U-E? Is Jesus Christ the Lord of my life?

 

When I was 10 years old, I had a crush on a twenty-something-year-old neighbor. My sister teasingly called him my “boyfriend,” but I assure you, he did not know that he was my boyfriend. He didn’t know I existed, and even if he did, I was certainly not his girlfriend. It was in every sense a one-sided love affair.

 

I can’t help but wonder if many of us have a one-sided “Lord” affair with Jesus. We call Him Lord, but does He know that He is our Lord by the way we treat to Him? Do we do anything to prove that relationship? Do we fill the role of a servant of a Lord and Master? Do we meet the necessary qualifications to call Him our Lord?

 

Perhaps a closer look at our behavior will tell us whether or not we act like servants, if we actually obey Him, and if we honor His lordship over us.

 

In my case, I acknowledge Him as my Lord—that is until He tells me to do something I don’t want to do. Then, I basically ignore Him and do my own thing. Here are some examples:

 

The Lord tells me to forgive someone who has offended me, and I respond: “I’ll forgive, but I won’t forget.”

He gently nudges me not to tell something and I say, “I know I shouldn’t say this, but…..”

I entertain the thought, “That might not be His voice.”

He points out someone in need, and I justify not giving because I feel I’ve already given enough.

  

What I am waiting for—a more opportune time perhaps? If I do not know His voice by now, when will I know it? How many years will it be before I actually obey the voice of my Lord when He speaks to me? Do I not yet understand that His voice always matches His character and is always confirmed by His Word? When in doubt—check it out!

 

When do I plan to be like Joshua and “wholly follow the Lord?” (Joshua 14:8) Maybe when I’m too old to care if I get my way or not? Honestly, am I so naïve to think I can demand my way when I am a young person and turn out to be an undemanding old person? Not!

 

Just when am I going to start obeying the Lord Jesus—immediately, fully, without question, without hesitation, without reservation, without grumbling, without taking thought for myself?

 

I fear that my behavior tells the truth about me. Is what I actually do mostly lip service? Probably. Good intentions? Definitely.  Actual obedience? I’m afraid not. If I were a lord and master, I would not want a servant who behaves like me.

 

A reality check reveals that I am the person Jesus spoke about—I call Him “Lord, Lord,” but do not do the things He says.

 

In James 1:22-24 we are told: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”

 

If we only knew the tremendous value in admitting the truth about our-Self!  If this journey seems long and dry, be encouraged that there is a spring of Living Water just ahead. ~ Janie Kellogg