Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

Breathing in Grace January 28, 2014

Filed under: Encouragement — Janie Kellogg @ 12:04 pm
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The words of Matt Redman’s song “Your Grace Finds Me” are stuck on replay in my head: “I’ll be breathing in Your grace | and breathing out Your praise | breathing in Your grace | forever.”

 

For the past week, I have been breathing in God’s grace. Life has been difficult to say the least. There are some circumstances that scream for grace—divine influence upon the heart. I am so grateful it is available, abundant and free. It is mine for the asking.

 

Just this week my six-year-old granddaughter, Kalei, told me that she had found her name in her new Bible. “I found it three times,” she declared as if I didn’t believe her. I was a bit leery not recalling K-A-L-E-I in the Bible, but then I remembered that her middle name is “GRACE.” I assured her that her name is indeed found many times in the Bible.

 

And it is! Noah found grace. He gives us more grace. By the grace of God I am what I am. From His fullness we have all received grace upon grace. He who came from the Father was full of grace. Great grace was upon them all. Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. By grace you are saved.1 Need I go on?

 

God’s Word is full of grace—and so is God!

 

Grace has been described as God’s unmerited favor—that which I don’t deserve. And that is what I have been breathing in all week.

 

I don’t deserve that He would rescue me from myself. (I take in a breath of grace.)

I don’t deserve to be called His child when I don’t act like one. (Another breath of grace required.)

I don’t deserve that He would be patient with me who is so impatient. (Yet more grace needed.)

I don’t deserve to feel His love when I have been unlovable. (Breathing deeper for still more grace.)

I don’t deserve to be pardoned when I have judged another. (Now I’m gasping for grace.)

I truly don’t deserve His grace, but I have it anyway. (How can this be: grace upon grace!)

 

As one who knows and recognizes her neediness before God, I gladly breathe in His grace.

 

It soothes a weary soul with His presence.

It calms nerves stretched to breaking.

It cradles faith that buckled underneath the load.

It sets feet upright that didn’t stay on top of the water.

It refocuses eyes on Him that were fixed on circumstances.

It strengthens weak knees and hands that hung down.

It renews a mind that is drained from the ongoing attacks.

It refreshes a heart that fainted instead of praying.

It rekindles love for the One who never quits loving.

 

That, my friend, is breathing in grace. With every breath, grace fills the emptiness of this clay pot with God Himself. God and grace go together. When we find we have grace, we find we have God.

 

Breathing is a two-fold process—it takes in and it expels out. Grace in, praise out is what the song says. There are so many reasons to praise the Supplier of grace. What could be as natural as praising on the flip side of inhaling? Inhale a breath of grace—and exhale a breath of praise. It makes perfect sense!

 

So now we know—a natural breathing exercise for the child of God: grace in—praise out; grace in—praise out; grace in—praise out.

 

We must not forget the word: forever. Not just this week when I so desperately needed it, but next week too, and the next. And next month. And next year. And forever, “I’ll be breathing in Your grace, and breathing out Your praise, breathing in Your grace, forever, forever!”

 

Need some grace today? Why not give it a try and then just keep breathing! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Genesis 6:8; James 4:7; I Cor. 15:10; John 1:16; John 1:14; Acts 4:33; Romans 5:20; Ephesians 2:8

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Doing something is what we are about ~ even if it doesn’t work January 20, 2014

Filed under: Vision — Janie Kellogg @ 8:37 pm
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It comes as little surprise to anyone that doing nothing is not the best option for almost any problem we face. Actually, the only time that doing nothing is acceptable is when God says to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” In those times, it is totally in our best interest to do nothing.

 

But instructions to do nothing are rare. God most often gives us something to do, and our greatest challenge is to hear from Him what that something is. While God’s Word is full of commands and guidelines in any given situation, we humans have a tendency to make up our own rules.

 

When God says “believe,” we doubt that believing will be enough.

When He says “trust,” we try to change the circumstances.

When He tells us to “wait,” we rush ahead to accomplish our own goals.

 

As proactive get-er-done people, doing something is what we are about—even if it doesn’t work!

 

In fact, we are so busy doing what we think are the right things that we don’t have time to find out what God actually wants us to do. I fear that is the case in restoring America, repairing our communities and schools, reviving our churches, salvaging our families, and most importantly, saving ourselves from the demise of overload, both physically and spiritually.

 

The truth is—we are tired. We are tired from doing all the many things we believe will fix our problems; yet the things we have spent our energy doing haven’t worked. For starters:

 

  • We hear a Politian commit to fix the nation’s problems; yet all too soon we are vastly disappointed. We quickly look for the next Politian.
  • We participate in an improvement program in our community or school, and eventually see that the task is too big and our resources too small. We set out to recruit more people and raise more money.
  • We get excited when our church announces a new trendy campaign to revive it members, but after it has come and gone, little had changed. We don’t understand why it failed, since it seemed like such a great plan.
  • We commit to spending more time with our family, but when work, school, and sports scream for attention, we yield to their      demands. Family relationships suffer, and we whine because it has to be so hard.
  • And then there is our personal time with God—what we call a “quiet time.” Since there’s no quiet time to be had in my life, surely God understands and will let me off the hook. I’m sure I’ll do better next year, or when the kids grow up, and definitely when I retire.

 

Does any of that sound like your life? It does mine. So why is doing what seems to be perfectly good ideas not working for us?  Here’s why:

 

God did not tell us to look to political leaders for the answers.

God did not promise that our communities and schools will be better through humanitarian efforts.

God is not obligated to bring revival to His people through any manmade campaign.

God said that we will reap what we sow, and family relationships are not exempt.

God does not reveal Himself to those who want to spend time with Him—only to those who do.

 

Be assured that God has something for us to do! Doing nothing or doing the wrong things will never yield the right results. Our nation, communities, schools, churches, families and personal lives are suffering today because we have done too much of the wrong things.

 

It is surprising when at last we discover what it is that God wants us to do. It is not hard, or difficult, or impossible. We would not give our children something to do that was beyond their capability. And neither would God!  ~ Janie Kellogg

 

Never Choose Option D January 9, 2014

It was obvious that we were just another number—a number on a medical file folder. When my husband’s name was called, we walked mechanically to the doctor’s office and were seated in chairs across the desk from a man we had known only a few days. Apparently he had been through this hundreds of times, and we were just the next couple to fall prey to the “C” word.

 

The phone call a few days before told us the results of the biopsy were not good. Today we heard the medical name for the death sentence that had been handed to my husband. I doubted that I could remember it. The lay terms were no better:  Prostate Cancer, high PSA score, aggressive type, advanced stage. Strange terminology like metastasized and systemic swirled in my head as the doctor recited our options: A) surgery; B) radiation; C) chemotherapy; and D) do nothing.

 

The decisions were mind-boggling. Pint-sized hope was as scarce as hen’s teeth. We could pick and choose as much or as little as my husband’s declining health could endure. One thing was certain—we simply would not choose Option D—do nothing.  Option D wasn’t who we were. It wasn’t what we were about. Regardless of any other factors involved, Option D would not be our choice.

 

We chose Options A, B, and C, but none of them stopped the growth of the cancer, including a last-ditch effort in an alternative treatment center in Tijuana, Mexico. The deadly enemy had gone undetected far too long—so long that nothing we did could prevent the inevitable death of its victim. Two years later my 55 year-old husband went to be with the Lord. Yet, when it was all said and done, there was one thing we were not guilty of—Option D.

 

I believe America is facing a similar diagnosis:  an aggressive, advanced stage disease called “sin.” Words such as metastasized and systemic apply here as well. Clearly, a deadly cancer has infected our entire culture and is taking a toll on the health of our government, communities, schools, churches, families, and individuals. And yes, it too has gone undetected.

 

As a nation, we have options. While there are sharp differences in what we believe to be the best way to remedy the ills of our nation, such as liberal ideas verses conservative ideas and social solutions verses spiritual solutions, the one thing we must not do is to choose Option D.

 

Edmund Burke wrote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” While the statement’s original wording is debatable, the concept is true nonetheless. It can also be applied in many areas of life; for example, our spiritual health:

 

The only thing necessary for me and you to go to hell is for us to do nothing.

The only thing necessary for me and you to remain in bondage to sin is for us to do nothing.

The only thing necessary for me and you to lose the battle with our flesh is for us to do nothing.

The only thing necessary for me and you to continue in a half-hearted relationship with Christ is for us to do nothing.

The only thing necessary for the Church to remain indifferent and un-revived is for Christians to do nothing.

The only thing necessary for the Church to be ineffective in our world is for Christians to do nothing.

The only thing necessary for Christianity to be silenced is for Christians to do nothing.

 

Complacency is a deadly problem. We hear its voice continuously in our ear:  Things are not as bad as they seem. Other generations faced these same problems. Just ignore the issues. Tolerate the differences. Live and let live. Don’t get excited. Don’t act. In other words: Do nothing!

 

I fear that we have been complacent far too long. Yet, there are actions that we can take before our toxic condition worsens and we succumb to the inevitable—the death of a nation.

 

Whatever we do, we must never choose Option D. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

Looking back or moving forward ~ which is it? January 1, 2014

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 3:34 pm
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Ready or not 2014 has arrived, and we find ourselves on the brink of newness! Yes—newness! Don’t you love it? New beginnings, new plans, new dreams, new hair-do’s—for whatever this New Year holds, we are perched on go and the newness has begun!

 

Personally, I’ve never been fond of antiques, vintage, or old anything. I’ve always loved the new, the challenging, the refreshing, and the crispness of things different. Don’t get me wrong—I love things worth keeping—like older relatives who are priceless, memories that are too special to ever toss, and traditions that remind me of where I came from.

 

But, maybe I’ve learned to like new the hard way—because I’ve made deadly mistakes about wanting to keep things the way they are—you know, like buying two pairs of the same shoes (just in different colors). Or keeping an older version of computer software because it was familiar. It happens in food, music, cell phones, and a million other areas of life. Life is moving forward, not looking back.

 

Does God’s Word support my position? The first scripture that comes to mind is the story of Lot’s wife.1 What was she thinking? Honestly, to give up your very life for just one more look at the past. How many of us are guilty of the same, but perhaps haven’t suffered the same consequences? Or have we? Gazing at our sinful past will paralyze any of us. So don’t do it.

 

Today I read, “God wants us to get on with our lives. If we forever look back and feel burdened with sin, Jesus Christ sacrificed for naught.”2 It is true—Jesus died to redeem our past! We must get it settled, thank Him for newness of life, and move on.

 

Another story is that of the children of Israel complaining about the conditions of the wilderness—obviously not taking into consideration their freedom from slavery! 3 Ever wonder what it is about leeks and garlic that are worth going back for? God forbid! So it is with some of us. God has delivered us from the bondage of sin, set us on a new path to life and freedom, and we are complaining because we’ve had to give up some things.

 

Jesus said, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”4 Pretty strong talk, wouldn’t you say? Not a hint of indecisiveness allowed here. We’re either going on with God or we’re not.

 

I also think about the good advice from the Apostle Paul: “…And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”5 As with any race, the distance to be covered is not behind us, but rather before us. Looking back serves no purpose in this race whatsoever.

 

So which is it—are you looking back or are you moving forward? Since we can’t do both, we must on this first day of 2014 make a decision. Will we dwell on our past sins, crave leeks and garlic, be indecisive about whether we’re in or out, and run this race while looking over our shoulder? Or, are we going forward with God in 2014?

 

NEWNESS is waiting for us to embrace it and make it ours. God has big plans for you and me in this New Year, yet we must claim them and get in step with the Holy Spirit, our Guide. Will it be safe? Certainly. Will it be easy? Probably not. Will it be worth it? Absolutely!

 

Our God is a God of NEWNESS!

Ask Him to visit you in a new way in 2014.

Ask Him to fill you anew with His Holy Spirit.

Ask Him to introduce you to your own Holy House Guest.

Ask Him to help you walk in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of your flesh.

Ask Him to burden your heart for the lost and help you lead someone to Christ.

Ask Him to show you how to pray for our troubled world and then pray and believe He hears you.

Ask Him to draw you closer to Him and make Him your BFF.

Ask Him for the best year ever!

 

Whatever you do, don’t forget to ASK. “For everyone who asks, receives.”6 Let us get out of our easy chair of complacency, learn a new song about Jesus and worship Him, and then be about our Father’s business. Newness is here!

 

Happy New Year to all! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Genesis 19:26; 2Jean, Mary & Frank James; 3Numbers 11:5; 4Luke 9:62; 5Hebrews 12:1 6Luke 11:10