Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

Out with the Old ~ In with the New December 31, 2014

It’s happening again—one year ends and another begins. Aren’t we glad it does? Whether it is cleaning closets or rearranging the priorities in my life, I like the feel of new beginnings. The Bible says that when we are born again of the Spirit, old things are passed away, and behold, all things become new.1

I like God’s behold—it means heads up! Take notice! Observe! Look right here! He often uses behold to get our attention when He has something important to say to us. In this verse, God is telling us that the time of the old fleshly man ruling over our lives is passing away, and the new life of Christ reigning in us is here.

What an encouraging word to those of us who are slow learners—out with the old selfish me and in with the new spiritual me! I’ve lived long enough to know that this doesn’t happen overnight, but praise God it was set into motion at the very moment I trusted in Jesus to save me from my sin.

My friend, our old self is in the process of being dethroned while our new spirit man is being groomed to take over. We are even now being shaped and formed to be just like Jesus, full of the Spirit and fully obedient to the Father. If it feels like a power struggle, it is. No doubt, our old self will fight and scream as he is being cast out, but he is condemned and death is his destiny. Our new life in Christ is coming in and growing just like Baby Jesus grew in grace and truth. Someday He will fully reign in us. That is our God-given right and our God-given destiny—for Christ to be formed in us.2 What a glorious, breathtaking thought!

As you celebrate the coming in of this new year of 2015, rejoice in what God has already done in your life, and by all means, look forward to what He is going to do in the coming year. Thank Him for every new glimpse of His glory that He has allowed you to see; for every new truth of His Word that He has opened up to your understanding; and every new level of faith along this journey that He has helped you reach. Those, my friends, are the true riches of His Kingdom that He is sharing with you.

Since God is always, always, always giving good and perfect gifts to His children, then behold, a new year means new riches of God coming your way! Thank Him for them; look for them; and embrace them when they come.

Wishing each of you a very Happy New Year! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

12 Corinthians 5:17; 2Galatians 4:19

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Christmas Partying ~ Is it really necessary? December 23, 2014

As the Christmas shopping is winding down, the Christmas parties are gearing up. This week there will be happy people gathering in large groups, small groups, and in all sorts of places. Decorations adorn our businesses, streets, yards, porches and living rooms. There’ll be hugs and kisses exchanged, greetings said, and gifts given, all in the spirit of the One who gave first. But is all this partying necessary?

It is amusing to watch Christians make so much commotion about the birthday of someone many say is dead. But for us born-again believers who have experienced His resurrection power in our very own lives, He is alive—alive in us! So of course, we are going to celebrate the birthday of our living Savior. 

Had He not been born in Bethlehem that wintery night so many years ago, He could never have died in our place on Golgotha’s hill. And had He not died in our place, we would be in BIG trouble! But we’re not in trouble at all. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. The angel said it well: “Peace on earth, goodwill to men!”

For four thousand years men tried to keep God’s Holy Commandments, but all failed—even the special ones like Abraham, the friend of God, and King David, the apple of God’s eye. Yep, every single one of us has failed miserably. Problem is that anyone who breaks the Law of God is condemned to punishment by death. Did you get that? D-E-A-T-H is the sentence for anyone who breaks even one of God’s Commandments.

Now you know why I said we were in BIG trouble; that is, until the Holy Child Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The very Son of God came down from Heaven to rescue us earthlings from that death sentence. That’s right—He took on Himself our punishment so you and I could escape the penalty of sin. And He did it for all who will believe in Him.

Now if that doesn’t give us enough reason to celebrate His birth, I don’t know what does. Our big ado over Christmas is totally justifiable! It is worth much celebration! Jesus said if people don’t get excited about Him, the rocks would cry out. Who knows, the angels could fill the sky once again with songs of praise, and shepherds might be found dancing on the hillsides. So yes, it really is necessary!

Let the Christmas “naysayers” fuss all they want. They are welcome to gripe and complain about all the fanfare, the decorations, the music, and the merriment, but they can stop none of it. Not at my house, my church, my community, or in my heart. As for me and my house, we are partying! And I hope you and yours will do the same.

Wishing each of you a Christ-filled Christmas! ~Janie Kellogg

 

How to Have a Joyous “No-fuss” Christmas December 17, 2014

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 11:59 am
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Who doesn’t want a joyous “no-fuss” Christmas? After all, it’s been a trying year, and I don’t need to remind anyone how perplexed our world is right now. Rather, I think it is a great time to focus on something else, and Christ’s birth is the perfect subject for some refreshing thought. I suspect the world 2000+ years ago was in as much disarray as ours. But Jesus didn’t come to set the political winds from a different direction. He came to cause men to focus on something more important—eternal matters.

Eternal mattersas if eternity matters—and it does! Most of us probably don’t think much about eternal matters except when tragedy strikes. But it came to me that we can turn our thoughts toward eternal matters and set in motion a joyous “no-fuss” Christmas all at the same time. It has to do with the gifts we give to others. These are, however, gifts money can’t buy.

What if, by some rare oddity, we were to give everyone on our gift list the amazing gift of unselfishness—including the selfish ones, the ungrateful ones, the hard-to-get-along-with ones, and even the overbearing ones? Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?

Actually, it’s very simple. We can give them the gift of our self—you know that part of us that Jesus said to deny. We do that by not demanding our way, and instead, yielding to others. That’s it—yielding our right to do or say what we want to do or say. We can keep our gifts under the joyful wrappings of mercy and grace until the confrontation occurs. Then with our simple acts of giving, we discreetly empower others to have it their way. The issue is settled instantly with no fuss. WOW, can you imagine your family Christmas with no fuss!

You and I have this incredible opportunity to share the true message of Christmas—the selfless gift of God’s love to all people. You see, our yielding to others allows us to proclaim that same message of selflessness with our very own lives. Our gifts will make others happy, set them free from past offenses, and literally wipe out tension from our holiday gatherings. And that, my friend, is joyous!

If you think this is some silly idea of cheap gift-giving, trust me, it will cost you much. In fact, it costs so much that many will opt not to have a joyous “no-fuss” Christmas. But we must remember that God’s Gift to us was quite costly—just consider the pain in God’s heart as He yielded up His Son for the selfish, ungrateful, hard-to-get-along-with, overbearing likes of us!

Yielding our lives to God will always cost us, but then we should never give anything that doesn’t cost us something.1 On this Christmas of 2014, I hope we will choose to focus on eternal matters by giving our selfless gifts. It’s a sure-fired way to have a joyous “no-fuss” Christmas!

Merry Christmas ~ Janie Kellogg

1 2 Samuel 24:24

 

Is There Power In the Cross or Not? December 9, 2014

“Oh yes, there is power in the cross,” we quickly say. “The blood of Jesus has saved me from my past sins and will take me to heaven when I die.”

Sound familiar? Why is it that we can so easily trust Jesus with our past sins and future sins, yet we have little or no confidence that He can save us from our present sins? Why do we remain in bondage to those pesky little habits that so easily beset us?1  I fear we have somehow been tricked into thinking there is no hope for us in that area.

I am astounded at the power this message from Satan has over our lives. Why wouldn’t saving us from present sins be as easy for Jesus as saving us from past sins or future sins? Ponder that thought. Are we missing something here?

Jesus told the complaining crowd, “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”2

The truth is that neither is hard for Jesus, the Healer, the Forgiver, the Deliverer, and the Savior! He can heal a paralytic as easy as He can save him from his sins. Likewise, He can save us from our present sins as easy as He can save us from our past or future sins.

I believe that we live in bondage to our present sins mostly because no one preaches the power of the cross anymore. We’ve failed in our attempts to improve our flesh so many times that we’ve given up, and even the preachers of today have failed so many times that they’ve given up too. They can tell us how to get to heaven, but they can’t tell us how to be saved from the bondage of present sins.

Part of the great announcement about the birth of the Messiah is that He would save His people from their sins.3 That includes us and that includes now! We can be free solely because Jesus did His part. He died to free us from all of our sins, and if we aren’t free it is because we do not know how to claim the victory that He won for us.

We must first begin to believe this victory applies not only to past and future sins, but also to these here and now sins from which we cannot shake free. If the Son sets us free, we will be free indeed!4   This promise is for us, and we shall soon see how to claim it in the here and now.

Most assuredly, there is power in the cross!  ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “Am I seeking to stop sinning or have I actually stopped? To be born of God means that I have His supernatural power to stop sinning.”5 ~ Oswald Chambers

For more Secret Place Secrets visit www.treasureinearthenvessels.net and follow the footprints.

1Hebrews 12:1; 2Mark 2:9-10; 3Matthew 1:21; 4John 8:36; 5Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, August 15

 

The Man Who Taught Me Faith ~ A Tribute to Pastor Norman ‘Doc’ Shuman December 4, 2014

Filed under: Amazing People — Janie Kellogg @ 3:43 pm
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I have had the privilege of sitting under many great men of God in my lifetime, but none have impacted my life as much as Pastor Norman ‘Doc’ Shuman. I was 22 years old when I first stepped foot into the church he was pastoring. From that moment on, my life would never be the same.

Oh, it wasn’t a beautiful sanctuary with stained-glass windows and filled with hundreds of well-dressed people. No, it was a double-wide mobile home custom-built to serve as a place of worship for a congregation of 30 to 40, most of which were new Christians. Little did I know that it had a reputation as “one of those churches” that might not be preaching the truth of the gospel. I reckon folks didn’t understand church plantings back in those days.

I guess I either didn’t know or didn’t care, since I was spiritually starving and simply had to find some answers soon. I had walked the isle many times in various churches trying to find God so I could give my life to Him. I had visited one-on-one with preachers, Sunday School teachers, and a host of empathetic friends. When at last I had reached somewhat of a desperate state, the Spirit of God led a lady to call me and invite me to the church where Doc Shuman was preaching.

I will never forget that memorable night. I walked in the door of this makeshift church and was met by the dear lady who had invited me there. She slipped her arm around my waist and helped me find a seat. She never left my side. The pastor’s wife was playing the organ with an anointing that I had not heard since I was a child. Joyful sound and newness of life permeated the room. Tears began to flow down my face and I did not stop crying the entire service, feeling literally enveloped in the Presence of God.

And what did I hear from Pastor Shuman that night but faith—the very thing that had eluded me for years. I had done all the right things….taken all the necessary steps….prayed the correct religious words, but nothing ever happened in my heart. The Bible tells us clearly that “without faith it is impossible to please God.”1 So no matter how many times I followed the instructions given to me, without faith new birth simply could not happen.

Within a few weeks of soaking up the rich messages of faith in Pastor Shuman’s sermons from God’s Word, I began to believe what I was hearing. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”2 Bingo! It happened as naturally as breathing, and I graciously received God’s amazing gift of Salvation. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”3

For 12 years I sat under the life-giving teaching of Pastor Shuman. He taught me so much about the Word that my soul grew in unmeasurable portions. He taught me to worship to Lord unashamedly, as he himself danced before the Lord with great rejoicing. Having a great singing voice, he would break into song in the middle of his sermon. He was one-of-a-kind, and I expect there will never be another Doc Shuman.

He and wife, Betty, also known as “Sister Momma,” blessed my family in a thousand ways. Besides pastoring the church that grew to approximately 200 people, they also founded a Christian School. They taught our children to respect and honor God, home, and country. They not only taught it, they lived it before their very eyes.

Throughout the years of their ministry and even today in their 80’s, they have planted numerous churches, funded many a mission effort, and continued to preach and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Always having a concern for kids, Pastor Shuman called only a few months ago to see if I still had some of the children’s church material I wrote 30 years ago.

Today, this humble and awesome man of God is being laid to rest. My heart is heavy with great sorrow, but my memories are priceless. I know that today he is dancing in the presence of the Blessed Savior that he loved so much.

My heart will forever be grateful for this dear man who taught me faith. ~Janie Kellogg

Additional Note: Perhaps sorrow has been added to sorrow, as today Pastor Shuman’s son-in-law, Johnny Quinn is being buried as well. While at the funeral home with family members to make arrangements for Pastor Shuman’s service, John suffered a massive brain aneurism. He was rushed to a major medical facility, but never regained consciousness. He died two days ago. It seems unimaginable that today this family is attending a double funeral service for their loved ones. A sweet family friend said it so well, “There just are no words.”

1Hebrews 11:6; 2Romans 10:17; 3Ephesians 2:8