Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

Now He Is Near September 13, 2018

On Sunday the Pastor used two really big words: transcendent and immanent. I thought I knew their meanings, but then decided a little research might help me better understand these terms as attributes of God. Transcendent describes God as being divine, heavenly, supernatural and otherworldly, while immanent defines Him as existing in and extending into all parts of the created universe—inherent within something. Still confused? I am.

 

Here is an illustration might help us get it. I remember watching a Sesame Street program years ago that attempted to teach my young grandson the difference between the words far and near. I expect that many of you can picture it as well: one shaggy character moves several feet away from another shaggy character, and in a deep, gruff voice pronounces the word “far.” Next, he comes right up close to his friend and pronounces the word “near.” He repeats this amusing activity over and over: “Far—near; far—near,” until he is out of breath.

 

In very real terms, it is a picture of what God has done for us. Once He was far away from us; in fact, the Bible tells us that we were alienated from Him. But then things changed! This magnificent, divine, all-powerful God did the unthinkable—He came into our world as one of us! In other words, He came close to where we are and is no longer other-worldly. Through His Son, Jesus, He has come very near—even so close as to live within our hearts.

 

 

Although He was far away at one time—now He is near.

 

It’s still an amazing thing to me that God, the Creator of the Universe, would love me that much—to send His only Son into this sin-infested world to find me! I think that I may never get over such an unimaginable fact, and I hope I don’t. I pray this mind-boggling truth never become commonplace—for it took me a long time to believe that God did it for me.

 

After years of searching for the transcendent God, my tiny mustard seed of faith began to grow and I called out to Him to come near. And Jesus did that very thing—He came to me. I was 23 years old at the time, and more than once I had walked church isles, prayed with preachers and counselors, cried at altars, and been water baptized. But it wasn’t until the day I asked Him to come and at the same time believed in my heart He would, that I experienced the immanent Christ move into my life. The Apostle Paul described that transition like this:

 

Don’t forget that you Gentiles (that’s you and me) used to be outsiders….In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.  Ephesians 2:11-13 (NLT)

 

Transcendent—immanent.

 

Far—near.

 

Have you ever had this amazing life-altering experience that moves us from being far away from God to being very near to Him? If not, invite Him right now to come near to you. He is longing…looking…and waiting…for you to ask.

 

Without fail, it will be the best decision of your life. ~ Janie Kellogg

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Can Broken Things Survive? August 7, 2018

A few weeks ago when I was having one of my anxious days, my son sent me a picture of a broken-down tree. The caption on it was “keep fighting.” This picture speaks volumes to my heart.

 

 

Since trees can neither think nor make decisions, let’s just pretend for the moment that they do.

 

This broken-down tree could certainly have taken the victim approach to life. After all, something catastrophic happened that altered its future—forever. As a victim, it could bemoan its circumstances, since trees are supposed to stand up—not lie down. It could compare itself to all the normal trees standing tall and straight, and determined that it will never be a beautiful tree. It could consider itself too far gone—fallen too low to fulfill its purpose on the earth. And what about its environment—trees rarely survive in the middle of a body of water. Its chances are not only slim, but near impossible.

 

Choosing to be a victim of one’s circumstances is a hard life. Victims look for someone to blame, and then much of their time and energy is spent lamenting what has been dealt to them. How many have said: I’ll never make it in this set of circumstances? If only things could be different. If only this had not happened. If only things could go back to being the way they were…before. If only….if only….if only….

 

Yet, here it is—a broken-down tree that is a shining testimony of what a tree is created to be—branched out in beautiful foliage, producing oxygen, shade and a resting place for those sparrows God watches over so carefully. And all of that—in spite of its circumstances.

 

Is it not a tree that chose to “keep fighting” and make the most of its brokenness? Is it not living proof that broken things can indeed survive?

 

A few months ago the popular syndicated columnist, political commentator and Pulitzer Prize winner, Charles Krauthammer, passed from this life. In a documentary on Charles’ life, Fox News commentator Bret Baier made a profound statement about him that I won’t soon forget. Now it only becomes profound when you know that Charles suffered a severe spinal cord injury in a diving accident when he was in college. As a result, he spent the remainder of his life in a wheel chair with only limited use of his arms and hands. Yet, Charles finished college and medical school on time, graduating with his class. He changed careers somewhere in midstream and spent many years in Washington DC as a political journalist. He had a wife, one son, and is a best-selling author of “Things That Matters.” He is highly esteemed in the media and political circles around the world.

 

Here is the statement Baier made about him: “Charles Krauthammer lived life as if the accident never happened.” Seriously, I think I gulp every time I read that statement.

 

How did Charles do it? How did he not succumb to being a victim of his circumstances? He kept fighting…against the odds. He was somewhat of a creative genius and he used the resources given him—his intelligence, his wit, and his charm to build a life that mattered.

 

And our thinking tree—what did it do? It kept fighting too…against the odds. It used the circumstances dealt to it and the resources given to also build a life that mattered.

 

I hate the anxiety that I now live with, and I really wish it wasn’t here. I hate it most when it catches me off-guard and causes me to think I’m less than I used to be, that I am a victim of some sort, or that I’ll never be normal again.

 

But like a broken-down tree or a broken-down life, I have a choice. And so do you. Here is the question for us today: Can we live life as if the thing never happened? I’m pretty sure I just gulped again.

 

I’m still not over that picture—that broken-down tree surviving…against the odds. I printed it and keep it where I can see it every day. And I have decided what I’m going to do—I’m gonna keep fighting! I hope you do too. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 (NLT)

 

Somewhere Around Half-Past Midnight ~ July 18, 2018

I’m not sure of the exact time, but somewhere around half-past midnight the Lord spoke to me. He entered my swirling, crowded mind and said words I longed to hear. So many other nights I had struggled with the same dilemma, but this night was different.

 

Isn’t God always waiting to enter our world, yet it can only happen when we allow Him to. When He comes to us, He will always in all ways bring newness.

Newness is challenging to most of us. Actually, we prefer to hang on to what we think we know—the way we’ve always thought and always done. The mindset that we can’t change anything holds us captive and inaccessible to that newness the Holy One longs to bring to us. The very newness we need is indeed being held back by the oldness. Why is it that we love the old so much?

~the old comfortable way

~the old easier way

~the old acceptable way

~the old habitual way

~the old normal way

~the old approval of others way

~the old—the old—the old.

 

Clearly the old keeps us from the new. It presses hard against our minds in order to push out new ideas, fresh thoughts, or different patterns so that WE WILL STAY WHERE WE ARE.

 

Yet, God’s Word speaks loud to this issue in Isaiah 43:18-19, “But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

 

My heart cries, “O God, I want to see it, but I fear I’ll never get there!”

I seriously wonder how I will ever be able to see it with looking so much at what is here standing in my way. Can’t there be a compromise? Surely there can be part old and part new.

 

How can I move into that which is new for me unless I keep some small hold on what is—well, more comfortable? Can’t I take baby-steps while still grasping my steady past?

 

His gentle voice assures me that I can do this thing—this newness—if I will take His hand and let Him lead me to higher ground, a broader place. “It may not be familiar now, but it will be later,” I hear the still small voice speak.

 

Hebrews 11:8 tells of another saint who faced newness. “It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.”

 

Abraham went without knowing where he was going! Really? That shoe could fit here—the not knowing part. God knows I have such a need to know. And what if this new place feels shaky, like Jello under my feet; or life-threatening like the waves that overcame Peter; or painful like the risky road of the Apostle Paul?

 

He assures me that my faith can pass this test if I will keep my eyes glued to the One holding my hand. That I can launch out into these unchartered waters of newness if I trust the One who bids me “come,” yet at the same time turn loose of the old that bids me “stay.”

 

Just as sure as the sun rose over the Kiamichi Mountains east of my house come morning, somewhere around half-past midnight I surrendered: “Yes, Lord, I will follow you into this newness.”

 

There’s just nothing in the world that compares to laying my head down on my pillow, falling fast asleep with heavenly peace encircling my heart, and waking in the morning to the newness of God fully alive in me.

 

How about you? Is God bidding you to walk into some newness that you have been resisting? ~ Janie Kellogg

 

“Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. Matthew 14:23 NLT

 

What to do with a Dead Vision ~ June 8, 2015

What comes to mind when you hear the words “dead vision?” Here is what goes off in my head: Done. Over. Finished. Expired. Lifeless. Nada. Nil. Nothing.

I was recently tempted to call a promise of God—that has not yet been fulfilled in my life—dead. You know what I’m talking about because you have one too—the vision God dropped into your heart years ago, and you are still waiting for it to happen.

As I pondered the cause for the delay, I wondered if I had done something to hinder God from fulfilling His word to me. No sooner than I put that issue to rest (by asking for forgiveness for whatever I might have done), another accusation quickly surfaced to replace it, and then another, and another. You will recognize them, because you’ve heard them too:

“Maybe I didn’t hear God right. Perhaps I am believing for something God never promised? I must be daydreaming to think this could come true. It’s impossible. Did I just make this up? I might as well face it, that vision is dead!”

A few days ago a daily devotional reading by Amy Carmichael spoke to this very issue. She wrote:  “Our Lord Jesus has taught us to call the dead, the living.”1

It’s true. Hebrews 11:12 says: “Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky….” We know this as the fulfillment of God’s promise of a son to Abraham and Sarah very late in life. And in Romans 4:17 we read, “God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.”

We are given a clear example of the good-as-dead body of Abraham and the obviously-dead womb of Sarah being called the living. By all accounts their vision appeared to be totally impossible. Yet, in the remaining verses of Romans 4 we read how Abraham found the faith and the courage to call those dead things, alive.

Contrary to hope, Abraham believed in hope. (vs.18)

Not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead since he was about a hundred years old. (vs. 19)

He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief. (vs. 20)

He was strengthened in faith and gave glory to God. (vs. 20)

He was fully convinced that what God had promised He was also able to perform. (vs. 21)

Notice the verb phrases in these scriptures:  believed in hope; not being weak; did not consider; did not waver; was strengthened; gave glory; was fully convinced. These are the steps Abraham took while waiting upon God to fulfil the vision.

More modern-day language may sound like this: Don’t give up. Hang in there. Keep on keeping on. Stay the course. Trust when you don’t feel like it. Praise God anyway. Speak positive words of faith. Reaffirm your confidence in God.

Is it too late for us to apply these powerful verb phrases to our vision? Of course not! What if we were to defy the odds, disregard what we see, dismiss what we feel, disarm the voice of our enemy—and call our dead vision—alive! After all, if God Himself says something is alive, then it must be alive!

Hasn’t the enemy of our souls taunted us long enough with doubt and unbelief? As sons and daughters of Abraham, our father of faith, let’s tell God that we still believe He will fulfill His promise to us. Then we can move forward as if it is true, simply because God said so. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do.~ Romans 4:18 [The Message]

1Amy Carmichael, Whispers of His Power, CLC Publications, Ft. Washington, PA, 1982, Pg. 121

 

Rest ~ It can be yours for the right currency May 13, 2014

Filed under: Faith — Janie Kellogg @ 1:10 pm
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I think most all Christians believe that God intends for His children to be at rest—at least spiritually. We know we are called to work to spread the Gospel to all the world, to teach and train our children and new converts in the things of God, and certainly to wage war against the forces of evil; but spiritually, we believe that God wants us to be “at rest” in Him as our Heavenly Father.

 

As earthly parents, we do not want our children, especially small children, to be concerned about where their next meal is coming from, the growth of their college fund, the cost of their health insurance, or much of anything for that matter. We want them to be kids—to be light-hearted and carefree as they live life. After all, we are responsible for the big things, and there’s not much that kids can do about heavy issues anyway.

 

Why then do we think our Heavenly Father is any different? Did He not say that He clearly takes responsibility for what we eat, and drink, and wear? And what about tomorrow or the future? Didn’t He tell us not to worry about heavy issues like those? Isn’t He the only one who can do anything about those things anyway? Personally, I believe God says to us: “I’ll allow you to be human, if you’ll just allow me to be God!” 

 

Recently, we talked about entering God’s rest from Hebrews Chapter 4—a chapter rich with nuggets of insight for us. Here are a few of them:

 

  • It is possible not to enter this rest.
  • Entering requires faith, not just knowledge.
  • God was angry with those who failed to enter.
  • Everything has already been accomplished for us to enter.
  • All who enter must cease from his own works as God ceased from His works.

 

We have read these truths over and over. We think we understand what they mean, but we continue to live otherwise.  We continue “not” to believe God’s rest is for us. We continue to strive to please God with our human accomplishments. We continue to work to make God happy enough to let us enter there. Yet, based on these truths from Chapter 4, these things are simply not what is required.

 

Receiving things from God seems to trip us up. Just how do we get God to release His promises to us? I believe that God has a currency—a heavenly currency—that must be used in God’s economy. It is the one thing that God accepts when we come to get something from Him. That currency is FAITH! God has set in motion that everything that comes from Him can be obtained ONLY by using this currency. Scripture verifies my belief:

 

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him”. (Hebrews 11:6)

 

When we come to God for rest and do not come with faith, but with complaining, or self-pity, or offering up our good deeds, we are attempting to use some other form of currency. And God says “I won’t accept that currency. You must enter my rest on my terms, and my terms are by faith!” Can we not hear Him saying to us “Take me at my Word! Stop doubting me! Stop trying to earn it! Stop trying to coerce me! Cease from your works and simply believe ME!”

 

Do you get it? God wants us to stop trying and start believing! We must repent for trying to get there any other way; for blaming God that it’s too hard; and for trusting in our own works. It’s time to humble ourselves, believe God, and approach the throne of God with FAITH in our hands and our hearts. Thank Him that He provided it free of charge to us—except to believe Him. Thank Him for doing all the work and letting us off the hook. Our works don’t look so great anyway.

 

If you’re broke—dead-broke with no faith in your pocket whatsoever—ask our generous God to give you some. He longs to do that for you. If you come before Him with FAITH to enter that rest, it’s a guarantee that He’ll receive it and you will at last GO IN! ~ Janie

 

Who Said Whitney Houston Couldn’t Sing? May 2, 2012

Filed under: Faith — Janie Kellogg @ 3:16 pm

I was recently shocked and saddened by the death of Whitney Houston, perhaps the greatest female vocalist of our time. I was even more shocked to learn that for much of Whitney’s career she struggled with thoughts of inadequacy, such as “I can’t sing good enough,” or “I’m not pretty enough.” Someone tell me how that happened.

 

As a singer and choir director who barely makes the grade—that would be me—I can’t even go there. Those thoughts are absurd. Whitney Houston had a voice to die for! You know what I mean. It’s the same thing those of us who are cheesecake lovers say about cheesecake—cheesecake is to die for! We say that about something we really desire. I can’t help but wonder how many young girls around the world would give their two front teeth to sing just half as good as Whitney Houston, me included.

 

A Whitney-Houston-kind-of-voice will come along perhaps only once or twice in our lifetime. Her perfect pitch, sharpness of tone, incredible range, and the soothing melodious sounds that came from her voice were unmatched. It was angelic in many ways—perhaps the greatest vocal gift God ever bestowed on a human being. And it was truly that—a gift from God.

 

Why then did Whitney think she couldn’t sing good enough? Good enough for what? When you are the best, who is there to compare yourself to? Would you like to know who told her she couldn’t sing? There is simply one answer to my question:  a gross lie of that magnitude could only have come from the father of lies—Satan himself. Yet, it seems impossible that someone as talented and beautiful as Whitney Houston could have doubted her amazing gifts. If we do not yet grasp the power of Satan’s lies, we need only to look at the tragedy of Whitney Houston’s life.

 

Remember that we are in a war—a war of words. God speaks words of love and life to His created sons and daughters, and Satan comes along and announces that God is not believable. As it was with Eve, the resulting outcome of our lives depends on who we choose to believe: God or Satan. When we choose to believe God, we can have the abundant life Jesus promised to believers. When we choose to believe Satan, our lives can be difficult, troubled, and eventually taken from us. The Bible says that Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). His tactic to take us down always begins with a lie.

 

Please don’t miss my point:  It is critical that we know which voice to believe, because that is the voice we will act on. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:12, “I know whom I have believed.”  Do you know who you believe? As our beliefs and values are currently being shaken to the core, it is essential that our lives are built on a solid foundation—a foundation of truth. A life built on sinking sand has only one destiny—destruction. Whether we realize it or not, every life is built either on truth or on a lie. There is no neutral ground. If you do not know God’s voice today, you have a great deal of homework to do. The day of testing is upon us, and we must clearly know WHO to believe.  ~Janie Kellogg

 

Note: If you have questions or desire help in knowing God’s voice, please feel free to contact me through the comment feature on my website. Your comments can remain confidential.

 

There’s a War Going On April 24, 2012

Filed under: Faith — Janie Kellogg @ 12:23 pm

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a war going on:  a war in the world, in our nation, in our communities, schools, churches, marriages and families. Like all wars, it is the good guys against the bad guys. Of course, I am certain that I’m always on the side of the good guys. But whether you know it or not, there is an even bigger war going on—a war in the heavenlies—and you guessed it, it is the good guys verses the bad guys once again.

 

In reality, the war in the heavenlies is the main war, and our scuffles here on earth are merely side-wars of the bigger war. It all began before the earth was ever created—Satan had a jealousy problem and started a rebellion against God. But being mightier than Satan, God threw him out of heaven, along with a third of the angel-army Satan coerced to go with him. The war between good and evil has been on ever since.

 

Because Satan is no match for God in wisdom, power, authority, beauty, and character, he uses one single strategy to fight this war. Know what it is? It is lies, lies, and more lies. You might recognize this tactic in the political debate of the day—one party accuses the other of doing what they themselves are doing. Let me explain how that works. If Satan doesn’t tell the truth, he accuses God of lying to you. Because Satan doesn’t keep his word, he accuses God of being unfaithful to His Word. Since Satan is a thief, he accuses God of taking things away from you. When Satan doesn’t have power, he accuses God of not being powerful enough to solve your problems. If Satan doesn’t care about you (and trust me, he doesn’t), he accuses God of being indifferent and not caring about you either. Sound familiar? The first deceptive lie was sold to Eve in the Garden of Eden, and this war of words continues today.

 

Because Satan can never match God’s magnificence, he attempts to discredit God by tempting people to disbelieve God’s character—who God says He is and what He says He will do. God speaks to people in many ways—His written Word, the Holy Spirit, creation, and through other believers—and immediately Satan begins his subtle attacks of calling God a liar. Think about it. What did Abraham, known as the friend of God, do that pleased God? He believed what God said! Abraham believed God so much that he packed up his family and followed Him, not even knowing where he was going. (Hebrews 11:8) Do you want to please God? Do you want to be God’s friend? It all starts with believing Him and not the lies of His enemy. (Hebrews 11:6)

 

You might be wondering what we are going to do about this colossal war that is going on in the world. Things appear to be headed south, and one might think the world is going to implode any day. First of all, we aren’t going to do anything about that war. Here is an insight that might help you come to grips with the world situation and the outcome of this greater war. It is going to come down exactly the way God said it is going to come down, as told in the book of Revelations. There’s nothing we can do to change or impact that war—God doesn’t even need our help. He is very capable of fighting His own battles, and He is going to come out on top! God will win the war! In the end He will put all of His enemies under the feet of His Son, Jesus! (I Corinthians 15:24-25; Psalm 110:1) Satan’s days are numbered! If you don’t believe me, read the Book!

 

Rather than worrying about a war we can do nothing about, we can be engaged in a war much closer to home—the one inside you and me. That is the war we can do something about and the war we will talk about next. You don’t want to miss my next post: “Who said Whitney Houston couldn’t sing?”  ~Janie Kellogg