Category Archives: Vision

Seeing is Everything ~

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)

 

Who doesn’t want to see God? Or better yet, who doesn’t want to see, period?

 

Seeing means I have a clear view of where I am, where I’ve been, and where I am going. It means I can observe the things and conditions around me. It means I can know both beauty and danger. It certainly seems to be true that seeing is everything.

 

When we consider the two men who came to the temple to pray in Luke 18, we can conclude that the publican saw more than the Pharisee, for it was the publican that came away justified. A few things the Pharisee obviously could not see were his need for humility and mercy as he approached God. Not a good start. No doubt, he was counting on his own good deeds, but he missed it big time.

 

On the other hand, the publican had such a clear view of himself and his inability to stand before God in his own merit, that he smote his breast as he begged for mercy. He couldn’t even lift his eyes to heaven. Picture this man with his head bent low, tears streaming down his face, bitterness of soul, anguishing over his neediness—he could see God clearly because he saw himself clearly. This is big!

 

Let’s look at the promise again: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” How do we get pure in heart? Only one way: purity is given—granted—transferred to us by God. Being washed in the sinless blood of Jesus cleanses the stench and dirt of humanity from our lives. Bringing ourselves to the fountain filled with blood daily makes us pure in God’s eyes. And along with that purity, He gives us sight—the ability to see more of Him.

 

With newly granted sight, we can see more of ourselves, and thus more of our need for mercy. When we see our neediness and humble ourselves properly before Him, He responds to repentant and yearning hearts. We have thus positioned ourselves to receive everything God has promised to us. This is even bigger!

 

Take note: Seeing ourselves clearly is the key to positioning ourselves to receive from God!

 

Here are some things we must see:

 

  • How hopeless are my good works!
  • How helpless I am to help myself!
  • Without Jesus, I am doomed!
  • With Jesus, I am positioned to receive all God has for me!

     

    Seeing is priceless! I believe it is one of the keys to the kingdom that Jesus said would be given to the church. Finding God all starts with our ability to see. It will never happen by chance to one who isn’t looking. We will never stumble onto eternal life. No, it happens when God draws us to Himself and then allows us a glimpse of His holiness. Once we get a glimpse of a holy God, we will begin to clearly see our unholy, sinful condition. From that position, the promises of God are not far away. This is bigger still!

     

    If there is now a stirring your heart, consider this: “Is there something I don’t see?” Thank God for drawing you to Himself, and then ask for more spiritual sight. He will always answer that prayer for the pure in heart.

     

    The eyes of the heart are so critical, for if we do not have spiritual vision, we don’t have anything. We shall soon discover that entering God’s rest greatly depends on what we see. After all, seeing is everything! ~ Janie Kellogg

     

     

    For other faith-building readings, see “A Message for Rock-Bottom Disciples,” Treasure in Earthen Vessels, April 22, 2014.

Has God Gotten a Bad Rap?

I think God has gotten a bad rap. Many people have the wrong view of God because of His arch-enemy, Satan, who from the get-go has tried to convinced mankind that God is something other than what He is.

 

As a deceiver condemned to eternal damnation, Satan’s goal is to convince God’s masterpiece creation to turn away from Him. He attempts to do this by skewing our view of God. Paraphrasing Satan’s words to Eve, he said: “You won’t surely die if you eat of this tree. It’s just that God doesn’t want you to be as smart as he is.”1 Right there he planted the thought that God is not trustworthy.

 

Our opinions about God are formed in early childhood based on what we were told by our parents. We basically see God the same way our parents did. Another factor that influences our view of our Heavenly Father is what type of earthly father we had:  kind and gentle, or not-so-kind and not-so-gentle. Lastly, our view of God is formed by what our religious teachers taught us about Him.

 

When asked: “When you think about God, where does your mind go first?” we would have different answers based on those factors. Our answers might be: Righteous judge; Condemning critic; Tender heart; or something esle.2

 

But whatever our answer is, it is a mindset—an attitude, belief, conviction, frame of mind about something. A mindset is just that: set! It is with us for life unless something or someone comes along and shows us a better way.

 

Mindsets are hard to change. Expert James Clear says, “There are many reasons why it can be hard to stick to good habits or develop new skills. But more often than not, the biggest challenge is sitting between your two ears. Your mind is a powerful thing.”

 

The old saying, “If you always think what you’ve always thought, you’ll always get what you’ve always got,” is true. There is tremendous power in a mindset.

 

Be it good or bad, we all have a mindset of who God is and what His character is like. Christians believe He is an eternal, divine, all-knowing, all-wise, just, and perfect God that loves mankind. Those are good mindsets. But what about our mindset of how this eternal, divine, all-knowing, all-wise, just, and perfect God relates to us—members of a fallen race who are anything but perfect?

 

Thousands of religions around the world teach different ideas about God, and many are what I call “performance-based religions.” They teach that if people are good, God is pleased with them; and if people are bad, God is not pleased with them. Requirements for followers of performance-based religions range from extremists who tell their converts to kill people for eternal brownie points to those who define how women should wear their hair.

 

Even God’s chosen people added 600+ commandments to the Ten Commandments.  In so doing, they created a “performance-based theology.” In New Testament times, Jewish Christians tried to put new converts back under the law of circumcision. The Apostle Paul challenged them with the message: grace is enough!3

 

Salvation-by-grace denominations also encourage believers to keep track of their performance. How many of us made check marks on our Sunday school envelopes for being at church, bringing a Bible, giving an offering, studying the lesson, and inviting a visitor? If we did those things, we got a perfect score. If we didn’t, we got something less.

 

Throughout most of our lives, we have struggled with the something less that we fear doesn’t please God.

 

So what is wrong with performance-based practices? That is simply not how God relates to us! Jesus died for us while we were still sinners.4 He provided a way for us to be holy and acceptable to God by His works at Calvary. In short—Jesus plus nothing!

 

The truth is that God wants to have a love relationship with us and not be the judge of our good and bad performance. But only when we change our mindset about this truth will we be able to experience intimacy with the Almighty God.

 

An exciting journey awaits those who are willing to change their set mind. ~Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Genesis 3:4-5; 2Angela Thomas, Beautiful Offering; 3Galatians 5:1-6; 4Romans 5:8

Higher Ground ~ A Recipe for Joy

Is it possible that our level of joy is a measuring stick for our faith in God? The more I see into the spiritual world, the more I trust the One who controls all things, and the more I trust the One who controls all things, the less I fret and worry about earthly things, and the less I fret and worry about earthly things, the more joy I have!

 

For those of us who like visuals, my theory looks something like this:

 

Spiritual sight = knowledge of God = faith in God = trust in God = less worry = more joy!

 

What we see of God could be the single most important factor in all of life. Our spiritual eye health should be of utmost concern to us. Without a healthy vision of God, we are stuck in the muck and mire of earthiness—yet with it, we can soar to levels high above our worldly existence. Unfortunately, if we never learn to soar, we will continue to dwell far below what Christ made available for believers.

 

Listen to how the Apostle Paul described what God has given to us: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”1 Did you get that—blessed in the heavenly realms?

 

Look at another statement by Paul that describes where believers are: “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in heavenly realms in Christ Jesus….”2 Did you get that—seated in the heavenly realms?

 

What could this mean? Please understand that God is not teasing us here. It means we can live above the world—above our earthly circumstances. It means we are no longer held in a decaying flesh by sin’s dread sway. Our flesh must submit to our higher order of life.

 

What are we thinking? Why is it that we submit to our flesh and give it such allegiance when we don’t have to? Why do we allow depression to darken our days; anxiety to hijack our faith; worry to weigh us down with burdens we’re not meant to carry; or fear to stop us dead in our tracks? Why do we bow down to this fleshly nature as if we are frail, helpless creatures? We are not!

 

It could be time to start thinking out of the box or out of this world. We need only take our rightful position in the heavenly realms beside our Conquering King. And when the enemy of our soul says, “What do you think you’re doing UP there with Jesus?” look down into this earthly pool of accusation, doubt and discouragement, and reply, “I’m up here in the heavenly realms where God put me.”

 

That should make our joy barometer rise!

 

It has been said that many Christians live beneath their privileges. But why? I believe we live beneath our privileges, which includes a lack of joy, because we do not truly know our God. We do not know experientially where He has seated us, mostly because do we understand heavenly realms.

 

So where are you and I? Do we see and understand heavenly things from where we are now? Or is it time for us to reach for a higher spiritual plane where we can see more, understand more, believe more, trust more, and worry less? Is it time for you and me to have more joy?

 

The writer of the song “Higher Ground” got it right. Read these powerful words:

 

My heart has no desire to stay | where doubts arise and fears dismay;

‘Tho some may dwell where these abound | My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

Lord, lift me up and let me stand | By faith on heaven’s table land;

A higher plane than I have found | Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.3

 

As for me, “I’m pressing on the upward way; new heights I’m gaining every day!” I hope you will come and go with me. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Ephesians 1:3; 2Ephesians 2:6; Higher Ground by Johnson Oatman, Jr.

Doing something is what we are about ~ even if it doesn’t work

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

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

 

What Is the Treasure?

Whether you are reading my weekly blog Treasure in Earthen Vessels by accident or by choice, you might be asking “What is the treasure?” You are not alone. Actually, that is the most asked question generating hits to my website.

 

It has been my question too, ever since God brought this scripture to my attention: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:7). Even though it has taken years to unearth its hidden message, my quest to find it has been worth every effort. My blog is about that treasure in 2 Corinthians 4:7 and here is why.

 

After leaving the busy, corporate world to work from home, I decided to pursue my love for writing in my spare time. I anticipated sitting beside my fireplace every morning and writing about the goodness of God to my life and my family—a picture of perfect bliss with a pen in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.

 

Within months, my husband was diagnosed with fast-growing prostate cancer. Instead of the fireside chats with God that I had envisioned, my journals filled with real life experiences—more closely akin to scripts from reality TV shows as my faith was tested, tried, and stretched. Out of my search for God during this painful chapter of my life, that left me widowed at 53, I found an amazing truth. It had much to do with 2 Corinthians 4:7.

 

I had never been satisfied with the status-quo of Christianity. My thirst for more took me on an intense search into the writings of Oswald Chambers, Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor, Andrew Murray, Brother Lawrence, Henry Nouwen, and many others. I longed to find the secret they had found, yet had seemingly slipped through the cracks of much modern-day teaching.

 

What did they have? What did they know? What power were they able to tap into that set them apart as great men and women of faith? As I pursued “the pearl of great price,” I became the one who, when she discovered the treasure in the field, sold all, and bought the field that she might have the treasure also.1 My efforts were not in vain.

 

Today, I am a work-in-progress, and although discouraged at times with my lack of progress, the Holy Spirit continues to connect the dots for me. He has led me to the secret place, and through the writings of my faithful friends who made this journey before me, He is teaching me how to abide there.

 

Somewhere along the way, the meaning of 2 Corinthians 4:7 became perfectly clear—the Treasure is the Indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

My blog—also a work-in-progress—is dedicated to encouraging others to press on in their journey to find the Treasure. I post my findings, and yes, my struggles, as I continue to seek how to incorporate this immeasurably valuable truth into my everyday life.

 

I hope you will decide to join me in this pursuit—something I believe God fully intends for all of us to find. A comment by writer Chris Tiegreen points us in the right direction: “We never discover truth. It is always revealed.”2

 

Ann Voskamp yields another clue: “Because the God-likeness within our smallness speaks to Father-God in His magnificence. I hadn’t understood….that all wonder and worship can only grow out of smallness.” 3

 

Much awaits us. Clue after clue—may we seek to remove the earth, the worldliness that keeps God’s truths buried and unrevealed, except to those who make the effort to find them.

 

My post on November 22, 2012, The House Guest – A Short Story4, reveals some of my own personal findings in a fictional format. I hope you will check it out. And then, let’s get on with our spiritual expedition! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1 Matthew 13:44-46

2 Chris Tiegreen, The One Year at His Feet Devotional, Tyndale House Publishers, March 12

3 Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, Zondervan, 167

4 The House Guest @ www.treasureinearthenvessels.net, Archives – November 22, 2012

Living on the Lighter Side

Blink. Blink. Blink. The electricity is off again, and I realize that I love light.

 

On a dark night in rural Oklahoma this is a life-changing event. It’s hard to see my hands in front of my face. I hurry to light a candle. All activity has ceased; the television is quiet; the treadmill still. There is nothing to light the screen on my computer—it sits dark. As I am giving thanks for the glow of the candle, I think about how much I genuinely love light.

 

Light means life. Darkness means something else—but definitely not life, as evidenced by my still, lifeless room.

 

“The entrance of your words gives light; it gives understanding unto the simple.” That’s me—I am both simple and lack understanding. And because of it, I equally love the light that comes from God’s Word, especially when it brings the understanding of a newfound truth into my hungering heart.

 

I can’t seem to get enough of it. It’s like trying to thread a needle, or remove a sticker underneath my skin, or read the small print on a medicine bottle—I cannot get too much light. So it is with God’s light—I am in no danger of getting too much.

 

I continually pray for more light from His Word. But then God has a purpose when He dispenses light. The Bible says that God sent His Son “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”

 

Later, Jesus turned to His followers and said, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.

 

I hear the call to be a light-spreader. Millions still live without the Light of World. “God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light.” As I sit here in the quiet of my dim surroundings, I wonder how people could love darkness. Why would anyone choose to live there?

 

Truth is life-giving light to hearts dwelling in unlit places. Even a trace is glorious and calls for celebration of a joy-gift from God.

 

I think of how my dark room needs life-giving light tonight—just like God’s dark world. His plan has always been to fill His children with that life-giving light and send them out into the darkness to spread it around. It seems only fair that the Master Light-Giver would expect a yield from His investment of light in my life.

 

Am I willing to share the light given to me? Does God want to use me to reach those living in the shadows of death? Do I even see them sitting there—over on the darker side? Is it possible that the light shining from my life could guide some lost soul to the path of peace? Is it bright enough to be seen? Bright enough to show anyone the way to the lighter side?

 

Dear Lord, help me love light even more. Help me be a light-spreader—by speaking light to those I meet today; by living light so those who see me see You; by writing light so others can read and understand. May the light You invest in me not be in vain.

 

And Lord, would You help my electricity to come back on soon, since I really do prefer living on the lighter side! ~ Janie Kellogg

 

Psalm 119:130 (NKJ); John 3:19(NLT); Luke 1:79 (NLT); John 20:21 (NLT)

The Biggest Scam Ever

We Americans love our goals. We come in all varieties from record breakers, to trend setters, to fund raisers, to weight losers, to mass marketers. Modern technology helps us track our goals; Facebook and Twitter enable us to announce our successes to the world. Seems if we don’t have goals, we may not accomplish much. But if we believe goals serve a purpose, doesn’t it makes sense to have our sights on the right ones? If goals have power to move us in a new direction, isn’t it important that we’re headed in the right direction?

 

As promised, we are going to take a closer look at the goals of the Apostle Paul, perhaps the greatest Christian ever. His number one goal was clear. We read it in Philippians 3:8 “I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus,” and again in Philippians 3:10 “That I may know Him.” Excellence means superior, better, higher, past supreme; and know means to be aware of, feel, perceive, be sure, and to understand. When Paul wrote Philippians, he was no wet-behind-the-ears, greenhorn convert. He was a mature Christian imprisoned for preaching the gospel. After years of serving God, I hear Paul say he was reaching for a superior, surer awareness, feeling and understanding of God than he currently had. Now don’t misunderstand—he already had plenty, but he wanted more. He wanted it so desperately that he counted everything else a lost cause.

 

I doubt my goals would have been the same as Paul’s in that jailhouse circumstance. No way! I’d be clanging my cup against the bars hollering “Someone get me out of here!” and “Can’t I at least have a cell phone?” or maybe “How about a little decent food around here!” It would not be a pretty picture as I demanded some rights.

 

Paul could probably have walked out of that jail at any time, if he had denounced Jesus as the Son of God and returned to being a Pharisee. But Paul’s aim was higher than physical freedom. He wanted to know God more than he wanted to breathe—literally! Ever wonder how he arrived at that goal or what about God made Paul willing to give his life for Him? (A topic we will explore later.)

 

I believe the biggest scam ever has taken place in our generation! Christians have been conned into seeking the good life rather than seeking God Himself. We have been deceived, as Eve was deceived, causing her to make a bad choice. By the way, deceived people don’t know they are deceived. We too are fed continuous lies about God. They sound something like this: “God isn’t a good God. He doesn’t really love you. His rules keep you from finding happiness.” Satan tempts people to settle for anything but God’s plan. Maybe you’ve heard him cleverly whisper to you: “Take this substitute; it will be better than God’s plan.” I certainly have.

 

Here are some of the substitutes I believe Satan has sold to modern-day Christians. Like Paul, we are encouraged to seek something bigger and better than what we have, but the object of our goals are very different from his. We are coached to reach for our destiny, a more successful career, a larger paycheck, more expensive houses, cars, and vacations, a greater ministry or larger organization. We’re told that bigger is better and better will make us happy. It is all skillfully packaged as the “abundant life.” I’m confident that Paul had none of these things in mind, yet our bookshelves are filled with books on “how to.”

 

We have indeed been scammed! Yet God longs for us to discover the truth about Him, His extravagant love for us, and His real plan for our lives. He wants us to drink deeply from the well of Living Water and eat of the Bread of Life. My spiritual life and possibly yours are starving for the real thing. Hear Jesus say, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water” (John 4:10 NLT). What are you asking Jesus to give you? ~ Janie Kellogg

Goals ~ Do They Matter?

“If you want to succeed,” our teachers, coaches, and mentors tell us, “setting goals is essential.” We are taught to define our goals in some sort of mission statement, write them on brightly-colored post-it notes, and stick them on the refrigerator door, the bathroom mirror, or anywhere we can read them often. It is believed this repetitious programming of our minds actually works.

 

I can mostly relate to that scenario in the area of dieting. God only knows how many times I’ve set a goal for weight loss, either with an organized group of dieters or by myself. I learned early on not to set my goal too aggressively, because experience had taught me that I probably wouldn’t make it.

 

Throughout my life I have been a goal-setter, and I have both successes and failures. But whether our goals are major life-changing measures or simply something to amuse us—like New Year’s resolutions—how seriously we take them determines our chances for success. If we take a casual approach to them, failure is inevitable. I believe that in today’s culture, we increasingly embrace an “It’s OK to fail” policy, and toss our goals out the window.

 

One place where it is definitely not OK to fail or take a casual approach is in our relationship with God. There we should have clear goals, take them seriously, and recognize that failure will have consequences. Does it seem to anyone else that we’ve lost all sense of consequences for our choices or actions? I’m not talking about criminal actions; however, it is not uncommon these days to see people getting by with murder and walking away scot-free. What I am talking about is a trend in our Christian beliefs that God loves us so much that it doesn’t matter what we do. Thus, we take casually our actions and sometimes even our commitments to God, and then assume that He does too. We assume wrong. (See Deuteronomy 23:21; Ecclesiastes 5:5.)

 

So what are the right goals for Christians? Should we view them with a “hit or miss” approach to success? Does God care what our goals are? Does He want us to succeed? Will we be better Christians if we have the right ones? Those are all questions we will tackle in the coming weeks. But first I want to share with you the goal of one of the most admired Christian authors/teachers of modern times—Oswald Chambers.

 

            My goal is God Himself, not joy nor peace,

            Not even blessing, but Himself, my God.

 

I have been a reader of Oswald Chamber’s best-selling devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, for 10+ years. I read it every day, realizing that much of it goes poof—straight over my head. But because his writings speak to my thirst for God, I’ve stuck with it. Anyone familiar with his works recognizes that he was a rare saint who had an exceptional walk with God. Next, we will breakdown his goal statement and compare it to the goal of the Apostle Paul and also to our goals as 21st century Christians.

 

Goals matter. Having the right goals will make a difference in how we approach God and our ability to discover His vast treasures for our lives. God wants us to succeed at the right things. It helps when we know what they are!  ~Janie Kellogg

Ask Gabby Douglas

Not long ago I wrote this statement in my journal: What did the Apostle Paul know that I don’t? That was three months and the 2012 Olympics ago. Today I think I know the answer. The Apostle Paul clearly knew the goal of Christianity, as well as his own personal goal. They were the same for Paul, and that fact alone is part of our problem with goals—we have too many!

 

If we were to ask Gabby Douglas what goal brought her to victory in the 2012 Olympics, what do you think would be her answer? Would she tell us that she didn’t have a goal? Not likely. Would she say that her goal was to visit London? I doubt it, since anyone can buy an airline ticket to get there. Could it be that her goal was to be a celebrity? I don’t think so, because doing even senseless things can elevate a person to celebrity status. Was her goal to be on Television? Probably not. We can see people who commit heinous crimes on TV every night of the week. I doubt she would even say that her goal was to possess a gold medal—as you can likely buy a replica. While I don’t know for sure, I suspect that Gabby would say her goal was to be the best gymnast in the world! All the other things are mere by-products of reaching that goal. I dare say that had she been focused on any one of those other things, she would not have won the gold medal. I think Gabby clearly knew her goal, whatever it was, and she never strayed from it, drifted off on some lesser vision, or yielded to thoughts that it was too difficult. That is how I believe Gabby won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics.

 

I also believe that most modern-day Christians, including me, do not have a clear idea of the true goal of Christianity. And not only do we not have a clear idea of the goal we are supposed to be striving for, I believe we have had our eyes on the wrong goal altogether. When the prosperity—live-the-good-life-now—message hit the airwaves several decades ago and Christians bought into it, we made a huge mistake. We settled on the wrong goal, and we’ve been paying the price ever since. We have actually attained some of these wrong goals. For instance, we look prosperous, alive, and busy, but we don’t look like Jesus. Why? We have the wrong goal. It seems that God has blessed us abundantly and we appear to be spiritual, but our lives are void of God’s power. Why? We have the wrong goal. We can quote scriptures about God’s promises to us, but our words don’t match the reality of our lives. Why? We have the wrong goal. There are convincing arguments for these statements in the book of Revelation Chapters 2 and 3, Christ’s letters to the churches. I challenge you to read them.

 

If we are genuinely thirsty for the times of refreshing that come from the Lord, we must find the right fountain to drink from. Drinking from other sources simply will not quench our thirst. My feeling is that the church has been drinking from the wrong fountains for a long time, yet we are starving for the living water that Jesus spoke about. Finding that fountain of living water has everything to do with having the right goal.

 

Can we learn something from Gabby Douglas? I think we can. I believe it will benefit us to take a clear look at the superficial goals of the church today and then define what the right goal is for the church and for us personally. Until we have the right goal, the goal of the Apostle Paul, how can we possibly “go for the gold?” We can’t. Anyone thirsty? Stay tuned! ~Janie Kellogg