Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

Asking for Overs ~ New Year’s Day 2017 January 1, 2017

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 4:55 pm
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“Oh, how I wish I could write like her,” I whispered to the Lord as I turned out the light. “My journals are full of the same stuff. Why can’t I write so people will read it?”

 

I had just read a few choice lines from Ann VosKamp’s new book The Broken Way to my husband, explaining that every sentence is so insightful I must stop and process it before I can move on. He had agreed.

 

As I settled down under the bedcovers, the Holy Spirit spoke one of those profound things to my heart:

 

“Not many people read books, but everyone reads lives. It’s not that I need more people writing the message—I need more people living the message.”

 

Ouch! My toes felt the divine crush.

 

I awoke early the next morning, and the dialog with the Holy continued.

 

“This is what many of My children do with the gifts I give to them—be it writing, singing, teaching, preaching, serving—you name it. They focus on the gift rather than the Giver.”

 

Ouch! Again.

 

Guilty as charged. It was true. I had made the gift (or talent) God had given me about me. I had attempted to enhance my gift, develop it, grow it, market it, and if the opportunity had arisen, I’m sure I would have sold it. The Giver pushed aside to make room for the gift.

 

He directed me to the Mount of Transfiguration story.1 There it was in plain sight how Peter immediately switched to the “it’s about me mode.” Jesus had been transformed right before his eyes, and Moses and Elijah showed up to boot—a marvelous display of God’s power and glory. Yet, the event soon became about Peter—where he was, how he felt, and what he could do to make this moment better.

 

Here is Matthew’s telling of what happened: “Then Peter began to speak and said to Jesus: Lord, it is good and delightful that we are here; if you approve, I will put up three booths, one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

 

How do you improve on that display of majestic mystery? That brush with the Eternal?

 

God gives gifts to His children for the purpose of drawing us closer to Himself, just as He did Peter. He wants us to see His magnificent glory and power so we can tell others about Him. He desires an intimate relationship with us, where we continually communion with Him, depending on Him to enable and anoint our gift for His purpose—reaching the world with His message.

 

Yet, like Peter, we soon make it about us. Our excitement takes over and ideas flood our mind about how we can make it g-r-e-a-t! Forget waiting on the Holy Spirit to direct our gift toward God’s purpose. The way we see it: God gave it, but we can take it from here.

 

How often do we offend the Holy Spirit by adding our humanness to a divine gift? Jesus said: “…the Son can do nothing by himself.”2 So how is it we think we can?

 

Making the gift our focus interferes with our intimacy with the Giver. Rather than seeing His glory, His power, His offer to operate through us, we envision all we can do for God with this gift. Instead of drawing us closer to Him, it pulls us away from Him. Our time and energy goes toward working the gift. Even prayer time centers on planning for the use of our gift. Intimacy is out the window; so is faith and trust.

 

I wonder if God ever wishes He hadn’t given us that gift in the first place.

 

Have you been thinking lately that your gift isn’t working like it used to? Are the results not what you’d hoped for? Has the freshness and anointing slipped away? Is it more a job than a joy? Perhaps you have even begun to doubt your gift?

 

Maybe we should ask ourselves this question: “How’s my intimacy with God?” If the answer is cold, lacking, or non-existent, then we shouldn’t expect our gift to work either.

 

So what can we do? Can we have overs? Perhaps.

 

Can we make our gift about the Giver and not about us? Maybe.

 

Can we allow it to draw us closer to Him rather than draw us away from Him? Not sure.

 

Can we let our intimacy with Him override our desire to do our own thing? I don’t know.

 

Is God a giver of second changes—and third—and fourth—and fifth? Definitely!

 

I don’t know about you, but I am asking for overs. As this New Year floods in, I see a fresh opportunity to handle my God-given gift differently.

 

Let’s brace ourselves, breath in some grace, and begin again. Isn’t that what a New Year is all about? Like the beginning of a new day!

a-new-beginning-2017

Dear Jesus, I bring this gift back to you. Please forgive me for what I’ve made it. Sanctify it anew, burn out the dross, remove the humanness I’ve added, and purity it for your purpose. May it be used for your glory in 2017, not mine.  ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Matthew 17:1-8 (AMP) 2John 10:19 (NIV)

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Didn’t I Say That? November 1, 2013

The chicken salad at my favorite tearoom was just as good as I had remembered. It had been nearly a year since I shared lunch and life with my friend, Vicki. As usual, it was hard to wait for my turn to talk as we both chatted freely about our kids, grandkids, and God.

 

Her eyes sparkled as she told me about the spiritual treasures she had recently uncovered; the exciting new move of the Holy Spirit in her church; and the deepening of her own walk with God. My story echoed hers.

 

While savoring every bite of chicken salad and every word Vicki shared, it suddenly dawned on me that I had been hearing similar things from other Christian friends, my Pastor’s Sunday morning sermons, my son comments on what he would be preaching next week, and my on-going conversations with my husband as we read our daily devotionals.

 

Yet, when my friend made a profound statement that sounded strangely familiar, I thought to myself, “Hey wait, didn’t I say that? Or was it my favorite author who wrote that? Oh, now I remember, I heard that on Christian TV.” To be honest, I am losing track of who said what, including my own writing.

 

Only a few days ago I saw a Facebook post about Rick Warren, author of the famous Purpose Driven Life, with this quote: “Much prayer, much power. Little prayer, little power. No prayer, no power.” Disregarding the fact that I had ingested his book ten years before, I knew for certain that I had written that very same thing—and I had my dated journal writing to prove it.

 

I was equally astonished last December when I read a chapter titled “Go Lower” from Ann Voskamp’s awesome book, One Thousand Gifts. It closely mirrored my own writing a few months prior called: “How Low Can You Go?” So what’s up with that!

 

It also seems that more and more people are quoting the spiritual gurus from the past and acting as if it is a fresh revelation from God directly to them! I fear there’s a whole lot of plagiarizing going on. Will copyright laws ever be able to protect who said what?

 

God smiles at my silly thoughts. He knows exactly what is going on. The Teacher of all truth is simply doing His job. The Holy Spirit is accomplishing what He was sent to do—teach Jesus’ disciples all things.1

 

I may like to think that I generate some deep words of knowledge in poetic prose, but it all originates with the Holy Spirit.

 

My favorite writers from a century ago—Oswald Chambers, Amy Carmichael, and Andrew Murray—wrote many insightful books, but it all originated with the Holy Spirit.

 

Great authors in my lifetime, such as A. W. Tozer, Henry Nouwen, and Philip Yancey, have made huge contributions of revealed truths, but it all originated with the Holy Spirit.

 

The most dynamic preacher to ever live may deliver powerful sermons that seem original, but it all originated with the Holy Spirit.

 

There are no exclusive rights to eternal truths. No one can patent any of them.

 

It is no coincidence that my friends and I are all learning the same things. There is an amazing revelation happening in the church today—an awakening to the Holy Spirit, Who He is, and why we need Him. He is a real Person, and He is revealing Himself to all who are open to Him.

 

This may perhaps be the most significant move of God in my lifetime and I don’t want to miss it. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to start looking and listening for teaching on the Holy Spirit. I have listed several good books on the subject below.

 

As the Body of Christ, let us pray that Christians everywhere will wake up to the reality of their Holy House Guest.2 Start today by asking Him what He wants to reveal to you. He won’t disappoint you—revelation is His specialty.  ~Janie Kellogg

 

 

Books on the Holy Spirit:

Fresh Air, by Chris Hodges

The God I Never Knew, by Robert Morris

The Master’s Indwelling, by Andrew Murray (Kindle edition free at Amazon)

 

1 John 14:26

2 “The House Guest,” a short story, Treasure in Earthen Vessels @ http://www.treasureinearthenvessels.net, November 22, 2012

 

 

What Is the Treasure? March 13, 2013

Filed under: Vision — Janie Kellogg @ 1:17 pm
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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

 

On Empty After Christmas? December 26, 2012

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 1:30 pm
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For many years I wondered why this huge, empty hole in my heart lingered long after the holiday gift-opening and family-feasting had passed. Was it a let down from the hours of planning, shopping, wrapping, baking, and cooking that had zapped my strength, or was it something more? I truly didn’t know; I just knew that it showed up very year in the hours following Christmas. It seemed that I made a big hype about something, and when it was over, I was left with questions—and emptiness. Maybe that’s your experience too.

 

Today, I think I know the answer. Not that there is anything wrong with giving gifts to those we love or preparing a meal fit for a king, but God designed human beings with a hole in our hearts that can only be filled with Himself. No matter what we do to fill that hole—intended for Christ alone—we can’t seem to satisfy its hollowness. It doesn’t take years to discover that “more earthly possessions” are not the answer. In my case, a gnawing hunger for something greater loomed large in my spirit, reaching beyond what I had attained in my spiritual life. Could it be the intent of the heart of God, the Hound of Heaven, ever drawing me by His Spirit away from the unsatisfying things of the world and closer to Himself? I now think so.

 

For the first time in my entire life (more years than I care to count and announce), I feel full at the end of this Christmas Day. The very real presence of my God living inside me satisfies my soul. Why me? Why this? Why now? I’m not sure I know those “why” answers, except that a continual hunger drives me closer to my Lord, ever seeking more of Him, and always searching for writers who seemed to have found what I still long for.

 

This has been an amazing year of discoveries as my Holy House Guest guides my journey, leading me to writers that pen words of living water for my thirsty soul. My most recent discovery is Ann Voskamp, author of “One Thousand Gifts,” a book given to me by a dear friend. This best-seller has forever left its mark on my life.

 

Although I was still swaying from the depth of revelations coming from this one small book with a bird nest on the cover, I subscribed to Ann Voskamp’s daily blog at www.aholyexperience.com. One of the first emails I received included a link to John Piper’s website “Desiring God” to hear an interview with Ann. I challenge you to listen to it. The title of the Interview is “What our Christmas desperately, especially, needs this year.” Go to her website and look for the link on the right-hand side of her home page. Hearing the humility in Ann’s voice made me weep with her as she shared an experience of passing by a tarnished piece of jewelry lying on the ground—a cross.

 

The best Christmas gift I received this year is a new vision, not of the manger as you might expect, but of the cross. As I saw the cross more clearly—the pain, suffering, and agony endured by my Savior—I gained a deeper appreciation for that Holy Babe in the manger. You see, we cannot separate the two—the manger and the cross. Both are enormously significant. Both are totally essential, as one without the other lessens the meaning of either. We needed both—God gave both. We must believe both. We must embrace both. We must weep over both. We must rejoice over both. We must celebrate both. Their message intertwined is one great swelling announcement: GOD LOVES US! He loves us so much that He spoke it through a manger—He spoke it through the cross. He is ever-speaking His unfathomable love to us, hoping, longing for us to hear His voice, believe His message, and respond to His love.

 

Have you heard? believed? responded? Meet Him at the manger. Meet Him at the cross. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal their message of God’s great love for YOU. Allow the deep-satisfying presence of God Almighty to fill your spirit to full! That, my friends, is God’s desire for each of us—to be filled with all the fullness of God Himself (Ephesians 3:19). How can we have emptiness when we know the One who fills? We cannot. We must not.

 

R. C. Sproul said, “The issue of faith is not so much whether we believe in God, but whether we believe the God we believe in.” Believe Him now—He fills empty hearts! ~ Janie Kellogg