Tag Archives: Jesus

How Long Has It Been?

An old song comes to mind this morning: “How long has it been since you talked with the Lord?” If it has been awhile, then perhaps you know the feelings of longing, emptiness, or even lack of peace.

There is nothing that satisfies the longing heart like the presence of God!

What a privilege it is indeed to be in a gathering of God’s people when His presence shows up. Has that ever happened to you?

It happened to me last week. Not one person left that place untouched by the power of God. What a joy to see young people run to the side of one who has reached out for spiritual help, place an arm around their shoulders and pray intently for them. Or to see them weeping with one whose heart has been convicted to confess their sins and accept God’s forgiveness.

It seems that our fast-paced American culture has imposed on us a quicker approach to responding to the Spirit of God. We now accept a simple show of hands—while no one is looking—to signify to the speaker behind the microphone that we have decided to follow Jesus. Certainly more simplistic, less noticeable, and non-intimidating, wouldn’t you agree?

It is likely that walking a church isle or bended knees at an altar no longer have a place in modern worship. But could it be possible that while we have accommodated our time restraints, we have cut ourselves short of the sweet and precious movement of God’s Spirit upon our hearts and lives?

Old-fashioned? Probably. But I must ask: How long has it been since the Spirit of God fell upon your congregation, bringing the convicting power of God to everyone present? Or since you’ve felt the presence of God move on your own heart, drawing you closer to Him?

Who said it is old-fashioned to allow God to work among His children? Are we embarrassed at what God might do? Are we so afraid of ridicule from other believers or the world that we have purposely omitted the opportunities for God to work in us? And who cares what the world has to say anyway.

I wonder if we know what to do with His presence when it shows up. Amazement, reverence, fear, awe, humility, praise, worship, and adoration all appear on my list of “to do’s” while in the presence of Almighty God.

But however we handle it must not be the focal point of our concern—the important thing is that He comes! How precious to our hearts when our Lord comes to meet with us!

How long has it been since you talked with the Lord,
And told Him your heart’s hidden secrets?
How long since you prayed? How long since you stayed
On your knees ‘til the light shone through?
How long has it been since your mind felt at ease?
How long since your heart knew no burden?
Can you call Him your friend? How long has it been
Since you knew that He cared for you?
(Words and Music by Mosie Lister)

However long it has been is not the issue. Even if it has been a really long time, we can fix it now. Let the world say what they may. Let the religiously-correct ridicule if they want. But do not let another day pass until you find a place to get alone and meet with your God. He is waiting to meet with you; waiting to tell you that He cares for you; and waiting to bless you with refreshment that comes only from Him.

I suspect that as we have our one-on-one meetings with the Lord, we will find Him showing up regularly when we meet together. Oh, one more thing—when this happens, the world will marvel and realize that we too have been with Jesus! (Acts 4:13) ~ Janie Kellogg

Just For Love It Was Done

The words of a song run through my head again and again. Like water over a falls, they keep coming and coming—“Just for love it was done.”

 

That single line from the song Broken and Spilled Out1 drives me to take a fresh look at the familiar story told in Matthew 26. Mary broke that alabaster box of rare perfume—her own special treasure—and spilled it out on Jesus only days before His crucifixion. The song says she lavished it on him. One of the meanings of lavished is heaped. Picture that—heaping something on Jesus.

 

The second verse of the song reverses the concept:  God gave His own special treasure—His beloved Son—and poured Him out for me. It too was lavished, or heaped on me. The whole idea baffles me, but the words that continue to pour through my mind are the reason God heaped this special treasure on me:  Just for love it was done!

 

Just for love it—with it being the garden, the sleeping friends, the betrayal kiss, the cock-crowing denial, the false accusers, the illegal trial, the scourging, the thorny crown, the heavy cross, the climb up Golgotha, the nails, the mocking, the jeering, the spit, the tossed dice, the mother’s broken heart. It, all of it —was done just for love.

 

How could God love me that much? Me—a sinner, a betrayer, a less-than-faithful follower, a denier, a failure! It just doesn’t make sense. If I were a prize or maybe some great person, but I’m not. God only knows how many times I’ve tried and failed to live holy; made the promise again; then broke it again.

 

I can’t get my mind around those words.  “Just for love it was done” doesn’t require a condition of greatness by the object that is loved; they simply reveal the character of the Lover.

 

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one2….For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”3

 

I am among the “all,” one of the “worthless.” Yet, just for love it was done. How am I to respond to such love? The only thing that seems suitable is returning in-kind love. In-kind means to give something that is equivalent to what has been received.

 

Is that not exactly what God longs for –those who will receive His love and respond in-kind? After all, what else can we give God in return? We have no money or possessions for they all belong to Him.4 Even our days are in His hands; our children on loan. What can I give in return for that kind of love?

 

In-kind love. Equivalent love. Am I capable of giving equivalent love?

 

“Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”5

 

Could seeing and assessing my own depravity be the key to loving God much? To giving Him equivalent love?

 

Depravity is a word that demands exploration. Rejected by human reasoning, it could be the very key that unlocks the mysteries of God for us. We must carefully peel away the layers from around it lest we miss the tremendous value that awaits us within this one single word. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Broken and Spilled Out ~ written by Gloria Gaither and Bill George; 2Romans 3:10-12; 3Romans 3:23;   4Deutronomy10:14; 5Luke 7:47

 

 

Since Self is on the Throne

“Take up your cross and follow Me,”

I heard the Master say.

But denying myself to answer Your call,

Is a price too high to pay,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

Love my enemies; bless those who hate;

Pray for those who spitefully use me.

Surely, Lord, You don’t require that,

For much too vulnerable I’d be,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

Forgive one another as Christ forgave me;

Your Word says this is a must.

But I was treated too unfair to ever forgive.

So You’ll not ask that of me, I trust,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

To him who strikes me on the cheek,

I’m to offer the other side.

Surely this doesn’t mean what it says.

Why, my “rights” would be denied,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

Be kind and tenderhearted one to another;

Your Word teaches this, ‘tis true.

But to esteem others better than myself

Is much too difficult to do,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

You say I should learn to be content,

Regardless of my state.

Yet I’m striving to get ahead in this world,

For doing without I hate,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

On earth You made Yourself no reputation,

And that I can’t understand.

When worldly wisdom drives me on

To be all that I possibly can,

Since Self is on the throne.

 

There is no profit to gain the whole world,

If my very own soul I lose.

But dying daily seems barbaric to me.

Is there some other plan I can choose,

Since Self is on the throne?

 

I’m told in everything give thanks;

Grateful I’m supposed to be.

But Lord, can’t You see, this is not about You,

For this is all about ME,

Since Self is on the throne.  ~ Janie Kellogg

 

Note: Also see Treasure in Earthen Vessels, “Who’s the Boss,” March 6, 2013

Who’s the Boss?

“What does the word lord mean?” my pastor asked from the pulpit on Sunday morning. “It means boss,” came his simple answer.

 

Interchangeable terms: lord means bossboss means lord.

 

I suppose someone is the boss of everything. We all like to think we are the boss of something—our own lives, at least. Even the youngest among us, attempting to declare independence from their parents, sometimes say: “You’re not the boss of me!”

 

Many Christians openly say that “Jesus is Lord.” We use the term loosely. By that, do we mean Jesus is the boss of our lives? If we call Him Lord, then indeed, that is what we mean.

 

I’ve always considered myself a good employee, but sometimes I wonder how I measure up to what the Boss tells me to do? Certainly, I do not want to hear these words, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not the things I say?”1 Ever wonder who Jesus might be talking to here.

 

A poem written more than ten years ago, titled “Since Self is on the Throne,”2 speaks to that very issue. It also speaks to the inevitable fact that dying-to-self is a lifetime struggle for most of us. Sprinkled with a hint of humor, a touch of satire, the poem exposes the crux of our modern-day, rights-oriented culture.

 

Is it possible a poem could help us see ourselves more clearly—reveal the very things that keep us from experiencing the victorious and powerful Christ-like, Christ-centered, Spirit-filled life that Jesus promised to us?

 

Might we even laugh at ourselves—if in fact we see similarities within our own character? Those things Jesus could easily discern in all men. The Bible says that Jesus didn’t trust men because, “He knew what was in man.”3 He knows our hearts, our motives, and certainly, who is in our throne room. He knows, regardless of what we say loosely.

 

Perhaps, God will speak through a poem to help us identify who the Boss is in our house (our bodily temple). We might uncover the answer to the obvious:  Is Jesus actually on the throne of our lives where He rightfully belongs—that is, if we openly call Him Lord?

 

The poem is posted separately under the title “Since Self is on the Throne.”1 We just never know what God might use to unearth the treasures that await all who seek. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

1Luke 6:46

2Treasure in Earthen Vessels, “Since Self is on the Throne,” a poem, March 6, 2013

3John 2:24-25

My Faulty Default

Of course I know what “default” means:  someone failed to repay a loan. Right? Apparently not, in this age of modern technology, and I was behind the curve.

 

At thirty-five my first computer class was intimidating, because I knew little to nothing about the new technology taking over my world. Even my years of experience in business didn’t help. Not here; not now.

 

So what’s with this word “default?” I seriously thought I knew what it meant. Eventually, I figured out it was the original settings on this ingenious beast setting in front of me.

 

Computers are programmed to respond to a command the same way every time. For example, F1 is always Help; F3 is always Print. These default settings are built in at the factory, and they remain that way until someone, who understands the internal workings of computers, changes them do otherwise.

 

What does this have to do with me? A lot—since I too am programmed.

 

My default was originally set to live in perfect fellowship with God on this amazing Planet Earth. From the get-go I would be able to walk with Him, talk with Him, and understand His ways. Imagine that—God and me on the same page!

 

Then it happened, right there in the Garden of Eden, my original setting was changed in a moment when Eve chose to experience evil. She had already experienced good since everything around her was good—God had called it so.

 

When Satan tempted her to eat of the tree of good and evil, she made a really bad choice.1

 

Go ahead and blame Eve. That’s the easy thing to do. Yet thousands of years later in my own garden of life, I did the same.

 

Because of Eve’s choice, my default (along with that of the entire human race) was reset to obey my sin nature. In other words, my fallen-from-God’s-intended-nature is now in control of ME.2 One could say that I have a faulty default.

 

So there it is—better known as self—reigning on the throne of my life and making my decisions. I am a slave to it3 and will continue to be until someone, who knows how to reprogram ME, resets my default.

 

In the meantime, self is looking out for ME. You know—it’s all about ME. I’m on guard for anyone who might hurt ME, take advantage of ME, do ME wrong, or give ME the short end of the stick. I also have a keen eye for anything that would rob ME of the credit, compensation, or glory due ME. I know it sounds selfish, but I prefer to call it self-preservation.

 

Jesus talked about this very thing. He said saving my life isn’t the best route to take—that is, if I want to follow Him.4 No doubt, that decision will require a change in my current default setting.

 

I’ve tried to change it, all by myself—unsuccessfully. Haven’t we all tried—unsuccessfully?

 

I needed the skill of the Master Programmer, someone who understands the inner workings of human hearts. I needed Jesus, the Creator and Author of life. He was the only one who could successfully change my default.

 

And He did! Jesus changed it the day I believed in Him as my Lord and Savior. Completely. Officially. Legally.5

 

 In a moment, I became a new creation and the old sin-default-setting is now gone.6 I am returned to perfect fellowship with God just as He intended for me to be in the beginning.

 

But then, that is what Jesus does—He sets captives free. I am no longer a slave to my faulty default. No one else has to be either. ~ Janie Kellogg

1Genesis 3:4-7; 2Romans 7:17-20; 3Romans 7:14; 4Luke 9:23-24; 5Colossians 2:13-15; 62 Corinthians 5:17

The Inverted Gospel

God wants me to get it. His heart longs for my eyes to see what He sees; my heart to feel what He feels; my mind to grasp the inverted gospel message of Jesus Christ that says to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you; bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). I struggle with this upside down thinking.

 

God’s intent from the beginning has been to make Himself known in the earth—His greatness, His love, His mercy, His ways—all of which are different than ours. And how did God plan to do that? Through the lives of His chosen people (Galatians 3:8).

 

“The world judges our Christ by our fruit,” said Cora Harris MacIlvary. If that is true, perhaps we need to inspect our fruit to see what we are producing. Do we present an accurate picture of Christ to the world around us?

 

Some fruit inspection guidelines could be these:

Jesus said to humble ourselves—we remain proud.

He said to forgive others—we hang on to our hurts.

He said to love others as ourselves—we despise those with different religious or political views.

He said to judge not—we accuse, convict, and condemn with one sweeping thought.

He said to be merciful—we want mercy, but refuse to give it.

 

Sometimes I question who Jesus will be talking to when He says: “Why call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) Will it be me?

 

Jesus told the disciples that “if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). What part of deny do I not understand? Could this be what Jesus meant by deny: “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back” (Luke 6:29-30)?

 

God truly wants His children to get it—to grasp the meaning of the gospel:  God loves sinners. His heart is breaking for them because they are lost, and for us because we don’t get it. Sometimes I fear that I am part of the problem instead of part of the solution, as Jesus intended for me to be.

 

It may be time for a spiritual checkup:  Am I living a Christ-centered life that reflects the merciful kindness of a loving God, or a self-centered life as one who has been duped into believing that I have rights that must not be violated—the right to my own way, my possessions, my opinions, my attitudes, or as Oswald Chambers said, “the right to myself?”

 

Jesus clearly said to deny myself and follow Him. I am certain He meant it. Yet, there is a gap between my thinking and Jesus’ instructions. There’s even more between my life and Jesus’ selfless example.

 

God is searching for those who will reflect the truth about Him. And when He finds them, I believe He will pour His Spirit into them with great measure so He can to make Himself known to a dark and desperate world.

 

Am I willing to deny myself of my rights and be one of them? Just thinking…… ~Janie Kellogg

 

“Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers. Let our hearts be led by mercy; help us reach with open hearts and open doors. Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours.” ~ Casting Crowns

 

Note: All scripture references are NIV.