Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

A Thanksgiving Scene We Will Never Forget November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving! Oh, the joy of being with family is almost too precious to describe. The scenes are incredible! We gather around to welcome the newest members; we measure the height of kids growing tall; we recognize personality traits that remind us of a one taken away; and we surely take notice of the graces of life more apparent in each of us. We look on as our offspring learn to be ducks in the bigger pond, and we cherish their successes. Life simply evolves, not without its pain and sorrow, and yet we give thanks.

It’s in scenes like these that the giving of thanks is so appropriate, for in all of them—sacred or sad—we thank the One who gave them to us. His instruction manual tells us to give thanks in everything.1 We not only can, we must; for the Giver of Life does all things well. While we may not always like what is handed to us, He who gives it makes no mistakes.

We can call it acceptance, for that is exactly what it is. Acceptance of what our Heavenly Father has chosen to give to us. I love the story about a little girl who was born both deaf and dumb. When questioned why God would have made her so, she thought for a moment, and then with trembling hands boldly wrote out her response: “Even so, Father, for it seemed good in Your sight.”2

What kind of faith does it take for acceptance like that?  How do such young eyes see such mature truths? And what about us—do we know the meaning of acceptance? Or do we spend our time and energy trying to change that which was given?

Acceptance is what thanksgiving is all about. It is that deep swelling of faith within us that eventually rises to the surface and says, “What God has chosen to give is good and I am thankful for it.” We may not understand it or fully embrace its treasure, but we are still grateful to the God who gave. And why is that—because He can be trusted.

It is comforting to know that one day we will see things more clearly—for we shall see Him as He is, as well as all the things we haven’t understood. We only know in part now and see through a glass dimly.3 But just hang in there—a new day is about to dawn.

The Apostle John wrote about a future scene that is very different from our unexplained ones. Here is a paraphrased glimpse of what he saw just up ahead. Please read it slowly, even out loud, and try to see if you can picture yourself there, in this scene:

I heard what sounded like a mighty shout of a great crowd in heaven, exclaiming, Hallelujah—Praise the Lord! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God! His judgments are true and sound and just and upright. He has judged and pronounced sentence and doomed the great harlot who corrupted and demoralized and poisoned the earth, and has avenged the blood of His servants. And again they shouted, Hallelujah—Praise the Lord! Then the twenty-four elders fell prostrate and worshipped God Who sits on the throne, saying, Amen! Hallelujah—Praise the Lord! Then from the throne there came a voice saying, Praise our God, all you servants of His both small and great. After that I heard what sounded like a shout of a vast throng, like the boom of many pounding waves and like the roar of terrific and mighty thunderpeals, exclaiming, Hallelujah—Praise the Lord! For now the Lord our God, the Omnipotent, the All-Ruler, reigns! Let us rejoice and shout for joy—exulting and triumphant! Let us celebrate and ascribe to Him glory and honor for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His Bride has prepared herself.4

I certainly have my favorite phrases, such as “a mighty shout” (not a timid one); “a great crowd” (God has a big family); “all you servants of His both small and great” (small comes before great, just like Jesus said they would); and “His Bride has prepared herself” (Oh my, we must be ready for the wedding). Are you?

That is a thanksgiving scene we will never forget. I trust that I will see you there! ~ Janie Kellogg

11 Thessalonians 5:18; 2Matthew 11:26; 31 Corinthians 13:12; 4Revelation 19-Selected excerpts from the Amplified Bible.

 

Our Non-traditional Thanksgiving Traditions December 2, 2013

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 8:43 pm
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On Thanksgiving Day, American families gathered together all across this great and diverse nation to share a meal and give tribute to the One who ultimately provided it. That is simply what we do on this day.

 

 

Like other American families, my family has our own Thanksgiving traditions. They are, however, what you might call non-traditional traditions. For more than 30 years, we have celebrated in a unique and personal style in setting, food, and dress.

 

 

When asked by strangers how my family celebrates Thanksgiving, I often struggle for words to explain what it is that we actually do. My story is generally met with amusement: “What! No turkey, no dressing, no cranberry sauce!”

 

 

It is true nonetheless.  Five generations of non-traditionalists converge on the side of a mountain at a deer-hunters cabin in the pine-covered mountains of Southeast Oklahoma. We arrive on ATVs, Jeeps, and 4-wheel drive vehicles to share in the family fun on this day. We come decked out in camouflage and denim, and everyone who can grow a beard has one. The cabin’s open fireplace assures that everyone and everything will soon smell of smoke.

 

 

The food menu hasn’t changed in 33 years—venison, wild turkey, mashed potatoes, beans and cornbread—cooked by the hunters who have camped there for the entire week of deer season. Over the years the menu has grown to include a few traditional side items brought by those who don’t appreciate the non-traditional cuisine (like me); but regardless of what tops the home-built table covered with an orange Oklahoma State University Pistol Pete tablecloth, no one leaves hungry.

 

 

When my pastor-son was asked to bless the food, an immediate hush fell across the room. Whether it was kids running to and fro, age-old stories being told and retold, or last minute efforts to put the food on the table, it all ceased for the Thanksgiving prayer. I won’t soon forget my son’s words—they were a testimony of who we are.

 

 

In his prayer, my son gave thanks to God for all who had gathered there and for His many blessings to our family during the year. Then he said, “I thank You that someone in this family made the decision many years ago to live godly….” He finished his prayer, but my mind lingered long on the thought, “made the decision to live godly.”

 

 

This family was truly blessed to have godly grandparents who blazed the trail before us. They have long departed to heaven, and through the years other family members have joined them there as well. Yet every Thanksgiving, we meet once again to cherish those we can still hug, lavish love on the newest among us, and to remember those who left us this godly heritage.

 

 

So what does “live godly” mean anyway? Oh, don’t get me wrong—we are not a perfect family—by any stretch of the imagination. We have our faults, our failures, our sins, and our wounds. Being godly doesn’t mean that we haven’t sinned; it means that we know the Savior who takes away the sin of the world.1 It doesn’t mean that we haven’t made mistakes; it means that we trust in the blood of the Lamb that washes white as snow.2

 

 

Deciding to live godly simply means choosing to be like God

We choose to extend grace to undeserving people, because God extended grace to us when we were undeserving.

We choose to forgive those who have hurt us, because God forgave us when we were guilty of hurting others.

We choose to love the unlovable in the world, because God loved us when we were unlovely.

 

 

Perfect people—not by a long shot! But we are people who live by our faith in the God who forgives,3 whose mercies are new every morning,4 and who has promised to take us to heaven when we die.5

 

 

At the end of the day, a group of full and happy family members who smelled of smoke gathered into a huddle for the annual photo shoot. There we stood—five generations of imperfect godly people enjoying our non-traditional Thanksgiving traditions.  ~Janie Kellogg

 

1John 1:29; 2Isaiah 1:18; 31 John 1:9; 4Lamentations 3:23; 5John 14:2-3

 

Thanksgiving Day Fullness November 27, 2012

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 7:29 pm
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If there is one word that describes the aftermath of Thanksgiving Day, it would be fullness! You know what I’m talking about. We indulge ourselves in a feast of delicious cuisine from roasted turkey with all the trimmings to colorful and delicious sides, and top it off with a smorgasbord of desserts fit for a king. It amazes me that it takes days, maybe weeks, to prepare such a meal—planning, shopping, baking, cooking, and serving. Yet, thirty minutes after our families gather around the table, all we have to show for our efforts are a heap of leftovers, a sink of dirty dishes—and fullness.

 

In reality, fullness is a two-sided coin. Certainly, it is a result of having enjoyed plenty of the foods we love and that bring back memories of past family gatherings. It is those favorite dishes that excite our taste buds as we linger long, savoring every bite. It’s our encounters with Grandma’s dressing or Aunt Susie’s famous pumpkin pie that inevitably causes us to lose all sense of restraint. After all, it only happens once a year.

 

But fullness also means that we’ve had plenty of other things as well. The joy of being with family brings an abundance of familiarity to our hearts. We are filled to the brim with gratitude for the fellowship of those we hold dear and who make this holiday warm and inviting. No one tells jokes like Uncle Ben or stories like Grandpa. It matters not that we’ve heard them before—they just never get old. And it is the fullness of life shared with those who mean much that intoxicates us and causes us to repeat the same process year after year. You see, there’s just no place like home with the family.

 

Did you know that the word fullness in the Bible? The Apostle Paul prayed that we would have it. In Ephesians 3:19, he wrote “that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” I don’t know what all that entails, but I sure would like to. I suspect, just like the fullness from our Thanksgiving celebrations, it means we have enjoyed God. We’ve lingered long, savoring every bite from His Word. It is our encounters with His Presence that cause us to lose all restraint when worshipping and praising Him.

 

There is also the fullness we feel when we gather with God’s family. We are filled to the brim with gratitude for the opportunity to be with those we hold dear and who make our fellowship warm and inviting. We love to hear their testimonies and stories of how God has blessed them, and us. It doesn’t matter if we’ve heard the stories many times over—they too just never get old. And yes, it is the fullness of the life of God shared with those who mean much that intoxicates us and causes us to do it over and over. You see, there’s just no place like home with God’s family either.

 

Regardless of how your family celebrated Thanksgiving, I trust that you came away with fullness, both physical and spiritual. I am personally seeking for all the fullness that Paul prayed for me to have and that God has to offer. I know that “eye has not seen nor ear heard….the things God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Cor. 2:9), but I am doing my best to see them and hear them this side of heaven. Someday, I hope to be filled with all the fullness of God that is possible for a human being. In the meantime, I plan to continue enjoying the fullness that comes from being with God, family, friends, and God’s people. I hope you do too. ~Janie Kellogg