Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

Killing the Sacred Cow November 16, 2013

Today, I see America as a nation deeply divided in our beliefs, our values, and the solutions to our problems. We can see these sharp differences played out daily on the political front. It is clearly right verses left; Republicans verses Democrats; Conservatives verses Liberals. I believe the divisions are more intense than they have ever been in my lifetime.

 

Similarly, I see the Church of Jesus Christ divided in our beliefs, our values, and the solutions to our problems. We may even see families, marriages, and friends divided on these same points. In short: We believe what we believe, and we greatly value our beliefs.

 

Far be it for us to move from our position, even for the sake of benefiting the whole.  Our stubbornness is deep seated—rooted in who we are and where we came from. None of us can easily make that humbling statement the “The Fonz” struggled with on the popular Happy Days TV show:  “I was wwwrrrooong.”

 

Why? Our human nature will go to great lengths to keep from admitting we are wrong about anything, especially one of our “sacred cows.” The meaning of sacred cow is something too highly regarded to be open to criticism or curtailment. I am confident that we all have them—sacred cows, that is—and giving them up is not easy. In some cases it would take heaven and earth to move us off our cherished position.

 

If you don’t think you have a sacred cow, here are some controversial beliefs that exist among Christians. See if you agree or disagree:

 

~ Members of my denomination (fill in the blank) are the only ones going to heaven.

~ Water baptism is necessary for salvation.

~ Once saved, always saved.

~ The gifts of healing and miracles do not apply to the church today.

 

These statements, whether true or false, greatly divide the Church of Jesus Christ. Few of us are willing to consider, much less accept, opposing views. When our beliefs are too highly regarded to be open to criticism, they become a sacred cow.

 

Remember the rich young ruler who came to Jesus looking for the missing ingredient to life? He confidently told Jesus that he had kept the Ten Commandments since his youth.1 Although he had been perfect in keeping the Jewish laws, he had one thing too valuable to give up—his riches. When Jesus gave him a sure-fire solution to resolve the deep hunger in his heart, he sadly turned and walked away. Why? His riches were not open to curtailment. Keeping the Jewish laws was doable; killing his sacred cow wasn’t.

 

Jesus desires to control every part of us—to be Lord of all of my life and all of your life. That happens only when we give up our right to be in charge and yield to His Lordship. We must by an act of our God-given free will allow Him to have His way with us.

 

I fear that we mostly give lip service to statements like “I surrender all” or “Jesus, take me, mold me, use me, fill me,”2 to which Jesus willingly says “Yes!” The process begins, and He shows us which of our sacred cows has to die first. (Did I mention that we have many such cows?) To that, we sadly turn and walk away—our hearts still hungering for more of Him. We forfeit that precious and desired fellowship with Jesus for the thing(s) of earth that we cling to—be it riches, relationships, or beliefs.

 

Whatever He asks of us must be relinquished sooner or later. He knows our hearts and our allegiances, and He will not settle for partial loyalty. He must be Lord of all or not Lord at all.

 

Get ready to kill your sacred cow—that is, if you plan to go on with Jesus. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Luke 18:18-25

2 The Potter’s Hand Lyrics, Hillsong

 

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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