Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

The Elephant in the Room January 28, 2015

Our God is so gracious to show us treasures we might otherwise overlook—such as the huge benefits in this thing called humility. I recently made a bold statement in my post The Fast-Track to Success in 2015:  In order to go higher in God, one must first go lower. If I even slightly aroused your thinking, I am thrilled.

For some time we have given Carte blanche privileges to denominational teachings, church leaders, and popular TV ministers; so much so that we find it difficult to accept some out-of-the-denominational-box ideas, even when they are firmly rooted in our Judeo-Christian beliefs.

So it is with humility, a subject that has neither been embraced nor taught for some time. Have we overlooked its value? And why wouldn’t anyone believe that it is for us, when we have the supreme humility of Jesus as our example? What do we think Jesus meant when He said, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted?”1

Could humility be the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about? Is it the obvious truth that is being ignored? Perhaps it is a message the enemy of our souls has purposely buried in the modern-day rhetoric of God’s plan for us. Most popular teachings today tell us that God wants us living the good life of the rich and famous.

The truth is that God wants us to deny ourselves, give up our life, and be available to Him for His purposes only. That, my friend, is the call to follow Jesus, and that is the destiny of all true followers of the cross. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”2

We are certainly called upon to humble ourselves, for giving up our life for Him will require much humility. That would mean no longer pursuing our will, but His will in all that we do, say, and think.  In order to acquire humility at that level, one must go very low. It is spelled: servanthood.

Because we were bought with a price and our life is not our own, 3 Christ has the authority to tell us what to do, say, and think. As His servants—with no rights, privileges, or say in the matter—we are told only to obey.4 Are any of us willing to follow Him that far?

This is a humility which many Christians in America know little about, and our American rights and privileges have not helped us get there either. Yet, if we profess to serve a humble God, who gave up everything for us, we must seek to be humble and embrace all that servanthood entails.

We are going to spend some time here, because we really cannot go higher with God until we first go lower. Lower is our true destiny; and as difficult as it sounds, I promise it will be worth the trip! There is a great message in humility that has been hidden from this generation of believers—it simply got lost in the “seek the good life” mentality. The truth about the way of the cross can open a whole new spiritual dimension for us. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “Here is the path to the higher life. Down, lower down. This was what Jesus said to the disciples who were thinking of being great in the kingdom….Look to it that you humble yourselves and take no place before God or man but that of a servant; that is your work…. Just as water ever seeks and fills the lowest place; so the moment God finds the creature abased and empty, His glory and power flow in to exalt and to bless.”5 ~ Andrew Murray

Additional Insight: Refer to “What Other Writers Say about Humility and Depravity” in Treasure in Earthen Vessels, April 18, 2013. (Use the search feature and enter “What Other Writers Say.”)

1 Luke 18:14; 2Luke 9:24; 31 Corinthians 6:19-20; 4 John 14:23; 5Andrew Murray, Humility, Fig Books.com, 2012; page 17

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The Delightful Daughter ~ A Tribute to Tracey Lynn Everett January 20, 2015

We all have people who’ve touched our lives—parents, soulmates, children, grandchildren, friends—and then there are those people who’ve touched our world. Tracey Lynn Everett was one of those.

She was the oldest child of Gary and Shelia Everett, my precious lifelong friends. Her two younger brothers, Brian and Bradley, mirrored my two sons, Brian and Brent, in many ways. The four B’s were almost exact in age, likes and dislikes, and not to mention, partners-in-mischief. Tracey, being the older sister/friend, brought some sanity and calmness to our times together.

Tracey was one of those teenagers who never went astray. You could say she was the model child, the obedient child, the sensible child, the studious child, the perfectly-mannered child, the loving child, and the respectful child. You know what I mean—the good child.

While I have listed many traits to describe Tracey’s character, there is yet another, and perhaps the one most remembered by those who knew her. She was the delightful child. Wherever Tracey was, there was delight—joyful, cheerful, exuberant and overflowing delightfulness!

She brought smiles to the faces of little children, a sense of warmth and belonging to her friends, family, and co-workers; and yes, she brought delight to her parents, teachers, ORU college professors, and those for whom she worked.

Tracey never married, and some might say it was because she didn’t find her soulmate. I reject that idea altogether. I believe Tracey totally found her soulmate—He was also her Savior and Lord, her Best Friend, and her closest Confidant. His name is Jesus, and she loved Him with all she had. She not only sang about Him as the Lover of her soul, she sang to Him in passionate praise and worship.

When Tracey was taken from this earth, some would think her life was cut short, her God had failed her, and we are left with only heart-wrenching sadness. They would bemoan the fact that forty-six years just wasn’t enough. I reject those ideas as well.

I believe that Tracey’s Soulmate left her on earth for as long as He could bear to be apart from her. He was confident that forty-six years was plenty of time to be with her family and friends this side of eternity; and knowing exactly what He was doing, He sent his most-trusted angels to carry her to His side.

It is true that we are left with great sorrow over our loss, an emptiness that words cannot express, and grief that only time can attempt to heal. But our loss is His gain. With that in mind, I would like to turn your attention away from our sadness to another scene, one just as real as our broken hearts.

It is a scene in Heaven. Jesus is there. The Disciples are there. The Patriarchs are there. The Heroes of faith are there. The renowned saints who blazed the trail before us, along with the countless saints whose names we’ve never heard, are all there. Our loved ones—grandparents, moms, dads, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, cousins, perhaps even children—who’ve gone ahead of us are there. And now, a place that we thought could not get any brighter is brighter still—because Tracey Lynn is there too.

I believe our sadness is countered by the delight on the face of our Savior. At last, His Beloved is by His side. She is home. She is with Him. How can sadness exist there? It can’t, and we can pray for the same on earth. No sadness here either—for if our Lord is happy, we must be also.

It is often said of departing saints that upon arriving in Heaven they will hear these comforting words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”1 But if you would indulge me a little writer’s privilege, I am almost certain that Tracey heard different words as she entered there on January 12, 2015. Picture her crossing over the portals of Heaven and dancing past those pearly gates as these words resounded throughout that glorious place: “Well done, good and delightful daughter!”

And a delightful daughter she was to Gary and Shelia, and also to our Heavenly Father. So, our beloved Tracey, although we miss you dearly, we simply must chime in with the greatest invitation ever to fall on human ears: “Enter into the joy of your Lord.” ~Janie Kellogg

1Matthew 25:23

 

Be Anxious for Nothing ~ Really, God? January 13, 2015

Being anxious for not one thing is a pretty tall order, wouldn’t you say? I read these words and think surely they were written by someone who lived in another world.

After all, this is the day in which Christians are persecuted for their faith. Entire groups of people are being uprooted and displaced. Nations rock from the winds of cultural shock, financial collapse, and horrifying evil. A world that seems to be spinning out of control sends chills down my spine.

Even closer to home are troublesome issues. The death of too-many-too-young-to-die begs for answers to the why questions. And then there are the sick and the lonely. One cannot visit or call enough to meet the needs all around. Some who have fallen likely won’t get up, be it physically or emotionally.

So how did the old Apostle—or God—expect us not to be anxious? Is a non-anxious existence even possible in our world?

Tall orders call for tall actions! That weary and worn old missionary/preacher recommended prayer as the answer. “Tell God,” he says, “and His peace (which, by the way, you won’t understand) will guard your heart and mind.”1

My heart certainly needs some guarding. Do you ever feel like wearing a sign that says, “Caution: Too many straws dumped here could break this camel’s back!”

Then Paul added another action to the plan for not being anxious: “Think on good things.” Obviously, I’m dwelling on the bad ones: the fear; the pain, the loss, the suffering. How about you? What are you thinking on?

But Paul said we shouldn’t. Apparently, there are better things to focus on that are true, not fabricated; noble, not shameful; just, not unfair; pure, not defiled; lovely, not despicable; and good, not evil.

So what was I thinking? Of course there are things that are virtuous and praiseworthy. Paul said to think about them and meditate on them, and then will come the great promise of God:  P – E – A – C – E.

The peace that God promises to us is a perfect peace that the world cannot receive, but it can be mine and yours. That is, if we follow Paul’s instructions and be careful what we think about.2

You see, Paul knew by experience what he was talking about, for he also lived in a world that persecuted Christians for their faith. He was one of them. The next time our faithless words “Really, God?” question His control over our messed-up world, we must closely listen for God’s calm and loving response:  “Really, my child, really.” I’m certain that Paul did.

I’m praying for each of you to have God’s indescribable peace in your life today in spite of the turmoil in your world. Really. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” ~ Isaiah 26:3

1Philippians 4:6-9; 2Isaiah 26:3

 

The Fast-Track to Success in 2015 January 8, 2015

I love the mysteries of God tucked within the pages of His Holy Word just waiting to be uncovered by seekers. God is so faithful to perform that which He promised. Take this one for example: “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”1

One favorite that I recently discovered is the secret to going higher in my spiritual walk. We’ve all heard the advice to work harder, jump higher, and run faster. Yet after having tried it all, we find ourselves weary from the workout. What I am about to say might shock some of you; actually, you could think I’m not on the fast-track but on the wrong track!

Remember that Jesus prefaced the mysteries He taught over 2,000 years ago with these words: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”2 In other words, it takes ears that are spiritually tuned to hear and know what Jesus is saying. Ears not spiritually tuned (or trained) simply won’t get it. So it is with this week’s blog.

With your ears tuned to the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit, consider this strategic plan for success in 2015: Success for a Christian means finding the pathway to the higher life in Christ—a life of peace, of power, and of a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ Himself. There is only one path that leads to that higher life: We must go lower—much lower than we’ve ever imagined.

Oh, I know it goes against most everything we’ve been taught—such as to name what we want, tell God about it, begin to speak it, and lo, it will magically appear (as if there is power in repeating something until it comes true). That is not faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.3 The Word speaks nothing of wishful thinking or speaking. Besides, it hasn’t worked; so why hang on to a failed strategy?

Jesus clearly laid out the plan: “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

“Servanthood is integral to the gospel. Nowhere else does Jesus give us a path to greatness.”5 Jesus not only gave the plan, He modeled it—He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.6 If we are to find true success in 2015, we must go lower—in humble submission to the Father’s will. We too must die to ourselves and become His servants, allowing Him to have His way with us. Call it following Jesus, if you will.

There is a secret power in humility that can be ours if we will but lower ourselves to find it. Amy Carmichael says it is found in the dust at the foot of the cross.

Humility is a difficult concept to receive; yet, it is God’s plan for success. Want to be successful in 2015? Then seek to go lower. His Word cannot fail, and neither will we, if we follow it. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “Servanthood is integral to the gospel. Nowhere else does Jesus give us a path to greatness.”5 ~ Chris Tiegreen

For more Secret Place Secrets visit www.treasureinearthenvessels.net and follow the footprints.

1Jeremiah 33:3; 2Matthew 11:15; 3Hebrews 11:1; 4Matthew 20:26-28; 5Chris Tiegreen, The One Year At His Feet Devotional, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., January 5; 6Philippians 2:8