Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

An Unusual Man of God October 9, 2019

Filed under: Amazing People,Faith,Humility — Janie Kellogg @ 12:13 pm
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We have had an unusual revival at my church this week with an unusual evangelist. I can’t say that I have ever met a man of God like Dr. Charles Graham. Actually, he is quite unusual and has blessed my life in a quite unusual way.

 

Brother Charles is African-American and a highly gifted singer. He has a doctorate degree in music and has ministered around the world. His music alone is worth every minute given to attend a service. But his unusual-ness goes far beyond his music and his delivery of the Word of God to his audience.

 

One thing that has come to the forefront this week is that Charles is unusually like his Savior, Jesus Christ. He is perhaps the most humble preacher I have ever met. He has an unusual depth in his spirit that clearly shows through his unusual presentation of the gospel. No one could possibly doubt that this unusual preacher lives what he preaches.

 

Several years ago I read a book by Frances Havergal titled “Kept for the Master’s Use,” in which she encourages followers of Jesus to actually follow His example. You see, Jesus’ entire life was given completely for the Father’s use.

 

I’m afraid that most of us would have to say that we live as we choose and then trust the grace of God to cover our mistakes. Not so with Jesus. And that is how I see Bro. Charles. His testimony of unusual faith tells us that at every turn, every decision, and every stage of life, he waited on God to show him the right way to go, the right choice to make, and the right attitude to have in order to be the most useful to his Heavenly Father. How unusual.

 

As he shares his life’s story from growing up in the cotton fields in the South to singing before kings and presidents, his unusual humility and surrender to the will of God are enormous. He has shown us what it means to live by faith,  and how through his unusual obedience, has seen the fruition of that faith. His book “No Back Doors” is worth a read.

 

If he has said it once, he has said it at least a hundred times this week: “I don’t know it all, but I’m growing.”  What an unusual statement since many Christians today think we do know it all and have reached a place where we don’t need to grow anymore. He has challenged us to press in closer to our Lord.

 

As for me, my life has been forever changed in an unusual way by this unusual man of God. But that in itself is not unusual—since I serve a God who often moves in unusual ways. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

 

This Must Be the Place Believers Come December 22, 2015

Filed under: Holidays — Janie Kellogg @ 7:10 pm
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Sometime during this Christmas season, I recommend that we make a visit to the manger scene in Bethlehem. Of course, we will have to visit it in our hearts and in our minds. The song says, “This must be the place believers come.”1 I’m a believer, so yes, it is fitting and proper that I should come—and you, too. Perhaps we each have a list of the things we are looking for this Christmas. We’re not sure just where to find them, or if they can be found at all. So with my list in hand, I come to the manger.

First, I find realness—the age-old story is no myth—it is real! The Baby Jesus was a real human being. He felt the trauma of the birth canal and the drafty night air so unlike the womb. He heard the strange sounds of barnyard animals. We can relate to this Baby for He is one of us. In a world crying for realness, this must be the place believers come.

Next, I find humility—the Creator had to stoop low in order to come down to our world as a helpless baby. I fear we are missing this all-important ingredient that lays at the very foundation of the manger: A humble God loved us enough to be born in a cattle stall. Aren’t we are tired of the hype, the fanfare, and the emptiness felt from having more and enjoying it less? I know I am. I want to come down too, so this must be the place believers come.

Then I find a promise kept—God promised to send a Savior into the world to rescue lost mankind—and He did. Promises kept are a rarity these days. We no longer expect our leaders and politicians to even pretend that they keep them, because they don’t. But in that obscure manger scene we find the fulfilment of God’s promise to us. Oh, for certain, this must be the place believers come for a promise kept.

What I find next is a miracle—The Son of God being born as Mary’s baby boy was nothing short of a divine miracle. Yet, many don’t believe in miracles any more. Its old fashioned, they say; mere fantasy. But at that meager birthplace we find God Himself in that manger! How did that happen? Oh, this must surely be the place believers come for miracles.

The next item on my list is hope. Our present world is so desperate for hope, but then it always has been. You see, the Bible tells us that we were without hope in the world. We were destined to spend eternity in a dark place, away from God. But when that miracle Baby drew His first breath—Hope was born! Yes, Bethlehem is the place believers come for hope.

Lastly, I find joy in Bethlehem!  Heaven’s Joy was poured out on us that night as the long-awaited Savior entered our world. God decreed it; the angels sang it; and Mary and Joseph held it in their arms. Joy! Pure Joy! For unto us a Child is born—unto us a Son is given. O come, let us adore Him right here at the manger—the place believers come for joy.

When you finish lingering there, and if you can pull yourself away, I hope you will tell someone else what you found. Merry Christmas to all ~ Janie Kellogg

1 This Must Be the Place, Sue C. Smith and David Moffitt, New Spring Publishing, Brentwood-Benson Music Publications, Brentwood, TN, 2001

 

A Change Is As Good As A Rest March 20, 2015

Spring Break 2015 has come and gone. It’s a given that we all need a break now and then. After all, we are a society that lives the rat-race life. Sometimes when I get really overwhelmed, I say “I’m running the rat race and the rats are winning.” I bet you feel like that sometimes too.

We are told that a break from the monotony of regular life is good for us. It causes us to focus on other things, and therefore, relieves some of the stress in our lives. Many people use Spring Break to get away from work, school, and responsibilities, and actually get some rest. And for those who didn’t necessarily get any rest, there is an English proverb that says “A change is a good as a rest.” So if you got a change from the norm for the past few days, you are indeed blessed.

Sometimes I experience a forced break from subjects the Lord is teaching me. Through circumstances, God leads me away for a time, and when I come back to it, I see things with refreshed eyes. That has been the case in my chase after humility.

I read these words by Andrew Murray this morning with refreshed eyes. I choose to share them with you because they are words of life to ever-seeking believers:

“No tree can grow except on the root from which it sprang….If this [humility] be the root of the tree, its nature must be seen in every branch and leaf and fruit. If humility be the first, the all-including grace of the life of Jesus—if humility be the secret of His atonement—then the health and strength of our spiritual life will entirely depend upon our putting this grace first too, and making humility the chief thing we admire in Him, the chief thing we ask of Him, the one thing for which we sacrifice all else. Is it any wonder that the Christian life is so often feeble and fruitless, when the very root of the Christ life is neglected, is unknown? ….Believer, study the humility of Jesus! This is the secret, the hidden root of your redemption. Sink down into it deeper day by day. Believe with your whole heart that this Christ, whom God has given you, even as His divine humility wrought the work for you, will enter in to dwell and work within you too, and make you what the Father would have you be.”1

Can we take a break from pursuing what we see as the greatest needs in our lives and our churches: more money, more things, more activity, or better music, better curriculum, better leaders—more and better anything—and let these words speak to our hearts? Can we allow them to soak in and penetrate our spirit-deprived minds? Can we break away from the desire for entertainment long enough to let God inject something of greater value?

Here’s the question: Is the missing ingredient in our spiritual lives actually the humility of Jesus? What might it do for us and our churches if we were to seek such?

Not many will, so we may never see what the accumulated results would be. But for those who are ready for a break from the monotony of the self-driven, self-gratifying, prosperity teaching of today—this change in what we seek just might yield the refreshing results we have been searching for. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprint Key Quote: You are, by His grace, counted worthy to follow the Crucified in the way of the Cross. So few are ready for that. They preach about it, sing about it, but when it comes to doing it, then they just don’t. But I should not say “they,” “I” is the pronoun. What do I know of this way? I shrank from it….That wasn’t following.”2 ~ Amy Carmichael

Key Scripture: Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

For other related posts, see Treasures in Earthen Vessels, “What is the Missing Ingredient in Your Christian Life,” February 25, 2015

1Andrew Murray, Humility, Fig-Books.com; Pg. 6-9; 2Amy Carmichael, Candles in the Dark, CLC Publications, Fort Washington, PA, 1982, Pg. 78

 

What is the Missing Ingredient in Your Christian Life? February 25, 2015

If I were asked today what is the one ingredient missing in my Christian life, I would answer without hesitation: power. If I were asked that same question about my church or the church at large, I would also answer without hesitation: power.

The modern-day church may have awesome services with large crowds, lights, music, drama, and near star-status preachers. We may also have beautiful buildings, paved parking lots; and exciting programs that provide outreach to our communities and missionaries around the world. But, there is one thing we do not have: power.

Divorce and broken homes among Christians mirror that of non-Christians. The number of Christians entangled with drugs, alcohol and pornography provides alarming statistics that the church must own. We struggle to make any progress whatsoever against immoral changes within our society. Healing is not experienced as we bury our own without expecting a miracle. Let’s face it—the church appears to be powerless.

The simple truth is that we actually have no power. Ever wonder why that might be? My husband and I have this conversation at least once a week. Answers are as scarce as hen’s teeth.

When the Holy Spirit brought 2 Corinthians 12:9 to my attention fifteen years ago, I began to search for its meaning. I mostly focused on God’s grace being adequate and what I might be missing in that great truth. I also tried to process how God’s strength could be made perfect in my weakness without much luck. And, I have remained clueless as to why Paul declared that he was not only handling, but embracing his infirmities. What I did not give much attention is the last part of this verse: “that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

What if we were to see those two things—weakness and infirmities—as perquisites for having the power of Christ? If so, then the power of Christ resting on Paul was conditional! Could it be right there in plain sight: the power of Christ resting on any Christian is conditional! The power of Christ resting on the church is conditional! Is perhaps the reason Paul said he would “most gladly rather boast in his infirmities” because these two things are the condition for having power?

Let’s look at it again. If weakness and infirmities are the things that qualified Paul to have the power of Christ operating in his life, we can easily see why he was glad to acknowledge them. The power of Christ is worth everything!

If true, then by admitting our weakness—we qualify for the power of Jesus; by proclaiming our strength—we do not qualify for the power of Jesus.

Check out Isaiah 40:29 ~ “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength,” and James 4:6 “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Choosing weakness clearly goes against our human nature, as well as most everything we’ve been taught. But God says if we do—if we refuse to promote ourselves, our strength, our adequacies—His grace will be sufficient.

The equation looks like this:  Having humility equals having power; or simply: Humility equals power.

In light of this discovery, other scriptures are starting to make sense to me. Try it out for yourself. We will cover some of them next time. Don’t forget to digest the Key Quote below. I am so grateful for God’s great patience with me, for I have so much to learn. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “I feel deeply that we have very little conception of what the Church suffers from the lack of this divine humility—the nothingness that makes room for God to prove His power.” 1 ~ Andrew Murray

1Andrew Murray, Humility, Fig-books.com; Page 25

 

What’s In It For Me? February 17, 2015

In recent years, business managers have begun to wake up to the fact that employees stay with a job for reasons other than their paychecks.  Believe it or not, there are more important things in life than money. Shockingly, even in a bad economy, statistics indicate that 2 million Americans quit their job every month.1 Isn’t a job worth keeping under any circumstances? Not so, says the research.

There are various factors that cause employees to make changes, such as not liking the boss or lack of recognition. But employees often base their decision on the simple question: “What’s in it for me?” They question whether or not a job fulfills their needs and is it really what they want to do with their life. The truth is a paycheck is not the only motivator behind what we do.

This same factor of “what’s in it for me?” carries over into other parts of our lives. For instance, we don’t work just for the money itself, but we work because we like owning a home, taking vacations, and building a retirement. We don’t cook and clean just because we love to do so—we cook and clean because we like to eat and live in a clean house.

I believe it also influences our spiritual lives. While the promise of life after death is a huge benefit in our walk with God, we still expect to get something from our commitment in the here and now. And God—who is certainly a good manager of His Kingdom—knows full well that we need and should expect benefits in the here and now. There has to be something in it for us, or like in other things—we probably won’t stay committed to it.

In my study of humility I have discovered a huge benefit that we have often missed. We know that Satan doesn’t want us to find it, and has gone to great lengths to hide this truth from the church for many years. Yet, to those who look for it—God faithfully reveals this powerful truth.

While found in various places in God’s Word, it is certainly spelled out in 2 Corinthians 12:9 ~ And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God, who provides the benefits we need for living the Christian life on earth,2 also shows us where they are and how to tap into those benefits. It could be compared to you and me having a checking account with money in it, but without any checks. There has to be a method—a technique or process—to access our money when we need it, or else it is of no benefit.

I have spent fifteen years wrestling with this one verse (2 Corinthians 12:9), and my Father and yours has helped me see at least a part of its meaning. Begin to look at it now; read it; memorize it; chew on it. We will unpack this word of truth, and if you haven’t already, I know you will see it too.

So what’s in it for you and me? The answer is MUCH. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “Embrace humility. It’s the only way up.”3 ~ Chris Tiegreen

1 Alan Hall, I’m Outta Here!, Forbes.com/sites; 22 Peter 1:3; 3Chris Tiegreen, The One Year at His Feet Devotional, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., August 8

 

The Elephant Revealed February 4, 2015

I wonder how many times when the elephant in the room is suddenly faced and its truths revealed that we discover the elephant wasn’t nearly as bad as we had expected.  In fact, the exact opposite is often the case, and we question why we had dreaded it in the first place.

I fully believe that will be the case with humility. Once we see humility for what it is, we will be pleasantly surprised. I also believe the enemy of our souls has known all along that humility is the crucial key to the Christian life, and therefore he has deliberately diverted us away from it.

Perhaps a look at what brought down the arch-enemy of God in the first place will give us some insight into the confusion surrounding humility. Before the world was created, Satan desired to take God’s place as the most-high God—in short, he wanted to be worshipped. In seeking that position for himself, he convinced one-third of the angels to buy into his plan. Satan did not deserve nor earn that position, but he exalted himself to that place. As a result, he and his team of rebellious imps were cast out of heaven.

It is easy to see why Satan approached Adam and Eve with his plan as well. His convincing, but untrue argument was to cast doubt on God’s integrity. Unfortunately, like the fallen angels, they too fell for Satan’s lies.

Can you imagine the grief in God’s heart when his crowned creation followed the path of his worst enemy? If we could grasp that fact, we might better understand why God hates pride so much. Pride cost God one-third of His angels as well as the creation that reflected His own image. But wait, that isn’t all—pride would cost Him even more.

The entire human race would now inherit the sin of pride from their parents’ DNA. It would cripple every child that would ever live. Pride would rise up in their hearts, and if gone unchecked, it would cause them to desire a position of highest honor and praise; perhaps even to be worshipped. What could possibly stop the universal spread of this devastating disease?

An antidote was needed, but what? The antidote must be equally as good as pride is bad. In His great wisdom, God knew that only the exact opposite of pride could counter its deadly effects on the human soul. Thus, it would require God’s greatest virtue—humility.

Being the supreme essence of humility, God determined it would be necessary to demonstrate this virtue to the world. The plan was made and set into motion—“our Lord Jesus emptied Himself and came to earth to live a poor man’s life and die a felon’s death.”1 Jesus gave up His perfect, sinless life on a despised cross to rescue us. There is no greater act of humility than that.

The antidote for pride would come with a high price tag. The unthinkable! The unimaginable! The unexplainable! The most painful of all costs! For 33 years God would be separated from His Son, and for 33 years He would foresee the excruciating pain His Son would endure. God saw it. God felt it. God allowed it. We want to scream, “Why? Why would God do that?”

If pride had not been stopped, we would be destined to join Satan and his angels in the eternal lake of fire. Yet, God thought we were worth saving. Can we not clearly see why God would have a deep and intense hatred for even a hint of pride? ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: Christ is the humility of God embodied in human nature; the Eternal Love humbling itself, clothing itself in the garb of meekness and gentleness, to win and serve and save us.2 ~ Andrew Murray

1Amy Carmichael, Candles in the Dark, CLC Publications, Fort Washington, PA, Pg.15; 2Andrew Murray, Humility, Fig Books.com, Pg.12

 

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