Tag Archives: insight

Never Choose Option D

It was obvious that we were just another number—a number on a medical file folder. When my husband’s name was called, we walked mechanically to the doctor’s office and were seated in chairs across the desk from a man we had known only a few days. Apparently he had been through this hundreds of times, and we were just the next couple to fall prey to the “C” word.

 

The phone call a few days before told us the results of the biopsy were not good. Today we heard the medical name for the death sentence that had been handed to my husband. I doubted that I could remember it. The lay terms were no better:  Prostate Cancer, high PSA score, aggressive type, advanced stage. Strange terminology like metastasized and systemic swirled in my head as the doctor recited our options: A) surgery; B) radiation; C) chemotherapy; and D) do nothing.

 

The decisions were mind-boggling. Pint-sized hope was as scarce as hen’s teeth. We could pick and choose as much or as little as my husband’s declining health could endure. One thing was certain—we simply would not choose Option D—do nothing.  Option D wasn’t who we were. It wasn’t what we were about. Regardless of any other factors involved, Option D would not be our choice.

 

We chose Options A, B, and C, but none of them stopped the growth of the cancer, including a last-ditch effort in an alternative treatment center in Tijuana, Mexico. The deadly enemy had gone undetected far too long—so long that nothing we did could prevent the inevitable death of its victim. Two years later my 55 year-old husband went to be with the Lord. Yet, when it was all said and done, there was one thing we were not guilty of—Option D.

 

I believe America is facing a similar diagnosis:  an aggressive, advanced stage disease called “sin.” Words such as metastasized and systemic apply here as well. Clearly, a deadly cancer has infected our entire culture and is taking a toll on the health of our government, communities, schools, churches, families, and individuals. And yes, it too has gone undetected.

 

As a nation, we have options. While there are sharp differences in what we believe to be the best way to remedy the ills of our nation, such as liberal ideas verses conservative ideas and social solutions verses spiritual solutions, the one thing we must not do is to choose Option D.

 

Edmund Burke wrote: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” While the statement’s original wording is debatable, the concept is true nonetheless. It can also be applied in many areas of life; for example, our spiritual health:

 

The only thing necessary for me and you to go to hell is for us to do nothing.

The only thing necessary for me and you to remain in bondage to sin is for us to do nothing.

The only thing necessary for me and you to lose the battle with our flesh is for us to do nothing.

The only thing necessary for me and you to continue in a half-hearted relationship with Christ is for us to do nothing.

The only thing necessary for the Church to remain indifferent and un-revived is for Christians to do nothing.

The only thing necessary for the Church to be ineffective in our world is for Christians to do nothing.

The only thing necessary for Christianity to be silenced is for Christians to do nothing.

 

Complacency is a deadly problem. We hear its voice continuously in our ear:  Things are not as bad as they seem. Other generations faced these same problems. Just ignore the issues. Tolerate the differences. Live and let live. Don’t get excited. Don’t act. In other words: Do nothing!

 

I fear that we have been complacent far too long. Yet, there are actions that we can take before our toxic condition worsens and we succumb to the inevitable—the death of a nation.

 

Whatever we do, we must never choose Option D. ~ Janie Kellogg

 

Didn’t I Say That?

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

 

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

The early morning light dawns and we awaken to another day. Who knows what will happen in this day—the next 24 hours? We don’t, but thankfully God does. He gives light so we can at least see where we are going.

 

Ever think about what would happen if the sun didn’t come up some morning? We would likely start our day as usual, using lights generated by a man-made power source, but eventually we would feel the strain of life without sunlight. In short, it would be devastating because light sustains life. Without it both plant and animal life would be altered, crops would fail to grow, food supplies would dry up, and our bodies would long for natural light as man-made sources diminished. All I can say is “O God, keep the light on for us!”

 

Our spiritual life is equally dependent on God for light. It has been many years since I began my quest for spiritual light. I describe it as my pursuit to find God. Yet, the truth is that God has actually been pursuing me, attempting to pry me loose from the world, the love of it, and the world’s way of thinking.

 

I have wanted loose. It just isn’t that easy. But gradually, I feel its hold on me giving way. Blinders are beginning to fall at my side and the puzzle pieces are coming together. Spiritual light sustains life too, and I really do need to see where I am going.

 

Susan Klein writes: “You don’t know what you don’t know. What else have I been missing all my life because I’ve been trusting in my own insight rather than trusting God?”1 (Read that again.)

 

How many of us are courageous enough, or better yet, humble enough to admit that we don’t know it all? The next question is equally challenging: If we know that we don’t know what we don’t know, then shouldn’t we be looking for it?

 

In politics we often hear the term “failed policies.” You know, some politician has a plan to improve things, but instead things get worse. That, my friend, is a failed policy.

 

Do we not do the same thing with our plan to follow God? We inevitably do things our way. We base our beliefs, and therefore our actions, on what we’ve been taught. We are sure our doctrine is right. Yet when we aren’t successful, do we ever stop to consider if we are following “failed policies?”

 

Jesus encountered a group of well-established, doctrinal folks called Pharisees. Do you want to know what it was that they didn’t know? They didn’t know that Jesus was the Son of God, the promised Messiah, the very One they were looking for. They missed it big time, even with all their years of training, memorizing scriptures, and keeping the law—they missed the most important truth in all of history: God Incarnate! And He was right there under their noses.

 

What about us? Are we tired yet of our failed doctrine? Tired of doing training exercises that yield no results? Missing what might be the most important truth of the gospel? Are we missing the very thing we have been looking for and searching for? Could it be right here under our noses?

 

What do you think Paul meant when he wrote: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.”2 Was he not looking for some things he didn’t yet know?

 

In the next few weeks I am going to share some thoughts about the Christian life that may have been right here under our noses all the time (at least mine anyway). It is perhaps the missing link to discovering the victorious life, the puzzle piece that’s been out of place or even lost. It is the simple word: Obedience. Well, come to think of it, it may not be so simple after all.

 

We will begin with “learning to lean.” You see, learning to lean on God is like learning to let your dance partner lead on the dance floor—there just cannot be two leaders. Dancing with God can be a beautiful thing once we learn how to allow Him to lead. But take note, the dance will never happen short of total obedience.  ~Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Susan Klein, The Secret Place, August 17, 2013

2Philippians 3:10

 

What No One Told You about YourSelf

I don’t think it is a big surprise to anyone that life is hard. If you haven’t figured that out yet, you either haven’t lived long enough or you’ve been really lucky. There is no escaping the difficulties of life—relationships, careers, finances, death—just life in general.  These struggles occur on the physical side of life.

 

The spiritual side of life is no different. Oblivious to many people, there is an enormous struggle going on in the hearts of men. The truth is we are subject to a mighty force called Self from the day we are born. Like the physical side of life, there is no escaping this struggle.

 

I fear that many of us have been misled about our Self. I have chosen to capitalize this word to give it the proper emphasis, acknowledging its power and position. We seems to have the idea that Self is the real me—the “I’ve gotta be me” mentality. It is considered to be something akin to personality, to be cultivated and protected, or else it might go away and the real me lost.

 

Strong individuality is part of the American culture. We have been taught that “rugged individualism” is linked to patriotism, courage, and success. We are proud when we can hold our heads high and declare, “I did this.” Even greater honor is given to one who says, “I did this by myself.”

 

It has taken years of grappling with this issue for me to see Self for what it is. It may come as a shock to you, as it did to me when this was clearly spelled out. As long as my idea of Self was merely a concept, I considered it in the gray area—the things I don’t have to take a stand on. But once I know the truth, I become accountable for what I do with that truth. (Read that again.)

 

J. Oswald Sanders, an internationally-known theologian, wrote this about Self: “In the heart of the believer, Self occupies the same relation to Satan as does the Holy Spirit to Christ, it is Satan’s representative in the heart. Even after many gross forms of evil have been evicted, Self remains to contest and usurp the claim of Christ to the throne of the redeemed life. It is guilty of high treason against the King of Kings, and is therefore worthy of death.”1

 

I believe we must wake up to the fact that our spiritual lives are being attacked, overrun, and controlled by this force known as Self. Like his father, Satan, Self is an all-out liar. He is also Selfish, Self-centered, Self-indulgent, Self-confident, Self-conscious, Self-willed, Self-assured, Self-exalting, and Self-justifying. In America, we even have what is known as the Self-made man. While we sometimes boast or jest about these qualities, in reality, they are the marks of Satan reigning in a life.

 

Do any of these describe you? They certainly describe me! Even in subtle ways that are difficult to detect and believed to be part of my personality, yet so totally unlike my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Unless we recognize what is going on in our personal world, we will not be able to do anything about our predicament. Our muddled interpretation of Self will keep us paralyzed, and we will continue losing the battles, yielding to its power, and remain defeated Christians. Furthermore, our progress to be transformed into the image of Christ is on hold.2

 

The first step to freedom is the acknowledgment of bondage. The person who claims he or she has no bondage is simply not a candidate for freedom.

 

Until we acknowledge Self for what it is and admit that Self is reigning in our hearts rather than Jesus, we have no hope of being set free from its dominion over us. A mental ascent to the idea that we are legally set free from Self is not enough. Yes, we are legally free because of faith in the sacrificed blood of Jesus, but unless we appropriate that truth and apply it to our own personal lives, we will remain in bondage. After our eyes are opened to this truth and we knowingly allow this to continue, we are participating in “high treason against the King of Kings.”

 

Now I know and now I am accountable. I have never in my entire life been so motivated to oust the culprit of Self from the throne of my heart. I denounce this Self-led rebellion against my God, and by the mercy and grace of God I will find His provision for ridding my life of its control. Does anyone out there care to come along with me? ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1J. Oswald Sanders, Christ Indwelling and Enthroned, CCWM, Santa Ana, CA, 1949, pg. 46

22 Corinthians 3:18

 

For other related posts see poem “Since Self Is On the Throne,” Treasure in Earthen Vessels, March 6, 2013 (In Poetry Category)

 

A Mystery Revealed

The mysteries of the gospel are not discovered, uncovered, or solved—they are revealed. They come to us only as God grants understanding. So it is with the long-sought after meaning of the strange words by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:10: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” I’ve read them no less than a thousand times, but their understanding has remained unclear. It seems to be an oxymoron.

Just what was Paul thinking when he wrote this bi-polar statement? I’ve wrestled with it for half-a-lifetime. I get glimpses here and there. Slowly, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, there a little. Yet, glimpses eventually lead to vision.

It is becoming clearer. Somehow I sense that when I grasp it, other scriptures will open to me—maybe dozens. Who knows? It is well worth the pursuit.

Let us consider the word “then” from Paul’s statement. It denotes a lapse of time from before until now. It also speaks of a condition— from that to this; from what was to what now is; or perhaps, from what was to what can be.

Turning the sentence around is helpful: When I am strong, then I am weak. From that perspective we might say: When I consider my strength (in and of myself), then I am indeed a weak being and in a weak position. That is easy to see. Now let’s reverse it back and read it with that understanding: When I am weak (in and of myself), then I am a strong being and in a strong position.

It appears that being weak—admitting weakness—is beneficial in becoming strong. A statement by J. I. Packer supports this conclusion: “The power principle—God’s power scenario, we might call it—is that divine strength is perfected in conscious human weakness.” 1

But how do I appropriate that knowledge? How to I actually find the stronger position?

The Song of Solomon 8:5 gives some light: “Who is this that comes up from the wilderness leaning upon her Beloved?”

Leaning implies one who is weak, unable to make the journey alone, and depending on another for help, support, and strength. Leaning is an outward sign of an inward weakness. Could that be the stronger position? Is that what God desires from us—His children leaning on Him?

We know that fallen flesh cannot live holy. Only God-life can live holy. Therefore, we cannot live the Christian life apart from leaning on Him, who is Life and who gives Life.

Could it be that if I lean on and depend on His impartation of Life to me, I will be stronger than if I do not lean on Him? If so, then leaning—a true sign of weakness—is the stronger position.

Taking it a step further: Could it mean that the more I lean on the Strong One, the stronger I will become?

And yet another step: The weaker I am, the more I will lean on Christ; thus, the more I lean on Christ, the stronger I will be?

Dare I go even further: It is then in my best interest to be weak, so I will lean more on Christ?

Please indulge me just once more: If being weak makes me stronger, then can I not boast in being weak? Can I not also glory in my weaknesses because they cause me to lean on Christ? Notice the cause and effect principle in Paul’s words: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2Corinthians 12:9).

Such an idea clearly goes against our flesh, our pride, and our American mentality to be all that we can be, to pull ourselves up by our boot straps, and the survival of the fittest. Yet, we must remember that our ways are not His ways (Isaiah 55:8).

Could the long-searched-for mystery be known? Is the key to finding and appropriating God’s divine power found in weakness—admitted weakness—even boasting of weakness? How did it elude me for so long? Clearly, my best and strongest position is leaning on God.

Dear Lord, help me not to stand straight and tall by my own strength, but to lean more on You. ~Janie Kellogg

1 J. I. Packer quoted in Dr. Bruce H. Wilkerson, 30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 1999), 90.

Two Sides of the Same Coin

Sometimes I fear that my readers think I have gone over the edge on my conclusions of depravity and humility. I fully realize that what I am saying on these two subjects is not popular in the mainstream of Christianity today.

Even though these are two different subjects, they are best described as two sides of the same coin. Like the song: “love and marriage….go together like a horse and carriage….you can’t have one without the other,” so it is with depravity and humility. If you see your own depravity, you will be humble; and if you are humble, you can easily see your own depravity.

My generation has now heard 30+ years of name it—claim it teaching: God wants me to be prosperous, my destiny is greatest, I’m being groomed to bloom, and many other trendy ideas have filled the airways and the pulpits for years. Actually, these popular teachings, for the most part, do not address either depravity or humility. Whether we want to admit it or not, our beliefs have been shaped or at least influenced by these modern-day trends in Christianity, perhaps to our demise.

Every concept or teaching must first be weighed in the light of God’s Word. If it doesn’t pass the test there, it should be discarded altogether. If it does pass the test, it is also beneficial to weigh it in the light of what others know about the subject, especially those with a trusted and proven track record.

Therefore, in an effort to add some muscle (if you will) to my conclusions on depravity and humility, I have chosen to post a few quotes by renowned Christians. These quotes are from recognized authors, speakers, preachers and teachers of God’s Word, many of which helped shape Christianity as we know it today. They are certainly people who have helped shape my thinking on these issues.

Obviously, these two subjects are important, as many well-known writers thought they were important enough to write about them. Within their writings, we discover that these two things have a huge impact on the spiritual condition of all mankind.

The quotes are being posted on my blog under a separate title: What Other Writers Say about Depravity & Humility. Because it often takes years for this hidden mystery to unfold, I recommend that you print them and then take ample time to slowly digest and discern them for yourself.

The valuable insight to be gained from understanding these two words will enable us to press forward into the freedom that God provides—freedom from the devastating effects of the fall in the Garden of Eden. But unless we recognize and acknowledge those effects for what they are, we will never be able to deal with them according to knowledge, and at last, be freed from them.

Our next stop on this journey is the marvelous revelation found in Romans Chapter 8, but in order to do so, we must first grasp this concept here and now. If we do not, we will simply read Chapter 8 again for the one-thousandth time, our eyes will glaze over, and we will think we see it, when actually, we do not. We will accept the same teaching we have heard before, and the mystery hidden in this powerful chapter will elude us once again.

God is forever faithful to His promise that those who seek shall find. I believe great victory is just ahead for each of us! ~ Janie Kellogg

Other Related posts in Treasure in Earthen Vessels: What Other Writers Say about Depravity and Humility, April 18, 2013

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What Other Writers Say about Depravity and Humility

For clearer explanation of this post please read “Two Sides of the Same Coin” published on Treasure in Earthen Vessels website on April 18, 2013.

 

In an effort to add some muscle to my conclusions on depravity and humility, I have chosen to share a few quotes by renowned Christians. These quotes, presented as food for thought, are written by recognized authors, speakers, preachers and teachers of God’s Word. Many of them are men and women who helped shape Christianity as we know it today. References for the longer quotes are given at the bottom of the post.

 

Please read these selected writings slowly, and if possible, print them so you can give adequate time to digesting and discerning them for yourself. I believe these vital topics have been ignored, if not completely omitted from much modern-day Christian teaching, and I fear that the Church of today is suffering greatly because of it.

 

Chris Tiegreen ~ We praise this high and holy God for His power and majesty. Do we also praise Him for His humility? We can; we serve a humble God. He did not ride into this world on a gilded chariot. He was born in a stable. He left His radiant appearance to be clothed in a human body subject to temptation and pain. We are not worthy to utter His name, but He tells us to call Him Father and Friend….Consider the humility of God. The high and holy One is never inaccessible to someone with a contrite spirit. He encourages your intimacy with Him. He’ll even wash your feet.1

 

D.L. Moody ~ God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves.

 

Andrew Murray ~ The salvation that Christ brought is not only a salvation that flows out of humility; it also leads to humility. We must understand that this is not only the salvation which Christ brought; but that it is exactly the salvation which you and I need. What is the cause of all the wretchedness of man? Primarily pride; man seeking his own will and his own glory. Yes, pride is the root of every sin, and so the Lamb of God comes to us in our pride, and brings us salvation from it. We need above everything to be saved from our pride and our self-will; it is good to be saved from the sins of stealing, murdering, and every other evil; but a man needs above all to be saved from what is the root of all sin, his self-will and his pride.2

 

Benjamin Franklin ~ A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.

 

J. Oswald Sanders ~ Humility, the antithesis of pride, has been defined….as the virtue by which man becomes conscious of his own unworthiness. We never conquer a sin of which we are unconscious or over which we do not grieve. We must hate what God hates. Self-knowledge is not easy to come by, as we are all so prepossessed in our own favor. We see the splinter in our brother’s eye with great clarity but, with strange inconsistency, fail to detect the plank in our own. We need to genuinely ask God to expose us to ourselves. When we see ourselves as we truly are, we will sink in self-abasement.3

 

Oswald Chambers ~ Self complacency and spiritual pride are always the beginning of degeneration. When I begin to be satisfied with where I am spiritually, I begin to degenerate.

 

Charles Spurgeon ~ Beware of no man more than yourself; we carry our worst enemies with us.

 

F. B. Meyer ~ I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves one above the other, and that the taller we grew in Christian character the easier we should reach them. I find now that God’s gifts are on shelves beneath the other, and that it is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower, and that we have to go down, always down, to get His best gifts.4

 

Ann Voskamp ~ Humility isn’t burden or humiliation or oppressive weight but humility is the only posture than can receive the wondrous grace gifts of God—God who humbled Himself and came to the feed trough.5

 

Sarah Young ~ In her book Jesus Calling, Christ speaks in first person: “Though you are an earthen vessel, I designed you to be filled with heavenly contents. Your weakness is not a deterrent to being filled with My Spirit; on the contrary, it provides an opportunity for My Power to shine forth more brightly.”6

 

Donald G. Stamps ~ Christianity is not the removal of weakness, nor is it merely the manifestation of divine power. Rather, it is the manifestation of divine power through human weakness.7

 

V. Raymond Edman ~ Climbing in the Spirit is accomplished by kneeling and not by running; by surrender, and not by determination….First, there is a hunger of heart, often followed by a sense of desperation that leads to utter surrender of self. Thereafter, there is the meeting of the soul with God in whatever manner the Almighty is pleased to reveal Himself to the desperate seeker who, like Jacob, will not let Him go until there is blessing.8

 

J.I. Packer ~ For only at the point where the insufficiency of natural strength is faced, felt, and admitted, does divine empowerment begin….Divine strength is perfected in conscious human weakness….If I could remember each day of my life, that the way to grow stronger is to grow weaker, if I would accept that each day’s frustration, obstacles, and accidents are God’s ways of making me acknowledge my weakness, so that growing stronger might become a possibility for me, if I did not betray myself into relying on myself—my knowledge, my experience, my position, my skill with words, and so on—so much of the time, what a difference it would make to me!… May God in His great mercy weaken us all! 9

 

A.W. Tozer ~ The inner veil is woven of the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit. They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their subtlety and their power. To be specific, the self-sins are self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them. They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our nature to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them….Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us. It can never be removed only in spiritual experience; never by mere instruction…..There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free. We must invite the cross to do its deadly work within us. We must bring our self-sins to the cross for judgment.10

 

Hannah Whitall Smith ~ The “old man” is, of course, the self-life, and this self-life (which we know only too well is indeed corrupt according to deceitful lusts) is not to be improved but to be put off. It is to be crucified….It is of no use, then, for us to examine self and to tinker with it in the hope of improving it, for the thing the Lord wants us to do with it is to get rid of it.11 

 

Cora Harris MacIlravy ~ Let us remember that the Lord does not pour the Spikenard of Humility upon the evil odors of our pride and arrogance. It is easy to ask God to adorn us with humility and enable us to be lost sight of in Christ. But the process, through which we must pass to receive the answer to this prayer, is the way of the cross and suffering. It is ever taking sides against ourselves; it is refusing to pity our own suffering; it is taking sides against all the workings and evil odors of our pride, self-confidence and self-seeking. For only when the alabaster box is cleansed of these self-workings, can it be filled with the Spikenard of Humility.12

 

Amy Carmichael ~ If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the cross, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

 

We must never be dismayed over the wretchedness of man, for “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20). Great victory awaits those who will humble themselves and ask God to allow them see the hidden mysteries of the gospel. ~ Janie Kellogg

*Note: In all quotes above, emphasis has been added to words shown in italics.

 

1Chris Tiegreen, The One-Year at His Feet Devotional (Netherlands: Tyndale House Publishers, 2003), 195.

2Andrew Murray, The Master’s Indwelling, 34.

3J. Oswald Sanders, quoted in Dr. Bruce H. Wilkerson, 30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 1999), 75.

4F. B. Meyer, quoted in Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2010), 171.

5Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2010), 171.

6Sarah Young, Jesus Calling (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 100.

7Donald G. Stamps, Life in the Spirit Study Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003), Notes for 2 Corinthians 4:7, 1816.

8V. Raymond Edman, They Found the Secret (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1960, 1984), 53.

9J. I. Packer quoted in Dr. Bruce H. Wilkerson, 30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 1999), 90.

10A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Camp Hill, Pennsylvania: Wingspread Publishers, 1982, 1993), 42-43.

11Hannah Whitall Smith, quoted in Dr. Bruce H. Wilkerson, 30 Days to Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs (Sisters, Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, Inc. 1999), 63.

12Cora Harris MacIlravy, Christ and His Bride (Chicago, Illinois: The Elbethel Christian Work, 1916), 86.

God Wants Me to Fail

That’s absurd! What do you mean: God wants me to fail? That sounds like false doctrine, especially in this age of prosperity for all believers. Of course God doesn’t want me to fail.

 

Oh yes, He does, and the sooner the better. Here’s why.

 

The sooner—we make the journey through the wretched condition of man described in Romans Chapter 7, enslaved to the flesh, and move on to the victorious proclamation found in Romans Chapter 8—the better.

 

Unfortunately, getting through Chapter 7 is a process that can take years. Some Christians are stuck in the quagmire of Chapter 7 for half a life-time—yours truly for one—until God granted seeing eyes to the marvelous escape hatch.

 

When Paul found that escape hatch, he boldly proclaimed: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”1 Can we say that? Have we escaped yet? A personal answer is required from each of us, for God delivers His children one life at a time.

 

But how can we rise up out of that place of wretchedness? It happens only when we discover that all of our self-efforts are futile and wasted, and begin to embark—get on board with—the central message of the gospel: Jesus came to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

 

Face the TRUTH: We cannot save ourselves. We cannot sanctify ourselves. WE CANNOT!

 

Our “self” can never please God.

Our “self” can never keep the law.

Our “self” can never be whipped into obedience and trained to be good.

Our “self” is a hopeless cause.

 

When we grasp this fact—the undeniable total depravity of man—we are on our way to freedom. (Read that again.)

 

Whether we realize it or not, we have a false belief that there is at least some good in man—well, in me anyway. But Paul said, “In my flesh dwells no good thing.”2 With all of Paul’s credentials, surely he had something good in him, but not so. And neither do you and me.

 

Do I know that in my flesh dwells no good thing? (Read that question slower.) If we don’t, we have not yet come to the end of ourselves. Until we reach the end of self we will not be able to move on into the deliverance that awaits those who will admit the truth: “In MY flesh dwells NO GOOD thing.” In other words, I ADMIT THAT I AM DEPRAVED!

 

Accept self’s defeat, get over it, and move on into the glorious provision that awaits us in Romans Chapter 8. However, we will never see it until we accept depravity. God will not allow us to. He didn’t give insight to the proud, self-sufficient Pharisees. Neither will He give it to us.

 

Jesus pointed out two types of people who came to pray. One was a proud, self-righteous, keeper of the law, a Pharisee who was glad he wasn’t like other people. The other man fell to his knees, smote his breast, could not as much as lift his eyes, and prayed for mercy.3  There it is—depravity!

 

Which one went away justified? Which one went away with God’s favor? More importantly, which one are you and I? Do we still keep a mental list of all the good deeds we’ve done for God; for others? Or how much money we’ve given to His cause? Do we still hang onto a shred of goodness in us? Do we see ourselves just a little better off than others?

 

We will soon see that it is all about our position. Are we positioned where God can do something for us? And where might that place be? Depravity! See it?

 

Want out of the quagmire? Admit you are a failure—quickly! It is in your best interest. Romans Chapter 8 is the next stop along this journey. Get ready for it. “Learn Christ, on your knees, my child, on your knees.”4  ~ Janie Kellogg

 

 

1Romans 7:25; 2Romans 7:18; 3Luke 18:9-14; 4A Gentle Spirit, Barbour Publishing, July 1

Other related posts at Treasures in Earthen Vessels: There’s a Whole Lot of Living Going On ~ January 29, 2013; A Hard Pill to Swallow ~ March 28, 2012

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A Hard Pill to Swallow

I struggle to obey my Lord and repent again. I nearly think I am hopeless. Could God have intentionally made it this hard?

 

I doubt that I am the only one who struggles with this. Recently, in an online devotional, The Pursuit of Righteousness, Gary Wilkerson confirmed that I am not. He wrote: “God will not bless an effort to establish one’s own righteousness.”

 

Is that what I am trying to do when I attempt to discipline my flesh? Certainly, it needs to be done, but why am I such a habitual failure at doing it?

 

Could the problem be my motive? If I could do this thing—which obviously I can’t—I would become proud and say, “If I can do it, so can you.” But I can’t make myself righteous or keep myself righteous. A simple, true, cold hard fact!

 

Wilkerson ends with these words, “This calls for a repentant heart and brokenness—a humble acknowledgement that His power alone restores us to right standing.”

 

To be honest, I have gone in circles for years. My journals are written testimony against me. So why do I keep trying? How many failures does it take to make the point? Albert Einstein said it well, “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

 

I can’t do it within my own power. Finally, there it is—a true confession, an acknowledgement of my utter helplessness to change myself. Depravity in a nutshell!

 

Depravity (dē-prav′ ə tē) crookedness; a depraved condition; corruption; wickedness.1

 

It just lies there in Webster’s dictionary, mostly unused and unwanted. It’s certainly not needed in the American culture—the land of plenty, of the educated, of the successful. This land where anyone can be all that they can be; the land of rights—individual, personal, equal—clearly the land of increase.

 

It is a hard pill to swallow—this word depravity. The flesh resists it with all the strength it has. The enemy of our souls will desperately try to talk us out of it—sidetrack us to somewhere else, anywhere else. Just don’t go there—not to depravity.

 

Yet, John the Baptist said this about Jesus:2

 

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (KJV)

“He must become great; I must become less. (NIV)

“He must come greater and greater, and I must become less and less. (NLT)

“He must become more important, but I must become less important.” (ISV)

 

How much plainer must it be said? If we look closely with seeing eyes, one mystery of the Kingdom of God is opened to us. It’s the decrease that is so painful, so against the grain of our beliefs, our life-long pursuit for promotion. Yet, the clear call to Jesus’ followers is to decrease; become less; become less and less; and become less important.

 

We are so unaccustomed to the word depravity. It almost seems, well, you know—small—so undesirable, unattractive, and certainly not my desired destiny.

 

Think again. Jesus plainly told His followers their destiny: “Whoever wants to be my disciple, must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow me.”3 Or, “whoever wants to be great among you must become your servant.”4

 

Depravity has a message of great value for us. We just haven’t seen it. No one told us to look for it, as if it is a despised word. Even in Jesus’ teachings, it eludes the proud, the religious, and those who lord themselves over others. But it is there, a clear message tucked within this inverted gospel.

 

Depravity makes the cross more understandable—yet that kind of love so non-understandable. We couldn’t do it for ourselves, so for love, Jesus did it for us. Why do I keep trying to accomplish something I can’t do and not fully accept that which has been done for me—my salvation and my sanctification?

 

Seek depravity. Chase after it. Hunger and thirst for its value. When you catch a glimpse, ask for more. Don’t settle for a glimpse; plead with God to see it fuller still. Grasp it. Embrace it. It is a long-forgotten, overlooked word that renders great treasures to our Christian lives. ~Janie Kellogg

 

1Webster’s New World College Dictionary; 2John 3:30; 3Matthew 16:24 (NIV); 4Matthew 20:26 (NIV)

 

Other Related Posts at Treasure in Earthen Vessels:  The Inverted Gospel – Archives – January 23, 2013; Just For Love It Was Done – Archives – March 20, 2013

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