Category Archives: Encouragement

My Three New Year’s Wishes

As the first day of 2013 dawned last Tuesday, I found myself wondering what the year would hold for me and my family, my nation, and my world. At the dismal close of 2012, it seemed as if the whole world were spinning out of control. Even while reading Christmas card wishes for a “Happy and Prosperous New Year,” I doubted that happy and prosperous were likely, in light of such gigantic problems.

 

In my quiet time with God that sun-sprayed morning, I focused on what things could make this a happy and prosperous year. My Holy House Guest led me 1 Corinthians 13. This chapter is commonly known as the love chapter, because it defines what love is in real terms, not what Hollywood or country music say it is. We should re-read it often. The writer also speaks of things that will go away after Jesus returns to earth, but what caught my attention were the three things that will remainfaith, hope, and love. As I pondered the uncertainly of the next 365 days, I wrote in my journal that faith, hope, and love were my three New Year’s wishes for both me and my troubled world.

 

My first wish is for faith. Personally, I wish for faith to write God’s message with power and clarity, for faith to win the lost to Christ, and faith to move mountains of fear and unbelief anywhere I encounter them. Within the body of believers, I wish for faith that results in signs and wonders, healings, miracles, and demonstrations of power, as experienced by the 1st Century Christians. I wish for faith that delivers people from the bondage of sin, restores families and marriages, and gives children a safe environment both in and out of the womb. I wish for faith that brings an awakening to righteousness in our country, causing establishments of sin to shut down as they did in days when Charles Finney preached across America. I wish for God’s own people to repent of our sins, our friendship with the world, and our indifference to the things of God. Plainly stated—I wish for REVIVAL in America!

 

With the world crumbling around us as nation after nation falls into turmoil and unrest, my second wish is for hope—hope in the “God of hope” (Romans 15:13). I hope for a cure for cancer, Lou Gerick’s disease, and every other life-sucking disease. I hope for the end of wars, world hunger, and sex-trafficking. I hope for men everywhere to hate what is evil. I hope for world leaders to stop killing their own people and to work together for the good of all. I hope for truth and righteousness to be restored in governments around the world—especially in America. I hope for integrity to trump political parties, denominations, and union affiliation; and for godly character to motivate actions rather than personal gain or ambition. I hope for the Church of Jesus Christ to be clearly recognizable as the people with the answers.

 

Last, but most importantly, I wish for love. I am reminded of the words from a once popular song: “What the world needs now is love, sweet love; that’s the only thing that there’s just too little of…not just for some, but for everyone.” I believe love would solve all of the world’s problems—but only if it is LOVE FOR GOD. If all people loved God and lived to please Him alone—not bowing to other gods, leaders, governments, religion, or people—the problems of the world would disappear. I wish for a world in which love rules over fear, hatred, greed, and selfishness; a world where pride, prejudice, jealousy, unforgiveness, and revenge are dismantled and replaced with love. Oh, how I wish for love, sweet love—not just for some, but for everyone.

 

Is it realistic to wish for such optimism in our world? Of course! Did not Jesus teach us pray to our Heavenly Father, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven?” These are the very prayers God will and does answer. The Bible says in Revelation 11:15: “The whole world has now become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever” (NLT). That, my friend, would make 2013 a very happy and prosperous year! Let us not just wish; let’s start asking. ~Janie Kellogg

The End of the Story

It is true—I am a sissy when it comes to suspenseful movies. I’m usually sitting on the edge of my seat, my nerves tightening and my heart rate increasing along with the plot. In my younger days I bit my fingernails, and after watching a thrilling movie, there wasn’t anything left to bite. It is a huge relief when I finally know the outcome and that all is well. I fully admit that I enjoy watching stories that I know up front have a good ending. And when it comes to suspenseful books, I’ve been known to turn to the back of the book and take a sneak peek. Seriously.

 

Sometimes I’m the same way with suspenseful circumstances in real life—I’d like to know the outcome up front! I remember some of the big events in my life—a new job, starting a business, or building a new house. They looked huge (and scary) at the time, causing me distress and sleeplessness. Years later, when I knew the outcome, they didn’t look so big after all.

 

Maybe we should look at our troubled world through those lenses. Our world is a scary place to be right now—not that we have any other options. It appears things are quickly escalating toward a time called “the last days.” That term scared me to death when I was a child. Today, we literally see Bible prophecy fulfilled right before our eyes on the nightly news (or worse yet, 24-hour cable news). The reports of natural disasters occurring around the globe, the crises in the Middle East erupting one after another, and the move toward one world government, currency and religion are enough to get my heart rate up. How about yours?

 

Here’s my point. As Christians, we can take a sneak peek at the end of the book. In fact, we are encouraged to do just that and are called blessed if we do (Revelation 1:3). We can open God’s proven and trustworthy Word and read the outcome of this story. In the final book of the Bible, the end of the world as we know it has already been revealed. And guess what? There is a good ending promised to all who trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior (Romans 10:9-10).

 

Why did the Heavenly Father tell us the end of the story? He knew we would be fearful, distressed, sitting on the edge of our seats, and maybe even biting our fingernails. He doesn’t want us to. He wants us to be full of knowledge, full of faith, full of hope and courage so we can tell others about that good ending. Do yourself a favor and go read the end of the Book. See if it doesn’t all come out A-OK for the children of God. Oh, yes it does! Then share that good news with a friend. ~Janie Kellogg

My One Political Paper of the Year

(It is an election year, so why not? At least one political paper should be expected from most any writer. So here it is—my one political paper of the year. I apologize for its length, but I got on a roll and could not help myself. Whatever you do, don’t miss reading this one and sharing it with a friend. I promise you will be blessed!)

 

For months, I have been watching all (and I do mean all) of the news coverage on the 2012 Presidential election. I came through the two national conventions with my sanity somewhat intact, but shortly thereafter, I began a downward spiral. I found myself sick at my stomach, my nerves on edge, and my head pounding. I was mad at everyone who had anything to do with the mess our nation is in. I continued to rant and rave, wondering why other people don’t think the way I do. It was beyond my comprehension why all Americans cannot see our over-the-cliff and down-the-slippery-slope demise. And furthermore, the non-stop-over-the-top accusations that filled the airwaves were enough to throw me into hysteria.

 

Finally, I realized that I had worked myself into a tizzy, and knew that I probably could not physically, mentally, or emotionally endure another two months of the dirtiest political campaign in history. It clearly was time for a change, so I called on God for divine direction to guide my out-of-control thinking.

 

In the next few days, it came to me from several directions that in order to survive this election and its results, I must keep my eyes on Jesus. I cannot look to the right or the left, but only look up. I must not focus on circumstances, but on God, His power, and His promises. Isaiah 26:3 says “You will keep him (her) in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he (she) trusts in You.” Anything less will cause me great distress.

 

In trying to keep my eyes on Jesus, I found myself crying out “Lord, help me do this! How can I stay focused on Jesus with the noise of the world blaring around me?” The Apostle Paul gave some good advice in 2 Corinthians 10:5 “Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” To me this means that I should carefully review all thoughts, words, ideals and actions in the light of God’s Word, and reject the ones that don’t pass the test. Clearly, I had some practicing to do.

 

As the week progressed, I spent more time in prayer and in God’s Word, and I replaced news programs with Christian programming. I slowly began casting down some of the heated political arguments of the day with principles from God’s Word. Instead of allowing troublesome current events to exalt their importance, I began to declare God’s preeminence over all things. I gradually realized that a new perspective was emerging in my mind and in my spirit. I had turned a corner.

 

Today I openly confess that I belong to another kingdom, not a kingdom of this world. It is a heavenly kingdom whose ruler is King Jesus, and the government squarely rests on His shoulder. His kingdom is not in disarray; it is not confused, divided, or in debt. The economy there is booming, particularly the housing industry as a large influx of new citizens is expected to arrive any day. Unemployment is non-existent; everyone is in the employment of the King. Because of the King’s priority to provide for the greatest citizens in the kingdom first—the multiplied millions of babies and children—the job market is saturated with well-paying, rewarding jobs to nurture and train them. There are no illegal immigration problems since there is only one Door into the entire kingdom, and no one is allowed to enter unless their name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. There is no lack of food or water, as the Bread of Life is plenteous and Living Water flows freely. There is no sickness or disease, therefore no one cares what’s in the healthcare bill. There is no IRS, ICE, DHR, DOL, DEQ, or EPA. Because no one grows old and retires, there is no need for Social Security, 401K’s and IRA’s. Death and sorrow are unheard of, and no gravestones mark the hillsides as the residents live forever. Neither are there any prisons since everyone has been declared not guilty and set free, making the DOC, DOJ, CIA and FBI completely unnecessary. The Supreme Court is unequivocally supreme having only one Judge. Enemies are no threat to King Jesus; rather they serve as His footstool. Peace permeates throughout that kingdom because the Prince of Peace resides there. Oh, the best part of all is that there are no term limits. Christ shall reign forever more and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

 

It is true! “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard…. what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9). This kingdom is more wonderful than my mind can conceive and my heart can believe, mostly because I am still locked into this earthly form. In the limited state I am currently in, I can only imagine!

 

So, dear Christian brothers and sisters, it is time to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, the One to whose kingdom we belong. We have nothing to be depressed about or afraid of. Unlike earthly rulers, King Jesus always makes good on His promises. His record is impeccable! The best use of our short time left on earth is to focus on our next step. It is, in fact, time for us to prepare ourselves for the transition, help as many others to prepare as we possibly can, and then look up for our redemption is drawing very near (Luke 21:28). ~ Janie Kellogg

Some Refreshing Please!

I recently heard someone say they are tired of politics as usual. My first thought was: Who isn’t? At this point, I’m wondering if I can simply endure until the November election is over. Are we not all tired of the blame game, the partisan hullabaloo, the despicable name calling, and the smear and slam strategy? And where has it gotten us? We are a nation more divided than ever before, and at a time when we most need to stand arm-in-arm against the enemies of our freedoms, our values, and our heritage.

 

But then I am also bold enough to say that I’m tired of Christianity as usual. Do we not have some of the same blame-game characteristics in our ranks? How about the denominational hullabaloo or the despicable name calling among Christians, not to mention the smear and slam strategies used against our own church members? Is it possible that the Church of Jesus Christ is more divided today than ever before? And is it not at a most critical time in which we should be standing arm-in-arm against the enemies of our religious freedoms, values, and heritage?

 

I am personally ready for some refreshing from the Lord! I’m ready to be part of the Lord’s army fighting to win the battle against the devil and not against my fellow Christian soldiers. Let’s take a look at a refreshing promise found in Acts 3:19 ~ “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (NAS)

 

When I first read this, I didn’t think it was the verse I was looking for. I searched for others, but the Holy Spirit brought me back to it encouraging me to take a closer look. Finally, I saw it. Read it again. There is a prerequisite to getting the times of refreshing from the Lord—repent and return.

 

Does Christianity ever feel like a set of rules to follow or some formulas that only work part of the time? Ever get thirsty for something fresh from God? Do we not long for a cool drink of spiritual water for our dehydrated souls? If so, we have a clear directive: repent of our sins and turn away from them. But you say, “That is a hard word.” Maybe not. It could be a loving and encouraging word. Think about it—what if you are lost in a desert without water and growing weaker by the minute? Suddenly you see a sign pointing in a clear direction that reads: “Water well ahead.” Would that not be a loving and encouraging word? Certainly! So it is with God’s Word pointing us to His refreshing.

 

Tired of politics as usual? There’s not much we can do about that except to pray for godly leaders and vote accordingly. Tired of Christianity as usual? There is something we can do about that: repent and return! Repent of how we’ve judged others. Repent of things that cause disunity in the church. Repent of our acceptance of sin in our culture. Repent of our slackness in worship and reverence of God’s house and His Word. Repent of following after other gods. Then turn to God, draw close to Him, get into His presence, ask for cleansing, and pray until you feel His love and forgiveness flood your soul. Let Him refresh you with the life-giving Spirit, and don’t stop short of the rivers of living water that flow out of your innermost being  (John 7:38).

 

God’s presence is the only place to get the refreshment we so desperately need—the refreshing our hearts cry out for. He has clearly told us how to get it, and now the rest is up to us. Why, I already feel a cool splashing of spiritual water on my dry and thirsty soul! ~Janie

Have Your Own Personal Resurrection!

Easter has now come and gone, and just like every year it was celebrated with real-life church dramas, magnificent music, and the fanfare of colored eggs and white bunnies. Some brave soul asked the question, “Why do the bunnies and the chickens get all the attention?” Good question. But also like all the other years, we Christians who celebrated the glorious resurrection of our Savior will calm down and settle back into our usual state of “this-is-just-the-way-life-is” routine.

 

But what if we had our own personal resurrection—a resurrection from the dead, mundane, ordinary life we are living, and begin to walk in the newness of life that Jesus provides for all believers? (Romans 6:4) Easter can be a time of decision for those of us who are tired of being beat up by the enemy of our souls, or are sick of yielding to our besetting sins, or have come to the sad conclusion that God doesn’t answer prayer or heal sick bodies any more. Then there are those who live in fear that somehow this failed economy means certain ruin, or believe the news reports that America is no longer a Christian nation and that a majority of Americans do not believe in God. Nonsense! I was reminded the other day that in the 1970’s Newsweek announced on their front cover that “God is dead.” It wasn’t true in 1970 and it’s not true in 2012!

 

We are in the Easter season, the springtime of new life when trees, grass, and plants of very sort come out of their dormant state to grow and bloom again. Christ’s triumphant victory over death, hell, and the grave is just that—a picture of new life, ready to grow and bloom in the lives of believers. If Jesus Christ came up and out of the grave of death and defeat, then so can we! How did He do it? He submitted to the will of God the Father—even though it included death on the cross—because He knew that His Father wouldn’t leave Him in the grave (Psalm 16:10; 49:15). He believed in the power of God to bring Him back to life. Do we believe God is going to leave us in a dead and defeated state, beaten down by our enemy or do we believe God has the power to bring us back to life and out of our graves of despair, disappointment, fear, or hopelessness?

 

My Bible still says that Jesus wins this war! My Bible still says that Christ died for me so I can LIVE! My Bible still says that it ain’t over this it’s over, and friend, it ain’t over yet! You and I can still have a personal resurrection this Easter season—it’s not too late! By faith in a faithful and all-powerful God, we can wake up and arise from a state of deadness. We can believe and know that God is still on the throne and in control of this world and everything that happens in it. We can make Jesus the Lord of our lives, and when we do, He becomes Lord of everything that affects us. Satan has no more power to keep us down and depressed than he had to keep Jesus in that grave, or bound by grave clothes, or stuck behind a huge boulder over the entrance of the tomb. Got any boulders standing in the way of your freedom?

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to come up and out of my stupor. I’m ready to believe God and look up in faith knowing assuredly that HE’S ALIVE! HE LIVES! OUR GOD REIGNS! Instead of cowering down in fear, let us as God’s strong and mighty army of believers raise our banners high and ALL HAIL THE POWER OF JESUS’ NAME! If we don’t have a message of hope for the world, who does? We have been quiet, polite, and politically correct far too long. Like our ancestors from the first-century church, we face the challenge of sharing the Resurrected Christ with the world. Let’s start with our own personal resurrection! ~Janie Kellogg

Get Up and Out of That Stupor

It just dawned on me that I have been in a stupor. Know what that means? A stupor is a state in which the mind and senses are partially or completely dulled—a state of apathy. Sounds serious, doesn’t it? Well it is. It is the condition I find myself in over the state of our nation and the perplexing problems that have our political leaders baffled. There’s our failing economy, our growing debt, our stressed relationships around the world, the turmoil within our own borders, not to mention the price of gasoline. Since it’s too depressing to think about, I find myself wanting to bury my head in the sand.

 

Even closer to home is the fact that I have also been lulled into a stupor by sin’s consequences on my spiritual well-being. For years my besetting sins have lured me into thinking I will never conquer them. I have become lazy in my worship and seeking the face of God. Busy-work compels me to get-er-done rather than spending time in prayer. Complacency has hypnotized me into believing I will never be what God wants me to be. I have failed so many times, and now I feel that I am too old to be of any use to God whatsoever. All opportunities have slipped through my hands. Besides, I will never be able to stay in close relationship with God, so why try. I have lost so many battles that I nearly concede that I have lost the war.

 

But wait a minute! Is this not the Easter season? Is this not what Christ’s resurrection is all about—raising people from the dead? Those who are dead in trespasses and sin? Those who have given in and given up on ever being free from Satan’s cruel grasp upon their lives? Those whose hope has taken a leave of absence?

 

The message of Easter is one of hope because Jesus overcame death, hell, and the grave! All of us were once dead in our sins, dwelling in a living hell, and bound by grave clothes. Satan wants to keep us there as long as he can, and if we ever get free, he will work diligently to bring us back to that same place. Those of us who find ourselves in bondage to Satan’s tricks and lies over and over must take the first step to rise up out of our stupor and move toward the Living Savior. We must refuse to live a defeated life. Just as we took that very first step to accept Christ as Savior-Redeemer, we must take many more steps toward Him as our Rescuer-Restorer. It is an on-going lifetime process of being rescued from Satan’s attempts to pull us back into his grasp. Jesus has plainly said that no one can snatch us out of His Father’s hand! (John 10:29)

 

You and I are worth something to God! After all, He paid a very high price for us. He is waiting for you and me to cry out to Him. It’s time to hear the Savior calling us to get up and out of that stupor. He has given us power over all the forces of the enemy, but if we do not claim that power it will do us no good. How do we claim that power? We have to turn on the engine of our faith through time with God—prayer, praise, worship and intimate fellowship with Him. It matters not how much horsepower is under the hood of our car unless we start the engine!

 

God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). The only thing we can agree with Satan on is that we are nothing, worthless, and of no use to God, except for the fact that we have been resurrected to a new life in Christ Jesus. It is no longer you and I that live, but Christ who lives in us! Remember, this Resurrected Christ who now lives in us didn’t lose the battle or the war. Next time, we will talk about having our own personal resurrection. It’s not too late! ~Janie Kellogg