Treasure In Earthen Vessels

Discovering the Indwelling Holy Spirit

We Need a Little Love December 20, 2018

Filed under: Holidays,Uncategorized — Janie Kellogg @ 10:19 am
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Our annual Christmas Cantata includes the song We Need A Little Love. It challenges me. My first reaction is “Yes, we do need a little love”—but then something inside me screams: “Don’t we need a lot of love?” It seems there’s never been a time when there has been such a shortage of love. We see it in the lives of displaced refugees around the world; on the faces of starving children waiting in line for a cup of soup; and the homeless souls hiding in the shadows of our own cities. The need for love comes in all colors, sizes, and shapes—the shape of a broken heart, an empty heart, and even those we think are heartless. Yet every heart needs love. The question is whether or not their need for love can be filled by someone this Christmas.

 

For me, let’s just say I prefer a Hallmark Christmas, and I bet you do too. After all, isn’t Christmas made of gingerbread cookies, dazzling lights, and storybook endings? I wish. But I’m afraid that is not the norm even though it may seem that all Christmases end well. I remember years ago when I was a young wife and mother, how I tried to make each Christmas the best Christmas ever—only to find myself with an empty heart and wallet when it was all over. You might remember that feeling as well. The let-down occurs when the holiday comes to a close, the hype is gone, and there’s only a mess to clean up.

 

I’m not sure if I just grew up somewhere along the way or if I’ve learned by experience that the real joy of Christmas comes with simpler things—like having those we love nearby, sharing our blessings with the less fortunate, and taking time to worship the Christ of Christmas. Nothing else is lasting. The chorus of the song says this:

We need a little love to light the world from up above

Spreading good tidings to men, peace once again

That’s what my heart’s dreaming of, we need a little love.

 

Instead of thinking about how much love we need, perhaps we should focus on how much love we can give away. If we have even a small amount of God’s love, we can light up our world—this space around us that we call ours. We certainly have good tidings to share with others that Baby Jesus is the Savior of the whole world. And if we will let Him come into our broken and empty hearts, He will fill each one with His eternal peace. Who knows, maybe even the heartless will find some heart and turn to the Lover of their souls. Actually, I think that’s exactly what my heart is dreaming of.

 

These simple gifts of Christmas—love, light, good tidings, and peace—are ours to receive and ours to give away. What more could we need? So the songwriters were right all along—we really do need only a little of God’s love! My Christmas prayer is that you and I will join with thousands of Christians around the world this year in giving the most lasting gift of all—a little love.

Merry Christmas to all ~ Janie Kellogg

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My Non-Customary New Year’s Wishes ~ 2016 January 1, 2016

I find myself saying the customary greeting “Happy New Year” with a little reluctance this year. Oh, it’s not that I don’t wish happiness for my friends, family, and folks in general, because I do. But this year somehow happiness just doesn’t quite cover it. Maybe in years-gone-by when life was normal, the world safer, and most people wanted the same things in life. But not this year.

I am amazed at what I see and hear all around me, and I ask, “What has happened to common sense?” Have we totally lost our moral and spiritual compass? I fear that we have or else we are too afraid to speak up for what we know is right. If I analyze what has happened in America, I could easily believe there was a targeted attempt to keep the moral and sane quiet!

However, I do not want to turn my new year’s blog into a political paper. What I desire to do here is to tell you some of the things I wish you—and for me too—things much greater than happiness.

I wish for you to have peace—not the peace that the world gives because it will not benefit you much. Rather, I wish for you the peace that Jesus gives1peace with a holy God. Until Jesus came to make peace for us,2 we were in a heap of trouble, and today, if you have not made your peace with God, you are still in a heap of trouble. Judgement day is waiting in the wings for all of us. Don’t put it off, but make your peace with Him today. He is anxiously waiting for you to do that very thing. In fact, He is delaying His coming just waiting for you.3

My next wish is a sound mind. May God help us all to yearn for soundness that comes from Him, along with power and love.4 How is it that we think we can live beyond our income, individually or as a nation, and it will all come out in the wash? Or that we can defy the laws of God and He won’t notice? Or we can remove Him from our public places and still be a nation whose God is the Lord? Or take the lives of millions of unborn babies and God will wink at it? Or that we can fill our lives with excessive food, entertainment, and material things and we won’t pay the price for it in our spirits? The Bible clearly tells us that God gave the Israelites what they ask for, but sent leanness to their souls.5

I also wish for you to have courage—the kind of courage that isn’t afraid of a defeated foe!6 Why are we afraid of a loser? May we know the BOOK, remember what it says, and live accordingly. For Jesus’ sake, may His people begin to act like the victors He made us to be.7 We must not cower to fear, to secularism, to a sub-standard, soft Christianity, or to anything less than being the people who bear His matchless name. May we hold the Christian flag high in our hearts, our love for Christ where all can see, and stop yielding to a political correctness that is sure to pull us under. We cannot and we must not falter now. We are called to suffer for Jesus sake,8 not to happiness that can be found in chasing after the things of the world.

My last wish for you is a sense of urgency. May you and I clearly recognize where we are in the bigger scheme of things. The return of the Lord Jesus is upon us; the end of all things is near.9 May we wake up and decide that God is all that matters. It’s true for us and for our families. We must not miss heaven for the pleasures of the world. Eternity is long and hell is hot, I don’t care who has minimized this reality. Do what you need to do today. Tell your kids and grandkids that Jesus is coming soon.10 Get serious about knowing and serving Him, sharing the Gospel with others, and taking a stand for righteousness now—and be urgent about it!

I trust that my non-customary new year’s wishes do not offend any of you. You are precious to me and certainly precious in God’s eyes. But let’s face it: It is time to be alert and sober11—time for His people to be His people, standing up and proclaiming the truth. We must not turn-tail and run when our time of trial comes, and the only way I know to be prepared is to be at peace with God, of a sound mind, courageous and urgent! And that is my wish for all of us in 2016!

Happy New Year ~ Janie Kellogg

1John 15:27; 2Ephesians 2:14; 32 Peter 3:9; 42 Timothy 1:7; 5Psalm 106:15; 6Revelation 19:20; 7Romans 8:37; 8Philippians 1:29; 91 Peter 4:7a; 10Revelation 22:7, 12; 111 Peter 4:7b

 

Preparedness ~ How to keep your heart from failing for fear September 21, 2015

The days we are living in feel really scary to me. If you are a news watcher, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the whole world is in chaos. There are so many problems and seemingly few solutions. And I’m not talking about small problems—I speak of earth-shattering events like thousands of people being slaughtered or displaced from their homes, the rise of unprecedented lawlessness, and the erosion of commonly held values.

But then Jesus warned us it would be like this. Isn’t our Lord wonderful to always tell His children ahead of time what to expect. I think of the time the Lord came to bring judgment to Sodom and Gomorrah, and He said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing?” We know He didn’t hide it from Abraham, and even allowed Abraham to intercede for his nephew, Lot.

It is the same today. Over 2000 years ago Jesus explained what to expect in the last days. Read Matthew 24 and Luke 21. He said there would be “Men’s hearts failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth….” (Luke 21:26) If you haven’t read those chapters lately, you must do so. But one thing you must not do is be among those who hearts fail them for fear (terror). You ask, “But how?”

Preparedness can mean the difference between hearts failing and not failing. In 2010, I began to seek the Lord about how to prepare for the difficult times coming to America. You see, when the Y2K event came along, my family was fully prepared to handle most anything. We had stored up food, water, fuel, and everything imaginable to get through months or perhaps years of hard times, if necessary.

However, when the year 2000 arrived, nothing happened. The underlying problem was that computers were not capable of processing dates beyond December 31, 1999. Yet, because utility companies, airlines, governments, states, and local entities PREPARED in advance, no computers failed. I know this for a fact because I worked for an electric utility company at the time. The Y2K Task Force had fixed the problem long before the morning of January 1, 2000 dawned. It wasn’t that the possibility of disaster wasn’t real, because it was; but proactive people did what was necessary to head off any breakdowns in our electronic systems. Thankfully, we didn’t need our extra supplies. However, nothing went to waste as it was given away or used up during the next year.

I would like to propose to you, as believers in God who know that perilous times are ahead, to be proactive and prepare yourself!

While seeking the Lord in 2010, the Holy Spirit spoke this to me: “The best way you can prepare is to prepare spiritually.” I have done that with every fiber of my being, and I am fully confident that as for me and my house we are spiritually ready. However, we are also storing up a few extra quantities of water and food sources, although nothing compared to what we did in 1999. I simply do not want to be unprepared such that my heart might fail because of fear. Preparedness can save us from panic.

My newly penned definition for peace is: Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the calm assurance that in the end we win. I trust that you will prepare yourselves for the really scary days ahead so you can face them with calm assurance. First and most importantly, find peace with God, and then trust Him to take care of His own. He may or may not lead to you do anything more; but if He does, do it.

I love the words to Chris Tomlin’s song “I Will Rise,” because they define so well the destiny of the Redeemed:

There’s a peace I’ve come to know

Though my heart and flesh may fail

There’s an anchor for my soul

I can say “It is well.”

 

Jesus has overcome

And the grave is overwhelmed

The victory is won

He is risen from the dead.

 

There’s a day that’s drawing near

When this darkness breaks to light

And the shadows disappear

And my faith shall be my eyes.

 

Jesus has overcome

And the grave is overwhelmed

The victory is won

He is risen from the dead.

 

And I will rise when He calls my name

No more sorrow, no more pain

I will rise on eagles’ wings

Before my God fall on my knees

And rise, I will rise. ~Chris Tomlin

 

There are no more comforting words that I can give to you than what Jesus gave to His followers in Luke 21:28 ~ “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

It seems to me that these really scary days could actually be the last days. If I’m right, it’s time to look up! ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: “So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” Luke 21:28 (NLT)

 

 

Big Waves Can Be Big Fat Lies August 21, 2015

It recently dawned on me that the storms of life themselves are often not as bad as the agonizing fear we endure while thinking about them. Satan uses the elements of our storms to traumatize us by parading dozens of fabricated possibilities through our minds. While we listen to his big-fat lies, our peace goes out the window.

Remember the story of Peter walking on the water and how his fall happened right after he did the impossible?1 I think walking on water should have been a huge faith-builder, don’t you? Yet, that is how our enemy works—we do something supernatural when Jesus bids us to do it—and as soon as we get into the thick of it, Satan bombards our minds with big waves of doubts: Those waves are too big! Those winds are too strong! You can’t do this (never mind that Peter just did!) You’re a goner for sure!

Peter had done the impossible while he was focused on Jesus, and then he failed. Why? He started entertaining the thoughts of the enemy as fact, and at the moment He took his eyes off Jesus to look at his circumstances, he began to sink.

How many of us have had a while-then experience? You know, we were actually doing something impossible while we had our eyes on Jesus; but then we lost our focus and sank. I remember going on my first mission trip and thinking: Scaredy Cat me going to a third world country! Or me with so little knowledge of music leading a choir! Or me a country girl from nowhere speaking at a women’s retreat!

Sometimes the enemy is so good at his big-fat lies, we doubt if we ever did that impossible thing at all. But I believe we can learn an important lesson from Peter: We must never take our eyes off Jesus! The question is—how can we keep from making Peter’s mistake?

First of all, we need to realize that we are not helpless against our enemy. No matter how long we’ve yielded to the practice of allowing Satan access to our minds, we can put a stop to it. We simply must retrain our minds, and here’s how.

There is a wonderful promise found in Isaiah 26:3 “You (God) will keep him (or her) in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You.”

God promised that if we will keep our minds on Him, we can avert the tormenting lies of Satan and watch our peace return. It will take time and effort, but since it only takes 21 days to form a new habit, we’ll soon be on our way to victory over Satan’s big-fat lies.

Start with hiding this promise of God in your heart; rehearse it in your mind; believe it will work for you; and then practice it. With Satan’s first attempt to make things look worse than they are, stop immediately, and purposely turn your mind to Jesus. When it happens again, repeat the process; and then again, and again. Our hearts will calm down, regardless of how terrifying our circumstances are because God promised it and God cannot lie!

We have been tricked into listening to Satan’s lies by thinking it might be God’s voice and therefore we must pay attention to it. Yet, God’s voice will not bring fear to our hearts2, so do not listen—not now, not later. No wonder Peter warned believers to “be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”3 Don’t let it be you!

We think the recipe for having peace must be difficult and something only super-spiritual saints can accomplish. But it is God’s plan for all of His children to have peace in our storms by keeping our minds on Him.

I know that it works, since I just came through three storms in my own life using this technique. Remember, we’re not trying to calm the storm, but we’re seeking to allow God to calm His child. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Thought: Peace is not the absence of trouble; rather peace is the calm confidence that in the end we win! ~ Janie Kellogg

1Matthew 14:25-32; 22 Timothy 1:7; 31 Peter 5:8

 

Calm the Storm or Calm Me July 30, 2015

For most of my Christian life I have thought the biggest goal in prayer was to get the storms in my life calmed down—you know, like Jesus did for the disciples on the Sea of Galilee. I think differently now.

A few months ago I began preparing to teach a Bible study titled “Experiencing Peace.” Apparently, God thought I needed the opportunity to live what I was about to teach. In the past two months there have been, not one, not two, but three huge storms arise on the sea of my life. And when I say huge, I mean really B-I-G!

Remember the story of Peter walking on water?1 I can easily find myself in that story, but instead of walking on the water with Peter, you’ll find me hanging onto the boat for dear life along with the other eleven disciples. They unexpectedly found themselves in the middle of the sea, tossed about by huge waves and contrary winds. Yep, that describes my life for the past few months.

Before the first lesson of the study was ever taught, the Lord told me He was going to teach me something new. You see, I had been out on that troubled sea before where the massive waves and contrary winds blew up unexpectedly and almost took me under. I thought I had learned some great faith-saving techniques from that previous experience that I could share with others. God had something else in mind.

Here is that something else: God doesn’t have to calm the storm in order to give His child peace in the storm. How many of us have thought the best answer for any of our storms was for God to remove it?

If we look at the life of our Savior, we’ll find that the Father didn’t always remove the storms in His life; in fact, I don’t believe He removed any of them. And when Jesus was about to face the severest of all storms—the cross—He prayed, that if it were His Father’s will, this storm would be removed. But then He did something remarkable: He gave His Father permission to leave it there.2

We now know that God had a bigger purpose for that storm than calming it—our very own redemption, mine and yours, were wrapped up in the center that storm. It was completely necessary for Jesus to endure it; and He did. And I am certain that Jesus had peace in the midst of that storm!

Before facing the cross, Jesus had told His disciples that He was giving them His peace—the kind of peace that can be experienced right smack-dab in the middle of the fiercest storm, even one with ginormous waves and winds.3 Apparently, it worked for Him.

The song writer of Who Am I, recorded by Casting Crowns in 2003, got it right.4 These lyrics suggest something we can ask God to do for us in the middle of our storm: “Who am I that the voice that calmed the sea, would call out through the rain, and calm the storm in me?”

Our first step to attaining peace is found in giving God our permission to do whatever He deems best in any set of circumstances. Our prayer might sound like this: Dear Father, I ask you to calm this storm; but if that is not your will, then I ask you to calm me. It is then left up to God to do whatever He chooses. That, my friend, is called trust.

One of my three personal storms has now come and gone, uneventful I might add. The other two are presently calm; yet I know another storm can blow up at any moment. Storms are like that.

The issue here is how you and I will face our next storm. Can we trust our Father like Jesus did and leave the outcome in His hands? If so, we have already found a place of peace and rest. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: Leave yourself open to the circumstances of His choice, for this is perfect acceptance and rest in the will of God. If you do so, you are not a fool—you are in the company of the brave! For accepting the will of God in this way, “You became imitators of us,” Paul writes, “and of the Lord.”4 ~ Amy Carmichael

1Matthew 14:22-33; 2Matthew 26:39; 3John 14:27; 4John Mark Hall; 5Amy Carmichael, You Are My Hiding Place, Bethany House Publishers, Bloomington, MN, 1991, Page 77

 

The Slippery Slope of False Peace July 16, 2015

Peace is a much desired commodity that manifests itself as a state of mind. We all want it. We all seek it. We are peace-full when we are free from threats to our safety and well-being. Who doesn’t want peace?

According to Jesus there are two kinds of peace, and since He is the Prince of Peace, I figure He knows what He’s talking about. In John 14:27, Jesus gave to His disciples an amazing gift: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” The other kind of peace is obviously that which the world gives us.

I believe for many years we have mostly relied on the world kind of peace—the strength of our government and military, and a strong U.S. economy and dollar, all being maintained under the umbrella of a healthy respect for God’s laws and authority. For the most part, we have lived tranquil lives with those things securely in place.

However, for some twenty years I have heard it said that America is on a slippery slope. What I see happening daily disturbs my worldly peace: evil on the rise under the disguise of good; the threat of terrorism expanding with little or no resistance; the US economy struggling with a zero GNP; the strength of U.S. dollar and the markets vulnerable to collapse; and all these things pale in comparison to the depraved state of our moral condition. Seems to me, we’ve now gone one over the cliff of the slippery slope and are headed for a huge crash.

It could be said that the peace the world gives is nothing more than a slippery slope of false peace—shaky, unstable, and certainly not enduring. It will not hold up in troubling times. When God shakes this world like He said He will in Hebrews 12:26, the world-given peace will not suffice. We need more.

What are we to do? Where are we to put our trust? Our nation’s currency states that we trust in God, but our actions to cast Him from the public square say otherwise. So are we still a Christian nation whose God is the Lord, or are we not? Will we continue to have God on our side as we have for over 200 years; and if not, will our nation survive?

The Bible tells us that in the last days we shall see “men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth” (Luke 21:26). It’s not so difficult to see how that can happen for these are certainly heart-failing days.

But wait. Jesus knew it would be like this. Did He not tell us that these terrifying days would come? And because He knew, He provided in advance just what we need—that gift of peace! Remember, He gave us His peace—the peace that only the Prince of Peace can produce and give. It is a peace that says, “In the midst of this storm you are loved. You can find a refuge from these horrendous days when you hide yourself securely in Me.”

Dear friends, we are not peace-less, and we must not let our hearts fail us for fear! We are to be light and salt in a dark and decaying world. Jesus says to us today, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). He already has and we need to act like we believe it. We are left here to shine that glorious light of the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who do not yet know our Savior. There are many that need to know Him, and therefore God needs for us to be courageous, salty, and lights in this dark hour.

Want to trade in your false peace for the real thing? Call upon the Prince of Peace and He will hear your earnest prayer. As His followers, we must not let our hearts be troubled or afraid, but rather we must start polishing the globe of our lanterns. Much light is needed. My prayer is that you and I will not miss one opportunity to shine for Jesus! ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: “Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

 

Got Peace? July 4, 2015

Today is the Fourth of July, and once again we Americans have celebrated our freedom just as we do every year on this historic day. Yet, I can’t help but reflect on the events of the past few weeks and how they have disrupted my peace. Perhaps you feel the same way.

While my generation has had its fair share of wars, turmoil, and challenging times, I have never quite felt as if the whole world were about to implode. Not like I do today. “The world is going to hell in a handbasket” seems to be an understatement for the days in which you and I live. What can we do? Where can we turn? What kind of world will our children and grandchildren face? Troubling—to say the least!

During the summer months I am teaching a Bible Study on PEACE, and I find the subject both timely and relevant to the nightly news. In fact, I expect that many of God’s people are looking for that very thing. Therefore, I have decided to share some of my findings about this greatly sought-after commodity known as p-e-a-c-e on my blog—where peace comes from; how we can get it; how we can keep it; and how we can share it with others.

It is interesting that the first two times Jesus saw the disciples after His resurrection, He said to them: “Peace be with you,”1 and “Peace to you!”2 Those too were troubling days, much like the ones in which we live. The political powers of that day had just crucified the very One who was sent to earth to bring peace. He was misquoted, misunderstood, falsely accused, persecuted, tortured, and put to death. Sound familiar? Those who speak today as Jesus spoke then could likely face some of the same treatment. But then, Jesus warned us it would be that way.3

For many years my Dad talked about what he saw on the horizon of America’s future. He was well-read and kept abreast of the political winds that were shaping the culture of the world and our nation. If I heard him say it once, I heard him say it a thousand times: “If people don’t wake up…this is what will happen!” He was right on track; for today it has happened just like he thought it would.

So how do you and I face the inevitable? Jesus warned us, and now we see it as an absolute possibility that we too could be misquoted, misunderstood, falsely accused, persecuted, tortured, and perhaps for some, put to death.

I will start with Jesus’ words that are applicable to His disciples of any age: “Peace be with you and peace to you!”  Since He is already with all born-again believers, then He, whose name is Peace, is with us. We have His peace—not only within reach, but right here in our hearts.

It is also important to understand that His peace is not the same peace that the world gives—His peace is genuine, satisfying, and eternal. It is ours and it has already been given to us. We simply must learn how to claim it and wrap ourselves in the security blanket of His promised peace. We must learn to do what Amy Carmichael did: “she tucked herself into God.”

You are invited to come along for the ride. Hopefully, it will be a peace-full one. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “When we come to know our Father of Lights—when we tuck ourselves into God by trusting Him as little children—He will carry us through.”4

1John 20:19; 2John 20:21; 3Matthew 24:9; 4David Hazard, “You Are My Hiding Place—Amy Carmichael,” Bethany House Publishers, 1991, Pg. 10