Tag Archives: The Secret Place

Could This Year Be “That Year” for You?

Current day America is in a mess, and the world is in an even bigger mess! It seems to me that we are headed downhill toward final doom. How’s that for optimism about the New Year? Not so much, huh?

However, I do have some positive thoughts about this year. For instance, I believe that 2016 can be a great year for the church. It could actually be our finest hour as we become eye witnesses of the return of Jesus Christ. That event is on my mind a lot lately.

I currently feel that I do not have the power in my life to withstand the persecution coming to all Christ-followers. I also feel that I do not have ability to lead the women that I teach or to write God’s message to my blog readers. The question must be: What then can I do to get prepared?

I desire to surrender my life fully to the Lordship of Christ—my Holy House Guest, who lives within me. I long to fully obey Him, but cannot find the power to do so. Romans Chapter 7 is my testimony, too. Yep, it describes me to a tee. I expect many of you grapple with the same issues.

God knows my heart, and yours, and He bids us to come closer. On New Year’s Day I was entertaining the thought that 2016 might be the year I actually figure it out. After all, I’ve read dozens, if not hundreds, of books on the deeper walk, the inner life, and the secret place. Perhaps I will finally tap into it—this year.

And then on that first Sunday morning of 2016 my pastor preached a sermon titled “That Year.” My heart leapt within my chest. I could hardly believe my ears as he began to read this Scripture:

“Then the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten the produce of the land; and the children of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate the food of the land of Canaan that year.” Joshua 5:12

I grabbed it immediately as a word for me—it clearly resonated with what I had been thinking. So, I declared right then and there: This year would be that year for me to enter the Promised Land.

I’ve read about the Promised Land for decades. I know what it is filled with: milk and honey,1 so they say, and luscious fruit—large grapes—really big and juicy ones! I’ve longed to enter there.

What about you—have you ever longed to enter there? Some theologians believe the Promised Land refers to heaven; others for the here and now. I believe the latter. Regardless, for me it’s not about the fruit, the milk, or the honey. It’s about power in my own life to overcome this pesky flesh I struggle with.

Romans Chapter 8 tells me that it can be done, after all Paul did it. Many saints of old have done it. Why not me? And you? What if the Promised Land is the place where we finally have the power to fully obey the Holy Spirit and no longer yield to our flesh? Or the place where we begin to eat of the produce of that bountiful land—begin to partake of the power to say “no” to those things we don’t want to do and “yes” to the things we do want to do? Sounds logical.

If so, it’s clearly time for us to enter there.2 If not now, when? But we must remember that it takes faith to enter that place. The doubters didn’t please God then. They won’t please Him now either. Although it was promised to them, their unbelief kept them from inheriting it at all.3 Unbelief is clearly not a good route to take. But for those who believed, they moved forward by faith to claim the Promised Land as their own.4

Could 2016 be “that year” you and I move forward by faith to claim the Promised Land as our very own? Believers believe. I believe. Do you? ~Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest still holds and is offered today, let us be afraid, lest any of you should think he has come too late and has come short of reaching it. Hebrews 4:1

1Exodus 3:8; 2Hebrews 4:1 3Hebrews 3:19; 4Joshua 21:43

When the Immediate becomes the Relevant

“The best way you can prepare is to prepare spiritually,” are the words God spoke to my heart in 2010—and every time since when I pray: “Lord, what must I do to prepare for the coming storm?”

I often assume that everyone is aware of the perilous times coming to America and the entire world, but maybe not. My Dad was an avid reader and news watcher, and I am regularly reminded of things he said would happen in America someday. I literally see those things happening now!

When I was a child, conversations about the last days terrified me; but today, not so much. I am not afraid now because I personally know the God who is in charge of this world, and I trust deeply in the powerful promises given His children.

I expect that some of you went out last week and bought supplies of water, rice and beans. Many of us will do what we can to provide for those we love, and we should—if it gives us any comfort whatsoever. But I believe that whatever we do to prepare in the physical, while it may bring some peace of mind, will never be enough. There is no way to fully prepare physically for that which is coming.

I say that not to alarm you, but to encourage you to give your attention to the most important thing that you can do: prepare spiritually. Do you know God’s promises? Do you know His voice? Could you rely on Him for survival?

Recently, while talking to my daughter-in-law about a situation, this phrase simply came out my mouth: the immediate has become the relevant. I believe the time will soon come in our lives and in our nation when the immediate will be so difficult that it will become more relevant than the future, or for that matter, anything else. We are perhaps even now on the brink of such a time.

For decades, Christians in America have lived the good life—and aren’t we thankful! God has blessed us with freedom, peace, and prosperity. Yet, as the Israelites were entering the Promised Land, God warned them not to forget the Lord their God when things were good. But they did forget, and we know that God’s judgment came because of it. Could that be where America is today?

Unfortunately, America has forgotten the Lord. We have elected leaders who do not know God or His ways, and as a result the laws of our land no longer reflect God’s holy commandments. It is inevitable that we will suffer from these bad choices. I fear it will soon be a crime to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as to speak out against sin of any kind.

So, instead of concerning ourselves with careers, investment plans, retirement, and what college our children will attend, the immediate has become the relevantthe need to survive in these last days upon the earth.

In case you do not know how current events relate to Bible prophecy, I encourage you to get informed. I have listed one great website below, and there are many others. Daily, we see or hear of events setting the stage for the return of our Lord. Jesus told His followers to be ready—aware, awake, and then sound the alarm for others. Whatever you do, don’t turn a deaf ear.

I like to think of my reaction to these challenging times in this way: I don’t want to cry or crater; I don’t want to shake in my boots or run for the mountains; I want to finish S-T-R-O-N-G!

And I want you to finish strong as well. God has told us how to remain safe, and in the coming weeks we will look closely at some of His powerful promises. Watch for the footprints—the verse below is incredible! ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand]. Psalm 91:1 (Amplified Bible)

Small footprintKey Website: www.prophecyinthenews.com Prophecy in the News, hosted by Dr. Kevin Clarkson, airs on the Church Channel on Sunday afternoons. Check your guide for the correct time in your area.

Big Waves Can Be Big Fat Lies

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

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

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?

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

What to do with a Dead Vision ~

What comes to mind when you hear the words “dead vision?” Here is what goes off in my head: Done. Over. Finished. Expired. Lifeless. Nada. Nil. Nothing.

I was recently tempted to call a promise of God—that has not yet been fulfilled in my life—dead. You know what I’m talking about because you have one too—the vision God dropped into your heart years ago, and you are still waiting for it to happen.

As I pondered the cause for the delay, I wondered if I had done something to hinder God from fulfilling His word to me. No sooner than I put that issue to rest (by asking for forgiveness for whatever I might have done), another accusation quickly surfaced to replace it, and then another, and another. You will recognize them, because you’ve heard them too:

“Maybe I didn’t hear God right. Perhaps I am believing for something God never promised? I must be daydreaming to think this could come true. It’s impossible. Did I just make this up? I might as well face it, that vision is dead!”

A few days ago a daily devotional reading by Amy Carmichael spoke to this very issue. She wrote:  “Our Lord Jesus has taught us to call the dead, the living.”1

It’s true. Hebrews 11:12 says: “Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky….” We know this as the fulfillment of God’s promise of a son to Abraham and Sarah very late in life. And in Romans 4:17 we read, “God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.”

We are given a clear example of the good-as-dead body of Abraham and the obviously-dead womb of Sarah being called the living. By all accounts their vision appeared to be totally impossible. Yet, in the remaining verses of Romans 4 we read how Abraham found the faith and the courage to call those dead things, alive.

Contrary to hope, Abraham believed in hope. (vs.18)

Not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead since he was about a hundred years old. (vs. 19)

He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief. (vs. 20)

He was strengthened in faith and gave glory to God. (vs. 20)

He was fully convinced that what God had promised He was also able to perform. (vs. 21)

Notice the verb phrases in these scriptures:  believed in hope; not being weak; did not consider; did not waver; was strengthened; gave glory; was fully convinced. These are the steps Abraham took while waiting upon God to fulfil the vision.

More modern-day language may sound like this: Don’t give up. Hang in there. Keep on keeping on. Stay the course. Trust when you don’t feel like it. Praise God anyway. Speak positive words of faith. Reaffirm your confidence in God.

Is it too late for us to apply these powerful verb phrases to our vision? Of course not! What if we were to defy the odds, disregard what we see, dismiss what we feel, disarm the voice of our enemy—and call our dead vision—alive! After all, if God Himself says something is alive, then it must be alive!

Hasn’t the enemy of our souls taunted us long enough with doubt and unbelief? As sons and daughters of Abraham, our father of faith, let’s tell God that we still believe He will fulfill His promise to us. Then we can move forward as if it is true, simply because God said so. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do.~ Romans 4:18 [The Message]

1Amy Carmichael, Whispers of His Power, CLC Publications, Ft. Washington, PA, 1982, Pg. 121

The Goal Posts Have Moved

Redefine the gospel—that’s the best way I know how to describe what God has done in my life over the past ten years. While I’m not sure I can explain what I thought it was before, I do know that today I see the gospel differently.

The goals for my life are no longer to be healthy, wealthy and wise. They are not for people to like me, accept me, or support me. In short, the goal posts have moved. Things I once thought important are not important to me now.

It began in 2005 when God led me to attend a Christian writer’s conference. I came home from that conference with this sobering revelation: I’m not sure I even know what the gospel is; but I do know that I don’t have much of anything to write about.

Looking back, my evaluation of myself was right on. As a result of that conference, I discovered the writings of Philip Yancey, Andrew Murray, Henri Nouwen, Amy Carmichael, and many others. After ten years of delving deep into those writings, my mindset about the gospel has clearly changed, and so have my goals.

A few days ago I decided to write down the things that are important to me now—my new goals you might say. Please don’t misunderstand—I am not listing things I have attained. In fact, I may never attain them; but they are the things I press toward.1

    • To please my Heavenly Father in every word, thought, and action.
    • To obey the Holy Spirit in all things, every time He speaks to me.
    • To be humble before God and others, choosing the lowest position.
    • To bring glory to God and God alone.
    • To love His church, striving to bring unity in the Body of Christ.
    • To love the unlovable so they will know and feel the love of God.
    • To be willing for God to use me whenever and however He chooses.
    • To give more than I have ever given, withholding nothing from my Lord.
    • To give the Holy Spirit full possession of whole being—my house as His house.
    • To be aware of His presence inside me and commune with Him continuously.
    • To guard my heart so there is never a bitter drop of anything to spill out.2
    • To seek for every ounce of pride in my heart to be eradicated.
    • To hide His Word in my heart, committing it to memory.
    • To hide my life so completely in Christ that others see Him, not me.
    • To make every day a day with Jesus. (A day without Jesus is a day wasted.)
    • To be aware of His opinions on life, politics, and people rather than my own.
    • To have ears that hear and eyes that see from God’s perspective.
    • To be courageous enough to share the Good News with everyone I meet.
    • To be bold enough to speak truth whenever truth is challenged.
    • To keep the main thing, the main thing. (Eternity)
    • To accept what He chooses to give, rather than what I want to receive.
    • To remember that my sin caused Jesus to suffer and die. (Own my part in His death)
    • To cherish the dust at the foot of the cross.3 (a most holy place)
    • To be determined to live for Him and to die for Him.

 

This was a great exercise. I recommend that you do it too, and see what your list looks like. You might be surprised.

Today, I believe I am much closer to knowing the true gospel. I am also much closer to having something to write about. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Scripture: I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.1

Small footprintKey Quote: “St. Paul counted the loss of all things as nothing that he might know Him who he already knew; and the soul, suddenly illuminated by some fresh outshining of the knowledge of the love of God shown forth on Calvary, does not stop to measure how much or how little it knew of that love before. Penetrated, melted, broken before that vision of love, it feels that indeed all it ever knew was nothing, less than nothing.”4 ~ Amy Carmichael

1Philippians 3:14; 2Amy Carmichael, If, CLC Publications, Fort Washington, PA, Pg. 35; 3Ibid, Pg. 53; 4Ibid, forward.

How Can Such a Small Bump in the Road Stir Up Such a Big Stink?

While driving home from church last night I hit a bump in the road. I felt only a small thump, but it wasn’t long before I knew I had stirred up a big stink. You guessed it—I hit a skunk. It seemed as if I didn’t have a choice since it darted right out in front of me. Regardless, I quickly chose what I thought to be the best direction to go in order to miss it. I chose wrong.

I couldn’t help but blame myself. Was I pre-occupied with a problem I had just learned about? Was I not focusing on where I was going? Did I react in haste; in error? Perhaps if I had done any of these things differently, one of God’s little creatures would still be alive, and my car, well, let’s just say it would be giving off a more pleasant aroma!

OK, maybe I’m over-analyzing, but maybe not. After all, I expect that I’ll be reminded of it for quite some time. So, what might the Holy Spirit have for me in this unfortunate incident?

Perhaps 2 Corinthians 2:14 has a word for us: “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”

This verse tells us that God does two things: 1) He always leads us to triumph in Christ; and 2) He uses my life to distribute a fragrance of Himself everywhere I go.

The fact is….we all have bumps in the road—little bumps, medium-sized bumps, and big bumps. They happen to everyone. The issue is not how to have a life without bumps, but how to handle them when they pop up right in our face.

It is in the bumps of life that God desires to lead us to triumph. That’s right—a bump in the road is actually an opportunity for the Christ in us to show the world who He is, how He thinks, and how He behaves. What we call an unfortunate bump in the road is also our opportunity to be used of God to spread the sweet fragrance of Christ-like-ness to those who come in contact with us.

Anytime we encounter a bump in the road that jolts our lives, our emotions, or our self-esteem, we (and others) are left with the aroma of our reaction. Since that aroma will be around for quite a while, it’s important what we dispense—a sweet-smelling fragrance or an aroma that people will shy away from?

Even a small amount of rudeness, selfish demands, or an unleashed temper can stir up a stink we may later regret. Damage done in a split-second of careless reaction may cost us more than we ever imagined—an irreparable friendship, alienated family member, or a wounded spouse.

Some good advice might be to keep our minds on the Lord instead of our problems; remember to stay focused on where we are going and our goal to take others with us; not to react in haste, but to think things through; and to understand there is a cost if we make an error in the direction we choose. And if we choose our reactions and words carefully, we might even save the life of one of God’s creations—a human one.

Lord, as your ambassadors to a lost world, help us react to the bumps in our road like Jesus would react. We understand that if we don’t, we might be left with a big stink to live with. ~ Janie Kellogg

Small footprintKey Quote: “For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.” ~ Amy Carmichael

A Change Is As Good As A Rest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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