What God Taught Me through Mrs. Stuart’s Cookies

Today's sweet and slightly spiritual lesson

I will never forget that day in Mrs. Brown’s third and fourth grade class (our school was so small, they combined classes). It was Dennis Stuart’s turn to bring class refreshments.

That’s the hallowed day when I was introduced to Mrs. Stuart’s No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies.

All I could think as I was relishing every divine morsel and washing it down with ice-cold milk from my half-pint carton was Where have you been all my life? All ten long years of it.

To this day—if I even smell these mouth-watering goodies—I’m a goner. Any sense of self-control is just an illusion.

That’s when I try to rationalize my decision to indulge: Oatmeal is in one of the four major food groups, right? 

Can you relate?

I’ve spent lots of years trying to make No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies as delicious as Mrs. Stuart’s, but I think she will always be the “No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookie Queen” in my eyes.

Here’s one recipe I got out of my bright pink Perryton Full Gospel Church cookbook almost twenty years ago (Thanks, Edna Lee Grimmer for the wedding present and Alice Pingleton for the recipe!):

2 c. sugar
1/2 c. cocoa
1 stick oleo
1/2 c. milk
3 c. quick-cooking rolled oats, uncooked
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. nuts
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar, cocoa, oleo and milk and bring to a boil. Mix in other ingredients, drop on foil and let cool.

I guess I have a lot of my mom in me when it comes to cooking and baking. I like to tweak recipes just to see if I can make them even tastier.

So, what follows is my tweaking:

Start with a medium-sized sauce pan on medium-high heat.

Just like the recipe says, add your 2 cups of sugar, 1/2 cup of cocoa (any brand will do), and whatever you do, DO NOT substitute margarine for real butter! (Butter is always better.)

Then add 1/2 cup whole milk (the creamier the better!) and stir with a wooden spoon (not sure why wooden; that’s just what I’ve always used). Hey, that reminds of the story of the inquisitive daughter watching her mom bake a ham.

Anyway … bring all of those ingredients to a boil. Remove from heat, then add 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract (don’t skimp with the imitation stuff here).

Now, here comes my biggest tweak in the recipe; one that took me a few batches to figure out.

Instead of 1/2 cup of peanut butter and 1/2 cup of nuts, add 1 heaping cup of crunchy peanut butter and stir until it’s all melted in the chocolate mixture.

Then add 3 cups of oats (I use Old-Fashioned Oats because they’re just oatier—sorry, English teachers!) and stir well. (You could also add 1 tsp of cinnamon if you like chocolate and cinnamon together.)

Finally, drop by large tablespoons full onto a sheet of aluminum foil.

I double-dog dare you to try to wait until they’re cool before you get a taste. (Insert big smiley-faced emoji here.)

Now, lest you think I’ve done a 360 and gone all Betty Crocker (instead of Bible-based blogger) on you, God taught me a major spiritual lesson when I was trying to get these cookies to turn out like Mrs. Stuart’s.

When I followed the original recipe, my cookies were too soft; they didn’t set.

So, I reasoned that adding more oatmeal should fix the problem. Makes sense, right?

It didn’t work, though. They had more oatmeal in them, but they were still gooey.

That’s when I thought about exchanging the 1/2 cup peanut butter and the 1/2 cup of nuts for 1 heaping cup of crunchy peanut butter.

Guess what? Making that exchange made all the difference! Mrs. Francis’ No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies ended up turning out pretty good. (Still not as good as Mrs. Stuart’s.)

Now, for the spiritual parallel:

When life stops working the way we want it to, what we usually do is add more “TRY” to the mix, thinking that should do the trick.

Instead, what we end up with is one big WEARY mess.

The thing is, God doesn’t want us to crank out our self-sufficient, natural strength and “try harder” when life gets especially hard. (He doesn’t even want us to live from our natural strength in the not-so-hard times.)

Rather, He wants us to acknowledge that the God of the universe lives in us 24/7/365 and exchange our “do it ourselves” attitudes with “God, I’m going to trust in Your supernatural strength within me to do it all through me!”

“God, instead of living my life for You, I choose to live from Your all-sufficient life that is inseparably fused to mine!”

What do you say? Are you up for the challenge?

Are you willing to exchange your 1/2 c. peanut butter + 1/2 c. nuts (your self-sufficiency) for 1 heaping cup of crunchy peanut butter (God’s All-Sufficiency)?

All it takes is a little mental tweaking and a lot of practice. When you learn this way of living, I think you will find a skip in your step and a smile on your face a lot more often.

Dear reader, I hope you enjoyed my somewhat silly illustration today. I’m wondering, has God ever taught you spiritual lessons through your day-in and day-out activities?

Everything’s spiritual when we are depending on the Spirit of Christ to live His life through us!

Until next time,
Live Christ—Live Happy!

P.S.  If you enjoyed this post and want to know more about me and the types of content I post, please visit my About Page.

MY CONTACT INFORMATION:

Kim K. Francis
P.O. Box 357
Perryton, TX 79070

EMAIL
MY BLOG: KimKFrancis.com
TWITTER: @KimKFrancis 64
FACEBOOK: Kim K Francis

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The Secret to Savoring Christ’s Love

As promised in my last regular post, “The Serious Business of Enjoying God,” I will be sharing a captivating “motion picture” my Beloved projected onto the movie screen of my mind almost ten years ago and how it’s still affecting me today.

I completely understand if you are sincerely wondering, How do you know it was from God?

Let me tell you how I know.

“By the fruit it’s still bearing and the fact that it agrees with New Covenant truth.”

It wasn’t the first motion picture He gave me. Or the last.

But this particular grace reel contains gems that, I believe, are meant to be shared with believers in Christ who have a God-given longing to savor (give oneself to the enjoyment of) His astonishing, one-of-a-kind love for his or her beautiful new heart.

Before I share it, I would like to tell you what led up to this enlightening, endearing experience.

  1. Reading about other believers’ impacting encounters with the indwelling Spirit of Christ made me hungry to also experience His love in tangible ways (I believe this hunger originates in His heart’s desire for those who belong to Him to be overcome by His love.)
  2. My longing to experience His up-close-and-personal love exceeded my desire to feel accomplished through marking off items on my seemingly never-ending to-do list.
  3. I turned on relaxing Christian instrumental music (See “Simple Devotion to Christ” for a list of my favorites).
  4. With my open journal resting on the pillow in my lap and a black gel pen in hand, I turned my focus toward a Thomas Kinkade print titled “The Garden of Prayer.” This ethereal scene invited me to step into its contagious serenity. (I could almost feel the warmth of the morning sun’s rays, smell the fragrant bouquet of flowers strewn along the water’s edge, and hear the trickling stream.) Kinkade describes the purpose for which he created this beautiful painting: My prayer is that this painted garden will be a meeting place for many that would speak to their God in the silence of morning.
  5. In my mind’s eye, I saw myself standing by the open gate, looking down the well-worn path for His coming. Then I started writing what I heard and saw:

How can I have more passion for Jesus? The way I grow in my love for Him is to grow in my understanding of His love for me. It takes the power of His love on my heart to love Him back. The secret to loving is living loved in Christ, my Spiritual Bridegroom!

When Jesus wants to empower me to love Him, He reveals Himself as the One who passionately loves me.

I wait in the Garden of Prayer for the One whom my heart loves.

It’s a beautiful spring morning, not too hot and not too cold. 

I hear the birds singing and the stream flowing gently beside the gazebo. I smell the fragrant flowers as a warm breeze makes its way past every bloom.

I feel my heart beating in anticipation of spending sweet moments with my Beloved. I can hardly wait until He gets here! I love spending time with Him!

I look toward the end of the pathway to see if I can catch a glimpse of His coming. Waiting is the hardest part, but so worth it!

I sit on the steps of the gazebo and close my eyes, dreaming of my Beloved. He is Perfect in every way!

I stand up and walk to the open gate, looking down the path once more. 

I see movement! I see the form of a Man at the far right end of the pathway walking toward the gate.

As He gets closer, I make out His face. My Beloved! He has come just to see me.

He is smiling the most radiant smile; joy is His countenance.

I cannot wait until He gets to the gate, so I run up the path to meet Him. As I approach, He opens His arms wide.

Like a child, I jump into His loving embrace.

He says, “My love, you are so beautiful! It is the desire of My heart to be with you.”

He holds me for what seems like a long time. I rest my head on His chest and feel His rapid heartbeat.

Then He kisses my forehead and says, “Let’s walk together.”

He takes my hand in His as we walk down the pathway toward the gazebo. As we walk, I sense that we are the only two people in the world.

As His hand holds mine, I feel the scar from one of the wounds He received on my behalf. It is a silent reminder of a love without limits, a love that stretches beyond time.

He squeezes my hand to let me know He is reading my thoughts.

He experiences great joy when I meditate on the truths of His undying love for me. Oh, what ecstasy! What delight! To spend time with the One my heart loves!

The open gate invites us into the garden. We accept by walking through it.

We drink in the lush scenery—the vibrant trees, flowering bushes, and the diamond-like sheen on the surface of an unhurried stream.

“I created all this so that we could enjoy it together, forever, My love. Every beautiful thing you see was created for your enjoyment.”

My heart is overwhelmed to know that I was on His mind at creation.

“But you need to know that not a single place on this earth holds a candle to your beauty.”

He points to the white calla lilies nestled within the greenery outlining the stream and says, “Aren’t they gorgeous? They are pure and white and look like the flame of a candle. They also look like trumpets heralding the beauty of My creation.”

He turns to me and softly whispers, “You asked Me what your new name was when I created you in Me on that crisp Autumn evening.”

“Your new name is ‘Magnificent Beauty,’ the meaning of the calla lily. You will trumpet My name and My love throughout the earth before My coming.”

“Your passion will burn brightly for Me as a candle illuminates the night. Your purity and holiness will stand out in a world where darkness tries to overtake the light.”

“You are My Magnificent Beauty, My love. Come and dance with Me under the gazebo.”

We dance together as one, swaying to the rhythm of His heartbeat. As I rest in His guidance, every twirl and turn is orchestrated by Him. Oh, how I love to dance with my Beloved!

He whispers, “My love, always trust in My leading; never try to lead.”

I nodded as I relax my left ear on His chest. I realize His heartbeat and mine are synchronized. When I’m dancing with Him, I feel the most alive!

We stop dancing. He says, “My love, let’s rest awhile.”

We walk to the steps on the other side of the gazebo, roll up the hem of our garments, sit down, and dangle our bare feet in the cool stream.

Oh, how refreshing and invigorating it is!

“Isn’t it fun to become as little children and play in the water!” He exclaims. I wholeheartedly agree. 

When He raises one foot out of the water, I see another reminder of the great price He paid for me.

He winks at me, reading my thoughts once again.

He reaches down, cups water in His hand, and splashes me with it. “I have made you clean,” He says. “Don’t ever forget you are pure, righteous, and holy.”

“Your heart is brand-new in Me.”

This is difficult to believe, especially when my behavior is less than stellar.

Understanding my unspoken struggle, He responds, “My love, your spiritual birth determines your identity, not your behavior. The more you focus on Me and your flawless identity in Me, the more your behavior will line up with who you really are.”

I breathe a long sigh of relief in response to His life-giving words and relax in His perfect love for me.

We lie back on the gazebo, and I fall asleep in His arms.

When I wake up, I see Him looking at me with tender love. He says to me, “You are My pearl, My most treasured possession. I never sleep. My eyes are continually gazing with perfect love on you. Trust Me with every detail of your life.”

I respond, “I do trust You! Cause me to trust and love You more!”

He replies, “My pleasure!”

We get up and walk hand-in-hand to the open gate. He raises my hand to His scarlet lips, kisses it, and says, “Until we meet again.”

He strokes my hair as I hug Him goodbye.

I watch Him walk to the end of the pathway until He’s out of sight.

I miss Him already and can hardly wait until He comes again!

I will never forget this impacting encounter with my Beloved. I look forward to many more as He leads me to fix the eyes of my beautiful, new heart on Him in wonder-filled expectancy.

(I would like to clarify that we are never separated from our Beloved. We are in Him and He is in us eternally, without interruption. The parts of this motion picture that might suggest separation are an illustration of the times when we are not intentionally focusing on our unbreakable union with Him.)

Dear reader, do you have a desire to savor Christ’s refreshing love in up-close-and-personal ways? If so, there’s no time like the present to enjoy His presence!

In my next post, I will share more about how you can position yourself to delight more fully in His eternal embrace.

Until next time,
Live Christ—Live Happy!

photo credit: Patrick Vierthaler Tenju-an 天授庵 via photopin (license)
Disclosure of Material Connection: One or more of the links in post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

P.S.  If you enjoyed this post and want to know more about me and the types of content I post, please visit my About Page.

MY CONTACT INFORMATION:

Kim K. Francis
P.O. Box 357
Perryton, TX 79070

EMAIL
MY BLOG: KimKFrancis.com
TWITTER: @KimKFrancis 64
FACEBOOK: Kim K Francis

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You’re Already a Godly Person

Today's guest post by Mark Maulding, author of God's Best-Kept Secret

Just this morning, I finished savoring Mark Maulding’s book, God’s Best-Kept Secret: Christianity Is Easier Than You Think. I can honestly say this book is hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read.

Most of the time when I finish a book, it gets put on one of my library shelves. Not this one. It’s going to remain within arm’s reach of my little brown chair in my library sanctuary—the place where I spend most of my time reading, writing, and enjoying Jesus.

God’s Best-Kept Secret is Mark’s warm counselor’s heart in a book. A heart filled with compassion for hurting Christians who are unable to make the Christian life work. A heart that longs to share God’s best-kept secret with struggling believers who are in the ideal position to give up their self-efforts and to begin resting in and living from the luxuriant life of Christ within.

And now, without further ado, here is Mark’s guest post, “You’re Already a Godly Person.” I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Understanding and embracing your identity in Christ, can transform your life. A pastor friend of mine tells his congregation often, “Do you want to know how I grow spiritually? I spend a lot of time thinking about who I am in Christ.” That is my secret to spiritual growth.

For many years, because I had a skewed understanding of who God really is and who I am in Christ, I strove very hard to become a godly man. My erroneous belief was that if I could get better and better at the spiritual disciplines, make more and more wise decisions, and live a holy life, I would one day become that godly man. That was one of the reasons I felt so stressed out and anxious about the Christian life. It was a lot of hard work and even after years of hard work on it, I still felt like a failure.

After God began to show me the truth about him and me, I experienced more and more peace in my life, especially from letting my behavior define my identity. But there was still this nagging voice which whispered to me occasionally that I needed to become a godly man. It was like a mosquito that just will not leave you alone.

One day I was alone in my car headed to work and I was thinking again about becoming a godly man, as I had for many years. It was in that moment that God whispered to me a wonderful truth that set me free from this bondage. “Mark, you’re already a godly man.” When he said that, it was as if the car suddenly got brighter because I saw immediately what Jesus was saying to me. He wanted me to know that I had been a godly man since the day I was saved at age 9. I could stop trying to be a godly man because in my identity in Christ I already was one. To be quite honest, it was a great relief. I felt like I could relax before God. The striving was over.

In my counseling and teaching through the years, I’ve discovered that is where many Christians are. They don’t know they are already godly, holy, righteous, loving, patient and so much more in Christ. So they strive to become that person when they already are that person. That’s clear evidence of living with a false identity.

Are you ready to let go of your false identity based on your behavior, feelings, and the opinions of others and embrace your true identity in Christ? Why don’t you start right now? Here is a suggested prayer.

Father, I have spent all of my life searching for my stolen identity. As a result, I have developed a false identity which has controlled my life. I now give up my false identity and choose today to embrace my true identity in Christ by faith. Please make this more and more real in my life as I agree more and more with your opinion of me. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

 

Are you discouraged by feeling distant from God no matter how much you try to grow closer to him? Reclaim the life God intended for you with God’s Best-Kept Secret! Learn more + get freebies and a sample chapter: godsbestkeptsecret.com

 

 

 

Mark Maulding is founder of Grace Life International, one of the largest Christian counseling and teaching ministries in America. A speaker, counselor, and leadership coach, Maulding is a regular blogger who is passionate about sharing the transforming message of God’s grace with a world in desperate need of it. He and his wife, Ellen, have four adult children, including a daughter with Down syndrome who, along with her three brothers, recently finished college. They live near Charlotte, North Carolina. You can connect with Mark on Facebook or his blog.

This Ghost Is Way Friendlier Than Casper!

2017 MercyMe Summer Song Series

Do you remember when there were only three TV networks (ABC, NBC, and CBS) and Saturday mornings were reserved for watching cartoons while eating a bowl of your favorite breakfast cereal?

One of my favorite shows was ABC’s Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Casper wasn’t like the other members of his family and his friends. He didn’t like scaring people at all.

In fact, his favorite book was Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. (Smile.)

Today’s post is about a ghost. A ghost who is way friendlier than Casper.

And this Ghost, also known as the Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of Christ, lives perpetually inside every believer in Christ.

In today’s post, I will be bringing this MercyMe Summer Song Series on their newest album, Lifer, to a close by sharing the message in its last track—“Ghost.”

Let’s begin by listening to Bart Millard, the band’s lead singer and songwriter, share the backstory behind this calming and comforting song:

I really like what Bart said:

A lot of people are wrapped up in being Spirit-filled and getting Spirit-filled.

My take is that if you’re a believer, you are filled with the Holy Ghost the day you call His name and there is no separation.

It’s more about being Spirit-led.

When you think about it, we (Christians) have a Ghost inside of us. If you’re not a believer, that’s a creepy thing to say.

The weird irony is that the only thing that keeps me from being afraid—the only thing that calms my fears—is the Ghost that lives inside of me.

The anthem for the album—the way to end the album—is “Holy Ghost, lead me through everything. Whatever You do, just lead me.”

I might step on some toes here, but I completely agree with Bart: If you are a believer, you are filled with the Holy Ghost the day you call His name and there is no separation.

I remember a season in my walk with the Lord where it was all about me trying to get more of Jesus, getting filled (and re-filled) with the Spirit, and constant introspection (Am I sinning? Am I not sinning?).

Frankly, I’m getting worn out just remembering it.

Thank God I don’t live there anymore!

If that’s where you’re living and you are completely exhausted and overwhelmed, then keep scrolling.

If you are a believer in Christ, then all of you (you are a spirit) is already united with all of the Spirit of Christ (the Ghost)! That just might be the best news you’ll ever hear as a burned-out Christian!

If you don’t believe me, let Scripture prove it to you:

“The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17).

The believer in Christ is eternally fused together with Christ’s Spirit, never again to be separated from Him (John 10:28; 2 Tim. 2:13; Heb. 13:5).

“His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Pet. 1:3).

Believers in Christ have already been given everything they need because of their eternal spiritual union with Him.

“You are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30).

In means “in”! It doesn’t mean a part of us is in Christ. Our entire spirit (who we are) is completely immersed into His Spirit. No separation. Ever.

Now, let’s listen the entire song:

Christian, the Ghost that lives inside of us 24/7/365 is our comforting Counselor, our forever Friend, our sustaining Strength, our relaxing Rest, our heavenly Hope, and our perfect Peace (John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:7). He is everything we need, our All-Sufficiency.

What I love most about “Ghost” and every other song on Lifer is that they all accentuate the truth of our eternal spiritual union with the Spirit of Christ. And it all started the moment we called on the Name of Jesus, believing into Eternal Life Himself.

In honor of this God-glorifying, grace-saturated, new covenant-focused album, I would like to close with this little saying that I put together that includes the name of every song on the album:

If you are one of many redeemed saints who can thankfully and enthusiastically shout to Jesus, “You Found Me!” then “Grace Got You,” and you are now a “Lifer” in Him. And it all started when you first heard and responded to the “Best News Ever”—the gospel of grace in Christ Jesus. That’s when you waved goodbye to your old life and shouted, “Hello Beautiful!” to your new life in Him. “Even If” you go through hard times on this earth, you can still do the “Happy Dance” because “Heaven’s (already) Here.” Yes, that’s right. The Holy “Ghost” lives inside you 24/7/365 and there ain’t no storm that can change how this ends: “We Win!”

If you click on the the link in each name, it will take you to the post on that particular song.

Dear reader, if you’re like me, you may already be looking forward to see what new covenant, grace-saturated songs MercyMe will write and produce next.

I thank God for MercyMe and their commitment to sharing the liberating truths of the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ!

I’m wondering, now that this series has come to an end, which song from Lifer do you like the best and why? 

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: One or more of the links in post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

P.S.  If you enjoyed this post and want to know more about me and the types of content I will be posting, please visit my About Page.

MY CONTACT INFORMATION:

Kim K. Francis
P.O. Box 357
Perryton, TX 79070

EMAIL
MY BLOG: KimKFrancis.com
TWITTER: @KimKFrancis 64
FACEBOOK: Kim K Francis

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Christian, Heaven Is Here & Now!

2017 MercyMe Summer Song Series

Christian, what if I were to tell you that you are already in Heaven—that you don’t have to wait until you pass from this life to go there.

I understand if your brain is going tilt-tilt right now.

Mine did too when I first heard this sounds-too-good-to-be-true news.

But then again, the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ is hands down the best news any of us could ever hear, acknowledge, and say yes to.

Until the early 2000s, my beyond-this-life perspective was: Heaven is a place I go to when I pass from this life through physical death or when Jesus meets me in air at the rapture and takes me there.

What changed my mind?

God’s Word.

In his letter to the church (the saints) at Ephesus, the apostle Paul wrote:

It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live.

You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience.

We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us.

Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ.

He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. (Eph. 2:1-6 MSG)

When we believed in (into) Jesus, Father God took us (our spirit) out of the realm of darkness and placed us into the eternal life of His Son (John 3:16; Col. 1:13). And once we’re in Christ, we are in Him forever (John 10:28; 2 Tim. 2:13; Heb. 13:5).

Bart Millard, the lead singer of the contemporary Christian band MercyMe, has written a hope-exuding, celebratory song that speaks of the believer in Christ’s permanent change in spiritual location.

Let’s listen to him tell the story behind “Heaven’s Here,” the ninth track on MercyMe’s newest, grace-saturated album, Lifer:

I love Millard’s transparency and excitement about the gospel of grace!

The idea behind the song was, ‘If our promise of Heaven is no more separation from Christ, if Christ is in us, then, in a way, Heaven has already begun for us as believers … We don’t have to wait till this life is through … No separation, He has raised us up … We don’t have to wait, Heaven’s here with us … So, in some weird, stranger-things-kind-of-way, we’re already there, yet still on our way … Eternity’s begun for us … There’s no more separation in Christ.’

Now, let’s listen to “Heaven’s Here.”

I’ve said it before in this series and I’ll say it again. I don’t believe there is any other Christian band out there that is unashamedly declaring the truth about who we are in Christ and who He is in us like MercyMe! 

Let’s look at more Scriptures that amplify the truth that—in a way—Heaven’s already here for the believer in Christ:

  • “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Col. 3:1-4 NASB).
  • “Our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil. 3:20 NASB).
  • We are “aliens and strangers” in this world (1 Pet. 2:11 NASB).
  • “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21 NKJV).
  • “God has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of his Son, whom he loves” (Col. 1:13 GW).

If you love “Heaven’s Here” and want the truth of your forever fusion with Christ to go deeper, I would like to recommend a wonderful devotional, Heaven Is Now, written by Lubbock, Texas pastor and best-selling author Andrew Farley.

Millard and Farley connected through social media while Millard was reading Farley’s debut best-seller, The Naked Gospel: The Truth You May Never Hear in Church. (I wrote about their connection in the first post in this summer song series.)

The two ended up writing a grace-filled book together by the same name as the MercyMe album The Hurt and the Healer. (You can read the brief interview here to learn more about Millard’s grace-awakening.)

I will never forget the day I first heard about Farley and Millard’s connection. I had been reading Farley’s books and knew that he was passionate about sharing the Jesus-plus-nothing gospel. Just thinking about how their connection might impact Christendom made my heart leap for joy!

And now I’m looking forward to seeing more fruit from this divine connection in the future. (Smile.)

Next Wednesday, I will be closing out this summer song series by sharing the message in “Ghost,” the tenth track on MercyMe’s newest album, Lifer. It’s hard to believe this series and summer is quickly coming to an end.

I’m not sad about it, though. Fall is my favorite season of the year! For whatever reason, I get strangely giddy about its arrival. Maybe it’s the smell of pumpkin spice, the gorgeous foliage, and the refreshing, cooler temperatures.

And speaking of changing seasons, in my next post I will be sharing how the characteristics of the four different natural seasons—winter, spring, summer, and fall—correlate to the ever-changing spiritual seasons in the life of a believer in Christ.

Dear reader, if this summer song series has blessed you in any way, I would love to hear about it!

photo credit: Brad_McKay Cloud Art via photopin (license)

Disclosure of Material Connection: One or more of the links in post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

P.S.  If you enjoyed this post and want to know more about me and the types of content I will be posting, please visit my About Page.

MY CONTACT INFORMATION:

Kim K. Francis
P.O. Box 357
Perryton, TX 79070

EMAIL
MY BLOG: KimKFrancis.com
TWITTER: @KimKFrancis 64
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Why Every Christian Should Be Doing the Happy Dance

2017 MercyMe Summer Song Series

I double dog dare you to try to sit still while listening to “Happy Dance,” the most fun-loving (and silliest) song on MercyMe’s newest album, Lifer. If this ditty doesn’t get you dancing, you just might be wearing concrete shoes.

Let’s listen to the band’s lead singer, Bart Millard, share the cute story (involving his wife) behind the making of one of the most kid-requested tunes on the album:

Hey, why don’t you get up, put on your dancin’ shoes, raise your hands (if He done changed ya), and get down to this deliriously playful song?

Go ahead! Who cares if someone sees you!

And who knows? They just might join you and get happy, too!

I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing the messages in the songs on this feel-good-because-God-has-already-been-so-good-to-us compilation. Every one of Lifer’s songs exude the best news ever—the gospel of grace in Jesus Christ!

We don’t have to wait until our circumstances get better to celebrate Christ’s finished work on the cross. We can celebrate right this very minute because the best news ever is that the good Lord done saved us and changed us on the inside! We were made brand-spankin’-new when we believed into Jesus and were joined to His life forever (John 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:17).

And, right now, we have the fullness of His joy downloaded in our new hearts (because He lives there twenty-four/seven) just waiting to be uploaded through our believing lives on planet earth (John 15:11; 16:20; 17:13; Acts 2:28; 13:52; Rom. 5:11; 14:17; 15:13; Gal. 5:22; 1 Thess. 1:6; 1 Pet. 1:8-9).

So, what do you say? Are you really going to let your not-so-happy circumstances and the bad news in this world prevent Jesus from doing the Happy Dance in and through your life?

Or are you going to celebrate His finished work and act like He’s telling the truth about who you already are in Him? (Click here for a wonderful article by Bob George, “Christ’s Finished Work on the Cross.”)

Life’s way too short for us Christians to walk around looking like we just sucked all the juice out of a case full of lemons. It’s time we notify our faces of what is already true about our flawless fusion with Christ’s Spirit!

Don’t you think that if we actually believed what God said in His Word was already (there’s that wonderful word again!) true about us Christians, nonbelievers would be knocking down our doors to find out where they could get some of what we’ve got?

And isn’t that what witnessing is really all about?

The only better advertisement of the gospel than a satisfied Christian is a satisfied Christian doing the Happy Dance!

If you have enjoyed this 2017 MercyMe Summer Song Series, I would love to hear about it.

photo credit: Tom Simpson Here we go!! via photopin (license)

Disclosure of Material Connection: One or more of the links in post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

P.S.  If you enjoyed this post and want to know more about me and the types of content I will be posting, please visit my About Page.

MY CONTACT INFORMATION:

Kim K. Francis
P.O. Box 357
Perryton, TX 79070

EMAIL
MY BLOG: KimKFrancis.com
TWITTER: @KimKFrancis 64
FACEBOOK: Kim K Francis

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Don’t Throw in the Towel!

MercyMe 2017 Summer Song Series

Have you ever felt like a featherweight in this boxing match called life, being pounded by a daunting heavyweight opponent—also known as the pain and problems that come from living in this fallen world? If so, you don’t want to miss today’s post on the message in “We Win,” the seventh track on MercyMe’s newest album, Lifer

“We Win” is written to believers in Christ who feel like the circumstances of their lives have knocked them down one too many times and they aren’t quite sure if they will be able to get back up. It’s written to Christians who are ready to throw in the towel—to admit sure defeat—to give up on a dream, a relationship, or a tough situation they’ve been in for far too long.

Even if you can’t relate—if you feel like you are winning the round you’re currently in—this post is still for you. If you stay in this match called life long enough, you will likely get surprised by right hooks and left jabs that will cause you to lose your footing. Or worse, you may even get knocked out cold.

Let’s listen to the band’s lead vocalist, Bart Millard, tell the story behind “We Win” to encourage ourselves in the difficult round we may currently find ourselves in:

I think this song is a great encouragement and morale booster for the body of Christ. A lot of times, we go through things where we feel like we’ve hit rock bottom and feel like we’re getting knocked around and nothing goes the way we hoped it would go, Millard says.

But we just have to be reminded that we’ve been given this amazing opportunity to live like we’ve read the last page of the Book and know exactly how this turns out. Because in the end, regardless of how tough and difficult things get, if you know Christ, you can say, ‘We win!’

Wow! That’s good stuff!

Believers in Christ have been given an amazing opportunity to live like who God’s Word says we already are—winners!

Now, let’s listen to the full track:

Both the song (and the Book) says that those of us who are in Christ are more than conquerors (one translation says we are super conquerors) :

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Rom. 8:35–37 NKJV)

Dear reader, if you are ready to throw in the towel—to give up—in the midst of the circumstances you are currently facing, I want to encourage you to listen to and sing this song out loud over and over until you believe the lyrics.

The One who lives inside you for all eternity has already won this match called life for you!

If you have been encouraged through this 2017 MercyMe Summer Song Series, I would love to hear your story!

  1. “Why I Think MercyMe’s Newest Album, Lifer, Is Their Best Ever”
  2. “Are You a Lifer in Christ?” – a review of track 1, “Lifer”
  3. “Come out, Come out, Wherever You Are!” – a review of track 2, “You Found Me”
  4. “Has Grace Got You?” – a review of track 3, “Grace Got You”
  5. “Have You Heard the Best News Ever?” – a review of track 4, “Best News Ever”
  6. “Because Life Ain’t Always Pretty” – a review of track 5, “Even If”
  7. “Bye-Bye Lies!” – a review of track 6, “Hello Beautiful”
Disclosure of Material Connection: One or more of the links in post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
 Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

P.S.  If you enjoyed this post and want to know more about me and the types of content I will be posting, please visit my About Page.

MY CONTACT INFORMATION:

Kim K. Francis
P.O. Box 357
Perryton, TX 79070

EMAIL
MY BLOG: KimKFrancis.com
TWITTER: @KimKFrancis 64
FACEBOOK: Kim K Francis

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Bye-Bye Lies!

MercyMe 2017 Summer Song Series

The first time I heard “Hello Beautiful,” the sixth track on MercyMe’s newest album, Lifer, was this past spring. I had my earbuds in, walking around my neighborhood and savoring the emergence of new life in its vibrant shades of green.

The familiar song just before it was “Even If,” the group’s debut hit single from the compilation. I wrote about the message in this it-is-well-with-my-soul-regardless-of-my-circumstances ballad in last week’s post.

I couldn’t help but speed up my pace as the intro started on “Hello Beautiful.” Its unique finger-snappin,’ folksy tune inspired me to race-walk. (I wanted to run, but was sure my almost-fifty-three-year-old knees wouldn’t comply.)

Let’s find out why this song is Bart Millard’s absolute favorite song on the album by watching the two-minute story behind the song:

Now, let’s enjoy the full track:

The song’s message: before we can say hello to the beautiful truths concerning our new lives in Christ, we are going to have to say bye-bye to the downright ugly lies that keep us from enjoying the freedom He died to give us.

Debilitating lies like:

  • No one will ever really love me for me.
  • My past is unforgivable.
  • I am alone.
  • I will never be good enough.
  • I am no different than I was before I accepted Christ.
  • Because of what they did to me, my life is forever ruined—with no hope for change.

I love the prison cell imagery in this song. It depicts a Christian who has fallen prey to all of the above life-draining lies carved into the walls of his or her unrenewed mind (Rom. 12:1-2).

But God.

God begins to call us out of that prison cell with absolute truth.

He says,

  • “I’ve never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!” (Jer. 31:3 MSG).
  • “I made you alive with Christ, and I forgave all your sins” (Col. 2:13).
  • “I will never leave you; I will never abandon you” ( Heb. 13:5).
  • “I have made you complete in Christ” ( Col. 2:10).
  • “You are a brand-new creation because you are in My Son; the old you is gone forever!” (2 Cor. 5:17).
  • “I have blessed you with every spiritual blessing that Heaven has to offer” (Eph. 1:3).

Knowing the truth about who God is and who we are in His Son will cause us to walk through the already-been-ripped-off-its-hinges prison cell door of our minds! (John 8:32).

Why don’t you join me today in saying, “Bye-bye lies! Hello beautiful!”

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m going to take next week off from blogging to celebrate God’s miraculous match-making abilities with my man.

If you haven’t read all of my posts since launching on March 1, there are over forty in the archives. Next week would be an opportune time to catch up!

Also, if you would like my posts delivered every Wednesday and Friday at noon to your e-mail inbox, please subscribe in the upper right-hand corner (or bottom left) of my blog.

When you sign up, I will send you a free PDF of “Who I Am In Christ IS Who I Am!” It contains over two hundred illuminating passages on the believer’s identity in Christ.

photo credit: Aproximando Ciência e Pessoas Plant in dried cracked mud via photopin (license)

Disclosure of Material Connection: One or more of the links in post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Until next month!

 

 

 

 

 

 

P.S.  If you enjoyed this post and want to know more about me and the types of content I will be posting, please visit my About Page.

 

MY CONTACT INFORMATION:

Kim K. Francis
P.O. Box 357
Perryton, TX 79070

EMAIL
MY BLOG: KimKFrancis.com
TWITTER: @KimKFrancis 64
FACEBOOK: Kim K Francis

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Have You Ever Been Kissed Awake?

Have you ever been kissed awake? This question might remind you of the sweet, memorable line by little Pattie-Cake Spencer in the 1963 film, Spencer’s Mountain (The Waltons was a spin-off from this movie). Her oldest brother, Clayboy, has come upstairs to wake her up, but she doesn’t want to get out of bed yet. So she says, “Kiss me awake, Clayboy!”

While I watched this endearing scene, I immediately thought about all the times I had been kissed awake. And I’m not talking about being kissed awake by an affectionate human being or pet.

I’m talking about being kissed awake by God.

It happened again just this morning. Right as I was waking up, the song that was playing in my head was “Silly Love Songs”—one of my favorites from the 70s by Paul McCartney & Wings.

The chorus, I…love…you…was playing over and over in my mind. Can you hear it?

I could’ve thought, Hmm, I wonder why that song is playing in my head. But I didn’t. I knew exactly where it was coming from.

It was Jesus wooing me—first thing in the morning. He was reminding me that I am the object of His supreme affection and that I am always on His heart and mind. Even while I’m sleeping.

Christian, do you realize that Jesus never dozes off and continually sings over you while you are sleeping?

If you need His Word and His Spirit to convince you, here’s the proof:

Isn’t it a wonderful thing to know that even when we are asleep, our Spiritual Bridegroom never sleeps and is continually serenading us?

I am so thankful that He lives in me twenty-four/seven and continually reminds that I am His and He is mine (Song of Songs 6:3).

I’m wondering, have you ever been kissed awake by God?

I would love to hear your story.

Disclosure of Material Connection: One or more of the links in post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Until next time,

 

 

 

P.S.  If you enjoyed this post and want to know more about me and the types of content I will be posting, please visit my About Page.

MY CONTACT INFORMATION:

Kim K. Francis
P.O. Box 357
Perryton, TX 79070

EMAIL
MY BLOG: KimKFrancis.com
TWITTER: @KimKFrancis 64
FACEBOOK: Kim K Francis

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Have You Heard the Best News Ever?

2017 MercyMe Summer Song Series

The title of today’s post is a double entendre—a statement that has a double meaning. If you are one of many redeemed saints who can thankfully and enthusiastically shout to Jesus, “You Found Me!” then “Grace Got You,” and you are now a “Lifer” in Him. And if that’s the case, it all started when you heard and responded to the “Best News Ever”—the gospel of grace in Christ Jesus. Hallelujah!

Now, for the second meaning of the title. Have you heard the MercyMe song, “Best News Ever,” from their newest album, Lifer? If you haven’t, you’re missing out. I began this 2017 MercyMe Summer Song Series five weeks ago by sharing the album’s backstory in “Why I Think MercyMe’s Newest Album, Lifer, Is Their Best Ever.” And so far, I’ve shared the message in its first three tracks:

  1. “Lifer” — in my post, “Are You a Lifer in Christ?”
  2. “You Found Me” — in my post, “Come out, Come out, Wherever You Are!”
  3. “Grace Got You” — in my post, “Has Grace Got You?”

Now, let’s watch Bart Millard, the band’s lead singer, tell the story behind the song, “Best News Ever“:

Millard believes this song—message wise—is the flagship (the most important) on the record:

I will honestly say it’s one of my favorite messages on the record, because it’s the way I grew up. It was, ‘Be all you can be and, you know, you get what you deserve. And work harder and try harder.’ And it’s like, well wait a minute, what if somebody (which somebody did), what if they came and told me, ‘Hey, the work’s already been done; the fight’s already been won. You don’t have to try so hard.’ That’s what makes the gospel not just the good news, but the best news ever.”

The work’s already been done; the fight’s already been won … That’s what makes the gospel not just the good news, but the best news ever. I wholeheartedly agree!

Listening to the story behind the song reminds me of a sad conversation I had with a lady at least thirty years my senior at the grocery store several years ago. She was one of the first people to invite me and Steven to the church we have attended since we moved to Perryton nineteen years ago. We always ended up talking about the Lord every time we saw each other. But I was completely unprepared for what she was going to say to me that day in the pasta aisle.

I said something about looking forward to spending an eternity in Heaven with Jesus, and she looked at me and said worriedly, “I sure hope I make it.”

I couldn’t believe my ears! She loved Jesus with all her heart, yet she did not have assurance that she would spend forever with Him when she passed from this time realm into eternity. How sad that she had spent her entire Christian life not clearly understanding the gospel of grace in Christ Jesus—the best news ever!

I think I said something like, “Sure you’re gonna make it! You’re one of the most Jesus-loving women I know.” She smiled when I said that, but I knew she still wasn’t convinced that her final destination included Jesus. And then we went in opposite directions to finish our grocery shopping.

I wish I would’ve said then what I so clearly understand now:

Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. (Eph. 2:8-9 MSG).

And now I’m wondering if she’s still wondering …

The apostle John tells us in his first epistle that we can know for sure that we have eternal life:

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).”

What things did he write prior to this verse so that those of us who believe in the name of the Son of God can know we will spend forever with Jesus? Let’s look at First John 5:10-12 to find the answer:

10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.

11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

He who has the Son has the life (because Jesus is eternal life); he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life (because Jesus is eternal life). It really is that simple!

me + Jesus =  eternal spiritual life

me – Jesus = eternal spiritual death

And let’s not forget that John 3:16—the most famous verse in the Bible—also came from the inspired pen of the apostle John:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

Earlier this year I wrote an entire post on John 3:16 titled “The Most Important Verse in the Bible.” In it, I shared how the word in actually means “into.” So, when we believe in the name of the Son of God, we believe ourselves right into His Spirit. Our new spirit is immersed into His eternal Spirit. Forever. Never again to be separated. And there is nothing we can do (or not do) to mess this up. The gospel of grace in Christ Jesus really is the best news ever!

Now, won’t you join me in celebrating the best news ever by listening to MercyMe’s song “Best News Ever”?

Dear reader, I hope you are enjoying this summer song series on MercyMe’s Lifer album.

I’m wondering, which song do you like best so far and why?

I’m looking forward to your response!

Disclosure of Material Connection: One or more of the links in post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Until next time,

 

 

 

P.S.  If you enjoyed this post and want to know more about me and the types of content I will be posting, please visit my About Page.

MY CONTACT INFORMATION:

Kim K. Francis
P.O. Box 357
Perryton, TX 79070

EMAIL
MY BLOG: KimKFrancis.com
TWITTER: @KimKFrancis 64
FACEBOOK: Kim K Francis

Home     My Core Beliefs     About     Resources     Speaking     Contact