Why Many Christians Aren’t Enjoying Intimacy with Christ

Over the last fifteen years, I’ve enjoyed leading several Bible studies focused on how to enjoy greater intimacy with Christ. At the beginning of the opening session, I ask the participants complete a questionnaire so that I can find out what they hope to gain from the study.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The last question is: “In your life, what do you believe is the greatest obstacle to enjoying intimacy with Christ?”

While most of their answers have to do with busyness, tiredness, and just not taking the time, every once in a while someone will answer that they are the greatest obstacle to enjoying intimacy with Christ.

Sadly, they see themselves as the major hindrance.

I remember when a wrong view of myself kept me from enjoying intimacy with Christ.

Oh, I spent focused time with Him, reading His Word, journaling, and talking to Him.

But almost always, my conversations with Jesus revolved around my shortcomings—my sins, failures, and mistakes—and asking Him to forgive me and help me do better in my walk with Him.

There was no fixing my eyes on Jesus, setting my mind on things above, or dwelling on eternal spiritual truth (Heb. 12:2, Col. 3:2, Phil. 4:8).

Until one day.

That incredible, liberating, marvelous day when I finally realized that His finished work on the cross had already wiped out my sin debt in full and made me a brand new person altogether!

In many of my posts, I share about the believer’s identity in Christ and our new life in Him.

But I don’t believe I have fully expressed what it means that Christians are already completely forgiven—forever.

Oh, how I pray that God will give you eyes to see that the sins of your lifetime are gone and you no longer have to fixate on them!

Instead, you can focus on the Wonderful Christ and His finished work on your behalf.

This way, you won’t waste one more minute missing out on the wondrous delight He longs for you to experience in intimacy with Him!

Right here. Right now.

Beloved, I don’t expect you to take my word for it when I tell you that you are already completely forgiven for the sins of your lifetime.

The following list of Scriptures provides more than enough evidence:

If you are thinking, This sounds too good to be true, I encourage you to look up and write out the above Scriptures for yourself, meditate on them, and trust Christ’s indwelling Spirit to confirm the truth of your complete forgiveness in Him.

My favorite passage concerning our complete forgiveness is Colossians 2:13–14:

When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.

Some interpret this passage as “He forgave all of my sins up until the moment I got saved, but then after that, I have to make sure I ask forgiveness for every sin I commit.”

If that is true, then let me ask you an important question: What happens if you forget one?

Imagine that my wealthy earthly husband never wants me to do without anything I need or want, so he deposits a massive sum of money into a savings account to cover every debt I will incur throughout my lifetime.

But there’s a catch. My checking account has a zero balance.

Every time I write a check, I have to tell him what I bought and how much it cost. Then I have to ask him to transfer the exact amount from the savings account to cover my transaction so that I won’t overdraw my checking account.

While I am extremely thankful my generous husband will always agree to pay each debt, the consequences (overdraft fees, embarrassment) will be costly if I forget even one.

This may sound like a silly example to you, but I lived in fear for years over the possibility that some of my sins would go unforgiven because I couldn’t remember them all.

You can imagine how thankful I was when I found out my heavenly Husband deposited His unlimited riches into my checking account instead!

Now I never have to worry about incurring hefty insufficient funds fees for unconfessed debts.

Does this make me any less appreciative for His overwhelming generosity? Of course not!

It makes me even more thankful that I can lay my head on my pillow every night and sleep in sweet peace, knowing that I will never have to work to pay off my own sin debt.

My heavenly Husband paid it all with the first and only forgiveness deposit the very moment we were joined in sacred union.

To make my ongoing forgiveness contingent on my memory and my asking for it shifts my focus away from what Jesus has already accomplished on to what I must do to remain in “good standing” with Him.

His shed blood and my belief in Him were all that was necessary for me to enjoy my complete once-for-all forgiveness (Heb. 9:22).

Beloved, if you believe that all of your sins—up until the moment you receive salvation—are forgiven, but the ones you have committed since then aren’t forgiven until you confess them, you will not be able to enjoy the assurance and peace Christ died to give to you (Rom. 5:1; 1 John 5:13).

This is hardly the kind of life the royal bride of Christ should be living!

It may help you to understand your complete forgiveness by considering the answer to the following questions:

  1. How many of your sins did Jesus shed His blood for?
  2. How many of them were in the future when He died for them?

All of them!

We appropriated His complete forgiveness for the sins of our lifetime—past, present, and future—the very yoctosecond (smaller than a nanosecond) we believed in Him.

Opponents of the complete forgiveness doctrine often cite 1 John 1:9 as evidence that we have to keep asking God to forgive our sins to remain cleansed: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

This verse has been referred to as the Christians’ “bar of soap.” Thirteen verses later, however, the apostle John writes, “I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake” (1 John 2:12 NASB).

At first glance, this appears to present a conundrum. The two verses cannot both be true at the same time—unless they are addressed to two different audiences.

In the first chapter, John was appealing to the Gnostics (those who had infiltrated the early church and believed that they had no sin) to be saved.

In contrast, 2:12 is unmistakably addressing believers—little children whose sins have been forgiven them.

People who teach that believers have been forgiven for the sins of their lifetime often get accused of giving people a green light to sin. I don’t know about you, but I don’t recall ever needing anyone to give me a green light!

I did a pretty good job of sinning without one. But now that I understand what I’ve been given through Christ’s finished work on the cross, I realize that I really don’t want to sin.

My heart’s desire is to express the cherishing love and exuberant life of Christ (Heb. 10:16).

Before I conclude this post on our once-for-all forgiveness, I would like to clarify a couple of things.

First of all, I believe that confession (agreeing with God that we are sinning) and repentance (changing our minds and turning from sin) are healthy and beneficial habits in the life of every believer.

When we realize we are sinning, it is important to tell our Beloved we are sorry for not living in complete dependence on Him and to thank Him for the forgiveness that is already ours in Him.

Nevertheless, our confession and repentance are not a means of obtaining more forgiveness.

Our initial acceptance of His forgiveness through His shed blood at salvation secured a clean slate for us forever.

Christ wants us to believe it and live like we believe it!

Second, our complete forgiveness before God does not shield us from the earthly consequences of our sin and doesn’t mean that we don’t need to ask for forgiveness from other people when we sin against them.

In order to maintain healthy relationships, we must be willing to admit our wrongdoing and seek forgiveness from the person we have injured.

We also need to be quick to forgive others when they sin against us. (That’s a topic for another post … or book … or series.)

Jesus wants us to wake up every morning, believing that we stand completely forgiven in Him.

This may not be something we fully understand with our minds or feel with our emotions, but we can choose with to believe it, regardless of opposing thoughts or feelings.

It is much easier to believe our way into a new way of feeling than to try to feel our way into a new way of believing.

After all, don’t we possess the very faith of Christ (Gal. 2:20)?

Believing that we are completely forgiven for the sins of our lifetime will enable us to receive and enjoy His lavishing affection.

That’s where the cycle of authentic love in our life begins—by letting Him love us unconditionally.

Dearly Beloved, do you believe that the sins of your entire lifetime—past, present, and future—were forgiven through Jesus’ shed blood the moment you believed in Him?

If your answer is yes, what difference has it made (or will it make) in your life?

If your answer is no or not sure, what is hindering you from believing it?

If you have trouble allowing yourself to enjoy His unconditional love without thinking you’ve earned it, ask Him to give you revelation about your total forgiveness.

Remember, just because you might have heard (and believed) throughout your life that you have to continually ask God to forgive each and every sin, it doesn’t mean it’s true.

Simply put, repetitive exposure to a false concept does not make it any truer.

Instead, why don’t you see what happens when you begin to thank Him for what you already have and see yourself as a completely forgiven, brand-new person altogether!

What you focus on will be expressed through your life.

If you enjoyed this post, then I believe you will savor my debut Bible study, His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love.

This is an intimate, interactive study on the first two chapters of the Song of Songs, dynamically designed to help believers in Christ, both men and women, enjoy wondrous delight in intimacy with Him.

If you want to learn more, check out my book page.

Until next time,
Live Christ—Live Happy!

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

Subscribe to my blog and receive a FREE PDF Download of “Who I Am in Christ IS Who I Am!”

CONTACT INFORMATION:

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

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

Groundhog Day & Grace

Happy Groundhog Day! I’m not sure which will be more on the minds of most Americans today: the hilarious 1993 movie starring Bill Murray or whether or not Punxsutawney Phil, that famous 132-year-old furry forecaster, saw his shadow this morning.

Just in case you don’t know, Groundhog Day is not a national holiday. It became an official observance in 1887 at Gobbler’s Knob near Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

According to tradition, if Phil sees his shadow after he emerges from his underground home, it will scare him and he will retreat back into his burrow to hibernate through six more weeks of winter.

But if he doesn’t see his shadow, then we can expect an early spring.

Frankly, this has never made sense to me. If February 2 is a sunshiny day in Gobbler’s Knob, then it is bad news for people who don’t like wintry weather.

And if it is a cloudy day, then it’s good news. Weird.

You might be surprised to learn (as I was) about the origins of Groundhog Day:

Groundhog Day can be traced to early Christians in Europe and the custom of Candlemas Day, which marked the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

On Candlemas Day, the belief was that clear and sunny conditions signified a long, harsh winter and that cloudy conditions indicated that warm weather was approaching.

The Germans eventually adopted this custom, incorporating a hedgehog and the belief that if the animal cast a shadow during sunny skies on Candlemas Day, it indicated six more weeks of bitter cold.

When German settlers arrived in Pennsylvania in the 1700s, they brought the tradition with them. However, because hedgehogs were scarce in the region, they were replaced with the more abundant groundhog, which was also considered sacred among the local Native Americans.*

Now, for those of you who have not yet heard the news today (February 2, 2018) and would like to rely on this renowned rodent’s revelation, then … drumroll please … Brace yourself for six more weeks of winter!

This, of course, means that Phil saw his shadow this morning at Gobbler’s Knob.

So, how much stock should we actually put into Phil’s weather-forecasting prowess?

To date, Phil has made 132 predictions—a long winter 104 times and an early spring 18 times. There is nothing recorded on 10 occasions.

And guess what? He’s only been right about 40 percent of the time.

There seems to be an awful lot of hoopla surrounding this tradition that doesn’t have that great of a track record.

That’s my opinion. For what it’s worth.

All this talk about predicting the weather reminds me of something incredible that Christ speaks to His bride, the church (those who have believed into Him), in the Song of Songs:

“For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone” (2:11).

This verse has nothing to do with natural seasons and everything to do with the eternal spiritual realm believers in Christ now live in under the new covenant of grace.

I wrote about it in my recently published debut book, His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love:

In Song 2:8, the maiden’s Beloved revealed Himself to her in a new light—as a resurrected, conquering King in all His glory. Then she exclaims:

“Listen! My Beloved! Behold, He is coming, climbing on the mountains, leaping on the hills.”

Immediately after that, He invited her to join Him in expressing His love and life to the world, saying,

“Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along” (Song 2:10).

Then He gave her the reason that the time was now to join Him:

“For behold, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone” (2:11).

The Beloved Shepherd is stating the reason that it is now time for the maiden to join Him—the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. He is saying that the winter rains of the law—the system of works-based righteousness—is over.

Now that the maiden has begun to experience the glorious freedom of the new covenant of grace, He wants her to join Him in sharing with others how they can experience the same freedom.

The good news of the gospel of grace is that no one has to earn the righteousness that God freely gives. Jesus paid it all. All they have to do is believe into Him (John 3:16; 19:30; 1 Cor. 6:17; 2 Cor. 5:21).

You may be wondering if I’m suggesting here that everyone go door to door with evangelistic tracts.

No. But I’m not discouraging it either. Those who have the gift of evangelism may do this and do this well (Eph. 4:11).

What I am suggesting is that every Christian’s life can be a witness of the new covenant of grace to others.

When our lives are an expression of our Beloved’s cherishing love and exuberant life, people will be knocking on our doors, asking where they can get some of what we’ve got.

And we will be able to tell them that what we’ve got is the resurrection life of Christ—also theirs for the receiving.

Dear reader, Jesus really did pay it all. All it costs us is our belief in and acceptance of His life as a free gift.

If you are a believer in Christ, then He has already made you the righteousness of God in His Son (2 Cor. 5:21).

Spiritually speaking, this means you are already living in the eternal spring season where new life abounds under the new covenant of grace!

Christian, if you are still living as if you are under the harsh winter rains of the law, then decide today that you are going to stop it!

Stop living as if Jesus’ work on the cross was unfinished (John 19:30).

And start living in the righteousness, peace, and joy He died to give you (Rom. 14:17).

Hey, you might even want to take a Sharpie and write “GRACE DAY” underneath “GROUNDHOG DAY” on your calendar to commemorate this decision you’ve made to live in the perpetual spring of grace.

No more winters for you in Christ!

If you liked today’s post, I believe you might enjoy my debut devotional study (released September 2017), His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love.

I wrote this book to help Christians enjoy greater intimacy with Christ through understanding their flawless identity in Him revealed through the first two chapters of the Song of Songs.

I invite you to check out its reviews on Amazon and consider getting a copy for yourself.

If you would rather order one directly from me, please email me.

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.

*Spencer Kent, “Groundhog Day 2018: Will Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow? What does the result mean?”, last modified February 2, 2018, NJ.com, accessed February 2, 2018, http://bit.ly/2FBRaSs.

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.”
Subscribe to my blog and receive a FREE PDF Download of “Who I Am in Christ IS Who I Am!”

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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How to Master the Art of Enjoying Jesus

With head bowed and eyes closed, the prayer group member’s heart sank as they listened to their leader communicate the idea that “experiencing Jesus” and “enjoyment” are two mutually exclusive events.

They thought, Ugh! It’s prayers like these that take the wind out of the sails of believers who are passionate about their relationship with Christ.

Believers who just might find something more enjoyable to do on a Friday night. (Did someone say Netflix?)

Believers who might never experience a taste of the ultimate enjoyment that is already theirs for the receiving in Christ.

Even though the prayer group leader was sincere and well-meaning, it did not change the fact that they were sincerely wrong.

Sadly, their entire prayer reeked of legalism.

The epidemic of legalism among Christians has been spreading like wildfire throughout the ages.

Living in this world, it’s so easy to make our relationship with Christ about what we are doing for Him, rather than enjoying what He has already done for us and in us through the cross and resurrection.

I know. I was a card-carrying legalist for years.

Then I began to understand the incredible riches of His grace. The gift of His Holy Spirit eternally fused with my new spirit (Ezek. 36:26; 1 Cor. 3:17; 6:17).

The gift I’m sure I will continue to unwrap in awe and wonder until the moment I see Him face to face. (Tears.)

One of the reasons I wrote my debut devotional study, His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love, is to help combat the lie that if you become a Christian, it’s the end of all earthly pleasure as you know it.

In a sense, it’s true. Because there is nothing on earth that compares with the joy a believer in Christ can experience in Him: “The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17 NASB).

Joy is an automatic result for the Christian who realizes that—through faith in Christ alone—they are the righteousness of God in Him and have peace with Father God (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 5:1).

If a Christian understands that Christ already

  • wiped out their lifetime sin debt forever,
  • killed off their old, sin-filled self,
  • gave them a brand-spankin’-new, flawless identity in Him, and
  • joined His life with theirs,

then life on planet earth in union with His Spirit couldn’t be more enjoyable.

I wrote about mastering the art of enjoying Jesus in His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love:

Jesus wants us to enjoy life. His Word tells us that He “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17 NASB).

What’s more, He wants us to realize that He is our life and the source of our greatest enjoyment.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism states that man’s chief purpose in life is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”*

We enjoy and glorify our Beloved when we experience and express His cherishing love and exuberant life.

As the bride of Christ, we need to learn how to master the art of taking great delight in Him.

Just as Julia Child mastered the art of French cooking, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could master the art of enjoying Jesus?

I want to experience and enjoy Him as much as possible this side of eternity. I want joy to be the marrow that courses through my veins.

I want to come to the end of my life on this earth (if Jesus tarries) and be able to say that I truly lived—because I intimately knew life Himself.

I want my first gaze into my Beloved’s eyes to be familiar, not foreign.

In my attempt to communicate to the bride of Christ how knowing her identity will enable her to experience and express His cherishing love and exuberant life, I’m reminded of a quote by theologian Dr. Howard Hendricks: “A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pews.**

If we don’t understand and practice what we preach, how can we effectively teach others? No one wants to read a book on how to bake the perfect cherry pie unless we know the author makes delicious cherry pies!

Likewise, no one wants to read a book or listen to a message about how to enjoy Jesus unless the author or speaker consistently shows forth the fruit of delighting in Him.

For over ten years now, I have been on a journey of learning to rest in the shade of my Beloved’s grace and delighting in Him as I allow myself to experience His unconditional love.

While I cannot claim that I have mastered the art of enjoying Him, I will say that I am in hot pursuit.

The most important thing I’ve learned is something I’ve said before (in different ways) and will keep saying: the key to delighting in Jesus is to personally experience His delight in you.

He delights in and celebrates you at all times—simply because you are His.

Our Beloved is a Master at separating our who from our do. He is filled with compassion for us in our struggles. He’s not holding a hammer, ready to nail us if we don’t get our act together.

We can rest entirely in Him—in His love, power, goodness, and wisdom.

*“The Westminster Shorter Catechism,” The Westminster Presbyterian, accessed April 7, 2017, http://www.westminsterconfession.org/confessional-standards/the-westminster-shorter-catechism.php.

**Chris Adsit, “The Measure of a Ministry,” posted January 1, 2011, Discipleship Revolution, January–February 2011 issue, Mission Frontiers, accessed April 7, 2017, http://www.missionfrontiers.org/issue/article/the-measure-of-a-ministry.

I hope you enjoyed my excerpt. Even as I write this post, I sense Him reminding me once again that He adored me before I ever did one thing for Him and continually rejoices over me with singing, dancing, and shouts of joy (1 John 4:19; Zeph. 3:17).

And when I see (in my mind’s eye) Him doing this, I can’t help but enjoy Him!

Dear reader, do you believe that your Beloved wants you to enjoy your life in Him to the fullest? If you aren’t currently experiencing enjoyment in your relationship with Him, what do you think is hindering you?

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.

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.”

Subscribe to my blog and receive a FREE PDF Download of “Who I Am in Christ IS Who I Am!”

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, Which Spiritual Season Are You In?

His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love - Excerpt 17

I am so grateful to live in a part of the world that experiences the four distinct seasons of spring, summer, autumn, and winter.

Autumn is my favorite because of the cooler temperatures and the gorgeous foliage.

Just as we experience the changing natural seasons, we are also subject to changing experiential seasons in our life with Christ.

It makes perfect sense to talk about the different seasons in a believer’s life because, throughout Scripture, God’s people are metaphorically described as His garden (Song 4:12, 15, 16; 5:1; 6:2; Isa. 58:11; Jer. 31:12), vineyard (Song 1:6; 8:11–12; Isa. 5:1–10; Matt. 20:1–8; 21:28–41)), or field (1 Cor. 3:6–9).

We can find great encouragement in identifying which season we are currently experiencing. There is just something about knowing that we are not the only ones who are going (or have gone) through especially difficult times.

We also experience seasons of great joy and celebration. One thing we can know for sure—no matter which season we are in, it will change. Life is not static.

Whether we are struggling through a cold and lifeless winter season or a hot and hectic summer season, we can find great hope in knowing that a warm, flourishing spring or a cool, abundant autumn harvest is just around the corner.

The changing seasons of our lives are not haphazard but ordained by our Beloved to accomplish His purposes in our lives: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (Eccl. 3:10 NKJV).

Regardless of what season we are in, our Beloved wants us to embrace Him, trusting that He will manifest the greatest possible harvest of His fruit in our lives in His perfect timing.

Before we look at the identifying characteristics of each season, I believe it is important to clarify what I mean by “growth.” Growth is not a change in our spiritual state. Our new heart is our new spirit united with Christ’s Spirit and is complete and unchangeable (Col. 2:10).

True growth in believers is measured by the degree to which their minds are renewed with what is already true of their new hearts and then manifested through their outward lives (Rom. 12:2). The apostle Peter exhorts believers to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).

Knowing which season we are in will not only encourage us to persevere through the difficulties of winter and summer but will enable us to not take for granted the joys of spring and fall.

Although we generally prefer one season to another, there are pros and cons within each that bring a nice overall balance to our lives:

  • Winter: The winter season is cold, has fewer daylight hours, and is a time when many plants and trees are dormant. Although they may appear lifeless, their dormancy is actually a part of their growth cycle. On the downside, the experiential season of winter is characterized by very little sense of our Beloved’s love, presence, and activity in our lives (His left hand). Sometimes during this season, it seems as if He has taken a permanent vacation. The upside to this bleak and barren season is that it creates a hunger to experience our Beloved’s presence and will cause us to seek Him to meet our needs.

  • Spring: The spring season is warmer, has more daylight hours, and is the time for planting new seeds because the ground temperature gets warm enough for germination. Everywhere we turn, we see the emergence of new life in the blooming flowers and the different shades of green in the tree branches, growing grass, leaves, and bushes. The experiential season of spring is characterized by a greater sense of our Beloved’s activity in our lives (His right hand). New seeds of truth are planted in our minds and watered and cultivated through intimacy with Him. This season holds within it great hope—hope that the planted seeds will eventually manifest an abundant harvest.

  • Summer: The temperatures of summer can range from very warm to unbearably hot. Much attention is given to the growing plants through watering, pulling weeds, and keeping bugs and animals from destroying them. On the upside, the experiential season of summer symbolizes rapid growth, where we are so energized by what our Beloved has planted in our hearts and minds that we want to share it with everyone. On the downside, we can become overzealous and get too many irons in the fire. It is important to realize that just because we see a need, that doesn’t mean our Beloved is calling us to meet it. Awareness does not necessarily constitute action on our part. Take time to seek Him. He is an expert at weeding out unnecessary distractions that might keep us from expressing the fullness of His fruit in our lives.

  • Autumn: In the part of the world where I live, the cooler temperatures of autumn bring refreshing relief from the dog days of summer. Up until the sixteenth century, harvest was the term used to refer to this season. Now, it is commonly referred to as fall because of the falling leaves of the deciduous trees. (I find it fascinating that their gorgeous hues signify their maturity.) The experiential season of autumn represents the abundant manifestation of the fruit of our Beloved’s Spirit being expressed through our lives. This is a joyous season because this fruit is not the result of our works—our trying hard to be more loving, joyful, peaceful, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. It is the delectable, authentic fruit of shared intimacy with our Beloved.

I hope you enjoyed today’s excerpt from my soon-to-be-released debut book, His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love, about the four different spiritual seasons a believer in Christ will likely experience throughout his or her life.

Now, dear reader, I’m wondering,

Which experiential season are you in right now?
What do you believe your Beloved is doing in your life through this strategic season?

If you prefer to interact with me through email rather than commenting below, you can do so by clicking here.

 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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Way Better Than Botox!

His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love - Excerpt 16

In the Sunday morning service at our church, the lights are almost always dimmed during the prayer time. A young boy, three rows up and to the left of where I was sitting, recently caught my attention. He was looking down, and his face was glowing.

No, he wasn’t having a spiritual experience, if that’s what you were thinking. He was looking at his smartphone and was radiant. I was confident he was looking at Scripture, though—he was sitting right next to his mother!

When I saw him, I immediately thought of Psalm 34:5, which says, “They looked to Him and were radiant.” I couldn’t help but grin.

I love our Beloved’s sense of humor, don’t you?

As I approached the big five-oh, I could hardly believe it. It wasn’t that long ago when I thought someone in his or her fifties was ancient. With the exception of experiencing a few aches and pains every now and then, I didn’t feel anywhere near fifty. I said, “I didn’t feel anywhere near fifty.” I didn’t say I didn’t look it.

Just ask the sales lady at the counter of one of our local department stores. While I was doing some holiday shopping a few years ago, she asked me if I had the special discount card for people who were fifty and older. Having recently turned forty-eight, I smiled and politely responded, “I’m not fifty yet but getting close.”

No, I’m not holding a grudge. No, really. All kidding aside, with each passing year in my Beloved, life just keeps getting sweeter and sweeter.

The apostle Paul speaks of the believer’s internal fountain of youth in his second letter to the church at Corinth: “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16).

As evidenced by the store clerk’s assumption about my age, wrinkles have popped up all over my face (like uninvited guests) in the past few years. I am beginning to understand why all the fuss about creams, chemical peels, Botox, and plastic surgery, and asking my Beloved to cause me to age gracefully and gratefully.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could find a picture of how we wanted to look and just stare at it until we were magically transformed into that image? I’m dreaming again, I know, but do you realize that we have a promise greater than that of physical transformation? The only thing it costs us is our time and focus.

The Word of God tells us that as we gaze upon His glory, we are being transformed into His same image. This principle of being “transformed by beholding” comes from 2 Corinthians 3:18:

Now all of us, with our faces unveiled, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it. (VOICE)

Even though we cannot yet see our Beloved face to face, we can gaze on His glorious person by spending focused time with Him and meditating on what His Word says about who He is in us and who we are in Him. As we do this, our lives will become a radiant reflection of Him.

Physical beauty will continue to fade as we age and become more gravitationally challenged, but spiritual transformation lasts forever. Great hope and comfort can be found in knowing this.

Oh, and by the way, one day we will experience the complete package of our salvation when we get our glorified bodies—bodies saturated with divine, life-giving energy that will live forever in perfect union with Jesus (1 Cor. 15:51–57).

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? The older I get, the more I appreciate and look forward to the fulfillment of this incredible promise. This is way better than Botox!

Dear Christian, I’m wondering,

Are you as excited as I am about one day receiving a glorified body—fully infused with the immortal life of Christ?

photo credit: Japanexperterna.se Person looking at smartphone in the dark via photopin (license)

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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It’s Almost Time!

An Update on My Publishing Journey

Writing and publishing a book is a lot like having a baby.  Much preparation, anticipation, and jubilation (and some worry) fill each moment—from the positive pregnancy test—to our ever-expanding waistline—until our unseen miracle finally decides to come out of hiding.

I had an extremely easy pregnancy with my son. I wish I could say the same about the actual birthing process. My due date, December 6, 1984, came and went without so much as a cramp. Wesley just wasn’t ready to make his appearance, even though he was plenty big. (Well, his  five-foot, two-inch mother was anyway.)

My doctor was in Pampa, Texas, thirty-two miles from Mobeetie. So, there was a little bit of apprehension, given that I had never give birth before. My mom told me that she was in labor with my oldest brother, Mark, for more than twenty-four hours. I was sure hoping mine didn’t last that long. But then again, I didn’t have any idea what to expect.

There was another glitch. The Texas Panhandle was expecting a major ice storm, so my doctor decided to induce my labor the morning of December 10 (and he was leaving on a snow-skiing vacation that evening!). After twenty-six hours of labor, my doctor’s partner in practice broke my water, I went into hard labor, and the delivery room nurses began making bets about the sex of my baby (we didn’t have routine sonograms back then).

On December 11, at 4:30 in the afternoon, Wesley Ryan Hathaway, a bright-eyed and healthy eight-pound, five-ounce baby boy, entered this world. I was overjoyed and thankful that he was finally here! And today, I couldn’t be more proud of the Jesus-loving man he has become.

I didn’t know then that Wesley would be my only child. I had a hysterectomy when I was thirty years old, so when Steven and I got married in July 1997, we both knew that there wouldn’t be any children in our future—unless we adopted. We prayed about it, but never felt like that was something God wanted for us.

Now, after almost twenty years of marriage, we know that God had something entirely different in mind for us. And, in a sense, Steven and I are having a baby—my first book, His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love. While Steven didn’t cowrite this book with me, he has read and reread it at different stages, offering valuable insights.

Steven has believed in this God-given dream since the moment it was conceived in my heart and spoken out of my mouth. And he has done nothing but support and encourage me throughout this entire almost nine-year process. Steven believed in me even when I didn’t. Even when I thought I was going to have a miscarriage (at several different stages), he pushed and cheered me on. Nine years is a long time to see the birth—the realization—of a dream. But now, I’m so happy to say, “It’s almost time!

I have learned a lot (probably just as much about what not to do as to do) through this huge undertaking. In 2012, at the advice of a published author whom I respect, I purchased a publishing package through WestBow Press, the Christian self-publishing division of Thomas Nelson and Zondervan. That’s when the commitment became real. It wasn’t cheap.

And now, over five years later, the only part of the process that’s left is for me to do the final review of the proofs of the manuscript I submitted this past Monday. If everything goes according to plan, His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love should be in print by next month, July 2017—exactly nine years from when the dream of writing this book was first implanted in my heart and I began punching away at the keys on my laptop.

In 2003, I remember hearing a Bible teacher talk about coauthoring a book, saying, “We decided to write a book together … and ten years later, it’s finally in print.” I remember thinking, Why did it take so long? Now, I know how it’s possible. There are some things you just don’t understand, until you experience them.

Part of the process of publishing a book is asking people you know and respect to read your book and offer an endorsement for it—if they like it. So, I would like to close today’s post by sharing a couple of the endorsements I’ve received:

This book called me to deeper, more passionate love for our Bridegroom. With intensive research, thoughtful insights and personal experience, Kim Francis makes the Song of Songs come alive. Using contemporary examples ranging from ‘do not disturb’ signs and overdrawn checking accounts, she makes application to this timeless, and often overlooked, portion of Scripture. The book also provides diagrams, study questions, and book and song resources.”—Latayne C. Scott, award-winning author

A beautifully crafted, in-depth study of the Song of Solomon. A gifted mentor and writer, Kim Francis weaves relatable examples with biblical truths to bring deeper insights into this ultimate love story. I highly recommend this study for those who long for and are ready to seek deeper intimacy with Christ.”—Carla Stewart, award-winning author of Chasing Lilacs and Stardust


Dear reader, I hope you enjoyed today’s post. I’m wondering …

  1. Has God given you a dream?
  2. If yes, what is it and are you currently taking steps to see it come to pass?
  3. If no, ask Him if there is something that He would like to birth through the gift of your life on planet earth. 
 photo credit: rosenblume75 Babybauch 1 via photopin (license)

 

 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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Whose Path Are You Following?

His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love - Excerpt 15

Today’s excerpt from my soon-to-be-published book, His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love, is a discussion of the great Shepherd’s (Christ’s) response to the Shulammite maiden’s (His bride’s) request for direction in finding true nourishment and rest (see Song 1:7).

“If you yourself do not know,
Most beautiful among women,
Go forth on the trail of the flock
And pasture your young goats
By the tents of the shepherds.”
                                     —Song 1:8

Go forth on the trail of the flock
After reminding the maiden who she is (most beautiful among women), the great Shepherd is now giving her direction, telling her to go forth on the trail of the flock. He is basically telling her to follow the path trod by the faithful men and women of God who have gone before her. These are members of the Lord’s flock who consistently walked in truth and joy, following a path illuminated by His Word (Ps. 119:105). Notice that Solomon’s father, King David, described this path as the path of life in Psalm 16:11:

“You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”

In addition to King David—one who experienced great joy on the path of life that led him into the presence of the Lord—we can find many great men and women of the Bible who blazed a trail of faith for us.

The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is often referred to as the Faith Hall of Fame because it lists several Old Testament saints who had one thing in common—they trusted and believed God. We find the definition of faith in the opening verse of the chapter: “Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it” (Heb. 11:1 NCV).

Let’s zoom in on the last part of that definition—knowing that something is real even if we do not see it. Even though we have never laid eyes on the resurrected Jesus, we know that He is real, that His Spirit lives in us, and that He can be completely relied on. I love the definition for faith found in 2 Timothy 1:5 in the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition:

the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness.

By directing the maiden to go forth on the trail of the flock, the great Shepherd is saying, “Take the same path of faith as those who have gone before you. Lean entirely upon Me in absolute trust and confidence in My power, My wisdom, and My goodness.” What a great path to follow.

Joseph is one of my personal favorites of God’s flock from the Old Testament because he persevered under trial and had a forgiving heart. He was unjustly treated by his brothers, sold into Egyptian slavery, and imprisoned for thirteen years before Pharaoh made him second-in-command over all of Egypt (Genesis, chapters 37–50).

Joseph’s understanding of God’s sovereignty gave him peace in the midst of harsh circumstances. When famine drove his brothers to Egypt, uniting them once again, Joseph told them that God worked his imprisonment out for the good of many people (Gen. 50:20). Rather than nursing his wounds and becoming bitter, Joseph forgave his brothers and focused on the good that God brought out of his adversity. What a great path to follow.

My favorites of God’s flock from the New Testament are the apostles John and Paul. John knew in the core of his being that Jesus loved him. He even refers to himself four times in his gospel as the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20). He truly believed he was Jesus’ favorite disciple. Sound arrogant? I don’t think so. John experienced a deep sense of security in knowing how much he was loved by Jesus through his personal relationship with Him. What a great path to follow.

Because of the revelation given to the apostle Paul concerning our identity in Christ, I clearly see that I am not who I was when I was born into this world. I became a brand-new creation when I believed in (into) Jesus. Paul wasn’t taught by men; the resurrected Christ personally downloaded him with the precious truths concerning the believer’s identity (Gal. 1:11–12). In most of Paul’s letters to the churches, he begins by reminding them who they are in order to evoke positive behavioral changes. What a great path to follow.

There are many great men and women of faith (trailblazers) who are not mentioned in the Bible. I recently attended the funeral of a friend’s mother-in-law. Rather than giving a traditional message, the pastor spent the service reading tributes from several members of her family. In almost every one of the testimonials, the family members describe themselves as her favorite son, grandchild, daughter-in-law, and so on. This woman of faith left a wonderful legacy of making each one of her loved ones believe that he or she was her favorite. No, she wasn’t misleading them or pretending. When she spent one-on-one time with them, they each were her favorite. What a great path to follow.

At just the right time in my life, my home church hosted a Freedom in Christ conference where Jamie Lash, Bible teacher and director of student development at Dallas Baptist University, passionately and powerfully communicated the truths of the believer’s new identity in Christ. Through his message, titled “The New Creature,” I began to understand that, at salvation, Christ didn’t just come into my life, but He literally became my life.

I felt like Dorothy being swept away from the dull, black-and-white landscape of Kansas to the bright, panoramic spectrum of Oz. And I’m still in Oz over fifteen years later. Through Jamie’s faithfulness in blazing a trail to Perryton, Texas, my course of religious rule-keeping was changed forever, and I was set on a joy-filled, grace-illuminated path. What a great path to follow.

During his conference, Jamie shared quotes from trailblazers who had inspired him. Hungry for these truths to go deep, I began devouring every book I could find by these authors, which eventually led me to Bill and Anabel Gillham’s books. Bill and Anabel have left an incredible legacy of communicating the truths of our new life in Christ in simple and practical ways. Although both are now present with the Lord, the ministry they founded—Lifetime Ministries—continues to reach others with the liberating truths of our new life in Christ. What a great path to follow.

Finally, the most recent trailblazer who has impacted my life is best-selling author and west Texas pastor, Andrew Farley. His simple, straightforward teaching style is helping people better understand the grace of God and enjoy the freedom that Christ died to give them. Farley wears many other grace-directed hats—all of which point people to the simplicity of the gospel. What a great path to follow.

In today’s excerpt (there will only be a few more before my book comes out this summer), I share my personal journey of finding true rest and nourishment by following the path trod by faithful men and women of God who have gone before me.

Now, I’m wondering, dear reader,

Which Bible characters, pastors, teachers, authors, mentors, family members, and friends have blazed a trail of faith for you, influencing your life in positive ways?

If you prefer to interact with me through personal email rather than commenting below, you can do so by clicking here.

photo credit: gusdiaz If we were via photopin (license)

 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, Who Do You Think You Are?

His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love - Excerpt 14

Beloved bride of Christ, understanding your identity in Christ will help you experience the divine romance of His cherishing love for you. If you are having a difficult time believing you are Christ’s pure, holy, and righteous bride, take heart. After years of viewing yourself through a natural earthly perspective, seeing yourself through an eternal spiritual perspective takes time.

Your feelings and behavior will begin to line up with the truth of your new identity as you continually renew your mind. In the following verse of the Song of Solomon, it appears that the Shulammite maiden is also having a difficult time seeing the fullness of who she truly is.

I am black but lovely,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
Like the tents of Kedar,
Like the curtains of Solomon.
                                       —Song 1:5


I am black but lovely, O daughters of Jerusalem
An unknown amount of time has passed between the Shulammite and the other maidens’ rejoicing in and extolling the love of their King in verses 2–4 and this verse. In verse 5, her focus has turned onto herself, and she is now addressing a new group that has emerged onto the scene—the daughters of Jerusalem.

We want to be careful not to confuse this group of believers with the maidens—those who are faithfully pursuing their King in response to their longing for greater experiential intimacy with Him. Let’s revisit the character profile for the daughters of Jerusalem from the overview found at the beginning of this study to get better acquainted with them.

Daughters of Jerusalem represent the group of believers who are “infants in Christ who cannot digest the solid food of the Word of God” (1 Cor. 3:1–2; Heb. 5:12–13). Their perception is limited to understanding that their eternal destiny is in heaven with Jesus. They have little or no knowledge of the truths of their new identity in Christ. These believers’ lives bear little or no fruit because their minds have not been renewed (Rom. 12:1–2). These “baby” believers in Christ are often mistaken for unbelievers because their outward lives closely resemble theirs.

Paul addresses believers like these in his letter to the Corinthians:

I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. (1 Cor. 3:2–3)

The author of Hebrews also describes this type of believer:

For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. (Heb. 5:13)

Believers who are “unaccustomed to the word of righteousness” are ignorant (lacking knowledge) of their pure, holy, and righteous identity in Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). Although they have believed in (into) Jesus and understood that their eternal destination is heaven, the renewal of their minds concerning who they are either hit a stalemate or never really began, for whatever reason.

The maiden too was a daughter of Jerusalem when she first believed. But something happened within her that has not yet happened in them. That something was desire. A longing rose up within her to know Him more deeply. In her pursuit of greater intimacy with Him and knowledge of the truth, she has come to understand that His Spirit actually lives in her. She now has a “Christ-in-me” consciousness. Before going to the cross, Jesus promised His disciples that one day His Spirit would live in them:

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. (John 14:16–17)

Jesus wanted to assure His disciples that even though His physical presence would no longer abide (live) with them, His coming Spirit would forever indwell them. He promised them that they would not be unaware of this, but they would know He indwelt them. “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20). Did you notice in this verse that He also told them they would know that they were also in Him? Not just He in them but they in Him. You in Christ, and Christ in you.

We can infer from the maiden’s first statement in Song 1:5—I am black but lovely—that she has an imperfect understanding of who she is. She does not primarily see herself as a lovely spiritual being indwelling an imperfect physical body. Instead, she sees herself as a sinful (black) physical being who happens to have a lovely spirit (because Christ lives there). She does not understand that her new spiritual heart is who she is and that Christ’s Spirit has completely permeated her.

The Shulammite’s description of herself as “black but lovely” is the first statement of how she sees herself—her self-image. At this point in the Song, she has likely fallen into some type of habitual sin because of her primary focus on her blackness. Her feelings and behavior have taken center stage in her vision, rather than God’s truth. She has yet to realize that though her feelings can be great followers of realized truths, they are lousy leaders.

In general, believers will see themselves in one of three ways after salvation:

  •        Self-image 1: “I am a sinner saved by grace. I have been forgiven and am going to heaven when I die, but I am still the same person I was before salvation (John 3:16). At the core of my being is a sin-nature. God’s desires and my desires are polar opposites most of the time.”
  •        Self-image 2: Second Peter 1:4 says I received a new nature in salvation, but my feelings and behavior indicate that my old nature is still very much alive. Therefore, it is apparent that I now have two natures—the good, new me and the bad, old me.”
  •        Self-image 3: “I am a saint who sometimes acts like a sinner. Not only did I receive forgiveness and a new nature at salvation, but the bad, old me—my sin nature—was crucified with Christ on the cross (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20). I am a new creation because I am in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). The desire of my new heart is not to sin, even though sometimes I still do.”

Please notice that each self-image is directly proportional to the extent the believer’s mind has been renewed with the truths of his or her new identity in Christ. The maiden is most likely holding self-image 2 at this point in her journey. She believes she has two natures, basing her evaluation on her feelings and behavior. She feels like a “house divided.”

On June 16, 1858, Abraham Lincoln gave a famous acceptance speech upon his nomination for the Illinois Republican Party’s US Senate seat. He called it “The House Divided Speech.” It became one of the best-known speeches of his career because it created a lasting image of the dangers of the disunion of his country due to human slavery issues. Perhaps the most remembered part of this speech was, “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free.” Lincoln actually borrowed the words of Jesus to make his point that a country divided over the issue of slavery could not survive:

If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. (Mark 3:25)

This was Jesus’ response to those who were accusing Him of being possessed by Satan. In saying that a house divided against itself wouldn’t be able to stand, He meant that a man could not be of Satan’s kingdom and cast out demons at the same time because of the obvious conflict of interest.

After reading Jesus’ statement, do you think that He would purposely set you up to fail by creating you half good and half bad—a house divided? I hope your answer resounds in loud agreement with mine: No way! How could anyone who “lives and moves and exists” in Christ be anything other than good? (Acts 17:28).

The maiden’s problem is the same problem that multitudes of believers have experienced throughout the ages and still experience today: her lack of knowledge of her new identity in Christ.

Dear reader, I hope you enjoyed today’s excerpt from my soon-to-be-published Bible study, His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love. I would love to interact with you concerning its content by asking you,

“Which self-image is closest to the one you currently hold of yourself?” 

If you prefer to interact with me through personal email rather than commenting below, you can do so by clicking here.

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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“God Won’t Give Us More Than We Can Handle.” True or False?

His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love - Excerpt 13

If you’ve lived on planet earth long enough, you’ve probably heard at least one Christian say to another Christian, “God won’t give us more than we can handle” in a well-meaning, heart-felt attempt to encourage them. Or maybe someone has said it to you when you were going through a really tough time. I remember people saying it to me when my world was being rocked to the core and thinking, It sure feels like more than I can handle! Can you relate?

The truth is … that statement is nowhere to be found in Scripture. The Lord will allow circumstances in our lives that are more than we can handle, so that we will learn to stop relying on our natural strength and trust in His strength instead. Sadly, most of us will not learn this, apart from going through circumstances where our natural resources are utterly exhausted. I didn’t. Christ taught me the powerful principle of learning to trust Him as my life during one of the most painful seasons I’ve ever experienced.

In the summer of 2002, I was at the altar during an evening church service, asking the Lord how He wanted to use my life for His glory. He showed me (by flashing a picture through my mind) that someday I would be teaching His Word instead of high school math.

I’m not saying that the Lord didn’t use me for His glory while I was teaching high school math because I believe He did. He was just showing me that He was about to change the vocation through which He would reveal His glory through me. But first (and unbeknownst to me), He needed to do a major “mental overhaul” in the way I viewed the Christian life.

Not long after the Lord gave me that picture, I was lying on my face on our bedroom floor, asking Him when I was going to get to stop teaching math and start teaching His Word. After a while, I heard Him speak (in the form of a thought going through my mind).

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint” (Isa. 40:31 NKJV).

Out of this entire Scripture, the only word I really heard was wait, and the impatient flesh pattern in my brain instantly rose up in rebuke. I was disappointed that I wasn’t going to start teaching His Word right away.

That summer, I had been taking good care of myself, working out, and eating right. When school started in the fall, I remember telling a good friend of mine that I had never felt stronger in my life after she commented on how well I looked. While there is nothing wrong with good nutrition and exercise habits, I took it to an extreme and became proud without realizing it. My focus was on me, and what I was doing to make myself healthy and strong. My physical strength was my chariot—what I was trusting in, rather than Christ (Psalm 20:7).

In the months that followed, I began having problems with my colon. I had never had colon issues before and began to worry that something was seriously wrong. A word of advice if you are having health issues: don’t try to diagnose yourself through the Internet. Because of what I read, fear compounded my colon issues.

A word of advice if you are having health issues: don’t try to diagnose yourself through the Internet.

I made an appointment with a gastroenterologist and had a colonoscopy. It revealed that I had irritable bowel syndrome, which could be controlled with diet and stress reduction. Nothing too serious. I was so relieved that I didn’t have cancer.

One morning not long after that, I swallowed a handful of vitamins and aspirin with some orange juice. It felt like one of the vitamins had permanently lodged in my esophagus. In the days that followed, I experienced a chronic sore throat. (This is a severe hiccup for someone who teaches school.) By the end of every workday, I was so exhausted all I wanted to do was go to bed.

I went to a couple of different specialists, one of whom diagnosed me with acid reflux and put me on medicine to treat those symptoms. The medicine didn’t help at all because I didn’t have acid reflux. I still had a chronic sore throat, though—along with the irritable bowel syndrome.

After suffering through almost two years of this—going from doctor to doctor, praying healing Scriptures, and believing God, I threw up my hands and told the Lord, “I have done everything I know to do, and nothing is working. If anything good is going to come out of this, You are going to have to do it. I quit.”

One month later, I went through three weeks of testing at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I was diagnosed with esophageal nerve damage and prescribed a low-dose medication to help relieve the chronic pain. Today, I’m happy to report that after almost ten years of being on that medication, the chronic sore throat is gone, and I no longer have to take it.

While I am very grateful that the Lord healed me, I am more thankful that He did not do it right away. Yes, that’s right. He taught me so much through that painful two-year process. Up until that time, I had begun to understand that Christ lived in me, but I viewed Him as a “helper” when I got stuck in a hard place that I couldn’t get out of on my own. In other words, His power remained dormant in me until I needed it.

All of my efforts had to be completely exhausted before I finally understood that He didn’t want to just “help me” live my life—He wanted me to realize that He was my Life, and apart from trusting dependence on Him, I could do nothing of eternal value (John 15:5). Looking back at the moment when I gave up, I believe He must have grinned a mile wide and said, “Good! Now I can do something.”

Remember that great “wait” Scripture the Lord gave me from Isaiah? After understanding my spiritual union with Him, He took me back to it, this time in a different translation:

“Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary” (Isa. 40:31 NASB).

The first two lines of the previous translation said,

“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength” (Isa. 40:31 NKJV).

Immediately, the words new strength from the New American Standard Bible jumped off the page and into my heart! What a kiss! His strength was the new strength!

What’s even more fascinating is that the Hebrew word for wait actually means “to bind together.” When we recognize that our spirit and Christ’s Spirit are eternally bound together, we will begin to understand that we have no life apart from Him. And get this: the word gain signifies “a substitution or interchange—an exchange of His supernatural strength for our natural strength.” In light of my new understanding, the following is my personal paraphrase of the first part of this verse:

Those who understand and acknowledge their spiritual union with the Lord
will exchange their natural strength for His supernatural strength
by trusting Him to live His life through them.

When we stop relying on our natural strength and begin trusting Him to live through us, we can’t go wrong! But just like everything else in His kingdom, we must do this by faith.

Dear reader, I hope you enjoyed today’s excerpt from my soon-to-be-published Bible study, His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love. I would love to interact with you concerning its content by asking you a few of questions:

  1. Prior to reading today’s post, did you believe the statement, “God won’t give us more than we can handle?”
  2. Do you still believe it? Why or why not?
  3. How will what you’ve learned in today’s post change the way you handle trials that come into your life?

If you prefer to interact with me through personal email rather than commenting below, you can do so by clicking here.

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
806.435.5575

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

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The Difference between Guilt and Shame

His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love - Excerpt 12

Living in a world inundated with judgment, frustration, anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, and performance-based acceptance can be painful and wearisome. In Song 1:7, the Shulammite is desperately seeking her great Shepherd’s direction in order to find much-needed nourishment and rest.

Today, we are going to look at two more prevalent fleshly traps as we unpack the maiden’s last question to the One whom her soul loves.

“Tell me, O you whom my soul loves,
Where do you pasture your flock,
Where do you make it lie down at noon?
For why should I be like one who veils herself
Beside the flocks of your companions?”
                                                                      —Song 1:7

 For why should I be like one who veils herself

In the first half of this rhetorical question, the Shulammite is saying, “Does what I’ve done wrong merit hiding behind a veil of guilt and shame for the rest of my life?” A common human response to wrongdoing is to feel guilt and shame and to want to go into hiding. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden of Eden, their eyes were opened to what they had done wrong. They saw their own nakedness (their separation from God’s presence) and immediately covered themselves with fig leaves. For the first time in their lives, they felt the piercing pain of sin’s consequences, specifically guilt and shame (see Genesis 3).

Guilt and shame are so closely related it can be difficult to distinguish between the two. While guilt says, “I feel bad about what I’ve done wrong,” shame goes a step further, saying, “Because I’ve done wrong, I must be a bad person.” Both the guilt and the shame that Adam and Eve experienced when they disobeyed God were valid because their wrongdoing resulted in their separation from Him. Before they sinned, Adam and Eve were in perfect union with God’s life—they were “right with God” because they were joined to Him. When they sinned, they were immediately separated from His life and experienced spiritual death.

Every unbeliever has valid reasons to experience both guilt and shame. Yet for Christ’s bride, there is no biblical basis to experience either in the realm of spiritual accounting. Let’s look at what God says about casting a guilty verdict on a believer in Christ.

The biblical definition for guilt is “to owe a debt.” After absorbing the sin of the world and before taking His last breath, Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Finished means “to bring to a close, to end, to pay.” The moment we believed in (into) Jesus for salvation, we cashed in on His entire payment for our personal sin debt. As a result, we are declared “not guilty” in the eternal spiritual realm. And as for shame, our wrongdoing can never change our forever state of right-being (2 Corinthians 5:21). Believers in Christ are right with God for all time and eternity because of Jesus’ finished work (John 10:28, 2 Tim. 2:13; Heb. 13:5).

Please don’t misinterpret my words as my taking a light view on sin. Christ suffered unspeakable torture on our behalf because of sin. Sin is ugly and can cause massive collateral damage. It is also important to point out that even though Christ has obliterated our guilt as far as the eternal spiritual realm goes, it does not mean we are shielded from the earthly convictions of “guilty” when we wound another person or break the law of the land. Depending on the severity of the sin, we may even have to pay our debt to society by spending time in prison.

Dear reader, I hope you enjoyed today’s excerpt from my soon-to-be-published Bible study, His Banner Over Me Is Pursuing Love. I would love to interact with you concerning its content by asking you a few of questions:

  1. Prior to reading today’s post, did you understand the difference between guilt and shame?
  2. Do you struggle with feelings of guilt and shame?
  3. How will what you’ve learned in today’s post change the way you deal with feelings of guilt and shame in the future?

If you prefer to interact with me through personal email rather than commenting below, you can do so by clicking here.

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
806.435.5575

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

Home     My Core Beliefs     About     Resources     Speaking     Contact