Love

women in flowers

Good Morning Beautiful Women of God!  This blog is especially for you today.  My daughter had a couple of unpleasant conversations with two “Christian” women this morning and it caused me to start thinking about women of God.  Oh, how precious we are to our Lord!  He loves us so much.  When we were created God said it is good.  As I look out this morning I see the sun shining brightly through the trees.  I can feel the warmth on my skin and I smell the most beautiful aroma from flowers growing nearby.  Then a thought hit me; Wow!  I am being loved on this morning by my Lord.  I’m not certain that I actually pause long enough to notice that God is loving on me with all the beauty that He surrounds me with.  Sometimes as women life can really knock us down.  There are so many varying degrees of who we are supposed to be.  We have the feminist movement that tells us we can do anything that men can do; sometimes even better.  Then we have some ultra conservative movements that tell us we can’t even make a noise without our husband’s permission.  What are we to do and feel as a woman living in today’s messed up confusing world?

As I’m soaking in the beauty of God’s creation around me I am thinking about how as women of God we live out being not only God’s ambassadors but that we were actually created in His likeness.  We have the attributes of God within us.  When He created both male and female we were both created in God’s image.  Do we display this image to other women?  Are we being the best women that we can be?  Are we honoring God with our speech; our actions?  I told you that I have a lot going on in my mind today.

This blog’s point is leading me to the heart of a woman.  We can tell what indwells within a woman simply by the words that come out of her mouth.  We can tell who she is spending time with or who she is NOT spending time with by the way she treats others.  How do you measure up today in comparison to His image today?

I agree that we have a special set of struggles and circumstances that we go through in life as women.  Some women are widows, single parents, divorced, broken and wounded.  Some women are in abusive relationships because they don’t see any other way out.  Some women are very happily married and are thrilled to enjoy the life that they have.  Whichever situation you find yourself in today I implore you to take the time to stand outside and feel the love of our heavenly father.  Stand for one moment and soak in the warm sun on your skin.  Take a deep breath in and enjoy the fresh air or maybe some glorious scents from flowers close by.  Women we are a special created being.  Step into all that God has created you for today.  Find rest and peace knowing that God not only has you wrapped in His loving arms but that everything around us speaks of His goodness.

Ladies you are each beautiful wonderful women created for a specific plan and purpose.  Are you walking in all that has been prepared for you today?  What is coming out of your heart?  Rest in Jesus and His love.  Allow Him to consume you to your very core ladies.  Take time today just to spend time with Him.  Love on Him and allow Him to love you back.  Ladies, others will know if you have been with Him.  Ladies, others will know where your heart is and who you keep company with just by your words and actions.  So take the time out from your busy day spend some of it with God then take that love, that peace, that warmth to someone else and give it to them.  Praise Him Today!!!

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Count the cost . . .

 

Wow!  These past 6 months have been a whirlwind for us.  In January my hubby awakens in the morning looks over at me and pastors shoessays, “God told me to shut the café.”  So, we did.  We have invested 4 years of our life here.  We had many struggles throughout these last four years and I must say it’s been a real ride with twists, turns, ups, downs and 180s but through it all God’s been in control.  Do we know what He’s doing, nope, not all the time but obedience my friend that makes the ride a little more comfortable.  When you fully rely on and trust in the One sending you there’s nothing like it.

 

We are fairly transparent people; God has told us to live our life out loud.  However, there are still many things that we keep personal.  Is it because of pride; I don’t know.   The why is really unclear but it has been disobedient.  Today as I write this blog my hubby is at a church we have been serving for 9 months painting.   He has spent a lot of time there working most of it by himself.  Why he does this is only to Honor and Glorify God and no other reason.  Trust me, he wouldn’t be there for any other reason . . . not this amount of time.   He’s been trying to obtain painting jobs on the side to help us make ends meet.  For some strange reason when we closed the café down we lost all of our monthly support except for $200.  Each month, each day, each hour we have had no idea where our bill or food money is coming from.  When we had the café we had some tough times but after all we did work in a café and there was at least lunch there.

 

Hang in here with me for a moment, I know my thoughts are kind of scattered but I must be obedient.  So over the course of these last four years we’ve only had 2 churches that have given us monthly support – – we believe it is because God wanted us to fully rely on Him for our income and not a particular church.  I get that.  About a year and a half ago God impressed upon us to give away most of what we had.  De-Clutter I was calling it.  Nonetheless, we gave away so much.  Then one year ago God told us to move into Hamilton – – leave our comfy home in West Chester and move into the city that we have been called to serve.  We did that.  During this time we heard a lot of complimenting and atta boys but to us, it was all about hearing God say, “Well, Done”!

 

We have been serving and serving and so a few weeks ago my parents gave us a gift by sending us to Myrtle Beach for a week.  What a blessing and what an honor.  My parents have always stood beside me my entire life; they have been my biggest cheerleaders and most trusted supporters.  They have seen how we have served so many and not done anything for ourselves and I really enjoyed the beach, let me tell you.  Thank you mom and dad!

 

Now, we are at a crossroads.  I sometimes would joke and ask God so are we gonna be living like our “poor neighbors and homeless friends”.  I did not realize how true that statement would become.  I thought we had been through tough times before.  But now, here we are buying our clothes from the thrift store – when we can afford it.  There was a pair of Capri pants that I wanted from there and check this they were $19.  What in the world, what do you do when the thrift store is too expensive?  Next, came the food pantries.  Yup, we have.  I must say that has been the hardest one to do.  I am thankful for the pantries; however, I do not understand why a lot of the food is generic and outdated.  Would you want to eat outdated food?  Then what I noticed was we may get some meat like a steak or a few potatoes but no butter or sauce.  Interesting.  Feeding the hungry – yes we are.  Our leftovers and throwaways.  I’ve had people give me food and say, “Well, I cleaned out my cabinets and thought you would know someone who would want this.  Are you kidding me it expired 2 years ago.  Can I say, uh, no thank you.

 

I know as I am writing this I appear to be ungrateful.  I’m not. I truly appreciate each person that God has brought into our lives.  We’ve had many.  We’ve had several people we thought God brought to really dig in and get dirty but I do completely understand that sometimes it’s hard to trudge through the mud everyday and not see many results.  We have literally seen people die in the streets.  That’s tough – – no matter who you are.

 

So transparent I am.  I’m putting it all out.  Like me or not and like it or not.  But I’ve noticed in the last 4 years that if you want to know someone’s heart – look at their checkbook.  If you want to know who good leaders and pastors are – look at how they lead their church.  Are we making disciples or consumers?  Do we lead as Jesus did like servants or do we have the parking spot closest to the building.  Are we leading our congregations out into the streets for the “outreaches” or do we have a committee that goes for us?  Truth my friends.  Painful; you betcha.  Before I start getting hate mail, I am not talking about anyone in particular.  If this is tugging at your heart or raising your blood pressure – – go talk to my boss.  King Jesus.  You know the one who died for us!!  DIED for us!

 

This is not a game, this is not a dress rehearsal this is real life with real human beings dying and going to hell every single day.  There are missionaries out on the mission field that have been called to the front lines but our building projects have taken so much of our resources that we have to cut or withdraw support.  So why would a good God send two people into an inner city saturated with churches have them give away their possessions to serve people who just go right back to their vomit.  Why has God allowed our support to go away?  Why has God allowed us to go to food pantries?  Why has God allowed us to get our utilities’ shut off?

 

I can tell you for this missionary I finally understand poverty; the poverty in which I serve.  These people are not all addicts. These people are just like me.  Ordinary family people doing the best they can with  what they have.  God has given me a clear understanding of why poor people are overweight.  The food we give is not very nutritious and we can also buy more of the other food.  Ramon Noodles don’t cost very much.  Why do people with very little money have such large TVs.  Well, it’s cheap entertainment.  Movies, Kings Island, Creation Museum, YMCA passes.  We can’t afford to do that.

 

Lastly, I want to share one last personal bit of information.  The picture at the top is an actual picture I took this morning of my husband’s shoes.  This is the only pair of gym shoes he owns and are you ready for this, a homeless man gave them to him.  Yup – community.  I have learned about community from the people we’ve been serving.  At any given time, I would take food over to one house and they would call up their neighbors and prepare a big meal and all would eat.  It’s true.  If one of them has a need the others will come in to fill it.  We had one of our neighbors give us $2 one day.  We knew this was all they had but they gave.  We had another neighbor give us an old rusty tin that used to have popcorn in it as a gift.  I had one of our homeless friends give me a stuffed animal that he had fished out of the garbage for my birthday.  I have got to tell you tears are streaming down my face when I think of this.  I have some many stories of community I could share but I’m sure you are getting bored.

 

Ok. One more … I was notified that one of our homeless friends was found sleeping on the steps of Offerings.  Breaks my heart.  This same man calls my husband and says, I need help.   This person would come to the café almost everyday and we poured into him for years.  We are to be God’s hands and feet, and when people need help the “church” should be there to help them.  But I know how hard it has been for me and hubby to get into churches; there’s only been a few that have allowed us to come and share our mission.  After all, for most there is only one service a week and we can’t bore congregants.  Our buildings are closed up tight and getting past a pastors secretary is tough stuff.  Where is the church that is totally committed to God and one another?  Where is that community living on mission together?  Where is that community that has everything in common and no one wants for anything?  I am longing for that community.  The lost sinners have it — oh, yeah they have it minus a Savior.  Which, of course, is the most important part.  But they are not seeing the love that we should have for one another.  What do we have to offer them; what joy do they see?  They notice, believe me they are paying attention.  They know when you are there putting on an event and when you truly love and care for them.  And having a special seating section for them all to sit at in your Sunday service doesn’t count.  We’ve got to be living in community and doing life together in order to impact this world.  Total devotion to God and love for others before ourselves.  And, hey, if you are not called to the frontline at least support the ones that are.

 

I know most people have big hearts and love God deeply.  I’m just in a place where I long for the model of the Acts church.  Friends, we are still on the streets feeding, serving, loving and sharing the gospel and we could really use your help.  Here is what we need:  Personal Hygenie items; soap, shampoo, conditioner, femine products, diapers, laundry detergent, finger nail clippers, combs, brushes, tooth brush, toothpaste.  Food – we serve food each week.  Who is willing to ma ke side dishes, desserts, or provide some meat for us to grill.  I’m also looking for some donations of soil and veggies and herbs so that I can plant this year’s community garden. We had one at Offerings and it really helps us provide fresh tomatos, cucumbers, lettuce, etc to people.  Lastly, a vehicle – we are still after 4 years in need of a box type truck/bus to serve out of.  Then lastly, please consider financially supporting us and inviting us to your house, community group, church ,etc to come and share our mission.

 

We are also going to be going to be going out more days a week now so if you would like to be added to our food donation list, please let me know.  My email is Pastorkimrusso@gmail.com.

pastors shoes2

Blessings in the Toilet

toilet

 

This past week my hubby and I have been serving at InnKeeper Ministries while Bob & Jan are out of town.  Over the last 10 years we have stayed here many many times, we even renewed our vows for our 15 year wedding anniversary here.  We have been guests and we have been workers.  However, this time has been different.  As we were cleaning rooms after the last guests left I was cleaning in the bathroom and became so overcome with emotion.  I realized that after all of these years this time we are here serving other servants of God; God’s shepherds.  As I was cleaning the toilet of all places I prayed and thanked God for this blessing.  I have such an amazing feeling and such deep gratitude for the honor of being able to serve in this place and to be able to help two of the most selfless, wonderful people we know.  I can certainly say that over the last 10 years of knowing the Hartenstein’s that they are a family after God’s own heart.  They love God, their family and others with such a willingness to be and do anything that God calls them to.  I am thankful for the many years that this couple, Bob and Janet Hartenstein have poured into us.  Janet is certainly the entire package of what a godly woman is, she is my mentor and I know hubby feels the same about Bob.

Today my blessing came while cleaning the toilet!

A Woman Transformed – Rahab

Scripture:  Joshua 2:1-24, 6:17-25; Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:31; James 2:25

Rahab

Rahab lived about 1406 B.C. in Jericho.  Rahab was strong, brave, decisive and a prostitute.  This was a common profession back in this time but still not looked good upon.  She lived in a house that was at the city wall which made her highly accessible to travelers. Rahab is known in scripture as being Rahab the Harlot.  Harlot meaning a woman that yields herself to any man who approaches her.  During this time she had learned about the Exodus of Israel and the miracles of the Red Sea.

So here we are after 40 years of struggle the Israelites were ready to enter the promised land.  The Israelites were now under the leadership of

Joshua who trained under Moses.  Joshua needed to get the Israelites to the Promised Land so he sent two spies to secretly scout out the area.  Upon their arrival these men were spotted.  So the king of Jericho sent a message to Rahab to bring the men out.  Instead under the threat of treason and the penalty of death she hid the men and told the king’s soldiers that they had left town.

So Rahab asked a favor of the two spies.  She asked them to spare her family from death.  They agreed.  Rahab told them to run to the hills so she lowered them by rope through a window to safety outside the city wall.  For seven days she waited and while she heard the Israelities marching around Jericho; but she had faith.  This act and her faith in God earned her the title as a woman of Faith.

As  women, wives and mothers we all have day to day struggles and we make mistakes along the way.  We can learn faith, courage, commitment and o

bedience from Rahab.  As Rahab’s example, no matter what your path in life has been a simple step of faith in Jesus Christ can turn your life around. Hebrews 11:31

Listen she went from prostitute to being in the lineage of motherhood of Jesus Christ.  Wow!  A prosititute in the lineage of Jesus Christ.  What Rahab found was deliverance through the mercy of God.  Friends Rahab experienced a transformed life.  If a prostitute can become a saint of faith and become a mother in the line of Jesus then nothing is impossible.

Rahab had no religious background but she had a courageous choice to make.  First, she chose to have faith. Second, she chose to help. Rahab risked her own life by an act of treason.  Just as God transformed Rahab he is able to transform any life that is brought to Him no matter how wicked, broken or wretched it may be.  God showed her mercy.   Remember that you have not fallen so far that God can’t reach you.  No matter what you’ve done, where you are right now take a risk, put your faith in God and allow Him to transform you.  You are His creation.  You are His precious daughter, allow Him the opportunity to transform you into the woman He created you to be.

 

Praise Him!

Broken and Naked Before God

 

 
He Without Sin 017    John 8:1-11

My text is from the story of the woman taken in adultery.  It was the time of year during the Feast of Tabernacles, where every Jewish man and woman went to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast that commemorates their ancestors living in tents as they wandered thru the wilderness.  Now this story takes place early in the morning.  Jesus is outside the temple teaching a group of people when all of a sudden the scribes and the Pharisees show up dragging behind them a naked woman.  This woman has been caught in the act of adultery.  According to the Law of Moses she is to be stoned to death.  (Lev. 20:10 The man who commits adultery with another’s wife even his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.)

Let’s take a look at the brokenness – as we journey throughout our life we encounter many situations that cause us to become broken people.  Perhaps, we were introduced to drugs and/or alcohol and became addicts.  Or we were physically or sexually abused as children.  We become extremely far in debt, we cheat on college exams or taxes.  How about we catch our spouse, the love of our life, having an affair or a porn addiction.  Just take a look back over your life or your current situation and I’m sure you can name a few things along the way that has caused you to become broken.  I know I have.  At some point in our life we have failed somewhere or someone; we have blown it, we’ve made a wrong choice or two.

So  here we go back to John 8: 2-5 But early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them.  As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery.  They put her in front of the crowd.  “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone here. What do you say?”

These Jewish leaders were trying to trap Jesus.  These men were happy because they figure they’ve got Jesus where they want him.  They know she’s guilty.  She knows she’s guilty.  And Jesus knows she’s guilty.  Everybody knows she’s guilty.  Never mind, that these scribes and Pharisees have already just broken the law themselves because they did not bring the man to Jesus . . . nope, just the woman.

So check it in verses 6-11.  They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.  They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” The he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

This is so good.  Picture this it’s early, Jesus is teaching a group outside the Temple and here the leaders come rocks in their hands dragging this naked broken woman caught in adultery.  Friends, these men are armed and ready.  (Vs. 9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with this woman.)  I LOVE this! Jesus turns it all around on them.  As the Jewish leaders were ready to prosecute this woman with rocks in hand Jesus turns it around on them by asking them to let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone and when they are confronted with facing their sin they leave one by one dropping their rocks to the ground.  Halleluiah! Praise God!

Then here is where grace comes in.  When they have all dropped their rocks and left and Jesus stands up and looks this woman in the eye he says (vs. 10-11) Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”  “No, Lord,” she replied.  And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”  WOW!!  Now that’s what I’m talking about Jesus and His love for sinners; grace, grace marvelous grace.

That is grace my friend.  Was this woman guilty?  Absolutely.  Was Jesus the only sinless person there qualified to throw the rock at her?  Oh yes.  But He doesn’t He says to her Go and sin no more.  So why is this important; there are several reasons.

  1.  Why doesn’t Jesus condemn her?  She’s guilty right.  So as this woman stands before Jesus broken and naked it’s not going to be very long before Jesus goes to the cross, the only sinless perfect man was about to die for this woman who was not.  This is too good friends.  This is my Jesus!!!
  2. I want you to notice He also wants our commitment.  He says Go and sin NO MORE.  He gives grace my friends but He does NOT excuse our sin.  He doesn’t say go and do whatever you want you are covered by my grace.  He says, SIN NO MORE.  Listen, Jesus gives us grace and forgiveness but He hates sin.  Have you ever heard the saying, Hate the sin but love the sinner?  It’s like this Jesus says, Woman, I don’t condemn you but I do not like what you did so go and don’t do it anymore.  Get it?

If you are sitting here saying well, I know this is wrong and I shouldn’t steal this candy bar but I will just do it and then ask for forgiveness; then you don’t get it.  Forgiveness is not a get out of jail free card.  I will do this today and then confess it later.  Nope.  Check it once you come to God with your brokenness He will put you back together and you will not want to go against anything other than to strive to be Christ like.

Today where do you stand . . . are you like one of the Pharisees that are holding the rocks ready to throw them at other people while you stand there in your own sin.  Or perhaps you are like this woman; broken, guilty and have never quite gotten over it.  As you stand there naked and in front of Jesus with your life broken and shattered lying all over the ground are you ready to come to Jesus and give Him ALL of these broken pieces.  Listen friends, with confession and repentance Jesus still stands today ready to forgive us and not condemn us.   The next step is up to you.

Reflections

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Sitting in the  rocking chair at the café this morning the sun is streaming through the front windows.  I am reflecting on 3 years of service here in Hamilt

on, Ohio.  It has been an incredible journey and I might add a bumpy one.  3 years ago Felix and I stepped out of our very comfortable jobs to follow the call of our God.  He sent us to Vincennes Indiana to show us what He wanted us to do in this city.

While at a reunion, one that we had not attended in 17 years we were led to a quaint little café called, Offerings Holy Grounds Café.   When we walked into the doors the sweet ladies were busily closing for the day.  Our presence was still welcomed and we were invited to take a look around and told there was a prayer room upstairs.  As we landed on the top of the stairs and entered into the prayer room there was this amazing mural, breathtaking actually.  At that very moment we knew our lives were about to change.

Long story short within 10 days of that day we had a fully furnished and functioning café ministry that was started with no money and no furnishings.  God supplied it all!!  Incredible.  3 years ago we had no idea what lay ahead for us.  This café was not a lifelong dream of ours, far from it.  Friends, we were happy, content and financially stable loving our family, our lives and our jobs.  Then God . . .

We have seen people come and go, addicts restored, people die, extreme poverty and pure evil.  We daily rise out of bed and thank God for the opportunity to serve Him and the people living in a very dark place.  In the last three years we have lost our home, been unable to pay bills, gone hungry and through it all we’ve been incredibly blessed.  We have seen God’s hand move so undeniably that if we had time together to share some of our God stories you would agree.

We shepherd a street church on Sundays and we have received more heart blessings than heartaches.  Last week was my 43rd birthday and I received a cake, my girls from the neighborhood sang to me and hugged me, told me they loved me – wow!  We are struggling to keep this ministry afloat and last night we had a neighbor come in after hearing the word on the street that we are going to close.  This man that has NOTHING besides huge life issues handed Felix $4 to help keep us going.  When Felix told him no He insisted.  This little inner city mission is making an impact in this city.  I was brought to tears just thinking about what all he had to give up just giving us this $4.  I am absolutely blown away by emotion and feeling so loved and encouraged.

We are a federally recognized non-profit ministry.  We serve food, coffee and Jesus on a daily basis.  We love our homeless, addicted, sin sick neighbors and we are investing the LOVE OF CHRIST into each of these people one day at a time, one meal at a time, one soul at a time.   Friends, if you believe in us, in this little mission please consider financially supporting us and dining with us at the café.  We are a café with a cause – we are not for profit and as a matter of fact we have moved into the neighborhood so that we can be closer to our mission field.  We need encouragement, prayer and financial support.   Please pass this blog on to your friends, family, pastors and church members.  We are looking to speak to community groups, women’s and men’s groups, and churches to raise support to help us to continue bringing Jesus Christ to the streets for a kingdom impact!

Praise Him!

If you feel led to send us a donation please mail to Offerings Holy Grounds Café 215 Main Street Hamilton, OH 45013.   www.offeringsministries.com  Like us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/OfferingsHolyGroundsCafe

Fence Walking

 

 

woman_in_stress

I mentor several women as well as do prison ministry, I’m constantly being asked, “why do I keep winding up here?” “Why can’t I seem to make the right choices?”  These are legitimate questions am I asked almost every week.  These ladies are trying to kick addictions and destructive behaviors and find themselves defeated.  I ask them, “How are you and Jesus?”  They respond, “Well, I try to go to church or I’m trying to read the Bible.”

 

Friends, are you facing the same burdens, the same situations in your life?  It may not be drug addiction but the same applies to excessive shopping, gossip, weight issues, over scheduling, worry and fear.  I’m asking you sweet sisters do you really want to break free from the bondage of sin?  Let’s expose Satan’s lies and shine the truth of God’s word on these questions.

 

In Hosea 4:6 you priests refuse to know me, I refuse to recognize you as my priests. Since you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children.  Basically stated My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me.  Ask yourself this very important question, do you really KNOW God.  I’m talking a close personal relationship.  Do you know His voice my friend?

 

John 1:5 This is the message we heard from Jesus[c] and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

 

John 1:5 has the answer to those questions that I keep getting asked.  We cannot go on living with even part of our old man.  There is no room for fence walking in God’s kingdom.  We must must must not walk in darkness.  Check this out John 1:6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

 

Is this you?  Are you living life as Jesus did.  Have you humbly submitted yourself to the master that you claim to have accepted as your personal savior?  Are you walking this out daily?

 

God commands us Do Not Love This World John 1:15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.

 

This is powerful stuff and it is true.  Our God expects us to follow these commands.  I challenge you to live as Jesus did.  Listen, this is not a trial run, there is only one life we have to live and if we call Jesus Savior then we have to make Him our Master and follow him and his commands.  Give Him your life and allow Him to work in you and out in you as He wills.  Amen.

 

Praise Him!