My Identity in Christ

My identity is in Christ

On June 15, 2014 my “bruncle” brother/uncle passed away.  He had suffered with illness for many years until this week his liver finally gave out and he left this earth.  This has caused great sorrow for our family, especially my precious mom and dad.  Please continue to lift them up in your prayers.

By now, I know you are thinking bruncle; why brother uncle.  This is a story I do not tell.  As a matter of fact, I have always hidden my true identity . . . until now.  I was born in September 1970 to 15 year old Juliette Alice and 17 year old Bobby Joe Roberts.  By the age of 9 months both of my biological parents gave me to my paternal grandparents, Ron and Geneva Stewart and I was raised as their daughter.

I cannot even begin to describe how incredibly blessed I was to have been gifted two of the most amazing people that God ever created to be my mom and dad.  I am so blessed!  I didn’t always see it that way.  As I grew up I felt abandoned by both my biological parents – given away.  My biological mother was totally out of the picture and my biological dad had another family and had 2 other children.  I always felt lost; without belonging.  I didn’t fit in with my biological mom’s life because she just took off.  I didn’t fit in with my biological dads life because he had another wife and two other children and I didn’t feel I fit with my grandparents family because they had 4 other children all grown and out of the house but one, Tommy who lived with us until about 1979 ish.

So here I was growing up feeling I did not have any belonging, any identity.  My biological father may not have meant harm but he once heard me call my grandparents mom and dad and proceeded to tell me that he never wanted to hear me say that again.  They are my grandparents.  Meaning harm and causing harm is two very different things.  My life was negatively shaped by my circumstances that were totally beyond my choosing or control.   I felt alone.  I lived most of my life with a negative self view.  I was wounded.  Right or wrong – I was wounded.

I ran away from home when I was 16 years old with my high school sweetheart.  I was in love – or at least what I thought was love.  When this boy came along I felt like I belonged to someone.  I felt a since of place and identity.  Eventually we divorced and I was off and running again.  Looking for love in all the wrong places.  I was looking for someone to fill that void in my life.  Someone to love me and fulfill my longing to belong.  Friends, I now know people, jobs, money cannot do that – only God can.

Ok, so four years ago standing in a little café that God had given us stewardship over we had had a music service and my wonderful husband Felix was sharing about the ministry and he asked me if I had anything to say.  At that moment, with a full house I heard God tell me … it’s time, your freedom is now.  I took the microphone and shared my testimony and my hurt and proclaimed my identity in Christ.  As I was speaking I could feel the chains that had been wrapped around me so tight begin to break and fall to the floor.  With each statement a link would break and I could breathe a little easier.

Since that night I have never looked back . . . until this morning.  This morning, I was sitting on the patio at Innkeeper drinking my coffee, talking with the Lord and I decided to look at facebook.  I seen my brother, Tommy’s obituary.  I love the picture he looks so handsome as all my parents kids do. (smile)  I began to read and when it came to the family left behind I seen my mom and dad, his wife and kids, and his two brothers then I seen two sisters.  I can’t begin to tell you how I felt I got a big smile on my face I felt a sense of pride when I read “sister Carol Mckee” and I just knew I would see “and Kim Russo of Cincinnati, Ohio”.  That is not what I read, I read another name.  Tommy’s wife’s sisters name.  I immediately felt crushed.  I immediately felt that negative self image that wounding from childhood.  I began to cry – not over his death but selfishly for myself.  I sat there a few minutes kind of shocked by my feelings when I heard my God say to me.  You are my precious child, your worth is in my son’s shed blood for you.  Your have been adopted into my family.  Galatians 3:26, “ For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”  I am not defined by this my true identity is in God and in that I have total freedom.  I am exactly who God created me to be.  I lived the life that I was meant to live and on September 24, 1970 God placed me into the loving arms of two amazing people that I call mom and dad, Geneva and Ron Stewart.

As I sit and share this with you, my hope is that by me sharing a bit of my story it will touch someone in such a way that perhaps if you are dealing with some kind of bondage or “identity” crisis that you will stop and read Galatians chapter 2.  My prayer is that you remove all negative thoughts from early on in your life or even perhaps circumstances that may have happened just last week and focus on your true identity which is in Christ alone.  Allow your identity to be in Him and His in you and your faith will grow, and your wounds will start to heal.  For me, I now realize that I have an ugly scar from that wound.  I allowed it to remain open for far to long.  But now, today as I look upon that scar I see that God is pleased with me, His creation.  I am not defined by my childhood, my feelings or my emotions.  The opinions of others and how they label or not label me does not define me.  I am exactly who God created me to be and who God says that I am.

2 Corinitians 1:22, “who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.  Ephesians 1:5, “having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will.  Romans 15:7, “Therefore receive one another just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.  Colossians 2:9-10, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”  Amen!!!

Today, I am allowing that last chain to break and fall to the floor.  I am claiming that I am a child of the most High King!!  Jesus Christ willingly laid His life down so that I can be with God and live with them in eternity as God’s child and a joint heir with Jesus Christ.  I am worthy because Jesus’ blood has made me worthy.

I will wipe the last tears from my eyes that the false beliefs caused me to live in bondage.   My name is Kim Roberts (Stewart) Russo.  My biological parents are Bobby and Juliette.  My mom and dad are Ron and Geneva Stewart.  I have 3 half siblings, Lisa, and B.J. – children of Bobby, and Karen a child of Juliette’s.  I also have 2 bruncles – my brothers Jonas and Tommy Lee.  I have 1 sister / aunt Carol.  And today I am walking in my identity of who I am in Jesus Christ!  A child of the most High King!  Praise God!!

 

Rest in Peace my sweet brother:

Tommy RTommy Leeoberts, of Liberty, KY passed away Sunday, June 15, 2014 at the Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset, KY. He was 57.

Born March 3, 1957 in Cincinnati, Ohio, he is the son of Geneva Smith Stewart and Ron Stewart of West Chester, Ohio.

In addition to his parents, survivors include his wife, Della Wilson Roberts, whom he married September 1, 1979; a son, Dakota Roberts of Liberty; two daughters, Angela Seig of Warsaw, KY and Beth Allen of Cincinnati, Ohio; eight grandchildren; two brothers, Jonas Roberts of Mason, Ohio and Bobby Roberts of Cincinnati, Ohio; and two sisters, Carol McKee of Cincinnati, Ohio and Debbie Wilson of Jacksonville, Florida.

 

Moment by Moment

woman_in_stress

I am sitting in my sewing room listening to KLove on the radio and trying to install a zipper on a cosmetic bag that I am making.  I have only sewed one zipper before and after ripping the seams out 4 times and starting over I can say that  I am really getting frustrated.  A commercial played on the radio from the movie Son of God where Jesus was talking to Peter and Peter asked Jesus, “What are we going to do?”  Jesus replied, “Change the world.”

I know you must be thinking what does all of this have to do with sewing zippers.  Well, at that very moment, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “take a breath, say a prayer and then tackle this zipper with gladness and an opportunity to learn.”  Really?  I did just that.

Renewing our minds is not only a daily activity it can be a moment by moment task.  Therefore, I encourage you, if you are working on something at your job that has you frustrated, if you are waiting on patients or customers that are pushing your last nerve, stop for a moment, take a breath, say a prayer and then approach the situation with a willingness to learn and grow.  With each day and each obstacle there is an opportunity to glorify God.

With the remaining twelve and a half hours left in this day step outside of yourself and strive to serve others, actively go out of your way to make someone smile, speak kind words to everyone you encounter, approach your task with gladness and embrace this gifted day as an opportunity to reflect Jesus.

Praise Him!

Monday Morning Motivation

monday morning

What a Magnificent Monday Morning.  Glory be to God!  As you reach over to silence the ringing of your alarm clock sticking your arm out from the warmth and comfort of your cozy bed your thoughts go to, “I hate Mondays”.  I’ve had such a great weekend, why does the weekend go by so fast?  You slowly and begrudgingly place your feet on the floor and start making your way to the coffee machine.

This morning, I want to encourage you as you inhale the warm aroma of your freshly brewed hot coffee to exhale and purpose in your mind that this is going to be a magnificent Monday. You can change the course of your day just by renewing the way you approach your day in your mind.

As your taste buds come alive with the anticipation of the hot, creamy, smooth first sip of coffee allow God to energize your mind.  Some of you don’t like your job, some are okay with their job but spend the week wishing it was Friday.  Perhaps you are not employed.  Whatever your circumstance may be, allow God to direct your steps today in a positive manner.  Stop your stinking thinking and your complaining and embrace this day as the gift that it is.

Serve your customers, patients and employers as you are serving Jesus himself.  Each person you encounter may be Jesus in disguise treat them as such.  Take your disappointments and renew your mind by embracing them as an opportunity to grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Savior.

Place a smile on your face by picturing Jesus lovingly looking into your eyes and guiding you as you type each letter, take someone’s temperature, assist your boss, load trucks, deliver food, fill teeth, whatever it is that you do.  He is saying to you as you do to these you are doing to me.  Love them as you love me.  Embrace your day as an opportunity to live it as fully as you possibly can.  Make each moment count, take every thought captive and bring it into line with God’s plan for us to have joy and peace.

You have a choice on how you will live today.  Embrace it with love, joy, peace, excitement and an opportunity to love and serve God and others.  What a glorious day the Lord has given us.  Let’s make this Monday Magnificent.

Praise Him!

Strongholds – The devil never wins unless you don’t fight!

 

I grew up in an independent Baptist church, I learned all the Sunday School Characters, the children’s choir songs and shame.  Yes, I said shame.  Although, I was in church from the time I was 5 years old throughout my life I was testing the waters of the world.  I felt the rules and regulations that were being expected of me were way too much for me to ever obtain so I thought, why bother.

 

I remember sitting in the hallway at my childhood home and fighting with my dad insistently saying I don’t want to go to church tonight.  It’s too cold to put on a dress; I’ve got homework, etc. etc.  The excuses were numerous.

 

At the age of 16 I decided that I knew what was best for my life and I ran away from home and got married.  Oh yeah, wow, there is freedom in that statement for me.  You see, I lived so many years of my life chasing the pleasures of this world only to be left with guilt and shame.  So over the course of my young life I learned how to hide many things in secret places so that no one would know about my sins.  No one would know about all of the partying; drinking and drugging and must I add the many men.

 

Later in years when I married a good man and came to Christ and I learned to hide and pretend that I had this wonderful perfect life so I hid this secret shameful life that no one must know about.  After all, my new husband was a preacher and if people really knew what kind of life his wife had years before who knew what kind of damage that could do to him and damage it did do.  To make a long painful story short, my amazing God lovin’ husband was told that because of my past that He could never be in ministry other than driving the church Sunday school bus.  Wow!  I did that to him.  I ruined his life, or so I thought.

 

Many many years down the road I was growing closer to my Jesus and falling deeply in love with His heart and learning what He is really all about.   Here’s one lesson I have learned from this time in my life.  In Matthew 12:43-45 we read about satan seeking a stronghold.  I was allowing the enemy to come into my Jesus cleaned life by keeping my past a secret because of all of the guilt and shame that I felt and I allowed the enemy to gain a foothold into my life.  I learned that whatever you hide in the dark Satan will use it to harm you; however, you must expose it to the light to allow God to heal it and remove it.

 

I learned the impactful meaning of John 8:36 – If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.  Listen friends what strongholds does the enemy have hanging over your head?  I encourage you to take some alone time with our wonderful merciful creator and sustainer and take him into those secret places that have become a stronghold that if left alone the enemy will destroy us with.

 

Two and a half years ago, I stood in our café with a packed house and with God’s voice saying in my ear; it’s time my child.  I have come to set you free.  I grabbed that microphone and gave my testimony.  And one link at a time the chains that had held me for over 20 years came clanging to the ground.  That day I learned that Jesus’ blood is enough!  His precious blood that He shed for me is enough to cover absolutely anything I have ever done.  There is power in the blood, there is freedom in the blood, and there is salvation in HIS blood!

 

Sisters, let me encourage you today that if you have anything holding you back from becoming the woman God created you to be, I encourage you at this time to take it to the cross and allow those chains to be broken.  It’s time to deal with the things that are in our lives that keeps the river of living waters from flowing in and out of our life!  Be encouraged.

 

Praise Him!

fervent-prayer

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!

 

On The Emmaus Road

Emmaus Road

Is it possible to know Jesus Christ and not know His presence?

For the last three years my husband and I have been studying  the early church, Jesus’ followers from back in the day and His disciples. As I sit here I am longing for my relationship with Jesus Christ to be so close I can smell his sweet presence, to have every thought in my mind only be on God’s will and my actions to be only as I see my Father doing.
In Luke 24:13-32 That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.” “What things?” Jesus asked. “The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago. Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. They said his body was missing they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.” Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, but they begged him, “Stay the night with us since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. The he broke it and gave it to them. Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:16 But God kept them from recognizing him. Why did God choose to keep the two believers from recognizing Jesus? Scripture really doesn’t tell us why but I’m sure we all wonder and speculate as to why. It definitely makes me ponder how many “strangers” have appeared to us and talked with us only for us to not recognize the truth as He walks next to us. Wow! Blows my mind to think about encounters we may be having.
So these two disciples were walking along and talking about Jesus and here comes Jesus walking right up next to them but they were unaware of His presence. I think it sounds like so many of our churches and gatherings today – Jesus is being missed. Christians today know the facts just as these two disciples did, they can quote scripture and be full of theology but are our eyes blinded to where we don’t even see or know Jesus.
As Christians our first responsibility is to follow Jesus. John 12:26 Are we truly a follower of Jesus Christ today, do we know him and follow Him so closely that we are covered in His dust? Before you answer yes to this statement, I ask that you stop for a moment and pray; ask God to reveal to you as He knows you to be. Are our hearts set on Jesus; are we seeking to KNOW him and walk with Him. He knows us by our fruit. (Matthew 7:20) OR are we the Christians that go to church once or twice a week, or maybe a small group but we don’t seek Him daily, we don’t commune with Him each day because if we do our fruit juice will be overflowing from our time spent with Jesus.

I pray that we learn from the scriptures as we are on our Emmaus Road.  Let’s not get so consumed with our life and our pleasures that we are blinded and don’t know Jesus.

Praise Him!

Unforgiveness

 “To err is human, to forgive, divine.” – Alexander Pope

As we go through life, not one of us is immune to being hurt by someone or hurting someone else.  It will happen on purpose, by mistake or we may not realize we have even hurt someone.  Basically, people are people.  We live in a body of flesh that is imperfect in all ways and we must understand that no one is perfect.

God’s word clearly teaches if we have an issue with a sister or brother we need to take it to them in an effort to bring about restoration and reconciliation.  In today’s world of technology we have brought this to a new level by taking it to our sister or brother via text messages or emails.  This has enabled us to become bold with our words we use toward others because we are hiding behind this technology.  How can a true discussion that will result in restoration and reconciliation take place when you are not willing to sit down with the other person to work it out?

I’ve been doing some studying about forgiveness and really trying to dig in and grasp its meaning.  First, we must realize that forgiveness is the very center of the gospel.  2 Corinthians 5:18-19 (NIV) All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.  That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them.  And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

So we are commissioned to take the message of forgiveness to the world.  God has forgiven us a life of sin yet we hold all sorts of things against each other.  How can we take the gospel message to the world when we can’t forgive others as Christ has forgiven us?

It’s something we all need to pray about and think about.  Mark 11:25-26 (NLT) But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.  Friends this is a clear spiritual command from God’s Word. Forgiveness requires an act of your free will to obey God’s command.  I have found many scriptures that have talked about forgiveness; however, this one really sets in how important forgiveness is to God.  If you do not forgive, your Father in heaven will not forgive you.  Wow!  Do you get that; that’s serious?  When you forgive you free yourself from forgiveness and strife. God does not look upon forgiveness favorably.  Bottom line, you cannot have God’s forgiveness unless you forgive.

We are told by Jesus that we would know who a person really is by their fruit, by the life this person produces.  The lack of forgiveness means the forgiveness that Christ has given them has not taken root in their lives.  Therefore, if a person lives with forgiveness it shows that they probably don’t understand the payment that Christ made upon the cross.   I know this is a hard teaching but it is God’s command and it is serious stuff.

Whether or not you understand why a person hurt you does not really matter.  If they ask for forgiveness we must choose to forgive them.  After all Jesus shed his blood for all the sins that we have or ever will commit.

In Matthew 18: 21 – 35 we read The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant.  In verse 32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In this parable what is sticking out for me is that an unforgiving person is looked at as a wicked person.  At the very least, they are giving Satan a foothold into their life.  When we allow him a little entrance by having an unforgiving heart it will lead to all sorts of battles and attacks.

Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV) 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.

Listen, every offense we hold on to allows Satan an opportunity to bring hardheartedness, bitterness and strife.  When we choose not to forgive someone our prayer life will be hindered, God will treat us how we treat others, God will not forgive us and we open the door to all kinds of evil spirits and schemes of the enemy. Is forgiveness really worth any of that?

Luke 6:36-38 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Where are you with forgiveness; do you need to receive it or give it?  Friends, we need to do a heart check.  We need to bow down before God’s throne and ask Him to reveal any forgiveness we may have towards someone.

With many situations I strongly believe that we are unable to meet an expectation that is placed upon you and when you fail to meet that expectation they became offended.  This is especially true when it concerns people in leadership.

Every believer must learn how to live and walk in forgiveness. This totally goes against our human nature because in order to live and walk in forgiveness we must put aside our pride and humble ourselves before others.

We must realize there are many reasons why a person may not forgive you.  Perhaps, they didn’t really value the relationship and were willing to throw it away instead of restore it.  Maybe, they don’t want to be vulnerable and they use forgiveness as a shield because of past hurts.  Or pride may be at the center of forgiveness.

Whatever the underlying issues are we must focus on the examples of Jesus.  We need to stop focusing on the offender and the hurt and forgive as Jesus forgave his offenders.

To that end, I encourage you to seek God and close all doors to the enemy.  Make the commitment now to let go of all bitterness, strife, resentment and unforgiveness.  It is time for the body of Christ to come to maturity in this area.

Praise Him!