Finally Friday – It’s Time To Come Undone!!!

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Compassion – suffering with someone with the desire to help them, this is what my husband told a youth group we pastored 16 years ago.  I thought I understood the meaning of compassion back then but I had not even begun to comprehend it’s depth of meaning.

Life for us has been crazy this last month with the closing of the café, my diagnosis of fibromyalgia and the experimental medications the insurance company has made me go through before I can take the one my doctor actually thinks will help me.   So for me, this week wraps up a four year long journey as we will lock the door to Offerings Holy Grounds Café for the last time this Saturday.  What a journey it has been.  Just penning these words springs up a well of tears filling my eyes.

We have met so many people.  We have seen the good, the bad and the truly ugly.  I have so many stories that it would take me all month to share.  One that comes to my mind to share is of a blonde haired woman that lives a life of prostitution and crack addiction.  I had only known “Misty” for about a week when I found her crouched out in the back parking lot trying to smoke crack out of some kind of make-shift pipe.  She was frayed from end to end, disheveled and rocking back and forth.  I remember walking up to her and standing there for minutes with her never even looking up to see what I was doing.  My heart was feeling physically heavy as I lowered myself to my knees in front of her.  All the while she never once looked at me; she continued to try to put crack in this so called pipe while she continued to rock back in forth.  I can still feel the pain deep inside of me this day as I recount this story. I sat there for a minute or two and just watched her not knowing what I should do.  With a deep breath I stretched my arms toward her and I cupped her weary face into my shaking hands.  As I cradled her face her eyes met mine and at that moment I had become totally undone, never to be the same again.

Have you ever had an encounter with such suffering that it totally rocked your world?  I did that day.  That day I felt so much suffering and pain that I began to understand the meaning of compassion.  Right there that day it hit me; compassion feels bad.  It hurts, it’s dirty, it’s messy, it’s . . . awful.  Compassion is walking away from an encounter that you know has changed your life forever and you realize that life as you knew it would never be the same.

Friends, we live in a world full of pain; do you feel it?  Or have we become so desensitized by all the news stories and so self-centered that we will walk right past a person begging on the streets.  Or as we pass the poor we drop our eyes so that we don’t have to look at them.

By now, most have put in at least a 40 hour week already work.  So now we can have this weekend to enjoy and kick it up as we please.  I understand this; I lived it for most of my life.  I worked long hard hours at a job that was okay just so I could pay a mortgage on a house that I no longer live in and travel to a tropical state for a two week vacation once every year.  I was living the dream; right?  No, I had bought into a lie.

After four years of street ministry I have got to admit it’s dirty, it’s hard and it’s painful.  But my friends, I could not go back to the comfortable life that I once knew.  I have been called to follow Jesus, the one who gave up the comfort of heaven and had compassion on me.  As I was holding Misty in my arms Jesus was holding me in His.  Jesus was whispering into my ear, He was saying, “Kimberleigh lay down your net and follow me.”  Suffer with her, have compassion “with” her, feel it.  He showed me in that very moment that I would shed many tears for the little children that I would see running around in the alleys barefoot, dirty and hungry.  He showed me that I would feel the deep heart wrenching pain of holding a drug addicted prostitute in my arms.  He showed me that the road that I had stepped onto was narrow and the path that I was about to take is dirty, full of busted beer bottles, heroine needles, crack pipes and cigarette butts.  Sitting in a little church, pastoring teens I would never have imagined that I would be here today serving the poor and broken in my community I would have avoided it at all costs.

Before you approach your weekend and all the activities you have planned I ask you to spend some time alone with God.  Listen for His whisper.  It’s there.  Your path and purpose have all been laid out before you were even created.  Turn the world down for just a little while and turn off its lies of if we work hard enough, make enough money, and buy all the latest and greatest gadgets that we will be happy.  What is He calling you to do, where is He calling you to go?  We live in a world full of pain and suffering but few have actually engaged it.  Most of us, walk past the beggar and the drunkard and lower our eyes.

Four years ago, I had an encounter with my Savior that caused me to become radically undone and since that time I have held many women while they cry.  I have seen pain and hopelessness in their eyes.  For me, I know that my life will never be the same.  There is no way to put those pieces all back together, the dirt has been under my nails for so many years that OPI can’t cover it.

Just for this weekend, before you go out to eat buy someone else a meal first.  Before you buy that new outfit you’ve been waiting for buy one for someone else.  And when you walk down the street smile at the person you are passing.  I encourage you to become UNDONE!!

Praise Him!!

Fence Walking

 

 

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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!

 

Altar of Prayer

 1 John 2:6 (NLT)  Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did

To walk as Christ did means we must obey His teachings, follow His example of complete and total obedience to God and loving service to people.  We must notice that Jesus ministry was filled with prayer.  The disciples walked with Him daily, seen His altar of prayer and wanted Him to teach them how to pray.  It’s important, it’s a must in our daily walk to be ambassadors of Jesus Christ to this world.

We must crucify the flesh and line up our desires with God’s will in total surrender to our own wants, desires and idols.  We have to cut off the old life – die to self.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT) 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

When the Holy Spirit lives inside of us uninhibited by our flesh there is no limit or extreme He will take in His passion to warn & save others.  Just as Jesus did when He walked this earth.  Jesus knows the cost of this.  He left heaven became man he suffered, he tired, he was tempted just as we are, he became POOR for our sake and ultimately became sin for us through His crucification.

Galatians 2:20 (NLT)  20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

We can’t serve two masters, we must not be lukewarm.  If we are to walk as Christ walked, lived as He lived, be His representatives here to this world then we need to crucify our lusts, our natural desires.  We need to lay down the idols that master our lives.  Our idols or our masters are anything that we place over God’s wants and desires; love of money, our business, our busy schedules, our families, our kids sports activities. We have become so pre-occupied by the cares and busyness of our lives that it steals our time, it takes away from our altar of prayer then we lose passion for God and the things of God.  We choose to pursue success, prosperity and self and they do not profit us spiritually or impact His kingdom.

Listen to me, God is not going to interrupt your facebook time or scream at you during your kids football or soccer games.  We must must must crucify the idol of “self” upon our altars of prayer.

Today God still desires your faithfulness to Him, your daily repentance, and a separated life from the world and a burning passion for Him and His kingdom.

Remember that saying What Would Jesus Do?  Well, really ask yourself if you are to walk as Christ did and you are to be in His image, His representative here and now to this world in this life what do you need to sacrifice on your altar of prayer.  It is time for those of us who claim Jesus as Savior to make Him Jesus Savior Master and Lord of our lives.  Crucify our wants and desires and allow your desires to become God’s will then and only then will He give you the desires of your heart!  Get it?

Praise Him!

Devil’s Playground

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God has given my husband and I a completely new direction within the last two years that I never imagined would be the road we travel.  We’ve been in the  ministry since 1998 serving in various roles within our church; Youth Pastors, Associate Pastors, Head Deacon, Women’s Ministry Pastor and we’ve cherished and love every minute.  Two years ago God directed us to the Inner City of Hamilton, Ohio.  The work we do is set among the prostitutes, drug addicts, alcoholics, criminals and dope boys and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Over the last years we have been led to go out among them and build relationships.  We have developed some friendships and some losses but one thing remains the same; God died for each and every one of us including the dope boys.  We have met people that just want to come around to take and use up what God is using to help.  We’ve learned not to spend our time with people who are unwilling to change and invest in those that are.  Believe me there are far greater people that are unwilling to change, I mean deeply change.  These people are master manipulators, they do it for a living, so they will tell you what you want to hear to get what you are giving out.  You feel me?

There have been a few lives we’ve been honored to see saved, pr

uned and grown.  Praise God for that honor.  Friends, the fields are still white for harvest but we need to be going to them.  We spend too much time, money and effort begging people to come into our buildings on Sunday.  Then we expect the Pastor standing behind the pulpit to “win” them to Christ.  This is not the “church” that Jesus gave His precious life for.  He did not die so that we can have nice pews.  Jesus left us here on earth to be His hands and feet and one day a week, sitting in a pew, or standing behind a pulpit doesn’t cut it.  Jesus’ church gets dirty, goes to the crack houses, loves on the drug addicts, gives hope to the hopeless, shelter to the homeless, and joy to a child’s heart.

The church that Jesus died for is unstoppable and connected to one spirit with one purpose.  When we look upon God’s kingdom on Earth we see lives changing, communities transforming, families restored and addicts delivered.  These are some of the great things of God that is beyond our control and only truly taking place where Jesus is the head and lead shepherd.

As we look around our community and into the face of many broken people we see the captives of this world.  We need to get on the offensive, go face to face with the enemy and storm his playground; amen!

Join us any Saturday or Sunday as we Take it to the Streets – all for His Honor and Glory!!  We go in the name of Jesus and no other name!
Praise Him!

Broken Body

Every Sunday across American we have churches almost on every corner gearing up for morning services.  Whatever flavor you want with worship or preaching style  you can find it.  Our issue in American churches today is that we are more concerned with entertainment and flair to draw people in than encouraging people to go out.  Friends, church is for the saints to be encouraged, uplifted after being battle weary from the week.  Instead, we have a consumer mentality, we come in sit down and have a give me attitude then as we leave we hoard what we’ve heard or we tear down the pastor, the music and atmosphere.

 

Why is our body broken?   Matthew 7:14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.  Will we stand before God and hear Him say, “Then I will declare to them, ” I never knew you,” depart from me, you workers of lawlessness. What are we doing for people and for God’s kingdom by becoming a gathering in a building we call “church” and we soft ball the gospel, we entertain and are consumed with building little kingdoms spending money on bigger buildings and larger staff instead of joining God’s army and building his kingdom.  If we truly want to glorify God we have to get dirty – we need to become servants to those that are lesser.  We need to be willing to do whatever it takes to spread the Gospel.  The people that have shut themselves and their God inside of buildings need to do an honest heart check.

If we truly have Jesus we have the power of the Holy Spirit on the inside of us that will help us to overcome the desires of our flesh.  I know that may seem offensive to some but I am not about to be politically correct when my God says there are souls that are sitting in church pews and dying in the streets.  Every week I have to beg the so called Body of Christ to come out and serve people on the streets.   Sorry, friends, that’s just sad.  Perhaps, you feel you go to life groups or you lead worship or teach a Sunday School Class so you are doing enough.  Well, as long as their are people going to hell we can never do enough.

What good is it, my  brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that —and shudder. 20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless.  James 2:14-20.

Like it or not, believe it or not we will stand before God one day and answer for what we have or have not done to impact His kingdom.  Bottom line, it is time to get up, get out and start leading people to Christ THEN stay in contact with them and disciple them.

Praise Him!

Encouragement From The Fast Lane – Part 6

A Mother’s Prospective

In June of 2004 we attended an event, Racing Toward Your Dreams.   This event featured Kelly “Girl” Sutton, a Nascar Truck Driver who lives with MS.

Kelly was diagnosed with MS at sixteen and so the local drug representatives thought Kelly would be able to talk with Brandhi and help her in dealing with her diagnosis.  Before the program they  told Kelly about Brandhi and asked her if she would talk with her a little before the  program.  Kelly agreed.

While waiting for this program to begin we were talking with several different people who had attended the race the evening before when in walked Kelly.  Immediately, she walked over to Brandhi and put her arms around her and gave her the biggest hug.  She started assuring Brandhi that everything would be all right and encouraging her to keep pursuing her dreams.  We walked into a private area and had a very emotional meeting with Kelly.  This was the first time I saw Brandhi connect with someone and cry.

We sat through the program and listened to Kelly’s inspiring story.  All the while Brandhi could relate and connect with Kelly.  It was, to say the least, an emotional day.  Before leaving Kelly exchanged phone numbers and email addresses with Brandhi and told her to keep in touch with her, to call her anytime she needed to talk.  She also left Brandhi with a very special gift. She gave Brandhi a collectable coin that was due to come out in 2005.  At this time, there were only two that had been made.  One was made for Kelly and one was given to Kelly’s Crew Chief.  Kelly gave Brandhi her coin and told Brandhi to keep it with her at all times.  To this day, this is a very special and treasured gift!

In the months ahead Brandhi continued to keep in touch with Kelly.  In August of that same year we went to Indianapolis Raceway Park to s
We decided to stay and watch the race even though Kelly wasn’t in it.  While we were sitting there Brandhi said to me, “ I can do this”.  I said, “Do what, race!?!”  She says, “No, mom.  I can do MS”! ee Kelly race.  We spent the day with Kelly and her family at their hauler and in the pits.  This day changed Brandhi’s life forever.  She was so excited to be there, standing on top of Kelly’s hauler watching her practice and qualify.  Brandhi’s hands were trembling while we waited to see if Kelly would qualify for the race.  This was a tough day for Kelly and her crew.  Kelly did not make the race but in the eyes of this very young girl she was a winner!

From that day on Brandhi has accomplished so many things for others affected by MS.  Kelly was the source of inspiration for that.  Because Kelly took the time to connect and make a difference in Brandhi’s life, her view of MS and the way she lives her life changed.

Kelly means so much to our family.  We are so grateful for the time and support, and the very special coin she gave Brandhi.  But the most important gift she gave her was HOPE and a new outlook of her future.  Kelly and Brandhi have continued to remain friends and they still have a very close connection.  I pray for Kelly everyday and I thank God that He sent her our way.

Purpose

What is your purpose as a follower of the The Way?

I ran across a quote that I had written down but unfortunately I didn’t write who I heard it from; I still want to share it with you.  You are not saved to sit on the sidelines.  You have the Word of God before you, the Spirit of God in you and the command of God to you: make disciples of all nations.

  As we are preparing and excited about it being Friday and having the weekend to relax or if it’s packed full of fun let’s ask ourselves what are we doing to impact God’s Kingdom?

Jesus states, ” Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”  This was a hard statement to hear and most people walked away from Jesus after hearing this.  Well, His message is still the same.  Friends, once we are saved then we have the Spirit of God in us and there is no way that we can’t be abandoning all for His call.e we doing to make disciples.  When Jesus went about teaching here on earth he told people that they had to go all in.  Many times he tells His followers that He is the source of fulfillment.  If we are simply doing “church” on Sundays and think we have the Spirit of God in us I think we need to do a heart check.

Where is your fulfillment coming from this weekend?  Is it wrapped up in the kids sporting events or ballet recitals; not that those aren’t good things but are they mastering your life?  Are you overcome with so many events that you don’t leave time for God, His word and His people.

Third we see the command of God to us: make disciples of all nations.  This is not a request this is a command.  A command from God; are you going to ignore a direct command from God.

Praise Him!  Amen.