Are You Adequately Covered? – By Thomas Koester

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. Psalm 103: 2

In my business, I assist people involved in wildfires throughout California, Nevada, and Arizona. I meet many people that have no idea of their homeowner’s policy benefits. They may be fully aware of their policy premium, but the important stuff, like proper coverage limits, what is covered and excluded, etc., they have no idea!

But when disaster strikes, unfortunately, that’s when many people find out that either they have no coverage or not enough. At that point, there’s nothing that can be done.

One client bought a home in Northern California, paid cash but didn’t purchase insurance. While out of state, a massive wildfire broke out; she saw the news that it was headed for her new community. She grabbed her phone and purchased a policy, paying 100% of the annual premium, and miraculously got coverage placed the same day!

A few days later, she learned that her new home was destroyed; the foundation was damaged beyond repair. All that stood was a lonely brick chimney. She immediately filed a claim under her brand-new insurance policy. The claim investigator accurately determined, based on the fire suppression team’s GPS locators, that the fire had destroyed the lady’s home before the insurance policy was in force.

My dear friends, don’t wait until the last minute to receive salvation through Jesus Christ. You, too, may find out that it was too late. His salvation is far more critical than proper and timely fire insurance for your home. Death can come in an instance and move faster than a wildfire.

Jesus can save your soul for eternity. He can supply far more benefits than Allstate, Geico, or Liberty Mutual. With Jesus, you’ll be sufficiently covered, no cancellation, no out-of-pocket cost, no deductible, and no premiums, as he’s paid the price in full!

God’s gift to you is to have faith enough to believe in his One and only Son, Jesus Christ; to believe In his Son’s life, death, and resurrection. All you must do is turn from sin and disbelief and put your trust, faith, and obedience in God and His Word. In doing this, your name will be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, whereby God’s policy for your eternal life is irrevocable and indelibly written. And God will never change the terms of his benefits, he’ll never back off from His promises.

To my believing friends, forget not all His benefits. I meet far too many Christians living life as though they were uninsured by God’s great love, mercy, and grace. The reason why so many of my Christian brothers and sisters are so heavily burdened by the world is that they’ve either forgotten God’s promises and benefits or because they’ve never read them or have been taught.

My brothers and sisters, there is no need to be depressed, worried, or to live in fear and dread. No need to doubt, lose heart, or be lonely.

Here’s Psalm103 in its entirety:

1 “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.

6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:

8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

15 The life of mortals is like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. 17 But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children -18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. 21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. 22 Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul…”

…and forget not all His benefits!

Superman – A Message For Pastors – By Thomas Koester

The Freedom of Being Real

Are you exhausted? Running on empty? Has your physical and spiritual odometer cycled over too many times?

If so, you may be a Superman Pastor.

Your identity and significance must be in your sonship and not in your pastorship. Being a son and a brother in Christ is far more relatable. Being relatable keeps you grounded, humble, and approachable. “Leaping tall buildings in a single bound, being more powerful than a locomotive, and speeding faster than a bullet,” is for Superman, not pastors.

“Look! Up in the Sky! It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane… It’s… …No, it’s just Pastor Dave.

Just be a beloved son, shepherding God’s children. Let God do all that superhero stuff.

Never use your intimacy with God as a vicarious impetus for others to synthesize. In doing this, you and your congregation will both become lost and distant from God. People will hunger for your intimacy at the sacrifice of their connection with God.

Instead, teach them how to be intimate with the Father-heart of God until their Father-hunger for God surpasses their father-hunger for you.

Won’t this lighten your load?

Won’t this save your marriage?

Won’t this free you up to be your children’s daddy?

If not, maybe your cape is showing.

As some of you have retired or have left the pastorship, you may find yourselves lost because you’ve been trapped in a service and performance role with God and others. This was never God’s doing, but the writ of men and the corporate structure of many churches.

Did you know that the word “religion” actually means to “re-bond” with God? The Latin word comprises two parts, “re” telling again and “ligare,” pointing to bind or to bond.

We Protestants are constantly harping against other religions that faith in God is not a religion but a relationship. But, in tossing out the word religion, we’ve tossed out the significance of the word. Rather than genuinely encouraging and leading people into intimacy and sonship with God, they’ve learned by our actions as pastors and enter into performance roles, as presented by the World’s false religions.

So many pastors have lost their intimate bond with God because of the performance and service trap. So, they end up helplessly modeling burnout, depression, and, believe it or not, loneliness.

Many pastors feel they must keep up the “superhero” role at all costs; that is, they must appear spiritually superior and altogether when in the public view. And, if he’s incredibly talented, he will maintain this unrealistic role even in front of his family. Being a “Clark Kent,” or just a normal guy is too risky for the sake of his job.

What happens to a man when he calls his darkness light?

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your vision is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is evil, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness! – Matthew 6:22-23

When a pastor calls his darkness light, he cuts himself off from God and others, and the duplicity becomes more and more costly. He loses his support from is family because the hypocrisy becomes unbearable.

If a pastor, and for that matter, any of us, satisfies our father-hunger with God and not with the ministry or titles, we will grow as true sons and daughters of God. It will therefore be the fruit of our lives, which will benefit others, and encourage them to bear their fruit by connecting to the True Vine, Jesus Christ.

The average pastor cannot maintain a pastor’s schedule, manage all the demands of human needs and interaction, attended meetings, weddings, funerals, and remain human. He’ll either suck it up, put on his cape and pretend to soar, or he’ll take on the humility of Christ.

A good and wise pastor will understand that his heart and identity is far more important than is superhero reputation and notoriety. His true strength is in allowing his humanness to be seen from time to time and not his cape.

In other words, take on the humility of Christ and the burden of Christ. Did you know that bearing your cross is a very public affair? Jesus bore the weight of his cross in public, and, at the moment where he had lost his strength, a simple man aided him and carried his cross for a distance.

Pastoring is not maintaining an Olympic-style dash from crisis to crisis, and it’s not meant to be a solo act. It’s teamwork; it should involve the aid of well qualified and faithful elders and deacons. After all, the ministry of the Church is meant for the Church and not because of the Church. By each of us, you and me, joining in the ministry, we will grow in our faith and collectively reach maturity in Christ as a healthy body.

A superhero pastor has no time for teamwork, it’s just easier and less complicated to do it all himself.

Since scripture has defined the Church as a body, the concept of real and healthy ministry is when the entire body functions together, when each member does its intended and gifted part.

When we act properly like a body, we can create a safe and healthy community where pastors can thrive within healthy boundaries. Maybe then pastors can cease leaping tall buildings in a single bound.

There is so much more to talk about on this subject. But, until then, pray for your pastors. Become more involved. Give them grace. Take better care of one another. Visit one another. Pray for one another. Support your pastor, and not just with financial gifts, but with your time too.

After all, aren’t we all children of God?

Only in DC Comics will you find a Superman.

Courage vs Reluctance – By Thomas Koester

Balaam Son of Beor

My wife, Toni, and I had a short, but great conversation about the subtlety of compromise this morning.

The story of the wayward prophet, Balaam came to my mind from the book of Numbers, Chapters 22-25.

I truly believe this story of how a wayward prophet was able to cause God’s blessing to be removed from the Israelite Nation is so relevant for today.

It is happening right before our eyes!

Some would say, “but this is Old Testament, there’s no contemporary relevance.”

Well, the unfortunate actions of Balaam, son of Beor, is herald, not only in several other Old Testament books, from Numbers to Psalms, and from Psalms to Micah, but also in the New Testament; in 2 Peter 2:15, Jude 1:11, and the Book of Revelations, 2:14.

When prophets, as they are doing today, align themselves with divination, the occult, etc; when they are touted and listened to; when they cause God’s people to act and worship as the pagans do, God’s blessing is removed from our Churches and Nation. Evil will then run rampant.

When we are reluctant to do what honors God, our reluctance is a dishonor to his Name. It’s a dishonor to Jesus!

When we place the pleasure (feelings) of others above the holiness and righteousness of God, we’ll experience his displeasure and disfavor.

God’s favor is on the one, or the many, whose zealous, but humble actions bring honor to his Name, even in the small things.

Take Sydney McLaughlin, for instance, she sets a new world record and wins the gold metal for the USA in the women’s 400-meter hurdles.

“Records come and go, the glory of God is eternal.” and “ I no longer run for self-recognition, but to reflect His perfect will that is already set in stone. I don’t deserve anything. But by grace, through faith, Jesus has given me everything.” Sydney McLaughlin

Do not align yourself to the subtle compromises of others, or the rantings of false prophets, If you do, you’ll share their horrible fate.

Haven’t we compromised far too much as individuals, and especially as a Nation? Haven’t far too many Churches lowered their standards of Godliness and righteousness? Evil runs rampant, but not because evil is powerful, but because we lack the zeal of the Lord. God is all powerful, evil is not. The Church is to be a radiant expression of Christ and not a redundancy of worldly compromise.

It only took one man, named Balaam, a wayward Prophet, to cause a Nation to compromise. It only took one man, Phinehas, son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, whose zealous act turned away God’s wrath.

Where are the Phinehas’ of our day?

Where are the Sydney McLaughlin’s of our time that without compromise, give glory and honor to God?

“Courage, dear heart…” …defy reluctance!

Inspired by the Book of Numbers, Chapters, 22-25.