I Met Jesus Today – By Thomas Koester

One day, not long ago, I was walking from my truck towards a department store. As I crossed the parking lot to the sidewalk, I saw a young man, sitting against the building with his dog.

Something inside me whispered:

“Sit with him.”

Suddenly, as I sat there, people approaching the store stared at me. I immediately felt judged. I saw the snarls of disgust and could hear their whispered murmurs and felt their critical glances…

…I felt despised and rejected.

I sat there on the cold concrete with this houseless man in front of “Big Lots,” in Sonora, California. Suddenly, I heard, what seemed like the voice of God tell me his age.

I said:

So, Aaron, you’re 27.

He smiled and said:

Why, yes, I am!

…And so, the opportunity for a deeper conversation began.

I didn’t see Aaron, I saw Jesus. And I want all my brothers and sisters to know this…

…Jesus is everywhere!

He’s the Aarons and the Julies on the sidewalks, under bridges, at intersections and outside of McDonald’s and Taco Bell. He’s in the Safeway’s, Walmart’s and city streets. He’s in every line you stand in and every restaurant you visit.

I used to think Jesus was only in our Churches, but I’ve been so wrong. When Jesus walked the earth, some 2000 years ago, he was houseless too!

He’s out there and waiting for a cold cup of water or a warm coat; a meal or a place to lay his head. He’s longing for a conversation; just a little of your precious time.

I met Jesus today, and today his name is Aaron.

Ironically, the name Aaron means: Lofty; exalted; high mountain. My brief encounter with Aaron leads me to understand that Aaron didn’t feel lofty, exalted and in the safety of a high mountain.

Aaron needed me; he needed you too.

Please pray for courage and compassion, but not for the Aarons, but for ourselves – for each of us, my dear brothers and sisters, have the Good News. The Bread of Heaven and the Water of Life. Go and spread it out and pour it richly on the lost. They’re everywhere!

I am sorry Lord for being so blind and so stubborn. Heal my blindness and my hardness.

I may not have silver or gold, but what I do have; what we all have, all of us who call themselves by the name of Christ Jesus is far better and more precious.

I dare say that not a day goes by that I’ve not met Jesus or bumped into him in some way and in some place. My only regret is that my busyness or my smartphone has kept me from seeing Jesus in front of me.

Thank you, my Heavenly Father, for revealing your Son to me today. He is beautiful, and today, his name is Aaron!

Loving A Woman – By Thomas Koester

“Do I love you because you’re beautiful, Or are you beautiful because I love you?” ~ Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, “Cinderella”

Every man has a responsibility and privilege to “unearth” and discover the beauty within his wife, girlfriend or daughter. He can either bring it to the surface, cherish and celebrate it, or he can ignore it, leaving it buried.

Men, we will be held to account and will not escape God’s notice for every wrinkle and stain on the hearts of our wives and daughters. Their hearts surpasses our careers, our man-toys and sport statistics.

I was speaking with my son, Jordan one day about women and dating. We talked about how some women are too willing to give themselves to men and too many men are predatory. I’ll never forget my son’s answer to a question that I had asked him:

What do you do, son, when you find yourself in a situation where a woman throws herself at you?

“Dad, he replied, I will not take what dosen’t belong to me.”

I sat there, momentarily shocked and pleasantly surprised by his answer. His response was far beyond how most men, young or old would’ve answered that question.

My son understands that a real man gives, and does not take from a woman, no matter how beautiful or how needy she may be.

Nature teaches us that a man gives from his masculine strength, and a woman is a “receiver” from within her feminine soul — from her feminine “frailty.” This, in no wise suggests that the feminine soul is weak. Her feminine frailty is in her curvaceous form; the delicacy of her frame and the softness of her skin. A real woman is ferociously feminine and powerful in her own ways.

But, her feminine “frailty” goes deeper than her sexuality, her true frailty lies deep within her heart and soul, where her sensitive nature lives; where her desire for deep, meaningful relationship resides. Where her dreams live.

When a man takes from a woman, he robs her of all her treasures. He takes and takes, eventually leaving her empty. Leaving her feeling used. Feeling dirty. She’ll feel like an overdrawn bank account, with a guy cashing checks that don’t belong to him.

One of the saddest commentaries about our culture is that many women have abandoned the beauty and frailty of femininity. They have instead shutdown their hearts and souls in order to compete with men’s desires to consume flesh and pleasure. Romance has been replaced with conquest for both many men and women. When a man ceases to be the giver and a woman ceases to be the receiver, both devolve into takers.

How can you have a lasting, meaningful relationship when both partners are taking from each other?

A man is made to protect and to give from his masculine strength. While he too desires to be loved, his heart is after a woman’s respect. Being loved by a woman may be easy for many men, but to be liked; to be admired by her comes with certain sacrifice and humility.

A woman, though powerful in her own way, is made to receive, to be loved; to be fought for, cherished and wanted. She doesn’t want to be the center of a man’s world — she wants to share the world with her man. She doesn’t want to be the adventure — she desires to be adventurous with him.

When you give to a woman; when you actually love a woman, you make her beautiful on the inside and radiant on the outside.

Tell your wive, your girlfriend, or daughter that you love them in a thousand different ways, and if necessary use words.

Are You Bitter or Better? – The Choice For a Better Life – By Thomas Koester

“Be careful that no one fails to get God’s grace. Be careful that no one loses their faith and becomes like a bitter weed growing among you. Someone like that can ruin your whole group.” Hebrews 12:15 (ERV)

An old friend of mine would occasionally ask me;

Tom, are you bitter or better?

We are all confronted with hurt and pain from others and the choice to become bitter or better is available to all of us. So many times we unfortunately choose to be bitter. Bitterness is always a self-inflicted wound that left untreated will inflict others. Bitterness is always a choice.

Bitterness is a collection of wrongs done by others, causing emotional constipation, psychological disfigurement and spiritual disconnection from God and others.

The Holy Spirit always moves us away from bitterness and leads us towards betterment. That is what God’s grace means here, the empowerment to avoid bitterness.

Matter of fact, the verse from Hebrews warns us to be careful that no one fails to receive God’s grace, and that no one loses their faith. In other words, we need to watch each others back, rather than plunging knives into them.

Bitterness is the absence of God’s grace. It is a refusal to forgive others and letting go of offenses.

Untreated bitterness can cause us to lose our faith.

One of the most damaging and bitter causing things people do is called gossip. Gossip is the Devil’s tool of personal destruction and the spreading of bitterness.

We become bitter only when we reject God’s grace whispered to us by the Holy Spirit, and when we follow and listen to bitter people. Bitterness is a contagion; it is contracted through casual gossip and always corrupts the mind before it rots the soul. Bitterness has destroyed marriages, families, businesses and especially churches.

Stay with God’s Word and his distinct and clear voice – obey the Holy Spirit and become better.

Even if you are bitter you can become better. According to Hebrews 12:15, the antidote against bitterness is ensuring that not one person is missing out from God’s grace. Doing that leaves little time and opportunity for bitterness to take root.

When you stab yourself and others with bitterness, you also forfeit the grace which could be yours.

People will love a better you, but bitterness will drive even your closest friends away.

Do you want to live a better life?

Then forgive the offense of others and you’ll live a bitter free life.

The following is a movie clip that helps visualize what gossip looks like:

Prodigal Fathers And Lost Sons – By Thomas Koester

“Rise and rise again, until lambs become lions.”

The prime roll of a fathers is to create within their sons the ability to father. If we are to become a good and healthy culture, we would create a society of self governing men and responsible sons to become faithful fathers. But alas, most fathers are either detached emotionally from their sons or leave them all together. We are living in a time of prodigal fathers and detached sons, whereby the sons and fathers are both lost.

While growing up, I lived through this as a detached and lost son, and tragically, later in my life, as a prodigal father to my own children. I was lost and detached from my father, and when I became a father, I lacked the ability to become bonded or attached to my sons and daughter. I abandoned my children for the sake of fame and fortune, just as my father had done. I put my career above the needs of my children at a time in their lives when they needed me the most.

Just before my father died, God put it into my heart to wrestle for the blessing. Just four days before my father passed, we turned our hearts towards each other. His, “I love you too, son,” responses to my, I love you, dad, brought me back to life as a man and fulfilled my quest in becoming my father’s beloved son.

More importantly, the night of October 7, 1998, my father, in turning his heart towards me, made it possible for me to believe that I am also God’s beloved son. And frankly, this began a chain reaction, whereby in a few short years I became the man I was destined to become and finally the father my children had longed for. It also profoundly changed me into the husband my wife, Toni had prayed for.

This amazing encounter with my dad changed the trajectory of my life, and would eventually change the lives and trajectory of my children. A prodigal father turned his heart towards his son and a lost son was found. God’s amazing grace healed, not only a lost prodigal father, but also a lost and broken son.

There is hope for lost fathers and lost sons.

See the movie “Warrior” With Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Nick Nolte and Jennifer Morrison. The youngest son of an alcoholic former boxer returns home. At one point in the film, the father tormented by guilt and an inability to reach his sons, cries out:

“We’re so lost …so lost!”

What they need is redemption and forgiveness. This is just what most of us need also. Watch the movie to find whether they had succeeded.

In the latest of the Robin Hood movies, starring Russel Crowe; Robin, being the lost son of a forgotten father, rediscovers his past in the very town he was born. He recalls his painful memory of his father’s stand against tyranny. While he and his band of men were visiting his hometown, Robin removes a stone at the monument located at the town square, where he finds both the imprint of his little hand next to his father’s. He places his now fully grown hand into his father’s imprint, which is a perfect match.

He also finds the same inscription on the underside of the stone he removed, which bears the same inscription that is on the handle of a sword he’d earlier recovered. It says “Rise and rise again, until lambs become lions.” And it means, never give up until the impossible happens.

Boys and men, never give up until the impossible happens! Seek out your lost fathers; fathers seek out your lost sons! seek them with everything you’ve got! Forgive them, love them and change both your lives and destinies.

Keep rising until the impossible happens.

Doing The Impossible – By Thomas Koester

Faith is not what you can do, but what you can’t do. It’s not where you go, but where you cannot go. Faith moves you towards the impossible, or it’s not faith at all.

Belief in God is not only about his existence, but more so about our obedience to his existence.

If we cannot see the works of the Father, it is because we are too wrapped up with our own work, and yes, this can include “church work.” We may not need faith for our own work, but we can only do God’s work by faith. Christian populism and “the power of positive thinking” has diminished faith to mere “tips and tricks,” or following “principles” without relationship to the Prince of Peace.

His work most often brings us to risk our comforts, and at times, even our safety. His will requires passionate courage to obey. Our work brings enslavement, sweat, and at times, depression and boredom. Many of us are killing ourselves for a paycheck. If we believe and obey God and join him in his work, we will no longer live as slaves, but as free men. “Wherever the Spirit of God is there is freedom!” Freedom to move towards adventure and risk with God is core to walking in faith with him.

As noted Author, John Eldridge, has penned;

“Asking God, how? …Is a faithless question.”

Obeying God, and following his will, means that the “how” is already worked out by God. Trusting God with the unknown details and acting on his will without knowing how, is the definition of faith.

God’s individual will for us has got to become as basic as eating food. In order to move in faith we must become vitality dependent on God’s will and preplanned purpose for our lives.

My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. John 4:34

“For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:50

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. John 14:23

Faith and obedience leads to Intimacy with both the Father and the Son. You can’t exercise faith apart from an intimate relationship with the Father and the Son.

If you try and do things apart from knowing God, you’ll be in danger of practicing lawlessness, or unauthorized acts of whatever you call “righteousness.”

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Find where God’s Spirit is working and go there quickly and passionately. It’s only there where you can do the impossible and find true life and real living.

Ask yourself, do I need God to accomplish this? The answer may require you to do the impossible.

God’s Got This – By Thomas Koester

I have been reading a lot of posts from friends or acquaintances sharing stories of physical pain through sickness or tragic circumstances, and their experiences and stories hits you right in the heart.

For us who believe in God, pain and suffering are designed to create something in us and through us. It’s meant to transform us and prepare us for what is and what will be.

“The Glory of God is man fully alive,” penned Saint Iraneous – AD 130 to AD 202

In God’s economy, being fully alive means to completely die to sin, flesh and the Devil. Which, is to say that we need to be completely unavailable to the Devil, to sin and to the desires of the flesh. And man, it really hurts to become what we should be, and to become image bearers of God’s Son, Jesus.

We’ve all suffered loss to some extent, and loss through pain and suffering will visit us from time to time. It’s an inevitability and a certainty because we all live in a fallen world.

But, these transitional pressures, whether they be spiritual or physical can even cause weight loss and a reduction to our physical abilities. Not a weight loss program that I’d volunteer for mind you, but this stuff just shows us that at times even our physical bodies change due to pressures of life and out of control circumstances.

God has a glory in mind for each one of us, not just in heaven, but here, and now, and even in the midst of the storm you’re in. The tension between walking in His reflective and intended glory and our sin hiding it or fighting it, brings about seasons of breakdowns. The breakdowns, that is, our crushings, brings the breakthroughs that God has long ago prepared for us.

There is a beautiful placard hanging in the reception area of my office, and it reads:

“The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not Protect you”

This means that while God’s glory for your life comes at a price, no matter the cost, God’s grace will aid you and protect you through that cost.

Glory has a price, and the cost is always our will and our flesh. For the Apostle Paul, it meant that he died daily and that he born a thorn in his flesh, not reminding him that’s he’s human, but because he had received amazing and otherworldly revelations. The thorn helped him manage the glory, which God sovereignly bestowed upon him.

And this brings me to you. To the glory that God has planned for you long ago…

Your losses, whether they be your health or even the health of loved ones, or your comforts and the comforts of others is not happenstance, but God’s eternal plan working in you and in others for your good and for God’s glory.

“No man can see God and live,” says Scripture. There is therefore, a cost in being the image bearer of his Son. Jesus said: “The World hates me, and if you follow me, the World will also hate you.”

The “hate of the World,” is not just physical, but psychological and spiritual. The World hates the Messiah and especially his offspring. The World absolutely hates the Glory of God and the Glory of his Dear Son, Jesus Christ, who is The Glory and Righteousness of God.

Therefore the world hates anything in the likeness of Christ and that which reflects his glory.

Revelation 12:17

“And the dragon was in raged with the woman, and went to make war with her offspring, those that keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Because of God’s plan for your life and the Glory of your life in Christ Jesus, you’ve become an enemy of the World; of the flesh and especially Devil.

The women of “The View” took a shot at Vice President, Pence’s Christian faith a year or so ago, mocking the former governor of Indiana for talking to Jesus and even calling it a “mental illness.” You see, even in Joy Behar’s uninformed remarks can there be an opportunity to reveal Jesus Christ to the Nations, and that Jesus Christ does speak to all those who belong to him. “My sheep hear my voice.” said Jesus. Even in our suffering can we hear the voice of our Savior and even through harsh remarks from the ladies of The View can bring about God’s glory in his Son, and in you too!

Glory in your tribulations; in your pain and in your sufferings, because of these things, you are being made beautiful and in this beauty lies your glory. So, let the glory of your life shine brightly and hold onto the Word of life; hold onto it with everything that you’ve got!

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Be like Job…

“…But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” Job 2:10

Glory to glory causes you to glorify God and it is totally worth all you’re going through. All of that Job suffered, was not for nothing, but brought about a glory bestowed and an honor for which we can read about thousands of years later.

…Yes, God restored Job; he restored him to an even greater state than Job could ever have imagined.

Because of Christ, you will, and have already surpassed Job. So remember….

…God’s got this!

Adjust Your Trust | How To Triumph In Difficult Times – By Thomas Koester

God has promised not to give us more than we can bear.

This goes for both crisis and blessings.

The truth is that God will not allow either crisis or blessings to destroy us. We forget that God intimately knows our limits and he works within the unseen and unknowable boundaries of our individual lives.

Many of us break apart too soon, and so miss what God is doing through the crisis, or we cap off his blessings too early because of false humility.

You see, we miss out on transformation and glorification because we doubt God’s heart. We give too much power to the Devil, and so, diminish the greatness of God and his workings in our lives.

We need to adjust our trust…

Our trust must be unconditional in God, or our trust in him will fail on the day of uncertainty and crisis.

The Prophet Isaiah puts it this way:

I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things. Isaiah 45:7

Job discusses this dilemma with his wife..

…His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”

Job replies, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not evil?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said. Job 2:9-10

You see, we need to adjust our trust as to the unchangeable nature of who God is, and not to how our circumstances make us feel. God is in control of absolutely everything and He wants us to be masters over evil, rather than evil mastering over us.

God explains to Cain:

“What’s with this tirade and sulking? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” Gen. 4:7

Our feelings are uncertain and always changing, but God is a sure foundation. He’s not controlled by emotions.

We need to unconditionally trust God’s heart. Not at all easy, but real and authentic trust requires genuine faith.

If you consistently adjust your trust to what you feel, you end up inviting the Devil to be the interpreter of your crisis. He would have you curse God and die, rather than die to your false imaginations and feelings and live. The Devil is a trickster and a hustler of all sorts of feelings.

An unwavering trusting child of God, no matter the circumstances, is a destroyer of evil, and an unquenchable light in the most darkest night!

Shine brightly my dear brothers and sisters!

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

By the way, the above verse is now all in present tense!

Adjust Your Trust in the Unchangeable and Everlasting Father. He is The Wonderful Counselor, God of the Angel Armies and The Prince of Peace!

Adjust your trust in God – it’s all on His shoulders and not yours.

….And your life will becoming radiant as you triumph through difficulties. All because God knows what he’s doing, and you belong to him. You are His responsibility.