Say What You Need to Say – By Thomas Koester

I Love You. The Three Most Powerful Words.

Can three little words truly be so powerful?

I lived through nearly four decades of silence from my father. Four days before he passed I had the opportunity to stay over night with him in the VA Hospital in Martinez, CA. (My father was wounded in action by a missile attack, during the Korean War on September 19, 1952). After the lights went out courage rose within in my heart and I spoke the three most important words that I could speak to the Most important man in my life:

Dad?

“Yes son.”

Dad, …I love you!

What felt like an eternity of silence filled the darkened hospital room…

…Then, from his weaken condition I heard what my heart and soul had so longed to hear in the 39 silent years I had lived:

“I love you too, son.”

Suddenly, unspeakable joy filled my heart, and tears rolled down my face. I called out to my dad several times that night, saying:

Dad?

“Yes son.”

Dad, …I love you!

“I love you too, son.”

I heard the voice of my father say he loves me, and it washed all the years of hurt, anger and loneliness from my body, soul and mind. My father’s words were healing and had changed my life from that day forward.

My father’s words helped me to accept my Heavenly Father’s words over me.

“I am my beloveds and he is mine, his banner over me is love!” Songs of Songs.

“See, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreaded day of the Lord. 6 He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” Malachi 4:5-6 (MEV)

Jesus came to me late in the night of October 8, 1998 in that VA Hospital in Martinez California. He bound up my wounds, and healed my broken heart. He set this captive free and released me from a prison of loneliness, despair and anger. He lifted the curse from my life, and in becoming my father’s beloved son, I became God’s also!

“Come away with me my love, my lovely one come. For you with winter is over and gone. The snow has melted and the flowers are in bloom; the cooing of the turtle doves can be heard throughout the land. Come away with me my love, my lovely one come. Your face is beautiful, your voice is sweet. Come away with me my love, my lovely one come.” Songs of Songs

My Dad became my hero and went away to be with the Lord of Life on October 12, 1998. I stood at his right side, holding his hand until he breathed his last breath. He looked up to the ceiling, smiled and then was gone. We all wept so loudly as a family that our cries could be heard throughout the wing of the hospital.

A few moments later, I reached my right hand over my loving fathers face, and I closed my father’s eyes.

Yes, words do matter. Be brave, be courageous and allow your heart to speak its words before it is too late. The “I love you dad,” opened my father’s heart, which had echoed those desperately needed words from him into my hungry and hurting heart and soul.

There is unspeakable power in the three most simple words of; “I love you,” or “please forgive me.” While these words are simple, it takes great courage to say them. Please, don’t be stubborn and don’t be afraid, but do listen and do speak.

“Scripture says, “If you hear God speak today, don’t be stubborn. Don’t be stubborn like those who rebelled.” Hebrews 3:15 (God’s Word)

Don’t let silence kill your life, your joy, or your future. Speak and live!

Watch this John Mayer Music Video and

“Say what you need to say…”

…And let your heart speak.

The All Encompassing All Consuming Other Worldly Life – By Thomas Koester

Full-Time Pastors are not a justification for our part-time Christianity. Neither is Christianity simply a vocation for the elite and educated clergy.

It is a radical new culture and community; a new way of life and living, it is not a compartmentalized life, whereby God is public on Sundays, but private on Mondays through Saturdays; not an alternate-parallel life style – that is, one foot in Church and one foot in the world. It is an all-consuming, all-encompassing other-worldly life.

True Christianity is so radical, so alien that your only way to survive in it is to suit up in complete faith. Natural laws and physics are are without limits and barriers; economy and dominion are infinite and ever expanding. Sickness and disease are opportunities and victories for growth. For the believer, death is but a brief knapp and an instant passage from a lessor glory to a full glory.

However, someone suggested that in order to reach the world, we must act like the world and, well, that’s certainly backfired!

Somewhere along the way, we’ve become the world, and therefore the world has nothing to see; there’s no contrast. The world is left without a testimony. Jesus himself said before he ascended into heaven:

“When I return, will I find faith on earth?”

Let’s stop our part-time Christianity and make it our full-time life. Let’s not leave our Christian duties and responsibilities for our pastors, but all do the work of ministry.

Doing nothing to very little with our faith stunts our growth as a godly people. Serving others and doing the work of ministry causes us to flourish and reach maturity in faith.

The world needs grown up Christians and not another worldly-religious order.

Final thought…

Your pastor will not be standing in for you on your behalf at The Judgement Seat of Christ. No, it’ll be just you, and what you have, and have not done to the least of one of these.

You’re not saved by your works, but your works validates your faith. Faith without works is dead, and works without faith and without love is nothing at all.

I challenge you to show off your faith to the unseen world, that the world in which we live will see your faith and believe. Make your Heavenly Father proud, and give him many reasons to say: “Well done, my faithful son or daughter.”

When your faith lights up, it shows off the incomparable brightness and weightiness of God.

I Met Jesus Today – By Thomas Koester

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Heb. 13:2

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 led me to believe 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.