As I prepared to write the July article, I did so with a heavy heart. ThunderHeart Ministries Prison Team lost one of its own. George “Train” Kostka went home to be with the Lord on the morning of July 5, 2011. After months of being ill and dealing with being poked, prodded, and tested, God gave Train the ultimate healing … to go to live with his Heavenly Father for eternity. His funeral was a home going service that touched those who attended. Train was nothing extraordinary physically and in fact was quite meek in stature. He wasn’t loud and boisterous but he lived his faith in the Lord out loud. What I mean is his daily life reflected his desire to be Christ-like in his actions and deeds. I have seen him go into a cellblock to visit inmates in lockdown and he would walk up to a cell containing an inmate three times his size and very quickly that inmate would be drawn to what Train had to say. I believe there are two very important reasons for this; Train spoke with the authority of the Lord and he spoke from his heart. As I reflected on the many times that I watched Train do this I began to think about how so many men, claiming to be God’s men, who don’t live their lives as Train so admirably lived his life. I’d like to take time to look at these two reasons that could have such an incredible impact in reaching others with the Gospel.
While I am quite sure most of you reading this article have read, or at least heard about, the Great Commission. We have conveniently grown to believe that this passage of scripture is directed to those “called” to be missionaries and the rest of us, at best, are supposed to financially and prayerfully support them in their efforts. While financial and prayer support are very important, we are all called to be missionaries if we profess to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Jesus said “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus first states that He has been given all authority in heaven and earth; then He gives us a command which makes us a partner in His authority. The problem is that men in the United States have grown to interpret that directive “go” to mean specific individuals called to be missionaries. While it is true that God calls servants to go to foreign lands and the uttermost reaches of the earth, that is not what is meant by Jesus direction to “go and make disciples of all nations.” Unfortunately there are times when the translation from Greek to English just doesn’t quite hit the mark. This is just such an occasion and it has been suggested that maybe a better way to think of this directive is “as you go make disciples.” You see this would mean that no matter what your profession or status in life, you are to always be striving to “make disciples.” This is not an assignment just for what we consider the “called” … it is a directive to all of us who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ. Train recognized this and that he had been given the authority through Jesus Christ. His mission always, no matter what task he had at hand, was to make disciples. Jesus Christ has given us authority therefore “AS YOU GO MAKE DISCIPLES.”
The second reason Train was so effective in sharing the Gospel is he spoke from his heart. There are numerous references, word pictures, directives, and descriptions throughout God’s Holy Word made using the word “heart.” The NIV 1984 Translation of the Holy Bible uses the word heart over 740 times. As I considered the many options of scripture that could be used, the Holy Spirit led me to 1 John 3:16-24. John tells us “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.” As followers of Jesus Christ our hearts will be the gauge we use to determine our status with our Heavenly Father. Satan always works through our minds and attempts to confuse our hearts. When we are in a right relationship with our Heavenly Father (as we have discussed previously, this is simply what is known as the definition of “righteousness”) then our hearts are confident and we can fully utilize the authority given to us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As John tells us, we can’t just talk about the love of God; we must demonstrate it by our actions!
Our society has twisted and distorted the definition of the word love and men have readily bought into these definitions of convenience. Humanism defines love as “if it feels good do it” and far too many men have jumped on the bandwagon to support this self-serving and selfish definition. God’s men would do well to remember what we are told by Paul when he said “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” If we truly comprehend the hope that exists through Jesus Christ, the inheritance we are promised by our personal relationship with Him, and the great power God has given us through this personal relationship, how in the world can we not speak from our hearts? Train knew Christ was his personal savior and the source of his power and therefore he was not hesitant to use the great gift God had given to him.
While I will greatly miss my Brother in Christ George “Train” Kostka, I know he is with our Heavenly Father and I will see him again. I and the men of ThunderHeart Ministries were so blessed to have known and served with a man of God that spoke with the authority of the Lord and always spoke from his heart. May God challenge many more of His men to be such a warrior for the cause of Christ!