Activation Movement Blog
- The Key To Your Heart
11/03/2017"My beloved put his hand by the latch of the door, and my heart yearned for him."- Song of Songs 5:4A few days ago I was going for a run, one of my favorite times to listen to praise and worship music and hear from God. As I was sifting through the song selections on my phone, I decided to do something I've never done before - I asked God what He wanted to hear. And just like so many other times I've heard from God, His answer was totally unexpected and taught me another important lesson in my relationship journey with the Father.
The song I heard God say was "Let My Love Open The Door," a song by Pete Townshend, lead guitarist of the famous classic rock band The Who. I knew the song, but I also knew it had to be God, since I haven't thought of or heard that song in years. With it being a secular song, I wondered if I had heard right, and couldn't wait to look up the lyrics to see why God had chosen this song.
Not surprisingly, the lyrics were a perfect message for me, and really for all of us, when put into the perspective of this song coming from God:When people keep repeatingThat you'll never fall in loveWhen everybody keeps retreatingBut you can't seem to get enoughLet my love open the doorLet my love open the doorLet my love open the door to your heartWhen everything feels all overEverybody seems unkindI'll give you a four-leaf cloverTake all worry out of your mindLet my love open the doorLet my love open the doorLet my love open the door to your heartI've got the only key to your heartI can stop you from falling apartTry today, you'll find this wayCome on and give me a chance to sayLet my love open the doorIt's all I'm living forRelease yourself from miseryThere's only one thing gonna set you freeThat's my loveThat's my loveLet my love open the doorLet my love open the doorLet my love open the doorLet my love open the doorWhen tragedy befalls youDon't let it drag you downLove can cure your problemsYou're so lucky I'm aroundLet my love open the doorLet my love open the doorLet my love open the door to your heartAnd just for good measure, in case some of you (including myself) wonder if this song was just a random thought, here was a quote of the day I read later that evening from E. Stanley Jones, a missionary to India:"Where other keys get jammed, love opens the door, for it fits the heart - every heart."Wow! Isn't God amazing! I learned some important lessons about God from this experience. First and most obviously, was the message from the song that God's thoughts about us are those of love, that He holds the key to our heart if we will open the door and let Him in. We are always on His mind, and He loves each of us! And even though I know He loves me, I never get tired of hearing it, just like we always appreciate the reinforcement when our loved ones say, "I love you!"
But the other important takeaway was the fact that God used a "secular" song to communicate with me. You may miss out on hearing from God if your mind is closed to what you view as "non-Christian" sources. Be open to all the ways God can talk to us - God created it all, and He can use it all for His glory!
So take the time to ask God how He wants to share His love with you - and be open (and amazed) at His answers!"Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts."
- Psalm 139:23-Adam Gellert
- God Is Love
10/18/2017No matter what you believe, or who you believe in, all people believe in Love. At the core of humanity, we all want to be loved, and love others. The Beatles sang, "All You Need Is Love." And the Bible says, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
What is love? The dictionary defines love as "an intense feeling of deep affection." But love goes deeper than this. My favorite description of love is a Bible Scripture read at many weddings, including my own, from 1 Corinthians 13:"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."I think most people, Christians and non-Christians alike, would read this and agree with the author, Paul, on this description of love. We read or hear these verses and our spouse, children, or other loved ones come to mind. But let me challenge you with another twist to this Scripture, one that may make you squirm in your chair a little.
We also read in 1 John 4:8 that "God is love." He is the very essence of love. But do you really believe it? Let's look at 1 Corinthians 13 with a new lens:"God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, God does not boast, God is not proud. God does not dishonor others, God is not self-seeking, God is not easily angered, God keeps no record of wrongs. God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails."
What's your reaction to this verse now? Does it feel the same as before? If not, why?
What has been your experience with God? What is your relationship with Him?
- Do you believe God is patient with you, that He is kind?
- Do you believe God does not envy, that He doesn't boast, that He is not proud?
- Do you believe God does not dishonor you, that He is not self-seeking?
- Do you believe God is not easily angered with you?
- Do you believe God keeps no record of your wrongs?
- Do you believe God does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth?
- Do you believe God always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres?
- Do you believe God never fails you?
I think most of us, if we are really honest with ourselves, have a difficult time answering "Yes" to all (or even most) of these questions. We've been hurt, disappointed, let down, experienced loss, wondered why something had to happen the way it did. We think we've done too much to really be loved unconditionally. How can God allow all these bad things to happen to me, or to the world around us, if He really loves us?
But if you will let Him in, and seek God with all your heart, soul, and mind, you'll discover there is no room for doubt in any of these areas. Because God is love, we are believing a lie if we accept any other belief about who He is, and how He sees us.God created each of us to be in a loving relationship with Him. So much so that He willingly sacrificed His one and only Son, Jesus, to die for us, so that we could be in a love relationship with our Creator, an unconditional love that frees us from the bondage of death, to spend eternity with our one true Love. Accept this today and experience God, experience Love."All you need is God."- Adam Gellert
- My Encounter With God
09/19/2017After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. - 1 Kings 19:12-13I always enjoy reading stories about near-death experiences and other encounters people have with the heavenly realm. It encourages us in our faith, and gives us hope in a future eternity with God. I shared one such story from a friend in a previous blog entry, The Day I Touched Heaven. And I'm currently reading an amazing book, Imagine Heaven, by John Burke, which relates several incredible stories of people's miraculous journeys to heaven and meeting God or Jesus (or both).Reading this book reminded me that I have yet to share on this site my own amazing story of meeting God (I shared it in my book); it changed my life and continues to give me confidence and hope daily, and I pray it does the same for you.Many years ago, I dozed off to sleep one night, unaware that I was about to encounter the Creator of the universe. I dreamed I was at my grandparents’ home. Everyone in my core family was there in the dream with me - my parents, brother, grandparents, and aunts and uncles. Suddenly, someone in the group told me that God wanted to speak to me, and it was as if I knew just what to do or expected it. I had no fear.I was in the family room, and a fog or mist, low to the ground, came out of the hallway that led to my grandparents’ bedroom. The fog came right toward me, and I somehow knew that God himself was approaching. I covered my face with my hands as He drew near, and I knew in my Spirit that I could not look.I squeezed my eyes shut just as I was engulfed in the brightest light I had ever seen. There was warmth around me that made me so comfortable and free; the warmth may be the thing I remember most vividly. Then I felt a hand on my right shoulder, and I was aware that it was God’s right hand. As I reflected on this later, I knew this was a purposeful and orderly act, because this would not be the natural placement of someone’s right hand as they were reaching out to touch someone’s right shoulder. Scripture also confirms this:When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said, “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.” - Revelation 1:17While He was touching my right shoulder, I heard a voice in my right ear speaking these comforting words, "It's okay; it's okay." Amazingly, His voice was both different and as familiar as my earthly father's voice. The voice was speaking into my right ear. This was strange and unbelievable. Why? Because I've been deaf in my right ear since birth!It was a perfect moment - blinded by light, enveloped in radiant warmth, a hand on my shoulder, and the familiar, paternal voice of my Father. The experience only lasted for several seconds. I was so upset when I woke up because I never wanted to leave that moment. I was so comforted and at peace.This dream changed my life forever and serves as a foundation of my faith today. I now have the confidence of knowing that in the heart of it all, the God whose presence I experienced, whose hand touched me, and whose voice I heard, is alive, He is real, and He loves me as a father loves his child. I also no longer have a fear of death - if leaving this world means getting to be in His presence and having that same experience for eternity, I’m ready to go at any time! That’s how amazing and real my dream was.I hope this testimony encourages you to know that God loves each of us in a very real and personal way. As you walk through life's journey, He is with you every step of the way, encouraging you with the comforting words, "It's okay." Because an eternity of joy, peace, love, and God's warm presence awaits you.The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. - Matthew 4:16-Adam Gellert
- What Color Were Your Shoes?
08/27/2017"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." -Ecclesiastes 3:11In the natural world, time dominates much of how we operate our lives. We wake up and go to sleep at certain times, we celebrate another year of being alive on our birthday, and we see the impact of time as our own mortality comes into view in our later years. The idea of eternity is so difficult for humans since our lives are time bound, with a defined beginning and end.
So what will our eternity look like? What will we remember from our time on earth? It boggles the mind to think about the concept of our existence never having an end, forever living in our spiritual bodies. What will carry through from our time in this life?
During my participation in Gateway Church's freedom program called "Kairos," a story from one presenter still sticks in my mind and has changed how I view my priorities during my time on earth.
The presenter asked God these same questions about eternity, and God answered:
"You were in second grade, right?"
"Yes," the man replied.
"Do you remember what color your shoes were the first day of second grade?"
"No," was the response.
"Do you remember what you had for lunch the first day of school?"
"But you were there, right?"
"Yes," was the reply.
Then God said, "This is what eternity will be like. You will know you were on the earth, that you were there, but that's all you will remember over the span of eternity."
This story really shook my world. What it made so clear is that our day-to-day life, and the things we worry about most of the time, don't really matter in the long run. My focus should be on eternity, and my relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who will be with me on the eternal journey. And what can I be doing during my short time on earth to impact eternity - who else can I help introduce to Jesus? How can I be a light to the world? I can see now why Jesus and his disciples were focused solely on bringing people into repentance, into a relationship with the Savior - because in the end that's all that matters.
Knowing this truth about eternity, and the few things that will remain from this earthly experience, what are you focusing your time and attention on? Are those things going to last, will they have eternal impact? If not, maybe it's time to take a fresh look at your true calling and purpose as a follower of Jesus.
- Adam GellertFor more information on Gateway's "Kairos" program, click here.
- Strawberry Fields
07/06/2017"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me." - John 15:4-5I have to admit, I have a rebellious tendency that can get me into trouble. I recall a personality test I took at work years ago, where the watch out for my manager was to "understand his need to rebel." I also rated high on "mischievous" on another assessment, defined as a "fondness for causing trouble in a playful way." This can make for a dangerous combination, but also has some positives in that I'm willing to take risks and challenge the status quo when a different direction may be needed.
So why do we rebel? It's because we resist control and authority. We see it as teenagers when we resist our parents' control and authority over our lives, and as adults in the workplace when we resist a manager's direction or a company policy. And we see it in the Bible, with many examples of people who resist submitting their will to God because of their desire for control and independence.
I was spending time with God recently during a period of heightened rebellion in my relationship with Him, when He said, "Strawberries." I was left with the impression that He was using this to describe me, so I looked up strawberries to discover what it was about them that He attributed to me.
Sure enough, I learned that strawberries can be very high maintenance. When in growth mode, strawberries produce "runners," or vines that extend from the "mother" plant and try to grow new "daughter" plants. The problem is, these runners take energy away from the mother plant, and farmers typically trim most of these runners back to allow for more growth of the mother plant. So while strawberries have many outstanding health benefits and taste great, farmers who grow strawberries know they are dealing with a fruit that takes more care than others.
What does this mean for those of us who tend to be more rebellious? It's actually great news, because God created each of us to be special and unique, and He knows that He has to tend the "garden" of His creation in unique ways. It's no surprise that He began creation with the Garden of Eden, with its large variety of plants and trees. He loves tending to His garden of unique personalities with each person He created, and He's not scared or intimidated by your unique personality traits.
But now that I know I'm a strawberry in God's garden, I want to be more mindful of the potential "runners" in my life that keep me from bearing the best fruit possible. For me it's rebellion and the desire to have control. I can ask God to expose and trim back these runners, so I can better submit to His perfect plan and will for my life.
What runners are getting in the way of your best life? Ask God, the perfect Gardner, to expose and trim these areas, so you can bear the fruit God intended.
- Man Overboard!
05/05/2017"Keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith." - 1 Timothy 1:19
In the Christian community, we like to talk about our ability to cast our cares upon Jesus. 1 Peter 5:7 says, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." And Psalm 55:22 says, "Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken." For me, when reading these verses I always had an image of taking whatever cares or burdens of our lives - worries, grief, hurts, anger - and placing them on Jesus' back as I walk with Him on life's journey. As I hike up the mountain or down into the valley, Jesus is walking ahead of me, guiding me along the path with my heavy backpack of burdens on his shoulders.
But that implies that our burdens are still with us on the journey, that Jesus keeps those burdens as we walk together. And our burdens actually need to be cast away, or released, since they get in the way of a full relationship with the Lord.
Recently, God gave me a vision that has changed my perspective on what it really means to cast our cares on Him. He showed me the image of having to throw the cargo overboard on a ship during a storm. And it made me wonder, why did people do that during Bible times? We see in the story of both Jonah and Paul that they were on a boat that was in danger of sinking because of a storm. The crew starts throwing its cargo overboard, so why did they do this?
To lighten the ship. A heavy cargo makes a ship sit deeper in the water, which is dangerous in shallow water. The crew threw the cargo overboard so the ship would sit higher in the water in case they were blown near land, where their boat would get destroyed on the shallow reefs, rocks, and harbors. If the bottom of the ship ran aground miles from any shore, they faced the prospect of being tossed into the sea. Thus, when you are faced with life or death, everything (even the food) becomes expendable.
Lightening the ship also stabilizes it in rough seas. If the ship got tossed to one side and became unbalanced, a heavy ship would be more likely to follow the energy and due to inertia (the law where objects in motion want to stay in motion), it would tip over.
Further, throwing cargo overboard makes the ship go faster in case the men wanted to try to outrun the storm.
With this analogy, God was showing me that there were some things I was holding onto, that I needed to throw away to lighten my ship. The storms that will hit all of us at some point or another, can serve as a way to force us to throw away some things we view as "precious cargo," such as a job, money, pride, rebellion, or anything else that keeps us from relying solely on Him. When the seas are quiet and the ship of life is cruising along smoothly, we aren't challenged to let go of some things that could make us stronger in the long run.
What cargo do you need to throw overboard to lighten the load? Ask God to reveal this to you through the Holy Spirit, and watch your ship pick up speed past the storms, and into the calm seas of God's presence. And you'll find that the cargo you thought was essential to your journey, were actually a hindrance to being who God created you to be..."We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." - Hebrews 6:19-20
- An Ocean of Secrets
03/30/2017"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." - James 5:16
I was watching the movie Titanic recently, one of my favorites. The main character, Rose, tells the story of her romance with Jack, which ends when he dies in the Titanic sinking. Nearing the end of her life, Rose confesses to her granddaughter this secret love she had before meeting her husband later in life. In this moment of confession, she says to her granddaughter and the others listening to the story, "A woman's heart is a deep ocean of secrets."
This was such a interesting statement, and my first reaction was to think, "Not just a woman's. We all have an ocean of secrets." And while the movie portrayed her secrets as part of her adventurous, romantic mystique, most secrets create a bondage in our lives. People keep secrets because they are ashamed, and don't want others to know about the sin committed, lie told, or law broken. We have an image to uphold in front of others, and we are afraid of what people may think about us if they were to know about these secrets.
Fortunately, God knows everything about us - what we have done and what we will do - and loves us as sons and daughters. He sent Jesus to forgive us from our sins, and if we will receive it, we are washed clean from our ocean of secrets. I know I am comforted knowing that He is aware of everything I've done and will do, and loves me all the same.
But sometimes that's not enough to heal us from our ocean of secrets. As we see in James 5:16, God tells us to "confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed." Confession releases power in your inner healing, as God honors the Body of Christ as a conduit for his work in each member of the Body. In other words, we were not meant to "go it alone."
One person who learned this powerful truth was Agnes Sanford, a founding member of the Charismatic Movement in the mid 1900s. Agnes had a powerful healing ministry, and her first book, The Healing Light, was a best-seller. But she found herself drained of her power as she gave more and more of herself in prayer for others, and from traveling around the country speaking. One day she asked God how her strength could be restored, and He revealed to her that confession was the answer. As one of her friends told her, "The confessional sets free in you the power of God through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ. It releases power in the way that is the most simple and wholesome and human."
So Agnes, coming from a church background that did not practice confessionals, split her life into seven periods of time. She asked the Holy Spirit to reveal to her any unforgiven sins, hurts, or other memories from each of those seven time periods, writing them all down. Finally, she shared everything from her list with a priest from another church, who prayed with her for her forgiveness. The priest said, "Although so few people know it, the church through Jesus Christ really does have the power to forgive sins."
Sure enough, Agnes said she "had hardly gone out of the place before I was flooded from head to foot with the most overwhelming vibrations...and indeed a healing process did begin in me at that time." She was able to continue her ministry with vibrancy and power after learning to take advantage of confession.
My home church, Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, aligns to this approach and includes a confessional time in its "Kairos" freedom program. I participated in this myself, and agree with Agnes that there's something powerful about telling another person about a sin you have never told anyone about, that's been kept buried inside. It was very liberating.
If your "ocean of secrets" is keeping you from being the whole person God intended you to be, I would encourage you to explore a confession of those secrets to a member of the Body of Christ - a priest, pastor, or other Christian brother or sister. And watch Jesus work in His promise to heal you and set you free.
03/08/2017"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." - Isaiah 40:31
When I was told ten months ago that my position was being eliminated at the company where I had worked for over ten years, I wasn't too worried. I was confident in the experience I had built over a 17-year career, and knew the economy was strong in my area. God had warned me about the change by telling me He would give me "strength for the days ahead," and that He would "close my wound with new skin quickly" (Isaiah 58:8). The company offered me a lower level role, but I turned it down, confident in God's word for me and excited to see what God had in store for my next adventure.
Little did I realize the challenge I was going to face in finding employment, and had I known the long and difficult road that lay in front of me, I might have made a different decision. Most of the time I've felt the strength promised by God, but I've also had periods of anger, confusion, and doubt. I don't understand why God's timing has to include a wait of several months for the next part of my journey to begin. I've enjoyed the time off from a busy work environment to spend more time with family and friends, and in quiet time with God. But we were made to work, to have a purpose. So why do I have to keep waiting?
In the midst of this struggle, I was going through some old files on my computer, and I found the following poem that I had saved from 1999. I don't know why I was attracted to the poem at that time - I graduated from school that year and landed a job right away, and was engaged to be married, so I didn't have a reason to be drawn to it. But now, in this season, it is perfect. Looking back, it seems as though God called me to this poem as a prophetic look into a future time when I would need it, and then prompted me to search through these files at just the right time. He is amazing!
I hope this poem, written by an unknown author, encourages you during a season of waiting. That may be now, or could be many years from now, so save it for whenever you may need it. It shows us that waiting may, in the long run, be the greatest gift we could receive in this season, and we'll look back later and be thankful for God's perfect timing as our life's plan unfolds.WAIT
Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
quietly, patiently, lovingly God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate,
and the Master who gently said, "Child, you must wait."
"Wait? You say, wait!," my indignant reply,
"Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By Faith, I have asked, and am claiming your Word.
My future and all to which I can relate
hangs in the balance, and YOU tell me to wait?
I'm needing a 'yes', a go-ahead sign,
or even a 'no' to which I can resign.
And Lord, You promised that if we believe,
we need but to ask, and we shall receive.
Lord, I've been asking, and this is my cry:
I'm weary of asking! I need a reply!"
Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
as my Master replied once again, "You must wait."
So, I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut
and grumbled to God, "So, I'm waiting....for what?"
He seemed, then, to kneel, and His eyes wept with mine,
and He tenderly said, "I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens, and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead, and cause mountains to run.
All you seek I could give, and pleased you would be.
You would have what you want - but you wouldn't know Me."
"You'd not know the depth of My love for each saint;
You'd not know the power that I give to the faint;
You'd not learn to see through the clouds of despair;
You'd not learn to trust just by knowing I'm there;
You'd not know the joy of resting in Me
when darkness and silence were all you could see.
You'd never experience that fullness of love
as the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove.
You'd know that I live and I save....(for a start),
but you'd not know the depth of the beat of My heart.
The glow of My comfort late into the night.
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that's beyond getting just what you asked
of an infinite God, who makes what you have LAST.
You'd never know, should your pain quickly flee,
what it means that "My grace is sufficient for thee."
Yes, your dreams for your loved one overnight would come true.
But, oh, the loss! If I lost what I'm doing in you!
So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
that the greatest of gifts is to get to know Me.
And though oft' may My answers seem terribly late,
my most precious answer of all is still, "WAIT."May God give you strength and peace in your seasons of waiting, as well as a closer walk with Him!
- Adam Gellert
- Children of Light
02/16/2017Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark,it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.” - Luke 11:36Jesus told his disciples to be a light to the world. But what does that mean? Is it just a figurative expression for demonstrating God's love by showing the joy we have in Him as Christians? That's partially true, but do you realize that there is also a very real light shining in you that comes from accepting Jesus as your Savior? Two incredible stories have changed my view of what it means to have Jesus living inside me, and the power I have through Him to make an impact on both the natural and spiritual world. If you accept this truth, you will never be the same!About five years ago I heard the story of a witch doctor who had the ability to leave his body and travel in the spirit to people's houses to place a curse on them. People would pay this witch doctor to do this to their enemies, and he made a good living at it. But one day, he left his body and went to a man's house he was supposed to curse. When he arrived at the window, all he could see was a blinding light coming from inside. The light was so strong, and so powerful, he could not enter the house. He could see the man, but surrounding him were three figures shining in a bright light, Puzzled, the witch doctor later learned that there were three Christian missionaries at the man's house that night, sharing the gospel with him!The second story reinforces this incredible truth. Agnes Sanford, in her autobiography Sealed Orders, tells about growing up in China with her missionary parents. She describes how the Chinese were able to easily comprehend the idea of Jesus Christ having the power to drive out evil spirits, because they believed in and even saw them. She goes on to say, "Not only that, but they perceived, in a way that we are unable to perceive, that those who accepted Jesus walked in a circle of light that protected them from evil spirits. Knowing this, a heathen family would sometimes invite a Christian family to live in a haunted house rent free for a few months, believing that after a while the Spirit of Christ abiding there would make it untenable for evil spirits."Of course, being the light of the world also means living in such a way that others see and want what you have. Matthew 5:16 says, "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." But I hope these two stories give you the confidence to see who you are from another perspective. As a Christian, when you walk into your office at work, go into the mission field, or just sit having coffee with a friend, you are emanating the light of Jesus Christ, which has the power to "demolish strongholds." You are driving out darkness wherever you go! And with this knowledge, walk boldly in your inheritance as a son or daughter, and shine brightly in a world filled with darkness.“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden."- Matthew 5:14"Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light."- John 12:36
- Adam Gellert
- Jesus, Help Me! The Power of Three Words
01/26/2017The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said. - Matthew 15:25
One of the earliest and most unexpected lessons I learned when God "activated" my life for more with Him, was that the devil doesn't like it when someone starts living in their destiny with God. I started experiencing very difficult spiritual encounters, and one night in March 2014, I was awakened at about 2:00 a.m. I heard the growl of an evil sound or voice, and then suddenly felt myself being seized with numbness on the top of my head. When the numbness got to my neck, I could sense that it was making its way down my entire body. In desperation, from deep within my spirit, I cried out, “Jesus, Help Me!” It was an automatic response, and even I was surprised at what I blurted out.
Instantly the numbness went away and I was able to go back to sleep. While frightening during the experience itself, I was so encouraged and amazed to discover what crying out to Jesus can instantly do, and to know that in the end, Jesus has all of the power and authority in the universe.
To reinforce this point, I was surprised recently when reading a book from Francis MacNutt about the history of healing ministries in the Church. Before the Charismatic Movement of the 20th century, healing ministries were all but dead in the Church for a variety of reasons. However, there were some exceptions, with one being a Lutheran pastor from the Black Forest area of Germany named Johann Christophe Blumhardt (1805-1880).
Johann had no intention of getting involved in healing work. His church was spiritually lethargic and his congregation regularly slept through his sermons. But there was a woman in his small town of 500 who had a variety of illnesses, and was so temperamental that people crossed to the other side of the street to avoid her. She had bleeding coming from places in her body, and the doctor asked Johann to get involved, since he could not cure her. None of this had been covered in his seminary, so he didn't really know what to do.
With a big crowd gathering outside of her home due to the loud noises coming from the woman's pain and suffering, Johann decided he could not do any harm by asking her to repeat after him, "Lord Jesus, help me." When she did this, to everyone's astonishment, the bleeding stopped! Johann went on to experience many healing miracles in his town and beyond, with people lining up from far and wide to see him beginning every day at 6:30 a.m. and ending at 11:30 p.m.
I was amazed to read about someone getting the same result of healing from saying the same words I had said in my encounter - Jesus, Help Me. I'm not saying this is a "formula" for healing - we know from the Bible that Jesus and his disciples saw people healed in a variety of ways, and I've witnessed the same thing from my own experiences. My point is that many times, healing comes at the point of desperation, when we run out of all other options, and submit ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus. We are finally able to give up control from our rebel hearts, and have no choice but to give credit to Jesus for our healing.
Have you tried all other options? Are you finally ready to say, "Jesus, Help Me" from the depths of your spirit? In His compassion and unending love, Jesus is ready to lift you up and bring healing to your situation, whatever it may be.Help me, Lord my God; save me according to your unfailing love. - Psalm 109:26
- You Will Be Amazed
01/12/2017"Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." - Habakkuk 1:5About a year ago, I had reached a low point in my life. I was sitting on a plane returning home from a work meeting I had just attended. My company announced some big changes to the organization, and I had spent the week in a fog, hearing rumors about my job being impacted as new leaders were introducing themselves to the team. The prior six months had also been a difficult time, with a palpable feeling of favor being lifted from the company I had spent a decade with.
But then, as I sat staring at the tray table in front of me, wondering what the future held, I heard God say, "You will be amazed!"
That one word from God immediately changed my mood and gave me a boost of excitement. My thoughts went from worry and fear to hope and promise, wondering what God had in store for this season.
Sure enough, 2016 truly was an amazing year, but not in the way I expected. While my position was eliminated at the company a few months later, God gave me encouragement and peace, and prepared me for the change that was coming as I spent quiet time with Him. Even though I had never earned better than a "C" in college English classes and never thought I would be a writer, God motivated me to write a book that was published in the summer, which just won a literary award. He gave me favor to participate in radio and TV interviews, speak at a women's leadership conference, and join my church's healing ministry team. He opened doors to connections with incredible people of faith that I would have never met in other seasons of my life, and allowed me to provide Bibles and other supplies to Christians in Pakistan.
God was true to the word He gave me early in the year that I would be amazed, and in doing so He completely changed the trajectory of my life. Sitting on that plane, I could have never imagined the adventures in store for 2016. And this is just the beginning of the story and a lifetime of being AMAZED.
Most of us know the scripture from Jeremiah 29:11, where God promises to give us "a future and a hope", but do you realize that He wants that future to be filled with "amazement"? He doesn't want to just pick you up off the ground and set you back on your current course; He wants to lift you up onto a new trajectory, one where you are able to know and be who you were originally created to be, filled with joy in the purpose God has for your life.
No matter where you are in life's journey, God is saying to you right now, "YOU WILL BE AMAZED!" Claim this message and take your first step into the great adventure of an amazing life with God, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit!"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us..." - Ephesians 3:20
- Adam Gellert
- Atomic Prayers
I was watching a television show recently about the period of time in United States history when the government tested atomic bombs in Nevada. It was interesting to learn how atomic bombs don't get their power from the large plume of smoke that rises into the atmosphere; while that may be dazzling to see visually, the real devastation comes from the shock wave that screams across the landscape at over 500 miles per hour. You've probably seen the videos of the effects of these shockwaves, which instantly raze buildings to the ground with forces many times stronger than a hurricane.
Amazingly, the very next day after watching this show, I was viewing an episode of Sid Roth's TV show, It's Supernatural. Sid was interviewing a man who had a near-death encounter with Jesus as his body was laying on an operating table. Jesus took the man to the Nevada desert, where He asked the man to pray. When the man prayed, an atomic bomb exploded in front of them, just like the tests in Nevada. Jesus explained to the man, "Do you see the shock waves coming from the blast? Your prayers are like these shock waves in the spiritual world! They are demolishing strongholds with the force of an atomic bomb!"
My body got chills as I sat listening to this testimony. Since I had just seen another show on this same topic the day before, it was very clear to me that God was sharing an important insight with me, one that greatly encourages me to know that my prayers have that kind of effect.
I think we all like the tangible, visible experiences we can have with God - the witnessing of physical healings, financial blessings, the warmth of God's presence, and the like. But many times, at least in my experience, prayer takes work and commitment, because we don't always see an immediate, tangible result. Our prayers may be impacting our children or grandchildren many years from now, or people across the world that we will never meet or even know. I envy intercessors who spend time in constant prayer, with the faith that they may not see the result of their prayers in this lifetime. I'll admit it takes more work for me because I like to see that what I'm doing is producing results that I can see, touch, and feel.
But this is why I believe Jesus so clearly showed me the analogy of our prayers being like atomic bombs, and wants to encourage all of us to use this incredible weapon called prayer. Atomic bombs are the most feared weapon in our world, and the same can be said about our prayers in the spiritual world. The enemy fears our prayers, and prayer produces amazing results. I challenge you to pray as much as possible, even when you may not see the results of your prayers in your lifetime. You are sowing seeds that will bear fruit in due season, and you are helping win battles in unknown places, on this earth and in the spiritual realms!"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." - 2 Corinthians 10:3-4"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people." - Ephesians 6:18
- Are You George Bailey?
The movie It's a Wonderful Life is my favorite Christmas movie. Released in 1947 and starring Jimmy Stewart, the movie centers around George Bailey, a fictional character who grows up in a small town in New York called Bedford Falls. He has big dreams from an early age to leave the town and see the world. He plans to become an architect and build incredible buildings, creating a life of adventure that the others in the town can only dream about.
But as the movie unfolds, George is prevented from leaving Bedford Falls every time he has the chance to do so. First, his father dies as he is leaving for college, and he is forced, through his sense of duty and honor, to take over the family Building and Loan business. As George is leaving for his honeymoon to finally get a chance to see some of the places he wanted to travel to, there's a run on the banks and he must use his honeymoon savings to save the Building and Loan in a time of crisis. Finally, with the little money the family does have, they decide to use it to send George's younger brother, Harry, to college. Harry ends up serving in World War II and becoming a war hero, earning the Medal of Honor.
As George watches his life's dreams pass him by, and others from Bedford Falls leave to find wealth and success elsewhere, George dutifully serves his town and helps the poorer families build houses, saving them from the local rich, wicked banker. He marries a woman in town and has many children, when he hadn't intended on getting married due to his life ambitions. But when his uncle accidently loses the Building and Loan's funds, everything George worked for seems to be lost, as he faces arrest and scandal.
George Bailey reaches his wit's end, and in thinking that the end may be near for him, he prepares to jump off a bridge outside of town, when an angel who has been watching George's life unfold saves him. George tells the angel he wishes he'd never been born, because of the failures of his life, so the angel grants the request and shows him what the town of Bedford Falls would have been like if George hadn't been born. It's a shocking reality, and George finally sees that he had a much bigger, better impact on the world than he ever realized.
I must admit that I have always related to George Bailey. I have lived most of my life in the same city, although I went away to college and spent a couple of years in another city due to a work assignment. Every time I lived away from "home", I loved the sense of adventure, the chance to see something new. Now that I'm back home once more, I long for the chance to venture out again into the "wild" of a new and exciting place. When I talk of leaving town, I tell my family (and myself), "I don't want to be George Bailey", knowing I only have a small window of time to see the world and take part in what I view as a true "adventure".
But what if that's not what God has called for my life? Will I be content to make an impact from the place He may be calling me to serve? What if, ironically, the real adventure is here? Would I trade the opportunity to make a bigger, better impact at "home" for what could be a shallow and selfish experience somewhere else, that has little lasting result? Like George Bailey, can you see the impact you've had on others' lives, that would be missing if you had never been born, or if you had chosen a different path than what you were called into?
Maybe you have had the same thoughts and frustrations. Like George Bailey, you had dreams and desires that never came to fulfillment because honor and duty led you down a different path. Or from a different view, maybe you've had the chance to travel the world, but you long for a place to call "home." In either case, God has an adventure in store for you, and it may look different than what you have planned. Open your heart to God and ask him to reveal your true calling and purpose, and God will faithfully show you that if you follow His plans for you, in the end you will be able to say, "It's Been a Wonderful Life!""God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!" - Ephesians 3:20 (The Message Translation)-Adam Gellert
- The Power in God's Silence
My wife and I had a difficult journey trying to start a family. It took us almost five years to have our first child. Then we lost twins, a boy and a girl, at 19 weeks of pregnancy.
After this extreme loss, God quickly responded by giving me promises of another child. In my despair and mourning, He pointed me to a story from the book of Genesis in the Bible, where Adam and Eve had Seth after losing Abel. He showed me the story of King David, who lost a child and was comforted by the birth of another son, Solomon. With these promises in hand, it was so amazing, but not all that surprising, when we learned that my wife was pregnant again only six weeks after losing the twins.
But after a smooth first 24 weeks, complications arose. My wife was monitored for contractions in the emergency room, and she had to go on bed rest for the remainder of her pregnancy. We had many touch and go moments, with frequent visits to the ER where we thought we may lose our baby.
I started to doubt the promises I had been given from God, and wondered if I had heard Him correctly. I decided to fast one day, and during that day, I waited for a word from God. I was looking for something, anything to show me that God was still there, that I had heard from Him and this baby was going to be okay.
But there was silence that entire day and evening. I didn't hear anything, and nothing came to mind. It was strangely silent, even purposefully so.
As I got up from my knees to close out my final prayer time that day, I was left with the strong impression that God was telling me He had nothing more to say about the matter - He had already given me His promises. I was now to trust Him at His word.
As you would expect, my son is six years old today and doing great. It was a difficult journey, but we are enjoying the family God promised us.
It's okay to ask God for confirmation, and there are many examples in the Bible of God confirming what He has spoken to someone. But what if He is silent? Do you still trust Him to fulfill the promises He has laid on your heart?
It may take longer than you expect to see God's promises fulfilled, but He is ALWAYS faithful to complete it. Abraham had to wait 20 years after God told him he would have a son, before Sarah gave birth to Isaac. It took many years of hardship for David to see God's promise of kingship come to pass.
Even though God may appear to be silent, He is ALWAYS active, ALWAYS at work in bringing you to the fulfillment of His purposes and promises for your life. Silence does NOT mean inactivity.
Trust God in the silence - there is power in the silence, and He will honor your trust with the right answers at the appointed time!"The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." - 1 Thessalonians 5:24"Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." - Philippians 1:6
- Adam Gellert
P.S. Ironically, right after I posted this article, I saw a preview for a new movie coming out in 2017 called "Silence," about two Jesuit priests who travel to Japan to find their mentor, and face persecution in sharing their faith. In the preview, one of the priests expresses frustration about only hearing silence in the face of his struggles. It looks good, check out the preview here!
- What Are You Worth?
I ran across a job search website recently that has a tool called "Know Your Worth." You enter some information about your previous experience, salary, and location, and the tool generates a number on the screen that estimates what you are "worth" in the job market.
Regardless of how high or low that number turns out to be, it is strange seeing any number that tells you what you are "worth." But that's the world's view of your value, because from God's point of view, you are PRICELESS.
Matthew 10:29-31 tells us, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows."
To go deeper with this concept, what have others, or even yourself, told you what you're worth? Have parents, friends, your company, or others led you to believe you are a failure? Are inadequate? Don't have what it takes? Aren't attractive? Not smart enough?
What about your sins? Are you ashamed of your past? Do you have secret sins that nobody else knows about, that they will never know about? We all have those secrets, so do they diminish our worth, even in the sight of God?
We know that Jesus forgives sins, but that just means he chooses to overlook them, right? What does God see when He looks at us? It must be pretty hard for Him to look at us, what with all the imperfections, bad choices, sins, thoughts, mistakes, fears, and doubts we have.
But that view just isn't the truth. The song "Priceless" by the band For King and Country does a great job of describing how God sees us when He looks at us:I see you dressed in whiteEvery wrong made rightI see a rose in bloomAt the sight of you (Oh so priceless)Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparableDarling, it's beautifulI see it all in you (Oh so priceless)Do you really believe God sees you this way when He looks at His creation? I'll admit I have difficulty grasping this truth. I know anyone on earth who looks at me sees the flaws, sins, mistakes, and other imperfections of my life, and I would be ashamed if they knew everything I've done or thought. But amazingly, the God of the universe, who created you, knows you intimately, and knows everything you have done (and will do), still sees someone who is dressed in white, sees a rose in bloom, and is so happy He made you.Academically, we see in Scripture that God loves us, that Jesus died for our sins, and that we are new creations in Him. But do you accept this in your Spirit? Do you live your life in full confidence of His love for you, no matter what you have done or will do? That God doesn't see your past, your sins, or what others say about you?Jesus saw YOU on the cross, and chose to die for YOU, so He could spend eternity in an intimate relationship with YOU. Reflect on this truth and challenge yourself to answer how you really feel about what God thinks your worth, and open your heart to the truth that you are truly PRICELESS."And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ."- Ephesians 3:17-18"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:8
- Prayers of a Father
10/26/2016Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. - James 5:16
One night when I was about seven or eight years old, I was sleeping in my bed when I was awakened by my dad, who was praying over me, weeping as he prayed with passion over his son. I was facing the other way, so he didn't know I was awake, and I never told him that I was aware of his praying over me that night.
But I also never forgot what happened that evening, and the assurance I felt knowing my father was probably doing this on a regular basis. It had such a big impact on me, that when I was graduating from college many years later, I bought him a framed copy of the picture you see here, of a father praying over his son. You can also see on the other side of the window, an angel is fighting against a dark figure trying to get into the room.
When I presented the framed picture to him, I told him about the night many years ago when I had been awakened by his praying over me. He didn't know I was awake, and didn't remember that particular night since he did the same thing so often. I shared with him that this picture represents perfectly my memory of that night, and that I was thankful to have a father who was faithful in praying for his children. We both wept in front of the large group of relatives who had traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to see me graduate, and it was a wonderful bookend to that season of our lives.
As I reflect on that event today, I wonder what my dad's prayers did for me as I grew up. Did they prevent me from making bad choices when confronted with temptations in high school or college? Was God honoring his faithful prayers when I changed my mind and went out with friends one Thursday night, only to meet my future wife at the place we visited? What present and future parts of my life's journey will be impacted by the prayers of my father, mother, grandparents, and others who have prayed for me over the years, maybe even before I was born?
And now that I have children of my own, I make it a point to regularly visit their bedside while they are asleep, asking God for favor over their lives, for the love of God to fill their hearts with passion for Him, and for them to be the "head and not the tail, above and not beneath." Maybe they'll wake up one night and know their father is praying over them, or maybe they will never know. But the "prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective", so I know I am making an impact on their lives and continuing the legacy of my father's faithfulness in prayer.And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us; and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. - 1 John 5:14-15
- Focus on My Voice
It seems strange to connect a message from God to a secular movie, but when I was going through a difficult season recently, that's just what I was given...
In the movie, "Man of Steel", featuring the superhero Superman, the young Clark Kent is struggling with the abilities he was given as an alien in another world. While seeing in x-ray vision, hearing everything around you in a super sensitive environment, and having super strength seem like fun things to have, we learn that it takes time to adapt to these abilities, and Clark goes through a lot of teasing at school for not being "normal."
One day, while being bombarded with sensory overload at school, Clark bursts out of his classroom and locks himself in a closet, covering his ears and squeezing his eyes shut to the world around him. The school calls his mother, who comes to the door of the closet to try to comfort her son.
"The world's too big, mom," cries Clark. "Then make it small," his mother responds.
She then says, "Focus on my voice, pretend it's an island, out in the ocean. Do you see it?" Clark responds yes, and is able to focus on her voice and drown out the other noise around him. He is also able to recall this moment later in the movie when faced with adversity, and is able to overcome the challenge with this focus. (You can see the exchange here)
I was facing a similar situation recently of feeling overwhelmed by life, with challenges at work, in my personal life, and with trying to figure out God's plan for my life. I was so overwhelmed by worries that seemed to be coming from everywhere. While kneeling by my bedside in prayer, I heard God say, "Focus on my voice."
Hearing the voice of the Father always brings relief into any situation, because with His voice comes peace, joy, and comfort. His voice will always drown out the noise of everything else, if you focus on Him. Jesus said, "and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." (John 10:3)
Does the world seem too big right now? Then make it small. Focus on God's voice, pretend it's an island, where only you and He sit, comforted by the washing of the waves, and the tranquility of God's presence. He will lead you to "quiet waters.""Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." - Revelation 3:20
- Activated to Serve
A good friend of mine recently introduced me to an amazing woman of God, Kathy Craft, who has been called to serve the Kingdom by laying a Christian foundation for the children of the school she founded, Abundant Grace Christian Montessori Academy, the only faith-based Montessori school in Southlake, Texas. Her story is an inspiration to anyone seeking to be "activated" into God's calling for their lives. I sat down with Kathy recently to learn more about her school and the story of how she found her calling, and I left energized and encouraged by her passion and faith, trust in God, and desire to steward children.
Kathy has a degree in Accounting and worked for the government for 16 years. Her husband of 37 years was also successful in a corporate career. When her children were young and Kathy was working in a corporate job, they had to let their nanny go, and Kathy prayed to God to give her a person who could take care of her kids. God told her, "You are that person!" Kathy was obedient to God's voice, and quit her job to stay home with her two boys. God imprinted on her that her job was not her "source", and He would never fail in being her true Source.
When her kids started going to school, she began volunteering in the children's ministry at her church, and that's when she realized she had found her calling - she absolutely loved working with children! She learned more about the educational approach used by Maria Montessori, the Italian physician and educator who developed the Montessori philosophy of education, which focuses on educating the "whole" child - heart, mind, body, and spirit. Kathy became certified to teach, and partnered with her husband to start up a Montessori school, while he explored starting up a church.
Kathy and her husband took the leap and started looking for space to host the school. One night, God woke her up from her sleep to tell her that she needed to go to a certain road in town. She assumed He meant a church she knew of on that road, but when she visited the church, she was told they didn't have enough space, and she should try another church down the road. She wasn't aware that there was another church in that location, but she drove over and sure enough, it was there. This was a Monday, and it turns out that the pastor did not usually come in on Mondays, but had decided to come in that day for some reason. He quickly agreed to lease the space to Kathy and her school!
Two years later, Kathy and her husband decided to look for their own property so they could add a church, and another miracle presented itself with the property they currently own. A realtor learned of the available space, but they didn't have the money needed to buy the property. They were connected to a bank who approved a loan on the building, which should have been difficult to obtain!
With the many miracles and open doors God has provided Kathy and her school, she knows she is living in God's purpose for her life. She does not take a salary from the school, so she can pay the teachers who work there. Kathy and her husband rely on his retirement income, and God's provision as she builds up her student body. As Kathy puts it, "God wants to give you the desires of your heart. If you follow His vision, He will give you provision."
Today, Kathy says she's not anxious any more like she was when working out of her calling in the corporate world. She "doesn't have to hold her breath any more", and can just breathe easy, trusting God in what He will do with Kathy and her ministry of serving the children of her community. She is excited to come to work every day, knowing she is operating in God's will for her life, and enjoying every moment making an impact on a child's life. She continues to have ups and downs and has faced obstacles as she grows her school, but Kathy isn't fearful of these obstacles, because she is focused on the vision and promises He has given her.
Are you "holding your breath" in your current situation? Do you feel like you are living in God's purpose for your life? Ask God to speak to you clearly in this season. My prayer is that He will open doors to allow for your true calling to be revealed to you. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to quit what you're doing now and serve in a ministry environment like Kathy, but you will know you are where you are supposed to be when God gives you peace and a passion to get up every day, excited about the work you've been given and the opportunity He has given you to serve Him and His Kingdom.
For more information on Kathy Craft and Abundant Grace Christian Montessori Academy, visit their website at http://www.agcma.com/ or their Facebook page.
- Adam Gellert
- The Acorn
09/13/2016When I was an intern in graduate school, I was fortunate to work with a department of work colleagues who were Christians, and we discussed our faith often at work. One of my co-workers gave me a birthday present in the fall of 1998 that I cherish to this day - a daily devotional with a treasure trove of quotes that I have bookmarked and revisit on a frequent basis.
My favorite quote from this 365 day devotional is The Acorn, written by Lyman Abbott, a pastor, magazine editor, and author who died in 1922:I pluck an acorn and hold it to my ear, and this is what it says to me: "By and by the birds will come and nest in me. By and by I will furnish shade for the cattle. By and by I shall provide warmth for the home. By and by I shall be shelter to the storm to those who have gone under the roof. By and by I will be the strong ribs of a great vessel, and the tempest will beat against me in vain, while I carry men across the Atlantic.""O foolish little acorn, wilt thou be all this?" I ask. And the acorn answers, "Yes, God and I."This quote still sends shivers down my spine every time I read it. It demonstrates two key lessons for all of us in our walk with Him; first, the more obvious reminder that we need God's power and strength to accomplish our God-given dreams. The acorn had the faith to see all that was possible in its life, but only by relying on God to accomplish what others see as impossible.
Next, the acorn was wise enough to realize that many of its dreams will come to pass "by and by." The phrase "by and by" means "eventually," "ultimately," or "finally." It takes time for an acorn to mature into a tree that can make the kind of impact this acorn dreamt about, and the acorn had the faith to be patient and wait for God's timing and its own spiritual maturity for his future promises to come to pass.
What dreams do you have for your life? Are there some dreams that seemed to have passed you by as life changed coursed and caused you to drift away from what was laid on your heart? Are you choosing to be like the acorn, who realizes that it can only accomplish the impossible through a partnership with God and his son Jesus Christ? And are you willing to wait for God's "by and by", His perfect timing in seeing your dreams to completion?
Have the faith of this acorn, and you will be amazed at what God has in store for your unique life!"With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale any wall." - Psalm 18:29"Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.” - Luke 13:18-19-Adam Gellert
- The Blessing of Alzheimer's Disease
Back in June, I featured my grandmother, Byrdeen, in another blog post titled "My Elijah". She was an anchor of faith in my life, and was my "go-to" spiritual counselor throughout my childhood and early adulthood. Byrdeen had such a close relationship with the Lord, that I can't recall too many conversations when He didn't come up. She was "activated" in her faith, and was really on fire for God.
Grandma also loved her children and grandchildren very much, and I can recall her always asking us, "You know how much we love you, right?" Unfortunately, I also remember rolling my eyes at how often she would ask us this question, and in my immaturity as a teenager I would grudgingly respond, "Yes, Grandma, I know..."
But in her last several years, Byrdeen was overtaken with Alzheimer's disease, a terrible disease that gradually degrades a person's memory and identity, and is a trying experience for the person, his or her spouse, and family members. For me, it started with noticing that Grandma was forgetting things frequently, and I found myself repeating things I had told her. We took her in for testing, and the doctors confirmed she had Alzheimer's. My grandfather suffered terribly from watching her slowly fade from an amazing spouse and life partner for many decades, to someone that needed constant care and attention. Over the years, she went from forgetting things to not even knowing who you were when you walked in the door. It's such a sad and shocking thing to have someone that close to you not know who you are, and you know that any interaction you have with her that day will be forgotten the minute you walk out the door.
My grandfather died unexpectedly in 2000, so the burden was then put on my parents to take care of Grandma. The money my grandparents had saved eventually ran out, so the financial burden was placed on my parents to help pay for her care, which only added more insult to the emotional injury of watching your mother slowly slip away.
In her final few years, we were fortunate to discover that the Department of Veteran's Affairs had a benefit that helped pay for her care since my grandfather was a military veteran (she was featured on NBC News here). This allowed us to move Grandma into a senior care facility. She had been cared for previously by a family friend, and hadn't gotten much exposure to other people and a more active life.
Grandma immediately took to the new facility, and she was able to enjoy a constant flurry of activity with church services, games, and frequent interaction with others. Even though she still suffered from Alzheimer's, she was able to make friends and interacted well with the staff.
Then an amazing thing happened. My grandmother died one day of heart failure. When we attended her funeral, many of the facility's staff were on hand for the service. After some members of the family spoke, several of the staff members got up to speak, one by one, sobbing as they talked about what a big impact Byrdeen had made on the people and staff at the senior living facility. Even though she had lost many of her mental faculties, Grandma had never lost her faith in God, and was able to sing along to all the church hymns being sung at the services they held. She would compliment everyone she saw on how beautiful they looked, and how happy she was to see them.
One lady in particular, who would not have been seen as attractive by worldly standards, told us that Grandma would always tell her how beautiful she was when she saw her, and it was the first time in her entire life that someone had said she was beautiful. It brightened not only her day, but also changed her life.
I sat in the service, amazed that people who see death every day in that facility, and probably become somewhat numb to the many people who come and go from that place, were so grieved by the loss of my grandmother. It was obvious that she had made an important impact on the lives of the people there. And lives were changed because of her being placed in that facility.
So what's the take away from this story? God has promised us that He will turn ashes into beauty (Isaiah 61:3). It doesn't mean that He allows or makes bad things happen to manipulate events into His desires - that lie makes many people skeptical of God and His goodness. What it means is that God takes the bad things that happen in this fallen world and turns them into good, according to His will and perfect timing.
My family had a hard time understanding why someone who was so faithful to God for her entire life had to suffer through her final years with Alzheimer's, and cause the suffering of my grandfather and other family members. But I'm convinced that, knowing my grandmother, she would choose to have the same experience again knowing the impact she was able to make at that senior care facility in her final years. And someday, when we are able to see the tapestry of our lives in heaven, we will all say "Amen" when we see how all of life's events, good and bad, were able to be turned into beauty by the amazing Creator of the universe.
I hope this word encourages you today, and if you or someone you know has Alzheimer's, my prayers are with you that God will turn your ashes of this experience into beauty."To all who mourn in Israel, He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory." - Isaiah 61:3
- The Wrong Foul Ball - Focusing on the Next Opportunity
Catching a foul or home run ball in a professional baseball game is one of those rare gifts that is truly a special occasion for baseball fans. I had personally never done it until just this summer, and the circumstances surrounding it allowed me to reflect on an important lesson God showed me that day.
My kids, as usual, had packed their gloves for the game, ever optimistic that they would get to catch a ball at the game. I reluctantly took my glove as well at their request, knowing the odds were slim but wanting to humor the kids. (That's another lesson God teaches us with kids' attitudes - we seem to lose our hope and optimism with age and experience!)
Halfway through the game, I was standing at the top of my section taking a break from our seats down below. Wanting to catch a foul ball for my kids, I silently prayed to God for a chance at a foul ball. It seemed silly to ask God for something like that, but literally on the next pitch, the batter sliced a fly ball high into the air right towards me! Since it's rare that one even comes close, I was stunned and unprepared as I had left my glove in my seat. I hesitated to go after the ball as it drifted about ten feet past me into the hands of another fan in his seat.
I was disappointed as I wondered if that was the best chance I would ever get at catching a foul ball. Should I have been more aggressive? Should I have had my glove with me? Did I miss the chance God had given me through my prayer?
I returned to my seat and grabbed my glove, knowing there was no way another foul ball would come close but not wanting to be unprepared again. Amazingly, during the next inning a batter hit a hard ground ball right toward us. It bounced up from the wall and flew right toward me. I instinctively reached up with my glove, and in the sea of hands reaching for the ball, I felt the ball snap into my glove. As we all looked around for the ball, I was shocked to look inside my glove and find the foul ball! My kids were so excited, and I'll admit I was too. It made our night, and the kids couldn't stop taking turns holding the ball, even when we returned home.
So what's the lesson God was teaching me in that experience? Sometimes we focus too much on the missed opportunities or bad choices we may have made, and we miss the real "foul ball" God had intended for us to catch. If I hadn't optimistically gone back down to my seat and put on my glove, ready and prepared for another chance, I would have missed yet another foul ball, the ball God had originally intended for me to catch. Rather than focusing on the past and the decisions you have made, remember that God already knows the choices you intend to make, and will give you all the chances you need to make the right decisions according to His purpose. And those missed opportunities will allow you to learn and grow, so you won't miss the right decisions down the road.
Trust God for the adventure ahead, and know that God will always position you for the right "foul balls" in your life!"Who, then, are those who fear the Lord? He will instruct them in the ways they should choose."- Psalm 25:12
- Is "I'll Be Praying For You" the Christian Version of "Let's Do Lunch"?
08/06/2016"Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective." - James 5:16
We've all been there - you run into that old friend or acquaintance you haven't seen in years. After catching up with the normal small talk of asking about each other's job, children, spouses, or other updates, you don't want to end the conversation with an awkward, but likely accurate "well, see you when we run into each other in five years". So we leave the conversation with the hope that we will connect again soon, letting each other down easy by saying, "We should do lunch sometime." You don't exchange phone numbers or email addresses, and walk away to the next stop on the day's agenda. Who knows if you'll ever see or talk to that person again. And do you really care?
Now, think about a similar conversation with someone you know is a fellow Christian - a church friend, co-worker, or other connection. They tell you about the job they just lost, the illness of their child or spouse, the struggles they are having in their marriage. And we leave the conversation with a sincere and heartfelt, "I'll be praying for you". But what do you do with that promise to keep that person in your prayers? Do you move on with your own agenda, or do you sincerely make it a point to put that person on your prayer list and commit time in prayer?
I'll be the first to raise my hand and admit that this has been a fault of mine for much of my life. I can think of so many times I've left a conversation with statements like, "I'll be praying for you" or "I'll be praying for your ministry." But in reality, I didn't make time for any prayer time with God, much less using that time to pray for others, so it was an empty promise; it was a "let's do lunch" moment.
Even now that I've carved out quiet time daily to talk to God, I have to make it a point to spend time praying for others; I have to confess that many times that quiet time can turn into a selfish pursuit of one on one time with God, to hear what I want to hear, to get what I think I should get from that time with Him.
This is going to sound strange, but in my opinion, praying for others regularly isn't easy. As I mentioned before, many of us get busy with our schedules and don't take the time to pray at all. And many of us focus what little time we take to pray to focus on our own problems and situations. But think about it - prayer is one of the most powerful weapons we have in our arsenal. The devil knows this, and is doing his best to keep us distracted with anything that will keep us from praying for others. Because as James says in James 5:16, "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective"!
For those of you who do truly commit to praying for others regularly, I applaud you and so admire your commitment to take on this essential role in God's army. Intercessory prayer is such an amazing and powerful weapon. But oftentimes, I would submit that many of use abuse the word "prayer" in our daily walk, as we tell others we will pray for them, pray for a certain decision or outcome, etc., when that's the easy way out, the "let's do lunch" commitment that makes us feel good as we walk away with no intention of following through.
I would challenge each of you, the next time you make that statement to someone, to take the next step and truly, earnestly, put that commitment to prayer. As we know from James 5:16 and many other Bible verses regarding prayer (such as Mark 11:24, Acts 10:4, Ephesians 6:18), you are making a difference in that situation. And you are honoring that person, your word, and God by following through.
I'm going to do my best to make this commitment in prayer for others. If you decide to join me, please share your stories of how this made a difference in your life and the lives of others. I am confident you have many exciting adventures to share!
- Adam Gellert
- The Day I Touched Heaven - Guest Blog by JB Watson
I love hearing stories of people encountering God in near-death situations, when someone comes ever-so-close to their permanent home in the presence of God. It encourages me for my own inevitable death, but also gives me comfort that my loved ones are enjoying the incredible peace, warmth, and joy of being with our Father, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in Heaven.
My friend JB Watson, who currently works as an Operations Manager at Alcon, had just such an experience in 1982. It truly is an incredible story, and I'm excited to share it with you on the Activation blog. I hope you are encouraged and inspired by this heavenly, miraculous experience:It was a cold, crisp morning in Hearne, Texas. The day started out like a normal work day - breakfast and then a quick drive into work at a liquid chemical plant, where I was an operator.Arriving at the plant, I anticipated running a new blend of liquid fertilizer. I was beginning to get all of the systems ready. I was bleeding the lines down to begin the blend. We were injecting phosphoric acid and ammonia. All the pumps were started and the process began. About 15 minutes into blending, suddenly the ground began to shake and buckle under my feet. The loudest, most deafening blast sent me flying through the air!I started watching my body turning one flip after another. My spirit had left my body, and I was watching what was happening to my body on earth. I began rising up, and as I rose I could see my body was getting smaller and more distant as I ascended upward toward heaven! I looked up to see where I was going, but the brightest light ever forced me to look back down. As I looked down I could see my body continuing to get smaller and smaller, becoming ever more distant from me. Each time I looked up I was forced to look back down at my body because the light was so bright.I reached a point of "ripping" through the light as I had gotten all the way up to my final destination. When I ripped through the light, I could no longer see my body on earth. The second I entered the light, I realized the light was God Himself! God was clearly present in the Light, and He told me I was not supposed to be there at this time.Within a split second I was laying back in my body and liquid was flying down on top of me from the explosion I was just in. I was not able to move and felt like I was going to drown in liquid as it covered me. Once again God appeared next to my side. He told me if I didn’t move and try to live, He would take me back with Him. I told Him I wasn't ready to be gone from this earth and rolled over onto my hands and knees. Once I rolled over I didn’t know where I was. I opened my eyes quickly to see where I was, and sulfuric acid went into my eyes. I received three burns to my eyes. We were supposed to have phosphoric acid and we were delivered sulfuric acid, which caused the explosion!I went into shock as I could hear all the emergency vehicles coming to help. I woke up in the emergency room and was treated for burns to my eyes and a cracked foot. I was released by noon that day and went home, relatively unharmed from what could have been very serious injuries or death. The next morning I returned to work to find out more about what happened to cause the explosion. That's when I found out the incorrect acid was the problem, which had caused what was calculated to be an explosion of 320,000 pounds of pressure underneath me! Here's a photo of me after the accident, standing next to where the steel grate exploded directly underneath me, leaving this exposed hole on the floor.The District Attorney in the area was trying to get us to sue the owner. I told him God gave me my life back, so I didn't want anything from anyone. My life and the miraculous way I came out of the accident unharmed was good enough payment to me!
So I am one that can tell you heaven IS for real. There really is a God waiting for us to come home with Him. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, take comfort in this story as further evidence of the truth of the Bible and the testimony of His saving grace!Thank your for this story, JB. I am so encouraged by this message and am so glad to know you. You and your family are role models for the Christian faith!
- "I Will" Versus "I Can" - A Key Difference in Hearing God
07/22/2016“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. - Genesis 12:2
Are you hearing God say "I can" or "I will"? Hearing God's voice can be difficult when we are constantly bombarded with our own thoughts, and those of the enemy. The thoughts that come from your own mind, or even the devil, can be what we want to hear, not necessarily what God is telling us.
So how can we tell which is which? In my quiet time with the Lord, and reflecting on his Word, one key phrase that I have learned helps me discern God's voice is when the thought starts with "I will" versus "I can." If you are hearing "I can", it's very likely not coming from God.
The word "can" means to "be able to or be permitted to", and is used "to indicate that something is typically the case". On the other hand, the word "will" is used to express "the future tense, inevitable events, and facts about ability or capacity."Our Father is the God of "I will". When He tells you "I will", nothing can stop this promise from fulfillment, because nothing and nobody can stand in God's way to completing the promise. The devil can't say "I will" with authority, because he can't do anything apart from God's permission and/or our agreement.
When I was at church recently, I was listening to the pastor speak in front of hundreds of people, with many more listening live at other campuses and over the Internet. I thought to myself, "wouldn't that be fun to speak in front of so many people?" A thought then entered my head, "Is that what you want? I can do that for you." I immediately knew this wasn't God talking to me, so I rejected the siren call of temptation from the devil and rebuked the thought.
I knew this wasn't from God because I knew from the Bible that God doesn't promise us with "I can", He says "I will." And during my quiet time with God, I have never heard Him say "I can" - I have only ever written things down that started with "I will". Saying "I can" means there's an offer being made, and we have to do something on our end to get it. As we know from God's grace and Jesus' sacrifice, He doesn't require anything from us to bring His promises to pass.
An example is found in Luke 4:6, when the devil tempts Jesus: "And he (the devil) said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to." Notice the devil even tries to use "I will", but it had to be coupled with "I can", because it had to come with Jesus' agreement and willingness to disobey God and worship the devil. This is also confirmed in Matthew 4:9 when the devil says, "All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”.
I looked up the phrase "I can" in my NIV Bible, and could not find one time where God said "I can" when connected to a promise. A Bible search on the Internet shows the phrase "I can" is only found 122 times in the NIV Bible, with most of those coming from a human saying it. On the other hand, the phrase "I will" is found 2084 times! I started to count myself, and stopped at 20 times where God said, "I will," and I had only gotten to Genesis 12!
What is God saying to you through this message? Have you heard a siren call of "I can" in your life? Listen for God's promises of "I will", and you will know you are hearing from God if there aren't strings attached. Of course, test what you are hearing against God's Word and wise counsel, but rest assured that if God is telling you "I will", He will be faithful to complete it!
- Book Launch Week - Reflections on the Journey
Well, it's finally here - my book Activation: A Story of God's Transforming Power went into print and is available for sale! This has to be the most anticipated and exciting time for an author - your book shipment arrives in the mail, and you get to start sending a tangible copy of your book to the many friends and family members who have supported your journey. Readers are starting to purchase your book, and there is a nervous anticipation as you wonder what the reaction will be from them.
It is also a time to reflect back on everything that it took to complete this book, and the lessons God has taught me during the process. In doing so, I was reminded of the fact that I wanted to do something similar years ago, but the timing wasn't quite right.
When I was first "activated" several years ago, I had it on my heart to start a blog and tell the world how I felt about this great Father I had found, his son Jesus who saw all of us on the cross when He died for our sins, and the Holy Spirt that comforted me and spoke to my heart. But as I planned to put the blog together, I realized I didn't have anything to say, and God clearly gave me the impression I wasn't supposed to do it. I was disappointed and stumped, but I was also obedient and moved on from the project.
I also wrote a manuscript for another book in the fall of 2014, around the time that Ravi Kandal reached out to me on LinkedIn. I connected with the editor for this book at that time (Jackie Macgirvin). She reviewed the manuscript and liked it, but again, the timing wasn't right and the story wasn't what I had in my heart to tell.
I was frustrated that I wasn't making the impact I wanted to make in telling others about the wonderful opportunity in front of all of us to draw closer to Him. I started journaling the amazing things happening to me and my family, and now, many years later, the timing was just right. The stories all came together to provide the message God intended me to provide in a book, and I have a long list of topics to share in this blog! I can tell that God's favor is with my work today, because amazing doors are being opened, and more importantly, God is giving me encouragement from the words He gives me in my daily time with Him.
Has God placed a project, ministry, career, or other desire on your heart? Are you frustrated that it hasn't come to fruition yet, that it seems like everything you do keeps getting blocked? God knows your name, He created you for a purpose, and He has a perfect plan for your life, which is unfolding as we speak. If you will release it to Him, He will honor your faith by giving you peace during all seasons of life, and in the end, you will see clearly that God's timing in preparing you for the journey, will be perfect!
Here are two Bible verses that speak what I've learned on this journey. May God give you peace and encouragement in His plans for you, which are being worked behind the scenes even now!"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." - Proverbs 19:21
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29:11