Friday, June 15, 2018

The Power of Threes



"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." - 2 Peter 3:8

I took a course on "Emotional Intelligence" at work recently, and the facilitator introduced a way for people to reduce stress from difficult situations they are facing.  He called it the "Power of Threes."

Basically the concept is to go out in time in increments of threes, to evaluate whether the situation you are in today will still be of importance that far out in time.  For example, he told the story of going to the airport with a colleague after a long week and looking forward to finally getting back home.  Their flight was cancelled at the last minute, and they had to spend another night away from home with a re-booked flight not being available until the following morning.

As they were driving away from the airport and their frustration and anger started to well up inside, the facilitator said to his colleague, "This may be a good time to practice the Power of Threes." They then asked each other these questions:

  • How are we going to feel about this three minutes from now? (We're still going to be pretty upset.)
  • How are we going to feel about this three hours from now? (We will be stuck in a hotel we don't want to be in and still be frustrated.)
  • How are we going to feel about this three days from now? (We'll be home, and while still raw, we will start feeling better now that we're out of the situation.)
  • How are we going to feel about this three months from now? (It will be forgotten in our day-to-day routine, but it might come up if something triggers a memory of it.)
  • How are we going to feel about this three years from now? (We'll probably forget it even happened and it will be a distant memory.)
The point is that if you go far enough out in time, there aren't too many things we encounter in our daily lives that should cause us concern and worry, as it will be something of the past over time.

While I love this concept in dealing with most situations, I also cynically thought to myself, "But what about losing loved ones like the twins I lost at birth - it still hurts and always will.  I guess this theory doesn't apply to everything..."

But that's when God revealed the truth, and I quickly realized I was wrong.  In the view of eternity, even deep loss will be erased from our memories.  When I'm in heaven with my entire family, with everyone I've ever lost over my lifetime, I'll get to spend eternity in communion with all of them, as well as in the healing presence my Creator.  And three hundred years from now, three thousand years from now, and three million years from now, all of the pain we experienced in this life on Earth will be forgotten.  Take comfort in this amazing truth in whatever you are going through today, and with whoever you may have lost and desire to be with again!

"Your sun will no longer set, and your moon will not wane; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and the days of your sorrow will be over." - Isaiah 60:20


-Adam Gellert

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Parker Memorial



"Wait, you have two babies in there!"

I'll never forget that moment of shock when the nurse told my wife and I that we were having twins. After almost five years of infertility struggles and all of the pain and suffering that came with it, we had finally had our first child, Emerson, and were now being blessed with an unexpected multiplication of children less than a year later.  Walking out of the room in a daze, it was both overwhelming and exciting at the same time.

Several weeks later, we learned that we were having a boy and a girl, exactly what we hoped would happen.  Emerson would get to have a brother to play with, and I would get to experience having a daughter, after growing up with a brother myself and not knowing what it was like to have a girl in the family.  I watched in amazement as two babies moved around on the monitor during our checkups, yawning and sucking thumbs.  We were rock stars at family gatherings, as neither side of the family had any twins, and I swelled with pride as all of God's promises were coming to pass in even greater ways.  Everything was going to work out perfectly!

But then, at 19 weeks, things took an unexpected turn, and my wife ended up in the hospital with contractions.  I had the utmost confidence that after all we had gone through, there was no way God would allow us to lose these babies.  A family friend had prophesied we would have three kids before she even knew we had two more on the way, further convincing me it would all work out.  We had faith like never before, declaring with boldness that the contractions would stop.  But after several days of ups and downs, we reached a point of no return as my wife's water broke.  She would have to deliver the babies through the normal labor and delivery process, knowing our children wouldn't survive.

I remember seeing them on the sonogram monitor that last time, alive and active, and I was madly in love with those children I had never met.  And now I had to move forward with no hope, sitting by my wife with eyes squeezed shut as first my daughter, then my son came into the world, took a few breaths of life, and passed into eternity with God. It was all I could muster in that moment to whisper a quick prayer, "Father, I commit these children to you."

Still numb from the pain of this loss only a month later, we learned that my wife was, incredibly, pregnant yet again.  The reaction was more fear than excitement, validated by the ensuing struggle to keep our son alive for much of the pregnancy.  My wife was on bed rest most of the time, and we had a few moments of panic as she had to go to the hospital with contractions, hoping we wouldn't suffer yet another unbearable loss.

Miraculously my son, whom we named Seth, made it into the world, albeit with some difficulty and time in intensive care. In naming him, we gave him the middle name "Parker" because we liked the name from my wife's family line.  With two boys and the feeling our family was complete, that was our last attempt at having children.

Soon thereafter, we were relocated to another city, and had never gotten up the courage to visit our twins' grave site where their ashes were scattered.  Returning to the area a few years later, we decided to dig through our box of keepsakes and locate the site.

It was then that we were shocked to see the name of the cemetery - Parker Memorial!

Through all the pain, all the suffering, God shined a light through the darkness, showing me a connection that confirmed He was there all along, through it all. It didn't lessen the pain - as with any loss, the pain will never go away.  We all just want comfort in the loss, for our Father to hold us and cry with us.

Whoever said time heals all wounds must have never lost a child.  Time doesn't heal wounds - only Jesus can.  And the only thing I can hold onto is the hope Jesus gives me in an eternity not only with Him, but also with two children I never got to know in this lifetime.

I am saddened to see people fall away from belief in God because of tragedies they experience, either personally or when they see death come from a terrorist, war, or natural disaster.  We need to realize that God loves other people more than we do, even our own children.  They were a gift to us no matter how long they were with us.  And if we take the eternal view of our lives, all of the pain suffered in this life will quickly become a distant memory, as everyone we ever knew or loved are with us in heaven, giving glory to God for making all things new, for drying every tear.

I was awakened to the sound of my twins playing one night - I knew in my spirit it was them, and was comforted knowing they are happy. If you are hurting from the loss of a child, know they are experiencing true joy and peace, and you will be reunited soon.  Take a step forward, make the best of what God has given you in this life, and look forward to a time when all will be made right, with a God who turns all ashes into beauty.

All I ask of you today is to keep trusting God, and allow his promise of "hope, and a future."  There's a light shining in the distance - it's the presence of God with an indescribable warmth and radiating love.  Your loved ones are already enveloped in this powerful reality, and you are getting closer to "home" each day!  In the meantime, enjoy your life with faith, hope, and love, and ask God for peace only He can bring to those who grieve.

"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him." - 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is etermal." - 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

- Adam Gellert

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Your Salvation is Assured




"For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." - Ephesians 2:8-9

I've been on an incredible journey of discovery with God.  But climbing the mountain of faith isn't an easy bike ride on a paved surface - as we climb up the mountain, we slip on some of the rocks and fall back down, only to struggle back up the path again.  After growing in faith and relationship with Him, I began to get frustrated with how things were going in my work life, and not seeing the fruit I had been anticipating in obedience to His direction.  I stopped spending daily quiet time with God as I had started doing two years before, and generally made the decision to "check out" of the intensity and passion I had been experiencing to that point.

As you would expect, this opened the door of opportunity, and the devil swooped in with attacks on my thought life.  I started wondering if falling away like this put my salvation at risk.  What if I died right now and had to face God? Would I still go to heaven?  Or would I be angrily cast out for my weak faith and lack of obedience?

A month went by, and I gathered up the courage to go back to my journal and seek God's voice yet again.  The first thing He said was, "Your salvation is assured.  You need to quit worrying about that."

Wow!  He knew and addressed my biggest concern and tackled it head on.  And it brought such peace and relief, not only in the moment, but in knowing and being assured of eternity with the Father, regardless of how I may temporarily behave during the ups and downs of life.  

Shortly after that, I was serving with the team I volunteer with at church, when the team gathered for some prayer time.  The leader started by telling us she felt God wanted to share an important message - our salvation is assured! As she walked through Scripture to support this truth, I sat shaking my head as I was once again amazed at the confirmation God gave me of his earlier message.  

Why is our salvation assured? Because it's not about us, and the actions we take, that give us salvation in the first place.  Jesus Christ is the key to our salvation - he bought us at a price when He died for us on the cross, and His blood washes us clean in God's eyes.  To think anything we do can either save us, or condemn us, after being sealed by Christ's salvation, is an insult to Jesus and the cross He bore for us.  God looks past our sins and views us as righteous because He sees Jesus in us.  The devil doesn't want us living in this Truth, because it gives us freedom and allows us to be empowered as children of God.  If we are in constant fear that our continual sin puts our salvation at risk, it leaves us as prisoners of our sin and negates the power of Christ.

This doesn't mean we can continue to go on willfully sinning either.  As Paul tells us in Hebrews 10:26-27, "For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgement, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries."  Accepting Jesus as Lord of our lives means dying to self, and the natural desire to sin.  We will continue to slip as human beings, but our standing as sons and daughters gives us a new desire to please God, by allowing Him to work through the Holy Spirit to remove our desire to sin.  "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit" (Romans 8:5).

Have you done something that you feel separates you from the love of God?  Do you doubt your salvation?  Are you living in bondage out of fear that you have to be perfect to achieve salvation and the reward of eternity with Jesus?  Be released from this burden today by placing your trust and faith in Jesus - and rest knowing your salvation is assured!


"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.  I and the Father are one." - John 10:27-30



- Adam Gellert

Monday, February 19, 2018

What's In It For Me?


"These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.  God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect." - Hebrews 11:39-40


In the movie "Field of Dreams," the main character, Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, hears a voice while walking in his Iowa cornfield.  The voice says, "If you build it, he will come," and Ray sees a vision of a baseball field and the deceased ballplayer Shoeless Joe Jackson.  Assuming this means Shoeless Joe Jackson will appear if he builds a baseball field, Ray is obedient to this strange calling, in spite of financial difficulty he is already having at his farm and the ramifications of this request.

As other farmers watch in shock and he becomes the joke of the community, Ray tears up much of his revenue-producing farmland to build a baseball field, putting him and his family into near bankruptcy.  Shoeless Joe Jackson and other deceased ballplayers do appear at the field, and Ray hears more instruction from the voice that guides him on an incredible journey across the United States.

The problem is, all of the voice's instructions are benefiting others, while Ray and his family are suffering severe financial loss.  Since others can't see the deceased ballplayers, everyone thinks Ray and his family are crazy, and his brother-in-law moves to foreclose on the property.  When a person Ray brings to the field at the instruction of the voice gets invited by Shoeless Joe to see what lies on the other side of the field, Ray finally shows his frustration and asks why he doesn't get to go.  Shoeless Joe calmly answers, "Because you weren't invited."

Ray, very angry at this point, says, "I've done everything I've been asked to do.  I didn't understand it but I've done it.  And I've never once asked what's in it for me.  What's in it for me?"

Shoeless Joe then asks, "Is that why you did this - for you?"  It stops Ray dead in his tracks, and you can see the look of guilt during the awkward silence as he realizes the selfishness he's had all along in pursuing this Field of Dreams.  While on the surface it appeared that Ray was being a risk-taking, obedient servant of the voice, helping ballplayers and others live out their dreams, he was secretly waiting to see what was in all of this for himself.

This is such an important revelation and checkpoint for all of us in our walk with God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  As you seek a closer relationship with the Trinity, you may be asked to do things that don't make sense.  You may be asked to help people in unique ways.  You may be given assignments to evangelize to others, preach the Gospel, or heal the sick.  But even if you are obedient to these assignments, what motivates you to do so is equally important.  Are you really being obedient so you can serve others and show God's love to the world, or are you being driven by the potential rewards for doing so?

Of course God promises blessings to those who are obedient to His calling, but they don't always look like what you expect.  His blessings may impact your children, or your grandchildren, or other people you may never meet or know.  You may never see the full fruits of your obedience in your lifetime.  The key is trusting God when asked to take on an assignment, regardless of what's in it for you.

In the end, Ray does get an unexpected benefit as he learns that it's really his deceased father who will come if he builds the field, and a father and son get to experience reconciliation in a tearful ending.  But the bigger lesson for Ray, and for all of us, is that we should always joyfully obey our Father's instruction regardless of what's in it for us.

Jesus was the ultimate example of this when he willingly died on the cross at God's instruction, without asking, "What's in it for me?"  And mankind benefited most of all when we inherited eternal life through Jesus.

So what's in it for us? That's the beauty of Christ - we've already received the free gift of redemption and eternal life in heaven with Him if we accept Jesus as our Savior.  Our job is then to simply "go and make disciples," bringing others to the real Field of Dreams - an eternal relationship with God our Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit!

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be a slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." - Mark 10:42-45

- Adam Gellert
adamgellert.com

Monday, January 15, 2018

Black Like Me



"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, 
for you are all one in Christ Jesus."  - Galatians 3:28

First of all, I have to admit I've spent my entire life as what the world would see as a rich white guy.  I grew up in the most affluent area of Dallas, Texas.  My high school did not have one black student registered there when I attended, so I was not exposed to much diversity there.  But in middle school, I had an experience that forever changed my view on race, and caused me to pursue a better understanding of and compassion for people who may be viewed as different from me.

I went to a Boy Scout camp that summer, and there was a buzz in the camp of mostly white kids, when we learned that a troop of black kids was also there.  One white troop was particularly bothered by this "intrusion," and made a public spectacle of berating and harassing this group of black kids every chance they got.  I heard about fights breaking out between these two troops all week long, and personally witnessed this horrific behavior several times when we all gathered as a camp for events.  

In a moment that will forever burn in my memory, we were all together for a rodeo event at the camp (this is Texas after all), and I was sitting by myself in the bleachers when one of the kids from the black troop was looking for a seat, and sat down next to me.  He turned to me and asked, "Is it okay if I sit here?", testing the waters to see if I was one of the kids who would give him a hard time.  The entire concept of discrimination was so foreign to me, that I quickly welcomed him to have a seat.  But I also recall thinking to myself in that moment, "Why are people being treated like this? How can it be that a person doesn't feel welcome to sit next to another person because of the color of their skin?"

The last night in camp, there was what I would call a "race war."  Troops across the camp split into two factions, one supporting the black troop and the other supporting the "white supremacist" troop.  I didn't go out that night, but heard horrible stories of fights that occurred across the camp.

When I returned from camp that week, I was a changed person. I read every book I could find on the Civil Rights Movement, and found an incredible book called "Black Like Me", about a white man who took medication that turned his skin dark, so he could go undercover and see what it was like to live as a black man in the Southern United States.  Every book report I had to write and present in school was about civil rights.  Since that time I have kept this traumatic experience in mind as I interact with others, and it has saddened me as I watch the racial divide continue to increase in the United States, and across the world, as people are persecuted for their race, religion, gender, or anything else that people view as "different."

It has to break God's heart to see this division across the world.  God created all of us in a unique way, and one of these ways is the color of our skin.  When He looks at each of us, He beams with pride as He sees who He created and placed in the exact country and nationality He intended for each of us before the beginning of time.

In God's Kingdom, our race doesn't have any impact on who we are - God is looking at our hearts. We see in 1 Samuel 16:7, "The Lord does not look at the things people look at.  People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."  We see Jesus modeling this behavior time and time again, as He broke the rules of His day in having compassion for people it wasn't politically or religiously correct to associate with - women, Samaritans, Gentiles, and other "sinners."  Jesus confirmed the two most important commandments were to first love God, and next love your neighbor as yourself, and He was most obedient to these commandments when He died on the cross for the freedom and salvation of the entire world.

Things haven't improved since my experience in middle school - if anything, the situation is getting worse.  So what are we to do in these increasingly troubling times?  How can we make a change? We first have to admit that in our humanity, we all have a natural tendency toward bias against others who are different from us.  Our history speaks for itself.  E. Stanley Jones, a missionary to India, wrote in 1925: "I have had this story concerning the origin of the white man quoted to me by an Indian: “God asked the man who is now white what he had done with his brother, and he turned white with fear.”  Read the book “The Black Man’s Burden” and you will come to the conclusion that there is enough truth in the above story to make it sting."  

Simply trying to be better through own efforts just isn't going to work.  Despite technology bringing the world together like never before, the divide is growing.  There's only one solution to the racial divide - we have to individually and collectively surrender to Jesus Christ and ask Him to transform us from the inside.  We must undergo a radical change that only He can perform, and that He died for, as the Holy Spirit works in us and through us to show us and the rest of the world how Jesus sees each of us.  Only Jesus living inside us, and leading us in paths of righteousness, will allow those of us with a generational history of oppression to break the cycle of our convicting history, and those who have experienced such oppression to show forgiveness and open arms to those who have oppressed.

A few years after my middle school experience, I went to another camp in high school, where I met a black teenager my age.  We had a powerful interaction that week, as he privately admitted to me that he was considering killing himself, and didn't feel any self-worth.  I talked to him about the love of Jesus, and led him into accepting Jesus as his Savior.  But what if I had overlooked friendship with him because of the color of his skin? What if he had done the same, and we had missed the chance to have a literally life-changing interaction? 

We see so much anger, so much hate, so much anxiety, so much fear, if we try to look at this situation from the world's view.  It can seem so overwhelming, just like other worldwide issues.  So let's start with what we can influence - ourselves, our families, and our communities.  Make your prayer to see others the way Jesus sees them, and it will forever change the way you see and interact with others. And then let God do the rest as we ask Him to use this spark to light a fire of compassion, peace, and love across the world through His Son, Jesus Christ!

"Every nation has its peculiar contribution to make to the interpretation of Christianity.  The Son of Man is too great to be expressed by any one portion of humanity.  Those that differ from us most will probably contribute most to our expression of Christianity." - E. Stanley Jones

"We love because He first loved us."  - 1 John 4:19


- Adam Gellert

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Ultimate Connection



"God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.  For in Him we live and move and have our being." - Acts 17:27-28


What if you could meet your favorite celebrity or another person you greatly admire?  What would you do if you had an hour of time with him or her?  I've been blessed to make some amazing connections over the last several years, and I can only sit back in wonder as I've "randomly" run into well-known Christian leaders at airports, my kids' school, at church, and elsewhere.

In most of those initial encounters, I stumbled over myself as I reacted as most of us would when we run into a "celebrity" - you try to act calm, you try to make a connection by telling them all about your own amazing story (because of course, you're cool too), and finally, you have to make sure to get a picture with the person as evidence of your new "friend" for your social media accounts.  

But these types of interactions have typically been met with a lukewarm reception at best.  We forget that well-known people have these kinds of encounters all the time.  Most people use these chance meetings for their benefit, and public figures are experienced enough (and smart enough) to know it.  So when these opportunities arise, and we feel God is leading us into an important connection, how can we take advantage of what God has brought together in the right way?

One well-known leader with a global ministry did take the time to meet with me for coffee recently, and we discussed this very topic. He used a story about a friend who met Bono, who most would know from the band U2, to illustrate his point.  The friend was with another person at a pub in Ireland, and they saw Bono hanging out at the pub with his entourage.  The man bet his friend that he could get an audience with Bono, to which the friend took him up on it.  The man then proceeded to buy a round of drinks for everyone at the pub, and toasted Bono, "The AIDS activist and humanitarian."  Sure enough, a member of Bono's entourage invited the man to meet Bono.

The key to getting an audience with Bono was that the man made an effort to connect with what was most important to Bono.  The man didn't mention the band U2 that had made Bono famous, or do something that would appear to be self-serving or self-motivated.  That probably happens all the time with Bono, and it's a turn off.  Regardless of whether someone is famous or not, connections happen when the person you seek to connect with sees your desire for mutual benefit, an interest in a common cause, or just a desire to get to know someone better for who they are and what motivates them, not just what they can do for you.  And it's usually pretty obvious when those intentions aren't there.

As I stepped into my car reflecting on this story, God hit me with an even bigger revelation - that's how He feels about our desire to connect with Him.  God is looking for relationships with people who are after His heart, not what He can do for them.  All too often our time with Him is focused on what we need or want.  When was the last time you asked God during your prayer time, "Who or what is on your mind and heart today, Father? How can I bless You and your Kingdom today?  Who do you want me to pray for, or show love to today?"

So ask yourself, why are you seeking a connection with God?  Is it to gain eternal life and avoid hell?  Is it because of the promise of prosperity and other blessings if you just follow Him?  Is it to be healed of sickness and disease? Or are you motivated to be significant in the Kingdom - by having spiritual gifts, leading worship at your church, or having a big church following?

All of these motivations are wrong.  While you may have good intentions, the benefits of a relationship with God are a byproduct of the love of God, and the fruits of a Kingdom walk, but they should not be the motivation for making the Ultimate Connection.  That connection comes from a surrender to the One who deserves such surrender, from pursuing a relationship with your Creator because you want to love Him as much as He loves you.  It comes when you desire intimacy with your Father, and have a desire to move His heart as much as He desires to move yours.  Just being in His presence is the best gift you can receive, and should be your greatest desire.

Make today the day you shift your mindset and approach to your relationship with God.  Because who or what you seek first drives everything else in your life, and in your journey with God, the Ultimate Connection.

"And you, Solomon my son, get to know well your father's God; serve him with a whole heart and eager mind, for God examines every heart and sees through every motive.  If you seek him, he'll make sure you find him, but if you abandon him, he'll leave you for good.  Look sharp now! God has chosen you to build his holy house.  Be brave, determined! And do it!" - 1 Chronicles 28:9-10


- Adam Gellert