Wednesday, July 27, 2016

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!

-Adam Gellert

Thursday, July 21, 2016

"I Will" Versus "I Can" - A Key Difference in Hearing God

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!

"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us"). - Matthew 1:22-23

-Adam Gellert

Thursday, July 14, 2016

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

-Adam Gellert

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Making All Things New - The Next Chapter Begins

It's not often an author shares the ending of the book before the book is even published, but this is an unusual case.  And don't worry, I'm not spoiling anything.

In the last chapter of my book, I write that I felt God was telling me the theme for 2016 is, "I am making all things new", which is also the title of that chapter and comes from Revelation 21:5, "He who is seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new."  I wrote this word from God into my journal in January 2016, obviously not knowing what the future would hold for the year ahead.

And what a year it has been since that time!  I completed my book, Activation: A Story of God's Transforming Power, which is now at the printer and should be ready for purchase this week.  My wife got a new full-time job with the flexibility she desired with our children.  And my brother is having his second baby this fall.

Many new things are happening for us this year, but none more impactful than what happened in May.  After 11 years at my company, I was informed of an organization restructure, and my position was impacted.  My last day with the company was just last Friday, July 1st. 

As disappointing as this news was, a couple of weeks before I was informed, God told me during my prayer time, "I will give you strength for the days ahead."  This indicated that something was going to happen in my life that would need His strength.  Also, I wrote down the phrase "Burst Forth" twice in my journal as a word from God - the day before I was informed of my job loss, and an earlier time.  When I looked up this phrase in the Bible, I found Isaiah 58:8,

"Then your light will burst forth like the morning, your new skin will quickly grow over your wound; your righteousness will precede you, and Adonai's glory will follow you."

When the day came to be informed about my job, I was at total peace, knowing from the words received from God that this was all part of His plan.  This was noticed by people at work who know me to be a planful person, who gets worried in times of uncertainty.  And with my book being released at the same time I was to leave my company, it was so clear that God was setting up a transition for my life in this season. 

I don't know what's next for my life, and I'll admit to being a little scared.  But by seeking God in daily time with Him, and listening for His voice, I was given the great gift of peace and advance knowledge of something that would normally have been very difficult news. 

Are you in a season of uncertainty? Are you ready for God to make all things new?  If you take the time to sit and listen to His voice, He will give you peace for every season of your life.  He promises that we will "burst forth" with a new adventure that lies ahead of us, that will be too wonderful to fathom today.  Trust in Jesus, and He will make all things new!

- Adam Gellert

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My Elijah

I was recently prompted by God to look for a particular book in my nightstand.  But what He really intended, as I dug through the many papers, books, and other keepsakes, was to find a very special postcard hidden in the bottom of the drawer, that I had completely forgotten about. 

The postcard was from my grandmother, who sent me the card while I was in college in the mid-1990s.  She was vacationing in Hawaii with my grandfather, as they did every September for many years, and sent me the card just to say hi:

What she wrote on the card reflects very clearly who she was as a person: "God is so good to answer my prayers.  His works are all around."  Why would she write that in a note to her grandson? It seems a little random to throw that in there.  But that's what happens when God has activated your life - He is always on your mind, and you are constantly reminded of your relationship with Him in everything you do. 

That's why my grandmother is "My Elijah".

Elijah was a powerful prophet in the Old Testament.  His showdown with the prophets of Baal, where God proved to be the one true God in the eyes of the nation of Israel, is one of my favorite stories in the Bible (1 Kings 18:16-40).  Elijah was also priviledged to stand on a mountain and witness God's presence pass by.  Finally, he was given the gift of not having an earthly death, as he was taken up to heaven by chariots of fire in a whirlwind, in the sight of his protégé, Elisha. 

Elisha was chosen by God to be Elijah's successor to his prophetic ministry.  And when Elijah asked Elisha what he wanted before Elijah was taken to heaven, Elisa responded, "Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit." (2 Kings 2:9).  While it was a difficult request, Elisha was granted this request by God and had his own dynamic ministry.

When my grandmother died in 2007, I was able to speak at her funeral. At that service, I asked God for a double portion of my grandmother's spirit.  When I look at the way God has activated my life and given me the same passion for His presence as my grandmother had, I see now that God answered my prayer, and I'm sure the very similar prayers of my grandmother as she went on her many walks around her condo and spoke with God.

Who do you have in your life as a role model for walking with God?  Have you asked God for a double portion of his or her spirit?  I can't wait to see what happens when you do!

Adam Gellert

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hearing (and Sometimes Missing) God's Voice

I've been fortunate to hear God's voice during my life, both audibly (just once) and in my thoughts and prayer time. Until this year, these instances were very intermittent, which meant it could be several months or even years in between the times I heard God.  But in my book, Activation: A Story of God's Transforming Power, I describe the first time I was able to hear God daily, during the 30-day devotional time my church had in January 2016.  This has led to a daily quiet time with God where He has given me things to write down every day, and it's been an amazing time of revelation, closeness to God, and peace and comfort for the daily journey of life that I have never experienced before.

However, despite this increased frequency, there are times when I've put a question mark next to something I've written down, because it just didn't make sense or I couldn't quite tell if it was God.  I even had one day where most of what I wrote down was very discouraging and negative, and it wasn't consistent with the pattern of comfort, peace, and love I had received the other days, so I scratched out those messages.  In other words, despite our best efforts to hear God, we are being constantly barraged with our own thoughts, and thoughts from the devil, that will try to drown out the voice of our Father.  Tuning into the right frequency to hear God is always a learning experience.

And one time recently, I really got it wrong. During a program at my church, I saw of vision of my brother Peter and his family being marked by Jesus.  His wife is pregnant with their second child, and I thought God was revealing the gender of the baby to me.  It was unclear, so I strained even harder to "see" what the vision would show me. I then saw a picture of a child from behind, with long blonde hair, so I thought, "It's going to be a girl!" In my excitement I told my brother, who had been hearing from others that they thought it was a girl too, so this confirmed it for him.

The problem is, when they went to the doctor to find out the gender, it was a boy!  I was shocked, and it really shook my ability to hear God for a period of time. How could I miss it? 

Ironically, during the time of this increased hearing of God's voice in my life, Pastor Robert Morris at Gateway Church, where I am a member, has been preaching a message from a series called Frequency, based on the new book he released by the same name. It's helped confirm my experiences hearing God, in both the challenges and confirming messages I've heard.  During one sermon, he told the story of someone else who missed it too, and he talked about how sometimes we mix up what we are desiring from God's message to us, or want to hear something so badly, we aren't really picking up the right signal from God.

So I've learned that hearing from God isn't always easy, and I'm going to get it wrong sometimes. But this shouldn't keep us from trying - that's just what the devil would want us to do.  For those times when I do question if a message is from God, it means I have to wait for some kind of confirmation that it's really from Him, either from reading the Bible, having the word come to pass correctly, or in the other ways God speaks to us.

Getting to hear from God daily, and taking time out of my day to do so, has been one of the most precious gifts God has given me in my life.  I wouldn't trade that time for anything.  So start today - find some quiet time to ask God what He is saying to you through his Holy Spirit, and you'll be amazed at what He says back. He loves you and can't wait to tell you so Himself!

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. - John 10:27

Adam Gellert

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Spiritual Maturity at the Water Park

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

I recently went on a trip with my family that involved a stay at a hotel with an indoor water park.  My kids, at 8 and 6 years old, are a little more cautious than most when it comes to theme park rides, water slides, and such, so I wondered how they would handle this new opportunity to take a risk, to stretch their comfort zone.  Would they go for it, or would they sit back and watch the other kids go down the two story water slides that loomed ominously up the stairway?

At first things went as expected; although they both climbed the stairs with me to see what this whole water slide thing was, they refused to take part when they saw the rushing waters trailing off into the darkness of a large plastic tube, with only a few feet in view and the rest of the slide an unknown path of winding ups and downs.  They could also hear the echo of other kids (and adults) yelling and screaming on the way down the slides and wanted nothing to do with it.  I trudged back down the stairs with them, ready to head off to the section of the pool where the smaller kids played in the splash pads, wondering when my kids would finally take a chance to enjoy the fun of these water slides.

Then something changed.  They continued to be drawn to the slides, as they saw their family members the same age going up and down the slides, screaming and laughing in delight when they came crashing into the final leg of the slide into the pool.  Finally, they both went back up the stairs to the top of the slides.  They both took the plunge into the unknown.  AND THEY LOVED IT!  After that, they must have climbed up those stairs dozens of times.  I sat back down and watched them go over and over again, without my help, and it didn't take long for them to become completely comfortable taking on this adventure on their own.

While sitting in a chair watching this phenomenon, God showed me that our walk with Him isn't much different.  As we grow in our spiritual maturity, God wants us to venture out and take risks, to try something new that initially makes us uncomfortable.  Jesus asked us to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).  This means going beyond attending church on Sundays, hearing a good message, and returning to the others things we have on our agenda, as we check the box with God for that week.  That's playing in the kids' pool.  The real fun begins when we step into the water slides of life - sharing your faith with others, wearing a shirt, wristband, or bumper sticker that professes your faith, volunteering at church or another non-profit opportunity, praying for others, carving out quiet time with God, paying for someone's meal while in line at the drive thru, etc.  And like my kids being influenced by their friends and relatives at the water park, you may be encouraging others to seek more in their walk with God when they see your example.

As I describe in my book, I also experienced this same period of learning to stretch, to do something that many people would think was a little crazy.  And I know I still have a long way to go in this area.  But like my kids in the water park, once I took a bold step with God in an area of my life that He had given me to work on, I couldn't go back to the old way - I was hooked, and it was a lot of fun! I realized that it wasn't so scary after all, that God wouldn't let me do anything He knew I couldn't handle, and He honored my faith with unexpected blessings I would have never experienced had I not jumped into the unknown. 

Ask God to take you to the water parks of life, where He can stretch you to do more than you thought you could ever do.  He won't ever leave your side, and He knows which slides you can handle, and which ones you aren't ready for yet. 

If you want to live an activated life, it's time to leave the kids pool!

Adam Gellert