Saturday, April 25, 2020

God's Amusement Park

"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.  And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God.  They had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands.  They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)  This is the first resurrection.  Blessed are those who share in the first resurrection." - Revelation 20: 4-6

I had a vivid, amazing dream recently, one that had a different but encouraging message from anything I had heard before or noticed from reading Scripture.

In my dream I was in a "holding room" with many other people that I didn't know.  It was a shaded or dark room, and we were all milling around waiting for something to happen, since the room was empty and there was nothing to do but wait.

Then, it was like one of the walls was pulled back slowly to reveal what was on the other side, almost like the recent Chevy commercials where average people are shown the latest models of cars that won awards.  And on the other side was a beautiful scene of an amusement park, going for miles.  There was a Ferris wheel and all the other typical rides we find at our Disney and other theme parks. But this one seemed like the best one of all!

As all of us inside this room stepped out into a beautiful landscape to explore this fun-filled park, I was somehow made aware that this wasn't heaven - it was more of a holding place we were supposed to enjoy for a little while before all is completed on earth and in God's plan.  I had the impression that it was a place of no worry, that we were to just enjoy the moment and fun-filled time in this place for the time being.

After this dream I explored the Bible to see if there was any reference to there being another place we are to go before heaven.  The only reference that stood out to me that relates to my dream comes from late in the book of Revelation, when Jesus rules on the earth for 1,000 years before the final battle with Satan:

"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge.  And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God.  They had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands.  They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.  (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)  This is the first resurrection.  Blessed are those who share in the first resurrection." - Revelation 20: 4-6

After this period of time, Satan is released for a final showdown with Jesus and the saints, where he is defeated and thrown into the lake of fire.  So might this amusement park be a revelation of our experience during a temporary period of time in history?

Ultimately, like other end time prophecy and debates, we can never know for sure.  The key for all of us is to ensure that we have a right relationship with God through salvation in his Son, Jesus Christ.  As Jesus himself said, "However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."  (Luke 10:20).

If you have accepted Christ as Lord over your life, whatever happens at the end of this age, and during the end times, will end in a positive, completed work, as you get to spend eternity with God in heaven.  But my dream was also a fun reminder that God has amazing things in store for us, beyond our wildest dreams.  If you take anything out of my dream about "God's Amusement Park," be encouraged that God wants us to enjoy our current life, as well as our eternity in His presence!

"When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am." 
- John 14:3

- Adam Gellert

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Be Still

"The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." - Exodus 14:14

"Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." - Psalm 46:10

Earlier this year I faced a difficult situation, stuck between several tough choices as I had left my full-time corporate job and was venturing out into a risky start-up business.  Things weren't going as planned, and I didn't know what to do.  Laying in bed one night, stressed out and near panic, I asked God what I should do as I sat at a crossroads and needed an answer as to which path to take.  Expecting God to give me the answer, I instead heard God say, "Be Still."

Only a couple of months later, my situation is made worse, and we now stand at a similar place as a society, with the Covid-19 virus creating an epidemic that is causing fear and panic to overtake us.  We are faced with uncertainty, as we wonder how long it will last, and what impact the situation will have on our jobs, our health, and the world economy.  Our human frailty is in full display, as our reliance on our economy, technology, and medical advances gives way to the reality that the natural world can still create potent enemies of the human body that we aren't prepared to fight, that can take everything away in an instant.

But these times are also a healthy reminder that God is in control, that reliance on Him is our only hope for peace and sanity in an insane world.  Fear would be justified, if we didn't believe that God is here in our midst, with a plan and purpose for humanity.   That because of the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we have hope in an eternal salvation, forever in God's presence, along with those family members and friends we have lost to unexpected pandemics such as this.

Sure, there are actions we must all take during this time to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and society at large from this spreading epidemic.  But it's also a unique time in history for rest, as we are called to stay home and change our lifestyles as we wait for this epidemic to play out.  It goes against our very nature to let go and let God work, but it's exactly what God is asking us to do.

My job security and financial future is even more tenuous than before with the present situation.  But God knew all this was going to happen when He told me to "Be Still."  Are we going to trust in God's sovereignty and promises for "hope and a future" during these times, or will we let the world's view of fear and uncertainty take away the daily gift of life?

Do you long to "Be Still"?  Does this sound too good to be true, especially with the world seeming to crumble around us? Today's environment is the perfect time to reflect on your relationship with God, your Creator and Father, who loves you and can't wait to spend eternity with you.  If you don't have the peace of Jesus Christ today, knowing with certainty that you will be in heaven for eternity regardless of this pandemic's outcome, now is the time to ask Jesus to become the Lord of your life. Say this simple prayer, and enter into your time of daily and eternal rest:

"Lord Jesus, I repent of my sins. Come into my heart.  Wash me clean.  I make you my Lord and Savior. Amen."  

If you prayed this prayer, contact me for more information on how you can grow in your relationship with Jesus Christ.  Find a Bible to read and a local church that can support your continued walk with Him.

Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat.  But Jesus was sleeping.  The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"  He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.  The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" - Matthew 8:23-27

-Adam Gellert

Thursday, December 19, 2019

This Is Not Going to Go the Way You Think - Embracing the Mystery of God

"Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens above - what can you do? They are deeper than the depths below - what can you know?  Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea." - Job 11:7-9

With the final installment of the Star Wars saga coming out this weekend, I was reminded of the quote from Luke Skywalker from the previous movie, The Last Jedi, when he was training the new Jedi, Rey: "This is not going to go the way you think."  It was an accurate prediction of not only Rey's path, but for the movie as a whole, which had some twists and turns the audience wasn't expecting.  Ironically, the movie received a lot of backlash from fans who didn't like how the movie's story line played out.

This same issue is one of the biggest challenges we face as Christians in our walk with God - accepting and putting faith and trust in the mystery of God when we don't (and can't) know the reasons why certain things are happening in our lives or the world around us.  We've been this way from the beginning of time - Adam and Eve were temped to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because we incorrectly assumed that by knowing everything and being like God, we would have the certainty and security of a predictable life, on our own terms and apart from God.  But as humans acting on our own, we gained the knowledge of good without the ability to do it, and we gained the knowledge of evil without the ability to avoid it.

I have learned from my own experiences that freedom comes from trusting in God's goodness and plan for our lives in the face of things not working out the way we had hoped.  I will always have questions about why certain things had to play out like they did, like losing my twin son and daughter at 19 weeks of pregnancy when we prayed and believed God for a different outcome.  And I'm sure my life will continue to have unexpected twists and turns that I don't expect or understand.

Accepting and trusting in the mystery of God, when we want control over every aspect of our lives, is one of the foundational challenges of our faith, because it goes against our very human nature.  We see this play out in Jesus' ministry, when his disciples thought Jesus was coming to free the Jews from the Romans and establish a new kingdom in the natural, and he had to rebuke them for trying to take a different path from God's will and purpose for His life (Mark 8:32-33).  Today, we see many fall away from their faith, or don't make the commitment to follow Christ in the first place, because of personal or global events that don't line up with their personal belief in who God is or should be.  They can't accept a mysterious God who will always have a part of the story concealed, for His glory and for our good.

The great lie that Satan convinced humanity to believe was that mystery meant God was holding something back from us, something better that we were missing out on.  That life would be better if we did things our way, or had things turn out the way we think they should.  Those traps sow the seeds of bitterness, anger, fear, and unbelief that pull us away from relationship with God, whose true desire is to partner with us to give us the strength to endure the things we don't understand, and the wisdom to make decisions that are aligned to His will and plan for our lives.

As you go through the rest of life's journey, I encourage you to embrace the mystery of God, to let go of your personal beliefs and perceptions of how your life plan should play out.  God has a better path, an amazing plan that you cannot fully know.  And like a good movie, it's a lot more fun when things don't quite turn out like you expect, and the surprise ending is much better than anything you could have ever imagined!

"A religion without mystery must be a religion without God." - Jeremy Taylor

- Adam Gellert

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Miracle of Partial Hearing

"As he (Jesus) went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"  "Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.""- John 9:1-3

As I sat in the audience listening to Andrea Bocelli in concert recently, I closed my eyes and focused on the beautiful melodies of the symphony, while the most amazing singing voice I've ever heard belted out one incredible song after the next.  I thanked God for being able to have this experience, because it almost didn't turn out that way.

When I was a toddler and could start to talk, my parents would hand the phone to me to talk to my grandparents. But they noticed something strange - I would always switch the phone to my left ear.  They took me to an audiologist, who gave them the grim news: I was completely deaf in my right ear, and only had partial hearing in my left ear. After running multiple tests, they were told it was likely I was going to be completely deaf in my left ear too, so they needed to prepare me for life with no hearing by learning sign language.

My parents didn't accept the doctors' reports.  Having attended Oral Roberts University and believing for supernatural healing, they sent out prayer requests to ministries, family members, and friends far and wide. I was taken to local churches known for healing ministries and prayed over multiple times.

Sure enough, I did not see a decline in my hearing.  In fact, when I was taken back for additional follow up tests, the doctors were surprised to see that my left ear had almost "perfect" hearing, better than average and at levels they rarely see!  Fast-forward to today, and at 45 years old I have maintained these hearing levels and rarely notice any issues from being deaf in one ear.  And unless I make it a point to tell people, they would never know of my condition.

But what if my parents had not believed that healing is for today, as many churches wrongly teach?  What if they had not had the faith to petition for prayer, and do all they could do to ensure I was given a chance for supernatural healing?  I am thankful that I was born into believing parents who refused to accept what was seen in the natural, and believed God had a different plan for my life.

While I have always been grateful for my miracle of partial hearing, I used to wonder why I wasn't completely healed - if one ear could be restored, why were both not healed? I have sought prayer many times for complete hearing in both ears, walking into many healing rooms and alter ministries for prayer, with the faith and belief that I would walk away healed.  And my faith has been tested when I didn't get the result I expected.  But recently my church pastor told the story of a woman born with brown eyes, when everyone in her family and that part of the world had blue eyes.  Being seen as "different," she prayed every day for God to give her blue eyes, and was disappointed when her prayers weren't answered.  Later on though, she entered into the mission field in India.  She was able to sneak into temples where girls were being held captive as shrine prostitutes and rescue them, because she had brown eyes that would not give her away as a foreigner.  God then showed her that she was given brown eyes for just that purpose. It was during this story that God spoke to me and gave me the same insight, that there is a purpose for my partial hearing.

This story has two lessons.  First, I can testify from my experience that healing does happen today, that your current situation can be changed with the supernatural touch of God.  And second, even if you don't get the outcome you expected through prayer, continue to trust God, knowing He created you as part of His master plan, and that all things will work out according to His perfect will.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, 
who have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

- Adam Gellert

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The King's Friend

"And the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness" - and he was called a friend of God." - James 2:23

Imagine going to work and running into a new colleague in the hallway.  After introducing yourself and welcoming them to the team, you tell him or her that you work in the Accounting department.  "What do you do?" you ask. "I'm the CEO's Friend," comes the response.  Not surprised at the startled look on your face, he or she shows you a business card, and sure enough, it reads, "Friend of the CEO"!

Sound strange? Maybe so, but it's also a job held by Hushai the Arkite in David's list of the king's overseers. It took me by surprise when reading a passage from 1 Chronicles 27, which I'll paraphrase here:

Azmaveth was in charge of the royal storehouses.
Jonathan was in charge of the storehouses in the outlying districts.
Ezri was in charge of the workers who farmed the land.
Shimei was in charge of the vineyards.
Zabdi was in charge of the produce of the vineyards for the wine vats.
Baal-Hanan was in charge of the olive and sycamore-fig trees in the western foothills.
Joash was in charge of the supplies of olive oil.
Shitrai was in charge of the herds grazing in Sharon.
Shaphat was in charge of the herds in the valleys.
Obil was in charge of the camels.
Jehdeiah was in charge of the donkeys.
Jaziz was in charge of the flocks.
Jonathan, David's uncle, was a counselor, a man of insight and a scribe.
Jehiel took care of the king's sons.
Ahithophel was the king's counselor.
Hushai the Arkite was the king's friend.
Joab was the commander of the royal army.

Wait, back up one line.  We see a lot of jobs that make sense, but then we see that Hushai the Arkite was the king's friend? What does that job entail? I want that job!

Well, I have good news! That's the job the King of Kings wants to give to you!

I would imagine being a leader of a large population has its challenges.  People are coming to you constantly for advice, a decision, an emergency that's come up.  With all the stresses of the job, it must be nice to have a confidant, a friend that knows you better than anyone else, who just wants to hang out and keep you grounded in who you are at the core.

Amazingly, God's design for us includes a relationship in which He calls us friends.  He did this through His Son Jesus, who revealed the heart of the Father to the world, and therefore trusts us enough to call us friends, if we only believe and trust in Him.  In John 15:15, Jesus says, "I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything I learned from my Father I have made known to you."

I have encountered some people who view God as a stern, distant Creator,  one that is to be feared rather than befriended.  Or there are some who say they are not so "vain" as to think that God would speak to them directly.  But you can't help but draw a different conclusion when you read the Bible and find the Truth.  While God is to be revered and respected as our Father and Creator, He also desires to be our Friend, one that we can have a real, personal, and individual relationship with.

And while we are also children of God, I remember a co-worker telling me that every stage of her children's development was better than the last.  Now that her kids are grown, she likes this stage the best, because now her children are also her friends.  God wants the same relationship with you, but it takes growing in maturity and closeness with Him.  Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, God can live inside you and guide you into a deeper relationship with Him, where He can call you not only a son or daughter, but also a friend.  And that's also who He wants by His side for all eternity!

Through God's amazing grace, we all have the opportunity to tell the world that we have the best job title ever - the King's Friend!

-Adam Gellert

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Do You Really Trust God?

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do." 
- James 1:5-8

Despite everything I've experienced, all that I've committed to in my walk with the Lord, and all the actions I've take to demonstrate my love for the Trinity, I've come to a startling revelation - I don't trust God.

How can I be at this point? How can I experience the dreams, miracles, and revelations of God and still doubt that He is good? That He has a plan for all of humanity, and each of us individually, that if left in His hands will be made perfect for all eternity?

I doubt because I refuse to see reality through God's eyes.  I allow my humanity, with all its imperfection and flawed perspective, to decide what is good or not good in my present situation.  I see an all-knowing God and can't understand why He is allowing me to get laid off from work, lose my children, the natural disaster to wipe out my city, or not answer my earnest prayer for a miracle in a dire situation.

The foundation of faith is a combination of trust and obedience, which go hand in hand.  I can't obey God's instruction and walk in His will if I don't trust Him during ALL circumstances, because I will make a different decision that makes more sense or feels more comfortable to my "rational" mind.  This is why James, in the first chapter of his book in the Bible, says that doubt causes us to be double-minded, tossed about in the waves of life as we sometimes make good decisions that work out, while other times we fall back into worry and despair when something goes wrong.

That's what has made me come to realize that I don't entirely trust God. When I have a good day or something goes well, I'm in love with God and thank Him for answering my prayers and giving me favor.  When something then goes wrong or not the way I expected, I blame God in His omnipotence for "punishing" me or not being good. And so we ride a roller coaster life of ups and downs, looking forward to the relief of an eternity where everything will be a smooth ride of perfection, instead of rejoicing in the peace, freedom and redemption Jesus won for us today.

Before you tell God you love Him, that you've accepted his Son Jesus as your Savior, and want His Holy Spirit to guide and comfort  you on life's journey, are you really ready to trust Him? If you say you love your spouse but don't trust him or her, can you really love them? Can you really be fully committed to that relationship?

Francis Chan has a message that I'll share here, that challenges us with that same thinking.  If we are worrying all the time about our lives, our children, our future,or our finances, do we really trust God? Do our children sit around worrying that we'll provide for them, that we'll do all we can to protect them, and that we are always looking out for their good, even when we have to correct them?

So what's the answer? How can we fully trust God? Like James says, we have to ask God.  We have to commit to dying to self, the humanity in us that wants control.  And when we ask God to take over our lives, we have to make the decision to trust Him completely, in good times and bad.  God knows we will have doubts - Jesus was constantly confronted by His disciples' lack of faith despite all they experienced. But He also died for each one of us, so we could be free to live in eternity with Him, and so that we could have the Holy Spirit dwell within us to transform and shape us into trusting, obedient sons and daughters.

If you can't say you trust God today, repent and ask God to give you the wisdom to fully commit to Him. Believe and don't doubt, and watch God open the floodgates of heaven with a life of blessing, confidence, freedom, and purpose!

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5-6

- Adam Gellert

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Removing Your "High Places"

In the second year of Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel, Jotham son of Uzziah king of Judah began to reign.  He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Uzziah had done.  The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there." - 1 Kings 15:32, 34-35

In reading through the Old Testament recently, one thing the Lord pointed out to me from the history of the kings of Israel was the differences in how closely they walked with the Lord, especially with removing the "high places."   Even those kings who were described as doing right and serving the Lord were called out for not removing the high places.  Here are some examples:

  • "Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places." - 1 Kings 3:3
  • "Although he did not remove the high places, Asa's heart was fully committed to the Lord all his life." - 1 Kings 15:14
  • "In everything he (Jehoshaphat) followed the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.  The high places, however, were not removed, and the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there."- 1 Kings 22:42-44
There were some kings that did take the step of removing the high places, including Hezekiah:
  • "He (Hezekiah) did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.  He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles.  He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan).  Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel.  There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him." - 2 Kings 18:4-5

And what about the New Testament? Even the devil understood the significance of high places when he tempted Jesus in the desert: "The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world." (Luke 4:5)

So why are the high places so important to God and in Scripture, where they are mentioned 117 times? And how can this apply to us today?

The "high places" were originally a tradition from the previous inhabitants of the promised land, and when the Israelites entered the land, God commanded them to "destroy completely all the places on the high mountains, on the hills, and under every spreading tree, where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods." (Deuteronomy 12:2) Keeping the high places or setting up new ones meant turning from God to worship idols, which constituted adultery and a lack of full trust in God.

King David was the gold standard in having a heart devoted to the Lord.  But starting with his son Solomon, who buckled under the pressure of foreign wives to build altars to their gods, Israel spiraled downward into a black hole of idol worship and setting up altars on high places throughout the land.  And while some kings over the course of Israel's history turned from the evil ways of their fathers and grandfathers and made an effort to serve the Lord, very few had the courage to make the full effort in removing the high places. And because of this decision, God was not able to fully bless them as He did David, or kings like Hezekiah, who did go "all in" with their commitment to the Lord.

Why did even the "good" kings seem to struggle with this one area? I believe they knew better, but felt the pressure of the popularity of these high places in their culture, and they were afraid of losing favor with the people in making what would have been an unpopular decision.  There were likely many influential priests and other leaders who benefited from these high places and the many people that visited them. So what's the harm in keeping them around with all the other good they were doing for the Lord?

Does this sound familiar in today's world? While we don't have physical "high places," the world puts pressure on us to follow popular culture in failing to stand against the things that set themselves against a holy God.  We all have an opportunity through reading the Word, accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior, and following the prompting of the Holy Spirit, to lead a life that is fully committed to the Lord.  But we also all have "high places," some more obvious and some more subtle, that keep us from being a David or Hezekiah and making the hard choices in removing these high places from our lives.

So what are examples of today's high places? While many are obvious, the more subtle ones can be the priority we place on our children or family, our careers, our ministries, or our standing at church.  It is also not taking a stand against the world views of today around sexual orientation/gender identity, a focus on money, and other areas of popular opinion that may impact your reputation or popularity.  The first commandment is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and a high place draws us away from full devotion to the Lord.

What high places do you have in your life? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal this to you, and seek for understanding in the Bible.  Let the Trinity help you remove these high places, so you can live a life in closer relationship to the Lord, with full obedience and commitment to Him!

"Therefore God exalted him (Jesus) to the highest place 
and gave him the name that is above every name..." - Philippians 2:9

- Adam Gellert