Making Room for Christ to Form our Hearts


Making-Room.pngI have watched the TV show “Hoarders”. The show centers around a person whose house is jammed and crammed with stuff.  There is no room for anything, no room to move, and no room if they needed help. It’s often unsafe, unsanitary, and unlivable, yet the show is about someone who lives there for years.

Our time and lives are often like this.  Our growth and spiritual formation is neglected as there is no room in our schedule, no time in our lives, no margin to grow in God.  I am convinced that without time every day to focus on Christ, to listens, learn, read, worship, pray, and fellowship, we will never become who our Father has destined us to be.  We will trade in having our heart shaped by God, for a shallow faith, with little to know change in our lives for years.  An analogy to Hoarders, if our life is too cluttered, we are in spiritual danger, and the enemy can infiltrate our lives with things that are not “clean” or good for us at all.  We can’t move around and our joy and peace are stolen from us.

How are we cluttered?  I know my phone clutters my life.  Emails and work often squeeze my time.  There are too many things to watch, too many posts, too many shares, too many options for “other” things to do. I usually over commit my time to others or event to myself, thinking I MUST get so much accomplished in one day. I guess we do this to prove our worth.

We need to “make room”.  To sit, listen read, journal, pray, sing, worship.  Here are some practical suggestions to get us started.

  • Turn off your phone, TV, and music and sit 2 minutes in silence to listen for the Lord’s “impressions”.
  • Set a time of the day you can do this.  Start with 15 minutes or more.
  • Read a few verses of a Psalm and pray those verses. This is the ancient practice called “Lectio Divina”.  Here is an easy guide to get you started..Click here
  • Say the Lord’s Prayer.  Here it is if you don’t know it. click here.  Go back through and pray about the teaching of Christ in the Lord’s prayer.
  • Reacquaint yourself with the teachings of Christ and read the book of John

Let’s make some time in our busy lives to be with Jesus. Let’s allow is Spirit to shape our hearts, speak to our lives, and change us from the inside out.
Continue reading “Making Room for Christ to Form our Hearts”

A Steadfast Heart- Psalm 108:1


I really took time to think upon this verse this morning.”My heart is steadfast, O God;I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul (Psalm 108.1).”

The word “steadfast” caught my attention.  It is a Hebrew word, “nakon”. This word means “established, fixed, stable, and secure.”  That is a heart in the Lord.  Our hearts can get flaky, uncommitted, weird, and insecure.  The Lord wants to establish our heart.  Fix our hearts solidly upon Him.

With a steadfast heart we can withstand the storms (read Ps. 107.23-32). We can get through times of change  and the seasons of life. With a steadfast heart on God we won’t turn back to the world for attention, and we won’t embrace the carnal values of a system without God.  With a steadfast heart we will survive through tragedy, heartache, and sadness.

With a steadfast heart we can sing with not only our voice, but our soul.  Our life and our soul will sing of God’s goodness to us.  We won’t go through life waffling with our faith, sinking into serving the Lord and then out again, over and over (I see this so much.).

Ask the Lord to establish your heart so our hearts will always be “nakon”. May nothing shake our heart.

P. Nate Elarton
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Ps 108:1). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Learn the Discipline of Celebrating


Learn to Celebrate, 

Life is too intense. We are too intense.  We are too much in a hurry and too stressed out.  I have met too many people that are so unhappy, so ungrateful, so worried and burdened.  We need to celebrate more.  We have lost the spiritual discipline of celebration and of joy.  There is a spiritual discipline we need of celebrating.  Celebrations brings joy. Celebrations give us permission to laugh, to joke, to love.   Even the serious church-planting, tell-it-like-it-is apostle Paul tells us “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4.4)  Twice we are told to celebrate, as celebration invokes joy.  We all need more of that. This world needs more joy.

Reject moody, depression and celebrate.  Celebrate the little things. I was celebrating when I saw the sun and it got up to 50.  I grabbed my bike and rode around Temperance, celebrating the conclusion of a long winter.  I celebrate when I hear of God’s work in lives and the revelation of His love to others.  I celebrated with my kids when they call me with a bit of good news, a completed class, an honor bestowed, a goal attained.  I celebrate when we dedicate a baby and a family to the Lord at Compelled.   Wendy and I will celebrate in a few week as our son marries. When we praise we celebrate God’s goodness.  I am convinced this world is trying to snuff out the celebrations that keep our joy.joy

Isn’t praising the Lord and thanking Jesus really a celebration. At most churches it looks more like a sad vigil of some kind, it should be a celebration of joy as our hearts are filled with gratitude and love for all Christ is done and doing.

God’s people will celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday in just a few weeks. A reminder that He is alive, He is working, and He loves us!  Please get to your church to celebrate this history and live-changing truth.

Do you “celebrate” enough?  Are you too stressed out? Too intense?  Too rushed? Too angry?  Too moody?  Do you just stand there during worship and praise times.  it may be time to really  be baptized in the joy and gratitude of Christ.

Plan a celebration.   A walk, a run, a coffee with a friend, and mini-party with Christ to thank Him.  Allow your heart, mind, life, and home to be filled with joy, and a celebration and grateful heart is catalyst.

This world is full of a lot of sadness.  We will encounter many unhappy times, but we must not cease celebrating.  We all need  learn to celebrate better and to rejoice!

Nate Elarton

Lectio Divina with our Compelled Staff


Lectio Divina (Divine Reading) is an ancient practice of biblical prayer and meditation. It is a contemplative discipline to help us be led by the Holy Spirit in prayer and hear the ways and will of God through Scripture.  Our staff did this as a group this morning.  Man, the Lord had them prayer some powerful prayers from Psalm 131.

Here’s how we did it

  1. Each of us  read the verses out loud.
  2. Think deeply of the words and the intention of God, in these Scriptures
  3. Dwell upon the truths.
  4. Pray out the themes in the verses.
  5. Pray out as you are led by the Holy Spirit

 

Psalm 131 (NASB95

A Song of Ascents, of David.)

1O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.

2Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.

3O Israel, hope in the Lord From this time forth and forever.

 

Try it personally, with family, or Church staff using different portions of Scripture. This is a great way to spend a devotional time, “daily office”, and to connect with the heart and Spirit of Christ.

Let the Spirit pray through you.  Let him teach you. Let Jesus be your mentor.

P. Nate

lectio

 

 

Silence


I’m learning to be silent.  To stop talking, stop planning, stop scrolling, stop moving, and be silent and still as a spiritual discipline to hear the Lord. Several years ago after reading “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero I began to practice this as spiritual formation.  To stop, listen to the Lord, and be more contemplative.

I have always known this was the key to being close to Jesus.  He is Spirit, so our spirit man seeks union with Him.  But we have too many things that rob the silence.  We have evolved into a people that feels worthless, unless we are doing something and accomplishing something.  Peter Scazzero says “We were not created to be human-doings, but human beings.”  He is stressing that we do not slow down to be with God. I lived in this deception until I could no longer, thinking my value was based on what I did for the Lord.   I worked my tail off to planting Compelled Church and often neglected my “being” and put all energy into my “doing”. The successes did not go unnoticed.

This got attention, awards,  accolades, plaques, and speaking engagements.  I was elected to positions I did not deserve, nor was I qualified.   The Christian Tribe affirms this imbalance, and more pastors fall prey until they wear out, burn out, or get out.  I was saved from this and now enjoy my life, marriage, friendships, time with Christ and pastoring more than I ever thought was possible. But pastors are not the only ones who struggle with just being with Jesus, for the purpose of relationship.  Every believer does. I know this. I have been a pastor for over 30 years.

Jesus did spent time alone.   “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” Mark 1.35

“We enter into solitude first of all to meet our Lord and to be with him and him alone.” Henri Nouwen wrote this.  We are not meeting with him to get-get-get–ask-ask-ask- beg-beg-beg. But we make time to be with God.

To be silent to listen to God, we need to be alone, without sound, music, news, phones, screens.  Then we began to be real with God. It’s just us.  No friends, no topics, no weather to discuss. It’s just our true self with a living God.  Then we listen, with our hearts and spiritual ears, and transformation begins.  Our thoughts merge with His thoughts, our hearts unite, and the open heart surgery of the Spirit of God picks up where it left off.  We become more like Christ. We forsake the world. We desire what He desires.   We grow, we contemplate, we are filled with contentment and joy as the Spirit of God speaks, without words, because the silence and solitude allows.

We can then read the Word of God for transformation not information. We can pray the Scriptures and they jump into us with life and spiritual energy. We can be convicted of sin, and convinced by  our Father to forsake this world.  Silence.

This kind of prayer is the prayer Jesus intended.  This is the kind of prayer that makes us like him.  Then when we talk, after we listen, we talk very differently, as we know how to talk to Him better.  We don’t read off a to-do list to God of what we command Him to do (how foolish we are!). We don’t tell him what we have planned and command Him to bless it (ditto!). We pray and talk to our friend about true state, our heart, our pain, our fears, our need, and we are moved from “glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3.18).

Try it.  Just try a spend a few minutes a day in utter silence and solitude and enjoy union with Christ.  Enjoy being with Him.  Delight in your being his son and daughter, no doing.

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”   Psalm 46.10

Pastor Nate Elarton

The Greatest Leader


We are all leaders. We all lead people. We cannot deny our influence upon people. Our choices, talk, attitude, priorities, social media, all communicate and affect others.

“We cannot – not communicate.”

Who are the people that you love to be with and admire?  I imagine these people are loving, positive, encouraging, happy, and they have inward character and virtues that are pure and Christ-like.

I was pondering the account when Moses asked God to reveal to him, His glory.  God passed by Moses and he had to shield his face from the glory and then God revealed his glory by communicating it.

“Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth;who keeps loving-kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” Exodus 34.6-7  (NASB The Lockman Foundation 1995 update)

God reveals Himself as compassionate, lots of love, slow to angry. He forgives. He is truth. He will not overlook guiltiness.  We will not escape if we are guilty.  Wow, thankful for Jesus who removes our sin and guilt!

These qualities are the qualities of a leader, a believer, a follower of God.  These are the virtues of a person who confesses being one of God’s people.

Questions to Ponder

  • How compassionate are you?  Do you care and think, and act on behalf of others?
  • Are you grateful, and gracious in life, with others?
  • Do you value truth avoiding deceit, lies, gossip, spreading negative feelings about others?  Do you value the truth of God’s Word and live within His Words?
  • Are you forgiving?  Holding Grudges?  Do you have trouble giving grace?  Jesus can help us.
  • Do you have a kind attitude?
  • Living a life of being loving and kind must be personified in how we speak to and about others.  How we choose and prioritize ourselves.

The greatest leader of all is the Lord.  He is our standard for character, and without character we lead people….poorly. With the character of God, we lead people, and influence them to Him, bringing Him glory.

My thoughts this morning.  True and convicting. Life-giving and helpful I pray.
Pastor Nate Elarton

Year of Faith, Acts Faith


What a great few days of prayer and fasting.  So encouraged by this week at Compelled.  This week I was reading and meditating on some Psalms, but also on the Book of Acts.

Acts is an amazing, historical account, written by Luke, of the early church. One cannot read it and not be amazed at the growth of the church, the boldness of the disciples, the amount of miracles, and the level of commitment believer’s had.

Many want an Acts church today and wonder why we don’t have the same results?  I have been pondering this and have come to some conclusions and then some conclusions on my conclusions.

  • I wonder if we are as committed to Christ and His work as the Acts Church?
  • I wonder if we value being full, baptized, and led by the Spirit of God like they were?
  • I wonder if we don’t want to avoid offending people, or the persecution and opinion of us that would follow, if we are bold and courageous like the Acts Church?
  • I wonder if we intentionally build our faith daily like they did. They took time to pray, listen to apostles teach, be with believer’s learn the Scriptures.  They took the time needed to have great faith?

My conclusions to my conclusions

  • We need to evaluate our true level of commitment to living for Christ, not just believing.
  • We need to be baptized and filled with the Spirit of God, thus having the boldness and power to speak for Christ.
  • We need to take time to grow our faith. We (also me)  have time for Netflix, facebook, IPad games, sucked into fake news and every dumb share on social media, etc, but most believer’s don’t invest daily time to read, grow, listen, spend time with Christ.
  • We need a hunger. A deep hunger in our spirits for more of the Lord in our lives.  It so encouraging to see people hungry for Jesus this week.
  • I believe we are supposed to be the Acts Church.  I don’t think it was the will of God that the church and believers today be so different from then.

Your thoughts?

Pastor Nate Elarton, follower of Jesus

Advent at Compelled Church


Advent-2018This year at Compelled Church we have chosen to celebrate Advent:   Advent is a Latin word that means “coming”.  The season of Advent focuses on Christ coming into the world as a baby born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.

Every Service we will light an Advent Candle and have the Scriptures for Advent read. The Scripture readings will have to do with the themes. The themes are all Christ-centered. He is the reaons.

Hope-Peace-Joy- and light. The Lighting of the candle symbolized that the Advent of Jesus brings these to life and they are available for our lives, and families.  During Advent we will remember our Savior stepped out of eternity into time to take on flesh so He could off his life for us, dying for our sins and rising from the grace.

At Christmas don’t just celebrate that He came, we celebrate why he came.

He came because of His love for us and the fellowship and friendship that God wants with His creation.  Sin broke that relationship and Jesus came to “buy us back” or “redeem” us by being the sacrifice for sin, thus repairing and making a relationship with the Godhead possible.

It is going to be a month to remember at Compelled Church. Both of our locations will be celebrating, and anticipating the coming of Christ.

Pastor Nate Elarton

We are invited to receive revelation from our mysterious God.


Paul says to the believers in Colossians 1.9 that he is praying for them.  He reveals his specific prayer. He prays that they would “be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”  This is the will of God for us.  Are we “filled” with the knowledge of His will. Sometimes I have to confess my will gets mixed up with his will.  His will comes in our lives but having spiritual wisdom and spiritual understanding.

This takes  effort on our part.  We are taught that pursing Christ does take some effort.  There is a lot we don’t know about God.  He has shown us so much in Christ, but without some thought, prayer, reading, study, and investment of time, God can remain a mystery to us. A mystery to great to begin to grapple with.  But if we begin to learn and grow by seeking him, we will know him deeper and more accurately.  We are instructed to seek the Lord, by Jesus, David, the writer of Hebrews:

Matthew 6:33 (NASB95)“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Psalm 27:4 One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord And to meditate in His temple.

Seeking the Lord to know him and understand Him is paramont in following Him with joy.  Understanding in Col. 1.9 is the Greek word “sunesis” which means to “comprehend”.  How do we seek Him?  We search. Search for Him in our lives, in His Word, in listening to His Spirit. This takes effort and time.

Paul says he is praying for “spiritual” wisdom and understanding. “Spiritual” is referring to our inner life, our inner spirit. That the wisdom and understanding is not just intellectual, but experiential as our spirit seek Him in the spirit-man, then we gain comprehension and wisdom, which means we understand and then live accordingly to our spiritual understanding.

As we “seek” the Spirit of God reveals the Godhead to us.  We gain understanding through revelation and our effort of seeking is putting us in a state of desire.  This is an exciting daily adventure.  Seeking and receiving have to be part of your daily life.  Those who really comprehend the spiritual mysteries of God, do so  by taking some time and effort to pursue the Lord.  Read, study, pray, meditate, practice silence and solitude and listen with your spirit and then the revelation of God’s Spirit to mankind begins.

Want to know the Lord more? Want to be closer?  Seek and Receive. Pray He takes you deeper into His heart, to comprehend spiritual truth by experiencing the presence of God personally.   You will begin to know Him more, comprehend spiritual truths, and then walk in them. Be filled!  Christ is inviting his people deeper and closer.

I close with these biblical invitations to you and I.  Will we say yes?

John 7:37–38 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ ”

Proverbs 8:17 I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.

Hebrews 4:16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

James 4:8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

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