Back to the Altar – Fasting Information and tips


A  week ofSeeking the Lord with fasting

  • For personal renewal and revival
  • For Compelled Church ministries to reap spiritual and Kingdom fruit.
  • For our communities.
  • For people to be saved
  • For your life and family.
  • For our pastors and their families.
  • For the church to grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
  • Missions and our Missionaries
  • The Holland Campus
  • All the prayer cards that were filled

Commit to prayer, and seeking, and participating with your church.

Fasting is also encouraged.  Read Below for helps

 

Come early in the morning to seek God, read the Word, and soak in his presence. Come at noon to pray a psalm.  Come and pray with our church family because “Without Him we can do nothing.” John 15.

I am praying we will have more people involved than ever. I encourage you to be part.  Break out of the mold and thought that you are not a person of prayer. God is calling us all to prayer and we will reap the benefits if we take the challenge.  If you can’t make it to the church, fast, and pray at home more than ever.

Pastor Nate

 

 Physical and Spiritual  Benefits Of Fasting

The benefits of fasting are innumerable. Here is just a partial list of the many benefits of this most powerful of spiritual disciplines.

* The Word of God comes alive

* Addictions and strongholds are broken

* We become more sensitive to God’s presence

* The physical body is purged of toxins

* It becomes easier to trust and obey God

* The sanctifying process is accelerated

* Faith increases

* Doubts and fear vanish

* God reveals to us our sinful attitudes

* Decrease of self-indulgence

* Decrease of self-righteousness

* Emotional scars are healed

Practical Tips for Fasting

 

* The early church gave themselves to fasting and prayer for a time. If they needed it then, we need it now! Every time you pray and fast for a certain amount of time, you are investing in a powerful kingdom – the kingdom of God.

* Set a definite time for your fast so you know in advance how long you will be fasting. Keep in mind fasting changes your heart. A one-day or one-meal fast can be very powerful when submitted to God as a sacrifice of yourself.

* Since you are denying your flesh and seeking the Lord, you may find yourself in the midst of spiritual warfare and thus becoming irritable or unwilling to pray. Some of these feelings may be physically induced just because of a physical reaction. Plan beforehand to “pray through” the spiritual battle.

* On longer fasts (2 or more days) the body is cleansing itself from physical impurities. Possible side effects from toxins include bad breath, headache, nausea, hunger, weakness, and leg cramps. To help prevent these problems, abstain from caffeine, sugar, and junk food five days prior to your fast. Drink pure water (distilled if possible) throughout your fast, it helps with elimination of toxins. The cleaner your system, the less discomfort. The less waste that is stored in the body when you begin your fast, the fewer toxins will be released.

* Try to rest if you feel weak and get some fresh air every day.

* Spend time in prayer, worship, repentance, and read your Bible. Use the time you would normally spend eating or preparing food for “spiritual exercise”. Many people have noticed that the Bible simply comes alive while they are fasting.

* Have specific spiritual goals that you desire to obtain while praying and fasting. Without prayer and a set purpose, fasting is only a glorified diet.

* Break your fast with grape juice, fresh fruits, and steamed vegetables, adding other foods in a day or two. Avoid meat, bread, and fats for several meals or days depending on the length of the fast. Keep in mind your stomach has been inactive and it takes a while to restore essential digestive enzymes and acids. Fasting is a very healing process for your body so do not undo your efforts with unhealthy foods.

* Some medical conditions are prohibitive to fasting. Get the advice of your physician if you have a medical condition. These conditions include diabetes, hypoglycemia, and heart disease. Pregnant and nursing mothers also should not fast because toxins will be passed on to the baby. Also, some medications need to be taken with food so use discretion. In these cases where you are unable to do a complete fast (water only) consider abstaining from television and dedicating yourself to prayer during this time.

    * Other types of fasts include:

o Water, Honey and Lemon – This is considered a cleansing fast. Squeeze 1/2 lemon in a cup of hot water and add honey to taste. Drink water throughout the day. This can be used for an extended fast.

o Juice Fast – This is self-explanatory. No food, coffee, soft drinks, etc. Juice only–fresh carrot juice is excellent.

o Daniel Fast – Fruits, vegetables and water. This is a good fast for those who have physically demanding jobs.

Questions and Answers Regarding Fasting

* Is fasting for everyone?

Fasting is beneficial for anyone who desires to draw closer to Christ. Every Christian should do some sort of fast at least once a month. The Apostle Paul fasted often.

* What if I don’t feel called to fasting?

Fasting is a spiritual discipline, just like prayer and reading the Bible. It is not something we are called to do, rather we choose to obey Christ and sacrifice some of the pleasures of this life in order to please God. Fasting trains us in self-control and produces fruits of peace and righteousness.

* Why is fasting so important?

It reduces our appetite for carnal pleasures and creates a hunger for God’s treasures. We are commanded to walk in the Spirit so we won’t fulfill the desires of the flesh. Fasting helps us to resist the flesh and walk uprightly before the Lord – to live a life which is pleasing to Him.

* How do I get started?

Begin with a one meal fast and go from there. Some of the most powerful fasts can be one or two meals if you enter into it with pure motives and a desire to spend time with the Lord Jesus.

* What should I do while fasting?

Spend as much time with Jesus as possible. This is how we become more and more like Him. Read your Bible, worship with song and thanksgiving, be silent and listen. Silent reverence with repentance is powerful!

* Should I fast if I have dietary restrictions or am on medication?

You should seek the Lord and consult your physician if you have any concerns. Medical science has known for some time that our bodies purge toxins while we fast. Chapter 58 of Isaiah mentions healing as one of the many benefits of fasting. However, use discretion when doing a food fast and consider an alternate fast if you are medically restricted in any way.

* I really enjoy eating; do I have to do a food fast or are there other types of fasts?

The most beneficial fast for your body and spirit is water only. However, God will honor any type of fast if you have a sincere desire for personal revival and holiness. Here are some alternatives to a food fast.

o Daniel Fast-  fruit, vegetables and water

o Juice Fast-  fruit and vegetable juices only. If you are hypoglycemic, you might want to use a 50% water mix with the juice, especially if using bottled or canned juices. Fresh juices, however, are best. They may be purchased from a health food store or use a juicer.

o TV/Entertainment Fast/Facebook/computer games/

God will bless you mightily if you’ll shut your TV and computer off for a time to seek Him. You should also set aside newspapers, talk radio, video games and movie theaters. Instead, spend time with your family and the Lord. The purpose is to focus on God and avoid distractions.

* Why do I get headaches when I try to fast?

Your body is purging toxins which have accumulated from years of a poor diet, prescription drugs and bad habits. Headaches are one of the results of this cleansing process (usually the second day). Prepare your system prior to a fast by eating healthier. Avoid red meat, sugar, caffeine and bread. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables three or four days before going on a fast of more than one day.

* How will I benefit from fasting?

The benefits of fasting are many for those who continue faithfully in this discipline. Here are just a few (Is. 58).

o A significant increase of understanding and revelation from the Word of God

o Addictions and strongholds are broken–permanent changes take place

o Recognition of sinful attitudes or conditions of your heart that you haven’t noticed before

o Decrease of self-indulgence and self-righteousness

o An increase of faith; Fear and doubt diminish because of confidence in God rather than your flesh

o Supernatural release from bitterness and an ability to forgive others

o A much greater sensitivity to God’s presence

o The ability to hear God is greatly enhanced

o You increasingly become more like Jesus with a notable increase of love, humility and wisdom.

* Will all of my prayers be answered if I fast and pray the right way?

No, probably not. Fasting does not force God to do something He otherwise wouldn’t do. Your circumstances may actually worsen at first. If you’re fasting for God to change a particular person, it may not happen. However, there is no wasted time or energy when seeking God through fasting, prayer and worship. He will change YOU! He will soften your heart and give you a healthy perspective of your circumstances and relationships

 

 

What The Bible Says about Prayer and Fasting

Fasting Scriptures

* Moses (Exodus 34:27,28)

* Samuel (1 Samuel 8:5,6)

* Christians (Acts 13:1-3; 14:23)

* Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:1-3)

* John’s disciples (Mark 2:18)

* Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4; 9:1-3)

* Paul (2 Corinthians 11:27)

* Ninevites (Jonah 3:5-10)

* Apostles (2 Corinthians 6:4,5)

* Israelites (Judges 20:26)

* David (2 Samuel 12:16)

* Darius (Daniel 6:9,18)

* Anna (Luke 2:36, 37)

* Ezra (Ezra 8:21-23)

* Esther (Esther 4)

* Jesus (Matthew 4:1,2)

* Elijah (1 Kings 19:8)

* Daniel (Daniel 9:3)

Bible Characters Who Fasted

* Moses fasted twice for 40 days-Following his first fast, Moses received the Law. The second was to turn God’s wrath away from God’s sinful people. Deuteronomy 9:9,18,19

* Hannah, for a child. She was barren and deeply distraught. God gave her release from inner turmoil. Then He gave her a baby boy, Samuel, who grew into a mighty man of God. I Samuel 1:7,8

* Elijah fasted for 40 days while fleeing in fear from wicked Jezebel, who threatened to have him killed. God gave him comfort, boldness and instructions to go back the way he came and anoint new prophets. 1 Kings 19

* King David for seven days that God might heal his dying, infant child, conceived illegitimately with Bathsheba. The baby died, yet David experienced God’s wonderful peace through this incredible trauma. 2 Samuel 12:16-23

* Proclaimed by King Jehoshaphat – When he and his army were surrounded by enemies and destruction seemed imminent. After proclaiming the fast, they rejoiced with praises and God destroyed their enemies. 2 Chronicles 20

* Proclaimed by Ezra – Prior to a very perilous journey to Jerusalem. Ezra 8

* Nehemiah – For restoration of the city he loved (Jerusalem). Nememiah 1:4

* Proclaimed by Queen Esther – For the entire nation to fast for three days without food or water. They were on the brink of annihilation. Esther 4

* Daniel’s partial fast of 21 days – He received a vision and revelation of end times. Daniel 9

* Proclaimed by the King of Ninevah- With national repentance to avert disaster through God’s wrath. Jonah 3

* Jesus for 40 days. If God in human flesh fasted, how much more ought we? Matthew 4:2

* John the Baptist – He and his disciples fasted often, as did the Pharisees. Matthew 9:14,15

* Anna – A widow who dedicated herself to prayer and fasting and is honored in the eternal Word of God. Luke 2:37

* Paul the Apostle- He fasted for three days after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus (while still known as Saul of Tarsus). Acts 9:9 He later wrote in 2 Corinthians 11 that he fasted often.

 

* Isaiah 58 is the fasting chapter. Read and study it to discover the many benefits of fasting when done God’s way

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Deep Change


As 2018 as arrived so have all the New Year’s Resolutions and goals.  The gyms will be filled the next couple weeks, and more Paleo diet books and the like will be downloaded and fly off the shelves.  We will pledge more time with family, less time on Netflix and social media.  Thousands will announce their new goals to give up things, like sugar, smoking, gluten, etc. and sadly, most people will abandon these resolutions withdeep change 2018in a couple weeks.

But what kind of change do we really need and how can it happen?  This verse in Old Testament gives us some insight of what the Lord is able to do.  I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh”  (Ezekiel 36.26).   True change is a change of our heart.  Deep change comes from the inside out.  So changing our hair and weight might be noticeable, change in our character and choices are more beneficial.  These changes on the inside that manifest on the outside, make the greatest difference in our lives and the lives of those closest to us, those we love and need in our lives.

What deep change would be the greatest for you this year?  More time with family?  Freedom from temper?  The way you talk to your spouse?  How you use time and resources?  Do you need free from addictions?  Be less grumpy?  Have more joy, less fear?  The Lord can do a work in our hearts and deep change can happen through Christ if we will be humble and ask Him for help. He can give us the strength for all these kinds of changes and more.

I love the verse in Proverbs 4.23, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”  Only the Lord can change a heart by His love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy.

Nate Elarton

 

Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Pr 4:23). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Personal Christmas Post


We are having a great Christmas with family here. Abby, Justin, Gabe, and Levi all home.  It was different this year not having the 3 Christmas Eve services in the evening, but we had our 3 weekend gatherings at Compelled, Abby and Justin arrived and we took Christmas Eve dinner over and had dinner with dad, who now lives in Temperance at Moongate apartments.  I sure love him being so close, but we all miss him in Morenci also.  We spent a couple hours with him on Christmas Eve.jim  Wendy made one of our favorites, “Alice Chicken” and we love it with mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts, rolls and salad. it was a feast.

Christmas morning was our family together. Priceless and special. We then load up and head to Hudson, to Wendy’s folks for another feast with our precious family, presents, and good time.  Lots of Dutch blitz, laughing, and overeating.  We love our time at Randy and Carol’s and enjoyed staying the night, and man did we sleep in.

Christmas this year seem nostalgic, and meaningful.  Every year I am alive, Christ become more alive to me, and His work I see more clearer in others, including my family, which I am fiercely devoted to.  My amazing wife Wendy, makes this time so special for our family.  Here hard work, thought, and detail attention, always stuns me with peace and happiness.  What a gal. We celebrate 31 years together January 3.  What a blessed guy I am!

I pray your Christmas was special and the presence of Jesus was close.

Selah,  Nate

Why I am glad we became Church Planters


church plantingIn 1996 we left ministry in Northville Michigan to plant a church in Bedford township or Temperance, Michigan, a bordertown adjacent north to Toledo, Ohio. NCA and  sent us out with love, prayer, and support in every way.  It has been 21 years.  I am so glad Wendy and I stepped out in faith, left the comforts of being a full-time youth pastor, and went on the journey.  Today we have 2 campuses, 4 weekend gatherings, with 50+ small groups, and an amazing staff.  We have built a few times, and have seen many, many people come to Christ, we have started another campus, and God is moving in lives and growing people’s faith.. Here is why I am so glad I did not “chicken” out from the challenges of church planting.

  • I needed to grow in faith.  I had to trust God for everything. My faith grew. I can believe God for so many things as I have seen Him so faithful. I would not have the faith I have now, if I did not plant Compelled Church.
  • I struggled being bi-vocational.  The struggle helped me. I had to be better with time, plan more efficiently, and think ahead. I had to budget money carefully.  We learned to live on less, and not lose our joy.
  • I understand the pressures and challenges of our bi-vocational pastors because  I was.  It is hard.  No one gets how hard it is.
  • My children were part of the church plant and have experienced this, and it is part of their ethos and worldview.  They know God is real. The love the church, and love ministry.
  • The stories!  People’s lives changed by Christ. I know God would have called someone else if we would have said no to the call here, but I get the privilege of being part of the spiritual journey of many. What an honor.
  • Christ is so real to me.  I will never forget that this is his church. He is the head.  He is in charge and He builds the church. I live at His service.
  • Compelled Church has been an encouragement to other pastors and leaders. They gave in those early years, they invested, they encouraged, and their fingerprints are on Compelled.  I know that encourages them to continue to help and support church planters.
  • We planted another campus in Toledo. Many have come to Christ, come back to Christ and God’s people had an opportunity to be missional and believe God for another “church”.  The campus pastor, Tim Rabara, was saved, discipled, and sent out from Compelled Church.
  • We have also supported other church plants, taken dozens of mission trips, given hundreds of thousands to missions, because of this church plant.
  • We have had the opportunity to send many into ministry and missions over the years. Dozens of young people and adults, serve in ministry in so many places. What an honor to be part of their journey.
  • We have made  priceless relationships in the community, as we lived here, imbedded our lives here, went to the public school here, participating in sports, and the community.  God has leveraged those relationships in amazing ways. I have some amazing stories.
  • I met amazing mentors that poured into my life to helped me, and speak into my life.  I will forever be indebted to Dean Grabill, my brother Steve, Todd Winkler,  Otis Buchan and NCA, Hugh Duncan (he never stopped encouraging me, contacting me, writing me, calling me), Dennis Clanton, Marty Eddinger, Jim Rentz, Tim Dilena, Steve Miller, Joel Stocker, Brad and Tom Trask, more friends and mentors than I can even list!
  • Everyday has been an adventure, in the lives, and community of faith. I would not trade it for the world. The last 21 years have been a roller coast ride of amazing, with God’s faithfulness in each season, the great ones, and the tough ones, He is faithful.

Don’t underestimate the power and leading of God.  If you want to investigate more about church planting, multi-site, shoot me a note. I would be overjoyed to invest and help in anyway I can into future planters.   nate@compelledchurch.tv

Some church-planting pics for fun.

You Can’t Listen if you are Talking


aloneThis weekend we I will be teaching on listening prayer.  For years we have taught and heard that praying is talking to God.  But it is also listening to the Lord.  When we are commanded to seek the Lord, it is to find him and to commune with God.  Some Scriptures

  • Jeremiah 33:3 (NASB95) ‘Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.
  • 1 Chronicles 22.19a “Now set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God…”
  • Deuteronomy 4:29 “But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul
  • Proverbs 8:17 (NASB95) “I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.”

To listen to the Lord you need to be alone and  set apart time. Put away the phone and distractions and make time to listen.  There are so many distractions that rob  us of our love relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Pray and speak Scripture, worship, thank him out loud, and then just be silent. That is the key and man is that hard sometimes.

Be ready for God to speak to you.  Believe that He will. He will speak through that inner voice in our spirit-man, through impressions, emotions, or just His presence will speak so much without words.

When he speaks he reveals things about Himself to you, His purposes, and His ways. It will be deeply personal, and your prayer time will be more exciting than just “saying prayers,” and talking all the time.

What does my time of prayer look like?

My prayer life now includes Praying in the Spirit (tongues), praying Scripture, and reading Scripture out loud. I take time for intercession, as I pray for others, my family, church needs, my children . I keep a journal and jot down thought, prayers, impression and i try to sit in silence.  I also use

I believe through this journey the last several years of Spiritual Transformation, since first reading “Celebration of Discipline” and rereading it a few time, I have a closer relationship with my Father and I hear His voice so much better.

Looking forward to seeing more of us grow in Listening prayer. So remember, you can’t listen if you are talking!

Compassion, We All Need More


compassion-lgWe need more compassion.  We are followers of Jesus Christ, who had a lot of compassion.  He loved sinners, tax collectors, the poor, suffering, the outcasts, the rejected, and so must we.

So why is it a lot of followers of  Christ lose their compassion?  We see, hear, and read, judgement, opinions, and not as much of the love and kindness of  Jesus.  We struggle inwardly with true and authentic care and love for people.  Why do we not move in greater compassion?  Why does a small segment of the Church, have the most compassion and others seem hard, or apathetic to the needs of those around us in our lives and ocmmunity?

  1. We tend to drift away from the heart of Jesus.  We must seek him and allow the Spirit of God to keep our hearts soft.
  2. We must refrain from judging and becoming legalistic.  Judgment makes one hard.
  3. The world can be an uncaring place, and we live in it, so it rubs off on us. The way we think and act.
  4. Let’s be honest, we all become about us and we all fight that battle.  It can be a challenge in these times to look beyond us, and to the needs of  others.
  5. We need more compassion.  There are people that are the victims of the sin of this world, that are suffering in many ways, that are lonely, hurting, tires, and feeling very alone.  True compassion acts.
  6. Public leaders, without compassion, lash out at each other in social media, on the news, and many feel permission to join in.  We are called higher.

Questions:

  • Who in your life, path, work, needs someone to care?  You are that someone?
  • When is the last time you served someone from love and compassion?
  • Do you need to ask the Lord to forgive you for lacking care and compassion for others?
  • How can you be more compassionate?  Do you need to ask the Lord to impart some compassion?

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.  Then He *said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.  “Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”  Matthew 9:36–38 (NASB95)

 

 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.  Colossians 3:12–14 (NASB95)

 You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me. Ps. 40.11

   Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, Philippians 2:1 (NASB95)

Self-Control will bless your life


resolute.jpg“ A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls”  Proverbs 25.28 NLT

 We live in a time where denying yourself anything one desires is not even a thought.  Hence, our life can suffer without the virtue of  self-control.  We must control ourselves, our desires, our wants, or we will be as vulnerable as a city with no defenses. The enemy will attack, plunder us and our families, and lead us as prisoners.  There is a reason “self-control” is a fruit of the Spirit of God (Galatians 5.22-23). Without self-control we will make decisions, that ultimately will have a high cost.

How would you rate yourself when it comes to self-control?  Take some time and really ponder, meditate, and honestly reflect on these questions.

  1. Do you control yourself when it comes to your focused time of listening and learning from God? Do you make sure you are reading, learning, reflecting? Is this easy to skip? Can you go days without being alone with Jesus?
  2. Are you a slave to your phone and devices with no self-control? The desire and OCD to constantly invest your time and life to social media to keep looking at what other’s are posting in their lives, is a time-eater. How much per day get this part of you? What could you do to redeem this time?
  3. Can you say no to temptation? Without self-control we can fall into sin. The enemy tempts all. No one is exempt from temptation.  Our heart can deceive us. Our flesh can attempt to lead us down roads we never want to go. Without self-control we can fall victim and make decisions that can ruin our lives and the lives of our family. We can choose sin over the Lord, and violation of God’s ways over our love for Jesus.  We must grow our faith and walk, as that will build self-control, and our city walls will defend us from our enemy.
  4. How do you entertain yourself? Literally we have 24 hours of non-stop entertainment to numb us and gobble up our lives (time), and even infect our spirit.  You can stream any movie, Youtube never shuts off, social media it always with us. We have any game available.   We are connected and can watch whatever we want, almost wherever we want.  Violence, pornography, lewdness, filthy communication, are available to all.  Without self-control, one can participate in these things and literally forfeit your soul, and steal your passion and desire for the Lord and purity.  We have to be honest, Christian or not, we are losing this front where self-control is desperately needed. The stats on those hooked on pornography is staggering. With its easy availability on every social media platform and our phones, the enemy has found a way to kill a person from the inside out and wreck the love of marriages and view of each other.
  5. How about your family? Do we serve them? Our flesh may never feel like serving, but a person that has control over themselves will serve, and when Jesus has control of you, they will love being with their family, investing in their marriage, spending time with their children.  Hobbies and desires for leisure activities apart from family will take a back seat to a person with self-control. There will be time for them, but not at the expense of your marriage and family.
  6. How is your diet? Our society is sick because we have no self-control with what we eat or exercise. Capitalism has made food big business. So unhealthy food tastes the best, and sells the most, so it is available, in large quantities, everywhere.  Many  cannot go a day without soda, frappe, and drinks with hundreds of calories from sugar. Without self-control, our health will suffer, we will have no energy, or desire to be active, and we spiral downward physically, hoping a pill or a health gimmick will save us, but only self-control will.  This battle is real and I am in it. I am determined to never give up on my diet and health. I want to have energy and healthy to be active with my grandchildren and children.

 

So, with self-control in a life, there is big benefits and blessings. Let me write down some observations I have seen with people you have the self-control of God in their lives.

  1. They grow in Christ and invest in their soul. They read, reflect,and have lives of prayer, thus building their “wall” and protecting their “city” lives (Proverbs 25.28). They enjoy making time daily to commune with the Lord, His Word, and the things that grow them and protect them from evil.
  2. They are not self-consumed, as self-control has sculpted them into being like Christ, being a servant. A person with self-control lives outside of themselves and goes out of their way for others, to glorify Christ.
  3. They accomplish things in life that bring purpose and glorify the Lord. With self-control one can get a degree, learn an instrument, hone a skill, enjoy a craft, start a non-profit ministry etc. They are people who are not afraid of trying new things and working hard to see things accomplished. They avoid wasting large bites of time.
  4. People with self-control are not followers. They don’t allow someone else to lead them into destruction, bad habits, sinful activities. They lead themselves, they are in control of their lives. They want to honor God with their choices. They don’t need to make someone else happy or have their approval.
  5. People with self-control do hard things that make a difference. They don’t take the easy road. They are up for a challenge. They enjoy the fruit of their goals, even if it takes years.
  6. People with self-control can love unconditionally, forgive, and live with healthy relationships, as they know Christ, and Christ forgives and the flesh that wants to be bitter, wants to hate people, wants revenge, is put to death, by the person that is in control of their emotions, as they choose to follow Christ.
  7. They don’t have to apologize much. They don’t lose their cool, say things they shouldn’t and treat people awful. They are in control of themselves, their actions, and what they say. This happens because they are first in control of what they think.
  8. They make wise financial choices. They can say no and control themselves to wait for the things they need or want. They don’t drive their families in debt and live in poverty because they can’t say no and deny themselves. They save, they wait, they are wise. They also have self-control to give generously to the work of the Lord on this earth.
  9. People with self-control have convictions about life. They go to work. They go to church. They serve. They give. They think about others.  They grow. They are not given to addictions, bad habits, vices, and/or laziness with work or spiritually.
  10. They say “no” to their flesh. So they  are protected from starting an addiction, an affair, a bad habit, or a pattern in life that will ruin them. They watch their health, try to eat healthy. They say no to the temptation of the devil. They say no when others try and get them to sin. They can say no to themselves.   They are resolute in their convictions and desire to be faithful to the Lord.

 

Self-control is a critical attribute and no one is exempt.  We need more of it in the day we live.  Without self-control, one is going to have a very difficult life, and so will their family. With self-control, one will enjoy side-stepping and avoiding all sorts of problems in life, and will honor the Lord with who they are  and who they are becoming with every great, godly, self-controlled choice. They will live a blessed life.

Scriptures to ponder

Galatians 5:22–23 (NASB1995)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

Proverbs 15:33 (NASB95)

33 The fear of the Lord is the instruction for wisdom,And before honor comes humility.

Proverbs 11:10 (NRSV)

10   When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices;and when the wicked perish, there is jubilation.

Proverbs 12:11 (NRSV)

11   Those who till their land will have plenty of food,

but those who follow worthless pursuits have no sense.

Proverbs 12:24 (NRSV)

24   The hand of the diligent will rule, while the lazy will be put to forced labor.

Proverbs 13:3–4 (NRSV)

3     Those who guard their mouths preserve their lives; those who open wide their lips come to ruin.

4     The appetite of the lazy craves, and gets nothing, while the appetite of the diligent is richly supplied.

Proverbs 26:13–16 (NLT)

13 The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion on the road! Yes, I’m sure there’s a lion out there!”

14 As a door swings back and forth on its hinges, so the lazy person turns over in bed.

15 Lazy people take food in their hand but don’t even lift it to their mouth.

16 Lazy people consider themselves smarter than seven wise counselors.

2 Peter 1:5–6 (NLT)

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness,

 

When you don’t feel like putting any effort into your relationship with Christ


contemplation-1Many people are in this spot.  We know we should, but we don’t.  Does it matter?  Does it change anything?  Can I help maybe get us out of the slump of being apathetic about your life and soul?  I want to communicate these principles without more  guilt, but positive truths. Please know how much Jesus loves you. His presence is with you and in you and his life-transforming power, and special friendship is available to you, no matter what you think, what your past is, or what you are currently up to in life. He loves you. Here are some principles.

  1. Define what grows you closer to Christ.  There are many creative ways then just “read your Bible and pray.”   Investigate contemplative spirituality, journaling, solitude.  Maybe a new book to help guide you?  Can I suggest reading “Celebration of Discipline”  “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” and reat it with the devotional book.  Maybe a fresh Bible Study guide, exciting new podcast, read a classic from an anointed author that has gone to heaven.
  2. Make your relationship real.  Don’t relegate your relationship with Christ to that few moments a week when you read and pray. He is in you. He is everywhere.  Even during the mundane things of life, have an awareness that Jesus is with you.  Talk to Him, Listen with a cup of coffee.  Take a walk and talk to the Lord. Engage Him as you enjoy a hobby or work.
  3. Be honest about distractions.  Do you get up and grab your phone, or device and immediately start scrolling through posts?  Do you always have to have a TV on?  Does your news blare all the time?  Our senses become consumed and distracted away from Christ too much. Maybe we just have too many social media accounts?  Maybe we need to repent that we will put hours into social media and not much time into seeking the Lord.  We are too distracted. Apple set out to do this to a culture, and it has been done.  We can’t put our devices down. We are an addicted and enslaved society and our hearts, souls, and families are beginning to show the suffering this is bringing.
  4. Get some encouragement to grow.  You might not have it at home, from your parents or your spouse, but relationships are the way to do it.  Get in a small group, join a class, follow a spiritual leader’s blog.  I love silence, but also love worship music. I love to preach, but also need the encouragement from other preachers.  Get some encouragement to grow.  You may have relationships that do the opposite of encouraging to be close to Christ.  Have the courage to be honest about those.
  5. Ask Jesus for a hunger for Him.  Begin to read the Psalms, and the Gospels.  Confess you are not putting much effort and ask the Lord to assist you. He will.
  6. It’s hard to pursue the Lord, if you know you are violating the Lord’s ways.  You might need to get rid of a sin you have allowed, and be honest with repentance, confession, and receive the freedom of forgiveness. Sin is so deceiving.
  7. Realize growing in Christ is enjoyable, fun, secure, moving, touching, energizing, filling, and purposeful.  It is not a chore.  Listening, talking, and pursing Christ is not a root canal.  It is a vacation. It is a way of life. It bring purpose, clarity, aligns our heart, and sets our priorities for a Christ-honoring life.
  8. This life of loving Christ and seeking Him will bring wonderful changes on the inside.  Want to stop getting angry?  Don’t focus on your behavior, allow Christ to take it out of you. Need to forgive someone?  Don’t fake it, allow the love of Christ to truly change your heart.  Are you discontent and ungrateful?  Grow in your thankfulness.  You see, Jesus changes our hearts and souls, which change behavior. We try to change behavior without letting Jesus, and being honest, about the brokenness in our hearts that contribute to our behavior.
  9. As you begin to ignite your relationship, begin to grow, your desires will change.  This will change your life.  We begin to pull away from the things of this world, and only Jesus matters. He is enough. The revelation and authentic belief will transform you as a person, parent, spouse, and  child of God.
  10. Just do it.  Start today.  Don’t let dishes, devices, laundry, sleep, netflix, or people stop you from your destiny, to know and love the Lord, to allow him to be your Abba, closest friend, and only hope for contentment and inner peace.

Knowing Christ, glorifying and enjoying Him, is our primary purpose.

— Pastor Nate Elarton

Encouraging Scriptures about our Relationship with Christ

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32

“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

“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

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

My thoughts and experiences with death and grieving


Death  is very hard on this earth. Knowing someone we love, someone who has been part of our life, our history, even our day, will never be with us again on this earth, can be overwhelming, paralyzing, and discouraging, even depressing. I have watched people grieve, walk through other’s terrible tragedies, and experienced my own.

I lost a close friend in high school, tragically and suddenly. We were best friends since kindergarten and man that was hard. My first funeral to oversee and preach, was my brother Pat. We grew up together, went to school together, found Jesus together and grew in Christ together.  I had no idea at 20 years old, how much his death would affect me at that time.  Since then, and being a pastor I have had to bury many wonderful people, including a lot of my family, and very, very close friends.

Since the tragic death of my brother Pat, and then my very close brother Steve in 2010 from cancer, then my mom from COPD, as well as grandparents, and one of my closest friends and pastors here at Compelled in February , I have had to do some grieving, and still do.

Can I share some points from my experience?

  1. Allow yourself to grieve in the way you want to.  Yes, I cry, I remember, I get quiet. I look at old pictures, I go be by myself, and yes I cry (did I say that?). It’s OK, your way is the right way for you.  Everyone grieves differently. Every way is the right way.
  2. Grieving does not have an end date.  How can I  “move on” and just quit missing people that loved me so much and I them?  Don’t feel guilty or like you are doing something wrong if you have not gotten “over it”. You most likely won’t.  The emotions get more manageable and less intense, but the longing in my heart will never stop here on earth.  I’ll never forget or stop talking about these people and “move on” as some may want. (Maybe it’s because they are uncomfortable with feelings and emotions they want us to move on??)
  3. Talk about them.  Tell the stories. Remember the laughs. Journal the fun times, and quotes. Don’t act like they never existed and be honored when others bring them up (not offended).  They still have a place in our hearts and lives, and so talking about them has brought and is bringing me healing and peace.
  4. I don’t blame God.  I never became bitter that God did not heal them. I have stressed my disappointment to the Lord, but I trust Him. If you are mad at God. He’s big boy, he gets it. Don’t worry about what you said or thought about God.  When Steve was fighting cancer I prayed for his healing and it came, not on this earth but eternal life.  That’s the most incredible healing.  The Isaiah 53 verse “by his stripes we are healed.” is not just applied to the present, but it is a verse for our future.  We will be “whole” one day. I miss him daily.
  5. Their things don’t help my grief.  Yes, a few things for memories, but no one can hold onto everything forever. Parting with their things, that  I have, does not mean I do not love them and I am disloyal.  You can’t hold on to everything.
  6. I don’t pay any attention to the day of their death. I hoping to forget that day on my calendar as the day _______died.  I personally have not felt that celebrating that, remembering it, or sinking into a depression on that day helps me. I remember their birthday and the day of life, as their life blessed mine. If you want to, though and grieve that way that is OK too.
  7. I express my feelings verbally. I dont’ hold them in.  “I miss Marty” I yelled in my woodcarving shop to the Lord, and I have said it to others.  When my boys wrestled I thought and said, “man would Steve love this!”   I eat real butter and blurted out ” this is for you mom” and held my toast to the heavens in honor of my mom’s love for real butter and not margarine.  These acts, and connection bring me peace, and I express them to others.  Dad and I just talked yesterday about what Patrick, Uncle Allen would be like today if they were still here, or what mom would think of this or that.
  8. When my mourning for Steve was so intense and I once broke down in a message and started sobbing  and could not pull myself together. Three hundred people sat there and watched me weep. I abrubtly closed the service.  I went and talked to a counselor, and I took some time to grieve.  You may need to go and talk with someone. That does not mean you are crazy, or losing your mind, it means you need to care for yourself and that is something you should never feel guitly about!
  9. I pray thanksgiving prayers to the Lord for their lives in my grief.  When my brother’s Steve’s passing was so raw to me all I could do was weep and thank God for Steve’s impact on my life.  The presence of Jesus comforted me, and I realized what Jesus meant when he said, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5.4).” I was comforted by the Lord Himself. I admit there were times I felt desperately alone too. But I knew in my heart my God was with me.
  10. Be aware when you grieve, you are vulnerable. The enemy knows this. He wants Christians to go get wasted, pull away from the faith, shut people out,  relapse to drugs, surf porn, have an affair, go in debt through shopping, lash out at others. Don’t make stupid decisions when you are grieving, try to make no decisions that have too much weight at all, and be aware of the evil one, who tries to make one think dumb decisions will bring us peace.  They won’t. Stay connected to your church, family, and good people that love you.
  11. I allowed myself to express my grief in creative ways other than tears.  I wrote a journal about Steve, carved a face for Marty, eat butter for mom, etc.  These things have allowed me expression. I did some other things, but I will be shy about sharing those, they are deeply personal, and a little goofy (but not to me).
  12. Don’t stop loving people.  Some say, “don’t get close to people, don’t love them, they will leave you.”  That is true, but also a lie.  Keep people in your life. Don’t build up walls to protect you from pain of loss. You can’t do it and you will be robbed of wonderful relationships.
  13. I dismissed, without offense, the silly things people say (said), that I do not believe, and did not appreciate, but I knew they wanted to help me and they honestly had no idea what to say.  I did not let these things make me angry and I did not respond poorly.  “They are in a better place.”   “God has a plan.”  “When our number is up, there’s nothing we can do, it was his time.”   “This was God’s will.”  I could go on and on, but you understand. Guard your heart, it’s ok. They love you.
  14. I learned from my counselor not to live in guilt for what I did not do before their death.  We all struggle with this when we encounter death.  We beat ourselves up for not calling more, not visiting, a quarrel in the past,  etc.  This makes the grieving process impossible as it becomes about us and not them.  Let go of the “I wish I would have….s” and just be sad they are gone.
  15. Grief hits when  it wants. I go with it.  Out of the blue, like a punch in the gut, a wave of grief, without warning, consumes me.  I go with it.  I hope this never stops. It reminds me of the blessing they were to me, and God’s Spirit comforts.
  16. I don’t hold it against others if they don’t understand my grief, or seem to be not grieving like I think they should have.  Everyone grieves differently and all ways are ok. Some hide their’s, I do mostly, but I don’t keep it in. The Lord and I have a moment.
  17. I believe in Heaven and eternal life and the Gospel more than ever.  I used to be thankful for my salvation, and what God can do for me.  But I have a different view of the Gospel now. Jesus forgave my sins so I could be with him FOREVER.  There are more of my family with Him than with me.  Eternal life, and never dying, and Jesus’ death and resurrection to make that happen me so much more to me now than it did when I was younger.  I will see mom, Patrick, Steve, Greg, Grandma and Granpa Ford and Elarton, Grandma Knight,  Marty, Alta, Nancy, Brother Skoog  and on and on.  My faith in Christ’s work on the cross, forgave my sins, so I can be with Father in the eternal after life forever with those I love. I believe this!  This does bring me comfort.

I hope these help you or someone you love that is journeying through grief.   Nate