Submission, the Lost Discipline


gardenAt Compelled church I have been teaching on the spiritual disciplines in our series called “Making Room”.  This weekend I will teach on the discipline of submission. As I study and read and realize this is definitely a concept we don’t like to talk about and surely struggle to live out.  But it is a discipline of the heart nonetheless.

Submission comes easy to me when I want to submit, serve, and obey.  Maybe I will be noticed for it, or I will be thought of highly for submitting or serving in some “public” way that others can see.  Submission is really deeper than that. It is of the heart.  To give up perceived or even real “rights” is hard for our flesh and not thought of as honorable in our culture.  We truly believe we have a right to do whatever we want and if anyone disagrees or questions us they become enemy #1.

Submission has been abused by religion, leaders, churches, and organizations, but that does not mean it is not a virtue still.  Jesus had to submit, “not my will but thine” (Luke 22.42). Paul’s teaching to the Philippians show the submission of Christ, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Phil. 2.8)”.  He submitted to the plan of the Father, to us for our freedom from sin, to death which God should never experience, and He submitted to how that will happen,  on a disgusting cross.  Do we think we do not have to submit, serve, obey, and give up our rights, when our example did, and He did for us.  

Submission of the heart to the ways of God is the deepest and most secret act and posture of our heart. Our jealousy, offense, hate, bitterness, all the things we believe we have a right to have, and to feed, must be forsaken for the sake of the love of Christ and His desire for our soul to be spiritually healthy. It is also an act of love for others.

Submission of our souls, and lives to the truths of the Bible, the moral compass, God gives us, and the love he wants to shower us with.  When we do not truly give him all areas of our life, we forfeit an awareness of His love and presence.  Our relationship turns into religion and our hearts can turn to stone.

The true mark of a child is they must have their own way.  Submission is a virtue for the mature.  We love others more than ourselves.  Just like Jesus did.

Read the teachings of our Savior,

Mark 8:34-36  “And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his [b]life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

May the Lord helps us submit, which is the deep virtue of love, and our world needs this so desperately, as does our families, spouses, children and community.

Pastor Nate Elarton

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

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.

Nine Ways to get your zeal for Jesus back


Many are struggling with the level of passion for Christ.  Some have drifted back into old patterns and old ways.  The zeal and fire for Jesus can easily grow dim.  Is that happening to you?  Do you know your love and passion for Christ and His purposes is diminishing in  your life, thoughts, and heart?  What can you do? Can you receive back a white hot focus on the Lord?  Yes.  Here are some of my practical suggestions.

  • Identify and admit you are in need of being close to Christ. Once you know it, the victory is almost there. Most deny their true state.
  • Spend some time alone.  Solitude is a good thing. No TV, no Phone, no Screens, just you and the Lord.  Take a walk and invite the Holy Spirit to just speak to you.
  • Respond to the Lord.  Make a commitment to respond.  Respond in prayer, to his voice, to messages, to altar calls, to being obedient. Just move in response. Don’t allow your heart to get cold or hard. Respond.
  • Ask for help.  The Bible says “We have not because we ask not.”  This morning I prayed that God would set me on fire for Him, more than ever before.  I feel that. The Lord immediately began to flood my heart and mind with thoughts, messages, vision, people.  Ask for Help.
  • Stop  Procrastinating.  Get that Bible back out and that journal and read, and receive.  No excuses, no whining, no wimpering. It is what you need. He is who you need.
  • Put the phone down. Yep, put it down. Kill the OCD that thinks we need to have the phone near us, constantly looking, scrolling, pinging, alerting.  Gosh, what an interruption. I have turned off all alerts, notifications, deleted facebook, and I am making an effort to not be addicted to my phone. It is wasting my time.  It is interrupting my efforts for the Lord.  Just put it down.
  • Watch what you watch.  Our addiction for new things, new movies, new posts, new pics, can get us watching things that will steal our zeal for God.  Watching swearing, violence, sex, dirt, and vileness on TV/Sling/Netflix/prime/cable/youtube will steal your desire for Jesus away.
  • Just receive His love. He loves us and wants to be close to his children. He wants to encourage us, strengthen us, love through us, and reveal more of Himself to us.
  • Enjoy Jesus.  He is contentment. He is our all in all.

Verse page

” data-hasqtip=”1″ aria-describedby=”qtip-1″>1 Corinthians 15:58

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

He is faithful, even when you feel He has disappointed you


I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever;
To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth.
2 For I have said, “Lovingkindness will be built up forever;
In the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness.”  Psalm 89.1-2

As I ponder these 2 verses this morning my heart is drawn to the potential to worship God in song for his great lovingkindness for me.  This “lovingkindness” is the Hebrew word “Hesed”. This is the merciful, kind, and good love that our Father has for us. He shows us this love by His faithfulness.

His faithfulness is  interpreted by us incorrectly so much through our lives.  We decide if God is faithful by what He has done for us, and has He met our expectations? Has He done what I have asked? Has he made my life free from sadness and tragedy? Has he answered my prayers the way I told him to?  His faithfulness promises us none of these things.

God is faithful. He is faithful to Himself. To his covenants. He is faithful to his promise and the extent of his faithfulness will not be completely known or experienced on this side of Heaven. Are we faithful to who He really is, or have we deserted that because he has not been who we wanted him to be?

I know He has been faithful to me.   I have not received all I have prayed for.  He did not always choose to intervene in life circumstances to get me what I wanted, or deliver me from situations and sadnesses I did not want.    I will tell you this, that He has never left me.  I felt and still may feel distant from Him, but He is not distant.

He has been faithful to save me and cover me with his grace. He has been faithful to give me strength during the toughest times in life. I was not delivered but he helped me persevere.  He has been faithful to give me wisdom when I lacked it. He has been faithful to love me and give me grace when I have failed.  He has been there to comfort me in mourning. He is faithful He has been faithful, in spite of me, to be God.

I must sing of this love. I must tell my kids and the younger generations.  I must not conclude he is not faithful because he has not met my expectations. He is faithful to His Word and Words, not my opinion of how He should be.

He is faithful to you also. He is faithful by not being a wishy washy god, doing what we want, fulfilling all our desires, and being bossed around by His creation.

Please consider these questions:

  • Have you concluded He is not all that loving and faithful because of a tragedy, disappointment or experience you  have had and you hold the Lord responsible.  It may be time to let go of that and to love him with all your heart.
  • Do you sing and worship?  Do you express your love to Him in many ways?
  • Mom and dad, have you talked about the faithfulness of God to all the generations?  To your children?  Are you active in increasing their love and faith in God?   Do you pray as a family? Do you discuss what God is showing them. Do they know about your faith, salvation, love for God?  Please don’t let the next generation falter.
  • How can we make know of His faithfulness more?  Be bolder about talking about His goodness?

 

 

Selah, Nate Elarton

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