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

Once you are saved, live strong


“So Then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with

sunrise

thankfulness.”  Colossians 2.6,7

Jesus is not a “one-time” feel good experience and then we move on.  He wants to invade every area of our life.  He wants us to go beyond the receiving part.  As I often visit people, they can leave me standing in the door, or the entrance of their homes.  Yes they have allowed me in, but not really “in”.  Most people invite me to the living room, or the kitchen table (my favorite), as they open their home, their personal living space to their pastor.  One person told me, “strangers come to the front door, family comes to the back, you come to the back.”  I love that.

Let Jesus in deeper.  Paul writes here that we are to be “Rooted” with that commitment and then “built up” in him. This is the process.  We are built up and strengthened in Christ every time we choose to drawn to Him.  How do I do it?

  • A time of solitude, silence, and reflection to hear from God.
  • Some simple prayers as I follow “Handbook to prayer” by Kenneth Boa or “Day by day” by Peter Scazzero, or the “Celtic Daily Office”.   One of these are used to aid my heart and my mind on Christ.
  • I breath in Him and breath out me as I pray.
  • I have my journal ready to write down my thoughts, impressions, and prayers.
  • I follow a guide to reading my Bible. This year I wrote my own. I focus on a book or couple books for the month, re-reading them over and over.
  • I read another book to spur me on.
  • I listen to Scripture when often.  When I walk, carve, or drive. I use an app called “Dwell”.
  • I investigate my walk, my emotions, my intentions, and my motivations for purity of heart and the glory of Christ.

Some days I do this great! Some days I struggle through, yes, I even miss a day once in a while, but these disciplines strengthen me and transform my heart to be more like Christ. They change my appetite for things of God and not of this world.  My roots grow deeper, my heart more grateful, my flesh weaker, and faith stronger.

As you have been saved, live for Christ and don’t skip the very things that make living for Christ incredible and enjoyable.

>Nate

Need Some Help?


Psalm 121 (NLT)   “I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there?My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.”

When life gets rough for a number of reasons, we often look for some help. A quick fix to ease our broken heart, upset emotions, or dilemma.  unfortunately we turn toward something that we know we like and may make us temporarily feel better.  Shopping, a Netflix binge, an addiction, or the such.

But true help, deep help comes from the Lord.  Through the tough times He is speaking, teaching, guiding.  We want relief, peace, and no suffering.  He wants us to listen, embrace the moment, and deepen our spirits.

Psalm 121 is on my mind this morning.  I read it over a few times. The words feed my soul.  As I read it slower, pray about it, reflect and listen to the Holy Spirit in silence and solitude, faintly, I begin to hear the voice of my Father as “deep calls to deep.”  I want to move on, get about the day, but I must, force myself to wait, to patient my spirit, and listen, for my help is coming. I can’t miss this.

Many times I have not benefited from hard times, because I can’t stop, listen, and patient my spirit to wait for the help that my Father’s voice brings me.

-Natefog

Real Repentance means Real Change


changeWe are in love with talking about change. But most do not change. The top three things Americans want to change in their life is their health, their finances, and family.  As a leader, who has spent my whole professional life working with people, may I tell you that I have observed little change happens,  if the changes are not deep in the heart and soul of a person.

To “Repent” means literally to have a change of mind that leads to a change in direction.  We know John the Baptist preached repentance, Jesus also did. The change being to turn away from sin and turn to the Lord, ultimately the Savior, Jesus Christ.

How many of us have committed to change, only to return to old patterns and behaviors in just a few days.  Change is hard.  So what has to change to bring deep change in our heart and mind that results in a directional change in life?  it is a change in our heart.

Christ came to bring change. He changed the religious landscape, changed deeply entrenched ideas about religion, but most importantly lives were changed, by the change only a Messiah could bring.  Matthew the tax collectors life was changed by Jesus, as was Zachaeus (remember the wee-little man?), Mary Magdalene, the guy by the pool if Siloam that could not walk, the lady caught in adultery, Peter, Paul, John, and the list goes on and on.  Jesus has brought deep change in the hearts and souls of millions of people, even after His death.

Jesus changed my life.  From a selfish, self-centered, 16-year-old that had little understanding about faith and the Bible, to who I am today.  It came through repentance (a change of mind and heart, that leads to a change in direction).  This change started as a teenager, but change and repentance has continued and will until I am with the Lord.  The Lord changed my heart, but forgiving me, giving me hope, and revealing Himself, and his unconditional life toward me.

What changes would you like in your life?  Real Repentance, brings real change, and the goodness of our God brings forgiveness, hope, love, and the power to change as only He can change a heart, and that is the source of change, and choices.

Choose Him today in all areas of life, and you will be choosing a life of wonderful change.

Romans 2:4 “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

Divergent Living is Missional Living


The Definition for Divergent.  Divergent means  “tending to be different or develop in different directions.”  I believe God’s people, the followers of Jesus are called to be divergent with this world’s culture in many ways.  I don’t mean just dress, hair style, jeans, or cars we drive. I don’t believe we are called to all look and dress the same or appear to be some sort of cult-like thing.  I am referring to being different in our lives and hearts.

2 Corinthians 6:17–18 (NASB95)  “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you.   “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.

Again, this does not mean the church becomes a commune, or we all move to a camp or compound to avoid being in this world. But we are taught here by the Apostle Paul to be seperate.  This means that we do not participate in evil or in things that are not pleasing to the Lord.  Obviously, as Jesus followers we do not want to participate in sin. There are many things in our culture that are perfectly acceptable and legal,  to this world, but it is not good for us, and does not reflect that we are followers of Christ.  He has called us and wants us to be different.  In what ways do we clash with this culture that we need to “separate ourselves?”. Let me give you some examples.

  • Greed and materialism -vs- giving, selflessness, and treasures in Heaven.
  • Selfishness and pursuit of pleasure  -vs- putting God and others first.
  • Sexual freedom and immoral sexual attitudes -vs- sexual purity, and a biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality.
  • Bitterness and unforgiveness  -vs- Loving, forgiveness, and grace.
  • Eternity mocked  -vs- Eternal world view

I think you understand what I am saying. As followers of Jesus, we must be different. Our lives, our world views, our values, our habits, our money, our relationships, and our destination.

Questions to ponder

  • are  you participating in compromising and siful things that culture has accepted?
  • Are you being everything Christ has called you to, forsaking the pleasures and pursuits of this world and “storing up for yourselves treasures in heaven (Matt. 6.20)?
  • Is your life a testimony of Jesus or is your life not distinguished from anyone else who has no knowledge of Christ?

Be Divergent. Go to the next level in living. Pure living has amazing benefits, and we do not reap the pain of sin, selfishness, and compromise.  Our kids will benefit from our commitment to Christ. Our marriage will be blessed, and we will reflect to all that we know God.

Divergent Living is Missional Living

Let’s Face it, We Have Limits


I have observed so many people living their lives and  how decisions are made based on their mind, will, desires, and understandings. I wrestle with this constantly also.  Making decisions based on our own knowledge and wisdom sounds noble, but can be catastrophic. Why?  We all have boundaries on our what we understand.  We only have learned so much.  We have only experienced so much. We have limits.  Our will can also manipulate our mind into making decisions we think we are good, but our desires, deceive our mind, and the decisions are really about us, and can impact others with pain, grief, and sorrow.

When we trust the Lord’s ways, we enter in to a life of faith and dependence on the One who has no boundaries.  God knows the past, present, and the future.  The Lord also loves us and has a will for our life, if we will but trust Him daily.  He knows what our heart and character need, to shore up our integrity, goodness, and holiness.  He isn’t tricked by our fancy prayers, deals, or justifications.

This verse in Proverbs 3 says it all:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5,6

We are encouraged to Trust in the Lord. His ways, his word, his will.  We are cautioned  about leaning on our own understanding.  Our intellect, our will, and our experiences, can threaten God ways in our lives we sweep Him aside, and trust in our own limited self.

Life is about so many decisions. Maybe today you have some heavy ones weighing on your mind and heart.  Can I encourage you to take the wisdom of Proverbs and apply them to your situation?  I mean, who wants a crooked life, and a rough path?  Surrender your will, and desires, and trust the one who know all, and loves you completely.

I have never heard anyone confess they regret trusting God.  I have heard regrets of the opposite countless times.  Live without regrets, and trust the Lord. He will direct your paths.

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