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

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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.

Fear Lies to you


Fear always hold back God’s people.  Fear hold you back. Fear of failure, what people think of you, and fear of looking foolish.  Many people don’t take chances or live by faith out of fear.  Fear has stopped people from going back to school, starting that business, or asking out that potential spouse.

The enemy loves to work on us with fear.  I have seen some people be so consumed by fear they are paralyzed, and almost lose all desire and motivation to accomplish anything at all. Fear has stopped people from apologizing and asking other’s forgiveness, and they have missed out on relationships that could have been healed.  Some of dreams in their hearts, put there by God, but fear prevents many from pursuing their God-given dreams.

Fear stops us from obeying God.  We need greater faith in God to extinguish fear.  I am so glad that my brothers who told me about Christ did not let fear hold them back.  Because of their boldness and faith my life is changed by Christ forever.  I am glad Billy Graham did not let fear stop him from the dreams of being a preacher of the Gospel. His ministry has changed the lives of literally millions of people.

Are you falling victim to fear?  Let the faith of God rise up in you. Be consumed by boldness and do not fear.  Live without regrets, get out of your comfort-zone, and don’t let the lies of fear diminish what God wants to do in your life.

Remember this verse, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1.7)”.

Check out this music video  by Zach Williams, “Fear is a Liar”

 

 

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.

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)