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”

 

 

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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.

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)

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