Back from German-speaking Europe


It was an amazing experience being in Europe with Paul and Mechthild Clark. We were in the German-speaking part. I taught at two, one-day  forums Paul hosts, to encourage and teach pastors. One was in Grandstadt,  Germany and one in  Schaffhausen, Switzerland. I also spoke at a pastors meeting in Innsbruck,  Austria on the following day with Paul and Mike. We had great fellowship on the 4 hour round trip drive. What an It was busy traveling, and speaking the first week that is for sure, but we loved it!

Wendy was able to share in Innsbruck, the foster-care ministry as they have similar challenges with foster-care in Europe also.  My translator was moved has he and his wife are foster-parents. His name was Marcel. He is a great guy and we became instant friends. I will miss him.

On Saturday the new Church Plant the Clark’s are pastoring in Bregenz, Austria hosted a ladies breakfast.  Mechthild worked hard and Wendy spoke. Saturday night was fun as we traveled to Salem, Germany for a community Outreach. I played bass and Mike Clark, played keys, and Paul led worship from the guitar. We talked about getting more gigs and hitting the road.  The community center was full, and the host Pastor, a Romanian, man David and his wife were so kind!

Wendy’s cousin, Pauline and Manfred, came to Grandstadt, on our first day of ministry. They took Wendy to lunch and then we were able to visit after the forum They were so kind to take us to the train station in Mannheim.  We rode a few hours then to Switzerland.

Sunday I taught on Philippians 1.6 at the Bregenz church and helped with worship. Paul was my translator.   We visited and enjoyed a great new body of Christ that the Lord is building there.  This is Paul’s 8th church plant.  He planted a church in Michigan before going to Germany and planting 7 more. Absolutely incredible.  He has always been one of my encouragers andd he calls often to see how I am doing. Before we came here, we took a team of students to Germany, and he encouraged me to church plant. I am thankful for priceless friends.

Wendy and I stayed a couple more days.  We were guests at Mike and Laura Clark’s for dinner. What an amazing family they are. We have known them for years and love what God has, and is, doing through their lives.  of course did some shopping, drank some great coffee and also saw a couple of castles. Our time together was well spent and needed after such a busy schedule of ministry.

On the way to the airport in Zurich, Switzerland, we stopped in the historic and beautiful St. Gallen.  We had lunch with Paul’s daughter and son-in-law, Stephenie, and Peter. We had not seen Stephanie in 20 years.  What a great couple. We were able to see the St. Abbey Cathedral and Library. I must be honest and say I will miss the coffee/expresso there. While I write this I am  drinking coffee from my drip-coffee maker, is a disappointed experience after the delicious coffee I have had the last few days. An epresso machine is in my future.

So What are our “take-aways” or  things I know the Lord show us from this trip?

  • We are called to reach the world, to help people find, know, and trust God with their lives.  Church cannot be just a bunch activity without purpose.
  • The people of God are wonderful, wherever you meet them. There is the bond of Christ and I sensed that, even when I could not speak the language.
  • The power of relationships can never be underextimated.
  • Compelled must continue to be missional, sending, praying, and going, at home, across the street and around the world.
  • Christian faith and growth are intentional.  One does not grow in Christ

    accidentally or just because you believe.  You must be intentional in your faith.

  • Some ancient traditions of faith, may not be pointless and dead, if they lead you to the life of Jesus and the fullness of God’s Spirit.
  • German-speaking Europe is not a 3rd world country. We did not pass out food, or do a medical clinic, that is greatly needed and a way to share Christ in other contexts.  We just poured into leaders.  We loved them, encouraged them, as the mission there is greatly needed and for many reasons, the work is harder than many places.
  • We must not forget Europe. Europe needs more churches, church planters, and people reaching out.
  • I was humbled to get to participate in the Ministry of the Clark’s. They are heroes to me.  Paul,  Mechthild, and Mike and Laura, continue to chip away at the darkness one life, and one family at a time.
  • Prayer must overcome the hardness of people’s hearts.  Whether in German-speaking Europe, Bedford, Toledo, or Holland, Ohio, people are softened through prayer and calling on God, the Holy Spirit to draw them to truth.

Personal Christmas Post


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

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

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

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

Selah,  Nate

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

Personal Post


It has been a whirl wind of a couple weeks here. Feel like this is the first time I have been able to be alone and just reflect.  So many high’s and low’s.  Levi, my son, made it to states se) taking 4th at regionals (wrestling of course, last weekend. That was awesome to see him win, as he worked so hard, even with a knee injury he did not give up.  I am so proud of Levi on so many levels!  After that we went to Hudson, MI to see Wendy’s folks. Randy has a surgery this week.It was a great Saturday.  Our whole family was together this weekend, and then together at regionals.  it was all so special to me and warmed and swelled my heart.  We have also had a marriage banquet Wendy and I spoke at, I daily check on my dad,  and I had some presbyter meetings, and the services on the weekends.  I am thankful for my staff that keep on top of things when we are all so busy.

The sadness of Marty’s sudden passing still haunts me. I miss my friend. I miss his encouragement, chats, carving, and presence.  I know we will all go one, but, pastors don’t have too many voices in their lives like Marty’s. He was an amazing encourager.

We went to Grand Rapids,  Michigan yesterday to hear  Justin preach at a sr. chapel at Northpoint Bible College.  Man it was good. He is a brilliant young man and spoke an amazing message of humility.  It was simply solid, and profound.  I am thankful for him and his entrance into our family.  What a blessing he is and to know he is taking care of my daughter, is awesome. They are such a great couple and we are so proud of them.  God has a great plan for their lives and is going to use them for His glory.

We got back late after a nice stop to have dinner with Steve and Lillian Miller. They pastor a great church in Three Rivers and we have been friends for years.  He is a great encourager also.  Steve’s joy and laughter was a refreshing welcome to my soul.

I did manage to get out and finish a carving that has been half done on the bench for a couple of months.  It has been so busy, so carving goes first of course.  I needed to make time. I know Marty would have liked this one.  He would comment that I am getting better on the nose, and the stocking cap was cool

Today is a study day and prep day for the week so I had better continue on that.  My heart is thankful for God’s continuing strength and presence.  I am grateful for so much and the Lord’s grace.

The Baby Birds are Gone, God is Not


I was at the church this morning, doing some things and getting ready for the weekend gatherings. I noticed the little birds that were up underneath the car port  were now gone.  They got strong enough to fly away.  I then thought of Rick’s message on gratefulness.  I thought of how many people over the last 20 years have been nurtured, made strong, and have “flown away”.  Some of our young people have entered into full time ministry , and mission fields. I thought of many of them, and I was thankful.  I saw some other things on my walk.

  • I saw the empty quiet building which a few days ago was full of children every morning learning the Word of God, and trust in Jesus.  I walked to the front and remember dozens asking Jesus into their heart on Thursday.  My heart is so thankful for all the volunteers, leaders, and Pastor Matt and Mandie Reinhart. I pray these children will follow the Lord, and their parents will help and lead the way.
  • I walked on our new floors and remembered how many hands made it possible, so thankful for servant hearts.
  • I watered our beautiful flowers, thankful for Deb and Harry Welch, planting and caring for them. I prayed for her healing as I know she has been sick, and am thankful for their life, that God brought them to Compelled.
  • I put up the building plans for the Toledo Campus build out on the wall. So thankful for a church that is missional, and for what the Lord is going to do as we will have 3000 more sq. ft. for children’s ministry, and for Jennifer Perkins who has agreed to be the Children’s Ministry Director there! Praise God. Thankful for Pastor Tim and Amanda’s leadership, and for the faithfulness of Curtis and Iris Klotz and so many others! God is moving in so many lives there.
  • I put up a certificate on our Global Outreach Missions board that we were 371st in the nation for Assembly of God churches in missions giving. That is out of 12,000 churches!  Wow!
  • I looked out the window at the playground God provided. I believed for years for one for the children and young families, he gave it to us. He took care of us…..again.
  • I stepped into my office and looked at the pics of my family that line my walls. I am so proud of my children and thankful to God for who they are, and who they are becoming. Grateful for Justin, that God put in our lives. Said a simple pray for continued guidance, and protection from the enemy on their lives. another prayer of gratitude flowed without words from my heart.
  • I watched Jeremy Whitmill, fixing the drain and door on his Saturday morning off, he made time for the Lord’s work to help his church. I am grateful that we really love, love, and serve.So many  like him, make ministry here fun, enjoyable, and a blessing. We truly value serving.  Our Father sees it all.
  • I got something off my wife’s desk. I thought of our 29 years of marriage and ministry. I thought of all she does for Compelled, quietly, behind the scenes, unnoticed by most everyone, except the one who has His eye on the sparrow. What he sees in secret will one day be rewarded.   I thought back on the sacrifices she made so we could plant Compelled, and the church could be strengthened. I thought of her ministry to our children, who are now young adults that love the Lord. I am thankful for her beauty,  love, patience, and joy in which she lives out every day. I am grateful to have her by my side in life, as best friends, parents, and ministry partners.
  • I went out and washed off my brother Steve’s memorial stone. I stood choked up as I thanked God for His life and his persistence in helping my life, and showing me Jesus. I am honored and humbled to have his fingerprints on my life and ministry.  I pledged to “be about the Father’s business” on this earth, as he would encourage me.  I relish the day we can eat some blueberry pancakes, have a rasberry mocha together, catch upon the years we missed with Pat, and live in eternity with Christ.
  • I thought of God’s goodness to me, of his great mercy on my life. I am so undeserving to spiritually lead, be adopted into His family, and to have Him live in my life.  I bowed my head in humility and thankfulness for Jesus, whose death and resurrection brought me forgiveness of my sins, the guilt of my sin, the punishment, consequences, and the deliverance from the ways of this world and self-destruction without Him.  What a wonderful Savior I know.

Yes, I had quite a morning of revelation, and my heart is full of God’s Spirit. Yes, the birds are gone, but the ministry here is not, and neither is the power and presence of the Lord.     I heed the word of Samuel the prophet to Israel in 1 Chronicles 12.24

“Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.”

Selah……………………….Pastor Nate

 

 

Five Dangers of Resisting Change


Yesterday, we moved most of the last of dad’s furniture from his house. We moved him to Temperance last October.  He lived in that house almost 50 years. Of course, I grew up there.  The old brick house on Gorham in Morenci holds a lot of memories,every room has a story, every part of the yard a chapter in childhood. I looked out the window to the hosue next door, where mom lived the last years of her life (yes you read correctly)  Last Friday, my daughter graduated from college, my oldest son will graduate from high school in a couple weeks, our youngest will be a senior. Lots of change, more on the way. Most I celebrate with joy and parental pride for my kids.

What changes are you experiencing in life? Job? Family? Aging parents? Empty nest? Loved one called home? Health? Registering your baby for pre-school?

Change can be hard, and most people resist it. Here are some reasons why.

  1. We fear the unknown.  We want to have control and we control the present.  We think we have it mastered and we love the predictability. Change moves us into the unknown, which we can interpret unsafe, and our assumptions are usually wrong.
  2. We are comfortable in the present. Change rocks the boat. We want our lives to be consistent, routine, and the same.
  3. Our flesh, resists growing our faith stronger. Change requires more faith because we have topped our faith out in the present.  We, for some dumb reason, mostly resist spiritual growth because it makes us go to uncomfortable places….the unknown future, or a new ministry, or a new season of life.  Each change requires our trust in God to go deeper. Let’s not resist let’s embrace.

The danger of resisting change.

  1. You miss out on a chapter in your life that was meant to be.  Don’t fear, the Lord never leave us!  Don’t miss an opportunity to celebrate change.
  2. It happens anyhow and you live in denial, anger, sadness, or ambivalence. This will affect everyone around you and your most precious relationships.
  3. You hijack your future.  Joy and contentment can be robbed from us as we look back with sadness at the change, and not forward with faith. How many people did not experience their future, as they stubbornly held on to the past.
  4. We can miss something special God has for us.  He moves us forward through life, and He is there will his plan, power, and presence to guide us.
  5. Your faith become stagnate.  Change grows us whether we like it or not.  We learn the Lord is always with us. We sense his strength and courage. We learn to trust him deeper in the unknown. Don’t rob yourself the opportunity of having greater faith in the Lord.

In the changes of life remember Proverbs 3.5,6 and live in this truth.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Pr 3:5–6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Addictions and Heroine continues to Kill, we need a Life Challenge Facility in the Toledo Area


I was deeply moved last night. Wendy and I attended the Life Challenge Gala in Livonia, as guests of Jeff and Lori Bonzelaar.  They have started an outreach and referral center here in Toledo, but need a permanent facility.  When Jeff first shared this with me, my heart and spirit resonated.  Toledo is in the middle of  heroine epidemic.  It seems daily a young person dies from overdose here.  Many started taking pain killers in high school from a sports injury. Either way, a generation is literally dying. Jesus Christ did not intend lives to end so soon, or for parents to suffer as their children spiral downward lost in an addiction.

Some may be surprised at my heart for Life Challenge and to see people free.  They may ask why? Can I share with you why I believe in this ministry so much.

  • The obvious need and drug and alcohol, lives are being destroyed, youth are dying.
  • I almost interned at a Teen Challenge during a summer of college.
  • I grew up within the context of addictions, for which I am thankful, Christ spared me.
  • I had a wonderful brother, who was in a teen challenge, left the program early, a couple months later, I did my first funeral, and our broken family had to bury our beloved brother.

I just know the Lord is going to provide a facility. I feel it in my heart.

Would you pray with me for the funds and a facility for a Life Challenge in the Toledo area.  There is a director with a vision, and a local leader Martin Hall, and many that would want to be part of this. A generation needs to be free. The church must respond, destructive addictions are everywhere.  Pray for this miracle to happen soon.