Making Room for Christ to Form our Hearts


Making-Room.pngI have watched the TV show “Hoarders”. The show centers around a person whose house is jammed and crammed with stuff.  There is no room for anything, no room to move, and no room if they needed help. It’s often unsafe, unsanitary, and unlivable, yet the show is about someone who lives there for years.

Our time and lives are often like this.  Our growth and spiritual formation is neglected as there is no room in our schedule, no time in our lives, no margin to grow in God.  I am convinced that without time every day to focus on Christ, to listens, learn, read, worship, pray, and fellowship, we will never become who our Father has destined us to be.  We will trade in having our heart shaped by God, for a shallow faith, with little to know change in our lives for years.  An analogy to Hoarders, if our life is too cluttered, we are in spiritual danger, and the enemy can infiltrate our lives with things that are not “clean” or good for us at all.  We can’t move around and our joy and peace are stolen from us.

How are we cluttered?  I know my phone clutters my life.  Emails and work often squeeze my time.  There are too many things to watch, too many posts, too many shares, too many options for “other” things to do. I usually over commit my time to others or event to myself, thinking I MUST get so much accomplished in one day. I guess we do this to prove our worth.

We need to “make room”.  To sit, listen read, journal, pray, sing, worship.  Here are some practical suggestions to get us started.

  • Turn off your phone, TV, and music and sit 2 minutes in silence to listen for the Lord’s “impressions”.
  • Set a time of the day you can do this.  Start with 15 minutes or more.
  • Read a few verses of a Psalm and pray those verses. This is the ancient practice called “Lectio Divina”.  Here is an easy guide to get you started..Click here
  • Say the Lord’s Prayer.  Here it is if you don’t know it. click here.  Go back through and pray about the teaching of Christ in the Lord’s prayer.
  • Reacquaint yourself with the teachings of Christ and read the book of John

Let’s make some time in our busy lives to be with Jesus. Let’s allow is Spirit to shape our hearts, speak to our lives, and change us from the inside out.
Continue reading “Making Room for Christ to Form our Hearts”

Lectio Divina with our Compelled Staff


Lectio Divina (Divine Reading) is an ancient practice of biblical prayer and meditation. It is a contemplative discipline to help us be led by the Holy Spirit in prayer and hear the ways and will of God through Scripture.  Our staff did this as a group this morning.  Man, the Lord had them prayer some powerful prayers from Psalm 131.

Here’s how we did it

  1. Each of us  read the verses out loud.
  2. Think deeply of the words and the intention of God, in these Scriptures
  3. Dwell upon the truths.
  4. Pray out the themes in the verses.
  5. Pray out as you are led by the Holy Spirit

 

Psalm 131 (NASB95

A Song of Ascents, of David.)

1O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.

2Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.

3O Israel, hope in the Lord From this time forth and forever.

 

Try it personally, with family, or Church staff using different portions of Scripture. This is a great way to spend a devotional time, “daily office”, and to connect with the heart and Spirit of Christ.

Let the Spirit pray through you.  Let him teach you. Let Jesus be your mentor.

P. Nate

lectio

 

 

Silence


I’m learning to be silent.  To stop talking, stop planning, stop scrolling, stop moving, and be silent and still as a spiritual discipline to hear the Lord. Several years ago after reading “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero I began to practice this as spiritual formation.  To stop, listen to the Lord, and be more contemplative.

I have always known this was the key to being close to Jesus.  He is Spirit, so our spirit man seeks union with Him.  But we have too many things that rob the silence.  We have evolved into a people that feels worthless, unless we are doing something and accomplishing something.  Peter Scazzero says “We were not created to be human-doings, but human beings.”  He is stressing that we do not slow down to be with God. I lived in this deception until I could no longer, thinking my value was based on what I did for the Lord.   I worked my tail off to planting Compelled Church and often neglected my “being” and put all energy into my “doing”. The successes did not go unnoticed.

This got attention, awards,  accolades, plaques, and speaking engagements.  I was elected to positions I did not deserve, nor was I qualified.   The Christian Tribe affirms this imbalance, and more pastors fall prey until they wear out, burn out, or get out.  I was saved from this and now enjoy my life, marriage, friendships, time with Christ and pastoring more than I ever thought was possible. But pastors are not the only ones who struggle with just being with Jesus, for the purpose of relationship.  Every believer does. I know this. I have been a pastor for over 30 years.

Jesus did spent time alone.   “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” Mark 1.35

“We enter into solitude first of all to meet our Lord and to be with him and him alone.” Henri Nouwen wrote this.  We are not meeting with him to get-get-get–ask-ask-ask- beg-beg-beg. But we make time to be with God.

To be silent to listen to God, we need to be alone, without sound, music, news, phones, screens.  Then we began to be real with God. It’s just us.  No friends, no topics, no weather to discuss. It’s just our true self with a living God.  Then we listen, with our hearts and spiritual ears, and transformation begins.  Our thoughts merge with His thoughts, our hearts unite, and the open heart surgery of the Spirit of God picks up where it left off.  We become more like Christ. We forsake the world. We desire what He desires.   We grow, we contemplate, we are filled with contentment and joy as the Spirit of God speaks, without words, because the silence and solitude allows.

We can then read the Word of God for transformation not information. We can pray the Scriptures and they jump into us with life and spiritual energy. We can be convicted of sin, and convinced by  our Father to forsake this world.  Silence.

This kind of prayer is the prayer Jesus intended.  This is the kind of prayer that makes us like him.  Then when we talk, after we listen, we talk very differently, as we know how to talk to Him better.  We don’t read off a to-do list to God of what we command Him to do (how foolish we are!). We don’t tell him what we have planned and command Him to bless it (ditto!). We pray and talk to our friend about true state, our heart, our pain, our fears, our need, and we are moved from “glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3.18).

Try it.  Just try a spend a few minutes a day in utter silence and solitude and enjoy union with Christ.  Enjoy being with Him.  Delight in your being his son and daughter, no doing.

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”   Psalm 46.10

Pastor Nate Elarton

The Greatest Leader


We are all leaders. We all lead people. We cannot deny our influence upon people. Our choices, talk, attitude, priorities, social media, all communicate and affect others.

“We cannot – not communicate.”

Who are the people that you love to be with and admire?  I imagine these people are loving, positive, encouraging, happy, and they have inward character and virtues that are pure and Christ-like.

I was pondering the account when Moses asked God to reveal to him, His glory.  God passed by Moses and he had to shield his face from the glory and then God revealed his glory by communicating it.

“Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth;who keeps loving-kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” Exodus 34.6-7  (NASB The Lockman Foundation 1995 update)

God reveals Himself as compassionate, lots of love, slow to angry. He forgives. He is truth. He will not overlook guiltiness.  We will not escape if we are guilty.  Wow, thankful for Jesus who removes our sin and guilt!

These qualities are the qualities of a leader, a believer, a follower of God.  These are the virtues of a person who confesses being one of God’s people.

Questions to Ponder

  • How compassionate are you?  Do you care and think, and act on behalf of others?
  • Are you grateful, and gracious in life, with others?
  • Do you value truth avoiding deceit, lies, gossip, spreading negative feelings about others?  Do you value the truth of God’s Word and live within His Words?
  • Are you forgiving?  Holding Grudges?  Do you have trouble giving grace?  Jesus can help us.
  • Do you have a kind attitude?
  • Living a life of being loving and kind must be personified in how we speak to and about others.  How we choose and prioritize ourselves.

The greatest leader of all is the Lord.  He is our standard for character, and without character we lead people….poorly. With the character of God, we lead people, and influence them to Him, bringing Him glory.

My thoughts this morning.  True and convicting. Life-giving and helpful I pray.
Pastor Nate Elarton

Year of Faith, Acts Faith


What a great few days of prayer and fasting.  So encouraged by this week at Compelled.  This week I was reading and meditating on some Psalms, but also on the Book of Acts.

Acts is an amazing, historical account, written by Luke, of the early church. One cannot read it and not be amazed at the growth of the church, the boldness of the disciples, the amount of miracles, and the level of commitment believer’s had.

Many want an Acts church today and wonder why we don’t have the same results?  I have been pondering this and have come to some conclusions and then some conclusions on my conclusions.

  • I wonder if we are as committed to Christ and His work as the Acts Church?
  • I wonder if we value being full, baptized, and led by the Spirit of God like they were?
  • I wonder if we don’t want to avoid offending people, or the persecution and opinion of us that would follow, if we are bold and courageous like the Acts Church?
  • I wonder if we intentionally build our faith daily like they did. They took time to pray, listen to apostles teach, be with believer’s learn the Scriptures.  They took the time needed to have great faith?

My conclusions to my conclusions

  • We need to evaluate our true level of commitment to living for Christ, not just believing.
  • We need to be baptized and filled with the Spirit of God, thus having the boldness and power to speak for Christ.
  • We need to take time to grow our faith. We (also me)  have time for Netflix, facebook, IPad games, sucked into fake news and every dumb share on social media, etc, but most believer’s don’t invest daily time to read, grow, listen, spend time with Christ.
  • We need a hunger. A deep hunger in our spirits for more of the Lord in our lives.  It so encouraging to see people hungry for Jesus this week.
  • I believe we are supposed to be the Acts Church.  I don’t think it was the will of God that the church and believers today be so different from then.

Your thoughts?

Pastor Nate Elarton, follower of Jesus

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.

Handle Your Life With Care, it’s Your Only One


This weekend I start a new series “Handle With Care”.   The verses for this weekend are:

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.  Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.”  Ephesians 5.15-16 (New Living Translation)

We only have one life.  We only have the present.  Our decisions are important as they impact so many people. We need to live wise.  Not like fools who have no regard for their family, their future, or their God.  Fools live selfish. Fools make decisions without the Lord. Fools waste opportunities.  Proverbs teach that  fools come to ruin.  They dishonor their parents, they make decisions for their own benefit, they have  lost sight of the gift of life.

The Lord has a will for us all. We can’t control what others do, say, or decide. But we do control our decisions, our speech, our daily choices.  We have so many opportunities, and we need to live wise to make those times prosper with all the good fruit of the spirit.

  • Loving and spending time with your kids is a wise opportunity.
  • Responding to the Lord and others when we fail and not blaming is an opportunity for honesty and humility which are  wisdom.
  • Making the most of your marriage, repairing it, granting grace, serving is sure an opportunity to make the most.
  • Living for Jesus and all the benefits of those choices, make a our lives a legacy.
  • Honesty, morality, sexual purity, love, forgiveness, and being content, are all virtues Christ makes available to us if we walk in them.  This evil world rejects it all.  Greed, lust, materialistic ambitions, always being right is the norm of the day—sadly.

God has called us higher and gives us the power, relationship with him, and the love to live every day to our best and that’s His best.

Handle your life with Care. You only get one. Ask the Lord to help you honor Him, and live without regrets.

Press On  PN

 

 

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

Don’t love the ways of this world


“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

1 John 2:15–17 (NASB95)

It is hard not to love this world, or this life.  Things are pretty convenient for many of us. We do not lack or worry about food, we have endless games, social media, and live streaming at our fingertips, and there is no end to leisure activities in which we can engage.  However, John is not teaching about that.  He is referring to the world as the broken down state of this earth.  The world here, in context, is darkness, sin, and systems opposite of the will of God.  First John is written to the believer, so for the believer to really love this world, one must compromise their love for the Father.

The world is defined of the cravings, and nature of sinful man, the lust and desire for more of what we want that satisfies the desires of the sinful man, and the pride of our accomplishments on this earth and what we can do, declaring we don’t need God, or His ways.  This is the product of the world, the worldly, and the lost.

May we not forget the last verse above, verse 17.  The world and all its sinful ways are going to pass.  They will be lost, extinguished, forgotten. They will pass when we do, they will pass when God brings all things here to an end, they will pass in His plan.  They are not eternal, but temporal, but the damage a commitment to the ways of this world can do on a soul, is eternal.  It’s all going to burn.

Nevertheless, the person who does God’s will never pass.  They will “live forever”.  Everything about the Father is eternal and everything about this world is temporal.   Are you a person that does the will of this world or are you about doing the will of God. IF you are doing the will of the world, the teaching of Christ, and the apostles are clear. You will be lost and pass away with the sinful, lustful, prideful ways of this selfish and fallen land, with its systems.  But if you choose to live for God, choose to do His will, you will never perish, but live eternally as your life will become eternal, dedicated and set apart for the Lord. You will never regret that kind of life.

Questions to Ponder

  • Is it your heart’s desire to do God’s will above all else?
  • Do you daily engage in the temporary and eternally destructive ways of this world, lust, cravings, pride, love of self, without remorse?
  • Would people and your family describe you as Godly or worldly?
  • How can we do the will of the Lord more in our daily lives?

Up ↑