The Wonderful Consequence of Quarantine: The Transferring of Spiritual Leadership


As we are all in lock-down and not in social setting for worship, I sense a wonderful thing happening. I am not implying it did not exist before,  but it seems now it is existing, growing, and I am praying it becomes the new normal.

This would be the transfer of the spiritual leadership from pastors or clergy to the head of homes.  This is an incredible and fantastic consequence of not being able to worship together in a building.  With little to no access to the ministries and programs of the local church, the Christian homes are taking the helm of leading the family in their worship, discipleship, and spiritual growth.  This is incredibly biblical and an incredible need in our society.  It must continue.

We have become a very entitled people.  Our thinking and the culture has led us to believe that it is the responsibility of others to take care of us.  The government, the schools, the churches, the leaders, the pastors, the entities of community, are not really going to provide for us in every way.  Parents are stepping up.

Sure, we have some online encouragement, preaching, church services and teaching, but I realize most click on for a bit and click off, as our newly programmed time span is limited and we impulsively must click from thing to thing.  The spiritual leaders and pastors are doing our best to stay connected, to shepherd our people, to reach out and that won’t stop, but it is not enough, it has never been enough to truly ground our children into the ways and heart of Christ.

I rejoice for I see family leaders taking charge of the spiritual state of their homes. Not just homes with children, but couples without children, and us empty-nesters are increasing our worship, prayer, Scripture reading in the home.   Families are seeing the spiritual need at home and they are filling it.  They are taking responsibility to make sure their families do not just eat, and bath, but also worship and pray.  Singing together as a family is not awkward anymore.  Parents praying with children is the new normal.  Reading the Bible out loud, talking about life, and connecting in heart and soul is happening and well overdue for most homes of the American Christian Family.

Yes, the transfer of leadership from the pastor to the head of the home is a welcomed consequence of the Corona quarantine.  I pray it continues. I pray we will not return to expecting our leaders and pastors to spoon feed us the truths of Jesus, but our homes will be filled with His presence as moms and dads, set the stage, lead those times, and see their children experience God the best way possible, as a family.

There are no perfect parents, so don’t wait to be perfect to be the spiritual voice for your kids.  Precious parents, keep playing and singing together.  Tuck those kids in and pray. Turn on the worship music, dance and sing, hug and love your kids. study the Bible Quiz question, The love of the Father is always transferred through the love of the parent (that is the blessing).  Let the joy of the Lord, run through your homes, through games, crafts, art, make-believe, laughter and giggles.

If you are a single-parent and no support of a spouse, please be reminded your Father is also present and will empower you.  You can do it.  Where we are in need He will give us strength. Parents, do you best, and take the spiritual leadership for your family.  Be the catalyst for a heart that wants to seek God and have his presence in your home and on the minds of your children.

What about us pastors?  Oh, we will keep doing our spiritual callings,  not in place of yours, but beside you. We will be here to teach you, resource you, encourage you, strengthen you, but you mom or dad, will be the spiritual leader of your home.  I see it happening and It filles me with joy. I love it!

What is happening is what the Lord commanded in Deuteronomy:

What about us past ““So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors.” (Deuteronomy 11:18–21, NLT)

We love you and are so proud of what our young families are doing for Christ.  Don’t stop doing these things, even when your local church begins having services and ministries again. Always take the spiritual responsiblity for your family. You will never, never regret the energy and time you invest into the souls of your children.  It’s more important than any sport, hobby, travel team, or activity your kids can join.

We love you all so much and we are proud of you parents!

Pastor Nate and Wendy Elarton

 

 

 

God has a secret


Psalm 25.14  “The secret of the Lord is for those who fear HIm, And He will make them know His covenant.”

This verse jumped out at me this morning.  As I read this idea of a secret that God reveals, I studied further.  The Hebrew word for secret is “Sod”.  It means “a confidential discussion” and even implies this would be in a limited circle.  I believe many people have the idea, that no matter how they live, what they do, or what they believe, God dispenses everything of blessing to everybody evenly. That all of His mysteries are given fairly to everyone This isn’t true.  He does love us all, but saves special revelation to those that love Him back.

It is obvious here that the secret or mysteries  are revealed only to those who “fear” the Lord.  That means, serve, respect, and revere.  This is more than cheap lip-service. This is a way of life.  When we honor God he honors us by revealing is covenant.  The Covenant refers to His Ways, and Promises.  This would include revealing Himself, His love, and His will for our lives.

There is a lot of spiritual knowledge, truths, and even experiences God wants us all to be part of. His love for each one of us draws us to Him.  We have to go beyond, just believing and really serving the Lord in our lives every day.

Are you living with a respect, reverance, and love for the Lord that is seen in our habits, priorities, time, and talents?  If you are then spiritual mysteries, that only the spiritually-minded receive, and now are being revealed to you.

Consider this teaching by the Apostle Paul ..

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:14–16, NIV)

Read these verses two or three times to get them.

So knowing God brings spiritual understanding. We know God through the bridge of faith. Faith in Christ, forgiveness in Christ, and freedom in Christ.  Then the Spirit of God dwells in us and the Holy Spirit is our teacher and leads us and guides us into all truth. The Lord loves you and has given his Son so we can know Him.  Great truths await the person that loves Him back.

Pastor Nate Elarton

 

Advent, Change, and Jesus


Nothing changed human history more than the coming of Jesus.  His life, death, resurrection, teaching, and promises have impacted life on His planet.

We are all changing.  As I approach my mid-fifties I recognize change.  Age, energy level, thought, and priorities all are shifting.People clamor for change, but many find the changes they want elusive and difficult. We  mostly pursue change that centers  around our comfort, looks, age and weight prevention, relationships  and the such.

The changes we all need and should pursue are the internal changes of our thoughts, character, and inner peace and contentment.

Too many of us allow our world, our environment, and our experiences to change us into the person we don’t want to be. We received the broken and deceptive messages that we don’t measure up, that life is hard, that we don’t have enough nice stuff, love hurts so be guarded, and anyone that stands in the way of what I want is my enemy.  These message bring negative change to us.  This  change will happen through cultural osmosis  if we are not aware and proactive about the state of our heart and soul.

Jesus wants to change us every day.  We need to spend some time with Him.  Silence, humility, hunger for righteousness, a desire to know the Lord and His ways, at the same time resisted and rejecting the negative messages  of this earth.Want to be changed?  We can let our Lord change us, or we can let this world change us. It’s really up to each one of us.  We decide.

Spend some time alone. Invite the Lord to speak to you. Read a Psalm, say a prayer, surrender a grudge, confess your desire to be like Him, for that is the changes we need.  Read about Jesus and what he was like, how he loved, what he did, who he impacted, who he served. Listen to him in the stillness. Hear with your spirit not your ears.

Change is not impossible. Jesus came to change us. His advent is all about change. He wants to change us, forgive us, pour grace upon us, and show us how much he loves us.  It’s His desire, but change can’t happen if we do not share His desire.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NASB95)

 

Living Poor


“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5.3

What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? To be poor means to be utterly dependent on others and totally impoverished. The Greek word that Matthew uses here is the strongest word he could have used for “poor” (Gr. ptochos) it  literally means “undone, pathetic, miserable.”  This is the only place in the New Testament “poor in spirit” is used like this.

I am starting to understand this spiritual mystery a little. I have been a follower of Jesus for over 35 years, and I sit here pondering how I can live daily  “poor in spirit.”  To be miserable without God, and His presence? To be totally undone if He and I are distanced.  To have a motivation everyday to draw close, to need Him so badly, that I am pretty pathetic without Him.   I confess, I am so capable to not think or feel this for extended periods.  Without the conscience desires and heart-grooming to love Him more, I am able to live without that strong living connection, and consciousness  of Jesus’ presence.  I can study, function, think, eat, and even be kind and loving without being “poor in spirit.” But to live daily “ poor in spirit” is a different level of desire, motivation and heart posture.  It requires a consistent exposure to a posture of poverty in spirit I must posess.

To be needy in my spirit for Jesus, is something I cannot will, but I must “be”. How can this happen? What does this look like?

  • To be in such a love relationship with Jesus that distance brings my poor spirit distress.
  • To have such faith and true knowledge of the Lord, that I can do nothing of eternal value without working in tandem with His Spirit.
  • To verbalize, ponder, and meditate of my spiritual poverty and deep need for Jesus.
  • To know that “in Him I live, and move and have my being. (Acts 17.28), as I go about the daily, often, mundane routines of life not alone, but with the joy and light of Christ.
  • To not allow my experience, self-sufficiency, or knowledge to substitute a life that is indwelling with the living Christ.
  • To be with Jesus, to keep reminding myself of His glory, love, friendship, and life, which my life must be lost within.

To live like this is to live within the Kingdom of Heaven. To live without being “poor in spirit” is to live in the systems of this temporal world’s ways. To live in a state that we do not recognize we truly need Him in every way is to live in the un-desperate self-sufficient mode and the deception that Jesus does not matter and really doesn’t make a difference in who we are, and what we are doing.  May we not be deceived. May we desperately with all poorness throw our life, our day, our strength, our thoughts, our desires, into His hands.

Cultivate your poverty in Spirit daily by being with Jesus. More than a “devotion” or “quiet time” but a posture of heart that continues throughout the day.  Commune with Jesus in such a way, that if that communion is broken, you immediately know it, and return to being poor and needy for Him. So we really do live in poverty.

“For thus says the high and lofty one, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15 NRSV

Pastor Nate Elarton

Don’t Be Judgy


There are many people today who are not part of the local church because they have been hurt by the believer’s there.  One way we really hurt people is by judging them.  It seems Christians, unfortunately, find it easy to do this. I know I have been guilty of this.  I recently talked to a young lady who was “shunned” from her last church for her divorce.  Everyone just rushed to judgement that she was breaking the Bible, not knowing anything about what sad things were going on behind closed doors at home.  She was ignored, a single mom, and no one cared, they only gossiped, judged, and avoided her.  As we talked the deep pain that people she loved and served left her side, and climbed up on a throne to look down on her, her life, and her decisions.  She made it clear to me she had no time for church, God or God’s people.  Being judged stole her young faith.

I know we Christians are not perfect, but I also know from being in spiritual leadership for over 30 years, that we all underestimate the effects of judgement, slander, and gossip.  It deeply wounds people, it does not add value to their lives.  It is discouraging and it is hurting us.  It’s highly unloving, and we are asked by our Lord Jesus not to do it.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1–5, NIV)

Jesus commands us not to judge others.

I know the pain of being lied about (a form of judging called slander), having people judge your motives, being spoken poorly of behind my back, and having people treat me weird, later knowing they believe something about me that wasn’t true, nor did I know they judged me and my friendship differently.   We all know what this is like.  We have to forgive and move forward keep our eyes on Christ.

Consider the follow thoughts….

  • No one truly knows the motives of others.
  • We all walk a different road.  Our journey’s are different. Our upbringing, our childhood, our life are not the same.
  • Most things are not our business.
  • Judging is about looking down on someone to boost us up. It pride.
  • The humble rarely judge.
  • We always have limited and often incorrect information.
  • Judging divides, and that is the devil. He loves to dived families, churches, Christians, and people.
  • Judging someone else’s spiritual journey is one of the most immature things a believers can do.
  • Judging dehumanizes others, and is a twin to hate.

Christ gave us a new command and that is to love each other.   To be patient, to encourage, to speak blessing and not curses.  The Bible teaches us to not be prideful, to bear the failures of the weak and to lift each other up, not tear each other down.

Judging, gossiping, complaining, and being rude to people to their face or behind their back, is a visible sign, that our hearts are wrong.  May God help us shun this as followers of Jesus and to love others.  May we care more about people than their mistakes, pasts, or shortcomings.

Some other Scriptures to help us all:

Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11–12, NIV)

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.” (Romans 14:1, NIV)

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” (Romans 15:1–2, NIV)

 

 

 

 

“Get Moving”


hikThe Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” (Exodus 14:14–15, NLT)

We see more and more terrible effects of sitting too much. We Americans need to get moving.  Our jobs, and leisure, just include excessive sitting.  It has been discovered that a sedentary life leads to all sorts of health issues.  The Mayo Clinic says that the health risks of sitting include obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Prolonged periods of sitting increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Moving is life.  In the Scripture above the Jewish nation are leaving Egypt. They had been slaves for 430 years and after a series of plagues sent by God the Pharaoh allows them to leave, but then changes his mind and the armies of Egypt pursues them.  The Lord parts the Red Sea and tells Moses to tell the people to “get moving.” Get moving to freedom, to safety, to a new life.

We are people that move physically but also spiritually slowly at times.  We do not like change, effort, or leaving what is comfortable and familiar.  God is calling us all to “get moving”.  To move out to new territory we have to leave the old. Is there something old, and maybe normal in your life that you need to leave?  Habits, anger, grouchiness, and of course. sin.  These things not only hurt us but those around us.  It is time to leave sinful things in our lives that are quite honestly, ruining, or at the least, not adding value to your life.

Time to “get moving”. To move on to what is better, what is God’s will, and what will add more value to your life.  Maybe it is time to leave the way you normally treat your spouse.  It might be the day to leave the pain of your past that keeps you paralyzed with fear to pursue your passions.  Maybe get moving from the hate in your heart you feel toward people who are not like you.   Time to move on from bitterness, unforgiveness, and being spiteful. To leave this to the love of God. To allow His love to be part of your life, and you pass that love on to others.

Time to move on?  With God’s help, and our decision, let us “get moving.”

P. Nate

Submission, the Lost Discipline


gardenAt Compelled church I have been teaching on the spiritual disciplines in our series called “Making Room”.  This weekend I will teach on the discipline of submission. As I study and read and realize this is definitely a concept we don’t like to talk about and surely struggle to live out.  But it is a discipline of the heart nonetheless.

Submission comes easy to me when I want to submit, serve, and obey.  Maybe I will be noticed for it, or I will be thought of highly for submitting or serving in some “public” way that others can see.  Submission is really deeper than that. It is of the heart.  To give up perceived or even real “rights” is hard for our flesh and not thought of as honorable in our culture.  We truly believe we have a right to do whatever we want and if anyone disagrees or questions us they become enemy #1.

Submission has been abused by religion, leaders, churches, and organizations, but that does not mean it is not a virtue still.  Jesus had to submit, “not my will but thine” (Luke 22.42). Paul’s teaching to the Philippians show the submission of Christ, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Phil. 2.8)”.  He submitted to the plan of the Father, to us for our freedom from sin, to death which God should never experience, and He submitted to how that will happen,  on a disgusting cross.  Do we think we do not have to submit, serve, obey, and give up our rights, when our example did, and He did for us.  

Submission of the heart to the ways of God is the deepest and most secret act and posture of our heart. Our jealousy, offense, hate, bitterness, all the things we believe we have a right to have, and to feed, must be forsaken for the sake of the love of Christ and His desire for our soul to be spiritually healthy. It is also an act of love for others.

Submission of our souls, and lives to the truths of the Bible, the moral compass, God gives us, and the love he wants to shower us with.  When we do not truly give him all areas of our life, we forfeit an awareness of His love and presence.  Our relationship turns into religion and our hearts can turn to stone.

The true mark of a child is they must have their own way.  Submission is a virtue for the mature.  We love others more than ourselves.  Just like Jesus did.

Read the teachings of our Savior,

Mark 8:34-36  “And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his [b]life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”

May the Lord helps us submit, which is the deep virtue of love, and our world needs this so desperately, as does our families, spouses, children and community.

Pastor Nate Elarton

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.
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