Back to the Altar – Fasting Information and tips


A  week ofSeeking the Lord with fasting

  • For personal renewal and revival
  • For Compelled Church ministries to reap spiritual and Kingdom fruit.
  • For our communities.
  • For people to be saved
  • For your life and family.
  • For our pastors and their families.
  • For the church to grow in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
  • Missions and our Missionaries
  • The Holland Campus
  • All the prayer cards that were filled

Commit to prayer, and seeking, and participating with your church.

Fasting is also encouraged.  Read Below for helps

 

Come early in the morning to seek God, read the Word, and soak in his presence. Come at noon to pray a psalm.  Come and pray with our church family because “Without Him we can do nothing.” John 15.

I am praying we will have more people involved than ever. I encourage you to be part.  Break out of the mold and thought that you are not a person of prayer. God is calling us all to prayer and we will reap the benefits if we take the challenge.  If you can’t make it to the church, fast, and pray at home more than ever.

Pastor Nate

 

 Physical and Spiritual  Benefits Of Fasting

The benefits of fasting are innumerable. Here is just a partial list of the many benefits of this most powerful of spiritual disciplines.

* The Word of God comes alive

* Addictions and strongholds are broken

* We become more sensitive to God’s presence

* The physical body is purged of toxins

* It becomes easier to trust and obey God

* The sanctifying process is accelerated

* Faith increases

* Doubts and fear vanish

* God reveals to us our sinful attitudes

* Decrease of self-indulgence

* Decrease of self-righteousness

* Emotional scars are healed

Practical Tips for Fasting

 

* The early church gave themselves to fasting and prayer for a time. If they needed it then, we need it now! Every time you pray and fast for a certain amount of time, you are investing in a powerful kingdom – the kingdom of God.

* Set a definite time for your fast so you know in advance how long you will be fasting. Keep in mind fasting changes your heart. A one-day or one-meal fast can be very powerful when submitted to God as a sacrifice of yourself.

* Since you are denying your flesh and seeking the Lord, you may find yourself in the midst of spiritual warfare and thus becoming irritable or unwilling to pray. Some of these feelings may be physically induced just because of a physical reaction. Plan beforehand to “pray through” the spiritual battle.

* On longer fasts (2 or more days) the body is cleansing itself from physical impurities. Possible side effects from toxins include bad breath, headache, nausea, hunger, weakness, and leg cramps. To help prevent these problems, abstain from caffeine, sugar, and junk food five days prior to your fast. Drink pure water (distilled if possible) throughout your fast, it helps with elimination of toxins. The cleaner your system, the less discomfort. The less waste that is stored in the body when you begin your fast, the fewer toxins will be released.

* Try to rest if you feel weak and get some fresh air every day.

* Spend time in prayer, worship, repentance, and read your Bible. Use the time you would normally spend eating or preparing food for “spiritual exercise”. Many people have noticed that the Bible simply comes alive while they are fasting.

* Have specific spiritual goals that you desire to obtain while praying and fasting. Without prayer and a set purpose, fasting is only a glorified diet.

* Break your fast with grape juice, fresh fruits, and steamed vegetables, adding other foods in a day or two. Avoid meat, bread, and fats for several meals or days depending on the length of the fast. Keep in mind your stomach has been inactive and it takes a while to restore essential digestive enzymes and acids. Fasting is a very healing process for your body so do not undo your efforts with unhealthy foods.

* Some medical conditions are prohibitive to fasting. Get the advice of your physician if you have a medical condition. These conditions include diabetes, hypoglycemia, and heart disease. Pregnant and nursing mothers also should not fast because toxins will be passed on to the baby. Also, some medications need to be taken with food so use discretion. In these cases where you are unable to do a complete fast (water only) consider abstaining from television and dedicating yourself to prayer during this time.

    * Other types of fasts include:

o Water, Honey and Lemon – This is considered a cleansing fast. Squeeze 1/2 lemon in a cup of hot water and add honey to taste. Drink water throughout the day. This can be used for an extended fast.

o Juice Fast – This is self-explanatory. No food, coffee, soft drinks, etc. Juice only–fresh carrot juice is excellent.

o Daniel Fast – Fruits, vegetables and water. This is a good fast for those who have physically demanding jobs.

Questions and Answers Regarding Fasting

* Is fasting for everyone?

Fasting is beneficial for anyone who desires to draw closer to Christ. Every Christian should do some sort of fast at least once a month. The Apostle Paul fasted often.

* What if I don’t feel called to fasting?

Fasting is a spiritual discipline, just like prayer and reading the Bible. It is not something we are called to do, rather we choose to obey Christ and sacrifice some of the pleasures of this life in order to please God. Fasting trains us in self-control and produces fruits of peace and righteousness.

* Why is fasting so important?

It reduces our appetite for carnal pleasures and creates a hunger for God’s treasures. We are commanded to walk in the Spirit so we won’t fulfill the desires of the flesh. Fasting helps us to resist the flesh and walk uprightly before the Lord – to live a life which is pleasing to Him.

* How do I get started?

Begin with a one meal fast and go from there. Some of the most powerful fasts can be one or two meals if you enter into it with pure motives and a desire to spend time with the Lord Jesus.

* What should I do while fasting?

Spend as much time with Jesus as possible. This is how we become more and more like Him. Read your Bible, worship with song and thanksgiving, be silent and listen. Silent reverence with repentance is powerful!

* Should I fast if I have dietary restrictions or am on medication?

You should seek the Lord and consult your physician if you have any concerns. Medical science has known for some time that our bodies purge toxins while we fast. Chapter 58 of Isaiah mentions healing as one of the many benefits of fasting. However, use discretion when doing a food fast and consider an alternate fast if you are medically restricted in any way.

* I really enjoy eating; do I have to do a food fast or are there other types of fasts?

The most beneficial fast for your body and spirit is water only. However, God will honor any type of fast if you have a sincere desire for personal revival and holiness. Here are some alternatives to a food fast.

o Daniel Fast-  fruit, vegetables and water

o Juice Fast-  fruit and vegetable juices only. If you are hypoglycemic, you might want to use a 50% water mix with the juice, especially if using bottled or canned juices. Fresh juices, however, are best. They may be purchased from a health food store or use a juicer.

o TV/Entertainment Fast/Facebook/computer games/

God will bless you mightily if you’ll shut your TV and computer off for a time to seek Him. You should also set aside newspapers, talk radio, video games and movie theaters. Instead, spend time with your family and the Lord. The purpose is to focus on God and avoid distractions.

* Why do I get headaches when I try to fast?

Your body is purging toxins which have accumulated from years of a poor diet, prescription drugs and bad habits. Headaches are one of the results of this cleansing process (usually the second day). Prepare your system prior to a fast by eating healthier. Avoid red meat, sugar, caffeine and bread. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables three or four days before going on a fast of more than one day.

* How will I benefit from fasting?

The benefits of fasting are many for those who continue faithfully in this discipline. Here are just a few (Is. 58).

o A significant increase of understanding and revelation from the Word of God

o Addictions and strongholds are broken–permanent changes take place

o Recognition of sinful attitudes or conditions of your heart that you haven’t noticed before

o Decrease of self-indulgence and self-righteousness

o An increase of faith; Fear and doubt diminish because of confidence in God rather than your flesh

o Supernatural release from bitterness and an ability to forgive others

o A much greater sensitivity to God’s presence

o The ability to hear God is greatly enhanced

o You increasingly become more like Jesus with a notable increase of love, humility and wisdom.

* Will all of my prayers be answered if I fast and pray the right way?

No, probably not. Fasting does not force God to do something He otherwise wouldn’t do. Your circumstances may actually worsen at first. If you’re fasting for God to change a particular person, it may not happen. However, there is no wasted time or energy when seeking God through fasting, prayer and worship. He will change YOU! He will soften your heart and give you a healthy perspective of your circumstances and relationships

 

 

What The Bible Says about Prayer and Fasting

Fasting Scriptures

* Moses (Exodus 34:27,28)

* Samuel (1 Samuel 8:5,6)

* Christians (Acts 13:1-3; 14:23)

* Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:1-3)

* John’s disciples (Mark 2:18)

* Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4; 9:1-3)

* Paul (2 Corinthians 11:27)

* Ninevites (Jonah 3:5-10)

* Apostles (2 Corinthians 6:4,5)

* Israelites (Judges 20:26)

* David (2 Samuel 12:16)

* Darius (Daniel 6:9,18)

* Anna (Luke 2:36, 37)

* Ezra (Ezra 8:21-23)

* Esther (Esther 4)

* Jesus (Matthew 4:1,2)

* Elijah (1 Kings 19:8)

* Daniel (Daniel 9:3)

Bible Characters Who Fasted

* Moses fasted twice for 40 days-Following his first fast, Moses received the Law. The second was to turn God’s wrath away from God’s sinful people. Deuteronomy 9:9,18,19

* Hannah, for a child. She was barren and deeply distraught. God gave her release from inner turmoil. Then He gave her a baby boy, Samuel, who grew into a mighty man of God. I Samuel 1:7,8

* Elijah fasted for 40 days while fleeing in fear from wicked Jezebel, who threatened to have him killed. God gave him comfort, boldness and instructions to go back the way he came and anoint new prophets. 1 Kings 19

* King David for seven days that God might heal his dying, infant child, conceived illegitimately with Bathsheba. The baby died, yet David experienced God’s wonderful peace through this incredible trauma. 2 Samuel 12:16-23

* Proclaimed by King Jehoshaphat – When he and his army were surrounded by enemies and destruction seemed imminent. After proclaiming the fast, they rejoiced with praises and God destroyed their enemies. 2 Chronicles 20

* Proclaimed by Ezra – Prior to a very perilous journey to Jerusalem. Ezra 8

* Nehemiah – For restoration of the city he loved (Jerusalem). Nememiah 1:4

* Proclaimed by Queen Esther – For the entire nation to fast for three days without food or water. They were on the brink of annihilation. Esther 4

* Daniel’s partial fast of 21 days – He received a vision and revelation of end times. Daniel 9

* Proclaimed by the King of Ninevah- With national repentance to avert disaster through God’s wrath. Jonah 3

* Jesus for 40 days. If God in human flesh fasted, how much more ought we? Matthew 4:2

* John the Baptist – He and his disciples fasted often, as did the Pharisees. Matthew 9:14,15

* Anna – A widow who dedicated herself to prayer and fasting and is honored in the eternal Word of God. Luke 2:37

* Paul the Apostle- He fasted for three days after meeting Jesus on the road to Damascus (while still known as Saul of Tarsus). Acts 9:9 He later wrote in 2 Corinthians 11 that he fasted often.

 

* Isaiah 58 is the fasting chapter. Read and study it to discover the many benefits of fasting when done God’s way

Advertisements

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!

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

Knowing God


We know much about God, but few really know God and fewer understand Him.  We know and experience a lot of the “culture” of God, or the church.  The potlucks, the music, the jargon of God’s people,, the do’s and don’ts of faith. These things are familiar to us, yet really  knowing  God escapes most.  We understand the way to God or the Father is Jesus and His work on the cross, and resurrection, but to know the Lord, and to have friendship with God is elusive to most, never thought about to some, and pursued by the minority of those who admit to being His people.

To know someone takes time.  Sadly, I must confess, we try to know God, while investing as little time as possible.  Many families worship together now, only a couple times a month, some do some Bible reading at home, and say some prayers.  I must confess to my own lethargic attention at times to my efforts to know the God of the universe. It is no wonder when hard times hit us, we wonder where God is?  When the comforts of our modern culture are interrupted we question the very existence of God and our own faith.  Making large investments into our soul, must no longer seem impossible, out of reach, or unrealistic. It is time to take time to know Him.

I have learned and I am being being reminded (as of late), that there are no short cuts to knowing God.  There are no “hacks” or apps that make it faster and easier than daily investing some time, reserving some place in our thoughts, and making choices in our day, to carve out time to get to know our closest friend.  It is all about time.  We, I, am too much in a hurry.  We have too many things to do, and we are hurried even when there is respite and time off.  We must complete the yard work quickly, get the kids to bed, eat and do chores fast, and we never pace our lives  to enjoy the life God has given us,  for He is not separated from us, therefore, He is not separated from our daily activities of our  lives, however mundane and routine they are.   We must grasp the realization that we are living with Christ, all the time. So setting aside extra time in the day to know Him, is not that out of reach.

Being taught by the living Christ, through contemplative prayer, solitude, true study of Scripture, and prayer will lead us to knowing God  on a level we never thought was possible.  We must reserve room in our mind to think of him, and to become one in thought, heart, and soul.   We must immerse ourselves in solitude and silence, with undisturbed times from the electronics, of phones, and IPads, that ding, alert us, and drag us back to the hurried world, and out of His presence. We must rush off, making money, making friends, making our mark on this earth, but without knowing  God it is all in vain, hollow, and pointless.

We must invest in our spirit, in the same way in invest in our physical bodies.  This investment has the greatest return. We will slowly, day by day, understand the Lord, feel His heart, grow in love, and many things in the world that we have been deceived as being such a high priority begin to grow, “strangely dim”.

We make time to do so many things, that I think the “I don’t have time” excuses have no more merit. The stakes are too high. Your transformation is imperative to your parenting, marriage, vocation, and enjoyment of life if we truly want  the abundant life Christ promised us (John 10.10).

May this Psalm be the cry of our heart, and the evidence of that cry
1 O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
5 You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.

6 I lie awake thinking of you,
meditating on you through the night.
7 Because you are my helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your strong right hand holds me securely.
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Ps 63:1–8). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

What is shaping you?


We are constantly being shaped and molded.  No one is static. We are changing, morphing into what we are becoming.  I am not the man I was in my twenties (thank you Lord!), and I am not the man now, that I will be in my 70’s. I am changing, being shaped, every so slowly, every day.

Habits and routines shape us. We wake up and immediately grab our phones, scrolling through the most recent Facebook posts, like something important would have happened to our “friends” since we last checked it at 11 pm.  Our day is shaped by the technological stream of information we cram into our minds the first 15 or 20 minutes of waking up. News, twitter, political rants, shape our mind and day and we are imprinted, not by what we have chosen to look at, but by the algorithms of twitter, Facebook, or snapshot.

I am surprised by how many people turn on the TV immediately, as if the silence of the new day cannot be tolerated.  News media, with their own bias and agenda, begin to imprint us and shape our lives. Slowly, morning after morning, one brain cell at a time, we become them, and “parrot” their news bites in our views as if we came up with it from scratch rather than admitting we are lemmings of some producer somewhere who is deciding how we should think and believe.

Our habits throughout the day shape us.  The jokes, hobbies, vices,  talk, radio, friends, and what we read, investments in our marriage, our family, our God, are slowly digested into our person, character, and personality. Our daily exposure to people, information, and relationships are changing us, for the better or the worse. We are being shaped, whether we think so or not.

So are your habits shaping you into who you want to be, or are you just letting a “routine” shape you into whatever you, by chance, you end up becoming?  Can we allow our God to shape us?  I am talking about habits outside of a church service a couple of times a month. Habits of a pursuit of a God, through Christ, that wants to shape us into the person that lives without addictions, regrets, fear, and pain of the past?  Could a new habit of silence, prayer, family time, worship, daily shape you into a person better than the current routine?  We each choose what we allow to be part of our life, our mind, and our spirit. It may be time for some honest evaluation. Time to stop being a slave to our phones and tablets?  It might be time to be shaped by living outside ourselves and for others?  To read and look at things that add value and don’t diminish us. New routines, and new habits, can bring a new you.  The Lord of our souls wills that. Choose wisely, every day we are all being shaped.

Why Did Jesus Come to Earth?


“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17.3

I am on a journey. To know the Father. A moment of revelation was afforded me recently on why Jesus came to earth.  This revelation has reminded me of Truth and refreshed my soul.

  • He did come to destroy the works of the enemy.
  • He did come to cleanse sin, once and for all.
  • He came to “save” us as we say. (though many are unsure of what).
  • He came to give us eternal life.
  • Keep us from Satan (John 17.15).

It is true, all of these he came, but the one reason that bundles all of these together, that he came is that we would know the Father.  We can never know the Lord fully without being cleanses of sin, repenting and turning our lives around. We won’t ever know the Lord unless we live as an offering, and enact our faith, not just for the things in prayer we pray for, but to know our Father in Heaven.  Jesus wants you to know the Father.

  • Do you know about God? Or do you know God the Father?
  • Are you saved, but never pursued knowing Him more?
  • Choosing to sin in our lives, will make the waters of knowing Father murky?  Do you willingly and knowingly choose sin?  Do you grieve that you are forfeiting knowing the Father well?
  • Do you want to know the Father and be closer than ever before?

Begin to ask HIm to reveal Himself in every area of your life.  Search your heart and repent of sin, spiritual laziness, and any unforgiveness you have toward anyone.  Ask the Holy Spirit, who leads and guides us into all Truth, to lead and guide you. Read the Word with the goal to know the Father, not gain doctrinal or biblical knowledge.

Remember: “You are as close to the Father as you want to be.”

There is nothing on this earth greater than knowing the Father.

Do you agree? What steals our desire to know Father more?  Please respond below.

 

Stop being so unhappy and discontented


Why are so many people not content?  Unhappiness, anger, depression, and hopelessness seems to be much more prevalent than contentment.  Contentment is a state of peaceful happiness.  Few have it.  There are so many things that take peace and happiness away from us.  Most of these things are external or circumstantial, but some are rooted in attitude and world view.

  • Materialism steals contentment.
  • Sin Steals contentment.
  • Conflict resulting in bitterness and unforgiveness steals contentment
  • Neglected our spirit, and inner health steals contentment
  • bad eating habits, sleep habits, steals contentment.
  • Negative, complaining, and overall views of pessimism will steal peace for sure.
  • too much netflix and TV can steal contentment.

We get unhappy at our circumstances. Maybe life has not turned out the way you had thought, or someone is making rotten decisions in their life that is affecting yours?  Contentment can be evasive in a world of conflict, a life of hectiness, and a heart divided.

Many are discontent as the media continues to bombard us with ads telling us and reminding us we do not have the coolest and newest things, and we fall prey to feeling that we are not significant because we don’t own the new whatever and discontentment grips our heart.

True contentment, inner peace and happiness, comes when we our faith and hope is not in the external things, and circumstances we cannot control, but in an all-loving and unchanging God. He purchased a chance for us to experience His life and peace, through the life, death, and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ.  A life with Christ, is a life of contentment.

In a life full of people and circumstances we cannot control, we need contentment. In a life of stress, busyness, raising kids, paying bills, driving here and there, we need contentment. With hearts that  have been wounded, pasts that haunt us, consequences from past mistakes, remind us, we do need inner peace, happiness, and a sense that there is more to life than all of this.  We need contentment. We need faith to know, that no matter what, we are part of the plan God has for our lives. We need the peace and contentment from resting the hands and love of our Father in Heaven. Choose Christ’s presence, power, and peace in your life, and stop allow unhappiness to rule your heart and mind. With God’s help that is truly possible.

May I leave you with some ancient words from the 1 century found in the Scriptures.

“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.” (1 Timothy 6.6)

New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (1 Ti 6:6). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

Decline of Compassion Must be Resisted


Anyone sense that the emotion and character attribute of compassion in our country is declining?  Racism continues to hurt so many, aggressive and angry political statements, violence and anger, the plot with so much horrible violence on too many shows and movies, and the consistent personal battle we all face with selfishness and self-attention as we strive for better hair, nails, bodies, money, cars and better houses, and the inward desire to have everyone think we are awesome. Many churches have bitter infighting, families continue to implode as spouses refuse to die to self and sin, abandon their vows, and random acts of violence fill the headlines of our newsfeeds.  We must resist the darknesses attempt to eradicate compassion from our lives.

Believers, we cannot lose our compassion. It is critical to the mission of Christ that we stay connected to the heart of God, and compassion is the manifestation of His love.  Compassion is the fuel for action. Compassion keeps us thankful, keeps us caring for others, keeps us sharing faith, keeps us loving our families and spouses.  Compassion keeps the church on the tracks of mission, so we don’t end up arriving somewhere we never intended to go.

A community without compassion is more concerned about home values than the people.  A church without compassion becomes a social club of individuals agendas and power, forgetting the mandate of mission of Jesus. We become without love and without biblical direction. Judgement and critical attitudes push out compassion, and our worship disappears in multiplying areas of our lives. We lose our first love, and then the world loses, as another church becomes a religious, lifeless, closed, clique of the community void of the love or power of Christ.  If we lose compassion we will not be Compelled to do anything with eternal implications, and to manifest the love of Jesus to those who need Him.

A school without compassion becomes a place where students are required to learn for testing, not cared about, for life-long impact, teaching, and discovery.   A government without compassion becomes a burden to it’s citizens and a only financial entity, void of  care for the people. Leaders without compassion, become dictators, and power goes to their head with disastrous results.

We need more compassion as a people. I think it’s safe to say that.  I rejoice when I see people, groups, and communities pull together to show love and compassion to a family, group, or cause. We need more of those tangible expressions of love and compassion.

Compassion requires your time, maybe your money, maybe even your reputation as others will questions self-sacrifice. Compassion often requires us to get out of what we are comfortable with. Most importantly, compassion will require your heart.  We want to move with compassion because we are “compelled by His love” not our desire to earn brownie points with God, or to be seen by men.

Compassion as a people, starts with an honest look at our own compassion.  Jesus had great compassion for other’s. He gained nothing in return. His compassion moved him to heal, to feed the five thousand, and to suffer on the cross for the sin of humanity. His compassion continues to help us through our life, as we trust him through all of our challenges.  How compassionate are you? I believe true compassion comes from the heart of God.  We must look to Him, connect to Him, and ask Him to impart His great love and compassion to our hearts and lives.

I struggle with being compassionate like anyone, but the struggle diminishes, and my compassion grows,  as I connect with the Lord, and allow His love and compassion to be revealed fresh in me.  Let’s commit as a people,to be more like Christ, to be more Compassionate, to be more loving, and people will be changed forever, and we will be part of their story. Let’s search our hearts and lives with Holy Spirit help and honesty.  Rid the attitudes, things, desires, greed, self-attention, or whatever is stealing our compassion and resist the decline of the greatest motivator for the love of Jesus that we have….the compassion of Christ.