Divergent Living is Missional Living


The Definition for Divergent.  Divergent means  “tending to be different or develop in different directions.”  I believe God’s people, the followers of Jesus are called to be divergent with this world’s culture in many ways.  I don’t mean just dress, hair style, jeans, or cars we drive. I don’t believe we are called to all look and dress the same or appear to be some sort of cult-like thing.  I am referring to being different in our lives and hearts.

2 Corinthians 6:17–18 (NASB95)  “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you.   “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.

Again, this does not mean the church becomes a commune, or we all move to a camp or compound to avoid being in this world. But we are taught here by the Apostle Paul to be seperate.  This means that we do not participate in evil or in things that are not pleasing to the Lord.  Obviously, as Jesus followers we do not want to participate in sin. There are many things in our culture that are perfectly acceptable and legal,  to this world, but it is not good for us, and does not reflect that we are followers of Christ.  He has called us and wants us to be different.  In what ways do we clash with this culture that we need to “separate ourselves?”. Let me give you some examples.

  • Greed and materialism -vs- giving, selflessness, and treasures in Heaven.
  • Selfishness and pursuit of pleasure  -vs- putting God and others first.
  • Sexual freedom and immoral sexual attitudes -vs- sexual purity, and a biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality.
  • Bitterness and unforgiveness  -vs- Loving, forgiveness, and grace.
  • Eternity mocked  -vs- Eternal world view

I think you understand what I am saying. As followers of Jesus, we must be different. Our lives, our world views, our values, our habits, our money, our relationships, and our destination.

Questions to ponder

  • are  you participating in compromising and siful things that culture has accepted?
  • Are you being everything Christ has called you to, forsaking the pleasures and pursuits of this world and “storing up for yourselves treasures in heaven (Matt. 6.20)?
  • Is your life a testimony of Jesus or is your life not distinguished from anyone else who has no knowledge of Christ?

Be Divergent. Go to the next level in living. Pure living has amazing benefits, and we do not reap the pain of sin, selfishness, and compromise.  Our kids will benefit from our commitment to Christ. Our marriage will be blessed, and we will reflect to all that we know God.

Divergent Living is Missional Living

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Let’s Face it, We Have Limits


I have observed so many people living their lives and  how decisions are made based on their mind, will, desires, and understandings. I wrestle with this constantly also.  Making decisions based on our own knowledge and wisdom sounds noble, but can be catastrophic. Why?  We all have boundaries on our what we understand.  We only have learned so much.  We have only experienced so much. We have limits.  Our will can also manipulate our mind into making decisions we think we are good, but our desires, deceive our mind, and the decisions are really about us, and can impact others with pain, grief, and sorrow.

When we trust the Lord’s ways, we enter in to a life of faith and dependence on the One who has no boundaries.  God knows the past, present, and the future.  The Lord also loves us and has a will for our life, if we will but trust Him daily.  He knows what our heart and character need, to shore up our integrity, goodness, and holiness.  He isn’t tricked by our fancy prayers, deals, or justifications.

This verse in Proverbs 3 says it all:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5,6

We are encouraged to Trust in the Lord. His ways, his word, his will.  We are cautioned  about leaning on our own understanding.  Our intellect, our will, and our experiences, can threaten God ways in our lives we sweep Him aside, and trust in our own limited self.

Life is about so many decisions. Maybe today you have some heavy ones weighing on your mind and heart.  Can I encourage you to take the wisdom of Proverbs and apply them to your situation?  I mean, who wants a crooked life, and a rough path?  Surrender your will, and desires, and trust the one who know all, and loves you completely.

I have never heard anyone confess they regret trusting God.  I have heard regrets of the opposite countless times.  Live without regrets, and trust the Lord. He will direct your paths.

Mic drop statement 1800 years ago by Tertullian still applies


tertullianTertullian of Carthage was born around A.D. 155. He had a fine education. His parents were pagan but he converted toward the end of the 2nd century to the Christian faith.  He indicated that he was impressed by he attitudes and beliefs of Christianity. The courage and the determination of martyrs, their morality, and uncompromising belief in one God.  He  died an old man around A.D. 220.

Here we have one of his very profound sayings.  This grabbed my spirit when I saw it.  I am involved in a lot of funerals, death, hospice, etc. as a pastor.  I see the struggles of family when a loved one they adore and love passes. I also see the struggle when a loved one who has led a pretty selfish life passes. They want to grief, and feel bad they don’t.

This begs some questions for us  to contemplate.

  • As you think of your decisions, your life, your habits, are they self-centered?
  • How much do you sacrifice for family, your spouse, your kids?
  • Do you spend your time wisely?
  • Do you add value to others lives by encouraging?
  • How do you speak to your family?  Love, encouragement, fun, or are you letting anger, criticism, snottiness, be your normal communication?
  • Are you doing anything missional for Jesus?
  • Do you “die to self” and put others and the Lord first? Or is that uncommon?

God has so much for us, if we put Him first. Love others more.  Be selfish less.

Mark 8:34-38 34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? 37Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

 

 

Are you “Self-Aware” of the Need for Change?


There is a leadership principle called “Self-awareness.”  This means you a have conscious knowledge of one’s own character, communication, presentation,  feelings, motives, and desires.  Seems simple? It is not.  Many do not possess this quality.   They don’t realize how they are perceived, they way they communicate, or character flaws. If you are a supervisor, or business owner of employees, that have no self-awareness.  They just don’t seem to know when they offend others, speak caustic, act inappropriately, or continue to present themselves in an unprofessional and bizzarre manner.

As we grow in faith, the desire and goal of the believer in Christ it to change and be more like Christ.  For that to happen, one must need “self-awareness” to know where their lives, character, communication, or relationships are not Christ-like.  This is where we need God’s help.  Sure, we all know some obvious things where we need change, more sleep, less weight, and the like.  But the Lord wants to change us deeper in our hearts that don’t just affect our behavior, but our character and who we are.

This is where we cooperate with the Holy Spirit. He is God, lives in us, and shows us in many creative ways that changes in our hearts are needed.  Deep change happens when “self-awareness” meets the person of the Holy Spirit, and his nudgings and leadings show us where we need to be more like Christ, more loving, patient, kind, joyful..etc.

These verses at the beginning of Romans, show that deep change comes and the Lord renews how we think, therefore how we act, how we talk, what we value, and what we worship.  “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12.1-2

Where could you use some change and transforming?  Are you self-aware of areas in your life you need God’s help to change.  This starts in the heart, in faith, in giving our lives over to the Lord, and cooperating with him for changes that will reflect Christ.change1

Expanding Faith May Meet Resistance


For the month of Feb. I am reading Ezra and Nehemiah.  In the book of Ezra we see that Cyrus is going to allow the Israelite people, who have been in exile for 70 years, to return from Persia, back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.  They returned and began to rebuild.

A moving scene is found in chapter 3 of Ezra when the foundation of the temple is laid. The Levites praised God with thanksgiving, the people shouted, but the older priests, Levites, and fathers, that had known the former temple wept.  The joy of being “home” and having the building of the Temple begin, moved them deeply, as they had prayed for decades for that day to come (v.12).

Soon after, enemies came to distract them.  As they were building for God these enemies tried to discourage them, frustrate them, and to fill them with fear (Ezra 4.4,5).

When we begin to expand our faith, to grow it, opposition seem to come.  This comes from those that do not understand our godly priorities, the ungodly system and culture in which we live, and the enemy of our souls.

As your faith expands, know that many things, and forces will try to discourage you to steer you away from the things of Christ.  Do not relent in your quest to seek and know the Lord.  Do not let any setback persuade you on your journey to serve and know God.  Keep growing and expanding every day.  For the days acts of devotion will expand your faith, even in the face of opposition. Faith in Christ is greater than any asset this world has to offer.

Blessings Nate Elarton

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

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.