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.
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

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