Approaching Trouble Differntly


The opening of John 9, has the disciples asking Jesus about a man born blind. They wondered who was at fault?  Who sinned and is responsible for his blindness, he or his parents?  Jesus said neither sinned “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life (John 9.3).”

Later, Jesus spit on the ground rubbed it in the man’s eye and told him to go and wash. When he did, he was healed of his blindness.  The work of God displayed in him was the healing of his blindness, thus showing that Jesus is the Messiah and God, the Father works through him.  The former blind man, testified the work of God, told the story to friends and the inquiring Pharisees. God was glorified and His goodness proclaimed.

Many times the “work of God” to be displayed in our lives is not just healing. He shows himself in how he changes and transforms us from the inside out. He shows himself by unconditional love, forgiving others, caring, compassion, and a life committed to glorifying God and not self, during the wonderful times of life, and through the lowest points also.

We go through tough times in life. Our reactions are different. We suffer, complain, post, mope, get depressed, and try to “play through”.  What if every good and bad thing in life we experience, we decide to display the glory and goodness of God?  We look to learn, remain grateful, and to deepen our character and commitment to God.

I believe our approach to challenges, tragedy, and struggle could be change our life and our person. We would become better people in Christ and not bitter people.  We would be encouragers and inspirations to others.  We would display the works of God, and how He is helping us through the ups and downs of this life.

When tragedy strikes, when disappointments mount, when hearts are broken, maybe no one is at fault.  It is an opportunity for you to “display the works of God.”  Take a moment and read John 9 and see if this is not a truth for then, but also for out lives now.

The opening of John 9, has the disciples asking Jesus about a man born blind. They wondered who was at fault?  Who sinned and is responsible for his blindness, he or his parents?  Jesus said neither sinned “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life (John 9.3).”

Later, Jesus spit on the ground rubbed it in the man’s eye and told him to go and wash. When he did, he was healed of his blindness.  The work of God displayed in him was the healing of his blindness, thus showing that Jesus is the Messiah and God, the Father works through him.  The former blind man, testified the work of God, told the story to friends and the inquiring Pharisees. God was glorified and His goodness proclaimed.

Many times the “work of God” to be displayed in our lives is not just healing. He shows himself in how he changes and transforms us from the inside out. He shows himself by unconditional love, forgiving others, caring, compassion, and a life committed to glorifying God and not self, during the wonderful times of life, and through the lowest points also.

We go through tough times in life. Our reactions are different. We suffer, complain, post, mope, get depressed, and try to “play through”.  What if every good and bad thing in life we experience, we decide to display the glory and goodness of God?  We look to learn, remain grateful, and to deepen our character and commitment to God.

I believe our approach to challenges, tragedy, and struggle could be change our life and our person. We would become better people in Christ and not bitter people.  We would be encouragers and inspirations to others.  We would display the works of God, and how He is helping us through the ups and downs of this life.

When tragedy strikes, when disappointments mount, when hearts are broken, maybe no one is at fault.  It is an opportunity for you to “display the works of God.”  Take a moment and read John 9 and see if this is not a truth for then, but also for out lives now.contemplationnn

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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

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

My thoughts and experiences with death and grieving


Death  is very hard on this earth. Knowing someone we love, someone who has been part of our life, our history, even our day, will never be with us again on this earth, can be overwhelming, paralyzing, and discouraging, even depressing. I have watched people grieve, walk through other’s terrible tragedies, and experienced my own.

I lost a close friend in high school, tragically and suddenly. We were best friends since kindergarten and man that was hard. My first funeral to oversee and preach, was my brother Pat. We grew up together, went to school together, found Jesus together and grew in Christ together.  I had no idea at 20 years old, how much his death would affect me at that time.  Since then, and being a pastor I have had to bury many wonderful people, including a lot of my family, and very, very close friends.

Since the tragic death of my brother Pat, and then my very close brother Steve in 2010 from cancer, then my mom from COPD, as well as grandparents, and one of my closest friends and pastors here at Compelled in February , I have had to do some grieving, and still do.

Can I share some points from my experience?

  1. Allow yourself to grieve in the way you want to.  Yes, I cry, I remember, I get quiet. I look at old pictures, I go be by myself, and yes I cry (did I say that?). It’s OK, your way is the right way for you.  Everyone grieves differently. Every way is the right way.
  2. Grieving does not have an end date.  How can I  “move on” and just quit missing people that loved me so much and I them?  Don’t feel guilty or like you are doing something wrong if you have not gotten “over it”. You most likely won’t.  The emotions get more manageable and less intense, but the longing in my heart will never stop here on earth.  I’ll never forget or stop talking about these people and “move on” as some may want. (Maybe it’s because they are uncomfortable with feelings and emotions they want us to move on??)
  3. Talk about them.  Tell the stories. Remember the laughs. Journal the fun times, and quotes. Don’t act like they never existed and be honored when others bring them up (not offended).  They still have a place in our hearts and lives, and so talking about them has brought and is bringing me healing and peace.
  4. I don’t blame God.  I never became bitter that God did not heal them. I have stressed my disappointment to the Lord, but I trust Him. If you are mad at God. He’s big boy, he gets it. Don’t worry about what you said or thought about God.  When Steve was fighting cancer I prayed for his healing and it came, not on this earth but eternal life.  That’s the most incredible healing.  The Isaiah 53 verse “by his stripes we are healed.” is not just applied to the present, but it is a verse for our future.  We will be “whole” one day. I miss him daily.
  5. Their things don’t help my grief.  Yes, a few things for memories, but no one can hold onto everything forever. Parting with their things, that  I have, does not mean I do not love them and I am disloyal.  You can’t hold on to everything.
  6. I don’t pay any attention to the day of their death. I hoping to forget that day on my calendar as the day _______died.  I personally have not felt that celebrating that, remembering it, or sinking into a depression on that day helps me. I remember their birthday and the day of life, as their life blessed mine. If you want to, though and grieve that way that is OK too.
  7. I express my feelings verbally. I dont’ hold them in.  “I miss Marty” I yelled in my woodcarving shop to the Lord, and I have said it to others.  When my boys wrestled I thought and said, “man would Steve love this!”   I eat real butter and blurted out ” this is for you mom” and held my toast to the heavens in honor of my mom’s love for real butter and not margarine.  These acts, and connection bring me peace, and I express them to others.  Dad and I just talked yesterday about what Patrick, Uncle Allen would be like today if they were still here, or what mom would think of this or that.
  8. When my mourning for Steve was so intense and I once broke down in a message and started sobbing  and could not pull myself together. Three hundred people sat there and watched me weep. I abrubtly closed the service.  I went and talked to a counselor, and I took some time to grieve.  You may need to go and talk with someone. That does not mean you are crazy, or losing your mind, it means you need to care for yourself and that is something you should never feel guitly about!
  9. I pray thanksgiving prayers to the Lord for their lives in my grief.  When my brother’s Steve’s passing was so raw to me all I could do was weep and thank God for Steve’s impact on my life.  The presence of Jesus comforted me, and I realized what Jesus meant when he said, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5.4).” I was comforted by the Lord Himself. I admit there were times I felt desperately alone too. But I knew in my heart my God was with me.
  10. Be aware when you grieve, you are vulnerable. The enemy knows this. He wants Christians to go get wasted, pull away from the faith, shut people out,  relapse to drugs, surf porn, have an affair, go in debt through shopping, lash out at others. Don’t make stupid decisions when you are grieving, try to make no decisions that have too much weight at all, and be aware of the evil one, who tries to make one think dumb decisions will bring us peace.  They won’t. Stay connected to your church, family, and good people that love you.
  11. I allowed myself to express my grief in creative ways other than tears.  I wrote a journal about Steve, carved a face for Marty, eat butter for mom, etc.  These things have allowed me expression. I did some other things, but I will be shy about sharing those, they are deeply personal, and a little goofy (but not to me).
  12. Don’t stop loving people.  Some say, “don’t get close to people, don’t love them, they will leave you.”  That is true, but also a lie.  Keep people in your life. Don’t build up walls to protect you from pain of loss. You can’t do it and you will be robbed of wonderful relationships.
  13. I dismissed, without offense, the silly things people say (said), that I do not believe, and did not appreciate, but I knew they wanted to help me and they honestly had no idea what to say.  I did not let these things make me angry and I did not respond poorly.  “They are in a better place.”   “God has a plan.”  “When our number is up, there’s nothing we can do, it was his time.”   “This was God’s will.”  I could go on and on, but you understand. Guard your heart, it’s ok. They love you.
  14. I learned from my counselor not to live in guilt for what I did not do before their death.  We all struggle with this when we encounter death.  We beat ourselves up for not calling more, not visiting, a quarrel in the past,  etc.  This makes the grieving process impossible as it becomes about us and not them.  Let go of the “I wish I would have….s” and just be sad they are gone.
  15. Grief hits when  it wants. I go with it.  Out of the blue, like a punch in the gut, a wave of grief, without warning, consumes me.  I go with it.  I hope this never stops. It reminds me of the blessing they were to me, and God’s Spirit comforts.
  16. I don’t hold it against others if they don’t understand my grief, or seem to be not grieving like I think they should have.  Everyone grieves differently and all ways are ok. Some hide their’s, I do mostly, but I don’t keep it in. The Lord and I have a moment.
  17. I believe in Heaven and eternal life and the Gospel more than ever.  I used to be thankful for my salvation, and what God can do for me.  But I have a different view of the Gospel now. Jesus forgave my sins so I could be with him FOREVER.  There are more of my family with Him than with me.  Eternal life, and never dying, and Jesus’ death and resurrection to make that happen me so much more to me now than it did when I was younger.  I will see mom, Patrick, Steve, Greg, Grandma and Granpa Ford and Elarton, Grandma Knight,  Marty, Alta, Nancy, Brother Skoog  and on and on.  My faith in Christ’s work on the cross, forgave my sins, so I can be with Father in the eternal after life forever with those I love. I believe this!  This does bring me comfort.

I hope these help you or someone you love that is journeying through grief.   Nate

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.

Pick your Dirt


The story Jesus tells about the soils is interesting to me. I read it this morning in Luke 8.  Jesus says a farmer went out to plant seed and here are the results.

  1. Some seed hit the road, was trampled and the birds ate it up.  He says (v.12) that the this is like the devil coming and stealing the word from their heart so they would not believe and be saved.
  2. The rocky soil grew plants when planted, but they soon withered away.  f Jesus says that this soil is like those that received the word with joy, bu have no firm root, they believe for a time and then in a “time of Temptation” they fall away (Luke 8.14).
  3. Some seed fell in thorns and the thorns choked it out.   He says this is the worries and riches of this life and the pursuit of pleasures, bring no fruit and choke out the Word (Luke 8.15).
  4. Some seed fell on good soil and produce  a crop a hundred times greater.  “But the seed in the good soil,these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance (Luke 8.15).”

What soil is your life?  Does the enemy steal the Word from you?  Steal time for the Word?  Steal faith so strong belief in God does not happen?

Have you allowed your first joy and response to serve God to leave you because the investment in growing in Christ, left you with no depth?  Your dirt (heart) is rocky?

Has Christ been choked out of your life as the pursuit of riches, fun, and everything else but Christ, has consumed your time, mind,and resources?

Are you producing fruit in your life? Being transformed daily to be more like Christ, giving all glory and honor to the Lord!  Is your heart good and Honest dirt, resulting in a life pleasing to the Lord.

What’s your dirt. I believe our will does have something to do with our heart, which is the soil.  Let the Word grow in you and let Christ shine from your life.