Need Some Help?


Psalm 121 (NLT)   “I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there?My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.”

When life gets rough for a number of reasons, we often look for some help. A quick fix to ease our broken heart, upset emotions, or dilemma.  unfortunately we turn toward something that we know we like and may make us temporarily feel better.  Shopping, a Netflix binge, an addiction, or the such.

But true help, deep help comes from the Lord.  Through the tough times He is speaking, teaching, guiding.  We want relief, peace, and no suffering.  He wants us to listen, embrace the moment, and deepen our spirits.

Psalm 121 is on my mind this morning.  I read it over a few times. The words feed my soul.  As I read it slower, pray about it, reflect and listen to the Holy Spirit in silence and solitude, faintly, I begin to hear the voice of my Father as “deep calls to deep.”  I want to move on, get about the day, but I must, force myself to wait, to patient my spirit, and listen, for my help is coming. I can’t miss this.

Many times I have not benefited from hard times, because I can’t stop, listen, and patient my spirit to wait for the help that my Father’s voice brings me.

-Natefog

An Open letter to Christians, who have stopped being part of their local church.


I am not a legalistic teacher or do I have religious tendencies.  I believe we are saved by faith, and growing in Christ is a joy and a privilege.  As I share my heart as a spiritual leader, understand that.

I am the leader of a Christian Church.  My calling, job, spiritual responsibility given to me by the Lord, is to help people find Christ as their Savior and  to help them grow and be more like Him and who God made them to be.

I know when people are not active in their local church, they don’t lose their salvation. I also believe one does not need to a church to be saved, but we need the church to grow, and to serve. Without the being part of the local body of Christ, we will not grow, and can become, ever so slowly, less committed to Christ, more cynical about the local church, and honesty, prey for the enemy who wants to blind our eyes (2 Corinthians 4.4).

After planting and leading Compelled Church for 22 years, I have seen hundreds of people come and go. Some come, and move, some come, and fall away from faith, some come, and just quit coming and participating because of a lot of reasons health, home life, gas money, and some just lazy and undisciplined.  We are creatures of habit, so bad habits are easier to incorporate into your life as good habits.

I am going to address directly believers who no longer worship God in their local church, or participate in the life of the body of Christ, yet still love God.

We know the church, is the body of Christ.  Ephesians tells us Jesus gave his life for the Church (4.25, 26).  Jesus said He is the head of the church, the church is built on Christ,  and the gates of Hell could not hold the church back (Matthew 16.17-20). Jesus gave gifts to the church so we could do our mission (Ephesians 4.11-13). The church is the hope of the world.

So why would many who love God, believe the Bible, surrender to Christ, not be part of the spiritual nucleus of God’s work on the earth?  Some have been hurt, some are bitter of unmet expectations of the church or the pastor (s).  Some know their life is in

 

sin, so they avoid the light of Jesus that would shine on their sin, and they would have to deal with it.  Some are out of habit. Some people truly believe the local, organized church is evil and they all want your money (obviously they don’t know Scripture well). Some neglect their spiritual life in many ways, and not be part of their church is just one of the neglects (they walk in knowledge but not obedience).  Some are truly homebound from health issues, and desperately want to be part but can’t. This open letter is not addressing people who are sick, in constant pain, and cannot get out of their house.  Please know that. I want to encourage those who can, and make a conscious choice to be absent from the life of the local church.

May I bullet point my thoughts and encouragement in a sound-bite fashion?

  • The local church is not perfect, as no human is perfect, and it is full of humans, and led by humans.  I am sure  you understand imperfection as you are also a human.
  • The church is not as strong as it can be, because you are not part.  Everyone adds something when they are part of the living body of Christ.  Your absence does not add, it subtracts. We are a weaker church because you are not part.  God has a role and part for you.  One will never know, if they are never part.
  • Many do not understand the role of the church or spiritual leadership so they quit coming as they feel they have been slighted and hurt, and their expectations of what the church should be were not met.
  • Parents who skip being part of a church raise children who may skip God altogether. Stats say this is most likely.  Our actions show our priorities. We can tell our kids how much we love God, but disobedience in this area makes our words fall to the ground like lead.  They will conclude we are not as serious about our faith as we talk.  Trust me. I was a youth pastor for 10 years, and pastored here for 22.  People tell me their stories, and tell me how their parents faith impacted them, or their lack of faith and action, also impacted them.
  • If you are not around, you can’t encourage anyone in the faith at your church or small group. You can’t serve. You can’t receive, you are not available. You can’t teach a child about Christ, pray for anyone, or give or receive love.
  • You don’t have to be part of a local church to be a Christian, but you do if you want to be a growing one.  Most believer’s who don’t make church part of their life, may also struggle in other areas that help them grow in Christ.
  • OK..going to be totally honest…….Watching online is not enough.  It cannot take the place of being part. Honestly, I’m pretty sick of hearing this, and it is highly discouraging to me. I feel like I have aided you to do exactly opposite of my life’s work and calling.   We don’t broadcast our live services so people can stay home in their pajama’s and skip being part.  I want to grow people in Christ, not make them lazy.  The online is for those away, sick, or caregivers with sick children or family, as well as outreach.  Our live services was never intended to help perfectly fine Christians stay home.  I have considered stopping it for this very reason, but I know truly needy people, and those stuck at home depend on this.  It hurts me to think that we are helping people pull away from the body and not grow close in it though.  I guess it is an unintended consequence of pure motives.  Please don’t use the live online services as a replacement for actually entering into relationship with God’s people at your local church.  Please.
  • You can’t grow, be challenged, and respond to God if you are not exposed to God, His Word, and His Spirit’s work.  Our time together, in the main gatherings, or small groups is a time of growing and encouraging each other forward. As well, as growing in the Word and words of God.  Without it, one never changes.
  • It seems that hose that pull away from church really begin to focus on themselves. many become absorbed with their own goals, and interests, not the will of Jesus all that much.
  • We can say God is the most important person in our life and our faith in Christ is priceless.  But we are known by our fruit (action). Choices show our true values.  To really value Christ is to value his body, the church. Talk is easier than actions.
  • Let me qualify that I am not just referencing attending the weekend gatherings, but being part of the life of Christ’s body.  Outreaches, serving, small groups, family involvement, prayer, relationship etc.
  • When we honor the Lord, the Lord honors us.  There is no greater joy than obeying the Lord, growing, serving, and seeing God change our life, marriage, and family, as we help others in Christ.  There is not job, hobby, amount of money, overtime, relationship, or sin that will give you the joy, peace, and contentment we experience when we honor the Lord.

If you know you have pulled away from the local church and are not part, can I encourage you to repent (change your heart and mind) and begin to be actively part?  If your faith has value to you, really make it a value that requires action.

Would you make your spiritual life and your family’s a top priority? Remember God never intended any of us to walk our faith journey alone.

Has the church or church leadership hurt you?  It is time to forgive, to trust again, and grow in depth and grace, even through deep suffering of hurt.

Would you help your local church be stronger by your active presence and participation?

If you are in sin, and avoid the Lord, you know what you  need to do. Stop sinning, repent and enjoy the grace, goodness, and forgiveness of Christ.

God has a great plan and will for your life.  He has gifts He has given you for His glory.  He wants to use the church, people of God, to help you be all  God intended you to be for his glory.

Some Scripture Encouragement

Hebrews 10:24–27 (NLT)Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Romans 14:6–7 (NLT)Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God.For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves.

1 Peter 5:1–2 (NLT) And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you:Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.

Hebrews 2:1 (NLT) So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.

Proverbs 29:17–18 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad. When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.

Pr verbs 27:17 (NLT)As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

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

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.

Five Judgments (Notes From Weekend at Compelled)


Below are the notes from this weekend at Compelled Church.

Message Available on our app and website  compelled.church

this-i-believe.png

NOTES:    This I Believe|Judgments

May 5,6 2018

Nate Elarton, Compelled Church

Judgement #1   Jesus was judged for the sin of the world

1 Peter 2:21–25 (NASB95)  ON Screen

Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”—

 

Romans 8:1–2 (NASB95)

1Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.   For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

 

Judgment #2   Judgment in the Great Tribulation   

The purpose is to see the Jewish People Come to faith in Jesus Christ as the Messiah

Jeremiah 30.4-7; Daniel 12.1; Matthew 24.21-23

 

Judgement #3 Judgment of the Gentile Nations  ??on screen)

Matthew 25.1-13 Parable of the Ten Virgins

Joel 3:1–2 (NASB95)

 

Judgement #4 The Great White Throne Judgment

The judgment of the wicked, those that have rejected the salvation of God, the testimony of Christ, and God himself.

Acts 17:30–31

Rev. 20.11-15

 

 Four things impacts of this final Judgment?

  1. The final judgment should help us forgive others freely -God’s justice should prevent us from seeking revenge.

 

  1. The final judgment satisfies our sense for justice in this world.

.

  1. The final judgment should motivate us to live righteous.

 

  1. The final judgment should motivate the missional ChurchJude 20–23

 

Judgment #5 The Judgement Seat of Christ (bema Seat)

2 Corinthians 5:6–10 (NASB95) “Bad”- Greek word is “Phalos”  or worthless. This is not sin, but good works not for Christ.

 

Four  Considerations for the Judgement Seat of Christ.

  1. We will not be condemned for sin.

 

  1. Some of our good deeds were not really for Christ

 

“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”John 3:18

 

  1. There will be degrees of reward for believers.

 

  1. Don’t have regrets at the Judgement Seat of Christ

 

What is God saying to me?

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.