“Our Father”

I know this is a little dated, but I do love the truths in it. I post this with the thoughts that you really need to hear this right now. I love those first 2 words of the Lord’s prayer. “Our Father”. He is our loving father, regardless of your father wounds, disappointments, or experiences. He is a perfect loving Father, loving us without condition, for no reasons we could give Him, and no life we could live. He just loves us. BEcause of that we are significant, valuable, treasured, and valid. May you know that today.

February, Month of Growing In Prayer

There is no higher or greater state than to be communion with our Father. We don’t realize it buy all our identity and true self is wrapped up in knowing God, and only God can teach us to know him. We often pray to get results, to get our way, to see something happen, but this month we want to pray to be with God, not direct him. IN being with God we truly know our being. In talking with God, we find peace in who we are and who we truly are is only discovered in God’s great mercy and love.

So this month, slow down and be with Jesus. Be intentional about the heart behind our days and the focus, as well as praying the “complines” in the evening, alone, or with your family.

I invite you to fast with me on Wednesdays, to enjoy your Sabbath, to break bread with joy with your family and friends. Let’s put away the devises that rob us of our families but too many times not being present. Let’s get out the board games, invite people into our lives, and discover our true self in Christ.

Let’s grow in our being with the Lord. Let’s grow in our joy in this. Let’s grow in discovering once again His incredible love for us. Let’s grow alone, in community, with family, and if your married with your spouse. Let’s enjoy being with the Lord who really does enjoy us. Pastor Nate and Wendy

Here are the links for the days. There are booklets available and everything is available online.

Christmas Lectio Divina Psalm 131

Lectio Divina is “sacred reading”. Ask the Lord to speak to your heart through the Scripture. Read the Scripture over slowly thinking of the words, and intentions of the Spirit of God. Read over several times, and then pray about the thoughts and themes that come to your heart.

Psalm 131 is powerful to me this morning. Christmas is very busy. Worries, can give way to inward grouchiness and judgment. We can miss a special moment so easily! We have friends that are in difficult places in their journey. Some grieving, in hospice, in suffering. These verses “calmed” me this morning as the Lord spoke through them to my soul.

My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty;

I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.

But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 131, NIV)

Pastor Nate

A Prayer that can make you more like Jesus: The Prayer of Examen

Six hundred years ago Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, penned an outline of prayer that I have found to be very helpful to keeping me focused on being like Christ. I know us Pentecostals don’t often venture into contemplative practices or reflective Christianity but I am, do, and will continue to add any way to be in the presence of Christ and to be changed.

For years I struggled with prayer because I just approached God, told him what I wanted, and what he should do for me or those I love and that was that. Pretty boring, not very life-givng, and super self-centered. No wonder most Christians struggle with prayer. We are doing it incompletely. Prayer is silence, listening, sensing, reflecting, and enjoying being with our Father.

This prayer the “Prayer of Examen” is a powerful way to really connect and hear from the Lord. To praise, thanks, repent, realize, reflect, and respond to what God reveals in our life for the previous day. It take a few minutes, but the connection with the Lord and the change it can bring to your interior soul, and inner man is great. doing this daily or at least a few times a week has the potential to change who you are, give you victory over sin, make you more sensitive to sin, and fine tune your spiritual hearing to hear the voice of God.

Here is the prayer outline. There are several variations to the prayer, but these five points are the focus for your time with God

The Prayer of Examen

(Ignatius of Loyola)

Find a quiet place alone and invite the presence of Christ.  Spend a few minutes of silence with Christ.

1. “The first point is to give thanks to God our Lord for the gifts received.”

Ignatius once said that the most abominable sin he could imagine was the sin of ingratitude. He knew that an awareness of God’s goodness and generosity is the foundation of our relationship with God. Once we recognize God’s goodness, we spontaneously feel gratitude and Christ’s love.

In this first point, we express gratitude for the experiences and encounters during the day that have been good or pleasant or meaningful, whether they seem trivial or important. We also express gratitude for the larger gifts we have received: our faith and our salvation, our life, our talents and abilities, significant relationships, whatever comes to mind.

As our spiritual life deepens, we become more and more aware that all we have is gift, given to us far beyond anything we might expect or deserve.

2. “The second point is to ask for the grace to know my sins and to root them out.”

Review the day. When did you step away from Christ’s love and principles?  Was there a time your love for others ceased?  Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal sins of commission and sins of omission.The possibilities for self-deception are endless. To truly know ourselves is not something that we are able to do alone. We need to ask the Holy Spirit for the light that can reveal us to ourselves.

3. “The third point is to demand an account of my soul from the moment of rising to that of the present examination, hour by hour or period by period. The thoughts should be examined first, then the words, and finally the actions.”

The third point is the heart of the Examen. Our actions, words, thoughts, feelings can come from an internal source of freedom and openness to other people and God. Or they can come from what St. Paul calls the “flesh” or the “law of sin”; that is to say from the self-centredness that inhabits all of us. We examine the events of our day methodically in order to uncover the source and the direction of our life that day. Move backward from actions, to words, to thoughts. What were the intentions, feelings, and motivations?  What the deep motives of the heart for all actions of the day good and bad?  Be attentive to the inner feelings and desire which is where we experience God’s love and  presence. This is not just introspection, but prayer.  Talk to your Father here.

4. “The fourth point is to ask for forgiveness and pardon from our Father through Christ

Once we have reviewed our day, we may have come to a sense of the dynamic of sin and grace that has been operating in our life that day. The fourth point is our response to that awareness.

5. “The fifth point is to look to the next day with hope, grace, and faith to move forward in the love of Christ, and the desire to continue with changes He as revealed.”

Close with Praise, The Lord’s Prayer, more silence, and/or a time of worship.

Where are the Voices for Jesus?

As our world becomes incredibly more media driven, and with the influence that social media us by providing us all a platform, I am seeing a negative trend. I am not going to address the negatives trends upon our society in general but the negative trends emerging from God’s people.

I am afraid that the people of Jesus are taking all of our talking points and narratives and we are communicating reactively to current politics and the media cycle, not the things of God. Many believe this is a spiritual duty, but I see that we are being sucked into debates we will never win, and the communication of the church is being dictating but the powerful voices and influences of culture and not the mission of the church and our Lord, and some of our communication is not in the spirit of Christ and the Law of love.

I know this is a big statement, but since Covid I have been observing and watching the strongest believers fall prey to subtle drawings away from the purposes of Jesus. Jesus did not save us, redeem us and forgive us, so we can be a primary mouthpiece to secular movements, and ideologies that do not further the Gospel. I believe in these last days, followers of Jesus need to get more active in promoting Jesus Christ, salvation by grace, and the Gospel more than anything else in the news cycle and the current controversial debate, conspiracy, or headline that is used to divide, incite anger, and push people away from each otherWhat would all Social Media look like if we posted/tweeted/IG more about godly things, eternal truths, encouragement, and the love of Christ than anything else? We could really influence the whole culture of all platforms of Social Media?

The church, the Christians, the follower of Jesus, need to promote Jesus. It’s our mission and mandate. I don’t see it as an optional position for the people of Jesus. I see it as a natural fruit of a fully devoted life in Christ. this goes beyond and deeper than social media to our jobs, families, extended families and communities?

Some things to think about.

  • What is your voice known for?
  • Do you speak for Christ with all love and honor for others?
  • Have you been slowly drifting into pointless distractions from the believer’s primary purpose?
  • Are you obsessed about making your point that has no salvation or eternal value?
  • Do you internally get upset when reading or listening to views that are not yours and you must respond, speak out or act, and the topics are not of any significance to our Great Commission and Great Commandment
  • Are you a parrot for positions, politics, groups, and not a spokesperson and ambassador for Jesus.
  • Is Jesus speaking to you now about being more salt and light in a dark world?

Paul encourages the young Timothy in a similar way?

Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.” (2 Timothy 2:23–24, NLT)

May we be the voice of Jesus and his message everywhere and be free from thinking we have to have a response and position to every headline the news cycle portrays as the most important thing. The salvation of our souls and our friends is the most important thing. Let’s be the voice of Christ.

With conviction,

Pastor Nate Elarton

There is more than one way to be Lost

We are a culture that is becoming lost in many ways. It is so easy to forget the things that truly bring joy and happiness in life and we elevate so many things that do not and can actually take value from us. As I speak this weekend on the parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15), I had a thought that many are lost spiritually, but even believers can be lost if we are not careful. We can miss the best God has for us, and the experiences and people in our lives, that may bring great value can be overlooked or dismissed.

What are people lost in?

  • The priority of money
  • The pursuit of stuff, and purchasing.
  • Selfish pleasure
  • Phones and tablets
  • Streaming binges
  • Gaming
  • Sin
  • The past
  • Fantasy
  • Pity
  • A failure
  • Living fake to please others
  • Entitlement
  • Politics
  • Apathy

The list could go on and on. I am thankful that no matter what degree we are lost, or how we are lost Jesus said in Luke 19:10 that he came “to seek and to save that which was lost.”I recently got lost on the side of a mountain in North Carolina. I was enjoying the walk down to a beautiful pond and on the walk up I was lost. I didn’t know it. It all looked the same. I was walking up, there were trees and leaves and rocks and it all looked ok to me. It was only after a while that I felt I should have been back at the cabin I realized I might be lost. I pulled out my GPS, had service, and realized I somehow went slanted up the mountain and was going up the opposite side. My point is, I did not know I was lost.

Many don’t realize they are lost. Life is happening, eating, sleeping, going to work, interacting, but there is so much that could be going so much better in our hearts and souls, but we don’t even realize it.

When one is lost, it usually involves and crazy amount of time and energy being invested. Our day, evening, thoughts, energy and our conversations surround much of what we are lost in. Our choices are influenced, and the direction of our heart and even our life can be altered into a direction that is not from the Lord and not His plan for your life and time.

Some questions to help determine if you are lost. Use these like I used my GPS

  • What do you do mostly when you are not working?
  • What dreams have you shelved and what replaced them.
  • What do you treasure? What do you pursue?
  • Is your direction in life leading you closer to Jesus or farther away?
  • At your funeral, what would the top 5 closest people say about you and what you liked in life?
  • Would the way you live now, cause you regret in 10 years?
  • Are you missing out on the things in life that really really matter? Faith, Family, Friendships.

for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21, NASB95)

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, NASB95)

Experiencing the Unexperienced with Christ

We are undeniably people of habit. We are comfortable with repetition. We find security in the predictable. What if God directs us to places unknown? What if we are to experience the unexperienced? Will we discover our security is in frequently attended mind-sets, attitudes, and beliefs? Will we realize happily that our security is in God?

It is the hardest to trust in seasons of unknowing, so we often try and make them into a familiar situation previously experienced to attempt to deny we are on a new path in our journey. We will soon realize that this is impossible and we must throw our whole life into the trusting arms of God. His love for us will take us places where we will journey toward our wholeness in Christ which is our ultimate destination, isn’t it? New seasons are required. They cannot be optional, they must not be avoided.

Contemplative questions

  • Is God dealing with you about a “new” area of life He is leading you?
  • What is Christ teaching you in this unexperienced season?
  • Do you know, all things are to make us whole in Christ and like Christ?
  • Is surrender to God’s plan part of your thinking?
  • Must you have control always?
  • Spend some time in Lectio Divina for the following verses. (Click here on how to do Lection Divina)

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1–5, NASB95)

Pastor Abby’s Three Prayers from Mother’s Day Weekend Message

Our daughter, Abby Isacson spoke this weekend. Here message is here if you want to watch it.

“I believe, help my unbelief.” She closed the message with three prayers. Some of you have requested them. Here they are:

Here are three prayers of trust from a sometimes untrusting human: 

  • God, when I have trouble trusting you, may I remember your character. You are a God who has proven yourself to be consistent throughout generations and that has not changed. 
  • God, When I have trouble trusting in you, could you help me to search for your presence and to not search too long because you remind me that you are present. You are here right now and in every moment of my day, of every hour. You are with me when I am with my family and with my friends. You are present in my place of work and in my home. You are an involved God and sometimes your presence is quiet, but let that draw me in. 
  • God, when I say I can’t trust you, because sometimes I really am unable to trust you in my humanness, help me to be like the father in Mark 9 and say; “I believe, help my unbelief.” Help me to know that you want all of me and that includes my doubts and fears. That includes my emotions and numbness. You are just as present in the darkness as you are in the light.

by Pastor Abby Isacson

A happy moment for this dad, introducing my daughter Pastor Abigail Isacson

Boasting in the Cross, not in Religion

Man has always tried to add to the Gospel and love of Christ. traditions of men, required memberships, religious rules, humanistic ideologies and of course things added to the message that Jesus taught about salvation.

Christianity is about humility, and total allegiance to Jesus Christ. His Spirit lives in the believer. The Father speaks to us, and knowing Christ and being forgiven may be the most undervalued gift, given to mankind.

This world and all its allures still cry out to everyone, including the Jesus follower, for our allegiance, attentions, involvement, and participation.

Paul’s teaching here is something to read. Read it over a couple times, it is powerful. My comments of course will not improve on it.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to the Israel of God. From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.” (Galatians 6:14–18, NIV)

Some key questions

-Is this world and all it’s stuff, got a hold of us more than loving and serving Christ? Is it dead to our hearts?

-Are we dead to thinking the things of this world will complete us, satisfy us, bring us inner joy, help us enjoy life more than a relationship with God?

-As Paul had the marks of Christ on his body (Greek is Stigmata) or stigma. Do we, without shame, identify with Jesus Christ, no matter what “stigma” it carries to others?

Religion, and man’s attempt to “make Jesus” better, harder, stronger, or whatever is no necessary. The work of Christ and Calvary, Jesus life and teachings stand on their own. Before we add to Christ, we need to subtract. Subtract the things of this temporary world from our lives, and then the need to “add” to Jesus will not seem germane or even necessary.

I close with the words again of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth.

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.For it is written,“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”

(1 Corinthians 1:18–19, NASB95

Equip Leadership Podcast, Coaching Isn’t just for Sports

I have loved bein part of these leadership podcasts with some amazing leader.

Thanks to Gateway Assembly of God in Imlay City and Pastor Jeff Krist and Dave Krist, Dr. Bradley Trask, Founding pastor, Michigan Assistant Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, Michigan District and National Executive Presbyter, Founding Pastor or Rock Church, Anchor Bay, Angelo Fleece.

These men love Jesus and His church so much. I am thankful for their lives and friendship. I hope these podcast help pastors and leaders.

Pastor Nate Elarton

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