That was my Last Weekend on the Bench

I remember going out for basketball in the 6th grade.  I sat on the bench until the last 2 minutes.  I hated sitting on the bench watching the taller dudes have all the fun. ( Fun fact:  I fouled out once in that 2 minutes.)  My coach told me I would never play much basketball and wrestling was probably my sport and he accepted me quitting the team. I hadn’t said anything about quitting so  I got the point.  He was right.

The last 14 weekends haven’t been awesome.  I feel like I have been “benched”. I never thought it would last this long, but anyhow, this last weekend was it.  I really never want to hear “unprecedented”  “the new normal” “we are in this together”   etc. LOL.  I praise God it’s over. I am a preacher and I want to preach and teach God’s Word to faces and families!

I sure got tired of the introverts saying “I really enjoyed this Covid stay-at-home.”  When I read those posts on Facebook from other pastors I just rolled my eyes.  I am just not like that. I am not an introvert.  It was unenjoyable to not be around my Compelled Family and people.  Recording on Friday and preaching to an empty room was OK, but I did not feel like a pastor regardless how many people watched online.  I am thankful we could do it and that everyone helped get it done, but it’s no permanent replacement.  I miss the corporate worship, prayer, smiles, children, families, friends, community and the faith when we all gather together.  I love Compelled. I am thankful for that and we will continue to have our service online, on facebook and on Youtube for those of you not ready to return or that are high-risk.

I am very very very glad this is over.

This next weekend,  We will be back together 3 services a weekend at Bedford and also  the 11 am Sunday at Holland.

Here is a link to our guidelines. Father’s Day Re-Opening at Compelled.  

If you are ready to come back, we are ready for you. If you are not quite ready, no problem.  If you want to wear a mask, please do. If you don’t want to wear a mask then don’t.  We have approached our opening with wisdom and not recklessness of course, but we also want adults to be able to make their own decisions and I know we are all going to be courteous and thoughtful to the comfort level of others.

This happy pastor will be at Compelled this weekend.

Pastor Nate Elarton

Our Compelled Community fills me with Gratefulness

I love our church. I love the heart of our people.  I love how we pursue the Lord and people.  I loved the Toledo Campus going door to door, and hosting a fall festival. I love our Children’s ministry and leaders,  and the annual chili cookout. So glad the Lord led Pastor Matt and Mandie to Compelled. I love Pastor Rick’s heart as we gathered for worship team training and he encouraged us. I love Pastor Dusty getting our students reaching out. I love filling shoeboxes for the Lord and operation Christmas Child.  I love that we are truly “Compelled by love.” I’m am grateful to be part of our Compelled Community.

At Compelled this weekend we stressed our Family Value of Relationships.  “People grow better in relationship than they do in isolation.” We had people stand and publicly  give testimony and thank those who encouraged them in the faith and brought them to Jesus.  This was moving, encouraging, and filled us with faith.  I loved it.  We heard powerful stories of people reaching out in friendship and love for Christ and lives were changed and of course eternities.

We must be those people that are the encourager now.  As we have received, now let’s give.  Make a difference in someone’s life.  Start a small group.  Call someone you have been missing. Write out a prayer for a struggling friend and mail it.  Send a text, buy a coffee, open your home and your heart and see what God will do.

Keep being missional Compelled Church!  We are making a difference.

(NOTE:  All the gatherings were awesome but the 11 am worship was amazing.  The place was packed and so many people were pursuing the heart of God.  It was so powerful.)

Addictions and Heroine continues to Kill, we need a Life Challenge Facility in the Toledo Area

I was deeply moved last night. Wendy and I attended the Life Challenge Gala in Livonia, as guests of Jeff and Lori Bonzelaar.  They have started an outreach and referral center here in Toledo, but need a permanent facility.  When Jeff first shared this with me, my heart and spirit resonated.  Toledo is in the middle of  heroine epidemic.  It seems daily a young person dies from overdose here.  Many started taking pain killers in high school from a sports injury. Either way, a generation is literally dying. Jesus Christ did not intend lives to end so soon, or for parents to suffer as their children spiral downward lost in an addiction.

Some may be surprised at my heart for Life Challenge and to see people free.  They may ask why? Can I share with you why I believe in this ministry so much.

  • The obvious need and drug and alcohol, lives are being destroyed, youth are dying.
  • I almost interned at a Teen Challenge during a summer of college.
  • I grew up within the context of addictions, for which I am thankful, Christ spared me.
  • I had a wonderful brother, who was in a teen challenge, left the program early, a couple months later, I did my first funeral, and our broken family had to bury our beloved brother.

I just know the Lord is going to provide a facility. I feel it in my heart.

Would you pray with me for the funds and a facility for a Life Challenge in the Toledo area.  There is a director with a vision, and a local leader Martin Hall, and many that would want to be part of this. A generation needs to be free. The church must respond, destructive addictions are everywhere.  Pray for this miracle to happen soon.

Just a personal post

Bicep Tear—Just a personal update.  Since Christmas and the ripping of my bicep in a racquetball accident. I really don’t feel like I have been myself completely.  I had a surgery to reattach it, but it was cut short because of my blood pressure and heart rate dropping for a few minutes. After a trip to Toledo Hospital in an ambulance, and 2 days of tests, it was determined my heart is in great shape and they have no clue why this happened. On January 18th, the surgery was successful and my bicep was reattached. I have been recovering since then and today I am free from the immablizing brace I was wearing. I feel like that ordeal is finally over. I am so thankful for all my wife’s help. Wendy has been an angel and servant to me. She is such a blessing. I can now get back to exercising, woodcarving, and leading spiritually, which is my mantle.

Wrestling– We have been busy supporting our boys and being part of the wrestling family of Bedford High SChool. What a joy. Levi won the League JV championship and is backing up some varsity guys. Gabe has had an amazing 3 weeks. He won the League Championship, the District Championship, and last weekend won the regional Championship at 189.  He will wrestle at States at the Palace Marcy 4-6.  Gabe and Levi do more than wrestle. They are leaders in the youth group, are preparing for Fine Arts, Gabe leads worship and the band for our youth ministry, and they are active in the things of God. I am so proud of them.

I am missing Abby and Justin, as she is finishing her sr. year. They attend Northpoint Bible College in Grand Rapids.  We miss them and look forward to seeing them soon. They have some tough classes this semester. They work hard and I am so proud of them both. On top of school, they shoot and video weddings, work at the college and are involved in ministry.

Daily, I have my scehdule with Compelled Church, check in on my father, whom I moved over here from Morenci in October. He is adjusting but misses his home of 50 years, as I can imagine. I know he misses the house and Morenci.

Wendy and I are coming off a nasty virus or something that hit hard. I am so glad to feel normal again. Man that, took the wind out of my sails for sure.

The next couple months will prove busy. We have our Compelled Business meeting Sunday at 5 pm. We are building out with 3000 more square feet at the Toledo Campus, redoing our lobbies at the Bedford Campus, Easter is coming, and our Missions month.  I am also leading a team to Mexico to build 2 churches.  We will return to help with our Vacation Bible SChool here at Compelled. Around 400 children attend that.  I am looking forward to connecting with my family at Spring Break.

Through all of this, I sense the presence of the Lord. He is everywhere, reminding me of everything I read this morning in Psalms 111. I am grateful to serve Him and desire to remain faithful to my God in everything I say and do.

My opening remarks from the message this weekend on Philippians 3.1-11

Christ Is2Several have asked for the remarks I made as to what I felt the Lord said to me for the series this month.  Here they are.  Blessings Nate

Why take a month or more on one chapter of the Bible?  On Philippians 

  1. The same energy Christ gave on the cross to redeem us is the same effort the enemy is doing is best effort to destroy us.
  2. Kingdom Impact will be multiplied when we are radical for Christ.
  3. God has a plan for Compelled Church and for your life and a prerequisite for the plan is that we/you will be so committed to Christ that you/we will obey Him, as He is our everything!
  4. We must have an encounter with Christ. We have to deal with our dark side and flush it out by the power of the Spirit and by the Word.
  5. The people of God need spiritual courage. This only comes from a real, true, relationship with Jesus. Believer are walking in too much fear. God has not given us a spirit of fear.
  6. Our vision hinges on the reality that we know Christ, not know about Christ.
  7. The storms of life, the rough spots in our faith are only endured and become platforms to grow, as we grow in Knowing Christ.

UNITE Report from Pastor Tom Broyles, Student Ministries Pastor

Here is the report from the UNITE at Bedford High School Last night. This is written by our youth pastor, Tom Broyles.

Last night we had an amazing night over at the high school.  I’ve been told the room holds in the ballpark of 600 and we had it almost filled.  The churches who I know came were: Bridgepoint, Bedford Alliance, Crossroads, Bedford Nazarene, Mount Carmel, Younglife, and Lighthouse.  It was such a blessing to see the room packed full of teenagers worshiping Jesus, listening to a challenging message, and responding during the altar call.  Brian Pruitt did an amazing job as always.  He spoke on how we all need 3 things: A Cause, A Calling, and A Challenge.  This year we made it a point to do a strong push for 1st time salvations during the first altar call and we had dozens come forward.  The youth pastors then took them out in the hall and connected with them in groups, prayed with them, and answered questions.  Each church walked away with contact cards for first time salvations…praise God! 

Once again this event left everyone wanting more and excited about doing another year.  I had students asking already if we were going to get to do it again next year.  It’s great to have something of this quality that continues to gain momentum.  Our volunteer staff did a great job of connecting with students and helping out as needed.  Dustin, Nick, and Justin were a huge help.  And if you know Robert Perkins and see him please thank him and encourage him…he brought his professional light package for us last night worth thousands of dollars and set it up, programmed it, and ran it for free.  That’s his business and he’d normally get hundreds for that but he donated it for us.  What a blessing!  

Here is Everfree’s Website and links.   Thanks Tom and Jen Broyles and the whole Everfree Team!

My prayers this morning for Bedford, Toledo, Compelled Church, and more.

My prayer time is plastered today with these prayers.

  • Open the eyes of our heart God. Open the eyes of your people wider and more compassionately than ever. May they see your work and participate with your redemptive plan for every individual.
  • Holy Spirit, move in Bedford, move in Toledo.
  • Draw the lost to Jesus.  Help us be salty salt, and blazing light for you Jesus.
  • Give us a purity and despise for sin.
  • Open the windows of your creative power and give us Holy Spirit inspired creativity to impact lives and change eternities.
  • Refresh the weary, those confused, the struggling.
  • Comfort those grieving and missing their loved ones. Help my family Lord.
  • Comfort those who have lost moms as Mother’s Day approaches.
  • Call our young people to full time ministry and missions, and let them hear your voice and the distractions of this world will not drown out your divine call.
  • Keep Compelled Church in the beautiful and powerful unity we enjoy so we can keep focusing on Jesus, his life, Spirit, and mission.
  • Father, bless the volunteers that make your church amazing.
  • Strengthen my pastors Lord.  Enrich their marriages, watch over their children, and bless them immensely as they labor, sacrifice, and carry burdens. Refresh them Father.
  • Help us to see the eternal and not be ruled by the temporal.  Give us discernment to know and prioritize correctly each.
  • Lord, I would love you to keep showing yourself as the Messiah through healings, salvations, and restorations.
  • Heal my cousin of cancer Lord, protect her children, bless her sister.
  • Father, cause your people to have a hunger for more of you, your Word, your Ways, your voice, your Spirit, your mission, and your will.  Give great motivation.
  • Help us Lord not be distracted by self.  Don’t let our feelings, our moods, our needs, prevent us from being used by your Spirit to touch people.
  • I pray we would stay people of encouragement. Keep us from criticalness, cynicism, discouragement, and speech filled with doubt.
  • I pray we would worship you in a deeper way then individuals have ever experienced before.
  • give those in difficult situations of life, perseverance Lord, so they do not wander from the Truth, wonder from you and your ways.
  • Encourage my friends in full time ministry Lord.  Help them as they battle the forces of hell in their communities.  Give them supernatural wisdom and insight for every complicated situation.  Grant to them Father insight for decisions, power for ministry, brokeness for motivation, and the refreshment of your Spirit. Help us not be so busy with so much that we cannot enjoy you personally.  Give them unity with their boards, staff, leadership and may they be treated with the honor that you desire.  Pour your Holy Spirit out on them, protect their marriages, and guide their children.
  • I pray we would sow in tears, tears of labor, sacrifice, and intercession, and reap in joy, laughter, and fulfillment of your purposes.

My prayers this morning, in the name of love, mercy, and Jesus.

Our Story, Twenty-five years of marriage!

I was fairly new in the Lord, heading to Adrian, MI to the only Christian bookstore I knew of to pick up my NASB open Bible.  It cost almost $30, black with genuine leather, concordance, and dictionary.  I came in and was talking to Emmet and Betty Oaks, owners of the book store. They had become good friends and wonderful encouragers to my life. I felt like I had always known them.  I went back to look at the 33 1/3 albums, and there she was. A stunning, cute, blonde.  I passed her and said “excuse me.”  I looked back and noticed her gourgeous blue eyes, and radiant face.  I returned to the counter to be introduced to Wendy and her mom Carol.  I left that day hoping I would see that cute blonde again.    I visited Bethany one night, and she was there, unknown to me.  It was God’s voice and I began to attend there, and pursue Wendy.  Almost 5 years later we were there again, to become a family.

I remember the day very well. The night before we had a flawless and fun rehersal at Bethany Assembly of God in Adrian.  I was surrounded with family and friends as we met for after rehersal meal in the basement of the church.  I said goodbye to my fiance, who I would not see again until Randy walked her to me 25 years ago.  Todd Winkler and I stayed at Grandma Ford’s house in Morenci, as did Greg and Joel.  Grandma’s soft feather bed was super uncomfortable and we just rolled together all night. We had a good laugh over that.  The January day was beautiful. The sun was shining and the temps rose to 50 degrees!  The wedding was amazing.  Steve and Darlene sang, Wendy sang to me, the Bethany handbell played as the bridesmaids walked down the aisle. My nephew John was the ring bearer, followed by my neices the flower girls, Holly and Heidi.  My brother Steve was my best man (and still is). My friends Todd, Greg, Kurt, and Eric Bleich all stood by my side.  Wendy’s court was her cousin Jennifer, Lori burrows, my sister Pam Arquette, my cousin Melinda Elarton.  I do remember during the ceremony the sound system popping so loud everyone jumped.  Rick and Steve Flood were crawling under the pews in the balcony and snagged a cord!  Pastor Rick was 11 years old then.  Who knew we would minister together for 15 years now!

Pastor Leach, Pastor “O”, and Pastor Skoog all took part in the cermony.  The reception was right in the gym of the church with a huge cake and great food. It was one of the happiest days in my life.   We honeymooned 3 days at PTL in the towers in South Carolina, that was a gift from Dick and Shirley Treat. We were so thankful, as we had no money.

We returned for a day or two to the farm in Hudson. I married into an incredible family. I am thankful for Randy and Carol Bleich. They have loved me unconditionally, prayed for me patiently, and supported us in so many ways with their love and encouragement.  After our visit we packed up the red Reliant K car, and drove 12 hours back to North Central Bible College in Minneapolis to move into our apartment, start jobs, and jump into both of us being full-time students. Our wedding had provided just enough money for our deposit, first month’s rent, our books and that was it. I remember having less than $20 bucks for food that month, but we were so happy and excited to start life together.

Twenty-five years later, here we are in Temperance, MI.  We have lived in Alpena, Linton, and Metro Detroit, youth pastoring at great churches.  We launched out in faith in 1996 to plant Compelled Church (then BCC). We moved when Abby was one to the house we still live in.   I painted and was bi-vocational for 3 years until the church grew. Wendy by my side all the time.  She was ministering, doing kids church, kids clubs, helping in anyway she could. During this we have Gabe, and Levi. Life was full, tiring, exciting, and challenging.   So many times Wendy was my encouragement and her zeal for the church and the Lord carried me. Here we have raised our kids, had our boys, and seen so many incredible things that God has done.  I am in awe and amazed.  I am aware of His grace in my life.

Marriage is a blessing beyond words. Being married to Wendy is more than I deserve.  I married so far over my head. I am humbled by God’s grace and Wendy’s love.  We have had lots of good times, some sad times, challenging times, and joyful times, and through it all our love remains, deeper, denser, purer, and everlasting.  I thank Christ today, for without him, she would not be in my life, I would not have Abby, Gabe, and Levi, and most likely would have never made it through college or as a pastor. God has used her greatly to be a blessing to my life and so many others. My heart is filled with gratitude. We are looking forward to another 25 years.

My New Year’s Resolutions for You.

As I said, I wanted to post resolutions for Compelled Church.  This list is more of my prayer for us than anything, but I want to communicate them. If you are not part of CC, many of these will still apply to you, and your church.  Please know I am not implying these things are not happening, or we are failing, but my heart is that we keep growing in these areas.

  1. This year I am going to be more dependent on God than ever before. God help our church grow in dependence, which means we must grow in prayer.
  2. Growing Faith.  God please give us greater faith and may our mouths not speak doubt, destruction, despair, and unbelief.
  3. Burden and passion to reach lost people.  Father give CC the greatest heart for those not saved yet.  Help us reach people with your good news, to love the where they are at, and to become their friends, mentors, faith coaches. May we give our time for the lost and not just our money.
  4. No tolerance for sin.  May compromise, sin, and disobedience not enter our camp.
  5. Marriages. God help marriages to be caring, loving, serving, and growing.  Keep the enemy from breaking the bond between husband and wife.  Keep oneness, connection relationally, sexually, emotionally, and spiritually. Keep the demon of divorce away from your marriages God.
  6. Giving. May we be cheerful givers of our finances.  God I pray people find the joy of giving and the pleasure of giving our best to you, our first 10%, to fund the Kingdom of God.
  7. Purity.  God keep us from impurity and the lies of the enemy.  Keep us sexually pure, and morally above reproach.  May we not be trapped by pornagraphy, inappropriate relationships, or compromise on any moral level!  May we be repelled by verbal, sexual, and moral filith at the movies, on the internet, TV, gaming, or speech.  May we find no pleasure in anything Jesus died for.
  8. Serve. I pray ever CC attender would be  a servant and serve to extend the Kingdom of God.
  9. Support. God, please keep us from critisizing leadership, being negative, but instead, supporting, encouraging, interceding, and becoming solutions to challenges, not deepening them.  Help us protect the unity of the Body.
  10. Worship. I pray we grow in worship as we gather. That our hearts would be filled with gratitude and thanksgiving for who God is, what He has done, and what He is going to do.
  11. Word. That we would love the Word of God more. Study it. Memorize it. Obey it. and walk in it.
  12. Care. Father help us care for each other in every way, whether we know each other personally or not.  Give us attitudes that look for other’s needs before our own.
  13. Sacrificial giving to Missions.  Father, may our generocity flow to missionaries who are taking the Gospel all over the world.  May we participate in every love offering and our monthly Global Outreach Faith Promises. God may we fund the Toledo campus. Bless people finiancially so they can bless the Kingdom.
  14. Grieving. Father, many in the CC family are grieving the home going of people they love dearly.  Help us in our grief to press on.  Comfort those who mourn, and sustain the lonely.

Would you add any other prayers or resolutions?  I love you all. Pastor Nate

I need to grow in this area…

I am thinking deeply this morning about thankfulness.  I feel very convicted that I am not more thankful in every way.  I am looking to the Lord this morning to help me increase in a heart of thanksgiving.  So often in our western culture we are trained to think, look for, and speak against things that are wrong.  In the midst of that, we do not see the things that are right.  We can easily be blind to the blessings, and just adopt a critical and negative posture toward everything in life.  I just returned from Haiti. Our church took a team of nine men to do construction on a warehouse for food distribution in the poorest country in the western hemisphere.  I was amazed at the joy of the people of Haiti.  I stood stunned in church as they raised their hearts, hands, and voices in thanksgiving to the Lord.  They are authentically thankful and yet they possess of fraction of what the average American has.  This Christmas I desire no material thing. I have everything I need.  The one thing I ask is to be more thankful. Thankful for the gift of eternal life from my Savior Jesus, my kids, my friends, and church family. I have amazing friendships because of Christ.  I am thankful for an amazing wife. We will celebrate 25 years of marriage this new year (January 3). I am thankful for Bedford, and the home it has become to me for the last 15 years. Even if the roads are rough, it is a great place to live and raise our children. I am thankful for our schools, and the teachers my kids have had and will have.  They have all been outstanding.   I have never met anyone who is thankful that is not joyful.  So, as Christmas approaches, let’s  let the joy out, by understanding that we mostly are not overly thankful, but we can be. I am challenged today to be more thankful. Will you take the challenge with me?


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