Back from German-speaking Europe


It was an amazing experience being in Europe with Paul and Mechthild Clark. We were in the German-speaking part. I taught at two, one-day  forums Paul hosts, to encourage and teach pastors. One was in Grandstadt,  Germany and one in  Schaffhausen, Switzerland. I also spoke at a pastors meeting in Innsbruck,  Austria on the following day with Paul and Mike. We had great fellowship on the 4 hour round trip drive. What an It was busy traveling, and speaking the first week that is for sure, but we loved it!

Wendy was able to share in Innsbruck, the foster-care ministry as they have similar challenges with foster-care in Europe also.  My translator was moved has he and his wife are foster-parents. His name was Marcel. He is a great guy and we became instant friends. I will miss him.

On Saturday the new Church Plant the Clark’s are pastoring in Bregenz, Austria hosted a ladies breakfast.  Mechthild worked hard and Wendy spoke. Saturday night was fun as we traveled to Salem, Germany for a community Outreach. I played bass and Mike Clark, played keys, and Paul led worship from the guitar. We talked about getting more gigs and hitting the road.  The community center was full, and the host Pastor, a Romanian, man David and his wife were so kind!

Wendy’s cousin, Pauline and Manfred, came to Grandstadt, on our first day of ministry. They took Wendy to lunch and then we were able to visit after the forum They were so kind to take us to the train station in Mannheim.  We rode a few hours then to Switzerland.

Sunday I taught on Philippians 1.6 at the Bregenz church and helped with worship. Paul was my translator.   We visited and enjoyed a great new body of Christ that the Lord is building there.  This is Paul’s 8th church plant.  He planted a church in Michigan before going to Germany and planting 7 more. Absolutely incredible.  He has always been one of my encouragers andd he calls often to see how I am doing. Before we came here, we took a team of students to Germany, and he encouraged me to church plant. I am thankful for priceless friends.

Wendy and I stayed a couple more days.  We were guests at Mike and Laura Clark’s for dinner. What an amazing family they are. We have known them for years and love what God has, and is, doing through their lives.  of course did some shopping, drank some great coffee and also saw a couple of castles. Our time together was well spent and needed after such a busy schedule of ministry.

On the way to the airport in Zurich, Switzerland, we stopped in the historic and beautiful St. Gallen.  We had lunch with Paul’s daughter and son-in-law, Stephenie, and Peter. We had not seen Stephanie in 20 years.  What a great couple. We were able to see the St. Abbey Cathedral and Library. I must be honest and say I will miss the coffee/expresso there. While I write this I am  drinking coffee from my drip-coffee maker, is a disappointed experience after the delicious coffee I have had the last few days. An epresso machine is in my future.

So What are our “take-aways” or  things I know the Lord show us from this trip?

  • We are called to reach the world, to help people find, know, and trust God with their lives.  Church cannot be just a bunch activity without purpose.
  • The people of God are wonderful, wherever you meet them. There is the bond of Christ and I sensed that, even when I could not speak the language.
  • The power of relationships can never be underextimated.
  • Compelled must continue to be missional, sending, praying, and going, at home, across the street and around the world.
  • Christian faith and growth are intentional.  One does not grow in Christ

    accidentally or just because you believe.  You must be intentional in your faith.

  • Some ancient traditions of faith, may not be pointless and dead, if they lead you to the life of Jesus and the fullness of God’s Spirit.
  • German-speaking Europe is not a 3rd world country. We did not pass out food, or do a medical clinic, that is greatly needed and a way to share Christ in other contexts.  We just poured into leaders.  We loved them, encouraged them, as the mission there is greatly needed and for many reasons, the work is harder than many places.
  • We must not forget Europe. Europe needs more churches, church planters, and people reaching out.
  • I was humbled to get to participate in the Ministry of the Clark’s. They are heroes to me.  Paul,  Mechthild, and Mike and Laura, continue to chip away at the darkness one life, and one family at a time.
  • Prayer must overcome the hardness of people’s hearts.  Whether in German-speaking Europe, Bedford, Toledo, or Holland, Ohio, people are softened through prayer and calling on God, the Holy Spirit to draw them to truth.

Learn from Failure


The lie of human history is that one failure eliminates you from the love of God, from ever experiencing any kind of success and, destines one to more failures.  As humans, even people in love with Christ and His Word. We fail.  We fail those around us, allowing selfishness to stress our closest relationships.  We sin against God. Knowingly and willingly we choose wrong before right, and reap the regret of this.  No one is exempt from failure.

Peter, a great apostle, and leader of the early church, had some fails under his belt. He gets corrected when he tries to stop children from  coming to Jesus (Mark 10.17). As Jesus was explaining the Father’s plan for his suffering and Crucifixion Peter attacked him, scolding Jesus for talking like this  in  which Jesus responded “get behind me Satan.”  Ouch (Matthew 1.22)!   Can’t imagine how much that hurt. He also denied Christ three times, (Matthew 26.72-74) and went off cursing and crying, his failure ever before him. He lived in such disappointment in life and himself he just said “I’m going fishing.” He resigns from “being an apostle” and returns to what he knew before Christ (John 21.3). But Jesus pursues him.

We see a picture of the loving Christ who does not hold our failures against us. Our God who loves, lives, and gives grace . He is the Lord of second chances and I love that about God. I love teaching and preaching God’s immeasurable grace.  He cooks breakfast and Peter jumps out of the boat, swims to Jesus on the shore, and Jesus lovingly, restores him, and mandates Him to be the spiritual leader we know today (John 21.12-18).

Because we will all fail our God, our families, and friends, to some degree we must understand we can learn from our failures. We can learn about ourselves, our God, and the depth of His unconditional love toward us.  Our failures can make you a better person or a bitter person.  You can “man up”, and be honest, or make it worse and blame your failures on those around you. I have found that God’s presence and power are always attracted to humility.

Remember, no failure, knocks you out and ruins it all. Don’t forget, God forgives, restores, and refreshes us as we come to Him in humility.  Learn from failures and don’t allow them to defeat you, but may they be the stepping stones, to the love of God, and His will for your life.

Unfortunately, We Can Be Pharisees


The ministry of Christ was performed mostly under the judgmental and critical eyes of the ruling religious class of the day, the Pharisees.  They knew the law and followed it meticulously.  They also knew that many did not, as they did. Those wretched sinners.  They were filled with spiritual pride, judgemental attitudes, and disdain for anyone, who was not like them, and they missed the Messiah. In fact, they participated in his murder, thinking they were doing God a favor.

I’m glad I’m not like those evil Pharisees!  They judged others, lived smug, looked great on the outside, but messed up inside.  Their pride, as they judged others lives, others walks, others spiritual journeys, seethed out like a royal medal of honor, yet, in the eyes of Christ, it was the very thing separated them, from the greatest gift given to humanity.

Pride keeps us from seeing Jesus too.   Pride suffocates the work of God in our lives and the ability to be teachable.  Prides prevents us from praying, as we don’t need help from God, we have this.  Pride keeps our hands down at our sides, our feet planted, our voices of praise, silent.  Pride dams up the flow of love from the Lord through us. Pride blinds us from seeing through the eyes of God, we only see through our eyes of our critical summaries of others. Pride snuffs out compassion, justice, and love.  Pride deceives us into believing we have the authority to judge others lives, walks, actions, and journeys.

I struggle with pride. I am guilty of judgement. I confess humility is not always a trait I possess or enjoy. I need Christ.  In those times, when I am a Pharisee, I need the wind of God to blow my way, sometimes he does, not with a gentle and comforting breeze, but with a gust and gale, taking me off my feet, and the stumble and fall from it, forces humility. Yes, I am sorry, sometimes I am a pharisee. We all are. I pray we walk in more grace, as the Lord freely gives it to those who are humble.

 But the grace that God gives is even stronger. As the scripture says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  James 4.6

 When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11.2

May we all receive the grace of God, that comes from humility, knowing without Christ, we are nothing. We are in desperate need of His Spirit walking with us, teaching us,  changing us, keeping us sensitive, full of compassion for others,  and far away from the rock-throwing pharisees. I end with a verse from the teaching of our Lord.

Matthew 7.1-5

7:1 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.
2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
4 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?
5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Mt 7:1–5). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

 

Calling Men to Fight


Sometimes we might get the idea through the church-culture world or the imbalanced view of Jesus that he is just a loving dude. We might view our savior as passive, detached and unengaged.  Sometimes we can also feel this way about our faith. That it should all just fall into our lap. All the victory, the faith and blessings just, “plop” into our laps and we have little to do with them. We don’t have to put any effort in at all.  I am here to tell you:  the things of God, the presence of Jesus, the power of the Spirit, it takes a little fight.

Men of God it is not time to be passive about our faith or unengaged about the devil. It is not time to be detached to pursuing the power of God.  Many men walk in a mediocre relationship with God. They don’t decide to fight. They don’t decide to engage and pursue their God. Their decisions do not result in a closer and deeper walk of victory and godly masculinity. We need men of God. These men are gentle enough to worship on their knees. They pray through tears in their eyes and act humble and gentle even when it does not go with the culture we are living in. Yet these God-chasing men are not afraid to war with the Enemy. They face their flesh and the pressure of the world around them. They understand that being a sissy for God is not a dent in their manly exterior, but seeds they are sewing into their eternal reward. 

                Let’s be like David; full of faith and courageous enough to face Goliath. Trusting in God and bringing the giant down, then to cut off his head so he would never have a chance to breath again. We need humble warriors.

                Let’s be like Paul; boldly proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus before Felix and Caesar without worry of his reputation. Never caring what these other men thought of him or his life. We need fearless proclaimers.

                Let’s be like Peter; who failed Christ and then denied him, but instead of living in his failure took the second chance of God. He boldly proclaimed Jesus, being filled with the Spirit, resulting in thousands of new followers. We need forgiven sinners.

                Let’s be like Thomas, who was not afraid to go and die with Christ. We need faithful givers.

                Let’s be like Stephen, who told the authorities the truth, and died because of it. Jesus stood in honor in the heavens to Stephen. We need fearless martyrs.

                Don’t be like Demas, who did not have the guts to stay strong. He loved the things of the world more than his faith, and walked away. Men, let’s walk to Christ, not away.  Our family will follow us to him, if we lead.  Don’t be a chicken about it.  Man up and lead for God.  Like a gutless, wimp, he walked away.  Don’t be like him. 

                 Feed your Spirit men. Read the Bible and pray.  Pray with your family. Get them to worship.  Master your flesh through the Spirit and make a great difference in this world.  Let’s engage in the things of God, and let’s not be passive about the Devil who wants to Kill, steal, and destroy. Let’s defeat Him in our lives, our families, and our church. Walk in Jesus’ power and His victory.  I encourage us to fight.

                 Fight against being spiritually passive.

                Fight against contentment with mediocrity.

                Fight the enemy that is always lurking in our midst.

                Fight against your flesh that is prone to wander.

                Fight the urge to live without self-control.

                Fight spiritual laziness that results into spiritual weakness.

  If you think Jesus called men to be passive little wimpy disciples then read this verse from Matthew 11:12:

“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”  (NASB)

Men Let’s take it by force, let’s fight!

Christ is Our Vision


I just can’t get this stuff out of my head.  Paul’s words haunt me to the level of wanting more of Jesus in every way, every area of my life. I am quickened in my heart by the Spirit to “press on”. To not allow the present challenges, or attitudes to trump that Jesus Christ is my Vision.

Paul’s Words in Phippians 3:   8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,
9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;
16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Php 3:8–16). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

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.

My brother Steve’s revealing question


My hero, Steve LeVeck

I am teaching on the Holy Spirit on Wednesdays until summer and I must mention what the Lord taught me through my brother Steve as he was suffering with cancer.  I was visiting my amazing big brother at his home, on a day when the symptoms were manifesting in his balance.  We were talking and he looked right into me and He asked me a question, Steve asked,  “Nate, it’s not how much of the Holy Spirit we have, but ask yourself, how much of us does the Holy Spirit have?” Steve was within days of being with the Lord, and his heart and mind were filled with giving more of his life to His King.  His thoughts were on making sure his life was yielded to Christ and filled with the Spirit. He was still surrendering what life he had left in him, as he was transitioning to the presence of God.  This moves me deeply.

We want to be filled with the Spirit of God, but honestly we resist yielding completely to Him.  We don’t like giving up and letting go.  We must give more of ourselves to the Spirit.  Let go our past, shame, anger, fear, resentment, unforgiveness, irritations, sin, selfish habits, and addictions.  How easy it is to be filled, when we are emptied of the things that interfere with our spirit and mind being filled and controlled by God’s Spirit.  This question will be with me until I see Jesus and Steve again.  This question changes my life. I believe this was a question from Heaven, and glimpse into the heart of God, and my brother’s.

So, How much of you does the Spirit of God have?  What say you?

“Contact With God” Week of Prayer, January 12-17


Contact With GodStarting Monday will be the week of prayer and fasting for Compelled Church. I will be publishing our prayer guide on the website here in the morning. I really believe the Lord wants us to make strong Contact with Him so He can do a deep work in us to make us more like Jesus.  That is our goal right? Our goal should not be to be better people, attend church, be nice, or look good.  The mission of the believer is to be more like Jesus Christ.

Romans 8.29  “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son”   NIV

If you would like a copy of the prayer guide emailed to you. Please let me know by commenting here or emailing me at   nate@compelledchurch.tv .  it’s going to be a life changing week.

Continue reading ““Contact With God” Week of Prayer, January 12-17″

An Open Letter to those that have walked away from church


I have been thinking about those that no longer go to church anymore. Some leaders call this growing group of people the “dechurched”. Some say there are 12 million and I have heard up to 30 million followers of Jesus in the United States, people who love God, and they no longer are part of a faith community. I know there are many reasons for this, but I want to express my encouragement to those that have walked away.
Why do people leave their church or faith community
1. They don’t believe it is relevent anymore.
2. Their favorite pastor moved on and the new pastor is not the same.
3. The busyness of life. Church just fell of the map.
4. The high expectations put on them, and the only way to avoid that is to leave.
5. People put high expectations on the church, and when the church/pastor/ministries can’t meet them they walk.
6. Some people offend easily and have left for very petty things.
7. Some people have been deeply hurt by the church and leadership mistakes and their pain is real.
8. Many are barely connected, don’t get involved much, and no relationships keep them there.
10. People are sometimes just lazy, and look at the church and involvement as a burden. They would rather do other things.
11. Culture has immersed people, through media TV, and more things in life gain importance than being involved in a Faith Community.
12. A good church will confront people with the real realities of life, sin, family, healing and wholeness, and some do not want to be confronted with their mistakes or their pain caused by others.
13. Tragedy. Some have walked because they have encountered deep tragedy and loss in life and believe God should not have allowed it, is responsible, and the pain of that seems like it can’t be overcome.

So here is my open letter for those that have left the Body of Christ and still love Him.

Dear friend,
I know you have walked away from the church, but not your faith. You still believe and love God. You have called upon Christ to save you and you have been forgiven, yet you find yourself in life, not part of your church. You have walked away. I know some have many reasons, and many confess to me they need to get their faith more active and return to their place of worship. Let me appeal to you to return.
I believe the church is imperfect. It is filled with people, and we are all imperfect, striving to do our best, but falling short at times. Please consider the humanity of the attenders and leaders. You may have walked away because of being hurt, offended, overlooked, or passed over. People, all people usually disappoint at one time or another. Internal pain is real. I can only encourage you to do the right thing for you. That is to forgive, don’t hold grudges and bitterness. You are suffering more than who or what upset you into walking away.Let it go, and return.
You may be out of the a local fellowship because life just got so busy, and slowly the involvement just lost priority. You are losing out on a lot.

Before you stay out of a faith community forever let me encourage you to return for the following possible reasons.
1. We need to worship our God through Christ. God is seeking worshippers. We do need to gather together as the Body of Christ and lift Him up. It is encouraging and we connect with our Lord.
2. You don’t have to go to a faith community to be a Christian, but to be a growing one, I believe you do.
3. Your family is being greatly impacted. Most families that walk away, talk openly with kids present, why, and the bitterness can be passed down to children/students/young adults who take on your offense, thus they live a life void of church and probably void of God too.
4. One can’t be moved, touched, encouraged, taught by the Spirit if you are not present.
5. Your absence is a loss for the Body of Christ. Everyone is a minister. Everyone has gifts. With you not being part the ministry of your church is hampered. You can’t teach anyone, encourage anyone, pray for anyone. You lose touch with the heart of God and the heart for people.
6. The enemy loves believers that are disconnected with the strength of the Body of Christ. You can fall prey to sin, return to your life before salvation, allow old habits that are hurtful to resurface. Active faith combats that. Unbelief incubates better and grow faster when there is not much exposure to the light or the sun (Son).
7. All churches and all pastors/leaders are not like the one(s) that hurt you, so don’t paint Christianity with too wide of a brush. Maybe you need to forgive and pray about a new local church to be part of.
8. He loves you and his people do. Sorry if they were mean to you. Christians say and do stupid, imperfect, and insensitive things too. Many have hurt me also. I have to keep my eyes on Jesus. I have to have the love of God in my heart for all people. Most don’t mean to hurt anyone, they talk before they think, not weighing the impact of words, being void of wisdom. It might happen again if you return to be honest. We both have also been guilty of this too, so lets receive grace and most importantly, let’s give it.

I know these can all be rebutted, especially by a hurt person. But I just want to encourage you to do what you once loved to do. I know it might be very hard, take courage, and more love and forgiveness than you think you have. But you still love the Lord and He will help you. He needs you active, present, and there. You have more to offer, more to give, more to learn, and more to influence for Jesus.

Thanks for reading. Don’t give up on the local church yet. Give it another go. We need you.
My Pastor’s Heart,
Nate

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