Living Poor


“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5.3

What does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? To be poor means to be utterly dependent on others and totally impoverished. The Greek word that Matthew uses here is the strongest word he could have used for “poor” (Gr. ptochos) it  literally means “undone, pathetic, miserable.”  This is the only place in the New Testament “poor in spirit” is used like this.

I am starting to understand this spiritual mystery a little. I have been a follower of Jesus for over 35 years, and I sit here pondering how I can live daily  “poor in spirit.”  To be miserable without God, and His presence? To be totally undone if He and I are distanced.  To have a motivation everyday to draw close, to need Him so badly, that I am pretty pathetic without Him.   I confess, I am so capable to not think or feel this for extended periods.  Without the conscience desires and heart-grooming to love Him more, I am able to live without that strong living connection, and consciousness  of Jesus’ presence.  I can study, function, think, eat, and even be kind and loving without being “poor in spirit.” But to live daily “ poor in spirit” is a different level of desire, motivation and heart posture.  It requires a consistent exposure to a posture of poverty in spirit I must posess.

To be needy in my spirit for Jesus, is something I cannot will, but I must “be”. How can this happen? What does this look like?

  • To be in such a love relationship with Jesus that distance brings my poor spirit distress.
  • To have such faith and true knowledge of the Lord, that I can do nothing of eternal value without working in tandem with His Spirit.
  • To verbalize, ponder, and meditate of my spiritual poverty and deep need for Jesus.
  • To know that “in Him I live, and move and have my being. (Acts 17.28), as I go about the daily, often, mundane routines of life not alone, but with the joy and light of Christ.
  • To not allow my experience, self-sufficiency, or knowledge to substitute a life that is indwelling with the living Christ.
  • To be with Jesus, to keep reminding myself of His glory, love, friendship, and life, which my life must be lost within.

To live like this is to live within the Kingdom of Heaven. To live without being “poor in spirit” is to live in the systems of this temporal world’s ways. To live in a state that we do not recognize we truly need Him in every way is to live in the un-desperate self-sufficient mode and the deception that Jesus does not matter and really doesn’t make a difference in who we are, and what we are doing.  May we not be deceived. May we desperately with all poorness throw our life, our day, our strength, our thoughts, our desires, into His hands.

Cultivate your poverty in Spirit daily by being with Jesus. More than a “devotion” or “quiet time” but a posture of heart that continues throughout the day.  Commune with Jesus in such a way, that if that communion is broken, you immediately know it, and return to being poor and needy for Him. So we really do live in poverty.

“For thus says the high and lofty one, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15 NRSV

Pastor Nate Elarton

Don’t Be Judgy


There are many people today who are not part of the local church because they have been hurt by the believer’s there.  One way we really hurt people is by judging them.  It seems Christians, unfortunately, find it easy to do this. I know I have been guilty of this.  I recently talked to a young lady who was “shunned” from her last church for her divorce.  Everyone just rushed to judgement that she was breaking the Bible, not knowing anything about what sad things were going on behind closed doors at home.  She was ignored, a single mom, and no one cared, they only gossiped, judged, and avoided her.  As we talked the deep pain that people she loved and served left her side, and climbed up on a throne to look down on her, her life, and her decisions.  She made it clear to me she had no time for church, God or God’s people.  Being judged stole her young faith.

I know we Christians are not perfect, but I also know from being in spiritual leadership for over 30 years, that we all underestimate the effects of judgement, slander, and gossip.  It deeply wounds people, it does not add value to their lives.  It is discouraging and it is hurting us.  It’s highly unloving, and we are asked by our Lord Jesus not to do it.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1–5, NIV)

Jesus commands us not to judge others.

I know the pain of being lied about (a form of judging called slander), having people judge your motives, being spoken poorly of behind my back, and having people treat me weird, later knowing they believe something about me that wasn’t true, nor did I know they judged me and my friendship differently.   We all know what this is like.  We have to forgive and move forward keep our eyes on Christ.

Consider the follow thoughts….

  • No one truly knows the motives of others.
  • We all walk a different road.  Our journey’s are different. Our upbringing, our childhood, our life are not the same.
  • Most things are not our business.
  • Judging is about looking down on someone to boost us up. It pride.
  • The humble rarely judge.
  • We always have limited and often incorrect information.
  • Judging divides, and that is the devil. He loves to dived families, churches, Christians, and people.
  • Judging someone else’s spiritual journey is one of the most immature things a believers can do.
  • Judging dehumanizes others, and is a twin to hate.

Christ gave us a new command and that is to love each other.   To be patient, to encourage, to speak blessing and not curses.  The Bible teaches us to not be prideful, to bear the failures of the weak and to lift each other up, not tear each other down.

Judging, gossiping, complaining, and being rude to people to their face or behind their back, is a visible sign, that our hearts are wrong.  May God help us shun this as followers of Jesus and to love others.  May we care more about people than their mistakes, pasts, or shortcomings.

Some other Scriptures to help us all:

Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11–12, NIV)

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.” (Romans 14:1, NIV)

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.” (Romans 15:1–2, NIV)

 

 

 

 

“Get Moving”


hikThe Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” (Exodus 14:14–15, NLT)

We see more and more terrible effects of sitting too much. We Americans need to get moving.  Our jobs, and leisure, just include excessive sitting.  It has been discovered that a sedentary life leads to all sorts of health issues.  The Mayo Clinic says that the health risks of sitting include obesity, increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels. Prolonged periods of sitting increase the risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Moving is life.  In the Scripture above the Jewish nation are leaving Egypt. They had been slaves for 430 years and after a series of plagues sent by God the Pharaoh allows them to leave, but then changes his mind and the armies of Egypt pursues them.  The Lord parts the Red Sea and tells Moses to tell the people to “get moving.” Get moving to freedom, to safety, to a new life.

We are people that move physically but also spiritually slowly at times.  We do not like change, effort, or leaving what is comfortable and familiar.  God is calling us all to “get moving”.  To move out to new territory we have to leave the old. Is there something old, and maybe normal in your life that you need to leave?  Habits, anger, grouchiness, and of course. sin.  These things not only hurt us but those around us.  It is time to leave sinful things in our lives that are quite honestly, ruining, or at the least, not adding value to your life.

Time to “get moving”. To move on to what is better, what is God’s will, and what will add more value to your life.  Maybe it is time to leave the way you normally treat your spouse.  It might be the day to leave the pain of your past that keeps you paralyzed with fear to pursue your passions.  Maybe get moving from the hate in your heart you feel toward people who are not like you.   Time to move on from bitterness, unforgiveness, and being spiteful. To leave this to the love of God. To allow His love to be part of your life, and you pass that love on to others.

Time to move on?  With God’s help, and our decision, let us “get moving.”

P. Nate

The Discipline of Confession


It’s hard to be honest.  To speak of our own weaknesses  is against human nature.  We always want to protect ourselves and control what others think of us.

Honesty is another one of those character traits that just can’t become rare

Confession is being honest with God and others about our failures, fear, inadequacies, and even sin.

Our culture does not want to appear vulnerable or weak.  We care way too much what people think of us, and we even try and control their thought about us.  We want to impress others, to be loved, and in doing the things that require this to happen to we are not true to ourselves or to them.

We live in a world where secrets and shadows are the norm.  to be totally and honest with someone is a very special relationship.  Priceless I would say.

We have learned to be dishonest, because we are all judgmental, and we expose others weaknesses for our gain.  We are a dark bunch in that way.

Admitting fault is ever so difficult but a strong character link,  — It is tough to say “I did it”  “I was wrong”  “I can’t do that”  “I struggle with….”  This all admits weakness?  Maybe not, maybe this is admitting honesty which is humility, which is a godly attribute, the fruit of the Spirit, and an attribute of Christ.

When we practice confession as a discipline it shapes our heart, molds our spirit, and attracts Jesus.  Confession is coming clean with the truth with God and others.

There is some wisdom here from Solomon

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”  Proverbs 28.13

Confession is humility. and humility always attracts the Holy Spirit.

Unconfessed sin will harden our heart to sin, invite more and we may be in danger of straying away from the Lord.  Sin separates, plain and simple.  We have a promise and a wonderful invitation, to total forgiveness,

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:9–10, NASB95)

Go be free, confess, and enjoy the mercy and love of Jesus!

Making Room is Making Sacred Time


Making-RoomAs we started the series “Making Space” this weekend, we have begun a journey of the spiritual disciplines.  I shared on the spiritual disciplines, and the need for us to take focused time each day for prayer, worship, solitude, meditation, study, and wonderful fellowship with the Father.

“Giving God time is creating sacred space in our lives in which God can act.”

Some have asked me what I do.  I will give you today’s sacred time for me.

Monday is our Sabbath. After a full weekend with 3 services, preaching, talking, laughing, and serving, on Mondays I can be worn out spiritually. The Sabbath is not just a rest from work, but a rest from work in the Lord.  I need refilled and refreshed more than ever.  After the focused time with Father, I’ll take a walk with Wendy, maybe carve today, be with my dad, get some errands done, and I always try to have the mowing done so I don’t have to do that on Monday.

I awoke this morning, and am just finishing up some of my time. I came down the stairs, and as every morning Wendy was already in deep fellowship with the Lord.  I got my coffee (yes I have to have that) and went outside to our patio.   I will also take some sacred time and “make room” before the end of the day.  This morning I started with silence, coffee, and solitude.  I did some thinking. I heard the birds, the traffic, the silence, and then the Lord. I prayed the Lord’s Prayer, read and Prayed, though and about my “Daily Office”. I sat in silence, sipping my coffee, allowing my thoughts to be on God. I thanked him for the weekend, the provision of a new Family Life Pastor.  I said my confession of faith. I journaled a few simple thoughts and read Romans 1-5. I  I often paused my reading to reflect, to think, and to listen to the voice of my Father. I  journaled some prayers, prayed blessing upon my family, my kids, my week, our church.  I asked God to help me be a blessing. I prayed in my prayer language for a few minutes (tongues).

During my morning I always read more than the Bible.  I always have 4 or 5 books going at once, like my carving projects.  I am reading “Celebration of Discipline” again by Richard Foster. Finished the chapter on meditation.

It’s not complicated. It’s simple.  It’s the time priority that trips us up.  It’s not doing, it’s being with the Lord.  If we really take time, God will act deeply on our behalf, changing us, molding us, and spiritual shaping us.

The important point is taking time and making time.  We can always sleep a little longer, stay on our phones in the morning, turn the TV on right away to get our news “fix” or rush right on to all our tasks.  I am guilty of all of these things and have learned years ago that these will not add the value to myself, like time with the Living God.  During that time with Him, I find encouragement. I hear His voice about decisions. I ask Him about appointments during the day and often receive supernatural insight.  I reset in His fellowship and receive refreshing by His Spirit.  This time will help me keep my mind and thoughts on Christ during the day.  And if I do another short “Daily Office” during the day that will help even more.

My prayer and desire from Jesus and that we will make time to let Jesus by the power of His Spirit do His will in our lives, hearts, and souls.  From that will come change, from the inside out.                                         Praying for us all, Pastor Nate Elarton

Take some time to comment some of your thoughts about this.  thanks

Some Scripture that encourage

“My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation (Psalm 62.1).

“Deep calls to deep (Psalm 42.7).

“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there (Mark 1.35).

“Be still and know that I am God (Psalms 42.10).”

Learn the Discipline of Celebrating


Learn to Celebrate, 

Life is too intense. We are too intense.  We are too much in a hurry and too stressed out.  I have met too many people that are so unhappy, so ungrateful, so worried and burdened.  We need to celebrate more.  We have lost the spiritual discipline of celebration and of joy.  There is a spiritual discipline we need of celebrating.  Celebrations brings joy. Celebrations give us permission to laugh, to joke, to love.   Even the serious church-planting, tell-it-like-it-is apostle Paul tells us “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4.4)  Twice we are told to celebrate, as celebration invokes joy.  We all need more of that. This world needs more joy.

Reject moody, depression and celebrate.  Celebrate the little things. I was celebrating when I saw the sun and it got up to 50.  I grabbed my bike and rode around Temperance, celebrating the conclusion of a long winter.  I celebrate when I hear of God’s work in lives and the revelation of His love to others.  I celebrated with my kids when they call me with a bit of good news, a completed class, an honor bestowed, a goal attained.  I celebrate when we dedicate a baby and a family to the Lord at Compelled.   Wendy and I will celebrate in a few week as our son marries. When we praise we celebrate God’s goodness.  I am convinced this world is trying to snuff out the celebrations that keep our joy.joy

Isn’t praising the Lord and thanking Jesus really a celebration. At most churches it looks more like a sad vigil of some kind, it should be a celebration of joy as our hearts are filled with gratitude and love for all Christ is done and doing.

God’s people will celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday in just a few weeks. A reminder that He is alive, He is working, and He loves us!  Please get to your church to celebrate this history and live-changing truth.

Do you “celebrate” enough?  Are you too stressed out? Too intense?  Too rushed? Too angry?  Too moody?  Do you just stand there during worship and praise times.  it may be time to really  be baptized in the joy and gratitude of Christ.

Plan a celebration.   A walk, a run, a coffee with a friend, and mini-party with Christ to thank Him.  Allow your heart, mind, life, and home to be filled with joy, and a celebration and grateful heart is catalyst.

This world is full of a lot of sadness.  We will encounter many unhappy times, but we must not cease celebrating.  We all need  learn to celebrate better and to rejoice!

Nate Elarton

Lectio Divina with our Compelled Staff


Lectio Divina (Divine Reading) is an ancient practice of biblical prayer and meditation. It is a contemplative discipline to help us be led by the Holy Spirit in prayer and hear the ways and will of God through Scripture.  Our staff did this as a group this morning.  Man, the Lord had them prayer some powerful prayers from Psalm 131.

Here’s how we did it

  1. Each of us  read the verses out loud.
  2. Think deeply of the words and the intention of God, in these Scriptures
  3. Dwell upon the truths.
  4. Pray out the themes in the verses.
  5. Pray out as you are led by the Holy Spirit

 

Psalm 131 (NASB95

A Song of Ascents, of David.)

1O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; Nor do I involve myself in great matters, Or in things too difficult for me.

2Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.

3O Israel, hope in the Lord From this time forth and forever.

 

Try it personally, with family, or Church staff using different portions of Scripture. This is a great way to spend a devotional time, “daily office”, and to connect with the heart and Spirit of Christ.

Let the Spirit pray through you.  Let him teach you. Let Jesus be your mentor.

P. Nate

lectio

 

 

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.

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  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?

Happy Birthday Compelled Church! We are 22 years old. I Love Church Planting.


Twenty-two years ago April 8, 1996 Compelled Church was started.  It was Bedford Christian Community, then. We changed when we went multi-site.   We left as youth pastors at Northville Christian Assembly, and with hugs, tears, and holy excitement, we moved to Temperance. That church supported us, and and sent us off well under the leadership of Pastor “O” Buchan and that loving staff.  Hugh Duncan, was the greatest encourager ever!  Thank you Hugh for pouring into Wendy and I, encouraging us, and giving faithfully in so many ways.

What started as a God-given dream in our living room in Livonia with Mike and Pam Hardy, has become an amazing journey of fun and faith! Rick and Beth joined us a year later. What at team, and priceless friends!

A lot has happened in that 22 years.  Many people have came to the Lord, leaders raised up, people discipled, children and youth ministered to.  Wendy and I are humbled and blessed at what God has done, and the amazing people he sent to help throughout the years.  What a joy to be imbedded in this community, to raise our kids year, and to live in the same house since the day we arrived.

My wife Wendy has been right there. Ministering, raising our kids, giving, serving. She encouraged me when I was bi-vocational, when I struggled through a Master’s Degree and at every stage of church-planting challenge.  My children love the church, and God’s people because this church has been so amazing.  Thank you Wendy for your support, patient love, and pouring into this life’s work as much as I. Thank you Abby, Gabe, and Levi for bring us honor, and sharing your parents with so many people.

We have raised leaders, pastors, help start other churches, and have another Compelled Church Campus in Holland, Oh.  We have send over a million to missions, had 3 building programs, and have seen God lead, provide, protect, and guide us faithfully for 22 years.

The LOrd  was there through every challenge, disappointment, and victory.

Thank you to everyone who has encouraged, gave, sacrificed, and supported the work of the Lord here in Temperance and Toledo. You are heroes.

Happy Birthday Compelled Church!  It has been an amazing 22 years.  It has been a joy to lead Pastor this great Church. Whatever God has for the next 22 years for our lives, and the church, we will be faithful, we will be obedient, we will have tenacity!

Love you All

Pastor Nate and Wendy

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