Silence


I’m learning to be silent.  To stop talking, stop planning, stop scrolling, stop moving, and be silent and still as a spiritual discipline to hear the Lord. Several years ago after reading “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero I began to practice this as spiritual formation.  To stop, listen to the Lord, and be more contemplative.

I have always known this was the key to being close to Jesus.  He is Spirit, so our spirit man seeks union with Him.  But we have too many things that rob the silence.  We have evolved into a people that feels worthless, unless we are doing something and accomplishing something.  Peter Scazzero says “We were not created to be human-doings, but human beings.”  He is stressing that we do not slow down to be with God. I lived in this deception until I could no longer, thinking my value was based on what I did for the Lord.   I worked my tail off to planting Compelled Church and often neglected my “being” and put all energy into my “doing”. The successes did not go unnoticed.

This got attention, awards,  accolades, plaques, and speaking engagements.  I was elected to positions I did not deserve, nor was I qualified.   The Christian Tribe affirms this imbalance, and more pastors fall prey until they wear out, burn out, or get out.  I was saved from this and now enjoy my life, marriage, friendships, time with Christ and pastoring more than I ever thought was possible. But pastors are not the only ones who struggle with just being with Jesus, for the purpose of relationship.  Every believer does. I know this. I have been a pastor for over 30 years.

Jesus did spent time alone.   “Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” Mark 1.35

“We enter into solitude first of all to meet our Lord and to be with him and him alone.” Henri Nouwen wrote this.  We are not meeting with him to get-get-get–ask-ask-ask- beg-beg-beg. But we make time to be with God.

To be silent to listen to God, we need to be alone, without sound, music, news, phones, screens.  Then we began to be real with God. It’s just us.  No friends, no topics, no weather to discuss. It’s just our true self with a living God.  Then we listen, with our hearts and spiritual ears, and transformation begins.  Our thoughts merge with His thoughts, our hearts unite, and the open heart surgery of the Spirit of God picks up where it left off.  We become more like Christ. We forsake the world. We desire what He desires.   We grow, we contemplate, we are filled with contentment and joy as the Spirit of God speaks, without words, because the silence and solitude allows.

We can then read the Word of God for transformation not information. We can pray the Scriptures and they jump into us with life and spiritual energy. We can be convicted of sin, and convinced by  our Father to forsake this world.  Silence.

This kind of prayer is the prayer Jesus intended.  This is the kind of prayer that makes us like him.  Then when we talk, after we listen, we talk very differently, as we know how to talk to Him better.  We don’t read off a to-do list to God of what we command Him to do (how foolish we are!). We don’t tell him what we have planned and command Him to bless it (ditto!). We pray and talk to our friend about true state, our heart, our pain, our fears, our need, and we are moved from “glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3.18).

Try it.  Just try a spend a few minutes a day in utter silence and solitude and enjoy union with Christ.  Enjoy being with Him.  Delight in your being his son and daughter, no doing.

“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”   Psalm 46.10

Pastor Nate Elarton

Knowing God


We know much about God, but few really know God and fewer understand Him.  We know and experience a lot of the “culture” of God, or the church.  The potlucks, the music, the jargon of God’s people,, the do’s and don’ts of faith. These things are familiar to us, yet really  knowing  God escapes most.  We understand the way to God or the Father is Jesus and His work on the cross, and resurrection, but to know the Lord, and to have friendship with God is elusive to most, never thought about to some, and pursued by the minority of those who admit to being His people.

To know someone takes time.  Sadly, I must confess, we try to know God, while investing as little time as possible.  Many families worship together now, only a couple times a month, some do some Bible reading at home, and say some prayers.  I must confess to my own lethargic attention at times to my efforts to know the God of the universe. It is no wonder when hard times hit us, we wonder where God is?  When the comforts of our modern culture are interrupted we question the very existence of God and our own faith.  Making large investments into our soul, must no longer seem impossible, out of reach, or unrealistic. It is time to take time to know Him.

I have learned and I am being being reminded (as of late), that there are no short cuts to knowing God.  There are no “hacks” or apps that make it faster and easier than daily investing some time, reserving some place in our thoughts, and making choices in our day, to carve out time to get to know our closest friend.  It is all about time.  We, I, am too much in a hurry.  We have too many things to do, and we are hurried even when there is respite and time off.  We must complete the yard work quickly, get the kids to bed, eat and do chores fast, and we never pace our lives  to enjoy the life God has given us,  for He is not separated from us, therefore, He is not separated from our daily activities of our  lives, however mundane and routine they are.   We must grasp the realization that we are living with Christ, all the time. So setting aside extra time in the day to know Him, is not that out of reach.

Being taught by the living Christ, through contemplative prayer, solitude, true study of Scripture, and prayer will lead us to knowing God  on a level we never thought was possible.  We must reserve room in our mind to think of him, and to become one in thought, heart, and soul.   We must immerse ourselves in solitude and silence, with undisturbed times from the electronics, of phones, and IPads, that ding, alert us, and drag us back to the hurried world, and out of His presence. We must rush off, making money, making friends, making our mark on this earth, but without knowing  God it is all in vain, hollow, and pointless.

We must invest in our spirit, in the same way in invest in our physical bodies.  This investment has the greatest return. We will slowly, day by day, understand the Lord, feel His heart, grow in love, and many things in the world that we have been deceived as being such a high priority begin to grow, “strangely dim”.

We make time to do so many things, that I think the “I don’t have time” excuses have no more merit. The stakes are too high. Your transformation is imperative to your parenting, marriage, vocation, and enjoyment of life if we truly want  the abundant life Christ promised us (John 10.10).

May this Psalm be the cry of our heart, and the evidence of that cry
1 O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
2 I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.
3 Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!
4 I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
5 You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.

6 I lie awake thinking of you,
meditating on you through the night.
7 Because you are my helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
8 I cling to you;
your strong right hand holds me securely.
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Ps 63:1–8). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

Are you an “Average” Christian? Don’t be!


Are you an “average” Christian?  Is being average good or bad?  Does God grade on a curve so being average is acceptable an/or praiseworthy.  Here is my nonscientific, understanding of an average Christian int he 21st century. This comes from my education, experience, and observations after being in ministry 25 years.

An Average Christian in 21 century America….

  • They are saved, as we are saved by faith, not works, so we don’t boast.
  • Does not tithe or give regularly.
  • Attends their church about 2 times a month.(some say 1 time a month is being faithful!)
  • Is semi-involved in the life of their church and community.
  • Almost never invites someone or has led someone to Christ for salvation.
  • Most likely-is not in a small group to grow in faith, and does not attend mid-week.
  • Reads their Bible a couple times a week and prayes a couple minutes a day.
  • Never fasts. 
  • Is not involved in ministry on a consistent basis.

God has called us to follow him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and might.  This definitely is a clarion call to go further, higher, and deeper than just the “average” American 21st century Christian.  I believe we are being robbed, as being average, moves us toward complacency, and even apatheticness to the mission of Christ, the church, and our lives.  Jesus has more for us, but settling for average will never get us to more. Don’t be average but be above the norm.  Do what God wants in your life. Obey Him with all of your heart. Step up on the personal disciplines that bring spiritual formation and transformation into being more like Christ. Move forward!  Desire more! You will never regret it. Imagea

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