I was watching a bit of the world-champion Lakers parade Monday.  Yes, I am something of a Lakers fan, was thrilled with their victory over the long time nemesis Celtics, and enjoyed a bit of the parade.  But as the float carrying the Lakers passed by, they showed two young ladies.  These young ladies were going berserk.  They were screaming, yelling, jumping & flailing.  The broadcast team had some fun and made a few comments about these ecstatic young ladies. 

Then commentator James Worthy throws out this comment that blew me away: “They must be filled with the Holy Spirit!”

WHAT?!  You gotta be kidding me!   Arggghh!  Filled with the Spirit?  Is that what people really think it means to be Spirit-filled?!?! 

At Bethel Grace, we aim to make Spirit-filled disciples.  Does that mean our worship services should be filled with a bunch of jumping, ecstatic, hollering people?  More than a few churches on the evangelical landscape are under the erroneous mindset that these are indications of the Spirit’s fullness.

Is that what it means to be filled with the Spirit?  Nooooo.  Yeah, I’m sure James Worthy was just poking some fun, but why make that association?  Evidently, there are some things misunderstood about the fullness of the Spirit.

Here is what the Bible has to say about the matter.  This is quite the opposite of what “Big Game” James had to say… 

Ephesians 5 15Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. singing and making music in your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

An interesting contrast set up in verse 18.  Being drunk and being Spirit-filled.  It’s very interesting.  In both drunkenness and being Spirit-filled, a person gives themselves to the influence of something else.  Drunkeness puts you under the influence of alcohol, leading to reckless living.  Being Spirit-filled puts you under the influence of God, leading to joyful, loving, worshipful living. 

Notice that the evidence of the Spirit’s fullness is not found in a private mystical experience.  When we are filled, we are not catapulted into some on-high moment of emotional exhilaration.  We maintain a sound mind and our lives are set aglow with God’s grace. 

When I am filled with the Holy Spirit, my life is controlled by the Holy Spirit who already dwells within me.  I yield to the Holy Spirit who lives inside of me and then he takes control of me and he lives through me.  His influence permeates my behavior, my attitude, my decisions, my speech, my prayer, my affection for people, my worship of God.   The Spirit produces a number of attractive, God-honoring qualities in the life that he is filling.  This passage in Ephesians identifies several: community worship, heartfelt praise, abounding gratitude, and humble submission.

As much as I appreciate James Worthy’s basketball skills, I think I’ll stick to Scripture for my understanding of what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. 

Be filled with the Spirit, Bethel Grace, and we will experience the great benefits as individuals and as a community!

~Jeff

Keeping your word

June 22, 2010

Psalms 145:13 (ESV) Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.]

Today was a busy day. The morning was full of bible study, breakfast cooking, kitchen cleaning, laundry and watching the kiddos while Jenny was at a dentist appointment. By the time lunch came around we both felt as though we had full days already. Then heading off our separate directions, me to the church office and Jenny off to help her sister with a craft project. The craft project was just finishing as I was walking in the door about 6:30pm. After a quick one dish yummy meal we switched gears to do some tiding in preparation for guests in the morning.   I was just about out of steam and longing for the “much deserved” relax time as soon as the kids were in bed. Just then I heard my very bright daughter who doesn’t forget anything say “Mommy remember you and Daddy said it would be family movie night tonight!”

It is so important for us to keep our word in general (James 5:12) but especially with our kids. We need to put God’s character on display.

Praise the Lord for His faithfulness in all His words. May the Lord continue to conform us into the image of Jesus Christ and provide us His energy to keep our word and consider others as more important than ourselves.

Time to make popcorn.

Blessings,

Alvin

The Way of the Master

June 9, 2010

I’m off to a conference and training time (Ambassador’s Alliance) with the folks from Way of the Master. If you’re not familiar with this ministry then check them out on line or watch some of their videos on Youtube.  I’m very excited to improve my open air preaching and one on one evangelism. Ray Comfort, the head of Way of the Master was sent to the States from New Zealand to try and motivate evangelical churches to evangelism. It is working! The Way of the Master is producing T.V. shows that feature Kirk Cameron former star of Growing Pains as well as actively training and equipping men and women to be effective gospel communicators. Their publications ministry Living Waters is a wonderful resource for tracts, books and videos to assist you in your evangelism efforts.

Please pray for me to glean much from my time training and learning. Pray for humility and a teachable spirit through and through. Pray for my family and I as this will be the longest we have been apart ever. Pray for many opportunities for the gospel and the conversations that our group will have this week. Pray that I will celebrate in my own salvation and glory in the Lord knowing that but by the grace of God I would still be lost in the world without Christ and without hope. Pray for true compassion for the lost and a zeal for truth. Pray that the truth of God’s word would not be just my ammunition for others, but it would be the tool by which God Sanctifies me this week. John 17:17.

I look forward to giving a full report of the June Ambassadors Alliance in this Evening Service 13 June, at Bethel Grace Baptist Church @ 6pm. www.bethelgrace.org

Thanks,

Blessings,

Alvin

Michael & Marsha Slone have been missionaries for Bethel Grace for over 25 years.  They are currently ministering to Midshipmen (students) at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Mike will be visiting BGBC this weekend June 5th– 6th!   Mike bring his friend ENS Kwame Anyika as a guest.  On Saturday he will be speaking at the father/son Legacy meeting from noon-3pm at BGBC.  On Sunday he will be teaching on discipleship in the Salt & Light class at 9am.  All are welcome!  On Sunday evening, he will bring a report of his ministry during the 6pm service with a reception in Fellowship Hall to follow.

Mike and Marsha, who are missionaries with Navigators, help facilitate two weekly meetings of 40-60 Midshipmen for worship, community, and Bible teaching about Christian basics in doctrine, living, and ministering. Throughout the week, they meet with individual Midshipmen for personalized discipleship training.  The Slones have a ministry specialized in discipleship with African American students. 

These students, who graduate from the Naval Academy, will go on to become leaders in the Navy and Marine Corps.  So, by discipling these future leaders, the Navigators seek to “advance the Gospel of Jesus and his Kingdom into the nations through spiritual generations of laborers living and discipling among the lost.”

 Please come out and see Mike, hear him speak, and visit with him during these events!

You can find more info about this ministry at www.navigators.org/us/staff/slone.  Also, please contact Mike & Marsha and let them know you praying for them! You can send your encouragement to mjsnavmiluem@gmail.com.

Abort73.COM

June 2, 2010

What’s up with Pastor Alvin’s T-shirts?

My daily ensemble usually incorporates a T-shirt from Abort73.com a pro-life website that has gained quite a following. Abort73 has even been featured in a Sermon by John Piper. It is the best pro-life web site out there!

I love Abort73 for a few reasons. The web site is very informative with articles and videos to educate those ignorant of what abortion really is-MURDER! Also I appreciate that Abort73 is operated by believers. Mike Spielman, the founder and Executive Director of Abort73 loves the Lord and understands that talking to people about abortion effectively must include the gospel. Which is another reason why I love wearing Abort73 t-shirts. I get into so many conversations with people about what Abort73 is and those conversations flow into the gospel so smoothly. Check out Abort73.com, buy some Abort73/gear, pray for their work, maybe even consider donating to this worthy cause and ministry. Follow this Abort73vid link to watch a very graphic but informative video.
Blessings, Alvin