It’s All About Jesus

August 6, 2010

I received an email from my friend Richard Montoya today.   He sent it to several brothers to encourage them in the Lord.  It was his summary of a great message he heard that was just too good for him to keep to himself.  Read the very striking, Christ-exalting, uplifting truth from that message below.

But while we’re here, let me just say that this is a good example of having fellowship in the Word.  First, you get blessed.  Then you pass on the blessing to others.  It might be something you read, heard in a Bible study, or listened to online.  But it struck you, and one way or another, you pass it on to others.  Maybe with an email, with a phone call, or during a chat when you’re hanging out at the park with friends from your Sunday school class. 

Two questions for you:  Are you in the Word?  How are you passing on the blessing?  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom” ~ Colossians 3:16

Here’s a link to the sermon audio of the Resolved Conference mentioned in the email.  Read Rich’s email here:


Happy Friday Brothers,

I wanted to share this excerpt from a sermon I heard at the Resolved conference this year. Every time I hear these words it brings one big Amen to my day.

* If I could summon any angel from heaven and draw them away from their heavenly gaze to speak to us, they would speak of Jesus

* If I could go to any saint above enjoying their heavenly reward and draw them away from their heavenly gaze, they would speak to us about Jesus

* If I could reach into the depths of hell and rescue someone from their eternal anguish and bring them to us here, they would speak of Jesus

* If the Holy Spirit himself to materialize and stand before us, according to John 14 the Holy spirit would speak to us of Jesus

* If God the Father were to condescend from His eternal throne and stand before us, He would speak of Jesus

* However, If the devil himself and any of his angels were to stand before us, they would want to speak of anything but Jesus. Or better yet,
they would like to speak of Jesus in an inaccurate, an untruthful way. They would as 1 John says, speak to us of another Jesus


Are You Afraid? Good!

August 2, 2010

Jeff’s sermon to himself, Monday August 2nd, 2010:

Nehemiah 2
1In the month of Nisan, in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was before him, I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been sad in his presence. 2And the king said to me, “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? This is nothing but sadness of the heart.” Then I was very much afraid. 3I said to the king, “Let the king live forever! Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers’ graves, lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” 4Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?” So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” 6And the king said to me (the queen sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me when I had given him a time.

Nehemiah “was very much afraid,” but he trusted God, and prayerfully took a risk to do what his heart was yearning to do in service of God and God’s people. 

Chances are you will never do anything of great significance without being afraid.  Never let fear keep you from doing something awesome.  Ask God to replace your fear with faith and love.  Instead of fearing people, love them instead. 

In the words of J. Oswald Sanders, have holy ambition.  Not personal ambition, but holy ambition to make the name of Christ known in every corner of this land.  God values faith.  Believe in the Lord.  Trust in God.  Step out in faith.  Do hard things in Jesus’ name.  Do things that require you to trust in God’s power.   Advance the Gospel.  Make Christ, the cross, the empty grave and the second coming known.  They all need to know.  Every living creature needs to know about Jesus. 


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!


Elder’s meeting tonight!  I am very thankful for the men I am called to serve with at Bethel Grace!  If you have not yet done so, you can become acquainted with the current Bethel Grace Elders on the “Elders’ Page” of our website.

We meet every other Tuesday from 5pm until 8 or 9pm.  We start with fellowship in the Word discussing biblical principles pertinent to our call as leaders in the church.  Then we pray for the church, the membership of the church, the mission of the church, and the night’s meeting.  Then we seek God’s direction and make decisions about various church affairs. 

I thought you might be interested in the materials we are studying and listening to together as elders.  Be praying for us, that the truths contained in these resources would seep into our hearts and help us grow as shepherds. 

How about if I keep you posted on this stuff, and you keep us in prayer?  The elders will pray for the rest of the membership of Bethel Grace, and the rest of the membership will pray for the elders???  Sound like a good plan?  I think so too.  Thanks!

~ Jeff

April 13
Scripture: I Timothy 3
Messages: “Elders: Taking Care of God’s Church,” Alistar Begg & “The Good Elder,” by Kent Hughes
Both these messages are on the Gospel Coalition Website.  Any of the sermons on these pages would be worth listening to!  I’d encourage you to browse the website and become familiar this great resource!May 11
Scripture: Psalm 34, especially verses 11-14
Reading: The Peacemaker, Parts 1 & 2 (which contain chapters 1-6)

May 25
Scripture: Ezekiel 34; I Peter 5
Messages: Elder Training Videos: “The Elder as a Shepherd,” “Prayer & the Word,” “Speaking the Truth in Love,” & “Marriage Support”
These materials are from Tenth Presbyterian Church.  Some of their notable pastors have been Donald Grey Barnhouse, James Montgomery Boice, and current Paul Tripp is an associate pastor.  All these materials are so practical and helpful.  I greatly appreciate the humility and wisdom of the one teaching, D. Marion Clark.  June 8
Scripture: Matthew 18
Reading: The Peacemaker, Parts 3 & 4 (which contain chapters 7-12)

Mark Dever’s Study

April 21, 2010

I really like Mark Dever.  I like his preaching.  I like the church he’s pastoring.  I like his books.  I like his personality.  I like the 9Marks ministry.  I like his theology.  I think he’s a godly pastor and a great guy.  I like using the materials he produces at Bethel Grace. 

In this video, he takes us on a tour of his office, his “golden cage.”  My prayer is to one day visit this office.  He does “Weekender Conferences” inviting pastors, elders and church leaders to come observe Capitol Hill Baptist Church services and leadership meetings.  You get to hang out with him, his team, and be encouraged in pastoral ministry.  Maybe someday.   

I think you’d be encouraged listening to his messages.  I think you’d be encouraged by his books too.  If you’ve not done so, and you’re a Bethel Grace member, you must read 9 Marks of a Healthy Church.  We have copies at Bethel Grace.  Foundational. 

Watch this and I think you’ll see why I like Pastor Mark.  He’s funny–I was cracking up over and over again. 

Ok, without further delay, here’s the tour!…


RHollandSCI had a great time with the elders of Bethel Grace at the 9Marks workshop this past weekend!  All the speakers blessed us tremendously.  Pastor Rick Holland of Grace Community Church brought a message stressing the primacy and vital importance of God’s Word in the life of a local church.  Here’s my attempt to recapitulate a few of his points that really blessed me…

1.  Don’t judge the success of a message by the retention of all its content so much as by its impact on the heart and life the hearer.  Not everyone will remember every truth received in a message.  Most families don’t go home and recite the cleverly alliterated outline!  But the encounter of receiving God’s Word faithfully preached is vitally important to the soul.

  2.  Yesterday, many preachers wanted to be accepted by the academic world.  Today, many preachers want to be accepted by pop-culture.  Above all, Spirit-filled preachers want to be approved by God.

3.  The Gospel is not necessarily in every text, but it should be in every sermon.  Point people to the cross.

Here, There and Back Again

November 6, 2009

Here are some interesting items online!…

Desiring God Holiday Sale. ‘Tis the season! Start your holiday shopping with some edifying resources from John Piper at great bargains.

Increase in depression and suicide among pastors. Totally sobering. This is why the Holy Spirit inspired verses like Hebrews 13:17. This is why Christians should love their pastors and pray for them rather than criticize and gossip about them.

“The Day I Went to Church.” An Aussie describes his first visit to a local church. Oh, let’s reach out to visitors in love Bethel Grace! Thanks for the link, Donovan!

Free Tim Keller Sermons. Pastor Tim Keller, of Redeemer Prespyterian Church in New York, has recently made his sermons available free of charge. Awesome resource!


As you read throughthe Gospel of Mark, you noticed these words showing up again and again describing the way people responded to Jesus:

Think closely on these phrases:
“utterly astounded”
“astonished beyound measure.”

This Sunday morning at Bethel Grace we enter into the life of Christ . Mark will introduce us to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In the prologue, he will line up five testimonies revealing to us the glory of who Jesus is and what he came to do.  I am praying that you will be amazed, astounded, and astonished at his glory and grace.

Jesus is our banner.  Pray He will be lifted high and draw all men to himself.


Deacon’s Fund this Sunday

September 4, 2009

Deacons Fund-1
Perhaps you recall the massage in James 5:1-6 from last Sunday.  James spoke words of stern judgment for those who hoard resources with no sympathy for the people around them in need.  A heavy and challenging passage of Scripture!  And the Spirit used it to stir many of our hearts toward generosity. 

Here is one way you can help people in the Bethel Grace family who are in need.  Give to the Deacon’s Fund.  This fund is separate from the operating budget of Bethel Grace.  It goes directly to assist members of the congregation who find themselves in need.  It provides financial assistance for rent, food, medical care, utilities, and other expenses.  

It was reported at the August 16th Quarterly Business Meeting that our Deacon’s Fund is currently running a deficit in the range $1,700.  That’s indicative of how many people are turning to Bethel Grace for support during tough economic times.

This Sunday, as with every communion Sunday, a collection will be received at the close of the service for the Deacon’s Fund.  Please consider giving to this worthy cause!



After church services yesterday, I called Jonathan to come to the car so we could drive home.  He approached with a pensive look on his face.  He went on to clarify the “new terms” of our relationship. 

“Daddy, when you don’t tell me what to do, I’ll do it.  And, when you tell me what to do, I won’t do it.”

…Sigh…  Part of me wanted to crack up laughing.  Part of me wanted to weep. 

I love my little boy so much it hurts.  Jonathan, like all of us in our fallen nature, does not want to have an authority over his life.  He wants to be the captain of his own ship. 

I went on the explain to him that God made him.  God is his authority.  God has entrusted him to Kristy and I as authorities over his life as well.   And God has called  him to live in the circle of obedience to his parents. 

In Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp has identified objectives for parenting during three stages of a child’s life.  This book and these principles have been very helpful to Kristy and me as we lead them in God’s ways.  We recommend the book to you for further equipping and support.  


Here is a glimpse of these three stages and objectives for each stage: 

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