Ten Point Test

August 4, 2010

This is Todd Friel. He is one of the speakers for the upcoming Transformed Conference.

With so many in the evangelical community ascribing to easy believism and telling church attendees to”pray a little prayer, ask Jesus into your heart and walla, you’re a Christian”, it’s refreshing to hear this practical application to the biblical mandate for professing believers to test themselves to see whether they are in the faith. 2 Cor 13:5.

For a visual of what Todd is talking about download this Ten Point Test.




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!


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.



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




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.


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

Apologetics.com Radio airs every Friday at midnight from 12:00 AM to 2:00 AM (Pacific time) on KKLA (99.5 FM).  Doug Eaton is a regular guest on the show.  He invited Pastor Jeff to join the discussion on “Sacrifice and the Christian Life” this Friday night going into Memorial Day Weekend. 

Brew up some coffee and be sure to listen!  You might even give a call on the air at 1-888-LA-TALKS (1-888-528-2557).

Find more information at apologetics.com.

From this passage on divorce, we find vital principles for a healthy marriage.

Mark 10 1 And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again. And again, as was his custom, he taught them. 2And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5And Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”  10And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11And he said to them,  “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

Four principles for a healthy enduring marriage can be drawn from this passage dealing with divorce.  If these things are practiced, it seems such a marriage will be made divorce-proof.

1.  Men, step up and be a loving leader in your marriage.  It’s been said, “If mama aint happy, aint nobody happy.”  That may be true.  But even more so is this, “If daddy aint happy, aint nobody happy.”  A man sets the atmosphere of his home.

Note the emphasis on men in this foundational verse on marriage:  “A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife.”  The man establishes the new home.  The man holds his wife close.

Simply stated, God calls men to lead.  Their influence (or lack thereof) will affect a home greatly.  When a man leads a marriage in a loving, Christ-like way, good things tend to follow.

So men, treasure you wives.  Serve them.  Love them.  Lead them.   Guide them.    Help them and be helped by them.

Notice the great contrast between the Pharisees’ words and Jesus’ words.  The Pharisees use the phrase, “Send her away.”  Jesus uses the phrase “Hold her fast.”  Go with Jesus’ way. 

2.  Beware the hardening of heart in your marriage.  Jesus identified hardness of heart as the root problem of all failed marriages.  It’s sclerosis of the heart, literally scleriocardia in the Greek.  Men and women become cold and hard hearted toward one another (or one toward the other). 

Such little things can lead to hardness of heart.  He said he’d be home from the meeting at 8pm.  8pm comes and goes.  9pm comes and goes. 10pm comes and her heart is angry and she just goes to bed.  She swallows her frustration.  Or, a man comes home a finds the house not in the order he desires.  His heart gets irritated.  He internalizes it. 

If your heart keeps absorbing these kinds of things, soon it will get hard. 

Keep your heart filled with love.  Always view one another through the kind and sympathetic eyes of love.  Don’t let bitterness fester.  Don’t let your affection to go dim.  Rekindle that love and tenderness of heart throughout marriage.

Take Hebrews 3:12-13 very seriously.

3.  Keep in view God’s all time blueprint for your marriage.   “A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

This profound sentence is found first in Genesis 2:24, then in the Gospels (Mark 10 & Matthew 19), and then again in Ephesians 5.  It is God’s all time plan for marriage.  Notice it was established in the garden prior to sin and the curse.  Then it was reaffirmed by Christ as God’s plan during the age prior to the outpouring of his Spirit.  Then it was re-taught again by Paul in the post-Pentecost age when the Spirit indwells and empowers believers.

Leave, cleave and become one.  God’s all time blueprint for marriage, in the language of Wayne Mack.  God keeps it in our view througout Scripture.  There are treasures of wisdom and practical help in that phrase.  It’s all about the priority of marriage, the permanence of marriage and the unity of marriage. 

4.  Deny yourself and be a servant in your marriage.   All through Mark 8-10, Jesus emphasizes the key Kingdom principle: whoever will be great must be the servant of all.  The great ones are the deacons, the servants, the “table waiters.”  It’s all about helping in practical tangible ways. 

Your home gives you a great opportunity to live out Christian discipleship.  The heart of Christian discipleship is to be a servant of all.  This should begin with your spouse. 

You must be the deacons of all, lovingly attending to all those God places in your life.  This starts with those who are in your own household.  If you are going to be a great in the Kingdom, if you are going to be a disciple, you must order yourself last and be a servant.  Start with those living under your roof, and the especially the one sleeping in your bed with you.


Here is a headline that I read today from USA Today:  “Floyd Landis comes clean, accuses Lance Armstrong.”  

If only it was just one phrase.  Why did there have to be two phrases there?  If only the confession was all there was to report.  If there was nothing else except, “Floyd Landis comes clean,” my heart goes out to the man.  He used performance enhancing drugs, and now he is humbling himself to clear his burdened conscience.  But with the attachment, “accuses Lance Armstrong,” I’m sorry, but it just seems to reek with pride and vindictiveness.  And it seems an attempt to mitigate the damage done to his own reputation by diluting the offense.  “Ok, I did it!  But I’m not the only one.  Everyone is doing it.  Fine, I’ll ‘come clean.’  But I’m taking everyone else down too.”

But my heart does go out to Landis.  The same kind of pride that just seems to be dripping off his confession also lives in me, and must be subdued by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

I’ve been reading The Peacemaker by Ken Sande.  He has a section called “The Seven A’s of Confession.”   The second one is “Avoid if, but and maybe.”  Don’t use those words in a confession.   They ruin everything.  I wonder how many confessions I’ve spoiled with the word, “but”?  If the word “but” is ever added to a confession of wrong or guilt, believe me, that confession will lose the force and power for healing it would have otherwise carried. 

I write all of this to help us in our relationships and fellowship.  The time will come when one of us blows it, missteps or sins against another.  When that times comes, and confession needs to occur and guilt needs to be acknowledged, let’s remember how powerful humility is.    Let’s remember how deflecting, evading, excusing, and finger-pointing will deflate the whole thing.  Humility and honesty are very powerful.  Grace seems to flow abundantly to those who practice them.  God gives us the ability to do it in a way that honors him.