Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Advice from a Pastor on Talking to Your Pastor After He Preaches
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

We find it very easy in our culture to meet and greet folks with simple introductory lines: “What’s up?” or “How’s it going?” or “How are you doing today?” I would like to humbly and yet honestly suggest to you a pastoral word of counsel.  When the corporate worship service has concluded and your pastor has finished preaching, rather than seeing him and saying: "So how are you doing?" or "How's it going?" or “What’s going on?” I’d like to proffer some reasons why this is not helpful communication to your minister right then and there and then offer three practical suggestions to consider.

After he preaches, every faithful minister is emotionally drained and physically exhausted and mentally wiped. A pastor may feel like he has just birthed something that has resided with grown in him all week. He’s tired. He has just spoken for the Lord. He has just spoken the utterances of God. If a well-intentioned Christian approaches their pastor and says: “What’s up pastor, how are you?” a faithful minister would be tempted to say (even though he may not verbalize it): “I’m utterly exhausted. I’ve just spoken the Word of God for the last hour. My mind is tired. My energy is gone. I wonder if I said what I needed to say the way it needed to be said. I’m both encouraged by the power of the Word and discouraged at my inadequacy of handling God’ sacred Word. So, I’m worn out!”

So, as a pastor, let me speak for pastors and provide 3 helpful and humble suggestions for believers when addressing him right after he preaches.

1) Speak specifically of one thing the pastor guided you to see about God and His gospel from the word.
As those who are called to be hearers and doers of God’s Word and as those who desire God’s Word to sink deeply into our ears, let’s engage in gospel-focused, sermon-applying conversations right after the preached Word. How did your shepherd guide you into the pastures of God’s truth? What did you see today, this day in this sermon, about God, His gospel, Christ’s glory, salvation’s intricacies, or your duties to walk in God’s Word? Surely there was something that the Spirit used in the Word that just went forth to exhort your will, encourage your heart, edify your soul, and enflame your affections. So instead of trivial, mindless talk, consider speaking specifically of how God taught you!

2) Thoughtfully share a way that you have applied God's Word from a past sermon that has been preached.
Pastors can often find themselves discouraged wondering how the preached Word is affecting the congregation. How do they hear the Word? Are they practicing it? Are they obeying God’s truths? Are they loving Christ more? Consider sharing a specific point from a past sermon, or a particular area of growth and development in your Christian life, or a story of how God used a specific sermon at a specific time in your life to minister particularly to your soul. Those can encourage your pastor in ways that it’s hard to express with words. The greatest way to encourage your pastor is to live out the Word of God as he preaches it, and as he shows you Christ, and illumines the text weekly to you.

3) Simply pray right then and there for the Word as it just went forth. Pray for fruit, humble hearts, and Spirit-wrought work.
So there you are, you’re walking out of the worship center and you see your pastor and you shake his hand. Instead of saying: “Hey, how’s it going?” consider something a bit different. Shake his hand, genuinely thank him for preaching God’s Word to you that day, thank him for his love for you by guiding you into God’s eternal truth, and then ask him if you can pray for him and for the Word as it just went forth to do the supernatural work in the hearts and lives of the hearers. Yes! You pray for your minister, right there, right then, with him. It can be brief. It can be short. But let it be full of love, genuineness and desperation that God would watch over His Word to perform it for His glory!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

God Reigns.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The most comforting reality in all the world that gives solid consolations to my soul is this unshakeable truth that the Lord reigns. “The Lord reigns” (Psalm 93:1) is a repeated refrain that should comfort, gladden and uplift our hearts!

How does God reign? This brief writeup will explore 3 dimensions of God’s kingship.

1. God reigns over the past.
Go far back, as back as your human mind can possibly travel, and survey human history. Still more, go back even before God’s creative work in Genesis 1 and try to survey how the Triune God reigned sovereignly as the only, gloriously sufficient and everlastingly happy Being in and of Himself. But then consider history. God has ruled over every empire, king, nation, revival, calamity, rebellion, and conversion. Indeed, God has reigned over every moment of the past — including every moment of your past. Whatever God has wisely brought and allowed into your life in your upbringing, in family relationships (or, discord), in your sins, in your hurts and pains, and even in the many saddening memories of the past, plant your roots deep in this one solid reality: the sovereign God of the universe has reigned perfectly, wisely, immovably over it all. Let this reality console your anxieties and let it ease the floods of guilt and shame as you reflect on “your past.” Rather than dwelling on the sins of the past and remaining there in the swamps of guilt and shame, let Scripture direct you to the Sovereign over your past so you remain there in the ocean of His wisdom.

2. God reigns in the present.
Right now, in your life, at this very present moment, God is working most powerfully, wisely, and providentially for His renown and for His pleasure. He is always doing a thousand huge things in every small event in our lives. Right now, it’s raining somewhere in the world. Right now, insects make their God-given sounds in some rainforest. Right now, the massive sun shines brightly giving warmth to many millions of people. Right now, planet earth (and other planets) orbit around the sun at God’s specific direction. And in your life. Consider how God, right now, this day rules over all that happens. Your conversions. Your meetings (or cancellations). Your rush-hour traffic (that may be a bit extra-long). Your hearing of some good news of a friend’s achievements. Your opportunity to gather with God’s people to hear your pastor preach a text from God’s Word. Your family worship time. Your moment of evangelizing your children when they’ve sinned and are in need of reproof from the Word. Your urging a man you meet to repent and believe. Do not underestimate the glorious reign of God in the everyday, even the small and seemingly insignificant moments in your life. God is at work. This is providence whereby God perfectly works out His eternal decrees in everyday moments.

3. God reigns over the future.
Do you fear something that may (or, may not) happen? Is your soul anxious today because of news that you’ve heard? Do you wonder at your job security? Your children’s welfare? Your adult child’s salvation? Your baby’s health in these early stages of development in your womb? Your financial provision? Whether you’ll ever get married? Let us establish our hearts upon this bedrock truth that the one God who is wise and powerful over all is the God who reigns over the future -- indeed, over every single (individual) moment and event. From the movement of the largest star in our galaxy to each raindrop that falls from clouds, to every circumstance in your life to the unknown ‘possibilities’ of the future, plant your tentpegs deep in this marvelously comforting truth: the Lord reigns. Let your soul rest in Him!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Diagnosing & Mortifying the Sin of Complaining
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Philippians 2:14 — “Do all things without grumbling or disputing…”
James 5:9 — “Do not complain, brethren, against one another…”

Everyone does it. It’s all around us. In fact, it’s so normalized and pervasive that we hardly even recognize when it actually occurs. The sin of complaining is one of those “respectable sins.” That is, it’s one that’s hardly spoken about, seldom preached against, and still less frequent, a sin with which Christians persistently wage violent war. Complaining is ugly. Complaining is one of the most commonest and frequent sins that’s almost as easy to find and common as the air we breathe.

Complaining isn’t, however, the real issue. Complaining is the outward manifestation of other heart-sins taking place in that moment. Let’s diagnose complaining. When we complain, we manifest three heart-sins that are all taking place together.

First, complaining manifests an attitude of “deservedness.” It’s like saying: “I’m not getting what I feel like I deserve!” Or, to state the opposite: “I am getting what I don’t think I deserve.” And in that moment of a complaint, we soar to the realms of deservedness, specifically, that we deserve something good or better than what we’re actually experiencing.

Second, complaining manifests an attitude of “disbelief.” In the moment of a complaint, the mumbler’s saying something like this: “God, I don’t think you’re doing what’s good, or what’s best, or what’s right, or what’s wisest at this moment.” It’s almost as if the complainer is craftily suggesting to the Omniscient God: “Lord, I feel as though you’ve made a mistake and that you should do things my way as that would have a better outcome.”

Third, complaining manifests -- or, leads to -- an attitude of “ingratitude.” Obviously, in the moment of a pity party or whining, a person isn’t thinking about the majesty and dominion of God nor of the overflowing waves of grace that has swept over him. Rather, in complaining-times, we don’t thank God because we, frankly, don’t think we’re getting what we deserve. And this self-centered, self-focused, self-exalted, self-idolatrous mindset never leads one to praise and thank God in that moment.

The corruption of complaining is that it is a very sly assault and it is a frontal attack on the goodness of God. Complaining is a sin where the sinful heart of man rises up against God and draws the weapon and aims it at the goodness of His Person and at the wisdom of His plan and at the sovereignty of His rule. O may God deliver us from this monster of complaining!

Can this monster be killed? Is it possible to slay the dragon? Like all sin, there’s no pill to take to ensure a once-for-all removal of this sin -- especially, the heart-rooted, subtle monster -- but the good news is that by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, with the sufficient and heart-transforming power of the Word of God, in the context of the local church, and with diligent effort, by God’s enabling grace, every true child of God can -- and must! -- constantly be vigilant to kill this monster of complaining.

We can think of complaining as being synonymous with grumbling, whining, making a fuss, criticizing, happily finding fault with something/someone, griping, moaning, objecting, and even protesting. The Word of God is not silent about this and provides much help to weed out the roots of this sin.

Jude 16 provides a very illustrative and well-rounded portrait of the complainer (who, in this context is a false teacher in the context of professing Christianity). Grumblers are those who “find fault, follow after their own lusts; and they speak arrogantly, flatter people all for the sake of gaining an advantage” (Jude 16).

We must dig far deeper than just pulling the visible leaves off the weed of complaining. We must dig deep, we must excavate far down, we must pull the underground, unseen roots out of this sin of complaining. But how?

Even in the Psalms when David finds himself in terribly hard and distressing seasons (where he pours out his soul to God in fervent, honest, desperate prayer) he finds himself resting, relying, re-focusing, even re-orienting one’s perspective on the immutable character of God amidst the uncontrollable and shakeable circumstances of life. Only this gives contentment to one’s soul.

If complaining is the manifestation of heart-mumblings and frustrations at what is happening to me at a certain point, then contentment may be defined as a heart-rooted and solid satisfaction in God that does not shift with external circumstances. Jeremiah Burroughs once said: “Christian happiness, or contentment, is the exact opposite of a complaining spirit.”

So in uprooting the monster-sin of complaining and cultivating contentment, what is to be done? How can we, enabled and empowered by God who so mightily and powerfully works within us, cultivate this blessed, satisfying, and necessary trait of contentment?

First, let us study God’s character. Nothing can so uproot discontentment and complaining than a deep, biblical, thorough, and heart-enthralling study of the majesty, awesomeness, infinite nature of the one, true and Living God.

Second, let us rely on God’s sovereignty. Whatever happens in life, or to state it more precisely, whatever God brings into your day-to-day life, actively choose to trust in God’s glorious kingship, His good dominion, and His wise sovereignty. He not only has a decreed and immutable plan but He also providentially, powerfully, and lovingly brings that plan to pass through every single instant and event that ever occurs. Rely on Him. Rest in His unfrustrated kingship.

Third, trust in God’s bigger plan. Always remember that what God brings into your life (or, what God keeps from you at a certain time) is one part of a much, much bigger plan that God is outworking for His glory and for the good of all of His saints. This helps keep our focus God-centered rather than me-centered.

Fourth, gladly receive pains and trials from God’s loving hand. Gladly? Pains? Trials? Loving? Those words go together? For every child of God who is in union with Christ, he can rejoice in remembering that no good thing does God withhold from those who walk uprightly (Ps 84.11). Whatever God brings into our lives -- even the unplanned and unpleasant experiences -- let us gladly receive them as personally given by God’s fatherly hand of love.

Fifth, make it a point to thank God specifically, daily, and worshipfully. In a simple and summarizing word, the way to keep killing the sin of complaining is to keep cultivating the daily habit of thanking God. Praise strangles grumbling. Gratitude starves disputings. Constant thankfulness to God is the best way to constantly mortify complaining. May God help us to specifically, daily, and worshipfully thank Him for all that He gives or withholds from us, for His glory.

Download the pdf article here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

June is sometimes pronounced to be 'PRIDE' month. Often, 4 reasons are given by those embrace this worldview.

I provide the 4 reasons that they give and then answer each of the 4 reasons biblically by helping evangelical Christians with an understandable, gospel-driven, loving, and courageous response to each of the reasons.

4 reasons why many promote LGBT/Pride...
1. history
2. community
3. identity
4. future (much work yet to be done re: discrimination)

*How must we respond? What can we say? I seek to provide biblical clarity and gospel-saturated responses to each of these 4 reasons that LGBT adherents give.

Listen to the podcast HERE.

More on homosexuality and sexual issues found at Pastor Geoff's site here.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Today on the streets of St Louis, MO I will complete my open air preaching thru the attributes of God (2nd time doing so in the last 5 years).

[I have compiled a philosophy of open air preaching that guides & guards me in this area of evangelism.]
In the public & open air, I've preached on...

  • existence of God
  • sovereignty of God
  • aseity of God (Self-existence)
  • eternality of God
  • personhood of God
  • tri-unity of God
  • infinitude of God
  • holiness of God
  • righteousness of God
  • justice of God
  • goodness of God
  • omniscience of God
  • omnipresence of God
  • omnipotence of God
  • wisdom of God
  • patience of God
  • faithfulness of God
  • wrath of God
  • love of God
  • mercy of God
  • grace of God
  • glory of God
  • immutability of God (unchangeableness)
  • transcendence of God
  • compassion of God

Today I complete the study with 2 more...
  • the fatherhood of God (I'll preach Jude 1)
  • the praiseworthiness of God (I'll preach Psalm 117)

May God use His Word to awaken many masses who have heard about the ONLY, TRUE GOD in St Louis -- that they would flee from their false gods and self-created gods and flee to the one true God in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ the LORD!

Please pray for fruit.

All the audios can be found here.
More podcasts on the topic of evangelism can be found here.
Many other sermons in the open air are found here
A Primer for Parents to Discipline Their Children With Gospel-Grace
Bringing the hope of the Gospel to your child’s heart
Geoffrey R. Kirkland  |  Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Proverbs 22.15 — Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;  The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.
Proverbs 23:13-14 — Do not hold back discipline from the child,  Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol.

So your child has sinned. They have disobeyed God, defied you, transgressed God’s Word, and you’ve now taken your child into the discipline room. Then what? What do you do? What do you say? How do you discipline & point to Christ? How can you be firm with truth & tender with compassion?

1. Gather the facts. —  Ask questions of the child (as much as you’re able with the younger ones) such as: "what happened?" or “tell me what’s going on.” This way you seek to understand the situation (even if you saw it) and you’re allowing them to speak and give their account of the event.

2. Reach the heart. — Then, whatever happened to them, you ask "how did you respond?” or “how did that make you feel?”  “what did you choose to do in that moment when it happened?” Then you can ask: “Why?” All of these questions intentionally target the heart. We want to reach the heart.

3. Expose the sin. — At this point, regardless of what’s happened, it’s vital to specify the sin. Perhaps the child manifested a heart of selfishness, a desire for control, an outburst of anger, not considering others as more important than themselves, etc. The goal is to clearly expose the sin.

4. Prove it biblically. — Ideally, we as Christian parents should have an open a Bible and show the child where in the Scriptures they have sinned against God. This is crucial so the child knows he didn’t ultimately sin against mom or dad but first and foremost against God. This is where godly parents need to constantly study the Word and hide it in our hearts so that we can bring biblical truth to the child’s heart regularly & specifically.

5. Give the discipline. — The sin has been committed. The facts have been gathered. The heart has been exposed (as much as possible). The sin has been clearly stated and biblically proven. The child is guilty and has disobeyed God. Now the parent must use the rod. The goal is to bring enough pain for the child to see the error in what he’s done but, of course, the discipline is not to bring harm or bruising to the child. Using the rod must be done in a private location and it must be firm. Whether it’s one swat or two or three on the rear-end (an area that’s not exposed but easily covered up), the parent must choose to obey God and use the rod when the child has sinned. Parents must choose to obey God rather than follow culture on spanking. Culture calls it “harming/abusing the child.” God calls it: “saving your child’s soul from death!” Choose to follow God! Use the rod.

6. Express tender love. — Immediately when the discipline has occurred and the child is saddened by the pain, hold the child, hug the child, affectionately place the child on your lap, and verbally tell them: "I love you!” This tender love and physical and verbal reassurance is important.

7. Give the gospel. —
 Now is the glorious opportunity to say: “do you know why I did this? You've sinned. And our God is holy. You're a sinner, just like daddy (mommy)…” The Law has exposed the sin. The child has received a discipline for the offense. Now bring the balm of the gospel and the hope of Christ. The glorious benefit of this consists in parents having many opportunities (even daily, at times!) to present the gospel to their children who have sinned. Yes, our God hates sin and sees our sinful hearts! But God sent His Son to take the “eternal discipline” that we deserve. Compel your children to trust in Jesus! Sinners are saved by faith — childlike faith — in Jesus as Lord & Savior! Show them Christ’s glory, worth, work, and hope! Never underestimate the power of a faithful father who disciplines when he’s home and able and a faithful mother who disciplines in the home and how many gospel occasions this presents with the child. O may God use Christian homes to save children at young ages for His glory and renown.

8. Pray with them. — When all has been done and said, don’t forget to pray for them and with them. Still keeping the child on your lap and embracing him in your arms, pray for God to save them. Then, move on tenderly, lovingly, caringly, affectionately, and prayerfully.

More articles on parenting can be found at Pastor Geoff's website.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How can we continue to grow at, equip, work together, and excel as men of God who want to know the Word and be skilled in preaching God's Word faithfully.

It was in the Puritan era that the "Prophesying meetings" gained steam and notoriety.  These were simply "preaching services."  A text would be given to numerous preachers who would then ALL prepare and preach a brief message on that particular text.  Then, after a few of the men preached, the rest present would analyze, respond to, & provide encouragements and helps for improvements.

So, I was thinking of how we could train/equip and grow together as men of Christ Fellowship Bible Church (and others who may be interested).  Why don't we plan to do something like this over the course of the summer:

We'll plan to meet on Saturday mornings at CHRIST FELLOWSHIP BIBLE CHURCH SANCTUARY from 7:00AM - 8:30AM.

DATES *Tentatively Scheduled*            TEXTS                       
Saturday, May 27                                     Psalm 1
Saturday, June 24                                     Revelation 20:11-15
Saturday, July 8                                       Ezekiel 2
Saturday, August 5                                  Colossians 1:15-20
Saturday, September 2                            Mark 8:34-38

*FORMAT: each preacher will deliver a 20-minute message. We will hear 3 men preach each Saturday (=totaling 60 minutes) and then we'll have about 30 mins to debrief together and help each other grow as teachers/preachers of the Word.
7:00AM      opening prayer
7:00-7:20    sermon #1
7:20-7:40    sermon #2
7:40-8:00    sermon #3
8:00-8:30    debrief & evaluation
8:30             closing prayer

This is *building on the Expository Preaching class* that we had LAST SUMMER (download the PDF here & the AUDIO here). 

**PLEASE RESPOND IF YOU'D SO DESIRE TO BE ON THE PREACHING ROTATION. You are most welcome to come & join in the conversation even if you don't *want* to preach. But this is a venue for men who want to preach and improve their skills and see if they have the gift of teaching/preaching. 

Monday, May 15, 2017

The Privilege and Blessings of Godly Motherhood.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

No higher calling exists for mothers than to teach the glories of God and the gospel of Christ. 

This essay provides 5 specific privileges and blessings of godly motherhood.

1) Intentional.
The wonderful grace of motherhood calls upon mothers to be intentional. Mothers must be intention in how they live, how they communicate, how they model, how they probe deep to the heart, and how they point to Calvary. Coasting cannot occur in the calling of motherhood. Mothers must find themselves regularly calling upon God for mercy and wisdom so as to intentionally live for Christ and point the souls of their children to His gospel.

2) Instructional.
Motherhood requires instruction. No one should underestimate the high importance of instructing the children in the word of God and in the ways of the Lord. No greater privilege exists for a woman of God than to lead the children to the Lord so constantly through the faithful and deliberate instruction of God’s truth. Motherhood requires instruction and the wonderful gift that every mother has is the sufficient word of God.

3) Invitational.
Motherhood is a vocation of invitations. Godly mothers interact with the children regularly and call the children to learn about God and follow Him with their whole hearts. Godly women invite the children to trust in the Lord Jesus and to surrender to Him as Lord. Godly mothers take on the role of ambassador, yes, even missionary, in the context of the home as they find themselves regularly ministering to the children (however young they may be) and constantly presenting Christ as a glorious Savior to them and beseeching the children to draw near to Christ through repentance and faith.

4) Intercessory.
A mother must pray. There’s no calling so impossible as that of motherhood. To instruct and discipline and lead and live as a godly example before children is absolutely crucial and yet the godly woman understands that her efforts prove to be futile and vain unless the power of the Holy Spirit awakens the precious hearts of the children to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Thus, this gloriously impossible calling drives the mother to her knees to intercede for her children, by name, each day, with passion. Let no mother underestimate the power of intercessory prayer and persistent supplications before the Throne of Grace.

5) Incessant.
Every godly mother knows that her labors must continually go on. There is a constancy and a longevity about the mother’s labors that particularly crown her work. She must daily rely on God’s grace, fervently plead for His power, and supplicate for God’s blessing. She mothers in such a way that she knows her instruction is not to cease, nor is her love to wane, nor is her example to falter. And for this reason, she relies upon the Lord’s Word and walks in His grace each day. The high privilege of motherhood rests in the incessant calling to serve Christ and love her children.
Thank God for your trials.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Trials. We talk about them. To varying degrees and with various intensities, we all go through them. The Lord instructs His people to rejoice at all times. Furthermore, believers are told to give thanks in all circumstances. But to the natural mind, and even to the converted mind while undergoing the trial, thanking God and suffering in trials just don’t seem to belong together. They seem opposite. It often feels better to say, “when I come out alright on the other side of this suffering, then I’ll give thanks to God.” But it’s hard for me to thank God during the trial. And harder still, how am I supposed to thank God for the particular trial that He has put in my life?

Why should you thank God for your trials? I’ll provide 5 reasons.

1. Because trials humble you.
The genesis of all sins is pride. Pride is that monster, that mad and baseless thing that exists in every single heart of men. And God most graciously provides trials of various kinds and sufferings in various degrees to wean us off of ourselves and to cause us to go elsewhere for hope. Even still, the problem is that even when these trials come, our pride leads us not to trusting in God alone for His grace through the trial but it leads us to find our strength and hope in something — anything! — else. Trials humble us. They unfasten our grip on our control on a situation. They loosen our fixation with self and drive us to be lowly at heart and in mind.

2. Because trials grow you.
God most mercifully gives trials out of the Fatherly hand of love to grow us as His blood-bought children. Let no Christian wrongly receive a trial as God frowning with anger or gleefully punishing His people. Rather, let Christians realize that God graces us with trials to grow us, to refine us, to chisel away remnants of pride, selfishness, self-centeredness, and self-inflation. God loves His people too much to not bring trials as boons for their growth. As a man who works out exercises and stretches his muscles to increase strength and endurance, so God stretches His people to gloriously increase their strength and endurance -- not in themselves but deepening in their trust in the good Hand of the One who orchestrated and brings the trials.

3. Because trials refocus you.
Our minds succumb to distractions easily. Without even trying, we are a distracted people and we find ourselves dazzled and gripped by trivialities in this world with no eternal significance. O we are eternal souls! We are citizens of the heavenly kingdom! O the living God calls us “friends” and has secured our eternal inheritance. And yet we can be distracted by earthly items that tug our hearts and woo our hearts away from God. And out of His oceanlike love, God brings trials to refocus His people. Going in the fire of trials can refocus us on the power of God, the sovereignty of God, the goodness of God, the soon-coming reality of heaven, and the sweetness of Christ’s promises. O let us, like Paul, receive the thorns that are ordered by heaven’s throne as opportunities to manifest God’s grace in us and to keep us from exalting ourselves so that our boasting would be in God and in Him alone. Trials refocus us toward dependence on God and pressing close to Christ in ways that trial-less days are unable to do.

4. Because trials form you.
To bend metal, it requires intense heat. To bend us away from ourselves and to form us more into the blessed likeness of Jesus Christ, intense heat comes. And the intense heat may come from innumerable sources and in countless ways (and intensities) and yet the invisible and sovereign Hand behind it all has one ultimate end: to conform us more into the likeness of Christ. The glory of heaven is that Jesus Christ receives the eternal praise from sinners that have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and who have been fully conformed into the image of the Blessed Hero of heaven, the Captain of their salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ. God brings trials to form us into Christ’s image. Trials cannot, then, drive Christians more into themselves and away from the body of Christ. On the contrary, God’s design for trials is for Christians to be weaned off of themselves and to tirelessly devote themselves to the body of Christ.

5. Because trials encourage you.
Maybe the greatest promise in all the Bible can be read from Matthew 28 when Jesus assures His disciples that he is with them always -- even to the end of the age (Matt 28:20). Just after this, the Lord ascended in a cloud to heaven no longer to see them again. Then, the unstoppable gospel came with power in Jerusalem as the word was heralded and God saved many sinners through repentance and faith. And when the hardships, the persecutions, the threats, the scatterings, and the injustices came, God’s people found great encouragement in these times. The church was strengthened, built up, ignited, driven to prayer, and standing solidly on the sovereignty and promises of God. So when the times of suffering come, remember that God is with you. As David prayed in Psalm 46 that God is an ever-present help in trouble. O let this so encourage the soul of every child of God no matter how intense or life-threatening the moment may be.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How a Pastor Loves His Flock.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The measure of a pastor’s love for God is directly linked to his deliberate care for Christ’s sheep. That’s what the Lord told Peter after Peter affirmed his love for Christ. The Lord said: “shepherd my sheep” (John 21.16). So, how can a pastor love Christ? By loving Christ’s church. How, then, can a pastor love his flock well? In this essay, I’ll provide 8 helpful ways.

1. By preaching Christ to them.
A pastor’s preeminent duty in the ministry consists in the regular feeding of God’s people with the Word. A steady diet of biblical truth must exude from the pulpit of a healthy church. The pastor loves his flock well when he preaches Christ to them and constantly, prayerfully, and tirelessly points them away from themselves and this world to Christ Jesus, the Lord. No Christian should ever underestimate the divine power that attends the faithful heralding of the Word of God. If a pastor does all else but fails to feed his sheep, they’ll die. So every faithful pastor must preach Christ -- the sum and substance and sweetness of Christ -- to His people relentlessly.

2. By praying constantly for them.
A pastor must give himself to the hard and holy duty of prayer. He must long to be alone when others are content to live without it. He must desperately plead the mercies of God, the power of the Spirit, and the illumination into the word of Christ not only for his own soul but also for each of his sheep. Let no Christian belittle the wondrous power of intercessory prayer. The providence and sovereignty of God propels the man of God to fervent and believing prayer.

3. By caring affectionately for them.
A pastor must have a shepherd’s rod to fiercely ward off the dangerous wolves and he must at the same time care for Christ’s people with a tender staff of guidance, love, care, and protection. Indeed, the pastor’s heart should soar with affection for his people tantamount to that of a nursing mother for her children. O the heart-warming affection! O the constant attention! O the longing for their maturity and growth! He cares for them by communicating to them, ministering to their needs, speaking truth to them in love, encouraging them in Christ, reminding them of their union with Christ and the future hope of the coming and immediate presence of Christ.

4. By developing leaders within them.
A faithful pastor loves his people when he reduplicates himself. Wise is the man who replicates and replaces himself. The serving soldier seeks to find faithful men to whom he can invest himself and disciple them. With a towering trust in God’s timing and sovereignty, he looks for faithful men who desire to grow and he holds nothing back in sharing his heart with them, ministering the Word to them, holding one another accountable, and equipping in practical godliness, family-worship, and church-related matters. He knows that the church of Christ will never rise above the spiritual maturity of the male leadership, so he gives himself happily and regularly to the training and shepherding of other men through instruction, example, and prayer.

5. By modeling holiness among them.
A pastor understands the power of example. He has read and understands why the Apostle Paul urges the believers to imitate him and follow his example. A minister realizes that verbal instruction is one (important) matter but his holy conduct is just as vital. He cannot preach one thing in the pulpit and unpreach what he has just said through his sinful conduct. A shepherd says to the sheep: follow me as I follow Christ. There must be a model of godliness and an example of the pursuit of Christ that the flock can find in their pastor. This above-reproach lifestyle is unquestionably necessary in every man of God.

6. By urgently man-fishing with them.
A pastor loves his flock well by teaching, leading, bringing, and going out with his people in evangelizing. Proclaiming Christ in the pulpit is undeniably crucial (and no faithful pastor would deny that) but urging sinners to repent of sin and flee to Christ before they die and go to hell is also important. Jesus said: “go!” Indeed, he said: go to the “highways and the hedges.” One way a pastor can love the flock well is by teaching them to evangelize and taking them out to evangelize. He can proclaim the gospel with his people and go man-fishing together with them to equip them and energize them to do the same. A church rarely rises higher than the church-leadership in the area of evangelism. If the leadership isn’t doing it, seldom is the congregation doing it. But Jesus said: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men!” Go man-fishing! Soul-winning is one of the chiefest tasks of the minister of the gospel.

7. By bringing scripture to them.
A pastor knows that as newborn babies mature and grow healthily through a regular intake of milk so the people of God mature and grow through the living Word that is brought home to their hearts. Pastors bring Scripture to the people knowing that it is the food by which the people of God live. Speaking the truth in love constantly defines his daily ministry. He speaks the Word. He encourages in the Word. He guides and counsels from the Word. He prays the Word. He reproves and exhorts with the Word. He directs the people of God to the Scripture so they rest upon the unchanging and unfailing truth of God.

8. By magnifying God with them.
A pastor directs the hearts and affections of the people of God to the grandeur and glory of God. He makes it his ambition to say with the psalmist: “glorify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together” (Ps 34.3). He leads the congregation of worshipers to say: “Let God be magnified” (Ps 70.4). He knows that herein lies the path of true gladness and joy when the people redeemed by the blood of Christ have one aim to magnify the Lord Jesus Christ.

Are you prepared to lose your job, social relationships, and comforts for your identification with Christ & His gospel?
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The Apostle Paul provides a wonderful example of God’s grace working in a man even while going through hardships. Paul stated that believer can be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing (2 Cor 6.10). Suffering and hardship is not something Christians can opt out of or choose to steer clear of. Rather, the Bible portrays believers as being destined for afflictions of various kinds and sorts.

Child of God, are you prepared to lose your job, social relationships, and manifold comforts because of your identification with Jesus Christ and your commitment to His gospel?

1. The COST of following Christ.
Let us not forget that Christ demands everything. Every person must count the cost because following Christ requires everything a person has. If one does not love Christ supremely, he cannot be His disciple. If one does not willingly give up all his possessions, he cannot be Christ’s disciple. If one does not carry his own cross and come after Christ, he cannot be Christ’s disciple. Let us never forget the high calling and the demanding calling of Christ. The cost is high. The demands are ultimate. The reward is worth it. Christ Himself is infinitely worth it all!

2. The REJECTION of following Christ.
God’s people receive much hostility from those who reject Christ and hate His free gospel. Many are the enemies of the godly and they hate God’s people with a violent hatred (Psalm 25.19). Believers must readily understand and willingly embrace the call to be rejected by the world and labeled a fool by the lips of nonbelievers for the sake of Christ. Let an adopted child of God rehearse these words without end: “the word of the cross is foolishness [moronic folly] to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1.18).

3. The BLESSEDNESSES of following Christ.
Living as an alien in a hostile world, every Christian must remember and rehearse the happy privileges and hopes of following Christ. Indeed, a believer can say with Paul that he’s suffered the loss of all things and counts them but rubbish so that he can gain Christ (Phil 3.8). The ultimate blessedness of being a Christian and following Christ is not the blessings that it brings but the Possession that the believer enjoys, namely, Christ Jesus. The blessedness of following Christ finds its climax in gaining the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess 2.14). With the swarming sins, and the violent hostilities, and the worldly temptations, and the manifold mockings, let every child of the risen King remember that following Christ is the greatest sacrifice but it always comes with the greatest blessedness of gaining Him in His glory!

4. The ALIENATION of following Christ.
One can survey the Book of Acts and quickly ascertain that the church of Jesus Christ spread rapidly. And at the same time, believers spoke of Christ, followed Christ, suffered for Christ, and found themselves alienated from the world. They lived more and more with the undeniable understanding that this world is not their home. You speak of Christ and you’ll find yourself being treated the way Christ was. He loved sinners and found himself the object of their scorn. He was intriguing to sinners and yet the masses refused to submit to his summons to repent and believe for the eternal welfare of their souls. So Christians should prepare that as they speak of Christ — which every believer will do, for we always speak of that which we love — they will find themselves alienated because of their pursuit of Christ. The direction of the Christian’s life is gapingly different than that of the world. The pursuits of the believer’s heart are not those of society. Therefore, let believers pay attention to the precious promises of Christ that comfort and console Christians during seasons (lengthy and harsh, though they may be) of affliction. All the while, let the child of God remember that it’s worth it! Only eternity will show the infinite and unspeakable worth and happiness of following Christ with our all.

More articles can be found at Pastor Geoff's page.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Recently, we concluded going through the Book of Joshua with the men from Christ Fellowship Bible Church. We spent an additional week working slowly through Joshua 24:15 and talking about Joshua's resolve: "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." What is family worship? What does it look like? How does one get started? Is it really doable in our 'fast-paced society'? This is the outline that I provided our men to guide us in our discussion through this important topic.

FAMILY WORSHIP — an outline
And verily there is one spring and cause of the decay of religion in our day, which we cannot but touch upon and earnestly urge a redress of; and that is the neglect of the worship of God in families by those to whom the charge and conduct of them is committed. (Preface to the Second London Baptist Confession, 1689)

Joshua 24:15 —
Breaking it down for study: [see also: Deut 6:4-9; Ps 78:1-8; Gen 18:19; Prov 2:1; Eph 6:4; 1 Tim 3:4-5]
1. The Father's own spiritual growth (but as for me...)
2. The Father's own responsibility (and MY...)
3. The Father's own leadership (and my house...)
4. The Father's own determination (we will...)
5. The Father's own worship (we will serve...)
6. The Father's own theology (serve the LORD...)

The Church of Scotland took “Family Worship” seriously, as can be shown in what follows:
Men were strongly admonished if they did not lead in family worship. An elder reproved them and if the fathers persisted in this neglect, they were barred from taking the Lord’s Supper!

Jason Helopoulos strongly encourages us:
As a Christian father and husband, I am to continually put God and the testimony of His mighty works before my wife and children. And there is no better way to do this than regular, consistent, and intentional family worship. No matter how spontaneous I may be, sharing the truth of God and His mighty works "off the cuff" could never equal what we do in regular daily family worship. It is the best means for effectual evangelism and discipleship in the home. By practicing daily worship in the home, my family is continually put in the way of God's grace. The great accounts and truths of the Scriptures are set before us every night. We are daily seeking the Lord's throne of grace in united prayer. And we are offering thanksgiving and praise to God as we join our voices in song. Each of these elements of family worship convey to the minds and hearts of those gathered the truth of God and His mighty works in a full, regular, and consistent way that no other practice in the home can rival...Christian families practicing family worship will also find that it centers their home upon Christ. Our home is always centered upon something, but often it isn't Christ. It's not that we intentionally center it upon something else, we just unknowingly do so. Other things begin to dominate our common life together. It could be things outside the home as we venture out to attend soccer games and ballet lessons. Equally, it can be things within the home like television, video games, or even laundry. These can all be good things and they can serve a good and right purpose. However, they must all remain in their appropriate place: secondary and tertiary status. As a Christian father, husband, mother, or wife, our desire is that our homes are dominated by Christ above all else. Our hope is that our family and its activities will center upon Him. He is our Lord, Savior, and Friend. We have been secured in His grip by grace. And that grace welling up within us leads us to want to worship Him and see our loved ones worship Him as well.

This commendable resolution of Joshua, is absolutely necessary for every true son of Joshua, that is entrusted with the care and direction of a family in our day: and, if it was ever appropriate for ministers to preach, or for people to put family-religion into practice, it is never more so than in the present age; since it is greatly to be feared, that out of those many households that call themselves Christians, there are only a few that serve God in their respective families as they should. (George Whitefield)

“Praise is certainly not at all so common in family prayer as other forms of worship...I agree with Matthew Henry when he says, “They that pray in the family do well; they that pray and read the Scriptures do better; but they that pray, and read, and sing do best of all.” There is a completeness in that kind of Family Worship which is much to be desired.” (Charles Spurgeon)

Where to start & how to get it going?
How do you begin? Begin simply. Grab a Bible, read a short Psalm, pray a brief prayer, sing the doxology. Don't wait until you prepared or no longer apprehensive. Begin tonight. Many of us have already waited too long. And then gather again tomorrow night and the night after that. When you miss a day or even a week, don't beat yourself up, just pick it right back up again. Over the course of weeks and months, you will find it to be one of the great joys of your life together as a family. A joy that carries in its practice blessing upon blessing to the praise and glory of God. (Jason Helopoulos)

“It is here, in family worship, that the reformation must begin” (Matthew Henry).

More resources on "Family Worship"  |  ArticlesSermons
Praying for families in your local church.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The Lord calls all believers to pray at all times in the Spirit … and to be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints (Eph 6.18). What a privilege. But it may appear to be daunting and a bit impossible to pray for everyone in your local church. Where do you begin? How do you start? What could be a helpful guide to aid you in praying for your local church?

In what follows, I provide some ways to pray for the families in your local church.  Pray for...

1. For marriages to be holy.  Consider praying for the marriages to be holy. This refers to the husbands and wives fulfilling and pursuing their God-given roles as laid out in Scripture. Pray for marriages in your church to be godly representations of the gospel of Christ. Pray for set-apart, other-worldly, heavenly-minded marriages at church.

2. For singles to be faithful.  Earnestly seek God in intercessory prayer for the singles in your local church to obey what Paul says of them in 1 Corinthians 7: to have undistracted devotion to the Lord (v.35). Pray that they would utilize their singleness for Christ’s glory, to pursue the saints with selfless zeal and with relentless passion.

3. For widows to be disciples.  Pray for the widows in your church to pursue good works, to show hospitality, to serve the saints by selfless, foot-washing service, to assist those in need, and devote herself to every good work.

4. For retired to be disciplined.  Ask God on behalf of the retired men and women to live like Caleb with full strength and vigor for God, to take on great tasks and duties for Christ’s sake, and to emulate Anna who worshiped constantly, fasted, prayed, and lived a life of gratitude (not grumbling and complaining!) to God. Pray for them to be busily disciplined and continually strengthened by God to do His work, with untiring energy, out of love for Christ.

5. For women to be submissive.  Seek God on behalf of the wives and young women to be submissive to their husbands, to be quiet (as opposed to boisterous and self-focused), gentle, obedient to authority, and to be sensible, pure, workers at home and to not dishonor the Lord but to adorn the doctrine of Christ in all respects.

6. For men to be humble leaders.  Plead boldly and persistently with God to raise men and cultivate in men a Christlike emulation so as to be humble, gentle and sacrificial leaders. Ask God for men to not be self-willed but self-effacing and others-focused.

7. For children to be obedient.  Pray for the young children to obey their parents in all things. Pray for the children to receive God’s blessing and follow God’s Word as they grow in godly homes and hear God’s Word taught.

8. For teens to be Spirit empowered.  Appeal to God for young people to be Davids, young men devoted to God with hearts that follow Him and set God before them continually. Pray for more Josephs, young people fleeing from immorality (literally!) and living with paramount integrity, trustworthiness and love. Pray for young people to be like Jesus, totally about the “Father’s business” in this present evil age in which we live.

9. For babies to become missionaries.  Seek the Lord boldly and open your mouth wide to the God who is able to do far more abundantly beyond what you think or imagine to raise up and grow the smallest of nursing babies in your church to be missionaries for Christ’s work and service. O pray for men with an open map and an open Bible who believe God’s sovereignty and go with Spirit-empowered and evangelistic zeal to preach the gospel to the rough, the savages, the unreached, and unengaged peoples of the world. O God, amaze us for your glory!

10. For shut-ins to rest in Christ. Come to the throne of grace for those who are homebound in your church. Maybe there are the elderly who aren’t able to leave their homes, maybe people in the final stages of cancer or a terminal illness. Seek the Lord on their behalf that they would rest in Christ and not be bitter, or angry, or resentful or pessimistic. Pray that those who find themselves confined to the home would rest in Christ and bathe in Scripture and reflect on and proclaim God’s faithfulness.

11. For families to be little churches of worship.  Plead earnestly that every home would be, as it were, a little church, earnestly and consistently about the worship of God in the home, led by the father, with the families gathered together to read the Word, sing God’s praises, and pray together -- all for God’s glory. Pray for the homes to be worship gatherings where God’s blessing would rest upon those homes and where families would prepare in the homes for worship corporately with God’s people.

More resources at CFBC's website & at Pastor Geoff's articles page.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Pastors Should Beware of These Common Dangers.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Satan is a roaring lion seeking those whom he may devour. To be sure, he is chained and unable to spiritually destroy believers. Nevertheless, the chained monster hungrily pursues ministers of God and preachers of the Word so as to discourage them, discredit them, defile them, or distract them. Because of the cleverness of our great enemy and because of the proneness of our hearts to exercise little trust in God and wander into sin, all pastors must beware of these common dangers. Though not exhaustive, I’ll list five of the most common dangers to pastors.

1. Prayerlessness.
Honestly, prayer is hard. When else do you find (or make!) the time to be still, be quiet, be undistracted, and *fight* to be alone, quiet, focused, and passionate? In our unstoppably busy age and with our ever-increasing satisfaction that comes at amazing warp-speeds, one of the most difficult duties of the pastor can be to get down to his knees, open his bible before him, and call upon the name of the Lord for a lengthy period of time. To be prayerless is to exercise little trust in God. To live prayerless means that the man contents himself in his own abilities to perform the tasks that lay before him. But O how pastors must fight prayerlessness with holy violence. Get less sleep! Rise at midnight and pray for an hour for your congregants if you need to! Say no to some lunch appointments to go on a walk in the woods and meet with God. Shut off the entertainment and say no to the activities if you find yourself prayerless. Praying well demands time. You learn to pray by praying. And meeting with God in fervent and holy communion doesn’t occur in a 3-minute short prayer while waiting for the car to warm up on the way to a breakfast meeting. Diligently desire and passionately prioritize prayer. Pray in your praying! Down to the knees & up with your eyes to the heavenly Throne where the King of the everlasting ages beckons you to come and fellowship with Him in sweet communion.

2. Self confidence.
Relying on self proves to be the highway to spiritual calamity. Indeed, to state it again, trusting in one’s power and abilities and character to do God’s work will most assuredly give birth to a catastrophic disaster. The ministry of the Lord demands that the man of God utterly die to self -- daily! The Christian must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Christ. How much more must the man who speaks the utterances of God! How much more should the man who cares for God’s sheep slay every single shred of self-confidence and stake his focus supremely and exclusively on Christ and His wondrous power. Self confidence manifests itself in a plethora of ways. Little prayer before, during, and after sermons proves self-confidence. Lack of prayer before counseling appointments reveals self-confidence. More concern about your dress, your tie, your appearance, and your charisma more than being exegetically faithful and heart-grippingly direct in application is another proof of self-confidence. Too much trust in programs to build the church and excessive thoughts about being relevant and cultural and acceptable demonstrates self confidence. And this is tragic. Christianity at its very heart slays every part of self confidence and drives the sinner to Christ! So let every minister of the gospel flee to Christ regularly and passionately for grace and strength in every endeavor! Trust Christ alone.

3. Arrogance.
The very first sin in the history of the world was pride. The sin of arrogance rises up in rebellion against God in that pride seeks to be God. It doesn’t merely wage war with God (although it most certainly does this) but it wants to slaughter God and put self in the place of God as God. Over and over in the Book of Proverbs, Solomon states that God utterly hates pride. It is an abomination to Him. The prideful will not inherit the kingdom of God. Those who love self, trust self, enjoy self-accomplishments, and promote self-glorification prove they do not truly know God or themselves. Moreover, they misunderstand sin, man, God, Christ, the gospel, and the clear teaching of God’s Word. The pride of life is not from the Father but it’s from the world. So then, let men of God remember that local church ministry and every *single* sermon must be focused exclusively and exaltedly on the person and work of Jesus Christ. The way that a minister’s arrogance comes forth is when his sermons tend to be more man-focused than God-focused. It’s when the worship services cave into the cultural demands to serve what people want rather than what God requires. It’s preaching texts and giving clever stories to connect with the audience so they’ll be entertained, happy, and come back again next time -- and maybe even join their church! When people leave captivated more by the church, the minister, the sermon, or the homiletical outline more than by Christ and His substitutionary crosswork in all of its magnificent facets, arrogance has crept in for something has risen up to take the place of Christ alone -- and that’s the very essence of pride. Ministers, daily let’s slay our pride!

4. Lukewarmness.
It could be hard to tally in a handful of pages the many demands that rest on the shoulders of the pastor.  From service planning, to picking out music, to the selection of a sermon text, to the studying and praying and organizing and crafting of the sermon, to the meeting with congregants, to the counseling relationships, to leadership development, and to the love and constant care of his own wife and children in the home, it seems that endless *things* constantly blast the man for his attention and time and concern. (And let it be said that most of these things are important and good.) However, none of these things are good when they busy the pastor so much that his heart becomes lukewarm as he outwardly does the ‘job’ of pastoral ministry. O how common this can be. Just think of how many times our Lord confronted the Pharisees for their externalism. Few pastors are honest enough to state, after arriving on a Sunday morning after a real draining and exhausting week, and tell people: “Wow, I really don’t feel ready to preach for I’ve been so busy doing the duties of ministry that I’ve not been devoted to my Master.” Those statements are quite infrequent. And yet, that’s precisely the Lord’s counsel to the very wise, learned, theologically astute, and historically grand church at Ephesus. He told them that they’ve lost their first love. They had all kinds of activities and works happening, but their hearts were far from Christ. O let men of God warm their hearts early before meeting with people for meetings. Let us remember: we can do much after we’ve been alone with God in the early hours but we can’t do anything profitable in the day until we’ve met with God in the early hours. Kindle afresh the gift of God! Let the gospel grip you and blaze through your soul hotly and unstoppably! Meditate on the gospel! Preach to your soul what you endeavor to preach to others! Passionless preachers are dead preachers that persuade no one to believe. Take the gospel and dig them deep into the ground of your heart. Feast and focus on your heart!

5. Isolationism.
I wonder if you surveyed the average pastor how many close friends he would honestly say he has. Many pastors have no real close friends in the ministry or outside of their local congregations. There is that “pastoral pedestal” that they find themselves sitting upon (whether they like it or not) and who is he going to go to when he finds himself battling with lust? Where is he going to turn to when he and his wife are not sexually intimate? To whom is he going to confide in for accountability when he is battling anger with his children and impatience toward his small children in the home? How easy it can be for pastors to cover these up and not tell anyone because, after all, they’ve believed the sly and Satanic lie that they *cannot* tell anyone. Then the man digs himself deeper into the hidden nature of his sin by his own isolationism and lack of seeking accountability. Undoubtedly this is one reason why Christ Himself calls His church to be led by a plurality of godly, qualified, biblically-minded men to help and hold one another accountable. Sin happens. We shouldn’t be surprised by that. Temptations will certainly come. We are to bear each other’s burdens and pastor even our pastors. Have you ever asked your pastor: ‘who holds you accountable?’ That may be a good question to ask. Or, ‘where do you go in seasons of sin and temptation to wickedness?’ Though deep and personal, those are necessary questions to ask men in leadership. Popularity or being ‘the-guy-up-front’ can sometimes come with the false appearance that all is well and with the mistaken assumption that surely he has many men around him that guard him so that he certainly can’t fall into sin. But that line of reasoning is bad, unhelpful, dangerous, and tragic. Let pastors be open and honest with the leadership teams in times of struggle and hardship. Let ministers find other (and older) men to confide in and meet with for prayer, accountability, help, bible-reading, and nurturing. Yes, even the hard questions should be asked about sexual purity (in all its forms), marital fidelity, communication, intimacy, and happiness, financial integrity, disciplining and shepherding of the children in the home (and in family worship), and personal bible reading, prayer, meditation, and repentance. These issues should be asked of the pastor. And the godly minister will welcome these questions from other men who love and care about him and his soul.

More articles from Pastor Geoff are found at his articles page.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Core Tenets of Biblical Counseling
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Consider the following characteristics that should have a place in the life of every healthy local church:
  • Counseling One Another
  • Loving one another
  • Reproving one another
  • Warning one another
  • Bearing the burdens of one another
  • Edifying one another
  • Encouraging one another
  • Serving one another
  • Instructing one another

Maybe you read those and thought to yourself that you’re doing those. You see others doing these things in your church. It goes far beyond the pastor or the elders in your church because there are many men and women who are helping each other in love and with biblical fidelity grow in Christlikeness. And truly, all of these biblical phrases have a part to play in biblical counseling relationships as one Christian helps another Christian walk in a Christ-honoring way through life.
Biblical counseling is the skilled application of God's sufficient Word to the hearts of God's people.

Let’s break that down piece by piece to understand this definition even more.

Biblical counseling is the skilled application of God's sufficient Word to the hearts of God's people.
Biblical counseling is true Christian soul-care. Far from being a self-help book, the Bible does provide everything a child of God needs for life and for godliness. This does not mean that the biblical counseling community rejects science, medicine or the medical community. But rather, biblical counseling affirms that the Word of God is the ultimate authority in matters of this life and in godly living. So, biblical counseling, at its very core, is one Christian reading and rightly interpreting the Word of God so as to help others to walk in a manner pleasing to Christ. This underscores the preeminent need for good hermeneutics (=bible interpretation). The Christian needs to know what the Bible says and where to go in the Bible to help others who are struggling. This is something, to be sure, that any Christian can (and should!) do. This does not leave all counseling cases in the lap of the trained and licensed professionals. It shows that the simplest Christian who knows his Bible and who is able to get at the meaning of the text as the author intended it to be understood and who can rightly and appropriately bring God’s Word to bear in pertinent situations is capable to counsel others through circumstances in life. So then, biblical counseling requires that Christians know God’s Word well to be able to bring truth to bear in specific times. Again, any Christian can do this. The Spirit-indwelt Christian, armed with the sufficient and powerful Word of God, is massively more competent to help a Christian battling with sin than an unbelieving, licensed professional.

Biblical counseling is the skilled application of God's sufficient Word to the hearts of God's people.
Biblical counseling requires good hermeneutics to get at the meaning of the text. But then, the counselor needs to know how to go from the meaning to the application of the text. So how does the Scripture about “giving thanks in all circumstances” relate to a friend’s life who is battling with crushing anxiety? How do the texts about fearing God help the struggling Christian who finds himself so often caving in to the sin of man-pleasing? For these questions, the Christian needs to have the Word and the meaning of the text, but he also needs to know how the text applies to a fellow believer’s specific situation. Far from the accusation that biblical counseling is an overly-simplistic method of helping by saying: ‘memorize this verse and pray more,’ biblical counseling commits to walking side by side with other believers in the bearing of each other’s burdens so that sin is put off and godly habits are put on in its place. Again, no licenses or degrees are mandatory for this to take place. The Christian who knows his Bible and uses it to diagnose and bring change in his own life is one who can do this to fellow believers in his local church with a committed relationship of godly love -- or, biblical counseling. 

Biblical counseling is the skilled application of God's sufficient Word to the hearts of God's people.
Every biblical counselor stands upon and glories in the doctrine of the sufficiency of the Word of God. The Bible never claims to be exhaustive in all areas of knowledge. But the Bible does claim to be absolutely sufficient for all that the Christian will need for all areas of both life and godliness. The Word is God-breathed and profitable … so that the man of God will be adequate, equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17). The Bible is not just an option for help when battling with down and out depression, sexual additions, self-mutilation, suicidal temptations, alcoholism, or schizophrenic tendencies. The Word of God is the ultimate authority because it is sufficient to help the child of God glorify Christ and triumph through this life -- even though the path may be thorny and lonely. It must be stated again that biblical counselors who affirm the sufficiency of the Word do not reject science or the medical profession. Medical exams and care from physicians are so important to look at the physiological elements of a person’s makeup. But it is the Word of God that changes the heart and teaches the Christian to endure whatever hard trial or physical ailment that may invade one’s life by the good and sovereign hand of God. So again, biblical counseling underscores and champions the reality that the Bible repeatedly claims to be adequate and perfect for the converting and changing of the heart so as to make God’s people more like Jesus Christ.

Biblical counseling is the skilled application of God's sufficient Word to the hearts of God's people.
Another central tenet of biblical counseling is the target of biblical change being the heart. The Word of God does not promote behavioral management or simple external change. Too many examples exist in the Scriptures to show that God is not impressed with outward righteousness if a person is rotten and full of wickedness on the inside. So biblical counselors take God’s Word and apply it to the lives of other Christians so that the heart is wooed by Christ and gripped by Christ and convicted by the Spirit and empowered by grace to obey the Word -- regardless of the trying life-situation a person may be in. A wife may be in a tragic and abusive marriage to a great deceiver and yet she can glorify Christ as her heart continually is drawn to Christ, to His Word, and to godly living even enduring the hardships of life. This is where biblical hope is so profound and beautiful. It reminds the believer that God’s promises are yes and amen and that God is working all things together for good for His people so as to conform them more into the image and likeness of God’s beloved son, Jesus Christ. So biblical counseling refrains from referring fellow believers to psychologists and psychiatrists because ultimate change occurs in the heart, by the power of the Word, in the context of the local church, for the glory of Jesus Christ, even if a situation in life or a trial in life or a pain in life remains the same or escalates in intensity. Sometimes the tendency is to do anything to get “relief.” But it just might be that God may allow a specific situation to remain (and thus, to withhold ‘relief’) so that the child of God will grow stronger in his heart-confidence in Christ, in his fear of God, in his fortification on God’s sovereignty, and in his commitment to prayer, Bible reading, and serving in his local church. And if this happens, biblical counselors can come alongside the counselees and say, “to God be the glory!”

Biblical counseling is the skilled application of God's sufficient Word to the hearts of God's people.
If biblical counseling pursues the heart and conforming the inside of the person more into the image of Jesus Christ, then it only assumes that biblical counseling can only happen in God’s people. In other words, if an unbeliever comes to a Christian for counseling, that relationship will be full of help and hope because it will be evangelistic in nature because there is something far more important than simple physical relief from a pain or relief from a circumstance, namely, the sinner’s peace with God. So, biblical counselors know and understand that all counseling is pre-counseling until the person is a Christian. For indeed, no person can understand the Scripture or obey Christ or live out the precepts of God’s Word if they are lost and dead in sin. Only true Christians have the ability to honor God, obey God, please God, and to ‘put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh, in regard its lusts’ (Rom 13:14). This is not to say that biblical counselors turn people in the community away who genuinely need and long for help. Biblical counselors do not angrily or arrogantly shove people off if they’re tangled in sin and angry at God. Biblical counselors understand, however, the reality of God’s word and systematic theology derived from the Word that the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God for he cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised (1 Cor 2:14). This is why evangelism takes priority when a biblical counselor meets with a nonbeliever. This includes proclaiming the gospel in love, with patience, with compassionate urgency, and with fidelity in calling the unbeliever to repent of his sins and believe in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. And for the Christian, he has both the ability and the desire to obey and honor Christ above all things. Even if something is hard or seemingly impossible to do, the child of God has the indwelling holy Spirit, the power of prayer, his local church, and the counseling relationship to help him on the ongoing and progressive journey of sanctification.

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Some helpful words from Martyn Lloyd Jones answering the question: What is a Christian?

"You are not a Christian unless you have been made speechless!  How do you know whether you are a Christian or not?  It is that you 'stop talking.'  The trouble with the non-Christian is that he goes on talking. . . . People need to have their mouths shut, 'stopped'.  They are for ever talking about God, and criticizing God, and pontificating about what God should or should not do, and asking 'Why does God allow this and that?' You do not begin to be a Christian until your mouth is shut, is stopped, and you are speechless and have nothing to say"  (in Lloyd-Jones, Romans: Exposition of Rom 3:20-4:25 [Grand Rapids: Zondervan], 19).


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Church Member!  Fight to Attend Your Church Weekly!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Fight? Attend Church? Weekly? Church member? Yes, indeed! We live in such a swirlingly busy age with countless distractions and endless entertainments and overly-busy schedules. How easily and how quickly it can be that the gathering together with the people of God in your local assembly can be missed one week because of a scheduling conflict. And then it becomes easier the next week. And the next. And so on. So the title is intentional and the motive of this essay is pastorally & compassionately exhortational: FIGHT and make it a priority to attend your local church on a weekly basis.

I understand things come up. Illness happens. Vacations occur. There are providential workings of God that may cause a child of God to miss church. But please hear this: missing church should not be the norm; it should be the exception. It is your local church where Christ promises to walk amidst His people and bless them by speaking to them and ministering to them in very real and special ways.

Additionally, this essay is for the true Christian. This is not just another paper urging the unsaved to just ‘get to church’. This essay is for those whom God has saved and who have obediently committed themselves to a local church and submitted themselves to the leadership of that church. This is an essay for the saved to reorient the focus on the Lord and on His church because this in our culture can distract and disrupt and cloud our minds at times.

My argument? Fight with all your might to attend your church weekly. I’ll provide 7 simple reminders.

1. For the sake of your HEART.
Dear Christian, bought with the precious blood of Christ, as a newborn baby long for the pure milk of the Word so that you may grow in respect to salvation (1 Peter 2:1-2). O child of God, have you tasted the kindness of the Lord? Have you partaken of the sweetnesses of His love for you? Do you hunger for Him and thirst for righteousness? Attend church for the sake of your heart so that you can grow as you receive the food of the Word. No matter what you tell yourself and how you seek to justify it, it’s impossible for you to grow spiritually if you continually find yourself absent from the body of Christ. For the sake of your heart, attend your church to be fed God’s Word through the preaching and to hear Christ address you and the Spirit to mold your heart through the truths heralded.

2. For the sake of your CONGREGATION.
Dear Christian, Christ never called you to a life of lone-ranger isolationism. Christianity is never my Christianity. It’s always a community, joint, shared journey. And that journey is with other predestined travelers who are progressing and traveling to glory just as you are. Don’t neglect them! No matter what you tell yourself, private times in the Word (as important as that is!), and family worship (as important as that is!), and listening to sermons online (as helpful as that can be!) is not a substitute for actually going to the gathering with your fellow believers to worship the crucified & risen & interceding Christ together. Your fellow believers who have covenanted together love you. When you’re not there, they wonder where you are (at least, they *should*). They care for you and wonder if everything’s OK. We minister together as a body. A body has many members. When one member is absent, there’s something incomplete about the body. So make it a point, a deliberate point, to attend worship with your congregation.

3. For the sake of your LEADERSHIP.
You, dear Christian, submitted yourself obediently to Christ and willfully from your heart to membership in your local church (if you haven’t done so yet, you should). They are called by God to give watchcare over your soul. As a father cares for his children, so a leader loves and gives oversight to Christ’s people. As a husband leads his wife and protects her, so undershepherds are to care for Christ’s Bride by giving biblical leadership to her. As a shepherd leads and guides the sheep, so your pastor-elders must give biblical guidance and counsel to the sheep bought with the blood of Christ. Your leadership cares for you. They watch over you. They are to minister to you. One of the *primary* ways your pastors care for you is by praying regularly for you and preaching God’s Word faithfully to you. If you miss church, you’re neglecting one of God’s chiefest ways for your pastors to care for your soul -- through the feeding of God’s Word. If a child didn’t come to meals, wouldn’t a loving parent wonder what’s going on and whether the child is sick? So you, dear Christian, receive the feeding and nurturing and loving and guidance from Christ as His appointed undershepherds tenderly love your soul by praying, studying, and preaching. You should attend & receive.

4. For the sake of your TEMPTABILITY.
Dear Christian, still growing in godliness, fight sin and temptation with zeal. Have you forgotten you have a cunning enemy who would love to distract you and put obstacles (enticing and entertaining ones!) so that you don’t attend church? Don’t isolate yourself! If you miss one or two or three weeks, how easy it is (and Satan loves to underscore this in your mind) to miss just *another* week. After all, no one has called and (you may think) no one notices or cares. But how temptable we are -- even as children of God. We are not to abandon the gathering with the saints and we’re not to let worldly endeavors take precedence over, or priority over, the Word of God. To help guard you from temptation and to help keep you alert to your sinfulness, sin’s attractiveness, Christ’s beauty, and heaven’s nearness, fight to attend corporate worship as a safeguard and as a blessing to fortify your soul in grace & in the gospel weekly.

5. For the sake of your WITNESS.
Dear Christian, one way you can represent Christ to the lost is by prioritizing your church attendance. This is your new family -- your eternal one that is wed far stronger than just biological ties. You have a family of blood-bought Christians that you’ve joined yourself to. So, it’s OK (I would argue, it’s *good* and *right*) to deny attending a party or a dinner or an entertainment activity if it conflicts with your corporate worship. Priorities are good. Have them. Hold them. Stick to them. Let the lost see that you prioritize Christ and His Word. If you don’t prioritize meeting with Christ and the people of Christ and hearing the Word preached, why would you think the lost would do that as they watch your mediocre attitude toward it? For the sake of your witness, fight hard to prioritize corporate worship.

6. For the sake of your CONSCIENCE.
As a believer, you obediently submitted yourself to undershepherds to love and nurture and care for you. You joined yourself to a church and there was some sort of commitment or covenant that you signed. In that, undoubtedly you affirmed that you’ll attend church regularly. Do you have a clean conscience before your Savior that you’ve been true to your commitment? Additionally, your Savior loves you and calls you to attend and not forsake the assembling together with the saints. Never forget, going to church is commanded for the people of God. It’s never a burden but a blessing. Never a weighty duty but a delightful yearning. Prioritize the gathering with the people because Christ calls you to it and also because you committed yourself to it in your own membership agreement.

7. For the sake of your SAVIOR.
Dear elect child of God whom the Father sent His Son to redeem, Christ is present among His lampstands and He walks amidst His churches. Christ gathers to meet with you in corporate worship, will you skip it and refuse to meet with Him? O how He yearns to fellowship with you and address you from His Word. Will you find other things more important, more pressing, more entertaining, more worthwhile than meeting with your Beloved? In corporate worship, Christ speaks to you in a very real and powerful and special way through the preaching of the Word. If you miss corporate worship consistently, you miss the ordinances (baptism and Lord’s Supper) which are two commanded means of grace for you to remember Him and His substitutionary death with the people of God. Do you miss this? Do other things take priority over this? O your Savior yearns for you and loves to meet with you and anticipates meeting with you? So should you, O Christian, attend the sweet times of fellowship where you remember the gospel, feast upon Christ, receive conviction by the Spirit, and edification from God’s people. Prioritize it!

More articles at Geoff's articles page.
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