Wednesday, September 21, 2016

REJOICE, YOUNG MAN!  [Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1]

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Young men, God calls you to rejoice! Perhaps nothing will distinguish you as a young man of God more than a happy, joyful, satisfied Christian. This most surely will set you apart from the world. But you, young man, may ask: is it even possible for me to rejoice? I have so much going on, so many emotions, so many hardships, so many hurt and broken relationships, so many confusing changes in life, can I rejoice? Indeed, you may ask: how can I rejoice? To that question, I want to provide 5 words of counsel to you, young people, so that you would rejoice in your God!

God calls you, young man, to rejoice in Him! Indeed, you are to rejoice in your youthful years. And the way that God instructs His people to do that is to let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. This provides a wondrously helpful clue into living a life of true joy and happiness -- guarding your heart. Your heart is the gate into the city of your life. Your heart is the door that protects your house. Your heart is the door that, when opened, lets out everything that has been contained inside. The words you speak are merely the revealing of what’s in your heart. The things you watch and ponder demonstrate what it is you really want. The conduct and actions of your life will prove what it is you really chase after and pursue. To guard your mouth, your desires, and your actions, the solution is quite simple: watch the door of your heart. And this is what God says: let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. How do you do this? Put down the device and fill your heart with Truth. There is truth. There is objective truth -- and it’s God’s Truth, revealed in the Word of Truth & you can commune intimately with Him who is the Way and the Truth, and the Life. Guard the door of your heart. Fill your heart with God’s truth in Scripture. Download truth daily into the hard-drive of your heart. Go back again and again to the treasure of God’s truth!

A plague seems to be hijacking young people’s minds and taking them to the grave perilously -- and that is that young people live for the here and now and give no thought to life after death (=eternity). God says to you, young man: follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes! Ah, but just remember one thing: God will bring you to judgment for all these things (Ecclesiastes 11.9). What is God’s word of wisdom to you? Live your life well and enjoy life, but in all that you do, remember that God will judge you for it. Quite simply, young man: live your days, speak from your lips, let your eyes gaze, conduct your life in such a way that you constantly remind yourself that God will judge you for these things. After all, God made you and He knows you. He cares for His creation! If you perpetually placarded upon the frame of your brain that God would bring every act of yours into judgment on that Great Day to come, you would think twice before you click on that link, zoom on that picture, touch that woman, go to that party, listen to that music, or engage in that activity. Young man, you would do well to keep future judgment always in mind.

Life is a fight. For young men, you get that reality. The tragedy is that many young men fight for the fleeting, momentary pleasures that just don’t satisfy because they were never intended to satisfy the deep recesses of your soul. Sex, money, pleasure, friendships, grades, jobs, careers, popularity are chased after with relentless zeal in our day. But young men, remember this: you must exert great energy to fight -- and fight hard -- against sin! There is one great goal in life: to love God and to worship God and to follow God. Whatever keeps you from the triumphant treasure and the seriously delightful journey of joy must be cast aside so you can fight hard against sin and fight hard to follow Christ. God says to you, young man, remove grief and anger from your heart and put away pain from your body (Ecclesiastes 11:10). What does God mean by this? Make the most of your youth because these prime years of your life are fleeting. Don’t indulge in sinful lusts of youthfulness. Rather, put away such sins by fighting fervently against sin and following hard after God. And our great and loving God is so wise. Young men, God doesn’t only tell you not to do something. He compassionately tells you what it is that you must pursue. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22). Fight hard against the sins that rush against your heart with the immense pull of an ocean current and seek to put off those sins with the ferocious fight of following God in pursuing righteousness (what is right in God’s eyes), faith (growing in the faith once for all delivered to the saints found in God’s Word), love (a genuine, self-giving, and sacrificial service to others for their good regardless of how they respond to you), and peace (harmony and reconciliation of relationships). By God’s grace and with His help, young man, you can fight hard against sin!

Solomon was one of the wisest men who ever lived and he wrote a word of counsel to you: whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all our might (Ecclesiastes 9:10). God, the glorious and gracious Spirit, guided the hand of Solomon to write down this clear word of counsel to you, young men: unleash your energies for Christ! Live wholly for Him. Live sold-out for Him. Your energy, your passion, your drive, your zeal, your tirelessness is to be used and utilized and unleashed for the greatest good: for the magnification and praise of the Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. Are you in school? Unleash your energies by working and studying hard for God’s glory as you study hard and speak much of Christ on campus. Are you working a job? Unleash your energies by arriving on time, working hard while on the clock, refusing to engage in deceptive, lazy, wicked behavior and, of course, always refuse to join in gossip, slander, and bitterness. Are you playing a sport? Unleash your energies by doing the best you can with the body and strength God has given you as you practice hard and perform to the best of your ability as you give praise and honor to Christ for what He allows you to do. Your energy and your passions and your abilities and your zealousness is not bad! Direct your energies for Christ’s glory!

In the wondrous wisdom of God, He has given you, young man, a mind whereby you can remember things. You remember passwords. You remember to check social media. You remember musicians. You remember lines from movies. You have been given a mind to know, to remember, to ponder, to hide within you. Do this with God! God says: remember your Creator in the days of your youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Let it humble your soul to ponder the reality that you didn’t create yourself, chance didn’t create you, evolutionary theories did not result in ‘you’. No! Rather, the gloriously mighty and sovereignly loving and unspeakably merciful hand of God made you. Remember He created you. And it will do you well to remember this in the days of your youth. You’re not your own. You’re made by another. You, really, belong to another -- to God! So remember Him! It’s more than simply bringing a thought to mind. A man could say to his boss: I remembered that I was scheduled to work today but I didn’t do anything about it. That man would quickly be searching for new employment. Thoughts and remembrance must lead to obedience and action. It’s like a birthday. When you remember that it’s your friend’s birthday, you do something about it to celebrate. So, to remember God, live for His glory! Indeed, linger much with Him in prayer, in Bible reading, in your local church, in serving others that God has placed around you. To remember God, love Him, obey Him, praise Him, thank Him, repent of your sin before Him, plead the promises of God in prayer, preach gospel-truth to your soul daily. Young man, in all your remembering, remember Christ the Savior of sinners who died in the place of His people by fully satisfying God’s just punishment aimed at their hearts. What a merciful Christ. What a friend of sinners! What a companion to linger with in prayer and worship. What a Champion to live for and proclaim from the housetops. What a Creator to declare on campus and to friends. Live for, linger with, and love your God, young men, for this truly is the path of undying joy and serious gladness and delightful happiness in the days of young manhood.

Download this article as a pdf & a host of others at Pastor Geoff's articles page.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Sitting through the Sermon — Some Encouragements.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

When God speaks amazing things happen. Mountains quake. Winds blow. Rain falls. Souls receive eternal life. Armies are put to flight. The voice of God thunders with unstoppable force and supernatural power. When the man of God takes the Bible and speaks God’s Word faithfully it is truly a remarkable event when God addresses His people through the mouthpiece of a man. In every sermon there are two preachers: the human mouth and the divine voice.

This essay provides some helpful encouragements for the people of God as they gather and sit through sermons every week.

1. Take Your Bible.
As a sailor would never leave without the map, so the Christian should not journey to church without his Bible. As the soldier would carry and utilize his weapons, so the Christian must carry and utilize his Bible. The cook needs his utensils, the accountant needs his computer, so the Christian needs his Bible. When going to church, take your Bible with you so you can open it, follow along, read the text, mark it up, and then go home and return to it at a later point for further reflection, study, and meditation. A preacher’s delight is to see his congregation with their Bibles open.

2. Open Your Bible.
Furthermore, don’t just take your Bible to church but open it and follow along. If you don’t need to open your Bible because the man does not preach from the Bible, then it would be time to leave and find a Bible-teaching church. But as the man teaches from God’s Word, open your Bible and follow along with the man as he journeys thru the text.

3. Follow in Your Bible.
In preaching through the selected paragraph, follow along carefully in your own Bible. When he turns to other Scriptures make it a point to try to turn with him to those cross-references so you can learn how to interpret Scripture with Scripture and how you can see how God’s Word wondrously unifies together.

4. Think Deeply About What's Said.
Engage! Listen! The minister spends much effort preparing and exerts much focus in preaching the Word with clarity. And just as he does this, so also the hearers must engage and spend much effort in hearing and focus deeply in the listening to the preached Word. Engage with what is said. Amen what is spoken truthfully in your own heart (or, verbally if so you choose). Think about God’s character. Commune with Christ. Let the words of Scripture sink deep into your ears. Fight hard to not hear a message and say it was good but resolve to engage thoughtfully and deliberately with God’s truth that went forth.

5. Apply Specifically what You Hear.
Hearing -- even, hearing well -- is not enough. James exhorts believers to be hearers and doers of the Word. The one who hears but does not obey the Word of God has deluded himself and is deceived about his faith. The one who builds his house on the rock is the one who hears and obeys God’s Word. So, then, specifically apply what you hear. Listen well and apply well. Hear well and implement specifically. Find 1 or 2 specific items and plan to practice them.

6. Take Notes & Plan to Review Them Thru the Upcoming Week
As the minister proclaims God’s truth to you, it may benefit you to jot down some gleanings from the text to mark in your Bible, put in a file on your computer, or write it on a card and place it where you’ll see it with some frequency. Review your notes throughout the upcoming week. That’s one way to take the meal and chew the cud. Eating is one thing. Digesting is another thing. Don’t just receive the Word. Work it through the mouth, down the throat, into your stomach and let it sustain you for a long period of time. I know of no better way to do it than to rehearse the sermon -- or truths from the sermon -- in prayer and devotional time to grow in holiness by it.

7. Fight! Fight! Fight! for Focus & Resisting Distractions!
You may have to move to the front row. Many churches, buildings, venues have plenty of distractions. Maybe it is focusing your mind to resist the upcoming week’s work-travels. Or perhaps it may be resisting the distraction to allow the mind to wander to a relationship, an upcoming trial, or a sporting event. Fight to focus your heart on God and on His Word. The Devil would love nothing more than for you to sit in church and to have your mind millions of miles away. He would bombard you with fiery-temptations of distractions and would love for you to externally look good at church but inwardly to be focused on self or on the world. That would not be worship. And for that, Satan would rejoice. Maybe it’s an attractive person sitting near you. And you need to initiate a move elsewhere in the worship gathering. Maybe you need to move to the front row so that nothing is in front of you as you hear the Word heralded. But fight, not only physically, but intellectually and mentally, to meet with God for He is worthy of worship!

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

Monday, August 29, 2016

Here are some helpful resources that we have found to encourage the flock at Christ Fellowship -- especially families with young children -- regarding the matter of intentionally training and patiently working toward having the children worship in 'big church.'

1) Should Children Sit Through Big Church -- AskPastorJohn podcast

2) 9 Practical Ways to Invite Your Children into Corporate Worship -- Radical

3)  Training Your Children in the Home to Sit Still in the Pew -- Pastor Geoff

4) What Can Children Get Out Of Church?  -- Scott Brown

May these resources be helpful as we encourage families to worship together. It's hard. It's laborious. Sometimes it feels like a trainwreck (with an explosion). But over the course of time, may the Lord in His great mercy, bring about great results from intentionally seeking to worship the Lord together -- even with our small children.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Christian's Mission:
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Some thoughts on what every Christian’s mission is by virtue of the fact that he is a follower of Christ. Whether one is a pastor, a carpenter, a banker or a stay at home mom with small children, what is the mission for every Christian? What is it that God calls every child of His to do? How should believers think of themselves? What should saints busy themselves in doing during the brief time of stay on earth? In a word, many often ask, ‘what is my purpose, or my mission?’

Your Mandate.
The risen Christ appeared to His followers and told them that as the Father has sent Him so also does Christ send them (John 20:21). The Savior Himself provides the mandate for all of His followers. He tells all disciples of His to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19). He elsewhere says that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations (Luke 24:47). The mandate comes from Christ Himself and is clear to all followers of Jesus Christ. It’s a mandate, not a suggestion. All followers are obedient or disobedient to it.

Your Mission.
The simple mission that Christ gives is to go and preach the gospel. He says that repentance must be preached. He tells all believers to bear the ministry of reconciliation as God makes His appeal through believers to the lost (2 Cor 5:20). The mission is to simply and faithfully proclaim Christ’s message: be reconciled to God! God made Christ who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:20-21). Furthermore, all Christians have received salvation and should proclaim the excellencies of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet 2:9).

Your Method.
The way in which this mission works itself out in the Christian’s life comes through proclamation. The message must be verbalized. It must be spoken. It is a message that requires words to speak truly of God, candidly of sin, honestly of repentance, urgently of hell, and graciously with patience. The method of Christian mission is not showing people God’s love or living on mission if it excludes verbal proclamation. In other words, the method for the Christian mission to be faithfully obeyed demands faithful proclamation of the biblical gospel. If the gospel is not spoken, then the gospel has not been conveyed and sinners cannot be saved. The method that Christ gives His people is to “proclaim” and to believe “and speak” the full gospel message.

Your Message.
Christ did not send Paul to baptize but to preach the gospel -- not in cleverness of speech so that the cross of Christ would not be made void (1 Cor 1:17). This gospel simply is Christ & Him crucified (1 Cor 1:23). It glories in the righteousness of God imputed to repentant sinners through faith alone in Christ alone. It glories in the substitutionary atonement whereby Christ, the Lamb of God, died in the sinner’s stead receiving the full blow and infinite punishment from God Himself toward sin. God justly punished sin upon the sinner’s substitute, Christ Jesus. This message demands that the sinner respond through faith and repentance. He must turn to God from idols to be enslaved to the living God -- to serve, love, worship, adore, and proclaim Him!

Your Motivation.
Every true child of God has a soul-ravishing ambition: to glory in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:3).  Christians want Christ to be exalted in their bodies -- whether by life or by death (Phil 1:20). The great motivation to live out this Christian mission ultimately has a God-centered, Christ-magnifying, Spirit-given focus. Indeed, the glory and honor of Christ motivates the believer to live on mission by speaking much of God’s character, man’s plight, Christ’s sufficiency and atonement, and God’s demands for a wholehearted response. Furthermore, an unshakeable motivation propels the child of God to cheerfully engage in his blessed mission, namely, the eternal blessedness and joy of Christ to have the full number of His redeemed surrounding His throne in glory. The Lamb will receive the full reward of His sufferings. All His blood-bought elect will arrive in heaven. The reason Christians still live on this earth and have not arrived in the eternal home yet is quite simple: their mission isn’t over yet. So, till He takes you home, your mission is clear. It is given by the wondrous and empowering Savior. So go! Go and speak of Him! Live for Him! Tell of His great deeds! Proclaim His salvation from day to day!

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Friday, August 5, 2016

Read the Bible as Your Spiritual Food
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The Bible is given by God to believers for their good and for their edification. The Scriptures reveal God, expose sin, highlight Christ, and demand repentance and faith. So how can believers read the Bible and profit from it? How can children of God read God’s Word as spiritual food and nourishment for the soul? This essay will provide a number of directions for believers.

Christian, read your Bible...

The Bible speaks of the itself as the spiritual food for believers. Just as people eat meals daily so children of God must feast upon heavenly bread daily. Christ is worthy of our contemplation and worship and study every single day. So feast daily upon His Word to know God, follow God, love God, and obey Him. You can’t read the Bible too much.

Before meeting with men, believers would do well to meet with God. Men are ready to meet with men after meeting with God but before a Christian communes with his Christ, he would do well to refrain from conversing with men. Bible reading should take priority in a Christian’s life. Don’t let anything crowd out this meeting time with God!

Read the word for soul-enjoyment and for communion with the triune God who saved you. Don’t read the Word to check off the box in a Bible-reading plan. Don’t read the Word for others. Don’t read the Word for sermon preparation. Read the Word to warm your heart in greater love for Christ and hotter affection for His magnificence.

Expectations. They usually can be harmful to relationships; but not with Bible reading. Read the Word and expect to meet with God, to fellowship with Him, to realize hidden sins, to behold the merciful Savior, and to expect the Spirit to conform you into the likeness of the Savior. Expect great things from the greatest book ever written.

Bible reading is one-way communication. It is God speaking to His people. One-way communication doesn’t take relationships very far, or very deep. Reading Scripture is God speaking to His people. Praying to God is His people speaking to Him. Two-way communication always benefits relationships and can allow them to deepen, strengthen, and grow fonder in love and affection toward one another. Read your Word prayerfully and talk often with God.

God gave a complete Bible to make a complete Christian. God did not give an entire Bible for people to pick and choose verses or portions of the Bible that they like and merely and only read those sections to the neglect of others. To be a well-rounded, whole Christian, study your whole Bible fully. Read Genesis through Revelation. Understand it. Be patient and devote yourself with diligent discipline to the complete reading of the Bible.

God gave His Word progressively. And thus, God’s people should read His Word progressively. God did not drop a heavenly book down from the clouds one day in its entire form. Rather, men wrote and penned inerrant Scripture progressively over time. Similarly, believers should read through portions of Scripture with determined progression. They should read through all of Ezekiel, all of Leviticus, all of Revelation, all of Zechariah, all of Psalms and strive for understanding and gospel clarity. That is to say: aim to read through books of the Bible, not mere random verses.

Always read with the aim for application. Allow the truth of God from the Word of God to saturate deep into the fabric of your being so you hear God as you read the text. Obey Him as you apply it to your life. Begin by implementing the text to your life specifically. Always read with a view toward growth in holiness and piety. Don’t resist the Spirit’s work of conviction and the guilt that comes over exposed sin. Confess it, humble yourself, repent and turn from it, hide in Christ’s righteousness, and remind yourself of the many promises of Christ to His people. Read the Word with the intent of change. Allow Christ to expose sin. Read and apply. Read and apply.

The more you read Scriptures the more God in His effulgence and exaltation will permeate your heart and mind. You cannot get past Genesis 1 without stopping and worshiping God for His Almighty and unstoppable omnipotence. You cannot get past Isaiah 53 without adoring the God’s great gospel of substitutionary atonement. You can’t get past Revelation 22 without worshiping Christ and longing for the day when all God’s people will see God in eternal bliss forever. Read the Word and respond to God’s revelation of Himself by having God-centered thoughts, God-saturated passions, God-permeated conversations, and God-glorifying motivations. Read the Word and worship the Author!

To meditate means to ponder profusely; it means to chew the cud and to mutter truth repeatedly in one’s heart and from one’s lips. To meditate implies that one fills his heart and mind with God and His truth so that the heart is enlarged, the mind is engaged, the conscience is softened, and the affections are won. Pick a verse from the reading, or, better yet, set aside a specific time to ponder a biblical topic (e.g., substitution, heaven, hell, brevity of life, humanity of Christ, suffering, virgin birth, filling of the Spirit, etc.). Allow the word to soak in you. As a person enjoys soaking in a lingering bath for refreshment, so the child of God should soak as he lingers long with Christ in Scripture.

Always place yourself under the authoritative Word of God. Never sit in judgment over God’s truth. Let the Word expose your heart. Let it prick the conscience. Let it point out crevices of sin. And don’t fight it. Don’t resist it. But embrace the glorious work of God’s grace as He humbles His people, out of Fatherly love, through the written Word and by the searching Spirit. So read humbly. Don’t pick and choose what you’ll obey. Surrender to it all. Humble yourself before the clarity of Scripture. Stand courageously upon the truthfulness of Scripture. Live in full obedience to the authority of Scripture. Proclaim tirelessly the gospel as found in the Scripture. Read with a humble heart!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Beauty & Glory of God the Spirit
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The gospel of Luke says that the Lord Jesus rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit (Luke 10:21). The blessed Savior understood the beauty and glory of God the Spirit. He enjoyed full and sweet communion with the everlasting Comforter. How can believers find consolation from the third Person of the Triune Godhead? This essay provides 10 towering truths to bless the believer's soul.

The Holy Spirit...

The Bible refers to the Holy Spirit with the same attributes as the Father and the Son. The Spirit is a Person which indicates that He enjoys the features of personhood: intellect, wisdom, emotions, communicative abilities. The Spirit, as God, is gloriously perfect in beauty and in His essence and in all the divine attributes of Godhood that He perfectly, everlastingly and wondrously enjoys.

In tragic times of pain and confusing seasons of despair, the Holy Spirit comforts the believer’s soul. The Spirit of God is the ultimate Comforter who comforts the weak, the downcast, the feeble, the dying, and the suffering. He, as God, knows how to perfectly and unfailingly come alongside of His people for grace, joy, strengthening, and refreshment.

The Bible refers to this blessed Person of the Godhead as the Spirit of holiness. He is the Holy Spirit for He in His essence is wholly other, different, separate from sin. He is set apart from the common and profane. Indeed, He is Himself holy and He is the Spirit who fellowships with holiness. He produces holiness. He conforms justified sinners more and more into the holy image and likeness of Jesus Christ. God hones and shapes His people into holiness.

God hates lying. He abhors deception and falsehood. The reason why truth is so good and lying is so bad is because God’s very nature is perfect truth and all faithfulness. The Spirit of God radiates perfect truth without end. He is the Spirit of truth. He is the Spirit who provided the Word of Truth, the Bible. He speaks Truth through His written Word and He guides all true believers into the Truth. Never is there an error or falsehood with God. He is dependable.

The Holy Spirit as a Person has all the communicative powers of personhood. He thinks and He has intellect. He is able to craft and form clear communication. And thus He has! He has carried along the hands of human instruments so that no prophecy of Scripture ever came about by men’s own ingenuities but rather as the Spirit of God carried them the human penmen wrote precisely what God intended. The Spirit speaks ultimately through His written Word.

None can convert except God. None can raise the dead save God. None can convert and change a leper’s spots but the Almighty One who created him. It is the Spirit who gives life. The Spirit draws sinners to the Father. The Spirit, by His own power and by His own ability and for God’s own glory, gives life and converts souls to Christ. None can be born from above except the Spirit of God blow the divine, supernatural breath upon him to give life so that he may repent and believe the gospel to be saved. The Spirit must initiate salvation by giving life to the soul which always and immediately results in repentance and faith. 

God the Spirit is holy and thus makes God’s people holy. God has chosen believers for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. Believers do not magically muster up enough willpower to make themselves holy. It is God who works in and through believers to sanctify them as they cheerfully place themselves within the means of grace. God grows and sanctifies and purifies all the Redeemed. The Spirit sanctifies all the saved.

True believers revel in eternal hope that can not fail. Everlasting heaven and bliss with Christ and fellowship with God is a future certainty for every child of the King. This hope does not -- indeed, it can not -- fail because the love of God has been poured profusely into believers’ hearts through the Holy Spirit who is given as the deposit and guarantee. Thus, no saved sinner can ever lose his salvation. God the Spirit, by almighty, infinite, supernatural, undefeatable power secures and keeps all whom the Father elected and the Son purchased for glory. None are, nor could be, lost!

The Spirit has a primary purpose in His supernatural ministry and that is to point to Jesus Christ. Indeed, the Spirit glorifies Christ and discloses what is Christ’s to His people. The Spirit’s primary aim is to exalt the supremacy of Christ, convert the redeemed of Christ, and carry to heaven all the souls propitiated by the Lamb’s blood. The Spirit aids and assists the believer in living for Christ, loving Christ, speaking of Christ, rejoicing in Christ and worshiping Christ. The Spirit does not seek to draw attention to Himself but humbly points all men to Christ the Savior.

The kingdom of God consists of joy in the Holy Spirit. Christ rejoiced in the Spirit. The Bible intimates that the triune God rejoices in each other so that every member loves, delights in, and finds sweet communion with each other. And it is the Spirit of God, the third member of the Godhead, who provides this joy for those who have been snatched from the kingdom of darkness and brought into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son. This kingdom is not one of anguish and joylessness but rather, by the Spirit’s enabling, it is a kingdom of unending and undiminishing joy.

What Must We Do Today to Prepare for Suffering?

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

How can Christians in the West prepare for suffering? All believers everywhere must form a theology of suffering, including children of God sitting in comfort and enjoying many of the freedoms of religion (for now). How must Christians prepare today for the persecution tomorrow? What can be done? 

This essay provides 4 vital keys.

1. Know.
Everything starts with the knowledge of God. Christians must strive to know God. Not just theological terms and concepts and theories, but God Himself. Theories and methods wane and lose their glisten over time. But the study of God never grows old and men of God never tire of studying deeply the beauties and glory of God. To know God rightly, believers must know Scripture. God is to be sought through His sufficient and complete revelation of Himself contained in the 66-books of the Bible. Thus, we must strive earnestly and labor hungrily to know God, to commune with Him, to experience His love, to bathe in His excellencies, and to rejoice in Him for who He is. Without this proper foundation of knowledge sourced in Scripture, all else will fail for it is foundationless. Thus, let us know God.

2. Grow.
After a proper knowledge of God that comes through studying deeply the Holy Scriptures, and as this discipline continues throughout the Christian’s life, the believer can prepare to suffer by growing steadily and earnestly. Like a tree that is watered with water, over the course of time, it grows and strengthens and soars high into the sky so also it is for the child of God. With time and with diligent watering from the Spirit and the Word, children of God grow in strength, courage, depth and influence. Thus, every Christian is to work hard to be a growing Christian. Of course, God is the One who grows His people and conforms them into the image of Christ. But in so far as the believer places himself in the God-ordained means of grace, he will find himself being matured by God, growing in his love for Christ, glorying in the fellowship with the Spirit, and withstanding any and all opposition that may come his way.

3. Go.
Christians know God and must grow in grace and in holiness. This must -- and it will inevitably -- lead the child of God to go outside the comfort zone of his own Christian acquaintances and make disciples of all nations. He will find himself relentlessly driven to take others to heaven with him. He will have an open Bible and an open map and see the possibilities for ministry that remain innumerable. He will hear of the people groups around the world that still remain yet to be reached and engaged with the gospel and his heart will break within him as he earnestly beseeches God in prayer to raise up workers to send out. The Christian himself, however, will go. The more that the child of God knows God and grows with God, he will most certainly go with God to the lost and compel them to come to Christ by faith. He cannot not go. It’s not an option. All Christians are to be missionaries and gospel-proclaimers. That’s the call and duty of a Christ-follower. The mission is thus because it’s the mission of God. And amazingly, the more that suffering and opposition comes, the more God’s people go and cannot be stopped. Go and speak and tell!

4. Sow.
Christians go to the lost for the purpose of speaking of Christ and offering the only water that can satisfy and the only sacrifice that can appease God’s wrath directed toward sinners because of their sin. Going to the lost is one thing. Sowing the seed of the gospel faithfully, tirelessly, relentlessly, and prayerfully is another component that is included. Like the sower who has God’s seed and throws it out, the Christian remembers that some falls on good soil, some on hard soil, and some on superficial ground that appears to be genuine but then in reality it falls away. Sowing the gospel demands patience, it entails urgency, it imitates Christ, it includes tenderness, and it warns of procrastination. Preparing now for suffering tomorrow means that Christians know God, grow with God, go for God, and sow the seed of the gospel in any and all parts of the world so that Christ’s Name would be supremely glorified.

Expository Preaching - a summer intensive class at Christ Fellowship Bible Church.

1. Preaching & preparing the man (holiness)
2. Preaching & desperate prayer
3. Preaching & proper hermeneutics
4. Preaching & crafting the outline
5. Preaching & elements of the sermon (exegesis)
6. Preaching & delivering the message (homiletics)
7. Preaching & God's sovereignty (dependence)

Full PDF course notes:

Audio/mp3 lectures:

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

As we've journeyed through the Summer Expository Preaching Class with the men of Christ Fellowship Bible Church, I've endeavored to compile many of the thoughts into twenty-five brief essays all related to the topic of expository preaching.

Download the eBook — Preach the Word! 25-Articles on Preaching.

More resources on preaching at or at the CFBC website.
The statistics are overwhelming...

Many pastors just, well, "burn out." What can be done? Can anything be done?

I wrote an article on Pastoral Burnout: Its Causes & Its Cure:

"What is a pastor to do when feeling “exhausted and depleted”? Should pastors entering the ministry do so on the assumption that they will one day burn out and throw in the towel? Where can such tired ministers turn? Where can discouraged shepherds go for the shepherding of their own souls?

The issue of pastoral burnout must be understood in the context of five important factors, each of which is directly related to gospel ministry."

The article is here:

Friday, July 8, 2016

10-part audio blog: "Daily issues in the life of the pastor"

Topics include: "Describe your...
1. prayer life
2. studies
3. home life
4. weekly priorities/schedule
5. the training of leaders (leadership development)
6. evangelism
7. elder-meetings
8. Sunday routine in preparing for corporate worship
9. discipling of children
10. fellowship & accountability

Friday, June 10, 2016

CFBC Informal, Pastoral, Summer Internship.

The Goal: To train men of God who aspire to pastoral ministry with hands-on experience and careful shepherding by CFBC’s elders.

The Format: Four key elements will be emphasized:

1) EXPOSITORY PREACHING CLASS - 7 Friday nights — this will be a 7-week summer course taught by Pastor Geoff explaining some of the fundamentals of expository preaching. We don't just need more preaching today. We need more of the right kind of preaching.

2) PREACHING AT A CFBC MID-WEEK STUDY — this provides an opportunity for the man to prepare a sermon and to preach it first to pastor Geoff so as to receive feedback, ideas, and suggestions. Then, the man will be given the opportunity to teach at the mid-week church service before the corporate prayer meeting.

3) DISCUSSIONS REGARDING PASTORAL MINISTRY AND HARDSHIPS — these opportunities with pastor Geoff & the CFBC shepherd-elders will be guided with helpful discussion questions that speak to the struggles and joys of pastoral ministry and the things that just cannot be taught in a classroom-context.

4) PASTORAL VISITATION — these important occasions allow the intern to travel with pastor Geoff to do a home visit to one of the CFBC members. This will allow the intern to see what shepherding from house to house is like and the questions that are asked and how to read the Word, listen attentively, and pray earnestly for the flock of God as loving and diligent shepherds.

The purpose is to provide opportunities for men who aspire to full-time pastoral ministry to serve with and do ministry alongside of the CFBC elders for real, hands-on training and opportunities.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Christian! For the Joy of your Soul & for the Glory of Christ, Practice Hospitality in Your Home
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The New Testament provides a marvelous means of Christian growth and fellowship among the people of God: opening your home and sacrificially serving others. This is called hospitality. Believers are to practice hospitality (Romans 12:13). Furthermore, Peter writes that Christians should be hospitable to one another without complaint (1 Peter 4:9). The Scripture even requires hospitality to be a present reality and a necessary qualification for all the men of God who serve in the service of pastor-elder (1 Timothy 3:2). Since God out of His great love instructs His children to love one another in this particular way, how can we practice hospitality since it’s sadly neglected in our society.

In this essay, I want to provide 4 simple tips for you to practice hospitality in your home.

1. Keep it simple.
Hospitality does not mean exquisite, lavish, five-course meal. Hospitality can be very simple. In fact, it could be reasonably argued that it should be quite simple since believers are to pursue and practice this wonderful discipline frequently. Not many people can pull off an exquisite, five-course meal every week. But everyone can open up their home with regularity. And that’s the point. Keep it simple so that you can do it frequently. Don’t overdo or outdo yourself. Serve your guests. Make the home presentable. Clean before they arrive. But keep it simple. Be yourself. You’re inviting people into your home. So, let them see what your home is really like. Keep it simple. If it is a meal, or a dessert, or just tea or coffee, keep it simple and warm and friendly. Remember this! Hospitality does not mean that you go over the top every week to impress people.

2. Remember the goal.
Why does God provide so many references in the Scriptures for believers to show hospitality, serve one another, encourage one another, and fellowship together? Because God sees it as vitally important and supremely necessary to our spiritual growth. Mark it on your mind: it’s impossible to grow without regular Christian fellowship. You can go to church and hear the Word preached and that’s great! But without Christian fellowship and serving the body, you’re closed off from the flock and they’re cut off from you and it’s quite hard to grow in Christ when you’re severed from His Body. So, the goal of hospitality is quite simple: to actively serve others by opening your home, inviting them into your world, seeking to speak about Christ together, and to be mutually encouraged. Hospitality is not simply having a group over to watch the football game. Hospitality is the opening of one’s home to other people -- to strangers, to fellow believers, to missionaries, to those in need, and to the lost. Because this is the goal, a bit of preparation is in order.

3. Direct the conversation.
Before the guests arrive, seek to have a game plan in order. Know a few good questions that would allow Christ to be honored, the gospel to be rehearsed, and the encouragement of the saints to take place. If the goal is to serve others, then do that by providing a friendly, welcoming, inviting, and Godly environment for those who will enter the home. Also, as others enter into your world in the privacy of your home then be yourself. If you have small children, remember that others will see small children do what small children do -- and that’s ok! As you seek to speak about Christ to one another for the upbuilding of the believers present, then carefully and deliberately guide the conversation. Ensure that good questions are asked, and when answers are given that should be pursued further, ask open-ended questions to hear more of the guest’s heart. It would be profitable to have a Bible nearby to open the Word together to share what you are reading and learning in your own times with God. You could ask what they have been convicted by lately from God’s Truth. You could ask how the sermons have touched their souls. You could ask what they’ve been praying through. You could ask what sins they’re battling with. You could ask how their marriage is. You could inquire as to how the parenting of their children is going. And then -- after you’ve chatted together, consider having a time of corporate prayer together as you seek the face of God, pray for each other, pray for your church, and pray for the gospel to spread. This can happen! It just takes a bit of preparation and planning and prayer ahead of time.

4. Pray for fruit.
Why hospitality? It is to stir up one another in the pursuit of godliness. It also serves to open up one’s home for those in need. For missionaries and those traveling in the ministry, opening up one’s home can provide a warm, family-environment for them as they are away from their own home. So pray! Pray for fruit! Pray for lasting fruit! Pray that God would stir all the people involved (whether 2 people or 10 people) to be practicing hospitality on their own as the ripple effect spreads through the people of God. Pray that God would be honored, that homes would be opened, that hearts would be touched, and that the lost would be won. Before the hospitality occasion, pray that God would guide the conversation by His Spirit and that all that would be done and said would glorify Christ. During the time of hospitality, be sure to pray together and engage in worship. Afterwards, pray that God would stir up His people to pursue this Christian practice fervently.  In fact, one way that fruit can come from hospitality is to ask the guests that have come into your home if they have shown hospitality before and what their experience is like. Then, it may be good to ask how they can show hospitality to others and even encouraging them to begin with their own church membership roster and just go down the line of families and invite them over.

Much happens in the home that cannot happen the few minutes that believers chat before the service begins or after it’s over. In the home, it’s a relaxed, unhurried, and warm environment where you can ask heart-probing questions, listen intently, and allow the Spirit to lead as He wills. You can pray together. You can enjoy each other as you serve your guests in the confines of your own personal home. This is special. This is sacrificial. This is touching. This is rare in our day. And that is one reason why we are strangers and aliens in this world, namely, because we actively open up our homes to serve others, become vulnerable with them, to encourage them, and to edify one another through Christ-centered, gospel-refreshing conversations. So, dear Christian, for the joy of your soul and for the glory of Christ, practice hospitality in your home!
Training your children in the home to sit still in the pew.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

There are many churches that encourage families to worship together on Sundays in corporate worship. There are those with the perspective that it behooves children to learn to sit still, sit quietly, hear the preaching, and observe God’s people worshiping the Living Savior. For those who go to church with children (even small children!) with the hope and desire of seeing them sit still in the pew, the question might be asked: how do I do this? What’s the magic trick? Honestly, there’s not one. But there are some practical tips that I can offer that may help those who choose to bring their small children into corporate worship so that they can train their children in the home to sit still in the pew.

In this essay, I’ll provide some practical tips and helps for parents in this regard.

1. Treat family worship in the home as preparation for corporate worship with the church. — Make a regular practice of gathering the ‘little church’ together in the home each day for the worship of God and view that as a way of practicing for ‘corporate worship’ on Sundays. Begin in the home and train on the couch & trust that in due time the children will sit still and pay attention in the pew.

2. Don't allow in that worship time at home what you wouldn't allow in the pew. —
If you don’t allow your children to kick and scream in church then don’t allow that in family worship either. Be intentional to allow in the brief time of family devotions what you would permit in church. Be careful to set the barometer high so that the children will learn well each day in the home so that when they sit in the pew it’ll be an overflow of what they’ve learned in the home.

3. Work on sitting still for small periods of time and gradually increase that time for the children to sit still. — Maybe, like all parents, you think: my kids have a hard time sitting still! Of course! So be diligent to train the children to sit still. It takes time and it takes patience and effort. Work on having the child, or children, sit still for a small period of time with a book on his lap and increase that time as days and weeks go by and you’ll be training your child to sit still.

4. Constantly explain the ultimate goal and purpose of this preparation: because God is worthy & Christ deserves our worship, reverence & honor. —
The goal is not just getting kids to sit still. The goal is not even getting children to behave well at church. The goal is the heart: heart-transformation! So frequently speak of the goal of family worship, the reason for sitting still, and the goal of private, family, and corporate worship: our God deserves our praise!

5. Remain faithful and consistent in your training and in your discipline when the children disobey you. — When a child sins, he must be disciplined. When you are teaching and training, the hard but necessary element for parents is consistency. Parents must remain faithful in the training and discipline when the kids disobey -- especially in the home.

6. Speak much of the beauty of Christ, His atoning blood, and His sweet satisfactions for He alone is preeminently supreme. — Parents have the inestimable privilege of showing the children a big God. That is, parents must paint before the children a most beautiful Christ, a supreme Delight, and a Friend of Sinners. This constant message will convey to the children that the parents absolutely adore their God and earnestly want the kids to know and worship Him also!

7. Enjoy the journey and remember the blessed privilege that God has given you to teach those little (and growing) eternal souls about the Word of God, the ways of God, and the gospel of Christ.  — It’s easy to bend a little branch but when a tree has been planted and growing for years it’s nearly impossible to bend the massive tree, so let parents remember to mold and shape the hearts of the children while they are young. As a small acorn grows over time into a large tree, so the children that we have grow little by little over the course of time. God has given a marvelous privilege and duty to all parents to teach the souls of the children and bring them up in the gospel of God’s grace.

8. Patiently endure even the hard and discouraging moments as you remember that growth happens slowly, steadily, and progressively (not instantaneously or overnight). — Remember the big picture. Even when family worship is a disaster (and there will be those nights, plenty of them) and even when you don’t get much of the sermon in corporate worship, don’t lose heart or grow discouraged. Pray. Regain your composure and reaffirm your trust in God’s promises. Be patient and remember that your labor for Christ’s glory and for the kids’ souls is never in vain.

9. Focus (and refocus) your heart constantly on the big picture: you love your Christ and then show your children your glorious Christ and beseech them to be reconciled to this merciful, saving, and sufficient Friend of sinners. — Behavioral change is good and desired. But remember to focus on the heart. Realign your own mind and refocus your perspective on a most worthy Savior who deserves worship and a gracious God who saves sinners! If you are captured by your God, you speak with love, with affection, with power, and with passion, and your children will see the genuineness of your ministry. Labor on and labor hard to know and love your Christ and then pass that on to them! You can’t give what you don’t have yourself. So work to remember Christ as your Savior and Lord and then out of joyful delight and out of privileged duty, pass on the gospel truth to your children.

10. Remember to bathe all these endeavors in much prayer, persistent prayer, and confident prayers that God will bless your labors to teach and train your children. — You cannot save your children. Only God can save. Since you cannot save them, pray them into heaven. Bathe them in prayer. Pray with them and for them. Pray incessantly and persistently for their souls. Ask! Seek! Knock! Believe that God will answer your prayers and save your children through your earnest prayers and gospel-pleadings!

11. Seek out another person in the church to sit with you and help you in corporate worship if a need arises to hold a baby or calm down an energetic child. — The body of Christ is a family. After all, families are made up of the older and more mature as well as the new-borns and infants. When young parents have nursing babies or young children, it may be the case that you can request the help of another person in the church to help you, lend you a hand, hold a baby, or assist you in any way. Don’t be afraid to ask and don’t be too prideful to request the help of others. Many are more than eager to serve in this way!

Friday, June 3, 2016

How To Suffer Well
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

“Suffer hardship with me as a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Tim 3:3). The Lord Jesus alerts His followers that they all will suffer (2 Tim 3:12) for the world hates Christ and so the world will hate Christ’s own (John 15:18-20). So how, then, must we suffer well? What should we as believers mark upon our minds and set upon our souls so that we would triumph and persevere through suffering?

1. Know your lot.
Remember who you are. You belong to Christ: the Prince of Peace who came unto His own but His own did not receive Him (John 1:11). Remember that if your Master has suffered so you too will suffer (John 15:20). Indeed, Christ has set the example for believers to follow in His steps (1 Pet 2:21). What is the lot of believers? What is the God-given, divinely-distributed portion for the people of God? It is to remember that Paul said: we have been destined for afflictions (1 Thess 3:5) and to not be afraid of what believers are about to suffer (Rev 3:10). The lot in the Christian’s life is suffering which produces an eternal weight of glory. If Christ, our Captain, suffered, then we as His soldiers can expect nothing less. If Christ, our Forerunner, has suffered, then let us embrace the same calling.

2. Follow your Master.
Christ Himself endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Heb 12:2). He followed the Father in all things (Luke 2:49). Jesus relentlessly gave Himself to the Father’s will (John 4:34). The examples of endurance that God provides comes in Hebrews 11 as the author lays forth all those who lived by faith and gained approval through their faith. They all looked to the Lord Himself by faith (Heb 11:6). The Lord Jesus knew what it was to suffer for He Himself died and has come to life (Rev 2:8). He reassures the church in Smyrna that in their suffering, He walks with them and knows all about their tribulation and their poverty (Rev 2:9). Christ calls His people to follow Him through the course of suffering. He Himself suffered and has paved the way for all of His followers to trail behind Him with persevering resilience. Just as Christ did, all believers are called to be faithful till death and Christ Himself will give the crown of life (Rev 2:10). Christ suffered and then He received glory. So it is with every believer. No greater blessing could be given to a child of God than to follow Christ and suffer for Him!

3. Consider life's brevity.
When the waves of life’s sufferings come crashing down on a believer’s head it can be difficult to see the sun through the thunderclouds above. Yet it is there. After the storm comes the rays of sunlight that beam through the blue skies. So it is with every follower of Christ who suffers. The thunderclouds of suffering — however many there may be, and however severe they may be, and however long they may remain — shall one day pass. This life of suffering and pain shall not endure forevermore. Indeed, those who endure and overcome in Christ will not be hurt by the second death (Rev 2:11). The bonds and afflictions of life are afflictions, to be sure, and yet they are pictured as being momentary, light afflictions (2 Cor 4:17). They are momentary. Yet Paul spent nights and days in the deep, with shipwrecks, without food, without clothing, running for his life, in dangers on the sea and on dry land. And still, Paul describes the life of suffering as momentary. Why? Because life is brief. We are here today and gone tomorrow. We are but for a brief moment. When a Christian suffers, let him affix his heart to the future certainty that, when this brief life passes, God will assuredly wipe every tear from his eyes (Rev 7:17). Life is short. Heaven’s glory soon comes!

4. Proclaim Christ courageously.
How did the Apostle Paul conduct himself when he found himself imprisoned for the cause of Christ in a cold cell in Rome (Phil 1:13)? He assured the believers that his imprisonment has served to make the cause of Christ known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else (Phil 1:13). No one could shut Paul up! He proclaims Christ even in the suffering and endured confidently whatever Christ brought His way as a divinely-graced and providentially-bestowed opportunity for gospel proclamation. The gospel spreads through proclamation. It must be spoken. It must be declared. It must be announced. This was, in fact, Paul’s ambition. With all boldness, he said, he wanted Christ as always to be exalted in his body -- whether by life or by death (Phil 1:20). When the Romans did put Paul in jail (in his first Roman imprisonment) he was gave himself to “explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus … from morning until evening” (Acts 28:23). Indeed, Acts concludes by stating that Paul spent two full years in his own quarters preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered (Acts 28:30-31). Let every suffering saint take this to heart. View the times of trouble as gifts from God’s benevolent hand for you to capitalize on the opportunities to proclaim a most satisfying Christ that far surpasses the pleasures, comforts, and hopes of this world.

5. Look to heaven’s glory.
A day will soon dawn when every child of God will see his God in his flesh and shall behold with his own eyes (Job 19:26-27). O how the believer can shout with joy: “my heart faints within me” (Job 19:27)! The outer man decays and let it decay day by day. But the inner man, by God’s grace, is being renewed day by day for the glory of God (2 Cor 4:16). All of this momentary, light affliction is producing for believers an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison (2 Cor 4:17). This means that every believer who feels though he is drowning in the dregs of despair or in the iron-cell of abandonment must anchor his heart, his eyes, his mind, and his will to the divinely promised word that an eternal weight of glory is soon-coming. It’s an eternal weight of glory. It’s a glory that cannot be surpassed! It cannot be exchanged! It cannot be trumped. This weight of glory that God gives to His triumphant saints is eternal and unfading. Believers must allow sufferings to wean their hearts off of this world and plant them deeply in the next. Elsewhere Paul affirmed that all the sufferings of this present age are not even worthy to be compared with the glory that is sure to be revealed to us (Rom 8:18). Yes believers groan and long for that full redemption but, until that day, let suffering believers look to heaven’s sure and sweet and satisfying and splendid glory. It is sure to come! Look for it! Hope for it! Anchor your heart there! And when the paws of the trials of this age seize, look to heaven’s glory!

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


An audio-blog series by Christ Fellowship Bible Church (St Louis).

*May God's people be equipped with the truth & clarity of God's sufficient Word to 'speak the truth in love' to one another and to others who are outside of Christ. Stand courageously & speak confidently!

Part 1 - the introduction to God's truth on such matters of gender, sexuality, identity & marriage. AUDIO:

Part 2 - the truth about gender. AUDIO:

Part 3 - the truth about identity. AUDIO:

Part 4 - the truth about marriage. AUDIO:

Part 5 - the truth about homosexuality. AUDIO:

Part 6 - the truth about same-sex attraction [SSA]. AUDIO:

Part 7 - the truth about grace. AUDIO:

Part 8 - the truth about salvation. AUDIO:

More info can be found at

Friday, May 13, 2016

We endeavored to put together an audio-blog answering some of the following questions:

1. What is the kind of PREACHING God blesses
2. What is the kind of PRAYING God blesses
3. What is the kind of CHURCH God blesses
4. What is the kind of MARRIAGE God blesses
5. What is the kind of MAN God blesses 

The characteristics that are explained are mentioned below with links to the audio-blogs individually.

1. Kind of PREACHING God blesses  |  AUDIO
2 Corinthians 4:13
    Christ-centered preaching
    biblical preaching
    gospel-driven preaching
    passionate (urgent) preaching
    Spirit-empowered preaching

2. Kind of PRAYING God blesses   |  AUDIO
Colossians 4:12

3. Kind of CHURCH God blesses  |  AUDIO
1 Thessalonians 1:6-10
    preaching Church
    praying church
    Pure church
    persecuted church -- Christ is with His people.
    proactive church (evangelism/discipleship/one anothers)
    Persevering church (thru suffering/hardship/trouble)

4. Kind of MARRIAGE God blesses  |  AUDIO
Ephesians 5:33
    Loving marriage
    Sacrificing marriage
    Enduring marriage
    Communicating marriage
    sanctifying marriage

5. Kind of MAN God blesses  |  AUDIO
Psalm 1
    man of priority
    man of humility
    man of fidelity (to Christ, to Word, to wife, to children)
    man of piety (holy man)
    man of eternity (lives for eternity while living now)

More at Geoff's website:

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Essentials in the Ministry of the Lord 
[Lessons from the Pastoral Epistles]
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church
I like to make it a habit to read through the Pastoral Epistles [1,2 Timothy & Titus] regularly and in one sitting so that the Spirit of God exhorts my soul with truths from Holy Scripture regarding the ministry of the Lord. I want to remain on track. I want to major on the essentials. I must prioritize what God tells me to focus on and avoid what He tells me to flee from. Today I want to highlight seven essentials in the ministry of the Lord.

1. pray
The minister of the Lord who serves in the ministry of the Lord must first be a man of prayer. Paul talks about how entreaties and prayers and petitions and thanksgivings should be made by all men. And in the worship context, Paul says that the men should lead in the prayers. The first essential and the most powerful force in ministry is when the minister of the Lord prays to His God for himself, his family, his flock, & the lost.

2. preach
The ministry of the Lord must include faithful, fervent, biblical preaching. The Apostle Paul repeatedly tells both Timothy and Titus to ‘instruct’ and to ‘teach’ and to ‘exhort’ and to ‘preach’. These are not optional. They cannot be negotiated or sidelined. The ministry of the word must be preeminent and paramount. If a man does not rightly handle the Word of God, then he is to be ashamed and will be shamed by God one day. God exhorts His men to preach the Word and to speak and exhort with all authority and to speak things which are fitting for sound doctrine. This includes instructing in faithful doctrine and the reproving of those in error. God’s men must exhort in truth and refute those who contradict. Faithful men preach the Word.

3. protect
The ministry of the Lord includes the shepherding of the sheep of God. God’s men must protect God’s flock. A sheep without a shepherd will soon be hunted and hounded and mauled by predators. Sheep are helpless without protecting and watchful shepherds. So the ministry of the Lord must include the protecting of God’s people from false teachers, from false doctrine, from the love of money, from wandering into useless arguments and speculations, and from sin. As Paul told Timothy, ‘keep yourself free from sin’; so this should be the shepherd’s reminder to God’s people repeatedly. Shepherds must protect by warding off wolves ferociously and by protecting the flock tirelessly. False doctrine abounds. Protect the sheep diligently!
4. develop
The ministry of the Lord demands the developing, training, and shepherding of leaders. Developing leadership in Christ’s church is a paramount essential in every local congregation. Paul sent Titus to set in order what remained and to appoint elders in every city. Paul told Timothy to take what he learned from Paul and to invest in other faithful men. However, ministers of the Lord must not lay hands on a man too quickly lest the unseen sins become exposed and shame the flock and the Lord and His gospel. Paul traveled with many companions; some abandoned him and others remained with him. Nevertheless, God’s work thrives and spreads as qualified, holy, faithful, sober-minded men take the Word and teach it.
5. holiness
The ministry of the Lord must be pure. Unholy ministers bring a reproach to Christ and His gospel and His church. Paul tells Timothy to keep himself pure and to guard himself and his life and his doctrine. This holiness in the ministry is at least two-fold: the fleeing from sin and impurities and the following and relentless pursuit after holiness and Christ Himself. Unholiness spreads like a plague and infects the whole lump. Faithful servants in the ministry must reject sin and pursue righteousness, faith, love and purity. Paul told Timothy to be absorbed in God’s things and to pay careful attention to himself and to his doctrine and to persevere in them.
6. endure
The ministry of the Lord always brings hardship and so God instructs ministers in His gospel-work to endure. Paul tells Timothy to fight the good fight and to keep the faith. Hardship comes not only from those outside the church who hate Christ and His gospel but also, and perhaps most painfully, from inside the church. Paul knew what it was to have faithful comrades in ministry turn on him and oppose gospel work. He had fellow laborers fall in love with the world and desert him. He had to endure slanders, ridicules, mockings, sufferings, beatings, and persecutions. Of course these will come! But God’s ministers in the work of the Lord must be strong in the grace of Christ and suffer hardship as a soldier of Christ Jesus!

7. rejoice
An essential in the ministry of the Lord includes the remembering and the rejoicing in the saving gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has saved His people and called them with a holy calling, not by men’s works, but according to His sovereign purpose and grace! The one Mediator between God and men is the man Christ Jesus. He gave Himself as a ransom! The God-breathed Scriptures reveal the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. This Christ gave Himself for sinners to redeem them from every lawless deed and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession. Believers then look for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. The ministers of the Lord must remember this, rejoice in this, warm their hearts in this, enflame their love for Christ in this and be overcome by Christ’s ravishing love.

More resources are available at Vassal Of the King.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I love family worship. I readily and humbly admit that I have much learning still to do. But by God’s grace, I heard a sermon while sitting in a dorm room in Pennsylvania for my doctoral studies that the Lord used to expose my sin of neglecting my family in the regular shepherding of their souls in the Word of God. So I’m no professional. But I am a man who has seen, experienced, and savored the happy joys and spiritual benefits of family worship in my own home. In this brief write-up, I hope to provide some practical tips and helpful reminders for family worship.

1) Leadership.
This simply serves as the clarion call for men to lead. God has declared in Ephesians 5 that the husbands are the heads over their wives. God doesn’t ask men to lead. He says you are a leader. So, then, by God’s grace and with God’s Word, and with Christ’s joy, lead your family and shepherd them diligently! The way Christ loves you, and ministers to you, and prays for you, and resides with you, so you should do similarly to your family under your care. Nothing is more important than your leading your family, dear men of God. If you neglect anything, don’t let it be the spiritual leading and faithful nurturing of your family [wife & children] toward Christ, His gospel, and His excellencies.

2) Frequency.
Enjoy family worship frequently. This does not mean a family must gather for hours at a time but rather it supports the notion of meeting together more frequently to build and cultivate this spiritual discipline. Quality is better than quantity. Keep it regular. Keep it frequent. Keep it engaging. Keep it brief. Better to lead your family to the throne of grace for 10 minutes a day every day a week than to do it two times a month for an hour each! Do it regularly!

3) Intentionality.
Intentionally pastor your family. Every man of God, by God’s directive and by His grace, serves his family as the pastor-in-residence. So, intercede for them in fervent and regular prayer. Minister to their souls as you instruct them in the Word and answer questions they may have (age appropriate). Engage their minds and teach on worship as you sing with your family the rich, theological, and awesome hymns that have been penned through the centuries. Switch up the order. Vary it at times with adding a catechism question, read a biography and keep it fresh and exciting. But you, O men, can lead intentionally and engage even the youngest of children and even to your teens by God’s grace.

4) Variety.
I do think a compelling case can be made for families to pray, sing, and read the Word together. But don’t always and ever do the same thing, the same way. That will surely bore your family and teach them that family worship is dull and lifeless. Ask the children -- even the young ones, if possible -- to read the Scripture. Have everyone pray. Pray for the family, for the lost, for missionaries, for the persecuted, for the neighbors, for the church members and shepherds. Thank God, confess sin to God, petition God, confess sin to one another. Sing hymns. Grab a good hymn and make it a hymn of the month (or a hymn of the week). And when you have other guests over for a meal, let them join you for family worship (even if they are unsaved!). Keep it exciting, fresh, Christ-centered and gospel-focused!

5) Instruction.
Family worship never becomes a merit by which we become more acceptable to God, or keep ourselves saved, or by which we can look down on others who may not engage in family worship. Rather, family worship is a God-appointed way for fathers to instruct their children in the ways of God, the Word of God, and the wisdom of God. God’s Word must be passed on to the next generation. O the tragedy of children that rise up without parents that say: “come, you children, listen to me and I will teach you the fear of the LORD” (Ps 34:11). This requires, then, that fathers need to be students of the Word so that we can shepherd well and instruct accurately in the truths of Scripture. So it may require a bit more time to study (especially if the children or your wife asks a question that you don’t know the answer to) and a bit more time of desperate prayer. But how glorious for God to conform you to Christ as you lead humbly and lead obediently and lead joyfully in this way! Instruct the souls in their sin, in God’s holiness, and in Christ’s sufficient atonement. Instruct them of the need to repent of their sin and to trust in Christ alone!

6) Patience.
And one more very important element. Fathers, be patient. Children are like trees. An acorn does not grow into a mighty oak tree overnight. That occurs over many years. Don’t expect children to become spiritual giants by tomorrow. Remember the long-term focus. We earnestly desire to obey Christ and to shepherd the family well in the Word. But don’t become so near-sighted that you grow discouraged when you don’t see fruit right away. Indeed, even when family worship appears to be a disaster (yes, I’ve had many of those nights) for sin reasons, rowdy children, crying babies, illness, interruptions, etc., keep enduring. Don’t grow weary and give up! Don’t throw in the towel. Like the physical growth of your children, spiritual growth does happen: slowly, over time, and often it’s not even that noticeable to the eye. So be patient, be persistent, be prayerful, be a model, and pastor them toward Christ!

More articles on the topic of "family worship" can be found at Vassal of the King.
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