Monday, May 20, 2019

As we eagerly await the OPEN AIR PREACHER'S DAY OF INSTRUCTION & EQUIPPING hosted by Christ Fellowship Bible Church (St Louis, Missouri) [this Saturday, May 25th], I think it'd be helpful to provide a few helpful blogs on some related issues around the importance of faithful, biblically sound, and urgent preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified on the streets.

1. My personal philosophy of open air preaching  |  Blog
2. Reasons why open air preaching is always effective  |  Blog
3. How to prepare powerful pastoral preachers  |  Blog
4. Preparing an open air sermon  |  Blog
5. Street preaching at abortion clinics  |  Blog
6. Does street preaching work?  |  Blog
7. Why is open air preaching opposed by the local church?  |  Blog
8. Spurgeon on open air preaching  |  Read

VIDEO: a biblical defense of open air preaching  |  WATCH
VIDEO: does street preaching work?  |  WATCH

BIBLE READING PLAN

We have gathered together a simple Bible-reading plan that many folks have used at Christ Fellowship Bible Church.  It'll take you through the Old Testament one time and the New Testament twice each year.  It consists in reading a couple of chapters in the Old Testament and either one or two chapters in the New Testament each day.

If you DO NOT have a consistent Bible-reading schedule or plan or if you just throw open your Bible and point to a text and read your favorite verses each day, let me strongly encourage you to READ THROUGH THE WHOLE BIBLE.  The whole Bible makes a whole Christian.

Here's a blog for profitable Bible-reading -- how to read the Bible for your spiritual food.  May it be helpful for you.

The Bible reading plan SIDE 1
The Bible reading plan SIDE 2

One of the great joys of my spiritual life is reading God's Word first thing in the morning as I begin each day.  May the Lord encourage your heart as you feast upon His Word as well!

Friday, May 3, 2019

The Heartfelt Embrace of Young Womanhood, Part 2
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Titus 2:4-5 is a gloriously clear text that defines what biblical womanhood is about. In fact, these verses provide the ingredients for a wonderful ministry of older women coming alongside to deliberately teach and biblically urge the young women to live out these seven virtues that God mandates for all young women.  In a culture of confusion and outright rebellion against God and His Word, this text serves as a clarion call to the older women of God to train the younger -- that is, to intentionally teach, to regularly disciple, to faithfully ‘school’ -- women in God’s design for biblical womanhood. Here is the true path of joy, the road to happiness, and the honor of biblical, young womanhood.

As mentioned before, Paul gives these virtues of biblical womanhood in the context of the older women teaching the younger. And this teaches that these biblical qualities do not come naturally. The young women need to be taught these things.

In the previous blog, I commented on the first three virtues. God calls young women (1) to love their husbands, (2) to love their children, and (3) to be sensible (Titus 2:4-5a). In this post, I want to continue commenting on the virtues of young womanhood from this crucial text.

4. She is to be pure.  Paul calls the young women to be pure. The Greek word that Paul employs speaks of being religiously honorable, reverent, and sacred. Here is a woman who knows that she is fully devoted to God and owned by God in her life. She makes it her ambition to be pure in every area of life. The context, however, may lead to her pursuing purity in her sexuality. She is fully devoted to her husband and him alone. She is fully available and desirous of him and lovemaking with him alone. She has no flings, no emotional relationships, no fanciful desires. Rather, she is self-controlled in her body and in her sexuality. Young women need to be taught these things. Culture, the swath of young woman presenting themselves on social media, TV shows, Netflix, and in our cities does not help in promoting a biblical view of sexual purity. Far from it! Herein lies the reason why God calls the older women of God to intentionally and faithfully attend to the younger women to teach them sexual purity. This woman cares about modesty. She cares about what she wears. She cares for her brothers in Christ and does not want to wear anything that could cause them to stumble (tight clothing, high clothing, low clothing, provocative clothing). God’s design for young womanhood is to be pure in her life. In a culture of impurity and sensuality and provocative clothing, young women of God must remember that though they live in the world, they are not of the world. And God does not mandate them to do it alone! The older are to come alongside of the younger with love, with honesty, with care, with biblical truths, and with practical tips and advice.

5. She is to be a worker at home.  Literally, Paul calls the young women to be ‘home-workers.’ Talk about something that flies in the face of the cultural wave for women to go out and work, present themselves, flourish in their field, travel the world, get a job, excel at the workplace. The primary place of work and ministry for a married woman and for a mother is the home.  This does not mean that a woman cannot work outside the home. But the point that Paul makes is that her primary domain of ministry and her primary place of exertion of energy must be the home -- to her husband, to her children, and to her domestic duties of keeping the house a welcoming, warm, inviting, and hospitable place for her family and others. This, of course, does not come naturally to young women. They need to learn this. And here Paul calls the older women to teach domestic duties to young women. What does it mean to keep the house? What’s entailed in cleaning, in home decor, in hospitality, in colors and furniture, in food and preparation, in serving others? How does she make and maintain a warm, inviting, and delightful environment for her husband and for her children? Let the older women take the younger under their wing to intentionally school them in the importance of these duties and the practical nature of how to do them well as a woman of God.

6. She is to be kind. Another virtue that God mandates for young women is to be kind. The word could also be rendered good, generous, beneficial, useful, excelling in her duties.  This is the young woman who sees a need and she does all she can to attend to it and meet that need. She primarily is kind and useful to those in the context of her home -- her husband and children -- but also those who come to visit, those in her church family, those she welcomes over for hospitality, and others who may come across her path. She seeks to be generous, excellent and kind in all her words, her actions, her duties, and her responsibilities as a wife, a mother, and a home-maker. Again, this virtue does not come naturally to young women. That’s why the Apostle calls the older women of God to teach this virtue to young women and show them why it’s important and how to be kind and beneficial to those in the context of her home. The home is her domain and the young woman of God seeks to excel with grace and usefulness in the primary place where God has called her to serve.

7. She is to be subject to her own husband. Godly women are to be submissive to their own husbands. Biblical submission is the heartfelt placing oneself under the authority of others that God has placed in our lives. Biblical submission is a glorious and beautiful thing. God not only calls wives to submit, but everyone is called to submit. For instance, all must submit to God, all must submit to government, all Christians must submit to their church elders. Even Christ submitted Himself to His Father. So, biblical submission is a wonderful heart-attitude flowing out of a godly woman that seeks to honor God and fulfill her role as God has spelled it out in Scripture.  Culture is not the standard. Biblical women do not learn marriage orders and godly living from watching the secular world. The authority is the Scripture and it couldn’t be more clear. Young women must embrace the beautiful and glorious call from God to submit to their own husbands. Note they are to submit to their own husbands -- not every person or every man, but the man she’s married to by covenant. And note how Paul begins and ends the list of virtues of biblical, young womanhood by addressing marriage. She is to be a lover of her husband and faithfully submitting to her own husband. This certainly does not come naturally to a woman. This, again, is why Paul calls the older to come to the assistance of and urgently teach and biblically show what this entails and how it looks in the day to day life of a marriage.

All of this points to a great purpose. Why does Paul give these seven virtues of young womanhood?  So that the Word of God will not be dishonored (Titus 2:5b). To state it differently, Paul doesn’t want the word to be reviled, or discredited, or maligned. What a high calling God gives to young women. You can, by God’s grace and with His Spirit, live out biblical womanhood in such a way that you beautify the gospel and show the life-transforming power and joy-instilling hope of the Word of God! What a high calling that should be happily embraced by all young women of God!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Heartfelt Embrace of Young Womanhood
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Titus 2:4-5 speaks of the older women who are to be “teaching what is good so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.”

So many godly women love and appreciate Titus 2 for the clear instructions that the Lord gives to both older and younger women. The Lord has spoken clearly in these verses. He has provided timeless truth, perfect principles, and needed exhortations for joyful womanhood.

In this first blog, I’ll elaborate on the first few virtues of young womanhood from Titus 2:4-5a. To begin, however, I should remark that Paul calls the older women to encourage the young women to do these following 7 virtues. That teaches something very urgent: these qualities do not come naturally to a young woman; they must learn these essential marks of womanhood. These don’t come easily. Culture, social media, Netflix, coworkers, and the entertainment industry do not help in promoting biblical womanhood. So, at this very point, Paul calls upon the older and more mature women of faith to come alongside of the younger women to deliberately teach them.

In fact, the word that Paul uses for the older women to help the younger women is to “encourage” (NASB). The Greek word can refer to an urging, deliberate training, admonishing, even schooling the younger women in these particular virtues. This is far from a text message here or there. It’s more than reading a few blogs on the topic or hearing a sermon every few years on womanhood. This requires the intentional, thoughtful, deliberate and proactive training and discipleship of an older woman coming alongside of a younger women to particularly train her in these qualities of a biblical, young woman.

When reading these marvelous virtues in the text, one should immediately recognize the priority is placed on the home -- marriage, parenting, homemaking, godly conduct. Contrary to the cultural pressure today to go out, get a job, make money, flourish personally, do what you want, be who you desire, thrive as a corporate woman, God’s glorious and timeless plan is for the biblical woman to find her primary calling in the context of the home. Her responsibilities and duties are tethered first to her husband, then to her children, then to her home-making and her godly conduct in such an environment. This is so counter-cultural and desperately needed!

1. She is to love her husband. In verse 4, the older women in the local church must train the younger women to love their husbands. Amazingly, if they need to be taught this, then it presupposes that it doesn’t come naturally. The Greek word φιλάνδρους literally could be rendered: a lover of the man. This obviously refers to a heterosexual marriage between a woman and a man. But additionally, it brings out a very unique element. To love the husband, as Paul describes it, has to do with a friendship, brotherly kind of love. This is a genuine affectionate, respectful, best-friendship kind of love. This is not the agape self, sacrificing, dying to self love that Paul so often calls for among believers. That’s important but that’s not the same word used here. Paul wants the older women to come alongside of the younger wives and deliberately train them in respectful, affectionate, honorable relations with their husbands. The older women have been there. Perhaps they can train from personal experience. They can teach through loving and compassionate reproof and rebuke when necessary. They can teach through biblical instruction (which means older women don’t have to all be married in order to fulfill this duty; even if they don’t have the personal experience, they have the all-sufficient Scriptures).

2. She is to love her children. In verse 4b, Paul moves from the loving of the husbands to the loving of her children. And like Paul did with the previous word, here Paul uses a similar word for the young mothers. They are to be taught to φιλοτέκνους. This, again, includes the phielo kind of love where the sense of friendship, affection, care, enjoyment and nurture comes to the forefront. I think every mother would understand the agape type love in parenting. You love the child when they can’t love you back (nursing, feeding, changing diapers, etc!). But this is different. This is an affectionate, caring, enjoyable and nurturing kind of love for the children. This, according to God, doesn’t come naturally to young women and so they need to be trained in this virtue by Godly, older women. In the context of the church, the older women are to intentionally come alongside of the young mothers to give tips on parenting, on loving the children, on being caring and affectionate with them, disciplining them with tenderness, and raising them in the context of a happy and holy home. This is not something that’s found on social media or viewed on the common movies in the theaters. Here’s why Paul calls upon the older women of God to school the younger mothers in these vital qualities of womanhood.

3. She is to be sensible. Turning to verse 5, Paul mentions that the older women must urge the young women to be sensible. The Greek word refers to one who is wise, self-controlled, thoughtful, deliberate, and careful in conduct.  This word is a favorite of Paul’s in the book of Titus.  Elders must be sensible (1:8). Older men must be sensible (2:2). Younger men must be sensible (2:6). And here, it’s implied that the older women must be sensible as they are to admonish the young women to live this out in their lives (2:5). The idea is the young woman living wisely in the home, practicing self control in the home and resisting the temptation to give into and pursue every craving and lust and pleasure that comes her way. To live sensibly means that she may have something she wants within her grasp but she still has the ability to resist and refuse it -- by God’s grace. If there is any virtue needed among young women in our culture, self-control and living sensibly has got to be near the top of the list. But, again, that Paul places it here reveals that this quality does not come by nature to young women. Youthful women often follow their lusts, pursue their pleasures, live without self-control and live without serious thought. But may the older women of God obey Paul’s mandate to deliberately assist the young women to know and live out the virtue of self-control and living in a sensible way -- for Christ’s glory and for her joy.


In the posts to follow, I will spell out in more detail the remaining virtues of biblical womanhood as Paul lists them in Titus 2:5.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

OPEN AIR PREACHER ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

 What? The Open Air Preacher’s Day of Equipping & Instruction

When? Saturday, May 25th, 2019 | 9AM - 2PM | with STL Cardinals Game Evangelism that evening 6PM [optional]

Where? Located at Christ Fellowship Bible Church (9321 Litzsinger Road, St Louis, MO 63144)

Time? 9AM - 2PM **breakfast & lunch included**

FORMAT:
9:00AM - Welcome (Geoff Kirkland)

Session #1 - 9AM-10AM - welcome & the “WHAT and WHY” of open air preaching (brief
historical sketch open air preaching)
Taught by Tony Miano

Session #2 - 10AM-11AM - Theological foundation of open air preacher (what is the biblical gospel? what is successful evangelism? Discussion on ‘results’/ effectiveness in evangelism/ministry)
Taught by Geoff Kirkland

Session #3 - 11AM-12PM - Local church & accountability of the open air preacher; his character & the holiness of the open air preacher (accountability from church leadership)
Taught by Tony Miano

Session #4 - 12PM - 1PM - the manner & disposition of the open air preacher (etiquette; equipment; tracts; finding places to preach; disposition/demeanor of open air preacher)
Taught by Tom Rayborn

Session #5 - 1PM - 2PM - lunch & Q&A
Tony Miano and Tom Rayborn (moderated by Geoff Kirkland)

CLOSE at 2:00PM

— optional additional evangelism outing together —

Corporate prayer & calling upon God from 2:30 - 3:30PM

Head to Busch Stadium at 3:30PM to park and evangelize before the evening Cardinals game (game begins at 6.15PM)


 Please RSVP to Tom Rayborn or Geoff Kirkland

**THE EVENT IS FREE** | but RSVP so we know how many to expect.

Monday, March 18, 2019

How Should You Hear the Word of God Preached?
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church


Q. 160. What is required of those that hear the Word preached? [From the Westminster Confession, 1647]
A. It is required of those that hear the Word preached, that they attend upon it with diligence, preparation, and prayer; examine what they hear by the Scriptures; receive the truth with faith, love, meekness, and readiness of mind, as the Word of God; meditate, and confer of it; hide it in their hearts, and bring forth the fruit of it in their lives.

1. You should attend to it with diligence.
It is as if you were going to meet with the king of the land himself, one would most certainly plan accordingly, come with punctuality and listen with diligence. So it must be for the children of God who listen to the preacher herald God’s Word. God’s people must diligently come to be fed divine truth. An earnestness must be exuded from God’s people as they have one primary object on their minds on the Lord’s Day — God. Nothing else captivates the believer’s mind like Christ does. Nothing ravishes the believer’s heart like Christ does. Nothing wins the affections and nothing woos the saint’s love more than the saving gospel of God’s grace freely bestowed in Christ’s death on behalf of repentant sinners. So come! Come with diligence! Come with Christ-centeredness! Come with eagerness! Come with expectancy! Come with frequency! Come with sobriety and expectation to meet with, commune with, and hear from the Living God.

2. You should attend to it with preparation.
As one would prepare for an important business meeting, so God’s people should also prepare to meet with the God of all creation. To prepare is to make oneself ready to meet with, come before, and stand in the presence of God Almighty. Preparation must begin with prayer. It must continue with sufficient sleep. Preparation includes the reading of the scripture text that will be preached on the following day. Preparation demands arriving to corporate worship early to meditate, pray, expect, and adore God. Without preparation, one cannot worship properly. One gets out of worship what one puts into worship. Without preparation, little heart warming and soul feeding will occur. As one would prepare equipment, leave early and take diligence to arrive on time to a sporting or entertainment event, how much more should God’s child prepare his heart, his Bible, his wife, his children and leave early and arrive promptly to worship God. A prepared heart is a ready heart. A prepared heart is a humble and willing heart. A prepared heart is a moldable and shapeable heart.

3. You should attend to it with prayer.
To pray is to take hold of God’s power and beseech God to rend the heavens, come down, descend powerfully, and with supernatural power. Only God can convert. God’s people must pray for the conversion of sinners, the edification of God’s people, and the magnification of God’s Triune name and work in salvation. God’s people must pray in repentance to rid themselves of all known sin before the Word comes. God’s people must pray that the minister of the Word would speak with supernatural power. Indeed, the mouth is that of a man but the voice is that of God. Pray for unction — the sovereign, effectual power of the Spirit in and through the preached Word — as the man of God preaches the Word of God to the people of God. All God’s people should pray for God’s help on the way to hear the sermon preached. Believers must pray and ask the Lord to grant assistance while the Word is heard. And saints must pray for a soft, humble, and willing heart to specifically apply and implement the sermon throughout the course of the week. O the danger of not hearing sermons well! O the danger of distractions while the sermon is going forth! O the danger of hearing the Word and allowing Satan, like a pecking bird, to snatch the seed of the Word so that it bears no fruit. Nothing prepares a man of God for worship more than earnest wrestling with God in prayer. Expect God to work. Pray for God to revive. Adore God as preeminently worthy! Confess! Rejoice! Pray!

Just as people of old would bake bread on Saturday evenings so it would be warm on Sunday morning, so the people of God should read, pray, and study the Scriptures on Saturday nights so that their hearts are warmed and prepared for worship on Sunday.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Urgency of Soul-Winning.

Jude 23 — save others, snatching them out of the fire…

Soul willing, by definition, must be urgent. The urgency comes not just from the method but from the reality of the spiritual state of men. Time is short and all those who die in their sins will perish in hell under the unrelenting and righteous wrath of God. All who die in Christ, forgiven and righteous in His merits, will enter life and spend eternity in blissful joy and worshipful delight dwelling in God’s presence. But while you are here, you and I are called to be urgent. We must be urgent in soul-winning. Man-fishing is the charge that Christ has given to His followers. We are to get up and go out and call all to surrender to Christ as Lord and as Savior.

Here’s an explanation of soul-winning in a few ways.

1. URGENCY
The book of Jude calls the believers to save others and to be snatching them. To save and to snatch speak of important, urgent, preeminent realities. To snatch means to forcefully carry someone away. It is as if we are grabbing someone by the shirtcollar, with respectful tact, and pleading with them with compassionate urgency to flee from the wrath of God which surely is to come. Christian living always should have the smell of urgency to it. Our conversations should have the spark of tenderness and urgency in our demeanor. Our prayers and evangelism and confidence in proclaiming the gospel to the lost should be fueled with urgency, fired with passion, and firmly resting on God’s sovereignty to save His elect. And with this confidence in God’s work, we urgently go!

2. CERTAINTY
Cast your eye upon that little phrase “out of.” We are to be saving and snatching souls out of the fire. There is a real joy in proclaiming to sinners headed for eternal destruction that there is a certain way of escape. It’s sure. It’s possible. It’s free. It’s real. So certain is this hope in Christ that we can proclaim to sinners that if they trust in Christ alone they will be saved from the wrath of God! What joy to urgently, joyfully and tenderly plead with sinners and summon them that they can have the certainty and the confidence of escaping hellfire if they come to Jesus Christ alone in saving faith.

3. ETERNALITY
No one spoke of the eternality of hell more than Jesus Christ Himself. God wants us to grasp the undying nature of eternity. Heaven and hell go on forever and ever -- for endless ages to come. In 10 billion years, no more time will have been lost in eternity. It shall have no end. And your job and my job is to snatch sinners from the fire. The fire refers to the judgment. Jesus Christ spoke often of the eternal fires of hell (Matt 13:40, 42, 50; 25:41). O let us go toward sinners with urgency and courage and summon them to life eternal with Christ and warn them of everlasting doom under His wrath if they perish remaining in their sinful unbelief.

4. AVAILABILITY
The fact of the matter is this: there is still time to get right with God! God’s patience continues. He has not shut the door of opportunity yet. Now is the day of grace. Today is the acceptable time. The command in Jude still applies to us. We are to save and snatch sinners out of the fire. Let the example of Christ minister to us as He pleaded with sinners to come to Him while there is still time: “Come to me!” “Whoever is thirsty, let him drink.” “Whoever beholds the Son has life!” “Enter through the narrow gate”! O let us gain an intolerable burden while recognizing the moment of availability that God still graciously gives to hellbound sinners! Let’s go to them, with the gospel, with loving urgency, and summon them to forsake their sin, flee to Christ, follow Him, and find life!


More articles can be found HERE.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Here is the link to the recent 19-part eBook on Duties of Christian Wives that I completed. May the Lord use it to edify and build up Christian women in marriages for the glory of Christ. 

Here are the articles:
1. submitting
2. following
3. affirming
4. respecting
5. speaking well of
6. working hard at home (Prov 31.31)
7. teaching children (& grand children)
8. discipling others
9. praying
10. adorning
11. fulfilling (sexually her husband)
12. guarding (the home that it's a godly, safe, warm, inviting, welcoming place for husband)
13. forgiving
14. worshiping
15. self-denying  (submit to husbands in everything)
16. trusting (in God as she follows/submits to her husband)
17. encouraging (her husband and others in her life)
18. wise (Prov 19.14; 31.25 - a prudent wife)
19. God-fearing (Prov 31.30)

Download the eBook HERE.

This is the counterpart to the Duties of Christian Husbands () which can be found HERE.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

God-Honoring, Good Sex.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

God has given marriage to humankind for many reasons. Marriage serves to point to the great Marriage between Christ and His Bride, the Church. It is to be a catalyst for sanctification, a blessing of friendship, the means of procreation, a relationship of companionship, and a protection from fornication. In this essay, I want to address the biblical reality of the beauty of God-honoring and truly ravishing sex. This is the intimate coming together between a man and a woman within the covenant of marriage that brings God great glory. Far from being bad and something that must be shunned, Christian couples should seek to worship God at all times -- and that includes the marriage bed. So what does the Bible say about God-honoring, good, and enjoyable sex? How is it achieved? What needs to be understood? Is this really legitimate?

In what follows, I’ll provide a few thoughts that will foster a high view of the delightfulness of sex as God designed it for a husband and wife within the marriage covenant. 

1. A good understanding of sex.
Marriage can really only be ultimately understood when viewed in the context of the gospel. After all, the Apostle Paul reveals that marriage is ultimately about Christ and the Church. Every marriage relationship serves to be a pointer to the Ultimate Marriage between Christ and His Bride. So it is also with sex. As there is nothing more intimate than sexual intimacy within the marriage covenant, so in a similar sense, all believers long for the ultimate marriage and closeness with Christ in the truest sense that we will enjoy in the future when we behold our Bridegroom face to face. Now believers do not see Him. But we will! We shall! Jesus also reveals that there is no marriage in heaven (and, thus, no sexual relations & no procreation) and so we enjoy the delightfulness of marriage and the blessings within marriage for this age only. Marriage and intimacy point us to a greater marriage and an eternal intimacy with Christ that all believers will enjoy with God forever and ever. The amazingly close and breathtakingly intimate union between a man and a woman in marriage is to delightfully remind believers of the eternally close and breathtaking intimate nearness that we will have with Jesus Christ forever and ever in glory!

2. A good exclusivity within sex.
God designed marriage, from the very beginning, to be between one man and one woman alone. A full and total exclusivity is demanded within marriage. There must be no intruders and no unfaithfulness in marital intimacy. There should be no third party, no pornographic stimulants, no outside invaders during the intimacy between a husband and a wife. This is why the Scriptures call for men to rejoice in the wife of one’s youth. There must be a full exclusivity in marriage and in sex -- a real, genuine, honest commitment to one another alone. It’s like the lovers in Song of Solomon: I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine. Total exclusivity is required!

3. A good communication about sex.
As with every part of marriage, it thrives on good communication. Wherever there is conflict and turmoil, there’s a breakdown of communication somewhere along the line. Good communication requires humility, patience, clarity, honesty, truthfulness, carefulness in tone, and clarification (so as to ensure there’s no misunderstanding). Both the husband and the wife must communicate their desires and likes (and dislikes) in sexual relations. They must honestly and openly speak with one another what they enjoy and don’t enjoy in physical relations in bed. Great enjoyment in sexual intimacy requires great openness in honest communication with one another. And not just openness and communication at the outset of the marriage but continuously throughout the marriage. Even during the act of lovemaking couples can communicate and seek to know and learn what the other person enjoys and what brings the spouse pleasure. Good and unhindered communication is absolutely vital for enjoyable, God-honoring sex.

4. A good selflessness during sex.
It is more blessed to give than to receive. Do nothing from selfishness. Regard one another as more important than yourselves. Look out for the interests of others. All of these statements are from the Word of God. The principle of selflessness certainly applies to all of life including the area of sexual intimacy in marriage. All sexual sin (all!) flows from selfishness in some way. Pornography, masturbation, adultery, prostitution, lust and any other sin all comes from a heart of selfishness (the idol of self-love in that instance). The goal in sexual intimacy is not what can I get out of this but rather the goal must be how can I serve and bring pleasure to my spouse. And here’s the amazing reality: if both the husband and the wife are selfless and seeking to please the other person, then both people are fulfilled. And the sexual fulfillment and pleasure comes not from selfishness but from each person seeking to please and fulfill the desires of the spouse. Both people are satisfied. God is honored. The goal of sex is always to be: how can I please my spouse? It is this others-oriented view of sex within marriage that fuels great enjoyment.

5. A good conscience in sex.
Perhaps there’s nothing more debilitating than living with a guilty conscience. But to live with a clear conscience before God and men is truly to live life fully and with joy. When the husband can approach his wife, come into her, and seek to love her with a clear conscience is a blessing that is beyond description. But when a man’s conscience is clouded with shame and gloomy from lust and guilty from sexual sin, he must come openly and honestly before God and before his wife and acknowledge his sin, confess it, repent of it, and seek to replace that sin with godly habits of holiness and purity. It is possible to be sexually pure as a believer. But when you as a believer sin, there is a Righteous Advocate who pleads on your behalf. Strive vigilantly to be pure and maintain purity in your heart, mind and life. Be a one woman man or a one man woman. When you can make love with your spouse and say: I am fully yours and only yours, it is a blessed and joyful blessing. Maintain a good conscience before God and before your spouse!

6. A good mutual-delight in sex.
The man’s body does not belong to himself but to his wife. He must, therefore, seek to serve her and fulfill his ‘duty’ to his wife. And the wife’s body likewise does not belong to herself but to her husband. She must, therefore, strive to serve him and fulfill her ‘duty’ to her husband. Never must the mindset be: I want sex because I want…. Rather, believers must fight hard to have the mindset of a self-giver: I long to make love with my spouse so that I can please them for their joy and benefit. When the husband strives to please his wife and when the wife endeavors to please her husband, both are mutually delighted and selflessly satisfied. Both are happy. Both have served one another. Both are pleased and ravished with each other. And there are no intruders that have crept into the marriage bed.

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Process of Becoming a Leader of Christ Fellowship Bible Church
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The church belongs to Jesus Christ! He resides as the sovereign Head over His Body, the church and He has spoken clearly and sufficiently in His Word, the Bible. What He says has total authority over all that happens in His Church. The Scriptures very clearly present qualifications for the leadership offices of elder and deacon. But the practical question remains: how does one become a leader? What is the process by which a man becomes a leader in the church of Jesus Christ?

At CFBC, we have condensed this process in a few practical headings.

First, Selecting men.
Leaders prove themselves to be leaders long before they’re appointed to leadership positions. That means that these men will evidently demonstrate themselves to be doing the work of service long before they are publicly affirmed with a leadership title. They’re not in it for the title, the prestige, the position, or the authority. They want to serve and they do the work with or without the recognition or official leadership title. So the leadership of CFBC selects men who already are showing themselves to be doing the work of ministry. For a deacon, it is one who shows a life of integrity, one who is consistent in his speech and commitments, one who is willing to serve, aid the shepherds, and help do the work of ministry to free up the shepherds to maintain prayer and the study and teaching of the Word as their foremost calling. For an elder, here is one who already is living out the qualifications (of personal life, home life, marital life) as well as a man who shows himself to be shepherding folks in the Word (teaching biblical truth with clarity and accuracy) as well as defending against false and harmful doctrine. So the selection of men consists in the recognizing of those men who already are doing the work in the local church. We seek them out, the leadership meets with them and asks if they have a desire for leadership in the local assembly.

Second, Examining men.
Then after the selection of men comes the process of examination. The Apostle Paul talks about leaders being tested and examined. This can be both formal and informal. Informally, it refers of course to the examination of the man’s life by observation and by careful scrutiny. It also, however, includes the necessary examination formally. This refers to a written examination (for both elders and deacons). We also, at CFBC, choose to examine the man in an oral interview where we ask specific questions about the prospect’s spiritual life (sexual purity, Bible reading, prayer time, marriage, family worship, financial condition, repentance, evangelism, etc.).  For an elder and deacon, we would interview the wife privately (without the husband there), and children (if applicable). For an elder, we would also go to his workplace and interview at least two co-workers to gather their impressions on the prospective leader. The oral and written examinations will help the existing leadership team in testing the candidate for a ministry position. This is a crucial element of the process of becoming a leader. This stage in the process is not to be rushed; nor is it to be overlooked. A man must be examined first before becoming an official leader in the church.

Third, Recognizing men
After a man has demonstrated a godly life, faithfulness in service in the local church, and after he has been examined, the CFBC leadership will bring the man before the church congregation in a corporate worship service and present him as a viable candidate for leadership. The leadership then calls on the church as a whole to give input to the leadership team about the candidate over a set period of time (say, a month or so). This includes the flock and their impressions, perceptions, concerns, or affirmations in the leadership process. After this set period of time, the leaders may approve the man by mentioning to him the weightiness and responsibility of leadership in Christ’s church.

Fourth, Affirming/Ordaining men
Then after a man is approved by the leadership, he is recognized publicly in a public worship service and appointed to the leadership position (of elder or deacon). This is a public recognition and the existing church leaders will pray for the new leader and commit him, his family, and the ministry to the Lord for His glory and for the health and protection of the church. No church makes a leader. No church raises up leaders. The Spirit of God does this. We view our job to disciple, pray for, train, and encourage men to serve in many ways. As they serve, the Spirit of God makes it clear over time who is already doing the work of service. And the more these faithful servants do the work, it becomes overwhelmingly clear both to them, to the leadership, and to to the congregation as a whole, whom the Lord is raising up to be a leadership (either a deacon or an elder).

Thursday, January 17, 2019

We Beg You, Church-Member, Pray For Your Elders!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church (St Louis, MO)

The Christian has no more powerful weapon that is constantly available to him than the glorious privilege of prayer. Intercessory prayer proves to be the greatest -- and at the same time, the hardest -- blessing that Christians have for one another! We can and must minister biblical truth to each other. Yes we must encourage. And sure we must reprove and confront when needed. But how frequently do we read of Paul begging believers: “pray for us” (1 Thess 5:25; 2 Thess 3:1; cf. Heb 13:18). Faithful shepherds would resonate with this simple plea to every church-member, “Brethren: pray for us!” How, you ask? Pray for your elders in the following suggested ways.

Know The Lord!
Pray for your elders to know the Lord. Simply: more than anything else in the world, pray that they would know God -- deeply. Pray that God would enlarge their understanding, deepen their convictions, widen their grasp, and tighten their adherence to God’s glory and character. Pray for your shepherds to know God in such a way that they experientially long to be with God in communion. Pray that their service is not rote or heartless. But pray that their ministerial work flows from a warm heart of devotion to Christ that all springs from a deep, tender, ever-growing knowledge of God!

Know the Word!
Pray for your elders to know the Word. Our guidebook is Scripture. Our foundation upon which we build all of life and ministry is the sufficient and clear Word of God. Nothing is as fixed as God’s Word. Nothing is as unchangeable as His Truth. In an age of opposition to divine authority and in a world drowning in rebellion against God’s clear directives, your elders covet and need your intercessory prayer. Pray for their courage to stand upon Scripture in the face of any and all opposition. Pray for their theological precision and robust grip of the biblical gospel so that Satan does not sway them away from the priorities. Pray for them to know and feed on the Word!

Know the Flock!
Pray for your elders to know the flock. Remember what Solomon charged his son: know well the condition of your flocks (Prov 27:23). Your elders have much to do including prayer, study of the Word, and administrative details. But remember: pastoral work is shepherding work. Ministerial work is people work. Pastors engage in soul-care. Pray for daily strength, divine power, sustaining energy, grace-given endurance, and joy-filled hearts. Intercede often for your ministers as their work often goes unnoticed, and at times, unappreciated. Pray for the Lord to minister to their hearts as they minister to the hearts of the saints. Pray for God to guard them from ‘pastoral burnout’ and from overworking to the neglect of their primary ministry -- his own wife and children. Pray that they would know needs, attend to them, and balance his time and duties well.

Know the Danger!
Pray for your elders to know the danger. Dangerous times are those in which we live! The god of this world is plunging many with him to perdition! And how he loves to distract the saints, distort the gospel, defile the leaders, destroy the gospel’s reputation and disrupt godly fellowship. Pray frequently and fervently for God to protect your congregation! Pray for your leaders in this! Pray that they would know and see the danger as a watchman of old was to observe a danger on the horizon and cry out to prevent harm from striking. Pray that God’s leaders would have insight and discernment to protect the flock preventatively instead of reactively after the danger has pierced through. Pray much and often for this is vital to the church’s health!

Know the Power!
Pray for your elders to know the power. Any faithful shepherd would honestly affirm his own weakness and inadequacy in himself to do pastoral work. So pray for him and with him to have and know the power of God! Consider calling your pastor and praying with and for him to have the power of God in his prayer time, in his sermon preparation time, in his preaching, and in his pastoral work. Pray for him to know the power of God and to see glimpses of God’s grace revealed as he marvels at how God works in and through him for the advance of the gospel and for the fame of Christ’s Name! Pray for him to experience the power of God while he heralds the gospel. Pray for him to see converts as he evangelizes and calls sinners to repent and believe. Pray for him to know power in the counseling room as he seeks to help believers put off sin and put on holiness. Pray for him and with him to have divine power in his work!

Know the Joy!
Pray for your elders to know the joy. Fullness of joy, the happinesses of joy, the delightfulness of joy and the otherworldliness of joy! Yes, pray for your shepherd-elders to have the divine glory of joy strike deep in their souls. Pray that even when hospital visits are needed, when struggling saints need reproof, when bad doctrine must be confronted, and when busyness creeps in that the joy of the Lord would refresh them, sustain them, gladden them, and enlarge their hearts. Pray for these shepherds to drink of the river of God’s delights -- daily. Pray for your elders to do their work not out of sheer duty but out of joyful wonder at God’s grace and call and glory! Pray for the joy of your elders to permeate through the flock so that Christian joy would characterize your local church congregation. Pray much and often for the God of joy to grant joy to your leaders!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

CHRIST OUR CURSE FOR OUR GAIN
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I love the gospel. But I have a tremendous burden pressing upon my soul. I wonder how many professing Christ-knowers and Jesus-lovers actually know and believe the biblical gospel. Just what is the real good news of salvation? What really took place at the cross? What did God do? I believe that Galatians 3:13 is one (of many!) clear statement that strikes at the very heartbeat of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Galatians 3:13 says that “Christ became a a curse for us.” Here, I will summarize Gal 3:13 with the phrase: "Christ our Curse for our gain! And in this writeup, I'll provide 6 components to this phrase in understanding the gospel.

1. Know the BIBLICAL CHRIST  (Christ…)
For Christ to save, one must possess the saving Christ. Lots of religions have a Jesus where he may fill the role of a teacher, a wise sage, a miracle worker, a prophet, or something else. The question then must be: what does the Bible say? How does the Word of God describe this Christ? He, being fully and truly God, descended from heaven, born of a virgin, he lived a perfect and righteous life obedient to Law of God. Never having sinned, he was rejected by men, delivered to death, and crucified a horrifically public and shameful death. More than that, on the cross, God crushed Him under the weight of the divine fury of righteous wrath in being the sin-bearer for His people. That means that the biblical Christ became the propitiation of HIs people. He appeased and satisfied the Father’s just wrath by taking all the sins of His elect upon Himself on the cross. Then when he drank that “cup” in full, he exclaimed in triumph: It is finished! This Christ was buried, then He rose up from the grave showing Himself alive for forty days to many hundreds of people. Then he ascended physically and visibly into heaven to be with His Father where He is seated at the right hand of the Father in glory where He intercedes for His own. Is this the Christ you know? Do you trust in this substitute? Do you know Him? Own Him as your own Savior? Trust His blood to shield you from God’s wrath?

2. Know the GREAT EXCHANGE  (Our…)
The text says that Christ redeemed us! What a glorious phrase! The very heart and soul of the gospel message is that God punished Jesus for my sin in my stead. He died for me, meaning in my stead, for me, in my place! He redeemed us by being our curse! To think of the almighty arrows of divine rage that were aimed and ready to fire at our fully-deserving and wholly-defenseless souls and then at the perfect moment, Christ the divine Son steps in, receives the fulness of all the blows of all the arrows and all the divine punishment and hatred so that you are shielded and spared and safe hiding in Him. He took it all! He paid for it all! Your life is found in His death. His death results in your everlasting gain! Never see the substitution as old and outdated news. Never get past the phrase: Jesus died for me. In this great exchange, God’s wrath is satisfied and your life is spared! In Him, you live! Rejoice!

3. Know the DIVINE CURSE   (Curse…)
The Holy Spirit guided Paul’s hand to write down that Christ became our “curse.” He became a curse for you. Paul says that the one is cursed who does not abide by all things written in the Law to perform them (Gal 3:10, 13)! How impossible it is to attain our own standing of righteousness before God! When Israel was on the doorstep of entering the Promised Land, God declared that if Israel did not obey the Lord God, to do all His commandments, that all these curses would come upon them and overtake them (Deut 27:15). The rest of Deut 27 (the long chapter!) surveys the many (!) curses that God Himself would bring upon Israel if she faithlessly disobeyed God’s covenant and rebelled. Paul’s point comes into focus here. Just as Israel of old failed to obey the covenant and received the covenant curses, so we too, have disobeyed God and have sinned against Him and thus sit under the everlasting curses of this covenant-God who will -- and must! -- punish sin. Behold the power and righteousness of God. God brings extraordinary plagues on sinners. There is no remedy, no hope, no abatement, no rest, and no mercy for those who persist in willful sin and unbelief and who die in this unregenerate state. O what an awful & infinite curse!

4. Know the IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS  (For Our…)
The dark thunderclouds break as the gloriously blinding rays of sunlight burst in as Paul says that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law having become a curse for us (Gal 3:13). Christ became our curse for our gain. Something happens to us at the moment of salvation. The Scripture declares that for those for whom Christ died, He took their sin. But the Word also testifies that those who believe in Jesus Christ alone are counted righteous in Him. Our sin is reckoned to and put upon Him. And His righteousness is reckoned to and put upon us. Our lawlessness is given to Him and His righteousness is given to us. Our transgressions and heinousness is imputed to Christ on the cross and His obedience and holiness is imputed to us by faith. This is the splendid reality of double-imputation. It’s the glorious and heart-stirring truth that the Bible speaks of frequently. Through the obedience of the One man (Christ) the many will be made righteous (Rom 5:19). Through faith in Christ, we are found in Him, not having our own inherent righteousness derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, namely, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith (Phil 3:9). God made Christ to be our sin so that we may be the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor 5:21). Behold the comforting assurance that when God looks upon one of His children, He beholds them through the righteousness of Christ -- indeed, the festal robes of Christ Himself are shrouded over us!

5. Know the INFINITE GAIN  (Gain…)
Jesus Christ became your curse so that you can receive infinite gain! Paul speaks of it in these terms: “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” is yours in Christ (Eph 1:3). Amazingly and almost incomprehensibly, Paul declares that for those who suffer the loss of all things and count all self righteousness to be heaps of trash and filthy garbage, these believers gain Christ (Phil 3:8b). What an unspeakable reality to gain Christ! To lose everything in all the universe and yet to gain Christ is to have all! Christ is all in all. To have Christ is to have everything! What infinite gain comes to the child of God (even the weakest saint and the most newborn child of God!) who possesses Jesus Christ as His own! Salvation is not only about gaining the glory of Christ in the future (2 Thess 2:14) and dying is “gain” (Phil 1:21). It’s about possessing Christ and living all out for Him now (Phil 1:21a) and rejoicing in this ever-flowing spring of infinite love and joy welling up in our souls as children of God. To have Christ is to have gained everything. Never lose sight of the wonder of having Christ live in you -- the hope of glory! Immeasurable gain!

6. Know the FIXED SECURITY 
The text in Galatians says that Christ became a curse for us (Gal 3:13). The work of salvation is always a complete work. Always does God perfect redemption for all of His elect and never does God go back on His work and come up short with an incomplete work of salvation. For God to save, He saves completely -- to the uttermost. When Christ became our curse, He took all our sin and bore it all in full on the cross. Those who are His, by repentance and faith in Him alone, have the guaranteed promise that this divine curse that once loomed over our necks has now been satisfied on Christ and now there’s nothing but grace, glory, love, security, and promises that are ours! Rest in this security. Focus on this fixed standing you have in Christ. Never does God lose one of His children. When He begins a work in a soul, He will carry it on to completion till the day of Christ Jesus. Nothing, no one, ever could separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ! Find comfort in your soul in the procured, promised and perfected salvation that Christ effectually achieved for you! Stand in awe of His glory as you stand in this grace robed in His righteousness! Rejoice and be glad. Your everlasting glorification will come! Your curse-bearer is your everlasting protector and He will carry you, as a Father would his own children, safely home to behold His face everlastingly!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Leading in Family Worship During Conflict.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I’m a great sinner who has been redeemed by a greater Savior. But I still am a sinner! Recently, I lashed out in anger at my children. I raised my voice pointed my finger at them in selfish anger and scolded them. In moments like these, how can I, even in such a moment of sinful conduct, lead my family to the presence of God in family worship? Someone might say: isn’t that hypocritical? Aren’t you being two-faced in sinning and then leading in family worship?

How do we as sinful parents still lead in family worship even in those moments when we’ve sinned (right in front of our kids!)? How can we lead well? How can we model godliness, practice repentance, and obey the Lord in bringing the family (the little Church) into God’s presence in family worship? I will provide 5 suggestions to lead in family worship during moments of conflict.

1. HUMBLED
God does not require us to lead in family worship only after we’ve got it all together. Amazingly, God uses broken and humble vessels for His glory. We must veer away from the mentality that we’ve gotta ‘have everything put together nice and neat’ and then we’ll be adequate to serve! No! Our sufficiency and adequacy comes from the righteous robes of Christ reckoned to us, not from our performances in self-cleansing. Come to God humbled and come before your family humbled.

2. REPENTANT
God is near to the broken-hearted. Turn to God and return to Him (as the prophets so often preached!) and He will hear from heaven and bring blessing. Repent of your sin to God (first) and to the family members you’ve sinned against, and to the family as a whole if they observed your sinful action. A repentant disposition is one of the greatest pedagogical tools a father has in the home. The children should not perceive the parents to be sinless or too good for repentance. Rather, let them see your repentant heart and repentant prayers to God! That’ll teach!

3. FORGIVENESS
In your repentant heart, you come to your family and specifically (and humbly!) acknowledge your own sin. This requires, however, you cannot blame-shift. You cannot minimize the sin and say it was a mistake or mess-up. You can’t make excuses about it. Own it. Acknowledge your own sin and then specifically ask the family members to forgive you for your own sin against God and against them. Wait for your family to hear your request for forgiveness and then let them answer and affirm their forgiveness of you. Remind them (everyone, even the kids) that forgiveness is a promise of pardon where you actively choose to not hold the sin against the person, you won’t bring it up to others, nor will you dwell on it repeatedly). Use this as a God-given, grace-filled shepherding moment to teach about forgiveness -- and God’s greater forgiveness to big sinners like us (yes, even to big sinners like dad and mom!).

4. LEAD
Lead. Yes, lead in family worship. Again, God does not require perfection in his worship leaders. But he does require humility and faithfulness to Him. So, in these moments of sin and humiliation before God and before the family, let this not drive you away from doing your duties in leading at home, but rather let it drive you to the oft-receiving embrace of an adopting Father who loves His elect with a preserving and undiminishing love. Lead. Sing. Read. Teach. Pray. Seek to be obedient to God even if you don’t feel like it. Even if you feel like an inch tall and your sin is plastered across your forehead, remember to gaze upon Christ’s cross and remind yourself (and the family) of the marvelous grace of our loving Lord -- indeed, grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt! Praise the Lord!

5. TRUST
Parenting consists of a massive trust in God’s sovereignty. In our blunders and in our sins, we trust God that He will use us and our inadequacies to shine the spotlight on His grace and mercy all the more! We pray that our children would see that the same grace that we call them to embrace is the same grace that we as the parents need -- daily! We humble ourselves, repent of sin, ask for forgiveness, and dutifully and joyfully lead in family worship trusting that God Himself will use His Word not because of us but in spite of us as we teach His powerful and living Word in our homes on a daily basis. May God use our sins and the moments of conflict to result in bringing Him glory and great teaching moments in the home for our children to see the manifold riches of God’s love & the mercies of His gospel!
Desiring Eldership! It’s a Good & Blessed Thing!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

God’s Word states in 1 Timothy 3.1 that if any man aspires to the office of an overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do! It’s good to desire eldership! How noble it is for a man to aspire to serve and shepherd the flock of God! It’s not a desire to hide or be ashamed of, but rather we should speak of the good and blessed and God-given desire to serve as an overseer.

In speaking on this, I want to help us understand a number of related items to this great desire!

1. Understanding the Gift.
The Bible teaches that God has given those to lead the Church and that includes pastors/elders and teachers (Eph 4:11). Elders are God-given gifts to His church. They are to serve as God’s stewards and His representatives. So, the call to be an elder comes gloriously and graciously from God for the well-being and maturation of His Church.

2. Undertaking the Call.
An elder is far more than a ‘job’. The office of elder is an all-consuming and joyfully-embracing ministry of humble service and servant leadership that God places deep within the soul of a man. An elder/shepherd is more than a task-accomplisher or a charismatic personality. The office of eldership requires a man to undertake a most blessed call & a consuming responsibility to serve God with integrity, to model holiness for the saints, and to teach sound doctrine!

3. Unashamed of the Desire.
Men must never be ashamed of the desire to serve as an elder. I wonder if men of God earnestly desire to serve the local church but in humility are ashamed to verbalize their desire to lead. They don’t want it to be perceived as an arrogant ambition to rule over people. But let it be humbly stated: the desire to lead is good, noble, lofty, God-given and one that should be pursued and cultivated through serving the church and communicating with your leaders!

4. Unrelenting in Passion.
In Thessalonika, the Apostle Paul said that he labored relentlessly among the believers. With the Ephesian elders, Paul testified that night and day for three years he admonished the brethren passionately. All men do well to remember: the work of an elder is just that: work! It is a fine work he desires to do! God’s man to lead as an elder must have an undying commitment to God, an unswerving commitment to truth and an unrelenting passion for Christ’s glory!

5. Unflinching in Courage.
The brilliant wiles of Satan and his masquerading messengers passionately hunger to infiltrate the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ from without and from within! Elders must be vigilant. They must watch and stand as guardsmen to sound the alarm when danger is near. Elders must be men of courage to stand face to face to oppose what is evil and to guard the church from false teachers, dangerous doctrine and sinful living! Christian men are courageous men.

6. Unswerving in Faithfulness.
The great demand for God’s men requires that they be found ‘faithful’ and steadfast to Christ and His calling. They don’t need to be popular, wealthy, or successful. A man of God strives to be faithful to God even if it means upsetting the standard, the norm, the tradition, or the popular opinion. He would rather suffer at the hands of men than sin against God. He will shepherd souls, preach truth, defend against error, live purely, pray importunately and lead with integrity. An elder is a man who will be unflinching, undeterred, & unswerving in faithfulness to God and to His Word.

7. Unilateral in Ambition.
A question that men who aspire the office of eldership need to be asked is this: why do you aspire to the ministry? What’s the goal? Why do you want this? The ultimate aim and ambition must be for the glory of God and for the good of Christ’s church. Too many men have fallen (privately or publicly) to the sin of self-promotion or raw domination over people in the church. But a man of God says: I want to honor and glorify God as I serve Him and serve His people in this particular local church. Notoriety or not, he wants to please His Savior and His King!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Spiritual Battles of a Minister.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Before any minister is a shepherd, he first is a sheep. A man may be a leader in front of a congregation of believers but he is foremost a servant who must bow low before the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  That reminds us that leaders do not stand immune to temptation and to struggles. Leaders wage war on the spiritually grueling and relentlessly intense battlefield daily. No greater calling exists than that of being a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ! To serve God by studying His Word, preaching His gospel, praying for His people, and shepherding Christ’s blood-bought sheep comprises the most gloriously exhilarating gift God could give to a man. But nevertheless, he is still a man. And he still engages in daily struggles. But what are they? What is unique to the pastor of a church? What are the hardships that godly leaders face?

In this brief essay, I’ll present 8 battles that every faithful minister of the gospel battles with so that you can pray for your pastor and care for him diligently and faithfully.

1. Carelessness
One battle that can invade a minister’s life is that of carelessness. With enough time and with the passing of years, a man may grow to be a bit careless in his care for his own soul and for the souls of those he shepherds. Negligence can creep in. Inattentiveness can describe a busy man who has served for a while. Pray that your pastor would guard from carelessness about the work of the Lord and the sheep of God that he is called to care for.

2. Ineffectiveness
Another spiritual battle that wages war frequently in a minister’s heart is the perception of his own ineffectiveness. And to be sure, all men in and of themselves are ineffective and unable to accomplish spiritual good. However, pastors have desires and ambitions and when those don’t appear to be met, he can feel the strong weight of ineffectiveness and inefficiency. He may grow to feel useless, purposeless, and even that his labors are futile. Pray for your shepherd to be on guard against the subtle battle of and wrong thinking concerning ineffectiveness.

3. Fruitlessness
Going with the previous battle of ineffectiveness, all pastors wrestle with apparent fruitlessness of their ministries. Granted, those with small or big congregations or narrow or broad influences may still battle with this battle of feeling fruitless because they don’t see the visible fruit and results of their own labors. Faithful men can pray and preach, study and speak, evangelize & shepherd, train up and disciple relentlessly and see, by God’s sovereign design, very little visible fruit of his labors. This could cause him to battle greatly in his soul. Pray for your shepherd to retain a proper perspective of being faithful to God and letting Him handle the fruit of his work.

4. Coldness / Lukewarmness
There’s not a Christian who doesn’t battle with times of struggling with a cold heart and feeling lukewarm toward Christ, His gospel and His Word. Truth be told, this also happens with ministers of the gospel. As ironic as it may seem that a man may feast upon God’s Word vocationally and stand to preach its glorious truths, his human heart can still wane and grow cold toward Christ and His glory from time to time. Pray for your minister to prioritize a flaming love for Christ and a zealous pursuit of His Word and prayer devotionally before he steps into the office to do it vocationally. Studying and preaching is great but pray for your minister to do these duties out of a warm heart toward Christ. Pray for him to wage war against lukewarmness. Pray for him to kindle the coal of love for Christ in private before he stands to speak of the love of Christ in public.

5. Weakness
Every faithful minister understands his own weakness and inadequacy. In fact, faithful shepherds who know God’s Word rightly recognize that apart from Christ and the Spirit’s powerful enablement, the preacher can accomplish nothing. Nothing! The Evil one, however, loves to capitalize on this and implant feelings of worthlessness from the man’s own weaknesses. How weak the man is to save and to sanctify, to build and to sustain the church. This truly is God’s work. But a man’s weakness does not mean he is useless. Pray for your pastor that in his weakness he would lean on Omnipotence. Pray that his weakness would launch him to desperate prayer and humble dependence so that in his weakness, God would use him mightily!

6. Unpreparedness
There’s always more commentaries to study. More articles can be read. The sermons could often be better, outlines could be crisper and introductions and conclusions could be tighter. But the minister knows he must take his seemingly pitiful notes to the pulpit and stand and speak for God. Oh he has studied. He’s gone through the text and he knows the meaning and he’s done the adequate sermon preparation-work. Still, a lingering sense festers deep in his soul that he still feels unprepared to stand before God, before God’s people and speak the oracles of God. So much more could be said. Perhaps it could be said better. Maybe a funeral kept him from adequate study time. Perhaps a marital conflict in his own home caused late nights and persistent distractions. Maybe grief over an unbelieving child weighed him down. Pray for your shepherd to study hard and preach the Word even in the busy seasons and unforeseen distractions.

7. Self-promotedness // Over-confidence//self confidence
Men of God affirm and quickly state that the ministry is not about them. True. But the temptation still resides deep in the hearts of pastors to be appreciated, honored and respected. At times, this could lead to self-promotion, self-pity, over-confidence and self-confidence. The temptation to be liked, to mesmerize the congregation, to attain many retweets can be a very subtle battle in the soul of the man of God. The spiritual battle rests in his emptying himself of himself so that he may fill himself with God. Pray for your minister to be confident in the Savior, not himself; to be ravished with God and His glory.

8. Giftedness
The battle of comparing oneself with others is very real in the ministry. Jealousy can quickly creep in and take over a man’s heart. Pray for your shepherd to be thankful for the gifts that God has graciously & sovereignly given to him rather than to be jealous in comparing himself with others whom God also uses in the ministry! The measure of a man’s giftedness has nothing to do with publicity or popularity but it has everything to do with the merciful grace and decreed sovereignty of God. Pray for your shepherd to use his gifts, hone his gifts, thank God for his gifts, minister with his gifts, and glorify God to the fullest with his gifts.


A HELPFUL PURITAN PRAYER [from the Valley of Vision]:
…My end in preaching is to know Christ, and impart His Truth;
My principle in preaching is Christ Himself, whom I trust,
for in Him is fullness of spirit and strength;
My comfort in preaching is to do all for Him.
Help me in my work to grow more humble…
to pick something out of all providences to that end,
to joy in thee and loathe myself,
To keep my life, being, soul, and body only for thee
to carry my heart to thee in love and delight
to see all my grace in thee, coming from thee
to walk with thee in endearment.
Then, whether I succeed or fail, naught matters but THEE ALONE.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

HOW TO ATTEND YOUR CHURCH.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Believers love God and love the people of God. True Christians take great joy in worshiping together with the saints. But, how should you attend your church? What should mark your deliberateness in attending corporate worship? Perhaps we would do well to take a step back, ponder deeply and think about six descriptions on how you should attend church.

1. regularly  
Attend your church regularly. This may seem obvious but in our extraordinary-busy, priority-confused culture we do well to hear the simple call from God to not forsake the assembling together with the saints. It does the Christian much good to gather often and sit under and hear divine truth proclaimed in the local church. Christians love and long for the regular occasions to meet with God and with His people and to fellowship, to worship, to engage, and to serve one another.

2. hungrily  
Attend your church hungrily. When you’re hungry, you eat. When you’re really hungry, sometimes all you think about is food. How much more should this be true of the believer. We should attend worship with the saints with a great appetite. We should attend hungry to hear from the Lord. We should go eager to feast upon His Word. We should go longing to fill our mind and heart with the glories of Christ. Prepare and plan and attend your church hungry to receive God’s glorious Word.

3. preparedly  
Attend your church preparedly. You’re thankful when a pilot comes to work and he’s prepared, studied, and able to fly your plane! If this is true of a pilot, how much more should the people of God prepare themselves to minister before the Lord and with His people as prepared as possible. This demands preparation in prayer and preparation in Bible reading. It calls for preparation in leaving the home early enough and arriving early. It beckons you to pray for visitors, for your church family, for your preacher, and for the power of the Word to thunder forth with divine power! Attend your church prepared and ready to meet with the living God!

4. prayerfully  
Attend your church prayerfully. O how common this is thought of but how uncommon this is practiced! Every Christian knows that it’s important to pray. But attend your church prayerfully and deliberately with an attitude and a proactive mindset to serve those whom God brings your way. Pray ahead of time for your fellow church members. Pray for your elders. Pray for your children in the church. Pray for the lost. Pray for the visitors. Pray for the struggling and suffering. Pray for the discouraged and distressed. Pray for the rebellious and profane. And go in a spirit of prayer asking the Lord to help you to go and serve, meet and greet, and encourage and edify.

5. unifyingly  
Attend your church unifyingly. Interestingly, when you gather with like-minded believers you are confessing -- together! -- the same gospel truths and Christian doctrines. When you stand with your congregation and sing gospel-drenched songs pointing to Christ’s gospel, the character and essence of God, the duty for holiness, and the love for the Church, you are uniting and confessing together these truths in lyrical form. When you stand and read the Word corporately, you are affirming with like-minded folks the authority of Scripture. When you hear the Word preached and resolve to submit to it, obey it, follow it, and cherish it, you are uniting together with believers around the same truths of the gospel. This produces joy and unity!

6. purposefully  
Attend your church purposefully. What would happen if your church was comprised of 75 believers who all attended with a purpose to serve, to encourage, to engage, to edify, and to build up the flock of God. It’s easy to go and get. It’s easy to just sit and hear the sermon and leave quickly. But what if you had the purpose to attend your church to speak a word of encouragement to someone, to reach out to a young child and speak a bible verse to them, to thank your pastor for one specific thing he mentioned in the sermon and how it showed you more of God’s glory? May the Lord graciously cause you to attend your church with great, deliberate and intentional purpose -- for His glory and for the saints’ edification!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Glorifying God & Blessing Your Pastor
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Do you ever wonder how you can glorify God in practical and tangible ways as you serve in your local church? Or, do you consider how you can actively minister in your church? How can you bless your pastor and bring joy to him? Here are a few simple and very practical ways that you can glorify God and bless your pastor as you minister right where you are in your local church.


1. Pray for him in his praying.
Do you know when your pastor prays? Do you know if he has a schedule or regular times that he prays for the flock, for his sermon preparation, and for the ministry? Do you know what days of the week he devotes to his sermon preparation? If not, it would be good for you to ask him and find out when he prays, when he studies, when he prepares sermons and then you can do your part to labor with him in praying even during those same times. Consider the blessing it would bring to his soul to know that he has someone (or many!) in his own church family specifically praying with and for him as he seeks the Lord in prayer, studies the Word and prepares his sermons. Consider this: find out from him when he meets with the Lord in fervent prayer and when he studies and do your best to labor with him, shoulder to shoulder during those times. Imagine the blessing this could bring to his preaching, to your soul, and to the church family as a whole.

2. Be attentive in his preaching.
Glorify God by allowing His Word to sink deep into your hearts. What did your pastor preach on last week? What was the main point? What in the sermon convicted you? How did Christ show Himself to you through what was said in the Word? Are you attentive? Do you fight distractions? Do you arrive early, on time, well-prepared, and hungry to meet with God? Another way to glorify God in your church and to greatly bless your pastor is to come attentive and sit eagerly when the Word is read and heralded. Distractions happen. Children cry. Noises come and go. But do your best to intentionally, actively, deliberately fight off distractions. Fight the wandering mind. Strive to not let your mind wander when the Word is being expounded. If you struggle with this, then move to the front row (now this will encourage your preacher!). Consider this: prepare ahead of time, come early, find one or two people before the service and pray a brief prayer for God’s rich blessing on the worship time and on the preaching of the Word. See how God will use this to encourage you and the church family as you do this weekly.

3. Serve with him in the ministry.
Serving is one of those things that everyone in a local church knows people should be doing but it can sometimes be the case that few people are actually doing it. How are you serving? This does not mean big-time ministry leaders. You can serve by praying regularly through your membership list. You can serve by reaching out to and greeting visitors and new folks on Sundays. You can serve by opening your home for hospitality to different families from your local church. You can serve by finding a family with young kids and offering to watch the kids so the parents can have a date night together periodically. You can serve by driving to the home of a retired person and having a time of Bible-reading, prayer, and encouragement together. You can serve by taking some gospel tracts and going to a school, a local college, a nearby neighborhood, or a busy marketplace and sharing the gospel. Consider this: how would God have you to actively serve Him in His local church, your family, on a regular basis. How can you creatively, proactively, intentionally and happily serve the people of God in your membership family? Remember: the pastor’s role is to equip you, the flock, to do the work of service!

4. Propagate the gospel in manifold ways.
Advance the gospel! Me? Yes! Imagine the innumerable ways that you can actively serve to advance the gospel in your community? You can glorify God by speaking forth His Word and propagating the gospel. How? If you have kids in the home, prioritize this as your great mission field. Teach truth and preach the gospel to your children (however young or old they may be). How can you serve in praying with your family and with those in your church for revival -- locally, in your congregation and in your city, and around the world? Think of how you can play a part in ministering love to your community while you clearly articulate the gospel of Jesus Christ as well (e.g., a homeless shelter, Christmas caroling). Have you considered writing a hand-written letter (1-page) to your neighbors and explaining the gospel of Jesus Christ to them and calling them to repent and believe? Is there someone that you can invite to church and offer to drive them, explain what it is and why it’s important? Is there an abortion clinic nearby that you can go to and call out to the women to not murder their babies while offering them the grace and forgiveness of Christ if they repent and trust in Him? Consider how you -- yes you! -- can actively play a part in propagating the gospel! It’s not only the pastor’s job, or the evangelist's job, or the missionary’s job; it’s our job. We all must preach repentance to all! And God will use us!
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