Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Words of Advice to Church Planters
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

I’m a church planter. By His grace and by a call that I never would have foreseen for myself in seminary, God gave me the awesome privilege to care for His people and preach His Word to His sheep of Christ Fellowship Bible Church. We began with two families. One of which left shortly after we planted. We have been in existence almost seven years and are still committed to the exact same commitments that we had when we began. My heart goes out to church planters -- for I am one! But I want to encourage fellow church planters with one simple truth, though some elements of local church ministry may be different in a church plant (no staff, no building, no secretary, etc.), the main essentials in a local church still remain the same.

I want to give four simple words of advice to church planters.

1. Pray with Importunity
Whatever you do, PRAY. You can do much after you’ve prayed, but you can’t do anything till you’ve prayed. And that’s especially true when planting a church. Devote yourself to prayer. Give your early morning hours to prayer. Grab a man and ask him to pray with you. When you have discipleships with other brothers, pray with them (by teaching, modeling, instructing, and looking at the prayers in Scripture). When you’re with God’s people in the corporate assembly, ask what you can pray for and then do it, right then and there with them. Pray for God to save people. Pray for God to sanctify His elect. Pray for God to give holiness to His people, urgency in our evangelism, love for the congregation, and compassion for the lost. Pray for your sermons. Pray for your outreaches. And while you’re at it, remember to have a prayer meeting where the church gathers corporately, together, regularly, for calling upon God. A church that prays together stays together. A church without prayer is like a house without a roof, open and susceptible to all the winds and storms of heaven. Church planter: pray!

2. Preach the Word
When the Apostle Paul was facing imminent death, he gave a very solemn and crystal clear charge to young Timothy: to preach the Word. It’s not ambiguous, nor is it unclear. It’s not debatable. Nor is it even negotiable whether or not people want it or like it. God has given you a charge, if you’re a pastor, and that charge is that you must feed His people with His Word. Note those two essentials of what and how you are to discharge the proclamation of the Word. You are to preach. This is the how: you are to preach -- to herald, to announce, to cry out, to relay God’s message to God’s people without alteration, addition, or subtraction. And remember the what: you are to preach the Word -- the Scriptures, the written Truth and objective revelation that God has given in the authoritative and sufficient Bible (Genesis - Revelation). Nothing more and nothing less. Don’t be cute and clever and tell stories to get laughs. Don’t spend more time on your illustrations and one-liners than you do on your exegesis and poring over the text in prayer, study, application.

3. Shepherd the Flock
The Apostle Peter give a very clear charge to the elders to “shepherd the flock of God among you.” This is a very clear charge that you cannot overlook. It’s from God the Spirit to you directly, through the pen of the Apostle Peter. Man of God, shepherd of Christ’s people: you are called to care for the souls of His people. Don’t just care for physical needs or give them what they want to hear. You’re the soul-doctor and spiritual physician -- you have the remedy for sin and sickness. That remedy is the gospel of Christ! Of course you cannot save or heal or sanctify anyone by your power. That’s why you must be faithful to serve Christ and His people as an undershepherd for their souls and their spiritual well-being. Consider how Christ is your Shepherd: He is present with you, He communicates with you in the Word, He is available when you call out to Him, He feeds you with Himself as you study Truth in the Bible, He guards you, He watches over you, He protects you from the Evil One, and He’s vigilantly caring for you. So it is with you as an undershepherd for His blood-bought sheep. You must vigilantly watch over them by caring for their souls. You shepherd them by feeding them good, nourishing food (=preaching), you intercede for them by coming to God in prayer on their behalf (=fervent intercessory prayer), you guard them from error by standing as a watchman sounding the alarm when danger looms on the horizon and by establishing God’s people in sound, biblical truth. Man of God, shepherd your flock there with you. Don’t consume yourself with getting a big name or being a conference speaker. Care for the souls that God brings your way in your local church -- whether that’s 2 or 20 or 80. And shepherd them joyfully.

4. Prioritize your Family
That which qualifies you to be a shepherd of the flock at large is your already evident shepherding of your smaller flock in your home. Man of God: love your wife as your first ministry. Love her well. Shepherd her soul well. Pray with and for her. Disciple her. Remember to care for her soul first. Ensure your wife has good, enjoyable time with you. Date her. Know her. Learn her. Satisfy her. Keep close communication with her. And remember that your wife is not the 2nd employee of the church-plant. She doesn’t need to do the secretarial work, the administrative items, the piano playing, and the organizing of events. In fact, it’s probably better that she doesn’t do these things so that others can jump in and serve. And don’t neglect your children. Your children need you. They don’t need a stranger in the home that they can call “pastor.” They need their father to discipline them and train them up in the ways of God, in the fear of God, and model holiness for them. When you sin, repent of it, ask for their forgiveness, and move on with joy. Lead them in regular, daily family worship. Again, your leadership and spiritual soul-care in your home is that which pre-eminently qualifies you to be a shepherd of the flock of God as a whole. So whatever you do and whatever you neglect, don’t let it be your family. Love them. Care for them. Pray for them. And remember: they’re not a hindrance to your ministry; they are your first ministry.

More resources found at Pastor Geoff's articles & media page.

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Commitments of Christ Fellowship Bible Church include the following [mp3 is here]:

1. Expository preaching
2. Corporate praying
3. Aggressive sanctification
4. Triune exaltation
5. Urgent evangelism
6. Global missions

Each of these commitments has a 2-3 minute audio podcast of explanation and biblical support.

Listen to & download the mp3 podcasts here.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Foolishness in a Child’s Heart.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

The Word of God declares in Proverbs 22:15 that FOOLISHNESS is bound up in a child’s heart, and it is the rod of discipline that removes it [the foolishness] far from him.  What kind of foolishness is bound up in our children’s hearts?

1. Foolishness of SELF LOVE
Every child born into this world is hard-wired with inclinations and a relentless drive to love self and protect self. No one needs to be taught to love himself more. Everyone cares for himself -- including the smallest of children. They love themselves and the way that this manifests itself is in their lust -- the relentless craving -- to satisfy their “desires.” They do what they want to do. And if anyone begins to take that sovereignty away from them, they begin to whine, scream, kick, punch, throw a fit, and all the related synonyms. Our children suffer from the sin of self love.

Children must be taught. That’s why the Book of Proverbs is so replete with verses on listening to instruction and heeding the teaching of a father and mother. Parents, be sure of this: if you do not teach your children at a young age, you may be sure the Devil will. If you neglect to fill their hearts with divine truth, Satan will fill their hearts with corruption. Our children need training, they need to be taught, they need guidance and direction. They do not know the one true God nor do they know the gospel nor do they understand the weight and trajectory of their sin. That’s why God has given you and me to them to instruct their hearts so that they are taught biblical truth as it’s revealed in Scripture.

Children love to believe that the world revolves around them. They have made and created their own sovereign empire -- of course with them seated nicely and powerfully upon the throne. They have made their own world that revolves around them. So our job as parents is to remind our children that life -- and the world -- is not revolving around them. Rather, we must show them that God is the centerpoint and Christ is the apex of all things. Just as the planets revolve around the sun, so Christ is the sun of our lives. We must remind our children that they don’t get all that they want. They don’t get their way much of the time (indeed, they must not!). And God has given the responsibility to us to break their self-styled sovereignty and to lift their eyes to the One who does sit upon heaven’s throne; the glorious, strong, mighty, and ever-present One!

4. Foolishness of ABSOLUTE CONTROL
Lust for control ruins many lives. Many men and women long for control and it can ruin a marriage, a job, a career, a church, and a soul. And yet our children are born with this sinful disposition to have and long for and protect control over “their” things. After all, we must remind them that their stuff is not really “theirs” ultimately; it’s God’s. God has given it on loan to our family, and God is permitting them to use it and to use it well for His glory. So we must guard from allowing, permitting, turning a blind eye to, and even worse cultivating a lust for control -- absolute control over their stuff. They must learn to share. They must learn to happily share what God has given. And the Lord has graciously given you to help shepherd them through this.

To submit to authority will preserve a man from many pains in life. But children are sinfully wired, by our human nature and our sinful propensities, to reject authority and to re-place themselves as the one in authority. If this is not taught at a young age, rebellious children, unruly adults, and unsubmissive citizens may be the tragic outcome which will lead a soul to destruction. Let us faithfully seek to teach our children to joyfully obey authority -- the God-given authorities in our lives.  We must teach them to obey their parents for in doing this, they please God. They must learn to submit to their teachers, the police officers, governing officials, and other authorities in their lives at various times. This is good, beneficial, and profitable for all!

God has given parents the unspeakable privilege and the tireless responsibility of shepherding the hearts of our children so that they may see their sin for what it really is and behold the Savior and all that He and all that He has done to rescue sinners! And for the children who are small, God has called parents to utilize the rod in spanking the child so that the child will learn to turn from that sin, to flee from wickedness, and to obey God for there the blessing is found. What ongoing and daily opportunities God has given parents for evangelism of our own children!  May God help us to be faithful to what He has called us to do as we pray fervently for Him to change the hearts of our children through our efforts to bring the gospel to them.

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Pastor’s Intentional Resolve
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

As a man called by God to serve His people as a shepherd, I commit myself to these intentional and essential duties of pastoral ministry. By God’s grace and with His help, I will faithfully live out and seek with all my might to obey Scripture in the shepherding of Christ’s flock which He purchased with His own blood so that Christ’s image may be formed in His people.

The preeminent duty that Christ has given to me is to serve His people by interceding for them in prayer. Just like the priests in the Old Testament, they offered incense before the Lord which symbolized the prayers of the saints ascending to the Lord. So I must faithfully devote myself to prayer and to the ministry of the Word (Acts 6.4). I commit myself to praying for the growth of God’s people, the maturation of His body, the Church. I will also pray for families by name, for the marriages, for the children, and for God to save the lost and for God to grow His people. I will pray for the purity and power of the church, and for the advancement of the gospel. I’ll labor in prayer.

No sheep can survive without regular feedings. I commit myself to faithfully studying God’s Word so that I can faithfully preach God’s Word in humble dependence upon God’s Spirit and with clarity as I make the meaning of the text known and the applications and implications of the text understandable. I will not shrink back from declaring anything that will be profitable to the saints. My goal is to feed the sheep, not entertain the goats. I will preach ultimately for the glory of God and for the edification of the saints. I do believe that the primary way that God both saves the lost and sanctifies the saved is through the bold, unadulterated, regular preaching of the Word of God.

The Apostle Paul cared for God’s people both publicly and privately. He taught God’s Word in the open squares, in the church assemblies, and privately from house to house. Paul also charged the elders of the Ephesian church to faithfully watch over and guard the flock from error and from false teachers. Perhaps the foremost metaphor that the Scripture employs when referring to the minister of God’s Word is that of a shepherd. I must care for God’s people by knowing them, by guarding them, by feeding them, by leading them, and by pointing them to the Chief Shepherd -- the Lord Jesus Christ. I resolve to faithfully shepherd publicly from the pulpit and privately as opportunities come up to counsel and admonish one another with God’s sufficient and inerrant Word.

Why has God left me on this earth? Why didn’t God save me and then take me to glory? As I ponder this biblically, I understand that my duty is to proclaim the excellencies of Christ Jesus. I must follow Christ and speak forth His glory. I must proclaim the unfathomable riches of Christ. Proverbs provides the wisdom that he who wins souls is wise (Prov 11.30). Jesus said that the fields are white for harvest (John 4.35). He has made me to become a fisher of men (Mark 1.17). I will model personal evangelism by urgently, lovingly, boldly, clearly, and faithfully speak forth the gospel and call sinners to repent from sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation (Mark 1.15). All this can be done by God’s grace and with His help. Time is short! We must number our days! Compel sinners to come in!

The Lord states that Shepherd-elders lead; and they must lead well. Jesus models true leadership as being that of servant-leadership, self-sacrificing leadership. So I want to faithfully lead in serving Christ’s people with sacrificial love and with Christ-captivating glory. Perhaps it may take the form of hospitality, praying for and with the saints, loving those intentionally and sacrificially when a need arises, greeting all the saints, protecting them from harm, and reaching out to those on the fringe and encouraging them to offer themselves as living sacrifices to the Lord!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The year was 1768. A twenty-eight year old preacher by the name of Augustus Toplady, who wrote many of our best hymns, including "Rock of Ages", spent the afternoon in London with Mr. Brewer--an older, veteran Gospel preacher, whom he greatly admired and from whom he learned much. This is what Mr. Brewer said to the young Toplady, as Toplady later recorded in his diary:

"I cannot conclude without reminding you, my young brother, of some things that may be of use to you in the course of your ministry:

    1. Preach Christ crucified, and dwell chiefly on the blessings resulting from His righteousness, atonement, and intercession.

    2. Avoid all needless controversies in the pulpit--except it be when your subject necessarily requires it; or when the truths of God are likely to suffer by your silence.

    3. When you ascend the pulpit, leave your learning behind you. Endeavor to preach more to the hearts of your people--than to their heads.

    4. Do not affect too much oratory. Seek rather to profit your hearers--than to be admired by them."

From GraceGems.
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