Wednesday, March 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Download the pdf article  |  other articles
Some helpful words from Martyn Lloyd Jones answering the question: What is a Christian?

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

Truth.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


More articles at Geoff's articles page.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Over the last few months, we at Christ Fellowship Bible Church (St Louis, MO) have been working through a course called: The Foundations of the Local Church.

Here are all the topics, audios, and links put together in one place.

1. Preaching the Word of God  |  Link
2. Penal, substitutionary atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ  |  Link
3. The authority and inerrancy of the Bible  |  Link
4. Submission to government, a minister of God  |  Link
5. Worshiping the Triune God of glory  |  Link
6. Qualified, converted, male biblical leadership in the local church  |  Link
7. The purpose of the church: comprehensive discipleship  |  Link
8. The joy of evangelizing the unsaved  |  Link
9. Equipping the saints to do the work of ministry  |  Link
10. The absolute sovereignty of the one, true God  |  Link
11. The power, privilege, and duty of prayer  |  Link
12. Cessationism:  the ceasing and fulfillment of the miraculous, sign gifts  |  Link
13. The kind of church you wanna be a part of (lessons on a healthy church)  |  Link
14. Participating in corporate worship  |  Link
15. Preserving unity in the body of Christ  |  Link
16. Using your spiritual gifts  |  Link
17. What is true conversion?  |  Link
18. Christ as the gospel: the remedy for lawlessness and legalism  |  Link
19. What are the marks of true conversion?  |  Link
20. Restoring a sinning brother in the church  |  Link

Listen to any or all of these and be blessed by the truth that is preached at Christ Fellowship Bible Church.






Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Give Yourself to Constant & Committed Prayer.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Proverbs 15:8  — The prayer of the upright is His delight.

Every Christian has at his disposal the most mind-boggling wonder. The weakest saint can come before the throne of Almighty God in heaven in simple prayer. It’s not the might of the saint that changes things. It is the intercession of the sufficient Savior who intercedes for the weakest Saint as the Spirit takes those prayers before the Father in heaven. That’s where the power resides. O that every Christian would set aside time in his daily schedule to be alone with God in the communion of prayer. Not praying ‘as you go’ or praying ‘as you drive’ or praying ‘from time to time.’ And all of those are not bad, nor are they to be rejected. But the goal of this essay is to exhort and plead with Christians to set daily aside to go into the ‘inner room’ and be alone with God -- to pray, to really pray, to call upon God fervently, passionately, unceasingly.

In this brief essay, I’ll provide 7 pastoral suggestions as you give yourself to constant & committed prayer.

1. Pray till you pray.
Elijah was a man like us and he “prayed in his praying” that it would not rain (James 5:17). And it didn’t for three and a half years! There’s a difference between saying a prayer and praying. There’s a world of contrast between muttering a few half-hearted yet often repeated phrases in prayer to God for the same old things (or the same old people) and truly falling on one’s face in fervent and tireless wrestlings with God till the cause is won. Do you what it is to pray like this?  God has used men of prayer to rock the world for Christ’s renown. Maybe there is little spiritual fruit in our land because the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is content to say its ‘prayers’ rather than to pray till one has truly prayed -- that is, to pray in one’s praying and seek God by taking hold of His garment and not letting Him go till the answer comes. O dear saints, pray till you pray. Godly saints of old have said that truly praying doesn’t happen in three minutes while you’re at a red light. No! It may take time to get in the spirit of prayer, the attitude of prayer, the fervency of prayer, and the warmness of prayer. But pursue it! Don’t be too busy to quiet yourself to pray. Those who have truly called on God know what it is to pray in your praying. Seek God for this grace and this blessing.

2. Pray with an open Bible.
How does one pray so fervently?  Perhaps the greatest way to do this is to open your Bible and read a portion of it, a phrase, a verse, even a word (!) and let the truths therein produce the outgushing of your soul to God! Speak to God in light of what He has spoken to you from the written Word. Our God initiates. So let Him initiate conversation with you by reading His Word and then respond (=a conversation) to God with genuine praise, heartfelt requests, contrite penitence, and diligent intercessions. Don’t hurry in prayer. Don’t hurry in conversing with God. Relationships take time and conversations take time. Going deep with a loved one takes time. So it is with God. Hear from Him (thru the Word) and then respond to Him (in prayer). Dear beloved, pray with an open Bible before you.

3. Pray starting with praise & thanksgiving.
Before we seek the hand of God and the roll off the things we want God to do for us and for our loved ones, consider starting your seasons of prayer with praise and thanksgiving. To put it simply: seek the face of God before you demand the hand of God. And one easy way to do this is to have your Bible before you as you seek God in the inner room and on your knees. Go through the psalms. How easy it is to read a verse and turn that into a shout of praise for God’s character! You can read what God has done and exclaim His marvelous deeds! You can marvel at David’s pains and thank God that He never leaves His redeemed ones. O begin with praise before you petition Him! Start with thanksgiving before you lay out your wants. Thank God for everything He is and everything He has given -- even your trials. The cure for complaining and grumbling is thankfulness. So thank God for that hard family situation. Thank God for that person who is after you, angry with you, persecuting you. Thank God for the hardships in life (no matter what they may be). Set your soul aright with God as you remember who He is and who you are. Remember, God is in heaven and you are on earth. Praise Him. Thank Him. Lift up your eyes in praise!

4. Pray bewailing your sins.
When you praise God and remember who He is -- especially when you have your Bible still open before you -- you will see the holiness of God, the character of God, the gospel of grace, and the commandments God has given and you will see how far short you fall. Don’t let this lead you to despair and depression but rather let it lead you to genuine repentance and heartfelt bewailing of your shortcomings as you behold the grandeur and glory of God in Christ. Bewail how much iniquity still resides in your heart -- even as a Christian! Sorrow over your selfishness that still exudes out from the heart so frequently! Repent over the littleness of your love for Christ and over the littleness of your hatred -- God-like hatred -- for wickedness. Repent that you have laughed at sin rather than been grieved over it. Bewail the sins that we still commit and the duties that we often neglect. O come before God humbly as a penitent sinner.

5. Pray laying hold of Christ.
And as you find yourself with your open Bible flat on your face before God in repentance, lay hold of Christ and His omnipotent righteousness. Cling to Him and His intercession as a loving and great High Priest. Don’t stop your prayer as you repent and see yourself as a vile transgressor. Flee quickly and decisively to Christ alone and cast your eye upward to Him at Calvary and see Him who paid for your sin there! Behold Him who bore your transgressions upon His own righteous soul. Gaze at Him who mightily and sufficiently shouted: “It is finished!” Lay hold of Christ and seek Him till your soul is warmed afresh with the saving mercy and tender compassion of your Bridegroom. Lay hold of Christ and let the love of this Savior warm your heart and fill you full as you seek God in your fervent praying.

6. Pray specifically & largely.
What if God answered all of your prayers affirmatively? What would change? Would the city be saved? Would all your church congregation be converted and discipling and revived and street preaching and pleading for souls? What would happen if you prayed big prayers? Don’t limit God by asking small things of a global God! Maybe we see little fruit around us in contemporary Christianity because the saints are not earnestly yearning for big things from our big God! God does say, after all, open your mouth wide and I will fill it (Psalm 81:10). God is able to do far more abundantly beyond all we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Do we forget this? Do we forget that the God who brought revival to the entire city of Nineveh can bring revival to our cities? Do we forget that through one Christ-exalting sermon, the Spirit of God cut many to the quick so that thousands were converted on the Day of Pentecost? We worship the same God today! Let us ask big things of God. And indeed, when you pray, believe that God hears and that God will answer. And with your open Bible, make a case with God. Pray prayers in conformity with His will so that God can’t refuse our prayers. Yes, make biblical cases with God and hold Him to His Word. Press Him!

7. Pray worshipfully.
And in all this earnest praying, pray worshipfully. Worship, after all, is responding rightly to who God is. Respond to God’s glory revealed in Scripture with genuine and heartfelt prayers to Him through Christ. Behold the glory of God in the face of Christ as the Spirit impresses His truth upon your heart in prayer and Bible reading. Worship your God in prayer. Let it not become a sheer duty or a mindless ritual. Engage with God. Discipline yourself. Mere activity in the name of God without heart-affection is utterly worthless before God. Don’t come in the dark, early morning hours and seek God in prayer because you must -- seek God because you can! And because you can, then we can say that we must! For I do believe that we can do much of great value after we’ve met with God in quiet and communing prayer. But I believe that you can’t do anything of great value till you’ve met with God in quiet and communing prayer.  Worship God in sweet communion of prayer. He is delighted in the prayers of the upright. So get to it!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Principles from Paul's Prayers
Gleanings from Philippians 1:4
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Philippians 1.4   
πάντοτε ἐν πάσῃ δεήσει μου ὑπὲρ πάντων ὑμῶν, μετὰ χαρᾶς τὴν δέησιν ποιούμενος,

author’s translation
“...always making supplication in my every supplication for all of you with joy…”

Philippians 1:4 describes how the Apostle Paul thanks God in all his remembrance of the Philippian believers. He reminds them that they are all saints in Christ Jesus (1:1) and that they have received grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (1:2). And so this propels Paul into thankfulness to God when he remembers them. Paul is overwhelmed with love and gratitude and care for this church that is precious to his heart.

In what follows, I’ll provide 4 simple principles we can learn from Paul’s prayers.

1. He prays WITH CONSTANCY.
When Paul says that he “always” offers prayers it does not mean that he ceaselessly prays for people 24/7 on his knees. The rest of the verse further explains what he means as he states that [he always prays for them] “in his every prayer for them all.” That means that the believers in Philippi are at the forefront of his mind when he meets with God in prayer. As Paul thanks his God and expresses praise to God, he quickly turns to the precious congregation of Philippian believers that has helped him in the furtherance of the gospel in so many ways. Men of God pray. Men of God pray constantly. Indeed, Paul exhorts believers to pray continually (1 Thess 5:17) and to pray at all times (Eph 6:18). Believers can learn from Paul as he regularly bows before his God in worshipful gratitude and in heartfelt praise as he pours out his soul to God and in so doing he regularly lifts up the Philippian believers. Let this remind all Christians to be constantly, regularly, and ceaselessly praying for the brethren.

2. He prays WITH INTERCESSION.
In this verse, Paul utilizes the same particular Greek word for prayer two times. The idea of “prayer” [δεήσει... δέησιν] refers to an entreaty, a request, a supplication, an intercession. It’s as if Paul is saying: “I’m always offering entreaties with joy in my every entreaty for you all.” Perhaps the best way to view this is Paul praying with intercessory prayers on behalf of the Philippian believers. Paul intercedes for -- that is, he prays on behalf of -- the Christians that he knows and loves in the city of Philippi. What an encouragement this must have been for the believers to receive this letter from Epaphroditus and undoubtedly they must have been reassured that Paul really does love them for he shows it by his undying intercession and fervent entreaties to God on their behalf. What a faithful friend who prays for his friends. Indeed, the friend loves the brethren the most when he is praying for them and bringing them before God’s almighty throne of grace. Let us learn to pray for one another. To make requests to God on behalf of the believers whom we know and love and serve alongside of in the ministry.

3. He prays WITH JOY.
Not only does Paul continually pray for them and intercede for them by bringing them before God but he does so with joy. To Paul, prayer is no chore, it’s a delight. Prayer is no mere preparation to do great things for God, it is doing great things for God! Paul bows before the Lord in thankful prayer and brings the Philippians before the mighty God who hears and answers prayer. And he does so with an attitude of joy. And amazingly, Paul prays with joy for the believers even as he knows they have need of growth in humility, in unity amongst the brethren, and in proper thinking as they live life. He knows they need to remember the gospel and be on constant guard from the false circumcision and false teachers that roam around true believers. And yet all the while, he does not see prayer as a dutiful task but a delightful privilege. He finds it a blessing, not a burden. O that all believers would joyfully bring their brethren before the Lord in diligent and regular prayer. What would happen to our relationships and our congregations if we prayed for one another with joy in our every prayer for one another. For Paul, even amidst hardship, he can pray with joy because He knows and has an unshakeable confidence in the certainty that God is in control. Thus, as he prays for them, intercedes for them, thanks God for them, and prays for their growth and godliness, his heart can throb with joy and his lips can drip with glad praise. Let us learn from the Apostle and pray with true joy.

4. He prays WITH SPECIFICITY.
Another element of Paul’s prayer is that he prays for all the saints [πάντων ὑμῶν]. He prays for all of the brethren. What an example for all ministers of the gospel and shepherds who serve Christ’s church to learn from Paul’s example and to pray for all the saints specifically, by name, regularly, and with joy. Furthermore, what a profound example for all Christians to emulate by praying for all the saints specifically. Consider your own prayer life. How do you pray for the entire flock of God where you serve? Do you know them? Do you have a directory of their names so you can pray with specificity for all of them? Consider how powerful our churches would be if we constantly, joyfully, and specifically interceded for one another in heartfelt, biblical, passionate prayers! O how unstoppable the church would be! Consider how many souls be would be touched by the gospel as we would bear each other up to speak of Christ to the lost! And even knowing that there was a rift between Euodia and Syntyche (cf Phil 4:2), Paul still thanks God for them and prays for them specifically. Consider how Paul must have prayed for the Philippian jailer and his family and Lydia and her family (and the church that met at her home; cf Acts 16:40). O that we would follow the Apostle Paul’s example in praying specifically for all the saints. Consider taking 3-5 names/families per day in your church and bringing them before the Lord faithfully. Consider how you may get to know folks that you may not be all that familiar with at the present. Consider how you will encourage others when you reassure them that you have been praying specifically for them. Consider how uplifting it would be to have others follow up with you regarding specific prayer requests. Do you pray for the marriages in your church -- all of them?  Do you pray for the children to be saved and walk closely with Christ -- all of them?  Do you pray for your pastors and elders? Do you pray for the youth? Do you pray for the elderly and shut-ins? O let us begin now to pray joyfully, regularly, and specifically for all the saints as we intercede for them. O think of what Christ could do through this kind of faithful and prayerful church!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

HUSBAND: LEAD BY EVANGELIZING!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and as one who has been sought by God, selected by God, saved by God, secured by God, and satisfied in God, you have the heart-thrilling duty to speak of Jesus Christ to the lost. This is every Christian’s responsibility. In fact, if one could boil down the mission of every single Christian who is still alive in this world, that mission could be simply stated as follows: you are alive to proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. You are to be the mouthpiece for the Lord by speaking His gospel to the lost so that He can draw His own to salvation through the hearing of the gospel.

Maybe you have an unconverted wife. Maybe, O husband, as you read this, your heart sinks in discouragement because you are married to a woman who has no love for the things of God and no yearning for this glorious Christ! Maybe you love her and serve her and nurture her and pursue her and yet you find constant brick walls and opposition. Dear husband, if this is your story, keep clinging to Christ the Solid Rock and run to the mighty Refuge every day to find grace, strength, encouragement, and the example to love even those that seem unlovable at times. But keep proclaiming your Savior. Be like the early Apostles who said: we can’t stop speaking about the things that we have seen and heard. With love, with patience, with gentleness, with clarity, with urgency, and with constant prayer, keep speaking of Christ’s gospel and of eternity’s nearness to the unsaved in your home.

Perhaps you have children that are, right now, unconverted. Maybe you have little children in the home that have not yet come to Christ. Or, you could have teenagers who find their love more in the things of this world than they do in the things of Christ. Indeed, you may have adult children who have long been out of the home who don’t pursue Christ, the family is not being led well in the ways of Scripture, and (if they do attend a church) they find themselves at a place where Christ’s gospel is frequently exchanged for entertainment, drama, and seeker friendly ploys. Keep prayerful. Keep pleading before the heavenly Throne of grace for the souls of your children. If they’re in the home, keep showing them Christ daily. What they need is not parents to back off and refuse to speak of Jesus. They need you to love Christ more, model holiness for them, reflect your gladness in His gospel, and speak of His forgiveness as much as you can. Never underestimate the power of fervent, undying, importunate praying -- even if the children have long been out of the home and live far away. God’s providential ways far surpass our imaginations. If you can’t talk to them every day, then pray for them every day and bring their case before the Lord of the universe every day.

Lead your wife in evangelizing the lost outside the context of the home. Capitalize on opportunities with neighbors. As you engage in conversations about the weekend, share how heart-gripping the sermon was at the church you attend. Speak how much you’ve learned in your time with God in His Word. Speak of how you’re encouraged by the Church you go to as they serve and love one another so lavishly and tangibly. Beautify the gospel by sharing Christ incessantly with others. And, of course, you would do well to keep some gospel tracts with you for those frequent occasions when you can’t give a full gospel to someone, but you can leave them with a gospel presentation. These have appropriately been called: “paper missionaries.” They can go where you often can’t go. Always remember, dear husband, the power is not in you or in the method of your gospel-delivery. The power is in the message, that is, the gospel. So never be afraid of speaking the gospel verbally, giving the gospel through a tract, or writing the gospel in a letter and sending it to a loved one (or, relative, or coworker, or neighbor, or city mayor, etc.).

It should be noted here, in conclusion, that evangelism is more than just an emotional and shameful guilt-trip telling you to “do more!” Someone could be stirred into obedience, perhaps, for a short time. But if it does not stem from the heart, then the sharing of the gospel will fizzle. But if you are a man of God who thinks much and ponders deeply the things of God, the nearness of eternity, the infiniteness of God’s wrath, the agony of the Lake of Fire, and the consciousness of the eternally damned, and the blessed hope available through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, you will be compelled in your heart -- out of sheer love for God and for your neighbor -- to speak gospel truth to the lost. So, O man of God, rather than heap more imperatives that you should go share the gospel, it may be more beneficial to encourage you to ponder the exclusivity of Christ, the peril of the unconverted, and the imminency of death. Let these truths catapult you into prayerful and worshipful obedience to evangelizing the lost with the truth of there being one God and one Savior between God and man, namely, the man Christ Jesus.

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

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I have the marvelous privilege of being called by God to devote myself to prayer and to the ministry of the Word as I serve Christ's blood bought sheep at Christ Fellowship Bible Church of St Louis.

There is no higher calling in all the world that God could have given to me. To meet with God every day in prayer and to go deep in God's Word in study fill my heart, mind and affections with God-enthralling joy every day. What a privilege to serve Him and the flock at CFBC.

I wrote this 10-part series well over 3 years ago but I find it to be just as true now as it was then when I penned the blogs. I truly do love my church. CFBC is not a perfect church. There isn't a perfect church. But it is a place of God-glorifying worship.

And also, it's not my church; it's God's church. Christ is the Head over His church. I know that. But it is the local assembly to which I'm committed with all my heart and with all my devotion. For that, I joyfully call CFBC my church.

This is an encouragement to the flock of God that I shepherd and a brief expression of love and of encouragement. Here are 10 reasons why I love Christ Fellowship Bible Church.


I love Christ Fellowship Bible Church (CFBC) because...

1. CFBC has a great love for Scripture  |  blog

2. CFBC has great love for her pastor-shepherds  |  blog

3. CFBC consists of a diverse body of believers  |  blog

4. CFBC pursues holiness & Christlikeness  |  blog

5. CFBC is a disciple-making church  |  blog

6. CFBC has a love for gospel-proclamation  |  blog

7. CFBC takes hold of God in prayer  |  blog

8. CFBC sacrificially serves one another  |  blog

9. CFBC endeavors to glorify God  |  blog

10. CFBC upholds the Headship of Jesus Christ  |  blog



Again, CFBC is not a perfect church. There isn't one out there -- till we reach heaven! However, I find great joy and comfort in the love of CFBC because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through one another (Philemon 1:7).

May God enable CFBC to excel still more (1 Thess 4:1).

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Join Christ Fellowship Bible Church for the next 3 Wednesday nights, 7:00PM, as we engage in a series: THE WONDERS OF OUR INCARNATE KING

PART #1 - Jesus Christ, our HOLINESS
Wednesday, December 14
We'll sing the Word
We'll study the Word
We'll pray the Word


PART #2 - Jesus Christ, our HELPER
Wednesday, December 21
We'll sing the Word
We'll study the Word
We'll pray the Word

PART #3 - Jesus Christ, our HOPE
Wednesday, December 28
We'll sing the Word
We'll study the Word
We'll pray the Word

Join us at 7:00PM on Wednesday nights.

All sermons & PDF handouts will be here

www.CFBCSTL.org

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

HUSBAND: PRAY FOR YOUR WIFE!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

There just might be some news that would toweringly soar far above any other news you could receive today. That news is that you have, at this present instant, a Great High Priest who intercedes for you before God’s heavenly throne. At this moment, wherever you are, whatever you’ve done, and however you may feel, if you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, you have a Surety in heaven who pleads His own merits before God the Father on your behalf. Jesus, right now, prays for you. In fact, He does not stop praying for you. He loves you and brings you incessantly before the Father’s throne in prayer. Dear Christian, this is what your bridegroom does for you!

So husband, strive to emulate this by praying for your wife. Just as your Savior brings you before the Father, so you should bring your wife before the Father frequently.  Just as your Savior intercedes for you out of fervent love, so you can intercede on behalf of your bride before the Father with a heart overflowing in love.

Husband, do you pray for your wife? Not just a few words here or there. But do you really pour out your soul to God in desperate pleadings, fervent cries, and intercessory petitions on behalf of your most treasured possession on earth, your bride? If God were to affirmatively answer all of your prayers right now, at this instant, how much would really change in your marriage, or in your wife’s life?

Pray with frequency for your wife. Seek the Lord early for your bride. Prayerfully lead her to the throne before she even brings herself to the throne of grace. Beg God for strength to equip her to stand strong in almighty grace and to ward off the devil’s wily schemes. Seek the Lord that she may grow in grace, in wisdom, in love, in patience, in holy zeal, and in evangelistic opportunities.

If you have small children in the home, do you pray specifically that your wife will be empowered by the Spirit to speak gospel-truth to the hearts, minds, and lives of your little ones -- however young or old they may be? Perhaps your wife is nursing a newborn. Pray that, like Eunice, she may impart the sacred Scriptures even to those infant-minds so that they would hear divine truth even from the youngest of days.

Your wife may also be at home with young children during the day -- maybe toddlers, or early elementary school age. Intercede on her behalf for God’s strength to enable her to respond with grace when they sin. Pray that she would have overwhelming love and selfless resolve to discipline them when they sin, bring them to the cross in speaking the gospel, and to instruct them in the wondrous ways of God, work of God, character of God, and awe of God. Pray for her to be reliant upon God in her heart-attitude, in her words, and in her responses to various situations.

Maybe you have teenagers of any and all sorts. Maybe they are believers. Maybe they’re not. Maybe they are in relationships. Perhaps they’re not. Maybe you have one. Maybe you have four teenagers. Plead with Christ to give wisdom to your wife as she cultivates their hearts with divine truth and seeks to bring God’s wisdom to bear from the word of God in conversations that they have together.

Pray, O husband! Nothing in all the world can compare with the power of prayer. Bring all the military regimes, artillery, and nuclear arsenals from the entire globe and the weakest saint, praying to God, is mightier than them all! The devil trembles when the weakest believer comes before the almighty Throne in prayer. The fervent prayers of a righteous man are powerful and accomplish much! Pray, O husband!

Not sure where to pray or how to start? Not sure how to specifically bring her before God’s throne? Begin with Psalm 1 and begin praying through the Bible (i.e., the Psalms) and use God’s language (in the psalms) to frame and provide variety to your prayers for your wife. Then, you may choose to spend time praying through Psalm 119 for your wife. Read a verse. Then pray it back to God on behalf of your wife. Or you may choose Paul’s prayers (Colossians 1, Philippians 1, Ephesians 1 & 3, Philemon 1, 1 Corinthians 1) and take the Spirit-given language and allow it to fuel your petitions to God for your wife.

And don’t forget to thank God for the undeserved gift He gave you in your wife. Even with all her flaws -- however many they may be, you don’t deserve her. Even if she is a nonbeliever, still thank God for the companion He gave you in her. If she doesn’t fulfill you sexually as you’d like, praise and worship and bless God for her and for her unspeakable beauties and ask God for His grace in that particular area of your marriage. If she is a big sinner, remember that you’re a bigger one still. And yet -- neither of you are beyond the saving grace of God and the restoring mercies of the Savior! Refuse to complain! Storm the mercy seat and come boldly! Come with confidence! Come for your bride! Come with your bride in prayer. Pray for her and pray with her. And may God transform your marriage as you emulate Christ, your Bridegroom, who right now, at this moment, is still praying for you before the Father’s throne.

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

Thursday, December 1, 2016


HUSBANDS: SACRIFICE FOR YOUR WIVES!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church (St Louis, MO)




Love costs a lot. It’s easy to get and to receive and to take, but that’s not love! True love is a sacrificial giving of oneself to another for their good. It’s easy and natural to get things from others. But it’s unnatural to sacrifice self for the blessing of another. But that’s precisely what Christ has done for ungodly sinners. And as Christ, the Bridegroom, as loved His Bride with this kind of sacrificing love, so husbands are commanded to emulate this love by sacrificially loving their wives.

“Got it!” men say. But what does it mean to sacrifice? How does it look in the marriage relationship? The more that husbands understand the kind of sacrificial love that Jesus demonstrated for His people, the more will they will see how to love their wives.

A sacrificing love is a time-consuming love. Think of how Jesus spent time with people. He maximized moments with people. He spent time with sinners. He sat and talked. He walked and preached. He stood and heralded. He loved and pleaded with souls. Jesus’ life was a life of time-consuming sacrifice for sinners. But it’s just that where this becomes so difficult for the 21st century man. This takes T-I-M-E. And that’s just one thing we don’t have; or rather, one thing men often aren’t willing to make. True sacrificial love occurs when time is spent together. Jesus modeled it for sinners. Husbands must emulate this toward their wives.

A sacrificing love is an unhurried and genuine love. Superficial love is easy and fake. But it’s hypocritical and easy to see through its facade. With only enough time, the truth of this mask will be uncovered and the real selfishness of love will tragically ooze forth. How amazing is it to observe the unhurried life of Jesus. He set his face toward Jerusalem and for the cross. And yet He found Himself interrupted constantly by sinners, providential appointments, sick persons, and the like. And he loved them genuinely. When God graces our days with interruptions let us not fight with the heart-filled lust for control of our schedule but let us remain unhurried and genuine in our thankfulness to God and our genuineness of love for others -- especially our precious brides.

A sacrificing love is an exclusive love. Jesus gave up His life for His sheep. He didn’t die for everyone. Nor does He swallow up all people of all religions of all beliefs in his salvation. He sacrificed Himself exclusively for His people whom the Father fore-loved, predestined, and gave to Him countless ages ago. Husband, sacrifice for your wife. And sacrifice for her exclusively and preeminently. Let nothing in your heart or life be remotely comparable to the exclusivity of your life for your mate. Give up anything and everything for her. Tell her this. Show her this. Prove it to her. Encourage her with this. Sacrifice self for her! Die to self for her! Only for her!

A sacrificing love is a pursuing love. A simple reading of Song of Solomon, the God-given and Spirit-inspired love-poem given to believers, will show that godly husbands will pursue their wives. Of course, this only follows the preeminent example of Christ who pursues His own. Remember the mission statement of Jesus: the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus is the seeker. He is the initiator. He is the pursuer. He is the instigator. He is the relentless and tireless one who chases after his wife. As Jesus pursued you, O husband, so you also should pursue your wife. And this is costly. It’s Christlike. And yet, this is sacrificing love.

A sacrificing love is an others-serving love. The Song of Solomon provides a marvelous definition of marital love: “There I will give you my love” (Song 7:12b). Sacrifice, O husbands, for your wives as you follow the example in God’s Word. Give! Love gives! God so loved the world that He gave (John 3:16). Christ loved me and He gave Himself for me (Gal 2:20). Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for you (Eph 5:25). Make it your driving ambition to serve your mate first and foremost. Have the same attitude in yourselves which also was in Christ Jesus. Serve others as Christ served you, even if your bride is unworthy of it! For remember, you were far more unworthy of Christ’s sacrificial love toward you as you scorned his grace and scoffed His love for so long. Serve your spouse!

A sacrificing love is a self-dying love. Quite simply: as much as possible, do what she wishes to do. This is not relinquishing your leadership role. Not at all. But rather than always choosing where to go, where to eat, what to do, how to spend the evening, what to do on Saturday, deliberately die to self and find joy in doing what she wants to do. Make intentional efforts. Surprise her. Love her. Cherish her. Make intentional efforts to do things that she would love and appreciate. Again, when you said: “I DO” you said (in essence), “I DIE TO SELF.” So do it!

A sacrificing love is a gospel-picturing love. All of this must be the case in marriage because the covenantal bond between a husband and wife is a breathing and visible illustration of the spiritual union between Christ and His Bride. So the more that you sacrifice for your precious bride, out of heartfelt love and stemming from joyful worship to Christ, you evidence the happy and pleasing satisfactions of the gospel as the work of Christ continues to change you and conform you more into His likeness. After all, He gave all for you. So sacrificially love your bride in giving all for her. Hold nothing back.

More at Pastor Geoff's articles page.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

WHY I PREACH WITH AN OPEN BIBLE.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Blogs and articles abound in promoting myriads of ideas relating to preaching and of being relevant to the audience and clever in the delivery. My commitment has been and will continue to be simple: to open the Bible, to read a biblical text, to explain that biblical text, to press home its application to the hearer’s heart, and to proclaim the saving gospel and call sinners to repent and believe. In doing this, I preach with an open Bible -- always. I’ve compiled a few reasons why I preach with an open Bible.

1. it conveys my only authority.
When the preacher speaks, he has only one authority -- the voice of God that goes forth in the declaring of divine truth as it is sourced in the written Word. Other than that, the man has nothing to say. When I open my Bible and preach from it, it conveys to the congregation that my only authority to stand before them and speak is simply and solely is the written and sufficient Word of God. I want it to be seen. I want the audience to understand I’m a man under divine authority as I speak God’s truth to His people.

2. it models biblical hermeneutics.
Preaching is hermeneutics publicly spoken. To preach the Word means that a man has prayed and studied and done all the hard work so as to present biblical truth in a clear, compelling, and understandable way. I preach with an open Bible because I want to model biblical interpretation -- good hermeneutical principles and practices -- even in the act of heralding God’s Word. I don’t want people to ever come away and say “I believe this because Pastor Geoff said it!” Rather, I want people to leave convinced of theological truths because they say: “I see this in the Bible!” I want to model for them the art and discipline and proper methods of arriving at the proper meaning of the biblical text. And preaching with my open Bible aids me in this endeavor.

3. it prevents self-contrived ideologies.
Preaching with an open Bible prevents me from inventing self-contrived ideas and self-promoting messages. How easy it would become to start tickling the ears of the audience and fall into the cunning trap of people-pleasing. But to preach with an open Bible prevents me from creating and crafting my own fabricated ideologies and sermonettes and it causes me to preach what God wants me to preach in the following paragraph as I preach expositionally and sequentially through entire books of the Bible. I don’t want to be in charge of what I say or preach; I want God to dictate what and how I preach. And to prevent my own ideas infiltrating in, I believe that having an open Bible on the pulpit before me and constantly referencing verses in the Bible helps prevent self-contrived ideologies.

4. it visualizes the Headship of Christ
Jesus rules His church. I don’t think very many people would argue with that. But when you observe much of American Christianity you see something vastly different. One way, I believe, to emphatically show that Jesus rules this church is to preach from an open Bible on the pulpit so that all the congregation knows and hears and understands that Jesus Christ speaks to us now through the exposition of sacred Scripture as it is read and expounded through God’s appointed messenger. I don’t want to neglect anything that would downplay the headship of Christ. I don’t want to pick and choose verses and paste them on a screen. I want people to see the truth in their own Bibles. I want people to see me hold my Bible. I want the congregation to see me point to my text of Scripture. I want them to see my authority comes from Christ as it is codified and revealed in the inerrant Scriptures.

5. it proclaims its own sufficiency
Preaching with an open Bible in front of me is a simple proclamation in and of itself. It declares the sufficiency of the Bible. I don’t need gimmicks, or dramas, or entertaining techniques. I don’t need visual aids or clever anecdotes or humorous stories to catch people’s attention. God does that. So in opening my Bible, reading it, explaining and applying it, and pressing it home to people’s hearts and consciences, I believe that this testifies to the Bible’s own power and sufficiency.

6. it enhances frequent cross-referencing
One key principle of rightly interpreting the Bible is the analogy of Scripture -- comparing Scripture with Scripture and interpreting texts in light of other biblical texts that speak to the same truths. When I preach, I want the congregation to all know that the Bible -- though containing 66 uniquely inspired books -- comprises a glorious unity of divine wisdom. Nothing ever contradicts itself. No part of Scripture will ever diminish or negate or eliminate another. So in my preaching, I want my Bible to be open so that I can readily tell the congregation: “turn to…”, or, “let’s see this further in another portion of Scripture…” So in the open Bible before me as I herald, I want the freedom and readiness of turning to many Scriptures throughout the entirety of the message to aid and serve the message going forth. An open Bible helps with this.

7. it reminds me of my grave responsibility.
Quite simply, preaching is a sober calling and a majestic task. In a sense, the preacher always fails when he preaches because he can’t due justice to the beauty and glory of the God that is being presented, nor can human words adequately convey the splendor of Christ and the efficacy of His atonement. Nevertheless, all biblical preachers fearfully and joyfully take up the divinely-given call to preach. No greater joy exists in the world than to open God’s clear word and explain its meaning to the people God has brought to hear it. Preaching with an open Bible serves as an ongoing reminder that my responsibility is great and my duty is lofty. I am a mouthpiece, a messenger, an ambassador, a prophet-like man, to take God’s given revelation and speak it faithfully, unchangeably, and powerfully to all who have assembled. Having an open Bible serves to continually bring the weight of sobriety on my soul that I am a man under obligation, a man devoted to God, a man enslaved to Christ, a man in love with souls. Thus, I preach God’s Word to God’s people with an open Bible with joyful trembling and sober expectation that God will work in and through the going forth of His word to accomplish His perfect will.
HUSBANDS: AFFIRM YOUR WIVES!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church



Just read The Song. Yes, open the book of Song of Solomon and marvel at how Solomon verbally affirmed his bride. And let this serve as a Spirit-inspired, divinely given model for godly men to speak affectionately, honestly, and encouragingly to their own wives. It may accurately be said that there is no example anywhere in all of Scripture of a husband and wife so passionately, tenderly, and edifyingly affirming one another to the glory of God!

All things must be done for the upbuilding of God’s people. The Apostle Paul states this truth throughout 1 Corinthians 14. If this applies to the Christian church at large, how much more does this apply to Christian couples at home! Let all things be done for the edification of the saints. So, then, dear husbands, affirm your wives for their edification, for their strengthening, for their encouragement, for their upbuilding. It should be said at this point that the husband has the duty of edifying his wife simply because he is to lead her and love her selflessly and proactively. He must not affirm her or verbally adore her for the purpose of getting something (sex, submission, etc.). The husband must affirm his wife regardless of how she responds.  

With this said, what are some practical tips on how to do this?

Affirm your wife specifically. Solomon models throughout the Song of Songs a husband who specifically affirms and admires his wife. Just read chapter seven, for instance. He goes from the bottom of his wife to the top of his wife. He speaks specifically of her feet, the curves of her hips, her naval, her belly, her breasts, her neck, her nose, her head, and her hair. It’s specific. It’s passionate. It’s thoughtful. It’s absolutely appropriate! This is far from the tendency of men to simply say nothing to the wife or simply provide some generic: you’re beautiful! The more specific you can be, the better. It shows thought. It shows care. It shows intentionality. And it shows creativity. Specifically make it your ambition to notice features, body parts, attitudes, patterns of growth, and aspirations for holiness and affirm her with intentionality and joy.

Affirm your wife proactively. At the outset of the Song of Solomon, he speaks tenderly and verbally to his dearest lover even when she battles fear and worry. He initiates and proactively verbalizes his love and care for her. He tells her that she is the most beautiful among women. He showers her with overwhelming affirmations of love that she is beautiful, his darling, his lover, his dove. She has captivated him. And he does not wait for something to get right for him to then bless her verbally. Rather, he initiates, he proactively pursues and deliberately creates ways of affirming her, her body, her heart, and her character. Let all husbands learn from this. He proactive in leading your wife in verbal admirations. Don’t wait for her to do something before you then respond with loving words. You initiate it! Proactively affirm your precious bride.

Affirm your wife lovingly. Love, by definition biblically, means to give of oneself sacrificially to another for their benefit regardless of how they respond. It is always self-giving and others-benefitting. It is always self-sacrificing and lavishly-abounding. Love is not selfish. It is not merely taking or receiving, but giving! This means that husbands can verbally affirm their wives selflessly and sacrificially. A husband may quip: ‘but what if she doesn’t respond and encourage me back?’ Then, keep lavishly showering her with tender love! Or, ‘but what if she doesn’t respond with giving me sex?’ Love her expecting nothing in return. Love her deliberately and intentionally and happily -- just as Christ has loved you! Or, ‘but what if I can’t find anything to affirm her for or speak well of?’ Then, remember the gospel and how there was nothing for which Christ could have spoken well of you and yet notice how he initiated such overwhelming love in the gospel by showering you with grace, with love, with tenderness, with affirmations and promises! Go and do likewise!

Affirm your wife tenderly. Be tender, O husbands! Speak to her in winsome and warm ways that she will appreciate. This means you need to know your wife. Learn her. Study her. Know her heart and her longings. Know what she loves and appreciates. Then speak tenderly and admirably to her and praise her with husbandlike tenderness and Christlike warmth.

Affirm your wife continuously. A husband may be of the mindset that he told his wife he loved her on the wedding day and that’s sufficient throughout the marriage. Wrong! Lavishly affirm her. Constantly admire her. Repeatedly embrace her. All through the Song of Solomon there are occasions of verbal admiration and acclamation of beauty, of longings, of attractiveness, of exclusivity, of togetherness. Husband, seek to continuously lavish your God-given bride with warm and wooing words of tender affection and love. You can’t praise and admire her enough!

Indeed, O husbands, consider how Christ our ultimate Bridegroom speaks to and affirms His blood-bought bride! Consider how ultimate His promises are! Consider how tender His words are! Consider how thoughtful His affirmations are. He finds His bride supremely beautiful as she is robed in His glorious righteousness and washed in His blood. And O how He has spoken clearly, warmly, tenderly, and lavishly throughout the pages of Scripture! Do likewise, dear husband with the wife that He has mercifully given to you!

More articles available at Pastor Geoff's articles web-page.
HUSBANDS: LEAD AT HOME IN REPENTANCE!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church


Husbands should be the leading repenters in the home. This does not intimate that he does so merely to earn a prideful title. Rather, it means that out of every person in the home, the husband must be the one who leads the entire household in a proper understanding of God which will lead him to a proper understanding of self which will then cause him to realize a deeper understanding of his sin which will then catapult him to a regular lifestyle of repentance. The husband must lead his wife by repenting first. The husband should lead his family by repenting honestly, humbly, and quickly.

This requires, however, that the man have a proper understanding of the biblical doctrine of repentance. Some suggest that repentance means no more than a change of ‘mind.’ Though repentance certainly includes a changing of the mind, true repentance always includes much more. To repent is the vomit of a soul over a sin as it is seen in comparison with the blazingly holy character of God. To repent means that the penitent sinner views his sin rightly. It means that he hates his sin vehemently. It means that he mortifies his sin violently. It means that he turns from his sin decisively. It means that he replaces that sin with godliness. It means that he journeys on toward Christlikeness continually. To repent is synonymous with ‘turning around’ in the Bible and ‘changing one’s ways.’ 

The husband following after Christ seeks to model repentance in the home. He sets the example for the rest of the family to see. He shows how to repent. He shows what godly mourning is like. He exemplifies what godly sorrow and true repentance really is. How can be demand his wife and children to do that which he himself does not do? Thus, a biblical husband is a repenting husband. He rightly believes that repentance is at the very heart of the gospel call to salvation and that the only proper response to the gospel call is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repentance toward God. Like the call of John the Baptist, the biblical husband bears fruits in keeping with repentance!

The biblical husband knows also that our flesh and sinful tendencies within us cause us to want to ignore sin, or refuse to deal decisively and violently with such sins -- even so called ‘respectable sins’ -- and for this reason, he sets himself on course to teach and instruct repentance in his household. He must not only model it practically in the home but he must instruct doctrinally so that everyone understands what God says in the Bible about this most important -- yet often misunderstood -- doctrine. He teaches during family worship. He instructs before and after church services weekly. He uses practical occasions with his wife (or, children) to instruct on what true turning really involves. He goes after the heart, not merely the actions.

Because he loves Christ so supremely, he ensures that no sin remains unchecked and unrepented of in his own heart. Then, he ensures that sin does not go ignored or shoved aside at home. He keeps short accounts with God as he seeks to confess quickly and repent decisively and exchange sinful habits for godly habits zealously. He knows that the true repenter is one who continues to see Christ as glorious and sufficient and as he does this, he sees his own sins and shortcomings. As this happens, he comes again and again to the cross for mercy and grace (which always is lavishly available for God’s people) which drives him to heartfelt and worshipful mourning over his sin and a resolve to follow hard after Christ.

Still all the while, the man of God who loves his bride seeks to honor Christ by repenting of sin and living a holy life, all of which is only able to occur through the Spirit’s enabling grace. The godly husband loves Christ so much that he hates sin intensely. He pursues holiness vigorously so he repents continuously and regularly. Repentance, rather than being a momentary act at the initial moment of saving faith, continues to be a lifelong discipline for the Christian who grows in conformity to the likeness of Jesus Christ. Repentance is a painfully joyful and necessarily growing opportunity for Christian men to love Christ supremely and put off sin in the context of their own homes. May God equip and enable all truly converted men to serve Christ and their wives by repenting diligently.

More articles in this Husband's Handbook and the full eBook will be available soon at his website.

Friday, November 25, 2016

HUSBANDS: LEARN YOUR WIVES!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church

Husbands must live with their lives in an understanding way (1 Pet 3:7).
The Greek phrase for “an understanding way” literally could be translated, ‘according to knowledge.’ Every husband must dwell together with his wife in such a way that he knows her -- very well. That means, quite practically, that husbands must date (and continue to date!) their wives. The wedding ceremony doesn’t mean the work of learning one another has ceased. Rather, it only has launched!

What does it look like for husbands to learn their wives?

First, learn her intentionally. This means that the husband must actually try and remember that he must be deliberate and proactive in reaching her heart and learning more about her. Because, naturally, this won’t happen automatically. Men can so quickly fall into laziness and apathy which can be utterly catastrophic for a thriving and holy marriage relationship. Thus, the man must strive to ask questions, pursue her as much after the wedding as he did to win her before they were even dating. Second, husbands must learn her emotionally. Women change as different seasons of life come and go. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just life. Seasons and life and families change. So husbands have the wonderful privilege of knowing and learning and seeking to learn how their wives are doing on the inside. This allows the husbands to shepherd and love their wives well.

Third, learn her repeatedly. It’s not a one-shot endeavor. Rather, this is an ongoing pursuit. It’s relentless. It’s undying. It’s a continual desire to ask questions and more questions and dialogue together and ask good, heart searching questions regularly. Again, this is to remain throughout the entirety of one’s marriage. Fourth, learn her studiously. Husbands can tend to study theology more than their wives. Husbands can tend to study their work and hobbies and sports teams more than their wives. And this ought not to be. Every husband must study his bride. He should be constantly asking and learning. Constantly inquiring and seeking to know why she thinks and speaks and does and reacts and lives the way she does. This comes with time. It’s not a quick, drive-thru, get it done easily and quickly endeavor. This studying of the wife is a life-long pursuit.

Fifth, learn her cheerfully. God has given the wonderful blessing to husbands to live with their wives according to knowledge (understandably). Indeed, this makes for a happy and healthy home life when the man leads well and cheerfully pursues his wife. Few women would say that they feel adequately pursued and happily embraced by their husbands as much as they would like. O husbands can learn from this. Take joy in the study of that amazing gift that God has given you in your wife. Go deep with her. Linger long with her. Embrace her tenderly and gently. Affirm her verbally and constantly. Take delight in the presence of and dialoguing with your wife.

Sixth, learn her pursuingly. This is a reminder that marital harmony and deep one-ness and knowledge doesn’t automatically come when the ring is on the finger or when a certain number of decades pass by. Strangely and tragically, three or four decades could pass in a marriage relationship and, in reality, the couple might not know each other one whit. The duty falls to the man to pursue his wife and live understandably with her. This way he can serve her well and bring happiness and joy to the gracious treasure that God has given to him.  And finally, the husband is to learn her tenderly. This takes patience and consideration. This means that it takes time -- yes, T-I-M-E -- with her and lots of conversations and dialogues to understand her. But keep tenderly pursuing her. Keep gently learning her. Keep intentionally investing in her. Keep asking her questions.

As a husband learns his wife, he will better equip himself to know her wants, her fears, her happiness, her anxieties, her struggles, her sins, her enjoyments, and what satisfies her most. Only in spending much time together, regularly, and making it happen (on the calendar) can this kind of deep, intimate knowledge occur. It’s not a matter of a husband asking to make it work. It’s a husband’s duty to move and shuffle and exchange things if necessary so he can have adequate time with his wife.
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