Friday, June 10, 2016

CFBC Informal, Pastoral, Summer Internship.

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

The Format: Four key elements will be emphasized:

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 3, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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