Dale Johnson: This week on the podcast, I have with me, Senior Pastor of Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth, Texas, Dan Kirk. I love this brother and I’m so grateful for the work that the Lord has him doing down in Fort Worth, the church that he has there and the ministry that he’s involved in and the things the Lord is doing is just always a tremendous encouragement. Dan is married to his wife, Chris, for almost 35 years and he’s a fellow with ACBC. He also has seven children and six grandchildren. Dan, what a privilege it is that the Lord would be so kind. What a wonderful family you have.
I’m excited about what’s coming up. Our conference is coming up and Dan, you’re going to be speaking at our conference and I cannot wait. We are one week away for our conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, O Church Arise. And I want to get some of your thoughts on maybe a sneak peek for our listeners as to some of the things that we’re going to talk about at the conference and particularly your subject that you’re going to talk about, Christ as being our Head and Wonderful Counselor. But I want to get sort of your perspective even as a pastor and a counselor. When you heard this year’s theme—like, what did you think about this year’s theme, O Church Arise? Talk to us a little bit about, when you heard that, what your initial thoughts were about this conference.
Dan Kirk: Well, I got to tell you that when I heard that our theme would be O Church Arise, my heart leapt with joy. It excited me because I I know, as you know, that there is nothing in all the world that God loves more than His church, His redeemed people. She is His most precious possession. Not only that, but the church is the only institution that has the real cure for the perplexing and devastating problems of the world. And we have that cure in the inscripturated Word. We have it in the Bible. We have everything that every counselee needs, you know. So I’m excited about this. I’m also excited about it because I think too often people have a low view of the church. I love the fact that we’re going to spend the better part of this week rejoicing in and exulting over the glory of Jesus’ bride, the church.
Dale Johnson: Amen. Even to hear you talk about that, it’s hard to, like, stay on track because I want to break off and really just talk about the beauty and excellencies of the church and the way in which Christ loves His bride, and really our responsibilities that we have as redeemed people in what God has called us to do in guarding the truth, in the church being a ground and pillar of the truth. And it is the truth, the Scripture says, that sets men free. And that is our responsibility. It is the place in which soul care should happen and we need to call the church to meet that responsibility that God has so given.
So, one of the ways that I’ve tried to structure this year’s conference, just to give you a preview, is, I wanted us to consider that all of the functions that God has given to the church are intended as purposes of soul care. It really is a proclamation that God has given in such grace, His word, to His church, in order to meet the demands of soul care in the world. So we’re going to talk about several things. We’re going to talk about when the church doesn’t care well and why that happens. We’re going to talk about even church discipline. My goodness, people don’t think about that function as being something positive. We always think about it sort of in the negative term, but it is a form of soul care. Sometimes we don’t think about the proclamation of the Word from the pulpit in preaching as being an act of soul care, but think about it, right? When someone’s proclaiming the Word conviction is happening, edification is occurring, people are maturing in the faith as they hear the Word and are shepherded by in public proclamation. So we’re going to look at a lot of different facets—the one-anotherings of Scripture—and you see the beauty at every level of God intending for the church to be this fellowship, this community of soul care.
And maybe one of the places where we don’t see that as readily is Christ as our head. That is an important piece of the puzzle, knowing who he is in character. And because He’s our head and because of His character, the way in which He shepherds us, now we’re called to be His hands and feet. So I assigned you this topic and I’m so delighted that you’re going to be delivering this message about Christ as our King, Christ as our Wonderful Counselor, as as an example certainly for us, but as the lead of this church that needs to arise and follow Him. I want to get into this a little bit, but I don’t want to steal your thunder here. However, I do want a little bit of a sneak peek just to hear how you’re going to direct some of our folks as you talk about this topic. Tell us a little bit about, if you can without giving too much away, your topic here.
Dan Kirk: Sure, I’m happy to do that. Originally, I thought I would call this message Christ Our Head because that’s what you asked me to focus on. And actually, that is what has showed up in the brochure for my message is, Christ Our Head, but the more I got to thinking and studying about the Wonderful Counselor and what His rule over our lives means for counselors, my thoughts began to change course. Now I’m calling the message, The King and His Counselors. Here’s my goal. I want to elevate, in the hearts and minds of our counselors, some of the tremendous privileges and some of the great responsibilities that are ours as biblical counselors in the local church. So our privileges are all wrapped up in the fact that we have not been left alone to create or to invent the counsel that people need. Rather, our King, the Wonderful Counselor, has provided for us the counsel that we need to address every problem of the soul that a man or woman can encounter. This really is the ground of our unique privileges. We are counselors of the King. And along with the privileges, however, Jesus our head entrusts us with some great responsibilities. Of course, the most important of the responsibilities is that we use the King’s counsel to feed, lead, and protect the flock of God. But, if we’re going to do that well, we have to commit to getting his counsel right. There’s no room for sloppiness here. There’s no room for us to just kind of make it up on the fly. The Wonderful Counselor has given us the counsel that we need. We’re not merely mailmen who deliver or dispense the counsel of the King. We don’t just drop it off like giving them a copy of the Bible and telling them, you know, here’s the message figure it out. We don’t do that without knowing or understanding the message. So rather, our responsibility is to take the King’s counsel, study it, learn it, apply it to our own lives to some degree before we do that before we deliver the counsel to someone else. I can’t help but think of Ezra 7:10 where we read, “for Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” This is just a wonderful model for how the King’s counselors should minister the Word of God in the local church.
Dale Johnson: That’s great. I’m looking forward to that. I wish we were sitting in there right this minute. I can’t wait to hear how you’re going to unpack that in the Scriptures. You know, when I think about Christ as our head, there’s just a thousand things flood in our mind, which I’m sure happened to you when you think about this topic. And okay, how do I narrow this down to something that can be pointed in one particular message? But when we think about Jesus, the Bible makes clear that He is our Shepherd, and the way in which he leads us and guides us is—He’s the one who heals the brokenhearted. And, Him as our head, our job as believers in the church is to make sure that we’re doing His work as His hands and feet in the world and we’ve been given the tools to accomplish that, Christ Himself, who heals and mends the brokenhearted. I can’t wait for us to start mulling around about this topic and drive ourselves deeper to see the beauty first of all with Christ, as you’re going to describe it, then second of all of His bride, His church, and that we are on the mission, that He began to heal those who are broken.
Now, as we get further into this topic, Dan, people may be wondering, okay, why is this such an important thing? Or why do you think this conference is such an important thing? Or what do people want to hear from this message and why do they need to hear those types of things? What are some of those things that you would say?
Dan Kirk: Well, I think conference attendees should want to hear this message because my hope is that, again, it will elevate their view of just how significant this ministry is in the eyes of the Lord. I think we get so bogged down in the difficulties and the problems that we forget how glorious it is on a large scale that God has called us to do this ministry and He’s given us everything for it. So that’s why we should want to hear this message, I think. I also think conference attendees need to hear this message because we all need to be exhorted to become better students of the Word so that we can become better ministers of the Word. One aspect of that is just the exhortation that the meaning of the text is the Scripture. The meaning of the Scripture is the Scripture. And so, if we’re going to be faithful ministers of the message of the King or the counsel of the Lord, we not only have to have the counsel, but we really need to study it to understand it properly and then get it because the power of the Word of God is in presenting the Word of God in context and then bringing it to bear on the lives of people.
Dale Johnson: I think that’s such a critical aspect. Sometimes we get into this pattern—you mentioned it earlier—about dispensing the Word as opposed to ministering the Word. What you’re describing is, study the text. Study the text well where you’re not just some dispensary giving out anecdotal remedies or pithy sayings, even if they are from the Scripture. You’re giving words to people in context of the Scripture, using the Sword of the Spirit because He’s the agent of change to effect that work in their heart. That’s what it means to minister the Scripture. And it’s so important for us to do that in context of what the Word of God is teaching us.
Now, let’s turn a corner here. Every every seasoned counselor knows that counseling is a difficult thing. It’s a spiritually exhausting work. I can remember being in ministry, serving at our local church, and sometimes 20 hours in a week I would spend, or more, counseling and it is exhausting work. You have few words at the end of the day that you can think of when you’re dealing and working in the lives of folks, but it’s worthy work. It’s worthy work. So, what would you say as a counselor who isn’t satisfied with the fruit of their labor? Because it can get exhausting at times where you feel like you’re pouring out and, you know, it’s hard work because you’re deep in the spiritual battle. So what would you say to that?
Dan Kirk: I would say to that brother or sister, who might be becoming weary in the ministry of counseling, I would say to them, take courage my friend. God has given you a good work to do and He’s not left you alone to do it. Everything God requires of you, He also gives. And the power to accomplish the work that God wants you to do is not in your cleverness. It’s not even in your giftedness, but rather, it’s in your faithfulness to deliver God’s counsel to his people. Listen, God’s Word never returns to Him void. And you may not see the fruit of it, but listen, God is doing 10,000 things that you can’t see. And He’s using you in ways that you may never even know until you get to heaven. It’s not your job to know. And this isn’t about us and us getting patted on the back, or feeling good about our ministry because people are responding so well. Rather, it’s all about us being faithful to minister the Word of God. So I would just say to you that though your fruit may be invisible, the Apostle Paul would tell you, based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. So persevere my brother or my sister. God is giving you great work and it will be fruitful.
Dale Johnson: Amen to that. I’ll just mention, what satisfaction you get from being able to minister the Word to those who are broken. In those moments when you see, we may call it the light bulb coming on, or you see—I’ve heard people describe it as a breakthrough in the counseling room—something that may have been unseen for weeks and the Lord does a work in that person’s heart and you see a radical difference, man, what a great grace of the Lord. It is such a satisfying thing when we continue to labor and we recognize this is God’s work. It’s not something that we manipulate to make happen. If the Holy Spirit’s the agent of change, we have to be faithful and then we have to be patient to wait on Him to accomplish the work that He will accomplish.
That’s the question. Sometimes when I get discouraged like that, I do want to do some self-reflection. I want to ask questions like, okay, am I understanding their problem well? As you mentioned earlier, am I faithfully ministering the text of Scripture? And as those things are settled in my heart before the Lord, we then in prayer, I think we leave those things with the Lord and we continue to press, knowing and being satisfied in being faithful to the Lord.
There have been times, Dan, I’ll mention this to you, there have been times where I’ve been in a counseling situation and I honestly didn’t know which way to go. You get discouraged. You’re not seeing things move forward. You feel like the person understands, but they’re just not moving and you know that there’s sort of something else that’s sort of around the corner and it’s not coming to light. It’s been interesting to me. It’s not happened every time, but where I’ve been faithful in prayer and faithful to continue to minister the Word, and it may be several weeks down the road, but the Lord brings something to light that I could have never known with my own wisdom. The person may have never known to even bring it to light to me, but the Lord does work in their heart and you begin to see something and all the weeks of work that you’ve put in, the Lord brings to light. There’s nothing like that. So, I can’t wait for this conference and you still have time to join us. So I hope you will at our conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, O Church Arise.
Dan, thank you so much for being with us.