Author: Jesse Pirkle

Meditating on the Goodness of God

Over the past few years, I have been greatly influenced and impacted by corporate worship through song. Whether it be with my church body, other believers at a conference, in the car by myself, or in the living room with my wife, I have come to love singing songs to the Lord. Psalm 96:1-2 says, “Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Sing to the Lord; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.” This Sunday, November 5, we’re singing a new song! We’ll also be singing a song that has become one of my favorites— King of My Heart. Through this song, we meditate on the goodness of our God. We meditate on the fact that God is our provider and sustainer— we are utterly dependent upon Him. I particularly like the bridge of this song, which repeats, “You’re never gonna let, never gonna let me down.” These are such sweet words to meditate on if we truly understand them. These words are like honey to our …

What Do Your Words Reveal About Your Heart?

When I was a kid, I remember seeing an illustration regarding my words. Maybe you’ve seen this illustration as well: two individuals are put head to head, squeezing toothpaste out of a tube as fast as they can. Once completed, the participants are then instructed to put the toothpaste back inside the tube. As you can imagine, this is an impossible feat and you’re left with a mess. I’m not sure exactly when in my childhood I participated in this experiment, but it has stuck with me for at least 15 years. Usually, if you do this activity with a group of kids, the atmosphere is fun and playful (unless you are the one in charge of cleaning everything afterward) and I think this helped the lesson stick with me. I remember the teacher explaining to us that our words are like the toothpaste, “Once you say something, you can’t take it back. It’s out there.”  Unfortunately, the illustration falls short when it comes to the clean-up. A mess made by toothpaste is much easier …

Speaking the Truth Within Community

Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. – Ephesians 4:14-16, emphasis added One common issue our counselees express in Biblical counseling is the feeling of being stuck spiritually. These believers usually read their Bibles at least occasionally outside of Sunday morning and spend time in prayer, but still feel as if they are not growing. I have been in that place, and so have many of my friends and family members. Often times, the underlying problem is a lack of biblical …

Love Your Neighbors And Your Enemies

The biblical command to love your enemies is likely one of the most difficult commands to follow in the Bible. Personally, I am tempted to just ignore my enemies. Whether it be someone I disagree with, who has wronged me, who has threatened me, or something else, I am really good at ignoring that person. I just pretend like that person doesn’t exist. If you don’t ignore your enemies, maybe you struggle with the tendency to want to hurt your enemy in return. Maybe you gossip about them. Or maybe you go out of your way to make their life miserable. Perhaps you make sure they do not get that job by digging up dirt about them. Whether you struggle with ignoring your enemies or are out to get them, we are disobeying Christ. Of course, Jesus knows that it is “normal” to hate an enemy. He says: You have heard the law that says, “Love your neighbor” and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In …

God Hears and Responds to Your Distress

Jonah prayed. Before we look at some of the aspects of his prayer, let it sink in that he prayed. In chapter one, we learn that Jonah tried to flee from the Lord’s presence by boarding a boat to Tarsus. In response, the Lord caused a mighty storm. The storm ceases once the pagans on the ship cry out to the Lord and throw Jonah into the sea. The Lord appoints a great fish to swallow Jonah. “Then Jonah prayed” (Jonah 2:1). I remember hearing this story when I was a child and I was always thought that the Lord was punishing Jonah by appointing the fish. But when we examine Jonah’s prayer, we see that’s not what Jonah thought! I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! – Jonah 2:6 Jonah was going to die if not for the fish. The fish was not an instrument of punishment; the fish was an …

A Different Style of Authentic Counseling

Southern Hills is a church committed to following the Great Commission (see Matthew 28:18-20). One of the many ways we seek to fulfill this in and through our church is our Biblical counseling ministry, known as Soul Care. If you are wondering what makes Soul Care unique from other counseling services, I would like to offer three elements that guide what we do in Soul Care. Although these are not the only elements, they are driving every part of our ministry. Soul Care is Christ-centered. Every drop of counsel that we give is to be focused on Christ and His work. Ultimately, our goal is for all people to love Him more than anything else (see Matthew 22:37-40). And how do we believe this is accomplished? In our sessions we want to learn about Christ and develop a greater understanding of what He has done.  As Shannon said on Easter Sunday, our theology is not meant to puff us up. What we learn about Christ, as well as seeing what He has done, should always humble us. If …

You Were Made to Reflect God, to be His Image-bearer

Why do we exist? What is the meaning of life? Questions like these have sparked many conversations throughout human history. Ideologies that spring from such questions are rampant. I imagine that even members of the same family may have different answers regarding human purpose. I believe that our answer to these questions will determine the trajectory of our lives. According to the Westminster Catechism, the chief end of man is, “to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” The catechism goes on to say that God directs us toward this path by the Scriptures. Glorifying God is not a cold, God-distant act. It involves the outpouring of our hearts to God, for God, and because of God. After all, the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, and mind. We should not think about glorifying God simply as following a list of do’s and don’ts. In Jeremiah 32, the LORD starts to give Jeremiah some insight into the New Covenant, the covenant He was going to make with us, …

Godly Principles Are Powerless Apart From God

The critical question for our generation- and for every generation- is this: if you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, and no human conflict or natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ were not there? – John Piper Sunday, Shannon taught on Ephesians 4:17-5:20.  As Shannon said, we cannot read these verses without first remembering what Paul already said in the first three chapters. That is, if we try in our own power to keep the commandments listed here in chapters 4 and 5 but fail to love the Lord with all of our hearts, we will have gained nothing.  If my heart’s single greatest affection is not Jesus Christ, I must repent. Before I can do what God says, I must love what God loves and desire Him. In Ephesians 1 we …

Can People Tell You Have Been With Jesus?

In the beginning of Acts 4, we can see that the temple guard and the Sadducees were greatly disturbed due to the fact that the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus. I can always remember who the Sadducees were by a little trick I learned from a book: “The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection and thus they were sad, you see?” In fact, they were so disturbed by this teaching that they put Peter and John in jail until the next day. On the next day, they begin to question Peter and John, “By what power or what name did you do this?” (Acts 4:7). In this question, the Sadducees are referring to Peter’s healing of a lame beggar in chapter 3. Peter goes on to answer them, saying: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.” – Acts 4:10-11 …

Are You Meditating on the Scriptures?

Psalm 119 if full of verses that show people delighting in God’s words. I remember reading this as a teenager and the idea seemed somewhat foreign to me. Somewhere in my thinking, I had come to the conclusion that we can be joyful because of God, but I was missing out on delighting in God and in His word. I believed that one day I would be with God, but until then I should just do what He says to do and meander through life. That kind of theology was setting me up for a dispassionate, distant relationship with God, His Word, and the church. Now I am convinced that whatever god I thought I believed in then, it definitely wasn’t the God of the Bible. God not only initiates a relationship with us, He sustains that relationship for eternity. We are not disconnected from the God of our salvation on this earth, waiting for Heaven to “be with Him.” Instead, we are intimately and passionately in a relationship with Him now and forever. Unfortunately, …