Pastor James Kirk left us too soon. If it were up to the family and friends he had on this earth, he would still be with us. We would still enjoy his company, his wit, his charm, and his larger than life personality. If we could break bread with him one more time, we all know he would pick up the check. Just one more meal, just one more laugh, just one more smile…

On October 10, 2016, the Lord called Pastor James Kirk home. He left behind his dear wife, Angie, and his son, Landon, whom he adored, parents and siblings who loved him, and a church he had given his heart to. That day heaven stood at attention. The same angels who had protected him as Pastor of the Christian Life Center (CLC) in Heath, Ohio for 16 years now, at the behest of God, would deliver his soul to the eternity of God.

God has the key to our final day, our final hour, and our final breath.

The sovereignty of God brings us comfort beyond description in times like these. We are left to trust God, even when we don’t understand. We know Him better in times of trouble. He is never closer to us than when we are broken. Our praise takes us into His presence, our brokenness brings Him into ours. In times like these we desire His voice, but we always have His presence. Jehovah-Shammah, the Lord is present. His presence is our answer. God saw this tragedy unfold, and in His divine providence has each one of us in His hand.

The psalmist David penned these timeless words, “Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his saints.” The word precious in that context means “valuable, costly, and precious.” Barnes commentary provides insight into how God views our passing from life unto death, positing that the death of a saint is an object of value; God regards it as of such importance, that it is connected with His great plans, and there are great purposes to be accomplished by it.

The death of a good man is, in itself, of so much importance, and so connected with the glory of God and the accomplishment of His purposes, that He will not cause it to take place except in circumstances, at times, and in a manner, which will best secure those ends. God sees death as a matter of such importance that it should occur only when the most good could be effected by it. There is a truth implied here that the act of removing a good man from the world is, so to speak, an act of deep deliberation on the part of God. That good and, sometimes, great ends are to be accomplished by it, and God regards it with special interest.

Though we may not understand, the passing of our dear friend who was a husband, father, son, brother, pastor, and friend held great value in the eyes of God.

“In times like these you need a Savior
In times like these you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!”

We are left without understanding, but not without hope. The life of Pastor James was not taken by a whim of circumstance. He was and is in the hand of God. A sparrow cannot fall outside of God’s providence. The Lord has an investment in us in our life, and also in our death. God is the God of our lives and remains so when we pass from life to death. Pastor James lives on in Christ Jesus. Where he has gone we must go. To live is Christ to die is gain.

As Pastor of CLC, Pastor James Kirk and his brothers, David Kirk, J-Mark Kirk, and Phillip Kirk, followed in the footsteps of their great father and Bishop, T.L. Kirk. In my generation, this family, led by Pastor James Kirk, set the standard for sacrifice, dedication, excellence, commitment, and passion for the work of God.

What a tremendous blessing Pastor James Kirk and his family have been to the Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ, and particularly the Ohio District. Only heaven knows the investment our dear friend has made in God’s kingdom. Pastor James was a giver. His support of ALJC missionaries both at home and abroad revealed his heart and helped fulfill God’s mission.

Pastor James Kirk was a great visionary who gave selflessly to the kingdom of God. CLC stands as a testament to the vision of this great man. What you see at CLC is just the beginning of the vision of our great friend and leader. Pastor James had a gift of imparting vision and passion into the staff and saints of CLC. His passion will not die; it will live on. The church will complete his vision.

Pastor James Kirk was one of a kind. He exemplified life. His energy and personality filled the space around him. To be in his company was inspiring. His vision of life was contagious. He inspired those around him to be better. Pastor James was a great husband, father, pastor and friend.

I had the privilege of knowing Pastor James and his family for nearly 35 years. Like so many others, I have been greatly blessed by his friendship. We are challenged even now by his death to be better, to reach higher, to dream bigger.

How do we know what we are doing is right? How do we know what we believe is real? When great men meet their maker. When men such as our dear great Pastor James leave this life and you find yourself being rejuvenated with courage, purpose, passion, and renewed with hope, you know this is real.

We mourn the loss of this great man. We must take the inspiration he left us with and seek to become better leaders, better men, and better people.

Pastor James, you left your mark on this state, this nation, and this world. You left us a mark to shoot for. You left us a passion and vision to strive for. Your vision will live on. You’re sorely missed even now. We love you, friend.

To his dear wife, Angie; his son, Landon; and the congregation of CLC, whom he loved so much; Pastor James will meet you at the Eastern gate.