Thumbs Up!

Thumbs Up! Isn’t it great to be validated by other people? What a wonderful feeling to have a “thumbs up” attached to our posts, pictures, and shared thoughts. In fact, the more “Likes” must mean we are doing good. Right? It is said that everything is defensible if enough people say so and everything is appropriate, cogent, and credible if the vast majority of replies send their affirmative emoji. Who could argue with a thousand thumbs!

Peter and John thought otherwise. After being rebuked; put in prison; held until the next day; openly forbidden to preach in the name of Jesus; and finally declared as the minority, Peter and John said, Acts 4:19 “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” No Thumbs Up. No “Likes.” No majority in favor of what they were doing or how they were doing it. Peter and John clearly were a couple of isolated preachers with no support or backing. But then again, Truth does not need a majority in order to be Truth. Right will always be Right even if the whole world gives it a “Thumbs Down.” Righteousness is not contingent upon the opinion of so-called spiritual people or the ungodly. Holiness is not subjective.

The current problem is that believers are being influenced, often discouraged, by the lack of support among friends, families, and co-workers. Moreover, because the doctrine of Jesus Christ and His name is frowned upon, we think that it would be better to “hearken unto men” rather than be a light in a dark world.

Therefore, while perversions, cuss words, false concepts, and sexual clothing are all given the “Like” button, devotion to a godly lifestyle is deemed judgmental. While individualism is promoted among Christians, church attendance multiple times per week is not. Even sex out of wedlock is considered a “rite of passage” by a majority of professing Christians. The clear data shows this as the prevailing thought. Surely, we have entered a time of great distortion.

I rise to say that we must not equate the support of people with God’s approval. Nor must we think that Truth need be accepted by the majority for it to have validity. Jeremiah was alone in his ministry as were many of the prophets of God. Joshua and Caleb were outvoted 10 to 2, which resulted in a 40 year detour. So remember, regardless of how many “Thumbs Up” you have, it won’t mean anything when it stands before the Lord.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

…. lack of vision ….

The famed preacher declared the effects of a lack of vision. He wrote that without a vision the people perish. Those words inspired a thousand sermons and lessons alike. The vision message entailed the future; a plan for the body; and a destination to reach. Many purport that all healthy organizations hinge on “visionary leadership.” Business models speak of early adopters and the bell-curve of rejection. All of it coming from the inception of the vision.

Today, the message seems caught in a spiral of motivational speeches and well-intended strategies. Something is missing. We find it in David’s reply to his eldest brother, Eliab.

Goliath has challenged the armies of Israel while the men huddle in fear. Goliath’s 9ft frame could not be missed. King Saul has set forth the vision: Kill the giant and become a hero. There is no question what the plan entails. No one is confused as to the mission that lies ahead. They all know what has to be done. Nevertheless, when David asked about the details, Eliab accused him of having the wrong motive, “I know thy pride…” to which David asked, “Is there not a Cause?”

The vision was set. The plan was in order. Israel’s mighty men knew what lay before them. They could rehearse the rewards that would be bestowed upon the man who defeated the giant. However, David asked the question that facilitated the vision. Come to find out, the Vision was supported by the Cause. The Cause is the reason we pursue the Vision. The Cause is that driving force of conviction that makes the Vision a reality. In David’s case, it was to preserve the name of the Lord and the people of God.

The Vision has been set by Jesus Christ Himself. He would that all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. His Gospel is to be preached in all the world. We know this because it is written.

What we struggle with is the Cause. Moreover, we struggle because we forget that the Cause is not just What we do, but it is Who we are. It must become us and consume us until we are saturated with Kingdom work.

So I submit to you the Cause:

Be-Cause there is a Heaven and Hell and souls are on the line.
Be-Cause our city, friends, and family need to be saved.
Be-Cause our future lies in the balance of a sold-out body of believers.
Be-Cause unity is the key to a major Acts 2 revival.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The Way

Some months ago, a pastor friend of mine met with a family. They had decided that outward holiness was no longer necessary and church attendance was optional. They told him that they were spiritual people and had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ on their own. Their conclusion was that they no longer needed to be “under a man’s authority” and they were not interested in submitting to a regular service or worship schedule.

Philip Bump wrote in the Washington Post that this has become a 15-year trend. “The decline in church attendance has followed a decline in biblical belief.” Bump writes that Sunday worship services are somewhat sporadic while midweek attendance is almost nonexistent. Thom S. Rainer reported that “currently between 100 and 200 churches close per week in the U.S. alone.”

The Barna Group shows that while most Americans identify as a “Christian”, they do not believe in the same biblical values as their parents and grandparents. One researcher said, “Among Pentecostals, there has been a shift away from outward holiness, tithing, and Bible study. Even speaking in other tongues has become an elective, insomuch that the gift is rarely heard in their services. The change from the original tenets is so profound that it’s hard to tell if they were ever influenced by the former generation that taught them their beliefs.”

Paul wrote to the church in Galatia: Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:”
He asked, Galatians 5:7-9 “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.”

This deviation from what was to what is has come at a great cost. Self-justification combined with an absence of prayer has created an abandonment to the very things that brought us the anointing. The Shekinah glory comes through sacrifice, obedience, and worship. However, I fear that many are living diluted lives; thinking that spiritual disciplines and holiness are nonessential.

I feel the Holy Spirit calling us to return to The Way. We must become more committed, not less. We need to find new ways to serve in the church at every level. It’s critical that we are devoted and not diverted. It’s paramount that we push aside offenses which separate us from this house of worship and plunge headlong toward faithful attendance, prayer, and worship. We must defy the statistics and become a light to our city. I urge you not to dismiss the teachings and tenets of this Apostolic truth. Moreover, I pray that we would not forget the great sacrifice made by those who gave it to us.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

… Great Depression ….

September 3, 1929 was the last day of an eight-year gain in the American Stock Market. By October of that same year, a mere four weeks later, the stock market was in a slide from which it would not quickly recover. The whole thing crashed as America plummeted into the Great Depression. A very smart man from Yale University, however, said that everything would return to normal. His name was Irving Fisher. His infamous statements were that investors had nothing to worry about; that the Market would bounce back. Fisher thought the indicators didn’t matter. He said the slide was temporary. By mid-November, Fisher was broke. More stockbrokers and wealthy investors committed suicide than at any other time in the history of the market. Fisher was not alone in his “didn’t matter” speech. The president of the Equitable Trust Company said, “I have no fear of another comparable decline.”

Jeremiah preached to a nation that thought their actions did not matter either. Even while Babylon was bearing down on them, the people lived without constraint. Their own “experts” told them that the Lord was not paying attention; that He was apathetic to their non-compliance. So-called counselors promoted philosophies while mysticism took the place of the Law of Moses. The high places and groves occupied their time and their sacrifices. You can read it in the prophets. Come to find out, it did matter. It all mattered, both then and now.

Holiness matters. Obedience to the Word matters. The investment of our lives matters. How we worship and where we worship matters. Being faithful to the church matters. I know I run the risk of sounding self-serving, but here it goes: Having a pastor matters. A few folks have tried in futility to denounce that fact.

Nevertheless, for all those who say that these things (tithing, the fruit of the Spirit, Spiritual authority, obedience, standards, etc.) are unnecessary, let me say, “I hope for your sake they don’t matter.” I hope that you can invest your life in a human system. I hope that you can say whatever negative thing you want about the church or men of God or biblical doctrines and you won’t be held accountable. I hope, for your sake, that servanthood and the prayer room can be rejected and it won’t work against you. Because if these things do matter… well, there is a crash coming that will make the Great Depression look like a picnic. Peter told us to be sober and live as obedient children. He called us to be holy, 1 Peter 1:16 “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

I say, don’t invest your life in things that will lead you away from the things of God. Be careful not to join yourself to people who lead you away from the church. Sometimes backsliders don’t know they are backslidden. Finally, make your life’s investment in things that lead you closer to the Lord and the operation of the church. Do it because it really does matter.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

A Conversation …..

The ancient libraries of Alexandria and Pergamum are a faded memory to our current “screen-age” society. Perhaps all printed material is destined for the same. Paper books took a tumble in 2007 when Amazon’s Kindle was released. The stacks of daily papers at corner newsstands; the early morning paper routes hosting a thousand kids on bicycles; and the rush to read the front page seems to have withered in light of 24-hour cable news and instant computer updates. Gutenberg has certainly lost his place in this “cut & paste” digital age.

There is so much information available today that it boggles the mind. If you want sports, there are thousands of in-depth stories of all your favorite athletes and teams. If you are interested in ecology, market trends, candle making, or the recent flood that afflicted India, the information is there. It’s all there, pressing for your attention with pictures and descriptions. Day and night the news is always “breaking.”

I submit that there is something at work here that goes beyond information overload. It is the not so subtle attempt to squeeze your thoughts into a world of disbelief and confusion. There is a work at play that is stealing your time, attention, and passion away from the things of God. We know that Satan is the “prince of the power of the air” and is currently at work in the “children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). However, the next verse lends itself to our days. Ephesians 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

News, information, sports, instruction, etc., are all considered “conversation.” Could it be that the enemy of our soul desires to occupy the thoughts and conversations of our lives through this nonstop media blitz? Would the enemy grant us a physical presence in the church as long as our minds are consumed with outside information?

Information controls our concern. We are outraged about government officials, crime, public school curriculum, and more. Nevertheless, maybe our outrage is misplaced. Perhaps our passion is being spent in the wrong place. When was the last time we felt the sting of unreached lost souls? Where is our hunger for prayer? How long has it been since we turned off the “news” and worked on reaching people with the Gospel?

I tell you that news is probably not news at all. It’s a diversion from our purpose. It is a rerouting of the Great Commission. Christians are watching television instead of looking for His return. Members are tuned into favorite websites, Facebook, Instagram, Words With Friends, and video games. There simply is no time to witness, read the scripture, and pray. I say, that while we have limited time, we must not have limited passion.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“These Stones”

It must have been some sight when the priests stood in the middle of the parted Jordan River holding the Ark of the Covenant. Joshua led the people across on dry ground as the whole of Israel took their first steps into the land of Canaan. Their promise came by way of yet another miracle. Before the priests left their post, Joshua commanded the leaders from each tribe to gather large stones from the middle of the river’s bed and build a monument along the shore. Joshua said, “When your children ask you the meaning of these stones, tell them how we crossed this river and how God brought us into this land of promise.”

The meaning of “these stones” was Heritage. It was the inheritance of the Lord in the form of a land flowing with milk and honey and a God Who saved them from their own unbelief. Israel’s identity with God became their Heritage. God’s salvation was their Heritage and so much more. Traditions rooted them and connected them to what the Lord had accomplished. He brought them out of Egypt and brought them in to the land of Promise so that both God’s power and this new land became their birthright. It was Heritage that connected them to the wonders of the past.

Perhaps an underlying weapon against the next generation of Pentecostals is the absence of connection to those who came before. It is well documented that America’s families are seeing the effect of an absence of a physical heritage. Family traditions are almost nonexistent. Financial inheritances are quickly diminishing. Even the ideas of home-life, work, and church are now in a constant state of flux. This all matters to the next generation of believers. We must know our Spiritual heritage, honor, and build upon it.

Our Apostolic Heritage is rooted in prayer and fasting. It is the baptism in the name of Jesus. It is demonstrative praise and worship with singing and dancing. Our heritage is the Covenant brought by way of the infilling of the Holy Ghost. Paul called it “the earnest of our inheritance” Ephesians 1:14. Therefore, whether you are new to the Gospel or grew up in the church, the Holy Ghost, which is the Holy Spirit of promise, is your Heritage.”

Today we recognize and honor those faithful saints who sacrificed for the sake of the Gospel and for our sake. Countless prayer meetings and days of fasting have already taken place. Men and women, most of which we will never meet, have given their lives so that we can have a place of worship. Our entire church stands on the commitment of the saints. They established a Kingdom mindset so that we could be here. This is our heritage.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Death By Self

Another tragedy unfolded last month along the cliffs of the Rock National Lakeshore Park in Michigan. A hiker stopped to take a selfie and fell to their death some 200 ft below. While the death toll is small, it appears that at least 54 people have now died taking selfies with about 5 deaths added per year. These losses are not in the same category as fatalities via heart disease, cancer, or automobile accidents. They cannot be listed as medically related or suicide/homicide. Instead, it seems that people are dying, howbeit few in number, by self-entertainment.

The incidents are occurring during what is called “Selfie-gaze.” Millions of people now engage in day trips and vacations for the single purpose of taking pictures of themselves at specific locations. Some pay up to $45 per pic for photos at unique sites. It has been verified that the “cloud” which stores information of individuals and businesses alike hosts mostly pictures. Cell phones are more for camera and video use than for making phone calls.

This small communique will not allow me ample space to tell the whole. However, the perilous times that Paul spoke of declares people being “lovers of their own selves.” More directly stated, among the perversions of mankind are people who love themselves.

It’s a far cry from the days of David who said, “I looked to the hills from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord.” Moses looked up and saw the mountain of the Lord. He did not see himself. God said, “Look to me and be ye saved.” Yet, today we are literally looking at ourselves.

In spiritual terms, I call it “death by self.” Self-engrossed people make excuses for why they do not attend church faithfully. They tell of their “important” duties and plans. Self-sufficient people talk about their resources and abilities. The proud boast of their reserved ways and the arrogant see their strength. Churches are even promoting the philosophy of self-actualization, which is rooted in humanism. Death by self entails no serving; no sacrifice; and certainly no commitment.

Paul said, Philippians 2:4 “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Then Paul related that this was the mind of Christ; that Jesus saw our need and not His own comfort. He would not have died for us had He considered Himself. Likewise, we will not reach our world; give of ourselves; make sacrifices and worship if we keep ourselves in mind. We must break free from the bondage of self. There is a cliff and many have already fallen and died by the venue of self. That is why the Spirit is calling for a sanctified church, void of the flesh. Romans 8:13 “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The Hand …

Something about the hand that garnished the attention of the biblical writers. God’s hand; the hand of man; the hand of pharaoh and that of the enemy are all descriptive terms. Elijah’s promised vision came when he saw a cloud the size of a man’s hand rise from the sea. The hands of people are described by the aged novelist as healing or hurting. This appendage with 27 bones, not including the sesamoid bone, is the means by which we eat, write, work, and so much more. Hands are critical to both the physical and spiritual body.

Nevertheless, of all of the analogies offered, few compare to the Open Hand. It’s the giving hand; the helping hand. It denotes an intentional action by people among people. Our hands are not large enough to hold both judgment and mercy. Neither can we give and withhold at the same time. As one man said: A closed fist cannot both give and receive. It is one or the other.

Paul wrote about an open hand of giving when he raised money to help the struggling church in Jerusalem. He used significant portions of scripture to do so: 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, 2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15, Romans 15:14-32. It was a missions offering. It was a time of sacrificial giving that required the Open Hand of the church. I say that New Life is that church.

Our state population is about 6 1/2 million and we are desperate to reach them. There are roughly 7 billion people worldwide that need to hear the Gospel. Not only do we want to flood our city with the message of Acts 2:38, we also want the whole world to know that they too must be born again of the water and the Spirit (John 3).

I know what I’m up against. I’m up against religious charlatans that have misused faith offerings and seed offerings for their own sake. I’m up against fake preachers and prosperity doctrines, which are really false doctrines, that boast of vain endeavors. Nevertheless, I am compelled by the Holy Spirit to call on the church to give to reach the world. We must do what we can, while we can, to support every cause for the sake of Jesus Christ.

I believe that if we will support ministries beyond our walls, God will grant us the desires of our heart for our families and for our church. Our revival may very well hinge on what we do for the sake of missions. The financial seeds planted abroad may be the harvest in our own city. It is after all, Kingdom giving.

Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Make Our Mark

It’s 1953 and Ben Hogan is all the rage.  He sits atop the golfing world.  His hair is slicked back and his short sleeve shirt cannot hide his toned muscles.  He’s a phenomenon.  He’s strong.  His wide smile and trophy-laden arms tell a story of successful youth.  Everyone wants to be like him as his name is etched into the record books.

However, time has a way of dismantling even the strongest among us.  Time is the great equalizer.  Muscles deteriorate and eyes grow dim.  The scripture tells us that youth is fleeting and beauty fades.  The last picture of Ben Hogan was that of an aged man, worn and weary.  His hips hurt.  His golf swing was a shadow of its former self.  Instead of seeking the fairway’s length, he cut it in half.  Instead of trying to manage the dogleg, he laid up and added another stroke.

The latter years did not take away from the former, only that the crowd moved on to the next great golfer.  Thankfully, the history books have helped us remember what he had done.  Though I’m not here to verify his character, the point is that there are seasons in this life when men and women excel.  Those seasons are not forever.  Time replaces teachers and preachers, pastors and prophets.  Revivals of the past are sometimes forgotten.  Powerful services are erased from our memory.

I’m a little nostalgic about Ben Hogan, even though he came and went before my time.  I never followed the sport and only found him in a pictorial way.  Nevertheless, there was something about the fervor in his eyes; his confident stride and magnanimous personality.

All of this leads me to know that in this life we have a small window to make a difference.  Our time to make our mark is limited.  Another season will come and we will fade.  Whatever we are going to do for the Kingdom must be done now.  Otherwise, we will have left nothing and done nothing.  We cannot look back on what came before and think that it is sufficient.  Nor should we bypass our present, believing that someone else will make up the difference.  Our time for Revival is now.

Our strength must be given; fervent prayers prayed.  Today is the day of our sacrifice.  Bible studies must be taught and disciples must be made.  Revival cannot wait.  Commitment cannot be put on hold.

Our existence will be determined by this window of time.  If the next generation does not remember who we were, at least we will have left something to build upon.  If they do not remember us in the days of our strength, if they do not recall the years of our revelations and revivals, maybe they will be able to progress further because of our contributions to the Kingdom.

This is our season; our window.  It is our time to build, grow, plant, teach, and pray.  Jesus said it like this, “I must work while it is day.”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Priorities

A pastor recently called me to lament his inability to raise money for a small church project. Rhetorically he asked, “Where are the givers who helped Moses build the Tabernacle?” I told him, “They’re at the movies.”

According to the Labor Bureau of Statistics, the average home spends about $230 a month on media per month. That figure includes paid-TV, monthly Netflix and other in-kind services; home internet; Redbox and DVD sales/rentals, etc. The figure does not include cellphone service, which could tack on another $40 to $80 per month, per phone. Nor does this figure include the price of a ticket to the cinema $7-$16 nationally). Of course, cinemas make their money at the concession stand. The price of a large popcorn and a large Coke costs $9.09 and $6.26 respectively.

Not only are church members spending 5-7 hours a day on media devices or sitting in front of their televisions, computers, or tablets, they are paying large sums of money for their daily addiction. Few would consider media a “want.” They consider it a “need.” Therefore, money is not an object because these things are viewed in the same light as food or electricity.

The children of Israel brought their best for the sake of the tabernacle. They brought fine linen, gold, and silver. Their sacrifice was so great that at the end, Moses turned away their offerings. It was too much! However, today there is a pastor burdened because he cannot seem to raise funds to build a handicap ramp on the side of his building. Make no mistake the money is there. It’s just being spent on popcorn and Coke. He’s not alone. People still balk at giving money to a missionary or building fund, but have no qualms about cable TV.

Our problem centers around priorities. We have heart issues, not money issues. Jesus said, Matthew 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The heart follows the treasure. It means that our will to invest in something creates a passion for the thing.”

I’m calling for the constraint of pleasure and the unconstraint of giving. I’m calling for the church to return to tithes and offerings which is the Word of the Lord. I’m praying that we will become givers; not based on need, but upon desire. I’m seeking for investors in the Kingdom just because God is good and our lives are built around His purpose and mission.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole