Total Commitment

At the end of a long conversation my friend replied that he was not ready to make a commitment toward Christ.  He said, “I want just enough of Jesus to get by.”  I was too young to understand the depth of the moment, but I realized it some years later.  My friend liked church.  He enjoyed the music and sermons.  This minimal relationship with God helped him with his guilt and gave him enough satisfaction, but he, like so many others were living in the margins of Pentecost. Eventually he quit altogether. Our conversations had brought him to the brink of total devotion, but each time he made some excuse and retreated into the shadows. He was a marginal man.  He was a person who skirted the primary and tried to live in the secondary.

Paul dealt with similar things in his day. The most notable I suppose was his desperate desire to reach King Agrippa. The unconvinced king replied, Acts 26:28 “Almost thou persuades me to be a Christian.”  He was right there; almost, but not quite.

Jesus challenged the rich young ruler to sell all and follow Him, but when the young ruler realized the cost, the Bible says that he walked away “sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”

You see, no one really can live for the Lord on the edge.  In Jesus, it’s either all or nothing.  “Almost” always leads to nothing at all. “Almost” keeps you just cold enough not to fully understand the moving of the Spirit and lukewarm enough not to know the truth about His sacrifice and what ours must be.

Today I feel the Lord reaching for His church to return to their first love: To make a total and complete commitment. God is calling for people to look toward Him and put their hand to the plow and not look back. The word is Immersion. It’s a baptism of consecration and it is the only way.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Humbled and Whole

witheredhandThe Gospels of Mark and Luke both record the account of a man with a withered hand entering into the Synagogue.  Twelve years ago I preached about this very subject in which this man was healed as he displayed his affliction.  In more recent times, however, I have heard some erroneous conclusions about the scripture. Some report that the man was concealing his hand when he entered the Synagogue. However, the scripture gives no indication that he came in hiding.  In fact, both gospels tell us that those around him knew his condition and watched closely to see if Jesus would heal him. They were wondering what the Lord might do on the Sabbath day with this man who had a withered hand.  They were always looking to trap Jesus in a conflict, but it was Rabbinic tradition, not Old Testament law, which forbade the practicing of medicine on the Sabbath day unless the person was on the verge of death.  This too has been misinterpreted.  It was the rabbis who were angry at the Lord’s actions that day because he violated their law, not the Law of Moses.

In context, and true to the Word, this man did not unravel his hidden hand suddenly.  Rather the man came like in times before with an unconcealed affliction.  Jesus stood up to prove His power and authority over every sickness, even that of a withered hand, but there was more to the matter than the Lord’s power over sickness and disease.  Jesus was displaying that He was greater than their collective thought, even those Rabbinic traditions:  He was showing that He was Lord of the Sabbath.

handelderlywomanwrinklesJesus gave the man with the withered hand two commands: “Stand forth” and “Stretch forth thy hand.”  The first command entailed humility and confession. He had to humble himself in order to stand in the open before them all.  Consequently his action was a sign of confession that indeed he was afflicted. The man had to swallow his pride and allow the Lord to present him among them.  This may have been the most difficult step; to be singled out. The second command was an act of faith, which simply meant that he was responding to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. To stretch out his hand was akin to believing for the miracle.  The Bible says it like this, “And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.”  

I cannot tell which command was more important only that they acted in concert with one another.  Humility and healing are chronological.  Obedience and faith resulted in deliverance.  In order to be whole might mean that you must be willing to come forward, even though everyone knows your need.  It might mean that you come to the forefront for prayer, or be wiling to be seen among the believers.  Pride often keeps us from presenting our known need.  Even private prayer might be used as a tool to remove ourselves from the open, but to humble yourself means that you are willing to allow others to pray over you.  Humility comes first and that is why it might be the more difficult step.

Humility first… healing second.  God spoke of this ordered transaction through His prophets. “If my people which are called by my name shall humble themselves… then will I hear from heaven and will heal..”.  II Chronicles 7:14.  Israel was instructed by the prophets to do the same in order to be delivered from the enemy.  The scripture is replete with similar commands.  Obedience and humility followed by faith and belief. James 5:16 says it succinctly:  Confess your faults one to another that ye may be healed.  This order is also found in salvation as fruits of repentance is followed by a healed life:  Death and burial followed by the miracle of the infilling of the Holy Ghost.  It is so apparent:  Humbled and Whole.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

My cup runneth over …

Colossians 2:9-10 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.  Paul described the revelation that in the person of Jesus Christ the Godhead was complete and that we are complete in Him.  We’ve quoted this on numerous occasions to declare His sufficiency of deity.  We are settled that in the Godhead Jesus is enough, but I wonder if we leave the scripture behind when we discuss other subjects about life and ambitions.  Is Jesus enough for other parts of life?  Is His presence enough to fill those other voids that plague our living?

Noted counselors are speaking about the deficits of emotion and how that technologies and monies are cyclical in nature.  The result is that after the high of gain or new, there is a deeper void left behind.  It’s akin to the aftertaste that leaves one bitter and not better. It’s joined to debt left after the purchase fails to satisfy. Only a few days later, the new becomes the old and the things we had hoped would be enough fall short.

I submit that Jesus can fill every deficit in this life.  I believe that He’s the only One who can satisfy.  Everything else is temporal and leaves us worse than before. Nevertheless I ask, Is Jesus enough for you?

glassofwaterDemas didn’t think so as he left the side of Paul and joined himself to this present world. The rich young ruler didn’t think so.  He walked away sorrowful when he considered the choice. He thought it was too much to give up.  Is Jesus enough?  The world will tell you that being a Christian should be compartmentalized so that you can have your church life and your “private” life too.  The spirit of the age leads us further away with vain philosophies. Yet I submit that in Christ our fullness also dwells.  David said it best when he wrote of that Great Shepherd, “my cup runneth over.”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Jesus is The Door!

Some years ago a few Apostolic brethren were accused of being Exclusivists. Not wanting to become obdurate about our doctrine, they made a feeble attempt to be more inclusive. This resulted in a diluting of holiness standards; a revision of the necessity of Jesus’ name baptism; and the lessening of our emphatic position of speaking in other tongues as the initial sign of the infilling of the Holy Ghost.  In fact, everything that Paul preached was on the chopping block. Even the scripture delivered by the apostles and prophets was diminished in lieu of being included by their accusers.  Sadly those who feared being called Exclusivists left the fundamental doctrines that defined the Apostolic Pentecostal movement. Their churches reflected as much.  Speaking in other tongues became obsolete. Baptism in Jesus’ name was optional and holiness lost its footing.

This matter of Exclusivism did not stop.  The pope has called for a return to Catholicism for all churches even though it was the Acts 2:38 believers which made up the first church.  Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, has called Muslims his brothers under God even though they do not recognize Jesus and their god is not Jehovah of the Old Testament.  Many Evangelical religious groups have asked for a dismissal of any doctrines that separate.   Naturally this points to a One World Religion as was prophesied.  I submit that Paul, Peter, and Jesus were Exclusivists.  Paul said there is only One Faith and One Baptism.  Peter  baptized exclusively in Jesus’ name. Jesus told Nicodemus that unless a person is born again of water and the Spirit they could not enter Heaven.  Paul wrote of separation that all of the churches followed the same practice, I Corinthians 11:16.

I’m not ashamed to preach this Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation because Jesus is The Door!

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole



Jerusalem …


Jerusalem.  That city set on a hill was the birthplace of the first church.  It was the epicenter of the first great Holy Ghost outpouring.  Peter preached the Keys to the Kingdom on the streets of that city while thousands looked on, but it was not received well in those days. The Roman Empire tried to handle the ever increasing issues among the Jewish leaders.  The Sanhedrin despised this new Gospel of repentance, baptism in Jesus’ Name, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost evidenced by speaking in other tongues.  They worked tirelessly against the apostles’ efforts and the culmination of Rome’s oppressive measures mixed with Jewish opposition caused havoc among the early believers insomuch that they scattered throughout the known world.  They were spread abroad almost by default.  Rome stomped its foot in the middle of that Born Again multitude and they were dispersed to all parts of the world for safety sake.

Yet from that scattering came revivals in Samaria and the northern parts of Africa, reaching toward the upper coasts of Ephesus and beyond.  Trouble opened the door for revival.  Opposition unlocked the boundaries of peoples far and wide and the Gospel soon knew no limits.

What was once a centralized revival in the City of David became a world-wide phenomenon.  There were no language barriers that the Holy Ghost could not penetrate; no cultural differences that the Gospel could not bridge.  The message of Jesus spread faster than its opponents could manage, and the more they tried to stamp it out, the more the fire of Pentecost spread.  Through the centuries, even religions made their attempt to squash the outpouring of the Holy Ghost.  In some cases, speaking in other tongues was ruled against; banished from the religious communities.  Others wrote articles declaring that it didn’t matter how people were baptized and that the Name of Jesus was merely semantics.  Poverty poked its head up against this Gospel message.  Educators said that it was nonsense.  The elite declared Acts 2:38 an outdated message that was reserved only for the disciples and that the Holy Ghost was not for people in this dispensation.

All measures of opposition have tried and failed to stop the message of His death, burial and resurrection.  Jesus said it, “you must be born again of the water and the Spirit.” (John 3)  Peter said that “baptism also saves us.” (I Peter 3)

Paul said that when we are baptized, we put on Christ. (Romans 6)  Paul asked the question, “Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?” indicating that belief is just the first step.  They answered “no” so Paul laid his hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost and began to speak in other tongues. (Acts 19)  What a message… And to think that it endures still today.

We are here to both celebrate the Gospel Message and to help facilitate this Soul-Saving Truth.  There is only One Gospel.  What the apostle wrote 2,000 years ago is still true today. Ephesians 4:5  One Lord, One faith, One baptism.  

Our missionaries that make their way across the globe are really extensions of our church family.  They are preaching in places we cannot go, but we are with them when we invest in their lives as they spread the Gospel to the world. They are our ambassadors of the Apostolic Doctrine and we are sending them to fulfill the Great Commission. I pray today that we will catch the vision of a lost world, not only in foreign lands, but also right here in our own city.  This is our purpose.  It is our Soul-Purpose.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Milk …

The last of the skim milk containers were almost empty when I visited our local coffee shop.  It has been reported that more people are using the less fattening milk than ever before.  The attendant told the person in front of me, “We just can’t keep skim milk in stock.”  Reluctantly the patron said, “Okay, I’ll take the 2%.”

Call it culturally cache, but less is more popular than whole.  Milk, bread, cheese, beer, yogurt, and yes, doctrine all fall into that cauldron of less.  In fact, it could be said that the Believers Lite Club is the fastest growing segment of Christianity in America today.  People want less than ever before.  Even the Catholics have reduced the number of miracles a person must have in death in order to become a Saint or “sainted.”  It’s down from 3 to 2.

This is not to say that people don’t want to taste the Lord, they just don’t want all that heaviness that fills them up.  You know, the heaviness of consecration, vows, tears, burdens for the lost, intercession, fasting, daily Bible reading, etc. They want the Prayer of Jabez and Your Best Life Now.  They want quick fixes and instant resolution to life long struggles.  They want absolution from self-imposed conflicts so as not to deal with the guilt of their sinful choices.  Most of all, they don’t ever want to hear a rebuke or correction from the pulpit.  Goodness, that’s like heavy cream laden with fat.

Skimmers like the songs that talk about having a relationship with Jesus and how He makes them feel.  Lyrically they are enamored with His provisions and power which tend to be on the safe side of the song list.  Yet try to sing “I Surrender All” or “I will give you all” and they clam up.  Likewise they tend to steer away from their own ineptitude.  Who needs all that butter when Margarine has all the taste with none of the commitments, uh I mean, calories.  Sure David called himself a worm and wretched, but that’s so Old Testament.

Regarding inappropriate clothing; social drinking, curse words, white lies, a few grudges here and there, illicit movies with sexual scenes or overtones… Lite Christians aren’t really that bothered by these minor infractions.  Whose counting anyway?  To them gossip is normal conversation and accountability is seen as an intrusion into privacy.  Speaking of which, Skimmers espouse the “private life” theory.  They see it as their Church life versus their Private life.

Church attendance is a box to check for this growing group of lessers.  They love the Lord, but not with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength.  They’ll argue that God is not judgmental (as if He’s not the Judge).  They’ll tell you that God is love and that they are doing enough to get to Heaven.  Besides, they’re not as bad as other people in the world and then comes the comparisons.

Skim milk is in high demand for this generation of “deep thinkers” who believe that: Stepping out by faith to give an extra offering is financially foolish:

Faith is a mystical method to entrap the weak minded:

Obedience to a pastor (a man) is obviously dangerous:

Demonstrative worship is reserved for a select group of personalities:

And of course, Convenience is the ultimate filter for every decision.


Few reach for 2% and no one touches that radical idea of Whole milk.  Whole is for those crazy, religious fanatics who spend all their time reading the scripture and praying at the altar.  Whole is for over-the-top Bible thumpers who don’t know how to have fun. Besides, why endure a whole sermon when we can just get the Cliff Notes later?  Any one for a skinny au lait?

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Why did you leave me?


God never makes mistakes. God never errors in judgement.  God is never late or tardy.  These are axioms of truth. To add to these declarations, I point your attention to the only glimpse of a young Jesus who has traveled with Mary and Joseph to Jerusalem from their hometown of Galilee.  It was a Jewish festival that brought this young family to the large city.  People from northern Africa and the outposts of the western regions came joined together as well. We would be correct to assume that this was not the first trip Jesus made with His parents, but on this particular trip, the Lord made His way to the Temple.  When Mary discovered His absence she hurried back to the city to find Him.  She had never lost Jesus before and it is evident through the scripture that she worried about the matter.  They found Him in the Temple, sitting and teaching the learned men. No one had ever heard such wisdom, especially from a twelve year old. Mary will ask the question that many have asked the Lord, and I paraphrase, “why did you leave me?” “Jesus, where were you. I looked for you and you were not with me?”

Now that most critical axiom:  If we are removed from Him, we are the ones who left.  Jesus never leaves.  Jesus never fails. Jesus never changes.

Hebrews 13:8  Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.

It was the story of the children of Israel who waited on the Cloud of Glory to move before they would move.  If the Cloud tarried, so did the people.  If the Cloud moved quickly or tarried long, they waited because they were, and we are, Nothing without the Spirit/Cloud.

Moving might seem reasonable to the human mind, but without Him there is no life.  So I say, Jesus is the God of all life.  He is the Water, the River, the Bread, the Word, and the reason for all things. And we will wait on Him.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Red Cup

redcupRight after the invention of the wheel, the next big thing might be the Red Solo Cup. Just kidding, but it is interesting how reliant we have become on disposal things. It’s easier to use paper plates and expendable items than retain longer lasting articles that need attention. Cardboard, plastics, paper products, and a host of other items have lessened the time of cleanup and expanded the time of leisure. Almost everything today has a limited lifespan. This was not so a few decades ago. Things were kept; cleaned and reused over and over again. Care was taken to maintain an item for the sake of money and decency. Maintenance was a built-in expectation for the duration of the things that had value.

Society as a whole moved away from that kind of care. Today we rush through our day to get to the next thing on our busy schedule.  Relationships of every kind are treated much the same way as paper plates.  Most relationships must survive on minimal maintenance so that we can move to some pressing thing next in line.  That’s why social media is so appealing. It takes so little time to develop these shallow relationships.

Predictably, and probably inevitably, this type of rapid and abstract response toward things and people has made its way into our walk with God.  Prayer, Bible reading, and fasting never come in paper or plastic.  To be engaged with any of these three takes concentration and expense.  Hours are demanded instead of seconds; days instead of moments. Let’s face it:  Jesus takes time to maintain.  He’s more like porcelain than paper. Seeking Him with your heart and soul cannot be done through Twitter.  And finding Him?… goodness, sometimes He hides Himself in a maze that demands months of time.  Jesus is not that kind of disposable deity.  He takes time and lots of it.  David said, “early will I seek thee.”  Maybe David’s statement was more pragmatic than ideological or emotional.  Maybe David knew that it might take all day so he started out early.  The Lord spoke a parable of a bridegroom who was long in coming.  Ten virgins waited and waited; half lost concentration and ran out of oil in the days that followed.  The lesson might include the fact that anyone who wishes to join with Christ will have to devote an enormous amount of time and endurance. While its not palatable to our American quick-fix mentality, following and finding Jesus is a life-effort not a momentary junket.

I submit to you also that Jesus takes up space.  His presence consumes whatever place He occupies.  He can’t be tucked away or broken down for convenience or minimal use.  The only way that He exists in our lives is to be front and center: taking up time and energy of the believer.  He’s not a single-use Savior.  He demands attention and contemplation. His words are provoking to the point of challenging our mindsets and attitudes.  Jesus doesn’t want a Sunday affair.  He asks for a daily devotion, or as Joshua wrote, “meditating day and night on His law.”  Even walking into His house takes praise and thanksgiving.  I know that this is not necessarily congruent with our modern approach to life, but the fact of the matter is that in order to have Him we must keep Him and care for Him.  He is, after all, the most important part of life because He is Life.  In conclusion, I would offer that to have Him demands constancy, commitment, and adherence; none of which come in the form of a Red Solo Cup. Jesus must be our All in all.  He must be the Lord of all, not the Lord of some.  His purpose must be our mission and His Word must be our bread.  He is the Sun that our lives and living must revolve around.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

This is the LORD’S doing

When I see the provisions of the Lord, I stand amazed at what He has done.   The psalmist put it succinctly: Psalm 118:23  This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.  From a humble beginning in a basement church in 1965 to our two campuses, God has guided our steps and made a way for our assembly.  No one could have imagined what great things the Lord had in mind. Some might have even thought it impossible.  There were meager years where both money and membership waned.  There were times of sorrow and loss when faith seemed all but depleted.

Yet God kept us and led us to this place.  What began as a vision became a reality, and the vision was not just for a building, it was for reaching souls.  In fact, we said that this was “More than a Building.”  It would be a house where the hurting would be healed; the weary would find strength; the lost might be found.  We saw a place where families were mended and the Gospel would take center stage.  We saw the building as the Crossroads of Life, not just a place to occupy.  God gave us this building and the property. God made it possible for us to have the necessary funds to finance the construction even when the original loan was not sufficient. God drew the people to join in worship and it was He Who poured out His Spirit and Love upon all those that entered the doors.  The scripture bears witness: Acts 17:28  For in him we live, and move, and have our being…” 

ThankYouwebEverything that has been done is of the Lord.  Every chair and table; desk and microphone was the blessing of the Lord.  Every good and perfect gift, which includes this campus and all the parking places, came from God.  So we say “Thank You” to our Father who has given us these many wonderful years and we pray that we might use it for His glory until the day He returns.  To God be the Glory now and forever.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Loose him, and let him go

John 11:44  And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them,Loose him, and let him go.

Lazarus was a personal friend of Jesus.  It is without question that Jesus stayed at the house in Bethany many times.  Yet when Lazarus fell sick, and seeing the lack of medical resources available, Mary and Martha sent word for Jesus to come quickly and heal their brother.  The Bible describes the Lord purposely waiting several extra days before making His way to the scene.  By the time that Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days. They said, “by this time he stinketh.”  

This was as pivotal juncture in the ministry of Jesus, but equally as important in the life of every believer.

The lessons here are literally layered in a fashion too grand for this small communique.  Yet I point to the Voice of the Master Who called Lazarus from the grave and the things that Jesus did not do.  Jesus told them to roll back the stone.  After He called Lazarus forth, He told them to unloose him; unravel his grave clothes and set him free.  Jesus, Who raised the dead, could have rolled back the stone all by Himself.  He could have unraveled those grave clothes by the sound of His own Voice.  He certainly had the power to set Lazarus free without anyone stepping forward, but herein lies the lesson for the church: He will transform them – resurrect them – but we must untangle them. He will give them a new spirit, but we must remove the obstacles from their path and untangle their remaining constraints.   I urge us all to do the work that the Lord has left for us to do.  He will bring them out, but we must usher them in.  He will breathe new life into them, but we must work to provide them a place. This is the call to the church.  It is our mission to seek and restore lost souls.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole