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  The elite declared Acts 2:38 an outdated message that was reserved only for the disciples and that the Holy Ghost was not for people in this dispensation.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