Balance …

On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John saw Jesus glowing in a translucent light. Atop that mountain were Moses and Elijah speaking with the Lord when The Voice came from the clouds. It was a scene of great spiritual significance unsurpassed by normal events and is often considered 1 of 5 of the Lord’s most pivotal moments.

I don’t have time to divulge the greater gravity of the mountaintop meeting, only to point out Peter’s response. Peter wanted to make three tents, or tabernacles in honor of the Lord, Moses, and Elijah. In essence, Peter wanted to established “shrines” to mark this most spiritual event. His out of balance approach was quickly rejected by Jesus.

While Peter goes on to become a great preacher and leader, he has an achilles heel in that he swings wildly from side to side. The pendulum of his faith will move out of control as he proclaims an undying loyalty to the Lord only to deny Him three times in the same night. He will reject the Gentiles’ entrance into the Gospel in one breath, but be found preaching to the house of Cornelius when the Holy Ghost falls. Peter, who rebuffed the Gentiles, will command them to be baptized in the name of Jesus. Acts 10

Peter’s not the only one who walked out of balance. History is replete with good-hearted people falling into the same trap. Years ago a man spent multiple hours a day praying. He went to his church and prayed for each member. It sounds spiritual except that he neglected his family. His children grew bitter as their father spent his life in “spiritual thought.” Another man did the opposite as he spent his days making money. He worked to gain what was so easily lost. His children were cold towards God, having never seen their father pray or read the Bible. To make up the difference for his absence, he bought them things that they came to misuse and eventually despised.

Out of balance living is an understated issue among many. The pendulum can swing so quickly from one side to another. Even ministry minded people can be misled by the disparity of spiritual highs. All pursuits are filled with infinite loops that are hard to relinquish: There is a ditch on both sides of the road.

The New American Standard Bible says it like this: Ecclesiastes 7:16 “Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?

Jesus said, seek first the Kingdom and don’t be anxious about tomorrow. It’s called Balance!

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Offset …

“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.”

1 Thessalonians 1:5

To be clear, I believe that we are commissioned to be good stewards of the environment. God gave this earth to us to manage it in the cleanest and most respectful way. We are commanded to be stewards of every area of our lives and it is incumbent upon Christians to be prudent, save, conserve, and reverence all of God’s creation. Sadly, this point has become politicized insomuch that the unbeliever worships “Mother Earth” instead of God the Father. I’ll side with the latter, thank you very much.

The issue here is not so much about pollution as it is about moral conviction. Years ago, a basketball player, Kobe Bryant, was found guilty of cheating on his wife. In response, he bought his wife a new multi-million dollar diamond ring and his mother-in-law a new Mercedes. The gifts were considered an “offset” for violating his vows.

Here are a few numbers for you: The Average home consumes 10,656 kilowatts of power per year. Former Vice President Al Gore has been an outspoken leader to reduce energy consumption. His platform, enhanced by his Inconvenient Truth series, speaks of global dangers from warming trends caused by human consumption of energy.

Once again, I think it’s important to conserve and not to waste. It’s a foolish thing to throw trash on the ground and waste fuel. I’m not even here to debate the nuances of climate change. However, it does strike me that Mr. Gore uses nearly 20 times more energy on his own house than the average American home. Last August alone he burned through more than 22,000 kWh of energy on his home. That is more than twice as much electricity in one month than most homes use in an entire year. Moreover, while he pronounces judgment on the average citizen, the electricity to heat his pool would power six homes for an entire year. I’m so glad the water’s warm.

In response to these alarming numbers, Gore does not deny them, but says that he plants trees and pays people to plant trees in order to “offset” his offenses. Really? So that means that you can do wrong, be wrong, act against your own speech as long as you buy diamond rings and plants trees?

Before we find joy in this communique, we better check our own record. We say that we love the Lord and people; believe in the Gospel; accept everybody and pray. People, we better have some evidence of our conviction. The Apostles did not come in “word only.” They did not just say all the right things without evidence of their message. There was power and authority that backed up the word. They lived a life that exemplified what they preached and there were no “offsets.” Even the pharisees knew as they tried to punish the disciples, but could not because of the hard evidence presented. They had real fruit to show the unbeliever.

If you are Christian then you must act like it. If you profess Christ, then you are required to live like Him. No excuses, or allowances, or “offsets” are permitted. It’s either real or fake; genuine love or fair speech. I’m not talking about being perfect; I’m talking about striving to live according the Word.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Entitlement …

When David sought a place to repent, he bought a threshing floor from a man named Araunah. The man would have given the land to the king, but David said, “I cannot offer God something that cost me nothing.” As many of you know, this verse is the pivot point of the ministry, which God has entrusted into my hands. My sacrifice to God is the burden I carry.

Sacrifice is a lonely word. In some cases, it’s a very distorted word. Some think that coming to evening worship service; giving their tithes; or singing in the choir is a sacrifice. Others believe that there is a cut-off age when sacrifice is no longer needed; that sacrifice is for those who are able.

In light of a much-needed revival, Pentecostal pastors have lamented to me how many middle aged people are removed from the matter. While younger generations are gravitating toward good-will endeavors and humanitarian work, millennials and older are chaffing at the thought of giving up something. The absence of this mindset leads to an era of entitlement. Therefore, instead of giving from our want, the idea of entitlement promotes receiving without a claim.

Entitlement is not just a term used among government officials and those who debate policies. Entitlement is seen in the church. Some believe that they have “paid their dues”, whatever that means, so they don’t have to volunteer or serve. Others think that simply showing up is deed enough to garnish favor or benefit. The entitlement crowd makes demands on God and the church in various ways. People now demand pleasantries without labor; friends without being friendly; spiritual insight without personal prayer. However, a church filled with healing and miracles requires something of us. Conversions don’t just happen because of Joel’s prophecy. They happen because church members make friends and invest time in people.

No one has a right to a good worship service. No one can make an ultimatum on a clean building or a loving Children’s Department. Who said that these things were a given? All of it requires time, effort, and most of all sacrifice. Because not only can we not offer God something that cost us nothing…God won’t accept something that costs us nothing.

Calvary came at a great cost.
Sustained Revival comes at a continual cost.
Enduring Love for each other comes at a personal cost.

Anything less lays empty and undone outside the door of Heaven.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Faith on Trial

If you could hear it with your heart, then please let me speak into the depths of your soul: Don’t lose faith and don’t give up. This life, with all of its ups and downs; the ebb and flow of both triumphs and tragedies are working on your behalf. Even things that tend to afflict our minds are working for us, or as Paul wrote 2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

Peter presented the trial: 1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

Can you imagine that your faith would be put on trial? A court trial has elements of witnesses, a judge, and a jury. Your faith will be challenged, opposed, and questioned. In another sense, your faith will be put through a furnace of fire, burning away impurity and pollutants. The examples go on, but the truth remains: These things are working on your behalf and you must not give up.

I would take issue with Paul’s words in which he submitted that our affliction is light except that compared to Eternal life and the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, he is right. Whatever the affliction, issue, or conflict, all of it is a light thing compared to the moment when He Who was before all time shall appear and we shall be raptured into Glory.

The famed missionary once wrote: “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to obtain what he cannot lose.” Therefore, I make this plea: Don’t lose sight of the prize, but press forward. Whatever it takes to be saved, that is what you must do. Whatever it takes to be present for worship and the Word, that is what must be done. There is something wonderful ahead that can only be seen through our spiritual sight. 2 Corinthians 4:18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole