… the response …

The emotional roller coaster was in full display the day Israel left Egypt. Each plague wrought havoc on the Egyptian family while Israel stood unscathed. Ultimately, they left carrying the treasures of their captors. One cannot imagine the exhilaration of that moment. Freedom.

Then came the Red Sea; that impassible obstacle. To make matters worse a cloud of dust confirmed that pharaoh had changed his mind. Death was on the way and Israel knew it. Instead of thanking Moses for bringing them out, they sought to stone him. Instead of seeking his counsel for God’s next move, they desired to return to a life of slavery.

It was Moses’ turn. He raised his staff and the gushing waters rolled back like a blanket exposing the seabed. The mystery of that moment took their breath away as they walked through on dry ground.

Nevertheless, Egypt’s armies caught up and Israel turned to see the enemy racing through those same open waters. Again, another moment of panic. However, God caused the waters to collapse and the Red Sea consumed the armies of Egypt. Their enemies were destroyed.

The next line of the scripture shows rejoicing, dancing, and singing. There’s a tambourine and a choir echoing the praises of God…”the horse and the rider He cast into the sea.” It didn’t last long. Three days later they happened upon the bitter waters of Marah and sank into deep depression. Dry and thirsty, they murmured against Moses as they cursed the rancid water.

Each present moment dictated their emotions. If they saw victory, they worshiped. If they faced trouble, they cried. If it looked like a poor decision was made, they denounced the leadership of Moses. Every situation provoked an in-kind response.

I wonder what would happen if we responded based upon the nature of God and not upon our present circumstance? What if the response was in consideration of our relationship to the Father and not to our environment? I know we praise Him when the report is good, but what if we praised Him because He is Good? I know we give when we have plenty, but I wonder if we would give because He is Faithful? I know we worship when there is Joy, but I am hoping we will worship because of Who He is.

While I cannot offer an answer to all of life’s dilemmas, the Bible commands me that in everything I am to give thanks.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

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