Fine China

One of my earliest memories was setting the table for my mother. It must have been a special time because we used her strawberry dishes from the curio cabinet. The setting would boast of homemade bread and mom’s red sauce pasta. A salad plate was on top as usual; a side plate for the oil. It might just be my nostalgic sense, but I was saddened to read of the reasons for getting rid of “grandma’s china dishes” in the Associated Press. Younger couples are either uncultured or just don’t have room to store the occasional plate wear. Some spoke of being more casual than their parents while others decried the hassle of moving, carrying boxes from city to city.

Neda Ghaffari, a 37-year-old San Francisco resident who married last summer, opted to register for modern dinnerware she could use daily. “China feels outdated,” Ghaffari said, “and difficult to maintain, as it normally has to be hand-washed.” Modernists echo her response: “It takes too much time for busy lifestyles. In short, the dishes of the former generation seem taxing for many people today. ”I wish that was the whole story, but it seems to be a microcosm of other things far more important.

It’s not just the blue garland china and strawberry plates that have been rejected. Church ministries and involvement is also in the mix. Church attendance across denominational lines report that most will attend one service per week and not more than three services in any given month. The Pareto Principle states that about 20% of the congregation will engage in 80% of the work. No one really feels guilty about their lack of effort as we have entered an age of full self-affirmation. Time reading the Bible pales in comparison to time spent on the internet or social media. Prayer is regulated to need-based only. It is not seen as a daily communication with God. And finally, serving others must fit into the framework of emotion of personal satisfaction.

My expression here could be viewed as old fashioned, although the real truth is that I am counter-culture. I believe the most meaningful things in life cannot be held in our hands. I believe our lives and schedules should revolve around worship times, church involvement, and personal devotion to the Lord. I promote giving without a cause, not giving because there is a need. The need is my need to give, because it is more blessed to give than it is to receive (Jesus said that).

Mom never thought it was a struggle to put out the fine china for guests or a special day. We assumed her red glasses and silver spoons meant something. I assume that worship is critical; giving is essential; and sacrifice is part of our reasonable service. My prayer is for us to choose to offer our lives to the Kingdom. It is not too much to go up to Jerusalem. 1 Kings 12:28

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Dreaming dreams . . .

Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:

Dreaming dreams . . . it is so very different from seeing visions. In some respects and among those who decipher such things, to dream a dream implies a deliberate act. It attends to the consciousness; the hope of a person for something good or profound to occur in the future. Visions are different. The biblical references to seeing visions lends itself to a supernatural sight. Thus the vision is from the sight of God and the dream is from the heart of man.

By the time Dr. King came into national prominence, a myriad of civil conflicts had already occurred. Whatever we might think of our current national unrest, none of it compares to the chaos of the 1960’s. On the heels of desegregation, a shift in how America viewed its citizens began to change. However, it did not come without a fight. Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas showcased one of the many struggles. Sit-ins, which are almost foreign to this generation, were becoming routine. High pressure water hoses abused the rights of African Americans in multiple cities as they attempted to exercise their rights for fair and equitable treatment. I have not even scratched the surface.

Dr. King had a dream. He preached his heart and delivered his burden. As I review his words, they remind me of the image of the Church where character is premier; people exude love and not judgment; and a higher law is raised to honor all of God’s children. King’s dream seems to be a picture of the Church of Jesus Christ. It is a house of refuge and inclusion.

My dream of our church is the same. God has given me a vision for the church, but I have a personal hope that New Life Fellowship will be a place where the outside conflicts and divisions of this world are suspended. I dream of a church family, a body, that is concerned about one another more than themselves. I dream of a place where we all have a VESTED interest in each others lives. Where we help the hurting and lead people toward Jesus Christ. I dream of a place where ethnicities are celebrated and embraced; where everyone has a ministry place; a future; and a home.

While we are not the only church to have this hope, let it be that in our city, on this corner – at the Crossroads of America – we dream dreams of unity, hope, and love.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole


I wish I could count how many times I have heard the statement, “There are only two different kinds of people in the world.” The answer is usually a showcase of polar points in some facet. Christianity is no different as it hosts its own “kinds” of people. Some are filled with doubt and others with faith; some with boldness and others with fear. However, when I strip away the myriad of examples, I always seem to land on those who Serve and those who are Served. It is the difference between the Takers and the Givers.

Consider the day Abraham sent his servant, Eliezer, to find a bride for Isaac. The journey ended when Eliezer found Rebekah serving. Her inclusion into the lineage and Abrahamic covenant began with a servant spirit. The defining moment of Rebekah’s life was written:
Genesis 24:19-20 After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have finished drinking.” So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels.

Rebekah served her way into the covenant. Jesus came as a Servant. Paul remembered the words of Jesus when He said, Acts 20:35 “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” The Giver – the Servant – is always more blessed.

The proof was Elisha’s authority, not the miracles he performed. He was known as anointed and credible by a single statement. 2 Kings 3:11 “But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the LORD, that we may inquire of the LORD by him? And one of the king of Israel’s servants answered and said, Here is Elisha the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah.”

Elisha served Elijah. He served his way into the anointing.

The act of serving is greater than talent. It exceeds knowledge, ability, or status. Though many proclaim faith in Jesus Christ, not all can claim to be a servant. It concerns me how many Christians are confident in their salvation, but have never offered themselves as a servant. It is nothing more than religion without relationship.

This is why I am challenging you to set aside some time, even in this house, to engage in some serving ministry. It is, after all, the path of the Savior we purport to love.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole


Hatkarwadi is a speck on the map in Beed where more than a million people have been hit by drought. Beed is in the province of Maharashtra which is in the country of India. Seeing that there are 1.4 billion Indians, 20% of the world’s population, the one million struggling people are barely noticed. Hakardadi is not the only place without water, but it does represent a spiritual phenomena.

Why do people stay where there is no water?

The surrounding area of Beed casts a long shadow of tradition and normalcy bias. Only two of the 35 wells have water left. Farmers dig up to 650ft to extract enough water to grow their meager crops. Food is scarce and the skies are mostly empty. Long interruptions in rainfall combined with the depleted Godavari river has caused a ripple effect in food, farming, and business. Two of the major dams hosts what is called “dead water” which is contaminated with sediments and mud. Even still, the “dead water” is the only thing left. Nearly a thousand tankers transport the water, spiked with chlorine to some 300 thirsty villages.

And yet, people continue to live where there is no water.

Psychologists revert to their default answers when trying to explain why abused people stay in dysfunctional relationships. Business experts also muse why people stay in dead end jobs with no chance of upward mobility.

Most troubling to me is what we know as “The Stagnate Church.” This is the place where there are no baptisms of the Holy Spirit or renewal or change. Old natures persist and tradition becomes the constricting mechanism that offers no hope to the hopeless. The Stagnate Church offers minimal worship and no sacrifice. It seeks to fulfill obligation with attenders who seek to appease their church duty. These churches are made up of “religious” people who like to wear shiny crosses, but have no relationship with the bloodied one.

Jesus declared Himself to be the Living Water. Only when we yearn and seek for the flowing river of the Spirit will we find it. While I cannot speak for everyone, I am desperate for a move of the Spirit in our church and in our services. We cannot live in the dry. We were born in the River. Jesus said, John 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

I’m not willing to live where there is no outpouring of the Holy Ghost. I cannot live where there is no water. This must be more than a community endeavor and a social gathering. Our God is not dead and His Water is not stagnate. It must be where the River of Life flows and where the Spirit prevails. If not, then our lives will be wasted in the dry.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole