“Garbage in, garbage out”

Within the script of Paul’s letter to Titus, whom he called “mine own son after the common faith” there is a notable nugget of understanding. Paul wrote: Titus 1:15 “Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.”

The training of the brain has a long and storied history. Psychologists and researchers have presented a plethora of information concerning the “structuring and restructuring of the human brain.” There are many expansive thoughts with large words and complex definitions if you so desire. However, there are a few constants which are easy to comprehend. Here’s one, “You are what you eat” or “Garbage in, garbage out.” The concept is basic, in that our minds are fed with thoughts and from that “feeding” comes the evolution of our lives.

To be pure demands pure input. Purity of spirit, by necessity, depends on what we entertain. If movies or shows present cussing and sexual permissiveness, then the outcome will be a defiled spirit. Pornography of all kinds stains the brain. Conversations that demean other people sour any real love or mercy. The result is a corrupted conscience. Purity has no chance when we purposely feed our mind with images and sounds contrary to a holy life. Words can then be taken the wrong way. Jokes are twisted into something perverse. Clothing becomes an advertisement of intent instead of a covering.

To stay pure takes work, especially in an hour when every image is readily accessible by the phone in our hands. There is labor involved to protect our minds from damaging thoughts.

Are we pure? Do we have a pure spirit? Is our life filled with honest conversation? How can we raise our hands and worship the Lord when our days are filled with angst, bitterness, and the unsavory things of this world? Or how can we proclaim Jesus when we wound the body of Jesus Christ?

Micah gave us the requirement. I’ll offer it here in hopes that everyone will heed the Word of God. Micah 6:8 “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“through Christ”

If we put ourselves in the proper perspective, then let it be known: We can, but not without God. We are a force against the darkness of this world! But not without God. We are an army, marching toward victory – equipped with power and authority. However, it all comes from the Omnipotent King of Hosts.

Paul did not write that he could do all things. He wrote, Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” However, the modern day Christian has left out the words, “through Christ.” Modernism looks inward instead of upward. They espouse the power of positive thinking or some self-proclamation of willful intent. Yet we know that without the Lord, we can do nothing!

Consider the contrast:
2 Chronicles 32:8 “With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles.”
Isaiah 62:8 “The LORD hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength…” The arm of flesh and the arm of the Lord, one entails humanism, intellectualism, and talent. The other is without limitation. The arm of the Lord is an infinite strength rising above the carnal mind. We are complete in Him and incomplete in ourselves. This truth is a counter-culture position which demands our attention.

God delivered His people by using the voice of Moses. We thank God for the opportunity to be used by Him. However, God can use anything and anyone. Acts 13:17 “The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it.”

Jesus did it! The glory has been His all along. I cannot give to Him what never left Him. I can only declare that He is glorified in this house and in my life. Our collective praise is the voice of a blood-bought choir standing to declare that His arm is not short and His promises are not slack. We can conquer the enemy; take dominion over the devil; and do great exploits. We can defeat our fleshly nature and keep our families secure in the faith. It all comes by Jesus. We can, but not without Him!

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“Salvation By Emotion”

In a recent interview, a Christian commentator described salvation by quoting the words of noted historians and church fathers. His attending panel added their own anecdotal offerings supporting a version of how to be saved. Multiple stories and examples were presented to make the case for Heaven, but no one quoted the words of Jesus. In fact, the Bible was completely left out of the forum. These religious leaders described salvation without using one single verse of scripture!

Such is the case in our “salvation by emotion” culture. People “feel” themselves spiritual or consider themselves saved without the need for obedience to God’s Word. Traditional beliefs often take precedent over Biblical evidence, thus a host of church-goers are relying upon what was done in the past to determine their eternal destiny.

Yet Jesus said:
John 3:5 “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Mark 16:16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
Acts 1:5 “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.”

The Apostles wrote:
1 Peter 3:21 “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us…”
Romans 6:4 “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
Acts 19:4 “Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”
Acts 19:5 “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Acts 19:6 “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.”

These, and more, are troubling scriptures for people who believe that salvation is by intent rather than obedience. Commentators cannot supplant the actual scripture. None are higher than the Bible! None, regardless of their oratory skills or education, can lead us to salvation without the already established Word of God. Acts 4:12 “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Stagnate Waters

Just off the coast of Dubai, engineers have built small manmade islands. They were meant to expand the water’s edge and then be sold for unseemly amounts. They did just that. However, over the years the waters in-between the islands have grown stagnate and undesirable. The reason is simple: there is no water flow. The ocean’s current has been cut off leaving the waters still, trapped, and sluggish. The dormant sea has no allure as it blocks the natural flow from the outgoing tide.

Oft times what looks enticing is a great inhibitor to the flow of the Holy Spirit. Daily desires that lead us away from the Cross become devices of great consequence. When a person becomes spiritually stagnate, they lose their sensitivity to the Lord’s direction. It happens everyday. Because we live in this world and deal with the constant pressure, there is a battle over our thoughts and desires. It is here that the church must learn how to focus. The priorities of Jesus Christ must become our life’s ambition: reach the lost, spread the gospel, and raise our families under the banner of holiness, all of which culminating in making Heaven our home.

Those city planners and engineers are still working on making the small islands inhabitable. Some will succumb to the allure of their uniqueness even though hydrologists say that without the ocean’s natural current, the waters will never fully recover. Inhabitants will forever fight the affects of what has been cut off. They will work to clean and refresh; spending the duration of their time and money propping up something that pulls them down.

This is the story of all those who are enamored with the shallow things of this life. It is the downfall of all who were once filled with the river of the Holy Ghost, but now have become stagnate in their walk with God. What cost so much has turned out to have so little value.

The Spirit is speaking today: We can ill afford to ignore the weightier things that pertain to our eternal soul. We are racing toward Eternity. Therefore, let us lay aside EVERY weight and sin that so easily besets us and let us run to obtain the prize!

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole