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

The Secret Things …

In the middle of God’s numerous instructions and miracles, God inspires Moses to say to Israel: Deuteronomy 29:29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. It means that some things only God knows and those things belong to Him. We are not accountable for the hidden by God. However, the second half is altogether different. Moses writes that we are accountable for all that He has revealed to us, “that we may do all the words of the law” i.e., “to obey God’s instructions.”

The text is surrounded by major events and historical wonders. It’s almost lost in the holy writ. Yet the same command is given a few thousand years later when Jesus teaches of a faithful and wise steward. He says, Luke 12:48 “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” James will complete this thought when he writes: James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

All of it combines to form a cohesive thought: God has given revelation and understanding to His people. In His wise providence, the Almighty has chosen to reveal to us His divine purpose and Lordship. The knowledge of the doctrine of Jesus Christ is known among us: the Oneness of God, the New Birth experience, and the command to be holy as unto the Lord. We have been given a great light; not to boast or condemn, but to proclaim and teach. We are to abide in Him as He abides in us. Paul confronted those who had abandoned the Gospel when he asked: “Who perverted the doctrine that I preached unto you?” “Who was it that changed the Gospel into another?”

The secret things belong to God, but we are responsible for the things that are committed unto us. Stewardship is not just adjudicating our finances wisely. It’s also about how we handle the name of Jesus in Baptism and separation from the world in lifestyle. It’s about knowing to do good and doing it without excuse or apology.

Remember this word, it may be the most important you will ever hear: God is coming back for a bride that is without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. I urge you to remember what God has revealed to you and keep what is committed to you. Be faithful to the house of God and don’t forsake your convictions, but add to them each day. Run from the world and seek the face of God. Hold fast to the doctrine, which was delivered to you, and contend for the faith.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“what then”

God’s amazing creation consists of natural adrenaline which lifts the body and spirit above the realm of reality, even if but for a moment. The moment, regardless of what it might be, may not be felt until a few days have passed. Both highs and lows; successes and heartbreaks might not be felt for some time. Nevertheless, a few days later, reality sets in and the realization is settled.

I know that this is not considered spiritual, but I submit that God has made our bodies to be sufficient in physical and mental health. So in triumph or defeat, we are given the ability to enjoy or overcome the moment. The biblical description of the day after is found in the phrase, “and it came to pass.”

Given this premise, I am seeing the other side of the moment when our past choices affect our present reality. For instance, sometimes people win arguments, but afterward they are left with less than they began. Some prove their point, but lose the greater ground of moral authority. Our choices can result in spiritual gain or fleshly endeavors. Our decisions, both individually and corporately, determine who we are and what we become. If the new reality shows us carnal, then we know that we have sacrificed the wrong thing. However, if we have given ourselves to the things of God, then there will be a spiritual strength.

In short, the reality of our current day is directly related to our conduct, conversation, and thought. We are who we have decided to be. We are making a trade everyday of our lives. We are either trading individualism to be hid in Christ or we are trading holiness in order to be carnal. Being accepted by the world means that compromises have taken place. Being accepted by God might mean that we have been rejected by the world. We are and will be the conclusion of our cumulative choices.

Jesus said it this way, “And what shall man give in exchange for his soul?” The question has an answer and sometimes it is not “nothing.” For some the answer is “something.” Paul wrote, “What shall separate us from the love of God?” The list is extensive, but the point is that there are things that will separate us from God. Even writing this I feel it to be a turn off, as if it’s too much hyperbole. It’s like the “Preacher’s rhetoric” bellowing from his soapbox…just a man sermonizing on paper. Nevertheless, I am compelled to ask, “What happens afterward?” I’m compelled to ask you “what then” after the adrenaline has faded and the trade has been made? I am compelled not to go quietly into the sunset, and become a teacher who fails to challenge the lifestyle of the professed Christian.

We cannot gamble on our salvation, but we must make our calling and election sure. “And it came to pass” is on its way which should make us sober and intentional in the lives we are living.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Bunker Hill

Who would have thought that a loss would be the catalyst for a victory? That is what happened in a place called Breed’s Hill, more commonly known as the Battle of Bunker Hill. The colonists lost, but it propelled them to a greater triumph. Their momentary defeat gave them confidence to win the war.

The colonists fell in defeat, but they proved that the British were not invincible. The British general, Howell, saw the passion of the colonists and he said that they had done more work in one night than his whole army had done in a month. The colonist had built a 6ft high dirt wall and used it to protect their knoll.

The British fired cannons at the wall from their ships and then marched up the hill only to be slain by the masses. The colonists were told, “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.”

In the end, the colonists lost, but they killed 226 British soldiers and wounded 828. It was a defeat that gave them confidence that they could defeat the enemy.

Confidence is a curious thing. Its fibers are not always made up of trophies and finish lines. Immediate success is not always the firm ground where life is built.

In fact, trouble is often the ingredient that produces patience, long-suffering, kindness, and the attributes of Jesus Christ. Even defeat, as devastating at it might be, teaches far more than our cumulative successes. A mistake provokes an apology – humility is borne out of repentance. A misstep helps us to reevaluate our journey.

The early church was grounded by tribulation and it became the birthing place of prayer. The Gospel’s cost drove them to recognize its value.

There is a Bunker Hill in the lives of men and women. It’s the place where your temporary defeat becomes the foundation of your confidence in God. It’s the proving ground where your faith leads you toward greater victory. Rejoice not against me O my enemy for when I fall I shall arise… Micah 7:8

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Atmosphere …

Atmosphere is more than just what surrounds the earth’s firmament. It’s also that intangible ambiance, feeling, or mood that exists in a room or some fixed location. I’ve felt it the moment I walked in to my pastor’s home many years ago. Sister Stark greeted us with open arms and a warm smile. We felt peace and love, because their house was filled with prayer and devotion.

David announced his desire to dwell in the house of the Lord “all the days of my life.” Even though his palace was offered with luxuries and convenience, David desired to be in the Presence more than any other place. He loved the atmosphere where the Lord was worshiped. Solomon saw it when he completed the Temple. The Cloud entered and he said, “the heaven’s cannot contain the Lord, how much less this house that I have built!” Jesus set the atmosphere the moment He stepped into this world. His presence was known to both believer and unbeliever. Even the demons felt the power of the incarnate God.

The world knows this fact. Bars and drinking establishments understand this concept. From the lights to the music to the placement of tables, atmosphere speaks to the condition of the stronghold. Amusement parks follow a similar pattern with aromas of popcorn and cotton candy. There is an aura in every place we enter. The spirit of the place or the spirit of the person permeates the room wherever it may be.

To that end, we look to the Word, which declares that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. While many have tried to add to that phrase; waxing long in description and finding nuggets that do not exist, the simple truth is that praise allows the Lord a place to dwell. Praise sets the atmosphere where His holiness and goodness can take up residence. When we bring our worship, i.e., sacrifice to the Lord, there is a furthering of His available favor. Worship sets the tone for the miraculous.

Powerful, life-changing church services hinge on the atmosphere we set that allows the Lord to be Who He already is. Prayer, praise, worship, and the preached Word are all elements that must surround the firmament of this house. When we come with expectation that He is able and willing to do what only He can do, we will see Him in all of His glory.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“Freedom”

The King James Bible uses the word “freedom” once in the New Testament. The scene is painted with a careful brush as Paul states his case for life and consideration according to the law of the land. The Roman Empire had extended it’s mighty hand across the globe; building aqueducts, bridges, and a transit system unmatched before its time. Rome was the conquering nation causing people far and wide to walk tentatively, bound by Caesar’s rule.

A Jew was the lowest class, even in Israel. Rome used Jews to exercise authority among their own. However, to be a Roman citizen was the ultimate pursuit. Nations could buy Roman citizenship, but the price was costly and almost always out of reach. A man could serve in the Roman army to gain citizenship, but those who served were placed on the front line and subject to certain death.

Paul was about to be treated like the Jew he was, until he declared himself to be a Roman citizen also. Suddenly, the attending centurion stopped and told the chief captain, Acts 22:26 “Take heed what thou doest: for this man is a Roman.”

They knew the value and privilege placed on Roman citizens. Tully even extolled, “Verres, O nomen dulce libertatis, O jus eximium nostrae civitatis! O lex Porcia! O leges Semproniae; facinus est vincere Romanum civem, scelus verberare.” i.e., “O Liberty! I love thy charming name; and these our Porcian and Sempronian laws, how admirable! It is a crime to bind a Roman citizen, but an unpardonable one to beat him.“

The chief captain had bought his freedom, but Paul said, “I was born free.” Paul’s parents paid the price and thus Paul entered this world with a Jewish heritage and the rights of Rome. It was the very best of both worlds.

I was born into the greatest country the world has ever known. Freedom and liberty was my birthright, because America is my homeland. While millions have yearned to taste the fruit of liberty, America has given me the opportunity to choose my own words, religion, thought, and plight. Men and woman paid a great price to offer me such things too lofty to explain.

However, I have another freedom and that afforded by the Church, the Blood, and the Name of Jesus Christ. I have been born into the Household of Faith and I have a heavenly home. It is the very best of both worlds. Having recognized this position, we have an awesome responsibility to exercise our natural freedom to preach the spiritual freedom found in Jesus. I believe this to be the call of our lives and the purpose of our time.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

I must be saved …

Perhaps to know the purpose of any one thing is key to understanding it. If we are absent or unknowing of the purpose we might also be absent of the meaning. In light of this premise, it is easy to see how Jesus has been misunderstood and misused over the years. I wonder how many think of Jesus as the “fixer” of their problems instead of the Savior of their souls? How many consider Him as the One who solves their current issues, but fail to see Him as their Redemption and Hope?

The purpose of Jesus was never more in question than it was in Matthew 9.
A sick man is lying on a bed. His illness has obviously crippled his movement. As soon as Jesus saw him, He said unto him, Matthew 9:2 “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” It is quite apparent that the Lord would have moved on had it not been for certain of the scribes who murmured at His statement. They said, “this man blasphemes.” Jesus knew what they were thinking and said to them, “what is easier, saying ‘thy sins are forgiven; or ‘arise and walk?”

Now comes the grand finale. Jesus said, “I’m going to heal this man just so all of you will know that I have the power to forgive sins.” In a swift motion, the Lord established His earthly purpose. He came to redeem mankind from the bonds of sin. He came to pay the price that sin demanded. His purpose was the Cross and Golgotha’s Hill. Healing was a byproduct of His goodness and compassion, but redemption was His purpose.

I want there to be healings and miracles among the people of God. I believe that He can remove every sickness and disease from our physical bodies. However, the healing of the soul is far greater than the mending of the body. We will all die. It is an appointment that everyone will keep. The soul will live forever and that part needs to hear the words of the Savior, “Thy sins are forgiven.”

While I am grateful for a healing in my physical body, it means nothing if I am still lost and blind. If every disease is removed and every ailment mended, I am still undone unless my sins are washed away. His purpose was to “Seek and to Save that which was lost.” He came to be The Sacrificial Lamb, the atonement for our sin. He came to pay the price and offer Himself a ransom for the world.

I want to be healed, but I must be saved.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Build the Temple

In consideration of a tribute to my own father, I am reminded of David’s direction to his son Solomon concerning a permanent house for the Lord. Though there were many accomplishments in David’s life, his great desire was to build a temple for God. The enemies of Israel were defeated; giants fell; the nation’s economy was secured; the kingdom was subdued. David set up a government of peace where even the prophets and priests were welcomed. The scripture details David’s great passion for singing and dancing. Worship in all forms set the precedent in the most beautiful way.

Yet the Temple was his main focus though David would not live to see it come to pass. That task was given to his son Solomon, who built a glorious temple. However, I submit that one would not have occurred without the other: Solomon built what David saw. Solomon completed the vision of his father. They worked in tandem to offer God something of enduring value.

The attributes and actions of David are that of my own father. Dad was and is a worshiper. He danced on regular occasions. He sang and led songs continually while we were growing up. In fact, his singing always made it’s way into our church services. My father’s great desire was always centered around building a church for the sake of the Lord. In those early years of his ministry, dad promoted a revival church where miracles, signs, and wonders occurred. The outpouring of the Holy Ghost and baptisms in Jesus’ name were the high priority. And finally, Worship and the Word became the blueprints of everything we did.

Dad fought many battles and when he retired, he left me and my siblings something greater than gold. He left us a vision of the House of God. This house, New Life Fellowship, is based upon that vision filled with singing, dancing, worship, and giving. This house hosts baptisms in Jesus’ name and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost; miracles of healings of all sorts; healthy families and lives and so much more. We are a generational church positioned for revival.

This is the heritage of my father, or as the scripture said, 1 Kings 7:51 So was ended all the work that king Solomon made for the house of the LORD. And Solomon brought in the things which David his father had dedicated; even the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, did he put among the treasures of the house of the LORD.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole