“The Death of Death”

“The Death of Death” doesn’t sound very promising to me. Even the repetitive words seem somewhat confusing. I concur that it might be a little unclear. So I’ll unpack the statement for us in hopes that we can see it more clearly.

The first “Death” means an end to something. It means that something once lived, but now it is gone. This “Death” is a finality; buried in some nondescript place; lost to the current or present reality. It speaks to a life once held, but now has passed and its memory is all that remains. The second “Death” means a sacrifice. This word indicates the dying to self, the flesh, or surrendering something of value. It means the forfeiture of something valuable.

Putting the words together reveals a time when people gave out of their want; not out of their plenty. It means that believers once gave God an offering that cost them something which they could not replenish. The Death of Death is the conclusion of selflessness and personal, willing abandonment. Real sacrifice has fallen on hard times. It has even disappeared in many churches.

Consider the last book of the Old Testament. The people no longer offered God something of value. Instead, they brought their least to the altar. Malachi 1:8 When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the LORD Almighty.

As it was then, so it is now…. We give our energy to our jobs and activities, maybe even to entertainment. We would never think about skipping out of work on a regular basis. I’ve seen people more excited about their favorite sports team than they are about morning worship. God said, “You no longer make a real sacrifice.” It was the Death of Death. No more offerings of value. No more forgoing or renunciation.

This is where the American church is right now. We love to feel God and see His power. Many are intoxicated with the sound of their own tweet or posting about their opinions of Him or of their church. Some even like to hear themselves pray and sing. However, few are willing to offer themselves as a living sacrifice. It’s painful to lay yourself down on an altar and give up image and personal ambitions. People are saving themselves and their possessions while the Kingdom searches for laborers, disciple-makers, and an offering. I feel the Spirit calling us to a life of self-denial. God is looking for a people who will give the best of their life, energies, and talents to Him. Our best is the only thing acceptable to a Savior Who gave His all for us.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“press”

It happened in a house where Jesus stood to teach. The crowd had become so great that there was no room left to enter as the people spilled out beyond the door. Perhaps the four men carrying their feeble friend showed up too late to get inside. Whatever the case, they were so determined to connect Jesus with their friend that they tore off the roof and lowered him down. It was nothing more than an act of desperation. One single line of scripture describes the issue: Mark 2:4 “And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press…”

It was the press that the woman with the issue of blood trouble encountered. Too many people in too small a place. She was in need, but there was no direct line to Jesus. She had to maneuver her way forward; plot her course just to touch Him. In all, she did not touch His hand or arm…she only reached the hem of His garment. Mark 5 says that she came behind the press to touch Him.

Consider Luke 19:3 And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. Zacchaeus had a physical limitation which kept him from Jesus. Once again, the press blocked him from the truth which came from the Master. However, his desire to hear the words of life caused him to climb a tree. Who would do that today? What kind of people tear off roofs and crawl on their knees and climb trees just to find the Lord?

I see a generation who wants Jesus to come to them. They think that He owes them healings, miracles, and direction. To many, the press is not worth the effort. If something comes up, worship is negotiable. If the weekend is taxing, Sunday night service becomes optional. Midweek Bible study is not on the chopping block as sports take precedent.

The “press” has not changed. Busy schedules and the cares of this life all stand in opposition to sitting at the feet of Jesus. The “press” is anything that keeps us from connecting to the Healer. It is everything that blocks our entry to reaching Him and hearing Him. Though some would scoff at the thought; the “press” could even be friends and family; jobs and community endeavors. Good things cloud the Best thing.

To find Jesus; touch Him; hear His words of wisdom, we will have to seek Him. We will have to work through the press which might even require desperation on our part. It might mean that we will have to lose our pride and inhibitions. The question is not whether He can be found. The question is, will the press stop us?

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Likeminded

“Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Philippian 2: 2-4

Times have not necessarily changed. Technology has increased and innovations have made life easier… maybe. Wars and political conflicts are cyclical. Nations still rise and fall. Churches are established and sometimes crumble. The nature of people is also persistent. While there are many different names and faces, similar attitudes and dispositions prevail.

Consider Paul’s appeal to the church in Philippi. He knew that the devil could not destroy them. He understood that worldliness, though a formidable foe, was not their greatest threat. The damage of the body would always come from within the body. Division in the church, which he called “schisms,” would always be the greatest hinderance. Thus, Paul instructed them to be in one accord and in humility toward each other. He did not want them to simply “look out for themselves.” He taught them to consider the interests of each other.

This conduct, if enacted in its Biblical form, leaves very little room for independence and self-preservation. It makes a demand of strong-willed people to be more considerate of those who might struggle. But as we know, being likeminded is a daunting task, especially among the American church. People want recognition not obscurity. They want to state their case and make their claim, not turn the other cheek. Paul wrote of esteeming others better than yourself. That does not sound good to the individualist. It leaves a bad aftertaste to the person who deems themselves more spiritual and more knowledgeable than those around them.

The battle for unity will always revolve around the deeds of the flesh. Demonic spirits have no power against the Holy Ghost filled saint of God. “Greater is He that is within you than he that is in the world.” Sin is a constant opponent against us. However, “where sin abounds grace doth much more abound.” The battle is over the human spirit and the unity of the body. Now and forever we will fight for unity. If the church ever comes into submission and unity, through humility and lowliness of mind, then we will have exceeding power and revival. The Harvest field may very well be contingent on church that is in one accord, with one mind. It was Paul’s desire and it is mine… it is my joy when we are in unity.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The Inn

Christmas seems a long way off, but don’t blink. It’s the famed story of the Inn keeper who had no room for Mary and Joseph that led them to a barn, aka, manger. “No room for the Christ-child” has become a seasonal message when in reality it should be the daily subject of a robust economy that features the rat-race. Each hour seems to be pinched. Days run into weeks until a year passes before we pause to consider developing a prayer life or family devotion. There’s just no room left for the Lord to enter our lives outside of the confinements we’ve set on Sunday.

In its conception, pentecostalism was once considered an experience; not a denomination. However, the harried pace of our society demanded that we move the experience indoors so not to interrupt our own very busy lifestyles. The result was “no room” in the Inn. The Inn is clearly painted as our personal ambition. The Christ-child is the Born Again experience that once dominated our conversation.

The early church was not a “faith” as it is defined today. It was a movement that could not be contained by politics, or governments, or even church buildings. Denominations, on the other hand, put boundaries around the experience so that we could manage Him by convenience. Church buildings became the place where we could find God without ever really seeking for Him. Our “experience” became regulated via time frames of the worship services and by organizational rules. The problem is that we lost the power and the sound of a mighty rushing wind. Miracles trailed off also as we developed healing revivals and special meetings designed for the sick. These things once followed the daily lives of the early church. There were no specialists brought in for a miracle service. Sure, we have great programs, but the outpouring of the Holy Ghost is rarely experienced in our homes. Private lives have somehow separated us from the Glory of God.

I submit that we need to return to an in-home revival where prayer, Bible reading, meditation, and devotions occur on a regular basis. Of course, it means that we will have to turn off all the media for a moment. If not, then we will be current on world affairs and have our fill of entertainment, but there will be no moving of the Spirit.

Jesus doesn’t have much room to be Himself outside of our planned song set. Fortunately though, Christmas is coming and we get to talk about Mary and Joseph and that awful Inn keeper who turned them away.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Valley of Decision

Of the constants in this life, there is a Crossroad that all of us will face. The determination of who we are and what we will become hinges on our decision to follow Jesus Christ. The rich young ruler came to it when Jesus told him to sell all that he had and take up his cross and follow Him. The ruler left sorrowful because he considered the cost. He had too much to give up. King Saul came to the same junction as he waited impatiently for the prophet to arrive. Saul lost his soul as he turned away from obedience and stepped outside of his assigned role.

A thousand men and women over have faced the Crossroad. The Bible calls it the Valley of Decision. It’s that moment where you either humble yourself under the mighty hand of God or you make excuses for yourself. The Christian that turns away will rarely tell you that they disobeyed. They make allowances for their carnal measures; covering their lack of submission in logical or pseudo-spiritual terms. However, in the end, they have turned aside at the intersection of consequence.

Perhaps you stand at this place where a choice needs to be made. Will you follow the Lord and the anointed leadership God has placed over your life or will you seek your own path? The Children of Israel stood there when 10 spies overruled Joshua and Caleb. It cost them 40 years of wandering. An entire generation had to die before the Promise Land was realized. David was there when the prophet Nathan called him out as “the man” who sinned. Instead of being arrogant and protective, David fell on his face and repented. He was literally at the intersection of eternity as his life was held in the balance. History is replete with these moments.

As you read this small piece, I pray that it is more than a passing thought; some benign commentary on a website. I pray that it provokes you to consider that the direction of our lives are guided by the choices we make in the Valley of Decision. Those choices determine the path of our children and our families. They guide both the present and future of the church, and ultimately our eternity. Offenses are found there and challenges alike. The call of God can be heard there and a host of other things that pull us in different directions. I urge you in the words of God Himself: “Deuteronomy 30:19 “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life…”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Message of Truth

The book of Jude is a single chapter letter hosting but 25 verses. In his opening remarks, Jude gives diligence to write about the faith. He called it “common salvation.” He said that we “should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 1:3

Look closely at the words of Jude. He did not submit that we should contend for a new salvation or a revised faith. Jude promoted contending for the faith already established. Unlike so many trending churches, this apostle was not seeking for a modern twist or a modified thought. He was seeking to keep, fight, even battle for the very thing delivered to the first church. The faith he spoke of was the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was the revelation of the Mighty God in Christ and a clear separation from the world in lifestyle. Jude sought for what once was delivered.

Nehemiah shared the space that Jude so profoundly occupied in that Nehmiah did not build the walls around Jerusalem in 52 days. He rebuilt them. He did not draw new lines or reshape the boundaries. He simply put back what had fallen down and he put it back in its original place. Nehemiah was working on what was established before his time. He knew that even though the temple had been restored, Jerusalem could not survive without fortified walls to protect it. He also knew that the template had been settled – the footings were already set. All he had to do was insist on putting back the walls where they were laid.

It’s the arrogance of men who think that the Apostolic doctrine is outdated or old-fashioned. We are witnessing backslidden men and women redefine truth to fit their personal agenda. They are removing the basic tenets to satisfy their carnal natures and then calling themselves “spiritually enlightened.” Their anecdotal stories lead their persuasions as they boast of the absence of tradition. In the end, all they have are diluted doctrines and cities without walls. How many times have I watched them rail against the church and then declare themselves sufficient without its borders? People who say they don’t need a church or a pastor are only fooling themselves as they willingly blind themselves from the established Word.

We preach a Message of Truth not of our own making. We believe in a Bible that we did not write and are commanded not to alter. No amount of modernization will change the scripture. No amount of talent or intellectualism will ever be able to dismiss those fortified walls of protection called submission, obedience, and humility. I am contending for the faith that came before me; that is greater than me. It is the only lasting truth in this world.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Busy Philipps

I don’t know Busy Philipps. Her first name confused me for a moment, but it might be my age or my disassociation with the current celebrity A & B list. The commentary of her is consistent across the board. Philipps is a funny, relatable individual who accepts all people regardless of lifestyle. She presents herself in a humorous, sarcastic manner, congruent with other talk show hosts.

She recently made an appeal for abortion that caught my attention. Her opening line was simple and disarming. She said, “You know me…,” as she urged people to join the Pro-Choice cause, “I’ve had an abortion. I’m one of you.” It was a clever statement that set people at ease. She was one of them; an ordinary person with a great life and a fun disposition. Her message was one of simplicity. Though it did not change my view, I felt the sting of its power.

Sin on all levels has been brought into the mainstream. Anti-Bible messages litter our airwaves like tin cans on a busy highway. The rage against purity weighs heavy upon the separated life. To the world, these things should be commonly accepted and normal.

  • Many of our public schools include classes on LBGTQ History. Christians ideas are regularly deemed as “dangerous and destructive.”
  • Jessie Sage writes that losing one’s virginity is not transformational but rather unremarkable, i.e., it’s nothing to keep.
  • Marijuana (a gateway drug) has been embraced by all demographics.
  • Sexual promiscuousness is a rite of passage for adolescence.

In the last days, sin will be the norm and godliness will be deviant. What America once believed sacred is now irreverent. What we thought to be the “gold standard” is now gravel. Paul called this “Perilous times.” 2 Timothy 3:2-5 “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power…”

Busy Philipps is just one of many who decry the Holy Scripture. She’s among a cacophony of voices all vying to dull our senses and help us “relax.” Solomon called it, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep.” I say that it is High Time to awake out of sleep. The church must rise up and be heard. We must be Salt and Light to a world that is morally and spiritually bankrupt. This is not the time to take our ease. It is our time to shine and be stirred.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Poured Out

Jeremiah 48:11 Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.

In ancient times wine was permitted to rest on its “dregs,” i.e., “sediment,” in order to acquire the highest degree of flavor. However, it could not sit long or it would lose the very thing it was trying to gain. Purity and value were gained as it was poured into new wineskins; and finally, from the new wineskins to cup.

The Moabites were proud of their national culture. They had wealth and intelligence. But they had lost the value of the altar. They were “intoxicated” on their own form of secularism. They were never “poured out.” Jeremiah said that they “settled.” Stagnation of the spirit became their undoing.

David wrote: Psalms 126:5 They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Psalms 126:6 He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

Paul said, Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Poured Out. Dry eyes produce dry spirits. Empty altars result in failing faith. Poured Out. The only way for us to be saved in this hour is to have open hearts and poured out lives before the Lord. Serving, giving, and sacrifice are the ingredients of strength. Crying out to God in worship is a washing of the mind and spirit. We must be Poured Out!

Standing back and watching others worship devalues our walk. The out of focused life produces stagnation and apathy. We must not trade pathos for passivity. We are in the fight of our lives and we must win the Prize. We must give time to the most important things: Prayer, worship, and the Word. Hear me… the accumulation of things is not the measure of success and settling is fodder for a cold and indifferent spirit. Today, we must be Poured Out!

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Everything else is secondary

How strange it must sound to the post-modern Christian reading the words of Jesus. I suppose that some might try to rearrange His word to fit our Western culture. For instance, when the people said, “Behold, thy mother and thy brethren,” Jesus answered Matthew 12:48-50 Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

When a disciple asked if he could first “go and bury my father.” Jesus replied, “Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead” (Matthew. 8:22). This discourse does not mesh well with modern thought. The Lord often spoke in riddles and parables. It was confusing for most of the people. Matthew 13:10-13 The disciples asked, “Why do you speak to in parables?” Jesus replied, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: ‘Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.’” Jesus held back the knowledge of the Kingdom so that the people would have to search in earnest to find the answers. He did not make it plain. How different He was than our current commentators. Obviously, Jesus was not an American. He did not hail from the land of the free and home of the brave. He was the incarnate God Who did not conform to His society and He will not conform to ours.

Incredibly enough, Jesus told us whom to fear. Luke 12:5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. For all the biblical scholars, please note that the word “fear” comes from the Greek word phobeo, meaning to frighten; to be alarmed. This leads us to the inevitable conclusion: Jesus cares about our eternal destination so much that He advocates a healthy fear to awaken our senses. He’s more interested in our eternal soul than our temporal life. If you can see it, then know that the miracles were not His reason for coming. He came to seek and save that which was lost. Miracles and healings are simply the byproducts of His compassionate nature. He came as a ransom to pay the debt of sin because eternity is the primary. Everything else is secondary.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The Name

In 2001, NASA employees began meeting at lunch for devotion and prayer. While it cannot be verified how many governmental agencies hosted such things, it was a common thing for those working in the space program to read the Bible aloud. With all of the inconsequential news, we probably missed the fact that in 2016 the Johnson Space Center newsletter announced that the name of Jesus was not to be used on company grounds. Agency officials said, “Consistent with federal law, NASA attempts to balance employee’s rights to freely exercise religious beliefs with its obligation to ensure there is no government endorsement of religion.” Thus, the name of Jesus and the openly read scripture became a taboo.

Today there are bans on speaking the name of Jesus in some public forums. People are said to feel offended by hearing the name in prayer or in conversation. Most of our public colleges have sent written notices to all commencement speakers not to use the name or end prayers in the name as it is said to “cause anxiety in those who are non-religious or of a different belief.” In essence, America has outlawed the name, Jesus.

There is a caution in this report in that church members should not grow too angry. The American Christian has been silent for a long time. Many churchgoers have elected men and women to public office who do not believe in the Bible. Some have even endorsed the perversions of the world. Pulpits are silent and members are apathetic. Modesty sermons are rejected by the majority of congregations while boundary-less lifestyles are embraced. Outward holiness lessons have become offensive while subjectivism has become the norm.

The result? Jesus’ name is illegal. No one would have believed this 50 years ago. No one could have imagined our nation bent on a full out rejection of the name. Nevertheless, as the American Christian rejects spiritual accountability, godly authority, and the Bible, secularism has taken root. Pentecostals have feared exclusion leaving the door open for a carnal culture to dictate their lifestyle. Edmund Burke said it right…“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” You may have to stand alone, but do all you can to stand. If not, be prepared to whisper the name in private.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole