Whispers and shadows … the sum of our lives

I was young the first time I heard a choir sing, “Only What You Do For Christ Will Last.” The song invaded my ambitions; most of which did not include preaching. The prevailing thought among my peers was to make our mark. Tangible success was the goal. The lyric became a roadblock to those ambitious ideas. Being a part of the Kingdom was all that mattered. Not notoriety or position.

Justus did not win the casted lot in Acts chapter 1. Matthias won and it was he who took the seat of Judas Iscariot. History records Justus as a disciple long after the first chapter. Jonathan was credited with defeating a garrison of Philistines, but his unarmed and critical armor bearer was never mentioned by name. The identity of most of the disciples are lost in the annals of time; we do not know their stories or their exploits. Their lives were about the Call and the Kingdom.

There is a picture taken in the mid-1900’s of men in White Way Tabernacle. They were Apostolic intellectual giants. They were young, many still in their mid 30’s and 40’s. Their names are unfamiliar to most of us. I only know a few of them. Their stories are profound and their faith and work still ripple through time. Whispers and shadows is all that is left. Those men established the Apostolic structure used today. So much of our directives have come from them. One hundred years from now we will all be hidden in the same frame. Our names will fade – only what we do for Christ will last.

People spend their lives building homes, careers, businesses, and experiences. We are often consumed with the things of this life. I do not fault us for being temporal; it is the common human flaw. However, I write in pursuit of something beyond inheritances and personal achievements. I write with the Kingdom in mind. Maybe our names will be forgotten; our faces a blur to those who come after us, but I pray that we will leave a sure foundation that the next generation of believers can stand upon. I pray that we would make Kingdom work; Kingdom giving; teaching the Gospel; and prayer our main priorities. And in the end, if the sum of our lives fade into oblivion, so be it… just let Kingdom prevail.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Giving Mom

The prevailing thought of motherhood has taken some odd turns in the last few decades. While the traditional definition still holds true, current culture has included a host of other descriptions that are far from the original, biblical model. These distorted views have caused a disruption regarding the call of God in the lives of many would-be ministers.

In some circles, the Giving Mom has been limited to the work, time, and energy given on behalf of her children. We see her as the selfless one cooking, cleaning, and working long hours without complaint. This description is the common view of the Giving Mom.

The Bible will offer us a deeper view of the Giving Mom which deviates from the modern thought. The Book of Samuel describes such a mother. Hannah was not known for what she gave to her son or what she did for him, but more so because she gave him to the work of the Temple. This “giving mother” gave her son away for the sake of the Kingdom.

I submit that our society’s concept of a giving mother entails the aforementioned tangibles without any consideration of the call of God. Perhaps many parents are more concerned with keeping their children rather than offering them. Our Apostolic founders trained their sons and daughters to pursue the work of the ministry. They thought of the Kingdom first and family second. It was always about The Call of God. While there was geographical separation and sacrifices, the work of the Kingdom came first.

The more modern pentecostal parent often seeks to keep their family; the giving of them is rarely mentioned. The result is a lack of missionaries, pastors, and evangelists. The result is an empty harvest. Had Hannah thought this way, Samuel would have never entered the Temple and the kings would have never heard his guiding voice or felt his anointing oil. Hannah was the ultimate Giving Mom. Her gift allowed the nation of Israel to find their spiritual footing.

The example of Hannah aught not be unique, but because so many have shifted away from the Biblical model, her actions are now profound. If we return to the scriptural path we must note that the spiritually-minded Giving Mom thinks Kingdom first. While this word might be foreign to some, it is critical to the ongoing effort of the Great Commission and the final days of time. To this end, Giving Moms are still in high demand.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Disciplines of a Godly Home

It happened in a season when kings would go off to war. Perhaps the trophies and treasures of past victories had spoiled David’s desire to lead his army into yet another battle. Instead, David remained in Jerusalem while his faithful men journeyed to confront the enemy.

A series of missteps and broken roadblocks led this passionate king to move outside of his God-appointment. David wandered aimlessly atop his palace where temptation took the lead. The tragedy of his undisciplined life resulted in adultery, murder, the death of a son, a fractured kingdom, and a pointing prophet. Like the falling of dominoes, we do not know where the boundary-less life might lead. The disciplines of a godly life have not changed since that day. It has always featured limitations that even kings must obey.

I present these godly disciplines which entail the elements of routine, conversation, order, and adherence to a law higher than the individual. A godly home and a disciplined life can be achieved, but as we have discovered, a purging must occur.

The infiltration of worldliness has been an infection in many Apostolic homes. It has turned comfort into chaos. The unstructured home has a difficult time instituting Biblical principles because the Scripture has little room to take root and grow.

Daily duties, howbeit mundane, lead us to a peaceful environment. When home-life is erratic or unstructured, temptation takes the lead. We become bound by the limitless life which in turn leads us away from contentment in the Holy Ghost.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

Perhaps a predictable life that features daily Bible time; daily prayer; and a host of other orderly customs is the way to develop a strong family and a clear conscious. I am calling for us to return to the Simple Life. I submit that God time, Corporate worship, and Family structure are the necessary elements found in the Disciplines of a Godly Home.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

CORE: These Two

Peeling away the outer layers of almost any subject, it is most likely you will discover the motive or the reason. Within this thought resides “The Heart of the Matter” or The Core.

Ishmael was born because of Abraham’s root problem of patience and trust. David’s issue came about through lust and displacement; Saul fell through pride. All were exposed when they dismissed their Core Principles and God’s directives.

The healing of the nation comes about through a return to the Law of the Lord. Psalms 33:12 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD.” The world looks to governments or prominent leaders. Celebrities of all kinds join the ranks of misguided voices. These groups are in constant pursuit of influence and power.

Yet, the Core lies within the family and the Church. At the center of both of those God-given institutions is the relationship of husband and wife; parents and children. “These Two” constitute the family, which is the basic building block of all societies. When the family is disjointed or emotionally unhealthy, all other aspects are the same. If the family is spiritually weak, the Church is spiritually weak. Ultimately, the nation is a reflection of the condition of “These Two.”

If you will notice the ‘spirit of the age’ you will see an attack against the home and the marriage. Definitions are being rewritten; roles of fathers, mothers, and children are being redefined; and image has usurped substance. Of the myriad of deficits lies disrespect which is derived from improper boundaries and the absence of limitations.

We begin today in the Garden of Eden which was God’s original design. Within the framework of God’s first order lies the answers, though not complex, for our lives. Our continual issues and subsequent answers can all be found in the scripture.

Paul said that 2 Timothy 3:15 “…the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

1 Corinthians 10:11-13 “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

‘spirit of the age’

This may be bold, but it is apparent that the ‘spirit of the age’ has infected a host of Pentecostal homes. The root of the matter lies in what is called postmodernism. The thought here is subjectivism. Israel experienced this calamity: Judges 17:6 “every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Many are developing the fleshly habit of thinking scripture and spiritual authority can be negotiated based on the circumstance. The end of that road is the exclusion of biblical doctrines. We were once emphatic that there was only One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism (Ephesians 4:5), but now, some believe there to be allowances of varying degrees based on understanding. Yet, these allowances have eroded the Bible’s plan of salvation as well as a host of other necessary directives.

It was about a year ago that the U.S. Senate convened to questioned a Supreme Court Justice nominee. Within those hours of query, there arose this statement, “her truth” meaning, what she believed to be true. Truth became an individual matter; a personalized feeling rather than a settled fact. “Her truth” or “his truth” has now entered our grammar as a common reply to any subject.

Because of this postmodern thought, sin has been redefined as a personal preference or commonly accepted norm. It is one thing for the carnal mind to excuse such behavior, but the issue resides in the lives of the believer. This leads me to the question, “What does it mean to be a believer?” I thought that a believer was first obedient to the already established-forever settled Word. Proverbs 30:5 “Every word of God is pure.” Luke 4:4 “It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”

While I cannot convince the hardened heart by a simple writing, it is incumbent on me to say: Sin is not subjective. There is no such thing as “personal truth.” A believer is someone who follows the Bible and not the ideas of an ever-shifting society. Cultural ideologies, if outside the boundaries of holiness and regardless of how many people find them appealing, will lead to eternal judgement.

While we reach for the lost, we must not dismiss the practices that have brought us to this point. The Church must remain The Church. We are called to be a holy nation and a royal priesthood. We are not called to blend in with the precepts of people whose destinies are of destruction. Light reproves the darkness. It does not conform to it. Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

Balance

In respect to the time, it is apparent that our western culture has seen its most violent shifts in the last few years. Governments, debt, divorce, crime, and a host of other factors make our generation a stark contrast to those before us. The American way of life has become disheveled. While there is a difference between the saint and the sinner, I have found that what exists in everyday life often makes its way into the mindset of the Church Body.

One of the issues is that of Balance – I am not speaking of a steady equilibrium. I speak of the equal scale of encouragement and correction; of giving and saving; of faith and works; of church involvement and family time. Our spiritual lives are often out of sync with the Spirit, because our natural lives have no room to hear Him. The early church balanced their gatherings by being present in the Temple and from house to house. They believed both were necessary as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Consider the critical substance of water. Oddly enough, drinking too much water can be deadly. Over-hydration occurs when a person drinks too much water. It’s called water intoxication or hyponatremia. In 2002, Boston Marathon runner, Cynthia Lucero died from drinking too much water as she threw her body out of balance thus losing the necessary chemicals to live.

Overindulgence of fun, entertainment, and media affects our spiritual health. Nonstop work with no Bible reading or prayer time might garnish more money, but it removes us from The Bread of Life. All of these things, if they are out of balance, cause the spiritual body to suffer. Time spent can never be recovered and when those hours are gone, they tell the story of our priorities and passion.

Jesus saw it in Israel – their striving for land, goods, and gain. He told them to seek first the Kingdom. He addressed the out-of-balanced religious sects concerning their indulgences. He said, Matthew 23:23 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe… and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

Jesus presented Balance.

I urge you today to take note of your life. How do the scales read at the end of your day? And finally, what shall you answer when God asks you about the way you spent your life?

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

The Passover

By the time Moses had retreated and Pharaoh had dug in, the land of Egypt was wasted. Nine plagues had ravished both water and land; crops and livestock. The residue of God’s judgment could be seen in every corner of the nation. God made His intent clear when He said, Exodus 14:18 “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD…”

Of the ten plagues only one was able to afflict both Hebrew and Egyptian. The tenth plague would know no boundary. The ninth was that of Darkness, and yet, there was light in the land of the Lord’s people. However, the final one would offer no reprieve. Everyone was required to cover their homes with the blood of an innocent lamb. Both Egypt and Israel had the opportunity to save their sons if the blood was applied. If not, judgment was certain to come.

God sent an angel at midnight. It was the commencement of something far beyond the moment in which they lived. Each home which had the sign of the blood on their doorposts were saved. The angel would “pass over” when he saw the blood, thus the day was called The Passover.

While we have adopted the term “Easter” (having multiple meanings in American culture), the root of it was always The Passover. It was the moment when the curse of death could not enter by virtue of the applied blood. The difference between the Passover of Moses and the day in which Jesus died was that Jesus was The Lamb of God. His blood was precious, atoning, and perfect. His death was the sacrifice made once and for all. The whole of humanity would now have the ability to be covered by the saving Blood of the sinless sacrifice.

His death gives reason for forgiveness and His burial gives promise of removal. Howbeit, His resurrection gives Hope of a New Life. Today, we are thankful for His sacrifice and His burial; and we rejoice at His assurance of His empty tomb. Paul wrote it this way:

Romans 6:4-5 “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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:”

It came by way of The Passover…

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“Seed”

November 11, 1918, marked the beginning of the end of World War I. An armistice was signed shortly after 5 a.m., but the cease fire would not be in effect until 11 a.m. Those six hours were said to feel like an eternity. Even afterward, some of our soldiers which were entrenched did not want to celebrate or come out of their bunkers. War develops heroes, but it also produces profound fear. The news of the war’s end was not readily received by all. A few even thought of digging in a little deeper. They heard the report, but did not fully embrace it.

The struggle can cripple our acceptance of the victory. Long standing conflicts or battles make it difficult to accept God’s promises and peace. Those few soldiers who heard the good report reverted back to the battle at hand.

Truth heard is not always truth received. The Message may be believed, but what happens next is most important. The Word which we have heard has the ability to set us free and yet, if that Word is not protected, it can be stolen or become blurred in the cloudy mix of our own dilemma. Messages of freedom, victory, blessing, and more have all been questioned by the people of God. We are made free by the Blood of the Lamb. However, some are still living in the bunker, struggling to accept their own deliverance.

Jesus told the parable of the Sower who sowed the seed, but afterward: Mark 4:15 “…when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.” Our joy and confidence in the Lord must be guarded lest we lose what we have found. Our confidence in Jesus and in the Doctrine must be secured lest the enemy of our soul steals it from our hearts.

We have felt the unction of the Holy Spirit in our midst and the Lord has guided our steps. Yet, if the “seed” is to prevail; if it has a chance to grow and multiply, we must guard it with our lives. Jesus has won the victory and His Word is alive in this house of worship and now we must act on what we have heard! The Greater Victory is waiting for us to rise with boldness and lay hold of the promises of God.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

… Treasure …

For the better part of 4,000 years, treasures have been difficult to keep. Of the many discovered and lost items of worth is the Florentine Diamond. Boasting of 133 carats, the Florentine is reported to be the largest pink gem of its type in the world.

Historian Gordon Brook-Shepherd wrote about its origins and its loss. It was the Hadsburg royal family which once held it in their possession. When the royals found themselves on the losing side of World War I, they entrusted its keeping to a lawyer named Bruno Steiner. The diamond was suppose to be kept in a secure bank vault in Switzerland, but it disappeared and Steiner was arrested and charged with fraud. To date, no one knows the whereabouts of the 133 carat gem of rarity. Treasures are hard to keep.

Throughout all time, people have spent their life’s blood chasing money, land, and material assets. The story is old, but sobering. Even though we know this world is not our home, the church often becomes entangled with ambitions far beyond the Kingdom of God. People covet what they do not have; grasp what they cannot hold: and work for what they cannot keep.

Jesus spoke of the man whose crops yielded a good crop. The man built more barns to store more of what he already had. By society’s standards, he was successful. Luke 12:20-21 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.

I can always tell the motive of a man when I look to see where they put their money. Jesus gave us the test: Matthew 6:20-21 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

These truths are not new, but they are settled. The Kingdom is all that matters. Our treasure is the location of our heart. While this is not the American way, which demands the pursuit of material things, it is the way of the Cross. Souls, the Gospel, and the salvation of people is all that really matters. Our investments in ministry tools and in Kingdom endeavors are the only things that will last. The song writer once penned these words, “Only What You Do For Christ Will Last.”

If you are unsure of your heart status, I urge you to check the location of your treasure. You might say that you have no treasure, but the fact is everyone has a treasure. To that end, the destiny of many lives may very well hinge on the heart of the church.

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole

“Before & After”

Consider the 8th largest country in the world: Bangladesh. Poverty and abuse are the norms inside its own red-light district. Generations have lived and died without ever knowing the most basic comforts afforded to the American life.

An award-winning photographer by the name of GMB Akash was burdened by the lives of his own marginalized people, boasting over 163,000 in population. The needs of the people are so profound, most consider any assistance to be futile. Four million Bangladesh children have been forced into hard labor in factories and brick fields with almost no rebuttal by the international community. The scenes are gripping; I cannot relay the whole.

Akash decided to take “Before & After” pictures while helping one child at a time. His camera became his passport. It is noted that the “After Picture” sparked a call for change. No one realized how pitiful the conditions, until they saw what could be, after help was given. One writer said, that the “before and after pictures of Akash has prompted a call for change. We never saw ourselves in that kind of light.”

The prophet Hosea foretold of the inclusion of the Gentile when he wrote: Hosea 2:23 “And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.”

Until we see what could be “after” there is no realization of the beauty of salvation. It could be concluded that the result of one is the hope for many. One life changed by the Spirit; restored and given peace and love is enough to reach the masses. Jesus proved as much in John 4.

1 Peter 2:10 “Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

Romans 9:25 “…I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.”

Our change is the catalyst of a mighty revival of people. The Born Again individual is the “After Picture” seen for the benefit of those trapped in the snare of sin.

Matthew 5:16 “Let your light so shine before men…”

Pastor Jeffrey Harpole