You can catch the flesh and the devil at his game by growing wise to their tactic of remembering for you what God has already forgotten; your sins. (See Hebrews 8:12.) It’s not that you’ll never remember anything regretfully from the past, but their strategy is that you should accept and bear a heavy load of remorse as a way of navigating the future. It isn’t so. Jesus took responsibility for your sins (2 Corinthians 5:21) and got rid of them. After all, He is The Great Sin Bearer, so why should you try to bear what He already has? It is finished. Faith in Him is the way forward now. That might mean some fun—a little shouting and dancing—don’t you think?
Thursday, March 15, 2018
Today is Part 1 of, “Here-comes-a-bunch-of-great-new-stuff-from-Ralph.” Ten years ago I built my web site (lifecourse.org), and today it sure looks like it. So, I did not build my new web site. With over 150 free videos, all gathered together and categorized, as well as lots of ways for you to be regularly encouraged by the truth of the gospel, I hope you will take advantage of everything you want at ralphharris.org. Have a look and subscribe to my newsletter, “Knowing God More.” Thank you!
Monday, March 05, 2018
Monday, February 26, 2018
Here’s the thing: I am often a mess when beginning to talk with God or to read the Bible, and one of my greatest delights is how He restores me to my right mind and brings forth the new creation Ralph. Oh, how I like that Ralph! Fear is gone. Rest is restored. And love, God’s love, fills and moves me again. I think that's a pleasure for Him, too. “Ralph! Look what I’ve found—it’s you!” I have found Him to be perfect with me, so I now care less about why I’m approaching Him and what my motive might be in the deep and dark recesses of my mind than I once did. I care far more about knowing and enjoying Him in any condition I might encounter.
While I sometimes discover that rickety Ralph has been tripped up by fleshly demands that God be more obvious, more helpful, more useful, or more like Santa Claus than He evidently is to me, He fixes all of that craziness in me. He’s cleans up the mess! He is good with me (and with you), and I find all over again that He is the solution—The Solver—of all that confuses and harasses me, Mr. Puzzle, pure motives or bad, honorable intentions or not, doing it right or doing it wrong.
Although it is a powerful temptation, the flesh that plagues me cannot be solved by me. That fact makes room for my sometimes reckless and rickety approaches to God, who then emerges in me as The Righteous One, The Rescuer, The Victor and The Solver of the lifelong puzzle that is Ralph Harris. Maybe you’re that puzzle for God to solve, too. He doesn’t mind. He’s The Puzzle Master, and He’s good with bringing you together—especially when you know you cannot. Right then.
During those times when your puzzle pieces are scattered all over the place, and the picture in your mind of how you should look and how you should be (like the puzzle box top) is condemning and eluding you, those times actually keep you to the free and perfect effort of God in you—the Spirit of grace. Those crazy times keep you from believing the lie that you’re supposed to have this all figured out: “Move your own pieces into place, for God’s sake!”
The apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians about the danger of trying to do everything right and of not needing Jesus:
Galatians 5:4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.
I know that I eagerly wait sometimes, don’t you? Well, that’s a good thing!
If just now you’re a puzzle box of craziness, don’t worry about how to do anything properly with God. Simply tell Him what you’re thinking and feeling, however reckless, rickety and ugly it might sound. He’ll put you together because He knows the fit. He’s great at it because He’s your Puzzle Master.
(This is a transcript of the video, "The Puzzle Master," and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click https://youtu.be/9-2l32OrSoE.)
Saturday, February 24, 2018
So I think it would only be right to revisit this deceived willingness to let God’s gifts leave us, REPENT, and create new paradigms wherein our precious gifts remain with us. Okay, they can move across the street, maybe a block or two over, or just down the country road a couple hundred yards. With our permission.
THEN, God’s gift-giving plan will work as originally intended and we will reap His blessings: ever-flowing springs of gold-filtered water will bubble up and give rise to non-GMO food crops and organic, sustainably grown coffees that burst forth in the world’s deserts; gas-free cows will repopulate the earth; clouds of butterflies will cleanse the air in China and legally emigrate to the North Pole, where their bodies will feed the baby polar bears; certain people will stop tweeting, others their manic fault-finding; Fergie will get a do-over; FOX and CNN will merge into the WARHN network (We Actually Report Helpful News); and friendly, multicolored unicorns will once again flourish upon the earth and fulfill their divine design as crossing guards and school guardians.
Can I get a witness? Amen?
Thursday, February 22, 2018
God has given you real faith and a real gift to go with it. It’s a package deal. Try to make more of it, and it’s going to be a mess—maybe a big enough mess that a lot of us will be bothered with it, too. Try to make less of it, and we’ll all suffer the absence. Try to make everyone have what you have, and we’ll leave you because you’re not as supernatural as you think. You don’t have the Creator gift. But you do have the expression.
Do you simply “get” people? Do you see past their facade to their inner design, and it’s a beautiful thing? Then tell them why—exactly why—they’re so good and you’re so impressed.
Do you like doing stuff for people? Then have at it, because that’s the gift, and you’ve been given the heart and faith to do it. No fuss. No muss. Brilliant!
Do you like assessing a situation, a need or opportunity, and then offering a sort of prescription as to how to “get there” or fix it? Rock on, man! That’s the thing. Remember to be nice when some of us are slow to get the fix.
Do you somehow see or find that little spot of depression, that little area of doubt that haunts and hinders somebody, and you have just the real and right thing to say? It’s easy? Then that’s what you’ve got! Don’t look for more, don’t apologize, and don’t despair that it’s not enough. That’s God’s design.
Do you like—really like—giving to encourage and take care of needs? Then give that $5. After all, size doesn’t matter...unless it’s supposed to be $5,000. Then keep it real simple and give it. Either.
Do you think or hear of a way that you can get involved in something, and you wind up at the front of that effort? “Oops.” Then give yourself wholeheartedly to it—all the way. Because you fit, we’ll benefit.
Do you bubble up with feelings of kindness and compassion when you see or know of someone who deserves a penalty or punishment? That’s real—go with it. Don’t look for someone else to feel the same way. Go bubble-over on that person, no matter the result, no matter the appearance.
It’s simple and real. Maybe you’ve noticed. It’s supposed to be because it’s by design, and that’s where the joy is.
Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Friday, February 16, 2018
I suspect similar dark thoughts and passions welled-up in the parents, teachers, law officers and care-givers in Broward County, Florida, just days ago. I wish I could have been with them because I understand. I would have held them. I would have cried with them. I would have “okayed” their awful thoughts of destruction for those responsible. “I know those thoughts! I know those feelings! I know! And I’m here with you.”
And in the midst of those ugly, awful, vengeance-seeking thoughts and feelings of wrath would be the Jesus I know, and the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. God would be obvious to us. Not in how He forcefully restrained us—“Stop it! How can you call yourselves Christians?”—but in how He moved in us, drawing out and filtering the poison, while gently loving us in our inability to protect our very own children.
He knows a lot about that. He knows all about fury that targets any and all responsible for evil done to His children (Romans 9:22-24). He knows all about suffering as an innocent (1 Peter 2:22-25). And He is with us. When and as we know that—when and as we know Him—we are clothed anew in an inner security that seems otherwise flimsy. A cruel joke. A religionist’s satire. A security that cannot prevent a beating. An unjust accusation. A broken heart. A bullet. But for us, a security that is Christ—Him!—the power of God.
While we will examine old laws broken and consider new laws to take their place, our hope is not found there. Not really. Our hope is not in what must now be done to finally prevent this “from ever happening again”, but in knowing Jesus. Not just about Jesus, but Him. The One who is with us. The One who understands us. The One who is perfect in compassion. Perfect in comfort. Perfect in love. Remember what Perfect Love does to fear? “Be gone!”
I couldn’t protect my four year old daughter from being mistreated by an IV needle-wielding nurse, nor could I protect my 19 year old daughter from being misled and mistreated by ministry leaders, who promised provision and opportunity, only to prove false at her expense. I couldn’t stop it! I couldn’t prevent it! And there were plenty of other events over the years that proved my best intentions were sometimes failures at protecting them. Even now anger heats up in me, and I think: “Targeting . . .”
Here’s what I know. The best I can give my daughters is an assist in knowing God. Him. Through the insults, injustices and injuries, He is with them. He thinks that’s the deal. And increasingly, my daughters agree. They’re captivated with Him. On their own now, and having their own “dark and dreadful thoughts and passions”, it’s not long until “Targeting” is replaced by knowing the Father of compassion, and the God of all comfort. In sum, they’re glad they know God when shit (I mean crap) happens—because it does.
If you’ve got kids or the care of kids, who are worried about their safety, fearful that someone might bully them, or scared that someone might harm them, I suggest entering into conversation with them. You might ask your son if he thinks Jesus will ever leave him—for anything or any reason? You might ask your daughter if she believes that Jesus finds no fault with her, loves her perfectly, and will never ever cause her harm? That He is with her and for her at all times—no matter how the passing away world looks or treats her? And listen to their answers—don’t shape them. Be with them. They’re not your clay to mold and form, they’re His. God loves giving people their own reason to love Him back. That’s how He makes true witnesses, right? They cannot have confidence in your witness, and God loves giving them their own. Open the door for that.
You will be helping them to consider Jesus; His character, love and faithfulness. That means you will be helping them to be attracted to Jesus and to knowing Him, which means they will be living by faith in God—and that’s the way to live, that’s the way to life, especially in the ugly chaos of this world. That makes them courageous and strong in Him, without even telling them to be courageous and strong. You’ll be setting them up for all of their days.
In a crazy, ugly, mixed-up world that always wants to “get it right” but never can, He is the gift, the treasure that treasures us back, and keeps us secure in an insecure time. He is our hope in the dark.
Sunday, January 28, 2018
Here’s good news. Believers have received the life of Jesus Christ and been put into him. Naturally, they will never be viewed or treated by God as separate from him—he did the putting! In him we have all things, and God provides the grace and power to his body (that's us) for his purpose and glory. That’s why we look and act so differently—we’re gifted and motivated by God according to his perfect design of his perfect body. Doesn’t that just make sense? It’s almost like God has a plan and the ability to pull it off. :)
Saturday, January 27, 2018
Thursday, January 11, 2018
Think of it: we are entirely safe with God at every moment. He has taken to Himself every reason we might have for fear or shame around Him and done away with it, for He is the Grand Lover and Giver of Life. In love, He has made us the evidence of His desire and grace, and I believe He gets highest joy in helping us to know it.
What do you think of that?