Thursday, October 30, 2008

Going To Georgia

For those of you in the Atlanta area (Woodstock, Marietta, etc.), I will be speaking at Grace Life Church in Woodstock this Sunday, November 2, at 10:30am.

This great church pastored by a wonderful guy, Herb Sims, meets at the County Recreation Center, 7545 N. Main Street (Hwy 5), in Woodstock. The church phone number is 770-704-6691.

I will also be speaking at groups around the area and throughout the week, so for more information, call the church office.

I hope to meet you!


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Before You Go Anywhere

(Written about a year ago, this post begins with Paul's letter to the Christians at Ephesus—Ephesians 1.)

Before we go any further, before we get into anything else, you’ve got to know this – “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Thank God. That’s indispensable for my day, the one just before me, the race I’m about to run. It is for you, too.

Every letter to the church that the Spirit inspired Paul to write essentially begins with this same sentence. To all those at Rome and Corinth, Galatia and Ephesus, to the Philippians, Colossians and Thessalonicans, and to his dear sons in Christ, Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Paul offers the same truth—you’ve got everything! No more worries with God.

I have a lot to do today. I’ve got to promote and market my book; sign, package and mail those just ordered; write a blog and send an articulate email to hundreds; make calls on a cell phone that doesn’t work very well (“What, Ralph? I can’t understand you—you’re breaking up…”), replace a light fixture, walk the dog, tend the tomatoes, reorganize my office, work out, and be good to my visiting mother-in-law.

Sheesh! It’s all about me. Better get going.

Wait a minute. What would God say to me, first thing? “Grace and peace to you, Ralph, from God your Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

You really think so, God? Because of Jesus, I’ve got everything with you for nothing? Righteousness? Holiness? Love? Hope? Future? And you live in me? All of that? “Yes.” And because Jesus took upon Himself all of my sins as though He committed them, I have not a worry with you? “Yes.”

Wow. Hooray.

“Ready now, Ralph?” Yes, Father.


Ephesus (now Turkey) was one of the most important cities of its day. It was like New York or Hong Kong…maybe on steroids. Everybody was busy, everybody was working at a frenetic pace because, well, you just had to. If you didn’t work hard and fast, somebody else would get the deal, close the sale, move the merchandise.

Paul founded the church at Ephesus and spent some three years there, so he knew what the city was like. . .and he loved those people. But Paul, father figure that he was, doesn’t first tell them how to live. He tells them how well off they are with God. Why? Paul knew that a revived heart and an energized spirit comes from the truth and is by faith. So, instead of giving them a motivational speech—“Get going for the glory of God!”—he gave them revival by telling them of the glory of God in them.

“Head’s up, Ephesians! In case you’ve forgotten, you’re really well off with God!”

Can you imagine what that might have meant to the Ephesians? In all their work, in all their trials, through their failures, weaknesses and frustrations, comes God’s word to them: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

I so often need to hear that! You too?

You and I were made to have that as our starting point.

Ready now?


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

In Memory of John Harris, Jr.

John Woodman Harris, Jr., age 85, passed away on October 9, 2008 in San Gabriel, California, after a brief hospitalization. Born October 13, 1922 in Los Angeles, he graduated from the University of Southern California in 1949. While at USC, he was a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity and was a Fine Arts Major.

In May of 1950, John married Maryjane Woodrow, his life-long love. John and MJ first lived in Hastings Ranch, California, where they began a family. In 1957 they moved to San Marino.

John began his career as a cartoonist with the Star News and was a contributing cartoonist with the Los Angeles Times and New Yorker Magazine. Following that, and for almost 50 years, he w
as a certified financial Advisor for Investors Diversified Services (IDS) and American Express.

John was a dedicated member of Table Round, an active member of Sigma Chi Fraternity, USC Alumni Association, the Pasadena Symphony, and a life-long member of San Gabriel Country Club. He was on the San Marino Public Library Foundation Board, and was an instrumental organizer and fund-raiser for the new Crowell Public Library.

John was first and always a loving husband and devoted father to his four sons. He was deeply involved in many of their organized activities, including coaching their Little League and Pony League baseball teams, coaching their basketball and flag football teams, a Boy Scout leader, and more. John loved the outdoors, and took his boys on many camping trips and fishing expeditions all across the western half of the United States and Mexico. And since his youngest son (Evan) arrived nearly sixteen years after his first three (John, Ralph and Brent), John did most of it twice!

To have known John was to know an engaging humor and rapier wit. He had an expert grasp and insatiable fascination on a wide variety of subjects including world history, World Wars, as well as the Civil War, classical and big band music, politics and economics. His passion for Dodger baseball somehow tied them all together, making him a true Renaissance man. Fortunately, he had an abiding skill that few possess in sufficient levels; he listened.

John is survived by his sister, Sally of Corona del Mar, California, his son John the 3rd (Sheri) of Springdale, Arkansas; twin sons Ralph (Sarah) of Longmont, Colorado, and Brent (Pat) of Spokane, Washington; and son Evan (Leela) of San Diego, California. John and Maryjane have 9 grand children.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 18 at 10:00am, at Bethany Church, 21 North Olive St., Alhambra, CA.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

He's Home

At last.

Dad laid aside his unworthy and worn out earth suit today and received his new and stellar wardrobe. It’s a perfect fit, having been sized and made long ago in preparation for this day. My dad’s got it goin’ on. He’s stylin’.

Wish I could see him as he is now. Soon enough.

I’ll write more in a day or two.

Thank you, my friends.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Ushering Dad

I arrived in So. Cal. tonight, and soon went to the hospital to see my dad.

He has been heavily sedated and semi-comatose since Monday morning, and his body is now making it plain that my father is about to see Jesus face to face.

My dad. . .with Jesus.

That was for a long time the focus of my prayers as well as one of my greatest desires.  My dad and I had many conversations about Jesus, and still more after the day he received Him.  He was 75 years old at the time.  And now the actual face to face part is coming to pass.

I'm torn, to be sure, but ushering people to Jesus is a high and fulfilling task.  And this one's my dad.  It feels sort of like I'm on pins and needles, like I'm sending my dad out on Prom night.  Is that nuts?

What a date.

More tomorrow--thanks for your prayers for me and my family.


Monday, October 06, 2008

In The Book Before

Regarding my dad, I like what David wrote:

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (Psalm 139:13-16, italics mine.)

Over the years of my life in Christ, there have been several times when my awareness of God’s intimate knowledge of my life brought me to tears. He didn’t simply cross His fingers and hope I would do well with what I’ve got, He looked out over my life to come and knit into me all He purposed for all His glory—nothing less.

And would I have too much time or not enough? Too many days or too few? Neither. I would live and breathe the exact number necessary for Him to say, “Yes, I got it right. . .naturally. I am satisfied.”

And so it is with my dad. It was all in the book before.

On this day when my father’s body is doing poorly and is leaning in the opposite direction of his spirit, I’m comforted knowing that God is fully aware of the days—my dad’s days. I imagine a heavenly crowd gathering together in anticipation of his arrival, with balloons and signs drawn up—“We’ve been expecting you!” and “Welcome home, John!” And maybe one of the more witty angels will hold up a sign that reads, “Surprise!”

I think my dad would love that.

(Simply, today continued the decline of my father’s body. Most of the important aspects being watched got worse—pneumonia, blood oxygen, platelets, white blood cell count, and kidney function. The doctor said, “It’s not hopeless, he’s not terminal, but he is deteriorating.” Thank you for your prayers.)

Sunday, October 05, 2008


Today was not the best of days for my father.

The pneumonia is unchanged, his white blood cell count increased, his kidneys are not performing properly, and he has had some trouble breathing. He is miserable, to say the least.

The Spirit today took me back to something He told me twenty-five years ago. At that time I was newly impressed with how God knows all of my days before any came to be--no need to worry at all. I was super concerned for my dad's salvation back then, and one day when I was particularly strong in conveying my worry about dad, the Spirit said, "As I have known all of your days before any came to be, so I know all of your dads' days." I was instantly relieved--even a little delighted--and my dad received Jesus some ten years later.

I love God, and I love that He is capably sovereign.

The moment I began to pray for my father this evening, the Spirit took me back to that day with great clarity. And then He told me that He was now giving my dad an acute longing to be with Him, where his body is no longer frail, where peace and joy unfathomable abound, and where he will be with perfect love and mercy and understanding forever and ever--with God face to face.

How wonderful.

Thank you for the assist of your prayers.


Saturday, October 04, 2008


Today was a so-so day for my dad.

While his white blood cell count decreased (and that’s good), the pneumonia was relatively unchanged—and that’s not good. Further, he has not progressed concerning his breathing and the oxygen saturation in his blood. He has returned to needing breathing assistance (he wears a pressurized mask) because without it the level of oxygen getting to his blood stream is insufficient.

The Spirit has refreshed me today by reminding me that I cannot change how people are or do—that’s His game. I was restored to trust and rest. On the other side of trust and rest I could easily see how I had been taking the world upon my back; I was responsible for how things went. If, by my estimation, things were not going well, guess who was at fault?

And I’m a son of God’s grace and a preaching guru of it as well? Ha! I need Him.

And I’ve got Him.

Don't Mess With The Elderly

A young executive and an elderly man are sitting next to each other on a long flight. The executive thinks that old people are dumb and that he could get easily fool this one.

So the executive asks the elderly man if would like to play a fun game. The man is tired and just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and tries to catch a few winks.

The young executive persists, saying that the game is a lot of fun. 'I ask you a question, and if you don't know the answer, you pay me only $5; you ask me one, and if I don't know the answer, I will pay you $500.'

This catches the elderly man's attention and to keep the young executive quiet, he agrees to play the game.

The executive asks the first question. 'What's the distance from the Earth to the moon?' The elderly man doesn't say a word, but reaches into his pocket, pulls out a five-dollar bill, and hands it to the young executive.

Now, it's the elderly man's turn. He asks the executive, 'What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down with four?'

The executive uses his laptop to search all possible references, which is extensive, considering his profession. After an hour of searching he finally gives up. He wakes up the elderly man and hands him $500. The man pockets the $500 and goes right back to sleep.

The young executive is terribly frustrated because he still doesn’t know the answer. So he wakes the elderly man and asks, 'Well, so what goes up a hill with three legs and comes down with four?'

The elderly man reaches into his pocket, hands the lawyer $5 and goes back to sleep.

Don't mess with old folks.

Friday, October 03, 2008


I know my blog has been dominated by concern for my father lately, but that's where I am, so. . .

There has been slight improvement over the last day or so. His vitals are stable and he was able to breathe without assistance last night--a good thing.

Doctors would like to see him progress in the following ways:
- decreasing reliance upon pure oxygen
- his blood to retain a higher level of oxygen saturation without assistance
- a decrease in white blood cell count, an indication of severe infection
- clearing lungs, an indication that the pneumonia is being cured
- a zeal to live.

What would I like? I want for my dad to have a deep awakening with Jesus. I want God to be so evident to my father that how he is in this temporal battle and life becomes less captivating than how he is with God in the eternal.

Wouldn't that be wonderful?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


My father, who is in ICU and is critical, had a very rough night, but has shown a bit of improvement today. Doctors think he has pneumonia and an exacerbating side issue related to a heart medication that badly affects his lungs. He is able to talk, but it puts such a strain on him that doctors are essentially forbidding it.

As you might suspect, the next 24 hours are important.

Again, I am grateful for your love and support.