Thursday, June 30, 2011

I See You

When Paul came amongst the Corinthians, he wanted to know nothing "except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Cor 2:2). Knowing Jesus, right in front of people, is enormously freeing and invigorating, and we're convinced that we lack nothing as we do.

Further, knowing He was crucified reminds us that no one needs to die for sin because, in Him, we already have. That changes our approach to people because we see them through the eyes of faith in Christ Jesus. We're not pretending! We're living by faith in Christ. We believe He’s right about what He has done to and for people, and that's reality.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Reversing Blindness

If you accept only what your eyes tell you, particularly about people, you’ll soon wonder why the thrill of being a son or daughter of God has seemingly leaked from your heart. In my years of pastoring, that is one of the top reasons wonderful, holy, perfect sons and daughters begin to lose vigor—they believe what their eyes say about their neighbors. When they do, they cannot approach them in faith, so their Christianity becomes relatively impractical and paralyzed. They’re drying out because they’re out of focus.

2 Cor 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.

This is why we set our hearts and minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:1-3). We don’t focus upon the unseen so we’ll feel better and have a happy day; we do it because that’s where we find ourselves in relation to God and to each other—really well off. From that focus, our lying eyes cannot lead us astray and foul our approach to life.

Grow accustomed to relying upon the unseen when you’re with people. They probably won’t see what you do, but they can—they need to.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Are You A Bad Girl?

I believe that Jesus removed the former self and brought the new creation, the new self, through His cross and resurrection and our being included in those events (Rom 6:1-7). We were crucified and raised in Him, and we are recognized throughout the heavens as the perfect sons of God—even if we don’t recognize ourselves.

We are frustrated if we believe we remain a bad self, or if we believe we are the flesh. If that were so, we would still need to be crucified—perhaps again and again. However, we were crucified, we were buried, we were raised, and one of the magnificent aspects of our new life in Christ is that we are a new self, one in union with Christ and compatible with Him.

If we believe we are or have a bad self, or that we are the flesh, we will invariably make war on that presumed self and ask God to help us in the battle. Of course, He thinks He already finished that battle! He thinks He was successful with us in Christ at the cross and resurrection, and that we are right now happily and comfortably secured in Him. It delights Him when His sons and daughters, growing in confidence that He thinks highly and accurately of them, ask, “Father, what do you think of me?” He knows the truth about them and, oh, how He loves to tell it.

Those who have never asked such a question are most always afraid of what they will hear. Think of that. God has made us new and clean and perfect and righteous and holy, He has united us with Himself (He is in us and we are in Him), yet we don’t ask the question. It’s not because we’re dumb, it’s because the enemy has sown an entrancing lie that we are not as God says we are. Nevertheless, we are! And He will see to it that we know the truth of His accomplishment and glory shared with us.

How delighted He is when, believing we are who He says we are, we come out of hiding.

The New Self

A facebook friend asked: "Is it possible to please self and please Christ? Maybe not...."

My response: If you believe that you still have and are a bad self (and I disagree with that thinking), then I’d have to say “No.” Pleasing a bad self, one in conflict with God, which has a nature predisposed to wrath and sin, must be in conflict with pleasing Christ Jesus. Not possible.

However, if you believe (as I do) that you are a new creation, good self, one sharing in the nature of God and in newness of life, my answer is “Yes.” Hooray! The new self has been created in Christ Jesus and is holy, righteous and blameless—pleasing Christ is the nature of the new self. It’s normal.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Andrew Farley Review

Here’s what Andrew Farley, bestselling author of The Naked Gospel and God Without Religion, has to say after reading my new book, God’s Astounding Opinion of You:

"Dynamic communicator Ralph Harris invites you on an exhilarating journey to discover the person God has so gracefully handcrafted you to be. If you’re not sure of your place in the Kingdom or if you’ve lost that sense of closeness to the King, this book can change all of that. I’ve seen relationships saved and lives rebuilt by the incredible truths revealed in this book. Read it to bask in the breathtaking beauty of God’s new creation – and, yes, that means you!"

You can buy it or check it out at, at, and at bookstores everywhere.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Welcome, Mr. Trash Man

(Here's an oldie-but-goodie I wanted to post as a general reminder of how good and capable God is where He lives--in you. I hope it helps you trust Him all the more. Have a great weekend!)

Does a big behemoth of a trash truck thrill you? Around my house, we think they’re wonderful.

For several years whenever any of us, Ellen, Emma, Sarah or I, heard the low rumble of the approaching beast, we would shriek in various keys and styles, and run to the window to glimpse the city’s lumbering removal system. What a spectacle. The big-as-a-house creature would sort of squat down and unfurl one of its’ alien-like arms. This appendage of deliverance would deftly reach out and grasp our cowering container of garbage, hoist it skyward, and forcefully shake it until it expended every last vestige of foulness.

We cheered.

Our comparatively diminutive container, which, resting in the street had previously looked happy enough, immediately appeared somehow grateful—like it had suddenly realized it was never supposed to be happy when stuffed—and that its' friend was the trash truck. As the beast rumbled away, we often waved goodbye. “Thank you, Mr. Trash Truck and Mr. Trash Man! Thank you for taking our trash! We love you! See you next week!”

Truth is, we still cheer Mr. Trash Man. Just last night I encouraged my youngest daughter to welcome His work.

For some time now we have likened the Holy Spirit’s effort within us to that of the trash man. Pardon us if you’re offended by our comparison, but consider God’s directive: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) We know by experience what I’ll bet you do, too. God isn’t particularly thrilled just because we set out our trashy anxieties, whether by the confession of sin or by the expression of our fears; He’s interested in caring for us.

God’s care for me doesn’t come only when I’m doing well and loving life, but when I’m doing poorly and full of garbage. Sin, failures and fears often whisper to us that we’ve got to stop them—stop them right now!—but they never suggest we immediately offer ourselves to God who can do something about them. And sin, failures and fears never bring up Jesus’ ability concerning struggles and temptations, either. He faced every struggle and temptation we’ve had or will ever face, and disposed of them. All of them.

And where is this Jesus today? In you. In me. And in my wife and daughters. You’re not full of garbage—God lives in you! But sometimes you’ll feel like you are. Don’t believe it; it’s a lie directed at the glory of God.

That’s why one of our pet names for God is The Trash Man. When we know that one of us is beleaguered we might say something like, “Wonder what the Trash Man might do for you?” or, “The Trash Man is really good at taking the trash out of you. Have you given Him a call?” Immediately we know what’s meant: God is good and amazing in the middle of sin, failures and fears, struggle and temptation. He’s good with us, and He’s always about freedom and purity—He’s a sanitation expert. He knows how to make and keep the majesty of His Bride.

You’ll never ever be an offense to Him. He cares for you, in anything and everything. Talk with Him and call upon Him when the trash is threatening. His care for you will be evident, and you’ll learn to more quickly welcome Mr. Trash Man.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Eye Heart

Reconcilers are people who, without a hint of condemnation, rescue men and women, boys and girls who are being tormented and corrupted by the flesh, and who are covering up and hiding. Reconcilers look past the visible to the heart of the matter. They trust that God is correct about His people and the difference He has made for them through the cross and resurrection, and that totally influences what they see. They’re like Jesus to people. Wouldn’t it be great to have a whole church full them? That’s what Jude envisioned.

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. 22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. 24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 20-25)

(Excerpted from my book, God's Astounding Opinion of You, chapter 14: Stripping Mummies: Finding Freedom and Life Outside the Tomb)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Party of the Reconciled

“The ministry of reconciliation” means that, all by Himself, God has done everything needed for a perfect family reunion. Through the cross and resurrection, our sin and failure and ugliness and weakness and resistance to God doesn’t matter—the party has started, and our place is secured. The ministry or message of reconciliation is both the proclamation of that fact (“You can come in now!”) and the insistence of our fit (“You belong!”). You’re family!

To some people, the message is an appeal to come for the first time. We, the church, are ambassadors of that incredible message in a land of foreigners, a worldwide arena of those who have not yet received Christ and are not yet family. Come on in!

But to others—to those already reconciled and part of the party already—our message is an ongoing insistence that we’re family and have no reason to hide. Not anything. Not ever. We’re in. We belong. (Excerpted from my book, chapter 14: Stripping Mummies: Finding Freedom and Life Outside the Tomb)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pogo Stick Jesus

One of the most hurtful beliefs I have seen plaguing the sons and daughters of God is The Pogo Stick Jesus Syndrome.

Are you familiar with the recreational toy? As a boy I’d set my feet on the pedals and grab hold of the handle bars, thinking that maybe I could even spring over my dad’s car if only I could get enough bounce on my pogo. I had a lot of fun, except when I got a little sideways and ended up in the thick hedge along our driveway.

“Ralph, why is your shirt torn?” my mother asked. “Ah, my pogo threw me in the hedge,” I answered. With a nod of her wise head, my mother concluded, “Maybe you should take it easy on that thing.”

In the years since, I have often found that many have a sort of pogo stick relationship with God. Do the right thing, and God is in their life along with all of His benefits. Do the wrong—let a swear word drop, raise your voice in anger, give in to lust or greed or envy—and He’s out. Pogo stick Jesus. However, you could get Him to pogo back in response to a proper repentance, a public re-dedication, or a heartfelt re-commitment and tah-dah! God and favor restored.

Although many failed to get the hang of the pogo stick Jesus game and gave up on Christianity (As if!), some learned to live a sin-focused life of repentance. I’m not kidding. In essence their behavior and their ability to regulate it determined God’s level of comfort and happiness with them—and His presence and blessing. If either went missing, one had only to figure out what offense had sent Him pogo-ing away. This marvelous pogo stick theology made them responsible for God and accountable to themselves. “Did I blow it? Has God left me? How have I upset my sensitive God and frustrated His plan for my life?”

I don’t mean to imply that pogo stick Christians are foolish or stupid—they’re not! I do want to save them from a deception which denies the grandeur of the gospel and the greatness of the new covenant, and which robs them of resting in Christ. There is no rest when one is trying to bring to pass what God already has!

To be blunt (merciful?), sin is no longer the defining aspect of our relationship with God—Christ is! Grace is! God did away with sin, yours and mine, by the sacrifice of His son. We have been brought into union with Him and nothing, NOTHING can separate us from Him ever again. He has already given us every good gift and perfect fullness in Christ. What’s left out of every and fullness? God has made His home in you and in me, and He will never, NEVER withdraw Himself or forsake us. He has made us righteous royalty in His family, and even if our radiant robes should drag in the mud of this world, like the father of the prodigal, He will never lawyer-up and prosecute us for waywardness or distant country visitations.

Has it struck you that the prodigal’s father never even asked a question of his returning pig crap encrusted son? Not one! There was no interrogation. Nothing had changed about his father and what he knew to be true of his son. The only thing different was that the son was home where dad could again lavish himself upon him.

While the son might have believed the lie that his terrible behavior and return home would change the way his father treated him, would throw the farm into shocked chaos and force his father to make a harsh and disciplined example of him (early pogo stick theology), his dad was unaffected—except for the party! In my view, the only protestor of such unparalleled largesse was the elder brother religionist. “He can have his hollow party. I’m going to earn mine.”

The lie of religion suggests that while God has already given us everything in Christ, we might have lost a little of the all we never earned—here’s how to get it back. Slaves are made in the here’s how. So evil and destructive is this suggestion that the apostle Paul made a wish for those who spread the lie (Gal 5:12).

The lie says, “Well, yes, but it doesn’t come with an unlimited warranty. Here’s what you’ve got to do to keep up your end of the deal.” Do you recognize it? In two words, that’s pig crap!

Our Father tore up the records and every regulation! No debt remains—we cannot pay Him back, neither does He want it. That would be insulting to Him and the staggering display of His love and grace, which He still likes displaying. It’s His thing! It’s the new covenant. (And our Father asks no questions!) At the risk of adding to the story, the prodigal’s father threw a parade in front of the nasty neighbors as if to say, “He’s MY son! He is for me, and I’ll give him all that I want no matter how scandalous it seems to you!”

“He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Col 2:13-15, italics mine.)

Essentially, the good news is this: He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification (Rom 4:25). If you believe that by bringing your sins before God you’ll get Him to pay great attention to them, think again, pogo stick breath. He already did. And He’s pretty satisfied and happy with what He has done about sin. If you believe that behaving perfectly will earn favor with God that would otherwise be threatened, think again. You’ve got Jesus on a pogo stick.

He’s not there. He’s settled and happily at home in a lavish environment—He’s in you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

God's Home

Father, I want to increasingly make my home where you have made yours—to ever meet you in the sanctuary you’ve made me, there to know your embrace and the security of your love, finding all other earthly destinations an absurd comparison. And I want to help others do the same.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

God's Sacred Mobile Home

Travel mug in hand as you walked out the door on your way to work, when was the last time you thought, “Here I go: God’s sacred mobile home into the day”? Actually, you’d be thinking clearly.

1 Cor 3:16 Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

How cool is that?!

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

A New Review of My New Book

Here's a new review from author Victoria Gaines of my newly published book. While the full review follows, in summary she writes, "I love this book. It revived my wilted spirit, infused me with outrageous joy in the face of personal trial, and it's forever changed how I view others. I recommend it to everyone who wants to know Christ as their greatest treasure, or who need a holy unveiling of real life in the Spirit." (To learn more and/or to get the book, go to,, or bookstores everywhere.)

Reading this book stirred greatly the love of God in my heart. Thank you for that, Ralph Harris.

You know, I thought I understood grace, not only as it pertains to our salvation, but that mysterious, invisible power by which He works in each of us. Yet I've caved at times to fluctuating emotions and circumstances. We all do. Sometimes we forget who we are in Christ, or who He is in us, and especially what He thinks of us. We need a holy unveiling. That's why this book is immensely valuable to the Body of Christ. When it first arrived on my door step, I was in a sour spot. I felt stuck. I wondered what God might possibly say to me that I hadn't heard before. God met me on these pages. I was enjoying the book a great deal when His Spirit began to unveil some faulty little views I'd held about myself and others. Then He lovingly unveiled a bit more of Himself. His grace still astonishes me. I smile because of the profoundly personal ways the author ministered to me as I re-read and highlighted favorite sections. This book with its conversational tone, feels like a friend sharing from his own life while opening up the riches of living in authentic relationship with God and each other. If you've struggled with relationship, either with God or the "each other" part, this book will help you see why. The more I re-read it, the more I realize how stunningly gracious the Holy Spirit is, and what a beautiful life it is to know God and be completely accepted by Him. Here are just a few key points I jotted down, along with a quote from the author:

* I've been given new "genetics" in Christ. My former self died, but now I'm alive to God.

"Because this has all taken place for you through Christ, your Father is doing something amazing concerning you - unseen and eternal. He knows you've died already and have been raised and seated in the heavenlies in Christ. He is spreading the evidence of His work everywhere you go, successfully at all times" (pg. 43).

* I am not my worst enemy.

"Considering the astounding change God has made in us, it's to His glory that we find out about it. It will be helpful to uncover any deceptions that might now be hindering your belief..." (pg. 48)

* My problem ain't my problem.

"The problem isn't the skirmish itself. The attack is upon our knowing God in that very moment" (pg. 68).

* If I find myself suffering, I'm right on time.

"In virtually any kind of suffering, God works in us to bring out what He puts in - the very life of Christ. God lives in us, and even though it's a pleasure to find him there in safety and prosperity, it is at least as important to find Him there in calamity and poverty" (pg. 169).

* If I expect that life will get all better as I grow in Christ, - uh, no. It's not about learning and growing...

"This is where belief and experience meet, where life is less and less about pretending and posturing and more and more about the reality of Christ in us. Paul's life experiences didn't get better and nicer or become mellow with age. He didn't proclaim that he wanted to be done with this life and get on to the next because he was bored - it was because he ached" (pg.169, 170).

* Frustration - the end of my pretending.

"Prolonged frustration and bother don't happen simply to goad us into good behavior or to teach us a lesson - they keep us from pretending we can do anything apart from Christ. And such things happen so we'll find Him" (pg. 170).

* Burned out? Exhausted?

"God knows who we have become, so He works to exhaust our singular reliance upon false or insufficient resources (charisma, style, eloquence, talent, strength...) so He can be found and formed in us, becoming visible through us" (pg. 172).

* Can I stop building defenses, hiding, pretending?

"Trusting God together with ourselves - who we are, what we've done, and what we'll be - means a love affair, grand and reckless. It's like leaving a dark cave of isolation for the freedom of sunlight. It's risky! But it's living. This kind of relationship is how our godly character is formed - by serving and assisting others. When our truest selves are truly accepted, loved, and needed, then we'll come out of hiding. It's not that we won't ever sin or drape ourselves with smelly and stained grave clothes all over again. We will. But knowing who we are, we won't let each other go back to the cave! ... We'll trust ourselves to God and to each other - and God will be obvious. Isn't that what Christianity is about anyway?" (pg. 210, 211).

I love the book's clarity about our identity in Christ. When the author says it's no longer necessary for me to block my heart or project a certain Christian "image" to gain approval, my heart soars. It's true, we've died to all that; for us to live is Christ (Philippians 1:21). The author redirects our earthly gaze (feeling as though we need to do something to secure God's favor) to accepting heaven's view (really knowing Jesus and His view of me). When we see others as God sees them, too, the way we relate to them completely changes.

I love this book. It revived my wilted spirit, infused me with outrageous joy in the face of personal trial, and it's forever changed how I view others. I recommend it to everyone who wants to know Christ as their greatest treasure, or who need a holy unveiling of real life in the Spirit.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Overcoming Sin

(Here's a terrific post about overcoming sin from Steve McVey. Click the following link to go to his post and web site, or just take a gander below.

When I was a young boy, I loved to play marbles. I would often go out into the back yard and draw a circle in the dirt, put a handful of marbles “in the pot” and shoot marbles for hours. I often played with my friends, with each of us putting ten marbles in the circle and taking turns shooting. Did I play for keeps? Well, I’ll just say that I had a big bag of marbles! I couldn’t imagine a day ever coming when I gave up that hobby. I knew that one day I would grow old enough that I would look pretty silly on the ground with my favorite shooter, but I tried not to think about those days. I wanted to play forever.

One day while I was outside practicing, I heard someone call my name. I looked over toward the backyard of my friend, Phillip, and saw him there with Ricky and Danny. They were standing under a basketball goal which hadn’t been there the day before. “We’re gonna play a game. We need a fourth man. Want to play?” they asked. I left my marbles in the dirt that day and never looked back. I had found a new passion. I loved to play basketball. Every single day I couldn’t wait to get home from school so that I could rush out into the back yard to play ball. We would play until dark every day. Fridays were especially exciting because we didn’t have school the next day. Our parents would often allow us to stay out really late, shooting baskets when we could hardly even see the goal. It was an adolescent boy’s paradise.

“Now this is something I can do all my life!”, I reasoned. “Mr. Lambert across the street still plays basketball and he’s a grown man!” In those days I was convinced that there would never be a Friday night of my life when I didn’t shoot basketball. I was addicted to it.

One Sunday when I was barely sixteen years old our family went to church. While sitting in the Sunday School class that morning, I noticed a new girl who walked into the class. I had never seen her before. I had never been on a date up to that time. When this girl walked past me, I checked her out — I mean, I discerned that this might be a good place to begin my dating life. I went home and asked my dad the big question. “Dad, if I get a date some Friday night, will you let me use your car to go out?” “Do you have a date?” my dad asked, probably glad to see his only son moving toward manhood. “Not yet, but there’s a girl I want to go out with if you’ll let me have the car,” I answered. “Who is she?” he asked. “Just a girl I met at church last week,” I answered. “Okay,” he said. “You can use the car if you get a date.”

I couldn’t wait until the next Sunday. As soon as church was over I made a bee line for this new, good looking girl. After nervous small talk, I took the plunge. “Are you doing anything this Friday night?” I nervously asked. “No,” she answered, “why?” “Well, there’s a new Barbara Streisand movie coming out this weekend. I thought we would go see it and then go over to Pizza Villa after the movie, if you want to,” I said. “Sure, that sounds like fun,” she answered.

The following Friday night I picked her up and went out on my first date. It went really well. The next day my buddies all rushed over to my house bright and early. “Man, where were you?” they demanded to know. “We waited for you to come out. We play basketball every Friday!” they continued with obvious irritation over my reckless disregard for our sacred appointed game. “What were you doing?” Holding my shoulders back and with my head held high, I answered, “Boys, I was with a chick!”

To their dismay, I called the girl and asked her to go out with me the following Friday. She accepted. In fact, I went out with her every Friday for the next three years, then I married her. We’ve been married since 1973. (Her high school senior picture is the one attached to this blog.) Now that I think about it, I can’t remember the last time I played basketball on Friday night. I’ve found something better!

When a person finds himself entangled with a sin, it is often difficult to imagine a time when he won’t be connected to that sin. How does one find freedom over habitual sins in his life? Certainly it won’t happen by applying religious rules to our behavior. We have already seen how that sins are actually aroused by laws. The idea that a Christian should protect himself from sins by a strict adherence to rules is sin’s secret weapon against the believer. Laws always stimulate sin.

I hate to compare wholesome activities like marbles and basketball to sin, but I want to use my experience with these as an analogy. If someone had told me when I was a young child that I would have to give up marbles, I would have resisted the idea. If someone had suggested that at age sixteen I would be required to give up Friday night basketball, I would have rebelled against the very thought of such a thing. I didn’t focus on giving up either. I simply became obsessed with something that I wanted more than those things. One might say that Melanie delivered me from basketball. It wasn’t a struggle for me. I just set my mind on her and basketball sort of faded away.

That’s how Jesus can deliver us from our sins! When we come to know who Jesus is in us and who we are in Him, we discover that sins we once couldn’t imagine living without lose their appeal to us. We don’t experience victory by struggling against sins, but by setting our mind on Jesus. The Apostle Paul said it succinctly in Colossians 3:1-3:

If you then have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

We will never overcome sin through sheer determination and self discipline. That kind of negative motivation keeps our eyes off Jesus and on our sins. We are to focus on Him, not sin! As we fall more and more in love with Jesus, those sins which we have so tightly caressed will become increasingly unattractive to us until we want to let them go.

When I was a child, we sometimes sang an old song which clearly teaches God’s method for overcoming sin. It says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus; look full in His wonderful face. Then the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” The repellent for sin is not self effort. The remedy for sin will always be nothing other than Jesus.

He's All That

If He loved you before you loved Him, if He delighted to choose you and bless you with every good gift before you woke up and stretched a single muscle, if all of His actions toward you brought and continue to bring Him great praise and glory throughout the heavens though you fail to pull off one decent thing in response, still He loves you with abandon and holds nothing back. That’s who He is.

A Cup Of Tea

If He refused to condemn you because your works were rotten, He certainly isn’t going to flunk you because your faith isn’t so hot. You can fail utterly, therefore, and still live the life of grace. You can fold up spiritually, morally, or intellectually and still be safe. Because at the very worst, all you can be is dead — and for him who is the Resurrection and the Life, that just makes you his cup of tea.

– Robert Capon

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

I Need Mr. Smiley

Stopped at an intersection recently, I glanced at a bumper on the left and there it was—Mr. Smiley Face. I can’t begin to estimate how many times I have seen that yellow button: on a bumper, on a shirt, on a wall, on a sign, and now it accompanies emails and blogs as an animated “emoticon.”

Smiley is everywhere.

This Smiley was accompanied by that common phrase, “Smile, God loves you!” And I thought, “How cute, how corny.” But in the next moment it occurred to me that I should think about it.

God loves me. God loves me. God loves me. And in a moment I was completely and wonderfully overwhelmed. For the next few minutes I had revival in my car. I hadn’t been aware that I needed it, but God sure was.

I fancy myself to be one of the gurus on God’s love, a major player in telling the church and the world how well off we are because God loves. And I had somehow forgotten that God loves me. He doesn’t put up with me, He doesn’t consider me a bother, He’s not disturbed when I barge into His throne room—He loves me.

God loves me.

That’s the biggest influence of my life, and it would only make sense that that knowledge is one of the primary targets of the devil. Think what comes from knowing God’s love—obedience, love for others, a variety of godly works, a true perspective of the world and its inhabitants, and hope—authentic hope.

As far as I’m concerned, I live from the knowledge of God’s love for me. You too?

Smile, God loves you!