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 http://lifecourse.org/Ralphs_Book.html, amazon.com, 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.