Monday, December 30, 2013

Communication Gone Bad

Reading (and sometimes participating in) theologically related threads where commentators are as precise with their words of debate as they can possibly be, yet with entirely no resolution, reminds me of why I think written language is such a crazy thing.  We who attempt to rely upon words on a page, rather than face-to-face dialogue are bound to severe frustration.  Consider the following sentence as a case in point:  “All the communication he had had had had no effect.”

Let me suggest that the next time you wade into written, computer screen debate, theological, political or whatever, that you remember the God-made-incredible human you’re addressing.  The person on the other side of the screen is no more your handiwork than you are his.  Write what you think, and trust Jesus to be “the way, the truth, and the life.”  He’s pretty good at all that, right?


Friday, December 27, 2013

Saving Mr. Banks

In a word, “Saving Mr. Banks” is superb.  It’s one of the best, most complete and satisfying films I’ve seen in a long time.  There was so much to the story of “Mary Poppins” that I didn’t know, and I was willingly and happily caught up in how it was told.  The acting is outstanding and I am grateful for the excellence of the cast.  I cannot imagine anyone other than Emma Thompson playing the author’s role—she’s that believable.  Finally, the importance that forgiveness plays in the movie painfully and beautifully mirrors what it does in our lives—something many will find deeply moving, as I did.  While I would not recommend it for children (there is a lot of mature subject matter), I strongly recommend it for everyone else. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Post-Christmas Difficulty

The day after all of the hustle and bustle of Christmas can be difficult. Right?


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

"Yeah, BABY!"

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Today's paraphrase: "Yeah, BABY!"

Monday, December 23, 2013

What Do You Think Of Me?



“Father, what do you think of me?”

That’s the biggest question there is. Not many ask it for fear of what they’ll hear. Yet the One who has made them perfectly well off with himself—the very purpose of Jesus’ coming—loves to give people true and good news. He has a pretty good track record of doing that, don’t you think? We’ll celebrate it in a couple of days.

Luke 2:13-14 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”

Why should proclaiming angels know what you do not know? “Fear not!” they would say. So ask. Read. Talk with someone who knows God’s love, and ask them to tell you what Love is really like. And pay attention to your deepest yearnings for love; God’s works there.

John 3:16-17 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

And whatever you do, do not make a practice of assuming His love and, therefore, not bother to ask Him to tell you what He thinks. I'm not talking about His approval—you may assume that you have all of that, since Christ gave you that as a gift. I continue to ask, "Father, what do you think of me" on a regular basis, because I deeply enjoy knowing Him, and there's often something new, some different aspect of His love for me I've yet to know. Or perhaps a lie has taken hold of me, and He's really good at getting rid of that for me. I like that a lot.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Just Sayin'

Most important to me is that, through the preaching of the gospel, faith came to me and God was pleased to reveal Jesus Christ to me and in me, in such a way as to profoundly and purposefully affect the rest of my days and beyond. Because of Him, I am forever forgiven and free of sin, and I am new and holy and united with Him. He has made me His witness, and I cannot help but offer the same gospel by which He saved me. Just sayin’.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Days & Life

I recognize in my flesh a reluctance to “need Jesus,” again and again and again.  I don’t want to break down or break up and need Jesus to fix me up, again and again and again.  But that’s how my days go.  That’s not how my life goes, that’s how my days go.  The difference is important.  Jesus is my life, and what He does with me is all about real life meeting my days.  The break-downs and break-ups are major attraction events for His life with me.  However my days go is not my life.  Jesus is my life.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What Drives You Crazy?

From God’s perspective (and that's most likely accurate, right?), what drives you crazy?  Absolutely nuts?

I think it’s this:  we go crazy if we accept the blindness of seeing people only as they appear, only as they do, or only as they speak, rather than how they have become because of what God did for them through the cross and resurrection.  I know it was an event that happened many years ago, but the effect was massive, far-reaching and perfect, and it gives Him great joy and satisfaction even today.  And tomorrow.  It shapes what He thinks and does.

The increasingly crazy view—the one that drives you nuts—holds people accountable for how they appear, how they behave, and what they say (or write, as in my case, and everybody else who posts on Facebook and blogs and what have you), rather than holding them accountable or measurable to Christ’s cross and resurrection.  It’s not that how we appear, how we behave and what we say is entirely unimportant.  It’s that focusing upon those things slowly obscures our view of the seminal moment in human history:  the cleansing of sin and the gift of life in Christ.

So if you’ve gone a little crazy lately, it’s likely because your eyesight is impaired.  As we say around my house, “You’ve got junk in your eye,” and you can’t see because of it.  Maybe you need some glasses.  (I’m sort of thinking of starting a new line of eye wear:  “Cross Cleaned.”  The stylish specs would help us to see each other through the lens of the cross.  Think it would sell?)

By the way, this is not an appeal to niceness or to getting along with everyone as best you can in every situation, but to accuracy and sanity.  Wouldn’t that be good?

Think of Christ’s lovingly severe act of the cross and resurrection, the thing you cannot see but which is most-importantly true, and consider people from there.  You’ll begin to see again. . .and that’s not crazy, that’s healthy for you and everybody else.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “What Drives You Crazy?” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click http://youtu.be/PhhLmPAkql8.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Last Chance Opportunity!

If you’ve been thinking of ordering my book as a Christmas gift, this is it, your final opportunity. In order to get it to you by next Tuesday, December 24, you’ve got to order by noon (12:00) tomorrow, December 18. For information and ordering (shipping is FREE in the U.S., and you’ll save a couple of bucks over amazon and barnesandnoble), go to: http://lifecourse.org/ and click on Ralph’s Book.

What Drives You Crazy?

Got 3 minutes?  There are a lot of things that drive us crazy, I know.  But what if you asked, “Father, what drives me crazy?”  What do you suppose He’d say?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

It's About Time

(From my friend, John P. Cwynar.)

Graced Time After Time

For the first time and the last time
For the best time and the worst time
For the fast times and the "when will it ever end" time

For the time in and the time out
For the 'time was' and the 'time will be'
For the timely and the not so timely times

For wasted times and memorable times
For quality time and time that never was
For these times and those other times

For when you're running outa time or just in time
When you're behind the times... or way ahead of your time
Or when time is up... and you're not

I will be with you time and time and time again
Even for a lifetime of times

And then in no time at all
I will be with you... for the Time of your Life...
Our Time... after time
Your Permanent Time Out... with Me.

Friday, December 13, 2013

God's Biggest Problem

One of the biggest and most common stumbling blocks of faith is that we do not believe that God can overcome us.  Ourselves!  We’re it, God’s biggest problem child.   If you think you’re THE ONE, God’s biggest problem, raise your hand with me.  It’s actually me, however—I win.  I know that I’m a bigger problem for God than you are.  We can argue about it later, but in our minds, evidently, we sometimes entertain this thinking.

Frankly, we believe that our sovereign will cancels His.  Ours is bigger!  Stubborn and stupid creatures that we are, we’ll never get past our ability to screw things up, and, wringing His hands in heaven, God is the loser for it.  Follow that thinking, and we make Him out to be the biggest loser.  Poor, sub-sovereign God. 

Well, today I’m not buying it.  Our will, your will, my will is never beyond the influence of His, and I think He’s got the ultimate edge.

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with (and here comes our big contribution, for which God is depending upon us) fear and trembling (We’ve got plenty of that, right?), 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.  (Italics mine.)

Evidently, will bows down to purpose, and to the One whose purpose is perfect.  He will not fail to bring about His purpose!  Consider that you are His—on purpose.  Your great contribution of fear and trembling not withstanding, you’ll enjoy great moments, maybe even whole days of secure rest as He “works in you” to want and to behave in order that His purpose will come to pass. 

You’re not God’s biggest problem, and He’s not the biggest loser.  It’s win-win for you both.

(This is a transcript from yesterday’s video, “God’s Biggest Problem,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click http://youtu.be/Vw7z1w4zP1w, or scroll down this page.)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Work of God

You are not your own workmanship. That’s not easy to accept, particularly when we’re not certain what God will produce in us, nor what we will look like. It’s common that we get awfully nervous when pressed to accept our role of work-ee, rather than work-er. The truth is, however, we’ve been made for Him. He is the only thing that works, and it seems to me that what we get is the best prize I have ever found: knowing God Himself. Not just knowing about Him, but knowing Him. And that’s way better.

God's Biggest Problem

Got 3 minutes?  Here's the question: What is God's BIGGEST problem? What do you think?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

How To Help People Breathe

Christian, you were raised with Christ. That’s a big deal! I don’t know why we pray, “Oh, Lord, be with me now,” since not only is He with us, we’re with Him—forever and always. We’re in Him, united with Him, and everyone in heaven knows it. This is one reason why you and I need regular revivals, great awakenings to who we are and where we’re from. Think of it as getting desperately needed oxygen, not because you’re so high up and there is no air, but because your earthly experience is so low down and the air is awful—and foreign.

Our interaction with Christians often has a lot to do with giving them the air from home, the oxygen of heaven. Picture a scuba diver many feet deep in the ocean of this world, and you’ve pretty much got the idea of a Christian’s experience in this lifetime. I bet you’ve felt it.

There have been many times where, burdened by the things and situations of this world, I began feeling like I couldn’t breathe. Have you ever had that? With the pressure getting to me, never once have I felt better by simply working harder. That has often, however, been the temptation. What always saved me and what saves me today is the air of my homeland—the gospel, the truth about God and the truth about me with Him, which the Holy Spirit uses to sort of oxygenate my blood. I’m revived, I feel much better because I’m breathing fresh air again, the air of heaven. That’s my air. I bet it’s yours, too.

That’s why I love the Bible—It’s pure oxygen, baby!—and why I’m always on the lookout for great Christian books and music that fill me with the pure air of heaven. Get all you can—you can’t live without breathing. (See my recommended book list at http://lifecourse.org/Recommends.html.)

These days are a foreign missionary experience in the depths of this world, where dangers abound and breathing is at times difficult. But I look forward to the day when I’ll pop up on the surface of heaven, mask, tanks and wetsuit removed—not needed—and take my first big breath. I know I’ll recognize the air.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “How To Help People Breathe,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click http://youtu.be/_mja076v0XU.)

Monday, December 09, 2013

How To Help People Breathe

Got 3 minutes?  If you’ve ever had difficulty breathing because of stress or fear, here’s some help with the oxygen you need.


Saturday, December 07, 2013

The God Who Is

Frankly, most of us believe in "The God Who Is Not."  Much of what He does for us, then, is to uncover and disabuse us of the lunacy that injures us by replacing it with truth and Himself.  It’s His pleasure to save us so we may know Him — “The God Who Is.”  That's a pretty good deal, don’t you think?  We really are His workmanship, and that's what He thinks our days are all about.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Christmas Gift?

For those who’ve been waiting, I just now received a new supply of my book, and I’ll begin shipping past orders tomorrow! Looking for a Christmas gift? While you could order from amazon or barnesandnoble and actually pay more with them if you want to, you can save a few bucks by ordering from me—and I’ll not only sign it but ship it to you for FREE! (Continental USA only.) For more information (reviews, etc.) and to order, go to http://lifecourse.org/Ralphs_Book.html

The Pause For Life

One of my favorite things to do is to pause in my mind and to ask the question, "Holy Spirit, what do you think?  What are you feeling?" Often I get an answer to my question, or at least a fruit, an evidence of the Holy Spirit in me—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control—which is, in fact, an answer. And I follow through on what I receive, even if it’s simply to enjoy what God is doing with me.  That’s enough, isn’t it?  He knows what He’s doing.  He’s been God for a long time now, so I don’t think we need to worry about His ability(!).  And I love the Spirit’s work of making Christ in me obvious, if even just to me. That’s a big deal.  I’ll let Him take care of working outside what He’s working inside.

This is what the apostle Paul wanted for the wavering Galatians—that Christ would be formed in them.  And this is one of the best ways by which I know that’s happening for me.  I love it.  I’ve not found anything better than knowing that God is actually in me.

If my life is indeed in Christ, then I look for it there. Otherwise, I'm just fumbling in the darkness of this world like everyone else.  But that doesn’t fit me—and maybe not you, either. I simply and deeply enjoy being attracted to what I cannot see, rather than confused by what I can.   One look keeps me free and knowing God, while the other binds and frustrates me.  You know how that feels?

Paul wrote to the Corinthians:  “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

We are eternal beings of great glory and are found in the unseen, in the invisible arena, which is what makes “momentary troubles” lighter and perhaps more navigable. 

Pause toward the Holy Spirit today—He’s all about life, yours and His.

(This is a transcript of yesterday's video, "The Pause For Life," and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, scroll down or click 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

The Pause For Life

Do you ever grow weary of fumbling and knocking your way through life and wonder, “What the heck?”  Give 3.5 minutes to this and see if you don’t come away with hope and a greater awareness of God’s life for you.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

THANKSGIVING-THEMED MOVIES YOU PROBABLY WON'T SEE

THANKSGIVING-THEMED MOVIES YOU PROBABLY WON'T SEE

14. To Kill A Walking Bird

13. My Best Friend's Dressing

12. The Texas Coleslaw Massacre

11. Casserolablanca

10. The Fabulous Baster Boys

9. 12 Hungry Men

8. Silence of the Yams

7. For Love of The Game Hen

6. I Know What You Ate Last Winter

5. All the President's Menu

4. White Meat Can't Jump

3. When Harry Met Salad

2. The Story of U.S.

and the #1 Upcoming Thanksgiving-Themed Movie...

1. The Wing and I

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

20 Things To Say

By now you know that I like short and meaningful videos, whether my own or not. When you've got 3.5 minutes, check this out -- you'll be glad.  (Click on the link below.)

http://9gag.tv/v/1823

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

God Is A Trashman

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 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 full, and that its friend was the trash truck. As it rumbled away, we always waved goodbye. “Thank you, Mr. Trash Truck and Mr. Trash Man! Thank you for taking our trash! We love you! See you next week!”

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

For some time now my family and I 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 is interested in caring for us.

God’s care for me (and His care for you) 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. Maybe you’ve noticed. Yet He faced every struggle and temptation we’ve had and disposed of them. All of them. He is expert!

And where is this Jesus today? He is in you and me. And He is in my wife and daughters. Look, 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 in you, the evidence of what He has done for you.

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, “I wonder what the Trash Man might do for you?” 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, no matter what. Talk with Him and call upon Him when the trash is threatening—when you feel like you’re an inside mess of contradiction: “Father, I’m feeling awful and ugly things inside, but I wonder if you might have something you’d like to do with me—the real me that you know even better than I do, since you live in me, the real me that you created. . .”

His care for you will be evident, and you’ll learn more quickly to welcome Mr. Trash Man.

(This is a transcript of yesterday's video, “God Is A Trashman,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click http://youtu.be/qiA0Fi3ikNg.)

Monday, November 25, 2013

God Is A Trashman

Do you ever feel like you’re full of trash?  Does it seem like good feelings and bad feelings collide inside of you, making an awful mess?  Take 6 minutes to see what God likes to do in you when things get messy.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Worst Lies of Religion

Let’s talk about everybody’s favorite topic, “Religion” — the suggested rules of godliness.  At its worst, religion entraps people by suggesting and encouraging “one day.”

“One day you’ll be holy.”  “One day you’ll have it together.” “One day you’ll be closer to God.”  “One day He will bless you.”  “One day you will be fully surrendered and committed to God.”  “One day you will become what God wants you to be.”  Won’t that be great, one day?

Do you see the trap?  Religion, at its worst, suggests you’re not holy, which means Jesus didn’t make you that way after all.  You’re still dirty and sinful, even though He thinks you are not.  Might that affect your relationship with Him and your approach to Him, and maybe your prayer life? 

Religion motivates you to work and focus on becoming better, because Jesus didn’t make you complete, finished and perfect in Himself.  Sooo, you’ve got work to do, even though He thinks you don’t, because He did it all already. 

Religion promotes the possibility of drawing closer to God, which implies what?  That you’re not now.  Better figure out what’s standing between you and God, even though He thinks there’s nothing between the two of you that’s bad and that’s causing distance. 

Religion induces you to keep striving in faithfulness because there’s a blessing He will give you that He hasn’t yet—a blessing that depends upon your faithfulness, rather than upon HIS faithfulness.  So you’d better keep tithing, keep praying, keep witnessing, and keep being nice because the blessing train is coming (“It’s right around the bend!”), even though He thinks that He has already arrived in you.  If He is the train, then you’re the station.

Religion suggests that you are still against God somehow and stubbornly resistant—that’s how you are—but if you try hard enough, you will eventually become real friends and get along.  Won’t that be great?  And, living the “surrendered life,” you will finally be useful, even though He thinks you’re entirely compatible already.

Religion falsely encourages you that, while you are not now much of anything, one day you will finally give yourself a really good scrubbing and arrive.  You know, “God’s gift to you is life; your gift to God is what you make of it”, even though He thinks His work in you is plenty already.  He actually knew what He was doing.  He’s finished.

The six statements I made at the beginning of this (there are plenty more) suggest the lie that you don’t have everything that God thinks you do and that you’re not actually right now in Christ, who earned it all, who provides it all, and who maintains it all—right now and forever for you.  In fact, you are fantastically wealthy and secure because of Him, and believing it is how you live!   That’s the life of faith—believing that in Christ, you’re safe because He did it and you’ve got it all.   Religion that entraps encourages you to see yourself (and others, such as your kids) as outside of Christ, with a whole lot of stuff to do so that YOU can earn what He hasn’t, so that YOU can provide what He won’t or might not, and so YOU can maintain—keep things together!—what He cannot.  That is not the gospel.  That is anti-Christ.

Fortunately, we’ve already received “the promised eternal inheritance” (see Hebrews 9:15), and we’re becoming more and more convinced about how God is toward us and for us and in us, and we trust and glory in His ability, in Him, “. . . who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  That’s the faith!  We believe in Him, that He is perfect and good, and that He is in us, and we’re secure because of it.

So let’s help each other with the truth—big, heaping platefuls, served regularly and at all hours!  That’s how we’re nourished and how we can resist the lies, no matter where they come from.

Because of Jesus, one day has arrived.

(This is a transcript of an earlier video, “The Worst Lies of Religion,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video—and more like it—click http://youtu.be/bB5qWV1TKPE.)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Worst Lies of Religion

Got 6 minutes?  I don’t know how to say it any more clearly; these are the most injurious lies of religion.  Give 6 minutes to this video, because knowing the truth is your way to navigate around them. . .and to help others do the same. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Between The Past & The Present

The clock tower here is not from “Back To The Future,” but back to my past.  Yesterday evening I was sitting in a Starbucks in San Marino, CA, which wasn’t here when I was here.  (The Starbucks.) 

My California trip is coming to a close, and I’m a jumbled mix of past and present.  My parents lived here for fifty years, and it was home base until they passed on in 2008.  I had a three-hour lunch yesterday with one of my oldest and dearest friends, to whom I would entrust everything I have.  Besides, he nearly killed me a half-dozen times as we grew up together on the same street, so we’ve almost “been there, done that.”  (I love you, Jim.)

Last night I visited with two of my favorite knuckleheads whom I’ve loved since the mid 70’s, when we were idiot fraternity brothers at USC.  We have nothing to hide from each other, and fairly marvel that we’re still walking together through life since college.  (I love you, Pete and Steve.) Today, before going to a football game, I’ll drink a microbrew and make a mess of myself with some BBQ, while ganging up at a reunion of 100 stellar and fellow frat rats.  (Go, USC!  Beat Stanford!)

And I will relax late tonight with a family I’ve known for nearly 40 years.  They are a marvelous mix of beauty and brilliance, idiocy and lunacy, calm and chaos, kindness and love.  We love!  Do you see a theme?  The longer I’ve lived the more I am convinced that being WITH people, people of all sorts and beliefs, is what matters.  Yes, theology is vital, and, thankfully, being loved and lived-in by Jesus works out and looks really good with other people.  To me, that’s good theology.  (I love you, Steve, Denise, Kelsea and Douglas!)

Tomorrow I return to the present, which means hugs and kisses galore from my wife and daughters in Colorado.  Oh, how I long for them as I write.  I love you, Sarah, Ellen and Emma.  Imma go see you tomorrow.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Power & Pain of Authenticity

If I’m going to be authentic with people—who I am with nothing added—I will likely feel a fleshly urge to add some pizzazz or extra personality or something really good to say in order to enhance the result. Refraining from that urge can seem like I’m ignoring an opportunity that really ought to be filled. I was once very good at filling voids with jokes, sarcasm, nervous laughter, or witticisms. But choosing now to be authentic means I’m resting and trusting in Christ and choosing life by the Spirit. And that’s different.

When we’re born again, we are no longer of the flesh nor are we in the flesh, and life is by the Spirit. That means our primary awareness becomes God—with us and in us—and not our previous fascination with how to be or what to do in our days. Life navigation used to be outward oriented; now it is inward. Our greatest prize and joy becomes knowing God—even when we’re with people—and trusting Him to produce in us and through us what He wants and would be to the people and situations that we find ourselves in.  That’s fun.  It’s invigorating, and allows for Christianity—life in Christ—to be the life it’s supposed to be.

Really, most of us are used to dressing up our behaviors and interactions with people. Do you know what I mean?  The flesh sends us the message that we should enhance everything—you know, turn on the charm—which will give us better odds of getting what we want. And it might, actually, so that can become our goal in life.  Right?  Control yourself = Get what you want. In fact, if you do not enhance your interactions with people in the ways that others do and expect, they might view you as different or odd. “She’s not with the program.”  But you’ll know better because you’ll be knowing Jesus.  You’ll be led by the Spirit, and that’s where the excitement is, that’s where life is.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t just be yourself.  On the contrary, this is how your authentic self is found—on the inside with God and in union with Him.  This is one way that you find both — through authenticity.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “The Power & Pain of Authenticity,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click http://youtu.be/q1HhniGaG_w.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Power & Pain of Authenticity

Have you got 3.5 minutes for Authenticity? Take a quick look at why our relationships often go screwy, and why, after knowing someone for quite some time, they turn out to be far different than we thought. They were inauthentic and you got faked out. But there is a way forward — here’s how.


Saturday, November 09, 2013

Acceptable Through Christ

Here’s a quote from a popular and current teacher in the church, who shall go nameless because I wish to focus upon the truth, rather than upon the one who speaks error.  After all he could change his mind, and—who knows—I might be wrong.  Here’s what he said: 

“Worshiping God is the most serious thing you can ever do. The most serious crimes against God occur in corrupt worship.” 

I believe this man sees us as separate from Christ—as having not been brought into Him through the cross and resurrection, and so we have to perfect ourselves, our offerings and our worship, or we will pay the price for our “crimes” against God.  In my view, this man does not see people through the new covenant made with Christ, but through the former covenant made and dependent upon individual obedience.  That is a terrible error, because he doesn’t see our worship as being made acceptable since it is through Christ (1 Peter 2:4-5), who has become for us our perfect righteousness, holiness and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30).

Jesus Christ is perfect, and we offer ourselves and our worship through Him because that’s where we are.  And that’s just right.

Where The Beauty Starts

Okay, I admit it: I'm a sucker for people-loving-people stories. Not the romantic, roses and exotic vacation stories (those have their place), but people working for the best for others. Not because the government mandates it (Ahem!), but because they want to. That's where the beauty starts.

Friday, November 08, 2013

What The Holy Spirit Is Doing With You

Let’s talk about “ministry,” a fairly archaic word.  If anyone calls me a minister—“Let’s welcome Minister Harris”—I cringe, at least inwardly.  But it’s an important word, nevertheless.  Its essential meaning is “service” or “assistance.”  To illustrate consider the following statement: 

“The ministry of the law, which rightly condemns me, brings out my failures, but the ministry of the Spirit brings out His success.”

The good work of the law—the assistance it gives—has always been to condemn and bring death.  On the other hand, the work or service of the Holy Spirit is always to rightly convince believers of our complete and eternal righteousness in Christ.  One good work (that former work) brought imprisonment.  The old covenant believers were never free nor far from their sin, but through endless, repetitive and gory sacrifices, they were ever reminded of it.  Please read Hebrews 10, and you’ll find it there.  But just imagine an innocent animal being sacrificed every year for the sins of the people—you and the guy next to you—and you would know that sin was not finished and put away—you were not free of it.  “Hey, Moishe, what are doing at this time next year?”  “Same as you, Ibrahim.  Got it on the calendar—don’t worry.  See you next year.”  Every year this is what happened.

But this good work—this New Covenant ministry—convinces us (or convicts us, if you like) that we have been made free from our sin through one final sacrifice and have been given the righteousness of Another, our Savior Jesus Christ.  Now that’s a ministry!  And that’s the ministry we’re all involved in.

There is no more calling up Moishe and arranging to meet up at the sacrificial altar on Sunday.  “Want to get lunch at Cracker Barrel after we get free of our sins, Moishe?”  There is now no more sacrifice for sin, because the ONE SACRIFICE ended it!  Please don’t denigrate Jesus’ sacrifice by believing you’ve got to add your particular sacrifice into the mix in order to get free of your sin.  That’s a deadly sacrifice.  If you’ve received Jesus, you’re alive and free!  “Wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).  In Him “we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14).

Listen to what the apostle Paul wrote, rather well acquainted himself with the two agreements, the two ministries, God made for believers:

2 Corinthians 3:6-11 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.  7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! 

So, what are you feeling right now?  Stop and think.  Stop.  Think.  According to the scriptures, the Holy Spirit is right now working to convince you of what Jesus has given you and made you to be—righteous!  Well off with God.  Perfect.  The biblical phrase “to convict” means to “convince utterly.”  What a good thing that is!  “Moishe!  In Christ there’s an end to sacrifice and there’s freedom from sin!  Oh, my God!  Can you believe it?”

And the answer is:  “Yes!”  That’s the ministry of the Spirit, and that’s what He will be doing with you today.  And tomorrow.  And the day after that.  Serving freedom and life in Christ is what’s on His everyday menu.  How cool is that?

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “What The Holy Spirit Is Doing With You,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click http://youtu.be/RIpsY0PukWk.)

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Sacramento Event Cancelled

My roller coaster life continues to dazzle me with ever-changing dips, loops and bends.  You know that speaking gig I had near Sacramento?  It seems the hosts have a roller coaster life too, and have to cancel the event.  I’m going to spend time with just them this weekend, and we’ll share what life is like particularly in the dips—screaming is acceptable.  (Sorry for inconveniencing you.)

What The Spirit Is Doing With You

Have you wondered what The Holy Spirit’s main thing is in your day-to-day life?  What’s on His menu?  What’s He serving up?  Take 5.5 minutes and see what you think.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Hey, Sacramento!

For everyone in the Sacramento, California, area, I will be speaking at Free Ride, Inc., this Saturday, November 9, at 7:00pm. I'd love to meet you, and that will be easy if you come for the free BBQ that begins at 5:00.  

For more information, call (916) 259-1904. Free Ride is located at: 4041 Alvis Ct. #B, Rocklin, CA, 95677.

Even Political Commentators

I confess — I am a pretty regular news-watcher. Because I value getting both sides of the story, I have become familiar with conservative and liberal commentators. The following article written by self-avowed liberal, sometimes-atheist, Kirsten Powers, grabbed my attention. Click on the link if you are interested.

“’It's true. It's completely true.’ The world looked entirely different, like a veil had been lifted off it. I had not an iota of doubt. I was filled with indescribable joy.”


http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/november/fox-news-highly-reluctant-jesus-follower-kirsten-powers.html?paging=off

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Jesus' Roller Coaster

Some of us have fairly crazy lives—you know who you are—so have you ever wondered if maybe you are Jesus’ roller coaster, His daily thrill ride?  Would that be so bad?  It explains a lot to me. 

Think about it.  If Jesus is, indeed, where He thinks He is—in you, in me—and our days are full of crazy ups and downs, ins and outs, rough corners over there and over here, and lots of “Aaaaaahhh!” worthy moments, then don’t you think that He might have planned it that way?  Isn’t it possible that He planned to experience everything just as you do, inside of you, in the same way? 

You know:  morning drudgery, coffee, BACON, pastry, fruit, blender (protein powder?), work, lunch, work, weirdos and whackos that you have to deal with, frustration, grief, excitement, sickness, expectation, disappointment, satisfaction, fear, dinner (wine?), Monday night football, Downton Abbey re-runs, The Walking Dead, Netflix, or maybe a good book, fatigue, wonder (“Am I okay today, Jesus?  Are you with me?”), and then sleep.

Yes.  All of it.  You are okay.  He is with you and He is in you.  Through it all.  No matter what.  And, one day, the two of you will enjoy talking face-to-face all about the crazy thrill-ride you were for Him.  That will be an incredible day for Him and for you—roller coaster breath.

Until then, He’s riding in you. 

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Jesus’ Roller Coaster,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click http://youtu.be/OrnAJ-NQYM0.)

Monday, November 04, 2013

Jesus' Roller Coaster

Is your life filled with ups and downs, crazy events and emotional peaks and valleys?  Give 3 minutes to this fun little video and see if you don’t feel better about the whole thing. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sacramento Area

For everyone in the Sacramento, California, area, I will be speaking at Free Ride, Inc., on Saturday, November 9, at 7:00pm.  I’d love to meet you.  For more information, call (916) 259-1904.  Free Ride is located at: 4041 Alvis Ct. #B, Rocklin, CA, 95677.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013

Waking A Knucklehead

Do you have knucklehead moments? I do. Maybe more than my share.

During a sleepless hour last night it dawned on me that I was working really hard at getting life right, mostly because I was thinking that I wasn’t. You know, I wasn’t praying enough, reading my Bible enough, walking in the Spirit enough, supporting people enough, making enough money—you know, ENOUGH!

And what plagued me was that, after all this time and education, whether scholastic or life education, shouldn’t I be doing better than I am? I mean, I know what to do by now—shouldn’t I simply do it?! Isn’t how you do the ultimate measure? The ultimate estimate?

And this answer popped into my mind: “No, it isn’t. How Jesus did when He lived as a man is the ultimate measure of me.” Think about it.

I forget that the ongoing measurement of my life, the way I am seen, the way I am estimated and the way I am judged by others is not singularly dependent upon me—Jesus became the measurement of me. Everyday and all day I am living with His righteousness, His holiness, and His redemption. All that He accomplished has been given to me as my own. And that’s stunning. Shouldn’t it be?

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God (in other words, this is the great thinking of God for what would be perfect for us)—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’” (Parenthesis mine.)

Well, yeah! Let the bragging on God begin because that’s overwhelming. And shouldn’t it be? Yes! The gospel is crazy-good, and I forget sometimes. . .maybe you do too. But believing that He has given me His righteousness and holiness and redemption invigorates the new me, and propels me into the day—everyday. Now that I’m new, this is how to live new. Believing the truth equals receiving, and something great happens to me.

What bothered me in the night was the accumulated stress of not counting on Jesus’ righteousness and holiness and redemption to do anything for me, other than secure my standing and destination. What a knucklehead! When I remember what He did and gave me, my faith rises and my strength increases. All that ugly judgment I sometimes endure from the evil one and from the flesh vanishes. Hooray! I can live again. And I’m reminded that faith isn’t just a bunch of important stuff that I’ve studied and I believe, but a way by which life and strength and the Holy Spirit work in me, a son of God.

That’s my day and that’s my night. Jesus for me and Jesus in me – my hope of great things. And for this knucklehead, and maybe for you, knucklehead, that’s the way to live.

“. . . God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Waking A Knucklehead,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click http://youtu.be/F4ZZx1JujO4.)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Waking A Knucklehead

I’ve had more than my share of “knucklehead moments,” so I’m sure glad that God seems particularly kind to the sometimes dense, dull, and deceived. . .I could be the poster boy if there was a group. Take 5 minutes and see if you qualify to join us. (And pass it on.)


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

He's Always Home

When you receive Jesus, He brings all that He is to you—perfect love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—not eventually, not occasionally, not fractionally (“Sorry, but I’m holding a little bit of myself back because I have trust issues and don’t want to commit too soon.”), but all the way, at all times, at every moment, in every situation. Right now. He is the Treasure you’ve been looking for, He is the Reward for which you long, He is the Performer you’d like to be. And He is in you. Jesus is the Favor you want, the Success you were made for, and the Glory now in you.

If just now you’re suffering or enduring hardship, avoid the temptation to work up more fleshly strength (you’re already exhausted), and beware the thoughts that assign you to the failed scrapheap of humanity. That’s a lie. You were made for Jesus, and for Him with you. His glory, the incredible evidence that He lives within you, is best seen through suffering, most obvious in calamity, and most triumphant in hardship. I know.

So I talk with Him—sometimes I talk at Him more than I talk with Him—and He doesn’t mind! He knows that He’s my best friend, and He’s not threatened by my struggles. Right? I tell Him of my troubles, I talk with Him about my longings—even the fleshly, ugly ones—and the crazy things that go on in me—the struggle I feel between the Spirit and flesh, confusing me as to what to do.

And because I’m chatting at Him, whether silently or audibly, it equals what the Bible calls “offering myself to God.” The offering to God is not to “God out there,” or to “God, who will meet me over there,” when I finally make it or when I finally arrive. No. My offering is to “God in here” now, to God who has arrived in me.

The old way of offering our self to God, the Former Covenant way, was to think of yourself as separate from God, who would lead you because He was ahead of you or “over there.” He had to induce you to come after Him. The pressure was on you to follow, and to keep offering to follow. The New Covenant way of offering our self to God is to believe what God knows is true: “Jesus, you and I are together now; you’re in me. I don’t have to look for you over there, or just up ahead, because now you’re in here all the time. You don’t take vacations, you don’t run off or find a better place to live. You’re being yourself with me in here, all the time. You and I are at home together.” How good is that?

Romans 6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. (Those desires are not like you. They’re not your desires.) 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. (Parenthesis mine.)

And where is that grace centered? Where is that at home? In you and in me.

So offer yourself to Jesus. And where is He? That’s where you make the offering—to the inside, to Jesus who has made you His home. Listen for Him and look for Him there.

He’s great company, and He’s always home.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “He’s Always Home,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click http://youtu.be/4IhuxfXrZG4. You may also subscribe to these regular videos at that link.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

He's Always Home

If you’d like a big reminder of where God is and how He is toward you and with you, give 6 minutes and see if this doesn’t make a big difference. And pass it on.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Makes A Difference

If being in the right place is important, and realtors have had it right all these years—“Location. Location. Location.”—then consider the following verses and cartoon as you go about your day:

"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms IN CHRIST JESUS, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." 
Ephesians 2:4-7 (Caps mine)

Doesn’t where you are make a big difference?  God sure thinks so.  What do you think—because that makes a difference.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hot Lovers

“Hot Lovers” – Those invaluable and heroic people who, out of a genuine and burning love of the truth, persistently annoy us to the message of the cross and the anti-slavery message it insists.  “Christ set you free to live by His grace,” they might say, “and I will not be silent when someone suggests even a subtle return to the prison of the law.”  I am deeply thankful for them.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Intimacy With God


Intimacy with God is not something you can earn or achieve.  Intimacy with Him is something He already achieved and gave you, and is something you learn to enjoy. 

"But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit."  1 Corinthians 6:17

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Coming Up. . .

I will be speaking for a retreat and some small groups in North Carolina and Georgia over the next week or so. I will be doing much the same in California next month. If you’d like to have me speak with your church or group, even the group you’ve been thinking of putting together, simply ask. I’ll do my best to get to you.

Naked Gospel Conference

Here's an event that will be fantastic, and which I fully, with nearly ridiculous enthusiasm, endorse! Drew is a brilliant and captivating teacher, a good friend, and one of my heroes.   Click on the link below for more information.

NEXT WEEK! The Naked Gospel Conference in Dallas starts in 9 Days -- October 18-20. Join us for a weekend of teaching on forgiveness-freedom-identity-life in Christ and awesome fellowship together! www.Operation220.org/events

Order Today

If you’ve been meaning to order a copy of my book, now’s the time to do it. I will be traveling and speaking for the next couple of weeks, and won’t be able to fill book orders during that time. So if you want one, I can send it out only if you order today. Otherwise, it’s the waiting game for you. Click on the link for more information and to order. http://lifecourse.org/Ralphs_Book.html.

P.S. You can always get a copy through your local bookstore, via amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, etc., but I'm more fun.  My book is available for e-readers, but you'll need to get that through the online retailers.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Monday, October 07, 2013

He Gives You You

Why is your opinion of yourself so important?  To the degree it is inaccurate is the extent you’ll be living a lie, and no one does that well.  However, when a person gets the idea that God’s opinion can be known and that it is both excellent and accurate, his wrestling with himself and with this world diminishes because he no longer needs it to find himself.  What a good thing that is.  Rest and love and ease around other people are found.  So if you’ve got some inner wrestling going on today, consider where you’re looking:  in the mirrors of this world, or at Jesus, who gives you. . .well, He gives you you.


Saturday, October 05, 2013

Love & A Stumbling Son

I don’t like walking into a room without any light.  You know, pitch black.  I’ll carefully and fully caress the walls around my entry point, searching for the light switch that makes navigating the room possible.  And if children have been in the room before me, I know there are toys and kid-built structures lurking that either I will break or which will hurt me when I step on them.

If I have to go forward without light because I can’t find the switch, then I take on the “I am a shuffling ninja!” posture.  I slide my feet as if ice-skating on the floor, wary of damaging plastic toys and little cars, and extend my arms as if Kato from the Pink Panther movies was about to attack.  I go all kinds of crazy.

Yes, I am Peter Sellers—Inspector Clouseau—when the lights are out.  Frankly, even when they’re on.

The truth is that everyday is like walking into a dark room of unknown danger, and there’s never enough light, never enough understanding or ninja skill to avoid pain.   However, there is one thing, one amazing, better-than-anything-ever-invented piece of reality that you and I do get:  God’s love.  That keeps and enables us through it all.

In the last 24 hours here’s what I have encountered:  a woman who is enduring the pain of having recently lost a twin in childbirth.  She wonders, “Why me?”  On the way home from a church gathering I passed by a five car accident, and saw the pain of a woman holding her face with blood-stained hands.  And she wonders, “Why me?”  And just now I saw on the news that an amazing, one of a kind, rookie baseball pitcher, who came to the team right out of high school, has just torn the muscles and ligaments of his shoulder and will require immediate surgery.  He will be kept out of baseball for 12-18 months, and it may well be that his career is over before it began.  You know he has to wonder, “Why me?”

We know that we will all meet with pain and stunned questioning throughout our days—there is no escaping it.  Work as hard as we can, pray as hard as we might, and “Why me?” events will break through anyway.  What will get you and me through is God’s love.  While a good attitude, a solid support group, and decent health care help in times of trouble, it has been and always will be knowing God’s love that makes noble conquerors out of victims.

Love is famously described in 1 Corinthians 13: love is patient and kind, it doesn’t envy or boast, it isn’t proud or rude, it isn’t self-seeking or easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs, it doesn’t delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth, and it always protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres—it never fails. 

But that’s not what we’re supposed to do; it’s not an assignment—here’s how Christians should behave.  This is a description of what love is.  Love is wonderful!  And love, God’s love, is best seen and known in Romans 8.  That’s the passage which describes what keeps us and makes us spectacular during the “Why me?” events of our days.

The apostle Paul writes, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:  "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:35-39)

Look, there’s a lot about sorrow and suffering in the New Testament, some of which comes with the specific purpose that Jesus’ life—His loves and desires and feelings and abilities—may be revealed in us and through us (see 2 Corinthians 4:7-12).  That’s an amazing reality and an incredibly honorable fact of our days in this age.  Really!  Christ in us.  And much of the life that goes on around us is getting at Him in us.  But what keeps us secure and noble as we face death and are considered by some as “sheep to be slaughtered,” is knowing and trusting God’s love for us—and knowing it for yourself. 

Wanting to know His love is the best desire and prize of my life.  It shapes my days, channels my efforts and focuses my hopes in the midst of uncertain, dangerous and ugly times.  God’s love—for me and for you—is my favorite effect of having Him living in me now.  Frankly, I wish that after God first made His home in me in 1980 that His entrance meant I could figure out and avoid all of the ugly and painful pitfalls of life.  I have even attempted to employ angels and God Himself toward making my days painless and free of “Why me?” events, worthy of a video memorial—“Ralph Harris:  A Man Admired By God.” 

That’s not happening.

What is happening, however, is that I am growing in the joy and grace and purpose of God’s love for me.  And God’s love always affects the people who know it best.  It won’t be hidden, it won’t be denied, and it won’t fail. 

And for this shuffling ninja, this stumbling man who is so loved, God’s love is the way forward.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Love & A Stumbling Son,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, scroll down to yesterday’s post, or click http://youtu.be/TUUsNN7ZkWI.) 

Friday, October 04, 2013

Love & A Stumbling Son

Do you go through life trying to avoid problems and pitfalls that, nevertheless, happen anyway? If stuff happens to you that makes you wonder, “Why me?”, then give 8 minutes to this video and see if God doesn’t give you something good, something worthwhile, something that makes sense of it all as a result.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Let's Have A Drink

If I asked a room full of people what they would rather talk about, prayer or tooth decay, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the winning majority chose to talk about the benefits of regular flossing.

For many of us, prayer was something we were taught to do in order to get something else. Right? That something else might have included a better day, a better job, a better outcome, a better future, a better wife or a better husband, but in any case, praying wasn’t THE THING, getting something because of it was the thing. Prayer was a little like calling heavenly room service. That’s cool.

However, lots of us have virtually stopped praying because we’ve found that prayer doesn’t often give us the something else we wanted. It’s not reliable. Prayer has become more about disappointment than fulfillment, so how many of us who have been around awhile really want to do it anymore? I mean, c’mon—if a strategy doesn’t work, why would you keep doing it?

But before I was taught how to strategize my life by praying the "right way," I accidentally got to know God in prayer. I found that God was like my own personal fountain of youth—Ponce de Leon was on the right track, he just looked in the wrong place. God showed Himself to be like a spring of water that I could visit anytime simply by taking a few steps away from the dry flatlands of the visible and temporary world, toward the peaks of the invisible and eternal. My best expression before prayer was, “I simply want to be with you!” In other words, “I thirst.”

Prayer is more about jumping into the pool of the Spirit, and less about directing the water. If prayer is going to be satisfying, let alone inviting, it must provide revival and deliverance for the one making the jump. It must be more like a homecoming than a going to work.

If God is, in fact, like a spring of life, a fountain of revival—and He says He is—then all I have to offer Him is my thirst. I can do that. The best way to glorify my Mountain Spring is to get to it as often as I need or want and to drink to satisfaction. And once I arrive at the Spring, I’m not going to try to dazzle the water with praise and thanksgiving, as if the Water doesn’t know how good it is and that it’s just what I need, or as if it will remove itself or dry up if don’t.

Drink the water! It’s made for us.

It would be foolish to drag water from the desert flatlands up to the spring, there to pour it in, hoping to make something more of it, hoping to make it go somewhere else or look different.

Prayer is bringing to God my thirst for Him. The way to please the Mountain Spring, the way to please God is to come to Him to get and not to give, to drink and not to water. Every time I approach the Spring it is because I have found its water to be everything I need—that’s how God is glorified by me.

I believe He is who He says He is, and my efforts related to wanting Him and finding Him is how the spring of living water now in me bubbles up as His satisfying life. He has planned for that.

So whatever it is that makes me thirsty—frustration, chaos, futility, lust, covetousness, hopelessness, envy, weakness, arrogance, pride, anger, unbelief, the government or gas prices—I want to be quicker to head for water. And since He now lives in me, since the Spring of water is so close, I can silently turn my thoughts toward Him in the confident hope that satisfaction and water wait for me. Anything(!) that surfaces my need is the avenue toward the Spring. It’s an opportunity to drink. My satisfaction and His glory through meeting the need are the result. You and I are set up for this.

So if prayer is about drinking, have one on me. Make it a big one.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Let’s Have A Drink,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video and to subscribe to them if you want, click http://youtu.be/qc4d8Sjb514.)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Let's Have A Drink

Have you got 6 minutes to find a new source of fun and vitality?  It’s probably something you already know about—maybe even something you don’t like anymore—but I’d like to put it in a new and easier light.  See if this doesn’t revive an ancient recipe for wonder.

Good Morning!

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.
Psalm 143:8

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Faithfulness of Frustrated Longing

Have you found that much of this world's pressure and torment ends up serving your desire for Jesus? Has that happened for you?

God has made us to have deep yearnings for love and life and satisfaction, and if we are finding this world as it is—faulty and frustrating—then it's likely that we'll find Him as the contrasting and constant treasure He is. That’s something of the plan.

It's difficult, I know! But if our “citizenship is in heaven,” and we are just now a sort of loosely assembled, heavenly colony, then doesn’t it figure that you and I already find most enjoyable the truth and sustenance which one day will be ours without measure? He is Jesus. Fortunately, we’re already listed in the logbook and scheduled for the coming rescue flight and home-going party.

Until that day, we’ve got what the apostle Paul wrote about in Philippians 1—the longing to depart this world and to be with Christ, which is the greatest thing, and the attendant knowledge that we’re likely going to be here a fruitful while longer.

Hang in there, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of God. Jesus really is faithful and capable with you. It’s Him you want, and it’s Him you have.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “The Faithfulness of Frustrated Longing,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click http://youtu.be/VAgXlZmNkHo, or scroll down this page. You may also subscribe to these regular videos by clicking the red “Subscribe” button while there.)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Faithfulness of Frustrated Longing

Have you got 2 minutes for something that will help make sense out of the tension between longing and frustration?  See if this latest video doesn’t help you take advantage of what God is doing about the whole thing — with you.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Seems Like A Plan

If, according to the apostle Paul, a routine of rule keeping and law living familiarizes us with sin and all of its misery (Romans 7:7-13), then it’s no wonder that people are running to grace and to grace teachers and grace books.  Shouldn’t they?  A life by grace in Christ is the only way to know that we are, indeed, dead to sin and alive to God, now in us (Romans 6:13-14).  What’s not to like about that?  And the point of it all?  We get to know the mystery—Christ in us—and He gets to impress us and those around us with how good He actually is.  Seems like a plan to me.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hello, Gong Man!


With on-going and fiery debates about gun control, morality, immigration, healthcare, and more filling our days, our televisions, our newspapers, our conversations, and our computer screens, I find it difficult to trust that Truth is first a Person—Jesus—and not a position. It’s difficult and it takes time.

However, I'm getting help by paying attention to the stark difference between those of us who have been induced to build our position (with supporting facts and statistics) and to strongly prosecute by it, from those who remain at rest in Christ, content for Him to be for others what He is for themselves—the way, the truth, and the life.

Perhaps the first sign that I’ve moved to prosecuting by a position rather than trusting Jesus is that love—knowing it for myself and for others—is replaced by surrogate passions. Do you know about those? I can grow accustomed to living by zeal, anger at sin, frustration at religious or political knuckleheads, and more. But if I have not love, then kindly whack me awake because I’ve taken on the form of a good-for-nothing noisemaker. And that does not work, it doesn’t fit with who and what God has made me. Struggle and strive to convince you of my point or opinion, even if I think it’s for your own good, there will be no fruit. Not really.

So call me on the phone or come visit me, and call me “Gong Man” or “Cymbal Breath.” I might not like it at first, I might turn some of my surrogate passion upon you(!), but your words to me will waken me and save me.

And I will thank you.

1 Corinthians 13:1 "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing."

Those are strong words.

I don’t mean that we can never debate—there are many issues worthy of it. But the One Who is the Truth, the One who is the Way and the Life, is Himself Love. Love is HOW He is because love is WHO He is. We do well to remind each other and to remember. Otherwise, you might start carrying around a musical mallet; for yourself—“Whack”—and for others like me—“Whack. Hello, Gong Man! Where’s the Ralph who loves? I know you’re in there, Ralph! Come on out to love.”

Maybe we could start a new ministry: “Mallet Masters.” Maybe not.

(This post is a transcript from yesterday’s video, “Hello, Gong Man!” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see this and other videos of mine, go to my YouTube channel at: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU0vzTvP_wD3Q59QDl9hx7w.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hello, Gong Man!

Are you worked up by the issues of gun control, morality, healthcare, and more?  Then give 4 minutes to this video as a precautionary reminder of what really works for you—by design.

Friday, September 06, 2013

The Best Self-Improvement Course

Are you looking for a great self-improvement course?  You know, a really effective workout with terrific results?  Here’s the best one that I know of:  “Consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:11).

And here’s the follow-up question:  How often is that my consideration? 

There is no need to wrestle with self.  There is no prosecution and painful crucifixion of an evil you that is yet to be accomplished.  There is no work of fashioning a you that stands against sin FINALLY, and there is no need of a better you or of getting rid of a badder you

There is no self-improvement course needed.  You can give up on all that effort.

Jesus took care of all that because He took care of you when He died—He took you with Him on the cross.  All that remains is to consider what He did in making you dead to sin through the cross, and alive to God through the resurrection.  That’s where you’ll find yourself.  That’s where your life is.  That is the work out that works, because that’s how life for you works. 

You and I live by faith in Jesus.  We live by faith that Someone Else’s workout worked—that it was perfect and that it was for me and for you; the old you that’s gone, and the new you that has arrived.

Consider that.  Again and again and again.  There’s your workout. 

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “The Best Self-Improvement Course,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click http://youtu.be/fWLv3iY_AMA, or scroll down this page.)

Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Best Self-Improvement Course

Got 2 minutes?  What’s the workout that really works for my life, and that takes advantage of what God did for me?  Watch this little video and see what you think.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Antidote

Jesus is the antidote for weakness because He takes the hate out of it, He takes the poison and uselessness out of it because He shows up in it.  He jumps on the stage inside of you and says, “Here I am!  I am the one for this, and I am with you. I find no fault with you!  Have you forgotten that I am easy to be with and gentle with you? I’m not here to ever put burdens upon you, I’m here to remove them!  I am and will always be all about rest with you.  You can count on it.”

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Sunday, September 01, 2013

The Difference Between Black Church & White Church

I have never forgotten my first experience in a black church. After that day, I never again thought only one person should talk during church. But I wondered if anyone would ever yell "Shut up!" at me as a way of motivating me to keep going, 'cause I was bringin' it.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Jesus Is Everything - Guaranteed

I love the man who wrote this (Murray Scott), and I think you'll like this. I sure do.

We have a wonderful Savior and He calls us into fellowship with Him. I cannot speak for anyone else, but there have been many times for me when He seemed particularly close and the intimacy level between us was more apparent than usual. I have never been left unchanged after times like that. Most times, it was a change in my thinking for the better, but I have often found a change in my body after having fellowship time with Him.

There are two types of teaching I find abhorrent. One is that healing is guaranteed and the other is that it's not. Both put the focus in the wrong place. Our focus is to be on Christ always and He is a healer, He is our healer. Whatever arises from our fellowship with Him is perfect and more than enough to meet our needs and brings some sort of healing into our experience. I cannot tell you exactly what that looks like in every case, but I can tell you that He makes things better simply by his presence. I don't think He has any problem at all healing our bodies, but again, it's probably not wise to make that a focus. He is our focus. He is our everything.

Those who say healing isn't guaranteed have Scripture to cite on their side and those who say it is do also. I think I've retired from playing 'dueling Scriptures' with people. It seems a fools errand to me.

Jesus said, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. (John 5:39-40)

We will not receive a satisfactory and conclusive answer from the Scriptures about healing and I think this is on purpose, but we will be satisfied when we come to Him to have life. I do not believe that this is to be a one time thing, but something we do again and again and again.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Little 'Out There'

Standing in line at the post office in order to fulfill a book order, a woman asked, "What's your book about?" "It's called, 'God's Astounding Opinion of You" I said. She replied, "Well, that sounds very positive and uplifting." I replied, "And shouldn't it be? God thinks He put us in pretty good shape when He took all of our sins and gave us a great record with Himself in place of that. We're good with God because of Jesus," I said, "and He wants everyone to know. That's what my book is about." She looked away, smiled and said, "Well, that sounds good, and, um, a little 'out there.'" She gave in to a distraction, and that was the end of our conversation.

I never know how people will respond to the good news in light of where they've been with the gospel before. Do they really know how good it is? And, frankly, she was right--it truly is a little "out there."