Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Gift

The surest way, the most-true way to encourage a Christian—right at the heart—is to tell him where he is, the condition that he’s in, and all that he has. 

Christians are inside of Christ, and are a perfect and fully functioning part of Him, having everything He does because of where they are.  They cannot fall from the place they were placed, they cannot change an eternal condition given to them, and they cannot lose the benefits they were not responsible for to begin with.  They are secure in Christ. 

While their worldly experience might be unpleasant now and pleasant later, ebb and flow, as mine is, still they will never lose what they’ve been given because they will never be taken from where they are—in Christ, having all things that He earned.  That’s the gift.  And that’s the good news a heart needs.

(This is a transcript of a May 2013 video, “The Gift,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video and more like it, click

Saturday, April 26, 2014

How To Escape Corruption

Why is it important to think about what your nature really is and what the real you is really like—maybe at the start of the day? To answer that, here’s another question: How do we escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires? Have you got any of those? Do we escape corruption by exposing it? Do we escape corruption by becoming a nation of whistle-blowers—everybody ratting on everybody else? Do we escape corruption by imposing penalties and prison sentences? Evidently, no. Not really.

Besides, corruption isn’t the primary problem: it’s the sign of another—evil desires. Right? And that’s where you and I are set up for God with us.

Corruption is the process of bribing you or of luring you into doing something unlike you, something crazily different from your true and genuine design. You’re going to feel that! James alluded to this when he wrote in the first chapter of his letter that fleshly, evil cravings begin to drag the real self, the one made by God, toward something unnatural, which then gives birth to corruption and sin—the terrible twist of our design. So how do we interrupt the process?

We escape corruption by participating in God—which is where we are—because we have been given His nature now as our own. Don’t miss that because that’s the plan of redemption; not only to make you “good with God,” but to share Himself with you in your day, every day, redeeming the moments, especially the ugly, corrupting ones with you. He is with you in those! You needn’t be embarrassed or shy away from Him during those evil desires. In fact it’s vital that you don’t.

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate (partake) in the divine nature, and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (Italics mine.)

Talking with or at Jesus, thinking about what He did at the cross and resurrection, asking Him questions—and listening!—singing or taking a walk Jesus, complaining or whining to Jesus in the midst of junk, these are all ways of participating with Him in everything you experience. Don’t hold anything back, because that’s the set up for Him with you, participating with you, and seeing to it that you escape the result of nasty desires. The desires aren’t the problem! The problem is that we go quiet with God or try to corral them on our own. But that’s not the set up for God and you—God with you.

I know that this is crazy stuff for some people because they don’t see themselves as God sees them. They’ve got a dispute with their own Creator. They think they’re right—right-er than He is. “I know who I am! You’re wrong about me, God!” But on the chance that He might see and know them correctly after all(!) and be able to win that argument, there are a whole lot of us who will keep offering the great gospel because we love Who and what we’ve found: God and our uncorrupted selves. It’s one of the ways we participate with Him, too, and escape the fleshly desires that lead to our corruption, the twist of our perfect design. So we’ll keep serving up the gospel, and I hope you’ll serve it to me, because I’m going to need it too.


(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “How To Escape Corruption,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click

Friday, April 25, 2014

How To Escape Corruption

If you’re fed up with corruption—your own struggle and everyone else’s—you’re supposed to be because God wants to do something with you in it.  Take 5.5 minutes to find out what that is.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Don't Assume

Do not make a practice of assuming God’s love and, therefore, not bother to ask Him to tell you what He thinks about you. 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. I like that a lot. Ask and listen, loved ones.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Stop Right There

In the darkness of the middle of the night, I was wielding a baseball bat and chasing burglars through unlit hallways and across a rooftop..  It was 1986, and I and another pastor lived in a church that had been burglarized earlier in the day.  Separated from my fellow pastor, I pursued several fleeing figures that I could barely make out, hoping to get close enough to . . . I don’t know what.  Turning a faintly lit corner, I came face to face with a police officer, his gun drawn and pointing at my chest.  “Stop right there!” he commanded.  I did.  “Who are you?” he demanded.  Raising my hands and baseball bat above my head, I froze at the question, but then stammered, “I’m a pastor—Ralph Harris—and I live here.  My roommate must have called you.”

I have never forgotten the feeling of grave danger and of being out of control.  My life was on the line, unless and until I answered that question satisfactorily and the truth made the difference.  It did.

I want you to stop, at least for a moment, and answer the question, “Who are you?”  However you answer that question will reveal what you think will save you because your life is on the line.

There is an awful lot that suggests an “awful you” or a “lesser you,” one that bears little resemblance to who you are because of how you’ve been made—or re-made by God.  And if you’re reading this, chances are good that you know what I’m talking about:  the new creation you.  I’m not talking about the businessman or businesswoman you, I’m not talking about the student you, the employee you, or the father, mother, son or daughter you.  Those are all tributary identities to the primary identity—to the source identity—to the you you truly are.  I’m talking about the you that is clean and holy and perfect, the Spirit-born you, an actual son of God, a light in this world, in whom the Kingdom of God dwells, God having seen to it, God having seen to you, through the new birth in Christ. 

I’m talking about that you!  And I simply want to remind you today that sometimes you’ve got to stop or be stopped (as it was with me) in order to think again about who you are because it can seemingly get lost in the things we do.  And if we have been made to live by faith in Christ (that He was who He said He was and who He says He is, perfect God toward man) and that you and I are who He says we are (perfect sons and daughters), then we’re going to have to answer that question, “Who are you?”  We’ll even have to ask it of ourselves so we can proceed in our days and live from the answer.  Only then can our tributary identities receive and be influenced from the source.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got to ask that sort of question of myself all the time!  As perfectly united with God as I am, having Him now inside of me, when I wake in the morning sometimes it seems as though God and I did nothing together at all yesterday, or that He doesn’t even exist, which puts me in serious trouble.   I’ve lost my identity and am subject to the lesser ones of this world.  There’s a lot of grief and twistedness there.  But He does exist, and I am well with Him; it’s just that my thinking needs a repentance—a “WAKE UP!” call.

And then I am revived.  The Holy Spirit in me sees to me, and together we can do all things.  So can you when you’ve had your wake up call.  Maybe this, “Stop right there!” will serve that purpose.

But just in case:  “Who are you?”

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “Stop Right There,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Stop Right There

Take 5 minutes for one of the most important questions you must answer.  Your life depends upon it. 

An Earth Day Toast

On a day now known (at least in the U.S.) as “Earth Day," I’d like to propose a toast to the brilliance of humans, who have turned wastelands into farmlands rich in agriculture, barren waters into those teaming with fish, darkness into light, and uninhabitable terrain into useful and beautiful environments pleasing to all (except the “humans-are-destroyers-and-must-be-stopped” types).  “Thank you!” for the creativity and strength that shows how much we are like our Father, the Original Creator.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

No Easter Discount

Do you have some thoughts about Easter?  Let me ask you a question:

When Jesus was on the cross, where were you? 

If we think of Jesus as going to the cross by Himself, we have a discounted Easter.  It’s no bargain.  We don’t have everything, and we need to.

While enduring the awful human torment of carrying a shameful cross through the streets of Jerusalem and out to Calvary on the edge of the city, Jesus—God Himself—knew what was before Him.  Through the pain, He was overjoyed!

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Hebrews 12:2, italics mine)

Seemingly all alone in His tortured trek through town and the many people lining the streets, Jesus held a fantastic secret:  He was taking them with Him.  They thought they were onlookers to a tragedy; He knew they were participants, not just in the cause, but in the act.

An incredible, miraculous, retroactive and future fact of Easter is that Jesus’ faithfulness to the cross was the initial act of bringing to an end one creation—darkened, stumbling, sin frustrated mankind—and of making another—a glory-sharing, innocent and holy new race.  That was His joy, and now it’s ours!

On the cross and knowing what was coming in three days, Jesus reached for you in the crowd—the crowd in the past, the crowd right in front of Him, and the crowd in the future—and accomplished God’s timeless desire; union with His people.  He didn’t simply hold you close, He brought you in.  Jesus removed what hindered us and brought us into Himself, where there can be no distance, no transgression and no fault, making us safe and secure with Him, who loves us perfectly.

Romans 6:6  For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—

Ephesians 2:6  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 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.

When Jesus rose and fairly strutted out of the tomb, as I picture it, He was full and full of joy!  We were in Him, and He was joyously satisfied, just as He planned.

Happy Easter!
(See Romans 6:1-7; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:6-7

(This post is a transcript of an April 2013 video, “No Easter Discount,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, scroll down my wall, or click

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter People Backwards

Do you have favorite odd verses in the Bible? You know, scriptures that cause you to tilt your head, scratch your head, and pull on your chin in wonder. “Whaaaat? That seems backwards.” One of my favorite backwards scripture verses will be beautifully proven in the next few days. It’s from the New Testament book of Philemon 1:6: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”

For a long time, that seemed backwards to me. Doesn’t it to you? I thought people had to study and understand every good thing they have in Christ before they could be active in sharing their faith. It’s not so, oddly enough, and many of us will see it played out over the weekend.

Here’s what going to happen: starting today and continuing through the weekend, people are going to feel encouraged and invigorated when they say simple yet meaningful Easter statements—you know, crucifixion and resurrection stuff. They’ll say things like, “Jesus died on the cross for me,” “Christ was raised from the dead to make me okay with God,” and maybe they’ll sing, “Christ the Lord is risen today . . .”

That’s going to happen a whole lot. People are going to say what they believe—more than they normally might—and then recognize and feel the goodness and fullness of what Christ has given to them. After saying or singing something, they’ll think, “I feel good about this,” and that proves my backwards scripture verse! They share their faith (“He is risen!”), and then they’re given a more-full understanding of every good thing they have in Christ. It hits them beautifully and perfectly because of Who is in them, standing up and cheering the truth.

Christ in us—the people of Easter—thinks we’re His workmanship, even our faith. I know it seems backwards, but aren’t you glad? So buckle up and share, Easter People! Here comes your thrill ride.

“Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!”

(This is a transcript of today’s video, “Easter People Backwards,” and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click

Easter People Backwards

Do you wonder if God has a sort of backwards way of doing things for you?  Have you ever thought, “God is a little bit sneaky with me, but it’s a good thing”?  Take 3 minutes and see how true it is.

It Is Finished

“It is finished” didn’t mean “until you sin some more, and then you’ve got to re-start the heavy burden, accountability and apology lifestyle all over again to make sure everything is cool between you and me.”  Right?  It meant that after THIS, you’re going to live out of what I’ve done and given to you, because there’s nothing MORE.  Okay?  You’ve got it all, and it’s all really good! 

And I’m giving you the Spirit—He’s really good with of all this—to remind you and convince you that I meant what I said.  That’s THE PLAN.  So say it with me:  “It is finished!”  How about in spit-filled German:  “Es ist vollbracht!”  In Spanish:  “¡Consumado es!”   In Greek:  “Tetelestai!”  In French:  “Il est terminé!”  In Croatian:  “Svršeno je!”  In Swedish:  “Det är fullbordat!”  And in Afrikaans:  “Dit is volbring!” 

(This is a “Ralphaphrase” of John 19:30  “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’  With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”)

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Antidote for Temptation

Temptation often includes the suggestion that we keep our struggle secret. But God, Champion over temptation, is our best, most capable friend right in the midst of the battle.  Here’s how to include Him in the fight.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Deep & Shallow

My goodness, we had a terrific time together at the Re-Connect Ministries conference in Fort Collins today. We were recklessly deep and shallow, which is what I like. It's my personal motto: "I can be deep as a well and shallow as a puddle, all within ten seconds." I’d hang out with them any day or even every day if I could. I am grateful to have been invited to speak with them.

Two Words of Encouragement

People commonly attempt to encourage by extolling our great possibilities because of our great potential and the virtues of all that we can do (which is a good thing).  But sometimes I’m better built up by remembering how very little I actually need to do.

To illustrate, consider two of my favorite words:  “Rahab lied.”  There you go.  How does that make you feel?  Off the charts with encouragement?  Over the moon? 

Well, think about it.  Rahab, the hooker, is on the short list of the Biblical Hall of Fame, found in Hebrews 11.  Maybe you know who is in the Hall of Fame:  Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses (“Let my people go!”), Gideon, Samson, David and Samuel.  If you’re aware of the story of their lives, then you know that they had weaknesses, but that didn’t stop God with them at all.  He did great and miraculous things with each of them.

What was Rahab’s signature moment that boosted her into God’s Hall of Fame?  She lied!  Joshua, king of Israel, sent spies into Jericho to see how things looked just over the hill.  However, the king of Jericho found out about the Israelite spies, and sent some of his soldiers directly to the one person’s house that would know about any men who were new to the community.  Who was that?  The town prostitute.  Of course.  She’d know.

What did our little Hall of Famer do?  Having hidden the spies on her roof under the camouflage of some branches—certainly no one would think to look up there—she cooked up a story, a fabrication; a lie!  “Um, yeah, the strangers came to my home, but I didn’t know who they were.  And they left just before dark.  I don’t know where they went, but if you hurry, you can probably catch ‘em.”

And there it is, Rahab’s Hall of Fame moment!  Woo-hoo!  Congratulations!  Well done, girl!  Gimme five!  Confetti everywhere.

Yes, Rahab believed the people who were on their way to Jericho and whose spies were hunkered down on her rooftop were sent by the true God.  That was as much as she had.  On the strength of that did she go out and evangelize the neighborhood to prepare for their coming?  No.  Did she pass out flyers inviting them to a potluck?  No.  Did she spend time in anguished prayer?  No.  Did she get rid of everything unclean and non-Jewish in her house before the people of God came for their visit, I mean, their invasion?  No.  Did she spend time in worship, or did she reach out to the poor and needy to earn favor with God before the invasion came?  No.  Rahab lied.  Nothing else. 

Why do I tell you this?  Because much of our fretting and worrying is over how seemingly meager our service or sacrifice for God is when looking over our past—that it all fails to amount to anything significant.  We remember great motivational sermons to do great things for God that drew from us great pledges of great commitment to great adventures of service to our great God.  It felt great.  But the years since have not revealed greatness.

Confronted by failed greatness, maybe we’ve closed off just a bit on the inside, maybe we’ve sort of turned off the lights in our heart, and we’re quietly disillusioned with ourselves.  “Greatness is for someone, but not me,“ we might think.  “What have I ever done that really matters to God?”

So, to answer that question, I have one for you:  What did Rahab do to get into God’s Hall of Fame?  On the count of three, what did Rahab do?  1, 2, 3:  “Rahab lied.”  She is the brilliant epitome of mustard seed faith; the tiniest little seed of faith in God, clumsily planted, and the mountain that was Jericho began to move. 

In our day we’re so caught up with doing things right that we miss, sometimes entirely, what God holds dear and values, which would set us free from much of the fear that plagues us.  Listen to what Paul wrote to the fearfully perfectionistic, rule-enamored Galatians: 

Galatians 3:2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: did you receive the Spirit (In other words, ‘Did you get God”) by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?  Are you so foolish? . . . 5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law (because you do things right), or because you believe what you heard?  (Parenthesis mine.)

We know the answer.  If you were to scan the great and worthy days of my life in order to figure out my lineage, my relatives, I know you’d find that Rahab figured prominently.

God measures in ways far better than we know.  I can’t imagine that Rahab thought much of her lie that night, but God did.  You may rest today, knowing that on the day you meet Jesus face to face on the other side, you will receive a rich inheritance that is imperishable, un-spoiled and fadeless, kept for you by your Father, who is pleased with His Son, who provided it all for you.

(This is a transcript from yesterday’s video, "Two Words of Encouragement," and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, click

Speaking Today

I am excited to be speaking with a group of Christian counselors from Re-Connect Ministries today at Timberline Church, in Fort Collins. My theme is essentially how to know and enjoy the greatest love and hope and ability that anyone can have — “Christ in you,” from Colossians 1:27.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Two Words of Encouragement

Sometimes our hope to do great things for God is not met in reality—and that hurts.  Take 8 minutes for the encouragement of how God looks at reality.  He thinks differently than we do, and that’s terrific.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

You're Full

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elementary principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. (Colossians 2:8-10a)

You're already full and lack nothing.  Remember where to look for that.

Friday, April 04, 2014

A Dangerous Noah

If you’re thinking of going to see a movie this weekend, here’s what I think is an important review of “Noah.” (I am not qualified since I haven’t seen the film.)

Quick Quote: “Darren Aronofsky has produced a retelling of the Noah story without reference to the Bible at all. This was not, as he claimed, just a storied tradition of run-of-the-mill Jewish “Midrash.” This was a thoroughly pagan retelling of the Noah story direct from Kabbalist and Gnostic sources. To my mind, there is simply no doubt about this.”

To read the review, click on the link:

You're Not Just Holy Pipe

Have you heard or read something like the following? “When God gives you a special gift, it's not for you. It's for others.”

Well, pardon me, but does that mean that when God gave me a wife, she wasn’t for me but for others? When God gave me children, they weren’t for me but for others? When God healed me, it wasn’t for me but for others? Am I just a piece of pipe, something for good things to pass through, hardly noticed by the carrier? Is that what I am? Of course not.

I’ve heard people and teachers say this before as a way to bestow humility upon us, inducing us to sort of drape it about ourselves as protection against presumed tight-fisted stinginess and selfishness. But I think it goes too far. I think God gives us gifts for our pleasure and joy, which pleases Him. Do those gifts end up benefitting others? Oftentimes they do, especially gifts of the Spirit, which are manifestations of God for the benefit of all. However, that doesn’t reveal the limitation of the original intent—only for others—but the scope of the affect.

I think you should fully enjoy what He gives you! Good things from God are to be appreciated, not fretted over out of concern for why God gave it to you or where it’s going: “How shall I, God’s white-plastic, PVC pipe (or galvanized or copper, depending upon your age), how shall I avoid becoming clogged-up with God’s blessings, and ensure that His truly intended receive what only passes through me?”

Knowing gifts are from Him, you won’t hoard them and treasure them to yourself, somehow diminishing the Gift-giver through fleshly and uncharacteristic selfishness. That won’t happen because it’s not your nature to do that. What’s natural to you and by design in the New Covenant is to enjoy God’s grace for you. He takes care of the results in leading you by the Spirit, and not by some assumed template we have to strap on for each other in order to guarantee that others get what God intended. See? It’s almost like that’s by design--God with you and in you, and God working through you. That’s pretty good, isn’t it? Yes, it is. And it’s because you’re not just holy pipe.

(This is a transcript of yesterday’s video, “You’re Not Just Holy Pipe,” and is for those who might rather read than watch. To see the video, click:

Thursday, April 03, 2014

You're Not Just Holy Pipe

When God gives you something good, do you have to make sure that you understand it’s not for you but for someone else? Are those the strings He attaches? Take 3.5 minutes to find out.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Stand Up, Jesus

If you want to know the difference between a Christian message and one that isn’t, why one affects you so well and another doesn’t, even when given in church, then read or watch this.  Click on the link below.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The April Fools' Gospel

I just took a break from writing and quickly cobbled together my version of “The April Fools’ Gospel.”

While Jesus was delivered over to death for your sins and was raised to life for your justification, you should still worry about un-confessed sin. Even though God speaks of your salvation as well as your inheritance by using the words, “imperishable,” “unspoiled,” and “fadeless,” you could be the first one to prove Him wrong. Just because you have peace with God through Jesus Christ doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see yourself as outside of Christ, and with a whole lot to fret and get busy about. Even though you’ve already been given absolutely everything for entirely nothing with God, you could still mess it up. Even though Christ will be of no value to you, you will be alienated from Him, and you will fall away from grace by attempting to earn and live for God’s approval by keeping the law, still there are a few ways that you could manage it. While the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death, you’ll still need to keep the Ten Commandments around to know how to live.