On the Air

Click here to listen to my first interview as an author: Sunday, 1/11/09 on Urban Literary Review (BlogTalkRadio) with L. Martin Johnson Pratt ( @iluvblackwomen on Twitter ).

Click here to listen to my Saturday, 7/11/09 interview with Evangelist Maureen Chen and her co-host Juergen on Kingdom Club on BlogTalkRadio.

Robin Tramble interviewed me on 7/14/09 on the subject "Why Forgiveness Tests Our Faith", during her awesome Dynamic Women of Faith Telesummit. (Recording issues required that the interview be split into two parts - Part II is here.)

My transformation from atheist to born-again Christian minister was fodder for a second 60-minute interview with Evangelist Maureen Chen and co-host Juergen Mair on Kingdom via the BlogTalkRadio network on Saturday, 7/25/09.

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Stepping into the Light: You’re a Christian, what now? is a great primer for the new adult Christian, as well as a devotional and inspiring Christian living guidebook.

Written by Diane L. Harris, the daughter of a South Bronx born Jew and a Jamaican-American ex-Episcopalian Jewish convert, Stepping into the Light is the fearless testimony of a former atheist who admits that while Christian salvation erases the threat of eternal damnation, becoming a Christian is not a magical pill for the ills of life on earth.

Combining curiosity, transparency, a gift for simplifying erudition and a palpable joy, Minister Diane explores the questions for God that inundated her as a “baby believer.”

With clarity and wielding a humble sense of humor, this woman of God leads the way to a down-to-earth relationship with a loving Messiah by answering such important questions as: What’s the meaning of salvation? Who do I become when I’m born again? Do I need to know about spiritual warfare? How is the Old Testament relevant to me as a Christian? What does the New Testament teach? What promises does God have for me? Can I contribute to the kingdom of God?

If you are a Christian, “baby believer” or not, who is asking yourself, “what now?” this book is written for you.

Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

Stepping into the Light: The Blog


The Top 6 Lessons I Learned from my Dad

Discipline your children while there is hope. Otherwise, you will ruin their lives. -Proverbs 19:18, NLTDavid, Dorothy (mom), Stephen, Martin (dad), and Diane Lefkovits in San Francisco in 1979

Like most of us, I probably could write a book about everything I learned from my parents--the hard way and the easy way--both consciously and through subliminal suggestion.

In celebration of Father's Day, however, I thought I could at least tackle the top 6 lessons I learned from my dad, Martin Lefkovits, along with samples of the things he said (some phrases more times than I could count, some just once) to get the lessons through to me:

  1. Mistakes are learning experiences. Admit them and fix them if you can. ("Go back up those stairs and walk down this time.")
  2. Accomplish something every day, even if it's just incremental progress on your latest assignment or project, but don't waste time. ("Don't just sit there like a lump on a log. Find something worthwhile to do.")
  3. Research anything you want to know. ("Get the dictionary and look it up.")
  4. Think for yourself. ("All you're doing is taking in information and regurgitating it. That is not using your brain.")
  5. It's okay to criticize, but never okay to be cruel. ("How dare you mistreat anyone for being different, when your ancestors on both sides of your family have suffered so much cruelty because they were considered less than their neighbors.")
  6. No worship is not acceptable. ("You don't have to go to [Christ Episcopal] church, but you're going somewhere on Sunday. You're not staying home.")

These lessons are all important and integral to my character today, but the greatest things I learned from my father are trust and commitment, which--added together--equal the finest definition of the verb "to love", in my book.

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

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Think You Know Your Political Position? Maybe Not.

There are arguments that go on and on, drawing in passers by and predictably heating up "new blood" to the boiling point year after year, decade after decade, etc. Anyone with a modicum of experience can jump in at any random juncture without missing a beat, kind of like keeping abreast of "General Hospital" or some other ancient soap opera throughout its run. We may listen to or participate in these endless back-and-forths until, on a too-rare occasion, some clever soul politely cuts through the usual stream-of-consciousness to grant us a needed yet relevant diversion from "same-same" (as they say in Hong Kong) and invites us, however briefly, to think for a change.

Anyway, that's my take on Heather A. Goodman's recent blog post on one of the age-old hot buttons of politics. Her title is "Correct Me If I'm Wrong":

"This is my last blog post in the trilogy (because trilogies are a nice round series) of politically charged (shocking? electrifying? electrocuted?) blog posts (introduction--On Politics: Taking Christ to a Bull Fight--to my questions about the possibilities of a just war--Only War.)

Politically and historically speaking, liberalism means "leave me alone." It carries the idea that I can make better choices for myself than you can make for me. This implies that Republicans are liberal when it comes to money and business (we can make the best choices for ourselves for both our individual finances and our nation's businesses in a free market capitalist system with as little governance as possible) and conservative (to use what has come to be the antonym of liberal) when it comes to moral issues (such as abortion and marriage), meaning we prefer government to step in to help guide people in morals, and when it comes to military.

Democrats are conservative, then, in the issues of finance and business (businesses need regulations to keep them in check, and this has implications for personal finances) and liberal in moral issues (individuals have the right to choose whether they live in heterosexual or homosexual relationships, for example)."

To read the rest of this post, follow this link to Heather A. Goodman's "L'Chaim" blog.


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Missing: News at 11

Last week our church held an impromptu prayer vigil for Arianna Davis and raised an offering of $1,000 to reward anyone who comes forward with information that leads to her discovery.

Arianna, also known as "Peaches", has been missing since Friday, April 30th around 1:30pm. Her brother William last saw the 20-year old college student seated at the kitchen table in their parents' Henrico County, Virginia home--wearing cutoff blue jeans, a pink top, and multicolor flip flops--when he left their home at 1:13pm. Twenty minutes later she was in the J Express Mart on Nine Mile Road just outside Richmond, Virginia--just three blocks from her home--according to the store owner. The tire service store owner next door also remembers seeing and speaking to Arianna around that time.

I've seen this before on TV too many times--a young woman disappears and "News at 11" broadcasts photographs of her smiling face as provided by parents or other loved ones who seem just slightly zombie-like in their disbelief when television cameras are pointed at them.

"How awful," I may have whispered to myself. In the case of youth, I've often prayed that the young person be spared from the worst consequences of some possible foolish decision just as I was spared in my youth.

I don't think I've ever wondered what I would do or think if the missing person was someone I knew, but now I don't need to wonder.

I met Arianna last fall after she followed her cousin Phylicia to Fortis College and I enrolled them both. The last time I saw her was in the hallway at Fortis around 11:25am on the day before she disappeared. I'd gone looking for her to tell her to talk to our Career Services Director as soon as possible, because she is scheduled to graduate soon. As usual, her infectious smile and her excitement over how well she was doing in school gave me a lift.

Arianna lifted the spirits of everyone I've met who knows her. Hearing from Arianna's parents that she has never been away from home for more than a couple of hours without checking in, or hearing from her instructors how she gladly volunteered to tutor newer Massage Therapy students coming along behind her, just makes me miss her and feel more helpless to comfort her family.

Arianna's disappearance has brought the randomness of life into sharper focus for me, but also reminds me that God ultimately is in control and we are not. If we depend on our own strength to get through the strange, sour, or sad circumstances that smack us down in life, we will only get back up--if we do--worse for the wear. But when we know beyond a doubt that every bad or good event in our lives can be used by God to hone us into sharper instruments in His hands for His purpose, then even our pain works in our favor, because it shapes us closer to the image in which God first created us.

Arianna (or "Peaches", as she prefers to be called) disappeared within three blocks of her home in the early afternoon of Friday, April 30th. Someone must have seen what happened to her after she stopped at the convenience store and spoke to the business owner next door. Those who love her are hoping that the $1,000 reward may loosen the tongue of a witness or make someone pay attention who doesn't even realize they are a witness.

Please don't just read this and move on. If you send the story of this missing girl to everyone you can, maybe the prayers of her mother, father, grandmother, and everyone else who cares will come true sooner. Personally, I'm still praying that when we have all the answers in Arianna's situation, that we'll find her better for the lessons learned in her youth, and closer to His image.

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Strength in Weakness

Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. - 2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT

God, I need You more than I have ever needed You in my life. For as long as I live I will need You more every day and I'm learning to be okay with my weakness.

It's a relief to have gotten past the whispery romance of brand-new belief and beyond the delirious determination of a new minister, but later came the soul-twisting despair of doubt.

Deliverance is another name for surrender to a God who only manifests perfection and can do nothing against His good and perfect nature. Deliverance came when I laid down, gave up, and refused to get back up with my old burdens. Deliverance is the gain of one just weak enough to let go of even addictive evil at the feet of a redeeming Lord.

Thank you for loving me too much to let me settle for my own limitations when all Your blessings are mine, as an adoptee into the fullness of Your promises.

God, I need You more than I have ever needed You in my life.

Without You, the scary second-year dissonance in my marriage may have moved me to throwing shoes and packing heavy suitcases rather than throwing myself on my dusty carpet to beg Your intercedence--perhaps equally dramatic as option one, but infinitely more productive.

Without You, fear and elevated stress over the last few years might have ended in my self-destructive urges winning. But even when I railed against You, and emotions encouraged me to reject love and life, my first love for You directed me back to the Bible and into Your arms again.

You're teaching me to be neither complacent nor fearful even in times when danger seems past, but to grab hold of You and pull closer, whether I'm happy or sad. I'm learning not to own my problems but to dutifully hand each one to You, knowing You are always with me.

For as long as I live, I will need You more each day, and that's a good thing.

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Prayer for My Workplace

I claim this place for God. Though I am aware my workplace is not a house of worship, still I rejoice that I work in a place where God is worshipped in the hearts and out of the mouths of those who love Him dearly.

I claim the blessing of the Blood of Jesus on the people in this place and I am looking for lives to be changed as the good news is shared and souls are surrendered to Him.

Thank You, Lord, for my job, for my coworkers, and for the people with whom we do business. I pray for peace in their homes and hearts, and safe travels and arrivals when they are not here.

Help me, Lord, to keep in mind that my highest priority is to remind those in my path that Your love is unconditional, and Your salvation is free to the undeserving simply for accepting the gift and acknowledging the Giver. Grant me the courage to put that amazing message first in my life.

Help me, Lord, to remember that everything I do as a Christian reflects on Your message of salvation--not only what I do in church, but moreso the way I behave at home, in the marketplace, and at work.

Thank you, Lord, for the unspeakable joy available to all who serve you, even during times of suffering. I claim that precious connection to You for all who are connected with this workplace, because I know that is Your desire, Heavenly Father.

May Your name continue to be lifted up from this place, and may every seed planted in Your name bear sweet fruit. Amen.

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Faith and Hate

The evil in you
Attempts to flay me
Burrowing the knife of betrayal
Beneath my skin

Yet the stripping you've done
And clever stab wounds
Simply deepen the furrows needed
To receive seeds of increased faith from my Father

He strengthens me
To choose His love
Over the hate with which you fornicate

I must reject
Your angry pain
The Spirit of God leaves me no room for it

Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness,
Goodness, faith, meekness and temperance
Soothe and overflow my borders

God loves us all

You can't know how sorry I am
That my deflection leaves your heart
As the only remaining target
For what you've unleashed

I pray your bonds are broken
Before it is too late

Your forgiveness is already bought

(Photograph by Claudia Pau)

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Wide-eyed Morgan Harrington, a Virginia Tech education major, went missing exactly one month ago after becoming separated from her friends at a Metallica concert in Charlottesville, Virginia. No one seems to know for sure how she wound up outside the concert arena after getting up to go to the ladies' room before Metallica even came onstage. She was denied reentry to the arena, in accordance with the rules, and phoned her friends to say she'd find her own way home. To the distress of her family, friends, and many others, the pretty blonde college junior hasn't been seen since--at least not by anyone who knows her--though her cell phone and purse were found in a Charlottesville parking lot by a passerby.

As I read the story of missing Morgan over the weekend, and wondered how Morgan's parents felt when they heard the latest police speculation that their daughter may have been hitchhiking after leaving the University of Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena, trying to get a ride with a stranger back to the Virginia Tech campus. They have said they find it hard to believe she'd do that. I assume they taught her not to take such chances, and she knew to take their advice.

However, we all do things--especially in our often adventurous and blind young adulthood, and most especially when we first get the opportunity to live away from our families--that would surprise those who knew us in our more obedient days of childhood. If we get away with taking our youthful chances, even the memories may surprise us later in life. I realize now, but certainly did not know 30-some years ago that having survived my own semi-innocent exuberance is a miracle.

As a Christian, I have sometimes foolishly taken the chance that ignoring God's commands "just this once" will be okay.

"God knows my heart," I've said. "Everything will be okay."

For weeks at a time, and longer, I have ignored God's command to study His word so that my thoughts will be in tune with His. I have watched what I wanted to watch on TV, knowing it's not pleasing to my Lord and indulged angry or fantastic thoughts that go against His teaching.

Then I have had the nerve to not understand why I have wound up feeling so distant from God at times. Well, I have wandered away, disobeyed, and left myself vulnerable to Satan's attempt to kidnap me and keep me away from my Father.

I pray that God gives me sufficient wisdom not to repeat those past painful mistakes of mine.

I pray also that young Morgan is found and lives to look back in gratitude for wisdom gained and not in regret. God bless her and her family.

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Your Oil Shall Not Run Dry

By Yvette Nietzen

1 Kings 17:9  “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”

In the Book of Kings,  Elijah had  previously proclaimed to King Ahab  that there would be no dew nor rain except at his word.   Instructed by God,  Elijah went to the Brook Cherith where the ravens fed him until the river became dry.

As the land begins to suffer the consequence of the drought, God instructs Elijah to leave the Brook and go  to Zarephath where He has commanded a  widow to provide for him. 

In arriving at Zarephath, Elijah meets the widow, and he instructs her to provide him with water and a cake.  She obeys, But warns him it will be their last, as she is prepared to eat this last meal and die with her son. Click to continue

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Young Preacher on Prayer Power

Our 19-year-old "nephew in the ministry" spoke to the youth and brought the house down at Saint Stephen's on Youth Sunday, 8/23/09.

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