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.
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Entries in deliverance (3)

Friday
Apr162010

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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Monday
May252009

Woman of God Has Nervous Breakdown

Once there was a woman who seemed to have everything under control. She had it all together both before and after she surrendered to Christ. Self-control was her strength, she almost always had a smile on her face, and she was good at letting those around her know exactly what she expected of them. (Just step out of line, and his lady could give you a look that said "you might want to shut up and step away immediately.")

When this woman joined the body of Christ, she found more joy than she had been aware of in a long time, and life was wonderful in spite of her first husband's illness and eventual death, and in spite of the many other challenges that came her way. She was a mighty woman of God, who would stop strangers in distress and pray for them, whether in the hospital or at KFC. "Praise is What I Do" might as well have been her theme song.

Over the next few years she remarried, moved to a new city, had her ups and downs, but stayed faithful to Jesus and believed "everything is gonna be okay."

Slowly, though, she allowed anger over disappointing and frustrating circumstances to wear her down and keep her from Bible study and prayer. She kept a smile plastered on her face whenever she wasn't alone, but more and more of the time the smile was a lie, and as desperately as she cried out to God in her private moments, still she pulled further and further away. And yet, when she got to the point where she really believed "I can't take any more", it seemed sudden. Her psyche had been swinging more wildly between the ups and downs, and yet she was still able to appear cheerful and competent in front of co-workers and church members; even at home most the time she acted okay.

One day, though, she completely lost it; the crying that had come in short jags for weeks, just went on and on overnight and into the next morning. It continued while she drove around and then parked a short distance from her office. She called her husband who had been the object of her venomous frustration earlier that morning, and cried out to him. After their conversation, she continued to cry out to God as she had for weeks. She didn't stop crying until her face was swollen and exhaustion overtook her.

Now she was too tired to commit the suicide she'd been visualizing for days, and somehow she remembered who she was and Whose she was. She dug into the canvas bag of stuff she carried with her to work each day, and pulled out a Bible. She turned to the Gospel of John, chapter 14 and read. Then she read chapter 15 and fell asleep.

After a few minutes she woke up, checked that her face was less red and swollen, and went to work. Feeling precariously balanced, she didn't speak much  or look anyone in the eyes much for the next few days. On Sunday, she went to the front of the church at the end of the altar call, and requested her pastor-husband to pray for deliverance from fear. She whole church came forward to pray for her, not knowing her particular request. No miracle occurred, but she felt stronger.

The following Sunday, a spirit of bondage lay over the church at the start of service. The worship leader was distraught, pastor had to counsel him before service and the worship leader was unable to lead when he came out. The woman (pastor's wife) prayed silently for the worship leader. Pastor finally whispered to him to get up and lead praise and worship. As he did, the atmosphere broke and as the Holy Spirit entered, the pastor's wife screamed "Yes, Jesus" over and over, falling to her knees. She cried out, made promises to leave her burdens at the altar ("I'm not taking them back, I'm not taking them back, I'm not taking them back") and praised God in her own prayer language. Her brokenness allowed God to deliver her, and when she rose and got back into her seat knowing she was whole again, nearly everyone in the church was hollering and and praising God and finding His comfort in their own brokenness.

Even mighty women and men of God have issues that need to be broken before God in order for God to deliver them and send His comfort. This woman will never forget that God delivered her on May 17th, 2009, and that she promised to leave at His feet the things from which He delivered her. She will read and re-read John 14 and 15, especially John 14:27 (NLT) which says "I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give isn't like the peace the world gives. So don't be troubled or afraid."

His peace is greater than what the world can provide, and so it lasts in spite of the worldly situations one faces--if one accepts His peace and if one lives as if God, and neither self nor circumstance, is the source of true peace.

(Photograph by Kristin Smith)

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Tuesday
Apr282009

Is My "Self" Not Good Enough?

A few months ago, I published the piece below with a title that unfortunately scared readers away. I'm re-posting it with a new title because of everything I've written so far on this blog, I believe this post will help more people than almost any other.

Be the author of your own story. This is Think Correctly Principle #1 taught in Think and Make It Happen, by Dr. Augusto Cury.

Every person and event in my life has influenced my thinking, consciously or not, thus making a contribution--positive or negative--to who I am--my "self". According to Dr. Cury, my "self" is my identity--my ability to analyze situations, think critically, make choices, exercise my free will, correct my course, establish goals, manage emotions, and govern thoughts.

Despite the human mind being the most beautiful organism in nature, says Dr. Cury, it easily acquires "conflict" such as inferiority complexes, timidity, depression, insecurity, etcera--especially when we don't assume responsibility for what happens within us. Too often we passively watch our own lives being played out on the stage in our minds, believing ourselves powerless to write the script or direct the actors (our conscious thoughts), and to be our own leading players.

Jesus is Dr. Cury's model of a healthy-minded individual who authored his own story. Jesus was successful and at peace in his mission, certainly not because his life lacked conflict, but because he did not allow the conflict to direct him or to define who he was.

Think and Make It Happen is a book I didn't want to read. I signed up for the Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers program recently and enjoyed reviewing my first Thomas Nelson book, Billy, about the relationship between Billy Graham and Charles Templeton. When it came time to choose a second book to review, my only choices were several children's and young adult titles, or Think and Make It Happen. I'm not a fan of the self-help genre, but I chose to review this book for the experience and with the hope that next time I'd get to read a book I cared about. With that negative attitude, the book began slowly for me.

When I gain insights in reading, I underline. On page 16, I read the line, "The mind becomes ill every time it doesn't act in its own favor." From there on, I've underlined and circled Dr. Cury's wisdom liberally throughout the book, all the time focusing on the unfortunate mental condition of someone I love who has variously been diagnosed with schizophrenia, manic depression, and OCD, but who has refused treatment for many years. I thought my new glimmers of hope regarding this person's case were going to be the focus of my review.

Then I had an epiphany about my own thinking. Because of Dr. Cury's insights, I've suddenly connected seemingly disparate dots into a more complete picture of myself.

Dot #1: Most of my life, I've been aware that I am not living up to my potential.

Dot #2: Only within the last five years have I become fully aware of the feeling I've lived with most of my life that I am "not good enough". When I became aware of this feeling, I first blamed my parents and my late husband for things they'd said or done to hurt me. Then I decided my feeling of inadequacy was my own fault for not having achieved my potential.

Dot #3: My mother says I was a bold, fearless, commanding and talkative toddler. This week I've been visiting with my two and a half year old nephew Marcus (and his parents), who also fits that description. Watching Marcus' behavior brought back the thought which occasionally haunts me--how did that toddler my mother described turn into a painfully shy child who went all through elementary school speaking barely above a whisper and hoping that no one noticed her? Even in early adulthood I did not like being watched. No one who has met me recently would believe I'd ever been shy, but still I wondered about that long ago negative transformation.

Dot #4: My earliest memory is of being called "nigger". I was four years old and walking alone on the quiet street where I lived, when two older boys on bikes blocked my path, and one of these strangers told me to "get out of our way, nigger." I haven't thought of this incident often. I took that boy, Chester, down with one punch three years later when he tried to steal the Easter basket I'd made in school, and I've told this second story much more often than I've brought up the "nigger" incident, which I shared just barely as a comment to a recent post on John Shore's Suddenly Christian blog.

Dr. Cury's book gave me the tools to connect these four dots.

Suddenly it's obvious to me that being faced with Chester's irrational hatred (and physical threat) at the age of four planted a seed of fear that grew into a weed of insecurity, fertilized by every other perceived threat or criticism I received along the way. At the age of five, I was once again caught off guard and with only my younger friend Sidney along on a short stroll in the suburbs, by three much older kids who had a gun that looked real to me. They called Sidney "Jewboy" and me a nigger and questioned what we were doing in their neighborhood. They told us to run back to Sidney's house or be killed and I wanted to spit at Sidney for crying. I refused to run even though I was afraid I'd be shot in the back.

I realize now that I began to withdraw my natural personality then and became "shy" to avoid more trauma.

Dr. Cury says an important task in authoring our own stories is to direct our thoughts. We can direct our thoughts by using his DCD technique--Doubt any thought that disturbs us, Criticize the validity of negative thoughts rather than passively accepting them, and Determine to be happy, secure, and strong.

The Doubt-Criticize-Determine process has to be done in that order. Determination to be happy does no good until I break the hold of negative thoughts on my life. But I can't break the hold of negative thoughts until I understand from where they stem.

I had assumed I felt "not good enough" because I hadn't lived up to my potential, but all along it was the other way around. Now I know what happened, thanks to Dr. Cury.

Thanks to God, I came across this book against my will and now I am free not to allow the past to determine my future any longer, free to be more like Jesus. This is what we in the church call deliverance.

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