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

Entries in faith (12)


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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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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Be the Mustard Seed

The only things keeping you or me from exhibiting God's own creative power are our deficiency of faith, our failure to see through the eyes of God, and the limits placed on us by our physical bodies. [Is that you asking, "Oh, is that all?"] Jesus is quoted in in Matthew 17:20, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove: and nothing shall be impossible to you."

Why is the tiny mustard seed a symbol of faith? The seemingly insignificant mustard seed simply does what God created it to do, having no doubt. The miniscule mustard seed becomes a powerful herb, harvested for its many gastronomic and health benefits. 

If we lived up to our potential like the mustard seed, what would limit our ability to live in the image of God?

(Photograph of mustard field by Crystal Woroniuk, copyright 2009)

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Faith Transcends Reason

Faith depends on the power of God and thus rises above the limits of reason, which depends on the power of the human brain. Faith "is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is not limited to human knowledge, logic, or understanding. This message stands out in the Bible, which requires its believers to "walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Does this mean that the faithful should not be rational?

A jetliner is meant to soar through the air, to take its passengers from one location to another far away. The jet has wings for this purpose. The jet also has wheels and without its wheels, the jet can't get off the ground to fly. Think of the wheels as reason and the wings as faith. How does this illustration change your perception of the two scripture verses mentioned above?

(Photograph by Pablo Barrios)

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Could You Be Wrong About God?

A healthy theology begins with doubt.

Now I'm not saying one needs to become an atheist like I did in order to wind up a true believer. What I am saying is that if your faith comes out of someone else's experience rather than your personal knowledge of who you are in relation to God, how strong can that faith be?

Of course Mom, Dad, Grandma or whoever can lead you from the cradle to the altar, and that's a good thing when it happens. However, until you sidestep the one(s) who led you, take time to tear down what you've been taught, and reassemble it from scratch, your faith is liable to be blown apart by any huffing, puffing wolf that comes along.

Study your Bible and your heart like your life depends on it, because it does. Will your faith take you from where you are now to an eternity in union with the Spirit of God? Do you even believe that is possible, or are you jumping, shouting, praying, and saying what you've been told just because you have been told?

If you don't think it makes a difference how you worship or who you think God is, ask Paul of Tarsus.

Play it safe if you want and choke down your questions so you don't look like a bad Christian (or a bad Jew, bad Muslim, or unsure atheist, for that matter). Sooner or later you'll gag on all those swallowed question marks, and the mess will need to be cleaned up. Why not just start the questioning now?

(Cartoon by the late, great Charles Schulz)

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Why Forgiveness Tests Our Faith...

...and what does forgiveness have to do with your success?

To forgive is to let go of control, and it may seem counterintuitive but happy, successful people have learned what they must control as well as what control they must release.

I'll be going deeper into this tonight when Robin Tramble, The Empowerment Diva, interviews me during the Dynamic Women of Faith Event at 6:30pm Pacific / 9:30pm Eastern. Click here for info on how to join us.

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Is Your Pastor Handicapped?

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite comedians was the manic, multi-personality Jonathan Winters. Years later, I read his recounting of an incident in which he pulled his car into a handicapped parking spot, and a woman observing this began to scold him. She demanded that he move his vehicle. "You're not handicapped," she said. Jonathan's dry response was, "Madam, can you see inside my mind?"

Early in his career, Jonathan Winters did actually get hauled off by the San Francisco police to a "rubber room" in a mental hospital for a few days, so if difficulty coping with mental issues were a criteria for obtaining a handicapped parking placard, he might have qualified.

Many people have mental, emotional, and spiritual issues or handicaps that require outside help. Generally, there is less and less shame nowadays in asking for that help--unless you are the one person that so many people turn to for guidance and advice.

In his new book, "Confessions of an Insignificant Pastor" , W. Mark Elliott asks, to whom does a pastor talk when he needs help? Where can a pastor go to be real?

Elliott, a veteran pastor of twenty-seven years, gets very real about his personal temptations and attempts to join the ranks of the alarming number of pastors who are leaving ministry each year.

Unless you can see inside the mind or soul of your pastor, you cannot know how handicapped he is. But obviously pastors are troubled in droves, because 80% of new ministers coming out of seminary will quit ministry within their first five years. Fifty percent of paid ministers would leave if they knew another way to make a living.


"I'm not sure what I am doing."

"I have emotional baggage."

"I work too much."

"People get on my last nerve."

"I'm disillusioned by the ministry."

These are just a few of the "confessions" of Pastor Elliott. We may all have similar issues, but we're not expected to handle our issues plus the same issues for dozens or even hundreds of other people in our congregations as well. Pastors are expected to be wise, caring, praying for others, and not to have troubles of their own.

As a pastor's wife, I know that Christians run to their pastors, and think nothing of calling them in the middle of the night, for everything from marital distress to loan requests to hurt feelings to major an minor health issues. Pastors get called to settle arguments, preach funerals, and counsel wayward teens. They're even called on to cast out real demons. We depend on our pastors to help when we're troubled.

But, "Doc" Elliott asks, to whom can your pastor turn when he needs a pastor? The shepherd doesn't want the flock to know when he's uneasy, and is often afraid to tell fellow pastors or superiors in the church for fear of being looked at as "less than". Probably most of us would look askance at a pastor who admitted ongoing depression or confusion.

Your pastor's strength does come from God, but the pastor is still human and needs restoration and replenishment on a regular basis.

Pastors also are partly to blame for their stress, because they work so hard at hiding weaknesses in order to maintain credibility as spiritual leaders.

Fortunately, Pastor Elliott not only lays out an long list of issues, from "I'm not Billy Graham" to "I've got baggage" and "I failed as a parent", but he also has Biblical answers for all of them. By looking at the weaknesses and failures of Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, Jonah, and on and on--but also reminding us how God used these people to accomplish His purposes in spite of their downsides, he reminds pastors (and the rest of us Christians) that God can and will use anyone who is only willing to serve Him.

"Confessions of an Insignificant Pastor" overflows with reality checks and real encouragement for pastors and for others in church leadership. It's about getting the ministry done without drowning in defeatism and depression. It's about faith and faithfulness working together to help insignificant people do significant things after all.

"Confessions of an Insignificant Pastor", by W. Mark Elliott, should be read by pastors, ministers, their spouses, and the church members who love them enough to liberate them to live out their God-given anointing.

(Photograph by Benjamin Earwicker)

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What are You Thinking?

What are you thinking? Was God on your mind just now?

Depending on your circumstance, ask yourself one or more variations of this question today: How would my schoolwork/my job/my marriage/my family suffer if I spent as little time serving it in thought and deed as I spend on God?

Ask yourself, how have I separated myself from God? What did I put ahead of Him yesterday in my mind, and what am I thinking of today more than I'm thinking of Him?

When anything comes before God in our lives, that is separation from Him, and separation from God is the definition of sin because when we separate from Him we are not obeying His will.

If I don't trust God, how can I know His unfailing love for me?

If I don't constantly pray to/converse with/ask questions of God, how will He be able to order my steps?

Unless I wrap myself in His love and hide there, what protection do I have against my enemies?

Unless I surrender to God, what can He teach me?

The first chapter in the book of Psalms tells us joy is the reward for those who take delight in doing God's will and who think about His law day and night. One can only take delight in things one thinks about constantly.

Are you married? Remember when you first fell in love? Did you have to make yourself think about your new sweetheart?

Don't take God for granted and give Him less time even if you have known and loved Him for many years. Your unfaithfulness cheats both God and you.

Don't keep anything or anyone higher in your thoughts than you do God. What are you thinking?

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Four for the 4 Who Stood at the Door

"Children, go where I send thee / how shall I send thee? / I'm gonna send thee four by four, four for the four who stood at the door..."

The line actually should be "four for the four who climbed on the roof, removed the thatch, and lowered their paralyzed friend down to see Jesus..." (Mark 2:1-5) but that wouldn't be as catchy as the rhyming version.

What certain faith these four men had. They carried a paralyzed man to get him in the presence of Jesus, because they must have believed Jesus could heal the man. The Bible doesn't say how well they knew the man or even whether they knew him at all. But their faith is evident by what they did.

When these four believers could not get the paralytic through the doorway, they did not turn away or let the paralytic down. Instead, they took the extra step of climbing on the roof and digging through the thatch to lower the man into the presence of of Jesus. The crowd inside the house wouldn't make room for the faithful four to carry their companion inside, so they forced the crowd to reach up and accept the burden of the paralytic's weight as he was lowered down to get in front of the Lord.

When Jesus witnessed the simple, direct faith of the four men who brought the paralytic on his mat, He said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven."

Why did Jesus say this to the paralytic who was carried, and not to the men who carried him? This is an indication that the intercession or prayers of a righteous man can move God on behalf of others (James 5:16). The effectiveness of the four mens' faith justifies the belief held by many after the death and resurrection of Christ that the sick could be healed if they were only placed in the right spot so that the Apostle Peter's shadow should fall on them as walked by, so great was his faith (Acts 5:15.)

How often do I want to give up on praying not only for others, but for myself as well, when an obstacle is put in the way of my answer? How much can I learn from the faith of four men who stood at the door, and didn't back off when they were turned away from the presence of God?

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