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 prayer (13)


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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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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Warfare Prayer

Just a few weeks ago, I was in a terrible state. Worry and anger were ganging up to beat me down.

One morning I could not stop crying and parked near my office, called my husband and began to let everything out that I had been doing such a poor job of holding inside. My husband incredulously questioned what in the world had gotten into me, when I started screaming at him to "understand that I'm fighting for my life."

The story of my breakdown and deliverance was posted here not long ago. The beginning of recovery and a return to righteousness in Christ was realizing that if I could hear evil more loudly than the voice of God, I was doing something wrong. I wasn't fighting with the power God had given me when I was born again into His family.

What kind of battle are you in right now? Is it financial? Is it marital? Is your trouble with an ex-spouse, or a child who is out of control?

Have you begun to think that arguing is a waste of time? Do you know that anger will get you nowhere unless it is properly focused?

In 2 Corinthians 10:4, we are allowed to know that any fighting we do in the flesh won't change the quality of our lives--at least not for the better. The real war in which we need to do combat is purely spiritual. We need to take up the weapons described in Ephesians 6:11-17 and then do battle through prayer (Ephesians 6:18) in order to stay aligned with God's purpose for us.

We need many kinds of prayers: prayers of intercession, prayers of thanks, prayers of asking, prayers of repentance. Today I offer up a warfare prayer, claiming victory over evil in the name of Jesus.

Let us pray:

Lord, I thank you for your mercy and your grace. I thank you for delivering me and giving me the strength in my spirit to follow you wherever you lead me.

For everything I have done to offend you, I apologize. As each wrong I've done comes up in my memory, with your mighty hand at my back I will turn away from the past and walk tall and steady on the straight path that leads me ever closer to you.

In the name of Jesus, I claim victory over any thought or force that disagrees with your will. I claim that my mind is sound and faith in you fills me so full that there is no room for doubt or fear.

In the name of Jesus, I claim the protection of His blood over myself, my family, my health, my home, my finances, and also over my co-workers and friends. May every person who spends time in my presence know that they have been in your presence as Christ lives in me.

Every evil that attempts to come against your will, I rebuke it right now, in the name of Jesus. You said that anything bound on earth in your name will be bound in heaven as well. You have handed me the keys to heaven, so I believe that you must have also given me the ability to free captives and open doors between my unsaved loved ones and you.

Whenever I do anything to cut off your will in my life, may the Holy Spirit bring it to my consciousness so I can repent immediately and go on freely as you order my footsteps.

I praise you because you are the One and Only Almighty and Everlasting Jehovah God. By my right as your heir, I command everything in me and around me to bow to you in the name of Jesus. Amen.

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD. -Isaiah 54:17

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. -Psalm 23:6

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Praying for Air France Flight 447

As we pray for the 228 people presumed lost on Air France flight 447 somewhere in the deep of the Atlantic Ocean between Brazil and France, and for those who love them and are afraid to be left behind, remember that God calls us to pray for each of our neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family members who are lost because they don't know Jesus.

Flight 447 was cruising normally when something so sudden happened that the pilot had no time to make an emergency call. The plane has seemingly just disappeared. Was it wind and hail? Lightning?

Whatever happened, it was unforeseen. But those we care about who don't have Jesus in their hearts have an end in sight that is foretold in the Bible. When all of us are separated by Jesus at the time of judgment, Matthew 25:41 and other scriptures tell us that the unsaved (those who don't accept Christ's gift of grace) will be separated from God eternally. It wont be a sudden catastrophe like the fate of the lost Air France jet; it's been foretold and retold again and again.

Pray for and love those whose loss you will mourn eternally unless their hearts are moved to love God for the gift of grace.

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7 Reasons for Christians to Pray

  1. Pray for the people of God. Lift up those who belong to Him and call on God to forgive. Would you rather surround yourself with people on whom you've given up or with people for whom you have hope? (As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. -1 Samuel 12:23, NIV)
  2. Pray for those who have not accepted God in their hearts. Who are we not to pray for those who are where we once were? (Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. -2 Thessalonians 3:1, NIV)
  3. Pray for the sick, if you have faith that God is a healer. If you have no faith, leave the sick alone; no one needs faithless prayers. (And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. -James 5:15, NIV)
  4. Pray to let God know you love Him and want to be closer to Him. We can't take God for granted; even God needs to be told that we love Him, though He knows our hearts. God wants your sincere profession of love, so He may answer in kind. (Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer nor withheld his love from me! -Psalms 66:20, NIV)
  5. Pray when you are happy. Share your joy with the Lord who gave it to you. (My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you--I, whom you have redeemed. -Psalms 71:23, NIV)
  6. Pray when you feel helpless. Whatever trouble we bring to God, He will answer. Speak up, then listen for His response. Repeat until your trouble is over. (For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him, but has listened to his cry for help. -Psalms 22:24, NIV)
  7. Pray to forgive and to be forgiven. (For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. -Matthew 6:14-15, NIV)

When our prayers are in line with the will of God, and when they are offered in the name of Jesus, who sacrificed Himself so that God could hear us, those prayers unite us with God through both our suffering and our joy. He suffers and rejoices with us. (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, NIV)

(Photograph by Michael Murphy)

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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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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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How Often Do You Repent?

When is the last time you told God you were sorry for something you did wrong? Have you determined not to repeat your mistake? Was it a mistake, or did you do it on purpose, knowing you were wrong?

Did you repent when you became a Christian and think you'd never have to repent again? Wrong--not unless you've stopped sinning!

Each day we should think over our actions of the past 24 hours and decide whether we have done anything at all--no matter how small we think it is--and determine not to do it again. Then we must tell God we're sorry.

I forget to do this as often as I should. I feel much better when I do. It's also easier for me to forgive others when I've reflected on my own wrongdoing.

If you don't think you know what to say to God when you've done wrong, here's a repentance prayer an old friend taught me long ago:

"Dear God, quicken into my heart daily, all of my sins daily, that I may repent daily, and Satan can never enter those doorways again. Amen."

God bless us.

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Customer Service from Heaven

Sometimes we have frustrating experiences with utility suppliers and other companies with which we do business. Then, when we can't seem to get a company's customer service rep to help us, we often fall victim to the temptation to scream and cuss and otherwise behave badly.

Cussing out customer service reps rarely works, though, if ever. I've found that calm resolve is the most successful tack when faced with reluctant customer service.

Several years ago, I'd turned off the expensive gas heat in my home for all but two hours of the winter, using a collection of cheaper to run electric heaters instead. Still, I wound up with a gas bill for several hundred dollars. Obviously, the meter had been misread at some point, but several gas company customer service people insisted that I owed the money. They didn't care how I begged for the exercise of reason, or how I fumed or fussed. I even offered to send them copies of my electric bills to prove how I'd been heating my home. My calls continued for days.

Finally, I got a supervisor on the line and changed my approach. Calmly and quietly I listened to her, and then I simply said, "I understand exactly what you are saying and I truly understand why you are saying it. However, I did not use the gas except during the hours of one-thirty-five on and three-thirty-five on Thanksgiving Day. I cannot pay you because I do not owe you."

We went back and forth for literally an hour and a half. Each time the supervisor repeated her story, I listened quietly and then placidly repeated my truth. Finally, I told her "I could not forgive myself if I paid you when I know it's wrong." I was dead serious but she had to laugh.

She said, "Ma'am I'm going to take all but the twelve dollar minimum monthly charge for keeping the gas connected off your bill. Will that make you happy?"

I won not just because I was right but because I was honest and my behavior was right.

My story was right back when I was acting in anger, but when I spoke to the supervisor I revealed my soul and spoke in love.

Sometimes the wait for answered prayer is even more frustrating than my ordeal with that gas company. But when our prayers seem to be unanswered, we need to think about how we are approaching heaven. Are we calmly and consistently stating our case and do our requests line up with God's will?

God will not move because of our emotions, but He will move for genuine praises and our repetition of His truth.

Unlike my gas company customer service agents, God wants me to be happy. So when I ask for help in the right way, if He laughs it is from joy.

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