All posts by markkharris55

About markkharris55

Mark K. Harris is an officer in United States Coast Guard who has enjoyed over 16 years of active duty naval engineering assignments. He is married to his beautiful wife Vanessa for 8 years; they have three children Joshua, Andrew and Hannah. They are actively involved with our church and other community based activities. Having had the opportunity to both learn and lead during his career on both Coast Guard Cutters and high level Naval Engineering units, Harris’ intention is to continue in the Coast Guard for or beyond twenty years. After that, we will reevaluate family, ministry and career priorities to determine all opportunities that might be available to us.

What Separates David From the Rest (3)

  1. Psalm 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight—That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.

If I had to title this characteristic of David highlighted in these verses, it would be “Perspective!”  David had a perspective that I believe most Christians don’t have in present day.  This psalm was written after David’s adultery with Bathsheba and the follow up murder of her husband Uriah was exposed by Nathan.  However, David understands that he sinned against God.  Yes, he did Uriah wrong, he slept with his wife. He forced himself in Bathsheba and wronged her.  He was unfaithful to his wife/wives.  But he did not sin against them, David’s sin was against God.  

We often put people on pedestals that they do not belong on; and nobody belongs in God’s prominent position.  We worry way too much about what people think about us and our actions.  We’re often more concerned about people than we are about God.  

Our sin is against God and Him alone.  He is the only one who has a heaven to allow us in or a hell to let us choose.  He is the one we need to be reconciled with.  It’s our sin that alienate us from God and while our actions affect people here on earth, they grieve God who’s in heaven.  Jesus was crucified on the cross because of our sin, all of our sin.  

We need the same Perspective that David had, our sin grieves God.  Yet He sent Jesus to act on our behalf, so That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.

What Separates David From the Rest 2

Psalm 51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.

Every night we take communion together as  a family.  Not because we are so super spiritual, but because we were taught about the power of the Blood of Christ and the healing found in His broken body represented by the bread.  What I realized in this Psalm is that David realized the same thing.  The cleansing power of the blood of Jesus, look at what he says, “Psalm 51:2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.“  The blood of Christ cleanses us from all of our sin, when we believe on Christ.  David wanted God to wash him from his iniquity and cleanse him from his sin.  The only way that could be done is via the Blood.  This is just one more thing that sets David apart from the rest.  He understood then what we know now.  Jesus’ blood cleanses us from all of our sins when we are saved.  Remember Rom 10:9-10 “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

What Separates David From the Rest

So last year, I set out to follow David throughout scripture in an effort to see what made him a man after God’s Own Heart.  I found one of those things that separate David from all others in Psalm 51.  I will dive deeply to comprehend the depth of insight in these 19 verses. 

But Let’s start at the beginning; verse 1 finds David just after the prophet Nathan confronts him about his adultery with Bathsheba and the murderous cover-up.

Psalm 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions.

David’s immediate reaction/response is to pray.  Asking God for forgiveness.  WHY. 

  1.  David knew he was wrong, and he acknowledged it.  You only ask for forgiveness when you know that you’re wrong.  Your actions were at fault for the problem. Because he acknowledged his wrong (after being called out), he asked God for mercy (Have mercy upon me, O God).
  2. David knew God loved him.  David didn’t see God as some Angry Tyrant but as a kind and merciful God, a loving father (According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies). It mattered just how David viewed God, loving and tender.  It made coming to him easier, yet it made the deception and sin even more damaging for David. Contrary to popular belief, David did not enjoy sinning against God because of His love and mercy.  
  3. David was sincere in his request.  David’s posture was humility, he knew that he could not deal with his sin, but God could.  So he was willing to go to the one who could do something about it and asked for help. We can not deal with our sins, but Jesus already dealt with them on the cross.  So it should be easy for us to go to Him as David pleaded to God, Blot out my transgressions.  We can go to Jesus and acknowledge that He has already blotted out our transgressions and thank Him for it.  

That Was Not God

James 1:13-15 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

People like to blame God for many things, horrible tragedies, the actions of some of our loved ones, and even for people in authority.  However, there are certain things that the Bible tells us are definitely not God’s doing, and one of those is temptation.  James, the brother of Jesus is very clear, for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.  God is not testing you, He does not need to see if you can be trusted.  God knows everything about us, he does not need to figure us out.  

However, while we are tempted by the devil, we’re drawn to the thing we desire (Greek word actually means: lust and longings, especially for the forbidden).  The text says, But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  That word enticed means: to entrap or to allure.  So we are not tempted by God; however, the devil uses our list and longings to allure and entrap us.  Therefore, when we understand that God’s not behind the temptation and that our weaknesses are being used to pull us astray; we can go to God for his help.  After all; And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  (2nd Corinthians 12:9)

Just Do It!!

Gen 22:3

So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.

Nike had a tremendous slogan some years back; “Just Do It!! Millions of people worldwide made it a part of their everyday vernacular. The reason I bring this up is that this was Abraham’s way of life. God would say something to Abraham, and he would immediately take action.

In this text, Abraham got up early and prepared for the trip to take his son with him up to the mountain which God told him. Why??

Because God said so!! Gen 22:2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” This has got to be the most difficult task he has ever been given. How in the world could God ask him to do this? The thing God told Abraham to do was so difficult; I’m utterly amazed at how quick he was to take action. I struggle at times to do what God said immediately. Not because I don’t fear and respect Him. I struggle at times because, unlike Abraham, I tend to have these concerns:

1: Was that Indeed God speaking? Am I sure that was God? Would He ask me to do that?

2: Is what God asked too difficult for me? I don’t know God; I’m not sure I can handle that.

3: If I do this, what will other people think? Will the people follow me? What about those who don’t agree? Will it make me look silly? Holier than thou? Stupid? Any manner of other things.

4: What happens if I don’t do this? What will I lose by not doing what God told me to.

I’m not proud of those questions, but I have to be honest about it. Abraham’s swift obedience positioned him to become the Father of a great nation. So why did he not deal with these same questions, or did Abraham just surmise that all that mattered was what God said? We’ve got to get to that point. If God Said it, then we must do it. Abraham moved to do God’s will by believing:

1: God’s voice was not cluttered by any other voices that were given a place in his mind. We often have other voices in our heads that clutteand r, are louder than God’s still small voice. God will not compete with other voices, and His sheep know His voice.

2: God’s plans for us are to give us a future and hope. These plans are the very best situation for us. Our ways are not His ways. We have to trust that, and Abraham did.

3: Who cares what people think? We do; Abraham did not; the only person that matters is God. We have to comprehend that.

4: You will fail! Nothing that opposes God will prosper, and we must determine the Lord’s will, not our own. Proverbs 19: 27 says, “Cease listening to instruction, my son, And you will stray from the words of knowledge.” We go away from God’s Wisdom

He Holds My Hand 

Ps 73:21-24 23 Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. 24 You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory.

It takes great courage to share your feelings with anyone, even your family at times. Recently, one courageous member of my family shared their concerns and anxieties. That night I could not help thinking about them sharing their thoughts and feelings of being under stress and I just felt for them. I wondered, “what would the Lord want them to know” about their situation and what He would want to share with them.  And it is this: “You are in My Hand and I will Hold Your Hand through everything.”  

In this text, a Psalm of Asaph (Asaph is said to either be the author or the transcriber of these psalms. He may not have said these psalms but transcribed the words of David.), and although we know nothing about him, what we do know is that he is being courageous and vulnerable. 

He is telling the reader that he was about to give up; give up on God, give up on His commands and give up on living devoted to God.  He was going to give it up because the way he saw that those who were wicked were seemingly prospering, while he was obviously struggling, going thru a hard time.  Nevertheless, (regardless, in spite off, or even though) I’m going to power through.  He remembered that God was holding his hand (Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand).  And if God’s holding his hands, then whatever he is going through God is going through with him.  

So why was Asaph (or David) saying Nevertheless?  What did he have to power through.  Ps 73:21Thus my heart was grieved, And I was vexed in my mind.

Look at that; he was grieving, and he was extremely mad. He was feeling some way about losing something and it was making him increasingly angry.  Does that sound familiar. It should because it happens often and we’re in the process of feeling like Asaph…Nevertheless; God is going through it with us, and He wants to comfort us as we go by holding our hands along the way.  

That is a lot to consider; but let’s consider also what Jesus said about God’s Hands: Jn 10:29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  Not only is God with us as we go through tough times, but He also holds our hands along the journey.  All while Holding us All in His Hand, not allowing anything or anyone to snatch us out of His Hand.  Only God can do both!

Finding Something Good

Pro 18:22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing, And obtains favor from the LORD.

Yesterday we celebrated my wife and mother of our three children on a day when many other Mothers were being celebrated worldwide. However, throughout planning her weekend, I could not help but reflect on just how GOOD we had it. She is a wonderful wife and phenomenal mother. 

As you get older, hopefully, you get a little wiser along the way. I realize that one of the things that God appreciates the most from His children is that they allow Him opportunities to bless them. A part of those blessings come in the form of Wisdom, Grace, and Peace. When Solomon asked the Lord for Wisdom, He not only gave Solomon Wisdom, but He gave Him way more than he could have ever imagined. David asked God for guidance, but he also asked for continued mercy (Grace). God gave them both in abundance. Jesus prayed for and gave us His peace, a peace that passes all of our understanding. 

Why am I talking about this; two reasons I would say that due to recent growth emotionally I’ve come to appreciate people that I did not always appreciate correctly and being confident that God wants me to ask Him for more of what I need (and not to be timid in asking). This brings me to today’s subject. Something that I found which was good, really good!! My wife and I met over 21 years ago, and while I knew early on that, she was a “Good Thing,” however, it was honestly not until recently that I came to appreciate her totality. Much of that appreciation came from the revelation of myself and God’s love and guidance for me. This revelation opened my eyes to even more of my wife’s gifts, which I often fought but realized are truly beneficial to me. So, with what I’ve learned, let’s talk about this very familiar verse.

Find A WifeHe who finds a wife. Fella’s, there comes a point where we have to stop looking for a hookup, or a companion, or a booty call. We need more and God wants more for us. God said in Genesis, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Yes, when you are saved the Holy Spirt is always with you; however, God created us and knew that we do not do well independently. He is relational, and He created us to be relational. This being the first relationship He created, there is a particular importance to it. The man who desires a wife should Find one. Find in the dictionary means to recognize or discover; a discovery of something valuable.  This means that finding takes some effort, it takes great insight, and it takes knowing what you are looking for and being able to detect a counterfeit. Finding this blessing will take an eagle eye and some due diligence, but it will be worth it in the end.    

Find What’s Goodfinds a good thing. This is what I came to appreciate recently. Like vegetables, medicine, or even exercise, each is very good for you but may not always be pleasing, and it may taste nasty, leave a scar, or even make you sour the next few days. Therefore, you have to find the Good. There were several reasons I married my wife (if I recall, I had 18 listed), but just like me (each of us), I did not necessarily enjoy or appreciate some things. However, God knew the things that I needed to make me better. I spent a good bit of time being frustrated, asking her to change, or even resenting some things that I now see were exactly what I needed to help me grow, realize my shortfalls, and see the benefit for our entire family.  

Find Your FavorAnd obtains favor from the LORD. You must get, acquire, or secure (obtain) the Favor God has for you. Solomon, who should know about having wives, tells us that the one who finds a wife obtains favor from the LORD. The LORD used here is Yahweh, the One True God, Eternal and Self Existent One; this is Who your Favor is coming from. God’s Favor is abundant, and it is precious, but it also must be secured. This, I feel is the extra that we sometimes miss; God gives us Favor but this favor we must “protect against threats or make safe; even attach firmly so that it cannot be moved or lost.” This means that the Favor obtained from finding a wife will be attacked and will be stolen if not protected. The enemy hates marriage and will always attack it. We have to fight for it and not fight the one in it with you. 

We often battle and become tired in the fight, but it’s in our weariness that the spouses turn on each other rather than fight the enemy attacking their marriage together. The same Solomon who tells us about the favor tells us also how to secure it; Eccl 4:12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.  We cannot fight each other; we must fight together (two can withstand him), and it’s only when we do that, that God fights with us. There is something to be said about the two becoming one; the two actually become 3, and that team is not quickly broken.  

Brothers, Find your Good Thing; Appreciate your Good Thing; then Fight with your Good Thing.

Our Father

Matt 6:9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.

If my kid’s only vision of God the Father is me, then they are doomed to never know Him as a loving, Grace filled, proud poppa.  They may see a fun loving guy who most of the time has a gnarl expression on his face and often saying “No” before the question is even finished; that spends a good bit of their conversations, criticizing and judging rather than exhorting them.  Man!!!  However, the crazy thing is I love them tremendously.  But if me as a father is a portrayal of God to them, why would they want to seek Him?  

Thankfully, Jesus teaches us what we need to know to be better fathers and that is to lead our kids to His Heavenly Father.  Here is what He teaches us from Matthew’s gospel:

  1.  My Father is Your Father:  therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven.  Jesus let us know that His father God, is also our father.  Think about this, Jesus was being persecuted because the religious sect felt He was blasphemous by calling God His Father.  And now when he is teaching us to pray, Jesus tells us to do the same.  therefore, pray: Our Father ; God is our father and if we can relate to Him as such, there is a certain level of intimacy that comes with talking to your father.  Jesus also teaches us not to look at man but to heaven.  therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, we are to look up and not to our earthly examples; because our earthly example are flawed.  When Jesus died on the cross, He made it possible for us to realized that the God of Heaven is indeed our Father.  The fact is, in my best effort, I could never be the example of God that is fitting, but if I can get them to Jesus, He will show them all they need to know.  
  2. My Father is Set ApartHallowed be Your name.  Jesus shows us that God is our father, then in the same breath let’s us know that He is Holy and Righteous. The word Hallowed, means to make holy, (i.e. ceremonially; to purify or to consecrate); it is basically expertly cleaning something or what we’ve come to know from COVID; quarantined from the filthy environment of our sin. So then, how amazing is it that the most Sanctified and Majestic Person ever known, also desires to love us as is concerned about everything that concerns us.  Jesus made it possible for us (as filthy as sanitary napkins) to be one with a Holy God.  God is without sin, filth or failure, He is set apart in Righteousness and was willing to sacrifice His Son so that Evan Fathers like me can be covered, righteousness and set apart with Him.  

Jesus gives us the tools, that will help our children to know God the Father for themselves.  Regardless of the Father’s had or the Father’s we are, God is the Father who covers us and steps in to fill in the gaps that have been left. 

Get Some Daddy Time

This blessed me on a day (His Birthday) when I was missing my Dad who passed away nearly 13 years ago. I was looking for something his when I came across this post from 2014. Also, it’s especially special when my oldest is getting ready for his Senior Prom and that little Princess (discussed below) is now about to complete 7th grade. Please enjoy “Get Some Daddy Time”

Ps 16:11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

So this morning, as it is many Saturday mornings, my industrious wife was off to the grocery store early to beat the rush and get back in time to still enjoy the weekend.  So it is up to Daddy to take care of breakfast and spend some quality time with the children.  This time is usually spent with me in the kitchen cooking, and the kids downstairs watching their favorite cartoon or TV show.  Then we eat breakfast together, typically at max speed because the boys want to get back to playing games and or were hopeful that I will let them watch another show.  But today was a little different, no hot breakfast, just cold cereal, and toaster’s strudel.  This was quickly gobbled up by the kids and I had not even sat down to eat my mix of breakfast and leftovers from last night’s dinner.  My 4-year-old daughter was still sitting there and she said these words to me “Daddy can I keep you company while you eat your breakfast?” 

Ohhhhhhhh, my heart melted so fast, I could not get the words “Of Course!!!” out of my mouth quick enough.  There was such a smile of my face that I could not wait to sit and spend Daddy Time with my little Princess.  We had such a pleasant time, we talked about questions she needed answers to, things that were fun for her, some things that I did when I was small and our favorite things about playing in the snow yesterday and even sharing some of her fears.  It was then that Jesus spoke to me and said this is exactly what I feel when my children want to spend time with me.

The bible says “In Your presence is fullness of joy” and I have always enjoyed this verse because it reminded me that when I spend time in the Lord’s presence, I will be full of joy.  His joy not mine, this Joy the world could never take away from me, because it did not give it to me.  This joy is not based on my situation or circumstances but based on the Joy of Jesus, whose Joy is unspeakable.  Knowing this makes you look forward to spending time with God so that we can be replenished or be filled.  Today, Jesus revealed to me that it’s not just my joy that will be full, but that Jesus joys in His children desiring to spend time with Him.  He loves to hear from us, He smiles when we tell him what makes us happy, the things we like about being with Him and especially the cares we want to lay at His feet.  Nothing beats Daddy Time for you or Daddy.

Know that Jesus Joys in your presence with Him.  He loves to hear from you and loves to fill you with His unspeakable joy.   In Your presence is fullness of joy

X Degrees of Separation

OK, I heard this in the shower yesterday, so bear with me. You may know Kevin Bacon, a famous actor who starred in movies like Footloose, X-Men, and A Few Good Men. Still not ringing a bell? Maybe you’ve heard of the 6 Degrees of Separation or the Bacon Law; it is a parlor game where players challenge each other to arbitrarily choose an actor and then connect them to another actor via a film that both actors have appeared in together, within 6 steps. For example George Clooney was in Ocean’s Eleven with Matt Damon, Matt Damon was in The Departed with Jack Nicholson, and Jack Nicholson was in A Few Good Men with Kevin Bacon. Nicholson has a Bacon number of 1, Damon has a Bacon number of 2, and Clooney has a Bacon number of 3. Why is any of this relevant? It is not. But what it does shows us is that while they are all actors, they are separated, yet even with the separation, there is a way to connect all of them in just a few steps. 

Sin has separated us from God. Like many, if we were to add up all of our transgressions and failures, it would take 1000 steps to get back to God or numerous degrees of separation.  Col 2:14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
However, while we don’t have 6 degrees of separation from our Heavenly Father, we have the Grace of God wiping out everything that tries to separate us. We have X degrees of separations, and that X = The Cross. All separation was nailed it to the cross with Jesus. Isa 1:18 “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow.

Our sins have been covered by the blood of Our Savior and because of His sacrifice. 

We deserve extended separation from God, but like Paul, I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:38-39)

And though my sins are scarlet; you made them white as snow. Jesus, I thank you for the Cross.”