My Spiritual Journey

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About Raymond Harris
I am a thirty-something married male. A devoted husband and dedicated father. And I work as a minister helping various souls who have different shapes, sizes, fears and dreams. I am a sinner and a saint. I am a sinner because no one singular person is perfect, except Jesus himself; but I am a saint because God has called me to be a part of the most beautiful life on this earth. As such, and as much as I am a husband, father and minister, I am first a servant of God.

My life has been a journey of understanding. Understanding how to walk and how to talk. Understanding how to ride a bicycle and how to read, write and do arithmetic. Understanding how to be a husband and how to be a father. Understanding the nature of the Divine and how to serve him. I would like to claim that I have mastered them all, but anyone who really knows me, knows that I have not.

I still have occasions when I trip when I walk; and I “trip” over my tongue when I talk. Thankfully, I have not fallen down on a bicycle in many years, but I still misread words and sentences. I still write the wrong words (e.g. too for two; to for too) and I still have problems with math. I continue to learn what it means to be a good husband and a good father. So, if I have occasions of stumbling in the rest of my life, I have good reason to believe that I have much to learn about the nature of the Divine and how to serve him – in essence my understanding of Him.

Spiritual Background
All of my life I have been a part of the Church of Christ. I can remember my parents sending me on a JOY bus, working with the youth group with a congregation, the same congregation by the way where my father, my brother, and I were baptized. I can remember having workdays, helping build class rooms, doing sheetrock work and all kinds of construction related work. I remember moving to Texas and being part of a youth group there and participating in Fall and Spring retreats. I remember my days at a university student center (many fond memories, good times). I remember my faith being challenged.

God has given me the distinct privilege of working with Kindergarten through College. Inside the church house and prior to being a preacher, I taught Elementary, Junior and Senior High, Collegiate, and Adult level classes, in addition to bringing devotional lessons and sermons. Not only did I grow up in the Church of Christ, I have never technically “been” anywhere else. I cannot say that I knew I wanted to be a preacher, no. Entering a Bible School was simply the result of participating in home Bible studies that revealed to me that I knew nothing about the Scriptures. It was upon graduation from Bible school that I realized that other people were unawares too, this is not a putdown, no – just simple observable truth.

Since the summer of 2004, I have been dedicated to working in the church, meaning I have not had secular work – either part-time or full-time. During my studies at Bible School, many congregations and Christians were willing to support my family as I went to a brotherhood Bible school for the space of two years. After which, I entered the ministerial field and have been working in such capacity since. (I’ll give a in-line note here, as of right now March 2011, I am part-time bus driver looking for full-time ministerial work).

As mentioned earlier, I began a two-year Bible Studies program with a brotherhood school in 2004; but it is what I experienced during those two years that prompted me to do conduct intense lengthy, in depth study. I witnessed and was personally affiliated with a major issue between two congregations. This issue sent ripples through the brotherhood, some of which are probably still affecting those individual churches and the brotherhood collectively. I tried to be an influence for peace as best I could, to reconcile a difficult situation between two churches – both near and dear to my heart. But having been so close to an issue that shook the church, it was enough to make me ask questions.

Spiritual Dilemma
With that experience fresh in my life, I set out after graduation to determine what went wrong. And what I learned has, unwittingly, given me an experience I never expected – the five stages of grief. I want the reader to know that I never expected the things that happened to me.

After my experience in school, I felt compelled to examine and re-examine many things. And I feel extremely blessed that our Father gave me additional years of post graduation study (not to be confused with collegiate post-Graduate work). During my studies I examined (alphabetized): alcohol, baptism, Christian (what is a, and who is a), communion, discipleship, fellowship, instrumental music, marriage-divorce-remarriage, the name of the church, the plan of salvation, worship, and too many others to mention.

Over the course of my study I have not resisted using many sources for research. My library is occupied with Bibles, Bible study programs, Bible dictionaries, theological wordbooks, hermeneutical books, theological books, and topical books. Each one has assisted me in understanding the larger picture.

While I know that God is never truly finished refining a person, I however, at the end of these intense years of study experience the last thing I expected – I am spiritually a different man. I want to serve God and reveal Jesus now more than at any other time in my life. While my studies of problems began years ago, it was not until my in-depth 2009 study of “the NT’s use of the OT” that I was able to see how many pieces of the puzzle fit together.

Spiritual Harmony
Those pieces fit together in a beautiful way. The picture began to make sense. I was better able to see how the OT plays such an important role in the NT, and why modern disciples need to truly value “the things written aforetime” (Romans 15.4 KJV).

The OT plays a crucial role in the NT. At the time of the first century church, the OT was the only, and I mean the only Scriptures, available for the first disciples to preach Jesus and Him crucified. Upon learning this, and beginning to grasp how those first believers used the OT to convince others of the Messiah, and that they relied on the OT to shape their worship and faith, my approach to understanding and teaching the Bible tremendously changed.

Another item that made the pieces fit together is the concept of covenant. Covenant issues truly influence the Bible from Genesis to the Gospels. The idea of covenant is powerful and forced me to reconsider Biblical interpretation. Yet, it has been so helpful in finding answers that were elusive to me.

The other item that really helped was learning that the Scriptures are not properly interpreted through Western American Culture. The Scriptures reveal a very Semitic, a very Hebraic, and a very Jewish culture. It was within these cultures that the OT was written, that messianic prophecy was conceived, in which the Messiah was born, and from which the NT was communicated.

For me the power of the OT, the understanding of covenant and the realization of the Hebrew roots of the Scriptures redefined and reformulated every Christian argument. These things influence my Bible reading and study, affect my Bible interpretation and shape the arguments and presentations that I give about the Scriptures.

Updated: March 5, 2011