January 19, 2018

Confessions of a Closeted Book Thrower

Romans 1

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Greeting

Paul, a servant1 of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David2 according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Longing to Go to Rome

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,3 that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians,4 both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,5 as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”6

God's Wrath on Unrighteousness

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,7 in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Footnotes

[1] 1:1 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface
[2] 1:3 Or who came from the offspring of David
[3] 1:13 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters
[4] 1:14 That is, non-Greeks
[5] 1:17 Or beginning and ending in faith
[6] 1:17 Or The one who by faith is righteous shall live
[7] 1:20 Or clearly perceived from the creation of the world

Confessions of a Closeted Book Thrower



Central Truth

 Hard truths reveal the person we really are.

Devotional | Romans 1

Until 2011, I found the gospel confrontational because of a prideful and selfish heart condition that rejected God's best for my life instead of my own desires. Its message put me at odds with its good news....

Until 2011, I found the gospel confrontational because of a prideful and selfish heart condition that rejected God's best for my life instead of my own desires. Its message put me at odds with its good news. It challenged my sexual identity. How could God create me gay and then condemn me to hell for being born that way? This wrong belief is the primary reason I have sent the Bible airborne.

Romans 1:18-32 had been used as a weapon against me at gay rights rallies by counter protestors. Words of judgment about my character and eternal damnation flowed freely. It seemed they cared more about being morally right than they did for me. That did not equate to a loving God.

As a new believer, I found that Paul’s stance on sexuality and marriage challenged me. The truth-telling words of Romans divided my heart and revealed my selfish motivations. They exposed me to the hard truth: I was not born gay, but a sinner. My orientation was not toward women, but toward selfishness and self-protection. I was dominated by my emotions, attractions, and desires.

Gulp. Those hard truths forced me into a decision: choose my way or God's way. When confronted by words of truth, we respond in one of the following ways:

  1. Avoid them.
  2. Deny they exist at all.
  3. Manipulate them to suit our needs.
  4. Respond to the truth by surrendering our will to God's will.

The gospel exposed the root causes of my sexual and relational brokenness. My greatest sin was a prideful heart condition that said I knew better than God. I idolized women and sought relationships with them because I thought I needed women to make me a whole person. My sinful heart caused me to reject God’s intended design for me.

The gospel shows us that God is the only One who can meet our deepest needs and satisfy our longings. For this reason, I join Paul in proclaiming I am unashamed of the gospel. It has transformed me from the inside out. As a result, I know that God is for me and I can trust Him with every aspect of my personhood.

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Bio | Hope Harris

Hope Harris here, and I am a closeted book thrower. My book tossing is not a noble cause to rid the world of books filled with lies or filth. Friends, I literally send books airborne across the room. The top book I have thrown is the Bible. The launching has usually been incited by Paul’s writings. Pray for me, I need it!

My next confession is, in the past, I have wanted to rip Romans 1 from the spine of my Bible and shred it with my bare hands. Discover why I was so provoked.

Discussion Questions

1. Are you a closeted book thrower? What kind of books are you throwing? What does this reveal about the condition of your heart?

2. Do you wrestle with rejecting the hard truths of God’s Word in favor of your own will and desires? List those things and why they are so important to you. Now take a courageous step and share them with a trusted friend, accountability partner, and/or your community group.

3. Have you experienced the transformative power of the gospel? Or are you seeking just an assurance of heaven and avoidance of hell? Are you willing to relinquish control of your life to the Lord and let the power of the gospel change you from the inside out? The heart of God is to bless you and give you a true, meaningful life.

For those who do not know my story, read it here.

62 Comments available

William Breazeale 5 months ago

Loved this Hope. Thank you so much for living out your faith, and being bold. It encourages us all!

Hope Harris 5 months ago

@AllisonWilliams, “May I strive, with Christ’s strength, to be bold in the truth daily.” Amen

Alison Williams 5 months ago

Hope, as another commented, you give me hope. Thank you for your transparency and for your willingness to share about your journey. I too very much appreciate your daily insights. You are a ray of hope and sunshine for so many. May I strive, with Christ’s strength, to be bold in the truth daily.

Hope Harris 5 months ago

@GinnyBeam, @EricaWestbrook,@JensonAbraham, @GordanIp, @KathyGist. Love my my JTJ Family

Kathy Gist 5 months ago

Sister Hope, thank you for standing in His Truth, and sharing your struggles of “a prideful and selfish heart condition”, which each and every one of us battles! You are an inspiration in pointing us all to Jesus’ beauty and sacrifice, who is the One who takes our hearts of stone and turns them into hearts of flesh. I pray for God’s strength, and His power, for you to keep sharing Jesus’ love to all who will listen!

Gordon Ip 5 months ago

Hope, thank you for your boiling it down for us. It’s our sin, pride, self serving nature that is in the way of God’s intended good for us. Thank you for sharing your very personal example of rebellion, but even more so how each of us too “throw the book” in our areas of rebellion.

Jenson Abraham 5 months ago

Thanks for sharing your heart so honestly. Our God is so Awesome! Proud to have you as my sister in Christ! Blessings and love!

erica westbrook 5 months ago

So encouraged by your testimony and devotional!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

Ginni Beam 5 months ago

I’m encouraged by your boldness. I pray I’ll always examine myself with such relentless honesty! Thanks, Hope!

Hope Harris 5 months ago

@LisaOlsen, @KellyNix, @SueBohlin, @ChrisHyland, @GregJones, @AlmaBarber, @MichaelMacomber…Thank You for your kind/thoughtful words

Michael Macomber 5 months ago

Thanks for the great devo Hope. It is a blessing and encouragement to see God’s redemptive work and love in your testimony. As a perfectionist carried into my walk with Christ, turning me into a very critical person, it wasn’t until 6 years after that I realized I was a sinner, and it was awkward to say. Reason being I was deceived about my salvation. I would say that I was a book thrower towards my wife and kids. I know that has put a blockage in my older two children’s belief that God loves them. I am slowly learning to believe that myself.

Bobby Crotty 5 months ago

Daniel “Rusty” Dial, thanks for your comment. Although we all have plenty of sin to make the imputation of Adam’s sin a less-than-pressing experiential question, I have to join Sue Bohlin in disagreeing with your statement that we are not born sinners. Ephesians 5:19 and other verses teach that we were made sinners through Adam’s disobedience and are guilty before a holy God before we ever commit a single personal sin. If you would like to visit further, email me at bcrotty@watermark.org. Bobby Crotty Join The Journey Team

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

@Sue,@Daniel “Rusty Dial” Sin touches every part of our natures like someone adding drops of poison to a glass of water, none of the water is pure anymore. No act is ‘good’ and no act is done completely out of the love of God. We are ‘radically corrupt’ meaning the deepest part of us has been tinged by sin and we needed grace to be saved and still need grace to live and walk in salvation

Alma Barber 5 months ago

Esperanza! (Hope) my sister-from a different earthly Mr. but certainly from the same Heavenly Mr.! your name was meant to be! Thank you for sharing with us the hope -la esperanza-you have found inJesus, and His redeeming and transforming power and Love. I continue to be in awe at how God takes our messes and turns them into a Message-of Hope. (I too love what Mark 8:34–37 in The Message says.) if we could just understand, that, just like “same-sex attraction is really a hunger problem” so is anything and everything we crave -which convinces us to exchange the truth of God for a lie-to meet our needs…our way. if we could just believe that God is not looking to rip us off, but that He is looking to set us free! #sweetlies #come&see

greg jones 5 months ago

Romans 1:18-32 had been used as a weapon against me at gay rights rallies by counter protestors. Words of judgment about my character and eternal damnation flowed freely. It seemed they cared more about being morally right than they did for me. That did not equate to a loving God. Romans 1:18-32 the knowledge of God separated from the love of God and what that can do. Thank you Hope for being a vessel God’s love flows out of. Not sure if agree with the less accepted medical opinion that we are not born with our sexual identity. Choosing to love God, not for a personal gain or because of someone’s words of damnation, is beautiful thing. Thank you for being the picture of that.

Sue Bohlin 5 months ago

@Daniel “Rusty” Dial, I must respectfully disagree with you. We are indeed created in the image of God, which gives us infinite value and dignity. And God is indeed good—but ever since the Fall of man in Genesis 3, every human being except for Jesus has been born a sinner. Romans 3 tells us there is “NO ONE righteous, not even one; ALL have turned away . . . no one does good, not a single one.” Ephesians 2:1 tells us we are dead in our trespasses and sins. So the balanced view is that we are born “fallen image-bearers.” For an excellent explanation of this, please see the GotQuestions.org answer to “What is the definition of sin?” at https://www.gotquestions.org/definition-sin.html.

Sue Bohlin 5 months ago

Hope, beloved sisterfriend, how you have blessed us today in your devo! As I read Romans 1 knowing it was your day to comment on the entire chapter, I just shook my head in grateful wonder for the way God has transformed your thinking and your heart about this passage. I have had the privilege of a front-row seat to seeing God work a 180-degree shift in your beliefs without ever violating your will. He just kept showing you the truth, and your new spirit kept responding to it because you’re a rock star. (No, actually, the truth: Jesus-indwelling-you is a rock star, changing you from the inside out to make you like Himself.)

Christopher Hyland 5 months ago

Hope, love seeing your face this morning. What a great way to start a Friday. Your story of grace is always amazing and humbling. Love the way you submit to God and His Word.

Kelly Nix 5 months ago

Vs.30

Lisa Olsen 5 months ago

(Part 2) I think of cults like Westboro Baptist when topics like these come up. This is a very (and sadly) deceived group of people (most of them family) who gather at LBGT events and run their mouth out of hatred and judgement…not at all how God wants us to approach the lost and broken. One of my lightbulb moments years ago was the realization that love changes people. Not arguing, not demanding, not controlling or manipulating, nor behavior modification. Love. Christ’s love. That will change someone.

Lisa Olsen 5 months ago

AWESOME devo, Hope! It is such an encouragement to see your growth in the Lord. Our culture has most definitely bought the lie that people can be born gay, born in the “wrong” gender, etc. As if our entire being is wrapped up in our sexuality anyway. Of course God knew what depravity would come of this, which is why it is addressed so much in the Word. It is so incredibly heartbreaking how people who call themselves Christian, misuse God’s very words to attack people.

Hope Harris 5 months ago

Thanks for encouraging me @ShellyLindahl, @RustyDial, @PaulArceneaux, @TravisSwindle, @MichaelScaman, @PatrickGibbions, @CallieNixion, @RobinSeaton, @BurlonLeffall III

Hope Harris 5 months ago

Thank–you for your kind words today @RitaSatagaj, @VictorLiu, @Rene Austin, @AutumnZevely,@RobbieVedrenne,@David Hester, @LindaAland, @JulieBreedlove,

Hope Harris 5 months ago

@RonnieOldfield, praying for your loved one to discover their true identity as a child of God

Burlon Leffall III 5 months ago

@HopeHarris: the Warrior Heiress. God gave you a crown and a sword, my friend. I think His sword is still going airborne in your life, now it just pierces hearts with His truth-battle on, Hope. Spurred on & sharpened this morning with glorious purpose.

Ronnie Oldfield 5 months ago

Good morning Hope, you are so awesome. I have dear loved ones caught in the same King of the Liars snare. Your story gives me hope and pushes me into a long season of prayer. Will my faith be strong enough to pray until blood drops from my brow. My life is being transformed through my dear one’s struggle. I pray my dear one is encouraged as she sees my transformation. May God Bless you Hope.

Rita Satagaj 5 months ago

Loved your devotional this morning Hope and pray it reaches those that so deeply need to hear it. Loved how you pointed out responses when confronted with truth. I appreciate your willingness to share your journey so others may find Christ.

Rita Satagaj 5 months ago

Loved your devotional this morning Hope and pray it reaches those that so deeply need to hear it. Loved how you pointed out responses when confronted with truth. I appreciate your willingness to share your journey so others may find Christ.

Victor Liu 5 months ago

Thank you Hope for your devotional and testimony. It provides a beautiful illustration of what Christ provides in “Come and See”. Thank you.

renee austin 5 months ago

Wow! So good!

Victor Liu 5 months ago

Thank you Hope for your devotional and testimony. It is a beautiful illustration of

Autumn Zevely 5 months ago

Whoa! Awesome devotional today! So much Truth here: “When confronted by words of truth, we respond in one of the following ways: Avoid them. Deny they exist at all. Manipulate them to suit our needs. Respond to the truth by surrendering our will to God’s will.”

Robbie Vedrenne 5 months ago

So good! Thank you, Hope! I believe God has grown to love a good book toss that shatters our pride. Great stuff.

Rita Satagaj 5 months ago

Thank you Hope for sharing your story. What a great testimony for all of us as we are all sinners. I love your number 4,”respond to truth by surrendering our will to God’s will.” My Prayer is that your journey touches the hearts of those who really need it.

David Hester 5 months ago

Thank you Hope…love your wisdom, “Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way to saving yourself, your true self” Who needs enemies when our greatest adversary sits between our own two ears…self. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[i] have been called according to his purpose” Rom 1:28 it is His purpose that satisfies.”

Linda Aland 5 months ago

Hope, I read your comments daily and now you and Watermark has graciously provided your story. And it is wonderful story of sadness, suffering, grace and redemption. You are living proof that God is great and that he cares deeply for each of us. And you have used your story over and over to send out His message that following Him - regardless of the cost - is a great blessing. Many thanks for letting the Lord use you to help others follow Him.

Julie Breedlove 5 months ago

Hope - thank you so much for sharing your story and your enlightenment about who you are and who God is. I love that you find life and freedom in words that once enraged you. God can change everything!

Shelly Lindahl 5 months ago

Hope!! Your honesty and boldness for the Gospel of Christ is so beautiful! I absolutely LOVE how your testimony and this devotional challenge me to look underneath my perceived “rights” and my felt “needs” and encourages me to peek behind the curtain at what is really going on in my heart! I often don’t like what I find under there! Praise God for His mercy and grace! Thank you for being a beacon of truth and love!

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

Thanks for your story, Hope. I think it’s great that the journey studied Psalms last year and now Romans since that’s what Martin Luther did. Luther wrote more on Psalms than any other book. His study of Psalms helped open his eyes to Romans and after studying Romans and Galations went back to Psalms and his study of the New Testament opened his eyes even more to the Psalms again.

Daniel "Rusty" Dial 5 months ago

Awesome message today but we’re not born sinners. Born into a world of sin, yes. Born as sinners, no. Genesis tells us we were created in God’s image and God isn’t a sinner. We are good at our core not sinful at our core. It’s the outer world of sin that we choose to participate in that makes us sinners.

Paul Arceneaux 5 months ago

I admire your honesty Hope. Sin is sin and we have all found ourselves thinking lies to justify our actions. Thanks for sharing your journey!

Travis Swindle 5 months ago

Appreciated your devo today Hope! Inspired me today and thanks for sharing your story. My main “book thrown” are passages that remind me that I am not God and humanity is not all about me. When I think of every struggle in my life, it always comes back to pride that my way is THE way.

Callie Nixon 5 months ago

Hope! What an encouragement to my heart this morning. You are a blessing to the Lord and this body!

Patrick Gibbons 5 months ago

You zeroed in on the “God made me this way” deception, which I think has been one of the world’s most successful twistings of the truth. It ignores, perhaps denies, that every single one of us, every human on the planet in history (except One), has wrong inclinations. The question is: do we justify those wrong inclinations or do we overcome them (by the grace of God). For me that always leads me to Romans 7.24-25a “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Thank you Hope! Blessings!

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

I think what you listen to shows a bit of your heart Micah 2:6 “Do not preach”—thus they preach— “one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us.” Micah 2:11 If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people!

Michael Scaman 5 months ago

Not sure I ever threw a book, but I skated through books too fast and missed things and try to dwell and linger in a book longer purposefully now. I like how ‘the righteous shall live by faith’ occurs 4 times in the Bible each with a slightly different emphasis. Hebrews eternal life, Galations freedom, Romans righteousness and Habakkuk was pride contrasted with a humble faith.

Patrick Gibbons 5 months ago

Hope, you are a blessing.

Robin Seaton 5 months ago

Hope, I love this! I’m looking forward to reading the rest. Thank you for being willing to take a stand. Even within the church so few are willing to. God bless.

Hope Harris 5 months ago

@Nate Graybill, Re:Throw what do you think

Hope Harris 5 months ago

@HughStephenson, I feel ya seems to be the way I learn best as well. Much love to you and Amy and Eva too!

Hugh Stephenson 5 months ago

“I’m Hugh and I am a book thrower”. “Hi Hugh”. New greeting at WM ministry Book Throwers Anonymous, (can we call it “re throw”) Its only Jan 19 yet I know this will be one of my favorite devos of the year.

Hugh Stephenson 5 months ago

I am still reflecting on being “without excuse” and having God “give me up” to the emptiness of my sin. It’s the only way I seem to learn.

Hugh Stephenson 5 months ago

I love book throwers.

Hope Harris 5 months ago

Thank–you @LindseyLauderdale, See you at Gather, so excited I get to come and bringing a friend with me!

Hope Harris 5 months ago

@TedMattos Thanks friend

Lindsey Lauderdale 5 months ago

Oh friend, it was so great to see your face on The Journey this morning! You, your love for Truth, your compassion for those that are lost and your fearlessness are such huge blessings to me. Thank you for leading us this morning! Grateful for you!

Ted Mattos 5 months ago

Hope, I always appreciate your insight, and never grow tired of hearing your testimony. Thank you!

Hope Harris 5 months ago

@AmyMerritt, @LindseyDriscoll, @ChristopherLandry Thank–you, who knew book throwers could change

CHRISTOPHER LANDRY 5 months ago

Hope, thank you for being able to communicate your story of the transformative work of the Gospel. I also love your comment below from Piper: “The sexual disordering of the human race is a judgment of God for our exchanging him for the creature.” — that’s good stuff. Thanks again.

Lindsey Driscoll 5 months ago

Hope, great way to outline the ways we respond to God’s truth. Thank you for continuing to share the gospel through the change in your life sister!! Q2 - I’m in a season where I respond to God’s truth by manipulating his word. This typically comes out in exchanging God’s truth for a lie 1:25 and putting myself down to meet some made up standard in my head instead of clinging to the identity he gave me.

Amy Merritt 5 months ago

Powerful devo Hope, your testimony here is beautiful. I love what you said, we aren’t born gay (insert any sin here) we are born a sinner. It’s true, all of us. When we can get our heads and hearts to aknowledge that- we can see that we desperately need a loving, sovereign God one that has the power to bring salvation to everyone who believes. Thank you for sharing with us today.

Hope Harris 5 months ago

I have been using several of John Pipers teachings on Romans chapter one this perhaps the biggest insight I have gained over the last few weeks “The sexual disordering of the human race is a judgment of God for our exchanging him for the creature.(Piper) Sin disorders our lives and causes us to seek self-pleasure and self-fulfillment and stop seeking to honor and glorify God with our lives. Bottom line is sin robs us of a relationship with God .

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