Monday, April 12, 2010

Do You Really Need a Miracle? - Do You Even Believe in Them?

It's been awhile since I have written about miracles. If you have been reading this blog for a few months, you'll know that I believe in a supernatural God, one who does supernatural things. I love reading books such as Like a Mighty Wind (Mel Tari), The God Chasers (Tommy Tenney) I Believe in Miracles (Kathryn Kuhlman) and Caught up in Paradise (Richard Eby). They inspire me to believe God for amazing stuff. And you know, He has done it in front of my very eyes. As I look around at the people that I am in contact with, I see lots of needs. From finances to cancer, I know folks that need miracles.... or so it seems.

Here are some of the things that I have heard about miracles over the years. "If you have faith, you'll have miracles." "If you pray for potatoes, God will give you a hoe." Or, "coincidences are God's way of remaining anonymous." "We don't need miracles, we have science." And today's winner, "miracles ceased with the death of the last apostle." All of these statements are intended to illustrate a particular paradigm or worldview of God. As you can see, each one has its limitations.

As always, we want to clear up any misconceptions and understand our part, while leaving God His part in the process. First of all, God hasn't changed. He is still in the business of doing miracles and healings. I am also convinced that God is not trying to remain anonymous. I assure you that He wants credit for every sunrise, every healed cut and all the supernatural stuff that we didn't expect, or can't explain. Those are the easy answers. If the glory is God's, then we need to give it to him.

The more difficult answers pertain to how to get a miracle. Before I go there, I want to take a moment to discuss the reasons that we may not get one. God's desire is to be in relationship with us. He wants us to know Him. There was once a prophecy floating around the Charismatic church stating that we wanted to see His hand move, be we didn't seek His face. I think that is certainly a factor. God is not in the business of dispensing miracles - being our spiritual bellhop. Miracles are often a byproduct of our relationship with Him. We'll call it the privilege of adoption. Membership definitely has its benefits! However; God is much more gracious then to only give gifts to those who know and love Him. He loves all of mankind in spite of their sin. He pursues each person for a relationship with Him. The start of that relationship may, just in fact, be a miracle. Yes, one spent on a dirty, smelly, faithless goat.

Is it true that God only does miracles for "good" people? Nope, you can't earn one.
Well, then what is it that can get God to move in a miraculous way? Here are the factors as I see them. Most of the people that I know that speak of miracles are baptized in the Holy Spirit. The miracles seem to follow those folks more then they do in other denominations. You can certainly be at odds over how one is "baptized in the Holy Spirit," but I assure you, these are the folks that are getting more consistent miraculous results. So you are spirit-filled, that's important.

Then there are only three more criteria that seem to go along with God moving in a supernatural way. The first is practical need. I meet lots of Christians that are in a fix, one where the think they need a miracle. My question is this, how did you get there? Are you out of money? What did you spend it on? Are you working full-time? There always seems to be a path to destruction. It might be a very level one, not necessarily a cliff. Do you really have a need, or did you create one? Real miracles come out of real need. It is doubtful that you'll walk on water if there is a boat or bridge.

Number two: It appears that the folks that experience the bonafide miracles are folks that have a deep relationship with God. I said experience, not receive. They may the vessel of the gift. They are the ones that not just read that Bible, but they live it. They may only get a few minutes a day, but they are in the word, not just reading it. I don't mean they are "good" folks, I mean they are dedicated folks. They are humble, teachable and open to God; they desire to know Him, not about Him. And they "earnestly desire" the gifts.

They pray, but it is not a matter of the amount of words or time, but it is about the personal words they speak to the living God. The people that I know that have experience angels, miracles and other types of angelic activity look for it, wait for it and lastly, they expect it. Not only for themselves, but for others. Their lives are passionate for Him, and the blessings they witness are byproducts of putting Him first, not something that they deserve, not some religious service or chant..

The last thing I believe that it takes for a miracle is faith. Someone has to believe and it's not always the receiver. However; where miracles are happening, they is usually a Christian not far from the scene, whether in prayer or there laying on hands. If someone does not have faith for healing, then it is not happening. Even Jesus cast the skeptics from the room when He raised Jairus' daughter from the dead. (Luke 8)

There are a few facts about miracles you may want to be aware of. First, healing is not a miracle. In fact, within the church there should be lots of different types of healings, both physical and emotional as there are "gifts" of healing. There are curses that need to be broken and demons that need to be cast out. These supernatural events are the nature of the spiritual realm in relationship to the physical body. But miracles, they are a different sort of thing. They are walking on water, turning staffs into snakes, water into wine and things of that nature.

And lastly, miracles do not prove the existence of God, they prove an abiding relationship with God.

How about you, where are you with miracles?

5 comments:

GCT said...

So, if god wants to be known, then why are his supposed miracles so clandestine? Why does he not heal amputees or stop tsunamis in mid stream so that people can get away unhurt?

David said...

@GCT - it is always ans interesting debate on why God allows pain to happen or why He does so called "clandestine" miracles.

Here's my take - God has a very different perspective then we do - one outside of time. People get concerned about time and tend to see God in those terms. I assure you there is no panic in Heaven.

God is also sovereign, doing what He pleases. Although God does serve man, He is is not at man's service. He's not a spiritual bellhop answering the commands of people. It is supposed to work the other way around. Man is meant to respond to His commands.

What God chooses may seam a bit of a mystery, but God does not operate on making life free of pain. This theme is prevalent throughout the old and New Testaments. If you read the New testament, both Peter and Paul refer to times of trial, affliction and longsuffering. Jesus even said "my yoke" or faith in me is easy. No other time is the word easy used.

There were time when God healed everyone in the time of Moses, and a few times when Jesus did too (see Luke). Even the miraculous did not turn the hearts of the people. The is certainly one reason why it is not used a "conversion" tool.

Even if God never did any miracles or healing, that the not change who God is, or His perspective.

The miraculous experiences I have witnessed are often in other countries where need is greatest, health care is nearly nonexistent.

As always - thanks for the challenging questions.

GCT said...

If god came forth and unambiguously operated in the natural world, then he would be known. This is what you stated he wants - to be known. Here is an obvious way to do it, and yet he does not do so. Why? And, I also see no answer to why god doesn't heal amputees, except to shrug your shoulders and say, "god does his own thing, which doesn't include actually healing people in measureable and demonstrable ways."

"Here's my take - God has a very different perspective then we do - one outside of time."

This is nothing more than the "god works in mysterious ways" defense, which is wholly unsatisfactory.

"God is also sovereign, doing what He pleases."

god is still to be held to a moral standard. Might does not make right, so god being powerful doesn't give him the right to shirk his moral duties.

"What God chooses may seam a bit of a mystery, but God does not operate on making life free of pain."

Why not? Unless you can show me that good comes from pain that could not have been obtained any other way (hard argument to make when speaking of an omnipotent god) then this makes no sense. Why create beings that feel pain and then go to hell for an eternity of it? How could that even remotely be considered moral?

"Even if God never did any miracles or healing, that the not change who God is, or His perspective."

No, it may not change god, but it does show us that he is not moral.

Anonymous said...

GCT, nice try, but your points have already been addressed in the Book of Job. YHWH/God/al’Lah (the Lord of the three major Abramic faiths, Judiasm, Christianity and Islam – call out to TonyC for background references and insite!) all site Job as a key to the relationship between the Creator and the creation. The Creator created the world (and homo sapiens) for His own purposes. Those purposes are bigger than we can imagine, and to impose our own human set of behavioral patterns on the Creator is ludicrous.
Another way to express this relationship between the Abramic Creator and His creations is to use the metaphor of the shepherd and the flock. The Bible is rich with metaphors, and the shepherd/flock is one of the more common.
In this metaphor, you have a shepherd, a number of working dogs, and a few hundred sheep. The sheep are born in the spring, then the shepherd and dogs take them into the high country to graze and grow. In the high country, there are lions, bears, coyotes, and flies. Sometimes the water runs low, or the grazing is bad. Lambs and sheep go astray, and while the dogs and shepherd try to round them up, they may perish after leaving the herd. And even if the whole herd hangs together, bad things can still happen - fires, floods, disease. Once the herd has done grazing in the fall, the shepherd and dogs bring them back to the low country, where many are selected for slaughter.
Does that sound cruel? Again, the shepherd/flock metaphor is a metaphor. But it’s quite apt when you consider the axioms of the immortal Creator with the legion of four score year sheep.
- A nun, a muse

GCT said...

Anon,
"GCT, nice try, but your points have already been addressed in the Book of Job."

Not very well. The book of Job is resolved by god coming down and chastizing Job for questioning him. "How dare you question me," god thunders, "because I am mightier than you." That's the basic gist of it. If you wish to assert that we should worship god simply because he is mighty, then by all means go ahead and say that. Personally, I require a god that I worship to also be moral. Might does not make right.

Now, it appears that you are going for the "god works in mysterious ways and his ways are higher than our ways, so we can't say bad things about him because we don't know enough," approach. OK, so be it. Then you similarly can't claim to know enough to say that god is good. Either you can judge god, meaning you can judge good and evil, or you can't judge god due to lack of information. Either way, it's your call, but you can't have it both ways.

"Another way to express this relationship between the Abramic Creator and His creations is to use the metaphor of the shepherd and the flock."

Sure, let's do so. Fires, earthquakes, etc. all happen and they are beyond the control of the shepherd. They are detrimental to the shepherd though, so he would rather they not happen I would assume. The shepherd wants as many sheep to survive as possible. Fires, earthquakes, etc. are not, however, beyond the control of god. god could stop them and help as many humans as possible...but he doesn't. Why not?

"Once the herd has done grazing in the fall, the shepherd and dogs bring them back to the low country, where many are selected for slaughter.
Does that sound cruel?"

It does seem cruel in a sense, but it's a cruelty that is pushed on us by the brute facts of the world (we need food, clothing, etc). These brute facts are not pushed on god since god makes up those brute facts. Therefore, the fact that we must kill for sustenance was designed into the world by god. All the cruelty of the natural world was consciously placed there by your god. Further, if your god truly is omnipotent, there are no pitfalls for your god, meaning there is no reason for your god to permit or cause cruelty, yet he does so anyway.

"...to impose our own human set of behavioral patterns on the Creator is ludicrous."

Which is why I'm talking about logic, reason, and the moral implications of those things. What's really ludicrous is to apologize for the obviously immoral actions of your god.

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