touched by a miracle

June 16, 2009 at 9:47 am 38 comments

imagesHad a conversation with an old friend today who is very concerned for my soul. He believes in a lot of miracles which are for today, so we can see God at work. A lot of people get healed, prophesies are fulfilled, the power of God is known in amazing ways, often in Africa, but other places too. You really only deny them as miracles if you do not want to believe them in the first place, which is Satan’s plan, if you understand the spiritual realm it’s pretty undeniable. Think Todd Bentley kind of stuff. I would have listened with a lot more credulity and interest when I was in college, which may have been the last time I listened to this kind of talk at any great length. I quickly remembered why it had been so long, and why I had been happier with a more concrete kind of conservative theology.

I’m not new to this stuff, didn’t need to create new filters to process it through. But it still wore me out. And there is no satisfaction to be had in trying to poke holes in the stories. All that would accomplish is confirming in the other person’s eyes that you are hardened to the truth and deceived. I thanked him for his concern for my soul. I would have enjoyed catching up on things instead of talking about the benefits of supernatural beliefs and eternal separation from God, but that’s just me.

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Entry filed under: miracles, skepticism, supernatural. Tags: , , .

my heart is hard The Year of Living Biblically

38 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Temaskian  |  June 16, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Even when I was a Christian, I had a hard time believing people who said that some preacher could raise the dead. And these were highly-educated, highly-salaried, people. I would just nod and smile, and didn’t know what to say.

    I couldn’t prove that it wasn’t true, but my gut feeling told me something was fishy, but like you, I can’t be bothered to argue as it would only cause me to be viewed as a doubting Thomas, or something worse.

    Credulity is such a virtue in churches, it seems. The more credulous you are, the more you have the gift of faith. Incredible.

  • 2. atimetorend  |  June 16, 2009 at 11:39 am

    ” I had a hard time believing people who said that some preacher could raise the dead. And these were highly-educated, highly-salaried, people.”

    Video tape of the dead being raised did happen to come up. The more I think about the conversation, the crazier the details seem. Trying hard not to think about it…

  • 3. The Jesting Fool  |  June 16, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    I went to a Pentecostal church in Milwaukee for six months during the time of my life whenI was first realizing how impractical fundamental Christianity was. So, I went to a charismatic church, because I thought if there was anything true or worthwhile about Christianity, it should probably include all the sorts of things that Jesus preached about and practiced.

    I never experienced any sort of healings, miracles, visions, or anything. I only had friends telling me that these things had happened to them, and I just needed to keep pursuing them and try to have more faith.

    Needless to say, the quest exhausted me and resulted in my achieving absolutely zero of the things I had been wanting.

    So I left the charismatic churches, too.

  • 4. atimetorend  |  June 16, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    “…I only had friends telling me that these things had happened to them, and I just needed to keep pursuing them and try to have more faith.”

    Yeah, that’s kind of an interesting point, that you didn’t have enough faith. It’s too bad really. See, there is this lady in Africa who kept praying for blind people to get sight and nothing happened. For three years nothing happened, but she knew for some reason she had to keep doing it. Then all of a sudden it worked, and now all she has to do is pray for a blind person and they can see again, every time, right off. So it is good for the people who get their sight back and even more so for the entire villages that are saved as a result of seeing the miracle, all because of this one lady, she has a big ministry now. I can relate though, I dabbled amongst those people a bit back in the day and never had enough faith either.

  • 5. atimetorend  |  June 16, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Seriously though, that’s what the guy was telling me today, that there was something bigger and better going on out there, outside of the fundamentalist church. I thought the same, if God doesn’t work like he did in the bible, what sense can the bible make with this hidden God? It’s amazing that people believe all these stories second hand like that. Not that I ever expected to see the Hudson River part or anything, but come on…

  • 6. Janus Grayden  |  June 16, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    I have a similar experience when talking to my dad.

    He’s absolutely convinced that everything bad that happens is a result of a government conspiracy. Trying to tell him otherwise simply causes him to shake his head and feel sorry about how the government brainwashed you into believing that.

    At some point, you have to realize that you can’t reason with a person like that. You just smile and nod.

  • 7. mmmarty  |  June 16, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Interesting to read this now! On sunday night, I told one of the guys in the church that I’m thinking of leaving, and we had a 3 hour conversation about why…He told me about an experience he had when one of his friends became demon possessed…he told me lots and lots of details, and honestly I can’t really say whether I believe him or not. the behaviour of the supposedly demon possessed guy, was abnormal. even the fact that he wasnt drunk doesnt really justify it. so who knows…

    I did keep thinking about the Todd Bentley fraud, but there isn’t really much to gain from lying about this…it was a private experience, no money to be gained out of it in any way…

    I’m also one of those ppl who have never really experienced it themselves though. Sure, i’ve had prayers answered like God healing a headache or a bout of depression, but I can’t say I’ve seen massive supernatural warfare or healing. Hmmm

  • 8. atimetorend  |  June 16, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    I don’t necessarily see the need to discredit other people’s experiences with what they believe to be supernatural. But the connection to the bible and Jesus seems pretty tenuous based on that. With reasoning something like, “I experienced a supernatural thing, therefore the spiritual world is real, therefore the bible is plausible, therefore you need to believe in Jesus or go to hell.”

    Though that is a caricature of Christian thought in a way, it is actually something like my own progression into faith, hearing stories “firsthand” about inexplicable supernatural events and then giving more credence to the bible.

  • 9. Janus Grayden  |  June 16, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Exactly, attr. One thing I have asked, time and time again is why people believe in any one supernatural phenomena over another? If there isn’t any clear sign what caused it, then why is it God? Even if God exists, it’s a presupposed fact that He moves in indeterminable, mysterious ways. Therefore, how can it be determined which things can be attributed to Him? Why couldn’t Odin have done it?

    Once you open the discussion to possibility of the supernatural, all bets are off. Anything could be done by whatever conceivable deity or supernatural construct you want and nobody can say any differently.

  • 10. Temaskian  |  June 16, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Video tape of the dead being raised did happen to come up.

    Ah, video tapes.The highly-educated one probably believes that if you’ve seen it, then it’s true. Perhaps it’s beyond him to consider that even so-called Christians can doctor the tapes to intentionally deceive him.

  • 11. Temaskian  |  June 16, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    I thought the same way too. If miracles were true then (during biblical times), they have to be true now. Maybe that was why I strayed into a charismatic church. I even managed to experience a miraculous event that happened during a church service. At that time, the same miracle was happening all throughout some South American country (as vidoes would have us believe), and our Senior Pastor had just come back, bearing the ‘fire’.

    Of course, later, when I had sobered down, I realized that the miracle was no miracle at all, only an elaborate con-job. And we had all fallen for it. A few thousand of us.

    Later he started performing handkerchief tricks during service. I was impressed.

    That Senior Pastor is now a professional magician, I kid you not. He performs together with his daughter. At the same time, he is still the Senior Pastor of the aforementioned church.

    I wonder now if:

    (a) he realizes now that there’s no difference between magic tricks and miracles; or

    (b) he knew it all along, and felt that he might be able to make even more money if he were to go into magic full time.

    And the people in church just assume that he’s going into magic to win more souls. Wow, this man is brilliant. He can convert his magic fans to church members and vice versa. I see that now.

    Or

    (c) He’s truly sincere about what he’s doing. (c) seems highly unlikely.

    And he must have first learnt how to mesmerise crowds after his visit to South America to consult with that miracle-worker. Or maybe not.

  • 12. Lorena  |  June 16, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    That friend of yours seems to be the Pentecostal type that preaches even to the converted. Did he preach to you when you were a believer?

    I’ve never enjoyed talking to “on fire” Pentecostals.

  • 13. Temaskian  |  June 16, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Actually, he’s not! He’s more of the cerebral type. At least that’s what he looks like on the outside. He has a PhD, so I always assumed… er… never mind.

    No, he never preached to me, at least not in a big way. As I said, he doesn’t exhibit his Pentecostal side at all (if he ever was. Perhaps he was just impressed that someone could be raised from the dead.) It could be because the little church we were in was fairly conservative, though the 2 pastors had started speaking in tongues, in secret. Just 10 years or so ago, a pastor had been supposedly fired for speaking in tongues.

    The Dr did expound on a few bible verse, but I took it with gratitude. I was trying to figure things out at that time, so when he preached to me from the bible, even just a verse or too, I was grateful. I was thirsty for knowledge of any kind. And no one in church was taking the bible seriously, at least in my opinion. I think they still don’t. The church just revolves around activities.

    But I think I know what you’re talking about. Some time ago, Venus was preached to by a Pentecostal type, who claimed that someone is not saved unless she has received the Holy Spirit, and speaks in tongues, something like that. The same person subscribed to Ray Comfort. Venus expressed her doubts, and promptly received sheets of print-outs. She also resorted to asking Venus to speak to her pastor when she realized that she could not answer some questions that Venus brought up. Now that kind of behavior, I find a tad irksome.

    Though I must say, I too, used to believe that not all Christians were saved, including myself, but I never went around preaching to anyone, cos I wasn’t sure, and I felt pretty sure I was the most sinful one, that probably no one was so deserving of hell, or undeserving of heaven, as I was.

  • 14. Lorena  |  June 17, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    Venus was preached to by a Pentecostal type, who claimed that someone is not saved unless she has received the Holy Spirit, and speaks in tongues, something like that.

    Exactly!

    And if you don’t believe the miracles are real, you aren’t a true Christian either. You have to believe everything: the holy laughter, the so-called miracles, the “prophesies,” the tongue “interpretation.” Up till you nod in agreement to all that, you still need to be preached at, apparently.

    Note to ATTR:

    Is the comment font extremely tiny or do I need reading glasses with serious magnification.

  • 15. Temaskian  |  June 17, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Lorena,

    Why don’t you use the zooming function available to most browsers by using Ctrl + Mouse(Scroll Up/Down)?

  • 16. Lorena  |  June 18, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Temaskian,

    I could. I don’t like it because it makes mouse pointer moving tricky and because I forget I was in enhanced and make a mess of thing.

  • 17. atimetorend  |  June 18, 2009 at 10:27 am

    I checked, unfortunately I can’t do anything about the fonts in the settings. They do appear to be especially small in the box for typing in the comments.

  • 18. Lorena  |  June 18, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    ATTR,

    Yeah! I was referring to those. The display font is fine. It must have something to do with the template you chose. Other WP blogs have an OK comment-box font.

    It doesn’t matter.

  • 19. Quixie  |  June 20, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I would have enjoyed catching up on things instead of talking about the benefits of supernatural beliefs and eternal separation from God, but that’s just me.

    Although I commend your keeping cool throughout this episode, I find myself hoping that you spoke the last sentence of your post to him audibly and clearly.
    There’s no anger, no rancor, in pointing out that he wasted an opportunity to simply love an old friend with all his neurotic fear. Such smug piety has absolutely no idea how annoyingly presumptuous it actually is. Vanity of vanities, indeed.

    Ó

  • 20. atimetorend  |  June 20, 2009 at 10:14 pm

    Thank you for pointing that out Quixie, I wish I was a better man, but no, I didn’t tell him that. I was too overwhelmed at the end of an hour to even think of it, just wanted to get out of there, but it would have been better I’m sure if I had done so, for both of us.

  • 21. Sabio Lantz  |  June 21, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Don’t let ATTR fool us, he is a good man !

  • 22. Edwin  |  July 8, 2009 at 4:54 am

    Hey guys,
    Just read all the comments because I was bored and stumbled on the article. I see alot of people losing faith and say there are no more miracles in the world, by miracles I mean impossible feats. I find this hard to believe since my life, meaning personal experience, meaning firsthand knowledge, is full of them. Where to start. When I was still a scholar I got my first car in 2001. It was a Tiburon and had alot of power. I was stupid and had a tendency to show off. When I was driving with a friend I got cocky and accelerated to 110km/h in a 60km/h zone just to see the road I was suppose to turn in(90degree) was at hand, I took the turn at 110km/h. There was traffic from all sides and the road was only 2 lanes(forward and backward), my car started slipping and I was heading for a pole, somehow I made it without hitting anything and my car was in the road I was suppose to be in. My friend almost wet his pants. I took credit as good driver and told him to chill although I knew it was impossible to have made that turn, my car should have rolled. The second miracle in my life was a dental one. One of my front teeth grew horizontally instead of vertically down. I am terrified of operations. The specialist told me they had no other choice but to operate and had to do it as soon as possible otherwise it would start crushing the other upper teeth’s roots. I almost wet my pants. I went to a sunday sermon at a pastor Willie Breedt that passed away last hear sadly. I told him about my problem and told me ‘don’t worry God always had a solution’. He then prayed for me and asked God for a healing miracle, I could feel something was going on inside my mouth. I waited in faith and didn’t return to the specialist. A month later the tooth grew out normal like my other upper teeth. I went back to the specialist and he didn’t know what to say. Then more recently, last year, I had my closest brush with death when me and my brother got lost in a squattercamp where somehow every freaken inhabitant had a gun. We were white and they were black. How on earth we ended in such a place I really don’t know. The biggest mentality in South Africa is that we are all united which everybody tries to believe but that is not always the case. These were one of cases. Pre-apartheid area where blacks hate whites and we were the only whites. They let us pass but we ended up in a dead and had to turn around. When we entered the camp again consisting of 4km road they all started shooting at us and tried to pull us off the road.

  • 23. Temaskian  |  July 8, 2009 at 5:52 am

    Edwin, there is no Physical law that says you cannot make a turn at a certain speed without hitting a pole. Your teeth could have grown normally for a yet unknown biological reason that may have nothing whatsoever to do with God. And you have yet to explain how you were ‘miraculously’ delivered from the squatter camp. Whatever it was, I’m sure a natural reason can be found rather than saying it was God’s doing.

    When you attribute all these to God, you’re really doing it in faith, i.e. you have chosen to believe that these were God’s doing. Would you believe, I had such experiences too (perhaps less dramatic than yours), during my 20 or more years as a Christian previously. Yet I am able to be an atheist today.

  • 24. Quixie  |  July 8, 2009 at 5:53 am

    Edwin.

    Why do you suppose that God spared your life on that day that you stupidly tried to turn 90º at 110 kph?

    Also . . .
    Your friend almost wet his pants during miracle #1.
    You yourself almost wet your pants during miracle #2.
    Did anyone finally wet their pants during miracle #3?

    Ó

  • 25. Edwin  |  July 8, 2009 at 5:55 am

    They shot out our front left tire at the start and 4 cars tried to ram us. During this a bullet hit me through the left ear that came through the left window, now how did that bullet miss my head, it’s impossible from the angle it hit me and I mean completely impossible otherwise I would not be able to write this. We drove 117km/h for 8km with a car with only 3 tires on a badly paved road. While we were shot at by 3 taxis full of trigger happy people. After 7km of survival we finally(another miracle) found a van of 8 heavily armed policemen driving in our direction, they saw we were in trouble and reacted with collateral damage. The taxi’s dispersed and disappeared in dirt roads. The policemen, although they were black, escorted us to the policestation and helped me to a hospital. I said the were black to emphisize that in that area they could have the same mentality as the people that shot at us. But they were good people that wanted to believe in change. I owe my life to them. Then just 4 months later my father had to undergo an emergency operation for his throat where a bag developed over 3 years that applied pressure to organs since more food became stuck in it, the bag spilled open in the operation and everything inside fell on his intestines causing body shock and infection. They called us and said we must come immediately since he is about to die. We all flew down to the Cape. The doctor said he has a 4% of survival since all his organs started to collapse of the infection and bloodpressure would eventually cause heart failure. My mother didn’t accept it though and started praying. My father didn’t die and after a week of doctors telling her to prepare herself since death is already 4 days late, he started improving. Doctors kept their comment to themselves after that since they didn’t know what was going on. He recovered fully and is fit as a fiddle today. I could go on with the miracle list allday to be quite honest but these are the big boys. People ask why God doesn’t do miracles that can be in the media and then provide scientific proof that it was God so that he can proves his existance. It’s quite a simple answer. God gave everybody free will to choose his own destiny, his own way of life, and faith and believe is as the Bible states a prerequisite to eternal life. If God decided to prove himself scientifically in front of everyone, belief in what you can’t see would fade and God would never allow that since that is what he bases his relationship with us with. Religion is God’s biggest enemy since it places him in a box and lifestyle created by human thoughts. He seeks a relationship with us as Jesus proclaimed in his short time on earth before joining God’s rightside. That relationship’s key is through Jesus. I struggle with my faith sometimes even with all these miracles in my life so I can just imagine how difficult it must be for someone who has never seen or experienced a real miracle to have faith and grow in it. All I can say from personal experience is to keep believing no matter what and eventually you will meet God. The key is to keep believing. You won’t always meet God in a church, sometimes you meet him personally. Most people that tells you you are lost and on your way to hell to burn for all eternity sometimes just want to help…they just let it come out wrong making you sound like Satan himself. God is a merciful Ruler and welcomes all seeking him. Just don’t give up seeking, it will be worth the wait. I apologize if I somehow offended anyone in my comment and for spelling and writing mistakes..lol..I’m writing from a cellphone keypad so it’s quite a challenge. I hope everybody finds their answers and this is of some help. God’s blessings. And no I am not a fag, I am a mma fighter and have a degree in law. Have a good one

  • 26. Quixie  |  July 8, 2009 at 6:01 am

    A law degree, you say?

    BTW . . . I loved your “7km of survival” metaphor. Can I use it sometime?

    Ó

  • 27. Edwin  |  July 8, 2009 at 6:02 am

    The people in the taxi that saw the policevan definitely wet their pants so yes 3rd time lucky

  • 28. Edwin  |  July 8, 2009 at 6:05 am

    Yes I am…don’t judge me and no that phrase has copyright:-P

  • 29. Edwin  |  July 8, 2009 at 6:08 am

    Maybe God spared my life that day to bring this testimony today..maybe because I prayed, ask God,lol

  • 30. Edwin  |  July 8, 2009 at 6:14 am

    And I do contribute it to God as a Christian because it’s a choice I made. All these things can somehow probably seen as series of fortunate events but then I am the most fortunate person I know. Comparing the two options God is in my opinion and believe a much more credible answer

  • 31. Edwin  |  July 8, 2009 at 6:16 am

    I am starting to make too many spelling mistakes, I didn’t post to argue with you guys, it’s way to difficult with this keypad so cheers guys, I’m off

  • 32. Edwin  |  July 8, 2009 at 7:28 am

    And Quixie I do indeed believe that you experienced miracles when you were still a Christian, since I also experienced miracles when I doubted my faith and even after that I didn’t accredit God for them, but let’s say you were in my shoes, specifically referring to the bullet that played a major part, what would your reaction be to something like that?

  • 33. Edwin  |  July 8, 2009 at 7:30 am

    You just stopped believing along the way whereas I didn’t, thanks to my family in part, and it lead to my relationship to God as it is today, what caused you to stop believing in God?

  • 34. atimetorend  |  July 8, 2009 at 8:12 am

    Quixie, you can take the 7km of survival (and thanks for reading all that, I wouldn’t have spotted it the way I was “reading” at that point). I’ll take the “wet my pants again” line. No wait…

  • 35. Edwin  |  July 8, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Post 32 was aimed at Temaskian, sorry Temaskian thought you were Quixie

  • 36. Temaskian  |  July 8, 2009 at 9:34 am

    I would share it in church, that’s for sure. And give the glory to God. Everyone would be so happy with me. I would have given them yet more reason to believe that their God exists, and that He is great. I would become something of a hero. For quite a while, at least.

    Ok, so I can sympathise with what you’re feeling. At the same time, I’m asking you to consider that it’s just a series of fortunate events, as you yourself have suggested.

  • 37. Edwin  |  July 8, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    I will definitely Temaskian but doubt it would make a difference,enjoy your day

  • 38. Mileheston  |  July 11, 2009 at 2:28 am

    Awesome testimony Edwin,I also find it hard to believe people say there’s no more miracles,since I see alot of them everywhere,maybe they should be baptized.That was my salvation

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