Saturday, September 06, 2008

greater things than these: the post

it was a little fuzzy at first. but then, it started coming in a little clearer. able to feed a crowd with naught but a few fish and some bread. able to heal an entire village in a single afternoon. able to cast out the dark demons that hold people prisoner. able to be whisked away from a place in the blink of an eye. able to raise a person from the dead.

this is the picture i got about a week ago. it suddenly clicked into place. and then it made me wonder, why doesn't this happen more frequently? why do we not live as heroes? not to blame us, or induce guilt with this age old question, but... is our faith really so weak?

for those true skeptics among us, who question the authenticity of the supernatural occurances and have a preference for more "natural" explanations, that is not the bent of this post. i have already heard true account, witnessed, and experienced too much true supernatural occurance to believe those explanations. if you have not, i am sorry. but your non-experience does not counteract my experience in this case. so i am starting from the place that these occurances happened in real time and space and were recorded for us faithfully and accurately.

my grandfather had a moment once, when my mother was still a child living at home, when they were very poor, and people strangely kept showing up at the home asking to share in their meal. all they had was one small bowl of noodles for their own family, but as each person came, they offered what they had and after something ridiculous like 13 people who "just happened" to stop by, the bowl was still not empty. true story. this happened in real time and space.

my father was planning suicide at age 18. he was driving his car towards a tree on the outskirts of the small town he lived in. the last thing he remembers seeing is the speedometer buried at 120 and closing his eyes seconds before impact only to open them and find himself in the middle of town at a red light. true story. this happened in real time and space.

from what i gather, according to the biblical accounts, we should be able to provide for a person's health. to keep them alive. food and healing. we should have mastery over the elements, or at the very least, water. walking on it. stopping it from falling from the sky. turning it into wine. this is just a short list, but when grouped together, i get a very different picture of those who "walk in the spirit" on a moment to moment basis from what has classically been taught.

where is the disconnect? what happened between then and now? jesus said that among this small list of things he did, we would also be able to do. but he also said that we would be able to do even greater things than these, because he was going to the father. well, he's now with the father. and i think, the question he put forth by jesus, "...when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” resounds even more heavily today than it did back then.

recently, lorena commented at towards truth "Unfortunately, what Jesus supposedly did, his followers can't reproduce..." how true that statement is. but i don't think it is because it can't be done. i just think we don't know how. we haven't practiced. we don't have the faith. and real faith can make things that are not reality, reality. need an everyday example? take walking up the stairs in the dark. when you lose count, can't see that you're already on top, and take another step that is full of faith and expectation that there is another step, you take a step and slam your foot down on the floor in a manner that you cannot reproduce naturally. try it. no matter how many times you try to convince yourself there is a step and recreate the sensation, you can't do it because you don't truly believe. you don't have faith.

but at the same time, how are we to have faith? how can we believe in something we've never seen? i think it's fair to say we've never seen anyone walk on water. or feed and heal a village. so how do we have faith enough to accomplish these things? can we call them "abilities"? how do we have faith in these abilities, or "gifts", if we have no mentors or training grounds?

i mean, even if you've ever had the inkling twitch in you, no matter how small, to try to heal someone, have you ever actually given it a shot and walked up to someone in a wheel chair, grabbed their hand, pulled and said, "walk!" ? and did this with FULL CONFIDENCE AND EXPECTATION that it would happen? because i think that's the key element. especially for the big things. that's why, in my opinion, jesus clears the room before he raises the little girl from the dead. he needed the doubt out of the room so it could be filled with faith doing its work.

so what are the practical applications? where are the teachers and mentors? where are the training grounds? what are the "greater things than these" that were promised? how does this fit together with who we are? how does one discover these abilities and grow in them? and how does it affect you as you learn?

is anyone willing to be vulnerable and share experiences or say that they, at the very least, think they may have an ability so we might begin discussion towards a practical fulfillment? because i know i have abilities. and i would like to talk about it, with the hope of coming towards an understanding of practical application.


Mike aka MonolithTMA said...

This is one of the things that led to my deconversion and eventually to my current state of atheism. I still seek God, because so many believe in some sort of god that I find it possible that one exists, but I do not know what I will find.

Where, indeed, are the greater things that Christ's followers were supposed to do? I too have experienced things that I once attributed to God, but they could have easily been coincidences too.

The story about your grandfather sure reminds me of the one by The Brothers Grimm about the stone soup

I'll add a vice versa to your "i am sorry. but your non-experience does not counteract my experience in this case." I am glad that you have your faith and that it helps you. I was very happy for most of the 20 years that I was a Christian, and I am happy now too.

I wish you well on your faith journey, and hope that my comments do not bring you doubt.

Katherine Gunn said...

Hmm... this is indeed a vulnerable thing. This is something that my former pastor used as a weapon to beat us over the head with. "You should be doing greater works!" The thing is, when I would step out and try, he would shut me down. Egos...

Anyway, through my life, I have seen many occasions when people would lay hands on someone and they would be healed. I myself have laid hands on someone and prayed for them and the words were not mine - were not planned and I felt very little except sensation of power around me. But the person I laid hands on told me, later, that it felt like fire going into her - it was so intense it almost hurt. But she was healed of a serious condition that was about to take her life.

Another occasion: I was with a some group of people praying and while praying I had a vision that I began to describe as it happened - in real time. We were praying for the pastor's granddaughter who was in the hospital. We thought she just had the flu (it turned out to be far more serious than this, but we were unaware of this at the time). I found myself in the hospital in a hallway and Jesus was standing there. (Maybe some other time I will go into trying to describe Him. It is not easy to put into words.) He motioned for me to follow Him and I did. We walked down the hallway to the room where this little girl was. She was laying down - looked like she was asleep. Jesus leaned over her and with incredible tenderness, sat her up in His arms and whispered something in her ear. She laughed. He hugged her and laid her back down. Then I was back in the church office.

Incredible? Yeah. I was skeptical even at the time. But then... the pastor's mil told her daughter what I had just prayed and they called the little girl's mother at the hospital. The little girl was asleep - on a morphine drip - completely out. And suddenly, she sat up and laughed. Then laid back down and went to sleep. In real time and space - timeline matching the timeline while we were praying. It is still difficult for me to believe this is real and I am the one it happened to.

There are many instances of encounter with God power in real ways in my life. If not enough to fill a book, at least a series of posts. ;-)

As to why it doesn't happen more often. Hmm... I know of many cases where people were prayed for and nothing seemed to happen. For me, personally, I am at the place where I have given up trying to be anything. I think the works are maybe born out of relationship. Jesus said that He did nothing except what He first saw the Father do. I used to think this meant I needed to pray all the time. And I used to pray in excess of 2-4 hours per day. And I am not knocking that. At the time, it was what I needed for the development of the relationship. Hmm... I think, maybe, the "greater works" are not supposed to be the goal but rather a by-product - maybe - of a deep relationship with a Father who has incredible power.

Nate said...

Katherine, I agree with you on the relationship part. If I felt about God the way I felt about my wife, that surity, that close, intertwined, I would really not doubt when asking God for things. Like healing for others etc...

In my own life, (Jon took the good one from my family) God took me through a time when he would not allow me to make enough money to support my family. No matter what I did, I could not get a better job, make more money at the job I had, cut costs, etc... I had to just keep going and rely on him. With out ever asking anyone but God, each month on about the same day, money would be sent to me. From family members, but none the less, it was there. The amount I needed changed from month to month with incidentals, but still it was always the right amount. From april 2006 to august 2006. Then I got a raise that covered my expenses.

This did not come from my FAITH, it came from God's caring for me.

Anna Marie Mcdowell, she was a little girl, literally-35 lbs at 13 years old. She had a disease that no child had ever lived past four years old. You should already know the miracle here.

My father, had a stroke that 95% debilitated him. He could eat. That was about it. He made such a remarkable recovery for so long, that the University of Minnesota-Duluth, had him come in once every 6 months for evaluation and wrote papers about him. He went from being a vegetable to being completely healed. Miracle in real time.

Barry said...

Jon, my take on the whole "doing greater things" idea is this: either we are interpreting it wrongly when we take it to mean that believers should do greater miracles than Jesus, or Jesus was not telling the truth. I think the former is more likely. (Another possibility, of course, is that the words of Jesus were inaccurately reported by the author, but I'll leave that one for now.)

Perhaps we should be asking ourselves what else that passage (John 14:1-14) could mean.

Erin said...

Wow this is a hard subject for me. I spent years and years in faith healing circles, and 99% of the time nothing happened. Since I've been detoxing, I haven't been able to reconcile this: was the 1% God or coincidence?

I do have those handful of experiences that cannot be explained away...and I have prayed for someone on maybe 3 occasions in my lifetime who were truly healed. But I operate now in a state of tepid disbelief...we can't live life in expectation of miracles on a daily basis (in our own lives)...because God just doesn't work that way.

Ruth said...

That is a great clip from the Matrix illustrating your point Jon.

I have thought about this much. I think Barry's point is a consideration, that perhaps Jesus meant something different when he said "greater things." For the most part, when Jesus said something was great it was usually something shabby in the eyes of man. But there is still so many more promises of "signs and wonders" that don't seem to have come to pass in the 2000 years since Jesus was here.

I think it can partially be explained in Matthew 13 where it says that Jesus could not do many miracles when he went to his home town because of their lack of faith.

Lady Dalila said...

Great post, Jon!!!

When I was a believer, I concluded that doubt was the greatest faith-killer. The two just couldn't co-exist, I came to believe. So I reasoned that doubt was the major reason we weren't seeing more of those "greater than these" events.

Re miracles, I do admit that there are some things that none of us will ever be able to explain, and that's okay with me. I don't have to know everything. The things I don't understand, that don't make sense, that have no answers, I place in a box, which I guess could be labelled, 'Mystery - Leave alone'.

I'm thinking, though, that Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13, highlights love as the greatest of these, greater even than faith and hope. Could it be that it's more love that the world needs? I don't mean to be corny, but I believe that it's the single greatest, transforming power in the whole world, yet one that is sadly lacking, hence our tremendously messed-up world. So maybe it's not entirely 'doubt' that's the culprit, after all. What are all those 'miracles' and 'greater works' worth without love at the heart and root of it all?

On the other hand, I can't help but believe that if more love was shown on a daily basis, we'd witness a quality of 'miracles', not necessarily the 'walking on water' kind, but the kind that could start a revolution of change.

Susan said...

While in the West miracles are rare in other places (South America, Africa, India) they are more common. So do they have greater faith or is it that the need is greater? because there are less doctors etc.

We are told that Jesus did nothing he did not see his Father doing. Jesus did not heal everyone (eg at the Pool of Bethsedia). I think we need a revelation when God wants us to step out in faith and pray for a miracle. I don't think there is value in us trying to whip up our own faith. We need God to give us the gift of faith.

Happy said...

Hey, Jon! GREAT post. I'm glad Ruth swung by my place to tip me off to this because I'm about 300 posts behind in my reading, and I've been thinking about the same things this week. I read John - the whole book - last week, and I saw so much I'd never seen before, and John 14-16 started to mess with me a bit... the tension between how Jesus essentially says in 3 different passages in those 3 chapters that "whatever you ask in my Name, I will do it" and "unanswered" prayer...

I agree with Susan that there's a relative lack of the miraculous in the Western world that you won't find in third world countries - and maybe some of it is because only God can heal there; they don't have hospitals and doctors everywhere. But I think Lady Dalila's got a point about doubt too... I mean, imagine how much faith it took for Peter to look at a man who'd never walked a day in his life and tell him to walk. He had to KNOW, deep down, that it was what he was to do just then.

I can't speak for everyone, but I think in my own life, my lack of faith comes not from an unwillingness to believe that God can and will do miraculous things, but from an unwillingness to believe that He could or would do it through *me*. And as I've entered this intense season of prayer and fasting that I'm in right now, that has started to change. I can feel God building my faith. Where will it lead? I don't know. But what I do know is that when the early church faced persecution (for Peter showing kindness to that man he told to walk!), they got down on their knees, and they asked God to step it up, to do MORE things like that - and something about that prayer in Acts 4:30 has totally captured my heart and my imagination, and I am finding myself praying it. I believe what Jesus said - and yes, there may be times when He says no, but as Mike observed today, that may be because I'm simply not praying for the right things... I don't know. Just thoughts.

One more thought, and I'll close my post-length comment. :)

"Greater things" - I wonder if what makes them "greater" is the context in which they happen - men (and women) having a direct conversation with the God of the Universe, through Christ, in a way they never could have without Him, and being the hands and feet of Christ to a broken world. I love it that Peter's defense of his actions was that he was showing kindness... and I do believe that the miraculous always comes with the intent of bringing God the glory that is due to Him, which will always happen when we show any kindness to anyone in His Name.

Happy said...

P.S. I've actually heard someone teach once - a missionary who'd been in South America or Mexico or somewhere that direction - who'd prayed for someone to be raised from the dead, and it happened. He was just an ordinary guy, with issues like anyone, and he prayed for 6 hours for it to happen (his own life was on the line at the time - the village leaders wanted proof that the things he'd said about God were true, and that's what they picked) - but man, can you imagine how it revolutionized his faith, seeing God put His glory on display like that? :)

jON said...

thank you to everyone who has added to the converation so far. this is obviously a topic of interest and i don't have time to respond to you each right this moment. i will say, mike, thanks for coming back! good to see you again. feel free to jump in with anything, or, at the very least, i hope you will continue to follow along with us.

before i do move on however, i have enjoyed hearing others' thoughts so much, i think ruth had a good idea. if anyone knows of anyone else who might enjoy this conversation, please tap them and let them know its happening. in the interest of not being as A.D.D. as much of the blogging world, i'll give a couple of days for any more new comments then i'll be back with more on this.

know that your ideas help to shape, i appreciate the nuances.

Barry said...

Regarding miracles being more numerous in the third world, I must admit to being sceptical. Is it really the case that they are more numerous, or is it just that the news coming out of these countries is unreliable?

There are a great many charlatans (step up Benny Hinn and Todd Bentley, to name just two) who make outrageous claims that people have been healed and raised from the dead through their "ministry" in the West, and even though they can't produce any evidence to back up their claims, they are believed by thousands, possibly even millions of people. Imagine how much easier it is to make these claims when your activities take place in a third world country where your Western donors can't check the facts even if they want to.

Add to that the Christian propensity to exaggerate things that seem to prove our beliefs, and the power of hearsay, and you have quite a volatile mix.

I'm not saying miracles aren't real, but I've yet to see any evidence that real miracles (as opposed to claimed miracles) are any more numerous in other parts of the world than they are in Western, First World countries.

Anybody can claim to have prayed for hours and thereby raised someone from the dead; with such a huge claim as that, I for one would want to see proof before I believed it (including proof that the person was really dead in the first place).

One Voice of Many said...

I'm with Barry on his skepticism on the third world country reports. When I sat through a Todd Bentley meeting a few months ago, he reported of quite strange miracles occurring before his eyes in a remote town in Africa. So remote, apparently no one could get accurate verifiable accounts of his tall tales. I think that these remote locations that are "sited" in reports are used for that reason - they're just too remote for anyone to be able to prove or disprove. We WANT to believe something mighty can and will happen so we continue to tell others about what we've heard.

As far as Jesus' words that we will do greater things than He did - I also wonder if we've misinterpreted what He meant by that. Did he mean that we'd heal more people with disease or did he mean that we'd have more compassion on them than even he did? I don't know. Don't pretend to. :-)


jON said...

alrighty then, let's put on our imagination hats and brainstorm, shall we?

what i envision in my mind is a group of beings who have special abilities. and not just abilities, but confident control of them.

imagine for a moment being able to walk into a village somewhere and instantly being able to communicate with them in their own language with no study. then being able to heal any disease or deformity you find there. then being able to multiply food for them so they may become strengthened. spending time with them in this way so that their belief may become strengthened and they can become a self-sufficient community, leaving behind others in the community who can now utilize these abilities, and the team moving on to the next place by being whisked away to where there is greatest need.

imagine the world-revolutionizing possibilities here. not only could you assist third world peoples on towards self-sufficiency, you could help first world people on towards the same. the chains of dependance on government, industry, and yes, even our esteemed medical professionals would be broken. we could be free from our human institutions that enslave us even as they sustain us.

and what of a place like darfur? what if you could raise each individual wrongly killed back from the dead? and what if you just didn't raise back the assholes who were responsible? or even better, what if you did? do you think their perspective would be changed? or do you think they would be resurrected back to the same old way of thinking and living?

having seen paul's analogy of a body play itself out over and over (each piece being very different yet working together to form a hwole) i tend to think it would probably be more like "teams" than a single individual like jesus who had mastery over all of these things. each person with their own unique mixture of abilities.

which is where we actually meet with what i am thinking about so heavily. i don't think it is simply a lack of faith that keeps these things from happening. i think it is because we have never practiced or tried, which is because of our lack of faith, which is because of a lack of practial examples. i don't think they are mutually exclusive, i think they form a symbiotic circle.

if you are not familiar with the story of the x-men or the newer series "heroes", they are stories that deal with the struggle a person would have discovering, then coming to terms with the fact they have abilities, practicing those abilities, and through many mistakes and trials, gaining a greater understanding of the depths of their abilities on towards a confident mastery of them. but none of them started in a place of mastery and confidence.

so once again, i say we don't see these things because we have never really tried. it is one thing to point the finger outwards and say i don't believe because i haven't seen anyone else accomplish these things. but what about me? i know i've never tried walking into a starving villiage and multiplying their food. maybe that's why we don't see it. because no one does it.

let's look at an example example: healing.

have you ever tried to heal someone? and i'm not talking about "praying for healing." although that is the age old tradition within the church, i don't ever see jesus or the apostles doing that. they don't sit around, talking to the air saying things like, "dear god, if it be your will, please take away her cancer. may it be so, lord. may it be so. for your glory. amen."

no. they walk up, look the person in the eye and say, "be healed." they command it to be so with confident assertion.

have you ever really tried it in this way? and if you did, would you give up on your first failure? remember...

everyone falls the first time.

Barry said...

Sorry to say it, Jon, but that sounds completely unrealistic to me. I've had plenty of people tell me and my wife to "be healed" and nothing happened.

The scenario you have envisaged sounds wonderful, but I seriously doubt it could/would ever happen. If that sort of power was really available to believers, I'm sure we wouldn't have had to go through 2000 years of church history without it. I can't see God having allowed that to happen if we were meant to be dealing in miracles all the time.

Ruth said...

Oh poo poo Barry! Why do you have to go and wreck the fun right of the bat?

Happy said...

I don't think Barry's wrecking the fun. :) I think he's got a point worth discussing. WHAT HAPPENED between Acts and 2008? Why is it no longer a common experience for these things to happen? It doesn't seem like it ever occured to any of the biblical authors that a day might come when miracles weren't accompanying the gospel. It doesn't seem like Paul, when that kid who fell asleep listening to him talk and fell to his death, even considered apologizing profusely to his parents and conducting a funeral - he just went down and raised him up. Stephen and Philip were both known for the miracles that accompanied them as they exercised their other spiritual gifts. So when did that sort of thing stop and why?

I'm not willing to jump into the boat that says we can't do this. I've yet to walk up to someone and tell them to be well. I don't know if I can - and to be honest, I AM concerned about what it could do to someone's faith if I said it, they believed it would happen, and then it didn't. So there's the fear that prevents me from stepping out. I'm not a fan of the people who whack you on the head and tell you to be healed and wait for you to fall over - tho I do believe that in spite of the hype and in spite of the people who lie and twist it all for their own glory, honest people who are truly seeking God will still meet Him (have still met Him - I was one of them) in meetings like that.

But what if we could do it the way Peter and John did. Can you imagine that guy at the temple gate? His friends (or family) drop him off in his usual spot for another day of begging. Wow, that'll do a lot for your self-esteem... So Peter had to ask him to meet his gaze. What did that man see in Peter's eyes? What did John see as he watched? I don't know, but I think it was love. Compassion. A truly heart-felt desire to, on behalf of Christ, give this man a shred of dignity he had never known. I can almost see Peter grin as he reached down and took the man by the hand, the twinkle in his eyes as he tells him to get up. This man has never walked a day in his life. And AS he gets up (putting his own faith in line with Peter's?) his ankles become strong, and all the muscles in his legs he's never used are suddenly in working order, to the point where he can jump and leap in a way he'd only ever dreamed of for his whole life.

Imagine it, if we could bring that kind of joy to someone - the contagion it would be - how quickly the gospel would spread...

I don't know if I'm able to get past my lack of willingness to act of what I say I believe - but I hope I will. Because I think part of the point of miracles and whatnot (lol - "miracles and whatnot" - Happy speak for "signs and wonders") is to AID us in our faith - to help us believe. Jesus himself said something to the effect of, "oh for heaven's sake, if you don't believe what I SAY, then at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves" - that's paraphrased, but I think it's the jist and you can look it up in John - somewhere between 14-16, I think. :) He performed miracles as a testimony to who He was - and I think that's still the point. That, and just love...

which is NOT to say that when God's answer to a prayer for healing seems to be "no" or "not yet" that He loves us (or the person we're praying for) any less. I know a lot of people for whom that is the experience right now. but it doesn't stop me from asking God to heal anyway... just from outright telling them He will. I don't know if that's faithless or wise. Hm... Jon, everyone really, thank you. This is good food for thought.

Barry said...

The bottom line is this: if you truly do believe that sort of thing is possible, why not go and do it, then post back here to tell us about your success, or lack thereof, as the case may be?

Katherine Gunn said...

I have done it. I have told the sickness to go. And people have been healed. I have only done it a few times. I am reluctant to even try (even more so, now) unless I know that I know that God is telling me to do it. Back to Jesus saying He did nothing unless He first saw the Father do it. I mentioned in my earlier post that this led me to pray a lot. I don't pray that much anymore - at least not formally. I talk to Papa all the time. But... one of the things He has been instructing me on - slowly and patiently - is waiting for His timing to do things - and feeling guilty if I don't have the guts to walk up to someone in a wheelchair and heal them. I don't think He wants me to go there unless I know that I know.

The idea of practicing, though, is one I have thought about. I think the 'practice' would need to be within a family of believers where trust was established so that freedom to make mistakes and screw up would be in place. Practice on each other and then take it to those in the streets - as Papa leads.

I really think it does - always - come back to relationship with Him and what flows from that.

Katherine Gunn said...

Another thought. Maybe the scenario Jon laid out - maybe that is where the 'assembling yourselves together' comes in - like parts being assembled to function together - as a team, not assembling as a group to sit and look at a platform... I have a small group of friends right now that I believe have been "assembled" by Papa for a purpose - all pretty much done with institutional chuch. We will see...

One Voice of Many said...

I loved watching Heroes. But I have to be a spoil sport on this one and say, yes, it sounds super fun and wonderful to imagine having those abilities; either in a group together or individually. But... I don't think it's real. I don't know what Jesus meant when He said that but, frankly, I don't know what He meant by a LOT of things that He said.

I thought I did .. a long time ago.


Ruth said...

Barry you do have a good point and I hope you know I was just teasing you. :)

In all sincerity, I have tried it on my daughter's dead hamster. I don't know what compelled me but I felt so sorry for her losing her loved pet and I thought why not start small when no one is looking. Of course, nothing happened and we buried it in the garden after a tear jerking memorial. I have never told anyone else that story just so you know.

My thoughts about healing echo what Katherine said. As far as I recall Jesus never prayed for healing but commanded it. However, he said he didn't do anything unless his father told him to. At this moment, a dear friend of mine who has been an adopted Grandma to my kids has been diagnosed with metastasized lung cancer and it doesn't look good. I have been asking God "How do I pray?" So far I haven't got a clear answer.

Jon said: "is anyone willing to be vulnerable and share experiences or say that they, at the very least, think they may have an ability"

My experience with healing has been through listening prayer and dismantling strongholds. We ask the Lord for insight about spiritual issues that are at the root of a person’s problem. Usually he points to heart issues and wrong thinking. Often when the person works through seeing the dynamic in their life, confesses and forgives offenses, they are healed of physical problems as well as emotional and spiritual bondages. Has anyone experienced anything similar?

Jon, I’m interested to know what your ability might be.

jON said...

somebody's imagination hat isn't functioning properly, methinks. ;-)

i dream. it's what i do. then i contemplate those dreams and wonder about their possibility. and this is one, that i think is possible. not that it IS going to happen or SHOULD be happening, but that it is within the realm of the possible.

i don't think that a lack of something for an extended period of time necessarily denotes and "un-reality." we know there was several thousand years of human civilization before jesus came and walked the earth to show us the true example of the father and a life of obedience.

so much so that much of his life negated and undid not just religious tradition, but also the basic traditions of simple human living and our concepts of reality and how it functions. and i think it can happen again. unless you don't think that the supernatural things that were recorded in biblical accounts happened in real time and space?

for some reason, and i'm not sure completely why so don't ask, i take a much longer view of what is going on here. i don't think that we, as beings, are completed. i think we have been in a process of learning, growing, and evolving as a species. i believe we have hardly begun to tap into our potential as beings and we settle for far less than we are capable of. scientists have said for years that if we could use the full capacity of our brains we would not need our bodies. while i don't know the validity of this statement or the science behind it, it points towards something that i feel resonating within. we are not finished yet. which could be another reason why we have gone so far without it.

but i can understand your sketicism. if you have never witnessed anything firsthand, i do not fault you one bit. this is all just conjecture. one huge, "what if?"

the main reason i didn't post about any successes or failures already is because the point of this post was not for me to point towards myself and say "look at me!" i don't want to do that even now. mainly, i just wanted to know if i was alone in feeling or contemplating this. because i do have these things that happen and i'm curious just what to do about it. so i thought i'd get additional input.

but of course, i DO have a 6 year old son named zaavan who has severe cerebral palsey and mental retardation and he has taught me more about life and god than anyone else to date. he has completely changed my ability to communicate with humans as well as god. as well as changing my perceptions of "damaged." i think he is a human of the highest order. a boy who constantly experiences and pours out joy into the world around him. and i know that his physical and mental disabilities are a large part of that. but witnessing him and who he is as an inner being, and then contrasting him with the average person i meet every day, i have to wonder just who the "broken" ones really are...

but now i'm getting off topic. sorry.

what are my abilities? well, this comment is long enough for now. you'll just have to stay tuned until tonight. i need to spend some time with my daughter before i go to work for 13 hours.

much love to you all, sorry i couldn't respond to everything. there's alot here!

Nate said...

I have been thinking about this. I could care less if I ever cause a mircle to happen. Maybe that I why I don't fly or walk on water.

I also think the necessecity for miracles is becoming much less. I truly believe that God will not do anything that medical science can do, in your area. So idf you are in the africa bush, he will heal many more things. But then, without medical facilities to what the affliction was, it will just look like they got better after being sick. Instead of cancer just being cured. Because the diagnosis would not be there, so real miracle happened, even though it did.

Sorry just rambling. But I do not want or care to be a miracle worker. Too much of a burden.

Happy said...

much i'm still mulling over, but i did just want to say that i appreciated Kathryn's thoughts when I read them today. i think that's just it - His timing, His way - not ours. the thing about miracles is the thing about everything else - if it in any way points to us and how "great" we are, it's baloney. it's got to be directed towards Jesus, and His glory.

I do think there's something to that "safe" community, tho. A place where you can pray for each other, and believe for what God could and maybe will do in our lives... a mature community of people whose faith will not be ultimately shaken if you pray for a miracle and don't see it right away...

but oh, what would it be like if one day, we did! it revolutionized the 1st century church. i'm with Jon. i think it IS possible that God could and even would do it again. to that end, I find myself praying Acts 4:30 a lot these days. :)

Delirious said...

I think this is a very important post, because I believe, like you that faith can move mountains...literally. One of the keys is that our will has to be in line with the will of the Father.

As I think about the concept of taking that first step, I am reminded of Peter who saw the Savior walking on the water. Peter walked out to him. He actually walked on water too! But as he neared the Savior, and the waves began to beat against him, fear entered his heart and he sank down in to the depths. Christ's reaction? "Oh ye of little faith". Peter had just done it...he had just walked on water, but when his fears crept in, his faith faltered.

I do agree that if we had more faith today, we would see more miracles. Recently an elderly man at church, whose hearing has gone bad with age, asked that he be healed of this infirmity. I don't know how you feel, but I think most peoples' reaction would be lack of faith. But he had the faith to ask. I don't know if his hearing will be healed, but if it's not, it isn't due to lack of faith on his part. The athiest, or non-believer, will say that it didn't happen because there is no God. But I believe that if it isn't healed, then it will be because it isn't the will of God.

There are many miracles that happen today, but often people keep these things in their heart, or just share them with close family and friends. They don't want to run the risk of "casting pearl before swine" and having others throw doubts on what they have witnessed, or demean their special experience in any way.

An interesting principle that we believe in our religion is that miracles do not convert people. I have one athiest friend who always says, "If a hand comes down and snatches me from a burning car, then I will believe.". I told him, "No, you won't believe, you will chalk it up to a frenzied mind. You will tell yourself that you imagined it, or that you temporarily lost your mind.". Miracles can always be explained away. Just look at how many churches now days view the Bible. They come up with "practical" explanations of the Old Testament because they themselves can't really believe that Moses parted the Red Sea. Or they teach that the Bible is just "symbolic".

So it is, that true faith comes not from miracles, but from step by step praying and study, and exercising faith. It's like a muscle that must be grown, you can't get it all at once. When our faith is sufficient, then
" "Signs shall follow them that believe" Mark 16:17

jON said...

yes, i do think god's timing is key. i wouldn't imagine that this would be anything that you could just go out and start doing. or could you?

katherine, ruth, and happy thank you for sharing your experiences and leanings. this is all i was looking for. some who have felt the same tappings going on in their spirit and a little dialogue about it.

healing is not necessarily what i'm after here, wondering if anyone else has experienced strange things occuring in their hearts and then physical worlds.

in my opinion, living in the western world does not give you less needs for miracles, just less belief that you need god. i know that as wonderful as we may think western medicine to be, much of it is still guesswork in a white coat. not to mention crippling from a financial standpoint if you don't have insurance to help with the costs.

it just seems to me that faith likes jesus had, and faith like the apostles had, is a rare thing. even in their letters you hear then admonishing people to move on from milk to meat and warning people against the judaizers and from the looks of the main tennants of christianity that i have been privy to, we are still maintaining and all liquid diet. not to mention me wondering if the judaizers didn't win. (i.e. adding on obeying traditions as a requisite of being "saved")

because i don't think god would grant the greater abilities(healing, resurrection) to any who have not been tried and tested through severe fire to the point of hearing on a moment to moment basis with a track record of obedience.

not many people go that far with it. ESPECIALLY in the western world because we just have too much of our own shit to do. we don't have time to listen and obey. that would fuck up my daytimer.

and finally:
since i was very young i have had the ability to control the mood of an entire room. (although, when i was young i didn't realize i had the gift and just used it to annoy the piss out of everyone. ask nate.)

i have the ability to look into a person's eyes and see their inner being and connect with it immediately. (see above)

i have the ability to create positive community in a matter of moments with whoever is available.

rain has started and stopped instantaniously at my request.

two healings have occured.

time and space have been "bent."

just a short list in its most basic forms. once again, just wondering what to do about it or how to find more training or knowledge that isn't just bullshit charismatic rhetoric.

Valorosa said...

How well are you listeming for the impossible.

jON said...

good question. let me ponder.

jON said...

(no time for proofreading, sorry.)

i guess i can't answer as to the word "well". as is "how well are you listening for the impossible?" i just don't know the answer to that. but i know i do listen for the impossible. in fact, other than play my xbox to give my mind a break, do chores, go to work, and spend time with the family, i tend to do little else.

yet, as you know from way back, many of the impossible ideas that come my way at this point involve the cooperation of several people. which is something i just can't control.

that's the thing that i've discovered with faith. it can create things. it can negate reality. it can call into being that which is not simply by beliving and acting as if it is.

because ultimately i believe that's what most everything taht we call "reality" IS. ideas acted out. money, time, jobs, civilization, traffic lights, advertising these things are not self-existent. we make them exist every day by our choice.

and it is my firm belief people need a jolt that gets them outside of this. which is the only way, at the moment, that i know to use these "abilities" that i don't know how to use well.

curious if that is all they are for or if there is more. something "greater" intended for them.

a lot of this wondering comes from something that popped out at me back when we studied acts together, a chapter a day, every day in february '06. remember that, V? when paul was making his way to rome visiting churches along the way, they all were able to tell him, with accuracy, what the spirit had to say about what would happen to him. and not as a warning (although everyone thought it was) but rather as a matter of fact. it just struck me as odd that such a high percentage of those who were together with paul in this new movement should have that ability. to rightly hear and speak forth "what the spirit is saying."

for some reason, it seems very much like that percentage is FAR lower today. and i don't think that was ever god's intention. i think something has been missing. yet, perhaps that has been the intention all along. i don't know. for it to go away. but i feel it coming back. i don't know how else to say it. i just do.

and the more i've thought about it this week, the more i think that this type of thing that i have wondered about here in the original post is EXACTLY what jesus did and the apostles after him.

but then it went away.


Erin said...

I'm behind in my reading, so getting caught up here...

I mostly grew up in the charismatic tradition. It has been part of my life for over 25 years; so I'm not an outside skeptic or a cessationist. However, in all these years I haven't seen the evidence for it being a common occurrence. I just haven't.

For all the years in charismatic churches, the claim of a miracle was often the healing from an addiction or an emotional problem. For instance, a person would claim total healing from years of addiction to, say, meth. However, 6 months later they would be back at it. Or they would say how God has healed them from years of low self esteem and destructive behaviors. But a few months or a year later they would go back to old habits. The only thing I can figure is that the healing wasn't real, it was something they were claiming because they wanted it badly enough...or it was only temporary.

Or maybe our sense of a "miracle" is skewed.

I WANT this to be true. With all my heart and soul. I know all the "rules", I have heard every argument for it. I have prayed and fasted and cried out. I have tried it every which way, from pulling someone out of a wheelchair or whatever...sickness, but also prayer for rain, whatever. I won't say it NEVER happens. But I haven't often seen it. Can it happen: of course. God can make anything happen. But I don't think very often that it suits his purposes.

I will say this: on one occasion I prayed for my own healing and it happened. I can't convince anyone else, but I know it. On one other occasion I know I prayed for a friend and a miracle occurred. And on two other occasions I prayed for deliverance from demonic oppression for someone and it happened.

So maybe 5 times (let's say I've forgotten one) in 25 years of this have I ever truly seen and experienced it. I will also say all of these occurrences took place before I was 18 years old.

I will also add that my 12 year old son could pray for miracles until he was 10. There were maybe 4-5 times that I know of that were true miracles.

But in the big picture, I don't think miracles are common, I don't believe that we need to be "doing" something in order to have miracles occur, I don't feel that if we have more faith or whatever that we will see this becoming common.

But that's just me, and I am not discounting anyone's right to believe whatever they do, because all our experiences are different.

jON said...

good to have more discussion on the subject as its still on my mind. but before i put the time into a response i have to know, are you going to make it back here?

Erin said...

What do you mean, Jon?

Erin said...

Wait. Are you mad because I didn't make it back here to this conversation sooner? If so, well, my life is just a little insane these days and I do the best I can. I am interested in this conversation, but I can't promise when I'll be back. I will be as soon as I'm able. Is that a problem?

jON said...

oh shite no. you don't think i'm that big of a cock knocker, do you?

no. my life, as yours, is insane and time management is of the utmost importance for maximum meaningful output.

you said - "I'm behind in my reading, so getting caught up here..."

in my mind i pictured two scenarios.
#1. - you're behind in your reading, but you're still interested in discussing the topic at hand.


#2. - you were throwing in your comment on the topic again on your way towards being caught up and you might not come back to check on your comment. it happens.

so i tried to say that if scenario #1 was the case, i was more than happy to engage. the conversation stopped right when it was getting juicy for me.

but, at the same time, i realize i can't expect people to be thrilled about the concepts that bake my brain. so if there was a chance taht it was just a run-by comment, i figured i wouldn't put the time and effort into being vulnerable and transparent.

but since you dropped two comments within 4 minutes of each other, i would guess the answer is a resounding yes.

no offense meant.

trust me, i don't want to start any trouble with a woman who has a skull etched forever on her body.

she's obviously a bad ass. :-)

if you're down, i'm down. but it's going to be difficult because we are living in a post-church mindset. and unfortunately i need to use words that already have horrible baggage for people in their minds. i am constantly working and looking for current metaphors within which to place these wordless concepts.

so i hope you can get away from old usages of these terms that you associate with doctrine. we may have faith, but who knows what that's like for the people who were writing about the experiences. perhaps the faith of the apostles was more like an ability that their faith grew in. do you think superman even doubts before he takes off from the ground and starts flying? that's faith. he would be truly fucking surprised if he didn't zoom instantly in the air to be controlled at will.

i guess i don't use the word miracle myself because of all the baggage i have for that word. sitting and hoping that something good magically happens. oh boy!

how about this. a man who, being influenced by jesus words leads a movement of non-violent revolution to overthrow an oppressive, occupational government. and he did this by utilising the abilities that were inherrant in his personal inner structure that was unique to him.

and then, to take it one step further, and consider what we can now do that we can communicate instantly around the world. by utilizing our gifts and abilities we can begin to make things happen. we live in a time now when the curse of babel has either been lifted or beaten, but we are no longer so spread out that we can't connect with one another. and begin to make coordinated efforts of maximum impact.

i think rahab's kitchen is an excellent example of it. i shared the word tat was on my heart. tyler took the inspiration that idea fed her and built a foundation. others took inspiration that was given them through witnessing the foundation that was built on the idea that was inspired. and then, that foundation, several built love. i wish it nothing but full prosperance of healing to the end of its days. may it be a lifeline for the hurting in times of need. i didn't have a rahab's place. and damn sure i might not have this spiritual "limp" if i had had a place like rahab's to go to for some healing sessions.

the story of the tower of babel says that god confused the speech of the people for a reason. because "Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them."

nothing they purpose to do will be impossible for them. we now have the ability, as humans, to be one people with one speech.

i'm not talking about magic tricks. i'm talking about using your special talents that we have to work hard in the right direction to do what we can to heal our current situation. which is all we can do. in small ways. and perhaps, at some point the small ways will add up to a much greater whole.

if there is inspiration. otherwise its a worthless endeavor. so, if no one else feels particularly inspired in this discussion, i don't have to beat a dead horse for conversation that's not interesting to others.

thanks for coming back. it feels good to let this stuff out instead of keeping it bottled up. :-)

Erin said...

hey jon...i'm having a bad night, just assumed the worst. i do like the conversations here, but i just am not getting back to things like i want to, haven't for the last 6 weeks or so. things are supposed to straighten out around here in the next couple weeks so i'll be around more after that.

can i get back to your comment in the morning when i'm clear headed?

jON said...

you can wait for 3 months if you want or you don't ever have to come back to this post again if you don't feel inspired. blogger will email me automatically whenever you get back to it. how do you think i knew you came back here today? :-)

the last thing i want any of my posts to be is another source of stress for anyone. if i ever start to stress you out in any way, just put me down like a hot iron and walk away. don't even bother saying good bye or why. its always all good from here. come back whenever you desire.

ask valorosa. she's been in and out for over 3 years now. i'm sure the stuff i ponder on here can be a little intense. and bloggers pump out so much shit its rare to have a conversation that actually stretches on for more than a week's time with full participation of those who joined the discussion at one time. it happens. its just the nature of the blog world. i don't take it personal.

believe me. i don't watch stuff like six feet under or waking life EVERY day. someimtes i watch more light hearted or heart warming or insanely goofy and over the top profane stuff. and some days, if i'm too busy, i don't watch anything at all.

all of that to say, don't worry about it. you're not super woman and you're physical world comes first. it's all good. :-)

Erin said...

So let me ask you, because I'd bet you have thoughts on this.

(totally off topic)

So for me it's been 3 years online, and I've developed these friendships, people I really care about. But for the first time real life is dragging me down to the point that I begin to feel like I'm failing these people I care about, because the real life people, the ones who "scream" the loudest (scream as a figure of speech) need more of me so I have less, or even none to give online.

Until now I've never really felt that I had to choose...and I think that's why your comment got me so down...because of how I'm thinking about myself, spread so thin even just in real life...I can't do it all and the time I have for my online friends suffers.

I DO put it in perspective and know where the priorities lie, that's an easy one, and it's not so much that I'm worried what the people online think as it is that I WANT to have the time and I just don't always.