I recently read Steven Bremner’s ebook 6 lies about divine healing (disclosure: I got a copy to write a review) and it brought up a lot of memories and thoughts.
As such I thought I’d tell you a bit about my own experiences and views on healing and then post a review layer about how it affected those views.
I recently read Steven Bremner’s ebook 6 lies about divine healing (disclosure: I got a copy to write a review) and it brought up a lot of memories and thoughts.
Last time I talked about my experience of healing and my journey from prayer and firm believer that the holy spirit would act to passive agent who occasionally prayed but generally waited for God to do whatever he wanted.
This was until I met Steve on Google Plus and he asked for people to review and proof read his upcoming ebook. Unfortunately I was busy and got distracted from reading it but I have finally got round to reading it (It’s amazing what a 7 hour stay over at Lisbon airport can do) and writing a review.
Let me start by asking you,
“What do you believe about healing? Do it happen? Does God intervene? Why does he/doesn’t he? When was the last time you saw divine healing…when was the last time you prayed for healing? When was the last time you expected to see healing?”
Divine healing is a touchy subject, on the one hand it is some of the strongest evidence for God, I don’t know many christians who don’t talk about the miracles they have seen God perform when they talk about the reasons to believe. At the same time, the lack of healing at moments is often used as a reason not to believe. In fact there is a famous Atheist polemic site called “Why doesn’t god heal paraplegic”
Divine healing is a touchy subject and people with strong views (who are christians) often get criticised from Atheists, Agnostics and even fellow Christians. So well done Steve for taking the risk and preparing for criticism.
The terms of conflict
The book is very clear that it is going to be based on the bible and the reasons the bible sets out for Divine healing and against objections that mostly Christians throw up against healings. As such it’s perhaps not the best eBook to buy a non Christian who doesn’t believe that God Heals.
So what are the 6 lies?
The 6 lies that Steve mentions are:
1) It’s not God’s time to heal me
2) I’m not Good enough to deserve Healing
3) God is teaching me a lesson through not healing me
4) Sickness is merely a way some of us die
5) I don’t have enough faith to be healed
6) I didn’t get healed the first time so it must not be God’s will to heal me
I haven’t heard many people exactly state the reasons above but I know plenty who have phrased similar thoughts (that hide the reasons above). In my experience numbers 2 and 3 are the most common objections people give…including myself.
In each of the chapters Steve looks at Jesus’s example and what the bible says followed up by the examples of other disciples as well. He even looks at misused verses (such as Paul’s thorn in the flesh) that back up people’s objections to healings.
The result at the end is that I was left with one conclusion about why I haven’t seen healings recently.
I don’t have faith and I don’t try to see healings around me.
I’m willing to bet it is the same for most of you too and that is why I asked some of the questions above and thought that I should give you some of my background as well. If you read my short healing biography you can see that when I stopped praying for healings I stopped seeing healings.
For the record, I don’t full agree with everything Steve said, and some of the sections were very uncomfortable. I’m actually really looking forward to discussing some of my objections with Steve but I think that even with my strongest objections I have to agree with his conclusion. I need to pray more and expect healings more.
I hope I haven’t spoiled the ebook for you and I am sure you will get a lot out of it if you buy it, especially as Steve is really detailed in his analysis of the bible looking in detail at the Greek used and how we misinterpret it.
If you want to pick up a copy of Steve’s ebook (the proceeds of which are helping him to pay for his wedding) then head over to Amazon and get one now.
psst the links are affiliate links here which means that Steve gets the same amount of money he would otherwise but I get a tiny commission if you buy it as well. I did get a free copy of the book to do a review. If you don't want me to get any credit for it then just use this link here.
Sunday morning Church was full of the usual topics of conversation before the service started with a few exceptions
- Who do you think will win the Copa del Rey?
- What is that instrument? (it was my ukulele)
- What do you think about the new Pope? Did you hear what he said…
- Puerto Rico have a Basketball team.
A South American
There are two main groups of people who are part of the evangelical church here in Badajoz. South Americans and Gypsies. And in Badajoz it’s the Gypsies who have the largest churches. Honestly what God is doing there is exciting but it has also lead to the term Evangelical becoming synonyms with Gypsies (and not in a good way).
In our church the majority are South American and come from a wide variety of countries providing plenty of Spanish listening practice to different accents. So perhaps it is no surprise that a South American pope would cause a stir in our Church.
But what do the Spaniards think?
Most of my Students are native Spanish and catholic in some sense. Even if they are Atheists they generally think that religion and the appointment of the new pope is important. A good Pope will affect them and a bad one will too.
The opinions on Benedict and John Paul were very split. Without doubt Benedict’s nationality affected things as Germans are generally viewed with a mixture of appreciation and distrust over the EU and Euro crisis. But the more important issues are the abuse in the church, condoms and same sex marriage. Interestingly different people view both characters as being “better” at the same criteria.
A church for the poor
The key talking point at church today was Francis announcing that he wanted a “church for the poor”. I would venture to say that there was a hint of excitement at this announcement among the congregation The catholic church has such large membership and resources there is no doubt that it could help here. In fact, in Badajoz a lot of the provision is delivered by the Catholic church and they have certainly helped people out who are poor.
What does this mean to the average Spaniard?
The real missing piece in the churches here are native Spaniards. Many people go to church once or twice a year and still keep the traditions of Christenings/communions etc but there are many who simply aren’t following Jesus. This is true of most people who identify themselves as Atheist and as Catholics, people who think religion isn’t real and those who are religious. In general, Spaniards still keep the traditions but that is about it (I’m not saying this is try of everyone but certainly the majority I’ve met).
Will this pope effect that?
Already I’ve had a few conversations about the new pope with my students (the majority of students are native Spanish here) at the start of classes and the pope is seen as something that affects people. It also seems to reignite people’s interest in how important religion is. All the students know he is a Jesuit and believes in the importance of Evangelism,, that he travelled by public transport to work, lived in a regular apartment and wants a “Church for the poor”.
The last points seem to be resound well with Spaniards at the moment in the crisis.
With salaries being cut, fewer jobs and generally less money (oh and let’s not forget what is going on in Cyprus at the moment.) hearing that there is a “church for the poor [read a church for us]” has gone down well. Of course, what a Spaniard sees as a church for the poor and an Argentinian might be very different things and failure to act here may lead even further scepticism of Spaniards towards the church and Christians in general.
So how will it affect me?
As the famous Chinese foreign minister said during the cold war when asked about his opinions on the French revolution “it is too early to say“
This was my actual reaction to a title I saw of a blog post by a Christian recently.
It wasn’t that he used a swear word, or he criticised someone/something I disagreed with. No what he did was much more powerful than that. He said “My God given mission is…”
WOW! Way to be arrogant (I thought) you’ve been called to do this, God is on your side, you’re the only one to do this [insert sarcastic slow clap]
Hopefully you are looking at this reaction with more despairing looks than I was giving this guy because, you know what. Knowing your calling is important.
God given mission and calling
The word Vocation comes from the Latin vocatus meaning “calling”. Literally, it meant God calling you to do serve him (think Samuel in the night).
However, over time this word became secularised and meant a job you do for a long time Instead of something God chose for you, it became something you choose to do.
In today’s economy more people change jobs and follow different paths. We don’t really like vocations any more. In fact, seeing someone who is sure and certain of themselves can leave us unsettled.
Doubting your calling
I don’t know about you but I can feel uncertain at times.
- What am I suppose to do here?
- Why hasn’t this fallen in to place
- Why did that bad thing happen?
- If God is for this…why isn’t it happening.
- Did God really say that?
The end result is just that…the end. Doubt is a dangerous thing especially if we have been called to do something. We may use verses to back this up like
James says “ Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
But really that’s an excuse isn’t it? My personal experience of prophetic words spoken over me and other people have been “This is what God has blessed you in, this is the style you’ll use it, Go and do it [maybe a short term here].”
So for example, “God has blessed you with wisdom and an ability to explain things, you are going to use this to explain to non-Christians things about God. Go and speak truth to your friends” or “God has given you
Sometimes there are stronger messages as to where you should use these gifts but often it is the skill, the way of using the gift rather than the location. Often the location may not be that important but the “what you do” is very important (Of course, the WHY is even more important than the what).
Not knowing your calling
Not knowing your calling is dangerous. We can end up drifting aimlessly and walking from one thing to the next. If we follow “OUR calling” and not God’s then we can easily find ourselves fluttering from one thing to another. Never settling in for the long term, never getting our hands dirty, never dealing with the pains of long term growth and only seeking the good bits of life.
I know a couple who were passionate Christians but seemed a bit guilty of following their calling not God’s (I can’t say for sure as who am I to judge their hearts) they were involved in different churches for around a year, would join, get deeply involved and then move on when they stopped climbing the ranks of leadership saying that God was calling them somewhere else.
Now they probably did similar things in each place and they might not have “advanced” up the ranks any more if they had stayed but there is something magical about long term friendships and commitment that turns boring repetition into magic.
I was wrong
So this guy was right. He knew where he was going, he knew what God had called him to do, his vocation. I know my gifts are encouraging and explaining complex things more simply. I have used them in different ways and in different places but I’ve got to keep using them for God. That is my Vocation, That is what he has called me to.
What about you?
Over the last few days I’ve been thinking a bit about this post by Seth Godin.
Seth talks about how 50 years ago the ratio of content producer to consumer was something like a million to one. For every person who created news programs, there were a million who only absorbed that information (well maybe they retold it to a friend but you get the point).
Over time with magazines, local newspapers, cable TV and Zines the ratio reduced and, you’ve guessed it, the internet has shrunk this even more.
In fact, Seth suggests it is now about 100:1 (roughly).
He ends the post by asking the question about what happens when it is only 10:1 Something which you might want to think about and apply to news programmes/magazines etc and guess what will happen.
However, I want to think about the church.
Church Producers vs Consumers
Go back pre-internet and with organised religion the pastor gave the sermon, everyone else listened.
The organist played the music, everyone else sang along.
Christian books were put out by the top theologians at the universities or the well-known celebrity authors (C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton for example).
Things changed a bit and we gained Christian magazines and resources from different “ministries” and organisations but you might have a handful of people in the church producing content.
Then the internet hit.
Now everyone is a theologian..[er hi]… everyone can upload worship songs to YouTube for the world to hear (though as of yet I haven’t heard of anyone uploading a worship song that has gone “viral“…which is interesting. I wonder when the Christian Justin Beiber will come) and anyone can publish a Christian book. [read this post by Andrew Brims for a bit more on this idea]
At this point I better clarify that this isn’t necessarily bad. The alternative of lazy Christian faith where people don’t take responsibility for their actions or faith is much worse but I’m sure you can see some potential negatives there.
Despite this trend what is really amazing is that in traditional church buildings the reverse seems to be happening.
The story of John the youthworker
Just so you know this is a real story and so is “anecdotal evidence” but I think there is a general trend here too.
John was a member of a church for a long time, he went away to do a gap year working as a youthworker and decided to carry on doing this afterward. He came back and after a year of helping out the youthwork and doing odd jobs the church hired him part time as a Youthworker.
Almost instantly 3 helpers left the team (from a team of 8 including John).
I’ve seen this happen again and again. The church hires someone to help “equip” people and people step down from leadership.
Now this is not a rant against paying for youthworkers, office staff or leaders but I’ve certainly seen a stance where when someone is hired, people drop out.
Are we serving less?
Let’s be honest preaching is sexy, leading worship or playing in the band is sexy. I bet back in the 1800 the organ player was a pretty sexy job too. Maybe it’s no wonder that more people are taking up the task of leading worship and preaching but what about the monotonous tasks? What about the tasks everyone looks over?
- what about putting the chairs out,
- what about dealing with the hundred screaming children at the back of the vestry,
- what about cleaning up excrement from the homeless person who comes for help every day,
- what about filling in the church newsletter.
What about the most boring, tiring, dirty, unpleasant job you can think of? Are more or fewer people doing those tasks?
I think (in general) fewer people are doing them based on my past experiences of being in larger congregations but I’m no expert here.
Perhaps, this is just a mark of the time, we are moving more online, people are doing more things online and actually people are serving people in ways that I’ve not noticed. But maybe with all the talk of “platforms” and “getting noticed” we’re ignoring the boring unsexy jobs.
If I’m honest, this is probably true of me. I love writing and the insight it provides into myself and way it helps clarify my jumbled thoughts, but I wonder if things like page views, comments etc make me think that I am serving people when really I’m just massaging my ego.
My personal challenge (and maybe you’ll like to take this up too) is to think of the most unsexy, least noticed and unfashionable way I can serve the people around me and my church and I’ll do that. I won’t tell you if I succeed or not and I don’t want you to tell me if you do or not (this isn’t about glory or fame) but feel free to leave some ideas of “Unsexy tasks” bellow.
I love “to do list”
My various notebooks are full to the brim with scribbles over what I need to do, what the next step is, who I need to speak too, extra ideas thoughts, wondering etc. But there are some negative side effects of this sort of mentality.
I can find it very hard to switch off, I’m constantly aware of the next thing “to do” and it can/has led to me not really being present around people before.
To be honest, I don’t think this is actually a symptom of “to do list” or caused by them and “to do lists” can even help ease this feeling (as I know I can look at my to do list when I have time, I don’t have to think about it now, I can think about it later) but it is a problem.
But what if I changed my approach?
What if I just chose to do one task?
My mind instantly wants to find ways out of this and has invented some different “interpretations” so that I can keep doing lots of things here. For example. “Well, my one thing is grow my business so I need to do, X, Y, Z…” or something similar but imagine giving yourself just one task to do in a day.
It doesn’t sit well with me.
That’s usually a sign that I should do it.
Add on to this that on Sunday I start my next level of Teacher Training, the DELTA course. This will probably be very work intensive and I’m going to have to cut back (and maybe even stop) some of the things I’ve been doing.
Up to this point I’ve been trying to rush through several projects and ideas before this point hit so that I made the most of the little time I have before the really work kicks in. As such I’ve ended up having blog posts published on about 5 blogs (with a couple more still to come), hit a contribution target I set for one blog, conducted an interview, bought a load of books, set up my room, and so on and so on.
Basically, I’m pretty tired and guess what…there is more to do. There is always more to do.
So here is my plan. This weekend I’m doing one task, but I’m doing it beautifully. I’ll spend all Saturday crafting it and working it to the best quality I can. Then I will just stop and rest.
Maybe you’d like to join me in this?
Over on the Christian bloggers community we set a challenge for the week to write a blog post explaining why you are a Christian.
This is something I like to revise every few years and really look back at. It’s partially to make sure I’m not just blindly following or have forgotten why but also so that I can explain to people who don’t believe when I meet them. Honestly, I think this and your testimony are the most powerful tools of evangelism.
Well a few years ago I made a video giving the reasons for why I believe and why I am a Christian and It’s still good.
But I thought it would be good to do a little update with some thoughts and reasons.
Claims need evidence.
There is a famous saying that Extraordinary claims need Extraordinary evidence…but this is absolutely rubbish really. Claims need evidence but extraordinary is completely subjective. This is simply an attempt to dismiss evidence. Now there is a burden of proof and that has to be met but the burden of proof doesn’t change because the claim is incredible. As Sherlock Holmes didn’t say (because he wasn’t a real person)
When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
If the bible was about anything else then no one would have a problem with it. We have more copies which were published closer to the first copies and original event than any other document. The degree of change between every copy is much smaller than any other document from around the same period.
Having said that we have hard copies from Joseph Smith and “witnesses” who saw him “translate” the tablets. Although the witnesses then recanted, or explained it was more a vision, when pressured unlike the disciples who were willing to die for their beliefs. You don’t make up a lie about someone rising from death and then die for it. A value or belief system that you invent maybe but not for a lie like that.
Add on to that fact that this supposed lie caught on and wasn’t disproved by something simple like, the authorities showing the grave with a body in. When a faith is built upon “moral teaching” with myths attached then it can survive scrutiny which disproves the actual events but when a faith is founded upon an event, its easy to disprove if it didn’t happen.
It All Began
There are some criticism of the cosmological argument for the existence of God, the main one being that God needs a cause to exist but as many people have pointed out God is by definition Uncased…unlike the universe.
(interesting fact, many people protested at the big bang theory because they saw it as proof of the cosmological argument. If the Universe had always been then it never needed a first cause and so God would be unnecessary.
Grace Makes Sense
In a completely illogical way. Grace is so counter human nature and yet it resonates within all of us. When we look at the great stories in the world, the ones that really resonate within our hearts, they all echo Grace, the sacrifice for the person who doesn’t deserve it and it changes that person.
Grace resonates within each one of us and it is the message that I want to take with me.
There is no doubt that my parents faith has impacted me and they have guided me. It certainly is a reason I am Christian and many people say it is the only reason that people are religious, because they are indoctrinated. The fact of the matter is that Peers are now more influential than Parents. For all the talk of how powerful parental indoctrination is by some Atheist, surprising numbers manage leave christianity (clearly we’re not doing it right [that's a joke btw])
However, it works both ways. A while ago I read an extract from a book on Atheist parenting (yes there really is a book on that) which this parent said they wouldn’t let their child have any religious (especially not Christian) friends. Yeah really! That’s how afraid they were of religion and how much they were trying to isolate their child from different views.
What about you? I’d love to know if you have a faith or not, what your history is if you have change faith over time and what reasons you have for your belief system.
I recently published a post thinking about the characteristics of Monasteries and how we might incorporate them into our business…the thing is…I forgot a key element of Monasteries.
If you go round a Monastery and look at the amazing Architecture stained glass windows and murals you can’t help but be inspired by the artwork. Some of the earliest bibles we have had ornate pictures and lettering from their production in these monasteries…basically a Monastery was a place where people carried out Art.
Now when you hear Art I bet you think of paintings, sculptures, maybe interpretive dance and possibly music but as Seth Godin points out, in Linchpin, no one would call a paint by numbers painting, art.
Instead Art is something original and creative.
Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator.,,
An artists is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artists takes it personally. [quote from Linchpin, Are you indispensable? by Seth Godin]
That’s how we want to treat our time at the school.
We want to take it personally, we want to be passionate, we want to be creative. But as Godin says, Art requires bravery (people will criticise), Art requires insight (we need to stay teachable and learn) and art requires creativity.
It’s nice to think about a language school being a place for the employees art…but what about the students?
Art for students
On one level we can see that learning a language is a bit like art. Students certainly need bravery and boldness to speak as well as creativity to work out a different way to express a complicated sentence. (although language is actually surprisingly uncreative, we usually use the same words and certainly don’t just make up new words everyday. Can you image how confusing that would be? Someone who was constantly inventing new words and ways of speaking?)
But is there more to it than that? Should we be a place that facilitates other art not just language learning? Should we facilitate more language learning beyond our normal lesson?
Art is increasingly valuable in today’s economy…can we be an art centre?
Is your workplace a place of art?