Make Miracles Happen in 2014


While the liberal drift over at Red Letter Christians turned me off long ago, someone pointed me back there today, noting 14 New Year’s hopes for 2014 as posted by Shane Claiborne. The concluding hope garnered a huge head nod from me:

14)   BELIEVE IN MIRACLES… and live in a way that might necessitate one.  Oldie but a goodie –  friends living in pretty extreme poverty have taught me that part of the reason that those of us in industrialized countries don’t see many miracles is that we don’t “need” them.  When we get sick we go to the doctor, when we get hungry we go to the store… but when we live like the lilies and the sparrows in utter dependence on God we see God provide in miraculous ways. I want more of that… not more poverty, but more of that kind of faith.

I believe one of the great troubles with modern Christianity is that it lives in most people’s heads alone. Our discourse has been driven by thinky Christians rather than the kind that occasionally throws thinky to the wind. Sometimes, that toss is what we have to do with thinkiness.

'Resurrection of Lazarus' by Gustave DoréWhy are Western Christians so fascinated by the miraculous? Because the Bible is filled to the brim with miracles and yet we experience so few genuine ones today in the West. I keep seeing that the most neglected aspect of our church life is the freedom to stand up before the congregation on Sunday and say, “This is how God made a miracle happen in answer to my prayers and yours.” (And conversely, “This is how I asked for a miracle and have not yet seen it come to pass,” a bold confession that scares the living daylights out of a lot of Christians—oddly enough, mostly church leaders—who find a lack of miracles disturbing to their faith.)

But really, God help us if living in hope for the miraculous is not a daily part of our faith walk! Claiborne is right here: We don’t live in expectation of miracles. Worse, we don’t subsequently have faith for the miraculous because we don’t live with an expectation for it.

All the apologists are talked out, when you get right down to it. Today, bold atheism seems to scare Christians. But you know what scares the hell out of atheists? Miracles. Because miracles are hard to explain away, and when someone tries to explain them away, that person just seems sad and pathetic. And let’s be honest here: Atheism IS sad and pathetic

So in 2014, say yes to believing for—and living for—more miracles. God wants you to.

The State of the Miraculous in a World of Unbelief


One of the hallmarks of the final days, as noted by Scripture, is a horrifying level of unbelief.

Jesus said it Himself:

“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
—Luke 18:8b ESV

The end of all things depicted in the Book of Revelation shows that even when all of the earth is afflicted by the outcomes of supernatural wrath, mankind refuses to believe:

The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk, nor did they repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.
—Revelation 9:20-21 ESV

There are some today who want to cast aspersions on the Kingdom of God and its many miraculous components, and they want to question how the Holy Spirit works in believers. Oddly, many doing so call themselves Christians. Though they claim to abide by the authority of Scripture and not by personal experience, they regularly challenge the miraculous in the Bible’s pages by asking where all the miracles are today. And they ask why those Christians who still believe in the miracles that are the hallmark of the Kingdom can’t always manufacture those miracles when such is demanded.

These naysayers like to point fingers at the ones who still have faith that supernatural works can occur through the ministrations of simple believers filled with God’s Holy Spirit. When a miracle does not happen, the naysayers often mock those who still believe in the miraculous.

But what the naysayers never take into account is the power of unbelief within a community. They do not ask how it is possible for the Revelation passage above to be true, that despite all the unrepentant have seen and experienced, the recipients of unprecedented levels of supernatural wrath remain in the grips of the powerful delusion that is unbelief.

We turn to the authority of Scripture to explain what happens when an entire community is gripped by unbelief:

[Jesus] went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. —Mark 6:1-5 ESV

Jesus, the Son of Man, who was filled in all His being by the Holy Spirit, who was the sinless Messiah and Alpha and Omega, could do no mighty work in a community filled with unbelief.

When we consider the times we live in and the supposed paucity of miracles we see, do we ever ask if the reason for the lack of the miraculous is because the community around us is mired in unbelief?

Do we ask ourselves what a community of genuine belief can do when all unbelief has been thrown off?Christ and the Community

Do we ever think that the miracle denied the faithful person is because everyone around that faithful person does not believe?

Or do we blame the faithful person?

Or worse, do we blame God?

The question of the miraculous today never takes into account the crippling power of unbelief, especially when multiplied throughout a community. And those who would question the miraculous never ask if their unbelief and the unbelief of those they gather around them is what stands in the way of miracles.

Just Give Me the Book of Acts


Cerulean Sanctum has been quiet lately. Truth is, that quiet reflects the disquiet I have in my own spirit.

I don’t know how most people live, but I guess they erect filters to keep the madness out. Head down, nose clean, and a gracious nod to the status quo. Don’t get too involved. Keep emotions stifled. And for heaven’s sake, don’t go around poking sleeping bears with a stick.

Which makes me wonder if I have a screw loose, because I keep my pointy stick close by.

Frankly, I’m pretty much fed up with American Christianity. I’m certainly not angry with Jesus. By no means! But I feel helpless as I watch people who claim to be Christians go off the rails. I’m not a perfect saint, but it continues to horrify me how badly some Christians have brainwashed themselves into ways of thinking that in no way reflect anything I read in the Bible. I’m not talking about the obvious heretics, either, but people with a platform and a loud microphone, blog, or publisher, who disseminate stuff that only serves to diminish the Church. They may look like they’re serving the saints, but in all likelihood they are actually preaching some sliced-up gospel that bears no resemblance to the real one. And many of these people continue to be considered the be all and end all of Christianity in North America.

I’m convinced that our collective maintenance of the status quo enables us to read the Scriptures and not have them affect us one iota. I witness how some folks read the Bible and it blows my mind that passages that should explode everything a person believes don’t even register.

I dare each person reading this today to sit down this week and read the Book of Acts, preferably in one sitting. I’m not talking about an in-depth study, but just read the book.

Now I ask you: Does what you just read in Acts depict today’s Church? If not, why not?

I’ve been reading Acts with my son, and what continually hits me is how far we are from being that kind of vibrant, miraculous, committed Church.

I mean, I read Christian blogs and books today that tell you and me how weak and sinful we are and that what we have today is better than what the Church had back then.

I call shenanigans on those people.

Stop making excuses for faithlessness! Stop telling us how sinful and weak we are, and start preaching the full gospel that we believers are now new creations, seated in the heavenly places with Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit to do even greater things than Jesus did.

That’s in the Book, folks, but some people just can’t deal with truth.

It makes me crazy that some people can tell me with straight face that God has given us something better today than what those folks had back then.

Really? Makes me want to know if they have ever read the Book of Acts.

“Oh, that’s just descriptive, not prescriptive,” they’ll say.

You know what I say? “Stop doubting and start believing.”

I find it insane that the same people who will denigrate personal experience when it comes to anything related to the practice of the Faith will run immediately to their own personal experiences when confronted by biblical realities and practices they reject. 'Blind Woman' by Paul StrandThey claim to uphold biblical truth, yet their double standard condemns their rhetoric.

There’s not a Christian on this continent,  no matter which denomination or sect he or she endorses, who hasn’t turned a blind eye to some part of Acts. Some people gloss over the charismata, some the community, some the evangelism, some the commitment and martyrdom. Simply put, we as a Church in North America do not want to peer into Acts and deal with what we read there.

I don’t understand the kind of  half-baked “church” some people endorse. Especially when their “church” doesn’t look anything like the one depicted in Acts.

I’m sick of those who ignore parts of the Scriptures because that’s what they’ve been taught to do. I’m sick of playing at Church rather than actually being the same kind of Church we see in the Book of Acts.

Keep your blogs, your books, your podcasts, and your pieced-together rhetoric. Just give me the Book of Acts.