7 Great Lies of Organized Religion – Lie #8
Where I grew up, they said: “Miracles don’t happen anymore. They ceased with the disciples.” I believed what they told me.
Dozens of personal experiences and medically documented cases have caused me to do a 180 on this. Miracles are REAL. The idea that miracles are fake is literally the 8th lie of Organized Religion. (Fake miracles masquerading as real ones are the other side of that coin, by the way… and there are many fake miracles.)
Miracles are far more common than many would have you believe. Today, I share several of my own personal experiences. And several thoroughly documented events.
Before we dig in, I need to tell you a conversation with a very close friend I grew up with. He’d gotten a Master’s Degree in Theology at a very conservative seminary. He’d spent time in the ministry. Because of mounting doubts, he was bailing on the whole thing.
He says to me:
“Perry, I’ve studied the New Testament inside and out. I’ve studied Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. And you know what? There is NOTHING in the Bible whatsoever to suggest that miracles should stop.
“So… WHERE’S THE MIRACLES???”
I rifle through my mental file folders. I’ve heard lots of stories 3rd hand. No personal experiences of my own to report.
He continues: “Every single supposed ‘miracle’ can be explained by sleight of hand, placebo effect, or wishful thinking. There’s no such thing as a medically documented miracle.”
He was definitely right about the New Testament part. Nowhere is there so much as a hint that the miracles were going to go away. In fact miracles are held out as proof of the authenticity of Jesus as the Son of God. From healing the paralytic to forgiving sins to feeding the 5000 to rising from the dead, all are offered as things only God can do.
I was quite concerned that he was right about the placebo effect and the wishful thinking. Made me queasy.
Felt like a sucker. A mark. Gullible.
Plus, when you turn on the TV and see the faith healers plying their trade, most of us run out of the room screaming. Educated people are way too smart for that, right?
What if all this stuff about miracles is hocus-pocus and Santa Claus? What an icky, shameful feeling.
My eyes were suddenly wide open for information that would either confirm or deny this.
For several months I was almost persuaded that he might be right.
But little by little things started happening. The evidence began to point the other way.
Experience #1: I had lunch near Cincinnati Ohio with an old co-worker named Charlie Keck. September 27, 2002. Charlie was an engineer who lived in Tipp City Ohio. His wife was named Geri, and she’d had lupus.
She’d *had* lupus. But she didn’t have it anymore.
She and Charlie had treated it for years, prayed for years that it would be healed, and it wouldn’t budge.
Then one morning at her Bible study, a woman suddenly stood up and said, “God just told me to pray for you, to be healed, RIGHT NOW.”
So they did. And Geri felt this warm sensation flushing through her abdomen and the lupus was healed. Just like that. No more doctor visits, no more treatments. The whole chronic disease, gone.
Experience #2: I got to Rajahmundry, India in June 2007 with the customer service manager at my company, Jeremy Flanagan. Jeremy, as it turns out, has been having experiences like this himself. Healing people.
At a church service one Sunday, the pastor, Isaiah Gottimukkala, invites anybody who wants any kind of healing prayer to line up in front of Jeremy. Jeremy calls me over to help him and we start prayin’ for people.
One woman, maybe 60 years old, had fallen a year ago and hurt her arm. She could not raise her elbow past the middle of her chest. When she moved her arm up and down she complained that her shoulder would crack and pop and Jeremy and I could feel that too, when we put our hands on her shoulder when she’d move it.
He started praying for her. Probably spent 15 minutes. By the time Jeremy was done both shoulders felt identical, there was no cracking and she could raise her arm above her head on her own strength.
I asked her to do it for me and I snapped a picture. She said it didn’t hurt anymore and both arms were equally good.
Another lady, Mary, maybe 30 years old, had somewhat recently had brain surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. She pulled her hair back and I could tell just brushing my hand over her head that there was a big piece of her skull taken out and a large indention on her head.
She complained that she’d been having seizures since the operation, and she has had no feeling anywhere in her left arm.
Jeremy started praying that God would heal her entire skull and put everything back. We prayed for her and prayed for her. After about a half hour her head hadn’t changed but she started feeling tingling on her skin and by the time we were done, she said she could feel everything with her left arm exactly like her right arm.
No success on her skull filling in. Not yet anyway. But she was VERY excited about the feeling come back in her left arm!
We go home, and 2 months later I email Pastor Isaiah’s brother, Ananth. I want to know if these people are “still healed.” (Or did the problems come back? It sometimes happens.) Here’s his reply:
Respected Mr. Perry Marshall,
Greetings from India!
Thank you very much for your prayers.
Your trip to India was amazing. Many were healed and increased their faith in God. They are sharing their testimony to many people. Many times they are asking about you and Mr. Jeremy for prayers. We told them that next year definitely they will come to pray for you and for many.
I would like to share the testimony of my Grand mother(My father’s mother). Her name is Mrs. Suvarthamma and her age is 75. She was suffering from severe headache and neck pain from so many years and also if she takes anything from her mouth she will be feeling pain in her throat.
After your prayers She is completely healed. She is very happy and doing all the works easily irrespecitve of her age. God did miracle in her life through your prayers.
Another women named Mrs. Mary, Her age is 30. She had operation on her head. Hair was fully sworn and the head was like smooth sponge. She used to have pain on her head daily. and also her hand is not working and she doesnt have any feeling on her hand.
After your prayers she bacame healed. She feels her hand and she can do works with that hand normally as another hand. Praise the Lord.
Every one hearing of her witness, asking us about you and requesting us to bring you back to India.
These are some of the Miracles happend because of your prayers.
My brother Pastor Isaiah and his wife Surekha and all the boys of the Rajah Boys Home and Pastors in the Deep Forest are sending their greetings to you.
Thanking you Sir,
I’ve told you about two people there in Rajahmundry India. There were many more – most got some benefit, some didn’t seem to get any. These are the most dramatic examples of what happened. But I’ll tell you one thing: I learned that prayer CHANGES things. Especially when administered the way the apostles always said to.
I fully understand that a lot of people reading this are very, very skeptical.
As well you should be.
After all, you weren’t there, were you? No you weren’t. You only have my word to go on.
Well, I forgot to bring my portable MRI machine on the plane so I could do before / after scans of all these people, and as concerns this particular event, my own eyewitness testimony is about as good as I can provide right here.
If you’ll stick with me, later in this article I’ll give you information on publicly documented miracles that you can investigate for yourself. Meanwhile I’ve got more personal experiences to share.
Experience #3: In the spring of 2008 a “revival” broke out in Lakeland Florida. Hugely controversial. A guy named Todd Bentley, a Canadian Harley-riding preacher guy with jeans and cowboy boots and covered with tattoos started healing people in this crazy tent meeting.
It grew and grew until 5,000 to 10,000 people were showing up every single night. This went on until August 2008. The whole thing caved in when Bentley was found to be having an affair with one of his staff members.
(Hey, I told you this thing was controversial. Wait, there’s more…)
I jumped on a plane and flew there to see the whole thing for myself. I was there May 27, 2008.
On the hotel shuttle bus to the meeting I met a woman from Hong Kong who had flown to London to pick up her daughter, a college student who had severe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The daughter was skinny as a rail and looked like the walking dead. They were there to get healing.
I get there and the whole place is a freaking nuthouse. Loud music, crazy people dancing and singing, and rolling around on the floor. This Todd Bentley guy is marching around the stage, shouting, kicking people, slapping them, proclaiming them healed.
Across the stage the people go. Bentley is yelling all kinds of proclamations. At one point he stops and says:
“I’m telling you right now, somebody in here has been deaf in one ear for 34 years. Who is that? Thirty-four years deaf. The Lord just spoke to me. Come up here.”
I’m in the center section near the back. About 20 feet from me, over my shoulder and to the right, a guy raises his hand. “That’s me. I went deaf from a gunshot 34 years ago today.”
Bentley prays for him and he’s healed, instantly. You can watch this in this video:
The man’s name was Brian Burgee. He’s pastor of Rock Church of Tampa Bay.
Brian’s story was reported in the Charlotte Observer on June 19, 2008. You can read it here.
I met Charles Chandler, the reporter who wrote it. We have a mutual friend who lives in North Carolina. Chandler followed up with the people described in the article personally and checked their stories.
I was there that night. I saw it happen with my own two eyes.
This article is referenced on Wikipedia. My neighbor is the editor in charge of the Todd Bentley page on Wikipedia. The healings in Lakeland were such a hot potato, most of the mainstream media wouldn’t touch it.
When people are really getting healed and things are happening that the establishment claims are impossible, mostly what you get is silence. Or irrational protests from people who still insist it’s impossible.
(Not all that different from atheists trying to tell me DNA isn’t actually a code.)
Experience #4: I have a friend named Noemia Cessito. She and her husband Jeronimo run a school, church, AIDS hospice, medical clinic and feeding program in Beira, Mozambique. I went to visit them in the summer of 2003.
Mozambique is extremely poor. Luxuries that westerners take for granted are simply unheard of there.
Noemia tells this strange story:
When I arrived in Mozambique in 1984, the country was in the middle of a 15 year civil war. It was a hard time. A lot of people were dying not just from the fighting but from starvation.
One evening our church met for prayer. People started to pray for things like shoes, a chair, a shirt, a loaf of bread. I never heard anyone pray for a pair of shoes or a loaf of bread before. I had always prayed: “Lord, please provide for my needs.”
So, I was sitting beside this little six year old girl and we divided into pairs to pray. That little girl began to pray, “Oh God, give shoes to my brother, Carlos. Oh, God, give some some bread to my sister Maria. And I said “Amen” to each of her requests.
Later at home, I got down on my knees to pray some more and when I was kneeling, I was trying to pray for the war because I had heard about a terrible battle on the Zamebezi river.
In the middle of thinking about that, I got this desire for some ice cream. I thought, “Good Lord! How could I possibly think about ice cream now when there is so much war and starvation?” But yet, deep in my heart, I heard a voice saying, “Ask for some ice cream from God.”
I ignored the thought. How could I possibly ask for ice cream when so many people are starving and are in so much need? I continued to pray. But my mouth started to water because I so wanted to have some ice cream. And then I began to cry. I didn’t have the courage to say, “God, please give me some ice cream.” I knew that I could, but I didn’t have the courage.
But, then at the end of my prayer, I said to God, “God, I would sure love to taste some ice cream.” And then, I cried some more. I thought, how selfish can I be! There are so many suffering and starving. I was crying because I was homesick for Brazil, and I so wanted a taste of ice cream.
About noon the next day a truck from Zimbabwe drove up to the door where I was staying and the driver got out and knocked. He wanted someone named, Naomi. I didn’t understand English at that time but he kept saying Naomi, Naomi and I finally realized that Naomi must be my name in English.
So I took the package and when I touched it my heart froze. I knew right away what it was because the box was cold.
So I asked the driver, “Who sent this? Where did it come from?” He didn’t understand me but finally through gestures I got out of him that someone at the airport gave him that box to deliver to “Naomi.” It had been flown in on a plane from South Africa. To this day I have no idea who sent it or where it came from.
Well, I put that little carton of ice cream in the freezer of the refrigerator with a sense of overwhelming gratitude. It was then that I began to understand that I can ask from God even the most insignificant things.
Since then I’ve faced a lot of hard times. I’ve nearly died of malaria, and I’ve gone hungry. But, as the many difficulties arose, I would remember that carton of ice cream. It’s the biggest lesson of my life.
Experience #5: I’ve got a friend named Jess Smiley. She and her husband Sam live about 2 miles from my house. We go to church together.
The last 7 years have been HARD on Jess.
7 years ago her husband Jamie contracted leukemia, a form that is lethal. After a 2 year battle she lost him.
In the fall of 2007 her son Alex was 11 years old. He had started developing bruises on his skin and a doctor’s appointment revealed that he too had leukemia.
Wow. An 11 year old boy with leukemia. Imagine facing that.
Alex went through 9 months of brutal chemotherapy treatments and it went into remission.
18 months later, it came back. With a vengeance.
More chemotherapy. More prayers. More desperation.
Alex chose to stand up and FIGHT.
Since Alex was losing his hair, several of his friends, including Dylan Fancher, all decided to shave their heads as a sign of Solidarity with Alex during his healing and recovery process.
Below is a video of Alex shaving Dylan’s head in the restroom of Alex’s hospital room:
Alex Smiley shaves Dylan Fancher's head: Solidarity, and Friends Forever
Just the day before, Alex had begun his Chemo treatments. (The joy of shaving Dylan's head sorta made up for the first day of chemo.)
That was July 6, 2009.
On Wednesday, October 14, 2009, an infection raged out of control and Alex died. A young man full of promise, gone at age 13.
Jess had remarried since Jamie's death. She lost both her husband and first-born son to leukemia.
She made it through Alex's funeral under the care of friends, lots of prayer and a couple pints of vodka.
Words cannot express how grieved we all were. We all prayed so hard. For Alex to be healed. For this curse to be lifted. But Alex lost the battle. For whatever reason, rescue did not come.
Jess soldiered on.
It just so happens that we were with Jess at a church conference in Toronto. On the night of January 20, 2010, God SPOKE to Jess and in a moment of laser clarity, showing her that He was pushing a "reset" button on the destiny she thought she had lost. He was restoring to her what she thought was no more.
That night God also gave her an impartation of JOY and LAUGHTER.
The bitterness and the grief melted away and she began laughing with delight. For weeks she was almost giddy and exuberant.
It was like nothing I had ever seen.
All I can say is, you had to see it for yourself to fully appreciate it. I've told you some miracle stories. People getting healed of lupus, deafness and paralysis are all remarkable. But being healed from aching loss and sickening sorrow over a lost husband and dear son - that one takes the cake.
It's not that she doesn't miss Alex or Jamie. Or that she doesn't still grieve. It's just that the bitter sting has been taken out. Jess experienced a literal impartation of the beautiful scripture of Isaiah 61:
For those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.
My friend, I do not know why Alex and her husband were taken from us. God alone knows the answer to that question.
But God did minister to her in her sorrow in a most profound way.
YOU have also lost loved ones.
YOU have also had unanswered prayers. We all have. I know the feeling of exasperation and desperation when you pray and it feels as though those prayers are bouncing off the ceiling.
Jess Smiley knows that feeling too. Believe me, she does.
You pray for the uncle or aunt or grandpa or child. Your prayer doesn't get answered the way you want it to. It's bitter and dark.
But you know what...
You only have to experience ONE undeniable miracle and then you KNOW. After that, there is no going back.
And that's what happened to me. I've only shared a small collection of stories. There are others. They're real and I've seen them with my own two eyes.
I solemnly attest to you that all these people and experiences are true and I have reported them to the best of my ability.
I will never again be at the mercy of theories from someone who thinks miracles are fake. Cuz I know they're real.
But they are my experiences not yours.
Do you want God to show up in your life?
Then right now I give you permission to ASK HIM. If you seek God you will find Him.
But there's something else I wish to offer you as well.
And that is:
Documented evidence of other miracles.
1. The book “Real Miracles” by Richard Casdorph, M.D., medically documents 10 miracles. Each chapter is a case study of one miracle, including doctors reports, xrays, etc. It reports ailments like huge tumors, Multiple Sclerosis and cancer vanishing completely, with medical documentation.
If you're the least bit curious about this, just go ahead and buy the book. It's on Amazon.
2. In Catholic circles, the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima on October 13, 1917 is very well known and has been exhaustively documented. Literally 70,000 people including all kinds of newspaper reporters and people of every age and background testified to what happened near Fatima, Portugal. The event was predicted in advance on July 13, August 19 and September 13 that same year by three children. Which is why thousands of people were there to witness it.
Wikipedia does a good job of summarizing what happened. (Yes, I understand, if you're a protestant you probably don't relate to the "Virgin Mary" stuff. That's OK. There's no rule that says you have to.) I encourage you to study the event for yourself and see if there isn't substantial evidence that something miraculous occurred.
3. In September 2010, the Southern Medical Journal published an article titled: Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Proximal Intercessory Prayer (STEPP) on Auditory and Visual Impairments in Rural Mozambique. The official publication can be found here and the original authored manuscript from Indiana University can be found here. 24 people were tested; hearing of deaf subjects improved by 10-60 decibels. Vision of some of the blind subjects also improved, ranging from none to 15X.
I am personally only 1 degree of separation from the healers involved in this study. Here in Chicago I have some friends Nathan and Liz Stanton. They were married in Mozambique by pastor Heidi Baker who is a missionary there. For the Southern Medical Journal research, Heidi Baker partnered with Global Awakening in Mechanicsburg Pennsylvania, who sent a teaching team to my own church not long ago.
Heidi Baker is well-known in Mozambique for going into villages, asking villagers to bring her their deaf, then healing them. 7 minutes into this video you'll see Heidi Baker heal a deaf woman in front of a large crowd of people, live:
This video is an excerpt from the movie Finger of God. by Darren Wilson. He's the narrator of this documentary. I'm personally acquainted with him, having met him in November 2009. Darren himself was ardently against miracles until a relative experienced a miracle he could not explain, which launched him on a journey of investigation.
4. On Friday August 30 2010, Delia Knox was healed after two decades of paralysis. She stood up in her wheelchair in the Mobile Alabama Convention Center and walked around the room in the presence of thousands of eyewitnesses.
The following report appeared in the Mobile Alabama Press-Register, September 2, 2010:
MOBILE, Alabama -- On Christmas Day 1987 singer and evangelist Delia Knox lost the use of her legs after a car she was a passenger in was struck by another vehicle driven by a drunken driver.
Now, on a video made last Friday, Knox is seen walking for the first time in 22 years during a revival at the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center.
The video, which is on YouTube and on the site of the Mobile church run by Knox and her husband, Levy Knox, is said to be a testament to not one, but numerous miracles said to have taken place during the Bay of the Holy Spirit Revival.
You can watch the YouTube video of the live healing taking place here:
On Thursday October 21, 2010, Delia Knox returned to her home town of Buffalo, New York and into her mother's arms. The local TV station WIVB Channel 4 taped the homecoming and reported the healing:
Finally there are some things that need to be said about miracles. Quoting 1 Corinthians 12:28:
"And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.
"Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But eagerly desire the greater gifts."
If you're a Christian, I challenge you with this:
Most of the church, the protestant church in particular, has been actively disobeying this command. These verses clearly present a hierarchy of authority and gifts:
4. Workers of Miracles
8. Those who speak in tongues
The protestant church has amputated #1, #2, #4, #5 and #8. The teachers and administrators have been left in charge.
Paul said to desire the greater gifts.
The church has been banning them.
I know pastors and seminary professors who've been fired from their jobs because they believed in miracles. How tragic and anti-Christian that is. I have a friend who had severe ADHD and was deaf in one ear. He was healed of both at once in May 2007. He won't let me use his name and picture here on my blog because his father is a prominent figure in evangelical Christianity and news of a miracles might threaten his dad's career.
And we wonder why the church is anemic??? We wonder why there's an atheistic bias in the western world? It's no surprise church has become a flaccid, legalistic, boring institution. A dreary way to kill an otherwise enjoyable Sunday morning.
It's because 5 out of the 8 spark plugs have been yanked out. The engine is coughing and sputtering on 3 of its 8 cylinders.
Why are "Cessationist" arguments invariably so complex and insert all kinds of assumptions which themselves have no scriptural support?
Cessationists often say "The gifts were only present for the apostolic age - a short, special period of time to validate the apostles so they could finish writing the scriptures." Where did they get that? The Bible never says anything of the sort. When Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14 "Earnestly desire the greater gifts", was he only talking to apostles?
Cessationists are often skilled rigorous expositors of scripture, but the cessationist arguments don't meet their own standards of interpretation.
The church has sliced off one of its testicles and thrown it in the garbage. No wonder it doesn't feel like a man.
My friend, let me assure you: When the church begins to operate on all 8 cylinders, it becomes a force to be reckoned with. As all my friends who've been healed will attest. The atheists and cynics and religious gestapo can whine and moan all they want to, but real people are being set free every day.
(Oh, and I haven't said a single word about the awesome power of prophetic people. I'll save that discussion for another post.)
You're invited. If you're ever in Chicago, come to Greater Chicago Church, 705 Jackson Boulevard, Oak Park Illinois on a Sunday morning and I'll introduce you to some of these dear friends. They'll look you in the eye and tell you their stories and you'll know it's all for real. If you need healing, they'll pray for ya, too.
The same thing is happening in every city and town in the world. It's seldom in the newspaper or on TV. But maybe that's for the better. Cuz it's going on just the same.
In Matthew 11, Jesus' cousin John the Baptist was in prison. He was depressed and discouraged. Nothing was going the way he'd planned. He had grave doubts because his prayers weren't being answered.
John sent a message to Jesus.
When John heard in prison what Christ was doing, he sent his disciples to ask him, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"
Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me."
P.S.: There's a popular atheist jingoism these days: "Why doesn't God heal amputees?" It's often stated with spitting anger and venom. The assertion is made that there's no such thing as an amputee whose arm grew back. This held up as proof positive that miracles don't exist.
To date I haven't personally met an amputee whose arm has grown back. Today I told you what I have seen. The closest I've come is my friend Yosef Bender from Chicago. Yosef was at a Kathryn Kuhlman healing service many years ago. (Casdorph's book "Real Miracles" investigates 10 of Ms. Kuhlman's healing incidents.) Behind Yosef was a woman who had one arm that was too short with a single finger at the end instead of a hand.
From the stage, Kuhlman called out that there was someone up in that section whose arm was deformed. A few seconds later, Yosef heard this intense commotion and loud crying behind him. He turned around and this woman's hand had fully grown back. She was so happy she was crying hysterically.
This is as close as I've personally gotten to a healed amputee.
Documented histories of healed amputees do exist. The Miracle of Calanda occurred in Calanda, Spain in 1640, according to 17th century documents. The documents state that a young farmer's leg was restored to him after having been amputated two and a half years earlier. This event is described in detail in the book Il Miracolo by Vittorio Messori. This is described in detail on Wikipedia.
I rather suspect there are at least a few healed amputees out there. Will the skeptics listen to their stories? I don't know. Will they change the skeptics' minds? I don't know. But if you want to think for yourself investigate these things on your own, I recommend that you start by reading “Real Miracles” by Richard Casdorph, M.D.