Miracles: A Journalist Looks at Modern Day Experiences of God's Power - eBook
Readable yet challenging, hopeful and helpful
Do you believe in miracles? While Christians universally answer yes, this question brings up a myriad of questions for the Church today. Many Christians are increasingly cautious of affirming miracles because of the damage done publicly by faith healers and outright shenanigans. Popular books abound recounting personal stories of being transported to heaven, seeing Jesus, talking to angels and of course, being healed. Should every such story be believed? And if we refuse to believe are we being cynical and unbelieving in our outlook?
Beyond this larger question, the average Christian often has to make tricky decisions in real life scenarios. They are confronted with a claim to a miracle in the life of someone they know at work or in their church. They are pressured to come to a Pentecostal revival where they canÃ¢ÂÂt help but be skeptical of the outlandish behavior and incredible conclusions made by their friends. Just how are we to think about miracles, when we pray for them on behalf of our family and friends every day? We all know God can heal, and we want his healing touch, but we just arenÃ¢ÂÂt sure that we should expect it, or what to do when we think weÃ¢ÂÂve really seen it.
Tim Stafford, a senior writer for Christianity Today steps into this quagmire and offers us some help in a remarkable new book titled, Miracles: A Journalist Looks at Modern-Day Experiences of GodÃ¢ÂÂs Power. Tim navigates this thorny problem by recounting a true story that he experienced in his church, a fairly high-brow, staid and conservative Presbyterian assembly, by his telling. A young man experienced a healing from a debilitating pain in his feet that had required crutches and a wheel chair for years. His family were understandably overjoyed at his sudden and dramatic healing experienced at another church several hours away. But they were a little disappointed that their fellow church members didnÃ¢ÂÂt share all their enthusiasm.
Stafford uses this story as a case in point, and interviewed the family as well as other families affected by this story from his church. Tim also draws on his travels to far-flung corners of the globe, where the miraculous may be more common. But rather than basing his conclusions on eye-witness testimony, Stafford also surveys the Old and New Testaments and the early years of church history looking for takeaways that we can apply to this perpetually difficult question. The result is a lucid and eminently readable account of his exploration. And his book is more than a page-turner. He brings sage advice, common sense, and an open spirit to the topic as well as his own honest account of disappointment and growth in this area.
StaffordÃ¢ÂÂs book wonÃ¢ÂÂt change the mind of the die-hard proponent of an extreme position on this issue. Those who see miracles around every corner will still find them, and those who hesitate to affirm the miraculous anywhere after Rev. 22, will equally be unconvinced. But for the average believer, without an axe to grind, StaffordÃ¢ÂÂs treatment will be challenging and uplifting, and ultimately helpful. I was encouraged to trust in our miracle-working God more, and to see the miraculous in the ordinary means of grace that God so faithfully provides.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Bethany House. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
January 12, 2013
Miracles: A Balanced View on Supernatural Healing
I should start this review by saying that I believe in miracles. In fact, I always have. Even when people I loved died after I prayed for them to be healed. Even when the situations I prayed would change remained the same. I still never hesitate to ask God to make a difference in situations ranging from desperate to ordinary. This is part of the charismatic tradition in which I was raised (somewhat different from the Pentecostal tradition the author references throughout the book) and something that is still part of my faith.
I expected this book to be either written by an ardent Pentecostal promoting the reality of miracles or a cynical cessationist (someone who believes that all supernatural gifts of the spirit such as prophecy, tongues and miracles no longer occur) looking to disprove and explain away miraculous events. I was pleasantly surprised to find it to be neither.
Instead this is a candid look at miracles by someone who was brought up to believe in them in theory but not in practice. He believes in praying for miracles but isnÃ¢ÂÂt part of a church tradition where it is made into much of a production. Stafford discusses the problems but also the freedom of demystifying miracles and healings. When our bodies heal themselves it is a wonderful, amazing event, and yet it is a function we take for granted. But he also acknowledges real experiences where nothing can explain why someone recovered except the supernatural hand of God.
This book is a great one for both believers in and skeptics of miracles alike because of the balanced few he presents. As a journalist, Stafford investigates but never allows himself to fall prey to cynicism. As someone who believes for and actively prays for miracles and healings I appreciate his suggestions for how to better handle the process. I think this book would also be beneficial to someone who is looking for more information about miracles but has many doubts. It is the most balanced view on the subject IÃ¢ÂÂve ever encountered. The author skillfully avoids stereotypes and catch phrases, instead focusing of the experiences of people he has encountered in his years as a journalist, allowing the reader to explore real miracles in the lives of real people. This is a worthwhile read and I highly recommend it.
I was not compensated for this review but I did receive a free copy of the book to review.
December 26, 2012
An interesting read
The author, Tim Stafford claims to have written this book from a journalistic view. However to write something from a journalistic view, it has to obtain little to no opinion and be based on facts and observations. Tim Stafford does not hold back on his opinions in this book, and I feel that his opinions cloud things up.
One statement he makes that I simply can not agree with is to the affect that "a miracle must be instant, complete and permanent". This is a mans description of a miracle. But what is God's description of a miracle?
I really do believe that believing in miracles comes down to faith. People want miracles so that they will have faith and then be able to believe in God. Unfortunatly things don't always work that way.
Despite my personal dislike for this book, I do think that there is some decent information in here for the general public. However, understand that the author is not an expert and really just an average person writing his opinion (as am I), so take that with a grain of salt.
I received a free copy of Miracles in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no other compensation.
October 15, 2012
Enlightening View of Miracles - Wonderful Read!
At some time in life, everyone has prayed for a miracle. Whether one is a devout Christian or a non-believer, every person has had occasion to wish for a miracle. As Tim Stafford points out Ã¢ÂÂThere are no atheists in foxholes.Ã¢ÂÂ
Everyone hears stories of miraculous healings, but very few have a chance to verify these stories. Some refuse to credit them at all. In this book, Tim Stafford offers a very reasonable, down-to-earth assessment of miracles as well as some observations about miracles as they relate to faith. Stafford cites examples from his world travels, visits to assorted churches and meetings with healers, believers, and receivers.
Miracles have been recorded throughout history, mainly in the Bible. Some eras have witnessed more miracles than others, but miracles continue to happen just as they did in JesusÃ¢ÂÂ time on earth. Miracles are defined as Ã¢ÂÂsigns and wondersÃ¢ÂÂ in the Bible. Although miracles are exciting, Stafford makes an essential point that miracles are signs that point to something greater. Miracles lead us to God. Miracles are about God and what he does for His people. Miracles are simply one way God uses to call His people to Him. He wants to show them love and to receive their love.
Stafford writes with an open mind, exploring various locations, cultures, beliefs, deliveries, church teachings, philosophies and branches of science as they relate to miracles, signs and wonders. Acknowledging skeptics as well as zealous believers, he examines obstacles to belief and presents clear, logical illumination on the subject.
If a reader is looking for an inspirational book of miracle stories, this is not it. Although there are some instances of miracles cited, Miracles goes much deeper than simply telling tales. It offers discussion of miracles and their role in leading people to a deeper devotion to Jesus Christ.
Chapter 13, entitled Ã¢ÂÂWhat We Know and How We Should Use It.Ã¢ÂÂ provides a list of affirmations about miracles and some guidelines to help the reader keep miracles from eclipsing devotion to God.
Ã¢ÂÂBlessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.Ã¢ÂÂ ~ John 20:29
I received a copy of this book compliments of Bethany House Publishers and am very pleased to recommend it.
August 20, 2012