Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


God Does His Child a Solid

From my Facebook files:

I truly have favor with God!!! I need a new refrigerator for the house that I am moving to next month……Home Depot now has the $1700 refrigerator I wanted on sale for $998!!! It appears Samsung is trying to penetrate the market!!! If you guys need or know of anyone in need, spread the word!!! The sale ends July 15th. Thank you Jesus!!!!!

Marilyn Mitchell McCluskey's photo.
Marilyn Mitchell McCluskey's photo.
Marilyn Mitchell McCluskey's photo.
Marilyn Mitchell McCluskey's photo.
Dear facebook friend,
I’m so glad God saw to it that The Home Depot had a sale on for the exact refrigerator you wanted for your dream home in the mountains. It is a miracle. Surely you have garnered more favor than those faithful believers who don’t have enough money for their rent, or medications, or food. And it is likely that God’s provision for you will become the good fortune of another as they turn the box into a home.
God is good.  All the time.


Beware the Dilating Pupils

Students of the Woo – they’re normal.

I really don’t even know what to say about this.  You can read the article in it’s entirety here.

I did think of something to say. Because the more I think about this the angrier I get.  This post isn’t an effort to make fun of someone’s beliefs.  This kind of thing makes me angry.  I don’t see the difference between these so-called exorcisms and this.  It’s emotionally manipulative and dangerous.  I can only imagine that it’s keeping people who need honest medical attention  for either physical or mental reasons from getting the help they need.  It’s irresponsible.

I’m sure that it has never occurred to this girl has been around it and immersed in it since she was born that it’s akin to any other kind of witchcraft or sorcery whereby spells are cast and potions and elixirs are applied.  The only difference is whose name is called on to cast the spell.  I’m with Anderson Cooper on this one!  Stop peddling your snake oil! ***

***Post edited to add opinions which may or may not be of value. I just could not help myself.


Does God Speak?

There are a number of us who suffer from doubt and downright disbelief in the divine.  Many of us wonder just what it means for people to say God talks to them.  Some people claim God has spoken audibly to them.  Others say they are “impressed” in their soul.  Still others say it’s a feeling, like the wind.  You can’t see it but you know it’s there.  Then there are those of us who never experienced any of those things, who never experienced God speaking to them in any discernible way.

Ahab asked the question recently, “what do you believe is going on with people who claim that God communicates with them when they pray? Overactive imagination? Altered state of consciousness? Something else entirely?”

It is not my desire to belittle those who believe God has “spoken” to them.  But Ahab asked what I believe is going on with those who claim such.  Here is what I believe.  I believe it can be the product of an overactive imagination.  When we fill our minds with certain things our minds begin to play tricks on us.  I’ve known people who lied about something long enough that they actually believed the lie was the truth.  Some people believe they’ve seen angels or demons or the Virgin Mary.  Have they?  Is it all in their mind?

As I was researching some information for The Miraculous I came across a phenomenon called Stigmata.  The religious adherent believes they have received from God the wounds of Christ, though Christianity isn’t the only religion where stigmata is reported.   St. Francis of Assisi was the first recorded case of stigmata and Sister Therese Neumann is said to be a confirmed case of such.  Those outside of the Catholic Church and in particular those who are skeptical of this phenomena associate such as markers of a form of hysteria or psychosis.  Each case is remarkably different.  The wounds manifest in the way that the stigmatic believes them to have occurred.  Some wounds appear in palms while others appear in wrists, some in the feet and others in the ankles.  It completely depends on the stigmatic’s idea of the crucifixion.  Simply put, it’s the power of suggestion coupled with severe stress or mental disorder.  There is strong suggestion that the wounds may be self inflicted and in some cases have proven to be such.

What do I believe is going on with people who claim that God communicates with them when they pray?  I believe it’s a combination of things, not the least of which is a strong desire for God to communicate with them along with the firm belief that he will communicate with them.  There are people who believe their deceased loved ones speak to them from the grave.  There are people who honestly believe they’ve been abducted by aliens.  Is it so difficult to believe there are people who honestly believe God speaks to them on a regular basis?  What do you believe is happening in the minds of people who claim that God communicates with them when they pray?


The Miraculous

* Edited to add mike00000000001’s question and my response to him.

I was inspired to write this by a commenter on Got 10 Cents?, mike00000000001.  I’m not sure what I make of “miracles”.  There are some pretty amazing things that happen in this world that seemingly have no explanation.  Or do they?  The fact is if you don’t work in a field that is in the business of explaining them or if you’re not skeptical, but instead want to believe in the miraculous, you’re probably pretty susceptible to such fantastic stories.

mike00000000001:  “What about odd events that don’t fit the norm? …..I mean odd events like those “miracles” you hear about. Or things that just seem to be against the odds….But if it is all chance . . . and the same will happen with or without our prayer . . AND Jesus already prayed for our salvation . . . then why pray at all?”

me: “Beating the odds implies that it does happen. In other words, let’s say you have cancer. Let’s say the doctor gives you a 20% survival rate. That means that on average 20% of the people who have your kind of cancer survive. It’s not unheard of. What about the other 80%? Does that mean “God” loves them less? They are undeserving of a miracle? Throw in the fact that of both the 20% who survive and the 80% who don’t there are both believers and unbelievers. Arbitrary outcomes. Does that sound indicative of miracles?”

My dear friends, “Miracle Man” and his wife, recently went through a year of serious turmoil.  He’s self-employed in a field that required excellent vision.  Without it he’s essentially out of a job.  This is their story:

Miracle Man developed high blood pressure and pre-diabetes.  He was on medication for such and in addition began taking fish oil supplements.  Somewhere in the process of all of that it was determined he needed a stress test.  They found what looked to be a blockage and scheduled a hearth catheterization. During the procedure they did indeed find a blockage and placed a stent.  When he woke up he had extremely double vision and his eyes operated independently of one another.  He had little to no control over his left eye.  The hospital ran an MRI and a CT scan and determined that either during or sometime after the procedure a relatively rare phenomenon known as an ischemic stroke had occurred.  They prescribed him various drugs and sent him home with an eye patch and an appointment to see an Opthamologist.  The Opthamologist didn’t offer much hope of recovery and said that if he hadn’t already seen significant improvement that he would likely remain in that state.  Not satisfied with that answer they scheduled an appointment with a Neurologist, which is what should have been done in the beginning.  He offered them much more hope and told him he was looking at a recovery time of six months to a year.  Much praying happened during this time. He has recovered to 95% vision and, of course, it was nothing short of a miracle.

That isn’t the end of the story, though.  These are his words from his facebook posting:

“Well here goes. I have overcome the eyesight problem back to about 85% where I was before the stroke.HOWEVER, I have found a tumor in my left kidney. most likely cancer of the malignant type. Will be seeking treatment at MAYO in JAX. Doing scans and MRI’s now. Probably gonna lose a kidney. Will post more later.”  May 25, 2010

 “WAITING for Blue Cross Blue Shield to approve another MRI. Doctor is suggesting that we skip the biopsy, and just deal with the problem. Plan now to take the entire left kidney out.”  May 26, 2010

“MRI scheduled at MAYO in Jacksonville on Wednesday for a detailed look at the kidney to determine just exactly what I have. Not good odds but I am taking the positive side.” May 31, 2010

Ok, had the detailed MRI done last Wednesday at MAYO. Talked to Dr. Wehle yesterday. He said he and 2 radiologist had been looking at it. They are studying it and wanted to relook at the CT scan as well. I expect to get a phone call from him today to lay out a plan of action. I live in a great place. I have had so much outpouring of love and concern.”  June 9, 2010

“OK Listen up people! Just got a call from Dr. Kahle at MAYO.. He said that comparing the CT scan from Valdosta to the MRI at Mayo, the “tumor” is smaller!. With no treatment at all. He said that he believes that it is NOT cancer. NOt out of the woods just yet, He thinks now it could be a cyst or a swellling of the internal filters of the kidney. We have gone from 95% cancer to 85% chance not. POWER of prayer.”  June 16, 2010
“I am grateful for all the calls and conversations that I have had these last couple of days. I live in a truly great place. I have been covered with care and prayer from all of you. Prayer for healing and faith. Praise the Lord. Not out of the woods yet but we sure turned a big corner.”  June 17, 2010
“I went to MAYO yesterday for the 3 month followup on the tumor in my left kidney. Blood work at 8, CT scan at 12, Doctor visit at 4. The doctor walked in and said” I need a seat at your church. Whatever was in your kidney is now gone, 100%. Your kidneys are normal, you do not even need to come back to see me.”.  September 16, 2010
“Call it what you want, I am calling it a miracle healing from God thanks to prayers and faith. This is the second time this year that I have beaten overwhelming odds. Two miracles. Power of prayer.  I have gone from 95% malignant cancer to 100% cleared up and gone. With no medicine or treatment of any kind. Prayer and a laying on of hands, along with steady doses of peach ice cream.”  September 16, 2010

All of this, mind you, without the aid or benefit of a biopsy – just doctor’s experience and observation.  Does that mean that he definitely had cancer?  Probably not.  He most likely did have an infection of some sort or a cyst.  The body is an amazing machine, capable of healing itself from a myriad of ailments with no treatment whatsoever. Was this a miracle?  Most likely not, but you could never convince him of that.  I wouldn’t dare try.  He’s given testimony at various churches about the power of prayer and the healing power of Jesus.  He’s convinced of that fact.  He doesn’t know how he was healed so it must be a miracle; a direct result of all the prayers and the laying on of hands.

Another friend and her husband have a daughter who was diagnosed with scoliosis.  At first they thought she’d have to have surgery or wear what looked like an ancient torture device for a back brace.  They called the deacons together and had a laying on of hands.  When she went back to the doctor her scoliosis wasn’t nearly as pronounced as they had first thought and she wouldn’t need either of those treatments.  Wow, it’s a miracle!  She still has scoliosis. 

What about you?  Have you received a miracle?  Have you seen a miracle?  If you don’t believe in miracles what do you believe about the seemingly inexplicable?