Miracles for Sale – A response to Derren Brown

20110426-162319.jpg Last Night I watched with interest Derren Brown’s TV programme entitled Miracles for Sale in which Derren and his team train Nathan, a Scuba Diving Instructor, to become a faith healer. Brown and his team spent six months putting this show together which culminated with a trip to Texas to hold a faith healing meeting and expose, in the process, healing as a scam. These thoughts are not meant to be exhaustive but I hope they are helpful around some of the topics raised.

1. Teachers are Reminded that we shall be Judged more severely:
James 3:1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. The show highlighted a couple of evangelists/faith healers who are well know for their deceptions. Everyone I know would counsel people away from these two men who were highlighted and some of my friends have even written about the errors of miracle water and healing cloths sent to people at a cost. This information from Brown is nothing new although it may well be new for his audience and therefore good expose. Unfortunately, Brown collated together alongside these men some ministers of high reputation, high integrity and high regard. I think particularly of Reinhard Bonnke and so I felt a little saddened that he was included.

Here’s my point, anyone who preaches the good news of Jesus Christ should do so from the foundation of honesty, integrity and purity. Any minister of the gospel must be a person who has the interests of God and God’s people foremost in their thoughts. The Church is all about God and people as we say at CLC.

2. People want to Believe:
Several writers and commentators have today chided people saying, ‘How can they be so gullible?’ etc.. The Bible instructs believers to test the spirits to see whether they are of God and instructs us to look for character and not just gifting. Having said that, we are hardwired to believe, to hope, to trust. Those characteristics often diminish within us as we experience life. Betrayals, lies, disappointments etc. all do their bit to destroy our belief but it still exist within us. At times when people are searching for hope, they want to believe, all they have is faith. This is why teachers are to be judged more severely because people will believe what they say!

3. People can know pain relief through Adrenaline and Emotional highs:
This was a major point in the programme and once again nothing new. That’s why it is important not just to hear the instant testimony in the euphoria of the arena/crowd or service, but the week old testimony, the testimony a month later, the testimony of healing that has stood the test of time. Brown is right to draw this to our attention, not to cause us to have a heightened propensity for doubt but so that we have a heightened expectancy in faith. If God is working the result will last.

4. The Real Does Exist:
God is alive and well and still heals today. What a sweeping statement that there has never been any proof of a recorded miracle. That is such a mind boggling statement that comes from his personal philosophical and scientific position which leaves no room for mystery or the miraculous. If it can’t be explained then it doesn’t exist. Would that we all carried the same measure of faith towards God as Derren does toward his belief. Had Derren taken the time he could of dug a little deeper and found real stories of God healing.

Throughout my life I have witnessed several notable miracles. I can’t said loads, I wished I could say more. I have seen lots of healings, but miracles just a few. I can’t deny them or explain them other than the supernatural intervention of God. Like the healing of Arthritis after suffering for 20 years and the Doctors giving the all clear. The boy in a coma who came out after several weeks and when he saw me months later said it was your voice I heard telling me to live and not die, the exact words I had prayed over him once in his presence then for about the next five days away from him. The improved hearing of an elderly man in the church I attended as a teenager, who didn’t use his hearing aid afterwards.

Recently, I have witnessed two notable miracles of healing. The first following the visit of Dr William Kumuyi to New Life Christian Fellowship in Lincoln. Dr Kumuyi prayed a simple prayer at the end of his sermon for people to know healing. The following day a man was due to the hospital for a check up on his eyes. The consultant as he checked the man’s eyes stepped back and said, ‘Oh, I’ve never seen that before.’ The man thought he was going to give him some bad news but the reverse was true. A cataract that had been present on previous visits had totally disappeared. The consultant said, ‘That just doesn’t happen, cataracts just don’t disappear.’

Below I have included the testimony from Sue Jackson a member of our church who has recently experienced a notable healing. This extract is from the report she sent to the minister who prayed over her.

About 8 years ago I had a back injury which resulted 4 years later in loss of sensation down my right leg. Weeks later I underwent major back surgery and had most of one disc removed and disection of the spongey stuff between another disc. Thankfully the op was a great success. I believe that this in inself was a miracle as God provided the means for me to have this done privately which meant I could return to work within 3 months.
At the time of my op the Surgeon told me that due to the incision I would lose the curve at the base of my back. Some people find it comes back days or within 4 weeks of surgery. Mine didn’t and I was told that it wouldn’t. I didn’t mind too much, it didn’t impact the use of my back, it just left me with a ‘manly’ straight back!
Over the last 6 months or so I have found myself in pain and impaired movement again, to the extent where I have had to roll out of bed and have struggled to bend down with ease.
On the evening of the Healing meeting I struggled to reach down to my handbag while I was sitting down. I’m on the Welcome Team and had no thought that I would be there for God’s plan that night for ME to be healed. I had come to make others feel welcome! I love that God is always one step ahead and His plans are far bigger than ours!
I felt immense peace during the worship and then moreso when I was standing at the front of church. You said that we didn’t need to ask God as He already had it to give. That spoke right into my heart so clearly. I prayed that God would touch me in whatever way He knew best and that I was ready to take hold of whatever He had to give me. I found myself standing evenly on both feet, usually to ease the pain and pressure I balance my weight by leaning more on one foot or the other. I then felt a sensation like warm water running down my lower back. I knew that God had touched me. I was far less stiff and was painfree.
As I was driving home I played Dave Bell’s CD and thanked God as the words “Heal me and I shall be healed” hit me hard. Father God you say the word and it is! You are awesome! As I drove the 10 mins home I felt myself sitting up very straight. I ran a bath when I got home and again I found myself sitting up very straight. No pain. Amazing!
Even better……next morning I was getting dressed and as I stood in front of the mirror I turned and saw a curve, yes, a womanly back!!! The curve has no relation to back function except it looks better! God cares about the detail and He knew that it had bothered me post-op. He gave me my healing AND the curve because His love is complete and immense!
Weeks on and I’m very good. Two weeks ago I completed a 9 mile walk and could have done it again right after.
Next week I’m walking 45 miles over 5 days for the A21 Campaign and City Hearts, Sheffield.
In July I’m off on a walking holiday….90 miles in 5 days!

I’m so grateful for God’s grace and faithfulness in my life…

Sue has since completed the 45 miles in 5 days something she would not have been able to do 3 months ago. When I spoke to her about including this testimony in the blog and I talked about how some people can know pain relief in the moment through adrenaline etc. she said, “I would have had to have had a lot of adrenaline for it to last this long.”

5. Airplanes Crash:
Air travel, so I’m told, is the safest form of travel in the world. That said, Airplanes crash and you hear about the ones that do. I think the same is true of ministers. The vast, 99.9%, majority of Pastors and Ministers live has pure, godly men who seek little more than the blessing of God’s people and the purposes of God to be fulfilled. Few are doing what they do for financial gain, although the Bible does say they should be well looked after financially, they are doing it with a sense of purpose and call. That said, some crash and its often those we hear of. Airplanes crash but I’m planning to fly on 10 this year.

In summary, lets heighten our expectation for the miraculous. Let’s believe God for more of the real and live in honesty, integrity and purity. Let’s test the Spirits but refuse cynicism and negativity in the process.