Miracles: Coincidence or Divine Intervention? (review)

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Miracles: Coincidence or Divine Intervention?Miracles: Coincidence or Divine Intervention? by John Murray Cpd

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After he had written a memoir about his childhood, John Murray’s wife asked him, “When are you going to write about your experiences in Eastern Europe?” Miracles: Coincidence or Divine Intervention? is that book.

In it Murray tells many fascinating stories from his twenty-year stint as the Executive Director of Euroevangelism Canada and supplements these anecdotes with Bible teaching.

The telling is organized in eight chapters, each titled with a question: “Does God Care?”, “Does God Answer Prayer?”, “Does God Heal?” etc. Within the chapters he relates incidents that happened to him and others that speak to the chapter’s question. He also explores what the Bible says, sharing rich insights developed over a lifetime of pastoral and missionary work. Each chapter ends with a “Guide for Group Study” section that includes a Bible reading and discussion questions.

I loved this book for its inspiring stories, like the one Murray tells in the chapter “Does God Protect?”:

Some Christians in Budapest had bought a derelict restaurant to renovate into a church. Due to low funds members of the congregation were doing most of the work. Every week the place was busy with volunteers.

Regularly on Friday mornings the church leadership had a prayer meeting to pray especially for the renovations. During one of these prayer meetings a deacon said he felt they should pray about the roof, though he didn’t know what to pray for specifically.

On a Saturday morning not long after, when forty people were working on the building, a man working in the rafters caught his hammer on something made of metal. The movement dislodged the object, it fell, and banged hard onto the concrete floor below.

The object turned out to be an unexploded WWII bomb which, the army bomb squad later told them, was live. The army men couldn’t figure out why it hadn’t exploded on impact (pp. 101-103).

I also loved this book for its teaching, like this bit from the chapter: “Does God Intervene?”:

“Whether we are looking for healing, for guidance, for comfort, or any other aspect of God’s intervention in our lives, we are encouraged to look in the right place. we have been given the Word of God so that God can speak through it. We have been given the privileged channel of prayer by which we can share with Him our devotion, our worship, our thanksgiving, and our supplications. We have been given the ministry of God’s Spirit within our lives to guide us in all areas. The Spirit of God is also the one who plants the gift of faith within us, so that we might look expectantly for God to work. We ask, and then we wait. The waiting is the most difficult part” p. 142.

The amazing stories and wise insights in John Murray’s Miracles: Coincidence or Divine Intervention? will help grow your faith high and deep. I recommend it.

This book is part of my own collection.

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Miracles from Heaven (review)

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Miracles from Heaven: A Little Girl, Her Journey to Heaven, and Her Amazing Story of HealingMiracles from Heaven: A Little Girl, Her Journey to Heaven, and Her Amazing Story of Healing by Christy Beam

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Beam family didn’t know at the time that December 30, 2011 was the end of more than the year 2011. Christy Beam’s memoir Miracles from Heaven: A Little Girl, Her Journey to Heaven and Her Amazing Story of Healing is the tale of their lives leading to that end and a new beginning.

Little Annabel Beam started having stomach troubles when she was just four. An agonizing quest for answers finally led to a diagnosis of pseudo obstruction motility disorder—an incurable medical condition in which the muscles of the stomach and bowel don’t work normally.

The years 2007 to 2011 were a never-ending cycle of hospital visits, medication adjustments, and trips from Texas (where they lived) to their pediatric specialist in Boston for the Beams. Parents Kevin and Christy tried to give their other girls, Abbie and Adelynn some semblance of normal during this time and the sisters were crucial in keeping Anna (the middle Beam girl) from wanting to give up altogether.

On that balmy December afternoon nine-year-old Anna, still tired from a trip to Boston and then Christmas, decided to take a break from bed. A tomboy like her eleven-year-old sister, she joined Abbie on the limb of an old cottonwood tree 30 feet off the ground for a sister-to-sister chat. Then they heard the branch creak, and felt it move…

You’ll have to read the book to find out more. This memoir is wonderfully written in puzzle-piece fashion by mom Christy who experienced the whole thing and tells it in such realistic detail you feel like you’re there in person.

In addition to this being a wonderful story, it’s a vivid example of the dynamics in a family where one of the children is ill.

It also shows us amazing parenting and the mutual support Kevin and Christy Beam were for each other during the type of ordeal that has wrecked more than one home.

Finally, this story is a for-instance of God’s supernatural intervention and tender care—a modern-day miracle. It reminded me of the stories in the book Visions and Appearances of Jesus (Philip H. Wiebe) and left me feeling a glow of confidence in a God who put the whole amazing chain of events together and is now using Christy Beam’s telling of it to spread the good news. It’s the news that, in Anna’s own words:

“…God does care about me. And He does have glory. And He has a purpose for every single person in the world. You weren’t just made for fun. You were made to be a beautiful creation. So if we all come together and we all believe in God, then I’ll see you in heaven later” (Kindle Location 2030).

Highly recommended.

I received Miracles From Heaven as a gift from the publisher, Hachette, for the purpose of writing a review.

Visit Christy Beam’s website and view photos of the author and her family here:

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Spirit Bridge – review

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Spirit BridgeSpirit Bridge by James L. Rubart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Spirit Bridge—the third and final book in the three-book Well Spring series by James Rubart—is a cat-and-mouse game of evil versus good. In it we follow members of the Warriors Riding Ministry—Reece, Doug, Brandon, Marcus, and Dana that readers have met in books one and two. We’re also introduced (or re-introduced) to a couple of less familiar characters, namely Miyo and Simon the Magician.

We’re just aware enough of what’s going on in the spiritual realms, ‘peopled’ by the likes of the demon Master and his minions Caustin and Zennon, and angels Tristan, Orson, and Jotham, to keep us on the edge of our seats. The caginess of the enemy and the fact that we’re not exactly sure on which side some of the characters are makes for some nervous scenes with surprising outcomes. Of course the fact our heroic warriors haven’t been able to successfully ward off calamity in the past adds to the tension as we question, Rubart wouldn’t actually let his heroes come to serious harm, would he?—uh, yes, he would. Add to all that several hand-to-hand battles and you have an often heart-pounding read.

The elements of Rubart’s fantasy setting are a combination of imagination, psychic phenomenon (like soul travel), and a sometimes literal interpretation of certain Bible passages. For example when the angels are fighting and “Each of them held the arrows up close to their mouth and spoke as if giving the arrows instruction…” Miyo recognizes the scriptural origin: “’This is Habakkuk chapter three come to life “…Your bow was made ready; oaths were sworn over your arrows”’” Kindle Location 6704.

This book was my introduction to the series. I’d recommend reading the other books first. Though I did eventually get into the swing of the story, the characters make lots of references to previous adventures to which I wasn’t privy so I felt a little out of it.

Though I enjoyed the suspense of the plot, the imaginative setting, and how Rubart envisioned the interplay of the natural world with the spiritual, my favorite parts of the story were where characters got insights into the spiritual implications of what was happening in them.

For example, when Brandon discovers he can sing again, but only some of the time, he tries to understand why. He says, “… I have a feeling when I sing his songs, I get the voice you heard. When I sing my own, I get the raspy voice you’re hearing right now” – K.L. 1672.

And when Dana is learning from Miyo about vulnerability to the enemy, Miyo tells her: “I know the only way warfare can get in is through an opening. A crack in our souls. Those cracks come from sin. Things we are holding onto. I don’t know what it is in you. Hardness of heart? Having to prove yourself? Needing to perform? …. You offered him a seam, and he was able to worm his way through and plant thoughts and images and promises and suggestions and warfare inside you” – K.L. 5316.

Spirit Bridge might be a fantasy. But in it I found a lot of truth.

I received Spirit Bridge as a gift from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for the purpose of writing a review.

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