Book Club Discussion Summary: Naturally Supernatural By Wendy Mann
A good deal of laughter accompanied our Readers’ Group discussion last week. The book we had been reading, which I had suggested some two months earlier, was titled Naturally Supernatural, and was written by Wendy Mann. With a new senior minister joining us, in the meantime, we felt sure - having listened to his sermons for several weeks - that he must either have read the book, or that he was the author and Wendy Mann was his pen name.
I jest! Coincidences like this reveal the power of the Holy Spirit.
THE NORMAL CHRISTIAN LIFE
The topics covered by the book resonated with us all as we shared stories of how the supernatural life was natural to us. I recalled having read Nine O’clock In The Morning by Dennis and Rita Bennet back in October 1976 - before our new senior pastor was even born! For three nights I prayed for baptism in the Spirit and awoke on the third morning to find myself praying in tongues, and with an ongoing back problem, which had caused me to be hospitalised on numerous occasions, completely healed.
Three months later, it proved, also, to be provision for me when my fifteen year marriage ended in divorce.
KNOWING WHO GOD IS & DEALING WITH DISAPPOINTMENT
Knowing who God is and knowing who you are, are two important elements of the book. The battle we have in our mind between God and self can affect the way we deal with disappointment, and encourage the doubt about whether God really cares. As far as my divorce was concerned, despite the pain and anguish it caused, I felt as if I had been set free from slavery to enter the promised land.
Disappointment affects us in different ways, however. I recounted the story of a lady who had been in the nurture group I’d led after Billy Graham’s last visit to the UK; a lady who had questioned the efficacy of prayer when my middle daughter died.
‘We prayed for her to be healed of her thirteen year heroin addiction,’ she complained, ‘and five years after healing her, God lets her die from a single morphine tablet dropped into her drink at a barbeque. Where’s God’s love and justice in that?’
Realising that the question might well result in the loss of this lady’s faith, I considered my own take on what had happened, and suggested that God might have rescued my daughter from a far worse fate – being back on the drugs. That, I said, would have been hell on earth. For my daughter. And for me.
UNDERSTANDING THE KINGDOM
While we agreed that it was necessary to cultivate a habit of Bible reading and prayer, there were aspects of Naturally Supernatural with which we all felt uncomfortable. Maybe it was pure semantics, but we thought some of the advice given was manufactured. Treasure-hunting, for instance. When did Jesus do this?
And what of worship? Were some of the means mentioned no more than a manipulative methodology? Might it not put some people off the real thing?
Given that God gives us different personalities and that we are raised in different cultures, we felt that our understanding of worship, and the way in which we show our love and appreciation of God might legitimately differ. Whooping and hollering, for instance, is not my way of worship. Clapping, dancing and raising my hands is – but only if it is the Spirit who moves me, and not a command to do so by others. On this, all book club members agreed.
BEING MOTIVATED BY LOVE
Wendy Mann rightly urges obedience to the Spirit’s promptings. I recounted the story of a man I found myself following around the grocery aisles in Sainsbury’s a few months ago. He had a pronounced limp and, as is my wont, I felt compelled to pray for him.
‘Please let him know he is loved by you,’ I asked God.
Instantly, I had the message back, ‘Tell him yourself.’
So I did! And I dropped some folding money into his trolley. His reaction? He was speechless.
Healing, we all agreed, does not always take place. We remembered, with sadness, a number of worthy friends whose illnesses had proved fatal. Nevertheless, as Wendy Mann states, we should never put this down to lack of faith. God’s will is paramount.
I recalled the occasion when I’d taken a friend to a healing service in Exeter, led by Colin Urquhart. Right at the end of the event, when we’d prayed for any number of people and ailments, he suddenly announced that he’d had a word of knowledge about someone in the audience who had . . . There followed a list of symptoms. As he spoke each one and said that he wanted this person to come forward up onto the stage, I knew each word was an indication of a condition with which I had recently been diagnosed: follicular muconosis. I knew, also, from a family member who was a dermatologist, that there was no known cure, and I shrank from having to go forward alone before an audience of a couple of thousand. Nevertheless I did, and I was healed.
BEING A STORYTELLER
Wendy Mann encourages us all to be storytellers. Telling stories, as she rightly claims, builds faith – in ourselves, and in others. Having been given my commissioning verse many years ago to ‘comfort others with the comfort I had received’ I know this to be true. As an author, I’ve found that telling the stories of my own life and those of others, in book form, has been a blessing to many. Countless letters I’ve received from all over the world, before the days of the internet, recount the way in which the Holy Spirit has used these resources. Indeed, during speaking engagements (having conquered my fear of standing before audiences of a thousand or more) I’ve had the privilege of leading people to Christ.
Acting on the prompting of the Holy Spirit in my life, I now write secular novels (based on real life stories), in the belief that my *natural* storytelling skills will be *supernaturally* enhanced. The word of knowledge given to me was that ‘entertaining readers facilitates the acceptance of truths (by osmosis) which they might otherwise resist’. With themes of forgiveness and wholeness – finding and using your gifts – in my latest offering, Time to Shine by Mel Menzies (my pen name) it is my sincere hope that I might see the truth of Wendy Mann’s assertion that people’s lives will be changed.
If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to read Naturally Supernatural. At very least, it will inform and challenge you. At best, it will change your way of thinking. And your life.
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