Category Archives: Headlines

Hurricane Irma Postscript

IrmaIrma has whirled into history, and has impacted millions of people. My heart goes out to all those who faced Irma’s strong winds, and to all those whose homes and livelihoods have been severely disrupted. My prayers also go out to those who have lost loved ones to this storm. I pray that God’s peace that passes understanding rest on them. And of course, we are praying for the first responders, the incredible folks restoring the electric grids, and all those providing relief efforts wherever Irma hit. Their efforts are needed, and accomplishing amazing things.

As I write this post, please remember that I am writing from a southeast Florida, Broward County perspective. God puts each of us in a geographical location to defend and protect that location. When I use the Keys of the Kingdom (see my previous post on Irma HERE for a fuller explanation of this type of prayer), my greatest authority extends over my geographical area.

What that means practically, is that while I prayed with millions of people around the world that Irma would not impact the Lesser Antilles, the people with the most authority to pray were the ones who live on those islands. My prayers, and the prayers of those from afar supplement and enhance the prayers of those who live there. I also believe that our prayers have direct impact on preserving lives through these negative events. In this sense, we have tremendous authority, wherever we live, to pray for life, because humanity is one large family.

For us, that means that as we gathered for five evening prayer meetings last week (Tuesday through Saturday evening), we started by praying for the storm to turn north before it struck the islands. We knew the best scenario, and the one everyone was praying for, was that it would turn north and spin out into the northern Atlantic. However, once it slammed the Lesser Antilles with unimaginable force, we shifted our strategy. Once a storm coming across the Atlantic gets through the first islands, there is no place to send it that doesn’t impact people. At that point, we stopped praying that it would go in a certain direction, because there were no good choices, but that it would diminish. We also felt that the Lord had shown us that the islands close to us were at risk, so we prayed for the Bahamas at first, and then for the Florida Keys as it slid by the Bahamas.

But through all that, we never forgot our main calling: protect Broward County; pray for our primary area of geographical influence. This truth, that we are the ones with the most authority over our own geographic area, was hammered into me by a spiritual mentor, the late Bob Jones*, who would contact me during every hurricane season to remind me to do this job. Our trust is that other prayer warriors in their geographic areas were doing exactly the same thing. We also knew that many other congregations in South Florida were having prayer meetings, and that millions of people were praying for South Florida during the entire time.

We thank every one of you who prayed on our behalf. Those prayers were invaluable in strengthening all of us for the onslaught of fear released through the media, and through well-meaning folks who felt it necessary to remind us in the strongest terms that our lives were in danger and we should get out. Again, as I wrote in my first post on Irma referenced above, panic and fear had already set in by Tuesday. People didn’t have false bravado, but for most, evacuation north is just not an option. There are too many people with too many needs.

Ultimately, like Frances and Jeanne in 2004, Katrina in 2005, and Matthew in 2016, Irma skirted Broward County so that we only received a medium strong tropical storm. The Miami-Herald’s headline on Tuesday of this week was: “Irma, at least in Miami-Dade and Broward, wasn’t even a Hurricane.” To me, that means, our gates were shut to the hurricane. It wasn’t pleasant. It was so large that tropical storm winds continued for most of a day, and that accounted for the many trees that went down as the ground saturated with water. But the good news is, in a tropical storm, the tree limbs generally stay on the ground; in a hurricane, they can become missiles and battering rams.

I don’t have the time to get into what happened on Florida’s west coast, but one forecaster that I read stated that Irma’s path “threaded the needle” of the western population centers as it came ashore so that the impacts were less severe than they should have been. The dreaded storm surge, especially for the Tampa Bay area never materialized. Having said that, I can’t imagine the rebuilding process that will now need to take place for much of southwestern Florida and the Florida Keys (as well as Cuba and the other impacted islands). Your prayers, along with those who exercise the primary geographic authority, did much to protect life.

Thank you for all your prayers, your support, and your concern. Last week was intense, but I believe we did the job the Lord has called us to do. God is good. Storms like Irma are bad. And we are those who stand in the gap between the good and the bad.

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*Not the Bob Jones of Bob Jones University, but a prophetically gifted man who had major spiritual insight and vision.

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Images credit: National Hurricane Center

Hurricane Irma Prayer Thoughts

IrmaAs one can see from the graphic, Irma hasn’t made up her mind yet. That hasn’t helped anyone’s peace of mind. Even though the storm will not be near Florida until the weekend, hurricane supplies are flying off store shelves, people are fleeing the area to other states, events are being cancelled left and right, and builder supply stores are filling up with people desperate for the last piece of plywood. And one can also feel the palpable undercurrent of fear. I suspect that Harvey’s impact has certainly exacerbated the normal tension. In addition, Irma’s strength combined with her uncertain path has driven some from understandable anxiety, over into irrational fear or panic. That helps no one.

Take a deep breath. Turn off the weather reports, and get focused on the one who is greater than the storms. Of course, we have to make our normal preparations, but by this late in the hurricane season, South Floridians have been prepared for months, and the only thing to do now is the “top-off-the-supplies” things.

Oh, and we also need to pray. I have been contacted by many people asking if the Lord has given us anything about this storm. For those who are new to this blog, my congregation has an almost twenty-year history of stirring up prayer against storms like this, and building faith to pray against any storm that threatens our area. When Jesus walked on the earth with his disciples, he taught that he was going to give his Church the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (see Matthew 16:19). Keys give one authority, but it is an authority we use in faith, and works most effectively through agreement. For those who are new to the topic, you might want to download my book (Amazon Link ) or read these posts to become acquainted with the topic (Joaquin, Turning Away Hurricanes).

Has the Lord shown us anything? He gave us an encouraging picture just yesterday; it was a picture of a series of gates closing. For those who understand that the Keys of the Kingdom open and shut doors (or gates, in this case), that indicates that our prayers are having an effect. We want the gates shut to this storm. However, what that means for me practically, is that I can walk a bit more peacefully, even as I complete my personal and congregational preparations for any hurricane strikes. It means it gives me a picture to latch on to as I pray with my congregation about this storm. Using the Keys, I will command all the gates through which this hurricane can enter to close (that is how you pray with the Keys). I will also continue to ask, seek, and knock on the doors of heaven asking for the Lord to intervene at every turn (that is normal prayer). In that way, we cover our bases of prayer, and pray in the way in which Jesus taught Christians to pray.

As I look at Irma’s potential paths, I can see one that gives it a chance to spin harmlessly out into the Atlantic. Obviously, for the next several days I will be praying that the storm diminishes in strength, and that it spins out to sea. I will also be praying for the islands that are currently in its path. They need our prayers as the threat for them is imminent.

If I get anything else helpful, I will update this blog as I can. Time to Pray, Prepare, and Praise: Pray it away; Prepare responsibly; and Praise when it is past.

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Update/Wed Sept. 6th: It appears that the comments that have come in are not appearing for this article. It is a glitch of some sort. My apologies to those who have sent comments.

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Images credit: Accuweather.com

 

 

North Korea: A Prayer Thought

UssRonaldReaganEvery once in a while, I have a nudge from the Lord about a particular topic or focus. Some Christian traditions call these nudges burdens or leadings. Others call them words or some type of revelation. Obviously, these are not limited to Christian tradition, and those who are from different faith traditions also understand the nature of these nudges. Those without a faith perpective might call them hunches, or even premonitions. Whatever we call them, they are a common part of Christian experience; and whatever you call them, I have been dealing with one lately.

I have spent some time praying about the situation in North Korea. I hope that you have also. The situation is chaotic, unstable, and of course, very dangerous because of all the parties involved. The ever-present military threat to the civilian populace of South Korea (and North Korea), as well as the continued verbal incitements toward war from North Korea’s leader, should have us praying for the continued peace and prosperity of that region.

It was during a time of prayer on April 18th that I felt a nudge in a particular direction. While I was praying, my prayer focus shifted to praying for our ships that were being deployed around the Korean peninsula, and as a part of that prayer, my attention was directed to the USS Ronald Reagan. This was an odd turn of events for several reasons. First, I have not seriously given thought to the fact that our ships at sea would be in danger from North Korea. We all know about North Korea’s missile threat to its neighbors and others, and of course, we also know a bit about the nation’s nuclear ambitions and threats, but I had not been all that concerned about the naval assets that the United States has in the region. However, I found myself praying that the personnel and the ships in the region would remain safe. Second, while I am conversant enough with military affairs to know that the Ronald Reagan is an aircraft carrier, I knew precious little else about its current disposition or deployment.

As I usually do after getting a nudge, I decided to find out more about the USS Ronald Reagan. I could not recall the name of the carrier strike group that had been deployed to the Korean peninsula, but I also wanted to find out more about it. It turned out that the carrier that had been deployed to Korea was the USS Carl Vinson. In addition, I found out that the USS Ronald Reagan was at its base in Yokosuka, Japan, undergoing scheduled maintenance.

As you would probably do, I simply made a note to pray more about this situation, and went on with my day. Then, on April 24th I read a CNN report (see CNN report HERE) that said:

North Korea’s state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in an editorial the country is ready to illustrate its ‘military force’ by sinking a ‘nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike.’

You can imagine that this piece of information got my attention. As a result, I have asked my congregation to pray for the safety and wellbeing of those deployed in the region, and for peace to reign over the Korean peninsula. We have also prayed these things publicly at our congregational meetings. We will keep this type of prayer up until peace and stability returns more obviously to the region.

That is probably the end of what I would have done with this particular nudge if there had been no further developments. But I just read a report that the USS Ronald Reagan has completed its maintenance, and on Tuesday left Japan to rendezvous with the USS Carl Vinson. The CNN report states (see full report HERE),

The US Navy is moving the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula where it will conduct dual-carrier training exercises with the USS Carl Vinson amid heightened tensions in the region, two defense officials told CNN.

Again, you can imagine how this piece of information drew my attention. I certainly felt I understood the reason for the nudge back in April when only a week later North Korea threatened to destroy an aircraft carrier. But now the carrier that I had specifically prayed about on April 18th is heading to the region.

I am certainly not over-anxious about this, or even assume that I fully understand why the Lord has us praying these things. I do believe that the one who created all things likes to invite us to pray over issues that impact people and circumstances in this world in order to change those things. So when things like this come together, I usually publish a call to prayer so that intercessors throughout the world have a chance to receive the invitation. Together our prayers can certainly pour the oil of peace on troubled waters. I think you understand how that metaphor is most appropriate in this situation.

Please join us in praying over this difficult situation in North Korea. Pray also for all those who live in the region, and for those who have been deployed in that region. Like all our military personnel, they always can use our prayers.

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Image credit: USS Ronald Reagan, Public Domain

Hurricane Matthew Report

windsAlmost from its inception, Matthew drew people’s attention. Its quick development in the face of strong shear will be cause for much discussion in the scientific community in the days ahead.

Although our congregation held three evening prayer meetings (Friday, Tuesday, Wednesday), I haven’t posted on Hurricane Matthew, simply because of a hectic schedule (including those prayer meetings).

I wanted to send this update to all those who were praying for us, and to thank you for the prayers. As you can see from the wind field graphic to the left, hurricane force winds (the red line in the graphic) did not come to South Florida. It appears at this point, that the storm will not make landfall in Florida, and perhaps it will not make landfall in the United States on this pass. Obviously, there is still room to pray for those who continue in harms way. Hurricane paths are tricky things, and it could yet make landfall. There is also room to act, as Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas did not fare as well with this storm as we did yesterday. Please be generous as you consider how to help those who have been harmed.

If you don’t know where to give, consider Food for the Poor (Click Here for their website). Several of my congregation members have worked there over the years (some still do), and it is a worthy charity that helps the people of Haiti and other poor nations in many different ways.

Thanks again for the prayers, and the well wishes. They are appreciated.
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Image credit: NHC

Earthquakes And Your Prayer List

seismicThe Lord recently spoke to us about earthquakes. He said, “This is a year that is ripe for earthquakes.” He then showed us that there is a soft spot along the New Madrid fault line.

Now, before we begin to get excited about that, remember that this is an intercessory blog. When the Lord speaks to us about something, he does so that we can alert intercessors to add earthquakes to their prayer lists. He lets us know where it would be good to focus our prayer attention so that people and property are preserved. That is his heart.

You will not usually see me post “doom and gloom” prophecies, simply because I understand the role intercessors are supposed to take. Since 1998, when the Lord first showed me 1999’s Hurricane Irene, he has been training me to view every potential disaster as an opportunity to manifest the power and love of the Kingdom. There are really two ways to manifest the love and power of the Kingdom. The most common way is to respond to a disaster. We see something really bad happen, and the love of Christ wells up in us so that we respond to the human suffering and need with generosity and life. I believe this is the way of Romans 8:28 where Paul taught us,

And we know that God works with those who love Him so that all things result in good; He works with those who are called according to His purpose. (My Translation)

Bad things happen in this fallen world. However, God has purposed to use his people to release as much life as possible through his people in order that when a bad thing happens, more life is released through his people than the death that the disaster and destruction brought.

Most of you who are reading this post probably see the flaw in this first way of manifesting the power and love of the Kingdom. The bad thing actually happens, people are injured or killed, and suffering is released. While it is absolutely important that we rush to respond to those needs, wouldn’t it be nicer if we could be like the comic book super heroes who actually prevent the disaster from happening? Wouldn’t it be great if God’s people got so good at hearing from him, and so good at wielding the Keys of Authority, that disasters were averted and human suffering was avoided?

The answer to that question is obvious. And this is where we leave the comic book scenarios behind. Instead we pick up the truth of what Jesus said about the authority he would give his Church:

Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. (Matthew 18:18-20 ESV)

The Church is becoming the Kingdom when it understands its authority, and uses that authority to protect those who live around them. Eventually the whole Church will understand this mandate (see Matthew 13:33). But for now, those with ears to hear must take up the Keys whenever the Lord focuses our attention in a particular direction.

At this time he has focused our attention on earthquakes. As an aside, we might ask, “Why hasn’t he focused our attention on the Zika virus?” In response I would write, “If we need the Lord to tell us to pray against a deadly virus that is spreading through the world at such an explosive rate that it threatens a generation, then we do not yet recognize our role.” One doesn’t wait on direction from the Lord when one sees an out-of-control truck hurtling down the street at an unsuspecting child. One acts quickly and reflexively to rescue the child. For intercessors, the Zika virus should have already gained a major part of our attention simply because it is such a horrific threat, and it should stay in major focus until it is vanquished.

The Lord may not need to speak to us about the Zika virus threat because it is so obvious, but he does focus our attention on such things as earthquakes because we are often unable to detect their imminent arrival by natural means. So the Lord helps us to focus on them through supernatural communications. He is always looking for those who will stand in the gap for an area that is under threat (see Ezekiel 22:30). That means that when he tells us that we are in a year that is ripe for earthquakes, he is giving us an invitation to stand against them on behalf of our geographic areas of influence. In truth, he is telling us that the Kingdom of God is now ripe for some incredible uses of the authority he has given us. When he tells us that the New Madrid fault has some weaknesses, those who live along that fault line, and those who support them from afar, have an opportunity to exercise our authority so that built up stresses are relieved through small and relatively inconsequential movements of the earth, rather than through one gigantic slip that releases death and destruction. While we can certainly manifest the Kingdom of God by responding to an earthquake with the love of Christ after it has happened, I would much rather use the Keys to prevent the death and destruction that one would bring. I know that those who are reading this article are with me on this.

So the year is ripe for earthquakes. I believe that by telling us this that the Lord is saying that the year is even more ripe for intercessors to use their authority and stop devastating earthquakes. That is how we need to read every prophetic headline, even the “gloom and doom” variety, written by people who often do not yet know their authority in the Kingdom. We live in a broken world. Those who understand Kingdom must do their best to fix it wherever they have opportunity.

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Update: I wrote this article on Friday during the mid-afternoon, and schedule it to be published on Monday morning because more people read the article on weekdays. However, in view of the fact that an earthquake in Taiwan of magnitude 6.4 has been reported, I am publishing immediately. Please pray for the people of Taiwan, and be prepared to demonstrate the Kingdom in other tangible ways as opportunities become available.

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