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2004 Hurricane Season Redux

Last Friday night we held a prayer meeting to intercede about the hurricane season. This was our third preemptive prayer meeting this season. We only hold three such scheduled prayer meetings during the hurricane season. Of course, we also hold specially-scheduled prayer meetings if South Florida is painted into the “cone of uncertainty,” or if we hear that the Weather Channel’s storm reporter, Jim Cantore, has booked a flight in our general direction.

At last Friday’s prayer meeting I rehearsed what I knew so far about this season. Earlier in the year, I had a strong feeling that this season was going to be like the 2004 season. The Lord does speak to me through these strong feelings, so I have begun looking more closely at the 2004 season. While 2004 was not like the busy and devastating 2005 season, it still did a bunch of damage to Florida and other areas of the United States.

On Friday night as we were praying, the Lord gave me one of those “Ah Ha!” moments. As I looked over the storm names for this season, I realized that this year’s storm names are the same ones used in 2004. While I know that the annual list of storm names is used in a rotation, I didn’t realize that we were on 2004’s list. When I realized this, I realized the Lord has really been trying to communicate to us about this hurricane season.

So what can we expect if I am correct that this season is going to be like the 2004 season? Well, first we can expect a fairly busy season. We had fifteen named systems during 2004—seven more than last year. We also saw major damage in Florida from five of these storms. So the 2004 season wasn’t a good season for residents of Florida (or for the insurance industry). I would hope that after six more years of intercessory development since 2004, that the praying Church will be more successful at releasing protection over our areas of influence this year. So while the season may be busy, my focus will be on praying away the damaging storms. We really do not want a repeat of the destruction unleashed in the 2004 season.

The other thing about the 2004 season was that the Lord had spoken to us about two specific named storms before the 2004 season began. As it happened, neither of these storms came near South Florida, so we didn’t know if the dreams were for the 2004 season.

I’ve already written about Bonnie, which was one of the storms. Bonnie did hit northern Florida in 2004, however, the dream was about Bonnie hitting South Florida. Bonnie did hit South Florida this year (see my post on Bonnie HERE). I’m not absolutely sure how all this works, since I learn more about how the Lord speaks to us about storms every season, but I find it incredible that the Lord spoke to us about Bonnie eight years before Bonnie actually hit us. So, of course, now I’m wondering about this other storm. It also did not get that close to South Florida in 2004. Are we looking at another Bonnie moment? Time will tell.

That is the nice thing about working with the hurricane season. We learn a lot about how the Lord speaks to us because we can test our understanding against what really happens. We can then correct our understanding and hopefully get better every year at discerning what the Lord is saying to us. I’ll keep you informed as the season progresses if the Lord gives us anything more on a specific storm, or the season in general.

We are entering into the busiest part of the hurricane season. Danielle was named this morning. Although she doesn’t appear to pose a threat to any interests in the United States, she is a reminder that the busy season is here. Please pay attention, and pray appropriately.

The Third Horseman Continues to Ride

On Sunday I had an opportunity to preach a message entitled, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It was based on the Lamb of God opening the seals in Revelation 6. It was a fun study, and I believe applicable to our day.

You would have to get the message (available for download HERE) in order to get all the details of why I believe what I believe about the time in which we now live. I am fast becoming convinced that we are living in the time of the the third horseman’s ride throughout the world. Down through history many nations have suffered the catastrophes outlined in Revelation as they have come to the end of their grace. However, we now live in a time that these catastrophes are happening on the predicted global scale. They are also increasing in intensity, as we would expect the birth pains that foreshadow the eventual return of Christ would (see Matthew 24:8).

The first horseman—the white horse— is clearly Christ. He has taken his war bow from the heavenly throne room, and is riding out to begin the judgment on Satan and his kingdom. The Lord hung the bow up when he spoke to Noah after the flood (see Genesis 9:13-17). He put it on display in his throne room, as both Ezekiel and John testify (see Ezekiel 1:26-28 and Revelation 4:3). He now takes it down to begin the closing work of seeing all of his enemies made a footstool for his feet.

The second horseman—the fiery red horse—is given the ability to take peace from the earth. I believe that this rider rode forth in the twentieth century. Only God’s gracious restraint prevents unregenerate humanity from annihilating itself. When this rider begins to remove this restraint, war and violence are the result. I believe we can see this rider’s handiwork in the fact that the twentieth century is rightly called the bloodiest century. It was during this century that war went global and superpowers became capable of destroying all mankind. The wars alone claimed 150 million lives. Democide, a term coined to describe a nation’s government killing its own people, claimed another 180 million. Abortions numbered almost 1 billion worldwide. These are staggering and unprecedented numbers, especially when you consider that in 1950 the world’s population was only 2.5 billion. Fully half of the world’s 1950 population died by violence in the twentieth century. I think these numbers make a strong case that the second horseman has ridden out on a global scale.

The third horseman—the black horse—is given the ability to wreak havoc on the world economy. The scales that he holds are economic scales. He has the ability remove grace from the financial dealings of men so that the staples of life become horrendously expensive. I think you will agree with me when I state that this horse is probably on the world scene even now. Reports on the financial instability being experienced worldwide come to us every day. The United States economy almost collapsed at the end of 2008. Today, financial reporters are making open mention of the house of financial cards that is waiting to come tumbling down in Europe, causing untold problems as government systems throughout the earth struggle to cope with Europe’s financial issues. We don’t know whether the current problems will continue to escalate, or whether we will have a reprieve until another birth pain occurs, but this horseman will certainly continue his ride.

The fourth horseman—the pale/green horse—is given the ability to release death on an even greater level than the red horse through war, famine, plague, and wild beasts. We may just be seeing the beginning effects of this rider. We have seen devastating famines in Africa in the last decade that still continue. There are mildews and fungi that are causing major concern among horticulturists around the globe. Those same botanical workers are watching potentially devastating blights that could greatly reduce wheat production around the world (see THIS article in the Economist about it). Plagues, once thought all but eradicated, have risen again to haunt the dreams of men. Medical science has been sounding the alarm on an ever-increasing variety of ways that pandemic and plague could winnow the earth. And what about death by the wild beasts of the earth? I believe as the birth pains continue, we will see animals begin to lose their fear of man, and begin to see humans as a food source. We occasionally hear of such events (for example, see the recent grizzly attack at Yellowstone Park). When this happens on a wider scale, we won’t have quite so many animal rights groups questioning whether violent animals should be put down. They will need to be put down.

At the same time that the red, black, and pale/green horsemen are riding forth, the white rider is still building his overcoming Kingdom among his people. I believe that is why he rode out first. It is a clear message to his people that he will be releasing grace in his Church so that the rest of the horsemen (and the rest of the judgments) are effectively counter-acted in the Church. This becomes more apparent when we remember that it is the Lamb who was slain who releases these horsemen and the rest of the judgments found in the book of Revelation (see Revelation 6). We must also remember that John, the Apostle of Love, wept inconsolably at the thought that no one would be able to release these judgments (see Revelation 5:4-5). When, in the midst of the judgments, we see Christians in heaven calling out impatiently for the judgments to happen even more quickly (see Revelation 6:9-10), we recognize that these events must be welcomed by God’s people. The horsemen and the subsequent judgments recorded in the book of Revelation are not fearful things for the people of God. They, literally, are the time that we can lift up our heads victoriously at the prospect that our redemption draws near (see Luke 21:28).

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If you want to understand more about the outline and purpose of the book of Revelation, you can download the first message in my series on the book HERE. This message gives some guidelines that will help establish the time and purpose of the book, and will help greatly in an understanding of its interpretation.

Burn a Koran Day

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has reported that a church in Gainesville, FL is hosting a “Burn a Koran” day on September 11. The church’s senior pastor has published a book entitled Islam is of the Devil, and they have signs with the same title on the front lawn of their church property. The church is well known in Gainesville for its blunt statements and protests against unbiblical behavior.

I’m thinking these folks clearly believe that no publicity is bad publicity. I’m not mentioning the name of the church or its pastor because I do not wish to grant them any more publicity.

Christians who truly believe what the Bible teaches would have to agree that any non-Christian religion isn’t inspired by God. The claims of the Christian Bible, just like the Koran, are exclusive. They cannot both be right. Christians do not believe that Muslims believe the right thing. Muslims do not believe that Christians believe the right thing. One only has to hear a Muslim cleric praying in their normal fashion that Allah neither begets nor is he begotten to realize that Christians, who believe that Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of God, and Muslims, who believe that Allah had no son, do not believe anywhere near the same thing. For Christians, Jesus is God and is worthy of worship. The Bible is clear about that, and about his exclusive role as the only way into the presence of the Father through his obedience, suffering, death, and resurrection. Islam vigorously disagree with this.

Thus, as Christians we can agree with the basic theological premise of the Gainesville church. Christians and Muslims do not believe the same thing. Christians do not believe the Islam was inspired by God (as Muslims do not believe Christianity was inspired by Allah).

But the Bible is also clear that we need to love our neighbors as ourselves (see Matthew 22:39). We may disagree with our neighbors, but we need to love them. So we need to ask whether holding public burnings of a book our neighbors consider sacred is the best way to love them? There is a difference between incendiary behavior and behavior intended to woo people to the love of Christ. Most of us recognize that holding a “Burn a Koran Day” is incendiary in nature.

Some might object that the Gainesville church is demonstrating love by testifying clearly to the truth. However, there are many ways to testify to truth. The Apostle Paul, who lived in a culture that was far more licentious and polytheistic than ours, wrote, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6 NIV). I don’t believe that holding a “Burn a Koran” day fulfills the apostolic intention in this passage. Nor do I believe that I would want someone to hold a “Burn a Bible” day if I was the member of a minority faith in the country in which I lived. Any student of history knows that Satan has used book burnings to incite violence against minorities since books have been printed. Even today, such burnings are used as tactics of intimidation and oppression. How can we say we are loving our neighbors (or our enemies for that matter, see Matthew 5:43ff) when we are using tools and methods inextricably linked to violence and oppression?

In my closing paragraph I will be almost as blunt as the Gainesville church in its pronouncements: “Burn a Koran” day is not appropriate because it uses tools of intimidation instead of grace and peace. It will shutter Muslim ears to the Christian message as it distorts the message. It is counter-productive and hurtful, and not worthy of our high calling. I respectfully disagree with our brothers and sisters in Gainesville who are pursuing this path. I pray that the Holy Spirit show them a better path.

Bonnie Pays a Visit

I spent a rather soggy morning playing parking lot attendant at the Coral Springs Aquatic center. Our swim club is hosting a Senior Championship meet through this weekend, and parents of swimmers are the volunteer workers that make the event possible. Tropical Storm Bonnie began its South Florida swing just after I took my post. I can tell you from up-close-and-personal experience, it has been very wet and rainy since then.

If you read my post from June 30th of this year, you were watching to see if Bonnie would come to South Florida (see post HERE). At that time I wrote:

Back in 2002 a friend of mine had a dream that Hurricane Irene’s sister was coming. Those of you who remember the Irene saga (read about it HERE), know that Irene’s sister is Bonnie. The dream did not give any time frames about Bonnie. But in the cycle of hurricane names, the last time the name Bonnie was used was in 2004. There was a tropical storm Bonnie that season, but it did not come anywhere near us. Now that Alex has been named, the next named storm will be Bonnie. Of course, we don’t know if this Bonnie is the one mentioned in the 2002 dream, but it at least piques our interest about this next storm, and keeps us on prayer alert. I’m letting you know about this dream so that you might be on prayer alert with me.

I think we can safely say that the dream was about this Bonnie. When I posted about this on June 30, I didn’t share the details of the dream. However, the dream didn’t call Bonnie a hurricane, only a storm. To me that meant that if it came to visit, it would only be a tropical storm rather than a hurricane. Anyone who lives in South Florida knows that our area can easily weather a tropical storm because of the hurricane building codes. We certainly respect tropical storms, but we don’t normally call special prayer meetings about them. When Bonnie formed yesterday we paid close attention to it, but it was obvious that it was only going to be a tropical event by the time it came calling here.

Current forecasts do not indicate that Bonnie will become the major storm that Bob Jones prophesied in the gulf for this year. However, my prophetic ears are piqued by the fact that the Lord drew our attention to this apparently minor storm. Perhaps it will need some focused prayer before it dissipates. I pray that the forecasters are correct, and that this storm will degenerate even further and become a non-event.

Nation will Rise Against Nation

For all of the supposed distance the United States has come in race relations, the news is currently filled with reports of racial animosity. Of course, this should not be a surprise to those who understand human nature. Apart from the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying power, we are a desperately fallen people who gravitate toward wickedness. While this wickedness comes out in many different ways, it easily and naturally manifests itself against those who are different than we are.

Many intercessors have been praying for a long time about the state of race relations in the United States. After a brief post-presidential election détente, we have again slipped. It feels like we are becoming more polarized rather than less. That is certainly Satan’s plan. He is always trying to light fuses that will explode into racial violence.

Jesus has raised up peacemakers to counter Satan’s plans. We certainly need to pray against flash point incidents that will spark racial violence, but we also need to continue to pray that the Lord release peacemakers who can make a difference. In Matthew 24:7 Jesus said that nation would rise against nation. The Greek word that is equivalent to our word “nation” is ethnos. That Greek word has come into our language in a way that reminds us that ethnic divisions started out as divisions between nations, and those divisions, rivalries, and tensions can easily flare up again. In fact, Jesus assures us that this will be the case as times reach their fulfillment.

So we must pray, against flash points and for peacemakers.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.

(Matthew 5:9)