Category Archives: Teaching

Hurricane Irene: In Which We Leave the Cone Behind

Since I last posted on Irene on Sunday evening, the track of the storm has moved steadily to the east. Yesterday evening South Florida was barely still in the Cone of Uncertainty. Today, South Florida is out of the cone.

There is a sense of relief when a storm’s path shifts away from your region, especially when that storm has intensified so quickly and viciously. There is also a sense of thankfulness that God has given the keys of Kingdom authority to his people so that we can bring protection to our areas of influence.

The Lord recently spoke to us about watchtowers. He showed us watchtowers throughout our land, and that many of them were not manned very well. Those watchtowers not only provide insight, but intercessory protection for an area. When they do not have enough personnel manning them, an area or region is much more vulnerable to the effects of negative events such as Irene.

I mention this because Hurricane Irene is a major threat to the Bahamas and other parts of the United States east coast—And even though South Florida is out of the impact cone, we remember the Irene of 1999 and how it hit by surprise. So we still continue to use our authority to push this storm away from us. But as it passes our watchtower, the primary responsibility for this storm shifts to the geographical area under threat. We certainly join our prayers and our authority to any region under threat, but we are no longer primarily responsible. The watchtowers of that region become primarily responsible.

I once spoke to a prophetic mentor about this spiritual dynamic. My question was simple. If we successfully push a hurricane away from our area, doesn’t that automatically target it somewhere else? If we look at the current situation, Irene was originally targeted for South Florida. Its energy and destructive force would have been spent on us, sparing points further north. Now that Irene has shifted to the east, many more areas are under threat of a major hurricane. You can see why I had the conversation with seasoned veteran of intercessory prayer. His response to me was simple and direct. He said, “I guess they had better learn to pray, too.”

In essence, he was saying that they needed to man their watchtower. So, while storms like this certainly are a threat, they are also a training mission. They are an opportunity to grow in intercessory authority and confidence. God’s purpose is to grow his Church into an intercessory army. That army is tasked to protect geographical areas from things such as hurricanes (or volcanoes, or earthquakes, or tsunamis, or diseases, etc.). If all of the watchtowers up the east coast of the United States are functioning efficiently, then we could expect to see Irene turn out to sea. Every watchtower, every region’s Church, is responsible to build an intercessory hedge around their geographical region.

Can we turn every threat? I believe we can turn every threat unless it is God’s purpose to release a cleansing judgment of some type. But I would never assume that a threat is intended as a cleansing judgment. I would want a clear word from the Lord on that (like we received through Rick Joyner about the 2005 hurricane season), and then I would still pray, trusting in God’s mercy and grace to avert or greatly diminish the judgment anyway.

Irene is a major hurricane threat. While South Florida must continue to pray, other regions now bear more direct responsibility. We will join with them, holding up their arms and cheering as the storm continues to shift out to sea. Our goal must be that this storm churn harmlessly out to sea. And I haven’t forgotten the Bahamas. They are in immediate danger. We must pray that the Irene’s development is delayed until it is past them, also.

We are still in the opening days of the busy part of the hurricane season. We may have much more opportunity to flex our intercessory muscle. We must never weary of this task. Manning a watchtower is not easy, but it is definitely necessary. If Irene hits anywhere as a major hurricane, we will be reminded why.

My Sun-Sentinel Editorial

I wrote a short article for the Forum section of the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel about a month ago. They published it today. You can see it, and the flying fur in the comments section, at the Sun-Sentinel.

Why the flying fur? Whenever I publish an article like this, some who are angry about religion of any type cannot hold back. They have to comment on the article. Then others, who like the article, join the fray and it can get really intense. I suspect that the discussion in the comments section generates more heat than light, but that is usually the case in the comments section.

The article isn’t explicitly Christian, but to anyone who knows the two greatest commandments, it obviously flows from my Christian worldview.

 

Cleansing Hurricanes

In my last post I mentioned the cleansing hurricanes of 2005. I knew the topic of those cleansing hurricanes deserved a more complete review, however I did not take the time to do it then. I believe that it is important that we understand the process of godly discipline that we experienced in 2005, if for no other reason than we will see more of this in the days and years ahead.

Just to refresh our memories, 2005 saw a record number of tropical and sub-tropical storms throughout the hurricane season. The twenty-eight storms spawned a total of fifteen hurricanes with seven of them becoming major hurricanes. Of the seven major hurricanes, five of them reached category four strength, while four of them reached the highest category of storm, the dreaded Category 5. Katrina and Wilma became the costliest hurricanes in history during that season. However, they were not the only major storms to cause major pain. Dennis, Emily, and Rita added to the misery.

Those of us who lived in the hurricane zone during this time remember some pretty intense activity. I remember being with Rick Joyner in early August of 2005. He gave me a prophetic word telling me that there were going to be a lot more hurricanes coming, but that he saw them as washing machines, releasing cleansing to the areas that they hit. If you think that all personal prophetic words are warm and fuzzy, think again. I didn’t necessarily want that word, but it helped me understand the rest of the season when Rick’s spot-on prophecy began to come to pass.

Most people remember Katrina for what it did to the northern gulf coast and New Orleans. While I certainly remember it for the sheer destructive power of the storm, I also remember it because it first came knocking on our door. However, the door was closed to her.

Since 1998 the Lord has trained us in the art of anti-hurricane spiritual warfare. We have seen some spectacular responses to our intercession, which the Lord has used to increase our faith. In 2004, the Lord helped us when both Frances (track depicted in red) and Jeanne (track depicted in purple) attempted to slam Broward County with hurricane force winds. We had special prayer meetings in advance of those storms and forbade them from bringing hurricane force winds to our county. Both storms headed directly for us, and then stalled with hurricane force winds swirling just off shore. Then they slowly—really big emphasis on slowly for Frances—inched north until all of the hurricane force winds were north of the county line. At that point they resumed their march across Florida (See wind distribution graphics for both storms at bottom of article for a better understanding of the size of these storms).

A year later, when we held our prayer meeting as Tropical Storm Katrina headed toward Florida in 2005, we were bolstered by “the word of our testimony” about Francis and Jeanne (See Revelation 12:10f.). We again prayed for a wall of protection between Katrina and our county. As you can see from the graphic to the right, Katrina was headed west—left on the map—right into Fort Lauderdale (and my city, Coral Springs) until it matured from a tropical storm to a hurricane. At the point that it became a hurricane—at the fifth green marker on the upper right of the track—it turned sharply south, traveled down to the county line, and came across Florida. The northern side of Katrina was not yet developed at this point, so Broward County was spared anything but a relatively mild tropical storm. Miami-Dade County was in the news for a brief period of time because of the damage it sustained from the south side of Katrina, but their problems were quickly eclipsed in the news when Katrina made landfall on the northern gulf coast.

Katrina made landfall in South Florida on Thursday, August 25, 2005. Three days later, on the morning of Sunday, August 28, I had an encounter with the fallen being that was in charge of Katrina. In the dream/experience, I discovered this creature sitting on a washing machine (remember Rick Joyner’s word on cleansing). I was with another elder from our congregation as we apprehended him, bound him, and marched him out of our house. At one point the angel spoke to me and said, “I shot an arrow at you last week and just missed.” As we marched the angel out of our domain, I could feel its terror rising because it was convinced we were going to shoot it in the back of the head. Later I realized that he was afraid of our intercession as it headed away from us toward toward its rendezvous with the northern gulf the next day.

The fact that I discovered the angel/being in a washing machine, as well as a fact I didn’t mention—the being was dressed in a bath towel—highlight the cleansing discipline that the Lord intended to release through Katrina. New Orleans was ripe for cleansing judgment for many reasons, not the least of which was the southern decadence festival held in the city every year. Katrina disrupted that festival, and everything else, in 2005. In fact, the city still has not fully recovered its former status as the southern decadence Mecca. Cleansing is not very much fun.

After Katrina missed us, I began to wonder if that angel had a second arrow in his quiver to shoot at us. I was not deluded into thinking that our area of South Florida didn’t need or deserve cleansing judgment. So we prayed a lot about mercy during that season knowing that mercy triumphs over judgment (see James 2:13).

When Wilma appeared on the scene toward the end of October and began its rather long and winding journey, we also held prayer meetings about it. However, when it passed by us into the Gulf of Mexico, we didn’t think it was much of a threat to us. You can see from the graphic at the right that we should have paid more attention to it. We continued to pray about it at our Friday night and Sunday morning meetings, but we did not hold any more special prayer meetings. Meteorological reports made us believe that it would not become a threat after exhausting its energies on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

There was no doubt that Wilma was a cleansing hurricane. It become a major hurricane and sat on top of Cancun and Cozumel scrubbing them clean. Both locations had become key Spring Break sites. As a result, they have become a stumbling block to college students. I was really glad that Fort Lauderdale had repented of its Spring Break mindset several decades ago, especially as I watched Wilma slow to a crawl and vent its category four fury on Cancun and Cozumel for a full day.

But then, after it was done with the new Spring Break locations, Wilma decided to come to the original Spring Break center in Fort Lauderdale. I don’t know how the divine scales of justice work, but I can imagine that it would not be just for Cancun and Cozumel to be so scrubbed, without Fort Lauderdale at least being reminded of its nefarious role in developing the original concept.

Wilma showed up on a Monday morning with surprising strength. It caused very little damage to the west coast of Florida when it made landfall, but boy did it wallop Fort Lauderdale (and all of Broward County). Contrary to meteorological predictions, Wilma maintained strength over Florida and did far more damage on the east coast than it did when it made landfall on the west coast. Electricity was out for weeks in some areas of our county. Wilma did about $20 Billion dollars in damage when it came to visit the U.S., and became the third costliest hurricane in United States history behind Katrina and Andrew. Cleansing judgment isn’t cheap.

Wilma hit our area on a Monday morning. Much of the rest of the week was spent in clean up and dealing with the fact that we had no electricity. On Saturday night I was asking the Lord how Wilma had done so much damage. I specifically asked whether it was the second arrow in the quiver of the angel from Katrina. As I researched the internet that night, thankful for the generator that made it possible, I came across the answer to that prayer in an article on a NBC news affiliate’s web site entitled The Mystery of the Eye. The copyrighted article—which means I can’t post it—points out an unbelievable phenomenon that occurred in Wilma’s eye just as it made landfall in Florida. A number 2 formed in its eye. The picture at the right is not retouched. It appears exactly the same way it looked when first broadcast on the NBC affiliate. The National Hurricane Center’s website posted a similar image with the number in the eye.

You can still find this image on the web if you google “Wilma” and “the mystery of the eye.” Be warned that you will end up on web sites that use this image to fuel their claims that hurricanes are man-made and the number two is evidence of this fact. In view of the prayer I had prayed, the number two in the eye of the hurricane as it made landfall in Florida demonstrated something quite different to me. This was arrow number two, and this one didn’t miss. It brought cleansing judgment to our area—and to Key West.

That is the point I made in the previous post. When Wilma’s cleansing judgment came to Key West it flooded about sixty percent of the island under four to five feet of water. Fantasy Fest, Key West’s week long version of the southern day of decadence was postponed by Wilma’s approach, and washed out by her visit. However, as I wrote in my previous post, Key West did not learn the lesson of the cleansing, but quickly returned to its excesses. That is why I fear for them. In my last  post I could not go into my reasons for that concern. Hopefully this post makes it much more clear. I am absolutely convinced that the angel that I encountered after Katrina, the evil angel that the Lord allows to bring hurricanes in judgment against areas in need of cleansing, I am convinced that angel has more arrows in his quiver. For this reason it is not safe to ignore the cleansing hand of God. It is not fun, and it can be very costly.

I do have hope for Key West. Fort Lauderdale was able to repent of wicked Spring Break activities and change. If it happened here, it can happen there. Hope springs eternal.

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Wind Fields of Frances and Jeanne (Hurricane force winds are in red):

Frances
(On Left)

Jeanne
(On Right)

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.