Tag Archives: hurricanes

Rina, Friend or Foe?

Earlier this week we celebrated (?) the sixth year anniversary of Hurricane Wilma’s visit to South Florida. Those of us who remember Wilma, have a strange sense of déjà vu as we watch Rina follow a similar late season track around the Caribbean. There are certainly differences between Rina and Wilma, not the least being that the Lord had spoken clearly through major prophetic ministries that 2005 was a season intended to get our eyes firmly on the Lord (a cleansing hurricane year). I have heard no such word this year.

What I have heard, is the Lake Okeechobee needs rain, and the Lord wants to help us with that.

As a result, when I see Rina, I see an opportunity. Obviously, that opportunity is also mixed with a hurricane threat, though forecasters are stating that Rina could lose much of her strength by the time she draws near Florida. Since I remember what they had said about Wilma, and that it would not be as severe as it was, I take forecasts with a grain of salt. To be fair to hurricane forecasters, they always tell you to take intensity forecasts with a grain of salt. They are still developing their science. They do very well, but there are too many variables, and in all reality, too many opportunities for supernatural interaction from both sides, for forecasters to nail it down.

So, since I want Rina’s rain without Rina’s hurricane force winds, I know how to pray. I will pray that Rina has no hurricane force winds as it approaches Florida, and I will also pray against negative flooding rains. But I will ask that it be a beneficial event for South Florida (especially the Lake Okeechobee watershed), a part of the United States that depends on tropical systems such as this to keep its lakes and aquifers healthy.

And I will plan on a wet weekend.

Filling Lake Okeechobee

On the evening of August 7, the evening that starts Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the Lord told Dawn that we were going to hit a number of home runs at our meeting that night. When Dawn shared this with me, I knew that one of the home runs needed to be our prayer that Lake Okeechobee would fill up.

Lake Okeechobee is an important part of South Florida’s water supply. We have been having problems with the lake’s water levels, because the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corp of Engineers will not let the lake fill to its normal level of eighteen feet above sea level. The Dikes and Levees surrounding the lake are so compromised and in need of repair (currently being done), that they will not allow the lake to get over fifteen feet above sea level. While this is an important safety measure, it creates a problem for South Florida’s water supply.

Sometimes the dry seasons in South Florida are so dry, that Lake Okeechobee can drop four or five feet before the summer rains fall. When the lake drops below ten feet, we are in trouble. When it drops below nine feet, we are in big trouble, and water restrictions become draconian.

You will understand our need, then, when I report that as of October 1, Lake Okeechobee was at eleven feet above sea level. To make matters worse, our winter dry season has started weeks earlier than normal. Things were looking very bad.

In view of the negative outlook, I knew we must use our authority and pray that Lake Okeechobee would receive abundant amounts of rain quickly. The weather forecasters had stated that there was some sort of tropical disturbance over the Bahamas that would impact Florida on some level over Yom Kippur, so we decided to call it over Lake Okeechobee’s watershed. I really wanted a home run. What would a home run look like? I didn’t really know, but I was hoping we could get close to the twelve foot mark.

In retrospect, that would have only been a double. Yom Kippur turned out to be very wet as the tropical disturbance over the Bahamas did move over South Florida. We didn’t realize how wet things were until the Sun-Sentinel published an article on Saturday calling the weather on October 8, Yom Kippur, a hundred year rain event.

Here are the important quotes from the article in the Sun-Sentinel:

The lake, South Florida’s primary backup water supply, is expected to rise as much as 2 feet because of water draining in from storms in Central Florida . . . . Oct. 8 turned into the wettest day in nearly 100 years for areas near the Kissimmee River, which drains into Lake Okeechobee. Rainfall averaged about 6 inches across 3,000 square miles, with some areas getting as much as 14 inches.

I am already prepared to call this a home run, but I’m really not certain that is the only impact that our prayer has had. We are having a very wet and soggy day in South Florida because of another tropical disturbance some distance to our southwest. I saw the system developing near Mexico on Saturday, and made a mental note to call it in over Lake Okeechobee on Sunday. So, yesterday, we again prayed for rain over Lake Okeechobee and called this system to head toward our area. Today, for the first time, I saw the computer models for this system. As you can see from the graphic, things could get a lot wetter before this system disappears. That can only help the lake’s water levels. Most of the models put the system right over Lake Okeechobee’s watershed on its way over Florida (Lake Okeechobee is marked in blue on the graphic). That would certainly help the lake’s water levels and alleviate a lot of our concern about the dry season.

When you are playing baseball, home runs are beneficial and fun. When you are praying for rain which will help the people and economy of an area, a home run is a powerful reminder of God’s mercy and the authority he has given his people in prayer. We’ve just hit one of those. Let’s keep going after more.

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.

Tropical Storm Emily (Updated Sunday)

I have purposely not posted much this summer in order to give my keyboard a break. However, we are now far enough into the hurricane season for me to dust off the keys of my word processor and industriously type a few words about a tropical system named Emily.

This past Sunday, July 31, we invited Emily to come to South Florida. It didn’t have a name then, but the National Hurricane Center was reporting that the tropical disturbance that would become Emily, was developing (Emily was only a tropical depression at the time, shown by the blue markers on the graphic). So we decided that it would be nice if a tropical system that was not a hurricane would come to South Florida.

As I write this, Emily is a tropical storm (indicated by the green markers on the graphic), and is located just south of Haiti. She is now forecast to visit us by the weekend (her projected path is marked by the lines).

Florida needs tropical systems to drop copious amounts of rain on us over the summer. Our dry season starts in November. Lake Okeechobee, our wells, and the Biscayne Aquifer all need to be full before that season starts. If we don’t get enough rain over the summer, there are all sorts of negative consequences. So while we pray against hurricanes, we occasionally invite, even command, tropical storms to come and drop their moisture on us.

We did that back in 2008 with Tropical Storm Fay. When Fay was still southeast of Cuba, our congregation prayed that it would come around the west side of Florida, cross over to Lake Okeechobee, and sit on its watershed. Fay did exactly what we had prayed, and sat over Lake Okeechobee and Florida for days. Here was Fay’s track:


Notice how bunched up the tracking dots become once Fay began to impact Lake Okeechobee (the lake is under the red dot in the graphic). Fay sat on top of Lake Okeechobee’s watershed and replenished it, breaking a drought that had hurt South Florida.

We have learned a little since then. Fay caused flooding in the city of Melbourne, and so when we prayed that Emily would bring her rains, we also prayed against flooding. We are continuing to pray that Emily will not strengthen beyond a tropical storm, and that she bring her rains to Lake Okeechobee’s watershed.

Please join us in asking the Lord to use this system for South Florida’s benefit.

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If you live in South Florida, you know that Emily came to visit on Saturday. Emily herself did not stumble over Florida. But she remained just far enough off shore that we got her bands of rain. The rain she brought yesterday and today has been a needed blessing, and it is still raining a lot even as I type this. Thanks for joining in the prayer to get some rain to South Florida. Emily had actually dissipated on Thursday. It looked like it would bring no rain. But amazingly, on Saturday, it reformed and dropped a lot of moisture. It’s fun to watch our prayers work.

Extreme Weather Grace

If you follow what the prophets have been saying, you know about the extreme weather predictions. If you haven’t been following them, let me explain for you. The Lord has been showing them (and us) that we will see even more extreme weather patterns in the days ahead. Last week I was speaking to a prophetic friend, and he spoke of a particular prophecy that predicted there would be a hundred tornadoes on the ground at the same time as another, much worse, natural disaster occurs. Prophecies like that boggle my mind. Not only because I can’t imagine too many things worse than a hundred tornadoes on the ground at the same time, but also because I can’t imagine how weather patterns can continue to worsen.

And then events on the ground last weekend helped my imagination.

This is the headline on Dr. Jeff Master’s WunderBlog: Historic 3-Day Tornado Outbreak Kills At Least 40. Here is the first sentence of his article, “In a stunning display of violence, close to 200 tornadoes rampaged across the Midwestern and Southeast U.S. April 14 – 16 in one of the largest tornado outbreaks in history.” (You can read the whole thing HERE).

Just when my mind was getting boggled by prophetic implications, we had a weekend demonstration of the veracity of the words that predict increased extreme weather. This was an incredible display of weather out of control. The general grace that the world needs to limit extreme weather events is lifting. God gives grace to the humble (those who acknowledge their need of him). Since most of our world no longer acknowledges our need of him, the grace the world needs is no longer as available. As a result, we have opportunity to experience how the world does on its own. To put it mildly, it is not doing well.

So, what do we do about it? We learn to be intercessors who release grace in our areas of influence.

I live in Florida. That means that every year we experience a six month season known as the hurricane season. The Lord has trained us to recognize the authority he has entrusted his Church with, and to use that grace to tame our hurricane seasons. The entire church in the United States must now begin to walk in this same grace. As common grace lifts and the darkness comes, we must shine brighter with the specific grace he has entrusted to us.

In our years of praying specifically against hurricanes, we have learned a few things that can help others understand the benefits and challenges of rallying people to release specific grace in intercessory prayer.

This is an exciting topic because it always comes with specific stories of supernatural power, but let’s deal with an obvious challenge first. I have learned that it is easy to get people together to pray when a hurricane is threatening. We usually have plenty of time to call a prayer meeting as hurricanes make their leisurely way across the Atlantic, Caribbean, or the Gulf of Mexico. We also have focus and intensity because the threat is real and imminent. It is amazing what that type of focus does for an intercessory prayer meeting.

I have also learned that when I have a prayer meeting for the hurricane season when there is no specific threat, we will not have as many people show up for the prayer meeting. That is human nature. We are busy people with much to do. In addition to the fact of fewer people, I have also noticed that these meetings are also not nearly as focused or as intense because there is no imminent threat. But here is the good news, I have also learned that determined intercessors, who fight through the hindrances, arrive at our meetings with a lot of authority.

This is important for those who want to pray against other types of extreme weather. You have to call your prayer meetings before the severe weather is a threat. The very nature of storm fronts in other parts of the United States limits your ability to call people together because of the short notice. That means that you must pray before any threat of extreme weather materializes. That also means that you can expect that it will be difficult to call people together to pray about future possibilities when they are already caught up in their current liabilities. But if you do this, the pay-off can protect your community from devastation.

Every year New Dawn Community Church has special prayer meetings about the hurricane season. We have special meetings on the calendar for June even though the real threat usually doesn’t show up until late August. I know the importance of storing up intercessory snow on the mountain tops so that when the heat increases, the waters of grace are released in the land (see Job 38:22-23).

This past year (2010), did not offer many opportunities for South Floridians to engage the Lord in specific, focused prayer over any hurricane threats. We just didn’t have anything come that near us. Hear is a summary map of last year’s activity (courtesy of Stormpulse.com):

If you study the trends, you will note that nothing with any intensity got anywhere near South Florida. We did pray against one storm by name, though. Years ago the Lord spoke to us about a Hurricane Lisa, and so when that name shows up on the cycle of names, we usually give it special attention. If you look at last year’s summary map, you will note that every hurricane did the normal thing last year, but one. Hurricanes that form in the Atlantic head west across the ocean toward the United States. As they come across the Atlantic, they run into steering currents that move them around. We like it when they curve north and then back east as they hit northern latitudes and lose their intensity. All last year’s Atlantic hurricanes followed this normal pattern but Lisa. Here is Lisa’s track graphic:

The only hurricane we prayed against by name last year, and that prayer came even before it formed, was Lisa. Now some might think that the fact that it never moved west like a normal hurricane is just a coincidence. I don’t believe in such coincidences. I believe the Lord once again affirmed the grace that he has given his people to effect the course and intensity of weather phenomena. There is extreme grace available for extreme weather.

So, what should intercessors do about other types of extreme weather? If I lived in areas that were susceptible to tornadoes, I would schedule several intercessory prayer meetings before the Spring storm season begins each year, and then schedule other meetings as I felt appropriate. I would pray in a hedge of protection that no tornado could penetrate. I would pray that no tornado could pierce the roof of protection over my area of influence. I would pray in faith, and learn from every year’s successes and failures so that we become better intercessors. I would determine in my heart that my area of immediate influence must never be devastated by tornadoes, and I would impart that vision to other intercessors. And I would ask the Lord to give me and those who pray with me specific encouragement every year—like he did for us with Lisa last year—so that we know beyond any doubt that our intercession is accomplishing its goal, and so that our faith increases.

Extreme weather patterns are going to increase. That is a true prophetic word. But they don’t necessarily have to impact your area of influence. We have extreme grace for extreme weather. All we need to do is use it.