Tag Archives: intercession

Texas, Faith, and Grief

IrmaMy wife, Dawn, recently had an odd experience that featured Texas. When I say she had an experience, I mean the type of experience where you are hearing things explained while you are in that in-between place. I often have those type of experiences when I am just falling asleep, or just waking up (the in-between state), and hear a few snippets about something. I’ve learned over the years, and so has Dawn, to grab on to the things we hear at that time so that we remember them. When she gets these snippets, they are often about things that give us opportunity to look at current events, even awful events, in a slightly different way. I’m certainly not saying that she gets the full picture or details of things, but the things she gets often give us alternative views to ponder as we look at the world around us.

Last Saturday, in an in-between moment, she got several different snippets about the South, and one on a related note about Texas. Obviously, Texas has come into the national consciousness because of the awful events that occurred in Sutherland Springs, but that happened a day later. Texas was not in our thoughts last week, and although we live in South Florida, we don’t live in the South. Any true southerner could easily testify to that fact.

The first thing she heard was that there is a big ball of anger growing in the South. Then she heard that the Lord had tried to put out some of that anger through the floods that have been hitting Texas over the past couple years, and especially through Hurricane Harvey this year.

When she told me what she had heard, I was puzzled. I don’t view floods as a pressure relief valve. If anything, I would think that they exacerbate anger because they threaten lives and do lots of damage to property. But as I thought this, I had a clear picture of what happened during Harvey. I remembered the news stories about the people of Texas helping each other; I remembered the Cajun Navy arriving to help. I remembered how people cheered each other on to help others; and then I understood.

We all know the anger that is growing in our nation. There is a clash of world views taking place that is separating families, friends, and neighbors. If the news reports are accurate, we just saw a sitting United States senator attacked by a normally well-respected and rational neighbor for his political positions. This past summer we saw congressmen (and those tasked to help them) shot for their political affiliation while practicing for a congressional baseball game. These things are not normal. But there is a growing anger in our country. It is building, and as a result, some will act out of their anger, targeting perceived threats to their wellbeing and their beliefs.

Of course, this same clash of world views is happening in Texas and the South, just like virtually everywhere else in our country. But the floods that Texas experienced certainly quelled that anger, if even for a brief moment. When I saw the news clips of people risking their lives to rescue those who were trapped in the floods, I noted that no one was asking for anyone’s worldview, their political beliefs, or their position on hot button issues before deciding to help. People of different ethnic and religious backgrounds helped each other. People who had different political views pitched in to rescue those who were in danger. They recognized their shared humanity, and reached out to help. For that brief moment the ball of anger was diminished.

As Dawn came out of that experience, she had one more snippet. She saw into the spirit realm and was shown an evil being. She knew this being’s job is to stir things up in Texas, and cause confusion whenever Christians there are wrestling and praying over major issues. If there is a threat that Christians might be approaching a breakthrough against a stronghold, such as the growing anger, his job is to do everything he can to plug the breach those folks are causing. As she was coming out of that experience, she knew intercessors needed to target this being because of the damage he is capable of doing.

Since we recognize that God often uses these in-between snippets to stir up prayer, we prayed about these things even as we discussed them. As a result, when we heard about the awful things that happened in Sutherland Springs, we couldn’t help but believe that the Lord had shown us some spiritual things behind the scenes. If ever we wanted to see behind the scenes, this was one such time. The plain facts were overwhelming. A close-knit church family lost twenty-six of its members and friends, including men, women, and children, to a violently angry man who had lost any remnants of his compassion, or his sanity. It is difficult to contemplate such horror and bloodshed without being overwhelmed by the tragedy.

Throughout this week, I have been praying for the people of Sutherland Springs, asking that the God of all comfort meet them. At the same time, because of the behind-the-scenes glimpse, I have been wondering what that little community of faith was doing that so panicked the spiritual agents of darkness that they felt it necessary to move against them. I have been remembering what Dawn heard on Saturday. Whenever Christians are effectively wrestling against evil by living for righteousness, there are evil spiritual forces stirred against them. This idea of wrestling is biblical terminology for living the opposite of whatever negative behavior is on display. In the case of growing anger and separation, it would usually manifest by obvious expressions of love and peace in the community. So I have to ask, “What life was this little community of believers releasing that they were such a threat?” And of course, it would not just be them. What life is the surrounding Christian community releasing that this confusion and pain was released into their midst?

These questions have helped me grapple with eternal truths during this week of sadness. My questions have informed my thoughts in a comforting way. If my understanding is anywhere near the mark, then these twenty-six people are not just victims of a senseless act of violence. They, and other Christians surrounding them, were actually such a threat to Satan’s plans that he had to stop them. In essence, they were spiritual warriors on the front line of this particular battle, and even though we lost them on earth, they were welcomed into the Lord’s heavenly embrace with a heroes welcome.

Of course, even with this understanding, I am still sad. I still grieve for all those who were lost, and especially the children whose lives were just starting. I grieve for those who are overwhelmed by pain and loss, and will continue to pray that the Lord meet them and help them. But if what I suspect about that Christian community is true, there will be hundreds, and even thousands of those from the believing community who will be reaching out to support them in their time of need. That knowledge does help at some level.

“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.” (Romans 8:28)

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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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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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Eyes to See, Ears to Hear

potatopumpkinsThere are times that the Lord is hilarious. One such instance of hilarity is found in Jeremiah 1:11-12. In that passage, the Lord asked Jeremiah what he could see. Jeremiah responded, “I see the branch of an almond tree.” In Hebrew, the word for “almond tree” is pronounced “shakad.” Then, I presume with a straight face, the Lord told Jeremiah that he has seen rightly, and says, “For I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” The Hebrew word for “watching” is pronounced “shokade.” Remembering that Hebrew originally did not have written vowels, the words would be written like this: almond tree (skd), watching (skd).

You see? That is punny.

In the Bible, the Lord often spoke through puns, parables, and riddles that needed interpreting. We know that. Those of us who believe that the Lord can and does still communicate through some of the dreams we get (but perhaps not through that dream you had after eating a large pepperoni pizza, you know the one, where you are walking through your High School clad only in your underwear), know that he uses images that can be heavy on puns and word images.

Let me tell you about two such images he gave to my wife recently. In one of these picture snippets, she is running through a hospital pushing a covered gurney toward the emergency room. She was aware that she dreaded looking under the sheet to see who was on the gurney. However, when she did finally look, she saw that it was an ear of corn that was filled with worms.

Now, an image like that would normally move us to pray for the corn harvest this year. Since time immemorial, the Church has prayed over the harvest. An image such as that is as good excuse as any to apply some of those prayers to the corn harvest. The Lord works through such things all the time to release the prayers that are needed in a particular arena of need. Since we know that, we use such things as a reason to pray. We view it as good prayer exercise.

Dawn saw the second image about a week later. In that picture she saw a potato patch with a pumpkin in it. Honestly, when she told me about this, I was more than underwhelmed. While I haven’t planted pumpkins or potatoes in any garden since I moved from Wisconsin almost thirty years ago, I had no idea what portent a pumpkin in a potato patch could hold.

However, some of you do plant potatoes, pumpkins, or both, and you know what we had to find out through research. It is not good to plant pumpkins and potatoes together. If you do, neither will thrive, and your harvest will be awful.

That is very useful information—if you are planting potatoes or pumpkins. We are doing neither. So again, I have to assume that the Lord gave the image as a bit of a warning about a threat to the potato harvest this year. If so, we need to pray accordingly. We need those potato chips and French fries (and the host of other good things that come from potatoes).

But this is where the Lord’s humor makes it entrance even more fully. After he had given Dawn this image, and we and our intercessors had diligently prayed for the harvest of these two vegetables, the Lord reminded us that corn has ears, and potatoes have eyes. Suddenly, we realized that there was a bit more to these messages than a word about the corn and potato harvest (though it is certainly good to pray about them). It is also about our ability to see and hear what God is doing.

That is an important reminder for us, not only in the United States during a rather unsettling election cycle, but wherever we find ourselves (Brexit anyone?). Things are so confused and so unsettled around the world, that we really need the Lord to open our eyes and ears. We need a harvest of spiritual fruit that allows us to discern what it going on, and how to respond to it. The images that Dawn received remind us that we cannot afford a crop failure of true discernment during this season.

So, in addition to the corn and potato harvest (the natural), I have also added our ability to accurately discern the Lord’s will (the spiritual) to my prayers during this season. Of course, by writing this, I am inviting you to join me. We need to see. We need to hear. And of course, we need to keep those potato chips coming.

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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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