CO-LABORING WITH GOD IN HURRICANE IRMA – BY PAUL VAN HOESEN
The world has had its share hurricanes this year: Harvey then Jose, Irma and Maria. We watched the news, feeling quite helpless, as Harvey devastated Houston. Then came Irma, wreaking havoc across the Caribbean islands and headed straight for Florida. All during the first week of September Mary and I watched the devastation unfold across the Caribbean. As Irma neared Cuba on Thursday it became apparent that southern Florida was going to take a direct hit from this CAT 5 monster. The news media was relentless: dire predictions of the worst possible disasters imaginable were coming to southern Florida. It was a hurricane and there’s nothing you can do about it but pray for a miracle. Despair was in the air.
My wife Mary and I felt very agitated in our spirits as we prayed about this. We were not the only ones agitated. I talked to many people who were earnestly praying for Florida but we weren’t praying together. I felt the Lord wanted many people to be praying in unison with targeted prayer about Irma. There was more to be done than hand-wringing. Heaven had a strategy!
As we waited on the Lord what to pray May heard “3”. I took this to mean that our mission in prayer was to ask gather saints and see Irma reduced to a CAT 3 storm before it struck mainland Florida. I felt led to explore what shuts down a hurricane and pray tactically those points. We now had an objective and a strategy, this was turning into an adventure with God!
We posted our prayer vigil on Facebook on Friday night with a very specific strategy we felt God gave us to declare: 1. Deep currents to come up and cool the water temperature down to 80 degrees in the Strait of Florida before Irma arrives; 2. Send shearing winds to disrupt the eye and weaken it; 3. Send sinking cold air to dry it out. 4. Pray for protection over lives and property.
Within 24 hours we had over 100 people (including a church in Fuji) following on my Facebook prayer chain and God began answering our prayers in measurable ways. The water temperature at the NOAA buoy at Vaca Key, FL dropped by 7 degrees in less than 48 hours – not normal for oceans unless a deep current comes up to the surface. When Irma hit the strait near the U.S. mainland the water was 80.5 degrees – ½ degree away from our target.
The hurricane made landfall at Marco Island 1 MPH into CAT 3 range and in less than an hour it was in CAT 3 range and quickly degraded further. The National Weather Service in Melbourne posted a map of “cold sinking air” coming in from the north into Irma’s eye. Because Irma suddenly turned inland rather than staying offshore from Naples and Tampa, the storm surge was far less than anticipated, saving lives and property. The New York Times published a headline the following day “The Monster Surge That Wasn’t: Why Irma Caused Less Flooding Than Expected.” God let us see answers us in very specific ways! (see my Facebook page for the details).
I also heard of other groups praying for very specific things as well. One church in Miami took their congregation to the beach and declared over Irma that it would not come to Miami. It did not come to Miami, it went west, came on land, and quickly died down. God was orchestrating declaration and prayer in many groups of believers.
I was in the Army for nine years and used to work in a Division Tactical Operations Center. In the Tactical Operations Center we had maps of where all the division’s battalions were scattered over our maneuver area. Each battalion had a specific mission and they were focused on that mission. Only the generals and commanders in the Operations Center could see how it all fit together. The Father had a plan for Irma, Jesus carried it out through His body via the Holy Spirit. There were many others on the Father’s big battle map that I never met that were playing their role in Operation Irma. We are the BODY of Christ, not a disjointed bunch of individuals. From Heaven we operate as a unit. When you start perceiving things that way, praying for nature to behave seems much less exotic than it appears! This isn’t about God’s man of faith and power deciding to shut down a hurricane, it’s the Body of Christ in action!
John 14:10-12, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works” “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.” “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.”
Jesus doesn’t work independently of the Father – but cooperatively, abiding in Him. We are promised the same relationship with the Father. The Father sets the initiative; the Son executes the initiative. Both His words and his miraculous works are equally effective at testifying who He is, the Savior of the world, the Messiah of Israel, the Son of God, the King of the Universe. Anyone who believes in Him will do the works He did and even greater works because He went to Father and sent the Holy Spirit to us.
Luke 24:49, “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” The word clothed in the Greek is ENDUÃ, which literally means to wear like a garment. We are to be clothed with power in the Holy Spirit. This is linked directly back to the works Jesus spoke in John 14 :10-12 – the power to do the works He did, and more, through an intimate relationship with the Father and Jesus through the Holy Spirit.
Everything in the Kingdom is relational and ultimately redemptive, driven by the love and compassion of the Father working through us. In these last days God is going to unveil what creation is longing to see: the revealing of the sons of God. Creation is subject to us when our decrees and prayers are birthed from a place of understanding the heart of the Father and the purposes and authority of the Son spoken through us.
Lord Jesus, open the eyes of heart and show us all of what we are to be in these days. May we rightly perceive our place in your Body and believe what You have spoken about who we are in You. Let us bring the counsels of Heaven to be displayed in the earth. Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done. Amen!
AN INTERCESSOR’S PERSPECTIVE AND PRAYER – BY PAUL BOOHER
As Hurricane Irma was approaching Florida, I found myself struggling with the issue of exactly how to pray. I have a lot of family that still lives in central and southern Florida and I was naturally greatly concerned for their safety. Normally I would have prayed immediately and strongly for God to steer the hurricane away from the state and out into the ocean. But for some reason I found myself unable to pray for that to happen. As an Intercessor this should have been a no-brainer, Irma go away ! So I did the only other thing I knew to do, I asked God what was going on. This was His reply,
“Paul, I am going to punish America for her sins, the shedding of innocent blood through abortion, immorality , and rebellion against my Word. Remember what I have told you for years, I am able to protect my people even in the midst of disaster. But, I have heard your prayer for mercy and will come after America’s wealth, possessions and prosperity, but I will spare their lives.”
NATURAL DISASTERS – ARE THEY RANDOM OR ORCHESTRATED AND CONTROLLED BY GOD?
FROM R.K.’S CORNER
My plans for the September Bridge Report was to feature an American couple who are both longstanding friends, and serving the nations with the Gospel. However, due to this very active hurricane season, we realize that the major focus in the media and among people at large is right now on the major natural disasters that are unfolding in various parts of the world.
With major devastation caused by several hurricanes in the part of the world in which we live, then add to that picture major earthquakes in Mexico; widespread monsoon flooding in the South Asian countries of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan; and a series of wildfires blazing across the Southwest amidst record high temperatures in Arizona, Utah, California, New Mexico, Nevada and Oregon – there is a good reason to take a pause and give some food for thought on a couple of relevant questions:
Are natural disasters random, manmade, or orchestrated and controlled by God? If the latter is true, what response should we as believers in Jesus Christ, committed to Biblical truth, make in face of natural calamities?
These questions are also personal for us, as Steve and I just 10 days ago, experienced the outer parts of Hurricane Irma’s fury as it tore through Florida’s West Coast. If Irma had sustained her maximum wind force of a Cat 5 and done a direct hit on the South-Eastern coastline along the populated beaches of Miami and Fort Lauderdale, the consequences of the storm and floodwater might have been loss of thousands of lives and whole communities submerged under the water of the anticipated 8-10 feet storm surge.
Awaiting Irma’s arrival, we did hurricane preparations, shut down the Bridge office, then hunkered down in our home, praying and hoping the category 4 wind would not blow our house and us away, or drown us in floodwater. We were at peace, taking comfort in God’s promise of protection expressed in Psalm 121 and Psalm 91, trusting that our lives were in His hands!
As it turned out, Irma weakened, changed course toward the West, so the effect of the storm on our neighborhood was minimal with fallen trees and debris, but there was no property destruction. For a few days, we were without electricity which kept me from preparing The Bridge Report. Due to a backlog of postal mail and unstable service for a while, we have decided not to send out the printed copy of The Bridge Report by postal mail; rather, we are directing our followers and supporters to this website for updates. To those who financially support The Bridge by sending your check by postal mail, you have an alternative this month: Donating your gift via PayPal on this site… please click on the button above.
We have been watching the devastation left behind from the flooding of Harvey in Houston, TX, Irma’s fury in the Caribbean, i.e. Barbuda, which has rendered the once idyllic tropical island completely uninhabitable; her ravaging of large parts of Key West, and other parts of Florida, and today’s report that Hurricane Maria has ruined large areas of Puerto Rico.Â The entire island is without electricity, and preliminary reports of the damages state that 80 fishing villages along the northern coast are obliterated and left uninhabitable. This season’s hurricanes have left a trail of pain, sorrow, despair, and financial ruin. Scores of people are suddenly finding themselves destitute! Furthermore – this hurricane season is not over, yet – there may be more to come!
The Bible clearly states that the Lord is the Creator of all things and upholds His creation by His living Word, “The heavens declare the glory of God, the sky proclaims the work of His hands.” Psalm 19:1.
Both the Old and the New Testament have many examples of how the Lord used weather to communicate with His people, both for encouragement, but also chastisement. Here are a few of the best knows passages:
- The world-wide flood under Noah was a clear punishment for the wickedness and corruption of the human race, “…the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” (Genesis 6:11-12, 7:11).
- Job was a man righteous in God’s eyes, yet He allowed Satan to test him to the brink of death. Job’s servant relayed this message to Job, “…your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house. And behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men and they are dead.”
- When Jonah was running away from God’s call, the Lord stopped Jonah, “…the Lord sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea.” (Jonah 1:4).
- Elijah was a prophet called to turn people’s heart back to the Lord from idolatry and worship of Baal. Elijah prayed for rain in the midst of a severe drought, and the Lord sent the rain, “…and it came to pass in the meanwhile, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.” (1. King 18:41-45).
- Jesus calmed the storm on the sea, “Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea and there was great calm.” (Luke 8:23-27).
- For the sake of the wider spreading of the Gospel, the Lord allowed the Apostle Paul to be shipwrecked by a strong wind on his way to Rome as a prisoner, “but not long after there arose against it (the ship) a tempestuous wind called Euroclydon.” (Acts 27: 6-44).
To better grasp God’s purpose for allowing calamity in nature to happen, we must remember that His actions are always redemptive, although we do not fully see or understand His ways, except bits and pieces by revelation through the eyes and heart of faith! The Scriptures present God as a loving, merciful, and forgiving Father, but He is also holy, pure, and righteous – He will not and cannot tolerate sin! The promise stands that, “…The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.” (Psalm 34:7), but it is tempered by, “…He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45).Â We must accept both the goodness and severity of God! (Rom. 11:22).
In this world, we live in the tension between God’s mercy and judgement! As Christian believers we are not guaranteed exemption from suffering, loss, and destruction of our worldly goods. However, we have something far more precious: HOPE and PEACE in the face of life’s difficulties. This life is not the end of our journey, thus we, “…remain confident of this: I (we) will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13) God’s gift to us while here, is His presence of the Holy Spirit who will guide us and show us our the way in all circumstances!