Randal Cutter-Part 3-Whatever You Bind on Earth A Historical Record of How God Warned About Hurricane Irene. Incontrovertible Evidence That God Still Speaks Today.

 Randal Cutter 

with us. I had written out what I believed God was showing  us, and I shared how he had shown it to us (see Appendix 1).  We had decided to send the invitation out by mail and  facsimiles. We asked each church to join us for a special  worship service and prayer meeting. Our purpose was to  explain the threat, and to pray against it. 

I invited churches from all sorts of denominations, from  all spectrums of Christianity. Even if they did not respond, I  hoped that there would be those in their midst who would  respond by praying as individuals. I also, by clear example,  wanted to inform these churches that God still loved and  cared for his people, and was willing to communicate to  protect us. I knew we had been called to take the area by  storm, and I wanted to demonstrate God’s plan to as many of  his people as I could. 

Even though I had all these noble aspirations, I still  paused before I sent the fax on that March day in 1999. I  remember specifically thinking about my reputation. I realized  I was sending this note out to people who knew me, and  some of them even respected me. I wondered what this  would do to my reputation. At that moment, the Lord nudged  me in a way that made me laugh. He showed me that I really  had not built much of a reputation. It is pretty difficult to  damage something that you don’t really have. The logic and  humor of that moment overcame any reticence. I pressed the  key that sent all the facsimiles on their way. 

Storming the Walls of Heaven 

We had chosen to have the first joint prayer meeting at Good  News Church in central Broward County. Good News  Church had a much larger worship hall than we did, and 

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because of its central location, it was far easier for most  people to get to it. The pastor and leaders of Good News had  graciously offered the use of their building. Their pastor at the  time, Bob Sutton, had been in the pastors’ meeting in  November, and had immediately recognized that the Lord  was trying to help Broward County. His congregation eagerly  stepped forward and became our prayer partners throughout  1999. 

About a half dozen churches were represented at that  March meeting. We were excited that they responded to our  invitation. We knew the mountain of skepticism that we had  to climb in order to convince anyone to come to a meeting  like this. First, they had to scale the wall of unbelief in order  to believe that God had actually communicated to us. Then, if  that wasn’t difficult enough, they had to swallow the fact that  a hurricane could hit by surprise. 

For those of us who are familiar with the National  Hurricane Center, and how well it forecasts storm tracks, this  may have been one of the more difficult things to apprehend.  The Hurricane Center posts watches and warnings over areas,  depending on the variables in a hurricane’s track. I believed  that the Lord was showing us that the National Hurricane  Center would be so wrong about Irene’s track, that they  would not post a hurricane warning for our area. That sort of  thing just didn’t happen. The Hurricane Center is usually able  to respond to changing circumstances, and post warnings  quickly if things change. I knew that Irene would break that  mold. It would hit by surprise. A surprising number of congregations and their leaders were able to get beyond this  difficult claim in order to come together and pray.

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During that meeting, we recounted what the Lord had  shown to us, explained the biblical basis for our response, and  rallied the troops for an assault on this storm named Irene.  After this, we prayed with faith and excitement over the  invitation that God had given to us. We felt the presence of  God, and his pleasure as we prayed. He had looked for  someone to stand in the gap, and we had responded. It was a  great night in South Florida. 

We held several other joint prayer meetings throughout  the rest of the year. Each one of them felt powerful and  effective. Even then, most congregations did not limit their  prayer to just those meetings. They prayed throughout that  year. At New Dawn we prayed at virtually every meeting of  our congregation. We didn’t pray for long period of time  every time, but we prayed fervently.  

Checking In Along The Way 

By the time we started the hurricane season on June 1 of that  year, we had begun to wonder if our prayers were having an  impact. We wanted to know if we were reducing the storm’s  strength. We wanted to know if we were still under the same  threat that we had initially seen, or if the gap had been filled  to some point. The Lord graciously responded to that desire  by giving one of our members another dream. 

In this dream, that member of our congregation was  standing in a field next to a wooded area. An arrow flew by  him so near, that he could hear the sound. Suddenly, a deer  ran from the wooded area with an arrow in it. It ran into the  field and stopped. A woman came running out of the wooded  area after the deer. The woman was wearing hunting clothes  and looked like Dawn. She had fitted another arrow to her 

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bow, and took aim at the deer again. But just then, a group of  people gathered around the deer and began helping it. Since  the woman no longer had a shot, she put down the bow and  walked away. There was one person in the group protecting  the deer, whom the man recognized. His name was Adam. 

When I received this dream, I understood its incredible  message immediately. The deer in the field, of course,  represented Deerfield Beach. I also knew that Dawn and her  older sister, Irene, have a striking resemblance to one another.  So I knew that the woman represented Hurricane Irene. I also  knew that the group of people who had stopped the woman  from shooting the deer represented those who were standing  in the gap for our area against Irene. They were the sons and  daughters of Adam who had taken the authority that Christ  had extended to them.  

As I pondered this dream, I realized that we were no  longer facing a catastrophe. In retrospect, I believe that the  one arrow that hit the deer probably represented a category  one storm. But at that time, I did not understand it. I did  understand that the dream was showing us that we had  reduced the strength of the storm significantly.  

This dream revitalized our prayers. The Lord has sent us  an encouragement. We knew we were having an effect, and  we pressed forward with renewed fervor.

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Faith Building 

Two more things happened during the summer of 1999 that  stoked the flames of our faith and increased our intensity. The  first event was fairly mundane. The Deerfield family, the one that had made an appearance in the twelve-year-old girl’s  dream about Hurricane Irene, painted their house yellow. You  will recall that strange detail of the young lady’s dream. She  didn’t understand why the house was yellow in her dream,  since it wasn’t yellow in waking life. When she had asked her  mother about it, her mother did not have an answer; neither  did I. Then, nine months later, the family painted the house  yellow. 

You cannot imagine how this minor detail felt to us.  Although we had met some level of skepticism about Irene as  we had called people to pray, this type of detail encouraged  us. The Lord used such minor details to show us that he was  speaking clearly to us. This was just one more way he showed  us the accuracy of the dreams. We were even more excited  and amazed by what he was doing.

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The second encouraging event involved a movie. It was  one of the more bizarre ways that the Lord encouraged us  that summer. He used the The Addams Family movie. Even  though the movie was released in 1991, the SyFy channel was  running it periodically that summer. I believe it was toward  the end of summer when several members of the  congregation had come across a scene from The Addams  Family that had amazed them. I had never watched the movie;  I wasn’t really interested in macabre humor. Obviously, the  Lord wasn’t as stuffy as me. 

The scene from the movie involved Uncle Fester  reaching for a particular book on his library shelf. The name  of the book comes into sharp focus as he reaches for it. Its  name was Hurricane Irene: Nightmare from Above. After Uncle  Fester takes the book off the shelf, he opens the book and  releases Hurricane Irene into the environment. 

You just cannot make this stuff up. I have to admit that  by this time we were so caught up in all of this, my sense of  discernment about what other people could swallow wasn’t  operating at a very high level. I actually shared this  information in one of our prayer alerts. In retrospect, I’m sure  that was a bad idea, even though at the time it seemed like the  right thing to do. While it seems pretty funny now, I can’t  even begin to imagine what some of the pastors who received  our prayer alerts thought about this bit of information. I’m  sure it stretched them. I’m also sure it wasn’t the wisest piece  of information to include in a prayer alert. 

Why was this such an important piece of information for  us? In the dream about a deer wounded in a field, Adam was  among the group of intercessors that protected the deer. We  believed that it was a clear message that the second Adam’s 

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family was protecting that deer. Not only did The Addam’s  Family movie feature hurricane Irene, we also recognized a  play on words that tied the movie to the dream. By itself, it  wouldn’t have meant much, but together with everything else  God was doing, it was an interesting and unusual bit of  affirmation.  

The Media Gets Involved 

I had purposely chosen not to include the churches of Palm  Beach County in our prayer alerts. Even though Palm Beach  County begins just to the north of Deerfield Beach, I had not  felt a need to include them. This choice may have been  incorrect, but the Lord has a way of fixing our mistakes. 

During the summer of 1999, a news reporter from an  NBC affiliate in West Palm Beach got wind of what was  happening in Broward County. I didn’t realize that we had  stirred things up quite so much, but we had been loud enough  that it caught his attention. The reporter, Jim Wicks, 

contacted me during the summer, and began to pursue this  story. He wanted to interview me as part of a news story on  what we were doing, and then broadcast the story of  Hurricane Irene. In retrospect, I believe this was the Lord’s  way of sending a late invitation to the churches in Palm Beach  County, even though I had not done so. 

I finally granted the interview in September 1999. Jim did  a wonderful job of interviewing me. He admitted later that he  had approached the story with a great deal of skepticism, and  initially had intended to portray us as more than a bit off the  beam. But while he investigated the story, he became  convinced that we were sincere, and that there was a good  possibility that we were right. So when he did the interview, 

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he crafted it in a way that invited people to join with me in  prayer for our area. It was truly a remarkable moment as God  used an NBC affiliate to get the information out to Palm  Beach County. 

That interview aired on October 1, 1999 to the Palm  Beach County market. This was before Hurricane Irene  formed. I was able to tape the broadcast on VHS tape,  though the quality was hazy. Later, Jim gave me a copy of his  footage so that I have a clear copy of that part of the  broadcast. You can still see the interview at  hurricaneirene.com, or on YouTube by doing a search for  “Hurricane Irene God Does Speak.” 

I am also aware of the other reason that the Lord wanted  this broadcast on the NBC affiliate. It has become an  indisputable witness to the veracity of the facts that I am  presenting. I am not just saying these things happened. We  not only have the testimony of the dozens of pastors in our  area who were impacted in one way or another, we also have  video evidence. God does speak to his people. 

The Storm 

Twelve days after our prediction aired on the news, on  October 13, 1999, Tropical Storm Irene formed. The storm  formed southwest of Florida in the Caribbean. From the very  beginning, the National Hurricane Center believed the storm  would turn northwestward and curve out into the Gulf of  Mexico. This became the monotonous and repeated forecast  track during every hurricane update. Of course, the National  Hurricane Center was wrong. 

From a point just south of Cuba, Tropical Storm Irene  moved inexorably northeastward toward the southeast 

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portion of Florida. It crossed Cuba and began to gain strength  as it moved across the Florida Straits. It became Hurricane  Irene at this point. When Irene made landfall, it had the  coldest temperature at its top that had been recorded to that  time. That indicates that the storm was trying to develop. I  have since learned that if Irene had spent as little as a few  more hours over open water, in other words, if it had slowed  down at all between Cuba and Florida, it would have become  a major hurricane. As it was, because it moved so quickly over  the water, it didn’t have time to develop. I am absolutely  certain that the prayers of God’s people pushed that storm  more quickly across that open water so that it could not  become a monster. 

I remember watching Irene’s progress all day on October  15, 1999. Some friends telephoned me during the day to ask  what I thought was going to happen. Several of them had not  believed the Hurricane Irene word. My answer was always the  same, “We are about to get hit by Irene.” I had no doubt we  were about to get hit, no matter what the forecasters said, and  no matter what their computer models predicted, I knew they  were about to be surprised. But I also knew that it would not  be as bad as it could have been. 

In the end, our area never did come under a hurricane  warning. We were under a hurricane watch and a tropical  storm warning, but people, businesses, and local governments  do not respond to hurricane watches or tropical storm  warnings in South Florida. A hurricane warning is needed to  activate all of our varied hurricane readiness plans. Without a  hurricane warning, business and government hurricane  contingency plans were not implemented. Businesses and 

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schools stayed open, and life went on as usual in Broward  County.2 

When the hurricane hit our area by surprise at about 4:00  PM, people were just getting out of work. Some people  actually died without ever knowing that they were in a  hurricane. Visibility was so bad as workers attempted to drive  home from work, that several drove into canals and drowned.  You can still read news reports about Hurricane Irene at  hurricaneirene.com, the website we maintain for this historical  purpose.  

At the end of the day, the National Hurricane Center  determined that Irene was barely a category one hurricane  when it hit our area. The very worst part of the hurricane hit  the northeast corner of Broward County, Deerfield Beach,  and the southeast corner of Palm Beach County, Boca Raton.  Eight people died in the hurricane. The South Florida                                                               

2 One letter to the editor in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel  captured the chaos of that day: On Friday, the Bette Midler  concert was scheduled to be held at the National Car Rental  Center. All calls to the center were answered with a recorded  message saying, "The Bette Midler concert will be held.  Should a hurricane warning be issued, this could change." So.  . . like hundreds of others, we drove along Panther Parkway  trying to enter the arena parking areas . . . all the entrances  were blocked . . . Finally, spying an official vehicle, . . . I was  then informed that the concert had "just now" been canceled.  As a result, the Sawgrass Expressway (as well as Florida's  Turnpike and Interstate 95) -- with trees down in one lane  and visibility near zero -- was filled with tense people  wondering why our lives had been risked in the first place.

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counties sustained hundreds of millions of dollars in storm  damage. But because of the prayers of God’s people, the  catastrophic vision that the Lord gave to a twelve-year-old girl  never happened. God was there in the midst of the storm. 

The following headline and story in the October 17, 1999  edition of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel captured the  surprise: 

Storm Caught Us, Forecasters Well Off Guard 

She surprised us. 

Although they knew Irene was in the  

neighborhood, officials posted no hurricane  

warnings for South Florida. No one put up  

shutters. The usual stampede for supplies did  

not materialize. 

Despite satellite imagery, sophisticated  

radar and surveillance planes, forecasters  

expected Hurricane Irene to pelt the west  

coast, not mess up our back yard so badly. 

So, how did such a major storm sneak up  

on us? 

Specialists at the National Hurricane  

Center say because the system lacked strong  

steering currents and had an undefined  

center, the blob-like Irene swerved off its  

forecast track and caught them off guard. 

"Early on, none of the computer models  

that we use for our forecast showed the  

hurricane approaching South Florida," said  

Colin McAdie, the center's research  

meteorologist.

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"In addition to that, the system had not  

been well-defined from the beginning. The  

center reformed several times when it was  

still south of Cuba. That made it a difficult  

forecast," he said. 

As late as Friday afternoon, forecasters  

and residents alike thought the storm would  

parallel the west coast of Florida and  

possibly hit the Tampa area. 

As a result, there were no long lines at  

grocery, hardware or home improvement  

stores Thursday night or Friday morning.  

Few, if any, people put up shutters or  

boarded windows. 

Despite warnings of heavy rains, people  

went about their business for the most part.  

Then the winds kicked up Friday afternoon  

and the storm's wrath struck in time to clog  

up rush hour. 

Though they were carefully monitoring  

the storm, emergency managers in Miami 

Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties  

ordered no evacuations because no hurricane  

warnings were issued. 

Irene was such a surprise, that ten years after the storm, the  Sun-Sentinel published this remembrance on October 15,  2009: 

Many are sure to remember that Friday. 

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Hurricane Irene came barging into town  

with torrential downpours, gusty winds and  

an element of surprise. 

That was on Oct. 15, 1999 - 10 years ago  

today. 

The storm produced 10 to 20 inches of  

rain and caused severe widespread flooding.  

More than 700,000 homes and businesses  

lost power. 

And eight people were killed. Five were  

electrocuted and three drove vehicles into  

canals. Additionally, tornadoes injured three  

people in Broward County. 

Irene surprised many because they  

weren't expecting a hurricane, even though  

they knew a storm was approaching. 

At the time, some criticized the National  

Hurricane Center for that. 

But forecasters noted they had issued a  

tropical storm warning and that most of  

South Florida experienced just that, a  

tropical storm, not a hurricane. 

While it is natural that the National Hurricane Center would  defend itself in such a way, the truth is that without divine  intervention, a category four-monster storm would have  slammed into South Florida during rush hour traffic. It would  have leveled an unprepared community, not only because  almost no one had put shutters up, but also because category  four storms have a propensity to do just that. 

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When I sent my final fax and letter to Broward’s  churches, I ended with this note: 

I wanted to add a message of thanks for your  

part in the Hurricane Irene drama. We first  

publicized the dreams outside of our  

congregation back in early March of this  

year. I asked people to read the dreams, and  

to take up the call to prayer if they believed  

God was speaking. I thank you for not only  

receiving the dreams, but for praying along  

with us. 

Our first official prayer meeting was  

March 21. The next was September 12. The  

last was October 14. Irene hit on October  

15. Each of the meetings was powerful and  

accomplished a part of the purpose that we  

had set. That purpose was to intercede so  

that there would be no hurricane, and if  

there was, that it would not be devastating. I  

believe that the Lord answered our prayers.  

God gave us an opportunity to "stand in the  

gap" for our communities. God is sovereign,  

but he has chosen to give us authority in  

prayer. As we prayed we took the  

opportunity he lovingly gave us. 

I am personally saddened by the seven  

lives (so far reported) that were lost because  

of this hurricane. We knew that unity and  

prayer could defeat the plan of the enemy to  

release a lot of death. We achieved a level of 

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unity and prayer that severely diminished the  

tragedy. The toll could have been much  

higher with even a slightly more powerful  

storm. But, of course every life is precious,  

so I am still saddened. If there is a next time  

for something like this, I will pray even more  

persistently that lives be spared. I know  

many of you will do the same. We can 

celebrate this victory while at the same time  

mourning with those who mourn. God is  

love. He has demonstrated it yet again.  

Thanks for picking up the call to prayer. 

New Dawn Community Church, and a broad coalition of  churches in Broward County, had accomplished God’s  purposes. We had bound on earth what he had bound in  heaven.

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AN IRREVOCABLE CALLING 

In the aftermath of our call to prayer, things returned to  normal. We certainly had a heightened appreciation for God’s  intervention in the affairs of men. But other than a rather  awkward moment of recognition at the same clergy group  that I had first briefed about Irene a year earlier, we slipped  back into the relative obscurity of normal congregational life.  God had used us to accomplish his purposes, and for the  moment, we were ready to step away from the spotlight.  

However, I was not willing to relinquish the intercessory  authority that God had given to us. I believed the Apostle  Paul when he told us, “God’s gifts and his call are  irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). I knew that God didn’t give  gifts and callings just so that he could take them away again.  When he gives you a victory, he gives you something to build  on, not something to walk away from. I knew he had given us  something that we needed to develop. 

I didn’t realize it at the time, but there were people who  did not like the fact that God had used us in such an obvious  way. There were even some in our congregation who did not  believe God would use us again. I remember one instance 

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when a man attempted to correct me over my belief. He  believed that we could have no assurance that God would use  us again. I began to realize that this is a common belief about  how God works. It may be common, but it is wrong. Those  who truly believe this will always walk with little faith and  little power in their lives. 

I believe God builds on our experiences. There are two  key truths in scripture that have given me this conviction. I  have already mentioned the first. I believe what Paul taught:  The gifts and call of God are irrevocable. I believe that the  Bible makes this clear in many different ways. I especially  appreciate how Elijah’s life demonstrates this truth. 

Elijah’s Irrevocable Calling 

Elijah was an amazing man living during an incredibly  difficult time in Israel’s history. He courageously stood up to  the evil authorities of his day, and achieved great victories for  the Lord. Who can forget Elijah’s encounter with the  prophets of Baal and Asherah on Mount Carmel (see 1 Kings  18:18-40)? Who can forget how fire fell from heaven and  consumed Elijah’s sacrifice? His is a story of calling and  power. 

And yet his story does not end there. As the Apostle  James reminded us, Elijah was a man just like us, and subject  to the vagaries of our human condition. When Jezebel  threatened, he ran. He was so discouraged that he fled to  Mount Horeb and turned in his resignation. The Apostle Paul  tells us that when Elijah was at Horeb, he “appealed against  Israel” (Romans 11:2). He turned from prophetic  intercessor to prophetic accuser. As a result, God accepted his 

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resignation and instructed Elijah how to prepare Israel for his  departure. 

If anyone could forfeit his call and gifts, it should have  been Elijah. He had been called to stand in the gap for Israel.  Like Moses before him, he was supposed to reflect God’s  heart to Israel. But where Moses had stood in the gap and  asked God not to condemn Israel, Elijah complained that he  was the only one left. The Apostle Paul understood what  Elijah was doing. He was interceding against Israel. He was a  witness for the prosecution, calling down the wrath of God  on Israel. No wonder the Lord accepted his resignation; Elijah had lost his heart for the job. 

As the book of 2 Kings opens, we encounter Elijah once  again. Elijah has been working at preparing Israel for his  departure, but he still confronted kings. In this instance, the  king of Israel, Ahaziah, had injured himself and sought insight  about his injury from a pagan god. Elijah intercepted the  king’s messenger and sent the message that the king would  die. When the king realized that the man was Elijah, he sent a  captain and his fifty men to arrest Elijah. The captain and his  fifty men confronted Elijah. Let’s pick up the story here:  

The captain went up to Elijah, who was  

sitting on the top of a hill, and said to  

him, “Man of God, the king says, ‘Come  

down!’”  

Elijah answered the captain, “If I am  

a man of God, may fire come down from  

heaven and consume you and your fifty  

men!” Then fire fell from heaven and  

consumed the captain and his men. 

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At this the king sent to Elijah another  

captain with his fifty men. The captain  

said to him, “Man of God, this is what  

the king says, ‘Come down at once!’”  

“If I am a man of God,” Elijah  

replied, “may fire come down from  

heaven and consume you and your fifty  

men!” Then the fire of God fell from  

heaven and consumed him and his fifty  

men.  

So the king sent a third captain with  

his fifty men. This third captain went up  

and fell on his knees before Elijah. “Man  

of God,” he begged, “please have respect  

for my life and the lives of these fifty  

men, your servants! See, fire has fallen  

from heaven and consumed the first two  

captains and all their men. But now have  

respect for my life!”  

The angel of the LORD said to Elijah,  

“Go down with him; do not be afraid of  

him.” So Elijah got up and went down  

with him to the king. (2 Kings 1:10-15) 

I don’t believe you can find a clearer example of the fact that  the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable than in this story  of Elijah. When he had called fire down on Mount Carmel, he  had gained authority before God. That authority became so  much a part of Elijah’s gifts and callings, that he could use  that gift at need. 

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Here is what I see in this story: When the Lord gives  authority to us, he releases that authority to us. It becomes  ours. Elijah’s use of heavenly fire demonstrates this point. In  the same way, I know that God has given us authority over  the storm, and that authority is now irrevocably ours. 

The Various Sizes of Faith 

The second key truth that bolstered my conviction that God  had granted us continuing authority over storms, is found in  the very definitions of faith and how faith works practically in  our lives. Jesus clearly taught that there are various sizes of  faith. By its very nature, faith must continue in any  manifestation of the supernatural that it experiences. To do  less constitutes little faith. 

Little Faith 

Jesus revealed a great deal about faith when he chided those  who had little of it. On six different occasions Jesus told  people they had little faith. In every instance he was speaking  to a people who had a special covenant with God: Israel.  These people had history with God, and yet still had little  faith. When we look more closely at several of these  instances, we learn just what constitutes little faith. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus revealed how  inappropriate it is for God’s people to worry about food or  clothing. After pointing to the beauty of the flowers around  them, Jesus asked, “If that is how God clothes the grass of  the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown  into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of  little faith?” (Matthew 6:30).

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His point is clear. Every one of the people around Jesus  had observed God’s care of birds and flowers. Their  experience taught them that God takes good care of such  relatively minor things. Thus, it is not rational to conclude  that he would treat his chosen people with less care. When  the people of Jesus’ day worried about food and clothing,  they did not live up to their experience of God’s care, and  they were not being rational. Jesus summed it up by saying  they had little faith. 

When Jesus calmed the storm we see these same themes.  A severe storm on the sea of Galilee was testing the mettle of  Jesus’ disciples. As the storm began to overwhelm them, the  disciples cried out to the sleeping Jesus to save them. As Jesus  woke up he said to them, “You of little faith, why are you  so afraid?” (Matthew 8:26). Then, with a word, he calmed  the storm. 

From a non-faith perspective, it is quite apparent why the  disciples were afraid. Huge waves were swamping their boat.  The experienced fishermen among them understood the  gravity of the situation. Over the years, they had seen friends  and neighbors in their fishing community disappear in  tempests such as this one. Because of their experience on the  water, they were convinced they were all about to drown.  From a purely natural perspective, they were behaving  rationally. But the disciples had been living the supernatural  with Jesus for quite some time. They had history with Jesus— lots of it. Yet they allowed their previous life experience to  trump that supernatural experience with Jesus. Because they  had experienced his great love and his great power, it was  irrational for them to believe that he would allow them to 

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drown. They were not living up to their supernatural  experience with Jesus. They had little faith. 

This problem plagued the disciples. The most obvious  example of this is recorded in Matthew 16. Jesus had just  finished feeding five thousand men, in addition to the women  and children, with five loaves of bread and a few fish. He had  followed that miracle up with the feeding of the four  thousand under similar conditions. Yet when the disciples  forgot to bring bread for a journey, they concluded that this  would leave them bereft of lunch. Jesus quite explicitly leads  them down the road of logic to show them the type of faith  they were demonstrating. 

. . . Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why  

are you talking among yourselves about  

having no bread? Do you still not  

understand? Don’t you remember the  

five loaves for the five thousand, and how  

many basketfuls you gathered? Or the  

seven loaves for the four thousand, and  

how many basketfuls you gathered?  

(Matthew 16:8-10) 

Jesus could have added the miraculous catch of fish, and the  many other supernatural wonders that had been demonstrated  to these disciples, but he focused only on the most applicable  miracles. Jesus had fed tens of thousands of people with less  than a grocery bag of food. It is only logical to conclude, that  in a pinch, he could handle lunch for a dozen. More than that,  their experience of his generous care of all these people made  it impossible to assume that he would callously ignore the 

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plight of his closest disciples. The littleness of their faith was  staggering. But often, so is ours.  

Jesus once said, “When the Son of Man comes, will he  find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). While faith may be at  a premium when he returns, I don’t believe he will have any  problem finding little faith. We can easily find that all around  us. It occurs whenever we, like Jesus’ disciples, do not live up  to our experience of God’s love and his power. I have seen  many examples of indisputable miraculous healing. I have  seen my own family touched in amazing ways, and I have felt  his healing hand personally. Yet there are times when I am  assaulted with concerns about my own or my family’s health  that I am tempted to step into worry. Since I have  experienced God’s love and his power in this area, if I do step  into worry, I am demonstrating little faith. It is rational to  believe that God is faithful and consistent in these areas. It is  irrational to believe that God is capricious or fickle. For this  reason, we can build our faith for the future upon our  experiences of his love and power in the past. If we do not do  this, we are demonstrating little faith. 

This applies to every area of our life. If the Lord has  provided a miraculous financial deliverance for us, we can  rationally expect that he will be faithful in this area again. That  is faith. If the Lord has provided physical healing, we can  rationally expect the Healer to be faithful in this area again.  That is faith. When we experience the Lord’s faithfulness in  an area, it is only faith to expect that the Lord will repeat that  kindness. 

This truth is exactly the reason that Jesus told Peter he  had little faith right after he walked on water. From our  perspective, Peter demonstrated incredible faith when he 

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stepped out of the boat onto a stormy sea. Yet, when Jesus  stooped down to pull the sinking Peter back to the surface of  the waves, he said to him, “You of little faith” (Matthew  14:31). There is little doubt that when Peter stepped out of  the boat he was demonstrating faith, perhaps even great faith.  His quick demotion to little faith was found in his irrational  doubt. In the midst of miraculously breaking several laws of  physics, he began to believe those laws were more powerful  than this miracle. He didn’t live up to the level of his  miraculous experience, even while he was experiencing it.  That is little faith.  

Great Faith 

If little faith is irrationally living below your experience of  God, then, conversely, great faith is rationally living above  your level of experience. Jesus clearly demonstrates this when  he responded to two gentiles who walked in great faith.  

It is not coincidence that Jesus only applies the great faith  label to gentiles. The gentiles of Jesus’ day had little  experience of the true God. The Roman centurion (see  Matthew 8:5-10) and the Syrophoenician woman (see  Matthew 15:21-28) grew up in nations with demonic  understandings of deity. Their national gods were demanding,  erratic, and vicious. These pagan cultures bribed and placated  their gods, rather than loving or trusting them. Their  understanding of God’s goodness and grace was limited. Yet  both these individuals stepped beyond their experience. Still,  they did not do this irrationally; they gave solid reasons for  their steps of faith, 

When Jesus encountered the centurion, his servant was  sick. Jesus acted according to Jewish custom and agreed to go 

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to the servant’s side. In Jewish culture, it was normal for  those who prayed for healing to make a personal appearance  (see Matthew 9:18). Jesus usually followed this custom in  order to remove unnecessary barriers to faith. He did what he  could to encourage the faith of true seekers. 

When the centurion, who had not grown up in covenant  relationship with God, sought Jesus’ help, he was  demonstrating faith. Jesus responded to this faith in his  normal fashion. However, the centurion soon demonstrated  greatness in his faith.  

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not  

deserve to have you come under my roof.  

But just say the word, and my servant  

will be healed.” (Matthew 8:8) 

With these words the centurion demonstrated great faith.  With his first request, the centurion demonstrated that he had  moved beyond his own cultural experience and now believed  in the goodness of God. With his second request, he  demonstrated that he had moved beyond even the Jewish  cultural understanding of how God worked. Whereas Jewish  theology expected some form of contact to initiate a miracle,  this centurion believed a word spoken at a distance would do. 

To those who traveled with Jesus, this may have seemed like presumption. How dare this centurion presume to tell  Jesus how to operate his ministry? But this wasn’t  presumption. Presumption is irrational in its character.  Presumption moves beyond our experience of God in  irrational ways. The centurion did not do this. Instead, he  offered a rational explanation for his belief.

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For I myself am a man under authority,  

with soldiers under me. I tell this one,  

‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’  

and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do  

this,’ and he does it.” (Matthew 8:9) 

The centurion recognized the nature of authority. If the  centurion, with only a word, could affect outcomes at a  distance, then Jesus should be able to do the same thing. The  centurion stepped ahead of his experience of God as he  applied his understanding of authority to God’s Kingdom in a  logical way. That is great faith. 

The Syrophoenician woman demonstrated this same  logical application of truth. When Jesus had insulted her by  comparing her to a dog, she said,  

“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the  

dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their  

masters’ table.” (Matthew 15:27) 

When Jesus purposely baited her, she refused to choke on the  bait. Instead she demonstrated faith. She recognized that it  would only take supernatural crumbs for an almighty God to  heal her daughter. Then she demonstrated great faith. She  inferred some things about God’s Kingdom based upon  Jesus’ own words. If a dog’s master allows him to eat the  crumbs that fall below the table, how much more would a  righteous and merciful God provide the crumbs of his  supernatural grace to people in need? Rather than turning  away insulted and sad, she lived beyond her experience of 

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God and received her answer. She also demonstrated great  faith. 

In essence, great faith stands on the foundation of our  experience of God, builds a reasonable case for things we  have not yet experienced, and takes action based upon that  belief. But while Jesus applauded great faith and was pleased  by it, he does not demand great faith from us. It only takes  faith to please God. 

Faith 

John the apostle penned the words that speak of our  experience of God. He wrote, “We love because he first  loved us” (see 1 John 4:19). Faith responds to the grace that  God has given. It experiences something of God, and then  responds to it. We became Christians through this process.  We experienced the promise of God’s forgiveness and love,  and faith lived up to this experience by receiving Jesus into  our hearts. We now live by faith because Christianity is  experiential in nature. He continually invades our world with  his love; in faith we respond to that love. If we respond  commensurate to our level of experience, we have faith. If we  respond above our level of experience, we have great faith. If  we respond below our level of experience, we have little faith.  

The writer to the Hebrews tells us, “Without faith it is  impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). This is more  than an axiom to inspire a more committed faith life; it is the  foundation of our Christian walk. Christians live by faith from  start to finish (see Romans 1:17). Jude wrote, “But you, dear  friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith”  (Jude 1:20). I believe that when we better understand the  process of faith, we can better build our faith. It is apparent 

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that greatness or littleness of faith is not found in the size of  the supernatural events in which we are involved, but rather  in how well we are living up to our experience of God and his  faithfulness.  

The people of New Dawn Community Church had an  experience with God. They had seen him protect them  through a storm. They had received his authority to deal with  the storm. When we believe that God will continue to deal  with us in this fashion, it is only faith. It believes that the gifts  and callings of God are irrevocable.

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CONCLUSIONS 

I am writing these words as we approach the fifteenth  anniversary of Hurricane Irene’s visit to our area. Our history  since 1999 has been filled with wonderful victories and not so-fun learning experiences. We have grown even more firmly  in our conviction that the Lord has given us a job to do, and  we are doing it to the best of our ability. 

This short book covers, in very brief form, the first four  years in the development of New Dawn Community Church.  I could write about many more storms and other supernatural  events, and more than likely I will in the future. However, this  particular book is written for a particular purpose. It reveals a  calling, and it invites you to join with us in that calling. 

At the time that I am writing this chapter in 2014,  weather forecasters are openly speculating that we have  entered into a shift in the hurricane pattern for the Atlantic  basin. This year has been spectacularly slow, as far as  hurricane seasons go. Last year was even slower. Forecasters  do not understand the shift. I do understand the shift. God’s  people are learning to use their authority.

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