Sunday: It’s raining heavily now, as it did all afternoon and evening yesterday. But there’s no wind. Man, if there was then I would not be writing this! Last week I had the opportunity to chat with a native English speaker. It gave me a good opportunity for an in-depth chat. (I didn’t realise I was missing them!) In the course of the conversation, I discovered that he believed that Yolanda was a judgement sent from God. His conviction about this really made me think. My default view is that the world, and therefore the weather, is broken by sin. Therefore when bad things happen, usually it’s because of this. Clearly though, history contains many occasions when God has brought judgement and discipline in the form of disaster. Statistically then, it’s possible that this is one of them. But without revelation it’s impossible to know for certain. So I made my own enquiries and this is what I heard this week:

The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice.
He saw that there was no-one, He was appalled that there was no-one to intervene;
so His own arm worked salvation for Him, and his own righteousness sustained Him.
Isaiah 59:15-16

This is the first part of the passage from the Bible that inspired me to come here. Up until now I’ve been focussing on the part which says, “for He will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the Lord drives along” because it’s the best part; it’s about revival. I’d not spent so much time talking about the first part because, to be honest, I didn’t understand it very well. “He was appalled that there was no-one to intervene”. I didn’t get it. The world responded brilliantly. I was proud that Britain was the biggest giver – over $60million. Isn’t that intervention? I believe now that God was talking about a spiritual intervention, and not after the event but before it. Yolanda could have been stopped. I know, I’m crazy right? This was the most powerful storm in recorded history. Maybe I’ve been away too long. Jarrod, you’d better bring me home! But look, Jesus calmed a storm. He said we would do greater things. Tropical Storm Domeng was probably bigger than the storm the disciples experienced on Lake Galilee. Look at what happened. It’s not impossible, is it! Then in Ephesians, Paul says God is able to do immeasurably more than this, and that this power works in and through us. So it looks like I’m just as crazy as the people who wrote the Bible – and history. Haha, I think Jarrod will let me stay. This trip is doing me good!

There are a couple of sayings here in the Philippines: “Sapagkat kami ay tao lamang” – We are only humans. “Bahala na an Dios” – God will look after us. The spirit of these statements is this: “We are insignificant, so leave everything to God”. It needs to be challenged. When tragedy strikes, people often quote Job’s words: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” But “these words were uttered in absolute ignorance by a man who had no idea that God and Satan were using his body as a battleground” (Brother Andrew). He goes on to say that “we have become so success- and victory-oriented that we think we shame our Lord if we admit a defeat.” Is that analysis appropriate here?

Look at the language in Isaiah. God is displeased and appalled when no-one intervenes against the enemy. “Oh you of little faith!”. Jesus’ words after calming the storm were a loving but stern rebuke to His apprentices. Our faith is made complete by what we do. Faith not acted upon is dead.  Any repentance due here should include God’s people – those in the church as well as those outside it. We need to be honest and mature enough to recognise that we lost this battle. There are a couple of dozen tropical storms in the Philippines every year. What would happen to that number if the Christians here really got hold of what Jesus said, and when storms come they really call on God in faith and use the authority He has given them? Hey, He hasn’t given it to anyone else.

Domeng has armed me with the testimony I need to stir up some active faith. Wise football pundits don’t predict the entire season’s performance on the back of one match, but each win is the starting point for the next. ” I am speaking to the college students on Wednesday. I am gonna tell them that we are at war. The church stands at the front line of the kingdom of heaven forcefully advancing into a broken world. All of God’s power and authority is at the disposal of those who follow the command to stand up, go over the top and take the ground

The end of my passage in Isaiah 59 says “The Redeemer will come to Zion”. Aha, to Zion Bible College? Tukdaw Zion.

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