September 2017 Conchshell Chronicles
One of the most pleasant places to be in Israel is on top of Mt Carmel. This peak is near the Mediterranean coast, and the view is spectacular! We have been here many times during our studies as it is the scene of one of the most famous manifestations of God.
One of the most dramatic Bible characters is the prophet Elijah. He predicted a three-year drought to King Ahab, which came to pass. Then he called the prophets of Baal and Asherah to Mount Carmel for a test to see who was the true God. The 850 false prophets built their alter, placed a slaughtered bull on top, and prayed that their god would light the fire. Elijah waited for hours, then build his altar with his offering, and had 12 pitchers of water poured on, and then filled a trench around the altar with more water. He called on Yawheh to show everyone who was really God.
Immediately the fire of the Lord flashed down from heaven and burned up the young bull, the wood, the stones, and the dust. It even licked up all the water in the trench!
39 And when all the people saw it, they fell face down on the ground and cried out, “The Lord—he is God! Yes, the Lord is God!”
40 Then Elijah commanded, “Seize all the prophets of Baal. Don’t let a single one escape!” So the people seized them all, and Elijah took them down to the Kishon Valley and killed them there.
When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including the way he had killed all the prophets of Baal. 2 So Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods strike me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I have not killed you just as you killed them.” 3 Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. 4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”
5 Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!”
8 So he got up and ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel forty days and forty nights to Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. 9 There he came to a cave, where he spent the night. But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 18:38-40, 1 Kings 19:1-3,5, 8-9
We Floridians just experience a terrible storm- Hurricane Irma – the strongest hurricane ever recorded, with winds in excess of 190 mph. Irma flattened a few islands in the eastern Caribbean and was projected to hit Florida. A week out, people began evacuating. Friends began calling me, warning me to get out. My friend Sherry was concerned
about her Airstream trailer, and told me she was going to drive it to Tennessee. She encouraged me to consider taking my extended family with her. A this point all the predictions were that Irma would track up the west coast of Florida, but it was still six days out. In the following days the predicted track shifted east – up the middle of the state.
Our long-time accountant and friend Lanie came over that day to collect mail, and drop off some papers. “Are you and Tim leaving?” I asked. Her reply was classic: “We have a business to run, and I figure that God is going to tell us what we need to do, and I’m not moving until He does.”
Then the projected track shifted further east to Miami to Vero Beach- it looked like a direct hit on us. That’s when Sherry called me and told me that she had a house available near Tampa and that we should all get in our cars and drive there “right now”. The storm was still four days out, moving west over Puerto Rico and approaching Cuba, with a predicted turn north that would bring it to our back yard!
Having been in this situation last year with Hurricane Matthew, and in 2005 with Wilma, and in 2004 with Charlie, Francis, Jeane, and Ivan, I understood Sherry’s urgency. A Category 5 hurricane is not something you want to mess with. Yet the storm was still 96 hours away. In my spirit I sensed a calm, and a word to wait until we know where the storm is going. The last place I wanted to be was on I-95 heading north with tens of thousands of other cars, if I didn’t need to be. I didn’t want to be like Elijah hiding in cave in Sinai, hundreds of miles south of Mt Carmel, with God asking him “Why are you doing here?”
Fear began to grip many of my friends. I understood that. Last year when Matthew was approaching Vero Beach, one of my dear friends from Tennessee called and said “I just saw that a 140 mph hurricane was going to hit Vero Beach in a few hours!” He urgently told me to get in my car with my family and get out. We were all gathered inside our shuttered up home, and one friend asked me “Can this house take 140 mph winds?’ Immediate fear gripped me. I began to panic. Rather than say anything, I went to my bedroom, closed the door, and asked my Lord what I should do. “Stay put” He said. A few hours later Matthew jogged east, and we were spared the brunt of the Category 3 winds.
That was 2016. Now we had a monster heading directly at us, and yet I kept getting the same word “Wait to see where the storm is headed.”
In the next two days, Irma’s expected turn north didn’t happen as the models were predicting. Instead she tracked further west along the north coast of Cuba, and all the models changed. Now all agreed that Irma was going to turn north at Key West, and track up the west Florida coast to Tampa, then track northeast into Georgia, and curve west into Tennessee. Suddenly it looked like Vero Beach was the safest place in the state of Florida to be for this storm. We boarded up the house and cafes, filled our cars with gas, went out to eat pizza at Pizzoodlles, one of the few restaurants still open. There we met two friends who had just gotten back from Tampa. “We took off yesterday to escape the storm, but came back today when we realized we had just driven into the eye of the hurricane.”
Sunday, Irma hit the Lower Keys with Category 3 winds (130-139 mph). The coast of Cuba had weakened the storm. It hit the mainland in the least populated part of Florida – The Everglades- and began tracking north, slowly weakening to a Cat 2 (100-110 mph). The storm was so wide that we were hit with some Cat 2 gusts, and steady Cat 1 winds (75-80 mph). One of our maple trees was shredded, with six inch branches snapping off. With all the rain, our street turned into a lake. My brother Randy, who is living with his wife Carolyn in our attached apartment, said to me: “Look, we have water front property!” “That right!” I replied. “Your rent has just doubled!”……..
Most lost electricity, but ours was restored the next morning. Five days later, some of my neighbors are still running their generators.
Storms will come in this life, wherever you live. What do we do when storms come?
One of my friends Steve said it this way: “Having lived through the many hurricanes of 2004, 2005 and 2016, I have grown in my understanding of what I should do, and especially waiting on the Lord. There are many here who have moved to Vero Beach since our big hurricane season a decade ago who have never experienced a hurricane. They are like immature followers of Christ who don’t yet have much experiential knowledge of being a disciple. Their faith is not strong as a result.”
I have heard it said “The thunderstorms of life prepare us for the hurricanes.” The principle is true. All of us who have weathered the storms of life have much greater faith in God, and His love for us.
I have been thinking about God’s question to Elijah: “What are you doing here?” after he ran as far away from Queen Jezebel as he could get.
I know that I have reacted to situations with fear and pride, and found myself in places I should not be. Relational situations; Cutting unnecessary corners; Slippery moral slopes; Serving myself rather than others; Doing what I want, regardless; Laziness. Are you with me?
Many times, I have heard God’s gentle voice asking me the same question: “Michael what are you doing here?”
That’s when I usually realize I am figurative miles from where I should be. God is gentle, but He never wants me to run into the eye of a hurricane. I have grown to really appreciate that aspect of our relationship.
The eye of Hurricane Irma went right though that town near Tampa where Sherry had arranged a house four us all. Two days later it was dumping rain in Tennessee where she was going to take her Airstream trailer. Vero Beach was the safest place to be in the state of Florida for Hurricane Irma.
Lukas is on Utila, managing the Rio Coco Café. He is very effective in the kitchen and making friends. It’s a good time for him, along with his team mates Josiah Nalzaro, Cyrus Perry, Dan Richardson, and Sharon Cunningham.
Tom & Nutie are planning a city-wide pastoral training conference in Waspam at the end of this month. This week they went with Danilo & Rodolio Cunningham and Augusto Vicente downriver to meet with our 43 teachers. Educating 1697 students in one of the most remote corners of Central America takes many gallons of gasoline.
We are making plans to open a second Rio Coco Café here in Vero Beach in the downtown area. Please pray for us as we move through the permitting and construction steps.
Laura was in Honolulu for two weeks. She returned with her dad Ron. He has a job at the Café ! MB
Please pray that God will:
1) Pray for Lukas, Cyrus, J.D. and Dan as they work the Utila Café .
2) Provide more workers for the Café ministry team. We need missionaries to reach out to our peps.
We appreciate your prayers. They Change Everything!
How Can You Help This Month?
1) Support a Seek The Lamb volunteer in the café and school project.
2) Pray for us!
3) Purchase Rio Coco Bean coffee.
You may donate online at seekthelamb.com—”Give”.
We have 14 different coffees to choose from. We roast twice a week, and it usually takes 3-4 days to get to your door. Experience the joys and tastes of fresh roasted coffee!