FOLLOW ME

Mk.1:16-18 – As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.

It seems that the Lord likes to hang around at the edge of lakes. You know, the disciples were called from the beach on the Lake of Geneserette; we know it as the Sea of Galilee. Parris and I met the Lord and felt His call on our lives at the lakeshore at Lake Ponchartrain. ‘Follow Me, I will make you fishers of men’.

That was 1973 and we found ourselves thrust into the Jesus revolution. Our lives were changed as well as thousands of others as the Lord began to pour out His Spirit on a generation the young and desperate. Young people across the nation were radically born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit. The change for many of us was total, effecting every part of our lives. We became part of a community of others who had also experienced this new life. Our whole culture was being transformed. The Bible was our compass, worship became our passion, and evangelism was part of who we had become. The natural end that we were headed to was to start a church. This new community would provide the haven for our love for God’s word, a place for believers to share their passion for Jesus in worship, and a group of people to evangelize our world. The Jesus movement had come full circle; the fruit for us was Victory Fellowship in New Orleans in 1979.

The basic seeds of the Jesus movement grew into our church over the coming years. Our love for God’s word birthed Victory Academy and Bethesda College, our passion for worship has been part of our identity and left its mark on everyone who visits our church. The discipleship we experienced in our Jesus community now lives through our Life Groups; our communities within our larger community, where we experience the beauty of spiritual family. Evangelism has also been a major part of this family being displayed in the free food festival Feed the Multitudes and the live production Beyond the Grave where thousands have given their hearts to Christ.

But how can we forget how it all started, it began at the edge of a body of water. It really began when the Holy Spirit fell on us and called us into this new life. Thankfully, that too is part of who we are at Victory Fellowship. The Holy Spirit fell on our church in shocking ways beginning in 1994. The impact of that outpouring still fills every service. As we celebrate 39 years at Victory Fellowship this Sunday I feel like I’m standing on the beach once again. Something is happening, Jesus is filling our lives again.

THE SANDY SEASHORE

“Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.” John 21:17

Lord Send Me!

There is nothing more relaxing than finding yourself on a sunny day sitting on a beach somewhere.  There your feet sink, into the white sugary sand and the gentle summer breeze sweeps over your face and through your hair. Then suddenly you remember once again that He comes like the wind and even though you do not see Him you feel His refreshing presence everywhere. There you sit listening to the roar of wave after wave, after wave, crashing onto the shore drowning out any noisy thoughts that try to steal you away from that moment. Your eyes gaze at the beauty that abounds as you sit under the sun shining bright at noonday, penetrating your very being with healing in its beams. It is here away from the daily duties and distractions that you wait for Him and He comes once again as He has promised and begins to speak to you.

And so it was that day for the disciples who had been fishing all night. They heard a voice, in the early morning hours, “cast your net on the other side.”  And immediately, upon obeying that word, they caught a massive catch. Imagine, when they rowed back on shore, dragging the bulging net behind, to find a table prepared on the sandy seashore of Galilee. John 21:9 says, “they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread.”

Just one smell of those coals brought memories of another night to Peter and not a happy one. “And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself…. Peter then denied again (for the third time): and immediately a rooster crowed. John 18:18;27 Just one waft of that fire brought him right back to that regrettable moment in time,  but today is a different day. Jesus has the table set and as He turns the roasting fish and the aroma of freshly baked bread filled the air, the message was clear: Peter you may falter and you may fail, but my love never fails. I love you Peter, I forgive you and My love has no end.

But could the same be said now of Peter? John 21:15-17 says,  “So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

      One of the great joys of life, in response to the Saviors questions of love, is to take that love in which you have received and to share that love with others. It’s time to go a-fishing, and launch out into the deep, there is a boat-load of fish waiting for you to serve to a hungry world. Let the live coal from the throne room touch your lips, and say with the likes of Isaiah and Peter, 

Here I am Send Me.

DISSOLUTION OF THE SOVIET UNION

The Dissolution of the Soviet Union!
(A Happy Memory)
Merry Monday by Parris Bailey

“The people which sat in darkness saw a great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.” Matt.1:16

We all watched with astonishment on TV in the early 90’s when we saw the German people tearing down the wall that that separated their country and saw communism begin to fall throughout Soviet Union. What took years with man, God broke with His mighty hand in a moment. Within the next few years, we made three trips into Soviet Russia and the Ukraine that made an impact in my life.
One of our trips to the Ukraine involved flying into Moscow and jumping straight on a train for 2 days. (You heard me right) We were to travel to a small town called Khilminski. One could imagine how we all looked after three days of no showering and not eating a decent meal but actually we fit right in with everyone around us.
The hunger these people had for Christ immediately overwhelmed you. We brought hundreds of Bibles to pass out, held outside open air gatherings with a small sound system and church meetings at night. Everywhere we went it was so easy to get a crowd! Because their infrastructure was weakened, the stores were empty of food. Even clothing and other necessities were just not available so really our team became the main attraction in every city we went to. Frank and I were amazed how that for years during the cold war, our country was in fear of this nation destroying us but around us we saw people suffering under a bondage that not only stripped them of the physical things but created a spiritual starvation. I remember as a little girl having “bomb drills” at school where we all would line up in the hallways putting our head between our legs. But God had us right smack in the midst of a mighty outpouring. For the first time since the 1940’s the gospel could be preached from the rooftops no less in the mighty Soviet Union.
On one of the trips we were able to have a crusade in a large field. We all had drawn very close to the few converts and the small church there in the city. As we all began to worship a strong wind begin to blow through that place. It was definitely the Holy Spirit doing something amazing with the people. Little did we realize that very same wind would visit us back in Nola just a few years later. It’s amazing once you feel His touch, you know it the rest of your life. One girl comes to my mind, while I was preaching out in the open square on Mary Magdalene, she stepped up to me crying, saying she was tired of the street life and wanted this Jesus. She eventually came to the states and was given a chance to have a new life.
Take what you have been given you pass it on, you just never know, you just might be right smack in a tremendous move of God.
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TWELVE BASKETS FULL

TWELVE BASKETS FULL

Matt. 14:20 And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.

Recently I read a sermon by Charles Spurgeon about Feeding the multitudes. The things he said in the 1800’s are just as relevant in our modern world. Check out his teaching on this miracle.

“The Lord will allow no service to remain unrecompensed; and work done for the poor and needy shall win its wage, not of debt, but of grace. Satan said, “Doth Job serve God for nought?” Suppose he had said so: the devil would have gone his way and said that God was a hard master, whose service brought no reward with it. Either way, satan would have made mischief, as we have no wish to please him, we admit we do not serve God for nought, but in keeping his commandments there is great reward. When the multitudes have done feasting, your master will let you sit down to meat, and you shall have abundant joy with him.
The chief point of all this is to get at the blessed work. In the name of the ever living God, let us feed each man that is nearest him till the whole company shall be fed; for the Christ is behind us, the Son of God is working with us; and the bread is not our bread but his bread; and the feeding of the multitude is not our work, but his; and the power is not ours, but all his own, and to his name be all the glory.”

Here is a breakdown of the lessons Spurgeon taught us about the effect of ministry to the hurting.

1.CHRIST IS BEHIND US — Kingdom Authority
The work of ministry to the hurting is not about building man’s kingdom but the kingdom of God.

2. MINISTRY TO THE HURTING OR POOR IS REDEMPTIVE
For a Christian, all benevolent work is redemptive. In other words, the ultimate goal is to bring souls to Christ.

3. THE SON OF GOD IS WORKING WITH US/SOVEREIGNTY
The Lord Himself is orchestrating everything for the advance of His kingdom. When we are doing His work we have His sovereign influence working on our behalf.

4. THE BREAD IS NOT OURS BUT HIS
This is the great lesson of stewardship. Everything, absolutely everything, belongs to Him. His claim to ownership comes from the fact that He is Creator of all things. Everything was created by Him for His pleasure.

5. THE WORK IS NOT OUR WORK BUT HIS
This takes the pressure off of us. After we have done all we can do the results and accomplishments of our work is in His hands.

6. THE POWER IS NOT OUR BUT HIS
We have supernatural power working in us and through us. This is the very essence of the Christian life.

7. ALL FOR HIS GLORY
The ministry to the poor, the work of our hands, the harvest of souls, all is for the Glory of God. At the end of the day, ministry is in the hands of the Lord. Our part is yielding, everything else is up to Him. As we yield our time, talent, resources, and strength to Him; He works through us in amazing ways. He gets the Glory, we get the joy, and oh yeah, we also get the twelve baskets full.

GONE FISHIN’

GONE FISHIN’

Matt. 4:19 And He *said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

The day after Parris and I came to Christ, of all things, we went fishing. We went out to the Rigolets (we didn’t have a boat) and just fished off the bank. We had no idea what we were doing, it’s not like we are fishermen, but we were about to have a strange, prophetic experience. Every time we threw the line into the water that day we caught another fish. There were people fishing in boats just off shore catching nothing. They would move a little closer, still no luck. We caught fish until we filled up our ice chest. What did we do? Of course, we cleaned the fish and took them to our new preacher fiend, Rick Phillips. This was our first offering, we were beginning our great spiritual adventure. Looking back at this scene over the years, it has given me a few laughs. It seems like Jesus loves to stand on the shore with His new disciples. I can almost hear Him say, “Throw your line over here”. That event was a prophetic picture of the calling on Parris and my life, He has called us to be fishers of men. Matthew Henry spoke of this calling, listen carefully to His words.

“What Christ intended them for; I will make you fishers of men; this alludes to their former calling. Let them be not proud of the new honour designed them, they are still but fishers; let them not be afraid of the new work cut out for them, for they have been used to fishing, and fishers they are still. It was usual with Christ to speak of spiritual and heavenly things under such allusions, and in such expressions, as took rise from common things that offered themselves to his view. David was called from feeding sheep to feed God’s Israel; and when he is a king, he is a shepherd. Ministers are fishers of men, not to destroy them, but to save them, by bringing them into another element. They must fish, not for wealth, honour, and preferment, to gain them to themselves, but for souls, to gain them to Christ. They watch for your souls, and seek not yours, but you. It is Jesus Christ that makes them so; I will make you fishers of men. It is he that qualifies men for this work, calls them to it, authorizes them in it, gives them commission to fish for souls, and wisdom to win them. Those ministers are likely to have comfort in their work, who are thus made by Jesus Christ.”

Matthew Henry spoke of ministers as fishers of men, I believe He calls all of His followers to this joyful work. Don’t get me wrong, fishing is tough work. Looking at all the guys that spend every free moment they can fishing, there must be some joy involved in it also. This is how it is in the soul-fishing business, plenty of hard work, but also, plenty of enjoyment and reward. I think we are entering into a new “fishing season” for the body of Christ. The fish may not be ‘running’ every where, but with some direction from the ‘Great Fisher of Men’, you will always catch some fish. So if anyone is looking for you, just tell them you are ‘GONE FISHIN’.

THE SOUL WINNER

THE SOUL WINNER

John 4:10,14
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water. Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

What makes a good soul winner? Is it someone who has a lot of knowledge about the Bible, or someone that has gone to Bible School? Could it be someone that has a great personality or a knack at communication? These are not the things you see in the Bible or in the life of this woman from Samaria but she effected her whole city. Not only did Jesus stay in her town for three days teaching the people effected by her words, Samaria became the hub of one of the great New Testament revivals. This troubled woman had an effect on her whole region.
What was it that caused this woman’s conversion to have such a great effect on her world? Actually it was her conversion itself. She had gone through five marriages and was living with another man at that time (sounds like not much has changed in 2000 years). Her troubled life had surely had it’s toll on this woman, depression is just part of the package with her lifestyle. Her encounter with Christ was more than just a change of her religious beliefs, something dramatic had happened in her life, something so big it could not be hidden. She obviously got a taste of this living water Jesus was telling her about, the kind of water that satisfies our soul and becomes a spring of life bubbling up inside of us. This taste of the reality of God turned this woman’s life upside down. As she ran to her friends in town there was no denying something had changed, she had a smile that would light up everything around her. She was gushing out living water everywhere she went. Her friends had to find out what had happened. She was crying out as she ran through the town, “Come see a man who told me all I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” All of her friends went out to meet Jesus, it wasn’t long until they were all experiencing the Lord for themselves.
So what makes a good soul winner, someone whose life has been changed, not just a change in what they say they believe, but a change that flows out of their very soul.