THE HARMONY OF DRINKING TOGETHER

1 Cor.12:13 – For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

I haven’t drunk alcohol for many years so you will have to forgive me if I get this wrong. There is often some kind of strange ‘drinking buddy’ harmony that sets in on those who drink together. It seems like drunks often love everybody. Then on the other hand things can quickly head south. The drunken love fest can quickly turn into a brawl. Not so with the Holy Spirit kind of intoxication. Drinking with our spiritual drinking buddies can lead to magnificent displays of God’s glory flowing from a harmony that can only be displayed as supernatural. The Azusa Street Revival in 1906 often had an intoxicating influence on its participants. There would be unusual displays of harmony often characterized by singing for extended periods of time in what could only be described as a supernatural song. Here is a description from Vincent Synan – in his book on William Seymour.

“One of the most remarkable features of the meetings was the “heavenly choir.” As few as one or two or as many as twenty men and women would spontaneously join in an anthem, all in harmony and in different pitches, each singing in a language that was unknown to them. An observer described the manifestation by saying, “This singing service was literally inspired by the Holy Ghost. It was mostly in known tunes, but the words were chosen by the Holy Ghost.” “It was not something that could be repeated at will, but supernaturally given for each special occasion and was one of the most indisputable evidences of the presence of the power of God.” Bartleman said it was “beyond description…the very foretaste of the rapture.” Williams reported, “It would sweep over the congregation, no words, just worshiping, intoning in the Spirit.” Many skeptics were convinced of the authenticity of Pentecost when they saw and heard this demonstration.”

This harmony birthed in supernatural corporate encounters with the Lord can actually become the life of a local church. This common experience can continue in the general life of the body. It can bring a cohesion or harmony that permeates every part of the church. This is the life that can shine like a light in the world. Maybe this is what Jesus meant when He said they will know that they are my disciples by the way they love one another.

NOT LIKE WE THOUGHT

1 Thes.5:19 – Do not quench the Holy Spirit.

I still remember the rumors of revival I heard all throughout the first part of 1994. People were talking about unusual manifestations at various meetings in the United States, Argentina, and in Canada. There were even rumors of revival happening in the Church of England in London. There were stories bout trances, drunken behavior, unusual noises, and laughing. I think the laughing bothered me the most. I had been praying for revival for years but laughter, drunkenness, and trances were not on my radar. I was skeptical at best and possibly a little offended. Like most other Christians, I had a certain way I thought revival should look and this certainly wasn’t it. It wasn’t until I went to the meetings myself and felt the presence of the Lord and tasted the depths of His love that my defenses began to come down. Before you knew it, I too was laughing, shouting, and displaying intoxicated behavior under the influence of the Spirit. Preconceived ideas of what a move of God should look like have blocked many from experiencing His mighty power. Here is how Arthur Wallis describes this roadblock.

“Let us not put our views of decorum and of order above the mighty operations of the Spirit. When He comes forth in His glory, it is as it were a judgment day; there is an overwhelming revelation of sin and of danger; and we can no more expect men to act under such circumstances in accordance with ordinary rules of decorum, than we could expect men aroused from their beds by an earthquake to avoid every demonstration of a noisy or alarming character. Perhaps it behooves us all to surrender our very imperfect views of the power and majesty of the Holy Spirit, and prepare for something grander, more awful and more revolutionary than we have yet witnessed.”

The Lord often starts things in unexpected places and unexpected ways. Who would have thought of Nazareth, a supposed carpenter’s son, and animal stall in Bethlehem? Or what about the one eyed son of a slave in a former horse stable on Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California? Then there was the coal mine worker in Wales, the angry Pharisee in Damascus, and the shepherd with a slingshot. The icing on the cake; speaking in unknown languages. Thousands of people speaking in languages they had never learned and as Paul said some of the languages were angel languages. The Lord does some strange things, hopefully I won’t be too dry and rigid to move with the cloud in these last days.

THE REVIVAL IN LEWIS ISLAND

Before you get turned sideways this article has nothing to do with politics. By some divine, strange occurrence, it seems President Trump’s mom had two elderly nieces that were connected to a revival on Lewis Island which spread to the New Hebrides. They had been praying for God to come down and apparently their prayers were answered. Lewis Island and the New Hebrides were swept into a move of the Spirit that lasted for several years. President Trump bought the house where these prayer meetings were held. Here is an account of the beginning of that move of God from an article written by Colin Melbourne.

“Duncan Campbell was preaching his heart out, and getting nowhere. The congregation were quite content in their stiff, cold, and dead, religious routines.

What could he do?

He noticed a young lad near the front, weeping quietly, only recently saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit, a pool of tears around his farmer’s boots. Campbell, in humility, recognized that the youth was closer to God than he was, so stopped preaching, and asked him to stand and pray.

Just three sentences of prayer from the new believer prompted the power of God to fall upon the whole assembly. Those formal Scottish Presbyterian churchgoers began crying out for mercy to God. Half of them stood arms outstretched to Heaven, transfixed in the Glory for two hours, the other half slumped to the floor calling on the Lord in heartfelt repentance. At the same time, the Spirit of God swept through a village seven miles away, and practically every household in the village had someone saved that night. That’s revival!”

From this you can see that the Lord is not impressed with titles or reputations. When He wants to move He can use two old ladies and a child. Actually He said if the child won’t speak He might decide to use rocks. Again, the Lord proves that His ways are not our ways. I wonder if He is planning another outbreak in these last days? Throughout history there have been regional moves of the Spirit such as the Welch Revival, the Great Awakening, and this one in the New Hebrides. The Azusa Street Revival, which birthed the Pentecostal movement, is the closest to a world wide awakening. The good news is that the Lord has saved the best for last. So if you think you are too old or too young maybe you are exactly what the Lord is looking for. Maybe, just maybe, the wind is starting to blow again.

MY TRIALS AND THE GLORY OF THE LORD

Deut.5:24- The Lord our God has shown us his glory.

One of the things that changed radically for me in revival may seem small to the casual observer but proved to be cataclysmic in my life. I guess you would say my preaching in the early years of my ministry was man centered. What do I mean by that? That God was all about me and everything that He created was focused on me. The results of that emphasis can be quite predictable. If I do certain things then God will do certain things for me. It’s not that the Lord doesn’t want to do things that will be a blessing to me, its just that I had the motivation wrong. Everything God does is for His glory. Everything from creating solar systems to sunsets are to display His glory. Jesus healed the sick first of all to display His glory. He said that the man who was born blind was born that way for an opportunity to display the glory of God in healing. When we see that and focus on His glory we are filled with satisfaction and a joy beyond compare. Here is how Spurgeon describes it.

“God’s great design in all his works is the manifestation of his own glory. Any aim less than this were unworthy of himself. But how shall the glory of God be manifested to such fallen creatures as we are? Man’s eye is not single, he has ever a side glance towards his own honor, has too high an estimate of his own powers, and so is not qualified to behold the glory of the Lord. It is clear, then, that self must stand out of the way, that there may be room for God to be exalted; and this is the reason why he brings his people ofttimes into straits and difficulties, that, being made conscious of their own folly and weakness, they may be fitted to behold the majesty of God when he comes forth to work their deliverance. He whose life is one even and smooth path, will see but little of the glory of the Lord, for he has few occasions of self-emptying, and hence, but little fitness for being filled with the revelation of God.”

So what kind of trial and challenges are you facing today? Could it be that all this really is is an opportunity for the Lord to be glorified? When you finally see that our whole reason to exist is to display His glory in redemption the pressure comes off of us and we can finally stand still and watch Him in action.

OFFENDED BY GOD

Matt.18:7 – Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!

Every move of the Spirit of God throughout history has been opposed. One example was the extreme resistance to the Azusa Street revival and its practice of speaking in tongues. It was called by one renowned evangelical leader “the last vomit of Satan”. The laughing, crying, shouting, and trances were also hot button topics. People falling in the Spirit and rolling on the floor at Azusa gave birth to the name “holy rollers”. Jesus was criticized for hanging around with people of ill repute, John the Baptist scorned for his “tee-totaling” ways. The Wesleys and Whitefield were criticized for their outdoor meetings. I guess many people would rather have a dead service so that can catch up on their sleep.

When Revival fell on us in 1994 we had our fair share of critics. One of my fans said that we were having daily meetings because I didn’t have a life and didn’t want to be with my family. Another special person criticized me for calling out in service “It’s raining”. They actually accused me of public urination (in a spiritual way), I still laugh every time I remember it. Jonathan Edwards spoke about one of the dangers of criticizing the messy move of God, you keep waiting and totally miss out. Here is how Edwards put it.

“Tis probable that many of those that are thus waiting, know not what they are waiting for: if they wait to see a work of God without difficulties and stumbling blocks, that will be like the fool’s waiting at the riverside to have the water all run by. A work of God without stumbling blocks is never to be expected: “It must needs be that offenses come”. There never yet was any great manifestation that God made of himself to the world, without many difficulties attending it. It is with the works of God as ’tis with the Word of God; they are full of those things that seem strange and inconsistent and difficult to the carnal things that seem strange and inconsistent and difficult to the carnal unbelieving hearts of men. Christ and his work always was, and always will be a stone of stumbling, and rock of offense; a gin and a snare to many.”

So don’t be like the fool Edwards cited, waiting by the river for all the water to pass. When a move of God breaks out go ahead and jump in. You might be pleasantly surprised.

WHEN YOU WALK INTO THE ROOM

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

“When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion, We were like those who dream”

Ps. 126:1

August is so historical for Frank and I, it sweeps us up every year because that is the month when everything changed for us. Now some forty five years ago at the sweet age of 16, Christ found me at the bottom of the heap and put a new song into my mouth. That old song had done run its course! Thank God! Frank and I were married soon and swept up into a course of redemption that has never let us go. We have lived a somewhat unbelievable life. If there were ever two losers never to go anywhere in life, we would have been the poster children. When Christ walks into the room everything changes.

Bryon and Katie Torwalt sing it this way-

“When you walk into the room

Everything changes

Darkness starts to tremble

At the light that You bring

And when You walk into the room

Every heart starts burning

And nothing matters more

Than just to sit here at Your feet”

Then 1994 God just outdid himself by bringing us a fresh touch from heaven. He got tired of our dry, sorrowful services and came down with holy ghost power! Jonathan Edwards writes about the Surprising work of God that happen to his city in North Hampton. He puts it this way.

“The daily conversation of virtually everyone was the revival – “Other discourse than of the things of religion would scarcely be tolerated in any company. The minds of people were wonderfully taken off from the world, it was treated amongst us as a thing of very little consequence. They seemed to follow their worldly business, more as a part of their duty, than from any disposition they had to it; the temptation now seemed to lie on that hand, to neglect worldly affairs too much, and to spend too much time in the immediate exercise of religion. The only thing in their view was to get the kingdom of heaven, and every one appeared pressing into it. The engagedness of their hearts in this great concern could not be hid, it appeared in their very countenances. There was scarcely a single person in the town, old or young, left unconcerned about the great things of the eternal world.”

Will you allow Christ to invade your lives like never before? Your worship will change, your outlook will be transformed, even your dog will love you! Your focus will shift from the natural world to Christ world-his eternal world, the world of love.

WHEN HEAVEN COMES DOWN

Isa.64:1 – Oh, that You would rend the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Your presence —

Recently I have been reading again about the revival in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1734 -1735 that proved to be the early stages of what became known as the Great Awakening. The Lord visited this small town and apparently effected just about every family in Northampton as well as many in the surrounding Connecticut River Valley. Jonathan Edwards was the pastor and seemed to be, for those two years, in the middle of every preacher’s dream. The crowds would come early and stay late. The singing apparently had the taste of heaven on it and the preaching was from another world. The town had fallen in love with Jesus and His church, joy was spilling over into every part of the community’s life. Here is a short description of their public worship from the pastor, Jonathan Edwards.

“In the spring and summer following, anno 1735, the town seemed to be full of the presence of God, full of love and joy so as never before, and yet full of distress. This was almost in every house, on the account of salvation being brought into them. Parents rejoiced over their children as newborn, and husbands and wives in each other; God’s day was a delight, and his tabernacles amiable; our public assemblies indeed beautiful, and the congregation alive in God’s service; everyone earnestly intent on the public worship, and eager to drink in the Word from the mouth of the minister; generally in tears while the Word was preached, some weeping with sorrow, others with joy and love, others with pity and concern for the souls of their neighbors. Our public praises were greatly enlivened, and God was served in our psalmody as in the beauties of holiness. There was scarce any part of divine worship wherein God’s saints among us had grace so drawn forth, and their hearts so lifted up, as in singing the praises of God.”

Like I said, this was every pastor’s dream. To see true passion in worship, people hanging on every word being preached, and a sincere desire to see the lost brought in; this is what pastors live for. This environment doesn’t come from a preacher’s presentation or wit, it doesn’t spin out from the great talent of worship leaders or choirs; this atmosphere can only be attributed to one thing. This is the fire of God enflaming the hearts of His people. Do it again Lord !!!.

When the veil is removed!

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS

”But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away!”

2 Cor. 3:16

Years ago while attending a church growth conference in Maui, Frank and I had an unexpected encounter with the Holy Spirit. We were battle-torn from raising kids, growing churches and dealing with unhappy church folk. We had gone from being at the top of the wave of church growth to crashing and couldn’t find our footing. Faking it was unbearable and on that trip Frank spoke of resigning the church. On the last day of the conference we attended a large AG church that we knew and the head pastor introduced us to Rick and Donna Shelton who were pastors in St Louis, Missouri. I wasn’t really paying much attention to them and to be honest didn’t care to meet another pastor the rest of my life. But the conversation got strange really quick when Ps.Rick said; “Jesus had changed his life”. Donna his wife, had such an angelic look upon her face that got my attention. It was if the Holy Spirit was looking at me through her eyes saying; “I was naked and in need of him”. The Apostle Paul speaks of the veil on our hearts being taken away. Somewhere along the lines of life I lost my first love and couldn’t seem to find my way back. That precious day on that Sunday morning the veil was removed and the process back to him began. It was if I were like those in a dream.

MCClaren says, “They who behold Christ have Christ formed in them and that will be the inevitable result of all true possession of the glory of Christ. Why, if you look closely enough into a man’s eye, you will see in it little pictures of what he beholds at the moment; and if our hearts are beholding Christ, Christ will be mirrored and manifested on our hearts. Our characters will show what we are looking at, and ought, in the case of Christian people, to bear His image so plainly, that men cannot but take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus. Are our characters like those transparent clocks, where you can see not only the figures and hands, but the wheels and works? The convictions which we hold, the emotions that are dominant in our hearts, will mould and shape our lives. If we have any deep, living perception of Christ, bystanders looking into our faces will be able to tell what it is up yonder that is making them like the faces of the angels-even vision of the opened heavens and of the exalted Lord.”

That was 24 years ago. And believe it or not, I am still in search of the one who touched me. Oh it’s not a futile search of ever reaching and never quenching but one of ever receiving and forever drinking. He too can remove the veil of hurt pain or offense that has caused you to lose sight of your first love. Allow him to remove the veil that has been placed upon your heart, he will restore the years of the canker worm that has eaten away at your joy and life. Turn to him!

THE HOUSE OF GOD

Gen.28:16,17 – Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

Victory Fellowship is a very special place. Now, I may be a little biased (I am the Pastor) but I have never seen another place like it. Of course there are plenty of good churches in New Orleans but none are quite the same as Victory. Did I say New Orleans? Only the Lord would place a church like Victory in NOLA. What a contrast between the darkness of the world and the outpoured glory in this place. We have experienced the distinct, unusual manifest presence in this house since August of 1994. We are still contending for Revival. Here are some thoughts on places and times of visitation from Adam Clarke.

“The Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. That is, God has made this place his peculiar residence; it is a place in which he meets with and reveals himself to his followers. Jacob might have supposed that this place had been consecrated to God. And it has already been supposed that, his mind having been brought into a humble frame, he was prepared to hold communion with his Maker. How dreadful is this place!. The appearance of the ladder, the angels, and the Divine glory at the top of the ladder, must have left deep, solemn, and even awful impressions on the mind of Jacob; and hence the exclamation in the text, How dreadful is this place!”

This next week we will be hosting my friend Rodney Howard Browne for a week of Holy Ghost meetings, I feel like we are standing on the edge of history. It was after I attended his services in Rockwall, Texas in August 1994 that the outpouring of the Spirit happened at Victory Fellowship. At first, many other pastors and churches attended the meetings. As time passed by, many returned to their ‘same old same old’. Apparently the price of contending for revival was just too much for most. That brings us back to this next week and the growing anticipation. Another generation of Christians has emerged since 1994 in our church, many of whom have were too young to experience that last wave of the Spirit. The good news, the Lord is faithful to visit every generation and the season seems right to touch this one right now. I’m just glad that I am able to jump in for myself and watch as another generation is surprised by joy.

Running in Revival

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MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS-

“If you have raced against others on foot, and they have tired you out, how can you compete with horses?” Jer.12:5

Too many Christians pray for a revival coming but yet never experience a present revival. Its almost as if they are deaf, dumb, and blind to the fact that is God is alive and moving in the earth currently. There was a time in my life too that God was always coming but never really present; but when he walked into my room everything changed. I could have easily been a “foolish foolish little virgin with no oil for my lamp when the bridegroom came at midnight”. I pray you know the God of the present.

Last week I walked into the church hallway like so many times before but this time I heard laughing, praying and tongues in our computer lab during school hours. I stopped to listen and became excited to hear what the Lord was doing. At Victory there is always something pop pop popping somewhere! A few weeks ago our church become a host home for a precious mother from Mongolia and her baby that was born with a heart condition who flew in to get an operation. I was thrilled to see her give her life to Christ last Friday during Beyond the Grave and get prayer this Sunday during the services. She will never be the same because God never sleeps nor slumbers.

What can you do to live in the moment? Spurgeon says, “LET US RENEW OUR STRENGTH. To run upon the Master’s errands is always well, but to sit at the Master’s feet is quite as necessary; for, like the angels that excel in strength, our power to do His commandments arises out of our hearkening to the voice of His Word. If even for a human controversy quiet thought is a fit preparation, how much more is it needful in solemn pleadings with the Eternal One? Now let the deep springs be unsealed; let the solemnities of eternity exercise their power while all is still within us. But how happens it that such silence renews our strength? It does so, first, by giving space for the strengthening Word to come into the soul and the energy of the Holy Spirit to be really felt. Words, words, words—we have so many words, and they are but chaff! But where is the Word that in the beginning was God and was with God (John 1:1-2)? That Word is the living and incorruptible seed.”

Oh back to the kids getting touched in the computer lab-They all testified this morning talking about how God begin to touch them in school worship and they were flooded with joy and begin to pray for their classmates. One student was contemplating suicide got healed and another received the Lord. One student was filled with fire all over. Yes revival is all around us. One just has to become a vessel to pour through!