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.

“Celebrating 37 years”

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS-

Psalm 126 “When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad”
When was the last time you dreamed? Last week I “attempted to jog/walk” through LaSalle Park listening to the latest Jesus Culture “Let it Echo” on my iPhone. (Loved it!) I was so enjoying myself, praying for my usual stuff when the Lord began to stir me about the 37 years being here at Victory. It was if I was in a dream! What a beautiful journey of the Love of God! Most of the folks at Victory know the story of Frank and I driving a car back to New Orleans, that wasn’t ours, bringing only what the car would hold, with our 4 yr. old son Jeremy. It was early morning the sun was rising over the city, and the Lord gave this verse, John 4:38-“I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.” For the next 37 years at Victory we have done just that, reaped where so many have labored over this precious city.

When the Lord turns back our captivity, joy comes! The summer of 1973, we walk right into some “Jesus Freaks” around the Mardi Gras fountain at the Lakefront, singing and worshipping. Frank and I were ripe for the harvest we never looked back. We got married, went away to Bible School. Now it was fall 1978 and we found ourselves right smack in the Charismatic move impacting the city reaping where others have sown. Our church exploded.

As I jogged around the park, I saw so many that have plowed up this city, restoring the ancient wells that God intended to be here. People came in broken and left full and ran to the nations. In the Treasury of David it says, “In proportion to the sorrow of sowing will be the joy of reaping”. I pray you too have found this hidden joy. Christ changes people into reapers, after all isn’t this what redemption is all about? We sow our precious seed and God brings the harvest. Whether it be the tent meetings we had, our school that preached Christ for 32 years, Bethesda Bible School training leaders, the many productions we have had, including Beyond the Grave, feeding the hungry through “Feed the Multitudes”, creating communities of restoration centers where the broken can come, hosting care groups throughout the city—-Christ is preached and redemption comes to life.

By the time I walked back to the church from my run, these 37 years have turned my/our tears into joy, filling our mouth with laughter. I can truly say, The Lord hath done great things and we are glad! Happy 37!

SOWING IN TEARS

Psa. 126:5-6 Those who sow in tears
shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

Everyone likes harvest time. Celebration, abundance; what’s not to like? It’s the sowing thing that we tend to balk at. Early mornings, late nights and only promises and hope of the harvest to come. The psalmist paints a beautiful picture of the Christian life, sowing in tears. Often times we sow in prayer for years before the harvest appears. Our circumstances cry out, “it will never happen, The Lord will not answer your prayer”. The enemy whispers ” He answers others but He has passed you by”. Even our friends words weigh on us “I don’t know how you keep going on”, or even better, “come on, don’t be so religious, come hang out with us”. But you have heard the promise of The Lord, in your heart you know sorrow will give way to the joy of harvest, it is only a matter of time. Here are some thoughts on this passage from Spurgeon’s Treasury of David.

“They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Hence, present distress must not be viewed as if it would last for ever; it is not the end, by any means, but only a means to the end. Sorrow is our sowing, rejoicing shall be our reaping. If there were no sowing in tears there would be no reaping in joy. If we were never captives we could never lead our captivity captive. Our mouth had never been filled with holy laughter if it had not been first filled with the bitterness of grief. We must sow: we may have to sow in the wet weather of sorrow; but we shall reap, and reap in the bright summer season of joy. Let us keep to the work of this present sowing time, and find strength in the promise which is here so positively given us. Here is one of the Lord’s shalls and wills; it is freely given both to workers, waiters, and weepers, and they may rest assured that it will not fail: “in due season they shall reap.”

Don’t you get it, your season of sorrow will only make the harvest more sweet. God is never mocked, every seed has no choice but to respond in God’s season of harvest.
One of the most unusual seasons of harvest came for us during the aftermath of Katrina. In the midst of incredible sorrow from all of the loss and the unceasing labor of sowing during the recovery, we saw the most amazing harvest, it was beyond imagination. We saw thousands of people helped physically, thousands of people encouraged spiritually as well as receiving provision. We started two new churches and a rehabilitation center called Mary’s Song. It would have been easy to miss the harvest, we had great excuses to stop sowing in tears. Maybe you have been sowing for awhile, don’t give up. The depth of sorrow and the length of the seed time will give way to shouts of joy in harvest.

REAPING IN JOY

Psa. 126:6 He who goes out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.

This passage has special meaning for those who have become involved in the work of The Lord. Obviously, The Lord is talking about more than farms and corn and tomatoes in this verse. He is talking about more than field workers, farm hands, and farm owners. He is talking about the essence of our Christian walk. The Lord is speaking about the law of love, living our lives to see the harvest of souls in the kingdom of God. Have you seen the harvest? Has your heart been awakened to the teeming thousands of lost souls all around us? When that happens you will engage in the rhythm of this Psalm, sowing in tears and reaping in joy. Here are some words from Spurgeon on this wonderful passage.

“He leaves his couch to go forth into the frosty air and tread the heavy soil; and as he goes he weeps because of past failures, or because the ground is so sterile, or the weather so unseasonable, or his corn so scarce, and his enemies so plentiful and so eager to rob him of his reward. He drops a seed and a tear, a seed and a tear, and so goes on his way. In his basket he has seed which is precious to him, for he has little of it, and it is his hope for the next year. Each grain leaves his hand with anxious prayer that it may not be lost: he thinks little of himself, but much of his seed, and he eagerly asks, “Will it prosper? shall I receive a reward for my labour?” Yes, good husbandman, doubtless you will gather sheaves from your sowing. Because the Lord has written doubtless, take heed that you do not doubt. You will return to this field — not to sow, but to reap; not to weep, but to rejoice; and after awhile you will go home again with nimbler step than today, though with a heavier load, for you shall have sheaves to bear with you. Your handful shall be so greatly multiplied that many sheaves shall spring from it; and you shall have the pleasure of reaping them and bringing them home to the place from which you went out weeping.”

Part of our salvation experience is becoming aware of the hurting people all around us. Jesus said “Look, the fields are white unto harvest”. Have you seen it yet, have you discovered the real purpose of your salvation? When that moment comes, you enter into the precious life of sowing in tears and reaping in joy. Until that moment of awakening, we are stuck looking for joy in other things. It’s the old forest for the trees thing. When the moment of awakening comes, sowing and reaping becomes our bread and butter. Yep, weeping may last for the night but joy comes in the morning.

KATRINA LAND

“KATRINA LAND”

MERRY WEDNESDAY –BY PARRIS BAILEY

“When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them. The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” Ps.126:1-6

I don’t know why but when the anniversary of Katrina rolled around I found myself thinking of everything that happened. I also found myself traveling the same route when we evacuated up to my mother’s house in North Carolina. I am sure for the most of us, our feelings are bittersweet. Paul’s says, “sorrowful yet rejoicing”. We saw the provision of God but the experience was a bit painful!
Last year also at this same time Hurricane Isaac hit our city. We didn’t evacuate and though a small storm compared to Katrina it camped out over the city and gave our church a beating of one million dollars in damage. All of this has made me look back and contemplate how “God works all things together for the good.” Katrina took us up all the way to Pittsburgh to drop off our youngest child to finish her 12th grade with our eldest son. I wasn’t a happy camper about this decision at all. Our home was damaged and I just couldn’t drag my child back to NOLA as Frank and I would literally jump from home to home the next 6 weeks. While running with the dogs up there, I found myself crying out and He began to speak to me about “children are lent of The Lord” and He wanted to “show me His glory”. I leaving my senior, another son went to New York and my 2nd son and his family to Virginia. Frank went running that day worried about staff and payroll. While praying He begin to see hundreds of checks that we gave to the needy, missionaries and other charities over the years that he heard The Lord say “as you sowed all those years to others, the time of reaping will begin”. I knew the blessing comes in obedience so back to NOLA we went.
The rest is history, Victory shined as a light feeding thousands and giving away food for years. We had trailers on our back property for families and hosted hundreds of responders. The purchase of the Broad St Mission was bought from Katrina donations around the world, turning it into a soup kitchen for years then four years ago Mary’s Song Restoration Center was birthed.
Isaac hit and basically finished off what Katrina had started on our sanctuary on Airline. One year later we find ourselves sitting in a beautiful remodeled building that most likely we could have never afforded.
I am not sure what you may be facing, but I pray He gives you grace to jump over your troop and leap over your wall. You probably will jump right into the arms of God.

Epiphany

“Epiphany”

Merry Friday by Parris-

I love getting an epiphany, you know when everything seems to make sense. William S. Burroughs said, “a frozen moment when everyone sees what is at the end of the fork.” Paul says, “all things work together”. Even Joseph turned to his brothers, after his epiphany and said, “hey guys, what you did was really evil, but guess what? God made it good in my life.” Yes, an epiphany is a divine moment when God speaks….loud and clear. When all the puzzle pieces come together, when all the years of futile sweat and tears bear fruit. “He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:6)
“Despite its popular image, epiphany is the result of significant work on the part of the discoverer, and is only the satisfying result of a long process. The surprising and fulfilling feeling of epiphany is so surprising because one cannot predict when one’s labour will bear fruit, and our subconsciousness can play a significant part in delivering the solution; and is fulfilling because it is a reward for a long period of effort.” (Wikipedia)
Has your life made sense yet? Have you been able to take the broken pieces of your past hurt and pain and use it for His glory? Or does your life feel as if you have one long question mark? Even Job was dismayed when he said, “Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?” (Job 3:11) But Job had a divine epiphany when he said, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself, And repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5,6)
David, when he was running from Saul, came down into Saul’s camp and had the opportunity to kill him; instead he said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lords anointed.” (1 Samuel 26:10) Even though David couldn’t see the whole picture and he had nothing to show for his life, yet he held onto his purpose.
Epiphanies come after years of reading His word, praying His will over your life and serving people. We all need them, Paul ran his race to win the prize. He saw something ahead of him that motivated him past the disappointment and set backs. “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
The tunnel can’t be so long that you can’t see the end. I love it in the book of Ruth when Boaz says to Ruth, “The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.”(Ruth 2:12) I feel someone just needed that word of encouragement. To all the Ruths, Jobs , Josephs and Davids out there- He will bring you through!