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THE PERFECT STORM

April 30, 2016

Joel 2:23 Be glad then, you children of Zion,
 And rejoice in the LORD your God;

 For He has given you the former rain faithfully,

 And He will cause the rain to come down for you—

 The former rain,

 And the latter rain in the first month. 

Recently, Parris and I experienced flooding in our home. Our house is on the Bogue Falaya River and we were caught in what you could say was the perfect storm. Our river empties into the Tchefuncte River which in turn empties into Lake Ponchartrain. There had been a strong east wind for several days which causes flooding at the mouth of the Tchefuncte. At the same time there was 17 inches of rain up river near Bogalusa, Louisiana. The result was an unprecedented flood crest that flooded our property and home. 

This week, I was in some meetings at The River in Tampa Bay when Rodney Howard Browne was describing this event, he called it a perfect storm. As he was speaking I began to feel impressed by the Lord that there was more here than just a story about a flood. I believe the Lord was saying that we are living on the edge of an unprecedented perfect spiritual storm in America. 

Just as certain things have to be in place at the same time to have unprecedented floods in the natural world, maybe the same is true in the spiritual realm. Could it be possible that the deterioration of the moral fabric of our country is actually providing the very atmosphere for the final Great Awakening in America? Maybe, the godless bent being promoted by our government, colleges, and the media is actually creating the very ingredients necessary for a major move of God. I think it is. I believe this current generation is developing an unprecedented hunger for God. Not just information about Him, or a set of rules or even a new creed or doctrine to live by. No, I am talking about a hunger for God Himself. This hunger is one of the ingredients for this perfect spiritual storm. 

The second ingredient is this, a local church that is primed and ready. I saw this at the River in Tampa and I believe I also see those ingredients at our home church in New Orleans. What are those ingredients? A focus on the Word of God, a passion for worship, freedom for the Holy Spirit to move in the services, and a passion for souls. All of us need some tweaking to prepare for the Perfect Storm. It is surely coming, I want to be ready. 

BRAINERD’S NEW BIRTH

April 29, 2016

John 3:3 ¶ Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 

When Jesus shared this word to Nicodemus, “You must be born again”, Nicodemus had no idea what the Lord was saying. He replied, “How can I enter into my mother’s womb to be born again?” Jesus went on to share the greatest of all words, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”. This word is still the most important of all words. Have you been born again? I am not asking you if you have prayed the prayer, if you go to church, or even are you a member of a church. Have your eyes been opened to your need of a Savior? Has Christ come into your life? Are you experiencing the fruit that accompanies salvation. This new birth experience was at the heart of the Great Awakening. David Brainerd’s testimony is a great example of true conversion. Here is a portion of his testimony. 

“I stood still, wondered, and admired! I knew that I never had seen before anything comparable to it for excellency and beauty; it was widely different from all the conceptions that ever I had of God, or things divine. I had no particular apprehension of any one Person in the Trinity, either the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost; but it appeared to be divine glory. My soul rejoiced with joy unspeakable to see such a God, such a glorious Divine Being; and I was inwardly pleased and satisfied that He should be God over all forever and ever. My soul was so captivated and delighted with the excellency, loveliness, greatness, and other perfections of God, that I was ever swallowed up in Him….Thus God, I trust, brought me to a hearty disposition to exalt Him and set Him on the throne, and principally and ultimately to aim at His honor and glory, as King of the universe….I felt myself in a new world, and everything about me appeared with a different aspect from what it was wont to do.”
Brainerd was transformed by the new birth experience. He saw God, himself, and his whole world from different eyes. That goes back to what Jesus said, if you are not born again you can’t see the kingdom of God. But the good news is this, when you are born again your whole view is drastically and permanently changed. So I ask the question again, have you been born again? If you have, you will know without a doubt. If you haven’t, it is time to call on the name of the Lord. 

BLESS THE LORD OH MY SOUL

April 28, 2016

Ps.103:1,2 ¶ Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! 
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: 
I have a Beagle named Phoebe that is an absolute riot. She wants to eat all the time (Parris insists she has a food addiction). There are two times a day when I actually feed her. She must have a clock in her belly because 5 minutes before feeding time she comes; first wanting attention and if that doesn’t work she barks. The point is this, the dog knows who her source is; me. Funny that dogs are smarter than humans in some ways. Phoebe never forgets where her dinner comes from; all of us often do. Our provision comes from the Lord. It doesn’t come from parents, jobs, government programs, or the scratch card at the convenience store. The Lord Himself supplies all of our needs. Here is How Martin Luther describes this phenomenon. 

“We all use God’s blessings every day, but we never think about where they come from—God. He is the one who gives us everything. Instead, we accept his gifts as if they simply appeared out of nowhere or as if we earned them through our own efforts, diligence, or wisdom. We think that God somehow owes us these things, and therefore we don’t need to thank him. Even animals don’t live that shamefully. Pigs recognize the person who gives them their food. They’ll run after her and cry to her. But the world doesn’t even recognize God, let alone thank and praise him for these blessings. If God’s people must be encouraged to praise him, how can the world be expected to do any better? It’s astounding how unwilling people are to acknowledge what God has done for them and to praise him for it.”
According to today’s verse our worship is connected to our provision. Rather than ignoring the Lord and looking to Him as a last resort, we keep Him right in front of us when we acknowledge His blessings with thanksgiving and praise. Really, this worship and thanksgiving flow out of spiritual revelation. One day the lights turn on and we see the goodness of the Lord and His love for us. We have no other recourse, we have to worship. In light of His greatness and His goodness we have to worship Him. Don’t waste another day, give thanks to the Lord today and watch His goodness flow into your life. 

DELIVERER AND SUSTAINER

April 27, 2016

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer . . .
My shield and the horn of my salvation. (Psalm 18:2)
Jesus is everything to us. David said that He was his fortress, deliverer, shield and horn of his salvation. In another Psalm David said that the Lord was his light, his salvation, and the strength of his life. As a young Christian I didn’t quite understand the depth and power of what David was saying. It seems like the tendency in our youthfulness is to trust in our own strength, talents, and abilities. It takes a while of walking with the Lord to see His strength and our weakness. The longer I walk with the Lord, the more I realize just how much I need His help. 

He is my light, He directs my path and keeps me from making foolish choices. He is my strength, He empowers me in all He has called me to do. He is my deliverer, He delivers me from the traps and snares in this world. He is my sustenance. I have learned to feast on Him to give me nourishment for my soul. Today’s quote comes from Billy Graham’s latest book. Listen to wisdom from a man who has walked with the Lord for many years.

“Jesus is not only the eternal Deliverer, but He is the eternal Sustainer. He provides for those who receive Him. Just as God had provided daily manna from Heaven to the children of Israel on their wilderness journey, so Jesus provides for the soul-hunger of people today. He was born in Bethlehem, which literally means “house of bread,” and proclaimed, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever” (John 6:51).

Jesus is also the everlasting Guide. The Lord led the Israelites through the Sinai Desert during the day with a pillar of cloud, and He provided light at night with a pillar of fire. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (8:12).”
Christianity is not a quick fix or seven steps to being a better you. It is a discovery of life itself (or should I say Himself). Walk with Him. Draw near to Him and feed on His faithfulness. Before long you will join with David’s song, “the Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?”.

PEACE – DOWN IN MY SOUL

April 26, 2016

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. 
May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our

Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

1 Thes.5:23–24
It seems like the whole world is troubled, and from time to time this trouble spills over into chaos. Recently, an apparent road rage incident in New Orleans spilled over into gunfire. A beloved former New Orleans Saint, Will Smith, was killed in a shocking display of anger on world famous Magazine Street. Senseless is too small a word to describe this kind of violence. The scary thing is this, how much violence crouches just below the surface of many hearts today. Today’s scripture verse describes the only real answer to the dilemma we all find ourselves in, this verse displays the peace of God that flows out of a personal relationship with the Lord. Paul described a peace that effects our whole being; he said that our spirit, soul, and our body are effected by our intimate fellowship with the Lord. Paul knew about this peace and he was familiar with outbursts of violent, angry behavior. He had been that angry man before he was born again and he had been assaulted physically more times than he cared to remember for preaching the gospel by other angry men. Here are some comments from Andrew Murray on this peace from God. 

“As if he knows that the riches of promises of peace in the verse will be too much for us, Paul repeats and strengthens it in the second part of the verse: spirit, soul, and body: spirit, the inner core of one’s being, created to live in fellowship with God; soul, the center of life; and body, the means by which sin and death got a foot in the door, but which was made alive in Christ. And then he adds that God is faithful to keep the promise. All He asks is that you stay close to Him each day. As the sun warms your body, so the warmth of His nearness will awaken your devotion. May you experience this.”
So how is it with your soul today? Is there a storm brewing in your belly? Does anger sometimes feel as if it will spill over? This storm can be stilled by one word from Jesus; just like He spoke to storms on the Sea of Galilee He is still speaking to storms today. “Peace, be still.” As you draw near to Him you too will experience His peace through and through. Yep, you too can have God’s peace way down in your soul. 

MERRY MONDAY BY PARRIS- REVIVAL WEEK! 

April 25, 2016

“But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:3-8 

A few weeks ago, Rodney and Adonica Howard Browne came and did revival meetings at our church. It did our heart good to be around them. Now this week, we will spend time preaching in their services all week and teaching on the Great Awakening in their River Bible Institute. We couldn’t be happier of course. 
During the midst of the great Awakening Jonathan Edwards wrote this letter to a young lady that found herself without a pastor, “In all your course, walk with God and follow Christ as a little, poor, helpless child, taking hold of Christ’s hand, keeping your eye on the mark of the wounds on his hands and side, whence came the blood that cleanses you from sin and hiding your nakedness under the skirt of the white shining robe of his righteousness.”
 I pray that you despite all that is going around you, the swirls, ups, downs and yes the bumps-just keep holding onto Christ’s hand. I can still close my eyes and remember how sweet it was to have my garments cleansed by the blood of Jesus at the young age of 16. I can only but hide under his sweet robe-I have no where else to go. I can’t imagine being without hope in this world at this moment in time, well actually I can because I grew up lost and without hope. If not now, when is it a good time to call upon our Savior and call out to him? What are we waiting for? Man fails but Christ never does. 

 Twenty-two years ago, Frank and I, and many others from our church, found ourselves flying into Tampa time and time again, soaking in the revival fires and meeting so many others touched by Christ’s love throughout the world. Christianity is worldwide my friend, allow him to continue to “give you a good bath” in his love and correction. Don’t let others spin you out of the destiny of God. 

Today as I walked into service I felt his presence as we sang this song all together: 

 lyrics by Kurt Carr-
Jesus

Something special

Supernatural

About your name

Jesus

Something happens

When I mention your name
Demons have to flee when I say Jesus (Jesus)

Sickness has to heal when I say Jesus (Jesus)

Every knee shall bow before

And every tongue proclaim

With worthy praise

That matchless name of Jesus

MUSTARD SEED FAITH

April 24, 2016

Luke 17:6 ¶ So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. 

This seed faith living is an intricate part of the Bible. Everything produces after its kind from a basic seed; from monkeys to humans and kangaroos to elephants; animals reproduce after their kind. The plant world is the same, apples have seeds which carry future harvests. It’s amazing that an apple seed can contain an apple orchard within it just as Abraham carried nations in his loins. Paul applied this truth to the resurrection of the dead; we are planted a mortal seed, we are raised with an immortal body. Here is how Calvin described the resurrection of the dead. 
“How will they be raised up? There is nothing that is more at variance with human reason than this article of faith. For who but God alone could persuade us that bodies, which are now liable to corruption, will, after having rotted away, or after they have been consumed by fire, or torn in pieces by wild beasts, will not merely be restored entire, but in a greatly better condition. Do not all our apprehensions of things straightway reject this as a thing fabulous, nay, most absurd?”
Resurrection from the dead is a great picture of the power of a seed. Jesus said our faith is like a seed, like a mustard seed. You plant that seed and miracles begin to happen. Check out these comments about mustard seed faith from the Fire Bible. 
“True faith is not a belief in “faith” as a force or power of its own, but it is a “faith in God”. God must be the object and focus of our faith in order for it to be effective. The “amount” of faith is not the issue here. A mustard seed is extremely tiny. By God’s grace, all followers of Christ already possess at least that much faith… So it is not how much faith we have, but what we do with it; we must direct it toward God himself. He must be both the source and the object of our faith.”
I love that thought, the Lord is the source and the object of faith. The reason it doesn’t take much faith is because of the nature of it. Faith is a supernatural seed; it is eternal, omnipotent, and omniscient. Faith is actually Christ Himself planted in us. So whatever mountain you may be facing, stop struggling to move it. Look to the source and the object of your faith. As Paul said, faith and love are in Christ and Christ is in you. It doesn’t take much, just a little seed goes a long way. 

DIFFERENT STROKES FOR DIFFERENT FOLKS

April 23, 2016

Psa. 43:4 Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God. 

There are all sorts of joy found in this world; as they say, ‘Different strokes for different folks’. As we grow up from child hood, survive adolescence, development into full adulthood, and then gracefully grow old; our joy tends to focus on certain things. It grows from a simple pacifier, to trucks and dolls, then ‘only heaven knows’ as a teen, to houses and careers, to grandkids through our changing years. Today’s verse talks about a different kind of joy that in one since is changeless, yet in another is always growing in intensity. It’s a joy that can be discovered in the earliest parts of our lives and can grow and sustain us until our final day. Of course I am describing the spiritual joy, the joy of the Lord. It is not based on circumstances and is available to everyone. Where do we find it? In the presence of the Lord. Here is how Jonathan Edwards described this joy.

“Sometimes only mentioning a single word, causes my heart to burn within me: or only seeing the name of Christ, or the name of some attribute of God. And God has appeared glorious to me, on account of the Trinity. It has made me have exalting thoughts of God, that he subsists in three persons; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The sweetest joys and delights I have experienced, have not been those that have arisen from a hope of my own good estate; but in a direct view of the glorious things of the gospel. When I enjoy this sweetness, it seems to carry me above the thoughts of my own safe estate. It seems at such times a loss that I cannot bear, to take off my eye from the glorious, pleasant object I behold without me, to turn my eye in upon myself, and my own good estate.”

Jonathan Edwards was a pastor during the Great Awakening in the colonial era of our nation. He was touched deeply by the Holy Spirit and obviously tasted a joy far different from anything this present life has to offer. This joy is still available today. How do I know? Because I have tasted this joy in my life in different measures over the last 42 years. It has kept me and challenged me onward all throughout my life. Press in for yourself, there is more to this than you can ever imagine. 

HELL IS A REAL PLACE

April 22, 2016

Matt. 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 
When was the last time you thought about hell? Even more terrifying, when was the last time you heard it mentioned in church, especially from the pulpit? I guess hell is not part of the church growth formulas, most pastors and Christian leaders stay as far from that topic as possible. The problem is this, hell is very real. Jesus said hell was real. He described it as a place of fire that never stopped burning. Either Jesus is wrong or our culture has it way wrong. Jonathan Edwards preached about hell during the Great Awakening in the 1700’s. He also preached about heaven, the Holy Spirit, revival, and everything else an orthodox minister would preach on. His sermon, ‘Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God’ is one of the most famous sermons of all time. Here is a small blurb from it. 

“So that it is, that natural men are held in the hand of God over the pit of hell; they have deserved the fiery pit, and are already sentenced to it; and God is dreadfully provoked, his anger is as great towards them as to those that are actually suffering the executions of the fierceness of his wrath in hell, and they have done nothing in the least to appease or abate that anger, neither is God in the least bound by any promise to hold ‘em up one moment; the devil is waiting for them, hell is gaping for them, and flames gather and flash about them, and would fain lay hold on them, and swallow them up; the fire pent up in their own hearts is struggling to break out; and they have no interest in any mediator, there are no means within reach that can be any security to them. In short, they have no refuge, nothing to take hold of, all that preserves them every moment is the mere arbitrary will, and uncovenanted unobliged forbearance of an incensed God.”

The good news is this, because hell is real Christ came to save us from certain destruction. All of the human race has rebelled against God. All were justly heading toward eternal destruction as a result of their sin. Because of God’s love for us, even in our sins, He sent His Son to suffer the consequences of sin on our behalf. Christ died to save sinners. Who escapes this place called hell? Those who come to Christ recognizing their need of a Savior. Accept His love and forgiveness today, He has a better plan for your life. 

SHAPING THE RIVER INTO WORDS

April 21, 2016

Psa. 45:1 ¶ My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. 

David is trying to describe with words the prophetic anointing that would often come upon him. It wasn’t that David was a great songwriter, he was a supernatural songwriter. I guess you could say he was just a channel, or vehicle that God’s words and songs flowed through. Today’s verse in the Message reads like this, “My heart bursts its banks, spilling beauty and goodness. I pour it out in a poem to the king, shaping the river into words”. That is a great way to describe prophesy, we are shaping the River into words. For those they may not quite understand, the River is a picture of the incredible flowing presence coming out from the Father and the Son. Here is how Spurgeon describes this verse.  

  

“The learned tell us that the word may be read overflows, or as others, boils or bubbles up, denoting the warmth of the writer’s love, the fulness of his heart, and the consequent richness and glow of his utterance, as though it were the ebullition of his inmost soul, when most full of affection. We have here no single cold expression; the writer is not one who frigidly studies the elegancies and proprieties of poetry, his stanzas are the natural outburst of his soul, comparable to the boiling jets of the geysers of Hecla. As the corn offered in sacrifice was parched in the pan, so is this tribute of love hot with sincere devotion.”
The amazing thing about this particular Psalm, Ps.45; it is a glimpse into the beginning of the heavenly ministry of Jesus Christ. Paul quotes some of this Psalm in Hebrews 1. In it Jesus is clearly addressed as God by God the Father. Paul also describes the anointing poured on Him to equip Him for His heavenly ministry as our High Priest. This is how the Message describes the scene.
Psa. 45:6 ¶ “Your throne is God’s throne,

  ever and always;

 The scepter of your royal rule

  measures right living. 
Psa. 45:7 You love the right

  and hate the wrong.

 And that is why God, your very own God,

  poured fragrant oil on your head,

 Marking you out as king

  from among your dear companions.

  
Psa. 45:8 ¶ “Your ozone-drenched garments

  are fragrant with mountain breeze.

 Chamber music—from the throne room—

  makes you want to dance. 
So go ahead, step into the River. Allow the River to flow into you and then flow out of you. Don’t be surprised when you too start shaping the River into words. 


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