Remember when I mentioned I was joining a group of college students from our church to venture to Atlanta for Passion 2013? You know, way back at the very beginning of January? It's been almost two months since Passion but the things I heard, the truths I learned, and the worship I gave are still fresh on my heart.
It's impossible to adequately summarize Passion. And, I think my friends have gathered that based on the blank stare I offer in reply to their question, "So, how was Passion this year?"
Four days of jam-packed teaching and worshiping and learning and growing and praying - impossible to put into a few sentences. And, when God's Spirit is working and lives are changing and hearts are turning, words seem so trite.
No, Passion isn't just an experience. No, Passion isn't just a bunch of emotional hype. It's several days of shoulder-to-shoulder learning and growing so that, together, we are equipped to live, in an active and intentional way, the things we've heard.
Louie Giglio opened and closed the conference with messages out of Ezekial and the valley of dry bones. The message of new life because of Christ was a central theme at Passion 2013, and Giglio set the tone for that. A few things resonated deeply with me:
- God is interested in doing immeasurably more in the context of my life. He wants to do much more than simply improve my life; he wants to intervene and give me life. What am I missing out on today because of the captivity I'm in? God wants to breathe new life on me. When I'm in captivity, it's because of my own foolishness.
- A body is nothing without breath. Likewise, plans that don't produce results are nothing. God is able to bring me to a place where I can stand up in his power! When I stand in God's power I can move for his glory.
- Isaiah 61:1 shows that there is no disconnect between God breathing me to life and propelling me into mission for him. The moment I take a breath in his power I have an immediate assignment for his kingdom agenda.
Francis Chan also taught - and wow! - He taught with humility and power and clarity. A few key takeaways from his message:
- If I really want to experience God, I need to go and make disciples. In the context of discipleship I'm able to experience God.
- God's promises can be trusted. Always. II Timothy 2 reminds me that God cannot not be faithful - this is a trustworthy statement! I need to trust God's promises of blessing as well as the threats of wrath.
- My actions don't change God. Ever. I can trust him always. (Read Colossians 1:22-23, Revelation 2:10, and Matthew 10:32-33 for more examples.)
John Piper had a time of teaching with the college leaders one morning and it was an intensely rich 30 minutes. Piper talked from Matthew 6 on the topic of anxiety. He offered four directions for overcoming anxiety:
1. Memorize God's Word. I need to know it well so I can recall it when I need it.
2. Analyze God's Word. I need to seek to know the specific applications of the text, in its proper context.
3. Believe God's Word. The entirety of God's Word is blood-bought reasons why I can know it's true.
4. Teach God's Word. I need to model it to others and demonstrate rock-solid faith in it.
The ripple effect of doing these four things will produce immeasurably more in my life and in the lives of others. "Leaders are conquered by the Bible. Knowing God's truth enables them to lead." (Piper)
Piper also spoke to the entire group in an evening session and delivered a message that left us grappling with the greatness of God.
- The universe exists to display the infinite worth of Jesus through worship. "Worship is the subjective echo of his objective wroth." (Piper) The greater the display of admiration the greater the display of His excellence in the world.
- I am to embrace suffering on the path of love in the pursuit of liberation. Scripture gives me a pattern of power for embracing suffering (Hebrews 10 and 11):
1. A heart joyfully treasuring the promise of the paradise offered one day.
2. Satisfaction in a Christ-filled future frees me from self-protecting fears.
3. Freedom from selfish fears releases me to embrace the suffering of others.
- How did those mentioned in Hebrews do it? They knew of the infinite joy coming in the future. They chose suffering over the fleeting comfort of the moment. They were able to embrace suffering and not just endure it. Because of their deep faith in the better things to come, they were able walk into suffering and still love others at huge personal cost.
- Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds me that no one can take my life without the consent of God to give it. There is power and freedom by choosing to live by faith alone. "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him." (Piper)
And these are just some of the highlights. Interested in hearing some of the full messages? Let me know and I'm happy to share media files.
The following are a few music videos from our worship times together. It's impossible to stay still and stay silent after hours with these people. I'm thankful for artists who give their talents for Kingdom-building efforts and who give all glory back to the One who gives the talent to begin with. (Note: Because these clips are not produced by Passion, they may be removed at any time.)