1,260 words about Passion 2011.

What would you say to someone who told you that they couldn’t remember the person that they were one week ago? Maybe you would think that they suffered some sort of injury that caused them memory loss. Maybe you would think that they were playing a joke on you. Maybe their statement would simply pique your curious interest. No matter what thoughts run through your head when someone says that, it is hard  to comprehend another person living in a state where they can hardly remember their recent former self.

Allow me to introduce that past forgetting person: Me. I guess truthfully I could change the words “past forgotten” and replace them with “mind renewed”. Whoever finds themself reading this particular blog may or may not be aware of a little thing called The Passion Conference. Let me take you on a brief journey my friend, to tell you about this years Passion 2011 that I was so blessed to be a part of and which served to be the conduit through which this memory loss/mind renewal sprung. It was at this conference in Atlanta, GA that 22,000 Christian college age students between 18-25 (roughly) descend to do the only thing that matters: Worship Jesus Christ. It was within the 4 days (Jan 1-4) of being a part of something bigger than oneself that one begins to realize the importance of living a life characterized by being completely God aware and not self aware (John 3:30). Doesn’t sound like your typical “self-help” conference now does it? And yet, if you were to think about it, a conference based on grouping people together with the sole purpose of worshipping and giving praise to the Creator of the universe who knows the number of hairs on each person’s head does wonders for the helping of self.  It helps one to realize their fragility and dependence on a greater God. Understanding that we can’t do it all is a beautiful thing and we should give praise to the One that can. When a follower of Christ understands that they really and truly need Jesus, it is then that they realize the urgent need to not just praise Him for their personal relationship with Him or what He has done for them, but they discern the pressing need to make disciples of Him. When you have an astounding, amazing, awe-inspiring piece of information it is nearly impossible to keep it to yourself, right? Jesus Christ is too important to keep to oneself. The need for Him in one’s life is too great. He is to be shared; given to all. We should be willing to “pour ourselves out as drink offerings” (Phil 2:17) to those in need of Him. That meaning, we should pour ourselves into the lives of those around us to make famous the name of Jesus.

If you are a Christ follower, you’ve heard all of this before. Then why aren’t more of us living this out? Before I experienced Passion 2011, so many things were unclear to me or I was just obstinate to simple truths because I hadn’t felt an urgent need to act. During and especially after Passion ended, I felt urgency like never before.  I can only describe it this way: During Passion God reached His hand down from Heaven and touched His finger to the top of my head. The morning after returning home from the conference I had more zeal, focus, exuberance, clarity, excitement than in my 22 years of existence, not to mention memory loss. By memory loss I don’t mean that it all vanished to never return, but I mean that I became so focused on the things of the Lord and so driven for what truly mattered that the old me had died. It had to die. The old me didn’t feel this passionate about the Lord. The old me wanted to hold onto old desires and temptations and haunts. The old me liked a relatively comfortable lifestyle that didn’t want me doing too much outside of the safe confines of a church building for the things of Christ. [Believe it or not, the “old me” was considered somewhat radical by people who knew me before. Can only imagine what they’re in for now that the” new me” is emerging.] Thank you Lord God Almighty! What an honour to carry His name!

What makes this that much more great, is I am in no way alone in my feelings or mind renewal. As I sat in my “family group” with 8 other strangers the Passion Team had organized for each student to meet and fellowship with when we weren’t in the large worship sessions, I saw what the Lord was doing in each of their lives. They were just as on fire as I was! They were changing at mach speed too! Christ was blowing their minds on every level also! These were 8 people all from different parts of the world, of different ages, and with completely different pasts and experiences. And still, my God is omnipotent. He is able to make us all come alive for Him and speak in such a way that proved our undeniable agreement with each other. Being a follower of Christ really does mean you are part of a family. Not some dysfunctional, off the wall sort of family but a grounded, loving and deeply caring family. With experiences like these (that don’t have to happen only at 22,000 person conferences mind you) 3 specific things become clear: GOD IS LOVE. He cares about His creation so deeply. His love, kindness and attention to detail spreads like wild-fire to those living for Him and are open to catching it. God loves to be worshipped. Looking out at the thousands of us worshipping together “Almighty God of love, be welcomed in this place!!” I could literally feel the Spirit filling the massive Phillips arena with a thick presence that moved through my body and coursed through my veins. [Side note: If you aren’t “feeling” God, maybe you should try praising Him (Psalm 22:3). Just my advice.] And although there were innumerable amounts of other things I learned, I will unpack them in future blogs and leave you with this nugget. God is moving and awakening IS COMING. How do I know this? Because if you actually sit down and do a little homework on what God is doing, not just in the good ‘ol US of A, but throughout the rest of the world you see that we are beginning to come in to the times where we are uniting in Christ to make His name renown in the world. As Philippians 1:27-28 says, “Whatever happens conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in One Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed but that you will be saved-and that by God”. Francis Chan broke this passage down to us at Passion, saying that if we as believers would be bold and strive side by side, then the world will believe and the evildoers will know that their end is near. Then the world will change. I am part of a generation of Christ followers rising up. GET READY, PRAYED UP AND PUMPED!!

Above: See for yourself what I just spent an epic blog talking about. This is a 43 second glimpse of heaven.

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