GO Center/Dinner break
After Francis Chan’s main session, I walked right over to the Go center. Passion Conferences are all about the unity of worship and justice. A practical way to combine those is through funding different causes and organizations that bring the love of Jesus in practical ways to the last and least of the people on earth. Passion had 12 causes set out on the table for the students to fund. All twelve causes are great, but I went towards OneVerse and Hope International. I decided on OneVerse during that morning’s main session when Louie held up the blank Bible. I had known that other people groups didn’t have Scripture in their language, but knowing in your head is different than knowing in your heart.
I also headed over to Hope International, which provides women in Haiti with micro-loans to help the women start their own businesses. Up until Christmas, I was supposed to go to Haiti right after Passion for a mission trip. Since I was unable to go on the trip, I knew I had to help Haiti however I could. At that moment, my most effective help was prayer and giving money. (Sidenote: This was BEFORE the earthquake struck in Haiti. My pastor, who was at Passion, did go to Haiti and was there the day of the earthquake, but not in Port-Au-Prince. Thankfully, he was safe).
I filled out a form about my mission interests and handed it in, with a huge smile on my face. =]
Our group decided to try to go somewhere else besides the Hong Kong buffet for dinner, but every other place that we tried had a waiting time longer than our dinner break, so we went back to the buffet. It was not crowded at all this time. Since it was less crowded, some of us decided to get a picture before we left (the other people in our group left to get us seats in the arena).
Evening main session–John Piper/Awakening
The seats that our group got were basically at the very top and back of the arena. I didn’t mind, however, because I had told myself that I was going to sit with my group because, up until dinner, hadn’t seen them all day. These seats provided an entirely new perspective on the arena (but sadly, did not have much room to dance in the aisles). It felt foreign to sing “Sing, Sing, Sing” and not jump around like crazy for both fun and also as a “mode of survival” (Passion DC was insane during this song, especially during the last session)
That night, John Piper spoke.
The title of Piper’s sermon was “Is God An Egomaniac?” At first, I didn’t see the point of what Piper was talking about. At all. As he got more into his sermon, things started to make sense. Well, sort of. Piper, if you haven’t listened to or read anything of his, is an extremely intelligent man. I consider myself pretty smart, but some things were just going over my head. I took notes, but knew I would be relying on my digital all access pass to re-watch that message again until I understood what he was saying.
Ephesians 1:4-6 says:
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
After getting back home and taking meticulous notes on this part of his message, this is what I wrote down. This was my awakening to the glory of God. This is the part of Passion 2010 that clearly turned my heart even more towards God:
Before the foundation of the world, God’s mind, ever at work, planning, “I will, through the death of my Son, redeem a people for myself. And I will, because of my Son, adopt them into my everlasting, divine family. And the reason I will do this is unto the praise of the glory of my grace. …that’s why you were drawn to Jesus.
We don’t have to choose between God getting glory and us getting joy because the apex of our praising is joy. The apex of his pursuit of our praising is our joy. Because the apex of his glory is his grace….now here’s where CS Lewis got his breakthrough…so CS Lewis did get a breakthrough and the breakthrough that he got was right here on this point about PRAISE. He said, when God demanded praise, it sounded like an old woman wanting compliments. That’s what he said…and then he wrote this:
“My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, indeed we can’t help doing, with everything else we value. I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation.”
That’s VERY helpful….wherever you hear God saying, “PRAISE ME!”…since praise is the completion of pleasure in greatness, PLEASE come to the fullness of your joy. Come to the fullness of your satisfaction. If that is called egomania, bring it on. [cheers] because I want to be happy. I want to be happy, forever. God reveals that I can only be happy in seeing his greatness and in bringing my joy in his greatness to its completion which is praise so he must seek my praise in order to seek the fullness of my joy.
At that moment, I had a new personal definition for God, and for love.
My jaw was hanging open, and I was in awe.
My notion of what it meant to be in a personal, loving, intimate relationship with God got about a bajillion times more deep.
Ever notice the best moments make you feel insignificant?
We’re looking into the sky, we’re being presented with absolute majesty. We’re getting smaller and smaller and its getting bigger and bigger…and I’m REALLY liking it! We were MADE for that. You weren’t made to be somebody. You were made to know Somebody and to be thrilled at knowing the greatest person in the world as your friend…self-forgetfulness in the presence of greatness is the capstone of joy.
We were not made to get our primary joy from thinking big thoughts about ourselves, we were made to find our capstone of joy in forgetting ourselves in the presence of magnificence.
THAT is why i exist.
TO KNOW YOUR NAME. hallelujah.
I remember we closed with “You Alone Can Rescue” and Louie reading some Scripture. We stood in silence under the Word of God for a few minutes. As we stood in silence, people just spontaneously started singing “How Great Is Our God.” It gave me chills. It was one of the most powerful moments of my life. We were all challenged to walk out in silence for Jesus. For me, that was no problem, because I still couldn’t figure out how to form words. (I had sung, but other than that, was absolutely speechless). As we filed out, I also realized that this holy silence was one of the most beautiful things I had ever felt and seen. This is key because of Hannah’s specific prayer earlier in the day. Everyone else went to their community groups; SCF decided to go back to our hotel and have a SCF community group, since we hadn’t really talked as a group at all.
For the most part, we kept our mouths shut until we got back to the hotel.
Even though this video doesn’t fully capture the intensity and beauty of the silence, this is what we experienced (and this was at the Georgia World Congress Center, the other arena):
SCF community group
SO. Coming into a discussion about everything that had happened at Passion with some of my closest friends was amazing, but also intense. I mean, God had just awakened me and changed my heart. We had some GREAT discussion. Even so, at one point in the discussion, I just bawled my eyes out. The thing is though, I don’t normally cry in front of others. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve cried in front of people like that–Mississippi, a particular freshman year planning meeting, February 19 of last year, and that night at Passion 2010. EVERYTHING came out. I’ve been going through some stuff at home, and still am going through it. I KNOW I’m called to missions, but am finding it extremely hard to wait. At that point, I didn’t honestly know if I should even finish my last two semesters at school. God had really explained things to me and opened my eyes in SO many ways since Passion had started. All of this just from a couple of specific words that P. Ray had said. I was a basket case. I probably wasn’t even making complete sense to everyone, but I just had to let it all out. Thankfully, my friends are amazing, great listeners. Derek was smart when he said
I think…we should pray.
After a little bit more discussion, we prayed. And prayed. And sang songs as we prayed. Turns out, we prayed for like an hour and a half, but we didn’t even notice.
At that point, even though we probably could have literally talked and prayed all night long, we went to bed. Meg and I stayed up a little longer to talk, but were in bed soon enough. I was glad to be in bed–I was absolutely spent, emotionally and physically.