One of the coolest venues in Atlanta was quite well named tonight as the Tabernacle lived up to one of Websters definitions [3: a house of worship;] as the Remedy Tour came to a rousing conclusion. If you were fortunate enough to get in, you know it was a splendid night as Crowder [with The Myriad and Phil Wickham] brought the place to life. It's great to be back home as Shelley has orchestrated two tour endings in two nights. That is amazing!
So thanks to all the new and old friends we were able to share these incredible nights with....especially you guys from Clemson and Gainsville State who stood out in the cold for quite some time after the night to say hello. We love you all and are humbled to be on such a beautiful journey together.
PS- The camera on my BlackBerry is rubbish, I know.
The Sign Of Things To Come
It's getting close to 2:30 AM as I write my final blog from the How Great Is Our God Tour. I'm fighting a dwindling battery on my PowerBook as we roll south from the lovely Tri-Cities. "Why not just plug the laptop in, Louie?," you wonder. Well, I'm already in my bunk (for those of you who have dogs, think kennel) and my phone is charging in the one power outlet I have. Plus, my power cord is in my shoulder bag, which is also in my bunk with me at the moment, yet getting to it and retrieving the power cord is more than I want to do right now. Speaking of the bunk (some may ask, why not get up and write the blog in the front or back lounge? to which I say, great question, and reply: in ending the tour tonight we said goodbye to most of the crew as their bus headed one way, yet CT is leading in Atl this weekend and needs his smaller road crew who have joined us on our bus, though there are no empty bunks resulting in people sleeping in the lounges on the overnight to Atlanta---plus a seemingly endless viewing of "The Office" is now in full swing in the front lounge, so here I am in the my fabulous abode), let me try to describe it for you. I'd say, being generous, is 26" wide, a little longer than me, and not too high. My knees are now up and the laptop is resting on my chest. The ceiling is three inches higher than the distance of my arm from elbow to finger tips (in other words, as I lay here and put my arm elbow down on the "mattress" and stretch out my hand there is about three inches of room between the ends of my fingers and the ceiling. More than once I have turned over in the night with too much gusto and slammed my head on the bottom of Travis' bunk, and a few times have heard Matt G. doing the same below. Ahh, the glamorous life on the road!)
Thankfully, the guys are kind enough to give me a middle ride...and luckily, I really like small spaces.
So here I am, thanking God for such an amazing opportunity and excited about being five hours from home. Tonight was pretty surprising. I say that not to offend the wonderful people of East Tennessee, rather to thank them. Having never been here I didn't know what to expect, but they went for it tonight and made this a huge exclamation point on a phenomenal tour.
There are so many memories after a tour like this, but what I will take away from tonight was an amazing interpreter, a college student named Wendy, who met me during sound check with the question, "Louie, do you talk fast?"
Perched on a chair near the front of the stage, she proceeded to bring this night to life for a hearing impaired person in the front row. Being a fast talking speaker I have always pitied those who have to sign for me, yet respected them so much for being able to amplify my message for all to receive. But Wendy was in a league of her own. I noticed in the middle of "Holy Is The Lord," as Chris was inviting us into what we were singing about, she was interpreting like no one I have seen before. It was like every single syllable was being grabbed and expressed.
I obviously couldn't catch much during my talk (imagine signing quadrillions, crazy star names and the speed of light!), but I was on her side of the stage during the last set and wish I could describe the combination of passion, non-attention grabbing, grooving, expressing, singing with her hands, leading and worshiping that she exhibited. And what was really powerful...she was expending all that energy, yet never sang or said anything of her own. Rather, she totally locked onto the voices she heard and beautifully reflected that message to someone who would have missed it all if she hadn't been standing there.
So tonight we're winding down the Tour and I'm challenged by the image of a 21 year old on a folding chair . And I'm thinking about how crazy it is that someone like me and you could awaken a deaf world as we simply tell them what we clearly hear. Can you imagine God entrusting us with something as pivotal as that? That's massively profound...even in a really tiny bunk.
With amazing memories of the West Coast still fresh we are heading east, eating up big chunks of the nation every night on the overnight drive. All the stops out west were really cool...different in their own way, but marked by His presence.
Tucson--great start, even though I was only there by video!
San Diego--jammed and hopeful.
Santa Barbara--stunning, a first, humbling.
Fresno--a downtown surprise for me and us all, powerful.
Sacramento--loud, very loud, amazing night.
But then we turned right and started to cover some major ground. Stop one brought us to Salt Lake City. Yep, Utah! We were right downtown across from Temple Square in an opera house/symphony hall type place that I'm not sure has ever seen the likes of Sing, Sing, Sing before. But we went for it and lifted up the only hope we know. The cross was big and we knew we were in the right place with the right Story.
Another long night, and another mountain range beneath us, and we arrived in Denver to the joy of two nights off! If you don't think that sounds pretty stinking brilliant, have a kidney stone and then get on a bus and speak your guts out five nights in a row!! The break came just at the right time and fortunately the down time was spent way up in the Rockies. A little side trip to paradise brought much needed refueling, and when we came down from the mountains we were ready for Denver and Denver was definitely ready to go for it. I finally felt 100% for the first time since leaving Hoag Memorial and am so grateful for every single person who prayed for me. Last night in Denver the place was packed and pumping from the start. But more than just a lot of people and massive volume, we could feel God blowing through.
Once again, God put a beautiful face on the night as our friend Chris (Urban Peek friend who came to the tour in Colorado Springs last spring with some other UP kids), who has been through many challenges and seen the faithfulness of God literally saving he and his wife Gabby over the past months, was there with Gabby and his parents, Joan (our Passion friend who loves these kids when they are in really desperate places) and a new friend from Urban Peak we just met. It's powerful to share a whole night about God's power to hold us together with people who have been through hell and have a story to tell because of God's potent rescue.
Another night of driving brought us onto the great plains and deposited us in Council Bluffs, Iowa, right on the Nebraska border across the river from Omaha. I couldn't tell for certain which state was most represented tonight (I think maybe Nebraska), but it was cool to be in an arena with 3500 Midwesterners, who though reserved at heart were worshiping with so much intensity.
When we wake up tomorrow Arkansas will be outside, and then Indiana and North Carolina. Last up, the How Great Is Our God Tour will take a turn back west to the East Tennessee town of Johnson City where all things good must finally end (you guys better be ready to bring it!).
If it sounds like a lot, there's a reason for that. And all the while Shelley is in the Northeast with the Remedy Tour as Crowder hits Philly, Boston, NYC and DC. Add to that Charlie and Matt being used all over the place and our little family feels stretched, happy, humbled, dependent and grateful. Praying it's true that "goodness and mercy will follow us tonight, and all the days of our lives."
First Monday Prayer Guide - November
As we come together today for the November First Monday Day of Prayer I want you to imagine people like you all around the world reading these very words right now. We are not detached individuals, but we are one. And as we talk to God together He threads our faith into one bold confession.
Jesus said, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them." Matthew 18:18-20.
Most of us have heard these words many times, yet they are powerfully true right now as more than two or three of you are reading this in dorms, apartments, offices and wifi locations across the nation and around the globe. So humbly we come before our Maker, asking Him to do what only He can do.
16 (2+6+8) Prayer Points for November
1. Pray that the name of Passion will decrease and the fame of Jesus will spread more and more. We are not about any name but His. "And the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only name." Zech. 14:9.
2. Pray for our Passion Staff Team. Louie has had a brief hospital stay and is on the road with the How Great Is Our God Tour through November 19. Our team is facing multiple challenges on every front and we need your prayers for covering, protection, unity, endurance and favor.
3. Thank God for what he did in Boston and Chicago. Wow!
4. Pray the work God did in student's lives in Boston and Chicago will endure and continue. Seeds were powerfully planted and the battle for their full effect is fierce.
5. Continue to pray for Boston, and specifically for the pastors and campus leaders whose vision was sparked as a result of Passion Boston.
6. Many cards with deep needs were placed at the crosses in Boston and Chicago. They contained stories of struggle, great need and huge thanks. Many contained words like desperation, abortion, suicide, loneliness, death, bondage, freedom, healing. Please pray for every person who cried out to God during those days.
7. Our next stop is LA. Pray that God will prepare the way and pray for the 1 million college students who are in the greater LA area.
8. Pray the news of Passion LA will spread far and fast, uniting students all along the West Coast for His fame. We need a lot of help making sure everyone knows and has a chance to be a part of this event.
9. Pray for your campus and city. "Greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city!"
10. Pray specifically for a campus ministry or church other than the one you are plugged into.
11. Pray for our City Teams that are circling the globe working on the Passion World Tour.
12. Specifically for our City Team for Seoul, Korea (Masi, Larry and Lisa). As you read this they are returning from an amazing vision casting/networking trip to Seoul.
13. Pray for Seoul and the potential for what God can do through university students there.
14. Pray for contract discussions in 17 cities around the globe. Contracts and venues are the key piece to dates being settled and released. We have multiple contracts in multiple languages to finalize.
15. Pray specifically for our date in Kampala, Uganda next May. We will be right on a university campus and leaders there expect tens of thousands of students potentially could be involved. Pray for the nation, the leaders and pastors there, and ask God to set everything in place for our small part of His story in Uganda.
16. Pray for our team as we work on a tight deadline finishing the Passion CD that will be released in January. More than songs and another record, we want this album to be filled with songs of power and hope for the world.
Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.” Psalm 66:1-4.
Where We Want To Be
Tonight in Santa Barbara was pretty special. God was with us on a chilly SoCal night as the only thing above us was California sky. But what made the night even better was being in The Santa Barbara Bowl, a historic little outdoor theater carved into a hillside high above lovely SB and the ocean shore below. Built in the 1930's, only a limited number of shows happen here each year because of city ordinances...and we got to be one of them. AND we were the first Christian show ever to play here. That's not so much about us, or even misplaced affection for a famed venue, but rather us bringing what we are so privileged to carry to a place where it has never been heard before.
For us, that's what the Church is supposed to be all about...taking the light of Christ into every facet of this world. That means if you play music to amplify the story of God and help people respond to Him, you want to play that music in the greatest places music is played. You want your songs (His songs) to be loud in the rooms where all the world's great songs have been sung.
Friday night Shelley and I were in Tulsa with DC*B (amazing!) and the same was true. Right there in Caines Ballroom people crammed wall to wall were going for it in worship and it was such a beautiful sight. But it's not all about the people (mostly followers) who come. Each night of that tour, and on a night like tonight at the Santa Barbara Bowl, the venue staff and crew get to see up close (maybe for the only time) what people who say they're connect to Jesus look like. They get to hear the songs we've heard over and over for the very first time and, in many cases, have a significant encounter with their Maker...one they probably didn't even know they were looking for. Sadly, the flip side can be true, as well. But we are hoping by God's grace people see something that rings true and recasts skeptical views of our Savior in ways that genuinely reflect His heart.
After tonight was finished the staff here gave Tomlin an "award" for being the first Christian band to ever hit the stage. It was a small thing....or maybe a really big thing. Maybe it was just good PR, but to me it looked like a collision of two worlds in one beautiful moment in time.
Sure, we love being in the Church and are not ashamed of it. But our songs need to lead people to encounters with Christ in this place, as the great rooms and theaters of the world become places for Church to erupt, be nurtured and embraced. Thank you SBB for an unforgettable night!
No IV = Brighter Day
OK, so enough of the arm, but I don't have any pics from inside tonight and this was the fastest way to say I made it to San Diego and had a fabulous night with CT and the boys. We felt humbled to be here playing/speaking for people who have been through much (over 2000 homes were lost in this area) yet came out to celebrate a great God tonight.
Thank you for all your kind words and prayers. They mean more than you know. God in me got me through the night and am so grateful. Spent, but grateful. Looking forward to four more nights in a row!! Headed to Santa Barbara now. LG