While it has been a quite enjoyable Christmas without the weight of a massive conference hanging over our heads (something, to be honest, we were all looking forward to all year), now that New Year's Eve has arrived I'm missing Passion (a lot) and guessing a bunch of you are, too. It's going to be a little strange going through this week without having tens of thousands of our friends around, mass lunches on the streets, that heart-stopping roar and the joy of spending the first part of the year thinking together about making Jesus famous with our lives. And while we all know we don't need Passion to make our lives count for Him, I still miss it...and in a weird way we all are not sure what to do without it during the next few days.
As well, today makes us especially grateful for the hundreds of volunteers and Team Leads who make Passion possible. While most of you attenders were getting ready for a big New Year's celebration at this time last year, our volunteers were checking in for Passion 07 and already hard at work getting ready for your arrival. So to all of our fabulous volunteers...celebrate, enjoy and thank you so much!! We love you!
And to students everywhere, we want you to know we are thinking about you and looking forward to the time we can be together again soon. Pop in a Passion CD or message, think about Doing Something Now, shoot a text to someone in your Family Group, journal about what God did last year and has done in your life since, surrender all over again today, put your everything in His hands for His renown, remember....we don't need an event for any of these!
Happy New Year!!
Joy To The World
Geseënde KersfeesFeliz Natal
Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan
Selamat Hari Natal
Sung Tan Chuk Ha
Buone Feste Natalizie
And to everyone everywhere, Merry Christmas from Shelley and me, and all of us at Passion and sixstepsrecords!
Section 233, Row H, Seat 4
The night was about NHL hockey, the beautifully graceful and fast-paced gift from our neighbors to the north, but from where I was sitting I kept seeing 18,000 of you guys filling this place 24 months ago for Passion 06. Yeah, we get around...London one day, Paris the next and the home of the Predators tonight. But, Passion gets around too, and when you combine our gatherings with the tours our guys do, it's hard to find a venue that doesn't bring back great images of the Movement.
Tonight we're in Nashville, where we're working on the upcoming Passion CD (more on that soon!), and took a break to take in the action from the club level of what is now Sommet Center. I love this game, having caught the bug while working as a college student for the Flames back in the days when they called Atlanta home (pre-Calgary). But all through the night my thoughts kept drifting back to those amazing days we shared here. I saw that massive cross being lifted up as we sang, "Oh praise the One who paid my dept and raised this life up from the dead." I was remembering the silence of 18,000 people, standing reverently outside the arena and filling its seats without a sound.
And I was wondering who sat in section 223, row H, seat 4. Assuming the same person didn't sit in this seat for every session, that means there are seven of you 223/H/4 people from Passion 06 out there in the world tonight. I can't stop thinking about you and wondering. Wondering if you're still going with Him. Wondering if you sense His presence. Wondering if you still believe that His fame is worth your life. Wondering if you can still feel the roar of thousands, and know that wherever you are tonight you are not alone. Wondering if you're a part of the growing wave, a generation that is seeking to bring hope, truth, justice and freedom to people all around the globe in Jesus' name.
I pray that's the case tonight, for more than buildings full, the hope of Passion is people changed. People who are somewhere in the world tonight seeking Jesus and spending their days to make Him famous.
PS-Please pray for the team working on the final stages of the Passion CD.
PSS-The Predators lost to the Red Wings 1-2.
First Monday Prayer Guide - December
A few weekends ago I spoke at a conference in the Georgia World Congress Center (for you Passion 07 goers, in the very spot where we had our second venue last January), and as I walked out the door to the loading dock to drive home I was struck with the reality that this was the place the year began and the place it was winding down again. And then I realized how much has happened since the final session of Passion on January 4th, and it almost took my breath away.
So now, as we enter in the final stretch of 07, it is right to just take a moment to say thank you to God. He has done so much, brought us through so much and allowed us to be a part of so much in the past twelve months. It's crazy when you stop and think about it. Really crazy!
So as we pray, we will shape a few of the prayer points around gratitude and with the others prepare the way for what is to come. I'm not sure how you do it, but it's a good idea to print the 16 prayer points out and keep them with you throughout the month. And if you could, give us a tiny shout on the comments and just say "I'm praying in whatever city you're in." It would be cool to hear from you and see us all linked in similar confessions around the world.
16 (2+6+8) Prayer Points for December
Thanksgiving. "All we have accomplished, You have done for us." Isaiah 26:12b
1. Take a minute to think back on your year, and as God brings things to mind, thank Him for the places you've been, what you've seen and what He has done in and through your life.
2. Thank Him for something you have seen Him do on your campus this year.
3. Thank Him for a specific time He spoke to you and changed your life.
4. Thank Him for protecting you (from more than you'll ever know) and bringing you through.
5. Thank God for someone who has been a gift to you this year.
6. Thank God for a specific area of His character that has become a treasure to you.
Prepare the way. "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Proverbs 16:3
7. As we mentioned in the latest Blog, pray for Passion London. Pray that God will prepare the way for the gathering in the Hammersmith Apollo in June.
8. Pray for a growing sense of unity among all the various campus ministries of London.
9. Pray that the vision will spread to Ireland, and all of the UK, and that Passion London will be a historic gathering of university students for the future of the church in these nations.
10. Paris is a present example, but we need clarity and wisdom on venues in several cities. Pray for the right venues to become clear to us and for the hearts of the people who manage them.
11. Pray for Passion Jakarta, happening in the largest Muslim nation on earth (Indonesia). Ask God to make our steps sure and expand the Kingdom through this night.
12. Pray for Passion Paris, that more and more people who have a burden for university students in that city will find out about the event and link with the vision.
13. Pray for those who currently work with university students in Paris. Ask God to encourage them, strengthen their faith, increase their vision and give them great favor.
14. Pray for our team traveling in Uganda at the moment, and pray for the students at Makerere University, the largest University in Uganda and the location of the Passion gathering. Amazing things are happening all across the University. Ask God to deepen the movement and restore the nation through this generation of believers.
15. We are trusting God for millions of dollars between now and October.
16. Pray throughout the month for one of these four cities we hope to be in next year: Vancouver, Mexico City, an unnamed East Asian city, Cape Town.
Winter has come to London, meaning it gets dark (really dark) about 4 PM. But, that's about all there's not to love about this place. I mean, even the taxis are totally cool! And though most people wouldn't think so right away, London is a university town. Yep, there are something like 800,000-1,000,000 students in (or within easy reach of) the city, and that's why we are here.
To be honest, I fell in love with this place the first time I ever drove on the wrong side of it's busy roads almost twenty years ago. And I fell hard. I'm not sure what it is, but old and new converge here with an amazing blend of ancient cool and forward sensibility, and if you want to know what's happening in much of US culture tomorrow, hang out in London today. (Exhibit one: The Office started here long before its US debut). That's not to say we don't have a lot going on ourselves, and plenty to export to the world, but the wind definitely seems to blow west from London and I always feel one step ahead of the game when I'm here. And in the same way, the Church is leaning forward all across this nation with renewed energy and passion for His name.
That's not to say there aren't really old (when you say old here you're talking really old) and empty churches everywhere, vacant shells that once flourished but now stand beautifully irreverent as generations pass by. But just when it seemed the post-Christian era would entrench itself and brand the nation as a people with God, something stirred within the walls and an engaging, worshiping, advancing, forward-thinking movement burst on the scene. And while in many ways the nation is still dim, light is dawning in villages and towns throughout this land...and right here in the heart of London.
And in recent years, this new tide has brought with it a huge surge of vision for what could be among the university students of London and the UK as a whole. And stuff is happening everywhere. A small microcosm of this emerging movement could be seen Thursday as about thirty university ministry leaders and church influencers met at Hammersmith Apollo to think about what it might look like in June 2008 as that place is filled with uni students lifting up the name of Jesus over the city of London and the campuses of England and beyond (we had people there from Scotland, Wales and other parts of Europe). That's what Passion London is all about, and I believe Thursday paved the way for something beautiful to come.
Tomorrow, I speak at one of the city's growing churches, Hillsong London, which meets in a theater in the famed West End. Most days a sellout musical is on, but on the shows dark day a bustling church of three jammed services springs to life. Very cool.
As our Passion London team heads to the States, Shelley and I are off to Paris Monday for a quick venue visit for Passion Paris...and then home. Pray we will find the right spot in Paris, and begin to believe with us now that a crazy worshiping university student will occupy every one of these Hammersmith Apollo seats come June. God is building something awesome in this city and we are humbled to play a tiny part in it all. LG