The Christmas season is one of the most special times of the year, one filled with anticipation, wonder and joy! But these days can also be marked by stress and strife as we deal with difficult circumstances and try to hold it all together on the mad dash to Christmas morning.
At Passion City Church we LOVE to celebrate Christmas, yet we know if we don’t slow down and breathe in the person of Jesus, we might miss the meaning in it all.
To help us along the way, we are lifting up the Advent season with the new release of Waiting Here For You: An Advent Journey of Hope. Each day the readings, scripture, reflection and prayers will help us trade consumption for compassion as we fix our gaze on Jesus. You can get a copy of Waiting Here For You here.
Don’t miss our Advent Sundays as they continue on December 15 and 22. And be sure to join us with your family and friends for Christmas Eve at Passion City! This year there will be three gatherings at 2:30 / 5 / 7:30. Tickets are not necessary, but to help with our planning you need to RSVP here and let us know which gathering you will attend. Bloom, for children birth through pre-K, will be available at all gatherings.
Join us as we continue our Word series in the letter to the Ephesians starting Sunday, October 20th. This powerful text comes alive with practical truth about who we now are in our new relationship with Christ AND how we now love because His life is on us. If you want to read ahead, this week we’ll pick back up with Chapter 3.
Don’t miss a minute or a verse! Sundays at 10 / 12:30 / 5.
Be still and know that I AM God.
It sounds so easy. Eight simple words. But in a world that manufactures business and rewards it, finding a quiet place for the soul is about as easy as getting to the bottom of the Grand Canyon…in the dark!
That’s what my friend and I set out to do on a warm Arizona night back in our college days. Without a reservation for a campsite on the canyon floor, the only way we were going to experience the view from “down there” was to descend the Bright Angel Trail at midnight. We were assured that if we hiked down in the cover of night, and up and out before noon, the sixteen-mile round trip in the searing heat wouldn’t wipe us out.
Though not the canyon’s steepest trail, Bright Angel’s eight-mile journey still takes you almost a mile down on a skinny path. And, once we dropped below the South Rim we sank into the very definition of darkness. Not to mention, we were under constant “threat” from the wild donkeys we’d be warned about, and whatever else was out there beyond our flashlight’s beam.
Several hours later we arrived at the river’s edge and laid down on a sandy patch where the water bent. By now our eyes had remarkably adjusted to the dark, but we still could only hear the Colorado rushing by us. And, all we could think about was the tough return ascent ahead of us…and the fact that we’d only get a brief sleep before we’d be awakened by the dawn.
The only place to look was up, and when we did our minds were blown. Dripping overhead, the canopy of stars felt so close I literally reached up to touch them. Absent of so much as a remote glimmer of light, the heavens hung low, dazzling us with their brilliance.
We were exhausted, with the hardest part of our adventure still to come. But for a moment we were enraptured, and felt very near to God. We were swept up in the vast symphony of creation, the overture of God’s glory playing in the skies above.
It felt like the title of the piece the stars were playing was: Be still and know that I AM God.
As awesome as that moment was, fortunately we don’t have to make an excursion to some remote place to experience the rest of God. Wherever you are today, at the rewarding end of a long arduous stretch or still facing a steep and challenging climb, you can find that place of quiet trust in God that will still your heart and inject confidence into your circumstances. That’s what Sabbath is all about.
The word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word SHABBAT, which means “to cease.” From this word we get the phrase, “be still.” But “cease” from what? Cease “striving,” as one translation puts it, and agree with God that He is God and we are not.
For us, Sabbath is more than just doing nothing, it is doing everything from a place of rest—an assurance that God is with us and in us, and that He is sufficient to accomplish all He has called us to do. Thus, God urged through the Psalmist, “Cease striving, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10.
We Are Called Into God’s “Already In Motion” Plans
Sabbath rest is remembering that God calls us into His plans, He doesn’t call us to create the plans and make them happen. At the outset, God invited Abraham into the unknown. But that invitation was not without a promise. God had been planning all along to make Abraham’s descendants as numerous as the stars, to make him the father of our faith. But God’s timing and God ways required Abraham to trust Him every step of the way.
At a point of desperation in old age, Abraham gave up on the promise and had a son by his maidservant, because his wife Sarah was unable to bear him the child that would accomplish God’s plan. Like us, Abraham became burdened with the weight of making the plan happen, when all God asked of him was to be available to what He was going to do.
God wants us to work with all our might as we participate in His plans. But Sabbath is about remembering that while we are responsible to step into the opportunities God sets before us, He is responsible for the outcomes. In the end, God did come through, and He did fulfill His promise for and through Abraham’s life.
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. Hebrews 11: 8-12.
What lessons can we learn from Abraham’s experience?
1. That we are called into the plans of God, not to create the plans of God.
2. That we can be confident in God’s ability to fulfill His promise, even when the circumstances look bleak.
3. We should expect that God will work in supernatural ways to achieve His plans.
4. We must set our gaze beyond today, and live for the great reward.
5. We must believe God is going to do what He says He will do, without or without us.
Faithful Is He Who Calls You, He Also Will Do It. 1 Thess. 5:24
I love the end of Psalm 46:10, “I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” God says I will be two times, meaning His plans are going to come to pass. Thus, we can “be still,” assured that our great God will do everything that is in His heart to do.
What are you striving to make happen today that God alone can do?
What shortcuts are you taking to get the end result that God has promised?
What burden are you carrying, thinking that you have to accomplish it all on your own?
What gaps of faith have you created, forgetting to ask and expect God to come through in supernatural ways?
Has the view from “here” eclipsed the view of the great City of Rest God is leading us to?
Wherever there is an absence of rest, come to Jesus. His invitation is—Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30.
Jesus believes in you and has done the work necessary to bring you from death to life. Jesus has made you righteous before God in Him. He also lives in you by faith, and makes His life available to you each step of the way. But to experience His power we must cease from our belief that we can do it on our own, believing that in rest before Him is our greatest strength.
So take a Selah moment. In the stillness, abandon those places where you feel the weight of determining the outcome. Confess your hope in the great and sovereign plans of God, plans for your good and His glory. Breathe in hope. Exhale fear. Repeat.
“Waiting on God ascribes to God the glory of being all to us.” – Andrew Murray
Once again, it’s time for our Passion City Church family to celebrate Sabbath together. As a House, we want to pause and remember that God is the source of all we have and are.
Specifically, we’ll not be gathering on Sunday August 18 or 25, and our offices will be closed August 19-23. We know it’s a little unconventional for a church not to meet, but since our inception we have intentionally paused as a church to breathe in His faithfulness and anchor our hope in the truth that Jesus is building our House. Though He is using each of us to play a part, the lasting work is being produced by Him.
For us Sabbath is not just a good idea, it’s the cornerstone of our walk with Jesus and a reflection of our understanding of the rhythm of His grace. In fact, the earliest accounts of Scripture tell us in Genesis 2:1-3: Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. At the end of the first week on earth God rested from His work. How can we not do the same?
As well, when God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, Sabbath was again front and center. In fact, the longest of the commands requires us to “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.” While we don’t live under the letter of the law, the spirit of the law still guides us. Thus, the principle of rest is still a vital part of the fabric of following Jesus.
So what is Sabbath? Sabbath is more than a day off, it’s really a day up. Sabbath is an attitude of the heart that prompts us to remember that our lives are not simply the products of our hard work and ingenuity. Sabbath is the art of breathing in and acknowledging that we are what we are because of the grace of God. On the sixth day, when humans entered the Creation story, God had ALREADY made the heavens and the earth. He did all that without any help or assistance from us! Then, when things were just as He wanted, we were created by and for Him, and placed into an “already in motion” story of His greatness, power and grace.
So, do we have to not meet to celebrate Sabbath? Of course not. Sabbath is actually woven into the fabric of our daily living by the power of the Spirit and the life of Christ who lives in us. Yet, sometimes our best move forward is to pause in our tracks, our greatest worship is giving God glory by trusting Him in our rest.
The Jesus Way is the pathway of quiet rest, a lifestyle of trust in the greatness and sovereignty of God that ushers in rest for weary souls.
While it’s true God gives us work to do and roles to play in His story, He wants us to remember that we are dependant on Him, not the other way around. In the midst of our efforts God calls us to seek stillness…that quietness of heart that allows us to hear His voice and envision our lives as they were meant to be.
So, if you consider yourself a part of our PCC family, I want to invite you into this season of Sabbath with us. Some of you are asking, “So what are we supposed to do? We’ve never done anything like this before.” Here are a few ideas to make the time as meaningful as possible for you and your family.
When we wait, God works, bringing forth supernatural results without our knowledge or assistance. When we rest, we embrace our finite limitations, and we honor Him by letting Him know that Jesus is all we need!
We’ll be back at 515 on Sunday, September 1 (Labor Day Weekend), at 10/12:30/5, as our whole team returns for a special Sunday gathering you’re not going to want to miss. And get ready! The next twelve months are going to take us places we’ve never been.
Shelley and I think it’s stunning to see what God has done in and through PCC in a few short years, but we believe the best is yet to come. Thank you for leaning into the vision of our House with us and for serving so faithfully as we create a place where Jesus can wreck people’s lives in the very best way with His healing, truth and grace.
Honored to be your pastor!
Thanks to you, lots of children will be heading back to school in a few days with a little extra pep in their step and a brand new backpack in tow.
This year we set our goal at 1000 backpacks filled with all the supplies necessary for a successful start to the new year. We’re happy to say that you not only exceeded our goal…you smashed it! As of now, 1543 children’s faces are going to light up with a huge smile as a result of your generosity!! Yes!
Can you say THAT WE MAY!
Please pray for every family/child who will come to 515 to receive their backpack. And let’s believe that we will continue to be a light in our neighborhood as we partner with local schools to give students the best possible chance to succeed.
We’re so grateful for our PCC family and all the amazing Door Holders who make Project Supply happen each year!
For God. For People. For the City. For the World.
Passion City Church!!
It’s going to be an incredible day in the House this Sunday! Jeff Henderson, a great friend of Passion City and the Lead Pastor at Gwinnett Church, will be leading out at the 10 and 12:30 as we continue to dig into the book of Ephesians. Jeff is a phenomenal teacher of God’s word — you don’t want to miss what he’s bringing this week to PCC!
At the 5, we’ll have a Night of Worship joining our voices in one massive anthem as we celebrate all that Jesus is doing in our lives and in our House. It’s going to be powerful!
This Sunday is also the last day to bring your Project Supply backpacks filled with all the items on the school supply list! We need everyone at PCC to take part to reach our goal of 1000 kids getting new backpacks as they head back to school. What a privilege to get to pour into the kids and families of our neighborhood in Jesus’ name.
See you Sunday. Come ready!
Our lead story at Passion City Church stays the same from week to week…namely, Jesus is alive! That may seem rather obvious, but for us we’ve learned it’s imperative that we keep pushing this story to the top of the heap, remembering every time we gather that anything is possible.
If Jesus is here, and if we are broadcasting the message of His grace and truth, it seems natural that lots of people are going to see Him for the very first time and put their trust in what He has done for us.
That’s why baptisms are such a highlight for PCC. In fact, they just might be our favorite gatherings of all! Such was the case this past Sunday, when we heard real stories of triumph from tragedy, hope from despair and life from death.
Thanks to all who shared your journey with us. You get the story…Jesus gets the glory…and all of us who were there had our lives marked forever!
What a week at Passion City Church. Lift—A Worship Leader Collective was amazing with 2000 leaders gathering to be encouraged and poured into by our team! Hearts were awakened, vision was cast and now the heart of Jesus through our House is rippling across the nation(s). And, if that’s not enough, a new recording from Matt Redman was born, songs that will shape the language of the Church for years and give voice to a generation singing of His mercy.
Add to that the kick off for Summer In The City for ATL area college students and Vision + Leadership for all our PCC Door Holders, and you’ve got a pretty amazing week going!
But, the weekend is coming…and we believe Sunday is going to be off the chart. This Sunday, June 9, is our first Generosity Sunday, a time for us as a family to give above and beyond our normal giving as we trust God to provide all we need for the journey He has us on at PCC.
As we have mentioned throughout our THAT WE MAY campaign, generosity is about far more than our resources. But God often makes a direct link between the revival of the heart and our willingness to trust Him with what He has first given to us.
Some have asked if we have a specific amount or goal in view as we give on June 9. While we do have a wide range of needs facing us as a church family (from the recent purchase of the 515 property to improvements to our existing space and the creation of additional Bloom space for our littlest PCC people, the addition of staff and future expansion), Generosity Sunday is not about a target amount. Rather, it’s about us as families/individuals trusting God with what He wants us to give. In so doing, we will step into a staggering promise for our lives and stock the storehouse of PCC for all He is leading us to do.
Whether you have a lifestyle of giving or are giving for the first time, God is asking you to take a step…to trust in His Word, to watch Him do what only He can do. He says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Malachi 3:10.
Please note, two (2) things will happen Sunday. We will bring our Generosity Sunday gifts above and beyond our normal giving AND we will bring our commitment for what we believe God wants us to give throughout the coming year. These are two separate amounts. One we bring on Sunday, the other (not factoring in the Generosity Sunday amount) we commit to give over the course of the coming year. There is a place to write both amounts on the card.
If you have never given to PCC we were unable to send you the THAT WE MAY card/letter via mail. Cards will be available Sunday or you may give online here.
Can’t wait to see you Thursday for Vision + Leadership and Sunday for Generosity Sunday!
That we may,
Louie + Shelley plus the PCC Team
We’re excited about the next five weeks at PCC as we’ll be walking together on a journey of generosity. Our walk will lead to an opportunity to give “above and beyond” to the work God is doing in and through our Passion City House on Generosity Sunday, June 9.
Bottom line, we want to be a generous church.
Our vision for Passion City Church is not to just have people “put money in a bucket” or “give because they ought,” but to be a House that is eager to give back to God what He has so generously given to us. In so doing, we want generosity to become the norm, a reflection of the gospel which has so freely, yet lavishly, rearranged our lives forever.
Thus, our That We May campaign is more than just a way to get some extra funds in the bank. Rather, it’s a way to make generosity a way of life. Why? Because we are God’s people, changed by the power of His grace…and because we may.
1 Peter 2:9-10 reframe our identity in Jesus when it states: You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a Holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his marvelous light. For you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God. You once had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Wow. We were trapped in darkness, yet now we are free to live in light. We once were God-less and aimless, but now we are His own possession, and able to worship in spirit and truth.
And all the results of this grace-work we see in verse nine leads to the tiny, power-packed transitional phrase—that you may. It doesn’t say “that you should” declare the praises of God or even “that you can” declare His worth…but that you may. Now, because of the riches of God’s grace, we may worship the One true God and know and be known by Him. Grace changed everything. And when everything changed, everything changed.
Sure, that may sound redundantly redundant (smile), but if grace is as real and amazing as we say, then the awakening power of the gospel must springboard us into a lifestyle of worship—a living out of our gratitude that encompasses not just our resources, but everything we are and do.
We are still a young and growing tribe, yet by God’s design we have been given a reach that extends beyond our neighborhood. So, for both those down the street, and those across the oceans, we want our cupboards to be full. We do have specific needs (expanding our Bloom space for PCC’s littlest ones, designing a more suitable overflow space, moving our offices to newly created space at 515 and adding to our growing staff team). But, we also have dreams of expanding to other parts of the city and potentially other cities of the world. And, we want to be able to pay down our debt on our property at Garson Drive, freeing us from long-term building obligations that might constrict our ability to reach more people with the message of Jesus.
All this is possible because God will provide for all He has called us to do. But God wants to include you and me (us) and revolutionize our lives with the powerful principle of generosity toward His House.
You’ll hear a lot more about That We May in the coming days.
On Sunday, May 5, Todd Peterson will be challenging our House on what it looks like to embark on the journey of generosity. Then on Tuesday night, May 7, all of our Passion City Community Groups will unite at 515 and we will have a night of prayer together as we trust God for His provision for our House.
Later, I’ll be speaking on That We May on a weekend and we will rally around this theme and have a powerful night of worship/prayer at our summer Vision + Leadership night on June 6. Then, on Generosity Sunday, each family/individual will have the opportunity to bring a gift and a commitment to God. The gift will be your “above and beyond” offering as God leads you to give. The commitment will be your family’s/your commitment for what you want to give throughout the year leading up to Generosity Sunday in June of 2014.
Join us for these special nights of prayer. We don’t want “business as usual,” but we want to see God’s supernatural power displayed in and through our House.
My hope is that everyone in our family will take a step. For some, that may mean moving from giving occasionally to giving regularly, but for others it will mean deciding to give for the very first time. We are going to celebrate every step, because every step is a step toward faith and freedom.
Are we giving because we should? Because we ought to? Because there is a need? No, we are giving because we may, and that’s the only motivation we need.
Grateful for each of you,