After all these years Passion finally touched down in India tonight in what was a stunningly beautiful sight.
In the midst of the hustle and seeming chaos that is a Saturday night in Hyderabad (a city with a population larger than Atlanta or Dallas), a sea of 16,000 people jammed onto the sports field at Nizam College to lift up the name of Jesus. They were young and old, loud and reverent…and the whole place came alive on God’s Great Dance Floor!
So far we are two nights into this stretch and we are overwhelmed by the expanse of the Church Jesus is building and the hunger people have for Him all over the globe. Tonight, some came from as far as 14 hours away to be on that field for just a few hours in His presence with His people. And once again we were reminded that it’s a big world, but just One God who frees us, connects us and leads us on.
Our team is doing an amazing job! Putting up an event like this in these places is not a simple task, but both our Passion team, crew and band and our local partners are killing it night after night. We are all in this together!
Thanks for your prayers as we head north to Delhi, a city of 20-million plus where the Irreducible Minimum is this: her people need Jesus!
We are praying and believing for Passion City tomorrow. It’s gonna be a special day in our House! #WORD
Several times throughout the night you heard the statement from our team, “We’re actually doing this!” On some levels it seemed as normal as walking out to lead on a Sunday. The set-up was amazing, the local team had done a great job, there was an expectant crowd, the venue was great (think really big circular three story hotel with giant lobby/meeting/restaurant area in the middle with the room arms curving around and a baseball field sized grassy lawn in the middle) and the production was strong. We arrived, rehearsed and prayed. We prepared and believed.
But on every other level we were like, “Is this really happening?!” We were in Abu Dhabi, the capitol city in the United Arab Emirates. On the way from Dubai some of the highway exits were for the roads leading to Saudi Arabia. Due to some headwind a few weeks prior the gathering had almost been canceled, then the city moved. The event was being held in the middle of the Officer’s Club Hotel and Conference Center. We were in the shadow of the second largest mosque in the world. We had to turn off our walk-in music at a certain point for the call to prayer. And, given UAE is filled with people working and living from different countries around the world, the crowd looked like heaven…and was like heaven.
This: WE. ARE. ACTUALLY. DOING. THIS.
So, how did it all come to be? Well, that’s a long story and some of the details are better left unsaid. But suffice to say a beautiful Church is being built around the globe (at times at great cost) and nothing can stop our God from doing what he has promised to do. Don’t ever count God out!
Thank you to the government and the wonderful people of UAE for your kind welcome and gracious hospitality. We are truly stunned, humbled and amazed. What a privilege to worship such a great and almighty God under a gorgeous night sky. Do not lose your confidence in the One who leads you.
Thank you to our family back home. Our phones were buzzing as your encouragement was flooding our way. Please don’t stop providing the covering we need to proclaim the One who sets us free.
It has been truly stunning to watch what God has been doing in and through Passion City Church over the past few weeks. Sunday was a game-changer as we stepped into the power of our position (which can’t get better) and its ability to shape our lifestyle performance (which matters to God and to the world). Hopefully, our lives are “smelling good” today in a trashy world, one that needs to know that Jesus is alive. #WORD
Then, The Grove simply blew up with God’s favor as He told the story of shade and restoration. The story came to life in a personal and tangible way because God plopped Passion City down at the right time in the right place at 515 Garson Drive. As a result, life and freedom have come to our neighborhood!
But, happily, there is no disconnect between what Jesus is doing on the corner in our neighborhood to what He is doing on every corner around the globe. We are a part of one big Church and we have a calling to share the light and love of the Gospel with every person alive.
That’s what brings us to Dubai, the jewel of the United Arab Emirates today, a shimmering place filled with possibility, inspiration and beautiful people. Rising out of the desert, Dubai boasts the world’s tallest building (almost twice the height of the Empire State Bldg) and an insatiable desire to create what seems impossible. This place is an architect’s dream. If you can design it, they will build it! Think every amazing building you’ve ever seen all in one city.
Dubai is awash with wealth, innovation and an almost palpable urge to prove something to the world. But underneath it all, people are people. And if the irreducible minimum is that people need Jesus, you can safely say this entire city of millions of people is in need today. Once your jaw drops over the opulence, your heart breaks for the people. How can they know where grace and life are found?
What a privilege that we have the chance to step into what God is already doing here and in the other cities we will touch down in over these days. He’s the God of these cities, too, and His Church is being established brick by brick. We want to breathe a little wind into that process tonight in Abu Dhabi (the capitol city down the way that will host us). Thank you for reaching around the world with your prayers and for covering this night with confidence, faith and favor.
Jesus is alive.
Passion 2014 Atlanta Is Here
This week, thousands of university-aged young people and their leaders will converge on Atlanta from across the nation and world. Our Passion City family is working hard to prepare for, host and lead this gathering, January 17/18. We are excited and we need the whole House to lean in, praying for God to meet us in power during these days. If you are not attending or Door Holding this year (and even if you are), please pray. Each day and night this week teams of people will be working at all hours to do the big and small things necessary to make Passion 2014 possible. Please ask God to fill our team with a sense of His presence and to cover us with strength and protection as we seek to serve Him! We believe it’s going to be amazing.
Join Us January 19 As Passion City Church Meets at Philips Arena
Following Passion Atlanta we’ll have one huge Passion City Church gathering at Philips Arena on Sunday night, January 19 at 5PM! As well, we are recording the new Passion album on this night. You do not want to miss it!
This will be our ONLY gathering this coming Sunday. All are welcome and no tickets are necessary. Doors open one hour before the start time. We want to see you there!
For His Fame!
We hope you had a special and meaningful Christmas with those you love!
A quick reminder: we are not gathering at Passion City on Dec. 29, but look forward to seeing you January 5 as we launch into the new year together.
As well, please make note of a few exciting things coming soon…
Save the Date for Community Group Collective
If you’ve been looking to make friends and find community at Passion City Church, this is your night! Make plans to join us on January 9 at 7:30p as we kick off Community Groups for 2014. All groups will meet at 515 (at Passion City Church)—you won’t want to miss this opportunity to connect with others who live in your part of town. The night will begin with time in individual Community Groups and end with one big celebration as we finish the night in worship together. A great way to start 2014!
January 19 Passion City Church Meets at Philips Arena
Following Passion Atlanta we’ll have one huge Passion City Church gathering on January 19 at 5p at Philips Arena! This will take the place of our normal Sunday gatherings that day. All are welcome and no tickets are necessary.
Speaking of Passion 2014, please continue to include our first conference of the year in your prayers. Passion Atlanta is getting close and we have great expectation for all God is going to do!
2013 was an amazing year, but we’re excited about all Jesus will do in our House in 2014. We hope you’re planning to be a part.
See you soon!
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. Special note about our gatherings on December 22nd…we’ve decided to not gather at 5pm and will just have morning gatherings that day. Passion Students is also taking a break. This will allow everyone the chance to spend some time with family on Sunday evening before opening the House on Christmas Eve!
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.
Celebrating Baptism! Some of our favorite days at PCC!
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!