Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Passion 2012: Session 1 - No Funerals Today

Right now there are 44,000 young people aged 18-25 in the Georgia Dome worshiping God at the top of their lungs. I have never heard a more beautiful sound or seen a more beautiful sight. I joined in through Live Stream and it didn't even take 5 minutes before I was moved to tears. Just the thought of the witness that this brings to the city of Atlanta blows my mind. This is the start of something big, I can feel it! God is doing crazy things in this generation...Louie Giglio was talking about how they hoped over the next 4 days to raise $1 million for the organizations they partner with. Those organizations looked at him like he was nuts and said it wouldn't happen because this conference is for 18-25 year olds...college kids have no money and probably scrounged under the couch cushions to find the money to even come to Passion. Louie said. "You obviously don't know this generation of 18-25 year olds...they are on an entirely different wavelength with God." I couldn't agree more...I've seen some amazing things this past year and my relationship with God has been transformed. I have no doubt that this generation will do big things for God!!! I kept hearing the word "chosen" in my head all through the beginning of the session. I don't know what is going to go down but our generation has been chosen to be a part of God's plan for this city and this world. Through him all things are possible!!! The core of Passion comes from Isaiah 26:8 - "In the path of your judgments, O LORD, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul." Lord we are ready and waiting!

Louie Giglio opened Passion 2013 with an incredible message. I cried through almost the entire thing and couldn't even tell my parents what the message was about without crying. God is doing crazy things. So anyway, I'm gonna try to get through this as best I can =)

Louie began by asking, "Is there something in you that needs to be brought to life again?" Passion isn't about the emotion or the hype of a conference...it has to go from the Dome back to the dorm...it's got to stay with you. Real change has to happen. Is the name of Jesus going to echo back? Is it going to reverberate back home when you leave? We represent something that is the work of God...and we can't leave what God does in the Dome...it has to follow us home.

Louie quoted Eugene Peterson when asked to sum up his hope for Passion 2012: "They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery. That God was at work among them. They were quietly worshipful. And then noisily grateful. Calling out among themselves, "God is back, looking to the needs of his people." The news of Jesus spread all through the country. That is what we are hoping for...when the news of Jesus spreads through the country, then we will know that more happened this week than we ever could have dreamed.

Louie taught from Luke 7:11-17
Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has arisen among us!" and "God has visited his people!" And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.
This woman had nothing left. As a widow, she had no one to support her and now she had lost her only son. She had no hope. But then Jesus stopped the funeral procession and said, "Don't cry." Jesus could have gone another way or stopped along the way...and he would have missed it, but he didn't. God has come at this very moment...right now in this season to intersect your life and walk into your funeral procession. You could have missed the message, or maybe never even heard of Passion before. Bug God has come into your life right now to touch you and make you whole, to bring you back to life. He is here at the right time.

The man in the story was being carried out on a stretcher-like thing. The stretcher is symbolic of things in our life that lead us to our death.

  • It could be relationships...a relationship is carrying you out of town to your death. It is taking you away from the purpose of God.
  • It could be a misunderstanding of who God is...maybe you thought he was just someone waiting on you to pray...but he is a risen Lord who commands, demands and deserves every single ounce of who you are. Life only works when he is everything and we are fully surrendered to him...anything less is not Christianity.
  • Your stretcher could be sin. You've tried to control it but your sin is leading you out to a hole in the ground.
  • Maybe something happened to you, maybe you have this wound in your life that is still fesering and spewing out anger and self-hate. You have yet to receive restoration, love and healing. Jesus will stand for you, he is for you, he will heal and restore you, he will put your life together again, he will use you and triumph through you! Put your past behind you...let the power of God free you.
  • Maybe your stretcher is your shame or failure. But the grace of God is bigger than it all! Rise up out of the ashes.
Even though you are here, you might feel like there is a funeral procession. As much as you try, you can't get off the stretcher...the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. He has a plan to bury you. BUT..based on the authority of who Jesus is and what he is here to do...the enemy may have a plan to bury you, but there won't be funerals here tonight because Jesus is intersecting the procession and he has the willingness and the power to raise the dead!

It tells us something about Jesus...at this time in history, a rabbi or religious leader would never come near or touch a dead body because they would become ceremonially unclean. When a funeral procession went by, they couldn't get near. BUT...Jesus went right to him. He knew he was more than just a teacher...he pushed through and put his hand on a dead man. He touched him. Jesus is on his own page...he knows what he came to do and isn't worried about what you are supposed to do, He came to give life to the dead. He doesn't have a problem walking into your funeral procession...it doesn't matter how stinky your corpse is, he'll walk right up and put his hand on you and say stop right there. The enemy is trying to bury you, but this right now is majesty stepping into the mess and touching the very thing that is carrying you to the grave and saying to you "Get Up!"

It tells us the gospel! The cross was where grace was effected, where justice was done and our case was plead before the judge. 3 days later he beat sin and the grave by rising from the dead! In this story, he shows us a hint of the gospel...it's a resurrection story!
Ephesians 2:1-9 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience - among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ - by grace you have been saved - and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
 We weren't bad or un-churched - we were DEAD! We were spiritually dormant. BUT GOD. Jesus has the power - what the law and religious leaders can't or won't do...he will! Sin makes us dead, Christ makes us alive! Christ did everything because we can do nothing for ourselves. The gospel is about who you are trusting with your life right now. You might have made a decision but you are still being carried out of town...you went to church, filled out a card, stood up, but the enemy's plan to bury you is still on track. Some of you may be surprised to be reading this right now...but it's no accident because God has brought you here by his appointment to intersect your funeral and say to you Rise up!
Ephesians 5:14 Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
There is a hand that can stop this madness and a voice that is calling you back to life again.

This story doesn't end with the man rising from the dead. The story ends with the news of Jesus being spread throughout the country. Jesus was back! He never left - he was quiet for a long while, but he is back! We were brought back to life by the power of Jesus.

The city they were in - Nain - was named after a name that means beauty or beautiful pasture. In a funeral - Jesus went to a place called beauty. He brought beauty and took our ashes. He want to crown you with beauty. It doesn't matter that all you have in your hands are the ashes. He knows what your ashes are, maybe you just found out you're pregnant or maybe you lied or stole...maybe whatever it is turned your world upside down and is your stretcher carrying you out to death. But there's not going to be a funeral for you today...He says to you, "Stop, rise up, I am here and I am going to shine on you, I know all you have is ashes...but I'm still going to shine on you even in your ashes, I'm going to walk with you and restore you and I will work through you, even in this."

There is more at stake here than what you think God is going to do in your life. God wants to raise up hope for the country. There is nothing more powerful than sitting there being carried out to death and hearing God say to you "Rise up" and to go back home and for the people who know you best to look at you and say "What happened to you?" Your answer isn't 'Passion 2012', your answer is "I was brought back to life again by the power of Jesus!" It's more than just about you, it's about your kids, your grandkids...the nations...that's what's at stake here. You know what your stretcher is...pray that he would interrupt your funeral and stop you from being carried out to the grave. Today is the day...nothing happens by accident. Jesus raises the dead. There will be no more funerals today! Praise God!

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