Passion (2)

. . . continued from Passion (1)

There is nothing quite like standing in the midst of more than three-quarters of 22,000 students (the others’ main session was in a makeshift arena in the nearby Georgia World Congress Center; the groups of students rotate between both arenas throughout the conference). Philips is hugely amazing. So are the lights and effects, the video screens, the bass reverberating in your chest. So is the sound of thousands of people singing at the top of their lungs. But how incredible and dumbfounding, really, to consider that everything, all of it, pales in comparison to God.

I couldn’t stop smiling when we found seats . . . or started singing . . . Chris Tomlin was one of the main session leaders, and the first song we sang was “Our God”:
Our God is greater.
Our God is stronger.
God, You are higher than any other.
Our God is healer,
awesome in power.
Our God, our God.
It was such a powerful song with which to begin Passion 2011 . . . powerful in its lyrics, powerful in being sung by thousands and thousands of people who meant every word, powerful in its declaration of truth about our God.

Louie Giglio was the main session speaker. He spoke from Philippians 1:1-26, and his message revolved around the first word of the first verse: Paul. No, I had never thought about this . . . ever. It is one of those things that we blow past. And, in this case, why wouldn’t we? What’s so significant about a salutation, namely (no pun intended) a name? Louie discussed that Paul had once been “Saul”, an infamous persecutor of Christians, and that his transformation reflected that of every one of us. We are all God’s enemies. We disobey Him and are separated from Him by our sin. But God still uses His enemies. Like Paul, God uses us to do great things for Himself and for His glory. We are made free and fully alive in Christ. Nothing can change this . . . not even our circumstances.
“But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ . . .”
~ Philippians 1:12-13
Paul was in prison as he was writing his letter to the Philippians, but that was not hindering the advancement of God’s kingdom . . . it was furthering it. As Louie suggested Paul’s mindset: how else would the whole palace guard have heard of Christ, if not for the witness of one of their prisoners? Our circumstances do not limit God!

Louie concluded his message by talking about what it means to be “chained to Christ”. When we say “yes” to Christ, we are simultaneously saying “no” to everything else in this world. Louie’s illustration was marriage: when a man says “I do” to his bride, he is simultaneously saying “I don’t” to every other woman on the planet.
“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
~ Philippians 1:21
Part of the main sessions is Passion-style prayer, during which individuals get into triangles and take turns praying aloud. It is one of the neatest experiences to lift up prayers among thousands. We praised God for Who He is and also prayed that He would be our focus during the conference, and for the rest of our lives.

Following the main session we all headed to the various Community Groups’ locations. Allie, Alyssa, and I were in the pink group in GWCC. I had a great group of seven other girls (Haley, Amelia, Lila, Kirby, Alexis, Erin, and Brigette), and it was so great to be able to get to know them and to process together what God was teaching us.

At 11:15, Allie, Alyssa, and I found seats at the
Late Nite concert: David Crowder*Band. He sang a lot of Christmas songs, which we found somewhat tiring, considering it was no longer Christmas music season. I was somewhat disappointed, because his concert last year was much better, in my opinion. But we had fun and it was a good concert. . . . It is so neat to pause and think about all the various ways we can worship and glorify God, and I’m glad music is one of them. We left the concert during the last song and walked the half-mile back to the Hyatt (half the distance of last year!).

We fell asleep, excited and eager.

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