Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year --- and where I wish I was!

Hi, dear ones. I hope you all had a wonderful, happy and healthy holiday and are anxiously awaiting 2011 as much as I am!

I've never really been one for New Year's resolutions, but this year one smacked me in the head and I can't ignore it.

It started at lunch on New Year's day. Chad and I had lunch with an old friend
of his from his childhood, whom I've never met before. His friend, though we don't know for sure, likely has a social interaction disorder like Asperger's syndrome. He was a very nice man, and I could see how excited he was to be able to get together with Chad. The lunch left me a bit sad - knowing it has been probably hard for this guy to make friends over the years... and how he'd likely never have a deep relationship - like a marriage.

That night, as I was saying my prayers, I began praying for this friend of Chad's - just that God provides comfort to him and his family, and that he feels loved and cared for... even if he's
not as "normal" as you or I. And one of the things I love most about praying, is when I get to hear God talk back. No sooner than I finished praying for this man, I can hear God responding to me, "Do you think that's how I see him?" You see, God was making it very clear to me that he doesn't look at his children the same way we do. They are all beautiful, perfect and wonderful to him - no matter how our world likes to lump people into categories so we feel superior or inferior.

Talk about convicting! God called me out! I knew what I wanted to change about myself more this year. I want to see people like God sees them - that means the sick, the different, the poor, the hurting, those that love me and those that hate me. Imagine how different life would be if you looked at your "enemies" like they were a loved child of God? So that is my goal. And I talked to Chad about it and asked him to hold me accountable - if I'm ever talking down about another person, to remind me that I'm not seeing them with God's eyes.

And now for the second part of my post - where I wish I was right now! Currently, in
Atlanta, more than 20,000 college aged students (my sweet little sister included) are participating in an annual conference called Passion. It includes some of the greatest modern day Christian teachers - including two of my favorites, Beth Moore, Andy Stanley and Francis Chan - and some of the best Christian artists - like David Crowder Band, Kristain Stanfill, Chris Tomlin and more.

{pics of this year's conference - via @passionblog}

I can't even imagine the electricity in Atlanta right now at Passion. I'm counting the minutes until my sister gets home so she can tell me all about it. I desperately wanted to go to the conference with Chad this year, but sadly we are too old. I want to go bad enough that I might need to start volunteering with our church's college ministry so I can go as a chaperon next year! (I think my 2nd and 3rd graders might miss me though!) However, I've been at the conference in prayer this weekend.

Beth Moore spoke at the conference, and wrote about about it on her blog today and it got me even more excited about what God is doing in the lives of those young people:

I just left Passion 2011. It’s still going strong and will not end until tomorrow morning but my schedule was best suited to the first half of it. (I hate so much to miss Dr. Piper though.) If you’re not familiar with the Passion movement (Louie and Shelley Giglio, founders), I will never do justice to it here in this brief explanation so please google it and behold a mighty work of God. In a nutshell, however, it is perhaps the most powerful thing God is doing among college-age men and women across the globe. Do not believe the hype that Jesus has left the college campus. My whole family and I have had the mystifying privilege of being involved since the national conference began in the late 90’s. Even Keith adores it. Curtis serves as one of the community leaders and Amanda ministers right by his side. Every single time I stand in awe of God’s palpable presence in a secular arena packed with students but never more than this year. The event always attracts way over 10,000 people but this new year it sold out at a whopping 22,000 and about five minutes into the event, it was clear why. God.

No other reason.

He has as uncanny a way of showing Himself at these events and, in light of His innumerable mercies, we can guess why. There is no age demographic at greater risk than 18-25 year olds and He’s chasing them down like He’s got nothing to lose but a generation. Our embarrassingly secular culture (of which, in many ways, we are all a part) would be explanation enough for so many young adults walking away from the faith. Add to it the burgeoning disdain for Christianity and mockery of Christians on many college campuses and you’ve got yourself a boiling hotbed for disbelief. But our God is so faithful. We know He will retain a voice in the generations on the latter-day Kingdom calendar because Matthew 24 says that the testimony of Jesus Christ has to make it into every people group. Revelation 19 also tells us that He will return for a Bride refined and made ready. Jesus will indeed raise His Church to her feet but the closer and closer we get to His return, the stronger and stronger she must be. She will know a persecution and ultimately a suffering that 20th Century Westerners could never have imagined.

I saw about 22,000 reasons for high hopes in the last forty-eight hours. You see, Passion isn’t for the faint of heart. The schedule is packed and the sessions are refreshingly unrushed. About two seconds into the conference you lose that warm, fuzzy feeling that any god goes. If you’ve got an aversion to Jesus, you’ve got an aversion to Passion. The Word of God is preached and taught, read aloud and read in unison. The worship is…well…impossible to describe. Just go right ahead and anxiously anticipate the worship CD that will come out of it somewhere down the road. World missions and the needs of the downcast and suffering are kept at the forefront constantly and the 268 concept for the “Go-Center” is nothing less than genius. (Google all of this if this is news to you. You will be astounded and your faith will surge.)

Even this very moment, the Word of God is being implanted in those thousands upon thousands of young lives. Words that can save. Words that can sanctify. Words that can serve. Words that can send. Words that can be shared.

That’s the power of God. That’s the power of His Spirit. That’s the power of His Word.

That’s the power of Jesus.

Let’s keep saying it until every knee bows and every tongue confesses He is Lord.

Amen! Ready for an incredible 2011.

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