Patience. Not really my virtue.

As I herded the kids into the car this morning it was all I could do to keep my eyes open so they would not freeze from the bitter cold and brisk wind gusts. For those of you who are up north, keep your comments to yourself about how "This really isn't THAT cold!" Yes it is that cold for a southern boy living on the coast, so leave me alone.

Anyway, just as I was about to put the car in gear I felt a rush of cold air behind me. I turned to see that my five year old daughter decided to push open her door, just because she could. Quickly, I reminded her that we don't open the car doors once we are inside the car unless we had reached our destination and daddy has put the car in park. With that said, I backed out of the driveway and as I headed down the road to an alarm sounded, telling me that a door was not properly shut. Can you guess whose door it was?

With impatience starting to hover all over me, I stopped the car and ordered my five year old to open and shut her door again so that it could latch. With an "Okay, daddy!" she proceeded to take her seat belt off so that she could open the door that just a minute ago she had no problem opening from a seated and belted position. Once again, I found myself barking at her, directing her to buckle herself back in while I got out in the miserable cold to shut the door for her. Now, we were ready to go. Except that we weren't.

It seems that my sweet little five year old decided that her seat belt was optional for the second go round. My son hollered out, "Dad! Her seat belt isn't buckled!" as I was turning out of the neighborhood. Once again I stopped the car but this time it was not to offer assistance. I was running out of patience. So I did what any other responsible and loving parent would do - I gave her a lecture on car safety and responsibility.

She did not handle that very well.

Once the belt was buckled and all safety standards had been met, I finished my task of dropping off the kids at school and set out to take care of my other responsibilities. Except that I could no longer really focus on what those other things were because I was now convicted at my gross display of impatience toward my 5 year old daughter who was pretty excited to show me that she knew how to open and close her car door and fasten and unfasten her seat belt without any assistance. Yeah, I had blown it. Again.

Patience is not really my strong suit, but in saying that I am not using my lack of patience as an excuse. Someone once said that if you lack patience don't ask God for it because He will put you in situations where you will be forced to learn the hard way. Now I am pretty sure that is not found in the Bible, but the premise behind the idea is strong nonetheless. Patience can be hard!

Recently I heard Francis Chan preach from 2 Peter 1:1-9 where he explained that we are actually partakers of God's divine nature (vs.4). That means it is in me to live for Christ because Christ Himself is in me. And because of my standing with God in Christ, I must "make every effort" to live my life in such a way that brings ultimate glory to God (vs.5). Those worlds make every effort have stuck with me. I cannot hope to achieve any righteousness on my own, but knowing that I am indwelt with the Holy Spirit of God, I must make every effort to act and speak and think for the glory of God and for the good of man. This includes the area of patience, of which God possesses an abundant supply.

Honestly, my effort at patience has not been all that hot, but realizing my standing in Christ encourages me that I can improve. God's patience for me is my template. I cannot wait until my daughter comes home from school today so that I can kneel down beside her, look her in the eyes, and tell her that daddy is sorry for being so impatient with her. Patience may not be my virtue, but it is my goal and with Christ in me I can certainly get there.

I'm feeling pretty good about where we're heading - my brief review of Passion 2014

The thumping I felt in my head was not a headache and it was not isolated to my head. My whole body was reverberating from the music that was blaring out of the speakers in this arena filled with over 20,000 young adults who were dancing and singing at the top of their lungs. And I was right in the mix with them.

Atlanta, GA, January 17-18 2014 will be one of those weekends that I will not soon forget. You see, on that weekend in Philips Arena, Passion came to town and changed everything. What is Passion? Passion is a conference for college students and young adults but it is also much more than that. I took my first group of students to a Passion conference in Atlanta in 2007 and this past conference was the third such one that I had the honor to attend.

Let me give you a brief background. Passion started in the 90's with the vision of a man named Louie Giglio who believed that college students could be the initiators of something big for God. What started as a concert in a field has morphed into movement, gaining steam over the years and expanding its reach to influence  students and young adults across the globe. Here is the nuts and bolts from the Passion website: ROOTED IN THE CONFESSION OF ISAIAH 26:8, PASSION EXISTS TO GLORIFY GOD BY UNITING STUDENTS IN WORSHIP, PRAYER AND JUSTICE FOR SPIRITUAL AWAKENING IN THIS GENERATION.

So when you come to a Passion conference you will find more than just music and great speakers, although there are plenty of those. Instead, you will be surrounded by young adults who are passionate about Jesus and making His name famous. Let me tell you a little bit more about the experience from an old guy's perspective.

First, there are the people, the young adults who assemble by the thousands from all over the country and the world. When you find yourself in a room with this many people who truly want to be there, you are surrounded by an electricity that is infectious. The energy, the love, the overall zeal to worship and glorify God is abundantly evident, and not to just to those in the arena.

A group of us were sitting in our hotel's lobby on Saturday evening, taking a brief Chick Fil A break before starting another session, when a woman in business dress approached me and my wife. She asked if we were part of this group of young people that had invaded all of downtown Atlanta, and we immediately assumed that she worked for the hotel and had a complaint to lobby against someone who looked old enough to be a chaperone. We told her that yes, we were with these students, but that also were staying at the hotel, hoping that if someone was wrong our hotel key cards might earn us a little bit of leniency. Her response was not what we expected.

This woman looked at us and said, "I have a t-shirt idea for your conference the next time you have it. Get a group picture on front of the shirt and have the words 'UP TO ALL GOOD' (as opposed to up to NO good) printed across the top of it!" She went on to say how overwhelmed she was about the overall vibe from these college students. No bathrooms were trashed, litter was put in its place, manners were being used, and love was being shown. When we told her that the reason these students appeared different to her was because of their love for Jesus, she smiled, said, "That is something to thank God for," and turned to walk away.

It is these students who are the focus of Passion. Yes, there are thousands of adult volunteers who arrive early and leave late who make the gathering possible, but it is the participants who drive it all. At the end of the last session on Saturday night, a call was issued for those to stand who were called to go to the nations with the gospel. Not to church work, not to serve in their communities, but to the nations where the gospel is all but absent. Hundreds of these young adults stood to their feet, arms outstretched, committing their lives with their tears so that others might know the love of Jesus. I have seen the future, and the future is now.

Then there is the music. Passion is known for its loud, driving, yet sincere songs of praise, and this weekend was no different. Passion City Church - founded by Louie Giglio and staffed by such artists as Chris Tomlin, Kristian Stanfill, and Christy Nockels - provides the "house band" for the worship. New songs are introduced amidst the singing of familiar ones that we already know how to sing until our voices are hoarse. Then, just when you think you can't sing anymore, Hillsong United takes the stage in the evening and pretty much melts your face off with more intense worship through song. Add to this David Crowder, Matt Redman, and other gifted worship leaders and you feel as if you are gathered amongst a who's who of Christian artists. However, none of this is pretentious for for show. These men and women have come themselves as worshipers to join us in the exultation of King Jesus.

Finally, there are the speakers. Passion packs back-to-back sessions together that would make any afflicted with ADD go bonkers. Normally, I can't focus long past 30 minutes without needing some kind of a breather, yet at Passion I find myself unable to move after hours of listening to inspired words from men and women who are have come to share the heart of God with us. Whether it's Louie Giglio, Francis Chan, Christine Caine, or John Piper, every word that is shared is relevant to life and ministry and calling. I have never left more challenged and personally filled.

I could write more but I won't. Let me concluded by saying that I am incredibly optimistic about the future of the kingdom of God because I have seen in whose hands it lies. Go next year and experience it for yourself. I you are content with where you are in your life and if moving forward in with God's desire for you is not a desirous notion, then stay away from Passion! Because if you do go, there is a good chance it will wreck you and you will find yourself rejoicing King Jesus from the rubble.

Who's got your back?

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