Passion 2017

For several years now I've been able to go as an adult leader to the Passion Conferences in Atlanta. Having returned today, my mind is swirling with all sorts of thoughts, images, and mental tiredness that affects old guys like me when they go non-stop for almost three days. I realize that I am probably getting too old to keep doing this but I simply can't help myself.

If you have never experienced something like the Passion Conferences, then a brief blog post like this is probably not going to amount to the much more than the first few pieces of a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. But it's just too difficult to not make at least a meager attempt to recap some of the more memorable moments for me.

Imagine yourself sitting in a room surrounded by around 60,000 other adults young and old who want one thing - to know God in a more intimate way. And I'm not just talking about experiencing warm and fuzzy "Yes, Jesus loves me" kind of tingles; I'm talking about a passionate desire to know God on a deeper level than ever before. To breathe Him into your lungs. To see His work manifest in the world around you. To want Him more than anything else. This is what I walked into when I stepped into the Georgia Dome in downtown Atlanta on Monday night.

As someone who has been involved with student ministry for a couple of decades, I've experienced my share of trendy events where there is a lot of glitter and glitz but very little substance. Passion isn't like that. Yes, the production level is top notch and the music is about as professional and "tight" as you can imagine, but that is not what it's all about. Those things are avenues to open the heart and mind all the more so that God can fill it with Himself.

John Piper. Francis Chan. Christine Caine. Levi Lusko. Louie Giglio. Beth Moore. Chris Tomlin. Christy Nockles. Matt Redman. Passion Band. Hillsong United. All of these men and women come together to lead and teach through music and the study of God's word and life experiences that captivate the souls of all in attendance. It's not some weird hypnotic effect. Rather, it's interactions with real people who love God with everything they have whose sole aim is to lead this generation of college students to also love God with a reckless abandon. There are no gimmicks, just God.

Being one who is one score removed from being the age of most the participants, it would be easy for me to sit back with arms crossed and marvel at what God is doing in the lives of these students. However, that isn't what happens. Instead, I find myself captivated by what I am hearing and seeing, the spectacle of much being made of God. In return, I am drawn in as well and my soul is well-watered. I leave inspired, encouraged, connected, focused.

Eventually my days as a participant at Passion are going to come to an end. Each year, thousands of men and women my age come to Passion as "door holders," volunteers who selflessly and tirelessly serve to make sure that every aspect of these three days flows without interruption. I see myself in that role sooner than later. But for now, I am grateful to be a part of this movement of God as it flows and picks up momentum, showing no signs of slowing down or fizzling out. Thank you, Passion, for allowing an old guy like me to share in the joy of what you do.



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