Passion 2014: Preparing the Way with Prayer

Hello friends,

Happy Monday and Happy New Year! I have to admit, I’m a little ashamed that this is my first post of the new year. But so far this year, I’ve had a great time being fully present and enjoying life with those around me.

I write this from my aunt’s home in Middle Georgia. I am on a week-long vacation to spend time with family and friends in Georgia and attend the Passion 2014 conference. For those who don’t know, the Passion conference is a Christian gathering of thousands of young adults from all over the country. Although this will be my first year attending the conference, the church and movement that it stems from are very close to my heart. I was introduced to Passion through my best friend Jeida at a very pivotal point in my life, where Christ pursued me and made it clear that my salvation mattered more to Him than my happiness at that moment. This movement’s mission is simply this: to glorify God – uniting students in worship and prayer for spiritual awakening in this generation.

The Passion movement’s founder Louie Giglio, was inspired by Isaiah 26:8, which says,

“Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”

While studying at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Passion City Church became a home away from home. I would attend their Friday Night gatherings for college students, sometimes the Sunday services and even frequented small-group Bible studies. From these experiences, I was inspired and encouraged to live for God in a new way, with new intensity. I started to care about injustice, the pain of others and making a difference in a real way. One of the most life-changing messages I’ve ever heard from behind any pulpit was by the founder of International Justice Mission, Gary Hagen. IJM functions to free people living as slaves in human and sex-trafficking and Haugen, a Christian, has dedicated his life to this cause. He spoke about how people in terrible situations know that God is good because we, His hands and feet, go out and help them. The messages I’ve heard at PCC have shaped my outlook on topics ranging from passion to prayer, family matters to dating.

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Since attending Passion 2014 in Atlanta is a homecoming of sorts for me, the question I’ve been pondering these past few weeks is simple: what should the result of this conference be in my life? After much contemplation, I realize that more than anything, I want an encounter with the Holy Spirit that I never forget. I want God to shake my world and ruffle my feathers out of comfort. I want the fire that I once had lit again. So as I make my way to the conference, I ask that you pray for me. Pray that God reveals himself to me and to others. Pray that the Holy Spirit comes through the Philips Arena like a fire. Pray for those traveling from all over the country to be involved. Pray for the souls that will be saved. Pray for the leaders and all volunteering. And lastly, pray that what starts in the Philips Arena will not end there, but that it will be carried to all of the places that people are retuning to and that what starts in Atlanta will create a ripple effect throughout our country and world, for His name and renown.

Thanks in advance for your prayers and I look forward to sharing my experiences with you after the conference.

xo,

Brittany

His Passion and Purity part 2

For this post, Brittany and I have decided to split chapters 2-5. She’s taking 2 and 3 and I have 4-5.

MY Affections

In Chapter 4, Elisabeth Elliot really starts to dig in. Like I said in the initial post, Elisabeth has a way of speaking to matters of the heart effectively and aligning scripture properly. The title of this chapter is “Unruly Affections” and I think a quote that encapsulates this chapter most appropriately is: “As I grew into womanhood and began to learn what was in my heart I saw very clearly that, of all difficult things to rule, none were more so than my will and affections. They were unruly in the extreme….”

I think her admission is not only brave, but profound. Humans are naturally prideful people. None of us are born with a taste for humble pie. We are taught that the things we desire and want in life are good and shouldn’t be scrutinized or judged. Elliot’s admission shows that there is something awry in her desires. I agree. I can honestly admit that my desires and dreams are more rampant that ever. Things I want to do, people to meet, goals, love, blah blah blah. It can feel absolutely consuming at times. Buddhists believe that ALL desire is bad, and one must divorce oneself from Desire completely to have peace and achieve Nirvana (“a state beyond sorrows; a state of freedom from cyclic existence”) I can see how that could appealing, but ultimately it feels too easy. I’m sure it is monstrously difficult to live an ascetic lifestyle at first, but humans are very adaptable beings. The whole thing feels cowardly. “Feeling weighed down by desire? Throw it all away and be a sage!” God has made all things good, but sin taints and ruins. God is calling us to pull these unruly affections in rein, not simply because it’s responsible, but because it brings Him glory as well. It will not be easy:

Bringing anything at all into order – a messy room, a wild horse, a recalcitrant child, involves some expenditure. Time and energy at least are required.

One thing that love does it toil for the object of its devotion. How can we say we love God and not toil to bring these things into submission?

His Control

One of the chief aims of this book is showing readers how to submit their love lives to Christ. God is always in the business of redemption: people, cultures, errethang. It’s always cool to pronounce belief in God, but action follows right belief. In the book Blue Like Jazz (an absolute must read by the way) Donald Miller says “but the trouble with deep belief is that it costs something.” People think it might be absurd to think that the God of Eternity and Infinity is concerned about something as trivial as our love lives. Elisabeth remarked much later in the book “Was He interested in the plight of two college kids?” I know so. God made us all with intrinsic value and worth, and any good father is concerned about the affairs of his children, for nothing is trivial. God desires intimacy with us. God not only wants us, He also wants our desires. Since he loves us, and since love isn’t soft and passive, he wants the absolute best for us and purifies us. His love toils. The book mentions how God sifts the hearts of men. My partner Brittany mentions that this is significant. She gives a baking example to explain.

Well, I think it was significant because of the way sifting works with flour. It separates the fine and course particles. When God sifts our hearts, He’s able to see what’s really there. He sifts hearts to see the real intentions and attitudes it holds and to see where He is in it.

He sifted Abraham’s heart through Issac. Jesus sifted the heart of the young ruler through his possessions. The thing(s) we hold most dear can often became the thing through which God sifts our deceptive hearts; for “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” Our abstinence doesn’t make us pure, our unyielding devotion to God does.

His Passion and Purity

This post is a guest post written by my partner for this series Jovontae. To read my post, visit his blog here.

Love and relationships is a topic that can appeal to any and everyone. There are many perspectives and ways of looking at this topic. Going even deeper, one’s worldview also influences the way one looks at love and relationships.

DISCLAIMER: I am a male. I am a virgin. I’ve never been in an official relationship. I am unabashedly christian. I believe that it is difficult, if not incomplete, to discuss and dissect love without God. So, this is the platform which I’ll be basing my stance.

There are a MYRIAD of books in christian culture that discuss this topic. Some are old, some are new. Some are old school, some are hip and trendy. Some from written from a male’s perspective, other from women. You get the idea right? From laypeople, ordained ministers to Doctors, there are hundreds of view to gather information on this topic from. There is but one book that I’ll be discussing: Passion and Purity. Mention this book in most christian circles and you’re guaranteed to elicit some response. It’s that famous.

Passion and Purity is a book written by speaker and former missionary Elisabeth Elliot. The book is half expository half auto-biography. In addition to giving insight and advice from a biblical perspective, she also recalls the process of courting and eventually marrying her college sweetheart Jim Elliot, to flesh out the things she’s explaining.

Some say the book is archaic, that it is too outdated for today’s progressive world. While I understand, I believe this book can be just as effective to a reader as when it first came out. She has a way of speaking to matters of the heart very accurately and bringing scripture to the picture. It’s a rare ability. Another complaint is that it’s just for women. I actually laugh at this postulation. While it is written by a woman, who’s describing her experience, and using stories of women who write to her, I still believe that men can, and should, read this. The example of her ex-husband Jim alone is worth reading about. I’ll be briefly explaining the first chapter.

The first chapter sets up the tone of the book. You learn about Elisabeth in college years. She describes her looks in a very quaint manner. My partner on this Blog series, Brittany, says this is key. Women are expected to care tremendously about their looks. You’ll see that, while she does mention her looks (“like most girls, I wished I were pretty, but it seemed futile to tamper much with what I had been given…) the emphasis is placed on her character and her dynamic relationship with God; which in of itself is counter-cultural. From there she describes the current state of society (“We have Sex and the Single Girl now. We have freedom. We can, in fact, ‘have it all and not get hooked.’ Women can be predators if they want to, as well as men.”). She touches on societal pressures on men: (“Men aren’t men unless they’ve proved it by seducing as many women as possible – or as many men, for we now may choose according to our ‘sexual preference’.”). To be honest my favorite quote from this chapter: “In forfeiting the sanctity by casual, nondiscriminatory ‘making out’ and ‘sleeping around,’ we forfeit something we cannot do well without. There is dullness, monotony, sheer boredom in all of life when virginity and purity are no longer protected and prized. By trying to grab fulfillment everywhere, we find it nowhere.” 

The last statement is a bold one. We live in a pretty hedonistic, do-as-thou-pleases society. We should never judge another on the things they decide to enjoy. Sex is good! Why not right? That’s the thing about pleasure: it is always fleeting. We’re always going to and fro to the next big thing, but it will always elude us. She says that “There is dullness, monotony, sheer boredom in all of life when virginity and purity are no longer protected and prized” I can’t tell you how many “oh, that’s interesting” looks I’ve gotten whenever I mention I’m a virgin. It’s cool (to an extent) for girls to be chaste, but men are validated by their sexual prowess. Since I have none, either I’m gay, scared, or medically impaired. Neither is true. I love God. I realize that some things in life have to be sacred in order to truly enjoy them. Unpopular? Yes. Necessary? I think so. Man has a natural fascination with Mystery. If we eliminate that and make plain what is sacred, all we have left is morbidity and boring, sanitized living. Pleasure and things like that exist to lift up higher to the One from which they come from. (see Anna Stesia by Prince)

Once we see this, we are well on our way to finding the fulfillment these lonely hearts yearn for.

Introducing Passion and Purity: A Blog Series…

Good afternoon friends,

I want to take a moment to share something very exciting that has been in the works for a little while. I love to read and while going through some of my old books, I recently rediscovered the classic Christian book “Passion and Purity” by Elisabeth Elliot. I read the book for the first time about four years ago and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t understand it fully. I picked the book up about a month ago during a trip to a friend’s wedding and I was blown away by Elisabeth Elliot’s character, faith and dedication to not only her own purity, but that of her would-be husband, Jim. I decided then that the lessons in the book should be shared with as many people as possible.

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Just when I started to talk about it, one of my great Twitter followers @JaeDooks mentioned that he had read the book as well. After this, I knew that a series must happen! I’ve yet to see topics like purity, love and being obedient to God be explored from both a male and female perspective so I’m very excited to be teaming up with him on this project. Our first posts will be up on Wednesday, July 17th. My thoughts will be on Jovontae’s blog and his will be on mine. So that you don’t miss any of the action, be sure to follow both blogs by e-mail.

I hope that you’ll join us.

Brittany