Who Do You Say Jesus Is?

I love the Lord. He is so vast that He can die for the sins of the world once and for all, yet He’s so personal that He can speak directly to our hearts and spirits every day. I love that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all and the Giver of Life and the King of the universe, but nothing makes my heart swell more than when I consider that I personally know Him. There isn’t a day that goes by where He is unattainable, inaccessible, or unreachable. God is near to us! And He has the uncanny ability to become whatever we need Him to be for us. The Apostle Paul said that he becomes all things to all men (I Corinthians 9:22), and I believe he learned that from Jesus. Throughout my life, Jesus has become many things for me, and each facet of His Person has had an astronomical influence on my life.

Friend

Photo Credit: Ambro, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Credit: Ambro, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Every teenage girl experiences the overwhelming desire to be loved and accepted by her peers. I remember feeling the pressure of being liked. I never had a hard time making friends, but it seemed that my circle of friends was constantly shifting and changing. I didn’t know why the people around me faded out of my life. All I wanted was certainty and to establish a secure friend. I met that Friend when Jesus walked into my life. I talked to Him about any and everything. He was the only Person I felt would never tire of me. Jesus wasn’t annoyed by me, no matter what time of day I called on Him. Although there were others around me, Jesus was my only consistent friend. From there, our relationship grew.

Lover

A woman becomes beautiful when she knows she is loved…Cut off from love, rejected, no one pursuing her, something in a woman wilts like a flower no one waters anymore. She withers into resignation, duty, and shame. The radiance of her countenance goes out, as if a light has been turned off. But this same woman, whom everyone thought was rather plain and unengaging, becomes lovely and inviting when she is pursued. Her heart comes alive, come to the surface, and her countenance becomes radiant… This doesn’t need to wait for a man. God longs to bring this into your life himself.
from “Captivating” by John & Stasi Eldredge
ID-10047309

Photo Credit: Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jesus and I grew from companions to lovers. We crossed that line of camaraderie, and I began to pour myself out to Him in new ways. The things He whispered to me became more intimate, more piercing, more intense. He wooed my heart in ways that caused my pulse to both quicken and stand still. He formed me and knows exactly what words to say that will release tears of love and gratitude. Jesus is more than our Savior; He is the God who stooped down and looked at the adulterous woman in her eyes and loved her. He is the God who took the longer route to his destination in order to have a life-changing encounter with the woman at the well. People write songs and poetry about being in love with Jesus, but I had never been that infatuated with Jesus. It wasn’t until I knew Him intimately that my appreciation for Him grew to incomprehensible love. After years of wondering if it was actually possible, I fell in love with God.

Warrior

Photo Credit: "Without Fear" Jennifer Ellison, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Credit: “Without Fear” Jennifer Ellison, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Every woman longs to be the princess who is rescued from a mighty man of war who has come to win her freedom and win her hand in marriage. This man has successfully leapt over walls of fire, swum across tempestuous seas, swung on thorny vines across bottomless pits…all to save a beautiful woman who is bound by an oppressor. We fantasize about our knight in shining armor galloping on his robust steed over the horizon just as the sun is beginning to set. There he is! We long for this man to come for us so we can get away from this place we are in and be with him. As long as I’ve known Jesus, I readily identify Him as friend and lover, but I have not seen him as a warrior. Until now. My eyes have been opened through recent discoveries and now I see that He eagerly fights for me. I am wide awake to the fact that my enemy is bloodthirsty for me, but God is my Warrior and my hiding place. He hides me in the shadow of his wing and He will annihilate my enemy. God is a mighty Warrior eager to protect me from intruders and unwanted assailants. Since I have seen Him this way, my perspective of the Lord has grown. Suddenly, my confidence in Him has grown exponentially. He is mighty. He is fierce. He is able to ward off my enemies. Mostly, He believes I am worth being rescued.

The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name. Exodus 15:3, NIV
But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten. Jeremiah 20:11, NIV
The LORD will march out like a champion, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies. Isaiah 42:13, NIV
The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17, NIV


Join the discussion! Who has Jesus revealed Himself to be in your life? Leave a comment!

“But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29)

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Why I Love Passion City Church

If you follow me on Twitter or have befriended me on Facebook, then you’ve heard me say this often: I love my church! I am a proud Doorholder at Passion City Church right near the heart of the city of Atlanta. Yesterday was a special day for me and my family. A year ago we stepped into the oval at Passion City for the very first time—God went before us and He met us there. A few weeks ago my pastor, Louie Giglio, told the congregation that he fully intended to give a message entitled “Why I Love Passion City Church,” but later felt compelled to give a message called “Why I Love Jesus.” (The talk was absolutely phenomenal. It will make your heart swell for the Son of God!) In lieu of Louie’s message, I decided to compile my own list of reasons why I love my church.

  1. Jesus is Our Cornerstone

From the moment you walk into the doors until the time you exit the building, you are guaranteed to get nothing but Jesus. Believe it or not, it has become normal for many churches in America to hold services in Jesus’ name where Jesus is not welcome. In many ways the Church has been seduced and distracted from the glorious and liberating truth of the gospel, and has embraced her own self-serving, man-made doctrine. We have taken the opinions and convictions of man and elevated them above the Supremacy of God.

“Follow God over loyalty. If you don’t, it may have you in a place where God is not.” — Canton Jones

Jesus is lifted high at Passion City Church. Among a congregation filled with several well-known people, no one steals the spotlight or glory from the One who deserves it all. We exist for the glory and fame of Jesus Christ. We make it our first priority to pay homage to Him by offering our lives in extravagant worship. I’ll never forget the day someone commented that we are always talking about Jesus at Passion City. At first it sounded absurd that anyone would find that to be a problem, but then I could barely contain my excitement. What an awe-inspiring reputation for my church to have: that all we talk about, sing about, shout about, dance for, serve, and worship is none other than Jesus Christ! I am privileged to be in a house where Jesus is central, exalted, celebrated, and adored.

Who can make the blind to see? | Who holds the keys that set us free? | He paid it all to bring us peace | Jesus, only Jesus | Holy, King Almighty Lord | Saints and angels all adore | I join with them and bow before | Jesus, only Jesus — Matt Redman, “Jesus, Only Jesus” from the forthcoming Passion 2013 album: Let the Future Begin

2. It is a Healthy Church

It is no longer good enough for me to merely be a part of a church community out of obligation or because it caters to my preferential style; I need to be in a place where it is safe to freely worship God, and beneficial to my spiritual, emotional, and mental wellness. Some people may be unfamiliar with this term, so I have taken the liberty of highlighting just a few qualities of a healthy church from a great article I found.

  • [Passion City Church] is a place of blessing and freedom. It is a place people want to go.
  • [Passion City Church] is built on loving God, loving people, and reaching out to the community around and ultimately the world.
Passion City's "Motto"

Passion City’s “Motto”

 

  • The Bible is taught in context.
  • Your personal boundaries are important and respected. You are allowed to make your own decisions and you are not looked down on or judged.
  • Love and grace are subjects often taught. You leave the services feeling with a sense of freedom and affirmation.
  • God leads people there.

These are just a few indicators that showcase the health and wellness that emanates from my church. There is such an overwhelming banner of love and freedom that covers our house. Discovering Passion City was like discovering a brook in the middle of a desert. When we need to be refreshed and refilled with strength and hope, Passion City Church is a house where we are confident that the water of the Word is flowing like rushing water.

3. The Leadership

I don’t think words could accurately describe how much I love and respect Louie Giglio. He is a superb example of what I believe a true pastor should look like. He is secure and confident in his role as the leader of our house; therefore he realizes he has been appointed by God for the purpose of guiding His people closer to His bosom. He and God share the same heartbeat for people and the world. Although he is well-known worldwide, he does not seek any glory for himself. He projects every bit of fame to the majesty of Christ every moment he gets.

louie

Louie is humble and genuine. Shortly after we began attending PCC, Louie taught a series called “Believe” in which he was vulnerable enough to share his battles with depression and anxiety. Out of his stories of weakness, so many people were encouraged and hopeful that Jesus is our only source of strength. Most leaders might stay away from exposing personal struggles, but Louie is confident in a Healer who brought him out of a dark place and is capable of bringing more people out. I was in awe of his openness, and many people were set free because Louie was willing to boast on Christ’s healing reputation than care about marring his own.

Louie never belittles or tears down any person in the church or his leadership team. He supports other ministries and their missions to make Christ famous. He isn’t concerned with membership at PCC. Louie once said that it doesn’t matter if people worship at our church as long as they find someplace where Jesus is lifted high above other names. What a pastor! He is the number one cheerleader for every doorholder in our house. In fact, Louie calls himself a doorholder. Being a pastor with influence all over the world isn’t what drives Louie; he is most satisfied with using his life to bring glory to God by being His servant.

Louie & Shelley Giglio, courtesy of Shelley’s Instagram. Follow them: @louiegiglio @shelleygiglio

Courtesy of Shelley's Instagram

Courtesy of Shelley’s Instagram

Louie is crazy about his wife, Shelley. It’s obvious. If you follow either one of them on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll see expressions of their love for each other and their church. It’s so encouraging to know that my pastor loves his wife. He honors her often, and even smiles and blushes when he speaks about her during his talks. One Sunday I sat behind the Giglios during the gathering. During worship I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful my pastor and his wife looked together as they both worshiped Jesus unabashedly, arms completely outstretched. They had already heard these songs in the two gatherings before this one, but they both stood together as man and wife, father and mother of our house in total adoration of Jesus. I know they are in love with each other because they are both crazy about Jesus. Jesus oozes from their speech, He emanates from the music Shelley produces, He echoes from the talks Louie gives, He is glorified by the fruit of Passion Conferences and the 268 Generation, and He is exalted in their marriage and ministry. Both Louie and Shelley are amazing leaders, and the same excellence I see in them is also evident in the entire leadership team and their marriages.

The PCC leadership team praying on the Georgia Dome field in preparation for Passion 2013. Courtesy of Instagram.

The PCC leadership team praying on the Georgia Dome field in preparation for Passion 2013. Courtesy of Instagram.

4. The Community

Passion City is a pretty large church, but we would never call it that. Louie says we are a small tribe, a small part of what God is doing in His global Church. God has blessed us and is leading more and more people to our house. PCC has Community Groups throughout the city that meet regularly where people gather around the Word and pray and cultivate community. Those are a great way to connect with this family. However, I have been fortunate enough to meet some beautiful ladies who have become like sisters to me. It is extremely rare to find a group of ladies who love Jesus, love each other, and love the Word with as much intensity as these ladies I’ve found. I love the accountability and support we provide for one another. We aren’t afraid to confront one another’s insecurities or sins together so that all of us will be whole and victorious. Last week in our Bible study, one of the ladies admitted she didn’t prefer to pray aloud and would rather someone else do it. We all encouraged her and confronted that insecurity until she agreed to pray. When she prayed, we were all amazed at the words that came from her spirit. We know the enemy wants to keep us debilitated by our fears, insecurities, or sin, but I am blessed because I am surrounded by women who won’t let me stay the same—women I met at Passion City Church.

5. God is Here

God’s hand literally led my family to Passion City Church. That Wednesday before we came to PCC, God set us on our exodus journey. We had no idea what church we would attend, but we knew God was moving and we had to follow Him. We had heard about Passion City in passing, so we thought it would be a nice place to visit. That Friday night I went to PCC for their college gathering with my sister and ten other friends. I enjoyed it, but I was anxious to get there that Sunday. When we stepped foot inside of the church, I felt like I was home. I remember thinking, “God is here.” That’s all I needed to know. God was there. He led us away from one place, and He went before us and met us at 515 Garson Drive. I have been reintroduced to God at Passion City Church. Where my image of God had been skewed in the past, now I see His character with clarity. I know He is for me; He is crazy about me; He is jealous for me; and He wants to walk with me. I don’t have to perform to seek His approval. I can rest in His grace and trust that He that is within me is greater than the forces in the world. God is not interested in what I can do for Him as much as I should be enthralled by what He’s already done for me. At Passion City Church, I’ve seen people walk into church calloused and cold, and walk out with tears streaming down their faces. I’ve known people who despised organized church and worship, and are now actively serving on teams and cannot sing loud enough or jump high enough. I’ve seen a man who was once ridden to a wheelchair begin to walk again. None of this can be attributed to Passion City Church because this is only possible because God is good. He’s a wonder. He’s everything. He is God of Passion City Church.

Every Christian should be in a church where God is allowed to be God. I am thankful that I’ve found that place for me. I tell my dad often that the greatest decision he has ever made for our family was obeying God’s voice when He told us to prepare for our exodus. There is no perfect church anywhere because we are imperfect people. However, Passion City Church is where I needed to be in order to move forward into my destiny with God. I marvel at His wisdom. Before I was born He knew I would need these people, this word, this leadership, this family to prepare me for what He has for me. So, 515 was etched into the pages of my life’s story. I admit that I’m reading these pages slowly because I want to savor each moment. Between you and me, this story is getting good!

pcc

The Scent of Singleness

You may not have a title or high position in your church, but you are a minister. Ministry is any act of service that edifies people and brings glory to God. Jesus said to His disciples that if they followed Him, He would make them fishers of men. He would make them ministers — carriers of the gospel and testimony of Jesus Christ. Many people may be familiar with the notion that marriage is a ministry. Husbands and wives are called to serve God together as they selflessly edify, encourage and uplift one another. A healthy marriage should draw people to God; it should encourage people to follow your God and your example. What you might not know is your ministry begins much sooner than your wedding day.

Singleness is a Ministry

Before we graduate to the ministry of marriage, we have to qualify ourselves through faithfulness in the ministry of singleness. In marriage your ministry is focused on your spouse and his or her needs, whereas in singleness your ministry is focused on God and what He has need of you to perform in the Kingdom. Your singleness is a time of uninterrupted, completely devoted service to God. Your allegiance to this ministry is to serve God to the fullest capacity you can muster.

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. — Paul via Acts 20:24

Your singleness is a race, a course that the Lord has set out for you to run. It is a ministry that God has purposed for us to embrace, but it is up to us whether we will accept it or not. Our single status is a given, but we can choose if we will honor God in our singleness. Paul said that he received his ministry from the Lord. God offers us the opportunity and privilege to honor Him and serve others during our singleness, but we have the option to either accept or deny this ministry. If you do not accept God’s design for singles, you may begin to focus on the circumstantial frustrations and disappointments in your singleness rather than the ministry of singleness. You may allow your emotions to dictate and control your willingness to serve God during your singleness. You could let the pressures of friends and family telling you to jump into a relationship influence your spirit until you’re no longer content with God. You could let your loneliness cause your prayer life to spiral downward. Any of these things would inevitably circumvent all that God wants to develop in and through you during this season. God wants you to live purposefully single. What did Paul say to hardships and pressures weighing against him?

But none of these things move me!

If you want to experience the fullness of God in your singleness, you must accept the ministry of singleness and determine that none of the pressures, temptations, or emotions will move your position of holy singleness. As a single person, your ministry includes 1) giving yourself fully to devotion to God, 2) giving yourself to the service of others, 3) and cultivating faithfulness during the waiting season. I will develop these ideas in a forthcoming message, but now I want to delve into another idea.

Spread the Aroma

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life… — 2 Corinthians 2:14-16

As Christians, we have a special call — a radical purpose. Singles have a special advantage in the Kingdom of God to be about our Father’s business. If our singleness is a ministry, then our singleness is also worship. A wise man said, “Anything you do for God is worship. Whatever you worship, you imitate. Whatever you imitate, you become.” You can worship God with your singleness. Paul reveals an interesting thought: God leads us as captives in Christ’s procession.

Let’s consider a wedding. As the processional music begins, a hush falls over the place. The anticipation builds and everyone halts with hopefulness. Why? The bride is coming. But, she cannot walk down the aisle until the procession occurs. The bridesmaids and groomsmen are dazzling in their ensembles with blinding smiles to match the joy in their hearts. The groom takes his place in front of the altar, anxiously awaiting to behold his bride. The tension builds as two young men unroll the aisle runner and finally the flower girl takes her place. She slowly glides down the aisle, delicately dropping dainty flowers. Everyone in the audience silently applauds her beauty and bravery as she makes her way down to the altar. I wonder if flower girls realize that they are responsible for ushering in the bride. Everyone knows that after the flower girl makes it to the altar at the end of her procession, the bride immediately follows.

We are like that flower girl.

The maid of honor, best man, bridesmaids, groomsmen and ring-bearer are all apart of the procession and they have different roles. They are all needed for the wedding to be complete, but the flower girl has a special role. She is the only member of the processional who walks on the runner before the bride arrives; she has privileges that others in the procession don’t have. Similarly, the single Christian has advantages that the married Christian does not have. The marriage and singleness ministries are different, but they are both important to God. However, the flower girl is responsible for setting the atmosphere for the bride to appear.

Paul said that we are the procession for Christ’s entrance. Each Christian has a different role and has a different race set before him, but each one has the same purpose: to make way for the King to come. The flower girl is usually a young child, but her job is far from insignificant. Her job may not seem as glamorous as carrying the ring, but if the flower girl is not in place, then the atmosphere won’t be acceptable for the bride to come. Sometimes as singles, we believe the lie that we have no place in our churches or in the Kingdom of God because we are single. That is not true! Sometimes we feel ostracized or belittled because of our single status. Every member of the Body is needed to prepare the way for God to come on the scene in the earth. Even the flower girl.

As the flower girl makes way for the bride, she is dropping flowers. Paul said that God uses us to spread the aroma of Christ in the land just as that young girl spreads the aroma of floral delight down the aisle. Worship has a scent that pleases God. As we live our single lives for Him, we will carry the aroma of Jesus with us that will not only turn the heads of people, but it will attract the “bride.” The aroma will draw Jesus closer to us.

Just as your worship has a fragrance, your ministry of singleness has a scent. Although we may be living seemingly mundane lives, God is using this season of singleness to change our fragrance that will attract His glory and draw men toward Him. Holiness, purity, radical prayer, passionate worship, consecration, and complete surrender to God should be the scent of every unmarried person’s life. It is not easy to commit to this ministry of singleness. There will be times when you’d much rather blend in with those singles who settle because they are tired of waiting. Singles should never be sitting on the sidelines while we wait. The bride can’t come if the flower girl refuses to walk down the aisle. Prepare the way for the King and carry an aroma that will draw Him toward you. Remember, what you worship, you will become. If you worship God in your singleness, you will be like Him in your marriage. So, when those moments of discouragement come…when loneliness and temptation to compromise come knocking, what will you do? Consider the flower girl. What is her motivation for making it down the aisle — to finish the race — to finish her task? Is it the intimidation of all of the people watching her? Is it her friend in the pew waiting to poke fun at her if she trips and spills her flowers? Is it her eagerness to get the task over with? Is it her fascination with the pretty bridesmaids who she secretly wishes she could be? She wonders, Who would want to be a lowly flower girl? No, that is not what motivates her to make it down the aisle. She keeps her pace and leaves the aroma because she is captivated with her purpose and the unwavering, unshakeable truth that immediately behind her is the center of attention, the point of it all, the reason for the wedding. She knows that the Son of God is blazing behind her in His awesome glory, and that although she is a flower girl now, that same God will transform her into a bride for her own groom.

So, I pose the question that God asked me: “If singleness has a scent, what does yours smell like?”