Jun 28, 2007

Irvine - Thursday AM - June 28, 2007

After a delightful breakfast outside with the cool breeze, we headed into morning session. Once again, I was just awestruck by the worship time. From the moment that the worship leader (Holland something or other) hit the first note, God's Spirit just filled the place. They started with a beautiful, more modern arrangement of Holy, Holy, Holy. I am always game for hymns with new arrangements. The whole audience was singing their hearts out and raising their hands. I started crying almost immediately. (Don't judge me) One of the verses really struck me. It says,

"Holy, Holy, Holy,
Though the darkness hide thee.
Though the eye of sinful man
Your glory may not see."

I don't know if you know it or not, but just about two miles away from Exodus Conference is another conference being held at the other university in Irvine, California. That would be the University of California at Irvine (UCI). UCI is where my brother Chris went for several years. {Chris is my brother - not my gay half brother. He lives in West Palm Beach. He is a Christian, single, awesome man who is not married - but wants to be. He has a Ph.D. and is an artist and surfs. Applicants for the position of wife are welcome.} Anyway, UCI is hosting a conference put on by one of the original founder of Exodus who went back to the gay lifestyle. This conference has marketed itself as being for people who have been rescued from Christianity and its efforts to "un-gay" them.

What struck me about that particular verse of the song is how at this conference, we recognize the holiness of God and the sin of our lives. But at the other conference, they are fighting to ignore those things. I asked Heather what exactly they were fighting to defend. There, the darkness is hiding God. There, the eyes of sinful man cannot see His glory. A lot of the flack about Exodus is that we try to tell people that they are sinning by being gay - when the world is telling them that they were born that way. The accusations is that Exodus tries to yank them out of their life and forces them to be "normal." The thing is, these people don't look unhappy. They are the most joyful bunch of Christians I have ever been around. They love God and they are truly truly happy. They are filled with His mercy. They are rescued sinners and they rejoice every day in that.

That was what made me even more convicted this morning, as I watched this and sang with these wonderful saints. The next song they sang was Here I Am to Worship. As we all praised together, and came to the bridge lines of:

"I'll never know how much it cost
To see my sins upon that cross."

I realized that I am an arrogant jerk. I try to be "comparitively good." I have managed to look at my own life and say that my sins are not as bad as other people's sins. I almost am proud BECAUSE of my sin, and how it is less heinous than others. I may have looked at dirty pictures, but they were at least of women. I may have a bad temper, but I don't get into drunken rages. I may have an ego problem, but at least I'm not a meglomaniac. The things about these people here is that they are VERY AWARE of just how lost they are. Their sin is right there and they don't sugar coat it. They don't try to shine it up, like polishing a turd. Everyone is more than willing to tell them just how sinful they are, so they understand perfectly well. Maybe that is why they are more into praise time. They have come from farther away, so their is more grace to be grateful for. I, on the other hand, seem to be able to convince myself I only needed Christ to die a little bit for me. Seems kind of stupid. I just kept on crying through the rest of worship time.

The testimony time is what I have come to love. Today, it was a man who lives in South Florida and is now an ordained Southern Baptist minister. (I was stunned too - Southern Baptists don't seem the type to be willing to do that.) He told of his childhood of abuse and neglect, how he craved the love of a man so much as a kid that as a teen he turned to homosexuality. He got saved at 21, but still spent years and years struggling, falling back into a sinful life, coming back, falling hard again, coming back. He even went so far as to admit his homosexual struggle at church on a Sunday morning during a sermon just to get it out there. The church loved him for it and he started a male accountability group there, which years later became the source of his greatest temptation and near failure. But at the point when he was ready to throw it all away again, God delivered him for good. He now has led his father, mother, sister, brother in law, and neice to Christ due to his changed life. His father got saved at 79, and one day during a men's group asked this man if he could pray over him. He prayed this immature simple prayer - a father's blessing. The man just broke down when it happened, finally feeling the love of his dad that he had desperately needed. The testimony ended with the report that he got engaged this past December to a wonderful lady from his church that he was co-teaching a Bible study with.

I am continually amazed at God's power. If you ever doubt just how big God is, go to an Exodus Regional Conference or the national one. You will never every question it again. Unfortunately, we didn't hear the entire sermon from the morning speaker. His name is Dr. Michael Brown. His group in Charlotte NC is on the front lines in the battle for our culture. I liked what he had to say, but he used so much of the "revolution" terminology. I agreed with his points, but some of the theme he was incorporating is what is used AGAINST groups like Exodus. It was one of those cases where the crowd there knew what he was saying, but others may see it as something entirely different. We had to leave because the chairs are so uncomfortable, my back went into the biggest spasm I've probably ever felt. It still is very sore - which is a good point of prayer for you readers. We heard most, but missed the last point. Hopefully resting will help it. I doubt that between it and Heather's pregnancy that we will be able to make it through the entire evening session, so we will see what happens.

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