We went to lunch and ate with our plane buddies - and two other couples. One of them, both husband and wife had been orchestra teachers. As Heather said, "No matter where you go, band geeks find each other." She hit it off with them. The wife still taught orchestra. The husband though, who was the former gay, was now in seminary. He was getting trained in youth ministry. What an amazing story of the transformative power of God. We had such a great time we hated to leave. But we had to get to our session.
I found out that they were recording the session for sale - they were recording every session, sermon, workshop. I had never had that done before, so I was a little nervous. We got our room set up, and the people came. About forty people showed up - married couples, college students, adults. We were teaching on "The Glory of Sex." The lesson is about what God meant sex to be - and how when it is incorporated into a married relationship, it actually reflects God's nature. I love the lesson because God gave it to me and I had never heard it before I wrote it. So, it is always exciting to share it.
The people there really enjoyed it. They were involved and seemed to really be blessed by it. At the end, there were some questions that I thought I fielded okay - including a couple on touchy subjects. I was able to incorporate my story with Sue into the opening - which everyone thought was awesome. At the end, a couple people came up and were very complimentary and said that they were very blessed. One student in particular gave me the best compliment I could get. He had asked some questions and grilled me before the class started on my theology. He said, "I was very impressed by your devotion to relying on God's Word for the lesson. I was very blessed and ministered to by that." You can't ask for more than that. If you want to, you can actually buy a copy of the CD of my lesson. Go to www.catapes.com. I'm not sure how to find it - or if it will be up before the conference ends on Sunday. You should be able to search Exodus and Staples or something. It costs $8. Just in case you want to get a copy.
We went back to our table, and decided to give away some of the extra student books for free. One guy came by and I started talking to him. He is from Oregon, and this is his second Exodus conference. He went to acting school and is an actor up there. You could tell that he had struggled with homosexuality. But it was such an amazing testimony. It is already hard enough to be a Christian in the entertainment industry. But to be a former-gay and a Christian? He must face so much hostility. If he doesn't already he will. But he just was shining the joy of God all over.
After a nap we went to dinner, where we ate with a Irvine cop who was here for security. He asked what the whole deal was with the conference. I said that it was a group that helped minister to gays and former gays. He nodded and said he had heard everything from "a bunch of gay haters" to "anti-gay" to whatever. He said he was a Christian and that he understood what recovery was and was glad that we were here. I told him what Defender did and he was thrilled about that too. What an interesting example of the misunderstanding about this issue in the Christian community. So many "Christian" groups do hate gays, and not just their sin, that the world assumes that is what they all do. And then you come to a place like this. I mean it feels like the entire place is just saturated with God's mercy and grace and love. And it amazing how much my own mind has changed in just one day. I really want to sit down and just ask some of these people to tell me their stories. I want to hear about God's awesome redemptive power. Those stories never get old. In fact, I am really beginning to wonder why God keeps on bringing this issue into my path. Is this something God wants us to do more with later? I am open if it is. It may take me a while to move past some of my stupid stereotypes, prejudices, judgments, and jokes. But I can't help but be moved by seeing this place. Instead of just a bunch of gays and former gays, it is actually a massive testimony of God's power and grace. What a great day.