California, Part 2

Tuesday, March 16, after delivering freshly baked chocolate chip cookies to the BOSS (Bayside of South Sacramento) office, we finished preparing our talk for the REMIX. We were asked to address the many emailed questions spawned by the four-week series they had just completed entitled God Loves Sex. A sample of the questions are: Why would God care about pre-marital sex other than to help keep us from disease and pregnancy? How do we know what a God-honoring relationship is when we’ve never been in one? What is the big deal about dating a non-Christian? You can listen to the whole talk on their website here.

The staff at BOSS happily have a cookie break.

We loved the questions and we loved the enthusiastic and welcoming crowd of young adults that gathered. There was great interaction both during and after the talk. How fun is it to speak to a group that speaks back? Love it! We had many conversations afterward with those who wanted to exchange their sexual brokenness for God’s purity and purposes. The contrast between the goodness and benefits of submitting to God’s design for our sexuality, and the brokenness and pain which results from living outside of His boundaries, is stark. We were impressed that there was such openness and receptivity to hearing more of God’s truth. Gabe and Kari are helping them fall in love with Jesus and to hunger for His Word. The evening was loaded with passion for Him. What a privilege to partner with our kids.

Wednesday was spent in various (good) meetings and that night we helped Gabe and Kari host their “small” group of 22 who come every Wednesday night for dinner and Bible study (and a little ping pong if you can take being put under the table by the Master Gabe.) Another great night! Gabe lead the study well and again we were impressed with the community bond which allowed openness and vulnerability. Deep conversations were had late into the night.

Gabe and Kari’s small group meets every Wednesday night at their house.

Thursday was delightfully low-keyed, starting with baking cinnamon rolls for the BOSS staff, and then walking, relaxing, and going to dinner with Gabe and Kari. It was just what we needed before a very full weekend. Surprise!

Friday and Saturday we had our first ever West Coast Engagement Matters! When Gabe and Kari had suggested it over Christmas, they pictured having a group of maybe 6 to 8 couples, so we were all shocked and thrilled when seventeen couples signed up for the conference! Hosted by Gabe and Kari in their home, the large crowd meant clearing their living room of sofas and setting up 34 chairs. We love the attitude they have towards their home — that it’s His and to be used for His purposes. The couples seemed very eager to wrestle with issues related to marriage, and the conference far exceeded our wildest expectations. We had many very honest exchanges with the couples and felt it was well worth the effort.

Gabe and Kari speak to the couples at Engagement Matters in Sacramento.

Not to let the grass grow under our feet, we jumped in a rental car and drove to Truckee as soon as Engagement Matters was over. Truckee is very close to Lake Tahoe and some dear friends from Campus by the Sea, Randy and Joy Hitchcock, had convinced their pastor, Wayne Hoag, to invite us to speak at Sierra Bible Church. In the brief 15 minutes we spent with him prior to the morning service, we felt like we had reconnected with a long time friend with whom we were very much in sync. It was a joy to partner with one who seems as committed to growing healthy Biblical marriages as we are and to have his full support. After church, we ventured to a great restaurant on the shores of Lake Tahoe with Ty and Carrie Fields (our hosts), the Hoags, the Hitchcocks, and the Joneses, before returning to the church for a marriage seminar that evening. We were delighted with a great turn-out and an enthusiastic response. All around, it was a wonderful experience and Pastor Wayne promises that we’ll be doing more work with them in the future. That would not take a hard sell.

Wayne and Sandy Hoag, Randy and Joy Hitchcock, Ty and Carrie Fields, and Julie Jones were part of the lunch gang at Lake Tahoe following the morning service at Sierra Bible Church.

Back to Sacramento to wrap up and pack up after 18 days in California. The evening was spent with Gabe’s family, which put the exclamation point on the end of a wonderful trip. Off to the airport we went Tuesday morning, March 23 — and about eight hours later, we were picked up at Logan by Guy and Barbara Steele.

Home again . . . briefly. We count it such a privilege to do what we do. Over the 18 days, we spoke 21 times in 8 very different venues. So many diverse audiences and experiences, but one central theme: God’s design for marriage is good and His Word can be trusted to instruct and teach us how to live in our marriages and our families.

Simple but profound.