Thoughts On Easter…

As we prepare to celebrate the wonder and grandeur of the Resurrection, we ought to be deeply-disturbed by what led up to it, the Cross. There would have been no Resurrection without the Cross, and no Cross without US. It is OUR part in those events that ought to move us to see ourselves as we really are, and our condition should be deeply-disturbing.

We often see ourselves as “pretty good“. We may have lived “moral” lives and not committed any “major” sins, but that is in our estimation. The problem is that, unlike us, God doesn’t grade sins on a “curve“. Sin is sin, and any ONE sin is enough to keep us out of heaven. We also weren’t born with a “clean slate“, so we already had three strikes against us before we took our first breath.

We are so ever careful about what we DO, that we forget that what we THINK and SAY may be as bad as what we DO. If your thoughts were displayed on a video monitor, what would they say about you? Sometimes our “DOING” does get us in trouble, particularly when we FAIL to DO something we should.

A few reminders…
What were you thinking while that elderly person had trouble paying for their purchase in the checkout line you were in? Was it loving to them, or was it dishonoring to them?

Someone got under your skin by how they were driving on the highway. What were you thinking? What would you have said to them if you could? Did you flip them off, or think about it?

You accidentally cut someone off on the highway, and they were madder than a hornet when they sped past you. As they told you off, and maybe even flipped you off, what was YOUR reaction?

Did you mutter to yourself about “inconsiderate” people who were blocking the grocery store aisle with their shopping cart because they couldn’t find what they were looking for? Are you so self-centered that any “inconvenience” becomes good “reason” to be impatient with them?

I could go on and on with examples, and yes, I am guilty too, but that isn’t the point. We have been given a standard to live by, because God has every right to expect proper behavior from us.

The standard…
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40)

Aye, but what about the Ten Commandments, or all the other commandments in the Bible? Hear me carefully…the rest of the commandments are applications of the two Great Commandments. If we keep the Great Commandments faithfully, we WILL keep all the rest.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. (1 John 4:19-21)

Our failure to keep God’s commandments, plus God’s great love for us, IS what nailed Jesus to the Cross. I invite you to contemplate this wonderful hymn:

How Deep The Father’s Love For Us

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My guilt upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powr’s, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

©1995 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music
Words and Music by Stuart Townend

Final thoughts…
Can you see yourself there? Has it sunk in yet that the Cross was about me, and about you? It was also unequivocally about God the Father and His unfathomable love for us. The Cross was NOT a “Plan B“, an afterthought, once God figured out that His human project had exploded in His face. It was already graven in stone before God knelt in the Garden and fashioned Adam from the dust of the ground.

Jesus was born Crucified, but we were the reason, and we drove the nails.

Before you celebrate our Lord’s glorious resurrection, I invite you to meditate on the Cross and do business with God. “At What Cost?” describes the agony of the cross, and what our salvation really cost. Then, you will be prepared to celebrate His resurrection like you may have never celebrated it before.

Have a blessed Easter!!!
Steve

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Are You A “Samaritan”?

Every church has its share of “Samaritans“, people who don’t quite “fitin“. No, I am not talking about people from the territory of Samaria in Israel. I am talking about people who, for whatever reason, don’t conform to the “norm” in the church.

The first-century people of Samaria were part of the children of Israel, but they didn’t “fit-in“. They didn’t worship in the temple in Jerusalem. They didn’t always wash their hands when they were “supposed to“. They had rejected all the nit-picky rules of the Scribes and Pharisees, and, in the case of the woman to the well, they hadn’t tossed her out of the community just because she had been married and divorced five times and was living with another man out of wedlock. The Jews would have stoned her, but Jesus met her with grace and mercy.

I got to thinking about this topic several weeks ago when our senior pastor mentioned looking out over our congregation and seeing and knowing who the “Samaritans” are. Many people would have been surprised by how many “Samaritans” are in our church, but I wasn’t, because I am one of them. I commented to him after the service what I am one of those “Samaritans“. How well a church accepts and loves its “Samaritans” is an important “benchmark” for how Christ-like the church is. OUCH! What many “good” Christians fail to realize is that they are in as desperate need of a Savior as the “worst” “Samaritan“.

Only God knows the depths of our struggles better than we do, because if others knew, we would probably be tossed out on our ear. Couples get recognized for how long they have been married, but nobody wants to know how many times a person has been married. I believe that is one of the reasons why most relationships between people in the church are so superficial. People just don’t want to know about other people’s struggles.

What does a “Samaritan” look like?
I came from a dysfunctional family. I have struggled with sexual addiction for most of my adult life. I have been married four times, widowed once, divorced twice, and my current “wife” is living with another man. I went through deep depression and desperate soul-searching for most of 2013. I am a nudist. I often question “traditional” interpretations of the Bible… the “traditions of the Elders“. I have a beard and long hair. I smoke. In case you haven’t put all the pieces together, I am a MESS. I am a work-in-progress, and that progress is pretty slow most of the time. I may look good and smell good, but I am in as desperate need of a Savior as any person who has ever lived. Jesus has met me with grace and mercy, just as He did the woman at the well.

The Church…

But you shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Jesus hadn’t forgotten the great spiritual need in Samaria when He commissioned His disciples. “Samaria” may be somewhere else, but “Samaritans” may be sitting in your church.

The church is called to be a field-hospital for the sin-sick and suffering, for “Samaritans“, not a social-club for the goody-two-shoes. I have seen churches with “No Smoking” signs on their property. Is that because they are “health-conscious“, or is it to keep the “wrong kind” out? Are “Samaritans” welcomed with open arms in your church?

How about you?
Do any of these things ring a bell in your life? This is NOT a message of condemnation for all of your failings. It is a message of hope, and as badly as you have failed, there IS a Savior who wants to extend His grace and mercy to you, as He has to me, as He did to that Samaritan woman at the well so many years ago. He is reaching out His nail-scarred hands, not to pick up a stone, but to enfold you in His arms, and as bad a mess as you are, He wants to make you His mess. Have you accepted His offer? Will you accept His offer?

In Christ, 

Steve

And The Greatest Of These Is Love

The Way of Love
13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it his not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13)

Love: Everybody wants it, everybody needs it, but far too few know how to do it. Do it…what do you mean “Do it“? Did you think that love was simply a warm, fuzzy emotion? Yes, love can be a warm, fuzzy emotion, but it is a whole lot more. The second great commandment is “Love your neighbor as yourself“. If you say that you love your neighbor, but never do anything to show it, your “love” is pretty hollow. “Love” is a call to action, a call to show by your actions that you love your neighbor.

Love” requires boots on the ground. “Love” requires that you get your hands dirty. “Love” often requires sacrifice, and the ultimate example of “love” in action is the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.

We will start with our Lord’s example, and then I will give you some “boots on the ground” and “dirty-hands” examples from my own journey and others I am acquainted with.

Jesus Christ…
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

The Incarnation, God becoming a human, a man, was no “accident” or “Plan B“. It was perfectly-planned and perfectly-executed, and the Plan was “on the books” before God even began creation, let alone before Adam and Eve’s first sin. When Jesus Christ was born, a cross-shaped shadow loomed large over His manger. From the moment He took His first steps, He walked in the shadow of the cross. Jesus was born to die, and He knew it. As much as He agonized about His pending crucufixion, He wouldn’t have had it any other way. He would have nailed Himself to that cross if it was necessary.

That, my friends, is “LOVE” in action.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

Our turn…
It is three AM. You are sound asleep after already being up too late, and the phone rings. It is a neighbor, gasping for air, gasping out “HELP!”. She is having an asthma attack. She lives alone, and you are the only person with a key to her door, who also knows how to set up her nebulizer. Will you get up and help her?

Three friends are taking a red-eye international flight to another country. Two are staying there, and one is coming back home. They could leave the car at the airport, but… Are you up to being up most of the night to make sure that they get to the airport safely and on-time, so that you can bring their car back home, rather than leaving it at the airport?

She is in excruciating pain, and badly needs to go to the Emergency Room, but it is almost midnight. ER’s are NOT your favorite places to “hang out“, but she needs you. Are you willing to forego maybe the whole night’s sleep to make sure that she is taken care of properly?

She needs a series of three back surgeries, but all of her “friends” are “too busy“. These surgeries will require that you drive her to a hospital which is an hour away, and wait all day until she is released from the hospital. Oh, she also has to be there at six AM. She is also going to need extensive after-care, because these are out-patient surgeries. Part of that after-care is being available at all hours of the day and night to help her out of bed, into the bathroom, and back into bed. She also needs something to drink, medications and food. What if she pukes up everything she eats and drinks? Are you up to it?

They don’t have anywhere to go for Christmas, and you have already invited a house-full of family for Christmas dinner. If you open your home to them, it is going to mean more mouths to feed, and more, more, more of everything else. Are you up to it?

The stress had been piling up, and you need a break, a “mental-health” day. Half-way to your favorite resort, the phone rings. A friend is calling to tell you that a mutual friend had just been taken into emergency surgery, and she doesn’t really want to sit in that hospital waiting-room alone. Other plans that you had made for that weekend didn’t pan out either. Will you turn around and go back home so you can go to the hospital with her and help keep vigil and provide moral support?

You are ready for bed, and the phone rings. A friend went to a party, drank some liquor, and then took a pain pill, so she is wasted, her head is spinning, and she doesn’t even know where she is at. She is trying to drive home, but has gotten turned around and nothing looks familiar. She is lost, and you are her only life-line, because all of her other friends have gone their own separate ways. Will you help her get home, and go find her if necessary?

It is almost midnight and time for bed, but the phone rings, again. She has gone to a party, and even though she hasn’t drunk too much, someone else has, and needs a ride home. That person lives on the opposite side of town and in a bad neighborhood to boot. She has already dropped her passenger off, but now she has to get home, and she is scared out of her wits. Will you stay on the line with her, helping to calm her down, until you see her car pull into her driveway?

Do you know someone who has had to reschedule an important surgical-procedure because everyone they know is “unavailable“? That person is going to have to be at the hospital before six AM, they live forty-five minutes from you, and the hospital is an additional hour away. It is going to be a very long day. Will you be their designated-driver?

Thoughts…
Do you see a common thread throughout all of these stories? They all are related to a need, a need for care, concern and compassion, a need for “boots on the ground” LOVE. This is more than just warm fuzzies. It is action, and some of these actions require some self-sacrifice. I have been on one side or the other of every one of these stories, and when I have been the “giver“, it hasn’t always been easy, and when I have been the “receiver“, it brings moments of profound gratitude. It doesn’t matter which is which, because God is the score-keeper, not I, and He always keeps perfect score.

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself“, and our responsibility is to follow His example. When we asked God how much He loves us, Jesus spread His arms out and was nailed to a Roman cross on our behalf.

When we “signup” to be part of God’s “love task-force“, He doesn’t promise that all of our tasks will be easy. He also never promised that they would be at convenient times, or would have definite start and end dates, because need doesn’t keep a schedule. The work may be tiring and difficult, but the “retirementpackage” is out of this world. Have you “signed-up” to be part of God’s “love task-force“?

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Steve

I Try To Be…

I tri tu be farli carrfool an metikulus ubowt my rittin an speeeelin, tancs tu Bea Sprouse, mi teknikul writin instrukter in colage. Unfotunetli, fur tings I compost oflin, Wurd Pad dusnt incurpurat a spel shequer, so I hav tu depens on du onl;in spel cheker on dis sit. I due hav a bit off DAD, an mi lisdexic fingurs somtim git ahed uf mi brane. Sins mi dad pas uway, I dusn hav iniwun tu grayd mi homwurc. I aso njoi u gud chukl 1nc in u wil, evun ifff i is ut mi owm espinse.

I wrote this several months ago, when there was a barrage of discussion about typos and poorly-worded sentences on one of the online forums I belong to. Admittedly, I sometimes read posts and shake my head…

I must admit that my writing has been one of my “pride-things” for many years, but God hates PRIDE. When I am feeling proud of myself for being such a good writer, I should be thanking God for giving me this talent. I should be giving Him the glory, rather than hogging it for myself, and once in a while God has to get my attention about something in my life that needs attention…like pride. He seems to be working overtime on me these days, but it is because He loves me and wants me to be more like Him.

We do have “permission” to have some fun once in a while. Thankfully God doesn’t grade us on our spelling and grammar, and we won’t have to pass a writing test to get into heaven.

When was the last time we “made a joyful noise to the Lord”? Maybe this is the kind of “joyful noise” God wants most from us…admitting to ourselves and to our brothers and sisters that we aren’t quite as “perfect” as we would like to appear to be. All you get to see is the “finished-product“, not the mess I make and have to straighten out before I am ready to hit the “submit” button.

In Christ!
Steve

Have You Done It For Jesus?

As I have been going through an extended, informal study on LOVE, I am struck by how little I actually know about love, and its implications in my own life. We all like to be “in love“, but there is way more to LOVE than warm and fuzzy feelings. Love without action is hollow and meaningless. Until we learn to DO, we aren’t really LOVING.

This particular study was precipitated by one of the recent daily devotionals in Our Daily Bread, which I read every night before hitting the sheets. This is a “boots on the ground” application of “Love your neighbor as yourself“. We honor Him who IS love when we love others as He loves us.

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:31-40)

Does verse 40, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ ” get your attention? It should, and I pray that it will before you finish reading this piece.

I was hungry…
Food is necessary for life, but there are far too many people, even here in the US, who go without sufficient food to eat. Even if they have a roof over their head, they may not have enough to eat. Where can the homeless go for a good meal? Do you support a local food-kitchen? Do you contribute to a local food-bank? How about supporting a local homeless-shelter or rescue-mission? They feed the homeless.

I was thirsty…
Most of us take clean, drinkable water for granted, but not everyone has this luxury. Most of us can go to our fridge, where we have a wide variety of things to drink, when we are thirsty, but not everyone has this luxury. How many times have you given someone something to drink who didn’t have the resources to get one themselves?

About thirty years ago, I was responsible for a project in a remote location. We were twenty miles from nowhere, and the nearest water of any kind was a quarter of a mile away. It was easy enough to go around the corner of the building to relieve ourselves, but we were in the desert with nothing to drink. Fortunately my per diem enabled me to buy a cooler, which I stocked it with ice and cold drinks every day, or my crew would have gone without something to drink. Fueled by plentiful cold drinks, my crew finished the project in eight days, two days ahead of schedule, and I learned a valuable lesson. When you treat people like you really care about them, they are far more willing to put their hands to the task at hand.

I was a stranger…
I have already mentioned the homeless, but do we really know how many homeless people there are, even in our own communities? Our governments have sent thousands of soldiers to fight various “wars“, and when some of them return home, they have no “home” to return to. Homeless veterans are a national travesty, because we have stolen their youthful vigor but given them nothing in return. Do you support a local homeless shelter? How about a rescue mission?

Two more categories of the “homeless” are often hidden in the shadows, because we don’t see the women who have fled domestic violence or the girls and women who are facing a crisis pregnancy, alone. There aren’t enough shelters for women who have fled domestic violence, and probably never will be, but every one is one better than nothing. Crisis pregnancy centers provide a valuable service to girls and women who have no other place to go for help during their pregnancy. Those shelters need a steady supply of food, clothing and other supplies just to keep their doors open. Do you support them when you are able?

I was naked…
Have you ever seen anyone wearing threadbare rags for clothes? “I was naked” refers to being so dirt-poor that a person can’t even get the clothes they need to provide them protection from the elements, and has nothing to do with people who choose to live a clothes-free lifestyle. The most basic purpose of clothes IS protection from the elements, which is why God, in the Old Testament, commanded creditors to return a person’s garment, which they had pledged for a debt, before the sun went down, so that person would have something to help them keep warm at night.

Many of us have closets that are overflowing with excess amounts of clothing, but how often do we think of paring back our wardrobe and donating those extra garments to some place, such as a homeless shelter, where someone else could get good use of them? What about donating them to a thrift-store? If a poor person doesn’t even have money for food, how are they going to afford clothes, even at a thrift store?

I was sick…
Hospitals are NOT my favorite places to hang out, but I know one particular hospital far better than I really care to, because I have cared for someone who was sick. There are many ways to care for the sick besides camping out at a hospital. One young lady in my church had major surgery almost immediately after giving birth to their second child, so some of the ladies in the church organized a feeding campaign to both make sure that family was well-fed, and to make sure that someone was there on a regular basis to help with basic housework, etc. After another young lady gave birth to their second child, the ladies got busy making sure that she and her family were also well cared-for. Those are tangible ways of caring for people who can’t care for themselves for whatever reason.

When was the last time you took the time to take someone to a doctor appointment? Were you available to go with someone who had an out-patient surgery?

I was in prison…
Prison ministry is a tough gig, but it can be very rewarding. I don’t know first-hand, but I have heard accounts from people who are involved in prison ministry. Chuch Colson, a political insider under President Nixon, was sent to prison during the Watergate scandal. He had been led to the Lord shortly before he went to prison, and he founded Prison Fellowship after he got out.

What is the common thread?
All of these things have to do with meeting people’s basic needs, and every one of them requires ACTION. These are “boots of the ground” ways of showing love to others who are in need. This isn’t about government welfare or social programs. This is about the people of God caring for those who can’t care for themselves in our own communities.

The typical, and “pious” response response of many Christians is “I will pray for you“, however, when Jesus was faced with over five thousand hungry people, He didn’t just pray for them. He fed them, and it required that His disciples become the agents of feeding them by distributing the food. His disciples couldn’t just sit on their thumbs and expect all that food to distribute itself.

I will pray for you” is far more meaningful to a sick person when you are sitting by their side, whether at their home or in their hospital room. “I will pray for you” is far more meaningful to a hungry person when you have just brought a hot meal to them. “I will pray for you” becomes far more meaningful to a homeless person when you give them a ride to a homeless shelter. “I will pray for you” becomes far more meaningful to someone living on the street when you give them a warm coat to help keep them warm after the sun goes down. “I will pray for you” becomes far more meaningful when it is accompanied by action which helps meet the needs of the person you are trying to serve.

Concluding thoughts…
This catches me also, because, even though I have done some of these things, I could do more. I have untapped resources which I could be using to show God’s love to others. No, this isn’t a “checklist“, but it is a good reminder that I can never repay the debt of love I owe to Him who has given so much love to me. This is more of a “pay it forward” in gratitude for what He has done for me.

Maybe it WILL make a difference if I remember that, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

How about you? Have you done it for Jesus?

God bless, 

Steve

Unlikely Nudist…

I have told bits and pieces of my story, how I was raised, and how I became a nudist, but those pictures have been far from complete. I certainly wouldn’t have made anyone’s “Most likely to become a nudist” roster. I was raised in a clothes-compulsive family, and I was terribly-shy.

The more you read, the more you will see that the fact that I have become a nudist was a HUGE change in my life. SO, sit back, relax and buckle-up as I unfold this for you.

“Born-clothed”…
We all know that babies aren’t born with clothes on, but if someone had never witnessed the miracle of child-birth, they might think that babies are born with clothes on. That was the environment I entered in 1956. I was taught from a very early age that the only people who were allowed to see me naked were my parents. That haunted me for many years.

Ouch…
When I was about eight years old, I got my arm gouged up by a rusty nail while I was at a friend’s house. His parents took me to a doctor to get my arm fixed up, and because it was a rusty nail, I had to have a tetanus shot. I still vividly recall my relief that I didn’t have to get that shot in my bottom. What if?

Thirteen…
About the time I turned thirteen, my “privacy” was further-reinforced by my parents. My mom, who had been in the habit of coming into the bathroom and visiting with me while I took a bath, abruptly quit doing that. I also got not-so-subtle training that, from now on, the only female that should ever be allowed to see me naked was my wife. That training dogged me for the next forty years.

Sports…
As I was moving up into high school, I started getting an interest in sports, that was, until I found about the mandatory “sports-physicals” and realized that I would be seen nude in the locker-room every time I changed into and out of uniforms. Thanks, but no thanks. Being in band was much “safer“.

“Nail-biter” physical…
I was recruited by an out-of-state company as I was finishing college. That company required a pre-employment physical, so they sent the form to me to get it filled out by my own doctor. The only doctor I knew at the time was my wife’s doctor, an older lady. I had seen her before for a couple of minor problems, but not for a physical. My wife made the appointment for me, and thankfully was able to go with me for the physical. Imagine my trepidation…a physical, performed by a female doctor. The exam was supposed to be comprehensive, and was…until…that point…yes, the genital exam. The doctor must have sensed my trepidation, because she simply asked me if everything was okay “down there“. My wife and I both nodded yes. Whewwwww…. close call. What if?

Every five years…
The company had its own medical department, and each employee was required to have a complete physical every five years. About a week before the actual physical exam, each person had to go to medical for lab-work, a hearing test and other preliminary tests. Some of the doctors were female, but I was fortunate that I never got assigned to one of them. Whewwwww…

Snip, snip…
After three children and many years of supporting the Trojan company, I decided that it was time to have a vasectomy. One of my friends recommended the urologist who had performed his vasectomy, so I made an appointment. When I went for the preliminary appointment and met the doctor, he had great patient-manner and inspired a high-level of confidence in his abilities. My friend also highly-recommended him.

On the day of the procedure, my wife went with me, consent form in hand, because I really don’t get any warm fuzzy feeling about having sharp objects anywhere near my family-jewels and Mr. Happy. After I paid the tab, $200.00, cash, in advance, insurance not accepted, we were shown to the room where the procedure would be done. I was instructed to strip from the waist down, use the restroom, wash my hands, lay on the table, and wait for the doctor, who would be in “shortly“.

As I lay there waiting for the doctor, the door opened, but it wasn’t the doctor. I didn’t know who she was, but she had no business invading my room. She looked at me as she came in, and after she used the restroom, she looked at me again on the way out. WTH??? Was she in the habit of “checking out” all the male patients? I was NOT a happy-camper, and I am sure that my wife wasn’t happy either.

1997…
I was under a lot of stress, particularly at home, so I decided I need a little break. I had read about a nudist resort in northern Oklahoma, and even though I still had a lot of body-image issues, and was still heavily-influenced by my upbringing, I decided that a trip there might be the kind of break I needed. How could I go to a nudist resort and be seen nude by lots of people when I went ballistic when one woman saw me essentially-naked? Good question… When we are all nude, we are all equals. Everyone is equally-vulnerable.

I went there twice, and both times were for long weekends. I enjoyed both weekends immensely, but I always had to go back to the textile world and my family.

OUCH!!!
Yes, it hurt, my badly-swollen testicle hurt, and I needed a doctor STAT. After calling nearly all of the urologists in the area, I finally found one that could see me the next day. That was another adventure… The doctor was okay, but he must have flunked out in patient-manner, because he was pretty brusk with me. After checking both testicles, he told me that he was going to do a prostate exam. Yes, bend over and put your elbows on the table. The prostate exam (DRE) was more like an anal-invasion. He also ordered a testicle ultrasound…

The ultrasound tech was female, and there was another woman in the room also. The tech announced, yes, I said announced, didn’t ask permission, ANNOUNCED… that the other woman was in there to learn the procedure. I was in no position to argue with her, because I still hadn’t received the prescription for the antibiotic that would take care of the infection and end my pain. I suppose she must have learned her patient-manner from the doctor.

Medical voyeurs…
I used to belong to a Medical Exam and Diagnostic Procedures forum, and my rants about “medical voyeurs” were legendary. A “medical voyeur” is someone in a health-care situation who makes it their business to see what they have no business seeing. If they were in public, they could get thrown in jail, because voyeurism is illegal in most places.

Wet paint…
My wife and I bought a house that had been foreclosed, and to get it sellable, a contractor had painted the interior with cheap, white latex paint. One of my wife’s brothers, who was a remodeler, came up to spend a few days with us. He helped us select new colors for the interior. After we bought the paint, I started painting, fortunately in the master bathroom. I was doing some trimming with a brush and had put the paint can on the tank-lid of the toilet. Big mistake, because the toilet lid wasn’t flat. Before I knew it, the can of paint was on the floor and there was paint EVERYWHERE, including on me and my clothes. Thankfully all the floors in the master bathroom were tile and the majority of the mess was confined to the cubby where the toilet was. I stripped off all of my clothes and threw them in the trash so I didn’t track paint throughout the rest of the house. After cleaning up my mess, I finished painting that area au naturel.

Even though my wife wasn’t enamored with the idea, I painted the rest of the interior of that house au naturel. I tried to do all of the rest of the painting while she was at work, so by the time she got home, I was cleaned up and dressed, and all she saw was the results of my labors. The whole job took a couple of weeks, but it looked nice when I got done with it.

She dumped me a few months later, so even though she got to enjoy the fruits of my labors, it was love’s-labor-lost for me.

Home nudist…
I only got to enjoy clothes-free life sporadically for about the next five years, and only when I was home-alone.

Trouble in pee-adise…
No, that is NOT a typo, but it does set the stage for my next set of life-changing adventures. About seven and a half years ago, I started having trouble peeing, not bad at first, but getting worse with time. I did some research which led me to believe that I had an enlarged prostate.

I enrolled in a clinical-trial of a medication that the manufacturer was hoping would provide improvement in the peeing problem and improve the quality of life for men taking the medication. To make a long story short…the medication didn’t help me because having an enlarged prostate wasn’t the cause of my peeing problem. The medication did cause other problems, but you will have to read “Reclaiming Our Manhood” for that part of the story.

I went along for another couple of years, with my problem getting worse and worse, before I finally got real help. I had already had one urinary-tract infection(UTI) that was so bad that I was also peeing blood, so when I got another UTI, and was seriously-sick otherwise, I headed for VA Urgent Care. When you go to urgent care, you get whatever doctor is available when your name is called. I was assigned to a…female doctor, an older lady, a LADY. I had forgotten what good health-care was like before I saw her, but she raised the bar on caring health-care. Yes, she saw it ALL, but in a way that didn’t cause me any embarrassment. The male nurse that came in the catheterize me was a jerk, but the doctor was a lady. She ordered antibiotics for my infection and sent a consult to urology, something that I had been trying to get my primary-care doctor to do for several months.

Urology…
I was assigned to a female urologist, a nurse-practitioner, an older lady, and she was a gem. She treated me with dignity and respect, and never gave me any reason to be embarrassed. The first item of business, even before she started looking for the root-cause of my problem, was to take care of my problem, which was getting me able to pee again. She ordered catheters for me so that I could drain my bladder whenever it gets full. Then she sent me to a nurse who showed me the proper method of catheterizing myself to help avoid more infections. That nurse, an older lady, was also a gem, and she never gave me any reason to be embarrassed.

What is the common thread here? Treating others with dignity and respect helps them not be embarrassed, even in a potentially-embarrassing situation.

My urologist ordered several tests to help get to the bottom of my problem. I had a urodynamics test series, and the young lady who did that test was a HOOT. Even though I was fully-exposed to her for about forty-five minutes, she treated me with dignity and respect, and never gave me any reason to be embarrassed.

I also had a cystoscopy, which is procedure in which a doctor inserts a flexible scope through the urethra into the bladder. I got a guided video-tour of my urinary-tract, which was fascinating, and also showed that my prostate was NOT the cause of my problems.

After several more tests, the final result was that nerve damage in my lower back was/is the cause of my problems in pee-adise.

When I moved to where I am now living, I was no longer in the area of where I had been getting my care, so I was assigned another urologist in this area. She is also a gem, and I am no longer afraid to see and be seen by a female doctor or other health-care professional. It “only” took forty years to finally get over that early indoctrination.

Unlikely nudist…
Yes, if you had know me forty-some years ago, you would never have thought that I would ever be sitting here typing this au naturel, or that I would ever be completely-comfortable au naturel in mixed-company. I have been a full-time home nudist for over two years, and during the last two or so years, I have been to Playalinda twice, Cypress Cove over a dozen times, and to two nude bowling events.

I blow doctor’s minds with how quickly I can and do get undressed, and if they need to bring other care-providers in to see me, it is no big deal. Go figure…

If I can become a nudist, anyone can.

Steve