Frustrations…

Warning: Murphy’s Law on the rampage!

I wish that I could say that I am always cool, calm and collected, but I am not, and the week before Father’s Day was one of those weeks. Does that mean that everything that could go wrong did? No, but my frustration-meter got pegged early in the week, and even though several things did go right, my frustration-meter didn’t get completely reset. By Saturday, my frustration-meter was primed to shoot through the roof, and it did – HARD.

If you are not familiar with Murphy’s Law, it says “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time“.

Frustration:
: a feeling of anger or annoyance caused by being unable to do something : the state of being frustrated

: something that causes feelings of anger and annoyance : something that frustrates someone

: the act of preventing the success of something : the act of frustrating something

Orlando…
Driving in the Orlando area is a nightmare any time, and particularly during “rush-hour”. The problem is that “rush-hour” is almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Yes, there are “lighter” times, but eight o’clock AM isn’t one of them. Most of the motorists are pretty good, but it only takes a couple of speed-demons to make driving a real nail-biter.

Tuesday…
I had a urology appointment scheduled for 9 AM, and where I have to go isn’t exactly “just around the corner“. It is 37 miles of driving on the two busiest highways in Orlando, I-4 and the 408 cross-town turnpike. It would help matters if I-4 was eight lanes in each direction, but it isn’t. Most of the time, it is four lanes with periodic exit and entrance lanes. It is an hour drive on a good day, so I allow an hour and a half just in case.

I got there at about 8:30, and by the time I walked into the building and went upstairs, it was about 8:40. That facility now has electronic check-in KIOSKS, so I went to check in. I was told I didn’t have an appointment. I had a text-message appointment-confirmation, so I went to the desk, where I was told that my urologist had called in sick. There were two clerks, and both had a computer and a phone, but they hadn’t bothered to call the urologist’s patients. WHY???

I was told that I could come in the next day at 3:20 PM. I had gotten up early to get ready and make it on time, all to have both my time and my money (fuel) wasted because two clerks couldn’t be bothered to call that urologist’s patients. Who do the clerks think they work for?

By the time I got back home, I was mentally-shot for the day.

Frustration #1…
Do your job!

Frustration #2…
You don’t have the right to squander someone else’s time and resources!

Wednesday…
I had planned to do my laundry Wednesday, but instead, I had to drive back into Orlando for my urology appointment. Traffic isn’t “quite” as bad that time of day as it is early in the morning, but that is a matter of degrees.

On the up side, I got a MUCH better parking spot that late in the afternoon. I was also my urologist’s last patient of the day, so she was not in a hurry to get it done and over with. She had plenty of time to review my records and for us to talk some things over. She also did her usual thorough “well-male” exam. After I got done with her, I stopped by the lab for bloodwork and to pee in a cup. Because it was late in the day, I got right in and right out of the lab.

Background…
I am a Veteran, which means that I am prior-military. When I was in the service, being late was NOT an option. Oversleeping your alarm-clock was no excuse for being late to work.

Saturday…
A group of us were planning to get together and have a picnic in one of the state parks. There was just one “minor” problem. It was Father’s Day weekend, and it seemed like half of Florida was intent on going to that same park. The park is north of Orlando and I live southwest of Orlando. I had looked at a map and planned what I figured was the most direct route. That morning, I got up in plenty of time to get ready so I could make it to the park when we planned to meet. I loaded my stuff in my vehicle and headed out. I also programmed my GPS to take me to the park. Shortly after I headed north on I-4, I heard my GPS say “Take exit…“, but I was in the wrong lane to exit and I hadn’t planned to go that way. A couple of minutes later, I realized that I had forgotten something vital to my planned activities, the backpack with my bathing-suit and towel. SO, I had to turn around and go back home to get the rest of my stuff.

Frustration #3…
I really hadn’t planned the BEST route, so I missed the exit.

Frustration #4…
I forgot something and had to turn around to go back and get it.

Frustration #5…
All of the above meant that I was running late, something I hate to do.

When I headed out the second time, my frustration-meter was already in the red-zone. I should have stayed home that time, but I didn’t, because when I commit to doing something, I will do everything I can to keep my commitment. I won’t go into the nitty-gritty of the rest of the day. I did make it to the park we had planned to meet at, but it was full. By the time the organizer moved the picnic to another park, even farther north of Orlando, my frustration-meter was through the roof and my vehicle was almost out of fuel. To make matters worse, communications was almost nonexistent because I had no cell-phone service in that area. That was even more unfamiliar territory, so I fueled my vehicle and went back home to cool off. Had everything gone as planned, I would have still had enough fuel in my vehicle to drive for another couple of days.

Frustrations had been building rapidly all week. I had bought stuff for the picnic that I had no use for at home. I had to buy fuel for my vehicle that I shouldn’t have had to buy that soon. Yes, I am still human, and when things don’t go as planned, regardless of whose “fault” it is, I get frustrated.

“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time”.

Steve

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Getting Out Of The “Boat”…

If you are going to walk on water, you have to get out of the “boat”.

Who doesn’t like boats? There is a special thrill skimming across the water at a high rate of speed, particularly when you are only inches above the water. Yes, I have piloted a jet-ski across the water at highway-speeds before and it was quite the thrill. There is something about accelerating from zero to 60 miles per hour so quickly you can barely hold on. But, this isn’t about enjoying skimming across the water in a boat. It is about getting out of your “boat“.

The “boat“, in this case, is your comfort-zone. Our comfort-zone is defined by that set of people, places and activities where we are comfortable, confident and capable. If we are in any situation where any one of the “3-C’s” is breached, we are uneasy and want to escape back to our comfort-zone. Once in a while, we can be cajoled into dipping a toe in the water, but really stepping out of the “boat” is a real stretch.

I DON’T walk on water. I DON’T talk to angels. I DON’T leap tall buildings with a single bound“. I am NOT faster than a speeding-bullet“. I am NOT stronger than a locomotive“, and I DON’T fly through the air with the greatest of ease“. In other words, I am NOT Superman, and my “boat” is pretty small. If my “boat” was much smaller, I couldn’t even get out of the cabin. Over the last few months, I have added a small extension to the deck so I can look down at the water, but I made sure that the railing was plenty stout so I won’t fall overboard. Yes, I know. You aren’t impressed, and neither is God.

The problem is that if we don’t get out of the “boat“, there is no way that we will ever walk on water. God is looking for water-walkers, not “boat-lubbers“.

What keeps us in the “boat”?
If you are like me, you can remember plenty of times when you “stepped-out” and sank like a rock. I float like a rock. We are afraid we are going to sink – again, so what is keeping us in the “boat” is that not-so-little four-letter word…F-E-A-R. We are afraid, based on past experinces, that the water won’t hold our weight. Isn’t it amazing that great ocean-liners, aircraft carriers and freighters float just fine, but we sink like a rock, even though we are a tiny-fraction of the size of one of those great vessels. That is because we aren’t designed to walk on water…ON OUR OWN.

We CAN walk on water…
We CAN walk on water, but not on our own or by ourselves. What if Someone else stepped out of the “boat” with you? What if that Someone can walk on water like He is walking on a super-highway? We have Someone who HAS walked on water, our Lord Jesus Christ. He can walk on water because He created it. Our problem is that we are not Him nor do we posses His authority, or do we?

Only one other person has ever walked on water, Peter, and we will never know if he could have walked with Jesus all the way to the shore if he hadn’t gotten scared. What we do know is that, immediately after Peter’s water-walking escapade, Jesus and Peter got in the boat. Peter was back to “safety” in more ways than one. That boat WAS Peter’s comfort-zone, in more ways than one. Peter went back to that “boat“, literally, after the resurrection. Jesus had to call for Peter to get off the “boat” again so that he could get a new commission to a new job. Peter was going to do a different kind of “fishing“. Peter hadn’t walked on water in his own ability. He had help.

Taking a walk…
When I was at the Christian Naturist Festival, I was asked to check out the prospects of starting a ministry at Cypress Cove. There is only one “minor” problem. I would rather go into a burning building to fight the fire than be responsible for starting a ministry. I used to be a firefighter, so I was trained to fight fires. I was also a fire instructor, so I have trained other people to fight fires also. Firefighters use proper protective equipment, AND, they DON’T go in alone. When it comes to starting a ministry, just put feathers on me. Now if I had someone else to help me…

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

If that passage doesn’t shoot huge holes in our FEAR, nothing will. When firefighters arrive at the scene of a fire, the fire-ground Commander teams them up and gives them their assignments, however, the Commander stays out in the “safe-zone” so that he or she can observe what is going on, plan future assignments and direct the action. When our Lord said “GO“, He gave us our assignments, but unlike the fire-ground Commander, He has promised to BE our partner, to go into the thick of the action. Our fireground partner might get hurt or tired, but our Lord never tires of being in the thick of it. We may need some “re-hab“, but our Lord is always raring to go. Firefighters can’t go in until they are given their orders, but we, as Christians, have standing-orders to “GO“. Who would you feel safer going in with, another rookie like yourself, or the One with ALL the bugles? The One with ALL the bugles has been around. He has EARNED all those bugles, so He is the One I want going in with me. If He wants to bring another rookie along, the more the merrier.

Getting out of the “boat”…
Why have I used an example from the Fire Service for “getting out of the “boat“”? A rookie firefighter has the right to be afraid when he or she faces a fire, because even if they have some training, they don’t have the experience to confidently do their job. Two rookies are never teamed up without an experienced firefighter going with them. Part of their fear is allayed by who is going in with them…someone with experience. They get off their apparatus, gear up and go in because they are NOT going alone.

When God gives us an assignment, He doesn’t send us in alone. He has promised to be with us every step of the way. Does that mean that we won’t have a few heebie-jeebies when we first begin? If we didn’t have a few heebie-jeebies when we first begin, we wouldn’t be human. God is not calling us to be anything more or anything less than human. He created us, and He understands our heebie-jeebies.

My “boat” is still pretty small, but I hear some drilling going on. God is installing a new boarding-ladder and swim-platform. He wants me to “get out of the “boat”‘ and start walking…walking on water, with Him by my side. Yes, I still have a few heebie-jeebies…

Are YOU ready to “get out of the “boat”” and start walking on water? Our Lord has promised you help and companionship for the journey. Maybe you will come walk with us…

In Christ,
Steve

Wholistic Sexuality

What is “wholistic sexuality“? It is the belief, the conviction that we cannot divorce or separate our sexuality from everything we are, think, say and do. We are a “whole” person, and our sexuality is an integral part of the whole. So, before you start thinking that I have lost my mind or gone off the deep-end, sit back, relax and buckle up, because I am going to tell you things you may have never thought about before.

In the beginning…
If we really go back to the beginning, we must go back to creation, to Genesis chapters 1-3. In the beginning God… After God created all the rest of the universe, He set out to make His finest creation, mankind, in His own image, male and female. Then He told our first parents to “Be fruitful and multiply“. We are the products of that multiplication, so let’s go back to the beginning of YOU…

So, just how “male” or “female” are you? If I said “totally“, that wouldn’t really explain it. Every person who has lived or ever will live, with the exception of our first parents, began life as two microscopic cells which merged to become one. Your mother provided an egg, and your father provided a much smaller, but equally-important sperm. Neither cell is capable of making life on its own. They must have each other, or they both die. When that sperm penetrated that egg, your life began, not as a genderless blob, but fully gendered, with all the genetic information necessary to build your body. Each of those parent cells contained half of your DNA package. The “normal” human genetic package contains 46 chromosones, 23 from your mother, and 23 from your father. That sperm determined your basic gender, male or female. Every cell in your body that has ever been produced, and ever will be produced, is either male or female, and that includes your blood.

The two gender-determining chromosomes are X and Y. Natal females are genetically XX, and natal males are XY. All eggs contain an X chromosome, because females carry only X chromosomes. Sperm, on the other hand, carries either an X or a Y chromosome, because males have both. If a Y-coded sperm fertilizes the egg, the result is a boy. If an X-coded sperm fertilizes the egg, the result is a girl. This is a bare-bones basics of genetics, because I am neither a doctor nor a genetics-specialist.

When you were born, you weren’t just a “baby“. You weren’t born with the “potential” to “become” a boy or a girl, you were either a BOY or you were a GIRL. You were born “fully-equipped” for your male or female reproductive role, even if those parts were small and not fully-developed. Baby girls are born with all the eggs they can ever use in a lifetime, and their ovaries are already producing estrogen. Baby boys are born with the ability to achieve an erection, and their testicles are already producing testosterone.

I am a participant in the Human Genome Project, through the VA Million Veteran Program, and when I enrolled, they simply took a vial of blood, which will not only be used to look at my genetic-makeup, but also to see how genetics affects diseases progressions and treatment outcomes.

I am not going to delve into all the possibilities when a person inherits extra genes.

Physical gender…
Our genitals are the visible evidence of our basic genetic-makeup, not the determiners thereof. Hence, I have male sexual equipment, penis, testicles, etc, because I am genetically-male. I have also fathered four children.

Brain “wiring”…
Why do you think the way you do? Is it because you were raised as either a boy or as a girl? Nurture only explains part of why you think the way you do. A lot more of it has to do with how your brain is “wired“. Male and female brains are different, which is why men will never truly understand women. God didn’t design us to be alike. He designed the two genders to be complimentary, not identical.

Sometimes brain “wiring” gets mixed up, so that a male gets a “female” brain or a female gets a “male” brain. Those people feel like they are the opposite sex of what their genitals reveal, and some go on to get themselves “replumbed” into what they truly believe they are. I am NOT here to judge them, but I do accept trans-gender people as they are.

Hormones…
Men and women have different dominant hormones, testosterone for men, estrogen for women, and even though the amounts of these hormones which are circulating in our bodies seem miniscule, their affects are huge. My first wife was unable to take birth-control pills because the excess hormones caused her to have wild mood-swings, and even though millions of women have taken those same pills with good effects, her response was extreme. Men also have estrogen in very small amounts, but if there is too much estrogen in a man’s body, it had feminizing affects, including loss of libido and the appearance of “man-boobs“. Women also have testosterone in very small amounts, and if there is too much testosterone in a woman’s body, it has masculizing affects, including excess body-hair growth. If a woman has too little testosterone, her libido or sex-drive may be low or missing completely.

Body shape…
Have you ever wondered why eight-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, can look SO much alike that you can’t tell them apart unless they take their underwear off, and yet by the time they are sixteen years old, they look totally different? That, my friends, is the miracle of puberty. The classic male body-shape is a “V“, broad at the shoulders, and tapering down to narrow hips. The shoulders are the widest part of a man’s body, and the hips are the widest part of a woman’s body. The classic female body-shape is an hourglass, wider at the chest, narrow at the waist, and broader at the hips. Have you ever heard a woman being described as having “child-bearing hips“? During a normal vaginal delivery, the baby must pass through its mother’s pelvis, so female pelvises are quite a bit wider and shallower than the average male pelvis, which is deep, compact and heavy. Some women get cheated in the pelvis department, and their pelvis isn’t wide enough to accomodate normal vaginal delivery. I used to have a niece by marriage who was that way, and had to have all of her babies delivered surgically. It also didn’t help that her babies were over ten pounds. I have a wider-than-normal pelvis. Go figure…

Stature…
Why are men generally taller than women? Could it be that men are built to a different set of “specs“, or even a different “blueprint” than women? We already know that men and women have a different “typical” body-shape, but how about their respective statures? Indeed, men and women ARE built to different “specs” with very different “blueprints“. Men are built on a 7 X 3 “platform“, and women are built on a 7 X 2 “platform“. The first number refers to the number of “head-heights” a person is tall, and the second number refers to the number of “head-widths” their shoulders are wide. A man is generally seven “head-heights” tall, and his shoulders are three “head-widths” wide. A woman is generally seven “head-heights” tall, and her shoulders are two “head-widths” wide. A woman’s head is also smaller than a man’s head which helps account for the difference in proportions.

For me, since I have a ten-inch-tall by six-inch-wide head, I am seventy-one inches tall, and my shoulders are eighteen inches wide.

Have you ever seen someone whose body-proportions seem to be all “off” for their apparent gender? I used to know someone who was a male-to-female transexual, and no matter how hard she tried, she didn’t have a feminine body because her proportions were all “off“.

Muscles…
Why do women have to work twice as hard to build half as much muscle as a man? Could genetics have anything to do with it? We know that some men are more “genetically-gifted” than others, but are male genes more conducive to having more muscle and being stronger? Besides have a different bone-structure, men have another advantage, and it is between their legs, their testicles. Testosterone, the dominant male hormone, is required in abundance to build strong muscles. That is why men with low testosterone levels have great difficulty losing weight and building muscle. I do not advocate taking anabolic steriods (testosterone) for the purpose of building big muscles, but testosterone-replacement therapy does have a place in helping men regain their “manliness“.

That is why Mr. America will never be a woman.

Voice…
Have you ever wondered why “Papa sings bass and mama sings tenor”? Have you heard or seen the Vienna Boy’s Choir? Have you wondered where the girls are, because there sure are some high voices in that group? Welcome to the world of pre-pubertal boys. Puberty does a lot of things to a boy’s body, and one of those is causing his voice to start becoming lower, and lower, and lower… Some boys only make it down to tenor. There are some wonderful operatic tenors, and then there are the Five Irish Tenors. All I can say is WOW!!! Those guys have incredible voices.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is guys like me. The bottom just about dropped out as our voices were getting lower. I give the bottom octave on a piano a run for its money, and one choir director I sang under called me a “basso-profundo“. There has been a lot of bickering on some of the nudist blogs and forums about social nudity and sexuality because they don’t understand how completely our sexuality is interwoven with our humanity. No one could ever confuse me for a woman, even if all I did was say “Hello“… on the phone.

When I was in the hospital in 2007 after my eye-stroke, I was on the stroke-wing, just in case. Besides a list of tests as long as my arm, all stroke-patients were assessed by a physical-therapist and a speech-pathologist. I offered to take the physical-therapist on a tour of the facility (chuckle-chuckle). When the speech-pathologist came in, she quickly realized that I have a very deep voice, so she asked if my “stroke” had affected my voice. I told her, “No, I sing to the LOW-pipes” (chuckle-chuckle).

Have you ever heard a grown woman who sounded like a little girl? Most girl’s voices also change as they grow up, but not as dramatically as boy’s voices do. Those changes, and training, are what give us women who can sing everything from low-tenor to super-soprano.

The pitch of a person’s voice isn’t all that changes with puberty. The timbre, or tonal-quality of their voice changes also.

Hair…
Why do most men have a lot of body hair and most women have very little? Why do some women have a lot of body hair and some men are almost hairless? The process of growing body hair usually begins when a youngster enters puberty, and is one of the signs of puberty. Puberty in girls is “staged” by their breast development and how much pubic hair they have. Puberty in boys is “staged” by how much pubic hair they have, and how large their penis and testicles are. It is also controlled by genetics. Generally the only body hair most women have is under their armspits and in their pubic area. Many men have hair from their face all the way to their toes.

How many bearded women have you met? How many bearded men do you know? Facial-hair is rare for women, but the ability to grow facial-hair is almost universal in men. The ability to grow facial-hair is a masculine trait.

How often do you see a naturally-bald-headed woman? How often do you see a bald-headed man? Natural baldness is very rare in women, but very common in men. Have you heard the term “male-pattern baldness“? Baldness in men tends to run in families, and may go for several generations. My dad was the only nearly-bald male in his family, and I inherited his father’s full head of hair. Mine is turning colors (gray) rather than turning loose. Grandpa’s hair was snow-white when he died.

Face…
Even our faces are different. Men look like “men“, and women look like “women“, and if you have an Adam’s Apple, you were born “male“.

Hands…
Is you ring-finger noticeably longer than your index-finger? If so, you were probably born “male“. If your index-finger is longer than your ring-finger, you were probably born “female“.

Feet…
How many women do you know with size-13 feet? How many men do you know with size-13 feet? I wear size-13 shoes, but I haven’t met any women who wear size-13 shoes… My dad wore size-14 shoes…

Conclusions…
These are just a few of the ways in which our gender, our sexuality, are displayed in unmistakable ways. Our “sexuality” is NOTjust” our genitals and what we do with them, and the notion that a person can “turn-off” their sexuality in certain situations is patently-false. For the nudists who believe this notion, do your own research, because you aren’t going to take my word for it anyway. Just because a man doesn’t get an instant erection when he is nude in mixed company doesn’t make him any less a man. He may have good control over his erection responses, but if he gets overloaded with sexually-suggestive inputs, his penis may rise to the occasion anyway.

Forensics specialists can determine the birth-gender of a person by looking at the configuration of their bare skeleton, and determine their approximate age from the condition of their skeleton. We don’t simply “dress the part” or “act the part“. We ARE the part.

I am ready for another nakation!

The Price Of Greed…

Elisha cured Naaman of his leprosy, but he didn’t want any of Naaman’s money. Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, thought that Naaman got off too light. Gehazi saw all that money and got greedy…

After Naaman had traveled some distance, 20 Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said to himself, “My master was too easy on Naaman, this Aramean, by not accepting from him what he brought. As surely as the Lord lives, I will run after him and get something from him.”

21 So Gehazi hurried after Naaman. When Naaman saw him running toward him, he got down from the chariot to meet him. “Is everything all right?” he asked.

22 “Everything is all right,” Gehazi answered. “My master sent me to say, ‘Two young men from the company of the prophets have just come to me from the hill country of Ephraim. Please give them a talent of silver and two sets of clothing.’”

23 “By all means, take two talents,” said Naaman. He urged Gehazi to accept them, and then tied up the two talents of silver in two bags, with two sets of clothing. He gave them to two of his servants, and they carried them ahead of Gehazi. 24 When Gehazi came to the hill, he took the things from the servants and put them away in the house. He sent the men away and they left.

25 When he went in and stood before his master, Elisha asked him, “Where have you been, Gehazi?”
“Your servant didn’t go anywhere,” Gehazi answered.

26 But Elisha said to him, “Was not my spirit with you when the man got down from his chariot to meet you? Is this the time to take money or to accept clothes—or olive groves and vineyards, or flocks and herds, or male and female slaves? 27 Naaman’s leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever.” Then Gehazi went from Elisha’s presence and his skin was leprous—it had become as white as snow. (2 Kings 5:19-27)

Many years ago, my wife and I were in Amway for a while. We were presented a “dream“, a “dream” of material-success. We were encouraged to go out “dream-building“, to look at homes in nice neighborhoods, to look at cars that cost more than our home, to look at “things” that screamed “conspicuousconsumption“, to build a “dream” based on GREED. Those things struck us as being “empty“, “hollow” and “shallow“. We would be building our success based on helping other people become “successful“, but we saw it as fueling our GREED by fueling the GREED of others. We weren’t “built” that way. We refused to sacrifice who we are on the altar of GREED. GREED has a price, a price we weren’t willing to pay. We refused to use other people as stepping-stones to our own success.

People were created to be loved.
Things were created to be used.
The reason why the world
Is in chaos is because things are being loved
And people are being used.

Greed says “I will never have enough!”
Contentment says “Thank you Lord for my daily bread. I have everything I need.”

Naaman (MY Way…) had everything except his health, and he got that back too. Gehazi had everything he needed, including his health, but when he got greedy, he got what he wanted, material possessions, but he lost something far more valuable – his health.

I am finding that the older I get, the less I need. My “home” is 22 years old and suits my needs very well. I have friends who live in newer motorhomes that will never be paid-for because they had to sign 30-year mortgages to buy them. One couple lost both of the air-conditioners on their “older” (2006) motorhome within a few days of each other. She was whining about how “old” their motorhome is. They don’t pay for rent or electricity, and even their golf-cart is provided because he is on staff. Another couple is going to spend part of their vacation at the factory where their motorhome was built getting some warranty-work done. Theirs is also less than ten years old. Oh, and mine is paid-for. I don’t begrudge either of these couples what they have, because they have worked their entire lives for it. Both men served in the military for over twenty years each, so they have paid their dues, but sometimes having “more” means having more problems. Just because it is out there doesn’t mean that I have to go out and get it for myself.

I have “enough” because God has given me “enough“, and I am thankful for it. Contentment brings thanksgiving. GREED fuels the perpetual striving for MORE. Is it worth the price?

In Christ,
Steve

MY Way…

Have you ever watched children playing a game, maybe even a simple game, when one of them announces “You aren’t playing it right. This is MY game, and you either play it MY way, or you don’t play it at all“. Demanding our own way isn’t limited to just childhood games, we see it everywhere we turn.

My father was very domineering and demanding. I heard “MY way or the highway!” or a variation of that as I was growing up. That, and his wicked temper were two things I didn’t want to emulate when I got married and became a father. I still got some of his temper, but not the short-fuse that went with it. I never threatened to send my wife packing, although my father threatened mom several times.

Naaman Healed of Leprosy
5 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. 3 She said to her mistress, “If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.”

4 Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. 5 “By all means, go,” the king of Aram replied. “I will send a letter to the king of Israel.” So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents[b] of silver, six thousand shekels[c] of gold and ten sets of clothing. 6 The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: “With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.”

7 As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”

8 When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: “Why have you torn your robes? Have the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.” 9 So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house.

10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy. (2 Kings 5:1-14)
b) 2 Kings 5:5 That is, about 750 pounds or about 340 kilograms
c) 2 Kings 5:5 That is, about 150 pounds or about 69 kilograms

Naaman had a serious problem. Although he was rich, powerful and famous, he had an incurable disease. “Leprosy” is used generically throughout the Bible for a wide variety of skin-diseases, so we don’t really know any details. If anyone had been able to cure him, he certainly had the resources to reward them generously. When Naaman was told that the Prophet in Samaria might be able to cure him, he made sure that he took ample “reward” with him. At the USA price of $35.00 per gram for gold, he took about 2.4 million dollars worth of gold, and at the USA price of $480.00 per kilogram, he took about 163 thousand dollars worth of silver. What were ten sets of clothes worth, considering that all clothing was hand-made?

Imagine walking into the finest hospital in the world, handing the registrar a certified check for 2.6 million dollars, and saying “Cure me“. That should buy a private suite and the best doctors, ie VIP treatment. Naaman expected VIP treatment, but he never even got the see the Prophet, and boy was he pissed! Not only didn’t he get to see the prophet, but he was told to take a bath in the nastiest river in the region. He was expecting the Prophet to roll out the red-carpet for him and personally cure him of his problem, but the Prophet “snubbed” him. Naaman wanted HIS WAY, but he didn’t get it.

Naaman got healed, but not before he checked his ego at the door. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can be a LOT like Naaman. If you haven’t figured it out already, I can be pretty self-centered, and sometimes I have an ego the size of Texas. As God worked on Naaman, He is also working on me. Sometimes He has to show me a bill-board-size picture of my self-centered egotistical self to get my attention and get me to check my ego at the door – AGAIN. I may yet “get-it” before I take my last breath, but I wouldn’t bet on it. I am still a work in progress, like the painting that is never quite finished. Only after I take my last breath will God’s masterpiece be revealed.

In Christ,
Steve

Christian Naturist Festival 2015 – Lake Como Resort

WOW!!! What a weekend! Many kudos to Pam and her crew for putting together a delightful and inspiring weekend. It was called a “Festival“, but “Retreat” better describes to spirit and mood of the gathering. It was a time to “retreat“, to put aside the cares and concerns of what was going on outside, and concentrate on what the Lord was in our midst to teach us and encourage us with.

For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst. (Matthew 18:20)

We were certainly more than “two or three“, and we could sense the presence of the Holy Spirit among us. Besides being physically-naked, it was a safe place to be emotionally and spiritually naked as well. Yes, we laughed and we cried, and our darkest secrets saw the Light of Life as we became open to the healing touch of the Great Physician.

One lady, who was struggling with her faith because of some very bad things in her life, found the love of Christ in our midst and recommitted her life to Christ. Friday evening she was asking; “If there is a God, and He is good, why did He allow these things to happen to me?“, and Sunday morning, she approached the Table of the Lord, left her burdens at the foot of the Cross, and accepted His healing and restoration in the Communion. Only the Holy Spirit could have worked that change in her life.

Friday evening…
We gathered Friday evening for fellowship, ice-cream and to worship and adore our awesome God. Pastor David Hatton RN was our featured speaker for the weekend, and he came loaded. After we partook of the ice-cream and fellowshipped a while, we sang a few hymns. Pastor Hatton gave us a preview of what he had prepared for the Saturday morning “keynote” message.

http://www.pastordavidrn.com/files/sermons/2015-07-10-Preliminary_Thoughts-CNF-Friday.mp3

We ended the evening with prayer, and BTW, there was ice-cream left over…

Saturday…
We gathered Saturday morning for a lite breakfast and fellowship before we began in earnest.

9 AM: Pastor Hatton gave his “keynote address” on the theme “Caring for the Garden: Genesis 2:15“. He asked four questions:
Why did God create us as body-spirit beings in the first place?

How does Christ’s incarnation demonstrate our calling in a fallen creation?

What are the material and spiritual dimensions of Christian ecology?

Why are we meant to be co-creating “friends” of the Creator and not just servants?

Rather than trying to summarize the message, since I didn’t take notes, you can download it and listen for yourself.

http://www.pastordavidrn.com/files/sermons/2015-07-11_Caring_For_the_Garden-CNF-Saturday.mp3

10 AM: Meeting with God in nature. Pastor Dan, the pastor of Garden of Eden Church, led us on a walk along one of the nature trails in Lake Como. We stopped along the way to drink from God’s Word and contemplate our place in His creation. We were all naked and a couple of people even walked bare-foot, so we got to sense what it might have been like for Adam and Eve to walk naked with God in the Garden.

11 AM: Christian Labyrinth. Pastor Mike led the group through a labyrinth. Unfortunately my legs gave out on me part way through the nature walk so I had to sit out that event. Leg cramps are NO fun.

Lunch: We were on our own for lunch, but several of us gathered in the Rec Hall and fellowshipped while we ate our lunch.

1 PM: There were two different sessions during that time.
Brother Norman led a group discussion on “Victory through Grief and Suffering“. Norman lost his wife this past January after a long illness, an illness that had dogged them their entire relationship. It was intense.

Pastor Mike led a session on “Centering Prayer“, exploring the meaning behind Matthew 6:6.

2 PM: Brother Dale led a group discussion about being a Christian and a nudist, under the theme “Nude Christians“. That discussion got cut short so we could prepare to participate in the World Record Skinny Dip, but we agreed to pick it up during our evening session.

3 PM: 2015 AANR World Record Skinny Dip. We joined about 250 other nudists in the Lake Como pool for the WRSD.

Supper: We were on our own for supper, but again, many of us joined in fellowship with our Brother and Sisters over food.

7 PM: Fellowship of Christian Naturists. Remember that ice-cream that was left over? We dug in again before gathering with the pastors and event leaders for a round-table discussion of Christian naturism. We closed that session by gathering in a circle, hand in hand, to pray about whatever was on our hearts. “Where two or three are gathered in My name, I am in their midst”.

Sunday…
We gathered for a lite brunch and fellowship before the morning service.

11 AM: We worshipped together naturally. After singing a couple of hymns, Pastor Hatton opened our time with prayer, and then opened the service for a time of sharing. You would have had to be there to realize what had happened in our midst that was shared that morning. The Holy Spirit was at work, and in a big way.

Pastor Hatton spoke on “The Table of Reconciliation“. We are to bring what needs to “die” in us to the foot of the Cross, as represented by the Table of the Lord, and take up new life as we partake of Communion.

http://www.pastordavidrn.com/files/sermons/2015-07-05-The_Table_of_Restoration.mp3

When it was time for Communion, the Table was before us, and we were invited to approach the Table when we felt it was our time, leave at the Table whatever needed to “die“, and take new life in Christ from the Table. It was a solemn time, and there was no rush to “get it over with“. We were restored through taking Communion.

After Communion, we sang a hymn and Pastor Hatton closed the Festival with prayer.

About CNC…
Christian Nudist Convocation (CNC) is a loose-knit organization whose mission is the proclaim the Good News of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to the nudist/naturist community. What the mainstream church sees as their “Samaria” is our “Jerusalem“. The nudist/naturist community is our mission-field. We are represented coast-to-coast, and we have a growing-number of resort-fellowships, with more in the planning-stages.

People…
Pastor David Hatton RN: Pastor Hatton was our featured speaker. He is a pastor of a small church in California, a Labor and Delivery Nurse, and the author of several books of poetry and his semi-autobiographical novel “Meeting At The River“. His website is: http://www.pastordavidrn.com.

Tom Pine: Tom and his lovely wife were there, and I had a wonderful opportunity to get to know them. Tom has been active in the Christian naturist community for many years, both as a writer and as one of the founders of CNC. Tom was a regular contributor to the Fig Leaf Forum, and he has his own website as well. It is: http://www.thenakedtruthnaturists.com.

Pam: Pam is the “sparkplug” of Garden of Eden Church at Lake Como. The Garden of Eden Church website is: http://www.gardenofedenchurch.org.

Pastor Dan: Pastor Dan is the pastor of Garden of Eden Church.

Cameron Bennett: Cameron is our east-coast CNC board-member, and is heavily-involved in the CNC mission. He has a zeal for furthering God’s kingdom and the mission of CNC.

Dale Deg: Dale is working towards starting a mission-work in California.

These are just a few of the wonderful people I met at the Festival.

Final thoughts…
Besides being able to spend two full days au naturel, it was a great weekend. The fellowship was wonderful, and being able to worship our God naturally was an awesome experience. That is the epitome of coming to God “Just as I am“.

Jesus said, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

In Christ,
Steve

Whose Glory?

What do the Oscars, the Emmy’s, and the Golden Globes have in common? What about the Walk of Fame? What do the World Series, the Superbowl, the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup have in common? What about the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the Gatornationals? What do the Master’s, Wimbledon and the Tour de France have in common? How about the Heisman Trophy?

They all celebrate human achievement, whether in entertainment, team sports, auto racing or in individual sports. We crave recognition, because the satisfaction of a job well done isn’t quite enough. We want someone to pat us on the back and say “Congratulations!”. We want GLORY!

Since the dawn of human-history, mankind has had an insatiable thirst for glory. When Adam and Eve took Satan’s bait, “You shall be as gods“, the die was cast, and the pursuit of glory has been in the forefront of mankind’s minds ever since.

The Tower of Babel is a classic example of building a monument to and for man’s glory, but after God intervened, all that was left was a pile of useless rubble. Are we still building “Towers of Babel“? There are a few in my home-town, monuments to human-achievement.

Why do race-car drivers risk life and limb for one more checkered-flag? Why do pro football players risk a career-ending injury for one more Superbowl Ring? Why do boxers risk their lives for one more title bout? Why do professional athletes take perfomance-enhancing drugs, when they risk ruining their careers if they get caught? Why do many entertainers sell their souls to Satan for fame and fortune? Is it really worth it? Robin Williams met a gruesome end, in spite of all his success and fame.

Fame comes, and fame goes, but no earthly-fame lasts forever. There is always someone waiting in the wings for the star to slip up or wear out. There is always someone with an even-bigger ego waiting to take the star’s place. Is it really worth it?

Why is a little fame never enough? Is the thirst for fame so insatiable that a person will risk everything for a little bit more fame?

37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:
“Lord, who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
40 “He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them.”

41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God. (John 12:37-43)

Do the last two verses of this passage catch your attention the way they caught mine? Whose praise was more important to them, God’s or man’s? They wanted to be in the spotlight NOW. They wanted their praise NOW. They wanted their glory NOW, and they were willing to sacrifice their eternal destiny on the altar of human glory.

I worked with a man in Search and Rescue for several years who was a magnet for the news media. He was the “public face” of Search and Rescue, and he LOVED it. Even though many other people did the hard work of finding and rescuing lost people while he sat in base-camp directing the action, he got the GLORY.

A few years ago, I received an award that I really deserved – NOT!!! I was picked as the Firefighter of the Year by the Chief of the volunteer fire department that I was a part of. There were many other members who contributed far more than I did, but some of them had already been recognized in previous years, so I received the award. My mom still has that award and a picture of me with it in her living room. It really wasn’t my award, even though it was presented to me, because without the rest of the team all pulling together, we would have had fallen apart as a department long before that. Every member of that department deserved that award.

There is one award that I am looking forward to, but not because I deserve it. I look forward to hearing “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” That is the only award that has eternal-significance, and the only one that matters to me.

In Christ,
Steve

Amazing People

I have an amazing circle of friends and acquaintances, and that circle is growing all the time. Some of them are Christians. Some of them are Agnostics. A few are Pagans. Some are even Atheists. Quite a few are married, and some of those are monogamous, but some of them are polyamorous. Some of my friends are straight, and some of them are gay, lesbian or bisexual. Some are into kink, BDSM or S&M. A couple of them are even transgendered. What is so amazing about them?

They were all created in God’s image, and God the Father loves them so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, into the world to die for them. He would rather die for them than live for all eternity without them. But, do you want to know the most amazing part of it? I need a Savior just a badly as the “worst” of them, because, even as a Christian, I am no better than they are. How can I NOT love them?

Steve

Even Me…

Who can God use for the furtherance of His kingdom? We have plenty of examples throughout the Bible of people whom God called to some specific task, who said “Here I am Lord, send someone else.” One of the most infamous was Moses. Another one was Gideon. Why did these men, who became heros of the faith, believe that they weren’t up to the task? Because they weren’t, in their own strength.

Billy Graham, who was probably the greatest evangelist of our time, never felt like he was capable of fulfilling the mission God gave him, and yet he led huge crusades all over the world. He may have not been capable, but God is more than able.

We are reminded that “God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called“.

If we look at the lives of the Apostles, they didn’t look like they would ever get past first-base, but they carried the Good News of the Gospel to nearly all of the known world. That was because they acted with a power that was not their own. They acted by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:35-38)

Who is the “Lord of the harvest”?
Jesus said “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

Jesus is the “Lord of the harvest” because the church belongs to Him.

Who sends out laborers?
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Even me…
This past weekend, I was at the Christian Naturist Festival at Lake Como Resort. The Festival was hosted by the Garden of Eden Church, which began a few years ago as a mission of the Christian Nudist Convocation(CNC). Garden Of Eden has been instrumental in planting another mission at Caliente Resort. There is also a lot of interest in starting a mission at Cypress Cove, which is close to where I live.

Who do think brought up the idea of starting a mission at Cypress Cove? Yours truly… Open mouth and insert foot… I thought “Here I am Lord, send someone else“, but that isn’t how God works. Why did I open my big mouth? There are times when I can’t even lead myself in silent prayer.

Somebody, or a group of somebodies, has been praying the Lord of the harvest to send a laborer into that harvest-field. Cypress Cove is better-known for its sometimes-wild parties than it is as a place where the Holy Spirit is at work, but it is family-friendly, unlike Caliente.

I don’t even know where to start, but God does, and if He wants a mission started at Cypress Cove, He will have to lead the way. The only thing I can hang my hat on is:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

I am not sending-authority. Jesus is, and if He sends me, I have all the authority I need. Yes, He can use even me, weak-knees, trembling-voice and all. I am not capable, but He is more than capable.

In Christ,
Steve

A Charge To Keep…

Timothy was a young pastor who had been mentored by Paul the Apostle, and as Paul saw his life drawing to a close, he wrote a personal letter to Timothy both to encourage him and to give him a charge, a charge to keep. When we see our world crumbling around us, it is hard for us to keep our focus on what is really important, living our lives for Christ and doing what we can to spread His kingdom. At some point in our life, and maybe at many points in our life, our world WILL crumble around us, so we need to heed Paul’s charge to Timothy to stay the course and keep up the good work.

4 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:1-8)

Paul was in prison in Rome, and as he penned this last letter, he knew that his time was short. From the time of his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul had been faithful to the Gospel, and even though he had suffered many trials, he had also established several churches throughout the known world. He had left Timothy in Ephesus to pastor that church, and he longed to see Timothy again.

False doctrine had crept into the church at Ephesus, and it would have been easy for Timothy to abandon the cause and to throw up his hands in surrender, but Paul counselled him to stay the course. People would walk away from the church because the teachings weren’t to their liking. We see splits like that all the time in churches large and small. The “prosperity-gospel” and “name it and claim it” religion are drawing huge crowds of people wanting God to be their “sugar-daddy“.

As a writer and blogger, I get discouraged because some of my posts seem to fall as flat as the Pharisee’s prayer. It is one thing to have many “followers” but something quite different to actually have active, engaged and engaging readers. No, I am not out to win some kind of “popularitycontest“, because this blog is to God’s glory, not mine. I track my stats to see what you are reading, not to “steer” the direction of my writing. I write what I believe that I should and need to write about as the “inspiration” hits me, sometimes at midnight.

As Paul counselled Timothy, his counsel applies to me as well. I must stay the course, living my life for Christ and doing what I can to help the spread of God’s kingdom. I have a charge to keep, so I don’t plan to go away anytime soon.

In Christ,
Steve