2015 In Review

WOW! What a year it has been! How did it slip away SO quickly? They say “Time flies when you are having fun“, but have I really had THAT much “fun“? I must say that the older I get, the faster time seems to fly. So, what happened during 2015?

Writing…
As of today, December 28, 2015, I have posted seventy-eight articles to this blog this year. Of that seventy-eight, eight have been weekly Bible studies, which is an ongoing ministry. I have also started almost fifty articles which I haven’t finished and aren’t ready to publish. I have some series in mind, including a series on the book of Ruth. Stay tuned!

Ministry…
This blog is an ongoing ministry, and early this year, I was given the vision of starting a ministry at Cypress Cove Nudist Resort. The organized church does many things well, but ministering to nudists isn’t one of them. My article, “The Role Of Nudists In The Church“, explains why. God isn’t happy with the “status-quo“, so He has commissioned Christian nudists to minister to fellow-nudists.

When I presented my vision of a ministry at Cypress Cove during the Christian Naturists Festival, I received a very positive response. I also had an “Here I am, Lord, send someone else” moment. Could or would God actually use me for that ministry? I didn’t have to wait very long for that answer, because Cameron Bennett, one of the board-members of CNC, promised to partner with me on it. I am not free to give details about his partnership, but I really appreciate what he has done and is continuing to do.

I invite you to go back and read “Even Me…“, “Getting Out Of The “Boat”…” and “Out Of The Boat“, because these articles chronicle my journey from “call” to actually beginning the ministry. Yes, I still have some heebie-jeebies.

Distribution/promotion…
I decided from the git-go that I wasn’t going to be a self-promoter, and I haven’t. I have left promoting this blog up to God for Him to do with as He chooses. As a result, I am continually-amazed at how many and where links show up to this little corner of the internet. This isn’t about me. It is about what God is doing in building up His kingdom in His world. As of this writing, this little “boat” has docked in 84 different countries, and only God could have taken it to several of those countries. I am thankful for every “hit“, every “like“, every comment and every re-blog, because every one of those things encourages me to keep going, to keep writing and to keep posting.

Personal…
My personal high-point was the weekend I spent at Lake Como for the Christian Naturists Festival. We had an incredible time of fun, fellowship, encouragement and worship, and we also consumed no small-amount of ice-cream over the weekend. I made some new friends and met several people in person who I had only met online before. Pam and Lee, the “spark-plugs” at Garden of Eden Church are wonderful people, and hosted the event. Rev. David Hatton, the main speaker, is a dear Brother in Christ, and Cameron Bennett is my fellow-laborer in the ministry at Cypress Cove. Tom and Marilyn Pine are excellent writers and super-people. I don’t mean to slight anyone who was there, but my rememberer isn’t what it used to be.

I have had several other significant events this year, but not all of them have been good. Kicking-off the ministry at Cypress Cove was another high-point, and I am looking forward to our first “public” meeting January 3rd.

Our Senior Pastor resigned abruptly this past February to pursue other interests, and in spite promises to “stay in touch“, he might as well have moved to a different galaxy. We weren’t left in a total-lurch, because we had a very-capable Associate Pastor, who we quickly called to be our Senior Pastor. We also lost our Director of Music and his wife this year, but our Senior Pastor’s wife is a wonderful musician and has stepped into the gap.

Liz, my neighbor-gal, lost her mother back in September, and as her primary emotional-support person, it was a tough time for me also. Liz was up at her parent’s place for the last month her mom was alive. Unfortunately, one of her brothers was there also. Liz was adopted after her parent’s older children were already gone from home, so she has never really been acccepted as part of the family by them. I went up for the funeral, and spent the night in a motel so I could also go to Florida National Cemetary for the committal service. Only one other person she knows from here went up for the funeral. We were the only ones who were actually there for HER. The rest of her “friends” were “too-busy“.

I hate to call Christmas a “non-celebration“, but I have been sick for over a week and didn’t even feel like going to my church’s Christmas Eve service, let alone go somewhere Christmas day. Unlike the previous two years, I didn’t even have an invitation to join anyone for Christmas.

Unfortunately, when even Christians think about “family” for the holidays, they forget about their church-family and those who have no other family to celebrate with. Not all of us have “family” close-by to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with. Christmas isn’t about me or what I want, it is about celebrating the birth of our Savior.

The Apostle Paul, in 1st Timothy 3, lists “hospitable” as one of the qualifications and characteristics of Elders and Deacons, but if my experience is any indicator, “hospitable” is the most widely-ignored of those qualifications. Paul knew that casual-contact between those who had been called by God to lead His church and their flock wasn’t enough. Being “familiar-strangers” doesn’t get the job done. That is the point of hospitality, so that people can get to know each other.

Many years ago, we had a pastor and his wife who took hospitality very seriously. As I recall, their dining-room table seated about a dozen people, and they filled it up for Sunday-dinner EVERY Sunday. Newcomers to the church were invited first, and then others to fill their table up. They considered hospitality to be an integral-part of their ministry to the church. This was brought more forcefully to my attention by the fact that I didn’t have anywhere to go for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Is this part of why many Christians feel disconnected from their church “family“? Has the 21st-century church lost its sense of being a “family“?

Finis…
I have learned over the last three years that my best-laid-plans are likely to go awry, so all I “plan” to do next year is to keep on keeping-on. 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.

Wishing you God’s richest blessings in the New Year, and a Happy Nude Year!
Steve

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