Means of Grace

Grace defined: the free and unmerited favor of God.

In just under 3 years, I have come to call myself a naturist. It’s not all of who I am, but it’s a big part of who I am. Initially my Bible study and soul searching was to make sure this practice didn’t go against my faith. I’ve come to realize over time, though, that I had been associating my faith with a denomination (Christian) instead of associating my faith with my Heavenly Father. If I were to ask church leaders of any denomination if naturism was congruent with the Bible, they would probably tell me no. We’ve shared lots of Scriptures and their context and explanations here already as to why we feel it is congruent with the Bible, so I’m not going to do that. Instead, I want to talk about things a little differently. 

While at a Christian Naturist retreat a few weeks ago, I was speaking with a well known author in the Christian naturist world. At one point during our conversation he used the term “means of grace,” and it struck a chord with me. This man was using examples such as the Lord parting the Red Sea for the Israelites. The parting wasn’t grace itself, but it was a means of grace. The cross wasn’t grace itself, but it was a means of grace. I’ve been saying for awhile now, that I’ve felt like the Lord used naturism as a catalyst (the means) in my life to show me so many other areas where I have not been living in the freedom that Jesus died for. I love that term, “means of grace”! Phil and I have been talking a lot lately about the Lord’s grace in our lives and what it means to live in it. 

I have been a Christian my whole life, and thought I had a pretty good relationship with God. I went to church regularly, prayed, read my Bible (occasionally and almost always with an attitude of obligation). I served in the church nursery. I was on the children’s ministry team. I was a pastor’s wife for cryin’ out loud! I didn’t smoke, I didn’t chew and I didn’t go out with boys that…did. I followed all the rules. I lied to my parents once, and confessed that I lied to them about 15 minutes after I did it. Really, I was the epitome of a good Christian girl. I carried around a sense of pride when I did all the things I was supposed to do, and when I didn’t, the guilt and shame was thick. I thought I was supposed to feel guilty and I would try harder not to fail God the next day. 

The things the Father has been showing me about grace though are the complete opposite.

The things the Father has been showing me about grace though are the complete opposite. He’s been showing me that he wants a relationship with me like the relationship I want with my children. I love it when my kids want to talk with me and spend time with me! What if the Father feels the same way about me? Does he long for me to come to him like I long for my kids to do the same? I think that he does! 

I am not required to serve in the church nursery to be a good Christian, although I should if I feel led to. I am a sinful person, saved by grace and free to live in the freedom that was bought by the blood of Jesus. Guilt and shame are not from my Father; they are from the father of lies, and he has no claim on me! Because I am a new creation and the Holy Spirit dwells in me, I am a good person. When I am living in the grace given to me, I will automatically want to do those things that I used to see as requirements and obligations. I am no longer under the old law, but under grace.

I’ve found the Lord can use whatever He wants to draw his children to himself.

I’ve found the Lord can use whatever He wants to draw his children to himself. These are things the Lord revealed to me after he showed me the freedom I had concerning my body. Once I had studied how he felt about the body and realized what I had been taught didn’t quite line up with reality, I wanted to study more and find out what other areas the Lord wanted to teach us new things. I’ve been amazed at the journey the Lord has taken us on! 

Obviously the Lord can use whatever he wants to draw his people to himself. For you it may have been an illness or an accident or some other incident in your life, big or small. For Phil and me, the Lord definitely used naturism as a “means of grace.” Naturism isn’t the grace itself obviously, but the Lord used it to draw me into a closer relationship with him– a relationship I only thought I had before. A relationship that keeps me excited and eager to learn new mysteries. A relationship of grace, mercy, love, joy, peace and so much more!!

AFE News

Here’s a quick note to update you on what’s going on at Aching For Eden (AFE).

We’ve surpassed two years, now, of having one post a week since we began this blog. Thank you for reading! It’s because of you that we keep this going. Thanks also to those of you who have contributed to the blog by writing occasional guest posts. This helps us keep fresh content week after week. Keep it coming!


Aching for Eden is and always will be free, of course. If you’d like to give in a monetary way, check out the new swag page. There are currently three t-shirt designs where you can look great (if you have to wear something) and we get a small kick back and any tips. It’s not necessary, but it’s there if you are so inclined.

We’ve added some new memes to the memes page, as well as some new resources in the newly reworked resource page. Perhaps you’ve never looked at those pages. Now’s a great time to check it out!


ISO a digital artist. If anyone knows of a digital artist who is a believer, who would have a heart to volunteer his/her skills to a special project, have them contact us through the contact us page. Thanks!


AFE was ranked by Feedspot as #14 out of the top 35 naturist blogs of the year. They rank sites based on traffic, social media, and freshness. This came as a surprise to us. We happen to be the only Christian site on the list!


AFE has been cited repeatedly in the book, “A Whole Nude World” by Michael Douglas. The website is also mentioned in a short story by our friend, D.H. Jonathan in a book (Holiday in the Nudist Colony). The story is a sequel to his novel “Life Models” which you can buy on Amazon here.


Progress on our book has stalled a bit, but it’s Phil’s intention to try to work more on it in the rest of the year. We’re hoping for a release sometime next year. Stay tuned, and subscribe (at the bottom of the home page) so you don’t miss any great new content!


Lastly, Phil was featured recently  in a CNF (Christian Naturist Fellowship) newsletter. You can read his short column in the image below:

Surface Level Understanding

Can you imagine learning to fly an airplane by only reading manuals? Having read about how to safely and effectively lift the plane into the sky and maneuver it in the air and land again, would you be so confident as to try to fly alone? Book learning cannot be the sole piece of pilot training required to successfully take to the air. There must be a practical and hands on approach to learning with one who is an instructor or at least already a pilot in order to have the best results and avoid a crash, serious injury, or death. This is true of most learning: to drive a car, to play guitar, to lift weights. You would not rely on having book smarts alone for any of these disciplines. What is needed are hours of practice, reps, building muscle memory, conditioning body and mind for the task you are learning or training to do. Otherwise you are left with only a surface level understanding. One must consciously and intentionally move from the theoretical to the experiential to enjoy the rewards of whatever is being learned.

I believe the same is true with the belief and practice of naturism. I say this because I know of many who are currently in the place of being interested in and not opposed to the idea of it, but have yet to actually try non-sexual nudity in a naturist park or nude beach. I know this because that was me for a time as well. I suppose some people jump in the deep end (literally and metaphorically) on a whim or impulse and have an immediate “baptism” or adoption of a new way of life in one instance. For others, as it was with me, it starts with curiosity, research, and a time of pondering before an attempt is made of trying the theory out in real life. There are moments of “dipping your toes in the water,” staying nude after showering and doing regular things nude around the home. There are sometimes opportunities to trek outdoors nude by yourself when plenty of privacy is afforded. For me, I joined a community of naturists online before I had been socially nude in a shared physical space. 

Then came the moment for the proverbial “ripping off of the bandaid.” Sink or swim. After I had learned all about the practice and encouraged my wife to learn with me, we had a moment where we conducted a grand experiment. We were going to go beyond the theoretical and move swiftly into the practical and experiential. Our “diving into the deep end” would take place in Florida with 5 other Christian naturist couples in one clothes-free airbnb for a whole week. We would see if all we had been learning was true or not.

It was and it did not disappoint! Transformative is an understatement. Watching YouTube videos, reading articles, interacting with naturists online, reading books, even studying the Bible and praying all led to this moment of taking our clothes off and interacting with others as we really are without anything to hide behind. The head knowledge gained during that time had to be transferred to our heart and to the rest of our body. Superficial knowledge alone was not sufficient to convince us of life change, but the real life application did the trick, and immediately! There is no going back now.

The whole point of this article is that “believing in” is not enough. There has to be a doing. Also, learning the history, the benefits, and the therapeutic effect that naturism can bring a person is not near as convincing as is trying it out for yourself. Neither I nor anyone can convince anyone just by singing the praises of naturism with words and stories. Having your own experience is the only way to fully know and understand what we try to communicate. You want a full understanding and not one that is only surface level.

Surely, some who try may find that it’s not for them. My take on that is that there is some shame or religious indoctrination or something else to work through in those cases. The very activity of naturism could be the cure they need, but they need to commit fully. One author suggests two visits will solidify the positive effects of naturism. If your first experience is awkward or too nerve racking, he suggests to give it a try a second time, and then decide if it’s for you or not. For most earnest seekers of truth, I believe the first experience will be life changing.

I’ve often said that the only down side to naturism is that it ruins most textile activities or vacations. A “nakation” where you can go clothes-free for an extended period of time is amazing. It keeps you ready for the next time, which usually can’t come soon enough. When you see your friends and family enjoying clothes-obsessive activities during their recreation time, you can’t help but think to yourself, “You’re doing it wrong!” They aren’t. They are just doing what everyone does. I just know of a more satisfying and relaxing way for me to rest and play.

A Delightful Trip

Mrs. Phil and I recently had the chance to visit some friends in the Pacific Northwest. Since the time we first met them elsewhere, we decided that it was a trip that we would have to add to our naturist bucket list of places to visit for a nakation (clothes free vacation). It did not disappoint!

Any time we can get away together is good, but when we have some naked in nature time together, it’s even better. Throw in some friends, and some new friends, and it’s a great experience.

A question that gets asked often is: Why does nudity have to be social? Well, it doesn’t have to be. And for many naturists, it isn’t. Many are home nudists but don’t have the opportunity to be nude in non-sexual ways with others. This is unfortunate, because there is something about being that open and vulnerable with other people: friends or strangers. The longer we have embraced this way of living and thinking differently, we can testify to one fact that affects naturists more so than non-naturists. Simply put: winters are harder. The reason they are hard, is that due to the weather and other factors, socially nude time greatly diminishes. We can’t even lay out in the sun for an air bath by ourselves! But because we were made to be social creatures, the lack of opportunities really puts a damper on what some already see as a dreary season. There are things I do like about winter, but this is definitely not one of them. I don’t know what it is exactly, but the friendships made with those with whom we’ve been socially nude are some of the best friendships we have. When we go too long without experiencing socially nude time, we both start to feel like something important is missing. Why social? I say why not? We are social in textile situations, and we should be in nude ones too. The era in which we live makes this level of friendship difficult, but not impossible.

This is why a trip in the spring was such a welcome idea. We were feeling the need for such a trip and an experience of this sort badly. Mrs. Phil told me the confidence she had gained from being socially nude was waning. She is so much more confident than in the 20 years before embracing naturism, but she could feel a need to be befriend her body again. Shedding all your clothes has a way of shredding with them the insecurities those clothes hide away. We weren’t in danger of falling back into old habits and an old way of thinking, but since we have this freedom, why not use it? We desperately wanted to go, and are so glad we did.

Aside from the absolute beauty of God’s creation and getting to see a new terrain, we got to be just as we were created in all it’s glory. This is something else that often goes overlooked or unappreciated by non-naturists. Can’t you hike and see amazing landscapes with your clothes on? Yes. But when you can experience these sights and be in your natural state, it’s even more amazing! If you haven’t done it before, you’ll just have to trust me on that one. I feel so close to our Creator when I’m unencumbered by any trappings of society, and simply enjoying beautiful nature and joining with creation to praise our Lord. If we don’t do it, the rocks will cry out, Jesus said. To experience natural hot springs (and several of them in different terrains) was awesome, and I use that word sparingly. Here, the Creator has built into his creation a hot tub that doesn’t require electricity. It simply requires strategically placed rocks to create a pool that separates the hot water from the freezing cold water of the river. You can do a polar plunge and warm up in the hot spring within 10 feet of each other! And you can do it all in the comfort of your own skin, no soggy bathing suits (or shame suits as a friend calls them).

A neat thing is to hear how accepting the culture up there is towards nudity, especially when it comes to hot springs. There was one we did not get to see because when we arrived, there were a bunch of “suitors” (bathing suitors) there, or “textiles.” Sometimes it’s not an issue, but this was a big camping group with little ones, so we just went on our way to the next one. Our friends will often take their own little ones to the hot springs and just like at a family friendly naturist park, there is no problem and it’s perfectly fine and acceptable. Any thoughts otherwise would prove a pornographic mentality, as opposed to a mature and renewed mind we talk about on this blog so often.

We got to meet a bunch of people from all walks of life. They were all very nice. The lack of clothing jump starts better conversation because the small talk that generally happens is unnecessary. Humans don’t only tend to hide behind clothes, but also hide the real and authentic versions of themselves as they attempt to project a certain image of themselves. I think we do this instinctively, or at least subconsciously. Perhaps not all of that goes away, but naturism tends to accelerate the loss of phoniness due to the common acceptance of our natural state. I’ve observed this phenomenon over and over, and even though I can’t explain it, I do appreciate it. 

This blog post makes some good points worth further reflection and contemplation: “Nudism is not about seeing others naked or being seen naked, per se, but I also think it would be disingenuous to say that seeing and being seen are not part of what makes nudism so liberating and empowering. Overcoming the fear instilled in us throughout our upbringing and, for many of us, throughout much of our adult lives, by confronting head-on the anxiety associated with being nude in front of others is one part of it. Another part of it is a very sincere curiosity and a very human desire to know others and to be known for who we are, to be vulnerable, to be acknowledged and accepted and, yes, seen. Not seen for the sake of exhibition or attention. Not seen to show off or flaunt. Seen in order that the truest version of ourselves, warts and wrinkles and wounds laid bare, might be accepted and celebrated.” I love that thought and others mentioned in that particular post. I love that we can express joy and freedom in its most raw form together without shame spoiling it. 

During this trip, we were also off the grid with no cell service or wifi. That made Mrs. Phil a tad nervous having left our kids at home, but they survived just fine without us. We had a terrific time and relaxed those days and enjoyed the handiwork of our Creator on display. We can cross the Pacific Northwest off our naturist bucket list now. Not that we won’t be back again, but we’ve been there and done that. We didn’t get the t-shirt, but rather we took them off. Oh, and one more thing. Ignore this whole post. The locals told us to say there’s nothing there that’s worth seeing! I think they just want to keep it for themselves!

Celebrating…

Hello friends and dear readers. Today is just a quick note to celebrate two items.

The first, and the better of the two, is that today is Phil and Mrs. Phil’s wedding anniversary. 22 years ago, two high school sweethearts stood at the altar and made vows that they intended to keep for the rest of their lives. We are so blessed to be happier together now more than ever in our lives. We never would’ve imagined that we would be naturists, but we feel it’s what the Lord wanted for us. Exactly 2 years ago, we renewed our vows on Blind Creek beach as our first nude beach experience.

Tomorrow we are participating in our very first nude 5k. Naturism has been a huge blessing for us. It helped cure Phil’s problems with lust and porn, and helped Mrs. Phil with her body acceptance.

We could never go back to how we were before, nor would we want to!

The second item we are celebrating today is 100 posts on Aching for Eden! If being naturists was something we would have never guessed, being naturist bloggers is even more crazy! It’s also been so rewarding to get to share with all of you what we are learning, and we are humbled that people are reading and finding our posts helpful. We didn’t know if we’d have 5 posts and call it quits or what. We’re still going strong after 100 posts, and we have you to thank for it. Keep reading and sharing this goodness with a world that needs it!

The Wife of Your Youth

In the overly sexualized worldview of the culture around us, it’s quite common to hear of people leaving their wife for a younger woman. They joke about getting a newer model, as if the person they are married to is a car or a gadget. It’s very dehumanizing and sad to see! The prevalence of this mentality gives way to a lack of self confidence for aging women, who are already bombarded with messages everyday on how they can use such and such product to look 10 years younger. This poor body image is not only an issue for women, but they typically bear the brunt of the onslaught of this messaging. The results are catastrophic!

Is there a better way? You better believe there is! The answer is Imago Dei. You don’t have to be a naturist to believe in the full ramifications of Image Dei (the image of God), but I have not met anyone who lives out this theology better than Christian naturists. They believe at a very core level that every body is a somebody, made in God’s image, and deserving of dignity, respect and love on that basis alone. Yes, many may abuse that gift by their own actions, but this view is at least the starting point for every person. Along with that comes the belief that there is inherent beauty in all that God creates, and human beings are the pinnacle of his creation. The crowning glory of Eden was and so should remain to be man and woman, naked and unashamed. Yes, even our bodies are wonderfully made and are not lewd or obscene in and of themselves. This was true in an innocent pre-fall state in Genesis 1-2, and even though Genesis 3 messes everything up with sin entering the picture, the stage is set in verse 3:15 for the reversal of the curse and the restoration of all things. With this present mindset of being naked without shame, a jolt of self-confidence is gained, which is so rare to come by without such an extreme view. Let me back track and not call this self-confidence, but rather God-confidence. It’s confidence that God doesn’t make junk. To think less of yourself is to spit in the face of your Creator. Naturists don’t stand for that in any way, shape, or form! What about humility? Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less.

What’s this have to do with the subject of this post? Everything. It stands in stark contrast to the attitude mentioned in the opening lines. Imago Dei is a more healthy, wholesome, godly, and biblical worldview to have.

Imago Dei is a more healthy, wholesome, godly, and biblical worldview to have.

In the ESV translation, Proverbs 5:18 says to rejoice in the wife of your youth. It’s a beautiful picture in the midst of a stern warning against adultery. “Drink from your own cistern,” says verse 15. “May her (the wife of your youth’s) breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love” is the exhortation of verse 19. Continuing on in context, verse 20 asks, “Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?” There’s a lot here, and we’ll get to it shortly. But first, let’s delve into the rejoicing in the wife of your youth for a minute.

My wife and I were married at the young age of 19. We were high school sweethearts and both virgins on our wedding night. I wish I could tell you everything was great after that, but it wasn’t. I ruined my otherwise stellar score on the purity scale with a pornography habit just before our special day. This had a destructive effect, for sure, which I’m so glad is now a distant memory. We did enjoy young love, but we also went through a lot of heartache, due to our brokenness that needed to be redeemed by the only one who can make all things new.

My wife told my boys just the other day that she would gladly go through all the pain again to come out on the other side and have what we now have. It’s greater than she ever imagined as a young girl. Our love has been through the crucible of suffering and has come out stronger on the other side. The refiner’s fire did a number on us, but we are grateful for the purifying process. I mentioned to her that I don’t really remember her body as a 19 year old. Nor do I wish she could get it back. Time has taken its toll on both of us, and we are no longer the skinny kids who stood at the altar. That said, I wouldn’t trade down for anything else! She has aged like fine wine and is more beautiful than she was at our wedding. I look forward to many more gray hairs and wrinkles and drooping or sagging skin. She’ll always be for me the standard by which all beauty is measured.

MyChainsAreGone.org is a wonderful resource to read. It confirmed my change for us. My wife discovered it on her own while doing research after I told her about my embrace of naturism and permanent victory over porn. 

On this page of MCAG, there are two columns comparing and contrasting two different views of a person’s sexual responses to the sight of a woman’s form– the traditional view and the renewed view. I’ll highlight just two of the categories here.

Marital Intimacy according to the Traditional View of a person’s sexual responses to the sight of a woman’s form:

The couple comes together on their wedding night and see each other for the very first time. The experience is wonderful and very worth the wait. They eagerly anticipate the opportunity to enjoy each others’ naked bodies for the rest of their lives.

Marital Intimacy according to the Renewed View of a person’s sexual responses to the sight of a woman’s form.

The couple has reserved sexual intimacy for their wedding night, regardless of whether they have seen each others’ bodies before. They have not allowed themselves to respond to the sight of nudity with sexual lust, so their wedding night is truly a consummation of their relationship and love. It is wonderful and well worth the wait.

There is much more on this page worth reading at MCAG, but the other category I want to highlight would be life changes.

Life Changes according to the Traditional View of a person’s sexual responses to the sight of a woman’s form:

As a woman experiences the changing of time upon her body, youth fades. Along with that youthful beauty, she loses some of her sexual appeal. The man still disciplines himself to be satisfied with her body as it is, but the sexual impact of her nudity on his libido has waned. In some cases, a woman’s body may change significantly due to disease or lifestyle choices. These drastic changes will affect his sexual desire and require a stronger resolve to flee from the enticements of other women, especially younger ones. As she ages, his wife simply does not and will never again have the kind of sexual appeal that she had when they married.

Life Changes according to the Renewed View of a person’s sexual responses to the sight of a woman’s form.

Physical appearance is part of a who a woman is, but the man values his deepening relationship with his wife more than her youthful beauty, and since his sexual response is based upon his relationship with her, rather than on her physical appearance, his ability to respond sexually with his wife is still strong. Changes in appearance do not take anything significant away from her femininity, therefore, the man’s sexual relationship deepens with each passing year — even throughout their twilight years.

Now which would you rather? To me, it’s plain to see. I’m happy to be in the redeemed and renewed view’s camp. It was God’s plan all along. It’s his ideal and the sexual ethic we are to follow. It puts us right in the middle of his full blessing. Not that everything will be perfect or easy, but we will be operating in his spirit and according to his will. I say it often, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and I’d wish it on my worst enemy, if I had any.

Now a word for single people. One major criticism of purity culture is that it does not say much to singles. It props up marriage and promises it to be the greatest achievement, second only to salvation, of course.  One group that this almost idolization of marriage excludes by default, are those who are unmarried or divorced. While this article focuses primarily to husbands, I don’t want to downplay in any way the valuable perspective of single people. You may perhaps have a greater understanding in this life of what will be our ultimate reality of being the bride of Christ. 

It’s time to get back now to the thief of optimum love, and that’s selfishness. It’s out of selfishness (to your spouse or future spouse if marrying later) that you might choose to indulge in pornography. Of course, some may view it as a couple and try to spice things up. However, I believe that if you are living according to God’s plan, not out of duty and obligation, but out of love and joy, you won’t need to spice anything up. It’s ultimately a selfish act and a lack of trust in God’s word and faithfulness to deliver on his promises. It’s not victimless. It causes your own spouse insecurities because it sends them the clear message that they are not enough. It objectifies those engaging in the intimate acts as objects for our own selfish gratification. It rewires our brains in ways that are contrary to God’s intent for sexual integrity and our own optimum pleasure and satisfaction. If you read fightthenewdrug.org , you’ll see decades of research showing how porn negatively impacts love and relationships, can contribute to cycles of stress, and even fuel sex trafficking. Again, let’s go back to Proverbs— why embrace the bosom of a stranger?

Bottom line, I believe God does know what’s best for us, and had our good in mind when he placed sexual intimacy within the confines of a committed and loving marriage relationship. I’m not a fan of how purity culture put their messages out, but that part, they did get right. For me, I’ve tried entertaining and indulging porn, and it did nothing positive for me. It’s effects were only negative ones in my life and for those I love. I’d much rather heed the warning against adultery (because that’s what lust of the heart is) and instead welcome the invitation to enjoy the wife of my youth. It’s the difference between a gourmet meal and day old fast food out of the garbage bin. I only wish more people could see and understand the difference!

Behold the new!

The Phil you all have come to know in the pages of this blog is not the Phil I spent most of my life married to. When Phil was trapped in the sin of lust, it was evident in his actions and reactions. His reactions many times seemed exaggerated for the situations.  

I remember very early on in our marriage we got into a fight, I don’t remember what the fight was about (probably sex), but Phil got so mad that he punched the wall near our bed and put a fist size hole in it. That hole stayed there until we moved out and our landlord fixed it. That’s not the only hole he’s made as a result of anger. The house we currently live in has a hole in one of the doors. For most of our marriage I lived with the Phil that was angry a lot. 

Let me be clear, I never felt like I or the kids were in danger. He never hurt me (us) physically. There were emotional and mental scars however. There were times when he would make me feel so small. He would attack my ability as a homemaker, as a cook, as a wife and as a mom. Those attacks hurt so badly, but when I would show emotion, he would belittle me for crying. 

I mentioned sex before. That was what most of our fights were about. The infrequency and quality was always the problem, even though in my mind it wasn’t infrequent. I was rarely in the mood for intimacy because I didn’t feel loved or respected and I didn’t respect him. And I was exhausted from basically being a single parent (more on that below). 

I wasn’t the only one who had to deal with his anger though. I was always more concerned for our kids. I would try to shield them when I knew he was upset or I knew he was going to be upset. When he would come home from work,  I would send them to their rooms to play so he could have some peace. There were a few times I would leave the house and take the kids to the park to play if he came home in a particularly bad mood. 

We were in full-time ministry at the time and he worked extra long hours most days.  They were weird hours too as sometimes he would get calls in the middle of the night. There were ministry obligations that had to be taken care of and that took him away from us a lot. Even though this meant I was doing most of the parenting, I was ok with him being away from us. I dreaded him coming home. Even though we were in ministry, we rarely prayed together. As far as I knew, he never prayed for me. We weren’t in the Word together outside of church. We were really just going through the motions of a pastor’s family. We were dying inside. 

I began to find a pattern in his behavior and the Holy Spirit began to reveal to me that his mood was tied to his pornography use. If he started belittling me and yelling at the kids, it was almost guaranteed that he was struggling. I would approach him and ask if he had been having issues. Sometimes he would admit it and sometimes he would deny it. Sometimes I would just come right out and tell him I knew he was looking at porn. I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit’s role in bringing all of this to light and I’m grateful for the role he continues to play in our lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t a saint. I definitely contributed to some of the issues we had. I was bitter and angry too, but I dealt with my anger differently. Even though our relationship was pretty unhealthy, there were some moments of good. Some moments of really good. We have lots of home videos and pictures to prove that we really loved each other and that he was a pretty good dad even during those more difficult times. Thankfully, our kids don’t remember very much about angry dad. 

The Lord had been working on Phil for a while, even before naturism. The atmosphere in our home had already begun to shift, but 2 ½ years ago I began to notice an even more drastic shift happening. My first indication that something was different about him was that I began to notice him treating me better. He stopped yelling. He started speaking to me with kindness and genuine interest. I noticed he was more patient with the kids. He was loving on them more. He started asking me how he could pray for me. I didn’t say anything to him about what I was noticing. I think I was afraid of jinxing it. 

Looking back I believe I was able to embrace naturism so quickly because of the changes I had seen in him. Today, I am married to a new man. He has the same name, the same physical DNA, but his spiritual DNA is different. He is the man of God I always wished he would be. Actually he is more than that. I have loved him for a very long time, but my love for him has grown exponentially through everything we’ve been through. The Phil of today is kind, compassionate, understanding, patient, caring, emotionally available and so much more. He encourages me constantly and makes me want to be a better person. I have so much respect for who he is. I am so grateful for him and honestly feel like the luckiest girl in the world! How did I get so blessed??

Today, Phil prays for me regularly. As we are getting ready to sleep he often begins praying for our family or situations we are aware of. We talk through the Scriptures often. He takes care of me so well! Our kids have felt the shift too. It’s been amazing to watch how they have taken notice of the changes in us and have begun to make changes in themselves too. They are making their faith their own and that is such a cool thing to watch in your kids! We’ve gotten to have some really authentic conversations with them and in turn our family has grown much closer to each other. 

Every once in a while a situation will come up that makes my amygdala scream. I’ll expect Phil to act one way and when he doesn’t I’m reminded that the Lord has redeemed him. Phil will remind me in these moments that he isn’t that man anymore. The Lord has done an amazing work in Phil’s life and in mine and we feel so blessed to experience this life together! 

I don’t look at that hole in the door anymore with contempt. Today I look at it and I’m grateful that the man that made that hole has been made new. 

Isaiah 43:19, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”

Revelation 21:5, “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'”

I’ll Never Agree

The following is my reply to a brother who told me he would never agree to my view of naturism as a Christian:

You say you’ll never agree with me on the naturist position and can’t see anyone in the Bible practicing that. Never say never! I once was in your camp and thought the same thing about the Edenic ideal. Christian naturists, in my view, had to be a bunch of perverts trying to justify their awful behavior. For me, that was a projection of my own perversion at the time, especially since I equated nudity with sex. This is the main hang up for people that is hard to get over, but once you break that link, temptation to lust loses all its power. As Martha C. Nussbaum put it so eloquently and succinctly: “Nudity quickly becomes unremarkable when generally practiced.”

Now, having taken off the lenses of cultural bias, I’ve seen the words of Scripture anew. I see the body as the pinnacle of God’s creation, made very good. That didn’t stop being good when man sinned, at least I don’t think God changed his mind on it from one chapter to the next. Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed until they ate of the fruit. Then we are supposed to believe that this husband and wife are suddenly ashamed of their nakedness, after God commanded them to be fruitful and multiply? Something deeper and more sinister seems to be at play here! Many gloss over one of the very first questions God asks Adam after he confessed they were afraid and hid because they were naked. That question is simply “Who said you were naked?” It’s largely ignored, and most, it could just not be in the text at all. Could it be that the continued influence of the lying serpent deceptively put ideas contrary to God’s heart in their impressionable minds?

God wants us like little children to enter His kingdom. Someone described innocence as being “unaffected.” Kids learn body shame from grown ups. They don’t have this instinctively. We teach them, just like our first parents were taught. Is it possible to be innocent again or unaffected by sexual temptation this side of heaven? I think if our minds are renewed (Romans 12:1-2), we can be. Imagine a swindler who gives his heart to the Lord and quickly realizes that as a child of God he should swindle no more. We would do him a major disservice to his faith and new walk with Christ to tell him, “Well, the truth is that we live in a fallen world. And even if you don’t want to swindle any longer, you’re going to struggle with swindling because that’s just who you are. No! We’d tell him, “Swindling grieves God’s heart and it’s not who you are any longer.” That is the most I’ve ever referred to swindling, but I hope the point is clear. Lust is no different, and we shouldn’t treat it differently! Lust is not a constant threat to the one who doesn’t want to lust, he or she who trains their own arousal to be based solely in relationship, not in the visual aspect only (see www.mychainsaregone.org).

Jesus was fully human, tempted in every way as we are, yet did not sin (Hebrews 4:15) The woman caught in adultery was most likely fully naked, and Jesus looked at her with compassion, not lust. He commands us to do the same. (Matthew 5:27-28). We need to see people like God sees them, as made in His image.

I do not want to cause you to compromise your convictions. But as one who held the same convictions before, I will now speak of my freedom. I don’t want to try and convince you about naturism. It wasn’t even invented in Bible times, as you stated. There wasn’t a need to protect a group of like-minded people without the trappings of clothes, and restrict them to a certain area in those days. This is because nudity was simply more commonplace those days. We are post Victorian era and much more prudish as a result. We have also unfortunately been conditioned to treat the sight of bare skin strictly in a sexual way. That can be unlearned as easy as it was learned.

It’s sad to me that I never knew so many things about the ancient world at the time when Jesus roamed the earth. I didn’t really think about Roman baths or bathing at the river. How did people know who was and wasn’t circumcised? Since our clothes are so cheap to produce today, we don’t think about having one super expensive garment, that served as collateral in times with no credit cards, and doubled as a blanket at night. If you own very few garments, you would accustom yourself to working naked, like Peter and fishermen, for example. There are mosaics and frescoes and artwork that depict all these realities, as well as nude baptism for centuries! I was either unaware of these facts or outright rejected them. The point is, simple nudity was common and expected in that era, unlike today.

God commanded Isaiah to go and preach naked for three years (Isaiah 20:1-3). Would he command someone to sin? Did Jesus sin at his crucifixion or even when he came out of the grave and was mistaken for a naked gardener? When Saul in 1 Samuel 19:23-24 stripped and prophesied, people saw and asked if he was among the prophets (who were accustomed to prophesy this way).

I had no clue about Pope John Paul II’s landmark work known as “Theology of the Body” or what significance it would have for my life and faith. I didn’t know about all the censoring of art throughout the centuries, including the Sistine chapel. I was clueless about the subsequent removal of the loin cloths drawn over the top to reclaim Michelangelo’s God-honoring masterpiece.

As a result of not knowing or appreciating these truths, I lived a lie. The lie is that there is only one response to the sight of flesh. Like Pavlov’s dogs, my thinking was one track minded, and so the result was exactly what you’d expect (one of enticement and lustful desire). When I started to see that there is another and a better way, everything changed. My bondage ceased in a way never attained before. Soon after my wife’s body shame issues (of which she was largely unaware, even though it colored much of her world and confidence) died along with my struggles. Praise the Lord! What used to be a rock of offense, is now a great blessing just as God intended it to be in the beginning.

As for the most common objections, we cover them and the Scripture references in question at great length in this video/text blog series. I personally know several pastors and have read of many more who see no reason why naturism cannot be reconciled with Christian faith and practice. Some of them became naturists after studying the Bible for themselves, unsuccessfully trying to prove naturism is wrong! In fact, they and I attest to an enhancement to our faith and love for our Creator God and Lord.

You bring up two passages not addressed in this series: Ephesians 5:3 – But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. My answer is we agree! You would surely say that can’t be so, but that would be because you still link nudity to sex in your mind. There is non-sexual nudity that does not arouse sexual energy. Medical communities know this and naked tribes knew it until we went and told them they were naked and and deemed them “improper” in that state of undress. Nursing mothers should be left alone to care for their offspring without being sexualized. I have gathered with other believers and we’ve worshipped together all in undecorated bare bodies and there wasn’t a hint of sexual immorality. There were only sweet times of fellowship that honestly are hard to replicate in the clothing obsessed society. There’s really something about the vulnerability and honesty and humility of all people coming together in one mind. These are such fond memories and powerful times of Spirit-led meetings, and passionate prayer. It’s no wonder the prophets of old were known to shed their clothes as they prophesied.

Greed is also improper for God’s holy people. Could an obsession with clothes (even “modest” fashion) be a well-intended conviction actually based out of pride and greed? That aside, do we try to curb greed in the same way we attempt to keep lust at bay? Do you suggest that we cover up the banks just so we have not even a hint of greed? I realize it’s a faulty analogy, but it shows how we elevate sexual sin over other sins in our minds. This is because we struggle to accept bodies as what they are, and we tend to obsess over what we think we cannot control (lust). Greed I can control with God’s help, so the sight of a bank sign won’t trigger me. See what I mean? Shouldn’t we treat all sin in the same way?

2 Timothy 2:22 – Avoid the passions of youth, and strive for righteousness, faith, love, and peace, together with those who with a pure heart call out to the Lord for help. Again, we absolutely agree! To us, there’s no finer example of a pure in heart than chaste nudity in a soul that walks with the Lord, just like Adam and Eve did in the cool of the day. In my youth, I conflated this passion, made it all about me and did not live righteously. As an adult, I spent many years stunted in that one area of maturity. Then I realized I should grow up (using the maturation of our knowledge and God’s power to be made like a child, unaffected by the grip of lust). Now, thanks to God, I live for love, peace, and righteousness, not out of duty or obligation, but out of joy and relationship. True ethical naturists are adamant when they say nudity is not porn. They are so very different. Naturism is antithetical to porn. I agree. I hate porn because it devalues the person, splitting body and soul in two. Naturism shows the whole person and without any pretense or falsities. I avoid the passions of my youth today and live with a mature purity that I wish everyone would be able claim for themselves.

I know what I was like before embracing body acceptance and rejecting a body taboo. It’s a night and day difference for us, as I am not ever tempted to go back to my porn compulsion and my wife is finally seeing herself and others as God sees them. You could do this without naturism, but in my experienced opinion, nothing works faster and more completely than ethical Christian naturism. It also seems more congruent to the mindset in Bible days where non-sexual nudity was a given and not as shocking as it is today. Yes, sexual sin was a major problem, but these are heart problems and always have been. They aren’t dependent on the visual stimuli that you may or may not encounter to cause you to sin or not.

A friend named Jim put it like this just the other day, “The prudish mind is like a can of gasoline. All it needs is the necessary spark and voila, the mind explodes with distortion of the person — again, because we are messing with a primary need. Without having a prudish mind, I could easily stumble onto a porn site and it would affect me with great negativity and sadness with no allure whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I did stumble upon one last week while looking up saints of all subjects. And it affected me with negative emotions as I could see separation of the soul of the individual from the body.”

Herein lies the question: Could I lust at a naturist resort? I suppose I could if I wanted to. Although, it must be stated that naturists don’t take too kindly to any gawking or ogling! But think about this— I could also lust at a public swimming pool or even at a church service. Or I could choose not to lust in any of those places or situations. When it’s a matter of the heart (which it is), no one or nothing can make me sin or keep me from sinning. Why would I put myself in such a dangerous place such as a naturist resort where temptation abounds? Because it’s not dangerous to me any longer, because through God, I’ve retrained my mind to not objectify other image bearers. It’s like a former alcoholic that can go down the liquor aisle or even a bar and not have a problem. They are truly free and not enslaved in that bondage if they can do that. Otherwise, I wouldn’t suggest it! This is to say nothing of having a positive Christian influence and example for those naturists who claim no faith. It’s no surprise to me that I have talked about my faith more on a nude beach than I ever did on a textile beach!

For me personally, I couldn’t go back to how I used to be. I would compare it to a dog returning to its vomit. I used to see the body as lewd and obscene and a constant source of temptation. Now it is a beautiful work of art, that God himself fashioned in His own image and likeness, to be protected and always treated with the utmost respect.  Big mental changes are hard to come by, especially when you’ve been many years in certain thought patterns. This is why in the movies, Neo might be too old for the red pill in The Matrix or Anakin may be too old to train as a Jedi in Star Wars. Again, we flee from youthful passions, but we must become like little children according to Jesus. Children can learn a new way of thinking easily. They are innocent and, in our case, unaffected by lust, until we teach them otherwise. The dichotomy is that mature purity is reflected in being innocent (and living with sexual integrity in both thought and deed). We, likewise, would de well to reclaim that unaffected state through our new thinking and renewed minds as Jesus makes all things new (Revelation 21:5). That’s how I want to be. This is how I am. I’m never going back.

Something that I didn’t tell him that I wish I had would be this: I don’t want to limit God by saying I’ll never do something when there’s a chance that He may be calling me to it. This is obviously a moot point when something clearly contradicts God’s heart and His will for us, but if there are believers saying this is a godly blessing in their lives, I’m not going to write it off as an absolute “No” without first looking into it and praying about it. Convictions can change with new insight and information. Values and faith don’t and shouldn’t change. For me personally, I can say, along with my friend, Matthew Neal, that I’m a naturist by biblical conviction.

Addiction or Compulsion?

You often hear of porn issues in terms of being an addiction. Is it really an actual addiction, or is it a compulsion? Or is this merely an exercise in semantics? Does the distinction even matter? Let’s explore.

The case for it being an addiction naturally lies in the fact that it’s highly addictive. In fact, science seems to show that the bonding or imprinting that occurs through pornography is stronger than most drugs in many ways. Steve Pokorny’s book, “Renewed Vision” recounts much of the research on the science behind these questions. He states on page 13, “The chemical reactions set off when a person uses pornography are similar to those that occur when a person uses cocaine. Yet unlike cocaine, a porn user does not need a physical substance to get their high; he (or she) can simply use pornified images to set off a chemical cocktail in their brain and body.” In chapter 3, Pokorny delves into the ways dopamine, norepinephrine, testosterone, oxytocin, vasopressin, and serotonin all come into play in various ways that both hijack and damage the brain. They created strong attachments and dependencies that cause a craving for more. On page 85 of “Clean” by Douglas Weiss (which we shall review thoroughly very soon) he puts it this way, “Your brain is the pleasure center for your body, especially when you have a sexual release. When you release sexually, your brain receives the chemical mother lode of endogenous opiates. These opiates are the single highest chemical reward for anything you can ever do. You can run and work out, but sex is by far the biggest chemical high we get in life.”

What differentiates frequent porn use and actual drugs is the physical dependency. If you are coming off of drugs, your body will go through withdrawal. Coming off of porn also has its own version of detox, yet as stated, no physical substance is needed; it’s primarily mental. In my case, the “addiction” practically vanished overnight.

Quoted in Pokorny’s work are various studies that lobby for “compulsion” as the best classification for an attachment to pornography. Data does not seem to support that the problem is truly addictive. Page 81 tells of a study that was done to measure the late positive potential (LPP) which involves the brain science of emotions. Whereas with a drug addict’s drug of choice, there is a radical increase in these LPP levels, the research found a decrease in LPP levels when viewing sexual images compared to non-sexual images. The lead author of the the study, Dr. Nicole Prause, said “…it would seem advisable to drop the “addiction’ label when talking about people who are having issues regulating their porn use because it does not appear to be accurate.” However, the disclaimer is made that previous research using the term “addiction” should not be discounted. That said, there are many studies in secular spaces, like “Fight the new drug” that show how pornography is one of the most “addictive” “drugs” out there due to their accessibility and affordability and its effect on the brain.

Pokorny states on page 81-82, “As I have seen with some of my clients, many people who are hooked on pornography have a deep-seated belief that they can never be free. They have been programmed to believe that all they’re really capable of is ‘white-knuckling’ the issue and counting the days before their next fall.”

I asked a young man who said he was addicted to porn the following questions, as he was trying the same tired old solutions with no real success. I asked: Do you want to be addicted to porn a year from now? Did you want to be addicted a year ago? I didn’t want to be for 20 years, but I was, until I wasn’t. Almost instantly and effortlessly, I got to where I wasn’t, and I’m still not and I don’t ever see myself going back to that state again. Insanity has been said to be doing the same things and expecting a different result. If you are caught in an endless cycle, it’s insane to stay there and not try something new and outside the box!

For me, the point isn’t so much whether you call it an addiction or a compulsion. The fact is it was a problem. It limited my effectiveness and worse yet it hurt my family. As the father of boys, how could I expect them not to be a statistic when I was a statistic? It was like an addiction and it was a compulsion. When I did the regularly prescribed “Christian” ways of dealing with porn, I got the results you can expect— seasons of “victory” numbered in days, weeks, months, years if lucky, but always with a struggle. Since changing the compulsion and the motivation and my own desire, I haven’t had an issue and I don’t need to be counting either days or years! No more chips every month. No accountability necessary. No filter software or internet blockers. There’s no need for any of that.

Is Jesus cruel? It seems awfully cruel to make 50% of the general population out to be a constant threat of provoking men’s lust. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment! (Now I know men aren’t in danger. If anyone is in danger, it’s the women who have to deal with men who think there is only a carnal response available to them.)

Does this idea of God jive with scripture? Not in the slightest! Matthew 11:28-30 ESV says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The ever-present vigilance required to avoid the opportunity for lust when it’s virtually everywhere is not a light and easy burden. I know because I carried it for 20 years. Removing the expectation to lust makes all the difference and exchanges feelings of dread for the joyous living of every moment previously lost.

I made this meme the other day which shows the difference I feel every day. Praise the Lord for a better way!

Our former pastor was once talking about how men are hardwired to respond with automatic sexual arousal at the sight of flesh, and my wife snapped back at him, “No, you’re wrong! That’s what both the world and the church tell us all the time, but it’s not true. I know men who don’t respond like that.” When I believed as this pastor does, I would respond to visual stimuli in like manner. After rejecting that lie, the compulsion is gone and so is the addictive behavior.

Fear Not

Fear has been something I’ve always struggled with. I almost always go to the worst case scenario. As a mom that only increased. From the moment I found out I was pregnant with my firstborn, fear was part of my parenting style. This season in the world has been full of fear. It’s one of Satan’s most effective weapons. Believers and unbelievers alike fall prey to it. At the beginning of the chaos, I lived full of fear! I was downright crazy! I’m not proud of it. I liked the saying, “prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad philosophy, but I was using it try and justify my fear. It’s smart and even Biblical to prepare for hard times, both physically and spiritually. Proverbs 6:6-8 says, “Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.” (NLT) We see in Scripture times where the Lord warned of coming famine. What did the people do then? They prepared and stored up for the times when food would be scarce. There is wisdom in preparation.

Matthew 25:1-12 gives us this parable on being prepared, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’” (NASB)

When fear sets, there are 3 ways we can react. I’m sure you’ve heard it before. You can freeze, flee or fight. I honestly think there is a time for each of these. I don’t think freezing in some scenarios makes you weak. Sometimes in dangerous moments, not moving can save your life. I don’t think fleeing some scenarios makes you a coward. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to walk (or run) away. In some scenarios, freezing or fleeing are wise decisions. I’ve had several conversations that could have developed into tell-all conversations, but in those moments I evaluated who I was talking to and either out of fear, or with wisdom, made the decision to freeze or flee and redirect the path the conversation was on. 

As for fighting, there are definitely scenarios where fighting is the wisest thing to do to push back the fear. This blog was started because Phil and I wanted to keep a record of our experiences. Fairly quickly we decided we also wanted to be able to share it to help people understand our reasoning and to share our research. Initially it may have been out of fear, but it turned into something we were preparing for. We are so grateful that we have this blog for that purpose, but we are also blown away and humbled that the Lord has used it to help others as well. It’s an honor to be used in this way!

At the beginning of this journey there was a lot of fear. Fear of being nude in front of others, fear of others finding out, fear of how this was really going to affect our family, and so much more. Over time though, that fear has turned into peace that what we are doing is not condemned by God, and our confidence in His goodness and blessings has grown immensely. This summer I was again struggling with the fear of being found out. At the Christian Naturist gathering I was speaking to one of the men about my fears and he showed me the “Nail to the Cross Prayer”. He walked me through it and it was one of the most spiritual moments of my life. If you are not familiar with it, here are the steps.

  1. Father, I bless my spirit to be prominent over my body and soul. 
  2. Father, I nail (thought, feeling, spirit, etc) to the Cross.
  3. Father, I break all agreements, known and unknown, that I have made with (thought, feeling, spirit, etc.) and I repent of joining with (thought, feeling, spirit, etc.).
  4. Father, I ask that you send (thought, feeling, spirit, etc.) away from me. 
  5. Father, what do you have to give me in place of (thought, feeling, spirit, etc.)?
  6. Listen to the Father to see what He has to give you to replace the thought, feeling, spirit, etc. 
  7. I seal (what the Father told me) in my spirit.

When I did this prayer I nailed fear to the cross and replaced it with joy. 

Here are some Scriptures that have helped me deal with fear. 

Psalm 34:4-5, “I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the Lord is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.” (NLT)

Psalm 46:1-3, “God is our refuge and strength, A very ready help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth shakes and the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride.” (NASB)

John 14:26-27, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and remind you of all that I said to you. Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.” (NASB)

Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

I have discovered that fear no longer has the hold on me that it did before. I always want what is best for my kids, but I’ve come to realize that I only have so much control over what happens to them. I can’t be with them 24/7, and honestly, even if I was, I’m still not going to be able to stop every bad or hard thing from happening to them. I always want to be able to control the narrative surrounding our journey in naturism, but I know that that too is out of our hands. The Lord is in charge of our lives and ultimately it is His will that will be done. I know that God wants good things for my kids, even when they have to go through hard things.

I know that God may use some hard things in our lives to bring about His plan. We’ve known several families who were confronted about naturism and went through very rough times in their lives because of it, but through their stories, I know that God used those times to bring blessing. We can worry and be afraid, or we can prepare and be ready for the roads the Lord will lead us down. When we are prepared for where the Lord wants to lead us and prepared for the attacks of Satan, we don’t have to fear them. In fact, it’s in some of those times that we get to experience an intimacy with the Lord that only comes through hard times and eventually the joy of the Lord. James 1:2-4 “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (The Message)

1 Peter 3:15 says, “Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (NLT)

The hope I have is found in Christ. It’s found in the love and sacrifice of giving His life for mine (and yours). It’s found in the miracle and majesty of an empty tomb. It’s found in the daily patience and forgiveness of a gracious Savior. It’s found in the hope and assurance of everlasting life when my time on earth is over. It’s found in the knowledge of Psalm 91:2-4, “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” (NLT)