Last night was my last official painting/speaking engagement of the year. for the record, I still have all my messages at my home church to do (including a paint party tonight) and I am really excited about them all, but my time on the road is finished for the year with my drive home today. I had only one presentation to do, a brand new Christmas presentation called “Unto us” based on Isaiah 9:2, 6&7. It was only a half hour and it may have been even a little abbreviated because frankly it was freezing.

You see I was at the Camp Eder Christmas Tree Fest. The camp is in Fairfield, PA not far from Gettysburg. It’s an annual event that is beautifully done. The staff of the camp wraps the place in lights and various individuals and churches decorate individual trees, which are then judged by the people who attend the event. There is great food and entertainment and even horse-drawn carriage rides each of the three nights. Then at the end of the night the people gather for a time worship in a pavilion that is wrapped in plastic on the sides to keep out (some of) the cold. Of course the pavilion is also beautifully decorated and this is where I spoke and painted.

I love this event. Last year when I spoke, the temperature was probably close to 60 degrees this year it had to be in the mid 30s or less. It was well below the paint manufacturer’s temperature recommendations and I could tell the paint was a bit sluggish as I applied it to my painting surface. Still I came out with a workable speed painting. The temperature sent a lot of the people home rather than coming to worship, and the ones who did come were well bundled, but you know what? It was a really nice time of worship. Sensitive to the cold and my “audience’s” needs, I kept my message a little shorter, but I made sure to hit all the main points and made a clear presentation of the Gospel. I was truly blessed by this evening and I pray the rest of the people were as well. God is faithful.

This was a really well run event all the way around. It is a prime example of people using creativity to minister the Gospel and raise some much needed funds for a worthy cause by using their gifts. Needless to say I love this approach and I hope to be invited back next year.

Looking back, this year has been a whirlwind. My first year in “full-time” ministry (some day soon we’re going to look at what that means) has been a good one. I had the opportunity to go our and speak about 30 times while doing my best to minister to all the needs of my congregation. I feel like it’s been pretty good. Some might question how both things can be done, but here’s the thing. Pastoring the church keeps me relational. It allows me to build relationships with my congregation and meet their needs while building up my ministry skills, making me more attentive (though I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a work in progress) and keeping me connected. It also helps me to relate to all the pastors who allow me the privilege of speaking to their congregations. The speaking ministry gives me a rich array of opportunities and stories that cannot help but make my messages to my home congregation much better and richer. It also makes me a much better speaker. To be really honest, I don’t think I would be very good at either of these ministries without the other. As a matter of fact, I don’t even consider them two ministries, because, for the reasons listed above and many more, I feel they feed each other and God uses both of them to make me a more complete minister.

So that’s it for the traveling for 2016. and I hope I finished well. I’m looking forward to the opportunities that will present themselves for 2017, but first, there is still a lot of ministry to be done at my home church as we celebrate the Christmas season together.


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