Living Faith

Noah was surrounded by people who wanted to dissaude and detract him from following God's call in his life. Noah acted in faith to God's call even though what he was called to do went against common sense and the "rules". Noah ran his race with the intent to win. He did not worry about public opinion. We can look at Noah's life for guidance when it seems we are the only ones walking a certain path; running an only course. We are not alone in our faith. God will always be there to guide and help through life's many storms and trials. An active and living faith can at times require actions that may seem new and uncomfortable, but the rewards are eternal.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Saint passion

I would like to share with you the origins of gift giving, not because of the ever growing debate on Christmas being a Christian holiday. Sharing the origins of this tradition that most Americans celebrate can be said to come from an orphan. A child from a wealthy family orphaned at too early of an age. A child that most would expect to want to hold onto evrything that came into his life for fear of losing it, like he lost his parents. This is the story of Saint Nicholas and I love it because the mission trip I will be departing on in a few weeks is to touch the hearts and minds of children just like Saint Nicholas. Saint Nick had a wonderful uncle to step in and raise him. It is my prayer to be used to do the same for these children.

The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick and the suffering.

He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).

Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man's daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas.

There are several other stories of the deeds Saint Nicholas which tell of Nicholas saving his people from famine, sparing the lives of those innocently accused, and much more performed. However, my passion is not for the past stories unless they compel and inspire us to do the same. I am asking for your prayers for my team and myself as we travel to China to spend a week with children who need so much more that we can provide in a week. We are not seeking to provide what they need but to be a vessel for God to provide what they need while we are there.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

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