Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Few MORE Pictures from Christmas in North Carolina

These are all from Chimney Rock.

We were facing the sun and I couldn't keep my eyes open long.

Tunnel to the elevator that took you to Chimney Rock (26 stories up).

The view from Chimney Rock.   I'm sure we could have seen further if it wasn't so foggy.

It was a very foggy day so most of the pictures didn't turn out so great.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Few Pictures from Christmas in North Carolina

People slide down the rock behind us for recreation (it's called "Sliding Rock").

At this ledge you can see South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee.

The plaque at this rock that shows you where to look to see what state and the name of certain peaks.

View from the peak.


I was tired, but Sarah talked me into going down a few more times (I'm glad she did).

Christmas tree farm.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Saint Nicholas: More Than a Giver of Gifts

Nicholas' reputation for gift giving comes partly from a story of three young women who were too poor to afford a dowry for their marriages: as each reached a marriageable age, Nicholas, being sneeky and stealthy, threw a bag of gold into the house at night. Some versions of the legend say that the girls' father, trying to discover their benefactor, kept watch on the third occasion, but Nicholas dropped the third bag down the chimney instead. When the father found out the truth, Nicholas begged him to keep the secret, but the news got out. After he died, people in the region continued to give to the poor anonymously, and such gifts were still often attributed to St. Nicholas.

But there's more to this story. . .

Supposedly, Nicholas was born to a wealthy family in Patara, Lycia. His parents died, and he inherited a considerable sum of money, but he kept none of it; which is where he got the money for his most famous story.

Nicholas was the bishop of Myra (near modern Finike, Turkey) sometime in the 300s. Around that time Emperors Diocletian and Maximian began their persecutions of Christians, and the new bishop was imprisoned. When Constantine became emperor, Nicholas was released with countless others and returned to his preaching only to find a new threat: Arianism (disbelief in the trinity). According to one biographer (writing five centuries after Nicholas's death), "Thanks to the teaching of St. Nicholas, the metropolis of Myra alone was untouched by the filth of the Arian heresy, which it firmly rejected as a death-dealing poison." 

One account claims Nicholas attacked the heresy of Arius (who denied the full divinity of Christ and whom Arianism is named after) in a much more personal way—he traveled to the Council of Nicea and slapped Arius in the face! 

By the reign of Justinian (d. 565), Nicholas was famous, and the emperor dedicated a church in Constantinople to him. By the 900s, a Greek wrote, "The West as well as the East acclaims and glorifies him. Wherever there are people, his name is revered and churches are built in his honor. All Christians reverence his memory and call upon his protection." He's said to have been represented by medieval artists more frequently than any saint but Mary, and nearly 400 churches were dedicated in his honor in England alone during the late Middle Ages.

It's interesting that Santa Claus, the guy is who supposed to have come from and named after Saint Nicholas, is more known as a giver of gifts, but the real St. Nick was more known as a defender of sound doctrine, a protector of Christianity.  

Don't get me wrong; I'm not against Santa.  I just thought you might find this bit of history interesting.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Parents Visit

A couple of weeks ago my parents came down for a visit, their first visit here to Vero Beach. It was so nice to have them here. Made Vero feel more like home with them here. While they were here we gave them a general tour of the area; drove through Dodger Town and walked on the boardwalk at the beach.

On Thursday we went to Busch Gardens in Tampa. It started out a miserable day, raining and a little chilly. I was thinking that our whole day there would be ruined because of the rain. But by noon the rain was gone! And because of the rain there was NO ONE at the park. It was so nice, we didn't have to wait in line for a single thing all day, we sat in the best seats at the shows, and had no one in the way to view the animal exhibits. It was the best Busch Gardens Tampa experience I had ever had!

"Mom and a bird."

"Me and a bunch of birds."

"Us and a bird."

"Dad and a giant lizard."

On Saturday we had our youth Christmas party, which was pretty fun. We got Mom to help cook, so the meal was perfect! We ate too much, played dirty santa, sang Christmas carols, read the Christmas story, and gave the kids stockings full of goodies. It was a great time!

On Sunday Dad preached at our church here. It was really nice to hear him preach; I miss my church back home in NC. Forest Park BC seemed to enjoy him too; at least that is what they said, and I hope they aren't a bunch of liars! lol!

Other than those events we mostly just hung around at home, like we would have done if we were in NC. Frodo actually seemed to start to warm up to Mom a bit, which is saying something for him.

It was so wonderful to you have you here, Mom and Dad! Come again soon!

Sarah Elizabeth

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Review

Today I was the speaker at my church for the morning gathering. If you would like to hear it just click here. A quick summary, as followers of Christ we are carriers of His message. The message is what was accomplished on the cross. That's the Good News, the Gospel. But the Bible tells us that this Good News is foolishness to those who have not given their life to Jesus (it doesn't make sense, it's ridiculous). So how are we then supposed to communicate our message? Feel free to listen in on the podcast.

At night we had the choir from a local high school come and sing. There were 75 of them and it was awesome! They did such a wonderful job. It took a good effort from my youth and Bob (the only adult) to direct the cars. Our parking lot was overflowing and our auditorium was packed. I got to meet and talk with a lot of new people, mostly parents coming to see their child sing.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Whomp 'Em

This game was great and the youth REALLY got into it!  A fellow youth pastor showed me this game and I thought my youth would get a kick out of it.

You take a noodle (I don't know what they're really called but people play with them in pools and use them to float) and cut it in half.  Then you have a Whomping Stick.  You can hit someone with all your might and it doesn't hurt, but because the noodle is hollow it makes a loud boom on contact.  With the Whomping Stick the person in the middle walks around, Whomps someone, then runs to put down the Whomping Stick on the "cube" (we used a cooler),  and then tries to make it to the person's, who they Whomped, seat. . .all before the person they Whomped grabs the Whomping Stick from the "cube" and Whomps you back.  Oh, and a special note, if the Whomping Stick falls off the "cube", without being interfered with, then the person you Whomped gets 3 free Whomps!

This video of my youth's first exposure to it. . .(I'm sure we'll end up playing again since they loved it so much and kept asking to play more).

The music is "Secret Weapon" by MXPX.