Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ephesus Update 3- Opportunity

Well being in the region we were in, we were surrounded my biblical history. The city of Izmir where you can fly into then bus or drive down to Ephesus is the biblical city of Smyrna. The rest of the churches we read about in Revelation on all relatively close to this area. This gives one a great opportunity to talk about the Bible. While waiting at a gas station because Angie's flight was delayed 2 hrs., I spent time talking with two of the employees. The one man had a biblical name. He began to ask me if I was a Muslim. I told him no and he asked what I was. I told him I was a Mesihci(Mesee-je), or follower of Christ. I learned this from the two believers we met at the camp we worked at. Many people use the word Christian but in this country it carries baggage with it. He didn't know what a Mesihci was so he asked me to explain so I did. Well long story short he is a young married man with a young child and he invited me over for dinner while I was waiting. He and his wife asked me if I had ever considered becoming a Muslim. I told them no. I explained that the only way to heaven is through Jesus. He asked if I thought the Koran was Holy and if Muhammad was a prophet. I told him according to God's Word the answer was no to both questions. I had a great opportunity to share what we believe from the Bible on how we get to heaven and why good works can't save us. In the end, he gave me a Turkish Koran, which I was ok with, because that gives me the opportunity to give him a present, God's Word! I don't think it was an accident that we met. Pray that God would give us more opportunities to visit him.

Ephesus Update 2- What we saw

So we stayed at the camp and worked three days. After three days of hard work, it was refreshing to be able to visit the Turkish church there. It was really cool to think about that we were in a house church in Ephesus. So after working Angie and Braxton met me and we stayed 2 days, and visited the ruins of Ephesus. It was amazing to be standing there in a city that Paul had spent so much time in, and he wrote such a great letter to the people there at Ephesus. The ruin site is huge and covers a lot of area. The amphitheater behind us is said to have held 25,000 people. Above is a picture from the top of the ruin site. I could try to describe it, but it wouldn't do it justice. What was really cool was on Monday morning before we left the camp we were at we took a hike up the hills behind the camp. When you reach the top you have a beautiful view of the Aegean Sea and of the amphitheater in Ephesus. If you like history, and seeing historical sites, Ephesus is a great site. Furthermore, it really brings the New Testament and the apostle Paul's journeys to life. They even have little statues of Diana, the god of the Ephesians, that you can purchase. So what all this means is you should plan on coming to visit us and you can also visit Ephesus.

Ephesus Update 1-What I Learned

We just got back from the Aegean Sea region. A group of men, 4 in all, went to work for three days at a summer camp. This camp was shut down by the authorities last year because they said they weren't up to code, which usually doesn't matter unless your a Christian camp. So I and my teammate and 2 other men were able to help a little bit with the repairs that they needed. I and my teammate like to practice our Turkish whenever we can. There were two believing men that work at the camp that we were able to talk with. So the first thing that I learned is that the majority of the people come to Christ the same way. I see this more and more as I meet believers and talk with them. For some this process may only be 2 weeks for others though it could be months. First, their faith is in question. They have heard about Jesus and don't understand. Whether it is from someone asking them questions about Christ or their own questioning, something makes them begin to think. Many times this is because a family member or friend has trusted Christ and they began to wonder about this. Next, they began to watch the Christians that they have met. This is a problem because many people don't know a true Christian. They watch and see if that person's life matches what they say. Throughout this time the gospel is being explained to them, by the Christian that they have met. God opens their eyes and they are saved. The two men that we talked said that the love that the Christians showed them made a big impact in their lives. The first time they visited the Christians made them feel liked they belonged.
Now here are some of their observations about foreign Christians in the country or people that visit:
1. They need to show respect to God's Word. Many Americans put their Bible under their seat or pew or in front of them on the ground, but if it is God's Word it needs to be treated with respect.
2. The need to show respect for God's Day. This was directed more to people that visit their camp. Many times they come and visit and come to the services dressed in shorts and t-shirts. When Muslims go to worship, especially on Friday, they are always in nice clean clothes.
So needless to say I love talking to the Turkish believers and getting their opinions on all kinds of topics. We helped them with some work and they helped us with our Turkish. Once again we see that how you live is much more important than what you say.

Monday, May 19, 2008

A New Day

Today is a Turkish Holiday. It's a day that they commemorate their founder, Ataturk, landing in Samsun and beginning their War for Independence. Today is also the beginning of a new law. Smoking is band in public spaces, and if people throw their cigarettes to the ground they can be fined. Hoooooooray, no more smelling like a smoke factory just because we went out to eat. Here is a small language note. You don't smoke cigarettes in Turkish; you drink them. Sigara icmek!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Just a Servant

I was reminded this past week through my devotions that I'm a servant of Jesus Christ. I like to plan and scheme and try to tell God how I would like things to go. This isn't the way it should be. This is a portion taken from a devotional I've been reading.

"The servant carries out the master's will. The servant doesn't tell the master what to do. The servant does not choose which task to perform for the master, nor does the servant suggest days or times when it would be convenient to serve the master. The servant's function is to follow instructions. The master, on the other hand, gives directions. The master does not tell the servant to develop a vision that will guide the master. The master is the one with the vision;the servant's task is to help fulfill the master's purposes.
We are the servant; God is the Master. We tend to try to reverse this! God's revelation of Himself, His purposes, and His ways depends directly upon our obedience. He may not reveal today His intentions for the next five years, but He will tell us what our next step should be. As we respond to God's revelation, He will accomplish what He desires, and He will be the One who receives the glory.

Our fulfillment comes from serving the Master..."

This was further brought home to me as I read Matthew 13:37&38, "He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world."

It's not my job to come up with some vision. The Master already has a vision. As a servant, I need to catch the Master's vision. His vision is for the world.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Rolling Over

Alright here is some video of "The Show" also known as Braxton. I will try not to bore with too many home videos, but for those of you who won't get to see him grow up here is a short clip of him rolling over.

This is video of Braxton in his walker. As you can see he loves it.