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Archive for September, 2008

Update from Toodus

It’s been quite awhile since I posted something here, so I figured I should alleviate some of OTown’s burden for carrying this blog and do something to help.

I’ve been unbelievably busy with everything that is happening at The Austin Stone, but it has truly been a season of joy in the midst of the long hours.  If you’d like to know more about what is happening at the church, especially as things unfold regarding our land purchase/building development, check out this website and follow our sermon podcast.  My role in this great church has been to develop our Connections Ministry with the help of some great teammates, as well as continue to lead our College Ministry.

OTown and I have had the great privilege to take over the Nearly/Newly Married equipping class this Fall, and are very much enjoying the opportunity to shape young marriages.  Our prayer is that God would use us to shape these marriages into Christ-honoring and God-glorifying marriages that demonstate Christ’s love for His church.  In addition to this class, I’m also walking through Tim Keller’s Gospel Christianity with a class of about 30, and hopefully helping to create a class that God will use well in the coming years at The Austin Stone.

OTown has done a great job of capturing many of our pictures from our summer Turkey adventure, and I’ll try to post some of my reflections in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned…

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Our Day in Ephesus

While we were in Turkey, we had the amazing privilege of visiting the biblical city of Ephesus.  That’s right, this is the city which Paul visited in Acts 19 and to whom he wrote his “famous” Letter to the Ephesians.  It was a really cool experience, made especially holy by the European cruise guests who were also daytripping to Ephesus and sporting string bikinis and swimtrunks 🙂 

Believe it or not (I did not at first but then I googled it), the city of Ephesus was home to over 200,000 people while Paul spent time there.  This is the main road in the city.  Along this road there would have been many merchants selling things.  To the left, they have excavated several houses and to the right there are fountains and a public latrine (pictured later…just wait).  In the far distance you can see a two story building that was, at one time, the third largest library in the ancient world.  The street is made of marble, and it is the very same marble that Paul would have walked on during the two years he lived in Ephesus.

At one time, Ephesus was a port city and the sea came all the way up to just behind the library.  Over the years, silt has washed down from the mountains pushing the sea further and further back so that you can no longer see the sea from the city of Ephesus.

The next few pictures are close-ups of the library.  Roman architecture is amazing, and you can’t help but wonder how come its taken us 2,000 years to relearn everything they already knew.

Here’s a picture of Toodus’s happy, handsome, and smiling face while in Ephesus.  Behind him is the little amphitheater in which the Senate would have met and other political business would have been taken care of.

This is an old ICTHUS symbol.  I would try to explain how it forms an ICTHUS but it would be far too complicated.  See if you can figure it out for yourself…you’ll feel smart if you do.

As promised, here are a few pictures of the public latrine.  This “open-air” latrine is found in the center of town and is a big room with fortysome toilets in it.  These toilets all face a stage on which live music and plays would have been performed for the amusement of those popping a squat.

This is the large theater that Luke writes about in Acts 19.  It was in this theater that the silversmiths rioted, chanting “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!”  Paul was so zealous for the gospel that he tried to rush into this stadium to address the rioting crowd.  Thank goodness for his buddies, the disciples, who restrained him.  Convicting for sure….I love the gospel but I’m not sure I would jump at the chance to preach at an angry mob of several thousand people.  The Lord still has work to do on my heart…

Incidentally, this theater is still being used today.  It seats 10,000 people and has hosted concerts by Sting, Elton John, and the likes.

Below, OTown is pictured at the gladiator museum with some awesome cardboard cutout dude.

Only a mile or two from Ephesus is the Basilica of St. John…the place where the disciple John is said to be buried.  It is thought that John spent the last years of his life in Ephesus writing the gospel of John.

The baptismal at the Basilica of St. John.

The Basilica overlooks a beautiful thirteenth century mosque.

Seeing the ruins of Ephesus was an incredible reminder of the great works that God has done throughout history, and the works God has done are a reminder of who God is….a holy God, who loves His children, who is jealous for His glory, who is eternal and unchanging, who is faithful to keep His promises, and who will redeem a people from every tribe and tongue and nation.

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Turkey

Finally posting pictures of our time in Turkey.  We had an incredible trip and we are beginning to love the land and the people of Turkey.  Izmir, the city we spent most of our time in, is the third largest city in Turkey and is beautiful!  It sits between the Aegean Sea and the hills, and we couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous scenery around us 🙂   

The clocktower is the “heart” of Izmir.  Behind it, you can see the oldest mosque in the city…behind that (but not pictured) is this crazy marketplace that you cannot find your way out of once you wander into it….

The entire city is densely packed.  No one lives in a house.  Instead, there are just millions of apartments crammed together.

This was taken from a fort above the city of Izmir…for you church history buffs, this is where Polycarp is said to be buried

Also taken from the fort.

Cute Turkish boys playing in a fountain at a park.  The statue in the background is Ataturk

Turkish nationalism….a rally we happened upon

Inside a mosque.  They had headcoverings for the girls to borrow! 

Our Turkish friend told us one day that he wanted to take us to a great “Swedish” restaurant for lunch….guess where we ended up?

Students we met at Ege University

Stay tuned for pictures from our daytrips to Ephesus and Pergamum…..

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