Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Standing at the Bema in Corinth Greece

Today we're heading out of Athens to go to Corinth, another highlight of this part of the tour. I felt it very fitting after yesterday, to share in a devotion on the bus from 1 Corinthians where the Apostle Paul was thanking God for the believers and asking Him to strengthen them to the end and being blameless in the day of The Lord. This is something that I pray for our group members too as some were getting sick and couldn't take part each day or even had to postpone travelling home. In this passage of Scripture, Paul had also been speaking about how God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and He has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. We've seen proof of this with all the ruins and statues that have been destroyed and re-erected because they mean nothing and God is the Only One who wants to be worshiped. The passage ended with a reminder to us that we need to boast in The Lord if we're going to boast at all. It struck me again how many emperors wanted to be worshipped as a god, wow.

On our way to ancient Corinth, we stopped at the canal. It was raining but that didn't stop us from getting off the bus to walk on the bridge to take a picture of the canal. I remember how last year Brandon had told me that he planned on going bungy jumping off the bridge over the canal but when he got there, it had been closed. Oh thank You God! :)  See? I didn't have to worry about him doing that cause God took care of it in His own timing. :)  But wow, this canal is massage and still being used today by cargo ships, small cruise boats and fishermen. It was cool to see.


It was still raining lightly when we arrived at the ancient city of Corinth. We only stayed in the lower city and did not hike up the mountain for 2 hours to get to the top of the fortified part of the city. Brandon had done that last year and he got some fascinating photos from up there of himself, so at least I can see the view from his pics of that. :)  The letter of 1 and 2 Corinthians that the Apostle Paul wrote to the people here came to life for us as we skimmed over them....on being faithful managers, hearing about the immoral church members and why some women shaved their heads and therefore Paul instructing all women to wear a head covering to keep some women from being shamed or not being different for the reasons he gave why these women shouldn't speak up in all had to do with the context of what was happening here and was not intended for women never to speak or teach or enter a church without their head covered. Wow! Have we ever taken a lot of the Scriptures out of context. It was so great to gain more insight on all this here right in Corinth. So much more and I could go on and on about the Book of Corinthians :) ...but I want to highlight the Bema Seat. Acts 18 tells us of the founding of the Corinthian Church and so to read the passage from verse 1-17 right here in front of the Bema/Judgement seat was incredible. I had a fellow in our group read the passage and his son was quite pleased to be able to take a photo of his dad reading here. As a leader, I love to engage others in Scripture reading, prayer and devotions and when we don't and only allow ourselves or one other person to do it all, we rob others of the joy of participating and having special moments themselves. It's so important as a leader to allow others to share and have such precious moments themselves, it makes the journey so much more meaningful to them and to the group. As we were told in this passage, the leader of the synagogue believed The Lord, along with his household and many of the Corinthians, when they heard they believed and were baptized. The Lord spoke to Paul in a night vision and told him not to be afraid and to keep on speaking and not to be silent, for He was with him and no one would lay a hand on him to hurt him. Wow! How encouraging to hear! Paul stayed in this city for 1 1/2 years teaching the Word of God among them. 2 Corinthians 5:10 also tells us about appearing before the Bema/Judgement Seat of Christ one day so being here was quite significant. Paul taught the Corinthians many things and we have so much to learn from them and from what he taught them about living the Christian life. Again, I'm so very thankful to be here and learning so much!

I LOVED watching our Greek tour guide reading from her Greek Scriptures ♥

After leaving the ancient city of Corinth, we stopped for lunch at a lovely locally owned restaurant. I was thankful for a sit down meal where we got served, rather than another buffet. :) In this area was one of the largest orange groves so the hillside was beautiful with all of the ripening orange trees. :) It was wonderful to eat Greek souvlaki here...and share a brownie with ice cream with one of the older fellows on the was soooo yummy.

After lunch we went on to see the main centre of the Mycenaean world from between the 16th and 12th century BC. What a stronghold on top of this mountain. The entrance to the city palace was called the Lions Gate and it was massive!! The view from the top of this place was spectacular!  Cool to see such an old place. Seeing their large pyramid grave was very interesting too! We also stopped at a place that makes much to see everywhere we go! :)

That brings us to a close to another great day! But we first must say goodbye to a few people who had joined our group at Ephesus and again on the cruise ship and stayed with us in Athens and Corinth. Many people were coming and going off this tour that it was hard to keep track of everyone, but we sure met a lot of great folks! We caught a small glimpse of what the Apostle Paul went through on his missionary journeys, always meeting people, strengthening each other with the word, praying and singing together and then having to say goodbye, like this lovely pastor couple originally from Texas but now pastoring in another state :) I have a hard time to remember where everyone is from. :)  I'm thankful for each and every one that I've met on this tour.

 Off to a new journey to northern Greece tomorrow. :) Blessings to you all!

Moving Moments on Mars Hill in Athens Greece

We docked in Athens at 7 am and after we had breakfast and gathered all our belongings, we said farewell to the cruise ship, boarded our bus and began our journey to the Acropolis and Mars Hill. Knowing that my son Brandon had been here a year ago and stood on this same hill was exciting to me. :) He came to this place before I did! The view from the top of this place is amazing and you can see the whole city from every single angle, no wonder the Devil wanted these gods and goddess temples so high up here. He always wanted to get as high as God Himself, but of course we all know that he never will. It is quite something how these temples were built in a day where they didn't have cranes and large equipment to put up these pillars, they used pulleys and oxen and human labor. Wow! It is overwhelming to see all the statues of emperors who wanted to be worshiped as a god, all the nude and sexually immoral statues, all the gods and goddess statues and to know the reasons why they were all worshiped. This area was so full of sexual immorality and it was all glorified. No wonder the Apostle Paul was overwhelmed and overcome by all the idol worship and temples. These people were so scared of offending any god that they had a monument erected to the Unknown God and that is who Paul wanted to tell them about. In Acts 17:16-34 is where the Scriptures tell us what he said with much boldness "Men of Athens..." He knew exactly how to get their attention by complimenting them about how religious they were and his speech aroused their curiosity. Having one of the pastors in our group read this whole passage loudly for all to hear right here on this place was extremely moving and spoke volumes to us, and it speaks directly to the people around here today too...if only they would listen. I am thankful to come away from this place with so much more insight and understanding of it all. But it saddens me that all the souvenirs and books focus more on the Greek mythology part of it all rather than the Christian side of it all, but then that's also the work of the Devil in our world still today, isn't it.

We spent quite a bit of time at the Acropolis and on Mars Hill, which is at the same place and we also drove by many places like the ruins of the Temple of Zeus, and the Parliament buildings, the great Library, and other old buildings still used today and of course with many statues erected on them...and of nude guys, what's up with all the nude dudes! Yeesh!! It was really cool to stop at the stadium that held the very first modern Olympic stadium that was built in 1896. When we read the passage of Paul talking about winning the race in 1 Corinthians 9, it brings new light to this place as well. Running races for awards is not a new concept and it was already done in the Bible. But hearing it all from a Greek perspective that our Christian guide was giving us was quite incredible. I'm very thankful for our guide and super thankful for how she gave me a hug very early at the beginning of our tour to let me know that she was a believer. She is only 10 years older than I am, but we've been married for about the same amount of years and our children are also the same age, Pretty cool!! :)  I am thankful for Voula, our Greek tour guide, she's doing a great job!!

Because our day began so early and our guide knew we would all be tired coming off the cruise ship, we were dropped off at our hotel at 1 pm to have free time for the rest of the day. Our hotel was downtown and we choose to do whatever we wanted...all the places we passed were within walking distance if people wanted to go tour them on their own with passes we were given, but some people slept, some walked around the city, some went to a movie, and some....ok, maybe one.... :)  sat at a lovely coffee shop down the street from the hotel and blogged and posted pictures :) I loved it...loved getting caught up on writing and loved hearing everyone around me talking in Greek, others stopped to chat cause I must have looked Canadian or something :) and a few stopped by me to ask for money. A sweet lady with a small girl in her arms broke my heart and I did give her my change, but some of it was in Turkish Lira, she motioned to me give it all to her so I did. Later, she came by my table 3 times, quite angry that I gave her other money. I held up my hands motioning I had no other change but she was just angrily waving the wrong change that I had given her in my face. 3 times the coffee shop staff came to lead her away. One of the waiters even stood around by my table watching for the street people coming to my table to ask me for money, I felt so protected. :)  Another elderly man came by and serenaded us at the tables with his accordion. It was quite enjoyable sitting here writing and posting. :) I brought some friends along with me the next day :) The waiters also enjoyed practicing their English, and the one waiter told us that Athens was no good, that we needed to get out of the city to see some great parts of Greece...he even treated us to a dish of frozen yogurt which was sooo good!! But I understood what he meant, being in Athens was not my favorite part of the trip and it was very loud, dirty, full of grafitti everywhere and I didn't like a lot of the stuff that I saw. I was glad we were only there for a day really, even though we stayed for two nights, but one of the days we're spending in Corinth....can't wait :)