Tag Archives: Greece

{Day 7} Paul’s Confidence / Photo of the Week Thirty Eight

Re-visited from the archives: Mykonos, Greece.

This is one of my favorite photos from one of my favorite places from my trip to Greece to study Paul’s letters. Every time I see it, I am reminded of one of Paul’s exhortations:

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” 1 Cor. 11:1 (ESV)

Not because Paul thought he was worthy of being imitated (quite the contrary), but because he was confident in the One who was:

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14 (ESV)

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Photo of the Week: Twenty Three

On this day last year, I was in Athens as part of a seminary class on Paul’s New Testament Letters. I took this photo from the Areopagus (Mars Hill) where Paul told the men of Athens about the one true God that they had previously been worshiping, and even built an altar to, as “the unknown god” (see Acts 17:16-34).

As I said last year, walking in the footsteps of Paul on this trip, and especially in Athens, brought out the depths of Paul’s ministry in a whole new way as I witnessed the places where he had been intensely working, selflessly serving, compassionately ministering, fiercely loving, fully living, and boldly proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

{Day 19} Greek Cafes & Knowing Christ

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers”

Romans 8:29 (ESV – emphasis added)

As many of you know, this summer I spent almost three weeks traveling through Greece for a class on Paul’s New Testament Letters. While there were several highlights of the trip (many of which I have already recounted here through words and photos), and my time of both academic and Biblical study was incredible, one of my sweetest memories from the trip had nothing to do with Paul or his letters.

One Sunday afternoon after visiting the ancient Agora in Athens, rather than heading directly back to our hotel before dinner, seven of us decided to take a long(er) and leisurely stroll back through the Plaka area (the shopping district) in hopes of finding an outdoor cafe where we could have some coffee (Greece has the most amazing freddo cappucinos!) and fellowship for a couple of hours. As this is a typical afternoon occurrence in Greek culture, we had no trouble finding the perfect spot similar to the one in the photo above (though that particular cafe is on the Island of Mykonos).

We had the best time just sitting around a couple of tables, relaxing with a cold coffee beverage in hand, sharing stories, engaging in easy conversation, even sitting in (albeit brief) moments of silence, and getting to know one another better. No agenda, no planned format, no pressure … just precious time together.

And when it comes to discerning our {God given} callings, our approach should be similar.

Before we can even begin to understand the details and specifics of our call, we must take the time to simply sit with Christ. To Know Him … closely, personally, intimately … through worship, Scripture, prayer, conversation, and time.

Not just that 15 minutes of a brief devotional and prayer we {sometimes} manage to squeeze in sort of time. Rather that sitting at a Greek cafe in the middle of the afternoon just to Know Him more sort of time … in order to be conformed to His likeness … in order to reflect His glory.

Because the more we know Christ, while it’s not that the specifics of our call don’t matter, they tend to fade into the background of His Gracious Sovereignty. He is before all and over all. And once again, our focus is drawn away from self – from our own call – and we position ourselves to listen, to be ready, and to be used.

For the sake of THE call … the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

Life and Breath and Everything

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind

life and breath and everything.

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for

‘In him we live and move and have our being’;

as even some of your poets have said,

‘For we are indeed his offspring.'”

Acts 17:24-28 (English Standard Version – emphasis added)

Far too often, rather than approaching the Lord in a state of breathlessness, being fully caught up in the Wonder and Awe of who He is and what He has done, it seems that we find ourselves approaching Him just plain out of breath. Begging for the energy to go on.

Maybe it’s just me?

But if the Lord gives us – to ALL mankind – life and breath and everything, if the Lord is not far from us, if we are the Lord’s offspring, if in the Lord we have our very being.

Then perhaps our seemingly-too-frequent experiences with spiritual exhaustion and burnout are reflective of moments in which we’re not seeking God, in which we’re not feeling our way toward him, in which we’re not depending on His power, in which we’re not resting in His peace, in which we’re not allowing Him to be our everything.

He’s placed us here. He’s hoping to be found. He’s actually not far.

Expectation Not Met

There were several aspects of my trip to Greece to study Paul’s New Testament Letters that were unexpected, unanticipated, and (in a few instances) even downright unwelcome.

Alternately, as I read through many of the thoughts that I penned during my stolen moments on the bus or just before bed, I also found several occurrences of this phrase (typically after a paragraph or two of recounted expectations that I didn’t even realize I had brought with me):

“Expectation not met.”

But although I was stripped of many expectations, when it came to my experiences at the ruins of ancient sites with clear Biblical and Pauline ties, I can’t even find the words to fully express how my expectations were not met. . .rather, they were surpassed. exceeded. overwhelmed.

“Expectation not met.”

One day – around the beginning of our second week – while reflecting on several of these Biblical sites, I wrote it this way:

“My mind and my heart feel SO full it’s as if my thoughts and reactions can’t even be expressed intelligently.”

And honestly, I still feel that way much of the time.  But I’m beginning to realize that I may not be able to fully process some of my experiences until a later date…perhaps when I’m more able and equipped to deal with the reality of the resulting conviction…perhaps when I’m in need of encouragement to endure through an all-pervasive desert…perhaps in a moment when I’m asked to go beyond myself and reach someone else.

Philippi

We visited Philippi on the second full day of the trip, and it was pretty much amazing!  On our three hour bus ride to the site, we had the privilege of hearing Elizabeth read Philippians 2:5-11 in Greek before Dr. Sean (our professor) led a discussion regarding the significance of self-sacrificing love and service based on the same passage. . .all while passing by traditional white-washed, red-roofed houses beside the lake to the right and several sheep herds on the hillsides to the left.

From the ruins of the marketplace, the church, the gymnasium, and the bathhouses to Paul’s prison and the nearby theater, this was one of the first moments where I began to see Scripture realized in a whole new way.  See Acts 16:16-40.

Athens

While standing in the middle of the ancient Agora, I experienced yet another powerful moment of Scripture realized as I looked up to my right at Mar’s Hill and looked up to my left at the Acropolis and knew Paul stood in the midst of all this, too. Intensely working. Selflessly serving. Compassionately ministering. Fiercely loving. Fully living. Boldly proclaiming.  See Acts 17:16-34.

Ephesus

5:17am came much too early, but Ephesus was totally worth it!

The whole site is only 10% excavated, but because it’s so well preserved, you don’t have to stretch your imagination too far to see the clearly identifiable roads, structures, and layout of the city.

As I visualized and contextualized familiar Scripture and Paul’s life and journey came to a fuller reality in my mind, I was encouraged and challenged to live fully and walk boldly in my faith.  To imitate Christ as Paul did. . .proclaiming the gospel whenever and wherever possible. Even if that means being willing to approach a riot in a theater that holds 25,000 people.  See Acts 19.

Corinth

From celebrating communion…

…to hiking the Acrocorinth…

…to completing our study of 1 Corinthians by studying chapters 15-16 under the shade trees in the ancient site, spending all day at Corinth on our next to last day in Greece, in a place that Paul knew well (see Acts 18), left me admiring and connecting with Paul’s faith, heart, and message more than ever:

“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”

1 Corinthians 11:1 (ESV)

Greece: Athens and the Cruise

Are you tired of hearing about my trip to Greece yet?

Well, give me two more days (literally, today and tomorrow), and my official re-cap posts will be complete.  Though I can’t necessarily guarantee that I’ll never mention Greece (or Paul’s Letters for that matter) again.  I feel quite certain that there are more stories and photos to be shared sporadically over the next few months in one form or another.

But if you’d rather abandon ship for a couple of days and skip straight to looking through more photos, feel free to friend me on Facebook and look through my Greece album instead. Just don’t forget to come back here next week!

After leaving Thessaloniki and traveling through the countryside, we arrived in Athens on Thursday evening where we stayed for the weekend before boarding the cruise ship, the Louis Majesty, on Monday morning.

While in Athens, we toured a couple of museums (I’ll spare you those details), visited the ancient agora (more on that in the next post…), attended a Sunday morning service at the Greek Evangelical Church (which was an awesome experience!), and of course, hiked up to the Acropolis and Mar’s Hills.

Oh, and did I mention that our hotel in Athens (the Philippos Hotel…which was a fabulous hotel with incredibly friendly employees…even if our brown blankets did mysteriously disappear one night only to reappear the next night) was just a couple of blocks away from the Acropolis and the Plaka (the shopping district)?  I took this photo one night after dinner right around the corner from our hotel. . .a breathtaking view!

Then from my audible sigh of contentment on the first day while sitting in the lounge at the front of the ship on the 9th deck, reading Scripture, overlooking the expanse of the sea, and watching islands pass by on both sides…

…to the gloriously perfect moment on the last day sitting on the 10th deck in complete silence, getting lost in my thoughts, and reveling in my love for the peaceful, calming, reflective, and vast nature of the sea, we were cruising through the Aegean.

Day 1: Mykonos.

Mykonos was beautiful.

And some of my favorite photos from the entire trip are from Mykonos.

Day 2: Ephesus and Patmos. My alarm went off at 5:17am (and trust me, it felt as early as it sounds), so we would have enough time to get ready and disembark for Ephesus, but you’ll have to read the next post for the details.

Day 3: Rhodes.

We stayed at Rhodes all day, so we had plenty of time to tour a castle, head to the beach for a quick swim in the Aegean, eat lunch at a restaurant overlooking one of the town squares, walk through the shops in the old town…

…and then head to an internet cafe for drinks where one of these parrots decided to join us at our table by climbing up the side of my chair.  No worries.  He was friendly. . .loud, but friendly.

Day 4: Crete and Santorini.

On Crete (which is the 5th largest island), we visited the Church of St. Titus…

…and then a couple of us made a quick stop at Starbucks.  I didn’t get anything, though.  I know, shocking!  (Seriously, I’m a huge Starbucks fan!)  But in all fairness, we didn’t have a whole lot of time.

And with that, we come to the last stop on the cruise (and this post): Santorini.

A Glimpse of the Greek Countryside

From walking the streets of Berea to hiking along the aqueduct on Mt. Olympus to visiting one of the monasteries at Meteora, the next few days of the trip were spent heading south through the very mountainous and very beautiful Greek countryside: