July 6, 2017
Our final morning in Rome began at the Colosseum. Built in the first century, this massive structure boasted 4 levels, with 80 archways adorning each level. Commissioned by Vespasian during the Flavian Dynasty, the arena hosted public events such as gladiator fights, wild animals and public executions. Completed during Domitian’s reign, the Colosseum dominated the city – a “colossal” statue of Nero made from gilded bronze welcomed the public until the 4th century.
July 5, 2017
Alexiana led devotions this morning with a beautiful reminder and encouragement that we can only face struggles and challenges in life when our identity is in Christ, first and foremost. If we miss this most vital piece, our actions and our lives will not be an overflow of the work, grace, and the life of Christ; instead they will be our own attempt to do life by ourselves.
July 4, 2017
Happy Independence Day, my dears!
Today we arrived in Rome with all of our luggage! We appreciate your continued prayers for our safety and learning!
Our trip started with a little bit of site seeing. We stopped at a temple to Caesar Augustus, walked by a stadium dedicated to Domitian, learned the story of St. Agnes of Agony, hushed while talking in the Parthenon, tossed coins in the Trevi Fountain, and discussed the Gospel at the Forum of Caesar Augustus.
July 2, 2017
With the sun beating down on us and our faces dripping from the 110 degree Turkish heat, we put one foot in front of the other. With every step, backs ached and knees wobbled, but we knew we had to meet Rod at the top of the rocky pass. Weaving through rows of grape vines and ducking under overgrown holly bushes, we stopped in a grassy clearing and found brief relief under tree shade. In our resting spot, overlooking the rolling fields of Sardis, we were halfway up the mountain to the ruins of the Acropolis– the upper city.
July 1, 2017
David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times, says that there are two types of virtues: “resumé virtues” and “eulogy virtues.” He says:
The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral—whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love? We all know that the eulogy virtues are more important than the resumé ones. But our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.
June 30, 2017
These past few days have been a reminder to me that growth happens in community. Today, we ventured into Ephesus and Aphrodisus, one city that is well known to us through Scripture and another new and unknown.
I am quite partial to Ephesus, and one of those many reasons being that my favorite conjunction in the Bible, “but God,” finds itself smack dab in the heart of a city where the brothel and gods demand constant allegiance. If we are honest with ourselves, that portion of text also describes our lives clearly if we are those who know the truth of the Gospel.
June 29, 2017
It was our first day in Turkey, formerly known as Asia Minor, and it was hot and sunny. In the morning we visited Priene, which is a small city with a spectacular view of the Meander valley. This valley used to be harbor back in the days when Priene was a thriving city, but the harbor and river valleys eventually filled in with silt, causing the decline of the city. Alexander the Great wintered in the city in 334 BC, Rome sacked the city in 129 BC, and Caesar Augustus restored it in 27 BC.
June 28, 2017
Life doesn’t always go the way we plan.
Life nearly never goes the way we plan.
Acts 17. As Paul was waiting on Timothy and Silas to join him he wandered the agora and stoa of Athens. His heart was in turmoil over the idolatry of the place. Up and down the streets and avenues he saw one god and another god and yet another goddess in spectacular detailed marble. Hundreds of statues represented the hundreds of ways the Athenians were trying to manipulate and plan their lives by propitiating just the right god. As he wandered, Paul stumbled across the altar to An Unknown God. (Google the story behind this altar, it’s pretty great. Libby gave us an adLib to explain it to us today.)
June 27, 2017
Today we picked up a new lens to see the Scriptures. Before I say more, please know that our Crossroads group is a community of disciples that already love the scriptures, and so today we arrived to the city of Corinth and the steps of the Acropolis with a deep and committed passion for the Bible- what can I say, “we love the word!” It’s just that our lens is largely shaped by our context- many of us live in Grand Rapids, MI in 2017. And it is our time in history and the geographical place in which we live that has largely formed much of the way we read, interpret and embody the Holy Scriptures. This is not a bad thing, no way, but this is just the lens in which we see the Scriptures. Yet today we picked up new lens, gained a new perspective or better yet we’ve got a new eye for the world of the Bible.
June 26, 2017
“We learn with our feet.” That has been our mantra today, and I would imagine, will continue to be true of the rest of our trip. In every sense, learning with our feet has come more and more alive as we walk through the places most of us have only ever read about. We’re only one hike in, but we are all truly blessed to be here.