Thursday, September 27, 2007
George was gracious enough to spend several hours with us. We first went to his church, which is the largest Evangelical church in all of Greece. They are truly multinational and do simultaneous translations into 6 languages. Their church is a model of what we would like to become.
After our visit to the church they took us to the Acropolis that overlooks the 5 million people of Athens. My favorite moment was standing where the Apostle Paul once stood and preached in the public Marketplace. Acts 17 tells the story of the sermon he preached about the unknown God. They had an idol in honor of him but didn't know the Lord " He is the God who made the world and everything in it. He is the Lord of heaven and earth..." the Apostle shouted to the leaders of Athens. In the shadow of one of the 7 wonders of the Ancient World he taught about the Wonder who created the Universe
We enjoyed a delicious meal together and headed by taxi back to the Legend of the Seas.
After dinner I was honored with the privilege of conducting a funeral service for a Jewish family who'd lost their brother last year in Athens. We met in the belly of the ship and opened the big doors directly over the quickly passing Sea to honor him.
I read a scripture, said a few words and then prayed to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I committed his soul to Jehovah and his body to the Sea. Then we all knelt down and leaned out over the dark and cold Sea to pour Leonard Bernstein's ashes into the water. It was quite touching
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
We woke up early on Monday. It was to be a long day. Our tour of Egypt began at 7:30 and we arrived back on ship after 9. Our bus picked us up at the port in Alexandria. Alexandria was developed from a small fishing village by Alexander the Great in 332 BC. This was also where Julius Ceasar met Cleopatra. But more important Mark brought the Gospel to the large Jewish population in 62 AD
Quickly we headed through the 5 million peopled city to Cairo, with its 18 million people. Cairo sits by the fertile Nile River and is bordered by the barren Great Western Desert
Among many other ancient sites the one most of us wanted to see was the Great Pyramid of Cheops. It sits above the several other tombs of the Pharoahs. No wonder these 5000 year old structures are considered to be among the 7 wonders of the Ancient World. One Pyramid consists of 2.5 million Limestone blocks each weighing a minimum of 2 1/2 (some up to 15) tons each. King Cheops started building his tomb as soon as he took the throne and with 100,000 slaves it took him 20 years to build. He figured it would ensure his immediate transport to heaven.
We were awed by the various types of pyramids, the Sphinx and various other 5 million years old buildings and artworks, but our desert highlights were a jeep ride over the sands. The driver loved scaring the girls by jumping over the dunes. We were pretty shaken up by the time we were done. He thought it was the Indy 500 and he wanted to win!
And then came the camels. From the drop off point in the middle of no-where we climbed on our camels and set off by caravan for about a half hour ride. Susan and Diane were really good sports and it was a lot of fun!
After an authentic Egyptian dinner we set out for our 3 hour drive back. We were surprised how poor and dirty Cairo was. Our driver guard and guide were Muslim. Because it is the month of Ramadam they fast every day from 5 am till sundown no food or water. Very disciplined but they were very happy when 7 pm came and dove into their dinner.
Tuesday we spent on the ship to relax and today is Wednesday. We've docked in Athens for a visit with a new friend.
Monday, September 24, 2007
On shore we hired a taxi to take is to the very beautiful Kourion Beach where we sat and played for a few hours.
After getting back to ship I was anticipating the Yom Kippur service at 5. I was the first to arrive, donned my yamulka and waited for my Jewish friends to come. Finally about 6 of us were there and were greeted by our ships hostess. She'd laid out the candles, bread and wine and then she left us to have on our own service.
I explained to the senior group that I was a pastor and was only there to observe. Some were Orthodox Jews and some Reformed. There was a bit of confusion as to how to proceed without a rabbi. So I spoke up!
I asked the group to gather round and explain to this Gentile what Yom Kippur meant to each of them. They cooperated and then I told them the Bible story from Exodus of how Jehovah instructed Moses and Aaron to celebrate the high Holy Day of Atonement.
After we'd done that I asked them if I could pray for them. They explained that at Yom Kippur the rabbi prayed in Hebrew for the dead and the Holocast victims. It would be ok they said if I didn't mention Jesus. So I thanked God for the Jewish people who have kept the faith since Father Abraham. And I blessed our little group.
They were obviously touched by God! Then we broke bread with a Hebrew prayer and shared a swallow of wine (apparently it was holy wine). At the end of the service we all greeted one another and agreed it had been a worthwhile hour together
Then one of the brothers asked me if I would do a memorial service for his brother as we leave Athens next week. He had his brothers ashes with him and the Captain has ok'd the service.
Today was a good day my first Yom Kippur service and now my first Jewish burial. I didn't realize how our trip to Israel would change my life
Well Sunday is a day at Sea. Interdenominational service at 10 and the afternoon will be a day of rest. I pray blessings on our church and Pastor Terry this Sunday
Friday, September 21, 2007
Today as we sit in beautiful and historic Rhodes Greece, we are approaching the most high and Holy day on the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur In English we call the holiday the Day of Atonement
Once a year as Moses was instructed by God, Aaron the High Priest would take the blood of a sacrificed animal into into the Holy of Holies. He passed the brazen altar, golden Laver of water (representing our salvation and baptism).
Then he carefully walked into the Holy Place to eat at the table of bread, worship at the Menora and lay holy Frankinsence on the altar of Insence.
Then came the once a year entry behind the 4 colored veil into the Holy of Hollies. With the blood in his hands the High priest approached the golden Ark of the Covenant (the presence of God). He sprinkled the blood on the Mercy Seat so that the Glory of God between the Cherubim could settle above the ark. The Ten commandments inside the ark pictured our human failure.
In this dramatic act the High Priest and the blood he carried was representing all of the 2 million believers around the camp. Their sins for that entire year were being washed away by the sacrificed animal which had taken their place. God saw all of Israel as pure and Holy at that moment
Today we know that Jesus is not only our High Priest but also the perfect sacrifice for all people for all time. We can now enter the holy presence of God with confidence and boldness. Thank God for the Day of Atonement which was fully fulfilled 2000 years ago when Jesus took my place on the cross!
Have a very blessed Yom Kippur
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Thursday morning we woke up at Kusadasi Turkey to spend the day here. This was one of Susans favorite stops. We spent the morning at ancient Ephesus. To me, to stroll for a few hours on the same roads that the Apostle Paul did was exciting. Paul spent 3 years in this important center teaching at the school of Tyraneus. He challenged the goddess of fertility Artemis and the Hellenistic as well as hedonistic way of life. His letter to the Ephesians was addressed to this great port city. We could feel the conflict between paganism and Christianity everywhere we walked
After lunch we went shopping, which is really quite fun in Turkey. Bartering for Authentic Fakes (as the products are advertised) is a happy challenge.
Tomorrow we will take the day to walk around the historic Island of Rhodes Greece. The site of the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the 7 wonders of the Ancient world.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Today Susan and I are rounding the South of Italy and heading at about 20 MPH toward Mikonos Greece. Its a beautiful Mediterranean day-the water is calm and the sky is a vivid azure
Just before we left I received an email from a pastor I've never met in south Italy inviting me to lead a Pastors seminar in his country. I happily respond to him and told him Susan and I would be in Italy in September. We are meeting next week in Sperlonga
Today I received an email from another man I've never had the privilege of meeting. He's the president of the Foursquare Church in Greece. I replied that it just so happened that I would be in Greece tomorrow! We've arranged to meet for coffee next week in Athens!
David wrote "the Lord is my. Shepherd". Although we planned this trip a year ago, God had it planned before I was born! Its fun when we discover afresh that "he leads me in the right paths".
Blessings on your predestined day!
We've thoroughly enjoyed our visit to this ancient city of canals. Eating outside in the sunshine beside the river, riding the boats and gondolas from stop to stop, sitting listening to the live symphony at St Mark's Square (where tea for 4 is a hundred dollars) and wandering the maze of narrow Cobblestone streets.
Today we sailed the canals to a couple of other islands. Murano is a slower paced ancient city famous for glass blowing. We picked up a few gifts there, had lunch (pasta of course) and took the water bus back. What an unforgettable experience. The weather is sunny and warm.
Tomorrow we'll be up at 4 to fly to Rome
Friday, September 14, 2007
Today Susan and I arrived in Venice. We left Vancouver yesterday afternoon, touched down in Amsterdam for a few hours and then set out for Italy. The flight on KLM airline was uneventful, and that's always good news.
The young Chinese woman beside ie told an interesting story about her childhood where she lived just outside North Korea
After the Americans were there to fight the Korean War they left behind a new strain of bugs. Very big white bugs which flourished in their forests. As an annual assignment every Chinese child was required to go on a school field trip. They each had to kill 100 of the big insects (this girl was frightened by the bugs so always went with the boys who loved their assignment. She cheered them on and counted the bugs in their jars while they did her work). The kids in her town still do that today and most of the invaders have been eliminated!
I thought her story was a great illustration of the power of a church or family praying together against certain evil invasive spirits who try to dominate in our area of influence. If we all agree and work together we can defeat a very big and seemingly impossible enemy!
We're landing in Venice now. I'm looking at the patchwork of farms beneath our plane. Its a sunny warm day outside. Our friends are waiting for is at the hotel. After we land we take a boat ride down the canals to where we are meeting them. Its 4:30 pm here now
Friday, September 07, 2007
This has been a multicultural weekend. After Blake and Christine's wedding, on Sunday I showed our Israel pictures and our Chinese choir sang. (Both were well received). On Monday, I was invited to partner with a Persian Notary Public in the marrying of our Iranian neighbor's daugher, Shalaleh. They held two ceremonies back to back. The first one Muslim, Turkish, Persian in tradition, and the 2nd one Christian. Although the couple are not Christians, because of our strong relationship, they asked for my participation. They consider Susan and me to be family. I was quite fascinated by the eastern tradition. The bride, groom, and attendants dressed in our North American gowns and suits, but sat through the first ceremony. The Notary Public also sat as he spoke.There was a large display of produce in front of the couple; honey for sweetness (which they fed to each other, saying they each would give sweetness to the other), wheat flowers, vegetables and fruit representing God's blessing; money for prosperity, candles for God's light, and eggs for reproduction. During the ceremony close family members rubbed sugar over the heads of the couple promising more sweetness. After the Notary Public was finished and I'd done my Christian wedding ceremony, every family member presented gifts of gold, jewls or money. They came one by one, showed their gift to everyone (a little bit of peer pressure!) and then kissed the bride and groom. Every one at the ceremony were close family members (and me). Later, Susan joined me and we had a wonderful evening of sumptuous Western and Eastern cuisine. We loved watching the celebration of music and dance. Turkish and Persian music are loud, fast and very jubilant. It was a delightful evening. May God bless our many Iranian neighbors.
My focus over the seven years beginning in 2007 is multi-cultural ministry. Canada has been set in a significant place in God's Kingdom to reach every other culture in the world. I believe missional thinking should be a priority of our Canadian Churches. That's one of the reasons I looked forward to the wedding of Blake Wyatt (son of prominent members of Northside) and ChristineNguygen, (daughter of Vietnamese refugees) and also a member of our church family. I love Blake and Christine. We've enjoyed each other's company over the past year of preparitory interaction. They are both bright, quick-witted and leadership oriented. But for me the most enjoyable part of our long day was the Vietnamese Tea Ceremony held in downtown Vancouver at 11:00 AM. The ceremony is really the heart of a Vietnamese wedding. It's more about joining two families than only a man and a woman. It follows strict traditions which include the groom's family presenting gifts (a fifty pound roasted pig included) to the bride's family. If the girl's parents accept the gifts it is expected that they will give her to the other family. Thankfully the gifts were acceptable and Christine's family released their daughter to Blake. Finally inside the house, each of the groom's and bride's family members are offered tea by the couple in a ceremony of acceptance. Blake and Christine were smartly dressed in Vietnamese traditional clothes. The symbol which represents the groom is a dragon (protection) and a Phoenix (grace and beauty) symbolizes the bride. After the Tea Ceremony, we all headed to the elegant First Baptist Church on Burrard Street. For our Canadian ceremony I used the theme of Cinderella. Blake and Christine were delightful and striking as the Prince and Princess.The reception was a wonderful meal in the magnificently decorated Sutton Place Hotel. May God bless Blake and Christine over their next 60 years together.
Please take a moment to read and pass on this urgent prayer update. We are just days away from a powerful moment, when millions of Christians inevery nation across the planet will join in faith and unity to pray togetherfor the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem. This massive prayer initiative, one of the largest in Church history, hasnow been reported and referenced by major news outlets around the world. TheJerusalem Celebration of the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem willbe carried live into 192 nations on God TV. Literally, in every corner of the planet, churches are preparing to stand inagreement with Psalm 122, and with one another in hope, and pray for God'spresence and peace to flood the streets of Jerusalem, and minister peace toall of her inhabitants, Jew and Arab alike. The First Sunday of October, October 7th, has been designated as the GlobalDay of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem by well over 1000 global Christianleaders. Leaders of influence including, Jack Hayford, Paul Cedar, DickEastman, T.D. Jakes, Kay Arthur, Myles Munroe, Jane Hansen, John Hagee,Ravi Zacharias, Michael W. Smith, Chuck Pierce, Sunday Adeleja, and JoyceMeyer are just a handful of those all around the world who are in unitycalling for focused, united prayer on this day. In order for this day to be effective we NEED to ACT together in unity. Please agree to make a difference today by doing two simple things.... 1. Make sure your local church is participating on October 7th. event but rather a worldwide celebration day when LOCAL CHURCHES remember topray or Jerusalem in their Sunday services. Although there will be aJerusalem Celebration of this day carried live on GOD TV around the world,the real thrust of the initiative is on the local church level. Please BESURE that your church is participating! There are resources such as postersand prayer cards for you local church available at http://sitemail5.nationprotect.net/sitemail4/parse.pl?redirect=http://www.daytopray.com. 2. Please forward this email to as many believing Christians as you can. yourclose friends and prayer partners, we can literally sound a global trumpetto bring clear focus and awareness to this urgent prayer effort. We thank you for putting action to your prayers and taking part in seeingGod's purposes for Zion unfold in this hour of history! . May the Lord's Shalom rest over each of you,
Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem