Saturday, July 31, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
The Colosseum was built by Titus about ten years after his victory in Israel. The Romans loved the games and whether they were man against man or man against animal, they were always to the death. It was kind of strange imagining the gathering in this spot with the sole purpose of watching someone be slaughtered. The games were free - a gift from the emperor to his people. There were open arched entries all the way around the building and it was said that it would only take 25 minutes for the place to fill or empty.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
We also stopped at several fountains in the middle of the city - not the normal City Hall structure that we see in America. This fountain is called Trevi Fountain. It has been in many movies, like "Three Coins in a Fountain" and was packed with tourists, taking in its beauty.
Monday, July 26, 2010
This is just an example of a hallway of artifacts taken from archaeological digs...these are busts of Romans...
This was pretty impressive - it's Nero's bath tub - it was about 16 feet in diameter - a small pool, per se...you can see how big it is by looking at the people standing to the right...
This is the hall of maps - nearly a kilometer of large wall hangings, all mapping out Italy and Rome's empire - all done without satellite imaging or even an airplane...interesting, huh?
This is inside St. Peter's Cathedral. Let me explain what you are seeing. That dark brown gazebo in the back center is built above where Peter is supposedly buried. Only the pope is allowed to stand inside that gazebo and administer a service. It is MASSIVE! Then throughout the main room here there are statues of various saints - my favorite was probably the one of Helen, Constantine's mother, who promoted using the cross as a Christian symbol. Also I think a lot of popes are buried within the walls and floor...
This is outside, in the square looking at St. Peter's Cathedral. The picture doesn't do it justice, except for the fact you can see how little the people are and how big the buildings are. Pillared buildings surround the square and there are specific points that you can stand on that give the image of open spaces or closed pillars - hard to explain - you'll just have to go to see what I mean. Do you see around the roofline of the buildings are statues? Various saints throughout the ages - they are massive...
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
The age-old debate of free will vs. sovereignty in salvation continues to rage on. In my own personal experience, the heated conversations usually end with someone throwing up their hands and saying, "Well, if that's really what God is like, then no one stands a chance. How fair is that?" For some reason, a sovereign God who works as He pleases is offensive to the human mind.
Or perhaps it's only to the American, whose mind is so firmly set on freedom that any implication that man is truly not free but dead to sin causes an involuntary gut reaction.
It's funny how we are such a young nation, but freedom flows through our veins. Recently, my sister was in Russia picking up one of her adopted daughters and she was given a clear picture of the ugly American. She told me that in Russia, the people live for the government. They are under the government's rule and have no rights but the rights given to them by the government whenever the government feels like doling them out. That's why court dates come and go, depending on whether or not the judges feel like working.
In America, however, the government exists to serve the people. We have rights and we demand that they be exercised and upheld. If the government doesn't act quick enough, we'll get rid of them and replace them with a better and more attentive civil servant. So when an American tries to act like they are in America, when in reality they are in Russia, the term "ugly American" comes into play.
I think you get the picture.
I heard John MacArthur once say that God's sovereignty is better understood and accepted outside of America. His point was that because we are so ingrained with the concept of choice and freedom, that we cannot grasp a sovereign concept - only democracy. Choice. Freedom. Rights. Justice.
But when we seek to understand God better, we absolutely must set aside our preconceived ideas and let His Word reveal truth.
For example, wives, do we really need to submit to our husbands? I mean, come on, some of us make more money than our husbands, we do more than our husbands around the house and we’re probably even smarter than them. When that scripture about submitting was written, it was a different time, a different culture. Women have evolved – we’re doctors, lawyers, merchants and chiefs now. Men and women are created equal and though we wouldn’t go so far as to say men should solely submit to us, we certainly think that God no longer requires women in general to be subservient to their husbands. Right?
When we reason like this, we quickly forget that the reason we as women struggle with the whole submission concept goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. When Eve sinned, the consequence was the fact that women would forever desire to rule the roost, but God would not change His mind on home leadership. It has nothing to do with culture, education or income. It has everything to do with order, God-given roles and sin.
Back to sovereignty. The angered response to a Biblical defense for sovereignty in salvation is, “Then we’re simply puppets. No one is responsible for their own actions because they don’t truly have a choice.”
Technically, they are right. We don’t have a choice because DEAD PEOPLE CAN’T CHOOSE ANYTHING!
It’s a matter of perspective.
If you start with a living, breathing, logical, healthy, smart, rational human being, then it isn’t fair that he doesn’t get a choice. If you put a plate of spaghetti and a New York strip steak in front of this man, he should be able to make an educated choice. Do I want carbs or protein for dinner?
But if you start with a dead body – do you really want me to describe a dead body here or will you take my word for it…he’s dead – and give him the choice of spaghetti or steak, guess what he’ll choose every time. That’s right – nothing, because he’s dead.
Now, bring this dead man back to life and set a beautiful plate of beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes with gravy, French cut green beans and a warm roll in front of him, and do you really think he’s going to be angry because you didn’t wake up the dead body next to him and feed him as well? No, he is going to gratefully dine on your generosity and when the meal is done, he’ll ask you what you would like him to do next. Right?
Okay, enough for tonight…trust me, folks…I’m not done yet…
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
And here you go! Above us in this picture is the base of the church and below is the ruins of Peter's house. Not sure why they think this is Peter's house or why it was necessary to build the church on top of it, but it was interesting to see...
Here are more ruins - there were several olive presses. I explained to my girls with me that when Jesus said that it would be better for a millstone to be tied around your neck and for you to be tossed into the sea, than for you to cause a child who believes in Jesus to sin (Mark 9:42 and Luke 17:2), this was what He was talking about. That round stone would be the millstone.
Here is Orit standing in the synagogue. These ruins have a foundation that dates back to the time of Christ, but the majority of the structure is later than the first century.
After Capernaum, we continued north to the Syrian border. Mount Herman was in the distance, which is the very north of Israel. This area is the Golan Heights. In this picture we are standing on a dormant volcano (which has a name that for the moment has escaped me) and on this location is a military bunker. If there would be some kind of invasion to the north, this whole area would be evacuated and within six hours it would become an active military base. We toured the bunker inside the volcano and it was really fascinating. I'd love to tell you about it, but then I'd have to kill you...We felt safe, since there has been no fighting here since Israel captured the Heights in the late 70's. In this picture, Syria is behind us. Anything green and maintained is Israel, anything desert-like is Syria.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Standing at this place, imagining it completely empty of structure, I tried to imagine Abraham's mindset as he worked his way down one hill, into the valley and then up to the place where God would eventually provide the Lamb. I think I could have sat there in silence for an hour or two and still not have grasped the significance of everything I was looking at. But Jesus told the Pharisees in John 8:56 that Abraham understood exactly what God was planning to do and he was glad. Abraham told his son that God would provide a Lamb - not a ram, which was given on that particular day, but a Lamb who would save his people and redeem his offspring.
We ended that day at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. We ate lunch within the city walls and walked through the shopping district in Old Jerusalem, coming out at the Wailing Wall. The base of this wall is part of Solomon's Temple and it is here that the Jewish community comes to pray for the Messiah. There is a barrier to separate the men and women, and if you look closely, you will see that on the right side, it is packed with women, where the men's side has only a handful. This is not necessarily typical - I think it was more due to the time of day than anything else. There was a large group of boys in the square, singing and dancing - perhaps a bar mitzvah celebration or a class visiting the wall. If you go to the wall to pray, you are expected to back out of the area, not turning your back to the Holy Wall.