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Sunday, August 11: Day 111 – Our Church in Ephesus

We told Ertunga that we had decided before we left home that we would attend church wherever we are in the world. God has something to say to us in each country and city. We want to hear and witness firsthand what God is doing. Knowing the cities we would be on the weekends allowed us to research their locations and submit them to Ertunga so that he could work the churches into our schedule.

Omar bravely drove the van up narrow dirt roads with no guards rails and back down again to our church 45 minutes away.

When he stopped in front of a building, we saw a small room with its doors open and chairs set up.
Rob said, “Is this it?”

We were looking for The New Convenant Church of Kusadasi and the sign on the door said Ada Yeni Yasem Kilisesi. Is it the same thing??

“Well, it looks like a church.” So I jumped out with Rob behind, and we sent Omar on his way. We will text him when the service is finished. We invited Omar and Ertunga but they wanted to spend this holiday time with their families as we were in their hometown. Maybe next week

There was a small group of men praying. We introduced ourselves and were warmly greeted. A man thought that Rob looked like Anthony Quinn.

(Later, Omar said that I am lucky to be married to him. I said he is lucky to be married to me…even though I apparently don’t look like a movie star.)

Note: Some of the names in the rest of the post are aliases.

James, obviously an English speaking American, greeted us. He is from near Pittsburg, Kansas. He works in agriculture in Turkey.

James and his wife, Alice, have been involved in mission work with Turks living in Bulgaria. Now they are in Turkey. He will translate for us since the service is in Turkish. I told him to just give us the main point as it is very difficult to translate word for word. When you are translating to one person, you miss the next things that are being said. I inclined my ear whenever I heard a noise of agreement.

James also seemed to have the non-stop job of adjusting the air conditioner. He said that it is low on freon. Others came over by us to further adjust as well. He has three children. They attend the public schools and are fluent in Turkish. It must be difficult to raise children in a foreign culture. Children want to fit in.

James tells us that the locals have a 6-day work week. Each weekday, they work from 7-7 and Saturday is 8-3. Sunday is the only day off, so sometimes attendance is affected.

James also tells us that worship services are instructive with much explanation. I can relate to the questions of new believers: Why do we do this? In fact, I believe that we should closely examine our individual and corporate worship as we can quickly fall into our worship becoming tradition and duty.)

This church follows a certain order of worship which ends in singing the Lord’s Prayer. It serves as a benediction.

Singing

Psalm 134The worship leader/pastor told the congregation that the Old Testament says that the Levites, the tribe who were God’s priests, sang all day and night. Singing is the worship of our heart and it prepares our heart to have God speak to our hearts. We stand to sing.

After singing, three people from the congregation of about 25 prayed aloud from their seats.

  • Older man visiting from a sister church nearby.
  • A woman named Svetlana
  • A father of two young children

After welcoming the visitors, he told us that we are all one under God no matter what we do or where we are from.

Prayers:

For the children

The children came up to the front and faced the people. We prayed for them as a blessing and for them to grow strong in the Lord.

For congregation.

Abel just had heart surgery and will have another next month.

A man got a new job on a cruise ship and will not be able to attend church. Pray for him to find other Christians for fellowship.

Karen is handicapped and wasn’t able to attend last week. She can’t come often but shares the gospel with her neighbors.

The main pastor, whose whole family is sick at home.

Sermon

This is a time that God will talk with us. The leader prayed for pastor, Hammas.

Scripture Ephesians 4:22-32

God doesn’t have needs, we have needs. He created us in love.

This weekend was a big Islamic festival much like Christmas is for Christians. Families get together and exchange gifts.

Christians who have this background do not have any relationships with their families. They said we don’t need to sacrifice. We already have a sacrifice in Jesus. (This must be hard. Would you give up your “Christmas” activities to follow Jesus? Think about that.)

We all came from Adam. We are all made from dirt. Jesus came from heaven.

Our old sinful self is gone. We have put on new clothes.

Scripture Ephesians 4:22-32

Lies

A white lie is when we tell someone that we will do something but have no intention of doing it. In Turkey, they call it a pink lie.

All of our lies are getting out of something. We only care about ourselves. We don’t honor God when we tell lies.

If an atheist comes to church and he sees lies, he will say that he is better off not coming to church.

Anger

There are two types of anger: something that makes ME angry and something that makes God angry.

Jesus was angry in the temple. Get angry for the right reasons.

Ask yourself: Is it about me or God?

Stealing

Has anyone stolen here? I thought that this was a rhetorical question but two men spoke right up.

Broken agreements are stealing. For example, if you agree to rent out your car for $500 and another man says that he will give you $1,000, you are stealing if you break the first agreement.

Also, stealing time from other people. If you agree to meet at 1:00 and you arrive at 2:00, you have stolen that man’s time.

Bad words

We are to speak words that are good and build each other up.

Speak only wholesome words.

Words of God are the most helpful.

Sheep to market have a mark to separate to whom the sheep belong. We have that mark.

We have talked about four things: lies, anger, stealing, and bad words.

Are we honoring God in all that we do?


Fellowship

We had fellowship time afterwards and were served a traditional appetizer. We discussed Turkish evangelism. He said that the population of followers of Jesus Christ is increasing but not as fast as the growth of the population of Turkey.

James said that there is a school in Kusadasi that teaches future Imans. They are studying the Koran. They are most accepting of the gospel. They are earnestly seeking God and when they read the New Testament, it all makes sense to them. Of course discipleship occurs later.

The secular Turkish who have left religious Islam but remain culturally Muslim are more skeptical. Why should I leave one religion of laws for another one of laws? I think that is one reason the “the Law” was written so much in the Bible. The gospel sets us free from laws.

It seems hard for man to accept this gift. It isn’t a burden at all. You don’t work for a gift. But we always think that there are strings attached since nothing is free. This is the great glorious exception.


I don’t normally write about anything except our church experience on Sunday but today, I will make an exception. Our sermon today was taken from the scripture written to the church in Ephesus.

Also, the church that we attended was in Kusadasi in which the ruins of Ephesus are located. After church Ertunga took us to lunch were we ate Pide which is like a Turkish pizza.


Ephesus is one of the twelve Ionian cities. They are Phocaea, Erythrae, Clazomenae, Teos, Lebedus, Colophon, Ephesus, Priene, Myus, and Miletus on the mainland, with the islands Chios and Samos. These Greek Ionian cities located along the coastline forming the Panionion.


Letter to Ephesus from the Bible

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: 1 These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. 4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. 6 But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.


Commentary

This first verse identifies the angel as Jesus.

Verses 2 & 3 speak of the good things that this church is doing. This is good communication. Identify who is speaking to recognize their authority. Then the good things first. If one started with bad things, they would stop listening.
They forgot their first love. Jesus

1 John 4:19 We love because He first loved us.

Jesus is the lover of our soul. Don’t ever lose the excitement of falling in love. You can’t wait to meet them, talk with them and dream with them.

Are we worshipping out of habit or duty? We must guard against and maintain that excitement.

When my daughters were little, they were so excited to go to church. They would burst through the door and run to their seats in the pew. One man commented that he wished that he was as excited as they were. YOU CAN!! Never forgot His great love for you. So much that He died for you.

John, the author of the letters to the churches in Revelation, was old and if Domition killed him, he would be martyred so Domition exiled John to the island of Patmos which would stop him from preaching.

Procolus was with John in prison and wrote letters for John and sent them to churches. John could not write about Rome directly.


Sign of the Fish

ΙΧΘΥΣ

A person draws a circle. Then divides the circle into 8 pieces. At first, the ends were cut off by another person to indicate a fish. The officials got wise to this. Then they started tracing the five Greek letters that form the acrostic Jesus Christ God’s Son Savior.

Pax Romana

As long as there is peace, you will have trade. People can travel.

Roman Baths were at the entrance for guests. All travelers were inspected by a doctor and officer. If they were considered healthy enough to enter the city, they are to bathe. This was a way to control diseases. If your health was questionable, you are to be kept in a boat for 40 days. A quarenta. This is where we get the word quarantine. Even in Islam, a baby is not taken out for 40 days.

In 1869, John Wood, a British engineer came here to build a railway. He found evidence of Ephesus and sent information back to England. Everyone was so excited since this was the first site found that proved that the Bible was real and not just stories.

Only about 15 percent of Ephesus has been uncovered. Austrians lead the archeology.


Paul in Ephesus

The theatre had a cover or awning because there were no canals for drainage. Paul was a tentmaker as was his father. This skill is from the nomads. He likely made tents for soldiers but moreso, he must have made awnings that were popular during Roman times. These “tents” were made of goat hair which doesn’t absorb water. It has the ability to adjust to the temperature as well.

In the summer, the heat opens up the spaces between the hairs and provides air circulation. In the winter, the fibers contract in the cold and keep the warmth inside.


Acts 19:11-41

There was a large Jewish community in Ephesus. Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin. Paul was able to preach to many people here and was having an impact.

There were many festivals here. A man named Demetrius sponsored a festival.

Festivals centered around worship of Artemis at the temple. Temple worship was big business. There were free food, all night theatre etc.

Paul’s friends warned him that his life was in danger in Ephesus. (“I’m goin’ in.” I admire his boldness.)

Wealthy pagans were threatened in all parts of life by Paul’s preaching: mostly spiritually and economically.

The sellers of the temple images started to protest as it was beginning to have an impact on their livelihood.

The theater held 25,000 people. For two hours, they were shouting “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians”. The noise and the amplified acoustics must have been deafening. Can you find Rob in this picture.

The governor recognized this dangerous situation and silenced the angry mob. Paul was a Roman and disputes had to be handled in court.

When we see a cross on a building in Ephesus, it has been dedicated to Christ. Idols are at the four corners of the foundation so Christians are hesitant to enter.

Fun Facts

We came to Ephesus about 25 years ago. We were shocked to walk on mosiac sidewalks. Our guide then seemed unconcerned. “We have so many.” It is exciting to see that much more has been excavated.

There is a water clock at City Hall. It was more like a timer. You must stop talking when the water runs out. (We could use this for the Presidential debates!)

Once laws were decided upon, they were written in stone. That is where we get the phrase “set in stone”.

Olympic Games were held here complete with the eternal flame.

Only ordinary people went to restaurants. The wealthy had kitchens and servants. This is the opposite of today…although we don’t have servants!!

When there is a temple dedication, pagans wear white to show respect to the gods. Christians refused. The word dominant comes from ruler Domition. Pagans and Christians hated him. He did many awful things that I won’t list. He had killed a senator. Then he hosted a dinner for the senators and told them that they were eating him.

There is a fountain with the foot of Trajan resting on top of the world as ruler. This would indicate that they knew that the world was round.In 1996, private companies helped to finanace archeology in Ephesus. A roof was erected to protect a significant portion of terraced houses.

Ephesus was a port city. All goods from Asia Minor went through here. The rich lived in luxury.

These were houses of the rich and famous. There was a court yard in the middle. There was a bath in the house with taps of hot and cold water.

Also, boiler rooms were under the floors. Expensive marble came from the same quarry.

There was a courtyard in the middle of the house. They had a room with The Muses on them. This room was for learning and contemplation. This is where we get the word museum.

The owner of house would often buy the neighbors’ house to extend his house. The house would be extended from generations to generations. This is the last version.


Temples originated where meteors hit the earth. See Acts 19:35. They first worshipped the stone. Then built an altar there for sacrifices. Then it was surrounded by a temple to accommodate those sacrifices.
There were three Ephesuses (or is that Ephesi?) One built on top of the other.

The first Ephesus was inhabited by Amazon warriors who came from the Black sea. Ephesus was an Amazon queen. Their likeness was found on pottery and reliefs.

Temple of Artemis

In the 8th or 9th century BC, the temple was built. The local culture worshipped Sybil which corresponds to Artemis so they were compatible. This allowed them to live together in peace.

(This reminds me of the class Perspectives. In reaching unreached people groups, people try to relate the gospel in ways that locals understand. However, one can inadvertently make a new gospel (which is not acceptable as there is only one gospel of Jesus Christ). The term for this is syncretism and must constantly be considered when working cross culturally.)

Since the Temple of Artemis was near the sea, the foundation needs to ensure that it wouldn’t collapse. Layers of animal skin, then coal, skin, coal, and so on were used to buffer an earthquake and prevent sinking. After many layers, then the marble was placed.

The Temple of Artemis faced the sea so it was the first thing that the visitors saw. The temple was for economics and tourism. It was one of the ancient wonders if the ancient world.


The first banks were started here. Many ships have been discovered nearby. Once that you made your money, it was cheaper to sink your ship. Also, one had to worry about pirates. So what do you do with your money. The safest place was in the temple.

However, in this case, you were charged rent, not given interest. The temple priests became wealthy bankers. That is why most banks look like temples to display safety.

In 357 BC, there was a shoemaker named Herasotus who they said was crazy. He burned the temple and was killed for this crime. How could marble burn? It is a mineral and the foundation contained coal.

How could one man burn this huge temple. There was speculation that priests did it after they robbed the bank. They found no coins.

People starting to question: If the god cannot protect his own house, he cannot protect the city.

This certainly would soften the hearts of men to worship the true God who wants to bless all the nations.

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