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Kera Package | Archive | August, 2010
Archive - August, 2010

What up Ephesus?

If you didn’t already know this, I am a complete and total geek. I love the historical context of scripture, and will spend way too much time trying to discover more about the settings of the time. Thankfully for you, my inner nerd produces short(er) summaries of all the information I learn so that others can benefit from my randomly acquired knowledge. And so, I give you a summary of my search to understand Ephesus.

Ephesus was a large city in Asia Minor, aka Turkey. As a major trade point with access to multiple bodies of water and an intricate road system, Ephesus was one of the economical centers of its time. It was also known for its worship of Diana or Artemis. This pagan goddess known in both Roman and Greek mythology was believed to be a great hunter, the goddess of fertility, and the protector of the poor. Ephesus was a city devoted to her, so much so that they spent over 200 years building a temple to her that later became one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

Paul spent time ministering at the church of Ephesus during his third missionary journey around 57 A.D. At the end of his time there, an unruly mob of craftsmen began to riot because Christianity was beginning to destroy their business (Acts 19). The silversmith Demetrius and his colleagues made their profits constructing idols of Artemis, and Christianity threatened that by declaring that there was only one true God. The Christian way of life was so well known and radical that it became known as the “Way”. And, the Way was threatening the status quo in Ephesus.

The imagery of the riot in Acts 19 amazes me. It says that the disciples begged Paul not to venture into the theater because of the mob. The theater was a massive amphitheater that held over 25,000 people. Scripture says that there was a mass crowd in chaos- some were angry, many confused, and quite a few people didn’t even know why they were rioting. I am trying to imagine what kind of crowd Paul and the other believers faced as they served Jesus by witnessing in public places like the theater.

In my study of Ephesus, I came across this preview of Mark Driscoll’s Ephesians project. It talks a little more about life in Ephesus and is really interesting- especially the portions of economics, freed slaves, and community. If you have a few minutes, check it out. I would recommend fast forwarding the video to 2:40 and playing it from there.

http://www.marshillchurch.org/v/d2x3fgmrlmm7

Awesome, huh? Can you imagine the Christian couch surfing of the time? “Hey, you have a Jesus fish wheel symbol thing on your door, can I crash here?’ Don’t I wish traveling were the same way today; though, I prefer airplanes and cars to camels and foot.

Back to the book of Ephesians. Ephesians was penned somewhere around 62-65 A.D. while Paul was in prison in Rome. There is some debate as to whether Paul wrote the epistle and who the epistle was written to, but the evidence and opinion I have found leads me to believe that Paul is the author and the churches at Ephesus were the original recipients. Though, this epistle was meant to be a circular letter, passed from church to church.

Ephesians is unique in that it doesn’t contain the personal rebuke or correction of many of the other epistles. It is written to those who love God regardless of their location and background. Ephesians is a beautiful declaration of doctrine explaining how Christ relates to His church and the duty of the Church to respond to their relationship with Christ. My prayer is that this study of Ephesians will challenge each of the girls in my group to understand who God has created them to be as individuals and a community and to act with a remainder of their first Love Jesus. I’m excited to see what God does as we dive into His word and learn more about the early Church.

Ephesians

My small group this semester is studying Ephesians, and I am going to attempt to track what I am learning from the study here. Why study Ephesians? Well, to be honest, I am studying Ephesians because I was intrigued by the book of Revelation. When reading Revelation, the letter to the church of Ephesus really struck me.

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: 
      These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands: 2I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.4Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5Remember the height from which 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. 6But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Revelation 2:1-7 details how the church is affirmed for their hard work and perseverance.  They hate those who falsely claim to know God and the Nicolaitans who were trying to control the laity. They have endured suffering for the faith and have not grown weary. Sounds like a solid church, right? They have great doctrine and are known for their deeds.  Sign me up to work with them.

But wait a moment, the church is reprimanded for forgetting their first love and not being as good as they once were. They have fallen greatly from their passion at the height of their devotion to God. Apparently the church had forgotten the Agape love of Christ and in turn forgot to love Him and His Church with the same passion that they once did. I don’t know about you, but I can relate to their position.

Some times even in the midst of having sound doctrine and doing good deeds, I forget my first love. I forget who God is and in turn forget how I should be responding to Him.  The church is reminded of how far they have fallen and called to repent. This letter struck my curiosity. How far did they fall? What was the church like at the height of their faith and service? And, what can we learn from the church at Ephesus to prevent us from forgetting our first love?

The best answer to my questioning is the Bible. Paul wrote an circular epistle to the Ephesians that detailed both the doctrine and duty of the Christian community. Unlike other Pauline letters, the letter to the Ephesians does not offer any personal rebuke or correction which proves to be an interesting fact when you consider how harsh Paul was in his writings to other churches. Furthermore, this letter was entrusted to the Ephesians to be passed from church to church to instruct the faithful and encourage believers to serve God to the fullest.

I am so excited to learn more about the early Church through this letter to the Ephesians. My next post regarding this topic will detail some of the background information of the church in Ephesus. In the meanwhile and always, my prayer is that God will continue to remind me of how far I have personally fallen and restore to me my first love: Jesus.

Overflow of my cluttered mind

There have been many times this week when I have wanted nothing more than to blog. Then I remember that my thoughts would be on display for anyone to read. That intimidation factor never fails to create some hesitation. The remaining reluctancy comes from my lack of ability to articulate my thoughts. Here is a random stream of partial thoughts to account for the difference.

  • I love what I am doing, but the more I am here, the more I feel like I’m not supposed to be here for long.
  • In discovering more of who I am, I am losing lots of who I’d rather be and the friends I’d love to walk with me along the way. I guess this is losing my life to find it.
  • In a crowded room, I am more than lonely. Somehow, I think it will always be that way.
  • I can’t get you out of my mind, and I know that I need to as soon as possible.
  • I’m homesick, but no where really feels like home… well expect that one place, that one time… and that even wasn’t quite right.
  • My mind, heart, and spirit are a bit off. I can’t explain it, but I don’t like it.
  • I am super pumped about studying Ephesians, but also super nervous that no one will show up at my Bible study.
  • I’ve never needed God more, but I’m really struggling to connect with Him.
  • I seriously want to get my lip pierced, and I think I should. As soon as I can justify spending the money on the needle, I think I am going to do it.
  • I am meant to live life on the edge, but first I need to learn the right posture to fully enjoy the view.
  • Physical closeness is not an indication of the bond between two souls. Just because we share a hug, doesn’t mean we share a meaningful friendship. 
  • Lately I have been increasingly frustrated that those closest to me don’t seem to know me. Then I remember that I don’t even really know me, and then feel guilty about my hypocritical irritability.
  • My car is officially illegal to drive tomorrow, and I don’t know when I’ll have time to make it legal or if I’ll stop driving it in the meanwhile. 
  • My latest pet peeve with myself: my communication style. I listen, and I remember… but often my multitasking mouth speaks before given the social cue that it’s acceptable.
  • I need to develop a liking of running again because I will never truly be comfortable in the club, effective on the beach, or able to run into the the dangerous places until I do. All of which are going to be essential aspects of my future plans.
  • In due time, I need to find someone who is as crazily in love with God’s adventure as I am. Scratch that; I need to find someone even crazier… because this life would be a little less lonely with a companion. My secret fear is that that person doesn’t exist. 
  • Sleeping is becoming problematic. I either can’t do it or I can’t stop it. I cry myself to sleep as I push through my insomnia, and then struggle to pull myself out of bed in the morning. 
  • As I argue with myself about the present, my tattoo haunts me and I love it more and more each day.
  • My greatest fear is that I lost the gifts I once refused to use, and now desire to see them at work to bring a little of Heaven to earth. By gifts, I mean both the practical and supernatural.
  • This list needs to come to a close because I need to go spend some time hanging out with the only constant and trustworthy aspect of my life: Jesus. 

just a thought.

Sometimes I think God allows us to begin a test that He knows we will fail… simply so He can remind us of how much we need Him in our lives in order to succeed.

Funny how the Romans 8 declarations of no condemnation and nothing separating us from the love of Christ come directly after Paul comes to terms with the reality of his inability to do good because of his sinful nature.

This week I feel like God is reminding me of who I would be without Him. There are some tests I am passing, others I am failing, but in every test I am reminded that He is the victor.

Forgotten love notes.

During one of our team times in Ibiza, we took the time to pray and prophesy over one another. (Which, by the way, may be the greatest way a group of friends can show love for one another. Oh, how I cherish these times in life.)

Last night, I found the notes from that prayer session in my bag. One bit of a prayer over my life included:

“He’s preparing you for a great plan. Even when you’re alone, you’ll still be consistently moving in power- no matter how many people are around you or what circumstances are going down. “

Definitely true, and definitely the encouragement I need right now.  Even when I feel alone, He is with me. Even when I feel lost in the crowd or stranded in the wilderness, He is with me. Even when I am over my deadline, out of ideas and under-motivated, He is with me. Not only is He with me, He enables me to move in power, the power of His Spirit. 

In this same prayer session, a dear friend told me that this year I needed to cling to Isaiah 43. He didn’t read the passage aloud that day, and I didn’t look it up until about five minutes ago. Here are two segments of the passage:

But now, this is what the LORD says—
       he who created you, O Jacob,
       he who formed you, O Israel:
       “Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
       I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
 

2 When you pass through the waters,
       I will be with you;
       and when you pass through the rivers,
       they will not sweep over you.
       When you walk through the fire,
       you will not be burned;
       the flames will not set you ablaze.

 3 For I am the LORD, your God,
       the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
       I give Egypt for your ransom,
       Cush 
 and Seba in your stead.
 4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
       and because I love you
,
       I will give men in exchange for you,
       and people in exchange for your life.

 5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;   

—–
 18 “Forget the former things;
       do not dwell on the past.

 19 See, I am doing a new thing!
       Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? 

       I am making a way in the desert
       and streams in the wasteland.

 20 The wild animals honor me,
       the jackals and the owls,
       because I provide water in the desert
       and streams in the wasteland,
       to give drink to my people, my chosen,

 21 the people I formed for myself
       that they may proclaim my praise.

—–

Guess that’s why they call it prophecy. It is truth. It is divinely inspired. It is applicable even when we can’t see it’s implications. I appreciate this scrap of paper and that prayer session a little more this week than I did in the moment.  In the moment, I saw my friends love for me. Now that I see the significance of their prayer, I appreciate God’s love for me as shown through their love for me and the words He had given them for my life. 
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