Maybe I've already told you this, but our guide in Turkey is Omar. He is Muslim (at least like Americans are Christian - meaning he says he is) and we have been praying for the Spirit to use our group to show Christ in real ways. This is gentle work. We aren't the only Christians he has guided and I'm sure some well-meaning and over zealous people have let him have it. Anyway, our trip south today from Istanbul was to take a swing (120 miles out of the way) through modern day Iznik (nicea from olden days). So we get close and he is simply going to let us off at some beach location for ten minutes of photos and then on to our destination of Izmir. I asked him if he could get us to the church and he wasn't sure where it was - had never been. Well, after some questions and narrow streets on a big bus we found the aya sofia (same name of church as in Istanbul). The remains of a 5th century church are to be seen built on the site of Nicene Council that met here in 325 AD. Who cares? If you are a Christian, you should. Here are three major things that original group of church leaders accomplished.
1. They agreed on a creed (latin - credo - believe). You can google the Nicen creed - same things we believe after all of these years!
2. They agreed that Jesus was in fact in substance God. This is important because a guy named Arius said he wasn't. Praise God Athanasius and others followed our Lord's description of who he was - God in the flesh, the word was with God and was God!
3. The method for determining Easter each year (equinox, blah, blah, blah)
4. They confirmed the 66 books of the Bible that were in circulation and accepted by the early church as authentic. The Bibles we read contain these books. IMPORTANT: they didn't choose the books or put them together for the first time. This was not arbitrary work. They simply confirmed the authenticity of authorship, writing, and church usage of these 66 writings.
We had a chance to share all of this on the bus microphone and guess who was listening? Omar continued to ask many of our group questions and even showed interest in the Bible. Dave Doran gave Omar his Bible and it made his day! The Holy Spirit continues to work..so pray for our diligence, patience and alertness to Holy Spirit moments! Other than that it was a rainy day, so a good one to be in the bus...9 hours to Izmir (Smyrna in the Bible). We arrived at the hotel around 9:15 and went for a quick supper at a local cafe'. Ready to hit the sack..but first gotta send my sermon outline back to the church office. I spent much of the day working on what I will preach this coming Sunday from Acts 11. Looking forward to it and looking forward to Ephesus tomorrow.