Wednesday, August 13, 2008

13 Things About Paul's Brief Stay in Samothrace

1.As I stated yesterday Samothrace is an island in the northern Aegean Sea. During Paul’s foray into Asia Minor discussed in Acts 16:1-10 he stopped on the island while on the way to Phllippi as detailed in Acts 16:11….From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. From there we traveled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of the district of Macedonia. And we stayed here several days.

2.While we don’t have an exact amount of time Paul spent in Samothrace, he did spend the night. There is no mention of any converts at Samothrace even though they are frequently documented at other towns along Paul’s travels.

3.That very fact begs for further study concerning this place. Why is just a bump in the road to Paul? Why no mention of converts or interaction with the people of Samothrace?

4.Paul’s letters generally indicate to us that one of the first things he did upon arriving in any location was to visit the local synagogue, however, there is no archeological evidence of a synagogue on the island of Samothrace.

5.Remains of several small church have been found but they are dated to a period many years after the time period Paul would have visited the island. The remains of one church can be found at the base of Mount Phengari at the end of a city wall that runs down the slope.

6.In 1863, Monsieur Champoiseau, a French Consul, stationed in Greece made some chance discoveries that sparked archeological interest in Samothrace. In 1873 and 1875 two Austrian teams made extensive excavations of the area and were able to publish their research. In 1938, New York University began excavations on the island led by Karl Lehmann. The process continued until the 1970s except for an eight year period during World War II.

7. The Americans found ruins that help to explain the ancient religion of Samothrace including a colonaded fa├žade of a santuary structure, and they excavated several cemetaries.

8. The ancient religion is known today as the Kabeiria Mysteries of Dionysus. It attracted people from all over the Greek world including the parents of Alexander the Great. There are literary references from the Chrisitan Era supporting this fact from Aristophanes to Plato.

9. Was Paul aware of the mystery religion/cult that existed on Samothrace?

10. We aren’t told, but the idea isn’t that far fetched as the Romans were very interested in the cult religion after they conquered the Greek Empire from the 2nd Century B.C. Many Romans made annual pilgrimages to the island and many initiates of the cult include high ranking Roman officials.

11. It is true, however, that Pauls brief overnight stay on the island would not have been long enough to fully examine the culture and lifestyle of the people there. Many Bible scholars feel that if Paul had been able to fully experience Samothrace he would have condemned the actions of the people much like he did the people of Athens in Acts 17...Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you, "The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

12.Over time the interest in the mystery religion ebbed and flowed, but eventually fortunes on the island began to decline and by the fourth century A.D. the cult seems to have disappeared. The island began to suffer from pirate attacks and later they would hide out on Samothrace. By the 8th Century the harbor was filled with sand due to severe erosion from deforestation. There are absolutely no historical records to follow regarding the island from 1500 to 1800 A.D.

13. Seems like a lot of wasted time. What if Paul’s stay in Samothrace had been longer? Would it have made a difference?

Check out other blogs and their 13 posts here.

Wordless: Verse 50

This is an image of the port city of Samothrace which is an island in the northern Aegean Sea. Today it’s main industries are fishing and tourism. Apparently back in Paul’s day those industries were just as important…..of course, Paul wasn’t just a tourist, was he? However, he did have a "layover" on the island of Samothrace.

The island’s name comes from the fact that Greeks from Samos colonized it hence Samos of Thrace eventually was shortened to Samothrace.

Within hours after Paul’s vision of the man pleading with him to come over to Macedonia and help, he and his mission team boarded a ship in Troas and sailed across to Samothrace (Acts 16:11) It was very common in those days for ships to stop at Samothrace as it was along the sea lanes from western Asia Minor to the Black Sea, and to Macedonia in northern Greece.

In my post When Doors Slam in our Face I discuss the events prior to Paul landing at Samothrace detailed in Acts 16: 1-10.

Other bloggers are also posting images today. You can find them at the Wordless Wednesday hub

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Disturbed

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the
strength, courage, hope and love.

The above prayer was sent to me by a friend, and I liked it. I even like the fact it is attributed to Sir Francis Drake, the English privateer, navigator, politician, and slave trader. It fits in nice with the whole “history teacher” thing, don’t you think?

The word “attributed” is code for “we don’t really know”, so I went on a little research jaunt to discover a little more about Drake’s religious proclivities. His father was a Protestant farmer turned preacher. In 1549, however, being a Protestant during the Prayer Book Rebellion wasn’t a good thing as the family had to flee their home environmment for Kent.

Historians have been able to verify through other first-hand accounts that upon landing on the west coast of North America, Drake’s chaplain held Holy Communion; this was one of the first Protestant church services in the New World. From this it would seem that Drake was a believer.

Unfortunately we don’t have diaries or papers that could show us exactly how Drake felt about God, or how he was able to connect a Christian belief with being a slave trader and ruthless warrior and politician. All of his first-hand records from voyages, including his logs, paintings, and charts were lost when Whitehall Palace burned in 1698.

Also, Queen Elizabeth I decreed that all of Drake’s movements should be considered the highest of state secrets since the Spanish would have loved to obtain the mass of data Drake had acquired on his voyages, and they wouldn’t have minded getting their hands on Drake as well. While he was a well known English hero, the Spanish considered him nothing more than a pirate.

In fact, the Spanish nicknamed Drake, “El Draque”, probably originates from an old Spanish word meaning “the dragon”. The English etymological root is also the same since both languages are based in Latin. After the defeat of the Spanish Armada, Spain’s King Philip II placed a price of 20,000 ducats on the head of Francis Drake.

There is also other evidence to show Drake was not as Christian-like as we would wish him to be today……In 1578, Drake accused his co-commander, Thomas Doughty, of witchcraft during a shipboard trial. Mutiny and treason were also charges against Doughty. Drake did consent to have Communion with Doughty and actually dined with him as well, however, Doughty was beheaded on July 2nd, 1578 having been denied a request to see Drake’s commission from the Queen to carry out such trials and was also denied his request to be taken back to England for trial.

So much for Christian behavior.

While I have no problem asking God to disturb me and disturb me often, I am also disturbed a bit today by Mr. Drake.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Thank You, Lord!

Thank You, Lord! - Dennis Jernigan

For all that you’ve done
I will thank you!
For all that you’re going to do!
For all that you’ve promised
And all that you’re
Is all that has carried me through!
Jesus, I thank you!

And I thank you!
Thank you, Lord!
Thank you! Thank you, Lord!
Thank you for loving and setting me free!
Thank you for giving
Your life just for me!
How I thank you!
Jesus, I thank you!
Gratefully, thank you!
Thank you!
Thank you!

For all that you’ve done
I will thank you!
For all that you’re going to do!
For all that you’ve promised
And all tht you’re going to do!
For all that you’ve promised
And all that you’re
Is all that you carried me through!

And I thank you!
Thank you, Lord!
Thank you! Thank you, Lord!
Thank you for loving and setting me free!
Thank you for giving your life just for me!
How I thank you!
Jesus, I thank you!
Gratefully, thank you!
Thank you!
And I thank you!
Thank you, Lord!
Thank you! Thank you, Lord!

Thank you for loving and setting me free!
Thank you for giving your life just for me!
How I thank you!
Jesus, I thank you!
Gratefully, thank you!
Thank you!

You can see more Monday Music by clicking on the categories at the bottom of this post, look for Monday Music or Christian Music in the site index (left sidebar), or find the list of all Monday Music songs in the right sidebar.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Waiting on God

Dear Daughter went to a movie the other afternoon with a fairly large group of friends. I ran some errands from one end of the county to the other while she was at the mall. At the appointed time I arrived to pick her up along with a friend I was to take home.

No Dear Daughter…..no friend.

I was met with an empty sidewalk.

I slid my glasses onto my nose, flipped open my phone, and sent my own personal form message for certain occaisions like this……”C’mon!”

I waited.

The empty sidewalk still greeted me.

I went through the process again. I slid my glasses onto my nose, flipped open my phone, and this time…..this time I sent form message number two for certain occasions like this….”Here….NOW!”

I waited. A few people passed me. They seemed to be mocking me as they sauntered by. I heard their giggles and every now and then I swear I could make out a chortle.

I expelled a very heavy breath, picked up my cell phone once again and flipped it open. As I began to text a searing form message number three I heard the distinct sound of the door handle as Dear Daughter opened the door.

Well…….FINALLY!

I’m a very impatient person. Can you tell?

If you are looking for an apology, or if you think this is the post where I will turn away from my impatience and bask in the warmth of all things patient I’m going to disappoint you.

To a certain degree we are all one collective body of impatience. We only have ourselves to blame as we have created a society where “wait” is a dirty word. Our fast food has never been faster. We can download movie and concert tickets in seconds. We have instant connections for the Internet.

Our collective chant is now, Now , NOw, NOW!

Yet God tells us to wait….to be patient. Psalm 27:14 states… Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Waiting is good. Right? Waiting and having patience....they go hand-in-hand.

Speaking of patience a friend of mine sent me the following story regarding patience:

Flood waters had risen to record levels, leaving Joe stranded on his rooftop. He prayed to God, “Save me, God. Save me.” Later on, a rescue boat floated by, but Joe gratefully declined. “God’s going to save me,” he declared.

Later, as the waters rose to knee level, he prayed to God, “Save me, God. Save me.” Later on, another rescue boat floated by. Again, Joe gratefully declined. “God’s going to save me,” he declared.

Many hours had passed, and flood waters has risen to the man’s neck. “Save me God, save me!”. This time, a helicopter came by, but Joe declined again! With his dying breath, he gulped “God’s going to save me.”

Scene changed to the Pearly Gates., where Joe said, “God, why didn’t you save me.”

God replied, “I sent two boats and a helicopter. What more did you want!”

Clearly Joe was a little mixed-up regarding the whole patience thing, right?

While I clearly need a little more patience with the challenges I face in every day life, Joe’s predicament indicates as children of God we must wait on God, but we also need to be discerning Christians….Christians who know when to act.

What is God trying to tell us in Psalm 27:14?

When I tell a student to wait I mean for the child to hush, to not move, to do nothing until I can get there, to stop, however, when we look up the Hebrew word that was used in the original text we see that the word for wait is qawah. My source tells me the word means to hope in; to wait for; to look for. The Hebrew meaning intends for us to do so much more than simply nothing.
Notice that in each meaning we are to be doing something. To wait does not mean we remain passive and the Hebrew meaning of wait also tells us not to stop hoping, waiting, and looking. We are to wait in a diligent way. We are to work. We are not to give up.

God is busy. We should be busy as well….not busy being impatient….not busy ignoring obvious messages from God, but busy following His plan which entails showing love to one another and sharing the gospel.

If our plans meet these two criteria, how can they be wrong?
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