Istanbul: First Day With Masters Students

We spent today in Istanbul, formerly known as Constantinople – studying, growing and laughing together.

This was Constantine’s eastern capital of the empire, and we spent time today in what was the most important church in Christendom for over 1000 years – Hagia Sophia (which means “divine wisdom”).

I walked over to the area of the altar, still covered in Islamic symbols from its ownership by Muslims, though Attaturk declared a museum representing religious tolerance between Christians and Muslims.

On that altar where I stood, in the 1100’s, an angry emissary of the Roman Catholic church slammed down and excommunication of the Eastern churches, birthing the Eastern Orthodox Church – now separate from the Roman Catholic Church.

Lesson Learned: When considering the historic traditions of Christianity, issues of power and control no less rear their heads than in any other sphere of society, though at least checked by the teaching of Jesus living at the center of our faith.

Even major transformations in the history of the western church in many ways came back to personality conflicts, and variant views on similar ideas. The way to Christian unity is in honoring one anothers principles, rather than dissecting doctrine.

Philosophy can unify, a friend once said. Practice never does.

We took off our shoes and walked the interior of the Blue Mosque, then spent the afternoon in the Istanbul Bazaar and Spice Bazaar. Fascinating. The Turkish people are quite beautiful in one of the most important cities (in terms of influence) in the history of Western Civilization.

Internet is slow and sporadic. Will do my best to keep up.

For sure, follow to keep up with the journey, as limited internet access will push me toward Twitter blurbs rather than long blog posts.

And the Turkish Delight is awesome. Pecan, hazelnut, etc. The real stuff….


Sheltering Mercy and Endless Grace help us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation. Sheltering Mercy helps the reader pray Psalms 1-75; Endless Grace leads in prayer through Psalms 76-150.

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. Each book contains 75 prayers drawn from the Book of Psalms, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning there. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

These artful, poetic, and classic devotional books are a perfect gift, and feature compelling stunning illustrations and hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms. Co-written with Ryan Whitaker Smith, Brazos Publishing.

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