Unconditional love and acceptance. Peace, forgiveness, encouragment, and mercy is what all our hearts yearn for; just imagine God giving this to us in abundance. This is exactly what is revealed as we look into Paul's letter to the Romans. In chapter eight we are encouraged that God's spirit will will bear witness with our spirits and that our souls will rejoice and respond with "Father oh how you love us!" Beth and I have experienced this, its true. This sense of well being comforts even in times of difficulty or peril. As we travel to Rome try to Imagine Paul headed to Rome as well.
Athens above, Naples below.
Beth and I made this exciting trip to Rome in June of 1975. We took the whole year’s military leave of 30 days at one time and traveled to Italy, Switzerland, and Germany. First we flew from Turkey to Athens Greece where we made a quick layover, then we took off again headed for the naval airbase at Naples, Italy. Our plane was weaving and banking its way between mountain peaks as we made our landing approach. Flying available military space is very interesting and sometimes requires patience. This time we just happened to be on a military hospital jet with the seats facing backward. At Naples we visited Mt. Vesuvius, Pompeii, and Capri. Beautiful! At the USO just off the shore, Beth and I sat at a table and talked to three guys in the Navy. It is always fun to ask, "Where are you from?" I cannot remember where these guys called home, but they were in communications onboard ship.
Naples is a beautiful port. There were American Naval Ships anchored offshore in the distance and Mount Vesuvius is visiable from just about everywhere in Naples.
The Castle was very near the shoreline and the USO where all the Navy sailors would hang out.
The Shoreline in Naples was just gorgeous. You can see more Naval ships in the distance.
Then we visited Pompeii, the city that was covered in ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. See the three stepping stones across the road, chariot wheels would fit between them. The Mountain seems to be always in the near distance.
"Mount Vesuvius is best known for its eruption in AD 79 that led to the destruction of the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. It has erupted many times in the past." There are still many beautiful frescos in this city.
Trip up Mt. Vesuivus on the lift
Catamarans would come near sometimes just flying over the water.
"The Blue Grotto (Grotta Azzurra) is a noted sea cave on the coast of the island of Capri, Italy. Sunlight, passing through an underwater cavity and shining through the seawater, creates a blue reflection that illuminates the cavern."
Capri is one of the most beautiful places that we have visited.
Then we took the train up to Rome. Traveling by rail in Europe at that time was fun and easy. All the ticket tellers spoke English (and just about everyone else as well). The train stations had signs showing the track numbers and locations and also the arrival and departure times with destinations. We always wondered whom we would be sitting near or with as we traveled. Beth had the backpack with our clothes, and I carried the backpack with the food and canned goods. The Italians were a vocal, gesturing, expressive people with passion who knew how to enjoy life!Each morning early down on the street were the fresh fruit stands and market. Beth and I literally walked around Rome; we took very few buses.
Our hotel for several days in town was very comfortable but seemed to have very thin walls. Actually, it was quite entertaining and sometimes distracting.
How to describe Rome, the city on the river. So much history revolves around this city. Rome conquered Greece and adopted its culture. Then Rome took their philosophy, reasoning, and art into a golden age of higher appreciation. Some of their knowledge and technology has been forgotten and lost. One wonders how technology would be different today if the library at Alexandria in Egypt had not burned.
Rome ruled the then-known world with its power and might. Alexander the Great had spread the use of the common Greek language 300 years before. The Romans built their wonderful roads throughout their expansive empire. If a rebellion or revolt surfaced, a Roman legion was quick to march into the area and put down the rebellion. The Roman legion with its red capes and bronze helmets would strike fear into the heart of residents. A legion consisted of 6,000 infantry plus calvary.
Rome’s methods of capital punishment, including crucifixion, were a deterrent to put down seeds of rebellion. Traveling around the then-known world was relatively easy and safe with Roman authority everywhere.
Remarkable items of Rome are the statues, paintings, museums, fountains, and botanical gardens. Their statues and paintings are not shy, depicting just about every situation in some form or other.
Remembrance of movies, movie stars, and sites seemed to pop out around every bend. The Roman Forum, the coliseum, the Tiber River, these accented that we were in Rome. Sophia Loren, Gregory Peck, and Audrey Hepburn came into our minds. Remember the movie Three Coins in the Fountain? While Beth and I were at the Trevi Fountain, the Harlem Globetrotters just happened to be there that day. Leaving the fountain, we said hi to another couple from our base who just happened to be on leave as well. It is amazing in this big world how small it can be when we bump into neighbors a thousand miles from home. That happened more than once. Also, remember the Spanish Steps in the movie Roman Holiday? They were just as incredible in person.
Walking though plazas is Rome is an adventure. A new statue or fountain seems just around the bend.
One afternoon as Beth and I walked around Rome heading to another site of interest, we passed the American Embassy at around 4. We asked the Marine Guards if we could enter to buy food. They allowed us but told us we had only 10 minutes. We flew around the commissary replenishing our food stock. We enjoyed our meal that night. We were burning out on pizza.
There was a lot to see, there is no telling how many miles we walked in Rome. Below is a reflecting pool at Hadrian's villa.
Near the center of Romes stands this monument to the first king of unified Italy. It also contains the tomb of the unknown soldier. From up on top of it you can see Capitaline Hill, the Colosium, and the ancient Roman forum.
Below is the Maritime prison where Paul was incarcerated. Next to it is a map showing just how expansive Rome was in its golden age.
Mike and Beth in the Colosseum.
Above - inside the Colosseum Hadrian's tomb
The Vatican - St. Peters
St. Peter's Square is huge. In fact everything about the church is on a gigantic scale. We walked along a corridore that must have been a half a mile long. On each side of the hall was museums, room after room of them filled with posessions from the past. Also along the way was the Sistine Chapel. The chapel went through a renovation since we visited there. The colors are much more brilliante now.
One evening Beth and I were there late just as the sun began to go down. Vistors from all over the world began to assemble together in small groups getting ready for the evening processionals. One of the group would have the honor of carrying the cross and the rest of the group followed. To this day I can remember the feeling of warmth and acceptance that permeated the square that evening. Whether Protestant or Catholic we are reminded of the words of our Savior Jesus Christ.
In John chapter 3 Jesus said:
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
In John chapter 12 Jesus said:
32 But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."
Jesus says in Matthew 11:
28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
The Grounds of Vatican City
Next stop is Florence
Paul wrote his letter to the church in Rome from the city of Corinth located in Greece. He would visit Rome after he traveled back to Jerusalem to take with him monetary aid collected from other churches. Paul’s letter to the Romans is monumental in its discussions of church doctrine. To get a quick glimpse of what the Bible is about, two books stand out. The Gospel of John goes into detail about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the World. Then Paul’s letter to the Romans moves into what Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection meant and accomplished for his church. When one begins to understand this knowledge and respond to it, peace and joy began to flow into the life of the one who receives Christ.
The letter to the Romans deals with issues such as sin, condemnation, grace, mercy, justification, redemption, security, acceptance, and faith. This letter deals with the richness of what Christ has accomplished for his Church.
Some of its foundation stones are these:
1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
3:20 - 24 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we became conscious of sin. But, now righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
5:18 - 19 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so all through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
10: 12 & 13 For there is no difference between the Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
15: 4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.