Visiting Pergamum – The Compromising Church | 7 Churches of Revelation Tour

The church in Pergamum (modern-day Bergama) was the third to receive a letter in the Book of Revelation. While they were commended for staying true to Jesus, they were rebuked for some of them followed false teachings.

Pergamum/Pergamon was a wealthy city that was known for its healing center–the Asclepion, its library–which boasted of 200,000 volumes written on costly parchment (sheep skin) and its temples dedicated to the Emperor Trajan, Athena and Zeus.

 

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PARA SA MGA SINGLE NGAYONG PASKO — HAPPY SINGLES

Originally published this on my Facebook page but since the video had trouble linking here, I had to re-upload it on Youtube. May this be an encouragement to all singles this holiday season. Remember, it’s Jesus we should be celebrating. We shouldn’t be sulking that we don’t have a special someone to canoodle with.🙂 Watch […]

via PARA SA MGA SINGLE NGAYONG PASKO — HAPPY SINGLES

When You Go to Egypt—A Quick Primer

So you’re going to Egypt? Congratulations! You’ll be walking on the land of Pharaohs! Egypt is an excellent destination for anyone who geeks out on the history of ancient civilizations. Ancient Egypt was on the forefront of education, military strategies, medicine, science, architecture and the arts. Evan Andrews shares on History.com that it “created a culture so rich that it has spawned its own field of study.”

In the Bible, we find that Egypt became home to the Israelites for 430 years. Joseph, one of Jacob’s twelve sons, became prime minister of Egypt and paved the way for his family to settle and multiply in Goshen.

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Photo illustration from Pinterest

Egypt was also the setting of the Exodus. After being mistreated for 400 years, Moses, a native Hebrew who was raised in the Egyptian palace was prepared and used by God to bring His people out of the land of slavery.

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Image from the Prince of Egypt movie

In the New Testament, Joseph had to take Mary and little Jesus to live in Egypt for a while after he was warned in a dream not to return to Israel because King Herod was looking for Jesus to have Him killed.

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Painting by Edwin Long, Anno Domini, 1883.

Egypt has an estimated population of almost 86 million. It is a largely Muslim country with a very small percentage of Coptic Catholic, Orthodox Christian and Coptic Orthodox.

Just how large is Egypt? Egypt is a transcontinental country, meaning it covers more than one continent. A huge part of Egypt is in Africa but the Sinai area is in Asia.

Now that you’re acquainted with Egypt, here are some FAQs:

What is the climate like?

It’s generally warm and dry during the day but gets really cold in the evening, just like any desert country.

What should I bring and what should I wear?

Since Egypt is a largely Muslim country, part of respecting their culture and beliefs is to dress modestly. As such, do not go walking around and visiting their tourist sites dressed in skimpy clothing–no shorts, no spaghetti straps, tank tops or anything that exposes too much skin. Depending on what time of the year you plan to go, it would be helpful to bring a windbreaker or a light sweater. Since there’s a lot of walking involved, jeans, cargo pants and sneakers would be most comfortable. Also bring a scarf which you can use to shield your head or cover your face in case it gets too windy and the sand flies up from the ground.

Sunglasses are a definite must-have to shade your eyes, plus an umbrella and sunblock to protect your skin. Bring a reusable water bottle that you can refill with clean water when you get back to your hotel or when you stop by restaurants. .

Is it better to go there alone or with a group? Is it safe?

I went with a tour group. I know that it would be an entirely different experience to go there alone and plan my itinerary. I might decide to do that once I’m done ticking off the other countries on my list, so that would probably take a while.

Given my limited knowledge of Arabic, I think that it’s better to go with a group and to also find a local guide. Their history is so rich, I think your trip would be more meaningful if you have a licensed and information-savvy tour guide who can answer your questions and give you your fill of Ancient Egyptian history. Having a licensed guide will also protect you from over-charging vendors and even extortionists who may prey on tourists.

Where can I find good licensed Egyptian tour guides?

Our tour guides were from Meryland Tours. I was very pleased with Dr. Ashraf Moussa (his nickname is Moses) who communicated well in English and was very much in touch with current events. He is knowledgeable in history and culture, naturally funny and kindly urged us to get going specially when we were already spending too much time in our mini photo shoots! I know he wanted us to cover as many places as we could.

Marco on the other hand, assisted us as soon as we landed at the Cairo Airport. He also took us through the midnight trek to Mt. Sinai and brought us to the border at Taba where we were to enter Israel from Egypt.

What are the must-see places?

A trip to Egypt is obviously not complete if you don’t stop by the Pyramids and the Sphinx (he is so going to visit you in your dreams haha). We were only in Egypt for three days so we were not able to go to Karnak, The Luxor Temple, Abu Simbel, Philae and Alexandria, among others.

Our first stop from the airport was the Egyptian Museum, which by the way is so huge, you can’t go through all the antiquities in just one day. Moses said that we needed three whole days to go through all the halls! They have an extensive collection of personal items and furniture found in tombs, clothing, armor, sarcophagi, mummies, ancient condoms, accessories and even bread! Mobile phones and cameras are not allowed inside the museums, so no selfies, no photographs of the artifacts. You truly must go and just experience it for yourself.

What kind of money should I bring?

US Dollars are accepted almost anywhere in Egypt but make sure you have a lot of smaller bills. If you’re one of those travelers who like keeping foreign currency as travel souvenirs, then have a few dollars exchanged for Egyptian pounds and coins. Bottled water (believe me, you need it!) costs $1-2 per piece and these are available at small stores or from your bus operator.


Are you all set and ready to walk like an Egyptian? If you have any other questions, you can shoot me an email at ingrid[at]ingridnieto.com.

Holy Land Photoblog: Caesarea Maritima

Would you believe that this was again founded by Herod the Great? The man was obviously rich, had a penchant for building colossal structures but he was also very paranoid specially when it came to power. He is the king who ordered the killing of male infants, after the visiting Magi asked him about the “one who has been born king of the Jews.” Aside from that, it’s also been recorded that Herod had his wives (Doris and Mariamne I) and two of his sons (Alexander and Aristobolus IV) killed.

Herod started building Caesarea Maritima in 22BC. It was named in honor of Augustus Caesar and became the Roman administrative capital, the military base of Pontius Pilate, Antonius Felix and other Roman officials.

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Harbor

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The remains of the pool. It was said to be filled with fresh water and had a statue in the middle.

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Holy Land Photoblog: Masada

Masada has such a moving historical background as told by Josephus Flavius. Built by Herod between 37-31 BC as his Northern Palace, this desert fortress served as a refuge for some 1000 Jewish zealots and rebels who revolted against the Romans in 66 CE.

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In 73 CE, Flavius Silva led the 10th Roman Legion to conquer Masada. They infiltrated the fortress through a siege tower and fortified camps that can be seen from the viewing deck.

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Before the legion even reached the top, the zealots (as told by Josephus Flavius) decided to take their lives in their hands instead of surrender and become slaves to the Romans. The only ones left to tell the story of Masada were two women and five children who hid in a cistern.

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Holy Week Photoblog: The Garden Tomb

If you haven’t read my previous post, there are two sites in Israel which are believed to have been the tomb of Jesus Christ–The Holy Sepulchre and The Garden Tomb, which is featured in this post. The Holy Sepulchre is located within the walls of Jerusalem while the Garden Tomb is outside the city walls.

Most Protestants believe that this is more likely the location of the rich man’s new tomb, belonging to Joseph of Arimathea who along with Nicodemus, dressed, washed and anointed Jesus’ body for burial. If we look back at the description of the Jesus’ burial place as mentioned in the Bible, it enumerates the following characteristics:

 

 

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At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid (john 19L41). Since it was the Jewish day of Preparation and the tomb was nearby, Joseph and Nicodemus laid Jesus there (John 19:42).

 

The Garden Tomb is in Jerusalem but not within the Old City. According to our guide from the Garden Tomb, the location matches the description in the Bible: -Located along a highway -Public execution -At the skull-shaped hill -Near a gate of the city -A garden

The Garden Tomb is in Jerusalem but not within the Old City. According to our guide from the Garden Tomb, the location matches the description in the Bible:
-Located along a highway
-Public execution
-At the skull-shaped hill (Golgotha)
-Near a gate of the city
-A garden

A key characteristic of Golgotha is that it looks like a skull

 

You might be asking, why is there a winepress in the tomb? Remember that the tomb originally belonged to Joseph of Arimathea who was a rich man, a member of the Sanhedrin who was a secret disciple of Jesus. When he found out that Jesus was dead, he asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, took it and prepared it for burial along with Nicodemus (Remember him from John 3?).  The presence of a winepress in the tomb indicates that it was also a

You might be asking, why is there a winepress in the tomb? Remember that the tomb originally belonged to Joseph of Arimathea who was a rich man, a member of the Sanhedrin who was a secret disciple of Jesus. When he found out that Jesus was dead, he asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, took it and prepared it for burial along with Nicodemus (Remember him from John 3?).
The presence of a winepress in the tomb indicates that it was also a “working garden” fit for a rich man.

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Of course, worth noting are the beautiful flowers scattered around the garden

Now let’s get to the tomb

The entrance to the tomb

The entrance to the tomb.

The fact that it was a new tomb is crucial–once corpses have already been laid to rest in a tomb, tomb toxins cultivate, therefore making it easier to decompose any new corpse that would be laid in there. Jesus’ body was laid in A NEW TOMB, meaning there was still no existence of tomb toxins/decomposing bacteria that could have easily made his physical body decay.

His tomb was cut out of solid rock, with a large weeping chamber, and a channel for a rolling stone. It is remarkable that all the features mentioned in the biblical account of Joseph’s tomb can be seen at the Garden Tomb.P1140022-001

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Joseph of Arimathea was a rich man, a member of the Sanhedrin but a secret disciple of Jesus Christ (John 19:38, Matthew 27:57). This was his own new tomb, cut out from a rock (Matthew 27:60).

Indeed! My Savior is RISEN! Despite the debate regarding the exact location of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, the most important truth is that Jesus conquered death and made salvation possible for all who come to Him and believe.

Indeed! My Savior is RISEN! Despite the debate regarding the exact location of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, the most important truth is that Jesus conquered death and made salvation possible for all who come to Him and believe.

I hope you enjoyed my Holy Week photoblog. 🙂 Looking forward to sharing more of my Holy Land journey and Bible insights with you.

Holy Week Photoblog: Holy Sepulchre

The Holy Sepulchre is believed by a lot of Christians as the place where Jesus Christ was crucified (Golgotha) and where He rose from the dead.  

THE MAIN ENTRANCE: It took a while for us to get through those doors as it was very crowded inside. I find it interesting that different Christian denominations share control of the church but Muslims are said to have the keys to the main door.

THE MAIN ENTRANCE:
It took a while for us to get through those doors as it was very crowded inside. I find it interesting that different Christian denominations share control of the church but Muslims are said to have the keys to the main door.

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Lines and lines of tourists flocked towards this huge structure--the entrance to the tomb of Jesus Christ.

Lines and lines of tourists flocked towards this huge structure–the entrance to the tomb of Jesus Christ.

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The Stone of Anointing is where Jesus is believed to have been laid after he was taken off the cross

The Stone of Anointing is where Jesus is believed to have been laid after he was taken off the cross

A lot of people bow, kiss and pray at the Stone of Anointing

A lot of people bow, kiss and pray at the Stone of Anointing

At the courtyard of the Holy Sepulchre. It was nice to be able to move about freely after staying in line.

At the courtyard of the Holy Sepulchre. It was nice to be able to move about freely after moving like ants inside. 🙂

Later, we’ll look at the Garden Tomb which is the alternate site believed to be where Jesus was really buried. Researchers looked into the historical and geographical facts in the Bible and found that the location fit the descriptions of Golgotha (The Skull Hill) and the tomb which was originally owned by Joseph of Arimathea and “lent” to Jesus Christ.

Holy Week Photoblog: The Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu

Peter Disowns Jesus 69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. 70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. 71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!” 73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” 74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Matthew 26:69-75 Peter Disowns Jesus
69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.
71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Following Jesus’ agony at the Garden of Gethsemane, we now find ourselves in the place where Peter denied Jesus Christ. It was a panic-filled evening; their master and teacher has just been arrested. Imagine yourselves in the place of John and Peter. Despite the obvious danger, the two still wanted to find out what would happen so they followed all the way to the high priest’s place. Since John was known by the high priest, he was able to get in. He persuaded the servant girl to let Peter in and it was then that two servant girls recognised him as having been with Jesus. Like a deer caught in headlights, Peter outrightly denied association but his Galilean accent gave him away. After denying Jesus the third time, the rooster crowed and Jesus looked straight into Peter’s eyes. This compelled the latter to get out and weep bitterly, remembering the Master’s words (Matthew 26:75).

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Holy Week Photoblog: Via Dolorosa

The Via Dolorosa or the Way of Sorrows is the path that Jesus went through on His way to Calvary.

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According to our tour guide Diko, even in the ancient times, it was a marketplace. That meant that Jesus had to carry His cross towards Calvary, bearing the weight, humiliation and mockery of the people

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The Chapel of the Condemnation commemorates where Jesus took up the cross after He was sentenced.

The Chapel of the Condemnation commemorates where Jesus took up the cross after He was sentenced.

The third station is where Jesus falls for the first time.

The third station is where Jesus falls for the first time.

The fifth station is where Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus carry His cross

The fifth station is where Simon of Cyrene helped Jesus carry His cross

IMG_3190-001The 14 stations on the 600-meter stretch culminates at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Jesus is believed to have been crucified and buried. Later, we’ll look into another location called The Garden Tomb which some Christians believe is the real site of the burial and resurrection of Jesus, given the archaeological and geographical evidence.

Holy Week Photoblog: Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Matthew 26:36-38

Gethsemani means "oil press" in Hebrew. It is located at the Mount of Olives and stands next to the Church of All Nations, which houses the rock where Jesus is believed to have prayed in agony.

Gethsemani means “oil press” in Hebrew. It is located at the Mount of Olives and stands next to the Church of All Nations, which houses the rock where Jesus is believed to have prayed in agony.

One of the 8 olive trees in the garden. Many have debated on the age of these trees--if they were the ones that stood when Jesus prayed. Research from 2012  says "Analysis of their DNA found they were planted from the same parent plant, possibly in an attempt to preserve a particular lineage."  Olive trees can regenerate themselves through shoots from the parent tree's roots which in turn, become new trees.

One of the 8 olive trees in the garden. Many have debated on the age of these trees–if they were the ones that stood when Jesus prayed. Research from 2012 says “Analysis of their DNA found they were planted from the same parent plant, possibly in an attempt to preserve a particular lineage.” Olive trees can regenerate themselves through shoots from the parent tree’s roots which in turn, become new trees.

The Church of All Nations is a Roman Catholic Church completed in 1924. It is one of the many churches built by Italian Architect Antonio Barluzzi who is also known as the "Architect of the Holy Land"

The Church of All Nations is a Roman Catholic Church completed in 1924. It is one of the many churches built by Italian Architect Antonio Barluzzi who is also known as the “Architect of the Holy Land”

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The roof has 12 small domes, each representing the 12 countries (Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and the USA) that donated funds for the building of the church.

The roof has 12 small domes, each representing the 12 countries (Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom and the USA) that donated funds for the building of the church.

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The ceiling was intentionally painted a dark blue hue like the sky at night while natural light streams through the beautiful coloured glass.

The ceiling was intentionally painted a dark blue hue like the sky at night while natural light streams through the beautiful coloured glass.

This is the rock where Jesus is believed to have prayed to God. Matthew 26: 39 "Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, 'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'"

This is the rock where Jesus is believed to have prayed to God. Matthew 26: 39 “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'”

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