The Church in the World

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THE CHURCH AT PHILADELPHIA

Take a moment to carefully look at this impressionist painting by Millet called The Angelus. The artist found his inspiration from his childhood when the local church’s bells would call the community to prayer at appointed times during the day. The people would stop and pray wherever they were. Such is the power of godly parents on their children. As an aside, it is one of my wife’s favorite paintings!
During these studies we have visited the impact of The Church on daily life. It is an issue that spans the centuries and it is obvious that the Church’s impact on the world spans the entire range of possibilities from good to evil. Five of the churches in the Book of Revelation had some condemnation attached to themselves. One of the churches had only condemnation said of it-that is the next church-Laodicea. Only Smyrna and this church-Philadelphia had no condemnation and only commendation associated with them.

I remind you that these are my thoughts and impressions concerning this painting and may bear no resemblance to quality, educated, artistic interpretation!

The church at Philadelphia sat on a fertile plain at the base of a hill. It was 73 miles to Smyrna; 28 miles to Sardis; 17 miles to Laodicea. An ancient king named Attalus Philadelphius of Pergamum named the city because of his great love and affection for his brother and gave the city to him. It was located on the border of three different countries. It was a very earthquake prone region with hot springs were located nearby. It was destroyed in 17AD by an earth quake. Tiberius helped to rebuild it and renamed it Neo-Caesar, and it subsequently went thru many other name changes. The old name of Philadelphia was the one that stuck.
Additionally, it was an important Imperial posting with important roads running north and south, as well as, east and west crossing here. It guarded a pass thru the mountains of the region and was a center of Hellenism or Greek culture for Asia Minor. The worship centered around the patron god Dionysus and combined a debauched worship of fertility and wine. The soil was volcanic and provided excellent grapes. They also excelled in wool, hides, and textiles.

THE APPEARANCE OF CHRIST

Rev 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

We have seen the Careless Church at Ephesus (33-100AD); the Crushed and Crowned Church at Smyrna (100-300AD); the Compromising Church at Pergamos (300-600AD); the Corrupt Church at Thyatira (600-1200AD; the Feeble-Dying Church at Sardis (1200-1500AD); and now we visit the Serving Church at Philadelphia (1500AD to the present).

Christ chooses to reveal Himself to this church, first of all, as the ‘holy and true one’. All that is to follow is genuine, true, and without fault. His assessment is based on righteousness and not error. There is no shadow of misinterpretation or deceit here. We can trust His insight. He is the one true Messiah of the Jews. He also says that He has the ‘key of David!’ This would be highly important to a predominantly Jewish church of the first century. Remember the apostles went to ‘the Jew first and also to the Greek.’ Thus, the early churches were predominately Jewish is character. They would have needed encouragement that the religion and law they were leaving behind did not also mean that God had no intent of fulfilling his OT promises.

Isa 22:22 And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

Much of the book of Revelation is firmly grounded in the OT.

2Sa 7:12 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.
2Sa 7:13 He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.
Luk 1:31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
Luk 1:32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
Luk 1:33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

After all, if He wasn’t going to keep the OT promises then what’s to say He will keep His NT promises!? Thus, Jesus assures the church that He and He alone holds the ‘key’ to fulfilling the promises to David the king. As we all know He is, indeed, David’s greater Son.

Mat 22:42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.
Mat 22:43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,
Mat 22:44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?
Mat 22:45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?

This is the whole argument of Romans 9, 10, and 11. Namely, that God has not cast away His people and promises. He goes on to say that He, Jesus, is the one that opens and shuts all doors and none can hinder His plan and actions!! These facts are crucial to what happened in this city in the first century. He has also said that ‘He will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!’

THE APPROVAL OF CHRIST

Rev 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

The very first thing that grabs my attention in this painting is that the people are prominent. Man as made in the image of God and holds center attention in this painting. The ‘imago dei’ (image of God) is the center of what God is doing in the world and is central to His plan of redemption. ‘The Unfolding Drama of Redemption’ involves people not buildings. The center of our focus is the church-that is-the people. It should also be the center of our focus as a church in our own time, as well. Contrast this to the previous picture where the church building held center stage and people were avoiding it.
Next, note the realism in this painting. All is as it should be. There is no distortion of the people or the background. I see real life people leading real lives and dealing with this world’s realities in a very special way. People had played a small roll except to avoid the building in the previous painting.

Here, in The Angelus, the true church-the people-are prominent not the building. If you look closely you can see the church building just behind the woman in the background. It is playing the roll it was meant to play. As an institution it is small. As a ‘light to the world’ it is clear that the building is not it in this picture, rather the people take precedence and are the ones shining their light for all to see thru their devotion to Christ. For this is devotion not religion we see in this painting.
The couple is far afield ‘laboring’ together by the ‘sweat of their brow’, thus fulfilling their God given purpose to supply their needs and the needs of their family and others. Note their dress and the harvest in the wheel barrow. The couple is dressed for laboring-simple yet functional. Nothing ostentatious. They, indeed, like the church at Philadelphia, have ‘a little strength’. Nothing presumptuous, no boasting, just simple dependence and thanksgiving to the Lord.

This picture is full of life. Human life that is the center of God’s redemptive plan. This is worth restating. There is little to distract from the worship this couple is involved in. No animals, No buildings. Very little of what is made by man appears, rather the people, made in the image of God, stand as an example of uncomplicated simplistic worship-just what Jesus was looking for. The church and its leadership are nowhere to be seen. In fact, no one else is, yet the couple is devout truly ‘they have kept thy word, and not denied thy name.’

OPEN DOORS

History records that this church was a small one, but the city boasted a large synagogue. The Jews in Philadelphia enjoyed great blessing for that time period of intense religious persecutions. The Jews were allotted the status of being exempt from Caesar worship!

Rev 3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

With the Jews enjoying such privileged status in the city it was natural that when some of the Jews committed themselves to Christ they would try to maintain that status of not being required to sacrifice to Caesar. The Jews who did not commit to Christ, then threw the new believers out of the synagogue, and solicited the Romans to not allow these false Jews (in their eyes) or traitors to Judaism to be exempt, thus, the persecutions began for the new Jewish Christians. The faithful lost friends, family, fellowship, culture, status, money, and citizenship. Christ calls the rejecting Jews ‘the synagogue of Satan’ to indicate that they, not the followers of Christ were the false ones! They only claimed ancestry to Abraham, but as Paul says in Romans 9 they were not ‘of the promise.’ In fact, this is the reason Christ in His Appearance above states that HE (and no other) is the true one (not those Jews or even Moses in whom they trusted); that HE, Jesus-alone- has the keys of David.

Rom 9:6 Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
Rom 9:7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
Rom 9:8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

Christ tells His dear followers that they may be rejected here on earth, but all shall know of His great love for them!! He will humble the others of the seed of Abraham and they shall worship at the feet of the true Jews (the physical and spiritual seed).
Our Lord says that He is setting before them an open door. A door of service; a door of utterance; a door of ministry; a door of fruitfulness. So too, our present church age has an ‘open door’ set before it. Ever since the Reformation (remember my suggested time period-1500 to the present) the gospel has been ringing forth and untold millions have been swept into it. Martin Luther, the Moravians, William Carey and all the great English missionaries, Adonirum Judson the first American missionary and the many thousands since that have all gone thru those open doors! Yes, there are closed corners of the earth, but even in some of them (like China) the gospel of Jesus is reaping a harvest.

Joh 4:35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

As the church to our generation (like the Philadelphian prophetically before us) we are to go thru those doors which no man can shut. Now is the time for action!

KEPT FROM THE HOUR

Rev 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Rev 3:11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

These faithful believers in Philadelphia ‘had kept the word of His (Christ’s) patience’. Thus, He also would keep them from the ‘hour of trial’ coming upon all the earth. This has been seen as a promise of being kept from the time of the Tribulation Period at the end of the age (pre-trib rapture) or escape out of this period (mid-trib or pre-wrath rapture). But, the problem with these interpretations is that they would mean nothing to the Philadelphians living in John’s day. They would already be in heaven! To make this passage have both personal-historical meaning and prophetic meaning requires me to see this as a promise of being kept from the ‘hour of (God’s) trial’ upon the wicked-14:7ff. So, I see this as the hour of God’s final judgment that all men must face.
The clearly stated persecutions of the faithful in the book of Revelation would seem to argue that this is some other trial than The Tribulation Period. See 1:9, 2:9, 7:14, 13:7f, 14:12. While it might be argued that everything after chapter 4 is not the Church, but tribulation saints, thus they, not us, go thru the ‘hour of trial’. Yet, John is part of the Church, as would be the Philadelphians and they were persecuted historically and certainly would not be in the Tribulation Period. Allowing the church at Smyrna to suffer persecution (2:8-11) and promising deliverance for Philadelphia is inconsistent, as both were faithful and had no condemnations against them.
In fact, all of these churches were promised something in regards to the coming da of judgment. Stated positively, the overcomer will ‘eat of the tree of life in the paradise of God’ (2:7), receive the ‘crown of life’ (2:10), receive the ‘hidden manna’ and a new name (2:17), inherit ‘authority over the nations’ (2:26), be arrayed ‘in white raiment’, be confessed by Jesus himself before His Father (3:5), become a pillar in God’s Temple and receive a new name (3:12), and will ‘take his seat’ with Christ in His throne (3:21).
Negatively, the overcomer will not ‘be injured by the second death’ (2:11) and not have his name ‘blotted out of the book of life’ (3:5). Thus, this interpretation of escape from final judgment is in keeping with something the Philadelphians would look forward to. It is also something the current church could look forward to. In addition, the church throughout the ages could look forward to this escape from judgment.

NOT JUST OPEN DOORS!

The plants as the fruit of the ground fill this painting. God is clearly blessing. ‘God inhabits the praises of his people.’ The church at Philadelphia had set before it an open door which no man can shut. The couple is surrounded by vast open spaces that are ‘white unto harvest.’ The way is open before them with God’s blessing.

IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH

This prompts the couple to pray in thanksgiving. The church in the town has done its job in training the family and calling them to prayer. The couple worships as a family wherever they are. Note, that depicted in the picture, the artist was able to observe this setting first hand-a family that worshiped together led by the parents.

Joh 4:21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
Joh 4:22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
Joh 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
Joh 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

As this couple is faithful in true worship Christ assures them that those ‘who are of the synagogue of Satan shall bow before them! and worship at their feet’. ‘All shall know that Christ has loved them.’
I notice the light in the background that breaks thru from heaven bringing the thought of hope and pleasure from the Almighty. I get the impression from the picture He is pleased.
Because I see these churches also existing all together and representative of different churches scattered around the world at any given time, what type of a church are we? Not the building, but the people? What kind of people are we?? Will the Savior find something to commend in us? Will He find something to commend only to turn around and find something to condemn? Will we be like the suffering church and find Christ’s approval? Will we be like the witnessing church and have an ‘open door’ to share the glorious Good News of a risen Savior?

OVERCOMERS

Rev 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
Rev 3:13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

As for the ‘overcomers’, they would be delivered from the hour of trial to come upon the whole earth. This couple has a citizenship in heaven. Can anyone doubt that these ‘will be pillars in the temple of God?’

These people are absolute nobodies. No names come attached to the painting (although, I suspect Millet has in mind his parents). Like the apostles James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus (Mt. 10) only their names are recorded in scripture no deed or act is ever mentioned. Yet, they served like this couple faithfully where only the eyes of heaven see. To the Philadelphians and this couple, in fact, all the overcomers, He will give a new name, and the name of the city of God, and Christ’s own new name. This is how highly Christ treasures true devotion. Don’t play at religion. Stop faking it. When no one is looking be as true as when all the world sees, for heaven always sees.

Bob,

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Jason’s Journal | Part 7 of 7

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[headline h=”1″]Rest, reflection & thoughts of traveling Home [/headline]

Friday morning march 8, 7:05 am

I’m at the front of the score complex reflecting upon the day yesterday. We started out with a half day clinic at La Cruz. This town felt less evangelized than the other towns — less people claimed to be Christians and in a half day clinic we had a few more people follow Christ. One of the SCORE missionaries started a church there last year. I hope that in years coming we may be able to help this church thrive.

After leaving La Cruz, we went back to Aleman and dropped off bags of food for their village (graciously paid for by one of the churches in the states). While the poverty level is not shockingly low (at least compared to other countries), I imagine that these bags will be a great help to those who get them.

Last night the missionaries at score cooked an authentic argentine barbeque for us. It was An amazing meal; 4 different kinds of meat! But the best part was hearing 4 or 5 testimonies of men and women brought to faith in Jesus. It’s exciting to see others excited about Jesus. I find that being here gives me more desire to spread the word of Christ at home. I’m hoping that God allows our team to be fruitful even after we go home.

Friday march 8, 3:01 pm

I’m looking at the most beautiful beach I have ever seen and I’m reminded that this is a world of stark contrasts.

While I was staring out into a beautiful scene a man came to me and offered me some tourist trappings. In speaking with him, he has 10 children…10. He makes his living by selling jewelry to tourists. I bought two for far more than what their worth. My kids will love them. But he still has many more bracelets to sell to meet his families needs.

But the most beautiful thing about this island is its people. There is a joy in them, especially who would call themselves “chrisitiana”. I remember one of my translators commenting on that; we got to the point in our evangelism that we could tell how a conversation was going to go by looking at their face when they sat down across from us. Those who were in Christ wanted to hear more. One individual told us they were Christian but wanted to hear us tell the gospel anyway, because it meant so much to them.

In the absence of material possessions, I wonder if we’re forced to deal with the reality of our need before God. This seems to be the case here. These Dominicans don’t get offended by the truths of the gospel like Americans do. Most of my job in evangelism in the US is convincing people who think they are good with God that they really aren’t. Most Dominicans that I’ve talked to know that what they’re doing is an offense to God and would even tell you that His death is the only way to pay for sin. But they’re unwilling to repent of sins and follow Him. A life that is Christian must be submitted to His Lordship.

Tomorrow, we go home. While I’m saddened to leave I’m also excited to see my family. It has been an abundant blessing to be here for 9 days but now it is time to go back. I have to remind myself that the purpose is the same in the DR as it is in Ohio; God’s glory shown through the gospel.

[hr_small]

[styled_image size=”small” align=”left” link=”” icon=”” lightbox=”” alt=”Grace Blog”]http://www.greenvillegrace.org/ggbc_files/Web/Graphics/BRADSHAW_JASON_MUG.png[/styled_image]Jason Bradshaw currently serves as the Pastor of Worship and Counseling at Greenville Grace Church in Greenville, OH where he resides. We have had the joy of benefiting from his giftedness as a musician and resident theologian for a little over 8 years. It is our prayer that what you read conveys his love for the body of Christ…wherever she finds herself. If  you’d like to interact more with Jason, feel free to contact the church office at office@greenvillegrace.org and we’ll get you in touch with him.

[sub_title]Thanks for stopping by.[/sub_title]

Jason’s Journal | Part 6 of 7

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[headline h=”1″]Physical healing & an eternal Message | part 2 [/headline]

Tuesday, march 5 11:09 pm

Today we went to do a clinic in…well..honestly i’m not sure. When we got to the church we set up quickly and collected together to pray and sing before the clinic began. Crowds of people waited outside to recieve medical attention.

Running the evangelism station has been interesting. Dominicans will sit across from you and tell you that they are not Chrisitians. They know that they have broken God’s commands, that punishment for the sin is death, and that Christ is the payment for their sin. Yet, intuitively they know that a decision to accept Jesus means a change of life. And so, many have been unwilling. It’s as if there is a barrier between them and hearing the truth of he gospel.

I’ve told many people this week that running the evangelism station has been practical theology. I can see the scriptures come to life in every rejection—Satan has blinded the minds of men and women (2 Cor. 4). But also see the beauty of a sinner reconciled to God by faith in Jesus Christ, like Lazarus raised from the dead. In each instance I can see myself, hardened in sin or softened by grace. Thank God that He has overcome in Christ.

Tomorrow we will go to a church in John 3:16. I’m hoping to see more men and women place faith in Jesus. Today we had a few. But in the gospel tomorrow holds endless possibility for the kingdom.

Wednesday march 6 7:20 am

It’s Wednesday morning and I can’t believe we’re half way done with clinics. The last two days have gone by so quickly. Today we go to John 3:16–which I guess is the name of the town. I’m exhausted in a good way–spent for the purpose of gospel proclamation. Noah told me at the beginning of the week that once clinics start the week will fly by. This has proven true.

Everyone on the team is in good spirits, which is amazing for the amount of work which has been done. I hope that today brings more conversions, but I recognize that those who hear and reject may not always reject. And even if they do, it is to God’s glory.

Wednesday march 5, 7:55

Today we went to John 3:16. Praise God for an incredibly fruitful day of ministry! 8 people came to saving knowledge of Jesus– many of which were adults. The best part was that the pastor of the church was there with us. So any of those who trusted Christ went on to meet the pastor. He intends to follow up with those men and women.

One decision in particular stands out. A young man, about 18 to 20 years old sat down on the bench in front of us. He seemed nervous; his eyes would only look at the floor. Our translator starts into a gospel presentation. The further he got into be presentation the faster the young man was breathing. When the translator asked if he would like to accept Jesus, he shyly nodded his head.

I can tell that people here know that accepting Christ anticipates a changed life. The problem is that many of them think that a changed life must happen before they can ask Jesus for forgiveness. In that way, I think the true gospel can have a great impact here.

[hr_small]

[styled_image size=”small” align=”left” link=”” icon=”” lightbox=”” alt=”Grace Blog”]http://www.greenvillegrace.org/ggbc_files/Web/Graphics/BRADSHAW_JASON_MUG.png[/styled_image]Jason Bradshaw currently serves as the Pastor of Worship and Counseling at Greenville Grace Church in Greenville, OH where he resides. We have had the joy of benefiting from his giftedness as a musician and resident theologian for a little over 8 years. It is our prayer that what you read conveys his love for the body of Christ…wherever she finds herself. If  you’d like to interact more with Jason, feel free to contact the church office at office@greenvillegrace.org and we’ll get you in touch with him.

[sub_title]Thanks for stopping by.[/sub_title]

Jason’s Journal | Part 5 of 7

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[headline h=”1″]Physical healing & an eternal Message | part 1 [/headline]

Monday march 4 6:30 am

“I wait for The Lord, my soul does wait, and in His Word do I hope”- psalm 130:5

We have our first clinic today and I must admit that I’m a bit nervous. These verses are calming to me–god forgives and does His work through His Word. I’m just left to wait like a servant waits for His master’s orders. Lord, use today for Your greater glory. Let Your gospel bear fruit and increase as You’ve said it would.

Monday march 4, 11:09 pm

What a day! Today we went to Aleman to host our first medical clinic. When we arrived, there was already a line forming (with some 20-30 people) outside of the church. We set up our equipment in three seperate rooms– 8 stations all together. We have general medical stations as well as dentistry, optometry, and pharmacy. After the people are funneled through the medical systems they come outside to go to 1 of 2 evangelism stations.

I remember Bob saying often that they didn’t want to send healthy people to hell– meaning it was highly possible to meet physical needs and overlook the spiritual needs that lay within a person. It is amazing to see the lengths to which SCORE medical goes to make sure this doesn’t happen. Even in talking to Bob I can tell that he recognizes this priority. I’m growing more and more convinced that coming to the DR would be worth it if only to talk with Bob and Anna.

Along those lines, tonight we looked at Matthew 9 where Jesus looks out upon the people with compassion because they were like sheep without a shepherd. The heart of Jesus’ compassion was to help their spiritual state but he still meet physical needs. Too often, what we call compassion becomes centered around the physical or the spiritual. Jesus did both.

I’m immensely thankful to see how score how has emulated the heart of Jesus on these outreaches. I’m hopeful that the handful of people who decided to follow Jesus are not the seed that fell along the rocky path but are the fruits of compassion submitted to Christ– the beginnings of a new harvest for which God is raising up workers.

[hr_small]

[styled_image size=”small” align=”left” link=”” icon=”” lightbox=”” alt=”Grace Blog”]http://www.greenvillegrace.org/ggbc_files/Web/Graphics/BRADSHAW_JASON_MUG.png[/styled_image]Jason Bradshaw currently serves as the Pastor of Worship and Counseling at Greenville Grace Church in Greenville, OH where he resides. We have had the joy of benefiting from his giftedness as a musician and resident theologian for a little over 8 years. It is our prayer that what you read conveys his love for the body of Christ…wherever she finds herself. If  you’d like to interact more with Jason, feel free to contact the church office at office@greenvillegrace.org and we’ll get you in touch with him.

[sub_title]Thanks for stopping by.[/sub_title]

Jason’s Journal | Part 4 of 7

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[headline h=”1″]Forward planning & inward focus [/headline]

Sunday march 3, 6:35 am

At 6:00 this morning the rooster outside our window wakes me up. Even at this early hour I marvel at a rooster in this urban environment. But that seems to be the DR; old and new thrown together. Fuse boxes reside under make shift tin roofs. Large factories stand next to acres of sugar cane that will be harvested by machete. You get the feeling that American capitalism came crashing into the Dominican Republic and now the Dominican Republic is scrambling to catch up.

After my wake up call, I’m now sitting on the patio at the front of the SCORE hotel. No one else is here but the staff getting breakfast ready and the security guard. They speak only Spanish, I speak only English and we have an understanding to not even try to communicate this early in the morning.

The sun is rising over the buildings across the street. Today, we’ll go to church locally and come back for lunch. The afternoon will involve planning for this week’s clinics. Additionally, some of the guys will be putting down flooring as well as building some bunks at the Lily House (SCORE’s ministry to down-and-out women of the DR).

Sunday march 3 5:49 pm

We’ve just arrived back at score after going to the local supermarket—which, oddly enough was a lot like our supermarkets.

Today was about planning. The next four days will be filled with clinics and this takes a great deal of coordination. Some here are medical professionals, others pharmacy workers, some are studying medicine, others are just here to help. Regardless, the clinics sound like they will be very busy and, as such, need a plan. I’m sure we’ll have it running like a well-oiled machine by week’s end.

Church this morning was very good. We sang together with the Dominicans and then split into an English sermon and a Spanish sermon. Bob Nilsen taught on Joseph from genesis 41-42 drawing multiple connections between Joseph and Jesus. I’m looking forward to hearing him teach this week for devotions.

[hr_small]

[styled_image size=”small” align=”left” link=”” icon=”” lightbox=”” alt=”Grace Blog”]http://www.greenvillegrace.org/ggbc_files/Web/Graphics/BRADSHAW_JASON_MUG.png[/styled_image]Jason Bradshaw currently serves as the Pastor of Worship and Counseling at Greenville Grace Church in Greenville, OH where he resides. We have had the joy of benefiting from his giftedness as a musician and resident theologian for a little over 8 years. It is our prayer that what you read conveys his love for the body of Christ…wherever she finds herself. If  you’d like to interact more with Jason, feel free to contact the church office at office@greenvillegrace.org and we’ll get you in touch with him.

[sub_title]Thanks for stopping by.[/sub_title]

Jason’s Journal | Part 3 of 7

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[headline h=”1″]Construction (of sorts) [/headline]

Saturday March 2, 8:20 am

Today we’ll be working on a project in a village. I fully expect the work to be hot and hard; testing my resolve to bring glory to Christ in my attitude.

This morning, I was able to meditate a bit on the latter portions of John 15. Jesus works bring conviction and either call or condemn those who witness them. In the same way, we should not be surprised when the world responds to our good works with hatred since we are called out of it.

On a lighter note, a rooster decided to call at 1:30 am this morning. At first, I thought it was my roommates alarm clock. Turns out it was just nature after all.

Saturday march 2, 3:00 pm

We’re riding back from the Monte Cristy  now. We tore an entire roof off of the retirement home, which I would have never thought possible at the beginning of the day.

There were a few hiccups. Some of the residents were a bit upset that we kicked them out of there home. I guess this understandable– even though the roof was in very bad shape. Termites had left very little of the remaining tresses, so the roof repair is needed. But I understand how these people may not understand the inconvenience

A group of children seemed to collect around the worksite. Probably 5 little girls and 2 little boys aging between 3 and ten years. There were no parents to watch them. They just took whatever attention you were Willing to give them. All in all, these people have next to nothing. Yet, they have more joy in them than most Americans I meet.

Saturday march 2, 10:43 pm

Tonight we had good times of fellowship following a hard days work. The body of Christ never ceases to amaze me. We have people with us from a wide variety of denominations and traditions, all coming together to further the kingdom of God.

During worship we briefly reflected upon John 15 (following my time in the word recently). As we abide with Christ, He causes us to bear fruit. I hope that this week allows us to deeply abide in Christ and so be able to be fruitful. I’ve spent too much of my life trying to do the opposite; being fruitful so that I can earn God’s abiding presence.  Now I want to learn how to trust before I work; how to believe before I try to become.

[hr_small]

[styled_image size=”small” align=”left” link=”” icon=”” lightbox=”” alt=”Grace Blog”]http://www.greenvillegrace.org/ggbc_files/Web/Graphics/BRADSHAW_JASON_MUG.png[/styled_image]Jason Bradshaw currently serves as the Pastor of Worship and Counseling at Greenville Grace Church in Greenville, OH where he resides. We have had the joy of benefiting from his giftedness as a musician and resident theologian for a little over 8 years. It is our prayer that what you read conveys his love for the body of Christ…wherever she finds herself. If  you’d like to interact more with Jason, feel free to contact the church office at office@greenvillegrace.org and we’ll get you in touch with him.

[sub_title]Thanks for stopping by.[/sub_title]

Jason’s Journal | Part 2 of 7

[styled_image size=”blog” align=”left” link=”” icon=”” lightbox=”” alt=”Grace Blog”]http://www.greenvillegrace.org/ggbc_files/Web/Graphics/HEADER_BLOG_JASON_DR.jpg[/styled_image]

[headline h=”1″]Anticipatory travel & safe Arrival [/headline]

Friday, march 1 5:46 am

We’re about to leave for Atlanta and eventually on to Santa Domingo.  (Actually, that could be way wrong. I’m lost in airports. My goal here is just to follow the crowd and not get lost. It will be miraculous if I actually end up in the DR.)

There is an energy to our group– a nervous excitement about what will happen and when. It’s interesting to meet people I’ve never talked with and feel an instant camaraderie with them. Reminds me of the beginning of 1 John 1 where we fellowship with one another because we first fellowship with the Father in Christ. Thankful that the separation due to sin has been undone at the cross and that perfect strangers are now brothers and sisters once again. At this point, I’m incredibly hopeful for a great week… even at 5:30 in the morning.

Friday march 1 11:03 

We’re in the air. After talking with Mike and Linda about ministry and mission, I’m ready to be in the DR. I spoke with Jodi and the kids during the layover which was nice, but now its time to engage. Spending time praying for the coming week.

Friday March 1 5:39 p (DR time)

Our bags are checked in and we now sit beside the pool in the Dominican Republic. Everyone is tired but hopeful following a long day of travel. Tomorrow holds a long day of work–either construction or medical.

When we arrived, SCORE had a nice reception for us complete with cake, punch, and sandwiches. There was a brief meeting which followed where we were told a few brief rules.

The drive to the score hotel was marked by vast extremes.   The beauty of God’s creation saddled next to the poverty of the country. While I’m sure every country faces these issues, a new country makes these stand out– a constant reminder that our sin has drastically affected God’s beautiful creation and now awaits God’s sons be revealed.

Friday March 1, 9:49 pm

This evening as I was sitting by the pool, a gentlemen from score approached me and asked “are you pastor Jason?” He proceeded to tell me that my wife had asked that I call home, but that it was not an emergency. So, I got on the score complex phone and called her. The good news was that our adopted child would be a boy. Thank God for His goodness to an undeserving sinner.

[hr_small]

[styled_image size=”small” align=”left” link=”” icon=”” lightbox=”” alt=”Grace Blog”]http://www.greenvillegrace.org/ggbc_files/Web/Graphics/BRADSHAW_JASON_MUG.png[/styled_image]Jason Bradshaw currently serves as the Pastor of Worship and Counseling at Greenville Grace Church in Greenville, OH where he resides. We have had the joy of benefiting from his giftedness as a musician and resident theologian for a little over 8 years. It is our prayer that what you read conveys his love for the body of Christ…wherever she finds herself. If  you’d like to interact more with Jason, feel free to contact the church office at office@greenvillegrace.org and we’ll get you in touch with him.

[sub_title]Thanks for stopping by.[/sub_title]

Jason’s Journal | Part 1 of 7

[styled_image size=”blog” align=”left” link=”” icon=”” lightbox=”” alt=”Grace Blog”]http://www.greenvillegrace.org/ggbc_files/Web/Graphics/HEADER_BLOG_JASON_DR.jpg[/styled_image]

[headline h=”1″]Introduction[/headline]

At the beginning of March, I had the opportunity to go to the Dominican Republic with 32 other people; some for our church, others from other churches and some from Cedarville University. I have to admit, I had been on short term missions trips before and been fairly disappointed; I had an expectation that short term missions trips were a front row seat to what God was really doing in the world. This time, I tempered my expectations. Perhaps God wouldn’t show Himself through tongues of fire, though He could if He wanted to. What He did show me though was that He works in the Dominican Republic much like He works in Greenville, Ohio; through men and women submitted to Him, abiding in Him and bearing fruit accordingly (John 15).

While we were on our trip, I took the time to try my hand at journaling. I had my iphone and the notes app and would try to write down what I was thinking from time to time. Often, it would be on the bus ride back to our hotel or in the morning after finishing my time in the Word.

Regardless, I wanted to post those thoughts here. Admittedly, I had to go back and polish up some of the spelling and even make sure that what I was saying made sense. But, the point of it all is three-fold;

  1. I want to encourage those who are thinking about going to the DR.
  2. I want to remind our church (as I was reminded) that God doesn’t just work in Greenville, Ohio but all over the world
  3. I wanted to give a brief window into what Bob and Anna Nilsen (our missionaries in the DR) and the teams we send down every year are doing.

I hope that you enjoy what you read. I’ve posted the thoughts consecutively so that you can get a perspective on what is happening. We’ll be sure to spread the posts out over a 3 day period so as to not overwhelm the reader.

I hope that God continues to allow our church to enjoy these trips and see fruit from them. We don’t go to the DR to help an impoverished country get health care or have better facilities.  We go to the DR to see the gospel bear fruit (Col. 1:6)—in us and in them. I hope that you get that sense as you read.

[hr_small]

[styled_image size=”small” align=”left” link=”” icon=”” lightbox=”” alt=”Grace Blog”]http://www.greenvillegrace.org/ggbc_files/Web/Graphics/BRADSHAW_JASON_MUG.png[/styled_image]Jason Bradshaw currently serves as the Pastor of Worship and Counseling at Greenville Grace Church in Greenville, OH where he resides. We have had the joy of benefiting from his giftedness as a musician and resident theologian for a little over 8 years. It is our prayer that what you read conveys his love for the body of Christ…wherever she finds herself. If  you’d like to interact more with Jason, feel free to contact the church office at office@greenvillegrace.org and we’ll get you in touch with him.

[sub_title]Thanks for stopping by.[/sub_title]