The year that the church left the building

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Happy New Year everyone! Here we are again at a new year and I know many of you may be happy to see 2020 in the rear view mirror. We are all hoping that 2021 is a better year, but remember we move just one day at a time. And each and every day is a gift from God.

This past year may not have been a good one for many, but looking back on it, I can see God moving in so many ways. We are still living in the midst of a pandemic, but God has provided for so many. He has given us hope, he has provided for our needs, he has heard our prayers, his word is spreading.

The motto for me this year has been, “The Church has left the building.” For obvious reasons, many churches have moved to on-line services and while I love to see people face to face, the Church is not the building, it’s you and me. Many have moved closer to the first churches we read about in the book of Acts. Many small gatherings in peoples homes sprung up, many being virtual (thanks to God for providing the technology to still meet safely in this fashion).

I’ve been a part of a men’s Bible study group (again on-line) with some great men that I now consider my brothers. This group, men who are local and currently attend our church, has been meeting weekly since before the pandemic started and we’ve been able to continue on virtually. This study group has helped me to recharge each week and grow stronger in my faith and knowledge of God’s word.

Despite this year, churches are still being planted. My home church, RiverTree Fairless, began this past October meeting in person and it’s been growing week after week. While there are already a lot of great churches in the area, we still see so much opportunity to work in partnership with the other churches and the community as a whole to bring the light of Christ to our area. We may meet like most churches on Sunday mornings, but we see this not as a service, but a celebration. A time to recharge and fuel us for the upcoming week, because truly the Church has left the building.

So now I sit here on the first day of 2021 and am thanking God that I’m still here to do his work. Will everything magically change today? Will the fears, threats and hardships that we’ve seen this past year suddenly disappear? No, it won’t. In fact, I suspect that things will continue on much like they are now. But here are a few things that we can start or continue to do that will make 2021 the best year yet.

Continue to trust in God. This is a given but an important thing. We have faith in Jesus Christ and what he has done for us on the cross. God is in control and always will be. While each year brings change, God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Expect God to make this the best year yet. The God that created the universe, but knows our name can of course make this they best year yet. In fact, wake up each morning for making the coming day the best day yet. Each church celebration, thank God for making it the best one yet. Every time you spend quiet time with the Lord, start off by giving thanks for making it the best quiet time yet. If we thank God ahead of time, He most often will make it the best ever.

Be still and know that He is God. I often hear that God doesn’t perform miracles today like we read about in the Bible. But I feel that he might, we are just too distracted to notice. All the media, the work, the activities… all these signals coming at us can block out the still quiet voice of God. We may just not be in-tune with the voice of God enough to see everything that He is doing.

Be a part of God’s work, not just a spectator. God doesn’t need us to help him with his work. He could do it just fine without us. But he wants to share in his knowledge and the joy of his work. Just as a father wants his young son to help him work on the car, even though it will likely slow down the work, God to loves us enough to want to include us in his work.

Remember that the church has left the building. Even when we all can come together again in worship. When all the restrictions are lifted, let’s not forget that what we’ve learned through this last year. We are the church, not the building. Let’s not fall into the trap of being weekend Christians. Let’s make it a 24-7, 365 thing.

I’m hoping we all have the best year yet in 2021. I know God wants the same for us. God bless you all and I’m excited to see how God works in all of us this coming year.

Wonderful Impossibility

The Birth of Jesus Christ from Matthew & Luke, With Timeline

Celebrating this Christmas season remembering the birth of Jesus, I want to think just about the impossibility of the whole thing.

First we have Mary, a virgin, probably a young teenager whom conceives the son of God.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will receive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.” -Luke 1:30-31

Mary, obviously feeling a little confused responds with a question.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” -Luke 1:34

This should be impossible by all our understanding. But not for God,

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” -Luke 1: 35-37


The birth of Jesus was just not a difficulty to overcome, it was an impossibility. Mary was a virgin so this could happen. But only God can breathe life into her womb.


Isn’t that amazing? God did not just do something that was difficult, he did something that was impossible. So there was no doubt that this was a miracle from God.


This quote from the Lord Coggan, who was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1970s speaks of this characteristic of God.


When God intends to make something wonderful he begins with a difficulty. When he intends to make something very wonderful, he begins with an impossibility.


God loves to work in the very wonderful. The impossible works that he does shows the power and glory of God.


Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. -Ephesians 3:20-21

Just as God caused the impossible in Mary many, many years ago, so God can accomplish the seemingly impossible things in your life.

Merry Christmas everyone. May God bless you and show his power over the impossible.

Who do you say I am?

Maybe one of the most important questions we face as Christians comes from Mark 8:29 where it reads;

He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” -Mark 8:29

Jesus was with the disciples near the northern city of Caesarea Philippi. Jesus first asked them, “Who do people say I am?”.

They answered with different answers, “John the Baptist”, “Elijah” or one of the other prophets. Jesus turns then to his closest disciples and asks the question above, which Peter answers.

Really think about that question. Doesn’t all of Christianity boil down that? We can spend a lifetime studying theology…but we each have to answer for ourselves the question of “Who do you say I am?”

Was he just a good teacher? A prophet? Did he even exist at all? We have to look at his teachings and how he identifies himself as Lord. We have to wrestle with the what his death and resurrection means. Then we can answer the question of “Who do you say I am?”

How we answer that can change our lives. We will believe his teaching and live them out if we see him as a teacher. We serve him as the one who brings God’s kingdom to earth when we call him Messiah. We put our full faith in him when we call him our Savior. We will fall before him in worship when we determine he is the Son of God.

We will be confronted with the question “Who do you say I am?” at some point in our lives. Do we see Jesus how he truly is? Are we ready to answer?

Our God

When thinking about the attributes of our God, I tend to put him in a box. Put limits on what he can and can’t do. I forget sometimes, what it means to be the creator of the universe.

I know all the Biblical stories. Jesus turning water into wine, the healings, the raising of the dead….he himself conquering death and rose after three days.

I know the power of God, I mean he created the universe after all. But then I fall into the trap of thinking he can’t solve my small problem, so I need to fix it myself. I run around, looking for solutions, failing at implementing them and then trying again. Over and over. All the while, that quiet voice that God tends to speak to us in, he’s saying to me… “I got this Jason, just trust me!”

My favorite line in this song by Chris Tomlin is;

And if Our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, then what can stand against?

I mean really….doesn’t that say it all? Our God is for us, that is more than evident when I read my Bible or look back over my life. Then why do I think something will stop me. That something will stop what God has ordained. That something will stop the healing, the comfort, the learning, the growing. Who has the power to stop God?

And if he’s with us. Walking day in and day out alongside me. What can stand in my way if I’m following the path that He’s set for me? I’m won’t be tripped up if I follow in the footsteps of Christ. I won’t be led astray if I keep my eyes on Jesus. Nothing can stand against me.

Our God is greater. Our God is stronger. Our God is awesome in power. May we always and forever remember that.

It’s not what you do, it who you do it for

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as your reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. -Colossians 3:23-24

It’s not what you do, it who you do it for. That is what this verse is saying. Does this change the way you look at your daily work? Whether you are a pastor, a doctor, a mechanic or a garbage man, it’s how you look at your work and how you perform your work that matters.

No matter what your station in life, this perspective will give you purpose in what you do. A few years back I wrote a post entitled God, the Ultimate Software Developer. We see that God wants us to enjoy our work. That he gave us the talent, the strength, the intelligence, whatever it is we need to do a good job and to enjoy it.

God puts us in places during different seasons of our lives where we can make an impact. A large part of our impact can be the way we perform the work we do. When we realize that we are working for Christ, we will work with more vigor, with more joy and others will notice. Others will see your joy and want to know where it comes from. It comes from serving our Lord wherever he places us doing what he has gifted us to do.

Every Day is a Blessing

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This past weekend I turned 50. That sounds like an incredibly long time, yet it flew by so fast.  So often we take each day for granted.  When we do that, we will often miss the beauty that each day brings.  I’m writing this right now, sitting on my front porch listening to the wind through the trees, the birds are singing and I can hear the bustle of people starting their day.  I’m looking at a clear blue sky and thinking what a wonderful day this is starting out to be.  

The heavens declare the glory of God;  the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  -Psalm 19:1

But not only that, I awake to see the opportunity that God has put before me.  The opportunity to work, the opportunity to help people, the opportunity to love others and the opportunity to praise and worship our king.  Let us not forget that God gave us this day for a reason.  We need to be attuned to him and the opportunities will present themselves.  We will see where God is working and we will see the miracles that he does each and every day.   We just need to pay attention.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. -Philippians 1:6

My vow for the next 50 years, God willing, is to wake each day with renewed purpose.  With attentiveness to where God is working.  And a renewed resolve to spend time in God’s word and in worship to him.  

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. -Psalm 30:5

I challenge everyone reading this to start their day with a quick prayer of thanks and ask God to reveal to them his glory.

Small Groups in This New Pandemic World

10 Tips for zooming into online church meetings (Part I) | PastorsLine

So by now, a large part of the country (if not the world) is in some sort of lock-down or stay-at-home order from their local government. One place that has been greatly impacted is your local church. Most have closed, on their own accord, to weekend gatherings. Smaller churches may have even shut their doors completely, while others have been able to gather virtually online with Facebook being where I see a large number of our local churches offering an online weekend service as long as messages, updates and prayer time offered throughout the week online.

Another area that has been affected by all this, is the small group gathering. These small groups are often more than just Bible study groups (though that is still an important aspect of many of them) and are groups that serve their communities in some way.

I’ve belonged to a small group of families for a few years now. While primarily a Bible study group, we do also look for opportunities to serve. Now we meet online and while it’s not quite the same as meeting together where we share a meal and fellowship before our study, this new online world is still nice and has allowed us to connect weekly and share that time together.

This forced time of isolation has also given me time and ease to join a few other Bible studies online. While it will be tough to maintain all of these when we begin to meet in person again, the ease of jumping online to meet is a great convenience.

In fact, in my case, I meet with one group for an hour and then immediately jump to another group after that one for another hour study with a different group of guys. This obviously would not be possible when we start to meet in person again.

I am curious how things will change in the post-pandemic world. While the face to face meeting is preferred in most cases, the option to have online connections like this has opened up a whole new world of possibilities.

I encourage everyone, to not stay isolated in this time of isolation. Use the technology we have available to us today to find a small group or Bible study group that is currently meeting online. I think you’ll find that it makes this time of stay-at-home much more palatable and will help you to be part of the church that has left the building.

God is Still Moving

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So here we are in the midst of this pandemic. Here in Ohio schools are closed, non-essential businesses are either closed or their employees are working from home, and the state has requested that we all stay at home if at all possible. Tough times indeed.

I want to take this forum to highlight the positive, the ways God is moving in our world today. God hasn’t left us. He is still working and active in many ways, small and large. In seen and unseen ways, God’s power is moving around us all.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

-Psalms 46:1-2

Though the world is changing and there is a lot of uncertainty, there is one thing we can be certain of… God is the same today as he was yesterday and how he’ll be tomorrow. God’s love and power is never changing and always there for us.

The grass withers, the flower fades,
    but the word of our God will stand forever.

Isaiah 40:8

How have you seen God move in this time? How has he been your refuge in this time? I would love to hear your stories. Send me your stories through this blog, on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. We can be an encouragement to one another in this time by seeing how great our God is.

Right There With Us

Image result for god holds your hand

Reading a devotional the other day, one of the verses was Isaiah 41:13;

For I the LORD your God will hold your right hand, saying to you, Fear not; I will help you.

As I reflected on it over the last couple days, I realize that the verse is so packed with meaning and so revealing of the nature of God and his relationship with us.

One of the biggest things the enemy uses to keep Christians from living a full life is fear. Fear can keep us from taking advantage of God’s great plan for us. God’s plan will be fulfilled, but we may well miss out on the blessings because of our fear.

This verse gives us a good picture of the personal relationship we have with our God. The God of the universe, promises to be right beside us, holding our hand, walking us through all troubles. He is not some distant, impersonal God. He is one that will get down in the middle of our dirty mess and grab our hand and walk us out of the darkness.

God doesn’t flinch away from us because we fear. He in fact reaches out his hand, takes hold of us and brings us up out of our fear and into his light. God doesn’t promise that we will be free of fear, but does promise that he will be right there with us.

Into the Fire

Image result for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

We’ve all gone through those times when we feel like we are “in the fire.” Some trouble or hardship that overwhelms us and brings us to our knees. It can shake our faith and sometimes we can feel like things are hopeless. We can cry out to God asking, “Why am I going through this?” “Why me?” “Please take this from me!” Even Jesus cried out a similar prayer;

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

Luke 22:42

As we know, God didn’t take that cup from Jesus. He had to move through it.

I was reading the other night the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel. If you recall, the story tells us about these three Jews who in the court of their Babylonian captors, was asked to essentially renounce their God and bow down to the Babylonian gods. The refused and were to be thrown into a great furnace to die for their refusal. When they were thrown into the fire, the remained unharmed and in fact, the onlookers saw a fourth person in the fire with them walking around, which even King Nebuchadnezzar called the son of gods. Eventually, the three came out of the fire unharmed and King Nebuchadnezzar recognized the God of the Jews and the men moved high up in his court.

The story is often told to highlight the great faith three had. For despite the threat of death, the believed their God would save them and even if they weren’t saved, they trusted that it was part of God’s will.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”

Daniel 3: 16-18

What struck me the other night was something different. God didn’t put out the fire, they still had to walk through it. But God didn’t let them walk through it alone. God was with them, walking through the fire with them and they were comforted and safe.

“But look!” he said. “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!”

Daniel 3:25

When I thought about the “fires” I’ve walked through…times I couldn’t see a way out of the situation, times that it seemed hopeless, I can now look back and see that Jesus was right there with me. We are not promised as Christians that life will be easy or comfortable. In fact, there are many stories from the Bible up through modern times where we see Christians that are tortured and killed because of their faith in Jesus.

But what God does promise us…is that he will be with us. That he will be right there in the fire with us. That he will give us the means and the power to walk through any “fire” we are thrown into. With Jesus beside us and when we keep our eyes on him, we can be like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and walk out of the fire.

Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire.

Daniel 3:26
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