Kingdom-Minded

What does it mean to be Kindom-minded? Simply stated: We are all on the same team! The goal is to help people find and follow Jesus. And it’s going to take more workers to harvest the billions of people out there who have not experienced a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

Our Philosophy in helping staff plant a NEW church.

… the more the merrier! Last month, I visited our Skyline Church Kansas location. It was great to see the work that God is doing there. And while we love our Skyline Church Kansas location, we know it takes many different kinds of churches to reach many different kinds of people. That’s why we have helped others plant different kinds of churches. All of these churches teach the relevance of scripture like Skyline, but each approaches how they do it in slightly different ways. For example, we’ve sent out three church planters and a campus pastor in the last three years.

We’ve come alongside Pastor David Ordaz with One Church, who specializes in bilingual, Spanish and English services. We also sent Pastor Weston Stutz to launch Captivate Church, who focuses on doing life together in a community. More recently, we’ve helped Pastor Scotty James plant The Village Church, who is rooted in simplicity and scripture. Others, like Pastor Jason Sneddon in Kansas, relocated from Skyline Church Lakeside to build the same kind of church … Skyline Church Kansas. Whether people leave the current body to build a new church or the same church, we continue to expand the Kingdom of God!

Am I really Kingdom-minded?

Over time, I’ve seen certain churches with an unsaid (or said) philosophy that says “Keep ‘em and if they want to leave guilt ’em, coerce ’em, or threaten ’em if you have to, but they better not leave!”  This philosophy just doesn’t work. Everyone says they’re “kingdom-minded” … until … they’re tested… And we’re ALL going to be tested in that! Because God is never concerned with building our kingdom. His focus is on building the Kingdom. If we try to compete with His Kingdom building we’re going to lose every time.

If someone is called by God to plant a church, they’re called BY GOD! You might as well support that person because they’re going to go if God is the one telling them to go. We have to remember that it’s all about GOD’S work, not our work. When you let people go to do God’s will, THAT says you are Kingdom-minded. I truly believe that at the end of the day we get Kingdom credit, not Skyline Church credit. I’ve learned that when you have your hands open, God can get a lot more to you than when your hands are closed.

Church Planting Is Brutal

We need to be asking ourselves, “How are we advancing the Kingdom of God?” I want to see people experience the freedom of Christ. THAT is my passion! And the reality is, Church planting is brutal. I’ve been there! You are LITERALLY face-to-face with Satan because he does NOT want new churches being planted. 

By deciding to plant a church, you enter a strategic war. Your heart has to be in the right place. Your process also has to be right. I’ve seen hundreds of church plants die. And, I’ve also seen hundreds of churches succeed! That’s why I lay out a church planting formula for those who feel called to navigate those difficult waters. It fires me up and I’m ready to jump in with you. Still … some people want to do their own thing, and that’s okay. But when someone wants to plant a church, there are some key strategies that can help a new church have the best chance to succeed. I love helping people do that! 

Why Are You Planting A Church?

When I hear someone say they think God wants them to plant a church, my goal is to help that person figure out EXACTLY what God is leading them to do. With that being said, one of the first things I ask a potential church planter is … “Why?” The reason I ask this is because their answer says a lot about God’s calling and their motivation.

The number one reason that you plant a church is to reach new people. Your primary motivation should not be because it’s a beautiful area or because you can pull people from another big church nearby. Your mindset should always be to seek and save the lost. That means we need many different kinds of churches (all grounded in the Word of God) to reach many different kinds of people.

Lastly, I want to know from the church planter what God has specifically been putting on their heart. I want to help them get to the bottom of their motivation. Some may think that they can do it better than their current church. While that may be true, it’s never good to plant something with an attitude of strife and division. If you’re not called to plant the church, you won’t last in planting the church. You want to plant a church with good intentions, a good heart, and a Kingdom-mindset. It’s not about building your own little kingdom or wanting to speak more or be the guy upfront or call the shots or anything other than having a heart for lost people. I like to get to the bottom of the church planter’s motivation to give them their best chance at making a difference for the Kingdom. 

The More The Merrier!

We recognize there are many different ways to do church and that ultimately, we are called to serve the Lord Jesus Christ, not a building. At Skyline, we have a very specific way we believe church should be done because we’re intentionally zoned in on our purpose statement. It’s not how every church does it, but we believe in giving you practical ways to apply the Bible on Sunday so you can use it SEVEN days a week. We’re going give you something on Sunday you can use on Monday. We believe that growing people change, you can’t do life alone, saved people serve people, you can’t out-give God, and found people find people! We believe that being Kingdom-minded means helping people plant churches in order to expand the kingdom. The bottom line is this … we serve a BIG God. To be Kingdom-minded, you have to wholeheartedly believe … the more the merrier!

Spring Training Fundamentals

Baseball is back! Opening Day is scheduled for April 1, and while I had my doubts with it falling on April Fool’s Day, I’m so excited for the Padres to finally kick-off the 2021 season! We came close last year, but THIS year … this is the year! Just like every other team, the Padres went through Spring Training for the past six weeks. During this time, they worked on the fundamentals of baseball that prepared us for the year we win The World Series!

Baseball Fundamentals

Rich image of professional baseball player, Fernando Tatis Jr., executing fundamentals of hitting a baseball.

Back when I used to play for the St. Louis Cardinals, we took Spring Training very seriously. And every year we’d look forward to our Farm Director’s (I spent my 10 professional seasons in the minor league ‘farm’ system) speech that starts off the season. (The Farm Director is who tells you whether you’re going up or down the farm system levels.) 

He’d start his speech with the most basic fundamentals, saying, “Gentlemen, this is a baseball. It’s 9 inches in circumference. It’s 5 ounces, made of cowhide, and it has 108 red stitches strung around it … ”

Oh yeah, he’d go into detail! Next, he’d say, “Men, this is a baseball glove …” Then, he’d explain, “This is a baseball bat …” No matter who you are on the team, you attend Spring Training and you get back to the basics. I can imagine the Padres locker room … you have people like Fernando Tatis Jr who recently signed a $340million contract for the next 14-years listening to a similar speech. With money like that, it would be easy for anyone to forget the most basic principles of the game.

You throw the ball. 
You catch the ball. 
And you hit the ball. 

But our Farm Director would finish by saying, “And men, the team that does that the best will win the World Championship!”

Christian Fundamentals

Rich image of Seven Steps class at Skyline Church that teaches about Christian fundamentals and more

Can you tell me why 300 million dollar players enter Spring Training to do the same drills we did in Little League? Or why players like Tatis even have coaches?!

Because the fundamentals are the essentials! It’s the same in the Christian faith. There are basic habits that shape our faith that have to be present for us to experience what it’s like to be a Champion for Christ. At Skyline Church, we discuss these habits in our Seven Steps for Spiritual Growth Class. If you’ve been in the faith very long, you know that a devotional time lays the groundwork for God to move in your life. You’ve also experienced that the habit of prayer is in essence primary to growing in relationship with God. You know that regular giving is pivotal in transforming your heart. In addition to what we do privately, we get together as Christians regularly!

It’s essential! Because no matter how long you’ve been in the faith, we all need to consistently get back to the basics. And while we don’t have a $340 million contract, as years tack on, we too can get comfortable in our faith and neglect to participate in the fundamentals of our faith.

We have devotional time.
We pray!
We give!
And we gather!

Ladies and gentlemen … the believers that do this the best are what I call a Champion for Christ!

Commitment

I’ll finish with this …  when I was a young guy, I liked going out on Saturday night.  Even as I became a Christian I lived in that tension of half-hearted commitment. I had one foot “in the world” and one foot “in Christianity.” That never works. There came a point when I started leaving gatherings with my friends and teammates to go to church. They wanted to know why I was doing this “church” thing so often. I had a decision to make. And, it may seem shallow, but I didn’t have the theological answers at the time. So, I just said, “It makes me feel good.” 

There’s going to come a time where you have to choose between your old habits and some new Christian habits. Some habits may be bad habits that you always knew you needed to let go of. But there are also going to be some “okay” habits that aren’t necessarily bad, but they are prohibiting you from becoming a Champion for Christ. No one makes it to the Major Leagues without sacrificing something. You may sacrifice staying out late with friends to go to church, eating out to give more, sleeping in to have a devotional time … we all have secondary pleasures that get in the way of our primary goals from time to time.

It’s in these moments, that we need to prioritize our commitments and decide what our main goal is. In these moments we need to get back to the basics and practice the fundamentals. 

Applying The Fundamentals

Ask yourself today, what is your main objective in life? Have you decided to prioritize your relationship with God above all else in life? Are you executing the fundamentals of your objective regularly? If you will apply the fundamentals you can bet you’ll be a Champion for Christ.



*Read more blogs and articles from Dr. Jeremy McGarity at JeremyMcGarity.com!

Shark Weak

Weaknesses That Bite

If you ever watch the Discovery channel during Shark Week, you’ll quickly learn why it’s one of Discovery’s most popular programs! Sharks are anything but weak creatures. A great white shark can weigh up to 6,600 pounds! That’s the equivalent of two Ford Taurus cars. And did you know that sharks can smell fear from a third of a mile away?! Okay  they can’t smell fear, but they can smell blood! Don’t be swimming in their waters with cut skin.

Great whites, specifically, are predators. They’re constantly lurking for food. They hunt with purpose and strategy. They’ll intentionally dive into a pack of seals to try and separate one from the group, making the lone seal a perfect target. The same is true for Satan. The enemy is a predator in your life and he’s intentional about trying to divide you from the pack. Satan wants to keep you from going to church, participating in Bible studies, interacting with other Christians, and stop you from growing in your faith.

So what do we do when we live in a world where predators like Satan exist?

Thankfully, we have a way out! God’s Word tells us EXACTLY how to escape and even combat the weaknesses that bite. A weakness is anything that keeps us from being whom God created us to be. Romans 8:29 describes our purpose as being conformed to the image of Jesus. Satan may be lurking, but Isaiah 30:18 tells us that “the Lord still waits for you to come to Him so He can show you His love.” No matter how far you’ve walked away from God, no matter how messy your life is, or how dark your past has been, no one is too messed up to be saved by God.

Rich image of Dr. Jeremy McGarity's NEW book, Shark Weak Overcoming The Weaknesses That Bite, linked to amazon.

It’s one thing to know that we need to get out of dangerous waters and another thing to actually get out of those waters.

That’s why I recently wrote a book that specifically speaks to the common weaknesses that sneak up and bite us! This book is a guide to help you recognize the weaknesses we can easily fall prey to if we aren’t ready for an attack. And, it speaks to what the Bible has to say about overcoming these infirmities! Many people think that because of the way they’ve lived life that God is no longer an option for them and they have to figure it out on their own. Fortunately, Ecclesiastes 1:9 reminds us that every issue we deal with can be approached through the Word of God because there’s nothing new under the sun. The Bible isn’t just a self-help book that sometimes works. It has the answer to EVERY problem that has come up since the beginning of time.

Shark Weak

Shark Weak: Weaknesses That Bite started out as a six-week sermon series at my church in East County San Diego, to provide highly practical Bible application. Skyline Church had such an incredible response to this series that I knew I wanted to make this content available to more people. People shared specific challenges that they were able to overcome AND how they overcame them. While my sermons were available on YouTube, I knew that the practicality of the content needed to become more readily available in our community. I want every person who reads this book to experience a personal impact AND God’s purpose for their life. I was intentional about making my book, Shark Weak, as pragmatic as the sermons by concluding every chapter with practical applications, questions, a journal prompt, and even action steps. If you’re ready to escape shark-infested waters and step onto a solid foundation, “Shark Weak” will give you the tools you need to enjoy God’s plan for your life!

Digging Deeper Resources

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Over the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about THRIVING (not just surviving) in 2021. And last week, I challenged you to thrive in prayer by praying 10 minutes a day. We talked about the importance of consistency over intensity. It’s called a challenge for a reason––it’s not easy to make a new habit. So, if you didn’t pray every day last week, that’s okay. Keep at it, it’s worth it!

I’m currently doing a challenge of my own in addition to praying for at least 10 minutes a day. Reading the Bible in a year is something I do annually. I also read a Psalm and Proverb a day. I highly recommend it! It takes discipline to stick to any reading plan, which is why I want to encourage you today, to keep praying and sticking to your devotional time.

I have two book recommendations for anyone looking to dig deeper into their devotional time with a focus on prayer.

The first book is “Praying the Promises” by Max Lucado.This is a great little book to help jump-start and/or encourage your prayer life.  Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” God meets us in His Word. This book will show you HOW scripture is alive with the promises of God and how you can pray them in your own life. It will show you how you can use Scripture to be more specific in your prayers, claim the promises of God, and invite the Holy Spirit to do what we cannot. It’s a total game-changer, and I would encourage anyone who is looking to grow in their prayer life to give it a read.

Another really great devotional book is “Alone with God” by John MacArthur. This book has a guide for personal study and prayer activities to help anyone grow in their prayer life. MacArthur takes you in depth on the Lord’s Prayer and gives you practical tools to help ignite the power and passion you will discover in time spent with God. 

These two books have impacted my prayer life, and I know they’ll be a great resource for you too. As you dig deeper into your prayer life, you may find that you’d like to share some of your prayer requests with others. Praying in numbers is a VERY powerful thing. That’s why our Pastors get together EVERY week at Skyline Church to pray for the many prayer requests of our people. Whether you go to Skyline or not, let us know how we can be praying for you by filling out a Prayer Request. Also, please let us know how the 10 Minute Prayer Challenge is going for you.  It will help guide us in our prayers for you. 

Remember, it’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. It’s not about intensity, it’s about consistency. Pour a bucket of water on a big boulder and all you get is a wet rock. You let a drop of water fall on that same rock, drip by drip consistently throughout the day, every day, and you will see a hole in that rock over time. Drop by drop you’ll get there! 

God bless you!

The ACTS of Praying

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Do you pray? According to The Pew Research Foundation, 64% of Americans do not. But, my question is not for them, it is for you. Do you pray? How often, how long? My guess is if people were to answer I’d have responses from prayer warriors and prayer beginners and even those who have lost that praying feeling.

Here’s the reality, praying can be challenging for even the most seasoned Christian. This is why we launched the 10 Minute Prayer Challenge on Sunday. When a national survey was conducted from thousands of Christians the question was asked, “What is the biggest disappointment in your Christian journey?” 86% of the respondents said, “My prayer life.”

Many respondents said they just don’t know where to start, what to say, or how to go about it. They end up feeling like it’s a waste of time trying to think of things to pray or say. Or, they feel like they pray the same general things and the redundancy just causes them to quit after a while.

I think we want to be more connected to the Lord, we want to dig deeper in our faith and sense a closeness to the Lord like David in Psalms. But, there’s something I believe that hinders most Christians. It is the ideal over the real. Too many Christians think that in order to have a genuine prayer life or a genuine prayer experience that it must be INTENSE.

Some people think if they’re not crying or screaming or sweating they must not be serious about prayer. The truth is, God is looking for consistency over intensity. To be sure, there may be times of intensity, but that is the exception, not the rule. When the Apostle Paul said, “Pray continually,” (1 Thes. 5:17) he was thinking of consistency not intensity.

The key to understanding how to be consistent is found in ACTS. Not the book of Acts but the prayer pattern known as A.C.T.S. This is a pattern that has been utilized by countless Christians over the years to help jump start their prayer life and help them stay consistent. The pattern is this:

A-doration
C-onfession
T-hanksgiving
S-upplication

When it comes to the 10 Minute Prayer Challenge, take 2 minutes on each of these prayer categories. Literally, you can put your stopwatch to it. You’ll be encouraged at how fast the time goes by and it will be a catalyst to more time spent in prayer over the year.

When beginning the ACTS prayer pattern, make sure to start with 2 minutes of clearing your mind. Have a notepad or a phone app with you to mark down the “to do” tasks and other distractions that come to your mind. That way it is captured and it won’t be a mental distraction. This may take longer than 2 minutes, but make sure you take time to quiet your mind and heart as it says in Psalm 131:2.

Adoration is simply worshipping God. Take time to focus on His greatness. Acknowledge Him as the Creator of the Universe and the One who created you. You might pray some of the psalms. Many of the psalms are simply prayers of King David. We can recite those same heartfelt prayers. Or, you might sing or listen to some worship songs. The goal is to put your heart and mind in a place of worship.

Confession is simply admitting what we’ve done wrong. We need a clean slate every day. We need to confess sins of commission and sins of omission. Sins of commission are the ones we know we did wrong. Sins of omission are the ones we committed and didn’t realize. We simply come to the Lord in prayer and admit we’ve done some things we realize and we may have done some things we did not realize and we ask for His forgiveness. During this time, God may bring to mind people we need to reach out to and apologize with a call or a text. 

Thanksgiving is self-explanatory. We need to take time to be thankful for what God has done and for what He will do. We need to be thankful for the people and the things in our life. This is one of the healthiest things you can do mentally. A plethora of scientific studies have shown the incredible health benefits of having an attitude of gratitude. God told us this thousands of years ago and I’m so glad science is beginning to figure it out too.

Supplication is simply asking God. After you’ve taken time to worship God, confess sin, and give thanks, it’s OKAY to get out the “shopping list.” And let me encourage you … BE SPECIFIC. Have a prayer journal or app. Write down specifically what you’re asking God for. It is such an encouragement to your faith when God specifically answers your request. Write down the answer, the date, and any other details of God’s answers. You will be able to return to this time and time again to encourage your faith when you need it.

2 minutes: Clear your mind

2 minutes: Adoration
2 minutes: Confession
2 minutes: Thanksgiving
2 minutes: Supplication =
10 minutes of consistency in prayer.

By praying the pattern of ACTS you begin to develop a consistency in your prayer life that will absolutely deepen your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly you will never be the same … now that is INTENSE.