Summer Break-ing

No matter who you are or what city, state, or country you live in, you are allotted a maximum of 168 hours a week that comes in 24-hour segments called days which add up to 7 days in a week. Yet, if you’re like me, our to-do lists are never-ending, and rest always appears just out of reach. 

Maybe you feel this way too? Whether it’s your work, family, volunteering, finances, or even social media that make you feel like you always have to be “on,” you may be struggling to find rest. I’m not talking about a little break, I’m talking about true rest. 

I want to encourage you to take some real time off this summer … if you don’t take a break this summer, this summer will be breaking you!

Here are two simple tips to make sure you have a restful and rejuvenating summer.

How to Rejuvenate

 1. Schedule Rest and Recreation

Put your time off/breaks on the yearly calendar. If we don’t schedule it, it is hard to make it happen. Also, studies show that when we schedule a vacation weeks or even months out, endorphins and serotonin are released in our brain (the natural happy drugs) as we look forward to our time off. 

That’s the big picture, but what about the weekly grind?  On a weekly basis, it may be just a day or two a week where the phone is turned off and the email is not checked, and rest and recuperation are the main focus of that day. To get the rest we need, we need to have boundaries and not let people encroach or break down those boundaries. We cannot fall into the trap of thinking that we can or need to do and be everything for everybody. 

If you’re not sure what to do to get rejuvenated, I’d ask you this question, “What do you like to do?”  Go out and do it! The word recreation is the word re-create… what re-creates you, brings you joy, rejuvenates you … that means it’s the opposite of what drains you. Sounds simple but most people don’t take time to re-create.

2. Be around people you love

Take that trip and go visit your family or friends you haven’t seen in a while. That trip may be all you need to rejuvenate your life. Make sure it’s people who energize you, not drain you. It will be an encouraging time that you think back on throughout the rest of the year. 

3. Adventure to somewhere you’ve never been

One of the things that can really inspire and encourage you is by visiting a place you’ve never been. If you don’t like to travel, then it doesn’t have to be far away. There are probably places within a short drive that you’ve never been to that will amaze you. If you like to travel, then you already know this principle is true. Personally, discovering new places and new things brings me joy and excitement. I love learning about the different places where I may travel. The history, how the town was founded, what the main industry was or is and discovering if there are any trails where I can ride my dirt bike! 

Whatever causes you to feel rejuvenated this summer, I want to encourage you to get out there and do it! Because God created Re-creation and He created this beautiful planet to be explored and enjoyed! 

Slow Grow

Slow Grow Is Better Than No Grow

We’re in a teaching series at Skyline Church that focuses on nine characteristics that God wants to see in growing Christians. These nine characteristics in Galatians are known as the fruits of the spirit. Notice the metaphor “fruit.” The original audience of the Apostle Paul’s writing was an agricultural community. That being said, there are several analogies that are very relevant today as we’re still familiar with basic concepts of agriculture. 

Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is lovejoypeace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Backyard Avocado Tree

One key element that I want to emphasize is that like the growth of a fruit tree, fruit does not appear quickly after being planted. I planted avocado trees three years ago and I STILL do not have any avocados. Avocado experts tell me it could be 5 years before that first avocado buds. Likewise, our faith development takes time. Growing in faith is about progress, not perfection. It’s going to take time for you to see evidence of these spiritual characteristics in your life. Slow grow is better than no grow. Don’t get down on yourself when you lack love, joy, peace, or any of the fruits of the spirit.

Today, I want to focus on the first three fruits of the spirit and highlight key elements that we’ve learned in the past three weeks. I’ll link each of the sermons below so you can rewatch, catch up, or share any of the messages in this series. 

First 3 Fruits Of The Spirit

1. Love IS A Choice:

Love is NOT a feeling. It may affect your feelings, but it is not a feeling. When we’re always looking for an emotional experience, we get let down. Love is not an uncontrollable phenomenon.  So often we are looking for things in life that we can control. Who, what, and when you love is something you have control over. After years of counseling couples in their marriages, I’ve heard both husband and wife say, “I fell in love” or “I fell out of love.” There’s a Greek word that explains this perfectly. It’s, bah-lon-Eh. Bologna! You absolutely have control of whether or not you love your spouse. And, by the way, God has given you the choice of whether or not you’re going to love Him. We have control over who we love and who we don’t love. We control when we love and when we don’t love. Colossians 3:14 tells us to “put on love.” 

In the original Greek language of the New Testament (seriously this time), this phrase is defined as a willful action. This means YOU have a decision to make in who, when, and how you love! For example, this morning you willfully decided to put on clothes (We are all thankful for that). You didn’t stand in front of your closet and wait to feel the clothes attach themselves to your body.  It’s the same idea when we are cultivating the fruit of the Spirit, love, in our life. You decide to put on love. 1 John 3:18 reminds us that love is an action. It’s more than a feeling. Love is how you act. It’s absolutely a choice! If it wasn’t a choice, God would have worded Scripture differently and perhaps said something like, wait for the ocean of emotion and the quiver in your liver and then love, but He didn’t because Love is action.

2. Give Joy: 

We live in a world today that is centered on “me, me, me.” But in our message about Joy, we talked about how we can bring joy to others. We know the things that bring us joy, but when joy is truly cultivated in a Christian’s life, the fruit is shown in serving others by bringing them joy.  In Scripture, soil is often used as a metaphor for our heart, seeds are a metaphor for the Word of God, and water is a metaphor of life. All are agricultural musts. 

However, if you want great fruit, and you want it faster and better than the normal process, you need to add fertilizer. Fertilizer is the necessary nutrients that may not be found in the ground where the fruit tree is planted. What is the fertilizer of our faith growth? Serving.  Serving will help you grow faster and display more of the fruits of the Spirit faster and fuller than just coming to church week in and week out.  Although those we serve are gaining from our actions, we too are being refueled with the nutrients of fertilizer that make a church community thrive. Serving others in turn grows us in our relationship with God. God has given you gifts and talents to grow His Kingdom.  Nothing will give you greater joy than to use your gift to bless someone else. And when you’re using your gifts, it hardly feels like serving because you’re loving what you’re doing. God will absolutely grow you in joy as you bring joy to others through your God-given gifts and abilities. 

3. Make Peace:

Think of a person you need to reconcile with—let’s start there. Keep that person in mind. Let’s attack the problem, not the person! Some of you are thinking that is the problem, the person is the problem. But just for a moment, separate the two. Too often we fail to make progress in our conflicts because we are attacking the person. We use language like, “You always…” or “You are such a ….” We are attacking the person. In order to make peace we need to change the focus of the conflict from the person to the problem. Making peace means talking through the issue with the person not talking at the person. 

It’s a common misconception that keeping the peace means avoiding the problem. As Christians, we are not called to remain silent when problems surround us. Silence isn’t golden, sometimes it’s just downright yellow.  As Christians, we have to plan to make peace! This begs the question—How do we become peacemakers? 

Mathew 5:23-24 says we need to go to the person who has a problem with us. That may sound backwards. But as Jesus followers, we should not wait until a conflict comes to us.  We need to go to the issue. And, we need to make sure we don’t come in flaming hot. Let’s not forget this fruit of the Spirit already. Philippians 2:4 tells us to focus on the needs of others, not just our own needs. The Bible tells us that if we’re going to have peace, we need to focus on the needs of others. This doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat. Yet, we need to spend some time focusing on the needs of others on a deeper level. 

Progress

Not only do all of these fruits of the Spirit require God’s grace, but they take time to produce. Choose just one of these fruits to focus on this week and let me know how it goes. Like the avocado trees in my backyard, sometimes you don’t see fruit right away,  but there is activity going on under the surface. These characteristics of the Christian faith are how we display Christ to the world and witness to His work in our lives. Growing fruit is a seven day a week process. That’s why our purpose statement is helping people find and follow Jesus seven days a week.Not just on Christmas and Easter. Not just on Sundays. SEVEN days a week. Remember, it’s about progress, not perfection. Faith development takes time, and slow grow is better than no grow. 

We want to walk alongside you as you lean into the fruit of the Spirit this week. Let us know how we can be praying for you. 

You Can Still Respond

You can still respond to God’s call. If you were at church on Easter Sunday and felt a nudge on your heart, but you ignored it … don’t keep ignoring it! Hebrews 3:8 warns us against hardening our hearts towards Christ. It was a very special Easter Sunday as 148 people went public with their faith in Christ and were baptized! If something resonated with you, lean into it. Maybe you didn’t feel ready to get baptized just yet, but you left church with questions. That’s a great place to start! After all, Easter is about a relationship, not a religion. 

Baptism Response Story
Every Story Matters To God

After Jesus rose from the dead He went around Jerusalem and Galilee and traveled around other areas and was seen by thousands … at one time 500 people saw him and they had to be saying, “He’s baaaaccck!” My point is you may have missed that opportunity to respond on Easter Sunday, but He’s still ready to receive you today. Just like Jesus gave Doubting Thomas the evidence he needed after the resurrection, He will give you what you need if you ask.

Easter

Everything about Christianity hinges on what we celebrated on Easter Sunday. Christ died so that my relationship, and your relationship with God could be restored. What you believe about God is the most important thing in life. Your belief determines how you deal with your past, where you’ll go in the future, and how you live today. 

Respond

Once upon a time, I stood up in front of a group of people and said “I do” to my wife. Those two words have changed the trajectory of my life. I’ve been working out the implications of what “I do” means for 24 years!  I didn’t know everything about marriage when I said those words and it’s the same thing with Christ. You don’t have to know everything right now. Maybe you’re still processing, wrestling, doubting, wondering, and questioning if this whole “Jesus thing” is for you. Just because you didn’t respond immediately doesn’t mean Christianity isn’t for you. Take it one step at a time. But just know, you can come with your questions, your doubts, your discouragements and everything else. Over time, those questions will be answered, your doubts will be dealt with and your discouragements will be gone. 

Get Rooted

To be rooted in Christ, we must understand that Christ wants a relationship with us, not a religion. Every one of us (including the person who invited you to church) has rejected that relationship at some point. We all, in our own way, reject Christ from time to time. We’ve all opted to do our own thing, our own way and too often decide to be the god of our own life. Unfortunately, just like when we break man’s laws, we pay man’s penalties … when you break God’s laws, you pay God’s penalties. Either you have to pay for it or someone else does. Thank God Jesus said He would pay the penalty for you and me. Not only is that worth celebrating, that’s worth a response!! That’s at least worth investigating. It’s worth another visit to Skyline Church next Sunday.

See, I am absolutely convinced that if someone is presented the opportunity to know the real Jesus, what He offers, not the Jesus we’ve been presented in the media or the Jesus we learned about from a misinformed friend or relative, but the actual Jesus, NOBODY WOULD TURN HIM DOWN. The free gift He offers is just too good to pass up.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the deal you get when you accept Jesus’ free gift: Every sin past, present, and future paid for, my future home in Heaven secured, and purpose and energy to live today! 

Next Step

Our goal at Skyline Church is to help people find and follow Jesus seven days a week. We don’t do it perfectly but we take it one step at a time. As a matter of fact we’re starting a brand new series this Sunday, May 1 where we will be digging in and understanding the 9 characteristics God wants to see in our lives. Those characteristics don’t all happen at once. As a matter of fact, it’s all about progress not perfection. I hope you’ll lean into God this week and join us for church on Sunday. I want to encourage you, don’t ignore His nudge on your heart. My prayer for you is from Ephesians 3:18-19. “May you be able to feel and understand … how long, how wide, how deep, and how high (God’s) love really is; and to experience this for yourselves.”

Do You Believe In Jeremy?

Tags

My Ant Problem

The other day, I was sitting in my backyard and I was staring at my ant problem. We live on a verifiable ant hill. So, I am always seeing ants around. Believe me. Even though I try to keep them away, they are always around.

As I was sitting there, I decided to use a few fallen Plumaria leaves to redirect the ants and I sort of laughed to myself because the ants had no idea what I was doing. And then I got deep. I remembered the verse in Proverbs 3:5-6 about how God directs our steps and it made me think that we don’t even realize how often God is actual directing our steps. 

Do You Believe?

And then I noticed two ants had gotten on my hand and as I watched them my mind went even deeper. I thought to myself … what if one ant said to the other ant, “Hey, do you believe in Jeremy?” The second ant might respond, “Jeremy? That’s a myth.”

Am I the only one who does this? 

And then I wondered, how could I resolve this dilemma and prove that I exist? Only if I, with all of my knowledge and intelligence about the world, entered their world as an ant. 

An ant has such a finite mind that it could never comprehend what I am as a human being. When I become an ant and I come down to their level that’s when they’re going to realize that Jeremy exists. 

As Easter approaches, we’re reminded that just a few months ago we celebrated Christmas representing the fact that the mission began when God became flesh and lived among us (John 1:14). But on Easter, we celebrate the fact that the mission was accomplished! He came, He lived as one of us, He died for us and then He showed His power as God and He came back to life to prove He is God! 

Believe and Experience Good Friday

We Believe In Jesus!

Man could not comprehend God, so God became man. I guess if God wanted to relate to cows, he would have come back as a cow. If He wanted to relate to birds, he would have become a bird. If He wanted to relate to cats … well, even God can’t do that, cats are satan’s spawn! 🙂 

Believe and Experience Easter

I’m so glad that God took the time to come, to die, and to live … for you and me! I want to encourage you to celebrate Good Friday with us at 7:00PM at our Rancho San Diego campus and join us for Easter services in person and online at Rancho San Diego at 8:00am, 9:30am, and 11:00am; and at 9:00am and 10:45am in Lakeside–because we BELIEVE IN JESUS! 

10 Minute Prayer Challenge

Everywhere we look, it seems the world is hurting. It’s difficult not to get emotionally exhausted when we look at everything that is going on. Our feelings can get the best of us. Our emotions can get out of control. However, when our emotions are under control, they are a powerful weapon against discouragement, depression, and the devil’s schemes. 

God has emotions too. We have emotions because we are made in God’s image. He has feelings of joy, anger, grief, sadness, and hatred toward sin, etc.. If you want to see emotion in verse after verse and chapter after chapter in the Bible, then book your ticket for a journey through the Psalms. They are filled with every emotion known to man, that is why we’re going through the Psalms in our daily devotional, Today Matters. So how do we stay rooted in our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ instead of getting caught in every wave of emotion that comes from our current situation in the world.

We pray.

Pray

This may be uncomfortable, or at least faith stretching for some of you, but I guarantee this will change your relationship with Christ. Holding our attention for 10 minutes is not easy in our  distracted world. But, here’s the reality, we cannot change how we feel by our own willpower. 

Zachariah 4:6 tells us, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord Almighty-you will succeed because of my spirit.” 

Zachariah 4:6

I’m not suggesting you are going to wake up tomorrow and suddenly love paying $6 for a gallon of gas. While we fill our tanks with that $6 gas, ask God to fill us with the Holy Spirit. And we need to ask Him daily! How do we go about that? I introduced this on Sunday…

The Challenge

This is what I want you to do … find a quiet place. Grab a pen and paper and put your phone on silent. Listen, the devil has your phone number! He’ll hit you up with that incredible offer to buy your house or get you a loan to buy a house … the devil’s other name is Spam! But, seriously, remove the distractions and start a two minute timer five different times. This will help you grasp how quickly this prayer time goes by. For some of you, this is no big deal, you pray more than this everyday … great … add 10 minutes to your current prayer time. The average Christian prays less than two-minutes a day. As you commit to this, you will consistently notice that you need more than 2 minutes per section, but start there. You may even find yourself taking on a 20 or 40-minute prayer challenge sooner than later. 

ACTS

Rooted Sermon Series

Here are the categories I mentioned on Sunday and how to get started. Remember, our goal is to be ROOTED in our faith in Jesus Christ. This is fundamental to stronger roots in the faith.  I’ve put the A.C.T.S acronym to this to help you remember the categories.

2 minutes to clear your mind. Write down anything that comes to mind so you can address it when you’ve concluded your time of prayer. 

2 minutes to Acknowledge God. Think about His presence, power, love, and purpose for you while acknowledging He is in charge and you are not. 

2 minutes to Confess where you’ve fallen short, and even sins you may be unaware of. 

2 minutes to Thank God. This is where you literally count your blessings. You may do this by categories since you’ll be doing this daily. Monday may be marriage category. Thank God for your spouse, for the time you have together, etc… Tuesday may be Taco Tuesday, thank God for Tacos!… amen?! You get the point, you can put categories to help you focus on that day. 

2 minutes for Supplication. That’s an old school word that simply means to askGod for what you and/or others need and want. This is the time to come with your requests. Don’t hold back. By this time you’ve spent some quality time with God and you are asking out of a better place in your heart. Your ask is more meaningful and likely more in line with God’s will. The more time you spend with God, the more your will aligns with His. 

Daily Routine

Make this 10 minute prayer challenge part of your daily routine and you will sense your roots growing deeper and stronger in our Lord Jesus Christ every day. There’s nothing like feeling rooted in Christ. Some of the many benefits are illustrated in Galatians 5:22-23, known as the Fruits of the Spirit. When we’re filled with the Spirit, these things come out of us; Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. When we are filled with what the world offers  … anger, envy, bitterness, guilt, shame, anxiety, doubt, and immorality come out of us. 

Let us fill ourselves with more of Him by spending more time with Him. 10 minutes is a great start.