4 Common Questions from Skyline Visitors

As a Pastor, I get A LOT of questions. And they are all good ones (well, most of them), so keep them coming. You can fill out a Connection Card, catch me in the lobby in-between services, or comment below and I’d be happy to answer that question you’ve been itching to ask!

You may have heard that our word of the year at Skyline Church is THRIVE––as we head into the final stretch of the year….man have we thrived as a church body over the past nine months. We recently had another Baptism and Membership Dinner.  Every week we are growing and reaching more and more people for Jesus Christ. It’s truly incredible. Which is why I wanted to touch base with you about some questions that I’ve received recently that include 10/10/10, Baptisms, Bible Translations, Vaccine Exemptions, and can a Raider fan get into heaven? (well most of these are addressed).

10/10/10

Q: I’ve been hearing about 10/10/10 what is it?

A: This weekend on October 10 we will be kicking off our Fall Campaign called 10/10/10. As part of this kickoff, we have a ton of fun planned for your kids this Sunday. It’s a huge celebration event this weekend as we embark on the vision for our church over the next 10 years. I’m excited to share the vision over the next six Sundays and I can’t wait to tell you all God has put on my heart for the future of Skyline Church as we embark on something that is so much bigger than ourselves. When Jesus said, “I have come to seek and save the lost….” He meant it…and so do we. 10/10/10 is all about the strategic plan to “Light up the Scoreboard in Heaven.

Baptism

Q: Should I get baptized if I was sprinkled as a baby?

A: If you’ve wondered about this as well, you are not alone. Did you know that about 30% of Skyline Church has a Catholic background? It’s important to know though, that sprinkling a baby is not a biblical baptism. It could be considered a child dedication, but it is not a baptism. The Bible tells us to “Believe and be baptized…” That means when someone actually knows what they are doing, they are to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in obedience and be baptized.

I also was sprinkled as a baby. But, I did not know what it was or what it meant and I certainly did not believe at that time. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home or even a religious environment –superstitious maybe, but not spiritual. Yet, after accepting the Lord as a young adult there came a time where I had to put on the team colors of Jesus Christ and say, “This is my team, this is who I play for!” A biblical baptism means that you made the conscious decision to choose Jesus as your Lord and Savior. 

Side note: With our Child Dedications coming just around the corner, I want to be clear that we do dedicate infants and children at Skyline twice a year (in the spring and fall). But this is not a decision made for the child, it is not a sprinkling, and it is definitely not a baptism. This is an opportunity for the parents to come before the church and make a public decision to raise up their child to know Jesus. This also gives the church an opportunity to see your family, pray for you, and acknowledge that as the body of Christ, we too are dedicated to helping you raise your child in the faith.

This year we have had the honor of baptizing over 235 people. Some of you have already started to sign up for our next baptism.  If you have any other questions about baptism and whether or not it’s the next step for you, we’d be happy to answer any of your questions.

And yes, if you’re a Raider fan, I will hold you under the water a little bit longer to ensure you’re washed clean of all sin and unrighteousness. The score from Monday Night in case you missed it:  (Chargers 28, Raiders 14) just sayin’. 

Translations

Q: What Bible translation do you use?

A:  You’ll notice on the sermon notes we pass out on Sundays that I may use several Bible translations. Typically, we use the New Living Translation, New International Version, Message Paraphrase, and New American Standard Bible among others. These give a good mix of Dynamic, Formal, and Paraphrase translations to help anyone at any level of their faith journey grasp the Word of God.

One of the reasons for this is because when I first started reading the Bible I was on the road with the St. Louis Cardinals in Georgia. A teammate of mine recommended that I start reading the Bible. The only Bible available to me was the one sitting on the nightstand in my hotel room. I picked up a King James version and was instantly turned away by the formal language. It was not a language that I spoke so I thought the Bible wasn’t for me. I never want that to be the case for a new person at Skyline. 

Did you know that the average reading level in San Diego is 4th grade? To use a translation that is too formal for the context of which it is being spoken is pastoral malpractice. Jesus always spoke in the Lingua Franca which was the “language of the day” or “bridge language.” As a pastor, I want to build bridges to help people grasp the Word of God and I want to make sure I’m communicating clearly and accurately to those who are listening to the Word of God. The Bible was not originally written in English. So I’m always looking for clear lingua franca translations of verses I’m using, without losing accuracy, so that it can be quickly applied to the listener’s lives.

Religious Vaccine Exemptions

Q: Is Skyline giving information on Vaccine exemptions?

A: Yes. At Skyline Church, we talk about hard topics because the Bible talks about hard topics. Every week, I am getting calls and messages from people in our church that are facing pressure for various reasons to get the COVID Vaccine. As I’ve already written about in previous blogs, the choice should be yours. Not the governments, not your employer, yours and yours alone. Many of you have followed up with us to let us know that your exemption has been approved! We have legal counsel in support of our stance and we are fighting the good fight for so many people who are being unlawfully threatened with the loss of their jobs. For those of you who are still going through the process, please let us know so we can be praying for you. If you’re needing additional information about Religious Vaccine Exemptions, you can call our offices at (619) 660-5000. 

So thankful for you! Let’s continue to light up the scoreboard in Heaven together!

Does Jesus Care?

If the tabloids, paparazzi and media were following Jesus around today, headlines would read Jesus Doesn’t Care.” And that’s your cue to gasp! When it comes to media, it’s all about shock headlines, not necessarily the truth. On the surface, in John 11 it may seem as if Jesus did not care when one of His closest friends was deathly ill. But if we dig a little deeper, we can experience that aha moment that scripture has to offer. 

Before we jump into John 11, I want to remind us all of Isaiah 55:8-9. This verse really sets the framework of how we should adjust our perspective when we read a headline or a verse that doesn’t quite seem right at face value. It’s also been a huge reminder for me as I look at the condition of our state and continue to pray for our country. I don’t like what is happening in our state nor in our country, and it’s easy to wonder, “Jesus, do you care?!” The result of the recall effort here in California was a good reminder to lean in and trust even when we don’t understand it.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,   
neither are your ways my ways,”declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,   
so are my ways higher than your ways   
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9

In John 11 we read about Jesus’ dear friend Lazarus who was dying. When Jesus received the news, it took him a couple days before deciding to visit His friend. However, by the time Jesus arrives, Lazarus passed away. Many people had come to console Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha. At face value, it appears as if there was a crisis that Jesus neglected, resulting in a seemingly avoidable death. GASP! To the crowd, clearly Jesus didn’t care.

Too Slow To Care

In John 11:21-22, we see Martha’s broken heart for her brother as she confronts Jesus, “If only you’d been here, my brother would not have died … “

Notice, she’s blaming Jesus. In her grief, anger, and disappointment, she is blaming the Lord for being too slow to respond. 

We see this sort of raw emotion all throughout the Psalms, especially from King David. And I bet Martha was familiar with the Psalms from attending synagogue––she’d read about David crying out to God in raw disappointment. And when we’re disappointed, the Lord is exactly where we should go! The problem some people come across when they express their raw feelings with God is that they stay in their disappointment. They get bitter and angry and turn away from God. But in this story, take notice of what Martha does next. She acknowledges who she is talking to and what He is capable of. She trusts that even after Lazarus’ death, Jesus can do anything (John 11:22).

Unanswered Prayers

I think all of us have felt a prayer request go unheard at some point or another. 
“He/she wouldn’t have left if you had been quicker to respond.”
 “I wouldn’t have lost my job if you cared more.”
 “I wouldn’t be addicted if you’d responded sooner.”

Often, we may feel that His pace is too slow. We urgently ask, “Jesus, don’t you care?” We forget that Jesus doesn’t operate on our time schedule. He has a reason why there’s a delay. You can’t stop trusting because He didn’t meet your deadline. Whenever we put a timeframe to it, we disqualify our trust in Him. When there is a delay, it always comes down to trust. We must trust the pace of Jesus’ walk.  As Martha and Mary found out, a delay is not a denial. 

A Godless State

As I look at the condition of our state, I am incredibly frustrated. Over 40,000 businesses closed this last year. Over half the homeless population in the entire world resides in California and the funds to help this situation are being misappropriated. More abortions happen in California than in any other place in the world. Drug overdose deaths far outpaced Covid deaths. I could go on and on. We pay the highest amount of taxes, we pay the highest amount for gasoline. The cost of living in California is simply out of control (hence the increased homeless situation). There is a good argument that due to our moving farther and farther away from God we are being judged. There is much scriptural precedent where God judges his people. He allows a leader that does not acknowledge Him or follow any of his principals to be in charge and make it hard for the people.  The evil that has existed and increased in California cannot be ignored by God forever. He will judge it and perhaps that time is now. 

What Is Your Prayer?

The reality is, we cannot control this situation but we can pray and ask Jesus to intervene on our behalf. Just as our Lord did for Martha and Mary, perhaps even now, Christ will come and heal our state and nation.

Isaiah 55:8-9 reminds me to keep praying for the people of California and yes, we are to pray for the governor of California. Just as we’ve seen in scripture time and time again, God can change the hearts of people in an instant. 

Martha’s desperate and urgent prayer was for her brother to be healed. I believe there is a deep desire in every one of us for “something” to happen in our lives. We all have an urgent prayer. If not now, we will soon. 
What is your urgent and perhaps desperate prayer?  What I want to encourage you to do today, is write down your urgent prayer. Put words to the raw emotions you’re experiencing. I’d even love to be praying with you if you feel comfortable filling out a prayer request online

Know this … even when we’re in our darkest time, there’s a light that shines. God will bring good out of a bad situation (Romans 8:28). We can believe and trust that God cares. We must not get tired of doing good (Galatians 6:9).

Enough Is Enough

National Surveys show that only 20% of church attendees VOTE. Too many Christians just sit back and say, “whatever” when it comes to voting. THAT.MUST.STOP. As a Believer, it is of utmost importance that we obey the Bible and “show honor where honor is due.” Voting is one of the primary ways we can honor those who serve our country. Too many men and women have died for our freedom for 80% of the church to be so flippant and careless about exercising our freedom to vote. 

If you are as disturbed as I am by the direction of our country, state, and county you have an opportunity to let your voice be heard, VOTE because Enough is Enough.

I shared on Sunday about the upcoming vote to Recall Governor Gavin Newsom here in California; click here, We Must Vote  (it’s in the first part of the video). The frustration in our country and state is at an all-time high. The President continues to hurt this country with his lack of leadership and his constant acquiescing to foreign terrorists like the Taliban and bioterrorists and human rights criminals like China. 

In California specifically, we have a leader who has completely trampled on the Constitution of both the United States of America and the Constitution of the State of California. It is mind blowing to think of the number of crimes (that’s right, crimes) that he has committed based primarily on his use of the executive order privilege he refuses to give up. Enough is Enough.

In California, we have a chance to change the leadership that has been continuously running, not walking, toward all out socialism. Make no mistake, this vote is about the Elites versus the People, it is about Freedom versus Fascism. Remember the French Laundry Restaurant Scandal ? That’s just one example of the Governor actually getting caught. He sees you and I as mere peasants in his kingdom. It’s time to show him that he works for the people not the other way around.

Remember when he promised to take a 10% pay cut  because so many people had lost their jobs? Yet, he did not take that cut. However, he made sure every other Governmental worker did take at least a 10% cut. 

I could go on and on about the hypocrisy coming from Sacramento but let’s make sure our voices are heard on September 14th because Enough is Enough.

The choice is simple; if you are fine with mask mandates, closed schools, closed gyms, closed playgrounds, closed small businesses (except for Strip Clubs), silencing of voices, no debate allowed, no voice of your own, no opinion of your own and no real actual science allowed to back any claim you may have, then Newsom should stay in office. If you value faith, freedom, your family and the right to question, debate, and peaceable assemble among many other reasons, then their needs to be a new voice leading this state. 

We cannot forget that even though Dr. Fauci and the science stated that masks do not prevent Covid we were forced to wear one longer than any other state.

The Governor forced lockdowns, mask mandates, and overall hopelessness spread faster than the virus and caused the suicide rates to climb. Suicide ideation skyrocketed to a 600% increase and suicide hotline calls ballooned to an 8,000% increase (see my previous blogs with citations on this subject or do a simple duck duck go search). Violent crime, homelessness, drug and alcohol abuse is at an all-time high in California. Overdose deaths outpaced Covid deaths  throughout California but especially in Newsom’s hometown of San Francisco. Enough is Enough.

We must do our research, pray, and VOTE. Too many men and women have died for our freedom for us to not take the time to do our research and vote. If we do not, we are liable for the leadership of our state and eventually our country. 

With so many concerns about election integrity, we are receiving ballots at church this Sunday (Sept. 12, 2021) to deliver for you. Our Salt and Light team will be available to answer your questions and receive your ballots. 

Remember, there are two issues you are voting on.
1. Should the Governor be recalled.
2. Who do you vote for to replace him. If you’d like information on the various candidates please visit www.biblicalvoter.com to learn more. 

Vote, Vote, because Enough is Enough!

Are You Willing To Forgive?

Even in the most perfect of relationships, there are going to be conflicts. You’re never going to agree on everything with someone, even if they are your best friend. My wife, Janie, doesn’t like country music. THAT represents a major sin in her life! And … I forgive her for that. There are a thousand things we have to compromise on in our marriages and in our relationships with others. But one thing that we should never compromise is our willingness to forgive one another. 

Last Sunday, in our Relationship Rehab series we talked about the importance of practicing forgiveness. Notice I said “practicing.” It takes practicing forgiveness to be a good forgiver!

For the last few weeks, we’ve discussed Affair-Proofing Our Marriages3 Questions For Every MarriageHow To Get Them To Listen, Being a Single Christian, and more.

While marriage is the primary school to learn unselfishness, we know that all relationships require forgiveness. Proverbs 18:1 says it like this, “People who do not get along with others are only interested in themselves.” When a relationship lacks forgiveness, there is an issue of selfishness that needs to be addressed. I want you to rate yourself on a scale of one to ten, one being needs work and ten being you quickly and willingly forgive. 

If you always have to get your way, you’re destroying your relationships with others. Mark 3:25 tells us that these types of relationships are bound to fall apart. We have to learn to give in. It can’t be my way or the highway all the time. If you’re currently struggling in a relationship with a friend or loved one, I want to encourage you to forgive them. I don’t need to know your exact situation to know that withholding forgiveness is hurting you. We forget that forgiving others is FOR us. 

The scenario is similar every time. We get angry about what someone did to us and we let it build up. If not dealt with anger turns to bitterness and bitterness leads to apathy which always leads to a lack of consideration. And you guessed it … lack of consideration reveals an unwillingness to forgive.

How’s Your Forgiving Going? 

There needs to be boatloads of forgiveness in your relationships. You are imperfect. Your spouse, co-worker, friend, neighbor, siblings, fellow drivers, or whomever you are at odds with … is imperfect. I’ve heard some incredibly hurtful situations and I don’t doubt that this may be difficult for you … but … “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13). Even Jesus said that if you cannot forgive others, God isn’t going to forgive you. 
As we conclude our Relationship Rehab Series, I want to leave you with this verse of encouragement that is my prayer for you, “May God develop maturity in you so that you get along with each other as well as Jesus gets along with us … “ Romans 15:5 (MSG). I pray that you ask yourself today if you’re willing to forgive “that someone,” as Christ forgave you. 

An Invite Can Change A Life

What is Salvation and How Does Someone Get It?

Salvation is very simply the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. If we accept this free gift we are spared eternal separation from God. Although salvation is purely based on God’s grace, He chooses to use people like you and me as channels of that grace.

In Colossians 2:6-8, it says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”

When we admit our need for Christ and we believe that Jesus died for our sins and rose again to save us … we gain salvation, which is to be eternally connected to our Creator and Lord. We do not gain a religion or a ritual, but a real relationship with the Lord of the universe. A real relationship that has changed billions of lives including mine. So, why hasn’t this “real” relationship changed the lives of those in your Oikos? (more on that later).

Why Is Jesus The Answer For You?

As we cling to our hope in Jesus, we also need to share our hope with others. In the past year we’ve talked about how essential church is because we ALL need hope to cope … maybe now more than ever. While hope is in demand, there is by no means a short supply. Not only is there more than enough grace, but it is sufficient even when you feel unworthy (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Who in your life needs to hear about the hope you have in Jesus Christ? Why is Jesus the answer for you? It’s not a trick question. Your story matters to God! That’s why He uses us to reach others. At Skyline Church, we believe that God has supernaturally and strategically positioned every one of us to share the “Good News” about Jesus. On average, we all have 8-15 people in our Oikos. “Oikos” is a Greek word in the Bible that means “relational network.”  It means to share the Good News with your friends, family members, grocery clerk, gym buddy, neighbor, etc.

These 8-15 people are the ones you come in contact with regularly that may not have put their trust in Jesus … yet. This is how the Kingdom of God is built.  It isn’t by standing on the corner with a megaphone and a sign yelling at people to “Turn or Burn.” Not only is that impersonal, but the one yelling can come off as a real jerk. The Bible doesn’t tell us to act like jerks. Rather, it tells us to be more like Jesus, which means loving people right where they are in life. I want to encourage you to invite them to Skyline Church this weekend and let them decide for themselves if God’s message is true that there’s no perfect people allowed. Because no matter where they’ve been or what they’ve done, they will be welcomed. Romans 15:7 says, So warmly welcome each other into the church, just as Christ has warmly welcomed you; then God will be glorified.”

Never forget, an invite can change a life. I’ll never forget my friend Mark inviting me to baseball chapel. My entire life began to change after that invitation. You just never know what the Holy Spirit might be whispering to people’s hearts when you come along and extend an invitation.

An Invite Can Change A Life

You may be thinking, “Pastor, they’re going to say no if I invite them to church.” And I’d say, that’s okay, invite them anyway. This world is full of difficulty and hardships and people have put their hope in a lot of things that haven’t lived up to their expectations. People are tired of being let down. While we know and have experienced that Jesus is the ONLY one that is WORTH putting our hope in, others are still coming around and it may take more time. Many times it takes more than one invitation for a person to say “yes.”  Whether you’re the first or the eleventh person to invite them, or somewhere in between … God isn’t done with them yet, and it’s only a matter of time before they say “YES!”  If they have a pulse, God still has a purpose for their life. Their story matters to God and it matters to us. We hope this weekend they say “yes.”  But don’t let a “no” discourage you into thinking they will never experience the blessings you have in your faith and salvation. God has something incredible planned for their life and you can be a part of that story by simply extending a welcoming invitation.   Because truly, an invite can change a life.