One Word

One word can change your life. Scripture tells us that words can set a fire (James 3:6), or words can heal (Proverbs 16:24). The Bible also says, “The tongue has the power of life and death…” (Proverbs 18:21).
That’s why I was very intentional about praying and asking God about a word to focus on in 2021 at Skyline Church. We serve a good God who cares for His children. He wants to steer us in the right direction and keep us from stumbling. He’s not a God of difficult discourse but of clarity. After much prayer, God has confirmed that we are going to set our thoughts, actions, and habits on the word, THRIVE, in 2021. I talked more about this word in my recent blog “Word Of The Year”.

I’m curious … have you ever chosen a word of the year? I want to encourage you to have a word to focus on this year. Words are very powerful!Our thoughts become words, our words become actions, and if our actions become habits, they determine who we become. Proverbs 23:7 says it like this, “As he thinks within himself, so he is” (KJV).Here are three easy steps to choosing a word of the year:

1. Ask: Mark 1:35 says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”And in James, it says, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.”
Take some time to pray with God and talk to Him about your needs. There IS something God wants to do through YOU this year! What is it?

2. Anticipate: When a word comes to mind, write it down! You may start with several words and over the course of a few days or weeks it becomes clearer and clearer which word it is. Anticipate three ways to keep yourself focused on this word throughout the year! What new habits will you need to make to keep your word of the year at the forefront of your mind?

One thing that helps me, is telling others about my word. It keeps me accountable and encourages me to stay focused. Share your excitement with others and invite them to pick a word too.

 3. Acknowledge: God has no limits when it comes to revealing this word to you. Everyone will have a different experience. Your word may not make sense right away, but as you pray and confirm it, make sure to acknowledge that God chose this word for a reason!

Isaiah 55:8-9 says, ““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.”

I’m curious to know what your word of the year is! Let me know what word you’ll be focusing on this year by filling out a Connection Card at SkylineChurch.org or commenting below! 

Three Kings Follow A Star

Have you taken down your Christmas lights yet? Me either! For many, the holiday season runs through January 6th, the 12th day of Christmas. If you’ve never celebrated Three King’s Day, this might be the year to start a new tradition! What I love about this holiday is the story behind it. This Bible story can be found in Matthew 1, where a group of incredibly intelligent men (aka kings) follow a star that leads them to Jesus Christ, the Ultimate King!

At Skyline Church, we also follow a star. We call it our North Star, and we’re constantly realigning ourselves to make sure we’re headed in the right direction. A North Star keeps you on track when things may seem dark and dim. When you feel like you’ve lost your way, your North Star affirms that you’re right where God wants you to be. When doubt creeps in, you can rest assured knowing you’re headed in the right direction. 

A North Star is an important aspect of church alignment. Can you imagine the wise men arguing over which star they ought to follow? That wouldn’t be very wise at all. Thus, we too must rally together and align ourselves to the same purpose. If everyone is doing their own thing, you can be sure that we won’t get very far. But, if we’re all working toward the same goal, focused on the same North Star, great things can be accomplished for God’s Kingdom!
You may be wondering, what is Skyline Church’s North Star? While you may not hear us call it the North Star every day, you’ve probably heard us say … we exist to help people find and follow Jesus seven days a week. THAT is our North Star!  

We emphasize three words in this phrase. Find. Follow. And Seven. 

We emphasize FIND because Jesus did.
In Luke 19:10, Jesus said, “I have come to seek and save the lost.” And in Luke 15:7 He states, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Jesus always emphasized reaching the lost. 

We also emphasize FOLLOW. 

Once people are found, we’re committed to teaching them the relevance of scripture to today’s generation. We find and follow, we reach and teach. Everyone needs a next step in their spiritual walk. It’s the only way to keep moving forward. We have an intentional process of discipleship we take people through to help them reach their potential in following Jesus.

Lastly, we emphasize SEVEN. 
We believe walking with Jesus is something we do seven days a week, not just on Sunday. God’s mercies are new every morning and He is always doing something new. His teachings are applicable to all aspects of our life and we hope to walk through it with you every day.  

As Three Kings day approaches, I’m reminded of our North Star. Just as the North Star led the wise men to the birthplace of Jesus, our North Star serves as a compass, leading us where God wants us to go. It’s a powerful tool to get us through our darkest nights. If you don’t have a North Star, we’d love for you to join us on the journey of helping people find a follow Jesus seven days a week. 

Word Of The Year

Whenever it came time to make a tough decision in 2020, which happened often, we came back to one word. Our word of the year, at Skyline Church, was Model. Whether it meant pivoting to online services, reopening our doors, or keeping our doors open, we have strived to exemplify a Model Church. 

Every year, through prayer and seeking the Lord, I choose a word for our church that will help us seek God’s will for our community and church family. While we didn’t know COVID was coming this year, God did! And it’s by His grace alone that we have had a firm footing in the journey of serving our community throughout the 2020 Pandemic. We continuously asked ourselves, what would a model church do. We have kept the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health of our community at the forefront of our decision making. In doing so, God’s church has flourished! Despite all the circumstances, hurdles, and challenges … Skyline Church has welcomed 665 NEW decisions for Jesus Christ … and counting! (If you were one of those, say hi below!) Every number has a name, every name has a story and every story matters to God.

We’re in awe of the work God has done through our church family. For us, becoming followers of Jesus is not just something we do on Easter and Christmas, or even just on Sundays. We exist to help others find and follow Jesus SEVEN days a week. That explains how we’ve seen more than a person a day making a decision to follow Jesus Christ in a year as daunting as 2020. 

Every year comes with its highs and lows, but this year stands out exponentially. History books will one day mark people, churches, businesses, and communities just trying to survive in 2020. That is why our word of the year for 2021 is … THRIVE! John 10:10 tells us that, “the thief” (satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but Jesus came that we may have abundant life! We’re believing in that promise FULLY for the year ahead. Faith in Jesus Christ is where we’re meant to thrive, not just survive. And though you may feel like you are just trying to stay afloat and make it through this year, God’s church is standing firm FOR and WITH you. We’re relentlessly dedicated to sharing the truth and relevance of God’s Word for YOUR life! 

No matter what 2021 brings, we’re committed to sharing God’s truth with a generation that needs hope to cope. We plan on thriving in the process, not just skating by. So invite your neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family … In the New Testament original language of Greek, those people in your relational network are known as your Oikos. Invite them all! We want everyone to experience God’s goodness, promises, and faithfulness at new levels of authenticity. This is the year for us to rise and THRIVE! You may feel like you don’t have it all together, and that’s okay! No perfect people allowed here! We’re all figuring it out together. This next year will encapsulate new heights, unexplored possibilities, and untapped inspiration. Our word, THRIVE, is going to catapult us into a prosperous year of growth and worship. We believe it! Do you see it?

God is FOR you

Life struggles are inevitable. And as the year 2020 comes to a close, challenges continue to emerge at new levels of difficulty every day. You’re not alone in asking God to deliver you from the troubles that have been making regular appearances in your life. 

This year, many of you have planted a mustard seed of faith, been spiritually tested, clung on to hope for dear life, or even dug deeper into your Bible devotional time. Does it feel like you’ve stepped out in faith and are waiting for God to part the Red Sea? I know what it’s like to be on the brink of disaster, trusting God to come through. But getting a miracle like the parting of the Red Sea is not the only way God can deliver you from your burdens. In fact, I believe the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, found in Exodus 14, is just one of three common methods God uses to liberate His people.

Here are two more ways that God may be redeeming your current situation …

  1. Inner Change: God may very well be allowing the circumstances in your life to draw you closer to Him and build your faith. There are certainly times when God uses the harsh circumstances in our lives as an opportunity to work on our character. In your quiet time, is God giving you a new vision, attitude, or perspective? Be encouraged that God WILL help you navigate the situation that you find yourself in. While the circumstances may not be changing, He may be changing YOU. Personal deliverance is coming and available when we let God move in us, and not just around us. 
  2. The Promise of Heaven: The ultimate deliverance is salvation through Jesus Christ! While God has not promised to solve ALL of our problems the way we think they ought to be solved, He has provided a way for us to be reunited with Him. This time of year we celebrate the coming of our Savior, Jesus. God may very well be giving you a deeper appreciation of His gift of salvation through Jesus’ coming, death, and resurrection. In heaven, there will be NO pain, NO sorrow, NO heartache, NO lockdowns, and NO suffering, anymore! 

For those of you who have been walking the faith journey for a while, you can look back and recognize the seasons that God has parted the Red Sea, produced Inner Change, AND/OR reminded you to look forward to the ultimate gift of heaven. While stepping out in faith is a great act of obedience, maybe God isn’t calling you into the sea right now. Spend some time asking God if He is redeeming your situation in a different method than you expected. 

Some of you are new to building a strong faith and trusting Jesus. The year 2020 may have presented some “stones of remembrance” for you like in Joshua 4:1-7. I want to encourage you to write down any trying circumstances you’re going through. In time you will have personal evidence to look back on, that proves that God got you through some really difficult times. 

Whether you’ve been on the Christian journey for a day, weeks, months, years, or decades, our God is FOR YOU. Our God is a redemptive God that has plans to prosper us! We can see His character in Joel 2:25-32, that He is a good God that wants to restore the years taken from us, and instead give us satisfaction. 

While the world is hoping for the best, we can rest in the fact that Jesus is our best hope!

Keep Praying!

What have YOU been praying for in this season? Every week, I sit down to pray with many others at our church to pray over our people and their prayer requests. One prayer request that is very common comes from people looking to God for wisdom and direction. 

As you grow in your spiritual walk, over time you will become more and more certain of when a thought is either yours, from God, or from Satan. That’s right, Satan throws his two cents in there too! Differentiating God’s and Satan’s voice is easier than you think!

When the enemy tries to talk to you, it’s called temptation.
When God talks to you, it’s called inspiration. 

That leave’s our voice in the mix. And I don’t know about you, but sometimes I mix up my desires and God’s will. A lot of people do this because we want to do what we want to do, and we hope God agrees with it. The better way to go about discerning between God’s voice and our own voice is to simply ask, “God, what do you want me to do?” 

Now it’s not a big deal if you’re just trying to figure out where to eat after service. But, it’s an issue if you’re talking about who you’re going to marry, a career change, or a big move. We can trust that God has our best interests in mind, and He wants to speak to us!

Here are three ways you can double-check to see if you’re on track to hearing God clearly!

  1. Does it agree with the Bible? Your situation is not a surprise to God. He’s known it and He’s seen it before. He’s given us His Word to help us line up truth against lies. It says in Luke 21:33, that “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away.” God will never give you an idea or tell you to do something that contradicts His Word.
     
    When you’re wondering if a thought or idea is from God, the best place to start is always His Word. It is the primary way He has chosen to communicate with us. Many people tend to use it as a last resort, your prayer life will take on new meaning when you go to the Bible first.
  2. Will it help my growth as a Christian? The reality is that we have a ton of freedom in Christ! But in that freedom, we want to be growing in a direction that makes us more like Jesus Christ. Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 6:12.

    You say, “I am allowed to do anything” – but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.

    If you’re struggling with a decision that doesn’t go against the Bible but it may not be helpful to your walk with Jesus Christ it’s important to check it up against this test.  Seek God’s wisdom even for something that isn’t bad for you … but may not be wise either. 
  3. The Jerk Test. Ideas from God don’t cause people to act like jerks. So, if someone ever tells you that “God told them to do this or that ” and they’re acting like a complete jerk, then you know that idea did not come from God. God isn’t going to tell you to do something if it makes you act like a jerk. There are a lot of things going on in our world that people blame on God, yet Scripture reminds us in Proverbs 19:3

People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD.” Don’t use the “God told me” card and then act the opposite of Jesus Christ.

I want to encourage you to continue praying! Continue reaching out to your small group, mentors, and church family. I’m certain that God wants to direct, guide, and show you what He has for you in this life. He’s got plans for you even if we in San Diego are in the purple tier, red tier, or have torn down the tiers, God has a plan and He will come through for you. Keep praying, keep hoping, keep on keeping on!

I want to continue praying for you too. Send your prayer requests by filling out a Connection Card at SkylineChurch.org. Or download our APP and send in your request there. AND, if you believe God has answered your prayers and given you the wisdom to make a decision, we want to celebrate with you! Fill out the same connection card and tell us about your Praise Reports! 

God bless you, friend! May God give you wisdom as you prayerfully seek to be more like Jesus Christ.