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!
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! 🙂
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!
Do you have a game plan for spiritual growth? I guarantee your opponent has a game plan to defeat you, and it isn’t pretty. There was a big game on February 13, and it’s really no surprise that the best team won. I mean, I predicted this before the game that there was no way that the Cincinnati Kitty Cats could win. As you all know, cats are Satan’s spawn. And Satan never wins! Amen? (ok, just kiddin’ cat people, I have heard there are some good cats out there, I have just never seen them).
Spiritual Super Bowl
In order to be rooted in Christ, you need to know areas of weakness in your life that can uproot your faith. This is so crucial to our walk with Christ that I’ve written a book on it. We need to be aware of the field we’re on. Until we’re in heaven, our field is a spiritual battleground that is much more intense than any Super Bowl.
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
In addition, 2 Corinthians 2:11 warns us to not let the enemy outsmart us with his evil schemes. And we know that God’s opponent comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). But here’s the thing … Satan can’t force you to do anything. But he can sure try to devise ways to tempt you with the purpose of defeating you.
Temptation is not an event, it’s a process. If you don’t do anything to keep the weeds of temptation off the field of your life, weeds will just naturally sprout right up. We need to be intentional about tending our crop to keep the weeds, beetles, and bugs out. And let me be clear, asking God to forgive our sins one time, only to immediately return to the offense is not enough to keep tomorrow’s weeds from sprouting. We need to continually choose to be on Christ’s team, which means confess (agree with God that I was wrong) and repent (stop doing the action), and that leads to a cultivation of our spiritual growth every day. I’m not talking about perfection, but I am talking about making progress.
If we’re going to prevent the enemy from infiltrating our lives, we need to know the difference between difficulties and temptations.
Difficulties: Can be designed by God to help us grow.
Temptations: Designed by Satan to pull us away from God.
We have to be intentional about cultivating a life that produces a healthy mind and focus in on God’s plan for our lives. We do that by reading His Word and not flirting with evil desires.
Satan starts with the natural desires within you. What we think, becomes what we say, and what we say becomes what we do. A lot of times, we think that temptation is out there, but the truth is that it’s in you. If you don’t have a desire for something, you won’t be tempted. For example, I’ve never been tempted to smoke. I don’t like the smell. It’s that simple for me. Sometimes a Christian will ask me if they’re going to Hell for smoking cigarettes. I always say NO … smoking cigarettes will not send you to Hell… it’ll just make you smell like you’ve been there. The things that tempt me may not be an issue for you, and the things that tempt you may not be an issue for me.
Here’s the thing with desires though; whether it’s drinking, food, sex, sleep, or any other natural desire, the enemy will tempt you to take it to the extreme. Oftentimes, temptation is an attempt to fulfill a legitimate desire in an illegitimate way.
Doubt & Deception
Temptation goes all the way to the Garden of Eden when Satan said, “Did God really say _______.” The enemy’s plan is to get you to doubt God’s Word, God’s love for you, God’s plan for you, and that God knows better what will make you happy in life.
God’s opponent always replaces God’s truth with lies. The enemy uses the same old strategy again and again. And if he achieves his goal of deceiving us, it always leads to disobedience against God. Once we find ourselves in this scenario, we need to realize that we’ve signed with the wrong team. And the only way back is to confess, repent, and stop it. Sadly, many people are too prideful and tend to justify their actions, which ultimately leads to defeat.
Have you ever heard of National Signing Day? This actually just recently took place on February 2nd. Signing Day is when young High School athletes decide which college they’re going to attend and play their sport. Typically, they’re sitting behind a table with several hats on it. After sharing some words, they make a public profession of faith to a university by putting on a hat claiming loyalty to that University team. Sunday February 13, was National Signing Day for 120 people at Skyline Church. That’s a BIG deal! Every one of those people put on what I call the Team Colors. They got baptized and publicly claimed loyalty to Team Jesus.
Here’s the thing, you have free will. It’s a gift from God! We get to choose to do whatever we want in life. We can fall for temptations, give in to urges, and completely ignore God’s plan for our lives. But we do not get to choose the consequences after we’ve made our free-will decision. Do you know what team you’re on? Have you professed your allegiance to Jesus? And are you continually cultivating your faith every day by making progress in reading and feeding your mind with the truth of God’s Word?
Spiritual Super Bowl
If you could know your opponent’s game plan, you could have an incredible advantage. Why would anyone join the losing team? Christ’s opponent is sneaky, crafty, and devious. We need to be aware of his schemes so that we can grow deeper and deeper roots in our faith in Jesus Christ. If you don’t have a Game Plan for Spiritual Growth, I would encourage you to get one! At Skyline Church, I’ve created seven classes that will transform your spiritual life … I call it Your Game Plan for Growth.
Let me know if you’re interested and we’ll get you situated on the winning team.
Every year I pray and go through a process for a Word of the Year for our church for the coming year. For 2021 God gave me the word THRIVE. In all the chaos of the season when people were suffering and reeling from Covid and all the governmental mandates and division that came from it, people were just trying to survive in 2020. We decided that wasn’t good enough, and God made it clear that we are to Thrive. We have certainly experienced a thriving at Skyline Church. Over 1,176 decisions for Christ, 233 baptisms, over 15,000 people at Christmas nights––we’re seeing God move, and Skyline is thriving with more and more people! Over the last several months as I’ve asked the Lord for the word of the year for 2022, it became clearer and clearer that Rooted is the word for Skyline Church.
2022 Word Of The Year: Rooted
Def: To establish deeply and firmly
I believe the main reason God gave me this word is because we have so many people that have made a decision for Jesus but are not connected any more than a Sunday service. Pre-covid the national average for church attendance was 1.3 times a month. This is someone who claims to be a Christian and claims a home church! There’s no way to establish a deep and firm root base at 1.3x a month.
Rooted In Scripture
At Skyline Church, we’re not interested in building a crowd. That’s where it starts for sure, and of course we want to see crowds of people saying YES to Jesus. But we don’t just want a Sunday event, we want a Sunday fellowship! We want to truly help people get rooted in their faith, rooted in the church, and rooted in our community.
We have to disciple people and show them how to live out the process. Colossians 2:6-7, “And now, just as you (1) accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must (2) continue to follow him. (3) Let your roots grow down into him, and (4) let your lives be built on him. (Result: 5) Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and (6) you will overflow with thankfulness” (Emphasis mine).
We see the process stated above in Col. 2:6-7. It all starts with a decision for Christ. But then, our work really begins. We’ve got to help them get connected and rooted in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have to teach them how to build their lives on Him. Only then, will their faith grow strong in the truth they are taught and that will cause them to overflow with thankfulness.
Are You Rooted?
I’m asking you to think through what rooted means in your walk with Christ. How can you get more rooted and how can you help others get more rooted (more connected) in 2022? Do you need to root yourself, your children, and your family? While we’ll always be focused on our Oikos, this year Skyline will be even more intentionally focused on helping people grow deeper roots whether they are brand new to the faith or have been a Christian for many years.
The first teaching series of the year will be called Rootedand it begins this Sunday January 9. We will look at key biblical practices that help people get rooted in the faith. Join us this Sunday at Skyline Church in Rancho San Diego, Lakeside, Kansas, or Online.
This is going to be a GREAT YEAR as we see more and more people establishing deep and firm roots in their faith!
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.
September 2, 1997 was a big day for me and my friend Dukes Knutsen. We were both Christians and Dukes was our local Fellowship of Christian Athletes leader in Duluth, Minnesota when I was playing Independent League baseball for the Duluth Superior Dukes of the Northern League. While we had both been Christians for years at that time, neither one of us had been baptized.
We decided to do a study of the WHY behind baptism. We realized it is not something that is salvific, in other words, it was not a prerequisite to being saved and going to Heaven. However, there was something more, it is certainly emphasized in Scripture and especially in the Great Commission. As we studied, it became apparent that baptism in Scripture was the beginning of something more. It was both a demarcater of something that had taken place, namely salvation, but it was also the beginning of something else.
Baptism is an outward sign of something that has taken place on the inside of an individual. It is a moment where we put our priority on our obedience to Jesus Christ and obeying His command to be baptized and follow Him no matter what. Whether we do this in front of the whole church or only in front the person baptizing us (Acts 8:26-40), it has the same meaning in Scripture. It is an identification of whose team we are on. It is as if we are putting on the jersey of Jesus Christ’s team. We are no longer a free-agent, we have signed with our team and made it public.
Island Lake in Duluth was our place of baptism. Although the weather outside was at a comfortable temperature, the lake felt as though it was mid-December. I believe it was in that moment of commitment in that freezing cold lake, that my future in ministry was cauterized. It was a time where I made a decision, that no matter what was to come, I would follow Christ. No matter what difficult paths may lie ahead, I would follow Christ. No matter what my future may hold, I was, at that point confident of who held my future.
The Lord has been so good to both Dukes and I. Dukes remained in Duluth for years until heading to Florida full time and ministering to people from inmates in county prisons to Major and Minor League baseball players on the Rays and Twins among other teams. I’ve been so thankful to be able to preach the Word and minister to people through being a local church pastor. We’ve both seen lives changed and God do special works in people’s lives. And I truly believe, God’s greatest works are still ahead in our lives, but I am not sure we would have seen all God has done, had we not committed through our decision to be baptized.
Every year on our baptism date, we send each other a note. A note to relive that moment, and to remember that decision, that commitment to follow Christ, no matter what.
What about you? Have you been baptized? I want to encourage you, think it through, process it, study it, the decision certainly is not about your future in Heaven, as that is already sealed with your decision to accept Christ as your Savior. While it does not have to do with your place in Heaven, I believe it has a lot to do with your place on Earth.