MERRY CHRISTMAS! At Skyline Church it has been such a joy to experience Christmas with you this December at our Christmas Tree Lighting events, in worship, daily devotionals, and during services on Sunday. We’ve been talking about the Christmas story and how it applies to us today. Many of you may be familiar with this story but maybe you do not know how to apply it to your life. Every year, we revisit the historical story of Jesus’ birth so that it will become so deeply rooted in us that it transforms us. Because, it’s not just a story, it’s a story with a purpose. It has a life changing message for anyone who will apply it. So, this year we have been focused on the application of the Christmas story because we truly want you to Experience Christmas.
Here are three things the angels said to the shepherds for us to focus on this Christmas season:
1. Do Not Fear:
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid.”
For every day of the year, there is a verse in the Bible that addresses this idea of fear. It’s almost like God knew how easily we would be tempted to hear. We talked about this a lot in our Faith Over Fear sermon series. So let me ask you, what are you worried about this Christmas season? Are you worried about bills For every day of the year, there is a verse in the Bible that addresses this idea of fear. It’s as if God knew how easily we would be tempted to fear, hmmmm 🙂 We talked about this a lot in our Faith Over Fear sermon series. So let me ask you, what are you worried about this Christmas season? Are you worried about bills … the kids … your health … Omicron, Dexicron, Chevron … or any other variant that comes out next? The more you believe in what God is capable of, the less fear can come in! Do. Not. Fear.
2. Renew my faith:
“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
The good news keeps getting better and better because the bad news just gets worse and worse. Just take a look at the media. There is a large contrast from what you get from the rest of the world and what you get from Skyline Church. Good news is that you matter to God. He knows the good the bad and the ugly and he still loves you!
Where are you in your relationship to the Lord? As we approach Christmas, we should be reflecting on the year and asking ourselves if we are closer to God this year than we were last year. Does the Christmas story sound better and better each year? Or does it seem less and less significant each year? When we’re growing in our relationship with the Lord, this story should cause greater and greater joy!
3. Receive Forgiveness
“Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born for you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”
God didn’t sent us a salesman. It says He sent us a Savior. He sent us a Savior because we needed one! Why?… We need a Savior because Heaven is a perfect place where only perfect people are allowed. As you know, at Skyline Church, no perfect people are allowed here. Do you see the dilemma? Some of us are grading ourselves on a curve––thinking, I’m not as bad as that guy. But no one except Jesus has lived a perfect life. He is the only One who can get you and me into heaven (John 14:6). The angel brought great news “… for all the people.” We’re a church for imperfect people, because all people need to know about the one person who can get them into heaven. Jesus.
Maybe you’ve seen the famous John 3:16 verse on a bumper sticker or sports attire, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” But verse 17 is just as important as 16. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” God says He came to give forgiveness. This presents a huge opportunity for you and for me to restore our relationship with Him. And maybe you missed our Relationship Rehab series, and Jesus isn’t the only relationship in your life that needs reconciliation.
I gave this challenge this Sunday and I want to remind you, to give someone forgiveness this Christmas. That can be your gift to God. Because He wants the relationships in your life to be reconciled. Especially with your family.
How do you beat anxiety, depression, coronavirus variants (omicron…really? come on!) and the negative news we get every day from the lamestream media?
The attitude of gratitude is a powerful pill against viruses of all kinds.
Thanksgiving is more than a one-time holiday during the year. Biblically, we’re to give thanks consistently to the Lord. One verse that I repeatedly come back to is Psalm 107:1. “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His faithful love endures forever!” You cannot go very far in Scripture without being reminded of the importance of being appreciative. Being grateful is seeing things from a heavenly perspective. And as we approach the Christmas season, I want to encourage you to keep the heart of gratitude going strong into next year no matter how many variants or negative news viruses attack us next year.
During Thanksgiving, you likely gave thanks for what you have or what God has done for you throughout 2021. But today, I want to encourage you to give thanks for what God is doing right now that you may not be aware of. The ultimate form of faith is thanking God in advance for what you’re asking Him to do in the future. If you wait until after it happens, that’s not faith––that’s gratitude. While it is necessary and appropriate to thank God for what He has done, faith is thanking God in advance, trusting that He’s working right now as you wait for the answer to your prayer.
Expect God To Move
In Romans 4:20-21 it says, “Yet Abraham did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.” Abraham thanked God before it happened!
Let me ask you, in the situation that you are in right now, what are you expecting God to do? We’re all in a situation of some kind. Some of us aren’t expecting God to do anything. The Bible says, “According to your faith let it be done for you” (Matthew 9:29).Maybe God gave you a dream and when you went after it, you experienced delays and difficulties. That’s to be expected. But now you’re at a dead-end and you’re discouraged.
Keep The Faith
Your next step is to keep the faith … expect God to move because being grateful displays our trust in the Lord. He may have a different answer than the one you are expecting. Hebrews 11:39-40 tells us that, “…yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us… sometimes the answer we thought we needed does not come because God has something better in mind.
Remember what God can do because He can do ANYTHING (Ephesians 3:20). Rely on Scripture. Memorize it! Here is one I’ve spent a considerable amount of time meditating on, “… but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
With a grateful heart, make your requests known to God and you can have a peace like no other that He WILL move. It’s a peace that cannot be explained, only experienced once you’ve stepped into that faith.
I have some God-sized dreams when I think of the future of Skyline Church. What is your God-sized dream? Dream big! And when you hit that dead-end, keep the faith and expect God to move mountains.
I want to make sure you know, as a parent, that there are options for you as you consider taking your kids out of public school. A website I’ve mentioned at church is www.publicschoolexit.com. This website gives you the steps, resources, and other options whether you’re considering or already have taken your kids out of public school.
It’s no secret our public-school systems are failing us as parents. The reality is when we turn the education of our kids over to the Government, this is what we get. The curriculum is total Anti-God, Anti-Church, Anti- Male and Female, Anti-American, and Anti-Human Being. It is straight socialism. Not just a hint of socialism, but an all-out assault on foundational American values.
At Skyline Church we have many Christians that are teachers and administrators in the public school system. They are on the frontlines fighting the good fight and trying to be lights in dark places. However, this latest wave of CRT and Transgender curriculum is pushing these and other teachers and administrators over the edge. We want you to know, as a public-school teacher or administrator, we are praying for you. I know many of you are trying to decide what to do at this point.
As parents, if you are wondering what to do and what your options are, we are having a meeting at Skyline Church Rancho San Diego, Wednesday night November 3 beginning at 6:30PM in the auditorium to discuss your options.
Legal counsel, Pacific Justice Institute will be there to give you information on your legal options. We will have a panel of experts, parents, and school administrators taking questions. You will be given resources to equip you to make the best decision in the best interests of your family.
We continue to explore all options when it comes to a future Skyline Academy where our church can be the epicenter of strong Christian and American education!
See you tomorrow night at 6:30pm at the Skyline Church Auditorium in Rancho San Diego. 11330 Campo Rd. La Mesa, CA. 91941.
Remember, we truly believe, if you win the kids, you win the community. If you lose the kids, you’ve lost the future. We’re going to do everything we can to win the kids!
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).
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.“
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’.
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!
Inconsistency is one of the most frustrating things about people and life in general. I was driving on the freeway the other day and I was behind a car in the fast lane (surprisingly it was not a Prius) that had no one in front of them and was going 75mph or so. This was great until they slowed down to 60 then sped up to 70, then down to 55, then up to 75, then down, and this continued for several minutes as I was boxed in with cars behind me and on my right. I could do nothing about the inconsistent vehicle in front of me.
It became frustrating not because the person was driving 75 in the fast lane or even 70, the frustration came when they would slow down and then all of the sudden speed up and the line of cars behind them would get up to speed only to have to put on the brakes again because of the sudden slow down. As a driver in the fast lane or a person in general, we value consistency. We need some element of predictability to get where we’re going in life.
Inconsistency is what we’ve been dealing with as people, especially in California, since 15 Days to Slow the Spread has become 15 months to keep the people under the thumb of an increasingly socialistic governmental rule. Let’s take a look at just some of the many inconsistencies that have cropped up over the past 15 months or so. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Links are provided for all articles mentioned.
When we first started hearing about Covid there was news that if it becomes a national emergency we would be short of the needed resources to effectively manage the virus. It all started with the alarming news that Americans would not have enough respirators. You may recall that in March of 2020 we were told we must shut everything down because there is a dire respirator shortage in America. It was predicted that hundreds of thousands of people would flood the hospitals with Covid and not survive due to the respirator shortage. See article here from April of 2020.
The inconsistency baffled us as the ventilator shortage never materialized. Rather quickly we were told we were actually in good shape with ventilators. We expected the shutdown to be over and things would begin to get back to normal. But hold on, it wasn’t ventilators, it was hospital’s becoming overwhelmed. Cue the Mercy Ship and Comfort Ship arriving in New York and Los Angeles and Christian organization Samaritan’s Purse pop up hospital in Central Park, New York with the capacity to handle thousands of critical Covid patients. Hold on… neither the ships nor Samaritan’s Purse were needed.
More inconsistencies came to the surface. Frustrations mounted as more and more people were losing their jobs and businesses around what seemed, at the time, to amount to a typical flu season. Churches, schools, gyms, shopping centers, sports, and on and on were shut down. People were frustrated and confused as the predicted numbers were not materializing. Then, mandates for us “common folk” were not being followed by those who were forcing the mandates on us.
The Governor stood in front of cameras and boldly proclaimed a 10% pay cut for all California State workers due to the pandemic. Stating that many people in California were out of work due to the lockdowns and that he is “just like them” and needs to show solidarity. He stated it “starts with me” and claimed he would be the first to take the pay cut. However, it turns out he did not take the pay cut. Inconsistent again. He mandated businesses be closed, yet his own business (a winery) remained open into July. Inconsistent again.
In California we were told we could not send our kids to school, yet our Governor decided it was appropriate to send his kids to school. Apparently, it was safe for his kids but not for ours. He told California parents that he was “like them” living through “Zoom school” yet he had been secretively sending his kids to in person learning for months. The inconsistency was evident.
We were told not to go to restaurants and that restaurants were closed, even to outside dining for long periods of time. Yet, the inconsistency reared its ugly head again as the Governor decided it was a good time to spend taxpayer’s money inside a restaurant with over six different family households and not even go through the exercise of wearing a mask. Inconsistent again. I think former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer actually said it best,
“His kids can learn in person. But yours can’t,” Faulconer tweeted. “He can celebrate birthday parties. But you can’t. He can dine on a $350 meal at one of California’s fanciest restaurants during the worst recession in generations. But you definitely can’t. Can you believe this? I can’t.”
Or, speaking of inconsistency, let’s take Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. An aunt of Newsom’s through marriage, she told everyone it was not safe for salons to be open. Yet, as the lockdowns continued, she contacted her salon and made sure they would usher her in where she could receive special treatment. Nancy’s Hair Day Apparently, it was safe for the Governor and the Speaker of the House to live in normalcy and go to restaurants and hair salons but for the rest of us, we needed to stay masked and stay home and just obey what the government tells you. The inconsistency of what was being said and what was being seen was and continues to be the cause of mounting frustration.
We were told to “follow the science” and keep your distance and mask up. Yet, right away Dr. Fauci told America, “Masks don’t help against viral agents like Covid.” Later he flip flopped, and he continued to flip flop. As political pressure mounted on him, he changed his tune. We were initially told to social distance six feet, then three feet became the safe distance, then back to six …..Again, inconsistent.
We were told that over 2 million people would likely die from Covid. Yet, when digging into the “science” we saw that every kind of death you can imagine was being labeled “Covid.” As I’ve already written about (see blog Face the Facts here), hospitals were paid more for Covid deaths than other deaths so there was an incentive in place to name deaths “Covid.” While there are still too many deaths listed (500,000+) it has never been near 2 million thankfully. The inconsistent science was and is driving people mad.
Even with the Covid deaths listed falsely (the CDC website actually says “confirmed” or “presumed.”) How can it be presumed? It either was or was not due to Covid. They have incredibly inaccurate PCR tests for Covid. Again, this is one of the ways the numbers were and are inflated. The whole procedure for naming a Covid death was and is still wrong.
Let’s take a look at the current science. As of May 11, 2021 the United States has 596,874 Covid deaths. The US has a current population of 332,664,383 million people. That equals a death rate of less than 0.017%. The number is calculated since the beginning of data collection in 2019. So, we are nearing two years of Covid data collection. If we were to cut that number in half by years, we would see about a 0.009% death rate. To put that in perspective, according to the CDC about 655,000 Americans die from heart disease every year. That is a death rate of .0019%. that is higher than Covid…every year. While that is still tragic, it puts it in perspective of what has really been happening in our country.
We don’t shut everything down because of heart disease. We don’t stop eating, stop drinking, stop going to baseball games that serve hot dogs high in saturated fat and nitrates, we don’t stop living because heart disease is the #1 killer in America. We don’t shut everything down because people die of the flu or other viruses. We don’t lock people down because over 36,000 people die ever year in car accidents. We don’t keep people from living their lives because of a 0.009% chance (with inflated numbers) of dying from Covid…Except, that is EXACTLY what our government has done.
Included in the inconsistencies of the scientific jargon that is out there is the fact that there is prophylaxis that actually work against Covid. And, if someone is symptomatic there are proven treatments that work against Covid. Why then the vaccine? More on that later…
Churches, Pastors and Christians preach and live by faith. “God is bigger than the virus,” yet when their people tried to show up for church, they saw locked doors, Covid signs, and empty churches.
To be clear, in the beginning, it was wise to close down. Nobody knew what this Covid thing was or would be. However, it did not take long to figure out the inconsistent messaging coming from the governmental leaders to realize, this Covid thing is not what it is purported to be. A virus yes, but one that should cause churches, schools, and businesses to shut down, NO.
Now, as I talk with pastors everywhere, it is clear, those that decided to remain closed for the longest periods of time are suffering the most now. We will see how this plays out over time, but initially these are the results of my informal survey. Many churches did not open until more than a year after initially closing. On average, those that remained closed and have now just recently opened are seeing about a 30% return rate. That means if the church was running 1,000 in attendance pre-covid they are seeing about 300 people now.
Those that opened early on and remained open are seeing an incredible rate of growth, some even doubling their attendance from pre-covid numbers. Why are many of the churches that remained closed seeing such a low return rate? Because of the inconsistent messaging.
As I talk with people who have changed churches the number one reason they changed is because their church remained closed week after week and month after month. At the end of the day, they could not reconcile how some churches were open and safe and their church decided to remain closed. It was hard for many churchgoers to comprehend that for years they were taught to live in faith over fear, but when it came down to it, their church leadership decided to live in fear over faith. They just could not identify with that kind of a church any longer.
People want to be safe, yes, but they also want to see pastors and leaders living out their faith in front of them. Shepherds are to lead by example. For those that defied the governmental orders (many using the rallying cry to follow “Christ not Caesar”) they are currently reaping the benefits of that decision with record numbers of salvations, baptisms and attendance.
I’ve previously written about the vaccine (Vaccine Yes or No?). The inconsistent messaging coming from governmental leaders continues to confuse. Does the vaccine work or not? The answer is a resounding…possibly. However, there are also variants to the Covid virus. Not only that but people that have been vaccinated are asked to continue to wear masks and social distance. Does the vaccine work or not? … the answer continues to be … maybe. Dr. Fauci said the risk is very small of contracting Covid after being vaccinated but you should continue to wear a mask and social distance. … because the vaccine works? Or wait, because it doesn’t work? I’m confused … it’s inconsistent messaging … again.
Sounds a lot like how every year there are variants to the flu virus. They say even if you get the covid vaccine you’ll need “booster” vaccine shots or entirely different covid vaccine shots every year. Wait, don’t they suggest you get the flu shot every year because there are variant flu strains each and every year? This couldn’t possibly be an attempt to keep people vaccine dependent, could it?
To be clear, I am not against all vaccines for all reasons. There have been some beneficial vaccines over the years. Smallpox, polio and diphtheria vaccines, just to name a few, have given people the opportunity to live life over succumbing to disease.
My issue is with the mandating of the vaccine. My issue is with the talk of vaccine passports which really amount to discrimination against healthy people. Not only healthy people but people in general who do not think it is a good idea to jab experimental mRNA into their bloodstreams. This should be a choice. This should be a free will choice in America where our freedom should still matter.
There is no way an experimental vaccine, or any vaccine for that matter, should ever be mandated on the human race. You should not be forced to take a vaccine, especially not in America. I would expect this kind of rhetoric coming from China. They have plenty of medical mandates that leave their people no choice but to conform. But this is America where freedom is supposed to reign. However, the truth is our freedoms have been and continue to be reined in.
I continue to pray over more people each week at church who have had bad reactions to the vaccine and are suffering and are scared. At this point, the risks far outweigh the benefits in my opinion.
Control not Covid
But here’s the reality, it’s not about Covid, is it? The Covid virus is certainly an issue in terms of its virulence and its ramifications on society long term. However, as the lockdowns and mandates unnecessarily continue, it becomes clearer and clearer that it is and has been about control. We have an entire governmental system that has been churning toward socialism for some time now. These mandates, including the mask mandates (Un-Masked) are about controlling your home, your business, your education, your church, your movements, your money, your future, and your life. Make no mistake, as more and more people blindly conform, we will continue to lose our way as Americans. But that is a blog for another time.
Here’s my concern moving forward. Just like there is no accountability for that car in front of me as they finally moved over and exited (they will simply do it again at the next opportunity), there will be no accountability for the way our governmental leaders inconsistently led our state and country. They will simply do it again at the next opportunity.
An over 8,000 percent increase ( 8,000% Increase) in suicide hotline calls in California due to the lockdowns should never be shoved under the rug. There must be accountability for these leaders that not only ignored the fact that there was an 8,000 percent increase but have ignored the fact that many Californians took their own lives because of the lockdown policies. We simply cannot stand by and allow politics to matter more than people.
I am glad there may be some accountability coming for the California Governor. The recall measure has passed by validating over 1.7 million signatures, which exceeds the minimum amount needed by more than 500,000. Now, we wait for a date to vote. A date to finally let our voices be heard. A day where maybe, just maybe, the inconsistencies will come to an end.
My guess is that you are even more frustrated with the inconsistencies of the last 15 months than I am following a car in the fast lane that can’t decide between 60 and 75mph. It’s time for the governmental mandates and control measures to move over into the slow lane. Better yet, they need to take the next offramp.