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.
There’s a lot of confusion, symbolism, and even chronology in the book of Revelation. If you’ve been in church very long, you probably haven’t heard a message on this book of the Bible. It’s a difficult subject that if not approached systematically can lead to more confusion than understanding. Over the past couple months, I’ve been going through a series on the “End Times” called, Time Out! at Skyline Church. We’ve talked about the Signs of the end of the world which can be described as “birth pains” across the earth, contracting more frequently over time with wars, disease, and natural disasters. We’ve tackled the conversation of the Rapture, the instantaneous act of God when Christians will be “caught up” to heaven without dying. Following the Rapture is the a hellish time on earth known as the Tribulation.
We’ve done some deep diving on the Tribulation and looked at a man that will rise to power during the 7-year period of Hell on Earth, the Bible calls the Antichrist. We also talked about the mark he will force everyone to take in order to be able to buy and sell. It will be a universal mark to show you “care.” It will be a mark on either the right hand or the forehead that shows you “check out” ok.
We talked about Armageddon, what it means, and where and when it will be. Then, last week we talked about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Today, I want to focus in on a mysterious group of people who are also present after the Rapture, and make a tremendous impact for Christ during the Tribulation.
Let’s focus on this VERY important group of people. When you read the book of Revelation, you’ll come across this group (starting in Revelation 7). They will be “Billy Graham” types on evangelistic steroids! This group is called … The 144,000. God is going to use them during the Tribulation to lead (as Revelation says) COUNTLESS people to Jesus Christ! If you’ve heard about this group before, it was probably at your front door with a Jehovah’s Witness. They talk about The 144,000 ALL the time. However, they misuse the term. Their Bible actually looks like ours, but they have taken A LOT of scripture out of it; especially descriptions of this mysterious group!
This group will not be Jehovah’s Witnesses. Did you know, in 1935, Judge Rutherford (then president of The Watchtower Society, aka The Jehovah’s Witness organization), announced that the full number of Jehovah’s Witnesses had reached 144,000 and that everyone else moving forward will NOT go to Heaven, BUT will have to live on earth for eternity? THIS is biblical interpretation AT ITS WORST!
So, who are these people? It’s also important to note that The 144,000 are not “the church.” Remember that the Rapture has already happened and Christians are already in Heaven. The 144,000 will be made up of 12,000 people from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. God still has a plan for Israel. He promised it in the Old Testament and reaffirmed it in the New Testament. It was predicted in the Bible that God would scatter the Jews, but then He would regather them. Since 1948, more and more Jews have been returning home to Jerusalem. Israel’s population is increasing exponentially! It’s another “sign” that the End of the World is approaching. These 144,000 people will be Jewish Christian Evangelists that will come to Jesus Christ DURING the Tribulation. They’ll come to believe in the sacrifice, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. You may be wondering, how will this group come to know Jesus if all the Christians have been raptured? I have a couple of theories on this that I believe may be pretty accurate …
1. There will be a lot of Bibles left behind! 2. There’s going to be a lot of videos, sermons, Christian books, and Christian music left behind. 3. Here’s the BIG one! There’s going to be a lot of unsaved pastors and church members that will be left behind who hadn’t fully given their lives to Christ. And God is going to say. “I never knew you.”
Imagine Pastors who have been preaching all this time and finally realize they’ve been living a lukewarm non-existent Christian life. Yet, many of their colleagues, friends, congregation, and family were raptured in a blink of an eye. Because of THAT realization, they will then truly believe in the sacrifice, death, burial, AND resurrection of Jesus Christ and they will be on fire for Him!
Back to our mysterious group …
The 144,000 will be like 144,000 Apostle Paul’s. CAN YOU IMAGINE? It’s hard to fathom how terrible the Tribulation will be but these guys will be persistent and powerful preachers of the Gospel. The amount of saved lives due to this group will be too many to count! Revelation 7: 9 tells us,
“… there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”
These 144,000 sealed servants will fullfill Matthew 24:14.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Their main goal is “… to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10.
COVID is not the end of the world, but it is a sign of the end of the world. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
Why does The 144,000 matter to us today? This group, is you now! As a follower of Christ Jesus, you have the same characteristics as this group. Christians are to tell their Oikos (relational network) about the Good News. Once you’re found, you are to find others! That’s why one of our core values is “Found People Find People!”
In the coming weeks we will be talking about the Millennium, Eternity, The Judgments, Hell, and Heaven. For more on this series, teaching and clarity on the book of Revelation, join me in our Time Out series in San Diego at Skyline Church or join our digital church community by watching the series online.
I want to say with a loving heart … there are a lot of pastors right now that are not opening their churches due to COVID. I want to encourage you to open your church! Almost eight months is long enough to be closed. It’s the responsibility of shepherds to take care of the flock. In California, statistically, experts are predicting 65% of California businesses will not reopen due to the Covid restrictions. These lockdowns have crushed businesses. Listen, it may very well be the same with the Church. Many churches will NOT be able to reopen. And, the longer they stay closed, the more likely their people will not return or are going elsewhere. I hate to hear when churches close. I love the local church. It is why I pastor. I have seen more life change in the local church than anywhere in the world.
At Skyline Church, on both our local campuses in San Diego, we are seeing many people from other churches come to Skyline because their church has been closed or their church is only doing outside services (it’s been 100 degrees or more in East County San Diego over the last few weeks, come on…). We have people driving from three and four hours away just so they can get in church. While our target has never been other people from other churches, we have welcomed them with open arms and we will shepherd them if you won’t.
Pastors, my suggestion is you stop listening and stop getting your cues from the Government and from Andy Stanley. Andy Stanley has long been seen by many church leaders as the de facto voice of the Contemporary Christian Church in America. His Catalyst leadership conferences have encouraged thousands of pastors including myself over the years. Northpoint Church in Alpharetta Georgia (Pre-Covid) was running somewhere north of 20,000 people, maybe even 30,000.
However, his approach to Covid is off the mark. He stated early on that his church would not open until, at earliest, sometime in 2021. His church has been closed for almost 8 months. And, he stated that “an hour on Sunday shouldn’t make a difference in your Christian walk.” His comments cut to the heart of the biblical mandate to gather together (Hebrews 10:25). Not just for gathering sake, but for encouragement, fellowship, teaching, growth, mutual edification, the list goes on.
An hour on Sunday has made ALL the difference in my Christian walk over the years and millions of other people can testify to the same. For so many people they equate the House of God with their relationship with God. It is a foundational piece of their faith experience every week, it makes a difference in their lives, it energizes them for the week, bottom line, IT MATTERS! It may not matter to Pastor Andy Stanley, but it matters to millions of Christians all over the world.
This is the same pastor that said in one of his messages you can “Throw away the Old Testament“… His comments and his actions reveal a path he is taking that has nothing to do with accurate biblical exegesis or biblical practice. He has lost his right, his ability, and his responsibility to care for the flock of God. And, way too many pastors are waiting for him to say it’s OK to open their church.
Now, understand, I love pastors, I understand the struggle of leading a church. I’m not interested in dividing pastors and churches, but I do want to challenge pastors, especially in San Diego to open their churches. We will all be better for it. While I’m glad to keep receiving people from other churches, I am well aware that this is not Kingdom growth. At the end of the day, when we’re in Heaven facing our Lord, we don’t get credit for Skyline growth, but we do get credit for Kingdom growth. If more churches are open there is more opportunity for the Kingdom to grow. It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people.
I have been especially disappointed in the lack of leadership from some of the long time larger churches and pastors in the San Diego area that have national ministries. They are cowering behind the facade of a virus that has a 99.9% survival rate. I suppose since their books are selling and their TV audience is solid, their local church responsibilities are being ignored. Pastor, SHEPHERD YOUR FLOCK!
Many pastors have said, “Well, we’ve got online church.” And I’m so glad we have our online church community, but if you’ve been watching online for almost eight months now, YOU KNOW it’s just not the same. Nothing compares to gathering in person to worship the Lord! We’ve got to get in church to worship in the house of God.
National researchers are predicting that less than half of congregations will come back when things open up again. Why? A new normal has been created, one of the reasons is because people are out of habit and have begun to believe they don’t need church. This is only exacerbated by Pastors who continue to refuse to open…they are telling their people, “You don’t need church.” Now, half the attendance might work for Andy Stanley and his church of 30,000, he’ll still have 15,000 people to come back to. But, it does not work for the vast majority of churches in America that are less than 100 people.
When we have many thriving churches in the area, everybody wins. A rising tide lifts all boats. Pastors, open your boat. If you’re concerned about the reaction of some people and you need statistics and proof in your pocket, go to my other blogs titled “Face the Facts” and “I’m Done.” Face the Facts was written a couple of months ago and the statistics are even more in favor of opening your church than they were back then. “I’m Done” was written on May 3 and is proving even more accurate with each passing month.
We can protect the most vulnerable in our churches and open. You don’t have to open without caring for those who have underlying health conditions. You can open and care for those people. It is Both/And not Either/Or. We have a whole re-opening safely protocol list that I’d be glad to give you. If you need anything, please call our offices and we would be glad to walk you through our conversations with the County Health Department, our Do’s and Don’ts, our protocols, and our trainings. Being a pastor has always taken courage, perhaps, in this day and age, the depth of our courage is being tested.
As Bible believing Christians, we believe in the importance of voting. We knooow politics-everyone-off. But the 2020 elections are quickly approaching, and as a pastor, my goal is to make sure you have the information you need to make the most informed decision you can. As Christians we can’t bury our heads in the sand and pretend this is a taboo topic and ignore our responsibilities.
Skyline Church will be providing resources for those who are looking for clarity and biblical understanding of the candidates and issues during this time. To be clear, I am not looking to create division. I recognize that every political party is likely represented in God’s church all over the nation. No matter what party you identify with, we can pray for our leaders and the 2020 election. We may not have unity across our nation on a variety of topics, but surely we can have unity and agreement when it comes to the biblical mandate to pray for our political leaders.
1 Timothy 2:1-3 says
“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. 2 Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. 3 This is the way our Savior God wants us to live” (Mes).
Notice, it says to pray “especially” for rulers and their governments… Today, I want to encourage you and lead you in some prayers as we prepare our hearts and minds to confidently vote. When Jesus said to pray…even for our enemies…(Matthew 5:44) He didn’t say it would be easy, but, as Christians, it is required. You may be on the opposite end of the issue from a candidate, you may not vote for them, but you can pray for them. Would you say these prayers along with me.
God, Thank you for your Word that guides us in how to live. We praise You for this resource as it reminds us in 1 Timothy 2 to pray for our governmental leaders, those in authority, and those who carry the weight of high responsibility. Your Word also gives us peace of mind to know that You are in control. We can be still and know that You are God, You are exalted among the nations and in the earth. We delight ourselves in You and have many things to be grateful for in this trying season. Most importantly, we thank You for Your Son Jesus, who paid (in full) for our sins so that we may be reunited with You.
[Take a few minutes to specifically express things you’re are thankful for.]
God, We ask you to have mercy on us, forgive your people, and cleanse us from sinfulness. Help us to forgive each other, and pray for one another.
[Take a few minutes to ask God to specifically forgive your actions, the actions of others, and political actions you believe violate God’s will for His people.]
God, We pray that You would bless, guide, and protect voters, government leaders, first responders, news/media outlets, and those with strong influence in our nation.
Bless them with divine wisdom as they navigate the hurdles you know are ahead.
Give these people discernment to know when to go against the tide, courage to stand for Your principles, and integrity to lead Your people well. Be their Rock when others rise against them and grant them protection against what they cannot see.
We pray that You would lead us to vote for the right candidates. You already know the outcome of this election. You are our refuge and fortress and we trust in You. We pray that whoever is elected, that they would, among other things … Fight for the freedom and rights of Your people. Fight for the unborn. Fight for religious freedom. And unselfishly fight for our City, State, and Nation. We pray that our faith would grow exponentially during this season. Allow our depth and understanding of Your love towards us to grow each day. In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
Stayed tuned at SkylineChurch.org for more resources on how we can vote with our faith in mind.
As a spiritual shepherd, I’m relentlessly dedicated to sharing God’s truth with you. At Skyline Church, I am teaching a series called Time Out, that speaks to the relevance of the book of Revelation. I’m sensitive to those who are checking out church for the first time, however this is a topic that you’re not going to hear in churches very often. When you tie this sermon series into what it going on in 2020, we can see how important the book of Revelation is, especially as we educate ourselves in preparation to vote.
I want to invite you to come to Skyline Church in person at any of our three campuses, or to watch this series online. Share it with friends and family. And stay tuned for more resources in the next few weeks. Stay in God’s Word and stay in prayer. God bless.