Next Step

One of my goals as a pastor is to help you take your NEXT step of faith. Everyone’s got a “next step.” Whether you’re new or have been in the faith for a long time, we believe it’s important to never feel like we have “arrived.” We don’t want to coast in our relationship with the Lord. Whenever we’re coasting, we’re always going downhill. What’s your next step of faith? Everyone’s next step is different and we want to help you with yours, whatever that may be.

Remember, it’s never about perfection, we say it all the time at our church, no perfect people allowed. Even when we take two steps forward and one step back, that’s okay! We’re looking for progress. In a world that is full of discouragement and condemnation, you need a place where you don’t have to pretend you have it all together. We want to encourage you…seven days a week.

Remember this, YOU matter! Your story matters to God and it matters to us!
Recently, in order to spread the message so many people need today, I started sharing the encouragement you hear at Skyline each week on K-Praise radio.

I actually remember a time, about 25 years ago, when I was traveling with the St.Louis Cardinals baseball team. It was a lonely time in my life. I remember using this radio at my bedside, and of all the voices that came through the speaker, thousands of miles from my home, was my hometown pastor! David Jeremiah was the very first pastor I had in my life and hearing his voice while out of town and on the road, really helped me get the encouragement I needed at that time. I never forgot how powerful that moment was for me. And now here we are, years later and I’m honored to be able to do the same to K-Praise listeners who are looking for an encouraging message that they can apply to their lives. I can only hope it encourages others as much as those messages by Dr. Jeremiah encouraged me.

Sharing God’s Word weeknights over the radio is just one more way we can help people stay in the Word of God. We also have a short daily devotional called Today Matters that you can tune into on our Skyline Church YouTube Channel or download the Skyline Church App and get it there. Today Matters also airs throughout the day on K-Praise.

When it comes to next steps, it’s easy to say, “Hey you need to take your next step.” The hard part for so many people is knowing what that next step is for them. Because of that,  I’ve created a next steps program for our church members called Seven Steps. These are classes that take you step by step through topics like Christian Habits, Spiritual Gifts, Oikos, Doctrine, and more. If there’s any way we can give people the resources they need to dig deeper into their faith with confidence, we want to make it happen.

For a lot of people, the Bible can be very intimidating. But we want to break it down into bite-size, digestible chunks to give you the resources you need to grow in your faith. We’re a bunch of imperfect people trying to figure out how to walk a life of faith together. This is about a relationship with Jesus Christ, not a religion. It’s something we want to do, not have to do.

Our purpose at Skyline Church is to help people find and follow Jesus seven days a week. So often, we see people make faith a part of their lives one day a week … Sunday, and that’s a good start. The problem is this type of faith becomes compartmentalized. What I mean by that is, we walk the talk on Sunday, but don’t apply what we learned on Monday (or the rest of the week for that matter). We don’t want you to become stagnate in your faith. Because the reality is, we’re either growing, or we’re coasting. We want to help your faith grow into an everyday kind of faith. I’m always looking for practical ways we can apply the Bible to our everyday life. After all, isn’t that the point? To live a changed life because of the grace of Jesus Christ. Because of His grace, we are changed and able to grow step by step!

Find A Church Family

I am grateful for the recent Supreme Court decision calling the California ban on church gatherings unconstitutional. All the way back in June, after doing our research and understanding the data on Covid-19 we decided the risks of remaining closed far outweighed the benefits. We weren’t going to wait for a future Supreme Court decision to do what we knew was right for people. We decided the ban on church attendance was not only unconstitutional, but unspiritual, unhelpful and therefore it would go unheard as far as Skyline was concerned. We opened in June and have seen more people make decisions for Jesus Christ than any other time in our history. We decided to care for people over politics.

Because we decided to open, we’ve helped people overcome some serious darkness spiritually, mentally, emotionally, socially, physically, and even economically as the church pulled together to help our community members hardest hit by the lockdowns. And just last Sunday we saw 52 more people take a step of commitment to Jesus by being baptized!

Over the course of the last eleven months we’ve learned a lot about politics, political agendas, viruses and vaccines. But most importantly, we learned that when you do the right thing for your community, God blesses in ways far beyond what we could have hoped or imagined. We just cannot imagine ever closing the church again. 

One of my goals is to help others understand the value of the local church family. There’s so much that happens on a spiritual level when we come to church. Watching service online is valuable because you’re getting the Word of God. God can and does use the online church experience in so many ways. But, it is just not the same as in person services.

I realize many churches remained and continue to remain closed and utilize the online church experience. I don’t know what is going on within every church so I don’t know the reasons why so many remain closed these 11 months now, but it is not my place to determine when they open. I have very good friends that are pastors of many great churches, I love them very much, the fact that they remain closed does not affect my relationship with them. Whether they are open or closed is determined by each churches leadership and what they feel is best for their community. My own personal opinion is that all churches should be open because we are better together. There is incredible power in our communities when we’re all open, meeting people’s needs in person and reaching our communities with the Good News of Jesus Christ. But, that’s just my opinion.

The value of the church family cannot be understated.  Something much deeper happens when we gather to hear the Word of God and thank, praise and worship God together. That’s why Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to neglect our church meeting but to encourage each other when we gather. In fact, when this verse was written, God’s people were experiencing even harsher restrictive government regulations than we’ve been experiencing recently. Roman Emperor Nero and other political leaders were pushing anti-church gathering agendas and were trying to keep people from meeting. Believers were afraid to gather because the government put fear into the people, even threatening death. Yet, they were encouraged to not give up meeting together. To push back and operate out of faith, not fear.

When you dig into Scripture and read about the importance of the church family, you see another name for the church is the Bride of Christ. We can see how much Jesus loves His Bride, the Church, in Ephesians 5:25-27 among other verses. Like Jesus, we too should put a high value on the local church family. But I can’t tell you how often I hear people say that they’re Christian but don’t like “the church.” Maybe you’ve heard someone in your Oikos (which is your relational network, workplace, friend circle, neighborhood, relative, or a gym buddy) say something like that. 

Let me tell you something …
Saying you’re a Christian but that you don’t like the church is like saying, “Jesus, I like you, but I don’t like your wife.” Would you be friends with someone who invited you to hang out, but they started the conversation by insulting your wife?” That’s not okay with Jesus. Look, I get it… You may have had a bad experience at a church or multiple churches in the past. But, biblically, that is no excuse to let your faith fall to the wayside and undervalue the church family. 

There are imperfections in every church…mainly because the church is made up of people! Just like there are no perfect people, there are no perfect churches. But at the same time, we have to place a high value on the local church! At some point you have to say, “This is MY church.” Whatever church that may be. 
A Christian without a church home is a spiritual orphan. If that person doesn’t get adopted by a church family, they’ll never grow to their fullest potential in Christ. Why? Because that’s the way Jesus set it up.  He places us in spiritual families called the church.

Listen, we firmly believe that it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people. We hope Skyline is your church home, but we recognize there are different ways of “doing” church. At our church, the animal sacrifices don’t happen until the very end of service. No, I’m kidding. We don’t sacrifice animals… although cats… no, no, no, I’m kidding…

There are no perfect churches. If there was a perfect church out there, and you decided to go to it, as soon as you show up you’d ruin it, because you’re not perfect. In my professional, researched, and personally vetted opinion….The closest you’re going to come to a perfect church is Skyline. I believe this is the best church in the world! If it wasn’t, I’d be somewhere else. And guess what, there are no perfect people allowed here! so…you’ll fit right in!

Regardless of what you’re looking for in a church family, there is a church out there for you. Let us help you find that church. We know of so many churches literally around the United States and even the world. No matter where you live, we’ll help get you connected. We say it all the time, Your Growth is our Goal…even if that means it’s at another church.  We want you to grow spiritually. We want you to THRIVE in 2021. 

Team Colors

God’s game is back! Did you know baseball is God’s game? The Bible DOES start in Genesis by saying, “In the BIG-INNING!”
Get it?
Beginning… Big-INNING.
In the … you get it.

Anyway, I’m so excited to kick off another amazing season of baseball! We’re a just a couple weeks away from Spring Training, if they don’t push it back a month like they are talking about doing. And I want to know … what team colors are you wearing this year?

Whenever we join a team or become a fan, we put on their team uniform and colors. 
The same goes for when we decide to follow Christ! When we’ve made a decision to follow Jesus, we put on a NEW uniform. If we join the Padres, we wear brown and gold (The best uniforms in the league if you ask me). We don’t join the Padres and say “I want to wear Dodger blue.” No, we wear the team colors. It is our public profession that signifies that we believe in this team.

When we make a big decision like following Jesus Christ, we do something similar in putting on the team colors, the Bible calls it baptism. Christians confirm they are on “Team Jesus” by participating in baptism. It is the Christian’s public profession that they are on Team Jesus.

It’s important to note that you don’t have to be baptized in order to attend a church service, read the Bible, or learn about Christianity. But … if you come to a point where you’re ready to admit that you’re a sinner and need the Savior … you may be ready to take a step of faith and follow Jesus. 

If you’re new to Christianity, you may be wondering what baptism looks like. As Jesus demonstrated in the New Testament, we too are fully immersed in a body of water. By completely submerging your body in water, you’re symbolizing a burial to your old way of life. When you come out of the water, this symbolizes new or like Jesus, resurrected life.

There isn’t anything magical about the water. Many people ask if they have to be baptized in a church. The answer is no. In fact, Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River! You can be baptized in a lake, the ocean, a friend’s pool … any body of water. We do this as an outward display of an inward decision to follow Christ.

Following Jesus isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it. Many of you know exactly what I’m talking about. You won’t magically and instantly have it all together. Every day is a willful and conscious decision to become more and more like him. We say it all the time at Skyline Church, God does not require perfection out of your spiritual walk, but he does require progress. And sometimes that’s two steps forward and one step back. When you’re ready to make a decision to follow in HIS footsteps, we’d like to invite you to celebrate that choice through baptism.

So let me ask you again … what team colors are you wearing? All season long I’ll be wearing my Padre gear. When I wear Padre gear, I’m saying I have faith that I’m on the winning team. I’m wearing the brown and gold jersey rain or shine. Are you ready to put on a winning team jersey? I can promise you, that Jesus IS the winning team.

Jesus will beat anxiety every time.
Jesus will beat stress every time.
Jesus will beat depression every time.
Jesus will beat financial struggles every time.
Jesus will beat temptation every time.
Jesus will beat pride every time.
Jesus will beat deception every time.
Jesus will beat religion every time.
Jesus will beat diseases every time.
Jesus will beat _____fill in the blank with your specific circumstance___ EVERY TIME!

Soon, we’re going to see our Padres take the field (and for our Kansas Church baseball fans, the Kansas City Royals will be playing too!) And maybe, we’ll see you take the field for Jesus THIS weekend, February 7 at our Baptisms. Come join the over 50 people who have already signed up to be baptized on Super Bowl weekend! 

Maybe you’re on the fence and want to know what it really means to be on this team. We want to help you navigate those questions. Let us know if you have any questions about baptism!

Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It

We’ve been given a very clear mission in Scripture. Any Mission Impossible fans out there? This is your mission, should you choose to accept it…

From Acts 20:24 we read, “My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” 

Notice, it doesn’t say our aim is to “start” the mission. It doesn’t say that we should aim to “think” about the mission. Our goal is to “complete” the mission of telling people about God’s grace. When we became Christians, we were actually given a mission to accomplish. 

The most important thing in our life is to complete the task the Lord has given us. Acts 13:36 says, “David did the will of God in his own generation and then he died.” Is there anything better that can be said of someone? That they did the will of God for their time on earth? That is completing the mission! 

That’s why evangelism is part of our Core Values at Skyline Church. Our church family knows that FOUND people, FIND people. Now, evangelism is a very churchy “Christianese” word, but it doesn’t have to be weird or awkward. So, how do we do it? Well, let me share a story with you from my baseball days when I visited a church as a new Christian. 

I sat in on a service where the pastor was sharing about a time he was in New York City. He was walking past a traffic cop when the Holy Spirit prompted him to go witness to the cop. But the pastor kept walking. Well, soon he felt guilty for ignoring the Holy Spirit and so he walked back to the traffic cop. In the middle of the street, he told the cop, “Hey, I want you to know, God told me to tell you He loves you.” And he turned to walk away. But the traffic cop said, “Whoa, hold on.” After calling for backup to have someone take his place in the street, the cop joined the pastor on the side of the road to chat. Tears slowly fell under the rim of his mirrored sunglasses as he spoke to the pastor and said, “I prayed last night for the first time in a long time. I asked God that if He was real, to send someone and just let me know.” The pastor led the traffic cop to Christ right there and then! 

NOW that’s something to get excited about––what a powerful story! I got so pumped up when I heard it that I went out looking for traffic cops to witness to!

We ALL get excited about stories like that!

But how do you think the church responded to that story? I’m not against doing what God tells you to do. However, we can hear a story like that and think that’s how we’re supposed to lead people to Christ. Did you know, less than 1% of people come to Christ through a stranger. The most effective way to help people know Jesus is by being a witness. Acts 1:8 tells us that we will spread the Good News of Jesus by being a witness. God doesn’t expect you to be a salesman. God doesn’t expect you to be His attorney. He doesn’t need your defense. He does say, to be a witness. 

But what does it mean to be a witness? It simply means to share what you’ve seen or experienced. It means sharing what God has done in your life. You don’t have to be a Bible Scholar, a Christian for 20 plus years, or sinless. We say it all the time at Skyline, NO PERFECT PEOPLE ALLOWED. You can share what God has done in your life with authority and confidence because it is YOUR story. Your story matters!

Do you remember the Bible story of the man born blind? The religious leaders were distraught over his healing and accused Jesus of many things. The healed man couldn’t speak to their accusations and said, “All I know is that I was blind and now I see.” 

You don’t have to be an expert or have it all figured out! You can take the evangelistic, preachy, and condemning pressure off your shoulders and remember the moment that Jesus changed everything for you. Sharing the Good News will suddenly become easy and impossible to keep to yourself. 

THIS is your mission, should you choose to accept it … to finish telling people of what God has done for you. 

You can start by telling me! Fill out a Connection Card at SkylineChurch.org. Tell me how the grace of God through Jesus Christ has saved your life. But don’t stop there. Our aim is to finish the race and complete the task Jesus gave us. Think of who else you can share this news with today … because your story matters!

More To The Mission

Our Mission at Skyline Church is to be relentlessly dedicated to teaching the truth and relevance of Scripture. We do this seven days a week because we believe that following Jesus isn’t JUST something to do on Sunday. We do it every day. And we do it … all over the world.

While Skyline Church has been sending people out into the mission field for years, I want to share about one project in particular that speaks to why we do what we do. In Central Asia, the Gospel is being withheld from a primarily Muslim population. It is illegal to have a Bible and to talk about Jesus. This area of the world is dangerous and hostile towards those of opposing beliefs. It’s so dangerous, we have had to use code words to protect the lives of missionaries and new believers living in this country. We have to call the place Nuneland.  

This region reminds me of a parable in the book Mark. The soil in this country is incredibly hard! Any seed that is scattered is immediately eaten by birds. Their lack of resources keeps people from establishing spiritual roots. Government regulations choke out any remnant of hope Jesus has to offer. But, “How beautiful are the feet of the messengers who bring the Good News” (Romans 10:14-15). We know that nothing is impossible through Jesus Christ. That is why we have a team of faithful people on the inside. 

Several years ago we sent a team into this country, much like Joshua sent spies into the city of Jericho. Our team has started a community enriching business. It is a non-religious business that gives them the ability to stay in the country long term. Our team has been learning the language and the culture of the people. While the majority of the people in this part of the world have never interacted with a true follower of Jesus, our team has built several relationships with locals while leading some to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ! THIS is why we do what we do! This is why following Jesus isn’t just something we do on Sunday. Living your everyday life as a follower of Jesus is what people need to see. 

People are seeking an authentic and real relationship with God. Not a perfect relationship, but one that shows authenticity and transparency. But in today’s culture, it’s rare. By seeking God seven days a week, we can reach the unreachable! You don’t have to have a religious job. You can do the same thing we’re doing in Central Asia and other parts of the world right where you are! You can share your personal spiritual journey with your Oikos. In Mark 5:19, Jesus told the new believer, “Go back to your own peopleand tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you….” Your own people is translated in the original New Testament language of Greek to your Oikos.

Your Oikos is anyone in your relational network; that means your neighbor, family, friends, co-workers, gym buddy, grocery clerk … anyone you’ve built a relationship with. This is why the guy on the corner with the street sign yelling “turn or burn” does not work. He has no relationship with the people in the cars driving by. They just think he’s nuts. 

In our example in Mark 5, notice Jesus didn’t tell him to make sure he had all the theological questions figured out and make sure he’s wearing nice clothes, and bring a cardboard sign, no no no… he just said go back and tell your story of what God has done for you and how he has had mercy on you. That’s what we’re supposed to do as well. That’s how you “witness.” You tell your story about God’s mercy to your Oikos because there is some relational trust there. Just make sure to leave the cardboard sign at home.

You can also partner with us in this mission of spreading the Gospel by praying. We never underestimate the power of prayer! Your prayers ARE needed and appreciated; especially for those who are risking their lives in Central Asia. We also have something we call Faith Promise. Those who give to Faith Promise are giving to our missionaries around the world who are building relationships, disciples, small groups, and churches for Jesus. When you give to Faith Promise, we keep you in the loop by sending you a Global Missions e-newsletter throughout the year. It’s an exciting way to stay up to date with our missionaries and you’ll also learn about specific prayer requests and projects that are thriving in other countries for God’s Kingdom. If you’d like to give to Faith Promise please visit our giving page on the website and hit the dropdown menu that says “Missions/Faith Promise.” It is such an exciting time to be part of the Mission!

I want to invite you to keep our Global and Local Missions teams in your prayers. Will you pray for richer soil in hard places, and for the hearts of the hopeless, for hearts to soften and receive the Good News of Jesus Christ? Let me know if you’re joining me in this prayer by filling out a Connection Card at SkylineChurch.org. This will encourage our teams around the world as they share the relevance of scripture to every tribe, nation and tongue.