Controlling Your Tongue

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Shut up! Is that too harsh? I think it might be appropriate for some of the stuff that flows so freely across the thumbs of the most prolific social media “influencers” and shock jocks across our nation.

Our words can bite, can’t they? James 3:2 says that “if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” Look closely at what he says … it starts with our mouths (or our thumbs as we type away on our phones)! From there, we can begin to grow and mature in EVERY way. What we say steers the direction of our lives.  We tend to move in the direction of our words. 

Let me be clear here. I’m not talking about the few buddies that you’ve known for a while and you joke around with each other from time to time. Some of that is the spice of life (unless the heart behind it is wrong). But today, I want to talk about this steering wheel of life … the tongue.
Here’s the deal, the average American will have 30 conversations per day.  In one year, you could fill 53 books that are 1,000 pages long. You’re going to spend 1/5 of your life talking!!

If you want to know where you’re headed, look at some of the recent conversations you’ve had with others and think about the self-talk you’ve had with yourself. Our words can both damage and destroy our life because that’s what has hold of life’s steering wheel. If you’re always putting yourself down you need to stop listening to yourself and start preaching to yourself the positive messages and words of affirmation that God has for you.

James 3:5-6 explains the power of our words. “The tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A great forest can be set on fire by one tiny spark. And the tongue is a flame of fire.” Your words will reveal what is really in your heart. And even a seemingly small careless word can start a fire that becomes a raging argument inferno.

Not too long ago in 2018, California experienced its worst fire season in history. Nearly two million acres were burned across our great state. It started in February, and the last fire was put out in November. You know how it started? One spark!

Some of the arguments you’ve gotten into were caused by one spark. Only you can control the sparks that come out of your mouth. Careless words can destroy an entire life. Don’t become a verbal arsonist. If you don’t work on it, it’s going to ruin all you have!

I imagine that many of you have mastered the problem of cussing, but perhaps you haven’t mastered the problem of cutting others down. In James 3:10, James talks about how out of the same mouth come both praises and curses. This shouldn’t be the case. I want to challenge you today, to really focus on taming your tongue. What are your words revealing about you?

A good question to ask yourself is what is the source of the things that come out of your mouth? At the end of the day, as Jesus said, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks…” Luke 6:45. The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. Sometimes people will say, “I don’t know why I said that, that’s not like me.” Actually, it’s exactly like you, because it has been bubbling up inside you for a long time. If a loose tongue is a problem for you the reality is your heart is not healthy.

You need to deal with the heart issue. Get to the root of the problem and root it out. Is it anger, bitterness, envy, hurt, or anything else? Whatever it might be it will not get better until you have a change of heart. Thankfully, God specializes in heart transplants, “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” Ezekiel 36:26. Give your heart to Jesus Christ and watch him take the reins of your tongue and steer it toward peace.

Should I Speak Up?

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With all that’s going in the world, it’s likely that you’ve found yourself in some negative conversations or dealing with some negative feelings. We already know it’s the bad news that makes the headlines. Society is conditioned to focus on adversity. THAT is what gets ratings! 

Today, if you speak up, you might be condemned for speaking up. If you don’t speak up you might be vilified as not caring enough to speak up … it’s like Raiders football, there’s no winning. Ha!

The main scripture that’s going to launch us into our conversation today, is Philippians 2:14-15.

“Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world of crooked and perverse people.”

People are constantly complaining about what’s going on in the world and Christians aren’t exempt from spreading this negativity. We’re all human, we all do it. In fact, there are several people in the Bible that were recorded complaining. But when it comes to the issue of complaining, God says He wants His people to be different. 

Now, understand, there’s a difference between complaining and speaking into a situation you disagree with. I’m not saying you just have to sit down and shut up and then you’re a good non-complaining Christian. It’s all in HOW you go about it. Complaining just spreads negativity and bad emotions, while speaking calmly and respectfully through disagreements attempts to bring solutions.

I want to share 4 types of complainers illustrated by the examples of some of our biblical heroes. See if you resonate with any of these types. It’s important to recognize where we are so we can get to where we need to be and change our complaints into solutions. I’m also going to share what these “complainers” typically say. But here’s the thing …  I don’t want you to forward this to someone you’ve heard say these phrases. Use this to reflect on your own speech. 

The 4 most common types of complainers are …

  1. The Whiner: The biblical example of the whiner was King David. The Psalms are full his complaints! Visit Pslam 73:13-14. 
    The whiner will say things like … “I don’t deserve this” or “Everybody else gets all the breaks” or “Why is everybody picking on me.”
  2. The Martyr: The biblical example of the Martyr was Moses. He felt under appreciated (Numbers 11:11-15).
     The Martyr says things like … “No one appreciates me” or (under their breath) “It wouldn’t kill anyone to say thank you once in a while.”
  3. The Cynic: The biblical example of the Cynic was King Solomon. Take a look through Ecclesiastes! 
    The Cynic says things like … “What’s the point?” … “Nothing is going to change.”
  4. The Perfectionist: Last but not least, the book of wisdom warns us of the perfectionist in Proverbs 21:19. This verse is really going to test some of you who wanted your spouse to reflect on their complaining. 
    The perfectionist will say things like … “Is that it?” or “Is that the best you can do?”

Maybe you identify with one of these complainers and that’s a great start! Proverbs 28:13, reminds us that, We cannot be successful unless we admit our mistakes. It’s only then that we get a second chance. If we’re going to begin to conquer the attitude of complaining we can’t make excuses for ourselves and make accusations of others. We must choose to be the positive change in whatever circumstance we find ourselves in. 

Instead of complaining about the issues in our community, let’s serve our community.  
Instead of complaining about our government, let’s pray for our government.
Instead of complaining about baseball being postponed, let’s … well maybe we can complain a little about that? There’s only so much a person can take!!!

Bottom line is this: Complaining is a sin. It’s what kept the Israelites out of the promise land for so many years. If you’re asking yourself if you should speak up, the better question may be, WHAT are you going to say and HOW are you going to say it? Complaining will never get our communities to the promise land we all desire. Instead of complaining, choose to be the light in a dark world. And the darker our world gets, the more the light can be seen. This will keep God’s promises for you and others in sight. 

Is it okay to be angry?

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There’s a lot of anger going around these days. While the reasons to get angry are wide and varied, the release of anger needs to be in appropriate ways. Losing control of anger doesn’t help anyone. Everybody needs to know how to manage their anger because it’s not a matter of IF you get angry, it’s always a matter of WHEN. Proverbs 14:29 says it like this, “People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.” Notice it doesn’t say people with understanding do not get angry. Rather, it says that they know how to control it. 

We need to understand that anger is a God given emotion. God wired you up in a way to get angry because sometimes anger is the most appropriate response. When something happens that shouldn’t happen, you should get angry. When someone is hurt, you should get angry. When there’s an injustice, you should get angry. As a matter a fact, if you never get angry, that’s a good indication that you don’t have much love. Sometimes anger is the most loving thing to express. BUT, we have to learn how to control it and how to use it wisely.  

All of us tend to get angry in one of two ways. We externalize it. Or, we internalize it. Both of these are inappropriate expressions of anger. 
Let me give you an illustration. When it comes to anger, you’re typically either a skunk or a turtle. It’s pretty easy to guess that a skunk is someone who’s very external. They just spray it ALL OVER the place. And then everyone around them has that sour face because it stinks. OR, maybe you’re the turtle. The turtle retreats and hides as it goes back into its shell. And then, there are those rare cases of turtles that are hiding, stuffing it all under their shell and allowing the resentment, bitterness, and all their anger build and build inside until … they explode!

We must be resolved to control this God given emotion. Don’t make excuses by saying things like, “I can’t control it” or “it just happens.” Look, this is a big deal for me too. I was born Irish. The Irish typically have two emotions, we’re either angry or asleep … But then Christ came into my life and that changed everything. That doesn’t mean I don’t ever get mad … I’m a Padres fan. But I learned how to deal with it better and better. Take a look at Proverbs 29:11. It says, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.”

While anger is a God given emotion, anger is a choice. We must remember that uncontrolled anger comes with a hefty cost. As we go about our week and grow in discerning this emotion, let me leave you with this verse from Ephesians 4:26 …“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” The reality is, we all lose when you lose your temper. Let us be transformed by the renewing of our mind and begin to release anger appropriately.

Blessings to you in the week ahead. 

Jeremy McGarity

Defeat Discouragement

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Today I want to talk about one of the biggest hurdles in our faith. It’s one of the enemy’s favorite tools in keeping us from growing––not just spiritually … but economically and educationally. In fact, I don’t think there’s one area of your life that isn’t affected by this obstacle. 

Today, I want to talk about defeating discouragement.

In any race there is fatigue. No matter what you do, we ALL get tired. Fatigue makes cowards of us all. It causes us to shrink back from our duties, goals, and expectations. But if we overcome it, we can live out God’s best for us! In Acts 20:24, Luke tells us on behalf of the Apostle Paul, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; 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.” Unfortunately, most people never finish their race. They get distracted. And for one reason or another, they grow old with unachieved dreams without ever realizing what God had planned for them. Often times, discouragement is the biggest deterrent in our lives. 

But that thing that discourages you, or intended to discourage you from God’s purpose for your life, doesn’t have to! Right now the state of our communities and chaos across our country can make us feel overwhelmed with discouragement and dread. 

Here are 3 ways to overcome discouragement:

  1. Ask yourself, what is slowing you down?
    Hebrews 12:1 reminds us, “We are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

    There are a lot of people in your life that want you to run their race for them. They’ll add so many expectations, responsibilities, and distractions that God never intended for your life. The Bible makes it clear, if you’re going to go far in this race you’ll need to remove those things!
  2. Remind yourself, why you became a Christian.
     Ephesians 2:10 promises us, “we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

    Remembering your WHY will give you determination. Remember that this whole life isn’t about you. The more we focus outwardly, the more excited we get to live out God’s purpose in our life. 
  3. Get in the Word on a daily basis!
     2 Corinthians 4:16 encourages us, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
     
    Just like your physical body gets hungry, your spirit is hungry. It’s hungry for the Word of God. To go without it for a day is like starving it. Stay encouraged by knowing what God has to say about your life and the instructions and direction he can give you every day.

Overcoming discouragement IS possible! So, let me ask you … What has God called you to do? At the end of a long lived life, will you be able to say that you endured? Will you have lived the life that you were created for?
The key to endurance is perspective. Most people in this world are living life as if all that matters is today. And that’s wrong. Today’s going to be over … TODAY! We need to live with the perspective of eternity in mind. If you’re going to avoid discouragement, you’ve got to know how to recharge yourself spiritually, emotionally, physically, and mentally. Especially during this time!

Set yourself up for the race ahead by refueling your faith in these 3 key ways that a mentor of mine gave me as I was entering full-time ministry:

1. Divert daily
Take time each day to get quiet with the Lord. You need some time where nothing is demanded from you. Where the distractions are gone and you can be focused in silence for some time of renewal. If this is new to you, start with as little as 5 minutes. As you do this you’ll notice you want more time to do this. Add 5 minutes at a time as you build up and you’ll soon realize you don’t want to go a day without it. 

As I mentioned, 2 Corinthians 4:16 encourages us to be renewed day by day. We know that each day carries enough challenges of its own. While we do not always know what obstacles are headed our way, we can trust that the Lord does! And it is He who will navigate you through those waters. 

2. Withdraw weekly
The race ahead is going to require rest. Take a whole day each week to do something different, something fun or relaxing. Make a list of things that refuel you and choose something from this list one day each week to get your mind off of your daily grind.

3. Abandon annually
Schedule the time to get out of town and do something for an extended period of time like a week or two or more! Know what refreshes you and do something engaging and fulfilling! It takes energy to do God’s will and you need a plan for when you run out of gas. 

Discouragement can ruin a conversation, a job, a marriage, a faith, OR a life. When we talk about “the building of our faith” we’re talking about taking the first steps of change. God takes His time in growing us step by step and piece by piece. Did you know it takes a mushroom about 24 hours to be fully grown. Ha. It takes an oak tree about 100 years! A mushroom could be brushed over. Pshh! But an oak tree is immovable. It’s solid! God is interested in building oak trees of faith. He’s strengthening us through everything that He allows in our lives. Yes, even a quarantine and social unrest! 

The race of life is tough. But you CAN overcome discouragement and refuel your faith regularly with enough fuel to finish in a strong sprint. Implement these practices this week, and you’ll see discouragement leaving you and encouragement coming. Let me know how it goes!

Are You Wrestling?

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Who are you wrestling with in your life? Your spouse, your kids, an in-law, a neighbor? Or maybe you’re wrestling with your finances, a car, your job, or even your health. One thing for sure is we’re all wrestling with the restrictions and affects of this quarantine right now. 

IT’S. NOT. EASY.
 
If you’re in a wrestling match right now … congratulations!! If you’re encountering a conflict in your life, the problem is likely deeper than you realize. YOU my friend, are wrestling with God. Let’s take a look at Genesis 25 and 32. 

Genesis 25: Here we find a man’s life that can be described in one word … conflict. To give you some background, Jacob was born fighting with his twin brother, Esau, literally came out of the womb “grasping the heel of his brother” vs 25:21-26.  Later, Jacob tricked his brother out of his inheritance (vs 29-34). To say Esau was not happy with Jacob would be an understatement. But it wasn’t long before Jacob got a taste of his own medicine! He was tricked by a man named Laban. 

After working for Laban the agreed upon seven years to marry his daughter, Rachel, Jacob was told it would cost him another seven years of labor to gain the blessing of marrying Rachel. Talk about a long engagement! After 14 years, it was time to part ways from Laban, and Jacob planned to sneak his new family out of town. The only problem was, Jacob had no where to go except back to his hometown where another problem awaited, his brother Esau.

Genesis 32:  When Esau heard that his brother was coming home, it wasn’t water under the bridge. Esau sent an army of 400 men to face Jacob.  Like many of us, Jacob was stuck between a rock and a hard place. His options were slim and none and he was facing the consequences of a lifetime of bad choices. Jacob was terrified(Genesis 32:7). And he finally surrendered and prayed to the Lord (Genesis 32:9-11).

The problems you’re facing with your spouse, career, appearance, you name it …  is only a mere symptom of a greater conflict in your life. The Bible tells us that Jacob spent the next night, literally, wrestling with God. How many of us know who is going to win that match? Like Jacob, you and I know that we’re going to wear out before God does. But did you know that God actually wants to wrestle with you? Wrestling is a contact sport. It doesn’t bother God to wrestle with you, to hear your complaints and your anger and your needs. Why? Because it means that you’re up close to Him. Your relationship is finally getting personal. For you it may sound like shouting … WHAT IN THE WORLD IS HAPPENING?! Why are you doing this God?! When will this end?! etc. etc… And that’s okay! God blesses those who realize their need for Him (Matthew 5:3).

Jacob may have surrendered by turning to God, but he wasn’t ready to change his ways. He and God wrestled ALL night. Maybe you’re in the same boat. Maybe you’re open to having a conversation with God, but are you willing to let Him call the shots? Jacob and God wrestled to the point where God says it’s time to call it. It’s a momentous turning point for Jacob. Is he going to change his ways or not? To which Jacob responds, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

Can you imagine?! Listen to the incredible passion Jacob displays here. He’s literally clinging to the Lord and refusing to let go until he get’s what he needs. He’s like a kid holding on to their dad’s ankle as the dad walks down the hall. And God does bless him and leaves him a little reminder to carry with him the rest of his life. From that all night wrestling match with God, Jacob was left with a permanent limp. A reminder that he could not run from his problems any longer. Instead of running, he needed to rely on God. 

If you’ve been a Christian very long, I can bet you have a specific limp. No, it may not be a literal walking limp, but the limp I’m referring to is a reminder that God left with you to keep you humble and to keep you reliant on Him. You came through that all night wrestling match, but you’ll never be the same, and you thank God for that. 

Though these are difficult times, it’s a great time to dig deeper in your relationship with the Lord. “Consider it all joy… when you encounter various trials”(James 1:2). Hold on until God blesses you! Ask hard questions! Wrestle it out! Seek first the Kingdom of God because I promise that, “He who began a good work in you will carry it out to completion,” (Philippians 1:6).

Welcome Drifter

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One of the questions I get most often is, How do I get close to God? And/or … how do I stay close to God? 

Today I want to talk about “drifting.” In order to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you actually have to swim against the cultural current. 

In one sense, we’re all drifters. No one lives a perfect faith journey. You’ve heard me say it many times, “No perfect people allowed here.” It’s never about perfection, it’s about progress.

So in other words … Welcome Drifter! 

Like any other relationship, your relationship with God must be maintained.  It’s a fact, relationships change.Those of you who are married know that your marriage has changed over time. Our bodies change. Our waist lines change. Even our hair line changes. Ha, it’s natural. When it comes to relationships, they’re either getting better or getting worse. 

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” This verse is all about a fresh start. That is what being made new means! I don’t know about you, but I sure am glad God doesn’t stop at one fresh start, He offers them as much as we need them….and sometimes that’s daily!

God gives us the option of digging in and being disciplined or just “going with the flow” and drifting and living for ourselves.  The problem and the reality is that not living God’s way has a lot more consequences. Some of us have chosen to believe in Christ but are coasting in the Christian life. So here’s my question for you … where are you on the drifter to disciplined continuum? Drifter being 1 and disciplined being 10 … ask yourself where you land. 

Many Christians live their life in such a way that it requires no faith at all. Your heart is either growing warmer or colder with someone. It is the same when it comes to our relationship with Jesus.There are times we just don’t feel as close. But we must be intentional if we’re going to keep any relationship strong, especially a relationship with Christ. And, while we don’t like this word “discipline” the reality is it takes discipline to be a disciple.

Drifting away from God is a big deal. Instead of growing, somehow we started drifting. It’s okay if you don’t have an outlined plan for your growth just yet. But, you’ll need one to accelerate your growth. At our church, we have a plan and we call it Seven Steps. Without a plan, we get into a mode of just drifting with our Christianity and not letting our faith get stretched like God wants to stretch it. The first step is simple … tune in to our “Today Matters” daily devotional on our Skyline YouTube channel or check out our messages on our app or website. You’ll get practical tools to help you take that next step of faith to ensure you’re growing in your relationship with Jesus.

It’s no coincidence that the root word of discipline is disciple! Ask God today what needs to happen in your life to grow in faith. What is God saying is your next step of faith? 

Here’s to you, Mom!

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“A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.” 
–– Proverbs 31:10

Proverbs 31 is a well known section of scripture that serves as a model for a virtuous woman; or busy moms really. 
 
It reads …
“She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
… She sets about her work vigorously; 
her arms are strong for her tasks. 
–– Proverbs 31:13-17

If a mom stopped reading here and didn’t read through all 31 verses, it would already be enough to wonder if she’s measuring up. But what the Bible doesn’t mention is homeschooling and standing in line at Costco with a mask on, or any of the other myriad of challenges during this quarantine, as well as all of the countless challenges moms have faced over the generations. And the Bible doesn’t have to. It’s message here was the same then as it is now … women are hard working and busy! Especially the moms in our lives. The last thing we want moms to feel when they read Proverbs 31, is guilt.

Whether your kids are grown, you’re a single mom, a mom of a special needs child, you’ve adopted, have a prodigal child, have several energetic kids, or you’re looking forward to becoming a mom … we celebrate you! Thank you for all that you do. We hope you had an amazing Mother’s Day!

Growing up, my mom woke up before dawn and worked three jobs just to try and make ends meet. I believe that kind of hard work speaks to the resilience of moms that are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure their family is taken care of. That’s what moms do. They step up!

You may not be spinning wool and flax, although judging by the many cat and Raider masks I received, I think several of you ARE spinning wool and flax! Regardless of whether you are or not, you’re taking care of your family. We hope to alleviate some of that stress this upcoming Monday as our Skyline Kids Learning Center reopens. There are several new protocols being put in place to insure health and safety for you and your family. We hope that this resource will serve as a valuable asset to moms, first responders, essential workers, and those on the front lines during this quarantine. 

There are more plans in the works at this very moment as we are gearing up and preparing for the reopening of our church doors. Thank you to those who filled out our COVID-19 Survey to help us evaluate our community’s perspective. 

Stay tuned and stay strong. We’ll have more updates for you soon. And in the meantime, make sure you celebrate the moms in your life. 

God bless, 

Jeremy McGarity

As We Open Soon, How Should We Respond?

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I appreciated the response to my last post on the current situation as I researched the Covid claims. Yes, I even appreciated the voices that disagreed. That is the beauty of our Nation, we have the constitutional right to free speech and freedom of religion. And, it is important that we speak up and make sure we continue to keep our rights. So, I’m glad for those who feel free to voice their disagreement and prove how wrong they are 🙂 (settle down I’m just messing with you).

Not yet, but soon, we will launch into our “normal” lives again. There will certainly be a new normal and there are certainly people on all sides of the Covid claims. What are we to do? I think if there is one word to describe how we should respond it is the word, Grace. The reality is, everyone is different. And, so are all churches. It takes different kinds of churches to reach different kinds of people. Your church may open later than ours, or your church may be open now! Different businesses will open at different times, either way, Grace must be extended no matter when businesses and churches open again.

Speaking of Skyline Church, we will open as soon as possible with safety parameters in place. Some people will believe that by opening at all we could be endangering lives. Others believe we should be open by now and are bowing to the Government and allowing our Constitutional rights to be stomped on. The truth is, you cannot please everyone, and trying to will drive you insane. However, we can make the wisest decision based on the most updated data and figure out a phased opening strategy that takes into account all people from all levels of fear to confidence.

One of the main issues we will all need to guard against, whether it is in our church or our community in general is division. The enemy would love nothing more than to divide us and he loves it when we drive a stake in the ground and exclude segments of our society. If we are not careful, we will be throwing stones and calling the cautious people “soft” and the confident people “reckless.” It’s no different than when Paul told the Corinthian Church, “Some will eat only vegetables, some will eat meat, don’t judge them.” Things can get ugly very quickly if we’re not careful. We must remember that God has called us to unity. That doesn’t mean we can’t have different opinions, it just means we need to understand our differences, appreciate them, and move forward understanding that we will all act differently based on our own convictions. Below, I’d like to give some Covid-19 profiles and see where you might fit. Please comment and let me know which one you are. I’d be curious to see where people are in general right now. You can also visit our website at http://www.skylinechurch.org and take the full survey.

Covid-19 Profiles

Cautious: Those who primarily stay at home, follow every aspect of the CDC guidelines and regulations and prefer to stay extra conservative about their return to “normal.”

Confident: Those who don’t and won’t wear a mask, spend greater amounts of time with people outside their home and don’t mind being around other people they may not know, they obey the law but don’t necessarily worry much about going all the way with precautions, favor opening up businesses and churches now regardless of the news, and some think this crisis has been blown way out of proportion.

Cautiously Confident: Those who find themselves doing and feeling a little bit of everything in both profiles.

Here’s the point, it’s ok to have a different profile. The temptation is to look at your profile and let your own opinion dominate your perspective. Personally, I am confident. I have done the research, I have seen the numbers, I have spoken with our local leaders and I understand where we are as the County of San Diego (and other counties for that matter) and I firmly believe it’s time to reopen. Based on the information from our County Supervisors we are at phase 4 and almost at phase 5. Phase 5 would allow San Diego to be completely open. The data shows that we are close to being at phase 5 yet we remain closed because of the Governors order. Therefore, we remain at phase 1 moving toward phase 2 tomorrow and Friday. Our Board of Supervisors have just put forward a request to the Governor that we can be independent of the State mandate and move our phasing forward. This is extremely good news. I have been working with local and state authorities to have a plan in place that other churches may want to use as well to open as soon as possible. However, I can still have a conversation with you and appreciate your viewpoint if yours is different than mine. I will never attack you for that, I hope you don’t attack me but even if you do, I’ll still have a conversation with you. You may do your research and come to a completely different conclusion than me. Again, that’s one of the great things about our country, free speech and free opinions.

Free speech and free opinions does not mean we must become divisive. We have to be careful when considering our profiles. For highly confident optimists, the tendency is to view others as much too conservative and bowing to fear and not faith– which can be true of all of us at times. Confident types tend to think, “The results of the stay at home order are now worse than the virus.”

For the cautious types, confident optimists may be seen as too relaxed and not caring about the health and well-being of others. Cautious types tend to think, what can possible be gained by opening too soon. Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?

No matter where you are I think it would benefit all of us to have 4 attitudes for Covid-19 recovery that will strengthen our ability to be unified as we navigate different views and approaches to opening up again.

  1. Optimistic people are a blessing. They bring hope and encouragement and see things of uncertainty as opportunities.
  2. Thank God for cautious people in my life. It keeps me sensitive to the thoughts and concerns of others and enables me to make the most prudent decisions.
  3. Watch out for Pride. Pride always demands things our own way. Pride always leads us farther away from God. Different gifts and different approaches make up the full body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12).
  4. I love people more than I love my opinion. Being in healthy relationships is a joy and a gift and it requires me to love others above myself.

The bottom line is Jesus dealt with so many different opinions and attitudes as He walked the earth and led people to salvation. One thing was constant, He always chose LOVE. In the end, this attitude should come through above all other opinions.

We may not agree on the proper timing or method to reopen, but I sure hope you know I love you, I care about you and I want what’s best for you. When the crisis winds down, there will be plenty of people who got some things right, and plenty who got some things wrong. There will be those who blew things out of proportion, and those who didn’t take things as seriously as they should have. Some will take longer to go out to restaurants, businesses and churches again while others will be in a rush (or are already there).

What will it matter, if all this social distancing ends and we are divided and socially distant again and not because of the virus, but because of our inability to accept different approaches to the Covid-19 crisis. Unity always requires Grace.

We want you to know, when we reopen we will have a place for you no matter where you are in the cautious to confident spectrum. We love you and can’t wait to see you. You matter to God and you matter to us.

I’m DONE

What in the Pandemic World is ACTUALLY going on?

Alright, I’ll admit it, I’M DONE. I’ve been a good soldier, taking precautions and leading others to do the same. This Coronavirus, Covid-19, Pandemic, Social Distancing, Face Masks, Quarantine, long lines at Costco and other stores, no church gatherings, no gatherings at all for that matter, unless it’s Costco or Home Depot or other Big Box stores, hmm… I was shoulder to shoulder with people in these places, but I can’t worship at my church? I can’t stand shoulder to shoulder in church but as long as I’m at certain stores, no problem? Oh, but not small businesses (the backbone of our economy) just certain large stores. Even with the signs that say keep your six feet of distance, there was no way to keep six feet from people when there were well over 500 people buzzing around these big box stores.

What are we to do and what are we to actually believe? How long will we allow our freedom of religion and our freedom of speech to be trampled on? What started out as a “safety” measure has turned into a sacrifice measure. The sacrificing of our freedoms. I’ve been doing my research and I hope you have too. What I am about to share with you is only the tip of the iceberg, I could write a book about the atrocities being committed through this supposed crisis. I would encourage you to do your own research, check my facts, and find more facts yourself. I am not an alarmist, but I am a person who believes in our Constitution and in our founding father’s principles for laying the groundwork of our great country including freedom, truth and justice. And I hate to see people being taken advantage of and right now seven weeks into this quarantine, there is no question in my mind, we are being taken advantage of.

This “pandemic” in my opinion, and in the opinion of many others, has been blown WAY out of proportion. Is this virus serious? Yes, is it serious enough to shut down our nation? NO. Don’t get me wrong, we still need to be cautious and take care of the most vulnerable. However, the bottom line is, something else is happening. I do not know what that something is, but it is clear, the extreme measures that have been taken are NOT necessary. Some believe China manufactured this as a bioweapon. Some believe the democrats are behind this as a last-ditch effort to get Trump out of office. When their impeachment failed miserably, they had no other options. It is said, they wanted to crash the economy, blame it on Trump, and get new leadership in place on Nov. 3rd at the next presidential election. You can see articles ad nauseam on this and many other theories. That is an argument for another time.

Initially, these extreme measures we have all experienced were, perhaps, necessary. Now, however, we have treatments, we have tests, we have the ability to at least manage the virus. Yet, we are told to continue to “shelter in place” with no thought to the mental, emotional, financial, and physical trauma this has caused and continues to cause people each day our country is CLOSED. I spoke with a local law enforcement official yesterday and he told me crime has skyrocketed the last week and a half. People can only take so much. It is time to open our country. The effects of the supposed cure (shelter in place) are now worse than the pandemic itself. Suicides, alcoholism, abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence are all up across the nation. We are not meant to be caged up like animals. 

Let’s take a look at some of the things I’ve found. There are plenty of statistics through research that confirm what I’m saying and I’ve provided links for you to see what I’m talking about. However, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google and other platforms have been taking down videos and articles from doctors and other experts with statistics disproving the numbers that counties are claiming are Covid-19 related deaths. So, if the link does not work, let me know, it may have been censored and taken down. There are multiple reports, including recently on Fox News with Tucker Carlson, that Doctors are being pressured to claim deaths as Covid-19 even if they are not (see link from San Antonio news). I had to dig for this link because YouTube (where I first saw the video) took this video down, because it did not agree with what YouTube believes. Since when do they muzzle free speech? The answer is NOW. Same with Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Many reputable fact finders have been shut down on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Free speech? Only if you agree with these Social Media outlets which have a liberal and even communistic worldview. 

Taking the Covid-19 from a strictly data-driven perspective, let’s see how it shapes up against our annual flu season. Statistically speaking, the numbers don’t lie, unless those reporting the numbers lie about the numbers which has been the case with Covid-19. Let’s take a look at some data. Flu deaths vary from year to year, but according to Johns Hopkins University (see link) that range can be anywhere from 12,000 to 61,000 in the United States per year. The worldwide number of deaths from the Flu vary from year to year anywhere between 291,000 to 646,000.              

Currently, total deaths from Covid-19, and remember this is with the inflated numbers of doctors and hospitals reporting non Covid-19 deaths as Covid-19 deaths, so we know these numbers are hyper-inflated. According to Johns Hopkins University and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) total worldwide deaths from Covid-19 are, as of April 29: 225,927. This inflated number, currently represents the LOW end of a typical flu season, yet we are quarantined! In the United States, currently, as of April 29 the CDC estimates that there have been between 24,000 and 62,000 Flu related deaths. Covid-19 inflated deaths in the US stand at 60,207 as of April 29. Now, we grieve for those who have friends and family members who have died from the flu or Covid or any other disease. We do not take this lightly. 

However, these numbers are in line with a typical flu season. While the Coronavirus is not the flu, it is a different virus as I understand it, most comparisons are comparing it to the flu because of some similarities in the nature of the viral disease. It is time to open our country. The chance of dying from Covid-19 in California (again, this is with the inflated numbers) is 0.03. Huh? 0.03 … You’re more likely to win it big with a scratch off ticket (I do not recommend buying scratch offs), the point is you have very long odds at winning the lottery, yet your odds of dying from Covid-19 are longer. However, we remain locked down, the economy is in the toilet, people are literally going crazy stuck in their homes and we are doing NOTHING about it. 

In the beginning, it may have been wise to shelter at home and avoid contact with people. We simply did not know the facts about this virus. However, now, we know, we have a lot of information, and a lot of disinformation. As the stay at home mandate lingers on it is becoming clearer that it may actually be a fear tactic being used in an attempt to gain control of the population and limit our freedoms. Fear is an incredibly effective control tactic. So far, it’s worked for seven weeks. I do not know what “they” intend to try to control in the long run, but currently, they are controlling our lives, our freedom of expression, our worship, and our futures. It is time to put pressure on our politicians to open our county, state, and country. Once again, Texas is leading the way in exhibiting a willingness to be American and show the way to freedom (see link below). Just another reason why so many California companies and California residents have made their way to Texas over the last decade (link below). 

So, what do we do now? The first step is inundating our local government with calls, emails, letters, messages, etc. and let them know you want our county, state, and nation OPEN. The next step is peaceful protest. There are many protests being organized right now, you can find them near you by a simple search (if these have not been taken down by google, twitter, facebook or other sites). Just make sure you know what exactly is being protested before joining one. There are protests for and against this lockdown so make sure you’re at the right one. I want you to know, as your pastor, and also for those that do not go to Skyline, I will be doing everything I can do to make sure our voices are heard. We will be together again soon, gathering, singing, praising, learning, growing and doing all God has called us to do in His Name. Although these stressful and anxious times can be overwhelming, you have the ultimate source to take your fears, worries and concerns to. Our Lord Jesus Christ has promised to let His peace rest on us as we draw near to Him. Trust Him, He will get us through this. God bless you and God Bless America.

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/coronavirus-disease-2019-vs-the-flu

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/2018-2019.html

https://www.theepochtimes.com/the-ccp-method-chinese-communist-partys-global-agenda_3329428.html

https://news4sanantonio.com/news/coronavirus/accelerated-urgent-care-provides-statistical-update-on-covid-19

https://www.foxnews.com/shows/tucker-carlson-tonight

https://www.wfaa.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/reopening-texas-begins-may1-governor-says/287-45ff1dcd-dd78-4419-af21-0d9edfd558d4

https://www.southstarcommunities.com/blog/companies-leave-california-bound-for-texas

How Can Faith in God Help Anxiety

Last Thursday, I had the privilege of joining Mike Slater live on AM600 KOGO. The main question that we discussed was, “How Can Faith In God Help Anxiety?” At Skyline Church, we’ve experienced a heightened community response due to COVID19. It seems that now more than ever, people are asking God legitimate questions. People are realizing that they aren’t in control as much as they thought and that can lead to anxiety. It’s in moments like 9/11, or in this case, a worldwide pandemic, where people storm churches in search of answers (of course now they’re not storming physically, but they are storming the churches by watching online). Sadly, as was the case of 9/11 as soon as they arrived they began to remember why they left the church in the first place. Whether it’s the way the message was conveyed or the lack of a welcoming atmosphere by the “churchy” people. That’s why our slogan at Skyline Church is: No perfect people allowed! We know there are always going to be hypocrites, to which we say, “Welcome!” Regardless of who you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done, “You matter to God and you matter to us.” Our heart is to help people. 

In some cases, events like 9/11 or COVID don’t always help someone’s spiritual walk. We have to be wise about how we convey “the church” because the message of God has not changed. However, we do have to change our methods to address a changing culture. And I believe that problems present opportunities. Church doesn’t look like it did 50 years ago, especially with services moving online. God’s desire that no (person) should perish (2 Peter 3:9) is finally widely available in an unthreatening space … your living room. 

People in our community are facing real problems with real anxiety. This is why we’ve set out to read through the book of Philippians in a daily 3-5 minute devotional that you can watch called, Today Matters. In this book we learn how to experience joy regardless of the circumstances, because the Apostle Paul is in a Roman jail as he writes to the Philippian church, yet he’s conveying a positive message. He has A LOT of problems, you want an example of someone who should be full of anxiety, it would be the Apostle Paul, yet he’s talking about how much he loves the people and how much joy he has AND he lists why he has that joy!  

Even though we are in the middle of a difficult time, there are some advantages. One of the advantages is helping our community get back to the foundational habits of our faith. These habits that we’re developing during this time are going to carry us forward whenever we return to “normal” whatever that new normal looks like. All of our habits are broken right now. Let’s make some new ones or get back to some good ones! It’s easy to binge on Netflix, Ben and Jerry’s and not exercise, and we begin to develop poor habits. But God has a different plan for you and me in this season. 

In the midst of uncertainty and anxiety, it’s natural for us to lose our joy. But I want to suggest something so elementary that you might laugh at its simplicity. Obviously there’s a lot of negativity swirling out there and we’re conditioned to complain. But the reality is that you have to be grateful to have joy. You don’t know anyone who is ungrateful and happy. The two go together. Gratitude is the key to joy! And this is why Paul could have joy even in Jail. So as easy as it sounds, I want to encourage you to write down things you’re grateful for. As many as you can! Take as much time as you want or need; 5, 10, 50 minutes. It’s a simple and old school practice but it works! No one wants to be around a sour puss Christian. If you’re a Christian, the Bible tells us to “Be Joyful Always.” So if that’s the case then inform your face! I’m not talking “pollyanna” (fake) joy, I’m talking about regardless of your circumstances, regardless of what’s temporary, take up joy by being grateful. 

You may have heard that the Bible says, “do not fear” or “fear not,” 365 times. That’s one verse on overcoming your anxiety everyday of the year! In my blog last week, we talked about the alternative to worry. Worrying is thinking a negative thought over and over again. Let me say this again, if you know how to worry, you know how to meditate. I want to encourage you to choose one of the thousands of promises in the Bible and think on that verse over and over instead of that negative thought. As you do that, you’ll notice your anxiety subsiding. The Bible says it doesn’t make sense to worry. Worry weighs us down (Proverbs 12:25)

There are few practices with a greater return. Why hesitate? It’s so elementary but we shrug it off. Like the Apostle Paul, start writing down what you’re thankful for. You may not be in a Roman jail, but it probably feels a bit like jail being confined like we are. Here’s a suggestion on how to begin: It may start as simply as food, breath, shelter, toilet paper, etc … But remember how simplistic Jesus was compared to the Pharisees. It’s not about the complexity of the Gospel that gives us joy, it’s about the simplicity of it. In order to do this, we just need to snap out of it! Don’t sleep walk through life. Turn off Netflix, write down some things you’re grateful for, and open your Bible to a promise you can cling to. I promise that these habits will change your life for the better. You will feel joy coming in and anxiety going out.

God bless, 

Jeremy

We hope to see you this Sunday as we continue to do church differently online. You can join us for our new sermon series at SkylineChurch.org at 9AM, 10:30AM, 3PM, and 5PM.