Let’s talk numbers. Let’s talk data. Let’s get down to the science of what is going on and draw some conclusions based on the facts. There is a lot going on with the County of San Diego and its restrictions on what people can and cannot do. We want you to know that we take this very seriously and we are constantly trying to balance the FEAR that is being spread by some of our National, State and Local officials and the verifiable FACTS about Covid.  

Currently,  the Covid mortality rate is at 0.02%, according to an Oxford study that is updated monthly.[i] Some say 0.01%. The point is that it is very low, to almost non-existent. That means you are about as likely to be killed by an errant baseball as you are Covid. And when it comes to dying from the virus, that 0.02% is only if you have significant underlying health issues, or as they are often referred to as, co-morbidities. This low death rate is even inflated as many health officials around the nation have been documenting motorcycle and car crash victims as Covid deaths.[ii] 

I want to share some statistics with you to help alleviate the fears some of you may be dealing with concerning the Covid virus. I cite every statistic I share in the endnotes so you can look up the websites and the journal articles to do your own research and come to your own conclusions. You may not agree with me, and if not, please cite your sources so I can look up the information you are basing your opinion on. 

I believe one of the things Shepherds are supposed to do, is protect the Sheep. Pastors are supposed to protect the flock God has entrusted to us. Not only are we to spiritually nurture, feed, and help grow our flock, we are supposed to fight for our flock when wolves and other predators try to attack. We are to fight off enemies we can see and enemies we cannot see.  

Sometimes, as is the case here, there is fear from something that is actually not there. It has been an enemy in the dark, something we cannot see. So, we have all scrambled not knowing where the next strike was going to come from. Yet, for 99.9% of people, the strike from this viral enemy has never and will never come. It is a straw man of an enemy to be sure. But, we have to fight the narratives out there to give people hope. We cannot sit back and just wait for the OK from the Governor as more and more lives are ruined. 1 Peter 5:2 reminds us, “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you …” 

Having said that, I’d like to give you some statistics to, hopefully, alleviate some fears that are constantly and consistently being spread.  Here are some statistics to give you some clarity on what is going on. Now, for my Kansas people, I’ll be specifically giving California stats from the CDC[iii] and then I’ll give some nationwide stats. Over 270,000 people die in California every year from various causes:            
·       65,000 die from heart disease 
·       60,000 die from cancer
·       16,000 from stroke
 ·       16,000 from Alzheimer’s
·       14,000 from respiratory illness—Covid is a respiratory virus, 14,000 people every year die from respiratory issues.

We don’t shut everything down because of that every year. Yet we have 8,700 Covid (supposed Covid deaths) in CA. I say supposed because a lot of fraud is now coming out that deaths are being labeled Covid. Hospitals are getting more money from Medicare when deaths at their hospital are labeled Covid. For example, if someone dies from straight forward pneumonia the payment to the hospital is $5,000. If they die of Covid-related pneumonia it’s $13,000, and if the Covid patient is on a ventilator and dies it goes up to $39,000.[iv] Continuing with the California causes of death: 
·       10,000 from diabetes 
·       5,000 from liver disease
 ·       14,000 from various accidents
·       3 Million from alcohol (USA) 
·       250,000 from cigarettes
·       5,000 from Suicide (and that number was from 2019 before Covid, we know it’s much higher this year as NATIONWIDE suicide ideation is up 600%).[v]

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, going to religious services helps lower the incidences of suicide, “Many Americans attend various community or religious activities. Weekly attendance at religious services has been associated with a 5-fold lower suicide rate compared with those who do not attendThe effects of closing churches and community centers may further contribute to social isolation and hence suicide.” [vi]

Why? Because you’ve got to have hope to cope. Every week we hand out hope at Skyline church and many other churches do the same. Yet, health officials want to keep churches closed or force them outdoors in 95-degree heat in the middle of summer (in East County San Diego). 

 The greatest killer in our state is by medical professionals who perform abortions. 364 abortions a day in California. That means 1 in 4 pregnancies are aborted. California has more abortions than anyone else and they are taxpayer funded.  Our Governor, Gavin Newsom, has decided that anyone who lives in a state where abortion is illegal or hard to come by, they can come to California and our taxpayers will pay for the abortion.  So, a woman can have a free abortion no matter where she is from or how she got here. We, as California Taxpayers will pay for the abortion.[vii] 

Meanwhile businesses are closing and many will not open again because they have been ruined by this lockdown, and there is no help in sight for them. People in our church are losing their life savings and their lifelong dream of having a thriving business, over a virus that kills less people than a thunderstorm. 

Yet the abortion clinics remain open, the liquor stores remain open, the strip clubs remain open, the casinos remain open. And, you may have noticed, those of you here in San Diego, that according to our public health officials who report ad nauseam on the “outbreaks” that not one outbreak has been reported from those places. That is fascinating.  As we learn more about this virus, apparently the Covid virus is very virtuous and will not go near those places. You are expected to believe that. There is a clear problem here, it is one of hypocrisy and duplicity.   

There is no moral high ground with the leaders in our state who portend to have the public health in mind as these lockdowns drag on into the fifth month or 139 days since March 13 when we all heard the phrase, “15 Days to Slow the Spread.” The initial issues that caused the lockdown have been rectified yet we are still locked down and locked out.  Let’s go through the short list:           
1. Ventilators. We were told we need enough ventilators. Ventilators, check.
2. Flatten the curve. Then we can resume our lives, albeit with some changes. Curve flattened,check.           
3. Surge capacity in our hospitals. We need to make sure when the virus spikes, we have surge capacity in our hospitals. Most hospitals have less people this year, year over year.[viii] Surge capacity, check.      
4. Therapies and Prophylactics. We need to make sure we can treat those who get the virus and prevent it in those who are the most vulnerable. Therapies and Prophylactics, check.           
5. Kids are vulnerable. We must keep our kids safe. Kids are not vulnerable to Covid. As a matter of fact, the flu is more dangerous for kids.[ix] 

I could keep going but you get the idea. The point is the goal posts are constantly being moved to agree with a false narrative about this virus. 

Abortion clinics, liquor stores, strip clubs and casinos are all deemed essential during this time. But the Church, and many businesses that help our community, are not. Folks, if you are not already, it’s time to wake up to what is going on. I believe the tide is turning and many, many people are waking up to what is actually going on. You are not in danger of a virus called Covid. However, you are in danger of losing your great country to a radical agenda that will stop at nothing to destroy our economy, our freedom, and our faith. 

Knowledge is power. We have the knowledge of this virus. We know how to manage it, treat it, prevent it and even cure it. Unfortunately, we grieve for those 0.02% who have lost their lives to this virus. As small of a number as that is, it still represents lives that are lost and families that have been affected. We are not heartless in understanding that.  

However, don’t believe the nonsense you are hearing from godless news outlets and social media “influencers.” Whenever anyone comes forward with scientific evidence that clearly shows the virus is not as lethal as first thought, or that as we have seen from Frontline Doctors[x], there is an actual cure, these videos, evidence and research studies are pulled down from the internet source by Google. Your Free Speech and your Freedom of Religion is being trampled on.  We need to get up, take our masks off, and speak upwhile being fed up. 

Our San Diego public health official, Dr. Wilma Wooten gave her thrice weekly update on Monday and said she was “saddened” by the outdoor service that a church had at a beach in North County and that she was intent on cracking down on churches and egregious violators. It looked like a big crowd from the video I saw, but it was certainly peaceful as people sang to the Lord and heard a message from a pastor.  

Now, as a matter of comparison, when places in the county she represents as the public health officer were burning down at the hands of thousands of protestors and rioters, who were not social distancing and were not wearing masks (save a person here and there) she remained silent on the issue of public health at protests. She never mentioned the rioters, never mentioned the protestors, and never mentioned levying fines or “cracking down” on the obvious “egregious” violations.  

The only words about the riots came from Supervisor Nathan Fletcher a few days after buildings and businesses burned in La Mesa and vandalism took place in many locations all over San Diego. Supervisor Fletcher was asked the question from a news reporter about the dual messaging or hypocrisy of allowing protests but not allowing gatherings at churches or other places. Fletcher’s response was illusory, he said, “We agree with the protestors right to gather, we just want them to do it safely …”

That same right he says he agrees with is the 1st amendment right to “peacefully gather.” Religious freedom is under that same 1st amendment right. Churches peacefully gather as a religious freedom right covered by the Constitution of the United States of America. Rioting is not to be agreed to at any time. It is not covered in the Constitution. Burning down buildings and wounding our Law Enforcement officers is not a “Peaceful Protest” and should never be agreed to by a County Supervisor or anyone else in charge.

Thousands of protestors burning down buildings and wounding our officers apparently is OK because Supervisor Fletcher agrees with their right to gather. But a church has a service on the beach and our public health officer is “saddened” by this activity and threatens reprisals. This, Dr. Wooten, is egregious. The hypocrisy has to stop and it only stops when people rise up and stop taking it.

I was told by one county official that Governor Newsom is holding potentially millions of dollars earmarked for San Diego hostage unless San Diego conforms to his mandates. He’s already withheld money from other counties that defied his orders. [xi] I understand our county leaders’ dilemma. That is much needed money for many community services that are severely underfunded at this point.

They have told me their hands are tied. I believe them. They are exasperated with the Governor. However, at some point our San Diego leaders have to say enough is enough and go against the Governor. I believe that time is NOW. If you look at the markers and triggers we must meet in order to begin to open up again, they are literally impossible to meet unless they are lowered significantly or removed entirely.[xii]

How do you beat a bully? You stand up to the bully. It is time to stand up to the bully. But, it will take everyone, grassroots, from start to finish letting your voices be heard. Be constantly and consistently inundating our representatives and health officials with a demand to open.

Our officials in San Diego have told many of us that there is nothing they can do because Newsom has so much power during this pandemic. That is not good enough. We have to march, we have to call, we have to utilize social media until it takes down the posts. And they will take down the posts if it doesn’t fit the false narrative. But the more we post the more likely some will last.

There are a few things going on that you can get involved in. Follow REOPEN.CALIFORNIA on Instagram and Facebook. There are several rallies and marches you can look into and consider being a part of. The larger these marches and rallies the more our voices will be heard. I don’t know a lot about the organization, so please do your research on who is running it and what exactly the messaging is, but at this point it looks like a solid organization that wants what’s best for Californians and our Nation.

I’m not an alarmist, but the alarm is ringing. I didn’t pull it, but I hear it, and it’s time to take action. The wolves have been ravaging the pen for too long. I personally cannot sit back and watch this happen. I am petitioning our representatives, I am on the phone, on zoom meetings with local and state officials and while there are many roadblocks at this point, there is an opening coming as more and more people rise up and stop putting up with these lockdowns.

Again, if the data showed this is a dangerous virus and I as a Shepherd was putting my flock in danger, that would be irresponsible and egregious. However, the facts are the facts and a 0.02% morbidity rate is not a reason to cause a 600% increase in suicide ideation and an 8,000% increase in suicide hotline calls.[xiii] 0.02% is not a reason to see an over 20% increase in domestic abuse worldwide[xiv] and 25% increase closer to home.[xv] Tens of thousands of drug and alcohol relapses and deaths and more and more lives are at stake the longer this lockdown continues. 

Let’s face the facts and beat the bully of fear.

Endnotes [i]https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/global-covid-19-case-fatality-rates/
[vi] VanderWeele  TJ , Li  S , Tsai  AC , Kawachi  I .  Association between religious service attendance and lower suicide rates among US women.    JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(8):845-851. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2016.1243
[x] America’s Frontline Doctors transcript. https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/americas-frontline-doctors-scotus-press-conference-transcript

Interested or Committed?

What are you expecting God to do in your life?

There’s a law that God has established … I call it “the law of expectation.” The fact is, we tend to get what we “expect” out of life. We often see what we expect to see, hear what we expect to hear, feel the way we expect to feel, and succeed at what we expect to succeed in. God says you get to choose! It’s actually “the law of faith,” because “according to your faith it will be done to you” (Matthew 9:29). 

In Luke 17:5, we see the apostles ask the Lord to increase their faith! They had no idea how difficult that would be for them. The problem with acquiring more faith is the process.  We all want more faith, but nobody likes what it takes to get there. 

“There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in something you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something you accept no excuses, only results.” 

–– Ken Blanchard

During this time of Covid craziness you might be wondering what God is up to in all of this. How is He going to use this for good, how in the world is my faith supposed to grow through this time? Well, that depends. Are you interested or committed to growing your faith? The next natural question is how does God increase our faith? … He tests it!

Everyday we have faith building opportunities. And, these times of quarantine, open, close, reopen, do this, don’t do that, can drive any person crazy. But, we have to be committed to seeing these problems as faith building opportunities.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t recognize conflicts or hardships as opportunities. Instead, we let our circumstances push us away from God. I believe this time of quarantine is more than a season of conflict, hardship, and restrictions. It’s actually a faith building opportunity!

You see, faith is like a muscle. It has to be worked out, stretched, and pulled with resistance … consistently. Just like consistency is key in getting bigger and stronger muscles, consistency is key in working out your faith muscle! In fact, James 1:3-4 reminds us of this when it says “… the testing of your faith produces perseverance … so that you may be mature and complete …”

A faith that stretches is uncomfortable, but it’s also healthy! Look at your faith like a tree. It requires nurturing and ultimately we hope to produce delicious fruit. But fruits don’t arrive over night. It’s the wind, rain, and storms that challenge the tree’s roots to go deeper and stabilize the tree before the season of harvest returns. 

I want to encourage you to continue to follow Jesus and live out Colossians 2:6-7 which says, 

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught and overflowing with thankfulness.” 

Let the roots of your faith grow deeper throughout this time of Covid, no matter how long it lasts. If you are committed, your faith WILL become stronger. I’m confident that this time of quarantine is an opportunity that will lead you to trust God more than you ever have before. Use this time to allow your roots of faith to ‘grow’ to a whole new level.

The reason that your faith needs testing is because God wants to increase it! God is never going to say “you’ve arrived,” “there’s nothing else for you,” or “that’s all I have to teach you” … He’s always going to want us to take that next step of faith!

So let me ask you again … What are you expecting God to do in your life? Are you interested in Him working in your life or committed? Can you hang in there a little longer, lean on Him a little more, and trust Him to come through? Will you do it with an expectant heart knowing that He has promised to move according to your committed faith?

I am believing that your faith is going to grow in new ways and we’re going to come out of this season stronger than ever! I’m committed to it, and I expect it!

Close Down Again?

You’ve probably heard the news from the Governor of California. He has issued an order to close businesses and places of worship again. The County of San Diego has a right to not adhere to this order as San Diego has proven week after week to be one of the safest counties in the United States.  However, it appears our County is deciding to follow the Governor’s order.

I want you to know that we take this very seriously as we take into consideration all factors in conjunction with public health. There are various aspects to public health. There is of course the one that has been focused on since March, the medical side of public health. However, there is also the emotional, economical, psychological, and spiritual health among others that MUST be considered when talking about public health. There is never to be a ONE SIZE FITS ALL program. What has been happening is an all out focus on one aspect of public health to the detriment of the other aspects of public health. 

While we understand the pressures our governmental leaders are under to stop the spread, we must not lose sight of the other health issues that have resulted from the various shut downs and quarantines. Indeed, the intended cure has become a massive public health problem itself.

While we must continue to protect the most vulnerable in our society, we have proven we can do that. As we have helped those who are most vulnerable throughout this pandemic, it is now time to help those who are most vulnerable economically, spiritually, psychologically and emotionally. I believe this is a both/and proposition, not an either/or. We can continue to protect the most vulnerable while opening our businesses, communities and churches. 

At Skyline Church, our goal is to strike a balance between the reality of a virus like Covid existing and the reality of the need for people to have the freedom to worship in church. We have followed all the guidelines and even gone above and beyond to make sure we are safe when we have had services. When many churches and businesses were ordered closed back in March, we knew very well our right to meet and indeed our 1st Amendment right of freedom to express our religion, but, we decided to follow our government’s recommendations to not gather, even when we had the right to. 

As restrictions were loosened we began to gather as permitted by our government. While we recognize the separation of church and state, we were being honoring of our governmental officials as required in Romans 13. While Romans 13 helps guide our consciousness during an uncertain time, we also are to be guided by Acts 5 where Peter and the other apostles were reprimanded by the government for disobeying their governmental officials and stated very clearly, “We are to obey God, rather than human beings.” 

So, this is the importance of understanding context. There are times when we most certainly should obey our governmental leaders. But, there are times when (as God leads the spiritual leaders of the church) we must pause and listen more closely for the voice of God in the midst of uncertain times. I have no doubt that Peter and the Apostles did that and came to the conclusion they came to. 

Therefore, after the Governor gave his update yesterday, we met as an Executive Team, then we met as a staff at Skyline, then we met as a Board at Skyline and I met with leaders of other churches and it is with much prayer and lots of hours of meetings that our leadership team at Skyline Church has decided that WE WILL REMAIN OPEN AS A CHURCH this weekend. 

We have gone above and beyond to make sure we have a safe and clean environment and we will continue to be safe and clean. This is the same for your kiddos. We will remain open for your kids. We are not the only ones remaining open this weekend, there is a tremendous unity among churches in San Diego and while some will close and some remain open, each church has its own good reasons for its particular decision.

I want to emphasize, if you have any concerns about this please stay home. I also want to emphasize, if you’re feeling any symptoms please stay home. Watch our online services which are the same services as we have in person. We believe those who have concerns will stay home and take part in church online and those who feel they need to be at church for their own spiritual health and well-being will be here. We trust YOU and your FREEDOM to decide what is best for you and your family.

We also believe we are contributing positively to the public health, especially the spiritual, emotional, mental, and even physical health side by being out of the house and worshipping our Lord. 

Please RSVP this week at skylinechurch.org. We will also have the outside venue available under the umbrellas but it would probably be a good idea to bring your own chairs. Even going farther than that, you can stay in your car and tune your radio to 89.3 FM to take part in the service that way.
This is such an interesting time folks, but we know and have seen that God is moving and working in the midst of all that is going on. We LOVE you, we are praying for you, and we will see you SUNDAY! 

Prescription for Change

Did you know that in a typical year about 2,000 self-help books come out on the market? Advertisers know that everybody is interested in change. The thing about self-help books and even many of the self-help podcasts out there, is that they tell you to stop doing this and start doing that, which is usually good advice, but the problem is they don’t give you the power to change.

We all have areas that we wish we could change but we’ve just been unable to do it. It may be sexual desires, drinking, spending, eating, or our moodiness to name a few. You name it, and we’ve probably tried to change it. So, why do we do what we don’t want to do? It’s an old question that the Apostle Paul asked in the book of Romans. Today, we’re going address that question by looking at three things:

  1. The Problem: Why we do what we don’t want to do
  2. God’s Promise: Getting a true understanding to overcome the problem
  3. The Prescription (Hey, I’m a Doctor, I can do that): The HOW to live in God’s promises

Join me in Romans 7:15-25: Paul writes,

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.”

 Let’s talk brass tacks … 

  1. The Problem is that we have a sinful nature in us. What does that mean exactly? It means there’s a civil war going on in us, a war of our flesh against our spirit (Matthew 26:41). This war draws us into a cycle of starting off with good intentions, but then we fail, which leads to guilt. And then it repeats … good intentions, failure, guilt. 
  2. God’s Promise is in John 8:32 , “… the truth will set you free.” The secret to personal change is not “will power.” It’s not a pill, a new year’s resolution, a vow, it’s not even something you say or do. Personal freedom is achieved through knowledge. It’s something you know! When you know the truth, the lies you’ve come to believe are exposed and you can break free from the problems that have held you back from the change you’re looking for. 
  3. When the Prescription is taken, we can live in God’s promise and purpose for our life. Here’s the prescription, take A,B,C,D every time you want to change something about yourself.

A: Acknowledge the root of the problem. 
B: Believe Jesus can change you. 
C: Confess your struggle to another person. 
D: Dedicate yourself completely to Jesus.

Each of these steps are very important. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Acknowledge the sin today. But don’t lose yourself in a cycle of good intentions, failure, and guilt. Believe that Jesus can change you. Romans 7:24-25 says, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Now, I understand, this next step can be hard, but we’re not meant to do life alone. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). When you completely dedicate yourself to Jesus Christ, you’ll experience the one and only God that keeps His promises.  

You DO have the power to change through Jesus Christ. And you can start TODAY!

ABC’s for Loyalty

What a week! 

I’m on the road just outside San Francisco at a gathering of pastors for Convoy of Hope. This incredible ministry serves our local community and the poorest of the poor all around the world. I’m out here to learn more about them and looking into how we can partner with them in the near future. Stay tuned for more information on that!

I’m also thrilled to be with our Executive Team meeting with a group of great people in the city of Pacifica (near San Francisco) as we discuss our next campus “Skyline Pacifica.” You’ll be hearing more about that soon!

Today, I want to talk about “loyalty.” When conflict begins to heat up between those who are relationally close, it can be increasingly difficult to solve the problem. If a problem continues to go unsolved, the person you’re close to can begin to feel like an enemy.

If you’re not currently at odds, just make sure you’ve got these tools of loyalty ready to go because it’s never IF you have conflict, it’s always WHEN you have conflict, you’ll want to be prepared with these habits. 
It may seem impossible to affirm a loved one with loyalty during strenuous times, but today I want to encourage you with an easy way to remember practical keys to make this possible in your life. Use the ABC’s to remember 3 ways to affirm loyalty during conflict.

  1. Accept them! Part of loyalty is accepting each others differences. Acceptance doesn’t mean that you approve of everything they do, but it means that your love for them is not dependent upon them changing.
  2. Before you seek to be understood, seek to understand. It’s easy to all the sudden start focusing on the problem and to forget the value of the relationship. Pretty soon you start seeing yourselves as enemies. Remember, they’re NOT the enemy!
  3. Cloth yourself in Compassion. Colossians 3:12, reminds us that there’s an act of putting on compassion. Compassion is really defined as love IN action. 

Implement these habits of loyalty and when the fires of conflict begin to heat up, you’ll be able extinguish the flames before you get burned.