If you’ve been to any of the Skyline Church campuses, you’ve probably heard me recite our purpose statement, “Helping people find and follow Jesus seven days a week.” That’s because the pastors, staff, volunteers, and members believe that the idea of "faith" is more than a weekly check mark on our to-do lists. We believe that following Jesus isn’t just for Sunday mornings, but a transformation from old to new life that can be built upon daily. It is unequivocally essential.
At Skyline Church, we emphasize FINDING people because Jesus did. We see it all throughout Scripture but especially in Luke 19:10 where Jesus said, “I have come to seek and save the lost.” Another phrase you may have heard around Skyline is, “NO PERFECT PEOPLE ALLOWED.” In other words, everyone is welcome! No one needs to clean up their life, put on a tie, or have it all figured out to walk through our doors. That includes you! It includes that difficult family member, co-worker, driver that cut you off yesterday, and yes, it even includes Raider fans (I really had to pray about that one).
In Luke 15:7, Jesus says, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Found people find people. Once people are found, it’s imperative to teach them. Not every church reaches and teaches people the same way. It takes a lot of different churches to reach different kinds of people. But here, this is how we do it ... SEVEN days a week! We’re relentlessly dedicated to teaching the truth in love, sharing the relevance of scripture, and passionately spreading the Good News of Jesus with others in our community. Every week we want to make sure people have hope to cope. Whether it is through our various worship services, small groups, classes, online devotionals, or providing meals, we're here for our community. These are just a few of the reasons why Church is Essential.
Vice vs. Virtue
When the health mandates shut down churches but left other places open, they delineated that liquor stores, strip clubs and casinos were "essential,” but churches were not. In other words, the things that tend to be vices in our culture were OK, but the thing that teaches virtues was not. The things that could ruin your life should remain open, but the thing that could save your life was mandated closed. It was a clear Vice vs. Virtue statement. The Bible gives a stern warning to those who make these kinds of statements:
"How terrible it will be for people who call good things bad and bad things good, who think darkness is light and light is darkness ..."Isaiah 5:20 (NCV)
I've written previously about the tragic and massive increase in drug and alcohol relapses, overdoses, suicides and abuses caused by the lockdown. These tragedies continue today as our Governor refuses to make the necessary changes in the health orders to allow churches to fully minister to those in need.
While the mandates have changed slightly, and limited attendance is now "allowed" these mandates are a blatant disregard for the centrality and essentiality of the church in the life of our culture. Many people need church, millions of people across our great country attend church every weekend, and even every day. The connections made to the Word of God and to the family of God, the practical help received and the hope that is given infuses energy to, at a minimum, get through another week. For the vast majority of church goers, it is indeed ESSENTIAL.
These facts are completely lost on Governor Newsom whose self-interest is put before his constituents. Instead of serving those in the state he leads, he is causing great harm to those he has sworn to serve. His hypocrisy continues to be revealed on a seemingly daily basis. After announcing in May that he would be taking a pay cut of 10% and leading the way as all state workers would be taking that cut, he did NOT take a pay cut and received his regular pay while all the state workers took the actual pay cut. When he was called out for not taking the cut, his spokesperson said it was an "oversight."
Another “oversight” has to do with the wineries Newsom owns or is a shareholder in. While his wineries remain open, he has mandated that other wineries be closed.At least one quality a leader must have is credibility. Credibility includes integrity which means a leader should be void of hypocrisy. Governor Newsom has lost his credibility.
Governing officials are called “Public Servants” and they are sworn in to among other things lead the way in sacrificially serving the public good. I think Governor Newsom believes the Public should serve him. The point being, these supposed Public Servants act as though they are above the rest of us. They can continue to live their lives the way they want, free from all restrictions, while the foolish peasants obey and get in line. These mandates are especially frustrating in light of the actual Covid numbers.
The Reality of Covid Deaths
Newsom has said he is doing what is best for California. We are expected to believe this. Just like we are expected to believe the numbers of Covid cases and just like we are expected believe the number of deaths because of Covid and on and on ... When will people realize this is not about safety?
Take a look at the latest CDC charts and you'll notice that deaths from Covid-19 are actually 6% of the total number of deaths that are being reported as Covid deaths. So, currently we are being told that Covid has caused 174,470 deaths in the United States. Yet, when you dig into the actual numbers on the CDC website you see they have listed that over 94% of those people had approximately 3 other significant health conditions or “co-morbidities.”
The actual number of deaths caused by Covid is 6% of 174,470 or 10,468. While every death is tragic and we grieve for those families that lost loved ones, this is in NO WAY anywhere near the average number of flu deaths or many other causes of deaths I’ve written about before. According to the CDC, there is NO PANDEMIC. Yet, we’ve shut down our Nation, State, Businesses, Schools, Churches, and Communities and many more people have died from these shutdowns compared to Covid.
Church is essential, people’s businesses are essential, putting food on the table is essential, schools being open for our kid’s health, well-being and education are essential. Enough is enough, we need to open up fully. Let’s pick up the pieces, hold those responsible for this huge mistake, accountable, and get our lives moving forward.
Nothing to Fear
You truly have nothing to fear.If you are a fearful person or concerned about the virus and you just don’t believe the actual numbers, by all means wear a mask, you’re welcome at Skyline Church. We won’t judge anyone on the basis of a mask or social distancing or anything else. My job is to shepherd the flock God has given me. That means pointing out darkness and showing the light. Darkness continues to be perpetrated throughout these last six months. Fear mongering continues until people refuse to listen. How many times does theboy have tocry wolf before we ignore that cry? So far, for six months we’ve heard “wolf” folks, there is no wolf. There will continue to be cries of “wolf” from our California Governor and officials, but you can be assured there is no wolf.
This does not mean there is not some kind of virus called Covid that if it is contrasted by a compromised immune system it could be harmful. If you have a compromised immune system or significant underlying health issues, it is NOT a death sentence, but you should take precautions, not just because of Covid but because of your health in general. The point being, you should do this during flu season too. If your health is compromised, by all means, be cautious. But, that doesn't mean everyone in the world should wear a mask and social distance from now on and forever.
What do we do, where do we go from here? I suggest you live your life in freedom and in freedom from fear. Memorize verses like this that speak directly to our current time:
“Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked.”Proverbs 3:25
“For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease.”Psalm 91:3
“Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday. Though a thousand fall at your side, though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you.”Psalm 91:6-7
Put your confidence in the Lord, not in falsified statistics, fear mongering, or in cries of a wolf at the door. Pray that this disaster will be behind us shortly and those who would lead our great state would put the interest of the people ahead of their own. For this is Essential.