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"Come, now is the time to worship," crooned the praise leader to the congregation. Then he turned his call to heaven: "Come, Lord Jesus, come." Then back to the people: "Let the pain and the sorrow be washed away...as deep cries out to deep." I visited Horizon Christian Fellowship because of their participation in a worldwide week of prayer and fasting, beginning February 5. "Fasting," read the handout available in the foyer, "is a spiritual discipline that causes one to dissociate him or herself from the natural desires of the flesh, and affords us an opportunity to focus our attention on seeking God's direction for our lives...." Every night, participants gather in their respective churches -- "connected via high-bandwidth Internet video" -- to pray. During the service, Pastor Mike MacIntosh called it "a great spark.... It's just wonderful to hear reports come in through the Internet. Thousands and thousands have joined together."

But the Web can help create other sorts of communities, warned MacIntosh. The sermon treated John chapter 10, wherein Jesus calls himself "the good shepherd." "Now, if there is a good shepherd, there must be a bad shepherd. You've already learned that in John's gospel; he's always contrasting." A congregant had sent him a link to a website with people "filming themselves blaspheming the Holy Spirit, denouncing God the Father and God the Son, and giving their souls to the devil on camera -- most of them young, thinking it's a fun thing.... The Psalms say that hell does enlarge herself daily.... The devil wants to drag you down into the pit of hell.... He wants to steal any good attribute that could possibly be in your life."

In contrast to the devil's malevolence, "there are so many wonderful attributes of the good shepherd that people just walk by...because they've taken it so far out of context.... It all boils down to when you die...you have to have your heart right with the good shepherd.... When death appears, that's the time you need the shepherd more than ever. We're all going to be there." Further, Jesus said that "I am the door...if any man shall enter in, he shall be saved and find pasture.... If God is going to take care of you for eternity, then it's his responsibility to take care of you in 2007."

MacIntosh asked the congregation to stand and read Psalm 23 aloud. "I want you to go back 750 years, before Jesus ever said that He was the good shepherd, and realize how King David had seen Jesus, and he knew. 'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures.... Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.... Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.'

"Jesus comes with a single focus in mind for you," concluded MacIntosh, "to bring life and to bring life more abundantly. Do you really have abundant life? Does your life overflow with the fruit of the Holy Spirit? Or do you feel like you're being robbed of your energy? Do you feel like you're dying -- something is just stabbing your heart, your guts are being wrenched? Well, then, you don't have abundant life.... 'My sheep hear my voice.' Can you hear Him this morning? Do you know Him? Are you following Him? 'If you are truly my disciple, continue in my word.'"

The congregation took communion, "an opportunity for your spirit to be revived in His presence and for your soul to remember." Communion "stops us, and the Holy Spirit searches us and allows us to confess our sins. If you're not a believer, or if you're living in some blatant sin and you're not willing to repent, you do not want to take communion. The apostle Paul said, 'You do eat and drink damnation unto your own soul, because you don't rightly discern the Lord's body.'"

What happens when we die?

"According to the Bible," said MacIntosh, "there's a place called Sheol -- we call it hell -- that's in the center of the earth.... The Bible says it was made for Satan and his angels. Heaven was designed for mankind, but then, when man sinned and turned from God -- heaven would have been hell to someone if they didn't like God. So, being fair and righteous, He lets them go there.... On the other side, the Bible says, 'Believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess with your lips that He is Lord, and you shall be saved.' It's a narrow road and a disciplined life.... For those that put our faith in Him, as the good shepherd, He leads us to His Father. What heaven looks like, I don't know."

Horizon Christian Fellowship

5331 Mount Alifan Drive, Clairemont

Denomination: nondenominational

Founded locally: 1974

Senior pastor: Mike MacIntosh

Congregation size: 3000

Staff size: around 12

Sunday school enrollment: 650

Annual budget: n/a

Weekly giving: n/a

Singles program: yes

Dress: casual to dressy

Diversity: diverse

Sunday worship: 8:30 a.m., 11 a.m.

Length of reviewed service: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Website: horizonsd.org

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Letter to the Editor March 27, 2014 @ 5:34 p.m.

As a long time attendee/member of the fellowship (Horizon Christian), I need to make straight some of the statements by your article author. First, where Horizon has been at the head of 100s of churches starting all around the globe, it is not in control of those churches. They may have been blessed to go out: Win, Disciple, Send; mission statement, but they are not under any governance of Horizon San Diego.

There are no honchos of the fellowship. There is a staff, and Mike (MacIntosh) is the Lead Pastor. He is the founder of HorizonSD, but just one of many (many) that have helped to develop the fellowship. Now, where the author of the article suggests that the buildings of the Scripps Ranch property have been unoccupied for over 15 years, that is wrong too, as the School of Evangelism was there just a few years ago.

But because the community really doesn’t want a church there, or the City doesn’t want the property not to collect large property taxes, Horizon has not been able to establish the land for worship either through direct use or selling to other house of worship group. Horizon is just looking to get back what it has put into the property & really could use the income as they might be out of a home for the fellowship soon as the SD School district has sold their Mt. Alifan property that the church put in well over a million dollar$. We’ve always wanted to be good neighbors, and thought beautification & improvement would help not only help the school: Horizon High, & daycare, but would also make a more appealing place for the neighborhood.

The property was leased to Horizon many decades ago because it was being vandalized, was dangerous, and a major eye sore to the community. Horizon doesn’t care what is developed on the Scripps Ranch property as long as they can get the needed funds out of the property. Well, let me re-say that, they care, as a Christian organization, but it is not ultimately up to them. They, WE, need the funds put into the property to prepare for our next 30 years here in San Diego.

We want to keep hosting one of the best high schools of the region. We want to grow back the body of believers that once numbered in the multithousands, if not double digit thousands that once attended the church(es) weekly. We have been a good neighbor and look forward to many many more decades of helping those less fortunate to find a better life, whether or not they attend the fellowship.

— Daniel Beeman, 25-year attendee of Horizon Christian Fellowship of San Diego.


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