Spiritual formation is central to the mission of our Anchor City community. There are so many forces in this world — both internal and external — that would pull our heart & character away from Jesus. As Dallas Willard wisely observes:
Everyone receives spiritual formation, just as everyone gets an education. The only question is whether it is a good one or a bad one. We need to take a conscious, intentional hand in the developmental process.
We may not be able to become the people God dreams of us becoming directly or overnight, but that doesn’t mean we should give up. There are disciplines in which we can engage daily — often small things — that, over time, will enable us to achieve our goals as we work in partnership with the Holy Spirit. Most of us couldn’t just dash out the front door right now and complete a marathon. But, if we trained daily and with sincere commitment, running a marathon becomes possible.
Renovaré offers a helpful list of spiritual disciplines here. They remind us, “Disciplines do not earn us favor with God or measure spiritual success. They are exercises which equip us to live fully and freely in the present reality of God – and God works with us, giving us grace as we learn and grow.”
Jesus tells His disciples in Mark 10:35-45 that the path to greatness in the Kingdom of God is through the discipline of service.
The spiritual discipline of service can be defined as:
The many little deaths of going beyond ourselves which produces in us the virtue of humility.
If we engaged in humble acts of service daily — not because we have to but because we get to — how would it shape us to love God and love others over time? How does having a genuinely humble character reflect the greatness of God? How would generosity and a ready willingness to serve others impact our ability to love others?
For further growth, download and read The Discipline of Service, from Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. This classic work offers much insight into understanding service as a key spiritual discipline, particularly the difference between self-righteous service (and the damage it causes) and true Christian service (and its wide-reaching benefits).
People will come from east and west
and north and south,
and will take their places
at the feast in the kingdom of God.
— Luke 13:29
At the Table, we open our mouths to the food and our hearts to one another. As the saying goes, Asian moms say, “I love you” by asking, “Have you eaten anything?”
As we continue to dream together about how God is sending Anchor City into San Diego, let’s consider the ways we can invite others to the Feast and how we can be a family to the lost & lonely.
Here are a few links from people and organizations that Pastor Dan mentioned during his sermon yesterday:
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Humble Design in Detroit helps to make a house a home for “families transitioning out of homeless shelters by providing furnishings and design services. We turn their empty house into a clean, dignified and welcoming home. It’s a very simple idea that can change a family’s future.”
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The 5280 Table is building a mile-long table for the mile-high city (Denver) to bring hope to their city by sharing a meal with neighbors. “In our divisive age, there’s nothing quite like a meal shared with others to bring down some walls.”
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Detroit Soup gathers strangers around tables for the common good of their city. “Detroit SOUP is a microgranting dinner celebrating and supporting creative projects in Detroit. For a donation $5 attendees receive soup, salad, bread and a vote and hear from four presentations ranging from art, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurs, education, technology and more. Each presenter has four minutes to share their idea and answer four questions from the audience. At the event, attendees eat, talk, share resources, enjoy art and vote on the project they think benefits the city the most. At the end of the night, we count the ballots and the winner goes home with all of the money raised to carry out their project. Winners come back to a future SOUP dinner to report their project’s progress.”
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May you come to the Table and hear the Father say, “I love you.” May Anchor City be a family to the lonely, and may our Table bring healing & hope to our city and beyond.
Here are the images of depictions of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry from various artists around the world that Pastor Jeya shared on Sunday:
As PJ preached, so many times we let the fear of suffering hold us back from living a full life for God. We are so worried about the possibility of discomfort or pain that it prevents us from genuinely responding to God’s call. Friends, the cross reminds us that Jesus bore the ultimate suffering on our behalf. As 1 John 4:18 powerfully reminds us, “Perfect love drives out fear.”
This Good Friday, we invite you to reflect on these words from our friend Pastor Ray Hollenbach (you can read the full article here):
Friday is the road to Sunday.
There’s no Easter Sunday without Good Friday.
There is no resurrection without the Cross.
There’s a Good Friday for all of us.
Hebrews 12:1-3 says:
Therefore, since 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,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
This week, consider what might be holding you back from loving God and others whole-heartedly. Are there things you need to “throw off”?
Letting Go of Stuff
As Eugene Cho wisely notes,
“Generosity is what keeps the things I own from owning me.”
How can practicing the spiritual discipline of generosity set you free this week and remind you that your worth is in who you are, not what you own?
- Save up for our special Easter offering to support Preemptive Love Coalition’s work to bring clean water to the suffering people of Mosul
- Buy coffee for the person behind you in line (or buy a meal for the car behind you at the drive-through line)
- Lend a favorite book to a friend (or purchase them a copy of their own)
- Send one message (email, post, tweet, snap, etc.) a day that is strictly to help or encourage someone else
- Mail someone a thank-you card just because!
Letting Go of Shame
Micah 7:19 tells us,
Once again you (God) will have compassion on us.
You will trample our sins under your feet
and throw them into the depths of the ocean!
Yes, sin (and the consequences of sin) are real — but, take heart, the love of Christ is greater still!
Tim Keller writes, “You are more sinful than you could ever dare imagine, but you are more loved and accepted than you could ever dare hope.”
- As you shower, thank God for the cleansing we receive through Jesus
- Take a drive to the beach or lake and skip a few rocks. As each one sinks to the bottom, remember how much God has forgiven you.
- Let ordinary household chores (such as throwing out the trash or shredding old files) become a spiritual reminder that your shame has been erased because of Jesus
Matthew 6:33 (NLT),
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously,
and he will give you everything you need.
- As the saying goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” Find ways to deepen your friendship with sisters & brothers in Christ. Commit to pray for someone every day for a week and ask that person to do the same for you.
- Research a follower of Christ who has gone before you as part of the “cloud of witnesses” to be inspired & encouraged
- Seek Jesus through reading Scripture this week — praying for a joyful heart as you read
What Is Lent?
Lent is the forty days leading up to Easter, not including Sundays (during which we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection!). For the Church, this season is a time of reflection, repentance, and renewal. Many followers of Jesus find it helpful to fast during Lent.
What About Fasting?
Fasting has been misunderstood in many ways. Fasting is not:
Proving our spiritual worth by how much we can “suffer”
Giving up sins or bad habits (we should be giving up those things anyways)
Trying out a new diet (going on a low-carb diet is not the same thing as fasting).
John Piper’s words about fasting can be helpful in reminding us of its purpose: “Christian fasting, at its root, is the hunger of a homesickness for God.” When we fast, we take a step back from a good gift of God (for example, food!) and seek the Giver of those gifts. When our stomachs growl from hunger, or we feel fidgety from a media fast, we are reminded that our greatest hunger should be Jesus Himself.
As Richard Foster writes:
Fasting must forever center on God. More than any other Discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us.
Again, Piper writes, “We have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great.”
Simply put, we fast so that we can make more room in our hearts for Jesus.
Journey Through Scripture
As we withdraw for a time from some good gifts of God during this season, we also encourage you to draw near to the Giver through intentionally adding disciplines.
What better way to make room in our hearts for Christ than through Scripture and actively seeking after God? We encourage our entire Anchor City family, young & young-at-heart (!), to practice different spiritual disciplines during the Lenten season.
Lent 2017 Photo-A-Day Journey — if you post to social, please tag it #AnchorCityLent (right-click to save all the PDF files)
These simple acts of faith & devotion can help Christians of all ages make room in their hearts for Jesus.
One Final Note
We encourage you to break your fast on Sundays. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus each Lord’s Day, and breaking the fast weekly reminds us that it’s not primarily about our self-discipline, but celebrating the Risen King of grace and life.
In this week’s sermon from Acts 8:26-40, Pastor Jeya showed us how powerful crossing boundaries for the sake of Christ can be.
There were numerous boundaries Philip crossed in his conversation with this Ethiopian man:
- Spiritual — in hearing and responding to God’s prompting at each stage
- Geographic — in obedience to God’s call, Philip was willing to physically journey across various borders
- Relational — in being invited into relationship, asking good questions, and being willing to listen to both God and the people around him
- Cultural — in reaching out to someone who was different from him in cultural, ethnic, and racial heritage
- Each discussion group was able to share even more (please feel free to add your group’s findings as a comment to this post!)
PJ mentioned a show (viewable on Netflix) called The Kindness Diaries — a man who travels the world relying on the kindness of strangers and, in the journey, discovering the gifts that make a full life. May we have the courage and compassion to follow Jesus in crossing borders, both near and far, and discover joy, grace, and life in those places.
We’re excited to introduce Toddler Sunday School at Anchor City Church!
The number of babies are growing at Anchor City, and so we seek to provide a dedicated space of worship and play for children who are walking to age 3 (when they will join the weekly Sunday School class).
This will be a ‘Parent and Me’ time, where at least one parent will join the child in a time of song, prayer, Bible and play. Our hope is to provide an experience of love and joy in Christ, for the young ones to worship freely, and to feel a sense of belonging to God and God’s family, together with their parents.
We also hope that this would provide opportunity for the non-participating parent to worship freely in the adult service as well.
Toddler Sunday School will be held once a month, on the last Sunday of each month, starting on January 29th. All participating children and parents will go downstairs with teacher Soo Yeon, after the greetings (before announcements).
For this year, we will be following a theme of ‘Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength’ – and we pray that even the youngest members of our church will learn to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength!
We look forward to seeing you there!
Below, researchers Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons conduct an experiment about selective attention. View this short clip for yourself :
From Chabris and Simons, “Imagine you are asked to watch a short video (above) in which six people-three in white shirts and three in black shirts-pass basketballs around. While you watch, you must keep a silent count of the number of passes made by the people in white shirts. At some point, a gorilla strolls into the middle of the action, faces the camera and thumps its chest, and then leaves, spending nine seconds on screen. Would you see the gorilla? Almost everyone has the intuition that the answer is “yes, of course I would.” How could something so obvious go completely unnoticed? But when we did this experiment at Harvard University several years ago, we found that half of the people who watched the video and counted the passes missed the gorilla. It was as though the gorilla was invisible.”
As followers of Jesus, we know that God wants to speak to us. The question is, are we paying attention?
Could something so obvious as God’s voice go completely unnoticed in our lives? How is God calling us to learn to navigate the journey ahead, to hear His voice, and to trust in Him more each day?
Here’s a follow-up video, with an interview the the gorilla himself :)
As PJ mentioned in her sermon today, here’s the video that exemplifies bravery and courage in the face of fear. Sweet and entertaining, too
Having courage doesn’t mean that you’re never afraid, but that you’re willing to keep moving forward even when you’re afraid.
Advent Conspiracy 2016
Anchor City is proud to continue to be a part of the Advent Conspiracy, a movement of churches committed to the belief that Christmas can still change the world. We want to invite our world into a better Christmas story than materialism and consumption, but one of faithful love, unfailing hope, and transforming relationships in and through Jesus.
Part of how we express this as a church family is through our Advent Conspiracy offering, which is collected by the church and given away 100% to support both a local and global partner in ministry.
Here are the details for this year’s Advent Conspiracy offering:
When: Christmas Sunday, December 25, 2016 (and Sunday, December 18, 2016 for those who cannot join us for our Christmas service)
Global Partner: Justice Ventures International
Local Partner: Genesis Diez Ministries in Baja, Mexico
How: Use the Advent Conspiracy offering envelopes provided and/or write a check to “Anchor City Church” with “AC 2016” in the memo.
As Anchor City honors our commitment to our ministry partners through this Advent Conspiracy offering, we continue to be amazed at the stories of freedom, justice, and restoration which are made possible, in part, through our church’s support.
Listen to this short story about the Joy of Sharing by Ashok Ramasubramanian at the Moth, which is both light-hearted and profound.
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The Syrian Refugee Crisis
Recently, many of us have become aware of the terrible news of violence — particularly against children — in Aleppo, Syria. These barbaric acts of violence are part of a massive ongoing humanitarian crisis which has gripped Syria since 2011.
13.5 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance due to a violent civil war that began in 2011.
4.8 million Syrians are refugees, and 6.1 million are displaced within Syria; half of those affected are children.
Children affected by the Syrian conflict are at risk of becoming ill, malnourished, abused, or exploited. Millions have been forced to quit school.
Most Syrian refugees remain in the Middle East, in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt; slightly more than 10 percent of the refugees have fled to Europe.
Peace negotiations continue despite a fraying and piecemeal ceasefire.
Pro-government forces drove out rebel forces from eastern Aleppo in a months-long siege and military campaign that left thousands dead and scores more injured or displaced. “As we go about our holiday preparations, the families and children of Aleppo are literally being massacred,” says Rich Stearns, World Vision U.S. president. “We must never lose our capacity to feel outrage when human beings are so callously slaughtered, and then we must turn that outrage into action. Pray, give, and raise your voices in support of these Syrian families.”
In many ways, we see and hear the broken echoes of violence from that first Christmas Day — when a power-mad King Herod committed unspeakable acts of infanticide against children in Bethlehem. And yet, we continue to believe the words of John, who fearlessly proclaimed, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” — John 1:5
If you or your family want to give individually to bring aid to families suffering in Aleppo and in this Syrian refugee crisis, we encourage you to support organizations with proven track records of coming alongside people in need:
World Vision is responding to the crisis by “helping refugees and displaced families. We’re sharing hope and God’s love by providing food, clean water, healthcare, safe places for children to play, and more.”
Preemptive Love Coalition invites you to wage peace with them. This is one of the organizations Pastor Jim Mullins mentioned at our retreat. “Violence unmakes the world, but preemptive love has the power to unmake violence. We bring relief to families fleeing war in Syria and Iraq. We help refugees rebuild their lives. And we provide lifesaving medical care for children in conflict zones.” Learn more about the current crisis in Aleppo here.
International Rescue Committee “provides opportunities for refugees, asylees, victims of human trafficking, survivors of torture, and other immigrants to thrive in America. Each year, thousands of people, forced to flee violence and persecution, are welcomed by the people of the United States into the safety and freedom of America.”
Read this story in the Union-Tribune about one Syrian refugee family beginning a new life here in San Diego County. “Kassab (the mother of the family), who dreams of running her own daycare for kids with special needs, has completed coursework and a routine inspection to operate a small daycare out of her home.”