Lent 2018

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
— Psalm 42:1-2

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).

When we fast, we take a step back from a good gift of God (for example, food!) in order to 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. Dr. Bill Bright of Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) offers several other wise insights into why we should fast.

As Richard Foster writes:

Fasting must forever center on God. More than any other Discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us.

Simply put, we fast so that we can make more room in our hearts for Jesus.

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Lenten Resources

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 intentionally through spiritual disciplines.

During this Lenten season, we encourage you to pray, fast, and give. Below you can find some Lenten resources (right-click to save PDF files):

Bible Reading 

The YouVersion Bible App has several reading plans here, including Lent for Everyone by NT Wright.

Here is a simple Daily Readings for Lent 2018 from our denomination.

You can also subscribe to daily Lenten readings from Bible Gateway here (including Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Dallas Willard)

Families & Kids 

This family devotional, Because of Jesus, includes six simple lessons (one for each week) with Bible reading, discussion questions, a “big take-away,” and a way to put faith into action.

Here is a Lenten coloring page (and another one here) — post these to your fridge after your kiddos color them in!

This set of “Learn About Love” worksheets includes some Bible discussion, word scramble, and other activities.

Photo-A-Day 

Lent 2018 Photo-A-Day Journey — if you post to social, please tag it #AnchorCityLent

These simple acts of faith & devotion can help Christians of all ages make room in their hearts for Jesus.

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Seeking & Celebrating Jesus!

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.

The Story of God: Noah

“The difference between information and formation is story.” — Pastor Jeya

Stories have power to engage our brains and cause ideas to “click.” Puppy Love was recently voted as the best Super Bowl ad of all-time, not because of its use of sex or humor (or whatever we typically imagine with over-the-top Super Bowl commercials) but because of its compelling story (although having a cute puppy doesn’t hurt!):

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The Bible is the Story of God. We find meaning & purpose when we place our little stories inside the Big Story of God — this story unfolds not so much a linear narrative, but as a full circle of redemption with beginnings & new beginnings.

Genesis 6:5-22

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There is danger in starting with “the second chapter.” As Pastor Jeya preached last week, the first word of God’s creation is that it is good. God’s story starts with creative love, not “you’re a rotten sinner.”

Understanding how humanity violated & rebelled against God’s good dreams for the world sets the proper context for the flood: the flood is not about rage but, rather, sorrow.

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And, yet, even in the midst of this brokenness and sorrow, there is a glimmer of hope.

This turning point in the story creates the opportunity for Noah (and us) to respond to God’s call: will we obey and say yes?

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The Story comes full circle: God reaffirms the dignity and worth of humanity, created in the image of God.

It’s no mistake that God uses the rainbow as a symbol of the promise of His mercy. Rainbows, if you can see them from a higher perspective, are actually full circles:

The grace of God, even in the face of the world’s sin & brokenness, is never-ending!

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As you consider Noah’s story this week, ask yourself these questions again for deeper reflection:

  • How is God at work?
  • What is God saying?
  • How does God act?
  • What have I learned about God?
  • What have I learned about myself?
  • In light of these questions, what is my response to God?

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The Story of God: Creation

From Pastor Jeya’s sermon on Sunday, January 28th

Scripture passage: Genesis 1:1-2:2

The difference between information and formation is story.

For example, it’s one thing to hear facts and data about the refugee crisis, but it’s another to learn the heartbreaking stories of children and their families who are forced to flee violence.

Stories move us into action. More parts of our brains are engaged when we hear stories — they bond us to other people and help us to engage/empathize with them (oxytocin).

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Here are the questions we will be asking each week, and which can be helpful in your own personal Bible reading:

  • How is God at work?
  • What is God saying?
  • How does God act?
  • What have I learned about God?
  • What have I learned about myself?
  • In light of these questions, what is my response to God?

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Zulu greeting: “I see you” — response: “I’m here”

  • Consider children learning about object permanence
  • When something disappears from their view, it no longer exists — “I can’t see it, so it’s not real”
  • God sees you

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Life-changing theological truth: Imago dei

Each of us is made in the image of God, imprinted with His dignity, worth, value, and creativity

“You are very good”

God touches, creates, and forms us with His own hands — God still wants to create in us.

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Reflection question: What does being loved and knowing that you are God’s good creation allow you to do? Courage to try? Courage to love? Courage to do?

 

The Story of God + Your Story

From Matthew 13 (The Message):

The disciples came up and asked, “Why do you tell stories?”

Jesus replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight.

Stories have the power to shape our lives — are we allowing the true story of the Gospel to nudge us toward readiness and receptive insight?

As we reflect on our own storyline, with Jesus as the author and perfecter of our faith, think about the following questions (you may want to take out a sheet of paper, draw a line representing the years of your life, and mark down these points):

  • What are some of the major events that anchor your story? Birth, graduation, marriage, jobs, other significant faith milestones, etc.
  • Who are the main characters? How have they shaped your life? How has your relationship with them changed over time?
  • Are there any turning points or plot twists? How have those events change your life in surprising or unexpected ways?

 

 

Anchor City New Year’s Eve Worship Gathering

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
where morning dawns, where evening fades,
you call forth songs of joy… 
You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
— Psalm 65:8,11 —

As we gather in worship today, we’re so thankful for the ways in which God has shown His love, grace, and faithfulness in and through each of you. Having our Sunday worship gathering fall on the 31st, as one year ends and another begins, is appropriate for our church family — as Third Culture people, we’re always learning to live in and navigate the spaces in-between: “where morning dawns, where evening fades.”

Let’s turn our hearts toward God in songs of joy as we give thanks for the past year and look forward to the future.

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father
There is no shadow of turning with Thee
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside

Future/Past

You hold the reins on the sun and the moon
Like horses driven by kings
You cover the mountains, the valleys below
With the breadth of Your mighty wings

All treasures of wisdom and things to be known
Are hidden inside Your hand
And in this fortunate turn of events
You ask me to be Your friend
You ask me to be Your friend

And You,
You are my first
You are my last
You are my future and my past

The constellations are swimming inside
The breadth of Your desire
Where could I run, where could I hide
From Your heart’s jealous fire

You are the beginning and the end…

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Communion

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Today’s worship gathering will also involve walking around the beach area and worshiping God through several interactive experiences. Take your time and meditate on each Scripture passage.

Please start at the “baptismal waters” station and then feel free to go in any order you’d like. When you’re done, please come back to the main gathering area and we will wrap up together and enjoy fellowship & refreshments.

Below, find a brief description of each station:

Baptismal Waters

  • Location: By the water
  • Read: Romans 6:2-4 (NIV), “We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
  • Consider: All water can remind us of our baptism, a sign of the covenant (promise) between God and us through Jesus Christ. In baptism, God claims us as beloved children and members of Christ’s body, the church, cleansing us of our sin and restoring and healing our whole lives. Baptism reminds us that through the Holy Spirit we are empowered to live transformed lives of healing and reconciliation.
  • Act: Take some water into your hands or let it wash over your feet. Take some time to remember your baptism, thank God for it, and commit your year to living it out.
  • Note: If you haven’t been formally baptized yet, that’s okay! Waters can still remind all of us of new life in Christ, so this is for all of us. 

Clean Slate

  • Location: At the edge of the water
  • Read: 1 Corinthians 1:30 (The Message), “Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ.”
  • Act: Take a couple of moments to reflect on some of your sins, hurts, or struggles from the past year. The Methodists call this “the bane of the past year.” Write one or two of them in the sand (close to the water). Watch as the waves wash them away, allowing God to give you a clean slate for the new year.

Masterpiece

  • Location: The sand (look for the orange cones)
  • Read: Ephesians 2:10 (NLT), “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
  • Act: What does God want to build in you and through you this coming year? As you help to build a collective sand castle/masterpiece, pray that God would give you dreams and vision for 2018 and the time, gifts, and resources to see them through.

Mustard Seeds

  • Location: All around the area
  • Read: Matthew 13:31-32 (NIV), “Jesus told them another parable: The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.
  • Consider: What are the places that go unnoticed in your life? Who are the people who go unnoticed in your life? What does it mean to you that God notices and knows you, and that God notices and knows the small things?
  • Act: Take a photo of something small that catches your attention. As you do, say a prayer that God would cause the mustard seeds in your life to grow. If you’re on Instagram or Facebook, we invite you to post it with the hashtag #AnchorCityNewYear #mustardseed

Offering Table

  • Location: The main grassy gathering area
  • Read: 1 Chronicles 29:13-14 (NIV), “Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.”
  • Act: How can your life be an offering to God in the new year? Write it on a slip of paper and put it in the offering basket. Pray the printed prayer at this station and make it your own.
  • Note: If you have your regular Sunday offering and/or Advent Conspiracy offering, you can put it in at this time as well. 

 

Advent Conspiracy Partner: Justice Ventures International

Anchor City is thankful to continue our partnership with Justice Ventures International to bring freedom, justice, and restoration to people in the fight against modern-day slavery.

Through our Advent Conspiracy offering, we speak out against the grievous sin of slavery and stand up for the God-given dignity and worth of all people, especially the poor and oppressed.

Please watch and share this video to learn more about JVI’s work:

Here is a brief glance at the incredible work JVI has done in celebrating 10 years of justice and impacting over 25,000 lives through their work:

Christmas Can Still Change the World!

Friends, Anchor City is honored to participate once again in the Advent Conspiracy, “A global movement of people and churches resisting the cultural Christmas narrative of consumption by choosing a revolutionary Christmas through Worshipping Fully, Spending Less, Giving More and Loving All.”

The season of Advent begins this Sunday, the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. This is a season of watching & waiting, of expectation & hope. The word “advent” means “arrival” — we celebrate both the Incarnation of Jesus (that He arrived into the world that first Christmas day) and the return of Jesus, when He will arrive again to redeem, restore & renew all things.

We are proud to support three amazing ministries who are helping to transform lives both locally and globally. Throughout the season of Advent, we will be sharing their stories as we prepare to make our Advent Conspiracy offering on December 17th and 24th — which will be sent out 100% to support these organizations.

We encourage you to use the Advent Conspiracy calendar and family devotionals to help create a different rhythm for this season and to re-center your hearts in Christ. Check your email for the PDFs, or pick up a hard copy on Sunday.

 

Spiritual Formation: Service

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).

 

Together at the Table for the Common Good

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.

 

The Triumphal Entry, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday

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.