Mike Anderson

Congregational Pastor (Center City)

Mike grew up just outside of Harrisburg, PA before attending Penn State, and graduating with an Engineering degree. He mainly enjoys playing and following sports (especially Penn State, Philadelphia teams, and his fantasy teams). He’s married to Lorielle and they now live in the West Poplar neighborhood of Philadelphia. Mike leads Citylight’s Center City congregation.



Dear downhearted,

In writing to you about discontentment, I am writing about a familiar foe of my own, and it usually shows itself in the form of envy or covetousness. I see good things someone else has, especially if they have more of it than I, and my heart sinks. However discontentment shows itself in your life, I thought for this final letter on it I’d focus on one passage on contentment that has not yet been directly referenced.

In 1 Timothy 6:6-8, Paul writes, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” Discontentment obviously reveals what we consider “great gain.” To desire great gain is to be human. We all want to be happy, and there is nothing wrong with that. What Paul does here, however, is he shows us what truly is great gain: Godliness with contentment.

Why? Earlier in 1 Timothy 4:7-8, Paul explained the great value of godliness: “Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Godliness is of great value because it is the one thing you can train yourself for now that will actually still benefit you in the life to come. What about contentment? Again, Paul broadens our horizons: “for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.” It is simple, isn’t it? Yet how often do we lose sight of the relative impermanence of the things we wish we had?

The best way to live in this world is with contentment with the things genuinely necessary in this world, which Paul mentions next in our passage: food and clothing (which many take to include shelter). When you really think about it, what else do you need in this life? Maybe you say, “Ok fine; I don’t need the things I’m discontent about, but it sure would be nice to have them.” Maybe, but for how long? Will you take them out of this world with you? Do they hold hope for the life to come? How great then is the gain that comes with them?

It is small in comparison to the gain that comes from godliness, which holds promise for the life to come, and contentment, which enables us to live happily in the present life with only the things necessary for the present life. We have a Savior in Jesus Christ who contented Himself with the loss of even His food and clothing for us, and He has gained for us eternal life in the world to come. Fix your eyes there, and it will reorient what you call “gain.”



Dear downhearted,

Did you know that in the beginning of the Bible, after God created light and darkness, sun and moon, water, sky, land, plants, animals, and the first human being, there was still something about His creation that was not good? Genesis 2:18 begins by saying, “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone.’” Think about that for a moment. At that point in the story, one man existed and that man knew God. Yet it was not good for that man to be alone.

God’s design for humans is that we live in relationship not only with Him but with other human beings. Nonetheless, the COVID-19 pandemic and the concomitant stay-at-home orders have made this much more difficult. If you feel lonely then and you don’t like that feeling, it’s not necessarily because there is anything wrong with you. You simply weren’t made to live in these conditions. 

Nonetheless, here we are. That’s the sad truth. But it’s not the whole truth. In Isaiah 43:2, God says to His people: 

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;

and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;

when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,

and the flame shall not consume you.”

Humans were not created to pass through stormy waters and flames anymore than they were created to be alone, and yet even as we now go through such things, God says: “I will be with you.” And indeed, in Christ Jesus He is with us. One of Jesus’ names is Immanuel, God with us (Matt 1:23), and on the cross, He was truly with us in our loneliness. Not only did His friends and family leave Him all alone, but He even cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46)

Because He did this, you need not ever ultimately be alone. Repent and believe in Him, and He will be with you always. Not only that, if you are a Christian, you are also part of a new human family called the church, which, though presently scattered, remains and will prevail against all the forces arrayed against it (Matt 16:19). Do you know you still have a church family like that right now if you are a member at Citylight? And if you aren’t a member, why not join us? 

God will sustain you through this season of loneliness. It almost definitely will get better when we can actually be around each other again. It will certainly get better when Jesus comes again. In that day He will not come alone but “with all his saints” (1 Thess 3:13), and we (not you or I alone) will always be with the Lord (1 Thess 4:17).

May he bless you and keep you,



I’ve lived in the United States of America my entire life. As a result, every year of my life, on the last Thursday of November, I’ve gathered with at least some family or friends and celebrated the holiday we call Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday in the Bible; you’re free to do nothing at all for it if you’d like. I’ve generally liked to do something for it, but, as we’ve now gotten used to saying, 2020 is different.

Due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia, I assume many of you have significantly modified Thanksgiving plans, if not totally cancelled them. That is cause for lamentation, as many things this year have been. Nonetheless, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” To refuse to give thanks in every circumstance is to live under the lie that we have nothing for which to be genuinely thankful, and that’s simply never true for a Christian (see Eph 1:3-14 or Hebrews 12:28, for examples). Though the holiday may be different this year, and whether you choose to celebrate it at all or not, don’t miss the opportunity for thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving as we know it today was instituted by President Abraham Lincoln, and every year around this time I like to share his words about it, not because there’s anything magical about him, but because there seems to be some wisdom in them, and every year, they seem to still apply to the situation we are in:

“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

That’s the “what” of the holiday, and here is President Lincoln’s recommendation on how we should observe it:

“And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil [war] in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”

There’s a lot there, but just a few things I want to commend to you whether you observe the holiday or not:

1. Offer up “ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings” – Take time to tell God how great He is and to recount what He’s done for you and for those around you. Maybe meditate on a passage like Ephesians 1:3-14 and offer to God thanks for such singular deliverances and blessings.

2. Do so “with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience” – Thanksgiving is not a time to whitewash America’s past or present so we can all enjoy a meal and some football. It is a time to give thanks to God precisely because He’s been so good to us in spite of us, in spite of our national perverseness and disobedience, still alive today, which we all contribute to in some way. Let us not give thanks without an accompanying humble repentance. Consider using 1 Corinthians 13, which we’ve just finished preaching on, to confess the ways you fall short of the love it describes.

3. Commend widows, orphans, mourners, and sufferers to “his tender care” – Lincoln, of course, in his words, referred to “those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil [war] in which we are unavoidably engaged…” We aren’t in a Civil War today, but there are people who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable COVID-19 pandemic in which we are unavoidably engaged. Commend them to God’s tender care in prayer. Ask Him to heal, comfort, and sustain. “Fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation…” – The nation had its wounds and divisions in Lincoln’s time. We saw ample evidence this year that the racial wounds of Lincoln’s day have still not been healed in 2020. And we’ve gotten some new wounds this year. But God is a God who heals. Let’s pray for Him to do so.

In closing, in the time we are in, the final words of Lincoln’s prayer still fit so well:

“Father, heal the wounds of this nation and restore it as soon as may be consistent with your purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

We all want to fix suffering, but what happens when you face a suffering for which there is no known solution? You can get bitter, or you can patiently endure suffering. In this passage, Paul shows us how to patiently endure suffering.

Citylight Church | Online – April 26, 2020 from Citylight Church on Vimeo.


2 Corinthians 1:3-11

2 Corinthians: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy ScriptureDavid Garland


Read sermon transcript

In a world where over 30 million people die every year, in which we too will eventually die, and in which today more people around us than usual are dying, on Good Friday we consider why did Christ’s death matter? Mark answers that question for us primarily through three images:

  • The darkness
  • The cry
  • The curtain


Mark 15:33-41

What does God say to sufferers? He doesn’t avoid suffering; He speaks right into it, but with hope: Your present sufferings are nothing compared to your future glory.


Romans 8:18-25

Romans (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament), 2nd ed., Tom Schreiner

Romans 8-16 For You, Timothy Keller


Read sermon transcript

The church is a family, but how can such a family be at peace? By respecting their leaders, not letting the funk get funkier, and reversing the funk.


1 Thessalonians 5:12-15



The Philippians were in many ways a normal group of people; they’d experienced great joys but also faced the harder realities of life. The book of Philippians is God’s word of grace and peace to these people, people who live in a world that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Ultimately, it’s God’s words of grace and peace to us.


Philippians 1:1-2

Philippians: Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Moises Silva

The Message of Philippians: Jesus Our Joy, Alec Motyer

Jesus has announced and displayed His kingdom, yet it faces opposition. While it draws a crowd, not all follow Jesus. Jesus shows that the secret of the kingdom and the fruit that comes with it only comes to those who welcome His Word.


Mark 4:1-20

Baker Exegetical Commentary: Mark, Robert Stein

Jesus the King, Timothy Keller

Where is true peace found? Isaiah writes to God’s people in exile, with little peace, and presents to them, and to us, an exalted servant. This seemingly unimpressive servant is exalted by bearing our sins and sorrows. True peace is available in him.


Isaiah 52:13-53:12

The Prophecy of Isaiah, Alec Motyer

The Logic of Penal Substitution, J.I. Packer

Food is a good gift from God, but what happens when we elevate it to a god-like status such that it starts to control us? In this passage we see that God actually calls us to love something more than we love food: our birthright.


Genesis 25:29-34

A Meal with Jesus – Tim Chester

Eating Disorders: the Quest for Thinness

I’m Exhausted: What to Do When You’re Always Tired

One false view of food calls certain foods inherently bad. In response, God declares all foods good because he made them for the very purpose that we enjoy them by giving thanks to him as the one who gave it to us


1 Timothy 4:1-4

A Meal with Jesus – Tim Chester

Creation Regained – Al Wolters

In a fallen world, we all feel wronged by others throughout our lives. How should you respond? By living for God’s glory, trusting in God’s judgement, and looking to God’s reward, you can show mercy to those who wrong you.


1 Samuel 24-26

NAC 1-2 Samuel Commentary

ESV Study Bible

God calls us to perpetually owe one another a debt of love by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.


Romans 13:8-14

Romans 8-16 For You (book) by Tim Keller

NIC on Romans (Book-Commentary) by Doug Moo

By revealing his mystery to us, God corrects the way we approach others, ourselves, and of him. Therefore trade your arrogance for a fear that drives you to him.


Romans 11:1-32

Romans by Tom Schreiner

Romans by Doug Moo

The Race Set Before Us by Tom Schreiner and Ardel Caneday

One essential means of beholding Jesus is by giving your money away!


2 Corinthians 8-9

2 Corinthians Commentary (NAC)

Should the Local Church Receive Peoples’ Tithes Before Other Worthy Needs? by Randy Alcorn

Morning Sermon by Matt Cohen – http://media.blubrry.com/citylightphilly/content.blubrry.com/citylightphilly/Essentials_4-we_behold_by_giving_money_MC_Sermon-edited.mp3

God saves his fearful, doubting people by parting the Red Sea and he defeats the Egyptians by causing the Sea to fall back on them. He does this all to show his power over Pharaoh and his forces, and the people of Israel praise Him in response. This salvation story points forward to the greater salvation story where God rescues His people from their sins through the cross, and they praise Him for eternity. 



Exodus: 14-15 ESV Study Bible (Exodus Notes & History of Salvation)

Mike Anderson wraps up “Desperately Unrighteous” – the first part of our Romans series.


Romans 3:9-20 shows us

1. We are under sin
2. We have no defense
3. We can’t get ourselves out

Guest speaker Mike Anderson takes a one week break from Romans to look at Isaiah 66:1-2


God isn’t impressed with our best efforts.  He is drawn to humility.

Isaiah 66:1-2

Commentary: Motyer – The Prophecy of Isaiah
Sermon: Tim Keller – The Prodigal Sons
Book: Tim Keller – The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness