A Beautiful Mess - The Wandering and Seeking Church
Preached by Andrew Ruth
When Church Can't Heal
Preached by Andrew Ruth
The center column holds the main text for each day, while the right column includes secondary texts.
Basic Tips:1.) Use a translation you can understand. If new to the Bible, try the NIrV or The Message, which are both available online. 2.) Use a kids Bible with kids. 3.) Keep a pencil and notebook around to write down questions, observations, and conclusions. 4.) Have fun. Use your imagination and your brain.
Questions to Guide You:
This week, we start a new sermon series called, “A Beautiful Mess”. At this point in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is already talking about the church. We just finished the 5 Non-Negotiables the Church believes. Now we look at the character of the Church, and what we find is that it is a beautiful mess full of people that are simultaneously sinners and saints – creating joy and disappointment. This week, we’ll see that sometimes the Church will be inept to heal, but Jesus is the solution.
- Matt 17:14-21 is right after the Transfiguration. When have you seen great trials follow great spiritual mountain tops in your life? How can this encourage you in those times? Why does God let the trials come after the mountain top?
- How do the disciples fail in Matt 17? How does/can the church fail similarly? Have you ever seen someone give up on church because of such a failure? What is Jesus’ solution?
- Jeremiah 8:21-22 inspired the old spiritual “Balm in Gliead”. What should we do when it seems that there is no healing available in the church, no “balm in Gilead?” Why does Church sometime make no difference in people’s situation?
- What signs and wonders will accompany the Church’s preaching according to Mark 16? Have you ever seen signs and wonders confirm the Bible’s message?
- Acts 20:7-12 is a funny story about very long preaching, all night long. Reminds me that preaching is very important but should be accompanied by mercy and healing. How can Oakland do this better?
- Luke 10 is the Good Samaritan Story, where all the religious folk are too busy to help and heal the victim. How can churches be like that – too busy to help? How can we be more like the Samaritan, putting aside our worship and religion to help needy people?
- Each Psalm reading affirms that God heals and delivers. How should these encourage us, even when we’re in the position of the dad in Matt 17, and no healing seems to come? How can we encourage our hearts when God doesn’t do what we think God should?
If you are new to reading the Bible and would benefit from a brief orientation, download this How To Use This Book. If you want dig a deeper into the Bible, download this Guide to Inductive Bible Study.
On May 8, 2016, our youth will lead us to worship God and make Jesus famous.
Come ready to be challenged, encouraged, and generally rocked off your feet, spiritually speaking that is. They will help us meditate on three stories of FAITH, and how they are good news for Americans in 2016.
Why do we hand over worship?
Well it was theirs to start with. Our Youth are not the future of the Church; they are the Church. We design worship with them in mind, just as we design it with adults and new comers, so every now and then it’s fun to see what they come up with for our time together.
Moreover, you never discover spiritual gifts if you never get a chance to use them. Pastor Andrew preached for the first time on Youth Sunday 2003 to a church of more than 500 people, and discovered his passion for teaching and gift for communicating God’s Word. How many of our young members have similar gifts for preaching, singing, encouraging, serving, leading worship, or playing music and just don’t yet know it? Pastor Andrew wouldn’t be here if someone hadn’t asked him to try preaching over a decade ago. Youth Sunday could be the day, God calls one of our members into a life of service or it could be the day God uses our young to stir faith in the cold heart of a pre-Christian neighbor.
Questions to Guide Your Study:
- What does it mean to judge? Does this mean we cannot evaluate right and wrong?
- Given what came before in Matthew, how might we be tempted to compare ourselves to others?
- What should one do if he has saw dust in his eye? Or sees a log in his brothers?
- When do you catch yourself judging others? Pray God will make you sensitive to that.
- Jesus says, “Ask, Knock, Seek,” How can we do those things? What kinds of things should we ask for and seek out?
- What does it mean to abide in Jesus? What does that practically look like in my life? For our family?
- What does God promise those who seek him with their whole hearts? Are you experiencing that these days? When have you?
- When have I not loved my neighbor as myself lately? How about my literal neighbors, how have I been doing loving them? Do I know what’s going on, and ways I could be practically helpful?
Lent is the 40 days before Easter, not including Sundays, beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending with Easter Sunday. While people will say that it dates back to the Bible or to the 1st century, to be honest, Lent was a season made up by the Church to focus on repentance and devotion through the spiritual disciplines of study, fasting, prayer, and alms-giving. The number of days, 40, is a Biblical number with echoes of Jesus’ fast in the desert after his baptism, which in turn echoes the 40-day fasts of Moses and Elijah, not to mention the 40 days of the Flood and the 40 years in the desert. Still, Lent must not be identified as the same as anyone of those things. So the simple and honest answer is that Lent is a Season invented by the Church over thousands of years.
While not in the Bible, the origins of Lent are the easier to trace than Ash Wednesday. In the first centuries after Christ’s death and resurrection, new converts to Christianity would be trained for months in Christian doctrine and Christian practices. This process of instruction is called catechesis, and usually involved memorizing an early form of the Apostles’ Creed. The emphasis during these months of training would have been on learning more theology (the Creed), learning more Scripture (the Stories), and learning Christian practices, especially Fasting and Prayer. Often, this training occurred in the months leading up to Easter. Finally, the weekend of Easter, the whole church would fast and pray from Friday at noon to Sunday at Sunrise. Then on Resurrection Sunday, all the new believers who had completed the catechesis, would be baptized and inducted into the then secret, underground church as together they celebrated the death of Death and the Resurrection of the Body.
How this transitioned into Lent is difficult to trace with any certainty or clarity. Somehow, over the next 500 years, these months of training transitioned from a time just for new converts to a time for the whole Church to grow in faith, knowledge, and character through fasting, prayer, study, and Alms-giving. The Council of Nicea in 325AD played a large role in establishing this 40 Day Fast. The specific number of days, the starting date and ending date, the date of Easter, and the specific fasts and Fast Days during Lent were all, for better or worse, decided by the Church to promote uniformity and unity.
None of this makes Lent emphatically bad or “unbiblical” or heretically religious. Instead, it means that over the centuries between Christ’s resurrection and now, millions of Christians have practiced a sort of Spring Training. Christians across the globe have found Lent to be a rhythmic way to insert ancient practices like Fasting, Simplicity, Giving to the Poor (Alms), Study, and Daily Prayer as practical ways to FOLLOW JESUS and prepare to FISH for people. Lent is not “about giving something up,” so much as it is about getting back to the basic Christian disciplines. Like Spiritual Three-A-Day Practices they keep us in shape or like Spiritual Spring Cleaning they expose the idols and bad habits that have crept back into our heart.
So should we practice Lent? Well, we should fast and pray and give to the poor and study God’s Scripture, and so if you want to create extra time dedicated to these basic rhythms of Christian life by sacrificing luxuries, then yes. If you just want to lose weight ahead of Spring Break or just want to gripe about being out of touch with the world cause you gave up Facebook, then Lent will probably do more harm to your soul than good.
In the coming weeks, I’ll write more about Lent and more about Fasting and Prayer and Study and such. For right now, let me point out that Lent is about intentionally doing those things we’re talking about each week in The Way of Jesus – I am Called to… Sermon Series. I will not hammer Lent or Lenten disciplines over the next few weeks, because we’re already talking about and encouraging one another to practice such things when we proclaim, “I AM CALLED TO FOLLOW, FISH, LOVE, WORSHIP, MATURE, SERVE, GIVE, SEEK UNITY, PRAY, and DIE.” So perhaps this year, you want to cut out one bad habit that keeps you from following, fishing, loving, worshiping, maturing, serving, giving, forgiving, praying, or dying. Instead, take one a specific task, such as daily Bible reading or nightly prayers or giving to the food bank that leads you further down these Ways of Jesus.
Lastly, if you’re dying for ways to practice Lent, I cannot recommend Richard Foster’s book, Celebration of Discipline highly enough. Instead of reading all those Facebook posts about “40 Things to Give Up for Lent” or the “Reverse Lent Challenge” or some other pop-Lent, spiritual cotton candy, go out and buy this book and dig into some Filet Mignon.
The Way of Jesus (Part 6): I am Called to SERVE
You don't volunteer at your church, any more than you babysit your own kids.
Pastor Andrew Ruth
February 15, 2015
There are dozens of Spiritual Gifts named in the Bible, but this sermon specifically discusses the following gifts named in Romans 12:4-8.
"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet." — Frederick Buechner
So, NEXT STEPS:
1.) Start to identify your unique Spiritual Gifts.
Start by completing this simple assessment, and then find a time to talk to Pastor Andrew or a Spiritual Mentor.
2.) Research the needs around you - at Oakland and in Cleveland.
Your gift was given to meet real needs.
3.) START SERVING AT CHURCH LIKE YOU BABYSIT YOUR OWN KIDS.