SERMON: The Way of Jesus (Part 9) – I am Called to PRAY

 The Way of Jesus (Part 9): I am Called to PRAY
Praying for OURs not MYs

Pastor Andrew Ruth
March 8, 2015
Matthew 8:6-13
Phil 4:6-7

Remember P.R.A.Y.


Celebrate God's goodness. Make much of God. Point out what he has done well, beautifully, creatively, redemptively, and lovingly. 


Acknowledge failures - when I did what I should not or did not do what I should. Decide to take real steps to fight such habitual sin. 

Ask [for others]

Pray for others. The sick, the poor, the victimized, the Church, your enemies, your neighbors, marriages, children, teachers, governments, etc. 


Lastly remember yourself. Pour out your heart to God and trust that he cares. Remember not to pray for yourself, things you cannot also pray in good conscious for others. "OUR daily bread." "forgive OUR debts." "Lead US not into temptation." 

Further recommended reading on PRAYER:

Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you only read 5 books to augment your walk with Jesus in the next 10 years, make sure this is one of them. His chapter on Prayer (Chpt 3) is a great starting point for learning to pray.

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Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference

Philip Yancey is one of the best pastors/writers/thinkers of our time. Following in Max Lucado or or John Stott's shoes, Yancey's book on prayer is a thorough going treatment of the Biblical texts, Christian theology, and finally practical advice. It is appropriate for people wrestling with philosophical questions about prayer, before they can even start praying.

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This sermon series includes a weekly Bible Reading Plan.  Each week we read in preparation for the sermon coming next week. Next week we will finish our sermon series by discussing The Way of Jesus - I am called to DIE, so this week we will be reading about "taking up our cross" using this WEEK 10 READING PLAN. Tips and suggested questions available on the PDF.

TheWayOfJesus-I am called to - Week 10 Reading Slide

SERMON: The Way of Jesus (Part 8) – I am Called to SEEK UNITY


The Way of Jesus (Part 8): I am Called to SEEK UNITY
"that they may all be one."

Pastor Andrew Ruth
March 1, 2015
Matthew 18:15-21
John 17:20-23

Due to technical difficulties, audio and video of this sermon is not available at this time. We hope to rectify this problem shortly. 

Until we get the sermon up in its entirety, let these points remind you of our discussion yesterday. 
The Unity of the Church reflects that God is Unity and Trinity. God is the Eternal Three-In-One. Forever One God in Three Persons. Church Unity is derivative of God's Unity. 
The Unity of the Church reflects that God is MISSIONAL. God is the Missionary, as God the Father sends God the Son in the power of God the Holy Spirit to save and rescue and recreate human beings and all of Creation. The Church is United by a common Hero, a common Rescue, and now a Common Mission to rescue and save lost human beings. 
The Unity of the Church reflects that GOD IS LOVE. For God so loved the world that he SENT his only Son. A Missionary God is the only God. God the Father loves God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, and together they love humanity, by embarking on a daring rescue mission. Our love for one another makes it possible for hurt people to believe that a Loving God could exist. 
So, we must be united. We must be One. We must wrestle with one another rather than run away from one another.
1. We cannot argue over insignificant stuff like paint colors, dinner menus, or A/C temperatures.
2. We cannot keep jumping churches every time offense is given or taken. Friction is one of the tools God uses to shape us. We cannot grow without roots, and roots take time embedded in the soil.
3. We must try to forgive. We must work at it, and when it's not easy, we must work to get help from the leaders in the congregation and from our friends. We must try with all our might to work towards making amends, and destroying resentment. 
4. We must protect one another's reputation by refraining from gossip. 
This sermon series includes a weekly Bible Reading Plan.  Each week we read in preparation for the sermon coming next week. Next week we will discuss The Way of Jesus - I am called to PRAY, so this week we will be reading about unity and reconciliation using this WEEK 9 READING PLAN. Tips and suggested questions available on the PDF.

TheWayOfJesus-I am called to - Week 9 Reading Slide

FAQs about Tithing

Hey Oakland,

This is a follow up to yesterday's post, "For the New Giver." While not necessary for everyone, I want to make sure I break this teaching down as far as possible, because it is one of the scariest and most counter-cultural. I am not teaching on Giving because I want your money, but because I want you to experience the joy of a generous heart. I want you to know the blessings that can only come through cultivating a generous heart. 

1.) What is Tithing?

Tithe is an English word, derived from an Old English word meaning Tenth, which was in turn used to translate a Hebrew word, ,that literally meant one tenth or 10%. So, while people with through the term around loosely to describe a gifts to the Church, tithing is the practice of giving 10% of my income back to God, mainly through my local congregation, but also to the poor directly.


2.) Do I have to Tithe?

No you do not have to tithe. It will not get you into heaven, Jesus’ death and your faith in that death save you. But you will struggle to grow in generosity, and apart from giving you will constantly feel the burden of not having enough, whether you make minimum wage or a million dollars. People that do not give sacrificially, feel perpetually poor.

Many folks will say that the Tithe is an Old Testament Law that we are freed from by Jesus and the Gospel of Grace. I think that is true. Still, when Jesus criticizes Pharisees that religiously give 10% of everything including table spices, he does not say, "Stop observing the tithe, that get's it all wrong. Don't you know its all about grace!" Instead, Jesus points out that the Tithe was never about following the rules, instead it has always been about the heart. So He says, "we should practice justice, mercy, and faithfulness without neglecting to also Tithe" (Matt 23:23).

If that Bible Study's not convincing, another Presbyterian Pastor, John Ortberg likes to say it this way, "I can't imagine facing God one day and saying, 'I know back in the Old Testament days people gave a Tithe, and I know now, in addition to all the blessings they got, those Old Testament Scriptures and stories and heroes and the promise of your presence... In addition to all that, I have been given the gift of Jesus and the cross for my sake and the promise of resurrection and the hope of the Holy Spirit, and I think I'll ratchet my giving down 5 or 6 percentage points."

3.) Does Oakland expect me to Tithe?

Jesus expects us to tithe. Not mechanically, but thoughtfully and intentionally to fight greed and indifference in our hearts, and injustice in our world. One a different note, Shriners, Rotarians, Scouts, and Gyms all force members to pay dues; we do not because we believe than anyone who understands the gospel, will naturally feel compelled to give.

4.) What if I cannot give 10% right now?

First, some good reasons not to give 10%. If you are unemployed, and not yet receiving unemployment or severance checks, then you have no income to tithe on. If you are a student living entirely on Student Loans, then likewise you have no income to tithe on. However, I would encourage you to START NOW giving a percentage of all income from part-time jobs. According to one report, 63% of people who tithe, started to do so between childhood and their 20s.

Still, if you cannot give 10% now without losing your car or your house, don't lose your house or car. Figure out what you can give. $10 or $100 a month and also try to give your time disproportionately, while seeking to rearrange your budget to rebound from bad financial decisions. 10% is not currently a realistic option for you, mainly because of overcommitment, but through a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace Course, it very well could be a reality in as little as 6 months to a year.

Don’t beat yourself up, remember, 2 Cor 8:11-14 says, “Give on the basis of what you have. If you really want to give, then the gift is measured by what someone has. It is not measured by what they don’t have. We don’t want others to have it easy at your expense. We want things to be equal. Right now you have plenty in order to take care of what they need. Then they will have plenty to take care of what you need.” Right now you might need other believers to supply your need, and that is ok.


5.) What if 10% of my annual income is greater than the entire Church Budget? 

Well first off, praise God. Second, you especially need to give by percentage, because the temptation to give by amount will be astronomical. Though folks disagree with me, you may divide your gifts among other ministries, but personally, I would not give less than 5% to my local church, even if that is greater than their entire budget. Oakland will not hoard your wealth, but abound all the more in giving. We would like to give away a third of all the money coming through our doors. On a more personal level, such a gift demonstrates your commitment to the community, and your trust in the leadership to use your gift in God honoring ways, just as everyone giving a greater percentage but smaller amount, must trust the Church to faithfully use their money well. If you trust other ministries or secular organizations to steward your gift more than you do your local church, then we really need to have a conversation.


For more information on Tithing, check out the sermon, "Live to Give: The Test" by John Ortberg of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. Pastor John is a great teacher and is especially passionate about Generosity and Tithes. 

This is not an exact science nor is it LAW. Think of the tithe, not as a task to accomplish, but as training wheels to liberate you into generosity. Remember, God is more concerned with our hearts than the letter of the law. 

I’m young, and relative to many of you, poor, but relative to many of our neighbors, wealthy. Relative to the world, very, very, very wealthy. Therefore, when the Bible addresses "the rich" or "rich people," I assume it is talking to me.

I do not have all the answers, and the ones I do have, I got from older, wiser, more generous men and women like you. If you have thoughts, comments or questions, please come talk with me.

Always remember who you are whose you are,

Pastor Andrew

SERMON: The Way of Jesus (Part 7) – I am Called to GIVE

The Way of Jesus (Part 7): I am Called to GIVE
Giving doesn't pay for worship; IT IS WORSHIP.

Pastor Andrew Ruth
February 22, 2015
2 Corinthians 9:7-11
Matthew 6:19-24
This sermon series includes a weekly Bible Reading Plan.  Each week we read in preparation for the sermon coming next week. Next week we will discuss The Way of Jesus - I am called to SEEK UNITY, so this week we will be reading about unity and reconciliation using this WEEK 8 READING PLAN. Tips and suggested questions available on the PDF.

 TheWayOfJesus-I am called to - Week 8 Reading Slide

SERMON: The Way of Jesus – I am called to FISH


The Way of Jesus: I am called to FISH - Making More and Better Disciples

Pastor Andrew Ruth
January 18, 2015
Matthew 28:16-20

Further Reading Suggestions for this sermon:

Born to Reproduce

This sermon by Dawson Trotman is essential reading/listening for anyone wanting to "make more and better disciples." It is short, challenging, and FREE.

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Master Plan of Evangelism

This is the most helpful and Biblically insightful HOW-TO guide for evangelism I've ever seen. Consider it assigned reading for those desperate to figure disciple-making out.

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The Celtic Way of Evangelism

Put this 3rd on your list. It is a fascinating study of the way St. Patrick converted the Pagan Celts to Christianity, and how we as 21st century Christians could do the same to pagan Americans.

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Weekly Reading Plan

This sermon series includes a weekly Bible Reading Plan.  Each week we read in preparation for the sermon coming next week. Next week we will discuss The Way of Jesus - I am called to LOVE, so this week we will be reading about love, using this WEEK 3 READING PLAN. Tips and suggested questions available on the PDF.

TheWayOfJesus-I am called to - Week 3 Readings Only