Blog

Guest article by AJ Harbison

August 10, 2017 | by: AJ Harbison | 0 Comments

Pastor Dale is on vacation this week, and he asked me to write a Touchpoint article regarding some of the "what"s and the "why"s of worship at Oak Hills. He and I have been reading a book together, Christ-Centered Worship: Letting the Gospel Shape Our Practice by Bryan Chapell, former president of Covenant Theological Seminary. In the book, Chapell lays out a number of ways that the story of redemption impacts and shapes the way we structure our worship services, and our worship at Oak Hills follows many of these principles. ... Keep Reading

Grace in Silence & Solitude

August 3, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I have asked the men of Oak Hills to read a book with me this summer, Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray. I’m drawn to this book because I want to see the grace of God lived out more and more in my life, in my thinking, in my feeling, in my marriage, in my family, in my relationships, and in my work. I hope you are able to pick up a copy and read with me. It will be the launching pad for discussion at our Men’s Breakfast on August 26. In the meantime, I want to use these Touchpoint articles to share some of my reflections as I work through Murray’s book. This is part four. Last week we considered Murray’s chapter on the “grace of sleep” and how it contributes to a “grace-paced” life. Our sleep habits reveal certain beliefs about God from which we operate. Physical rest is not the only rest that is called for by the Bible. Mental and soul rest are just as vital, as Psalm 46:10 states, “Be still, and know that I am God.” How do we give our minds and souls rest? Murray makes the case for silence and solitude.... Keep Reading

The Grace Of Sleep

July 27, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I have asked the men of Oak Hills to read a book with me this summer, Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray. I’m drawn to this book because I want to see the grace of God lived out more and more in my life, in my thinking, in my feeling, in my marriage, in my family, in my relationships, and in my work. I hope you are able to pick up a copy and read with me. It will be the launching pad for discussion at our Men’s Breakfast on August 26. In the meantime, I want to use these Touchpoint articles to share some of my reflections as I work through Murray’s book. This is part three. Have you ever read a chapter in a book about sleep (much less than an entire book on sleep)? I don't recall ever reading much about sleep. But sleep is where David Murray starts in guiding his readers to recover and/or develop a grace-paced life. He began his book by helping us diagnose grace deficiencies in our lives, but the majority of his book focuses on ways to cultivate more grace in our daily activities. Sleep is step one.... Keep Reading

Detecting Grace Deficiencies

July 20, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I have asked the men of Oak Hills to read a book with me this summer, Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray. I’m drawn to this book because I want to see the grace of God lived out more and more in my life, in my thinking, in my feeling, in my marriage, in my family, in my relationships, and in my work. I hope you are able to pick up a copy and read with me. It will be the launching pad for discussion at our Men’s Breakfast on August 26. In the meantime, I want to use these Touchpoint articles to share some of my reflections as I work through Murray’s book. This is part two. Last week we began by looking at what David Murray calls "grace deficiencies." These are areas in our lives where grace is not making a difference, even though we may have great knowledge of God's grace. Before Murray dives into the ways we can cultivate the transforming power of grace into our lives, he spends time helping us detect and analyze grace deficiencies. The aim in this process is to prevent total burn out and to begin to make progress in a grace-paced life.... Keep Reading

Grace Deficiencies

July 13, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I have asked the men of Oak Hills to read a book with me this summer, Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray. I’m drawn to this book because I want to see the grace of God lived out more and more in my life, in my thinking, in my feeling, in my marriage, in my family, in my relationships, and in my work. I hope you are able to pick up a copy and read with me. It will be the launching pad for discussion at our Men’s Breakfast on August 26. In the meantime, I want to use these Touchpoint articles to share some of my reflections as I work through Murray’s book. This is part one. At Oak Hills our mission is longing to know and make known the astonishing grace of God. Within this mission we aim to center everything we do on the grace of God offered through Jesus Christ. This “longing to know and make known” encompasses all areas of our life and ministry together: worship, Bible study, fellowship, outreach, missions, discipleship, etc. In fact, we can boil down our mission to four action words:... Keep Reading

Deeds Prohibit Repentance?

July 6, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This summer at Oak Hills we have been studying the Old Testament prophet Hosea. He is best known for his illustrative marriage to Gomer, an eye-opening lesson for the people of God about spiritual adultery. On the flip side of their (our) spiritual adultery is the faithfulness, steadfast love, redemption, and restoration of God. This story proves to be a beautiful and powerful depiction of what it means to be in a relationship with God. Take sin seriously. Delight yourself in your loving, kind, forgiving, heavenly Father. Like a multi-faceted jewel, which you can spin around and see new marvelous angles of beauty, Hosea unfolds with new angles of beauty into our relationship with God. One of those facets is how sin affects our relationship with God. We have seen that sin is rooted in the lack of knowledge of God (2:8) and that sin takes the place of God in our hearts (2:5). In chapter 5 we learn that sin actually can be a roadblock to repentance.... Keep Reading

To Forsake or Not to Forsake

June 29, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Perhaps you have a plaque or a framed picture in your home with Joshua’s words: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” It is a good mission or goal to keep for your home and family. The context of these words comes at the end of Joshua’s life and leadership of Israel. They had conquered the Promised Land (with God’s help). Now the twelve tribes of Israel are to settle in their new land allotments. Joshua gives them a final exhortation to follow the Lord as their King. He lays out the choice before them: “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).... Keep Reading

Transformed by Jolting Grace

June 22, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Hosea’s tumultuous marriage to Gomer provides a jolting picture of God’s relationship with his people. It is meant to be unsettling. God desires it to raise questions in our minds. Gomer’s unfaithfulness, used as a mirror to uncover our own spiritual unfaithfulness, is meant to break us and humble us before God. Hosea’s, and God’s, tender, gracious, and forgiving care for his bride is meant to be just as jolting. This jolting grace has the power to transform us. How does that work? Hosea 2 is one of the most important chapters in the Bible to help us understand our relationship with God. It addresses sin, the consequences of sin, God’s gracious movements to protect and rescue us from sin, God’s covenant commitment to redeem his people, and our future hope in communion with God. Verses 16-20, using the language of renewing marriage vows, give us a glimpse into how God’s jolting grace changes us. Look at these verses and then let me highlight how this works.... Keep Reading

Sin Exposed For Our Good

June 15, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Understanding our sin (how it works, how it captures the imaginations of our hearts, how to repent of it, etc.) is vital to a healthy relationship with God. Ignoring our sin, downplaying our sin, or denying our sin are all recipes for bringing decay into our relationship with God. The Old Testament prophet Hosea wrote to a people who grew complacent with their sin. Their relationship with God eroding much like a marriage relationship when one spouse is unfaithful. God called Hosea to use some vivid imagery to shake his people awake to the reality of their sin. Nearly 2,800 years later, we get to listen to this jarring message. Let this prophet open the eyes of your heart to new dimensions of your sin so that you can go deeper in your relationship with God.... Keep Reading

Longing to Know and Make Known

June 2, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

We have a packed week ahead for Oak Hills. Supporting our missions team. Joining with brothers and sisters in prayer and worship. Deepening relationships with one another through great fellowship. And ministering to kids with the love of Christ. I’m excited for each of these opportunities and how they fulfill our mission to know and make known the astonishing grace of God. I hope you are able to join us in one or more of these gatherings. Let me highlight how we pray they serve the Gospel ministry.... Keep Reading

Learn To Pray by Praying with Others

May 25, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part five in a multipart series about prayer. The elders of Oak Hills recently have been reading a book on prayer during their session meetings called Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer in our Homes, Communities, and Churches, by Megan Hill. This little book explores the biblical foundations, fruits, and practices of praying together. The elders have found it to be very encouraging and challenging. I want to share some gleanings from Hill’s book while adding some of my own observations about prayer. Who taught you to pray?... Keep Reading

Grow Community By Praying Together

May 18, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part four in a multipart series about prayer. The elders of Oak Hills recently have been reading a book on prayer during their session meetings called Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer in our Homes, Communities, and Churches, by Megan Hill. This little book explores the biblical foundations, fruits, and practices of praying together. The elders have found it to be very encouraging and challenging. I want to share some gleanings from Hill’s book while adding some of my own observations about prayer. What happens to a group of people that prays together? Megan Hill contends that praying together “stirs up our love for other Christians” (p. 58). In fact, she says, “Love flourishes when we come together to carry one another’s burdens to the Lord” (p. 58).... Keep Reading

Incentives to Prayer

May 11, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part three in a multipart series about prayer. The elders of Oak Hills recently have been reading a book on prayer during their session meetings called Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer in our Homes, Communities, and Churches, by Megan Hill. This little book explores the biblical foundations, fruits, and practices of praying together. The elders have found it to be very encouraging and challenging. I want to share some gleanings from Hill’s book while adding some of my own observations about prayer. Why pray? We live in a culture that typically is not motivated by a sense of duty. We are motivated by incentives, privileges, and promises. Therefore, a sense of duty to pray does not always compel Christians to pray. Thankfully, our God is gracious and merciful, abounding in steadfast love. He desires us to pray and promises blessings for our prayers. Megan Hill writes:... Keep Reading

God Helps Our Prayers

April 27, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part two in a multipart series about prayer. The elders of Oak Hills recently have been reading a book on prayer during their session meetings called Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer in our Homes, Communities, and Churches, by Megan Hill. This little book explores the biblical foundations, fruits, and practices of praying together. The elders have found it to be very encouraging and challenging. I want to share some gleanings from Hill’s book while adding some of my own observations about prayer. Megan Hill highlights early in her book that the three members of the Trinity are intimately involved in our prayers. “In prayer, we approach a loving, listening Father, and we are helped by the intercession of the Son and the groaning of the Spirit” (p. 22-23). Hill later concludes that this knowledge of Trinitarian participation in our prayers “frees us from trusting in our prayers themselves. Prayer is not a magic incantation, dependent on us getting our abracadabras pronounced correctly, asking for exactly the right thing in exactly the right way at exactly the right time. The God who is love is not bound by faulty prayers, nor does he ignore the imperfect prayers of his beloved children. Instead, the one-in-three in whom we trust lovingly takes all our prayers, cleanses them of sin, and reorients them to match his holy will” (p. 25).... Keep Reading

Compelled to Pray

April 20, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part one in a multipart series about prayer. The elders of Oak Hills recently have been reading a book on prayer during their session meetings called Prayer Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer in our Homes, Communities, and Churches, by Megan Hill. This little book explores the biblical foundations, fruits, and practices of praying together. The elders have found it to be very encouraging and challenging. I want to share some gleanings from Hill’s book while adding some of my own observations about prayer. Megan Hills starts her book on prayer by digging into the Scriptural foundations for praying together. One of her early chapters surveys the entire Bible to demonstrate that the people of God, from the very beginning, have been people of prayer. Let me share some highlights just from the early church in the book of Acts:... Keep Reading

Conceit and Life in the Spirit

April 13, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

In the last verse of Galatians 5 Paul gives the command: “Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” This command comes after the lofty commands of “walk by the Spirit” (v. 16) and “keep in step with the Spirit” (v. 25). Often when we think of life in the Spirit, we entertain some sort of “other-worldly,” “spiritual escapism” concept. The apostle Paul, however, immediately grounds the life in the Spirit into the nitty-gritty realities of life. Life in the Spirit changes our relationships with people, the real people we interact with on an everyday basis. So, what is conceit, how does it reveal itself, and how does the Spirit help us overcome conceit?... Keep Reading

The Death of Me in the Death of Christ

April 6, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I need to die. Sound morbid? Too direct? Perhaps. This next week, most Christians will be reflecting on the need for Christ to die. My sin is so heinous that only the sacrifice of the perfect Son of God can appease the just wrath of God that I deserve. The substitutionary death of Christ on my behalf is one of the most glorious truths of Scripture. It is the foundation of the Gospel.... Keep Reading

Discipleship 101: What Kind of Relationships?

March 30, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part six of a multi-part series exploring discipleship in the local church. Jesus declares in his final, “great” commission that his followers are to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The mission of the church is to make disciples. As followers of Christ, we are to be disciples and to be making disciples. What is involved in discipleship? What does discipleship look like in our individual lives and for our church? Perhaps it goes without saying that relationships are necessary for discipleship. The process of discipleship involves both learning and modeling by example. We need someone to teach us and we need examples to follow. But are we intentional to seek out those types of relationships where we learn and are shaping new habits? On the flip side, are we intentional to seek out those types of relationship where we teach and model Christian life? These types of intentional relationships go beyond following someone on Twitter, listening to an edifying podcast, or sharing snippets of our lives and opinions on Facebook. We need old-fashioned, biblical, discipleship relationships.... Keep Reading

This is part five of a multi-part series exploring discipleship in the local church. Jesus declares in his final, “great” commission that his followers are to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The mission of the church is to make disciples. As followers of Christ, we are to be disciples and to be making disciples. What is involved in discipleship? What does discipleship look like in our individual lives and for our church? I have spent the last month exploring discipleship for a Christian. We have seen that the goal of discipleship is “Christ formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). The process of discipleship involves both learning and modeling by example. Success is not measured by quantities but rather by the quality of contrition and joy. Last week I spent some time considering the necessity of relationships for discipleship. I ended by considering what the New Testament says about relationships for the sake of growing in the midst of hardships. More needs to be said about the necessity of relationships, but I want to dwell a little while here on the role of hardships in our discipleship.... Keep Reading

This is part four of a multi-part series exploring discipleship in the local church. Jesus declares in his final, “great” commission that his followers are to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The mission of the church is to make disciples. As followers of Christ, we are to be disciples and to be making disciples. What is involved in discipleship? What does discipleship look like in our individual lives and for our church? Last week I wrote a bit about what success looks like in discipleship. In our results-oriented, bigger-is-better, consumer culture, it is easy to become discouraged with our “growth in discipleship.” Scripture paints a picture of success that focuses more on inner qualities as opposed to outward, measurable quantities. So success looks like contrition over sin and delight in Christ and all he does for us.... Keep Reading

This is part three of a multi-part series exploring discipleship in the local church. Jesus declares in his final, “great” commission that his followers are to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The mission of the church is to make disciples. As followers of Christ, we are to be disciples and to be making disciples. What is involved in discipleship? What does discipleship look like in our individual lives and for our church? So far, we have seen that the goal of discipleship is “Christ formed in you” (Gal. 4:19); and we have seen that discipleship is a process of learning and enjoying all that God has done for us through Christ, while having such faith modeled for us and others. What does success look like for discipleship?... Keep Reading

Discipleship 101: What is Discipleship?

March 2, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part two of a multi-part series exploring discipleship in the local church. Jesus declares in his final, “great” commission that his followers are to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The mission of the church is to make disciples. As followers of Christ, we are to be disciples and to be making disciples. What is involved in discipleship? What does discipleship look like in our individual lives and for our church? I started last week by jumping into this topic of discipleship by considering what the Bible teaches as the goal of discipleship. As Paul says in Galatians 4:19, the goal of discipleship is “Christ formed in you.” Christ is our only salvation and righteousness. We are being conformed to the image of Christ. With the goal of discipleship set before us, let’s consider what is discipleship.... Keep Reading

Discipleship 101: Goals of Discipleship

February 23, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part one of a multi-part series exploring discipleship in the local church. Jesus declares in his final, “great” commission that his followers are to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The mission of the church is to make disciples. As followers of Christ, we are to be disciples and to be making disciples. What is involved in discipleship? What does discipleship look like in our individual lives and for our church? Can you imagine playing any sport without knowing what the goal was for that particular sport? The coach puts a bat in your hand and tells you to walk up to the oddly shaped “plate” where someone is throwing a ball awfully close to you. You could have the best gear but, without knowing the goal of hitting the ball and running the bases, you would be at a loss on the field.... Keep Reading

Anxious and Troubled About Many Things

February 16, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

My first public sermon? November 15, 1998. I was 21 years old (nearly 22). I was about to graduate from Bible college. And I was candidating for a youth pastor position at a small church in Northern Wisconsin. The pastor and elders wanted me to be available to preach on occasion, so they had me preach before the congregation as part of the interview process. I chose as my text Luke 10:38-42, the passage about when Jesus visited Martha and Mary’s home. Right before I was to preach, one of my newly acquired friends from that church said to me, “Go easy on Martha.”... Keep Reading

The Painful Truth of the Gospel

February 9, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

We return to Paul’s letter to the Galatians this Sunday at Oak Hills. The heart of this letter is a defense of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as centered in the doctrine of justification by faith. In his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians, Martin Luther writes, “The article of justification must be sounded in our ears incessantly because the frailty of our flesh will not permit us to take hold of it perfectly and to believe it with all our heart.” Why is the Good News, the freedom found in justification by faith alone, so difficult to believe with all our heart? Why does Paul speak about “the offense of the cross” (Gal. 5:11) when the cross brings us salvation and restores us to a right relationship with God? Why do we need a letter like Galatians?... Keep Reading

Devoted to Fellowship

February 2, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This last Sunday at Oak Hills we looked closely at the habits formed by the early church as revealed in Acts 2:42. “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Being cautious to not make a descriptive passage purely prescriptive, we considered the nature of their “devotion” and to what they were devoted. Devotion involves three aspects: sacrifice, consistency, and endurance. To be devoted to one thing means that other things must be sacrificed. If I am devoted to my job, I sacrifice the search and longing for another job. Consistency is vital to devotion because repeated actions reveal what is most valuable to us. We can hardly be “devoted” to something if we don’t return to it on a regular basis. Endurance plays into devotion as other things compete for our attention. Our devotion wanes if we easily become distracted.... Keep Reading

Some Concerns About Weekly Communion

January 26, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The elders of Oak Hills have decided to transition our observance of the Lord’s Supper from a monthly occurrence to a weekly occurrence. The ultimate reason behind this decision is our understanding of the meaning and significance of this meal. I used the Touchpoint articles in the past two weeks to unpack what Scripture and our doctrinal confession says about the significance of communion (you can read those here and here). It is a means of God’s grace to feed us spiritually on Christ. Let me use this space today to address some commonly expressed questions and concerns related to weekly communion. If you have a question in mind that is not addressed here, please do not hesitate to let us know. We will also allow for interaction at our congregational meeting this Sunday, January 29.... Keep Reading

Christ as Spiritual Food Offered in Communion

January 19, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The elders of Oak Hills have decided to transition our observance of the Lord’s Supper from a monthly occurrence to a weekly occurrence. The ultimate reason behind this decision is our understanding of the meaning and significance of this meal. We understand that some may have questions and even concerns about this change. I am using these few weeks of Touchpoint articles to unpack our reasoning behind the switch and try to address some of the common questions. We will also provide a time to ask questions at our annual congregational meeting on January 29.... Keep Reading

Looking for Grace in Communion

January 13, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The elders of Oak Hills have decided to transition our observance of the Lord’s Supper from a monthly occurrence to a weekly occurrence. The ultimate reason behind this decision is our understanding of the meaning and significance of this meal. We understand that some may have questions and even concerns about this change. I plan to use the next few weeks of Touchpoint articles to unpack our reasoning behind the switch and try to address some of the common questions. We will also provide a time to ask questions at our annual congregational meeting on January 29. Most conservative Bible students and scholars would agree that the New Testament is silent about how frequent the Church ought to observe communion. Jesus never commands “do this” weekly, or monthly, or quarterly, or annually. So how are we to decide how frequent to partake in communion? We believe the meaning and significance of the meal would encourage a regular and frequent observance.... Keep Reading

Spiritual Stability

January 5, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

It's amazing how a little snow can create so much instability for driving. If you attempt to stop in a hurry, that little snow creates a slick surface so that your tires have no traction to slow your vehicle. This leads to a loss of control of the vehicle, even fish-tailing or spin outs. Unless you’re a thrill seeker, no driver likes that instability. The apostle Peter speaks about stability as well; not in driving, of course, but in one’s spiritual life. He commands he readers to “take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability” (2Pe 3:17). What is our “own stability”? How can we lose it? How can we create and deepen it?... Keep Reading

How Is the Word Active in Your Life?

December 29, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

For Christmas 2010 my family and I celebrated one of our most unique Christmases. I was teaching at the Cameroon Baptist Theological Seminary for the school year. While in Africa, we did not have access to all of the normal Christmas amenities we enjoy in America. No Christmas lights. No evergreens for a tree (we did have a Christmas tree, but it wasn't an evergreen). No shopping malls or Amazon Prime. Considering gifts for the boys, we had to be creative with what was available at the weekly market. Since one of our favorite activities had become exploring the woods near our home and finding sticks to carve and whittle, we decided to get knives for our older boys (ages 9, 7, and 5 at the time). Of course, we taught our boys knife safety. Knives can be useful for many things, but they also come with an inherent danger.... Keep Reading

The Great Gift Giver

December 22, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Do you like gift giving? I really enjoy giving gifts, but it comes with a side of stress. I like giving surprise gifts. I like giving thoughtful gifts. I like giving frivolous gifts. These gift parameters, though, require some planning and work. And then there are deadlines. Therein lies the stress. But when I find the right gift and have the opportunity to watch the excitement of the gift receiver, I know it is worth all of the effort.... Keep Reading

Who Is Your Redeemer?

December 15, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The story of Ruth has one of the most heart-warming and fascinating endings of all the stories of the Bible. Ruth is married to Boaz and they have a son. But the story does not end by focusing on Ruth or Boaz or even the son; it concludes with attention on Naomi. You may recall that chapter 1 focused on Naomi and her devastating losses… in a foreign land, husband dies, sons marry foreign women, barrenness for ten years, then her sons die. One tragedy after another leaving Naomi to exclaim, “I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty… the Almighty has brought calamity upon me” (1:21).... Keep Reading

Providential Coincidences

December 8, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The story of Ruth is well known for the beautiful displays of sacrifice, faithful devotion, and love. We see the healing of Naomi’s bitterness. We see the widow Ruth provided for by Boaz. We see godly strength in the man Boaz. And, of course, we see how God preserves a family line that will eventually produce the great king David and the even greater king Jesus Christ. As much as there are great story lines in Ruth to celebrate, this little Old Testament book is very frank about suffering. Life is hard. From natural disasters, to untimely deaths, to socio-economic struggles, to crises of faith, Naomi’s and Ruth’s lives are filled with hardships. Their lives are not too different from ours.... Keep Reading

The Significance of Advent

December 1, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

When John the Baptist was born, his father, Zechariah, after nine months of being mute, “was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied” (Lk. 1:67). Zechariah’s “Benedictus” (from the Latin “Blessed”) is filled with praise for a covenant-keeping God. He concludes his song of praise with predictive words for his own newborn son. He says, And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Lk. 1:76-79)... Keep Reading

Advent: A Time of Longing

November 24, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

My son’s birthday falls on Thanksgiving Day this year. For at least two months he has been asking, “How many more days until my birthday?” For a six year old about to be seven, a birthday is a momentous day. He looks forward to the gifts he’ll receive and the special ice cream cake prepared for his day. All that excitement and anticipation for a single day that comes once every year. Can you imagine waiting your entire lifetime for a single event? There would be great rejoicing when that moment finally arrives. But what if the event never comes in your lifetime? You are promised a great blessing, live every day longing for it, and then you die never having received it. If fact, the promise extends to your descendants, and generation after generation passes away looking for fulfillment but never receiving it. Some generations lose hope. Others are reinvigorated in deep longing. Can you imagine the excitement and rejoicing that comes when the day arrives?... Keep Reading

Living by God’s Calendar

November 17, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

What season is it? Depends, right? There are weather seasons (hence, Fall in the US; dry season in Cameroon). There are sporting seasons (baseball just ended; football is in full swing; college basketball is just getting going; what’s your flavor?). Perhaps this should be included under “sporting seasons,” but I’ll mention hunting seasons separately (I have friends out and about shooting deer right now). Holiday shopping season? End of the year fiscal season? The end of election season?... Keep Reading

Wisdom from Habakkuk

November 10, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

A couple of weeks ago I highlighted that Habakkuk 2:4 was one of the most important verses in the Bible, as it has impacted thousands of churches across the world. Paul quotes this verse, “The righteous shall live by faith,” in Romans 1:17. Paul’s use and application of Habakkuk 2:4 was one of the key verses that awoken in Martin Luther a renewed understanding of God’s grace in salvation, namely, justification by faith alone. Let’s return to Habakkuk and delve deeper into the wisdom this little known Old Testament prophet has for us today. Habakkuk wrote in the late 7th century BC (about 620-609 BC). The northern kingdom of Israel had fallen to Assyria 100 years earlier. The southern kingdom of Judah had been sinking deeper into idolatry, immorality, and other godless acts, although it experienced a brief, short-lived revival under king Josiah. Habakkuk starts by complaining to God about the evil surrounding him in his nation: “Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise” (1:3).... Keep Reading

Trusting God in the Wilderness

November 3, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Any marriage counselor will say that trust is essential for a successful marriage relationship. They will also say that trust must be earned or built through faithfulness and integrity. Similarly, trust is essential for our relationship with God. When life is riddled with trial and mystery, however, our trust in God is shaken. How do we grow in our trust in God? King David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). He penned some of the most important psalms that teach us about living by trust and hope in God. And yet, his life was marked by trials, some of his own doing (Bathsheba) and some by the hands of others (Saul seeking his life; Absalom seeking his life). How can any of us maintain and grow trust in God when life is so tumultuous? Let’s consider David’s example.... Keep Reading

What’s All the Fuss About Justification?

October 27, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Have you ever read the prophet Habakkuk? If you have, could you identify the time this prophet addressed and the theme of his message? Not many of us could without some sort of review or study Bible help. And yet, in this obscure writing prophet’s work we find one of the most important verses in all of Scripture: 2:4, “the righteous shall live by faith.” Paul quotes this verse twice, in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11, in his efforts to explain the gospel. It is Romans 1:17 that became the watershed verse for Martin Luther to rediscover the magnificent truth of justification by faith alone, and so launching a reformation of the church that impacts us even today. Paul writes in Romans 1:17, “In it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘the righteous shall live by faith.’” Luther, growing up in the Catholic church, understood the phrase “the righteousness of God” as meaning “the righteousness by which God Himself is righteous.” Therefore, Luther understood the gospel as revealing God in his holiness and the holy standards by which one must live. Luther came to “hate God” and feel oppressed by such standards.... Keep Reading

This is the ninth in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic ... Keep Reading

This is the eighth in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic ... Keep Reading

This is the seventh in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic – more than his teachings on heaven and hell combined” (p. 9). How does Jesus want us to think about money? How does the Gospel affect our attitude toward the use of money? Join me on this multi-week exploration of what Jesus teaches about money. Even in the 1st century, money was a big deal. The wealth and convenience we enjoy in 21st century America by far outweigh the wealth enjoyed in the 1st century. That’s why Jesus’ perspective and teaching on money and wealth is so vital for our spiritual health in relationship with God. We need to heed his warnings about the poisonous treasuring of money.... Keep Reading

This is the sixth in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic ... Keep Reading

This is the fifth in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic ... Keep Reading

This is the fourth in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic ... Keep Reading

This is the third in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic ... Keep Reading

Jesus & {Your?} His Money: Part 2 - Money as Poison

September 1, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is the second in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic ... Keep Reading

This is the first in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic ... Keep Reading

Olympic Champions in Christ

August 18, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I enjoy watching the Olympics. I marvel at the athletic prowess of the competitors and the feats they accomplish, which I could never imagine doing. I love rooting for Team USA and watching the medal counts. Part of being created in the image of God is an inner longing to be excellent or associated with excellence. The Olympics appeal to that inner longing. While I know I could never be an Olympic competitor, I long for that sort of discipline to mark and shape my pursuit of excellence in other areas. My relationship with God. My ministry. My marriage. My parenting. How can we develop that sort of discipline?... Keep Reading

I have always come back to Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians as an example and inspiration for faithful gospel ministry. One of my first sermons I preached at Oak Hills as pastor was a prayer for our church based upon 1 Thessalonians. During this month we are looking again at this personal, pastoral letter, seeking to reaffirm the gospel and the ministry of the gospel. God worked a miracle among the people of Thessalonica. He does anytime someone turns from idols to receive the Word of Christ. The brevity of Paul's stay in Thessalonica (about a month, see Acts 17:2, 10) makes their conversion all the more remarkable. What tools does God use to bring about gospel fruit among a group of people? I believe Paul gives us a hint in 2:8...... Keep Reading

The Word at Work, 1 Thessalonians 2:13

July 21, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I have always come back to Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians as an example and inspiration for faithful gospel ministry. One of my first sermons I preached at Oak Hills as pastor was a prayer for our church based upon 1 Thessalonians. During this month we are looking again at this personal, pastoral letter, seeking to reaffirm on the gospel and the ministry of the gospel. I believe that the things for which Paul thanks God are things for which Paul has prayed. The past two weeks we have been considering Paul’s thanksgiving in 1 Thessalonians 1:3, “we give thanks to God for…your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope…” Paul was concerned about their faith, love, and hope; he certainly would have been praying for this type of gospel fruit to be manifest in their lives. I have invited you to be praying for Oak Hills and the ministry of the gospel among us to produce such fruit. Let’s consider another word of thanks from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.... Keep Reading

Gospel Fruit, 1 Thessalonians 1:3

July 14, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I have always come back to Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians as an example and inspiration of faithful gospel ministry. One of my first sermons I preached at Oak Hills as pastor was a prayer for our church based upon 1 Thessalonians. Over the next few weeks, let’s look again at this personal, pastoral letter, and reaffirm our focus on the gospel and the ministry of the gospel. Paul’s opening thanksgiving of 1 Thessalonians reveals that his primary concern for the church at Thessalonica was their spiritual well-being. He praises God for their “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes. 1:3). I invited you last week to pray with me that the gospel would bear this kind of fruit among us and through us at Oak Hills. Let’s take a closer look at these three fruits Paul celebrates.... Keep Reading

I have always come back to Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians as an example and inspiration of faithful gospel ministry. One of my first sermons I preached at Oak Hills as pastor was a prayer for our church based upon 1 Thessalonians. Over the next few weeks, let’s look again at this personal, pastoral letter, and reaffirm our focus on the gospel and the ministry of the gospel.... Keep Reading

God's Multi-Ethnic Redemption Plan

June 30, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This past Sunday we welcomed home another team that had served with Sacred Road Ministries in Warm Springs, Oregon. While celebrating what God continues to do among the Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest, we took some time to be reminded of God's plan for the nations and our role in that plan. Isaiah tells us that God's plan centers on his choice servant, Jesus. God says through his prophet, "I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth" (49:6).... Keep Reading

I Am a Bruised Reed

June 23, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The latter third of Isaiah contains some sweeping prophecies of global justice and peace. Justice and peace that seem to be absent from our daily lives in this broken world. Justice and peace that legislators in multiple nations clamor to secure and provide. Justice and peace that we long for on an individual basis when we suffer from the oppression of sin.... Keep Reading

It’s another week of disheartening headlines for our nation. Unfortunately, this may be the “new” norm for life in this war-torn, politically-divisive, terror-riddled, hate-filled, futility-subjected world. The Christian blogosphere “blows up” every time there is a tragedy with commentary about why bad things happen and how Christians should respond. But is the darkness all that new? Do we live in a unique period of history where Christians need to brainstorm “new” ways to live?... Keep Reading

Thank You for Your Partnership

June 9, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This last Sunday marked my five year anniversary of preaching my first sermon at Oak Hills. God has been so gracious and mighty over these past five years. And God has used the people of Oak Hills as a rich blessing to me and my family. I join Paul in saying, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil. 1:3-5).... Keep Reading

Polar Bears!

June 2, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

A friend of a friend. That's who Sam was to me when I was finishing high school and preparing to go to Moody Bible Institute. I knew Sam loved the Lord and also was pursuing ministry training. Our paths crossed a few times because of mutual friendships. Conversation with Sam was always rich. One conversation sticks in my memory even to this day. A conversation about polar bears.... Keep Reading

A Famine of God’s Word

May 26, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The story of Elijah is sparse of details, but rich in implications. Take, for example, Elijah’s introduction, or the lack thereof. 1 Kings 16 ends with a very bleak outlook for the northern kingdom of Israel: blatant idolatry and complete disregard for the Word of God. 1 Kings 17 opens with the statement that “Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab…” We receive no introduction to this incredibly bold prophet and we know nothing of the arrangement of Elijah’s appearance before Ahab. He just shows up and speaks.... Keep Reading

The Foundation of the Spirit

May 19, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Paul's letter to the Romans is considered by most Christians to be one of the finest and most comprehensive explanations of the gospel. Paul starts the letter by declaring that he is "not ashamed" of the gospel because it is the power of God (1:16). That power lies in the righteousness of God revealed in Jesus Christ (3:22). Because of the sacrificial work of Christ, God is able to accept sinful people as righteous by their faith in Christ.... Keep Reading

An Order for a Healthy Church

May 12, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Paul’s letter to Titus is highly informative for church leaders to learn how to structure church. Paul says in 1:5, “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order…” We know this is a temporary task for Titus, because Paul closes his letter by encouraging Titus to join him at Nicopolis as soon as possible (3:12). So Titus has a limited amount of time to put things in order so that the church could be healthy. What makes for a healthy church?... Keep Reading

Consuming Relationships

May 5, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Several years ago a good friend of mine made a very curious statement: “We consume relationships.” He was reflecting on how a consumeristic society has shaped and influenced all areas of our lives. We had talked extensively about how consumerism had impacted our Christians’ perspective on worship and church programs. But relationships?... Keep Reading

The Daily Task of a Christian: Seek the Lord

April 28, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

In a slew of eleven commands that begin Psalm 105, the command “seek” is given twice in verse 4. Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! In classic Hebrew poetic form, the commands are parallel with one another. To seek the Lord is to seek his presence. To seek his presence continually is to seek his strength. In the New Testament we are commanded to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33) and “seek, and you will find” (Matt. 7:7). Even the nature of saving faith is associated with seeking God: “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6).... Keep Reading

Active or Passive in the Raging War?

April 21, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This past Sunday at Oak Hills we sought to answer the question, “If Christians are new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17) and have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24), why do they still sin and struggle with sin?” I believe the apostle Paul wrote Romans 7 to describe this very real struggle for Christians and provide hope. In this chapter, Paul explains that while a Christian is redeemed from the power of sin (Rom. 6:6) and has been given new spiritual life with God with new desires, delights, and will (Rom. 6:4) he is still afflicted by the lingering influence of sinful flesh (7:14 & 23). This is the identity of Christians and explains the mystery of the struggle.... Keep Reading

Remedies for Affluenza

April 15, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The word “affluenza” has been prominent this past week, especially in light of the ongoing parole case involving the “affluenza teen” in Texas. To be honest, I don’t recall ever seeing this word before (I missed the teen’s original trial, I guess). I joined with millions of others and made the word “affluenza” the ninth most Googled on Wednesday. I’m intrigued by what I found.... Keep Reading

The Tabernacle and You

April 8, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This past week I finished reading through the book of Exodus. If it wasn’t for my Bible reading plan, I’m not sure what would motivate me to read all of the way through Exodus. The first half is exciting with Moses and God’s miraculous powers displayed in the land of Egypt. Once the Israelites reach Mount Sinai, though, there are a lot of chapters detailing the construction of the Tabernacle and the preparation of the priestly garments. Why did God care so much about all of those intricate details and what difference does it make for Christians today?... Keep Reading

Resurrection at the Red Sea

April 1, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The story of Crossing the Red Sea in Exodus 14 is a Resurrection story. In fact, it gives us a glimpse into the resurrection life we enjoy now in Christ. Let me set up the story and then highlight the focal point. The Israelites have just been rescued from death-like bondage of slavery by God's miraculous power. For 400 years the children of Jacob have multiplied and grown in the land of Egypt. Pharaoh, however, subjected the Israelites to demeaning and strenuous labor. In fact, he feared their multiplication, so he sought to have male babies killed. Life for the Israelites in Egypt was dark, hopeless, despairing, and marked by death.... Keep Reading

More Than Death

March 25, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Today, being Good Friday, we remember and celebrate one of the greatest events of all of history: the death of Jesus Christ. So many truths and realities are wrapped up in this one day event: the justice and holiness of God in punishing sin, the love and mercy of God in forgiving sinners, the perfect obedience and submission of the Son of God, the mysterious dynamics of the Trinity on the cross, the fulfillment of a plan and covenant ratified in eternity past, the glorious atonement by substitution, and more. There is good reason that the cross has become one of the central symbols of the Christian faith.... Keep Reading

Election in the Church

March 17, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This Sunday Oak Hills will hold her annual congregational meeting for officer election. It is not an election in the vein of the political elections we are hearing so much about this year. There is no choosing one candidate over a different candidate. Instead it is more of an affirmation of the work of God in preparing some to serve in these offices. Hear how the New Testament speaks about the appointment of elders and deacons in the church.... Keep Reading

Why Hear Assurance of Pardon Weekly?

March 10, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

We hear an assurance of pardon for our sins every week during our worship at Oak Hills. Some may wonder about the value of such repetition. Does it seem to be too remedial? What place does assurance have in worship? Does it have any value in our spiritual growth and well-being? Let me identify seven values of hearing the assurance of pardon on a regular basis.... Keep Reading

Clinging to the Word

March 3, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I read a discouraging article last week titled, Evangelicals are Losing the Battle for the Bible. And They’re Just Fine with That. The author traces current opinions and statistical trends regarding Christians’ attitudes toward the Bible. Here’s a sampling of what he reports:... Keep Reading

Stephen is Stoned for Being God-Centered

February 25, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I really like the story of Stephen found in Acts 6 & 7. Here is a man selected to serve as a member of the first “deacon board” and “to serve tables,” as the disciples said (6:2). And yet (hmm… I use the word “yet” as if this is unexpected, unusual, or even inappropriate) Stephen was a man “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (6:5) and “full of grace and power” (6:8); he performed “great wonders and signs among the people” (6:8); and the people “could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking” (6:10). Acts 7 is a recorded sermon that Stephen gave before the Jewish high priests and Pharisees. Stephen was a remarkable man of God! I pray that I could be, and that our elders and deacons would be, like Stephen.... Keep Reading

Preparing for Easter

February 18, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Easter is about five weeks away. As a pastor, there are a lot of things on my mind in order to prepare for Easter. I’m mapping out my sermons for the month of March to deepen our understanding of Christ’s sacrifice and our enjoyment of all God has done for us through Christ. I’m working with a team to develop the best “advertising” strategy for our community. I’m discussing with our deacons and elders a list of projects we’d like to complete to “beautify” our building before Easter. I’m also thinking about our special worship gatherings, especially Good Friday service and Easter morning worship, prayerfully considering what would be both edifying and uplifting for our congregation.... Keep Reading

Growing in Grace During Lent

February 11, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The season of Lent begins this week with Ash Wednesday services and culminates with the celebration of Jesus' resurrection on Easter. Perspectives on Lent are almost as diverse as the number of denominations there are among Christian churches. Some love Lent as a season of humility, confession of sin, repentance, and preparation for celebrating the hope and joy of the resurrection. Others equate Lent with a legalistic works-righteousness practice promoted by the Roman Catholic Church.... Keep Reading

The Conversion of a Sailor

February 4, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The conversion of the sailors in the story of Jonah is astonishing. We can assume that they were experienced sailors on the Mediterranean Sea. Who else plans to travel the entire length of the Sea from Joppa to Tarshish? Yet they encounter a storm they could not manage. They were afraid, truly terrified. This is where we get a window into their religious beliefs and transformation. At the beginning of the crisis, they practice their known pagan faith by crying out to each of their gods (Jonah 1:5). Having sailed the expanse of the Mediterranean, they would have been exposed to all kinds of belief systems, espousing many different gods. Crises have a way of trying the fortitudes of our beliefs.... Keep Reading

Worship: Our Highest Calling

January 28, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

John Piper’s book, Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions, begins with a note on worship. This opening paragraph may be one of the most quoted paragraphs from all of Piper’s writings. It is worth reading again: “Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.”... Keep Reading

The Wake Up Call of Jonah

January 21, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The book of Jonah has one of the most curious endings in the entire Bible. The last verse contains a question for Jonah from God: “And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” There is nothing recorded after this. How did Jonah respond? Did he continue in his callous response to the pity of God? Some even ask, will Jonah be in heaven? Scripture never answers these questions.... Keep Reading

Hope for Persistent Prayer

January 15, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This past Sunday at Oak Hills we considered Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Luke 18:1-8. Luke gives us Jesus’ aim for his teaching in verse 1: “he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Jesus desires us to be persistent in our prayers, even for things that seem impossible in our view (i.e. the justice for a widow). In fact, it is necessary for his followers to be persistent in prayer.... Keep Reading

Why Pray?

January 7, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

“Why do we even need to pray?” That was the question my friend posed to me in the wee hours of a new day, after we had spent the whole night with our church family praying for our youth pastor, whose life was hanging in the balance after a drunk driver hit his vehicle head on. I was in no mood for my friend’s theological ponderings at that hour. He was wrestling with the age-old mystery of the relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility. I was focused on praying for a successful surgery to patch the aorta of a dear friend (yes, it is as crazy and miraculous as it sounds).... Keep Reading

Christmas through the Eyes of Simeon

December 24, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Can you imagine experiencing the Christmas story as Simeon? Sure, he doesn’t come into the story until after Jesus was born. 40 days after the birth of Jesus, to be precise (see the purification laws in Leviticus 12). Simeon, however, gives us a model of how a follower of God responds to the coming of Christ. Let’s learn from him.... Keep Reading

Christmas Through the Eyes of Joseph

December 17, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Can you imagine experiencing the Christmas story as Joseph? We know that Joseph was “betrothed” to Mary. In the Jewish culture, this betrothal, about one year in length, carried a deeper commitment than engagement in our culture. The groom would have already paid a portion of the bride price to her father and the couple would be considered nearly married; they had just to consummate their union. A divorce was required to break this betrothal. At some point, during that betrothal, Joseph learns that Mary is pregnant. How would you feel if you believed your fiancé/fiancée was unfaithful to you?... Keep Reading

Christmas Through the Eyes of Herod

December 11, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Can you imagine experiencing the Christmas story as Herod? You probably have no desire to be in Herod's shoes since he was so selfish and evil. I believe, however, that Herod provides for us a glimpse into the darkness of a sin-filled heart and how Jesus either redeems that heart for eternal life or condemns that heart to eternal punishment. Let's survey what we know about Herod and consider how he would have experienced Christmas.... Keep Reading

Christmas Through the Eyes of Mary

December 3, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Can you imagine experiencing the Christmas story as Mary? There would be so much bewilderment, excitement, confusion, fear, anxiety, and wonder. Let’s survey what we know about Mary and consider how she would have experienced Christmas.... Keep Reading

Posted in:
Pastoral Encouragement

Praying the Psalms

November 25, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Psalm 145 is an acrostic psalm. The first word of each verse starts with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Following this example of poetic expression of praise and prayer to God, I have taken select verses from the Psalms to craft this English-language acrostic prayer (using the ESV). The psalms were the prayer and worship book for the Jews. May they enrich our prayers as well. [Note: there are no verses in the psalms that start with the letters Q and X.}... Keep Reading

Thanksgiving is Natural…

November 19, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Thanksgiving is Natural… …if the gaze of your soul has been captivated by the goodness and majesty of God! Having a national holiday of Thanksgiving runs the risk of “forcing” us to be thankful, kind of like making your two year old say “thank you” at the ice cream shop. If we are honest with ourselves, we do not always feel thankful. How do we cultivate thankful attitudes (an “attitude of gratitude,” as one of my childhood pastors would say)? What produces thankfulness? Much like humility, we do not produce thankful hearts by thinking about giving thanks. Thanksgiving is the natural expression of a heart filled up, even overflowing, with joy in God. This means that Christians are to be marked/known by thanksgiving more than unbelievers (cf. Rom. 1:21). Thanksgiving comes from being enamored with God and all he has done for you.... Keep Reading

God's Word in Your Life

November 12, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Does the Word of God shape and direct my life? That's the question with which I awoke this morning pondering. Many things "shape" and "direct" my life. Little things, like hunger, direct my actions on a daily basis. Bigger things, like my marriage vows, shape my identity, my time commitments, and my relationships with others. How does the Bible fit into what shapes and directs me? Psalm 119:105 says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." The psalmist, without explanation, simply states that God's word is a directing and shaping influence in his life. I believe the psalmist would describe this directing "light" as functioning in two ways.... Keep Reading

Image Crafting Vs. Knowing Christ

November 5, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I recently read an online article that proposed a theory for why Generation Y (born late 70s to early 90s) was so unhappy with life. There were multiple parts to the theory, but the part that caught my attention was what the author called “image crafting.” As the name indicates, image crafting is the task of creating an image, via social media, to broadcast to one’s friends one’s sense of happiness, satisfaction, and success in life. While the images crafted and broadcasted may not be untrue images, they typically do not contain the whole truth. The unhappiness for Gen Y comes from comparing one’s reality with their friends’ crafted images. It’s an unfair comparison.... Keep Reading

Grammar Launches the Reformation

October 29, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Saturday is Reformation Day. It marks the 498th year anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses on the church door of Wittenburg. As the day commemorates, many esteem this act as having launched the Reformation. But what led Luther to take this monumental step? We can boil it down to a wrestling match with biblical grammar.... Keep Reading

The Gospel Budget

October 22, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Do you work with a budget? Many who work with a calendar year budget-year are making plans for 2016. For our government that means heated debate, threats of vetoes, and give-and-take bargaining. In your home it might mean "copy-and-paste" last year's budget if no significant changes are on the horizon. Every budget, though, has gains and losses, or profits and expenses. A good budget aims to keep expenses less than the profits, otherwise debt increases. I'm not an accountant or an economist, but I understand these simple principles.... Keep Reading

Book Teaser: "Knowing Christ" by Mark Jones

October 15, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I’d like to invite you to read a book with me. I can’t do a book review because I’ve just started reading Mark Jones’ book, Knowing Christ, this week (it was just released September 28). Let me give you a book teaser since I have been thoroughly captivated (we have copies for $12 in our book center at church). Mark Jones is a PCA minister in Vancouver and a Puritan scholar. In the vein of J.I. Packer’s (another Puritan scholar) Knowing God, Jones seeks to hold before the gaze of his readers the multifaceted treasure trove of Christ, exhorting us to know Christ better and to love him more. The task is like taking a precious gem and rotating it over and over to marvel at its splendor from every possible angle. Jones does this with the topic of knowing Christ by pouring over Scripture after Scripture about the greatness of Christ.... Keep Reading

Spirituality in a Celebrity World

October 8, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Two weeks ago, while I was sitting in the waiting room of St. Luke’s Surgery Center (my wife undergoing hip-arthroscopy), I fought hard to mentally block out the ever-present drone of CNN news (I forgot to bring ear-buds with me for my own background noise). I was pretty successful until the surgeon came out to consult with me after he completed the surgery. I was anxious to see my wife in recovery and they had told me it would be about another thirty minutes. During that time CNN was transfixed on Pope Francis’ visit to New York. Their cameras were following him on a visit to a Catholic school in Harlem.... Keep Reading

Are You Alone in Your Grief?

September 24, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

One of the greatest griefs in facing a hardship of any kind is the feeling of being alone in your grief. Misery loves company, right? Therefore grief hates being alone. In the night that Jesus was betrayed by Judas, Mark records that Jesus “began to be greatly distressed and troubled” (14:33). Certainly Jesus was about to endure that greatest pain and suffering any human has ever faced. But I do not think the physical pain and shame of the cross caused the greatest distress for Jesus. I believe what caused Jesus to be “greatly distressed and troubled” was the fact that he would be enduring the pain alone.... Keep Reading

Dying Well

September 17, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

John Piper would say that one of the jobs of a pastor is to prepare his people to die well. Sounds odd, doesn't it? When we consider the truth of the gospel, though, the oddity of this goal diminishes and we begin to see it as utterly Christ-exalting.... Keep Reading

Posted in:
Pastoral Encouragement

How Does Apple Affect Your Faith?

September 10, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

In case you missed it, Apple held their annual new gadget release party yesterday. Yes, there will be a new iPhone (the 6s, "We have changed everything about these iPhones," said Tim Cook). There even will be a new style of iPad, the iPad Pro (bigger and faster than ever). Many predict that Apple will continue with strong sales as long as they continue to produce new and improved products on a regular basis.... Keep Reading

Gospel in Community

September 3, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Paul’s letter to the church at Rome arguably is the richest exposition in the Bible of God’s astonishing grace extended to sinful humans through Jesus Christ. In this letter we learn of the depth of sinful depravity that has affected every human being, the free gift of justification before God received by faith alone, the sufficiency of God’s grace to not only cover our sin but also to raise us to new life in Christ, and the eternal promise of God to bring all those who are justified to glorification in his presence. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!”... Keep Reading

Where Hope and Joy Mix

August 27, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Perhaps like you, I'm a headline reader. A few times a day I check the news' headlines, but rarely read in depth any of the stories. Even this brief perusal of current events can be overwhelming. Murders. Protests. Scandals. Foreign Upheavals. Political Bantering. Abortion Debate. Celebrity News. Far too much celebrity news. With so much pain and despair in the world, it almost seems superfluous for Christians to speak about hope and joy.... Keep Reading

Resolved for a New School Year

August 20, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

A new school year. A new season. A new chapter. We all like new beginnings, don’t we? They give us fresh opportunities to “reinvent” ourselves, turn a new leaf, and embrace new experiences. This longing for newness is evidence that things in this life and world are not as they should be. Only the power of the gospel brings the newness that “satisfies.” Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” This newness, though, is not practically worked out in our lives all at once. How should we seek the newness promised in Christ?... Keep Reading

The Spirit and Your Joy

August 13, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This summer in these Touchpoint articles I have been exploring the various aspects of the Holy Spirit’s ministry. On Sunday mornings we have been studying the Scriptural call for joy. Is there any connection between the Holy Spirit and joy? Absolutely!... Keep Reading

The Gifts of the Spirit, Part 2

August 6, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Last week we looked at the “gifts of the Spirit” as part of the manifold ministry of the Spirit to sustain us in our relationship with Christ. The Spirit works through our fellow believers within the church for our good. We made two general observations about gifts: 1. They are for the good of others in the church, and 2. Use of the gifts in the church reflect the unity and diversity of the divine relationships in the Trinity. I would like to make one more general observation this week.... Keep Reading

The Gifts of the Spirit

July 30, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

We have taken time to unpack what Sinclair Ferguson means when he says: “The heart and soul of the Spirit’s ministry is to sustain us ‘in Christ’” (The Holy Spirit, p. 100). The ministry of the Spirit does not add anything to what we have in Christ, nor does the Spirit compete with or replace Christ. The Spirit unites us to Christ and sustains us in that all-satisfying, all-sufficient relationship, through his various works.... Keep Reading

Biblical Fidelity in a Shifting Culture

July 23, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Four weeks ago the Supreme Court of the United States announced their ruling which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. While not unexpected, and the topic having been hotly debated for years both in political and ecclesiastical spheres, reactions to the ruling have been abundant and vastly variant. Some have asked for my opinion and perspective on the decision. While I am no political or cultural expert, I am a pastor, committed to the Word of God and seeking to make known God’s truth. I believe the Bible is not silent regarding God’s standards for marriage and the church’s responsibility in a shifting culture. If I call people to anything, I want to call people to be faithful to God’s revealed truth in Scripture.... Keep Reading

Long-Term Labors for the Gospel

July 16, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Greetings from Warm Springs, Oregon! Our team from Oak Hills has been ministering with Sacred Road Ministries this week on the Warm Springs Reservation. Part of our team has been laboring hard in the community garden and the other part of our team has been working on painting the cedar shingles of the tribal long house. Each afternoon at 3pm we gather together to help lead the Kids' Club for 50+ children. God has been good to our team this week, answering prayers daily and building us up in his grace.... Keep Reading

Making Known God’s Grace in Warm Spring

July 12, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Oak Hills is going on another missions trip. Yes, as a church, we are going. Sure, only 10 of our members depart Saturday morning for Warm Springs, Oregon, but we are all involved with the mission. It’s part of our DNA. We “long to know and make known the astonishing grace of God.” This longing to make known the grace of God is rooted in our growing knowledge and experience of God’s gracious kindness to us in Christ and our deepening compassion on those who do not know Christ. Our longing drives us to send and go and pray and be involved with missions. If our longing is weak, we have much to learn and we ought to beseech God to enliven our hearts.... Keep Reading

Oceans of Love

July 2, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Greetings from Folly Beach in Charleston, South Carolina! My family and I are enjoying summer vacation on the beach (and my nephew is getting married tonight). My kids love the beach and ocean for hours of adventurous play (don't worry, we're looking out for sharks). I love the ocean because of its power and rhythms and beauty and depth of mystery. As one of God's splendid creations, the ocean has inspired much poetic reflection. One of my favorite hymns incorporates the imagery of the ocean:... Keep Reading

The Body Work of the Spirit

June 25, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Over the past month I have been reflecting on the various aspects of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit seeks to sustain us “in Christ” through his ministries of regeneration, illumination, and sanctification. The work of the Spirit is not limited, though, to an individual experience. In fulfillment of his declaration in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” Jesus has poured out his Spirit on believers. It is through the work of the Spirit that Christ builds his church. We call this the body work of the Spirit and the gifting of the Spirit. Both are the work of Christ through the Spirit in order to build his church.... Keep Reading

The Sanctifying Ministry of the Spirit

June 18, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Over the past few weeks we have been reflecting on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Sinclair Ferguson says: “The heart and soul of the Spirit’s ministry is to sustain us ‘in Christ’” (The Holy Spirit, p. 100). Part of sustaining us in Christ is the Spirit’s sanctifying work. Sanctification is the necessary process of the Holy Spirit making us more and more like Christ. Our growth in holiness is an essential result of our salvation (notice it is not the means of our salvation). Christ has graciously given us his Spirit to empower this process. So, how does the Spirit empower the process of sanctification? How does the Spirit help me grow in holiness? John Calvin and the Puritan pastors of the 17th century spoke of the Spirit’s work of mortification and vivification: death & life. Daily dying to sin and daily coming to life to righteousness.... Keep Reading

The Sanctifying Ministry of the Spirit

June 11, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Sinclair Ferguson says: “The heart and soul of the Spirit’s ministry is to sustain us ‘in Christ’” (The Holy Spirit, p. 100). The ministry of the Spirit does not add anything to what we have in Christ, nor does the Spirit compete with or replace Christ. The Spirit unites us to Christ and sustains us in that all-satisfying, all-sufficient relationship. Last week we looked at the Spirit’s specific ministry of illumination, which is the Spirit’s work of opening our minds and hearts to see the beauty and goodness of Christ in all of Scripture and invigorating our minds and hearts to delight in Christ more and more. Let’s consider the Spirit’s ministry of sanctification. Sanctification is a biblical word that speaks about the process of becoming more and more holy. What role does the Spirit play in this process and how is sanctification connected with our being in Christ? Sanctification is the necessary process of the Holy Spirit making us more and more like Christ. Let’s break down this definition... Keep Reading

The Illuminating Ministry of the Spirit

June 4, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Last week we considered Sinclair Ferguson’s excellent summary of the ministry of the Spirit: “The heart and soul of the Spirit’s ministry is to sustain us ‘in Christ’” (The Holy Spirit, p. 100). The ministry of the Spirit does not add anything to what we have in Christ, nor does the Spirit compete with or replace Christ. The Spirit unites us to Christ and sustains us in that all-satisfying, all-sufficient relationship. We then looked at a brief survey of the New Testament passages that highlight this ministry of the Spirit.... Keep Reading

The Ministry of the Spirit

May 28, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

What does the Spirit do anyway? Over the past two weeks we have considered the goodness of the gift of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Jesus promised in Acts 1:8 that the Spirit would empower his disciples to be witnesses. On Pentecost the Spirit was poured out on the church, with several signs, by Christ to affirm and apply his redemptive work. Left with only these descriptions, though, the ministry of the Spirit still is vague. He gives power and he applies the work of Christ. But how does this work and how is the Holy Spirit’s ministry connected with the work of Christ? And what difference does the ministry make in our day to day lives?... Keep Reading

Life in the Spirit, Part 2: Pentecost

May 21, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This Sunday is Pentecost. For the Jews, Pentecost is the feast celebrating the first fruits of harvest, the late Spring harvest. Jews from throughout the Roman empire would gather in Jerusalem to offer thank offerings to the Lord. For Christians, Pentecost is the day we celebrate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church. We read in Acts 2 of this unique event from redemptive history, “When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (2:1-4). Unfortunately, the event of Pentecost has been debated among Christians, causing confusion and even ignorance about this significant event. ... Keep Reading

Life in the Spirit, Part 1

May 14, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Happy Ascension Day! This is 40 days after Easter, the day the Scriptures tell us that Jesus ascended into Heaven (see Acts 1:3). There is much significance tied to the ascension of Christ (his vindication, his exaltation, his intercession, etc.), but I would like to spend a few weeks reflecting on the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says in John 16:7, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” The ascension of Christ precedes, and directly causes, the giving of the Holy Spirit. Let’s unpack some of the riches of the gift of the Holy Spirit.... Keep Reading

This is the last of a three part series reflecting on the nature of God’s grace in perseverance and the church community’s responsibility for her members’ perseverance. Our Confession of Faith states that “perseverance of the saints depends not upon their free will, but upon” God himself (WCF 17.2). Yet, God’s sovereign grace in our perseverance does not abdicate our responsibility to persevere and help one another persevere. The following paragraph in the WCF states that “through…the neglect of the means of their preservation, [the saints] may fall into grievous sins.”... Keep Reading

I Don’t Pray Enough, Do You?

May 7, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Today is the National Day of Prayer for our country. This day of prayer has been annually observed since 1952. On a day like today, Christians may reflect on why don’t we pray more often. In fact, I think many Christians would quickly state, “I don’t pray enough,” when asked about their prayer lives. We know well the biblical exhortations: “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17), “in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6), and “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Eph. 6:18). Why do we not pray as we ought?... Keep Reading

Last week I began writing this three part series reflecting on the nature of God’s grace in perseverance and the church community’s responsibility for her members’ perseverance. Our Confession of Faith states that “perseverance of the saints depends not upon their free will, but upon” God himself (WCF 17.2). Yet, God’s sovereign grace in our perseverance does not abdicate our responsibility to persevere and help one another persevere. The following paragraph in the WCF states that “through…the neglect of the means of their preservation, [the saints] may fall into grievous sins.”... Keep Reading

The Westminster Confession of Faith 17.2 states, “Perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father; upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ, the abiding of the Spirit, and of the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace: from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof.”... Keep Reading

Blessed Are Those Who Are Persecuted

April 9, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Matthew 5:10 "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In the 20th century more Christians died for their faith than in all of the previous centuries combined. That’s an astonishing reality. And the trends seem to indicate that the 21st century will surpass the 20th. Of the 200 nations in the world, Christians face persecution in 133 of them. According to the evangelical group Open Doors some 150,000 Christians are killed each year for their faith.... Keep Reading

Finding Hope in Christ's Ransom

April 2, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

One of the most beautiful messages of hope from the Gospel of Mark is found in 10:45 where Jesus says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Jesus came to give his life as a ransom, for everyone who places his/her faith in Christ. How does Christ’s life as a ransom bring hope for our lives today?... Keep Reading

God Opens a New Door for Oak Hills

March 26, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The day has come. This Sunday, March 29, Oak Hills will gather for worship in a building she has purchased! For 16 years Oak Hills’ has been a “tabernacling” church in the Kansas City metro seeking to glorify God by proclaiming the good news of God’s astonishing grace. We continue that mission now in our own facility.... Keep Reading

Blessed Are The Peacemakers

March 19, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Matthew 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Peacemaking is a high calling for the Christian. The promise of this Beatitude identifies peacemakers as being like God. Being called sons of God draws attention to character qualities that we share with the Father (i.e. “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…”). Peacemaking is a work of God (see the example of Christ making peace in Ephesians 2:14-17). Therefore, those who are peacemakers are like God.... Keep Reading

Blessed Are The Pure in Heart

March 12, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This is my favorite Beatitude (if I’m allowed to have a favorite). It utterly humbles, it leads to our greatest hope, and it energizes the good fight.... Keep Reading

Blessed Are The Merciful

March 5, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Matthew 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Of the Beatitudes, this one about mercy may produce the most confusion. At face value, it sounds as if mercy is only received from God when we give mercy to others. The mercy of God becomes part of a legalistic exchange. The very nature of mercy, however, contradicts this understanding. We never earn God’s mercy.... Keep Reading

Matthew 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Once again, Jesus commends a kingdom value that is not in vogue with popular culture. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness sounds prudish and stuffy, like many perceptions of the Puritans. Even among professing Christians, the pursuit of righteousness is not popular. “Many today are prepared to seek other things: spiritual maturity, real happiness, the Spirit’s power, effective witnessing skills.... Keep Reading

Who Do You Fear: God or ISIS?

February 19, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

There is no denying that ISIS is on everyone’s mind, to some degree. Their violent killings and military actions have been commanding headlines for months. So many questions and concerns weigh on our minds regarding this group. How are Christians to think and respond to these world events?... Keep Reading

Blessed Are The Meek

February 12, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Meekness sounds like weakness, doesn’t it (and I’m not just talking about the rhyme)? Be honest: what comes to your mind when you hear the word “meek”? “As meek as a mouse”? The simile communicates a lot about what we understand about meekness. A “meek” person is quiet, unassuming, docile, acquiescent, deferential, etc. Leadership and meekness rarely go hand in hand in our cultural understandings. What is Jesus commending when he says, “blessed are the meek”? Should we strive to be meek or is Jesus just “giving a nod” to a certain personality temperament?... Keep Reading

Blessed are Those Who Mourn

February 5, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Everyone wants to be happy. Who doesn’t? We live at a time when people are obsessed with happiness. It becomes the defining line for fulfillment. Therefore we have a whole multi-billion dollar industry devoted to making people happy. Yet, Jesus commends those who mourn. How does this fit? Does Jesus want his followers to be mopey and downcast? What about the abundant life?... Keep Reading

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

January 30, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

When Jesus began his public ministry after his baptism and temptation in the wilderness he preached, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17). The kingdom of heaven is a spiritual kingdom, into which we enter by faith in Christ and his atoning sacrifice. Jesus brings the kingdom near for us. The Sermon on the Mount is one of the defining discourses that helps us understand life in the kingdom. The first eight verses, known as the Beatitudes (from the Latin word for "blessed"), describe the values of the kingdom, what are esteemed as most important.... Keep Reading

Following Jesus On the Way

January 24, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

We return this Sunday to our sermon series on the Gospel of Mark. Like all of the Gospel writers, Mark was doing more than just recording the events and sayings of Jesus. Mark wanted to introduce his readers to who Jesus is and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. One of the ways he does this is through the use of certain words or phrases that communicate not only the facts of the events, but also the meaning of discipleship. ... Keep Reading

Living Like We Value Life

January 16, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

With Sanctity of Human Life Sunday approaching, one may despair of hope that human life would ever be held sacred in this world. The news headlines that bombard us every week highlight more the destruction of human life than the honor of human life. Terrorist attacks in Europe. Thousands killed in Nigeria. Murder in our own community. And it goes on. How are Christians to respond?... Keep Reading

Trekking Through the Genealogies

January 8, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Like some of you, I have begun my annual trek through the genealogies of 1 Chronicles in my Bible reading plan. I admit that reading lists of names can be burdensome at times. They are difficult to pronounce, which leads to quick skimming, which feels fruitless at the end of the chapter. The apostle Paul, however, says that “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable…” How are the genealogies profitable? It would help us to keep in mind a few things:... Keep Reading

Time Given to Us

January 2, 2015 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

With the start of a new year, many of us think about goals and resolutions that aim to improve upon our previous year. Such reflection is good and healthy, but we also must remain realistic. The year ahead holds many unknowns. No amount of planning or goal setting can dictate all of the future outcomes. That is the nature of the world we live in, where we are not sovereign.... Keep Reading

Letting Angels' Awe Guide Us

December 25, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

You’ve heard it all before, haven’t you? The Christmas story... the baby in a manger, shepherds keeping watch over their flocks, angels singing, wise men traveling from the east, etc. The danger of familiarity is losing our sense of awe over the significance of such events. Let’s let the angels reinvigorate our sense of wonder and awe for the birth of Christ, the Lord.... Keep Reading

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Pastoral Encouragement

Happy Birthday, Jesus?

December 18, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Many Christians, especially with children, like to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas. This practice helps teach our young ones (and even us older ones) that Christmas is about Jesus. I like to ask my kids, then, why do we get gifts on Jesus' birthday. This gives us the opportunity to talk about the "immeasurable riches of God's grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7). We give and receive gifts as a reflection (imitation) of our abundantly kind Heavenly Father. Now, did you know there is a risk in singing Happy Birthday to Jesus on Christmas?... Keep Reading

Actually Sharing Our Faith

December 11, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This past Sunday evening we gathered as a church family for a fellowship meal and to finish our discussion about Mack Stiles' book, Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus. I want to use this space to briefly focus on Stiles' fifth and final chapter and provide some practical take-aways on the topic of evangelism.... Keep Reading

Our focus at Oak Hills this Advent is on the second coming of Christ. Every New Testament writer mentions the second coming as a central hope that shapes every Christian and church, so much that Paul describes Christians as those "who have loved his appearing"(2 Tim. 4:8). The challenge for us is that while we celebrate the birth of Christ, can we be described as people loving and looking to and waiting for the coming of Christ?... Keep Reading

Advent: A Season of Preparation

November 27, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

When we think of Advent we naturally think of the birth of Christ. Historically, though, the attention of the Church during Advent has been on the second coming of Christ. By learning from the Old Testament longing for the coming of Messiah, the Church grows in its longing for the second coming. If we looked closely at the New Testament we would find that the early church was marked by a "looking" for the second coming of Christ. Paul describes Christians as those "who have loved his appearing" (2 Tim. 4:8). Can we be described in this way?... Keep Reading

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Pastoral Encouragement

Rebranding the Church

November 20, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Oak Hills will be incorporating a new look over the next weeks and months. It starts with a new name image, a logo, if you will. It will spread into a new website, a new bulletin look, and other print material. At the end of the day, a logo does not define us, but we do hope to communicate a bit about who we are.... Keep Reading

Marked by Thanksgiving

November 13, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Many of us are familiar with the history of the Thanksgiving holiday in America. We think of the Pilgrims and the various challenges they faced in coming to the New World. We know of the Native Americans who came alongside of those early settlers and helped with cultivating life-sustaining practices. The stories tell us that, after one year in the ... Keep Reading

What Perfects You?

November 6, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I am serving in Haiti this week, teaching a group of Haitian pastors about how all of Scripture centers on and proclaims the gospel. As I was preparing to teach this week I had the opportunity to speak with a missionary with the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission about these pastors. He mentioned that one of the biggest challenges these pastors face is syncretism.... Keep Reading

Reformation Day 2014

October 30, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

A couple of weeks ago we sang as a congregation the hymn "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." This hymn was first penned by the Reformer, Martin Luther, in 1529. While I love this hymn, growing up I always found it odd to be singing about Satan.... Keep Reading

What Does It Mean To Take Up Your Cross?

October 23, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

When we hear Jesus' words in Mark 8:34, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me," most of us think of Jesus' cross and the significance of his death. In our minds taking up our cross must parallel Christ's death on the cross in some way.... Keep Reading

Evangelism in a Healthy Church

October 16, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

As we strive for church health, we long to "do the work of an evangelist." For a church family that means everyone is united "with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel."... Keep Reading

The Word of God Must Grow

October 9, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The apostles of the early church esteemed the Word of God greatly, even before the Bible was complete in its final form. Peter and James state that we are given new life, become Christians, by the Word. "God brought us forth by the word of truth" (James 1:18). "You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God" (1 Pet. 1:23).... Keep Reading

Worthy of the Gospel

October 2, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

One of the most astonishing characteristics of the apostle Paul is his utter Gospel-centeredness. I pray that I can imitate Paul in my ministry and that our church would champion such a passion for the gospel.... Keep Reading

Oak Hills is Going to Haiti!

September 25, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

For the past few years our church has sent small teams to Haiti to serve in partnership with the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission (NWHCM). These trips have provided eye medical care for the people of the Northwest region in Haiti, one of the most impoverished places in the Western Hemisphere. Outside of these trips the Haitians have no opportunity for medical care for their eyes.... Keep Reading

Seeking Solitude in a Busy-Full Life

September 18, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

We have all heard it said that no person says on his or her death bed, "I wish I had spent more time at the office." Usually this statement is used to encourage setting good priorities for the use of our time. Time with family and friends or in serving others often is esteemed as having greater priority. What about time in solitude? ... Keep Reading

A Prayer for Humility

September 11, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

In Psalm 39:4 David prays, "O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!" This would not be a normal "prayer request"at the end of a Bible study gathering. In fact, I don't think I have ever prayed in my life, “Let me know how fleeting I am!” ... Keep Reading

Abounding More and More

August 21, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Paul says the grace of God abounds to us in the gospel. And Paul prays that we would abound in hope and love. Then Paul commands the churches to abound in pleasing God and loving one another. Why is this word "abound" so important to Paul?... Keep Reading

Are You Blessed Today?

September 4, 2011 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

If you are anything like me, your "sense" of being blessed fluctuates with the events and circumstances of your day to day life. When crisis strikes or I am facing great need or I am enduring under trial, I don't feel blessed.... Keep Reading

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