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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

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