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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

DO. NOT. SEEK. THE TREASURE!

May 4, 2017 | by: Bill Burns | 0 Comments

In Sunday School the past few weeks, Pastor Dale and I have making our way through the Book of Job. Talking with a couple of folks from class, we all agreed; Job is a book we don’t tend to read very often. To be honest, it’s a bit depressing, and if you’ve read even the first two or three chapters, you know it starts out grim and just goes downhill from there…until the end, of course. In between the ‘bookend’ chapters recounting the troubling circumstances (to say the least!) of Job’s predicament and its resolution at the very end of last chapter, there are about 39 chapters of poetry to wade through. Poetry! Ugh! The Book of Job raises some of the “Big Questions™;” ‘Why do we suffer?’ ‘Is God in control of all things in our lives?’ ‘Why do wicked people seem to prosper and good people go about as paupers?’... Keep Reading

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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

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