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Be Strong in the Lord

October 17, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Paul’s words, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood,” are well known among Christians, but do we truly live mindfully of spiritual warfare? It is far too easy to allow our sight and physical realities to command our attention. The call of Scripture, however, is to be battle ready for spiritual warfare. Through this multi-week series, we will consider what Scripture teaches about this spiritual struggle. This is part three. So far, we have sought to “know thy enemy,” namely, Satan. Revelation 12:17 says that Satan has gone “off to make war on…those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” The battle is inevitable. “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but … against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Paul’s assumption in Ephesians 6 is that we “wrestle.” There is no middle ground of being a pacifist in this spiritual warfare. Either you fight or you are conquered, defeated. And Satan is out to destroy our faith and testimony in Christ. ... Keep Reading

Know Thy Enemy: The Tactics of Satan

October 10, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Paul’s words, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood,” are well known among Christians, but do we truly live mindfully of spiritual warfare? It is far too easy to allow our sight and physical realities to command our attention. The call of Scripture, however, is to be battle ready for spiritual warfare. Through this multi-week series, we will consider what Scripture teaches about this spiritual struggle. This is part two. “Know thy enemy,” wrote military strategist Sun Tzu in the 5th century BC. In our spiritual wrestling with the “spiritual forces of evil” (Eph. 6:12), we would be wise to know our enemy. Last week we looked to Scripture for the origin of Satan. Revelation 12 speaks about a spiritual struggle in heaven between Satan, with his angels, against Michael, with his angels. Satan and his angels are defeated and “thrown down to the earth” (Rev. 12:9). Allegorical interpretations of Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 have provided further insight into the origin of Satan, created as a beautiful angel, fallen from God’s grace due to his pride. ... Keep Reading

Know Thy Enemy: The Origin of Satan

October 3, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Paul’s words, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood,” are well known among Christians, but do we truly live mindfully of spiritual warfare? It is far too easy to allow our sight and physical realities to command our attention. The call of Scripture, however, is to be battle ready for spiritual warfare. Through this multi-week series, we will consider what Scripture teaches about this spiritual struggle. This is part one. Before he died of cancer, David Powlison finished his last book, Safe and Sound: Standing Firm in Spiritual Battles. He opens the book by writing, “You are in a battle. I am in a battle. And every person we counsel is ... Keep Reading

Fighting the Comfort of Sin

September 26, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

James says Scripture is like a mirror. If we merely “hear” Scripture, but do not “do” it, we are “like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror,” and then does nothing to change our appearance (James 1:23). Judges 15 is a mirror that stings. At first glance we read about Samson’s self-centered back-and-forth revenge-seeking against the Philistines. The foolishness of Samson’s and the Philistines’ actions sting as we consider our own foolish tendencies to seek revenge. The deeper sting, however, is found in the response of the Israelites to Samson’s actions. We read in verse 15, “Then 3,000 men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, ‘Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?’” These men were annoyed with Samson. They believed that Samson was disturbing the peace by stirring up the hornets’ nest, namely, the Philistines. It’s hard to disagree with the men of Judah. ... Keep Reading

Good News Worth Sharing

September 19, 2019 | by: Stephen Sprague | 0 Comments

We are blessed at Oak Hills to have such a vibrant children’s ministry. On any given Sunday we average around 40 children actively involved in our various children’s ministries, from Acorns to Promiseland, pre-k Sunday School to youth Sunday School. That’s awesome! Even just this week our church grew by 2 more members as we welcomed Téa and Tyus Porter into our fold, praise God! The Lord continues to bless and grow Oak Hills, from families moving in, to little ones being born, and that is something worth rejoicing over. Another huge blessing is the large number of volunteers that we have actively serving in our children’s ministries. On top of the 40 children in our ministries we have nearly 30 volunteers serving regularly in various children and youth ministries. This, to me, is an answer to prayer as it shows our commitment as a church to the love and discipleship of our members, from the youngest age to the oldest. When you volunteer in children’s ministry, you aren’t just volunteering to do childcare for an hour and a half on a Sunday morning. ... Keep Reading

Blessed to be a Blessing

September 12, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

When God first called Abram from his pagan lifestyle in Ur of the Chaldeans, he makes several significant promises. We read in Genesis 12:2-3: I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. God selects Abram, a man with no track record of faithfulness to God, married to a barren woman, to be the father of this choice nation of people. God promises to bless Abram, with the intention that Abram would channel that blessing to others. Abram was God’s choice as the conduit to bring the seed of the woman who would crush the work of Satan into the world (Gen. 3:15). Paul confirms this when he quotes Genesis 12:3 in Galatians 3:8, “The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’” ... Keep Reading

Prayer Guides for Evangelism

September 5, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Evangelism. It’s a word that gets avoided among Christians. And if the word is not avoided, the activity often is. I have never met a Christian who didn’t believe that Christians ought to engage in evangelism. Many understand that Jesus’ commission of “Go and make disciples” applies to all Christians. We feel the collective description of Jesus’ disciples as the “light of the world.” Paul inspires to be “ambassadors for Christ.” The early church set the example when their “faith in God has gone forth everywhere.” God is pleased to use the efforts of his people to share the hope of the gospel with those who have not put their faith in Jesus. So, why do Christians “avoid” evangelism? Why don’t we, in more proactive and intentional ways, pursue the activity of evangelism on a regular basis? ... Keep Reading

The Hope of Isaiah

August 29, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I’ve had a number of conversations with friends lately about retirement. Most of the talk centered on financial planning for retirement. It’s important to be a good steward with the financial resources God has given us. Scripture warns us, however, not to trust in our financial planning for the future (cf. Luke 12:16-21; James 4:13-17). Our hope and confidence for security in the future is rooted in Christ. My pastor and mentor passed away with pancreatic cancer four years ago. In the previous year, he had retired from pastoral ministry, moved with his wife to be closer to grandkids, and launched a new mentoring program for church planters. He went to see the doctor for a persistent pain in his abdomen. One month later he passed. Not the retirement anyone would choose. ... Keep Reading

Vision Refreshed: A Gospel-Shaped Community

August 22, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

“Vision,” technically defined by experts in church leadership, is a statement of who we believe God is forming us to be. It is directional. Vision points to where we are going. And, as Christians, it points to something that can never be completed in this life. We are always moving in that direction. But we get distracted. We become forgetful. Our hearts become divided and other “visions” for what we can be become attractive. We need regular reminders that Christ has redeemed us, that we are united to Christ; that Christ is forming and shaping us into the people he wants us to be; that Christ is the Lord of our lives. Jesus Christ “casts” the vision for believers. Have you ever asked what is Christ’s vision for you and for the church? ... Keep Reading

To the Saints of Oak Hills

August 15, 2019 | by: Stephen Sprague | 0 Comments

Are you a sinner or a saint? That’s a pointed question. The theological answer is of course that you are a saint. Did you know that? Consider how Paul addresses the churches in Rom. 1:7, 1 Cor. 1:2, 2 Cor. 2:1, Eph. 1:1, Phil 1:1, etc. But how can Paul say that you are a saint? Because the word saint essentially means “holy one” which is a term that refers, not to the Christian’s own merit, but to the holiness of Christ that they are clothed in. That’s why in Philippians 1:1 Paul address his audience as “All the saints in Christ…” Apart from Christ we are not saints, but in Christ, we receive our new, foreign, identity as saints. Still, for any self-aware person, there’s a glaring issue with this language. Sin. We’re sinners. I take one look at my own life and it doesn’t take a second for me to realize that I am not worthy of the title of saint. After all, I’m no Peter or Paul. I’m just not. And neither were they if by saying I’m not them, I’m saying that I’m not a perfect man/woman of God. Because they all had their sins. Peter denied Christ three times and later on, after several years of ministry, had to be rebuked by Paul (Gal. 2:11ff). And by Paul’s own confession, he too continually struggled with sin (Rom. 7:13ff). ... Keep Reading

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