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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

Are You Kind?

August 8, 2019 | by: Bill Burns | 0 Comments

By Guest Author, Bill Burns. “And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:24–26) If you’re like me, the horrible news from El Paso and Dayton have us struggling to know what to think, let alone do about the plague that seems to be running rampant in our society today. Some shout and scream at one another. Others tune out the news…turn inward. If we could all just do X, or leave one another alone, or reach out to one another and help those less fortunate. Pass another law. Get people to see things differently. Perhaps then we’d be free of this or that vexing problem.... Keep Reading

Longing to Worship Jesus

August 1, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

At Oak Hills we say our mission is “longing to know and make known the astonishing grace of God.” Every year I seek to take time to step back and take stock of how we are doing as a church, in light of our mission. We have many reasons to give glory to God for his work among us to fulfill this mission. We also have room to grow, as we always will this side of heaven. This summer, I want to encourage our growth in “longing” by looking at pictures of longing from Scripture, praying that we would be challenged and inspired. This is part eight of a multi-part series. Longing is a form of worship. Worship is the extoling of another as worthy of our adoration, attention, and dependence. When we “long to know the astonishing grace of God,” we extol God and his grace as worthy of our adoration, attention, and dependence. When we long to know God’s grace, we worship God. One of the most beautiful pictures of this in Scripture is the unnamed woman who washes Jesus’ feet with her tears in Luke 7. With her actions, she extols Jesus as worthy of her adoration, attention, and dependence. In fact, the greater the sacrifice involved in the adoration, attention, and dependence, the greater the worship and delight. Let’s look closely at what Luke records.... Keep Reading

Longing for God’s Word

July 25, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

At Oak Hills we say our mission is “longing to know and make known the astonishing grace of God.” Every year I seek to take time to step back and take stock of how we are doing as a church, in light of our mission. We have many reasons to give glory to God for his work among us to fulfill this mission. We also have room to grow, as we always will this side of heaven. This summer, I want to encourage our growth in “longing” by looking at pictures of longing from Scripture, praying that we would be challenged and inspired. This is part seven of a multi-part series. There are several Psalms that stand out for their high esteem for the Word of God. Psalm 1 commends the one whose “delight is in the law of the Lord” as “blessed.” Psalm 19 celebrates the instructions and rules of the Lord by saying, “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.” Of course, Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, hails the law of the Lord in every single verse (all 176 of them). For example, the psalmist exclaims in verse 97, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” These Psalms provide for a us a picture of longing. The psalmist not only esteems the educational value of God’s revealed will, but he also delights in and enjoys God’s revelation. This is the key difference between “knowing” (head-knowledge) the astonishing grace of God and “longing to know” the astonishing grace of God (engaging the head and heart). What is it about the Word of God that compels the psalmist to pray, “incline my heart to your testimonies” (119:36)? Why would he exclaim, “Oh how I love your law!” ... Keep Reading

Dependence on God’s Covenant

July 18, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

At Oak Hills we say our mission is “longing to know and make known the astonishing grace of God.” Every year I seek to take time to step back and take stock of how we are doing as a church, in light of our mission. We have many reasons to give glory to God for his work among us to fulfill this mission. We also have room to grow, as we always will this side of heaven. This summer, I want to encourage our growth in “longing” by looking at pictures of longing from Scripture, praying that we would be challenged and inspired. This is part six of a multi-part series. Up until this point, we have considered only New Testament examples of longing to know and make known God’s astonishing grace. What about the Old Testament? God and his covenantal grace are the uniting thread of Scripture. Even in the Old Testament, saints were longing for and depending on God’s grace to sustain. One of the most powerful pictures of this is found in Moses at Mount Sinai. Yes, Mount Sinai. The site where God delivered “The Law”… one of the most powerful pictures of longing for grace in Scripture. The scene opens with a spectacular display of God’s power and majesty. We read in Exodus 19:16, “On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled.” God speaks forth the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20 in the hearing of all the people. And the people respond, speaking to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die” (20:19).... Keep Reading

Ingratitude: The Anti-Longing

July 11, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

At Oak Hills we say our mission is “longing to know and make known the astonishing grace of God.” Every year I seek to take time to step back and take stock of how we are doing as a church, in light of our mission. We have many reasons to give glory to God for his work among us to fulfill this mission. We also have room to grow, as we always will this side of heaven. This summer, I want to encourage our growth in “longing” by looking at pictures of longing from Scripture, praying that we would be challenged and inspired. This is part five of a multi-part series. Sometimes, while growing in new attitudes and actions, it’s helpful to identify what is not included. For example, while we are growing in patience, it’s helpful to identify moments of impatience and what feeds such impatience. The same is with longing to know and make known God’s astonishing grace. We want to grow in and cultivate a deeper longing. So far, we have looked at positive examples of such longing. Let’s consider a negative example, something that does not exemplify such a longing. ... Keep Reading

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