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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

Compassion is Longing

July 4, 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 four of a multi-part series. The word “longing” is important in our mission statement. Our mission is not merely “to know and make known,” as if we are compelled merely by a sense of duty. The word “longing” communicates the engagement of our hearts, our desires. We desire to know and make known. Jesus models this “longing” and “desire” in his own mission. He famously declares his mission in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This is a pure statement of duty-bound mission. Praise God Jesus perfectly fulfilled his duty to be our ransom! Our salvation depends on it. ... Keep Reading

Strategic, Ambitious Planning

June 27, 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 three of a multi-part series. Did you know that Paul’s letter to the Romans is a strategic, gospel-advancing, fund-raising letter? Typically, when we think of Romans, we think of the great theological unpacking of the riches of the gospel. And Romans does contain some of the richest explanations of the justification by faith and the power of grace in all of the New Testament. Paul dives deeply into the truths of the gospel, however, in order to bring peace and unity to the church at Rome, which was conflicted by the ethnic divide between Jews and Gentiles. Still, peace and unity were not Paul’s end goal. He states his purpose in writing this letter in chapter 15. He says, “I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while” (v. 24). Paul explains his passion to go to Spain a few verses earlier: “I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation” (v. 20). Paul had a personal ambition to preach Christ to those who have never heard of Christ. ... Keep Reading

Longing for Another

June 20, 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 two of a multi-part series. Paul’s letter to the Philippians is called the Epistle of Joy. Throughout this letter Paul is expressing joy for all sorts of people, circumstances, and, mostly, the power of the gospel. Paul’s joy is remarkable because he is in prison when he writes the letter. If I was in his shoes, I would struggle to find reasons to rejoice in such dire circumstances. ... Keep Reading

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