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Psalms of Comfort, Part 2 - Psalm 91

March 26, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Throughout the centuries, followers of God and Christ have looked to the Psalms for comfort and guidance in the midst of trials. Some Psalms have come to be dearly loved and memorized. These Psalms direct our attention to the rock-solid character of God and his promises. Each week we’ll reflect on one of these Psalms, training our hearts to trust in the Lord more and more. Psalm 91 1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. 15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” When Elisabeth Elliot wrote about her husband’s life and martyrdom, she selected Psalm 91:1 as the title: Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot. It’s a beautiful witness to the power of this psalm to sustain and comfort the people of God suffering under great trial. It also serves as a testimony to the providential care of God even in martyrdom. Jim Elliot abided in the shadow of the Almighty and continues to for eternity. ... Keep Reading

Psalms of Comfort - Psalm 23

March 19, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Throughout the centuries, followers of God and Christ have looked to the Psalms for comfort and guidance in the midst of trials. Some Psalms have come to be dearly loved and memorized. These Psalms direct our attention to the rock-solid character of God and his promises. Each week we’ll reflect on one of these Psalms, training our hearts to trust in the Lord more and more. Psalm 23 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (ESV)... Keep Reading

This is part five of a five-part series where I explore the goodness of what is commonly known as the Five Points of Calvinism, summarized by the acronym TULIP. Historically, Reformed churches have looked to this acronym as a summary God’s work in our salvation. While we believe the truths are rooted in Scripture, the “five points” often solicit strong reactions. Let’s consider each, seeking to deepen our delight in the God who saves. Once again, in this series, we see that the name of a doctrine can mislead one’s understanding of the doctrine. The Perseverance of the Saints has often been confused as teaching something akin to “once saved, always saved… (so do whatever you want).” Even the wording of the name centers our attention on what “the saints” do, which also is misleading. So, let’s clear up the confusion first, and then consider why someone like me might love this doctrine. I like the name The Preservation of the Saints better than the perseverance of the saints. Not only is it more biblical (more on that in a moment), it also directs our attention on God’s gracious work. This doctrine teaches that those whom God has elected, called, and justified will surely be glorified in God’s presence for eternity (i.e. eternal salvation). The assurance of this is rooted in God’s work, not our ability to keep the faith. Consider this biblical support: ... Keep Reading

Why I Love the Doctrine of Irresistible Grace

March 5, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part four of a five-part series where I explore the goodness of what is commonly known as the Five Points of Calvinism, summarized by the acronym TULIP. Historically, Reformed churches have looked to this acronym as a summary God’s work in our salvation. While we believe the truths are rooted in Scripture, the “five points” often solicit strong reactions. Let’s consider each, seeking to deepen our delight in the God who saves. Once again, we are confronted with the issue of unclear terminology. Total depravity is misunderstood as teaching humans are as sinful as they can be. Limited atonement is misunderstood as teaching that Christ’s death on the cross is limited in some way. And, irresistible grace is misunderstood as teaching that God will drag people into heaven kicking and screaming against their wills. God does not drag anyone to heaven against his or her will. We have already established that our wills are in the bondage and corruption of sin (total depravity). Without outside help, no one will ever choose God. Thankfully, God, in his mercy and grace, has chosen to help some to overcome their sin and respond in faith to the gospel (unconditional election). God’s choosing is never based upon our performance. Irresistible grace teaches that God’s initiative to save someone never fails. This is plainly taught in Scripture. ... Keep Reading

Why I Love the Doctrine of Limited Atonement

February 27, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part three of a five-part series where I explore the goodness of what is commonly known as the Five Points of Calvinism, summarized by the acronym TULIP. Historically, Reformed churches have looked to this acronym as a summary God’s work in our salvation. While we believe the truths are rooted in Scripture, the “five points” often solicit strong reactions. Let’s consider each, seeking to deepen our delight in the God who saves. Have you ever heard of a four-point Calvinist? It refers to a person who holds to or affirms four of the five points of the acronym TULIP. Typically, it is the middle letter “L” that creates this phenomenon. When I was in college and first introduced to TULIP, I initially called myself a four-point Calvinist. I believed the other four points were biblical, but this middle letter represented something not found in Scripture. The L stands for limited atonement. I argued that no one should “limit” God’s atoning work through Christ on the cross. The death of Christ is infinite, not limited. It turns out that my belief about limited atonement was rooted in a misunderstanding of the doctrine and the biblical teaching undergirding it. Let me unpack what this doctrine teaches and then I explain why I have come to love this doctrine. ... Keep Reading

Why I Love the Doctrine of Unconditional Election

February 20, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part two of a five-part series where I explore the goodness of what is commonly known as the Five Points of Calvinism, summarized by the acronym TULIP. Historically, Reformed churches have looked to this acronym as a summary God’s work in our salvation. While we believe the truths are rooted in Scripture, the “five points” often solicit strong reactions. Let’s consider each, seeking to deepen our delight in the God who saves. In my experience, it is easier for people to embrace the truth of total depravity than the truth of unconditional election. We encounter depravity on a daily basis. We are familiar with our hearts. We are broken, sinful people. But when it comes to our choice, we do not want to lose our freedom. The doctrine of unconditional election says that God chooses those who will be saved free of any condition in himself or in us. It says that there is nothing in us that warrants God choosing us. Paul argues for unconditional election in Romans 9:6-13, where he explains that God chose Isaac over Ishmael and Jacob over Esau without regard to anything they had done. He anticipates the common objection, “Not fair!” in verse 14. Paul continues in building his case, stating that mercy is not mercy and grace is not grace unless God is free to give them to whomever he chooses.... Keep Reading

Why I Love the Doctrine of Total Depravity

February 13, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part one of a five-part series where I explore the goodness of what is commonly known as the Five Points of Calvinism, summarized by the acronym TULIP. Historically, Reformed churches have looked to this acronym as a summary God’s work in our salvation. While we believe the truths are rooted in Scripture, the “five points” often solicit strong reactions. Let’s consider each, seeking to deepen our delight in the God who saves. Some have joked that all it takes to come to believe in total depravity is to have a child. Infants and toddlers reveal in their choices and actions that they are born corrupted by sin. But, as confessing Christians, we know that experience is not the infallible authority to dictate doctrine. Scripture alone is our authority and it clearly teaches the depravity of humankind. Romans 3 may be one of the best chapters in the Bible to look to for an understanding of total depravity. Paul is building his argument for salvation by grace alone. At this point in the argument, which began in chapter 1, Paul makes some summary statements that all people, Jews and Gentiles alike, “are under sin” (3:9). He quotes from Psalm 14 to emphasis the pervasiveness of this condition: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God” (3:10-11). And this depravity is not only a condition, but also affects our ability to do what is right. Paul says, “by works of the law [i.e. by our own ability] no human being will be justified in his sight” (3:20).... Keep Reading

The Autopsy of Rejection

February 6, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The apostle John uses the prologue of his gospel to introduce several themes that will be developed throughout his writing. One of the more devastating themes is found in verse 11 of his prologue: “he came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” Jesus came to the Jews throughout Judea, drawing thousands of followers, but, by and large, most of them did not receive him. They rejected the promised Messiah, the fulfillment of all the Old Testament hopes and promises. I say this is one of the more devastating themes of the gospel of John because it serves as a warning to the church today. Membership in the church, as much as membership among the Jewish people during Jesus’ day, does not guarantee that you will receive Jesus. The Jews believed they were being faithful to God when they cried out “Crucify!” Little did they know that they joined their voices in complete opposition to the saving work of God. Being a member of the “in-crowd” does not save you. We are each called to receive Jesus as our only hope of salvation. ... Keep Reading

Happy God. Happy People.

January 30, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of living in a home where two family members are in conflict. Sometimes these conflicts are minor and get resolved within a timely manner. Other times, these conflicts are deep and may even cause permanent rifts in the family. Either way, it is uncomfortable for the whole family to endure such conflict. I remember one such conflict between my mother and father while we were on vacation. We were camping in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I was only six or seven years old, so I was not aware of why my mom and dad were upset with one another. The tension was thick, and when you share a small space together while camping, it was hard to avoid. My dad ended up taking my brothers and me on a day trip to explore the Smokey Mountain National Park. My mom stayed back at the camper. I did not enjoy that day. I couldn’t help but think about my mom missing out of this experience. I also wondered whether my dad and mom would resolve whatever issue that was pushing them apart. Thankfully, within a day or two, my parents reconciled, and we retraced our trip in the Smokey Mountains with my mom along. ... Keep Reading

On a Treasure Hunt for Paradise

January 23, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

What is Paradise? I proposed this question in my sermon on Sunday as one of three foundational questions which contribute to the formation of a worldview. A worldview is a lens through which we interpret the world around us. Worldviews impact and shape how we respond to circumstances. Jesus answers this question in order to shape the worldview of his disciples. In Matthew 13:44 he says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” In the gospel of Matthew, the “kingdom of heaven” is a right relationship with God through the Messiah-King Jesus. Jesus identifies this right relationship with God to be “treasure.” This is paradise! To be in a right relationship with God through the redeeming work of the Messiah-King! Let me highlight a few observations about what Jesus says regarding the “treasure.” ... Keep Reading

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