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The Ministry of the Psalter (Part 2)

October 4, 2018 | by: Stephen Sprague | 0 Comments

Last week we looked at Psalm 121 and how the Psalms are an excellent resource because they 1) connect with us in our varied emotional states, from weak and desperate to strong and rejoicing, and 2) remind us of who exactly it is that we are praying to ... Keep Reading

The Ministry of the Psalter (Part 1)

September 27, 2018 | by: Stephen Sprague | 0 Comments

Over the next two weeks I’ve been given the chance to write for the weekly Touchpoint article. Given my current preaching series from the Psalms, I thought this might be a good opportunity to expound upon my fascination with/ appreciation for, the Psalms. There are a number of benefits to reading the Psalms regularly. Often times they connect with us emotionally in ways other biblical texts don’t, they also remind us of various attributes of God giving us a greater reason to worship and adore him. In all these things the Psalms minister to us in unique and refreshing ways. This article, and the next, will be an attempt to identify and expound upon some of those benefits of regularly reading the Psalms with a case study of one of my most favorite Psalms, Psalm 121. So pick up your bibles, turn to the Psalter, and let’s get going!... Keep Reading

Skeletons in Your Closet

September 20, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Do you have any skeletons in your closet? The first time I ever heard of that idiom and question was during my interview with a group of elders for the church I would soon serve as youth pastor when I graduated college. I asked for an explanation. “Do you have anything in your past that you are ashamed of and would like to keep hidden? Anything incriminating?” My first thought was, “Well, if I do, I certainly would not want to reveal those things here in this context. I’m trying to get job!” I answered the question, though, as honestly as I could. I don’t believe I have “any skeletons in my closet,” but I know that I am not perfect by any means. I have made choices and done things that I’m ashamed of and am tempted to keep hidden. ... Keep Reading

I Am a Perfectionist

September 13, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I am a perfectionist. That’s not a big secret. And I’m not too proud of it either. There is a positive side to being a perfectionist, but the ugly side tends to get more attention. Perfectionism can be harmful to relationships. It can be judgmental and overbearing and ungracious towards others, especially family. It can be arrogant and self-sufficient and thus neglectful of God. The answer for the ugly side of perfectionism is not to lower one’s standards or become relaxed in one’s expectations. We’re called to be perfect and strive for excellence. This honors God (remember, there is a positive side to perfectionism). ... Keep Reading

For the Freedom of the Gospel

September 6, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

For my current doctoral class, I have been assigned some reading related to Karl Barth’s theology of preaching. Barth was a Swiss, Reformed theologian in the early 20th century. He taught theology at universities in Germany and Switzerland. Focusing primarily on systematic theology, it was highly unusual for Barth to give attention to the practical theology of preaching. In his estimation, however, the circumstances were dire. Barth petitioned the preaching professor at the University of Bonn in 1932 to allow himself to teach a couple of courses on preaching. Barth ended up holding two seminar classes during the academic year of 1932-1933. They were titled Exercises in Preaching Preparation. If you are familiar with German history leading up to World War 2, you recognize that this was the time the democracy was dismantled in Germany and Hitler rose to dictator power of the Third Reich (Reich = kingdom). ... Keep Reading

Self-Controlled is Healthy

August 30, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Health. How do you measure health? Depends on what we’re talking about, right? Physical health? Blood pressure. Pulse rate. Body mass index. Blood tests for cholesterol and sugar levels. Physical activity. And more. All of these are used to “measure” one’s health regarding his body. Mental health? Sleep habits. Social habits. Eating habits. Emotional swings. And more. All these are taken into consideration for determining one’s mental health. Relational health? Quality time. Depth of communication. Honesty. Forgiveness. And more. These prove to be marks of health in relationships. How about the church? What does health look like in the church? Good cases can be made for many different angles for measuring church health. It’s mission. It’s worship. It’s preaching. It’s ministry. It’s growth. It’s morals. And more. ... Keep Reading

Marked by Xenophobia or Philoxenia?

August 23, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

In 2016, dictionary.com determined the word of the year to be xenophobia. The word of the year is determined by frequency and numbers of searches as well as use in popular correspondence. Xenophobia is made up of two Greek words. Xenos is the word for stranger (noun) or strange (adjective). Phobia or phobos is the word for fear. Xenophobia is the fear of strangeness or strangers. According to dictionary.com, the spike in use of xenophobia in 2016 was related to world events such as Brexit, the US presidential race, immigration debates, terrorism, and race debates in the US.... Keep Reading

Take Care How You Hear

August 16, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Good bye Summer. Hello Fall. Whether or not you have students in your home, the changing of seasons impacts your schedule. As much as we may become creatures of habit, adjustments can be made to our schedules. Have you taken stock of your schedule lately? All kinds of areas can be examined in our schedules. I have in mind specifically our time in God’s Word. What place does God’s Word have in your daily schedule? In Luke 8 Jesus gives the well-known parable of the sower. Seed, which Jesus says in the Word of God, is scattered on four types of soil with varying results. Each soil represents a different group of people distinguished by what they do with the Word. Only the “good soil” bears fruit. What distinguishes the good soil? “They are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience” (8:15). ... Keep Reading

Christ - Our Advocate and Surety

August 9, 2018 | by: Stephen Sprague | 0 Comments

This article is a revision of a previous blog post I wrote while a student at Westminster. It’s been on my mind a bit lately as I’ve considered the essential role that Christ fills as our advocate and surety (more on surety later) and has placed the biography of Dr. Archibald Alexander at the top of my reading list once again. In case you’ve never heard of Alexander, he was the first professor on staff at Princeton Theological Seminary way back in 1812, and, in fact, when Princeton first met, they held classes in his house! But back to the topic at hand. Christ as our Advocate: For the longest time I think I would have answered the question of, “How can I know if I’m truly a Christian if sin is still present in my life?” by answering that one could know that they are saved by the fruit evident in their life (1 John). While this is true, and biblical, it’s not complete. And on its own, I think this answer brings more heartache and inner anguish without actually offering the true hope that is found in Christ to the Christian that is wrestling with this question. ... Keep Reading

What’s Next for Oak Hills? (Part 6)

August 2, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Part of thriving as a church is to be reminded of and united around the mission God calls us to. It’s easy to forget. It’s easy to get distracted. Oak Hills longs to know and make known the astonishing grace of God. I’ve been seeking to refresh our minds and energy around this mission God has called us to. This mission means, first and foremost, that we will treasure Christ. We constantly need to recalibrate our hearts toward this mission through repentance, prayer, and availing ourselves of the ordinary means of grace. In addition to the unchanging longing to treasure Christ, we have identified four other areas in which we can grow in order to be more faithful to our mission. I’m highlighting these four areas over these few weeks. I have already touched on cultivating a culture of invitation, improving our web presence, and expecting gospel growth. The fourth area draws attention to the area of leadership. ... Keep Reading

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