Why Do I Love Adversative Conjunctions?

January 12, 2023 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I admit that I say some goofy things in my sermons. Sometimes it is because I struggle to pronounce words correctly (I inherited this struggle from my dad; it’s in the tongue). Sometimes it is because I get excited about the truths of Scripture and my mouth runs faster than my brain. Sometimes it is because I want to help people remember what I am saying. It is for this last reason that I have said things like, “I love adversative conjunctions!” Adversative conjunctions are those connecting words that unite two opposing statements. Some common examples are but, though, and however. In Scripture they often unite two opposing statements that present seemingly impossible scenarios. Take for example Ephesians 2. Paul says, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked… but God made us alive together with Christ…” (v. 1, 4-5). We were dead, but God made us alive. The Bible is full of these contrasts, especially in Paul’s writings. My love for grammar in the study of Scripture is not merely an interest in grammar. My love for grammar is rooted in the belief that God has revealed truth about himself and his ways through the inspiration of not only the words but also the grammar of the Bible. This attention on the inspiration of grammar began in seminary while I studied biblical exegesis with John Piper. This paragraph caught, and has held, my attention: ... Keep Reading

The Pursuit of Wisdom

January 5, 2023 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

One of the beauties of the book of Proverbs is its simplicity. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the father instructs his son that there are only two paths in life: the way of the wise and the way of the foolish. Following the way of the wise leads to the blessed life with God. Following the way of the foolish leads to destruction, misery, and death. The father, naturally, urges his son to heed his call to follow the way of the wise. In our modern and postmodern context, we tend to muck up this simplicity. Life is not that simple, right? It cannot be that black and white? There are other paths, neutral paths; we even think and live as if we can walk both paths of the wise and foolish at the same time with no negative ramifications. In complicating life, we miss the simplicity in which God wants to meet us and bless us. We need to heed the call of Proverbs to follow the way of the wise. The second chapter of Proverbs is a beautiful invitation to pursue wisdom. The father lures his son to the pursuit with a promise, “My son… if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God” (2:1, 3-5). If you diligently and eagerly seek for wisdom, then you will know the fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is the well-spring of a blessed life with God. The father outlines this blessed life in the remaining of Proverbs 2. God gives wisdom (v. 6). God is a shield to those on this path (v. 7). God watches the way of his saints (v. 8). The one on this path will understand “righteousness and justice and equity” (v. 9). Wisdom and knowledge will be pleasant to the soul (v. 10). The blessings continue through verse 22. ... Keep Reading

Resources for Your Prayer Life

December 29, 2022 | by: John Lee | 0 Comments

As we begin to finish another year around the sun, we prepare ourselves and our families for another year in the Lord’s grace and faithfulness. Truly the Lord’s mercy is new every morning (and year!). As we finish off the year, you might find yourself reflecting on all the years, people, events, etc. that the Lord has used to shape you, to prune you, and ultimately to make you more like Christ. One thing that I found myself reflecting on and thanking God for were all the years of family prayer meetings on the couch growing up. My parents still hold those family prayer journals that are filled with pages of honest prayers that we shared and prayed for one another. Those journals have become tangible reminders of God’s gracious kindness and faithfulness, a sort of Ebenezer for us. As I consider how formative those years have been for my own prayer life today, I find myself looking back at all the helpful and supplemental resources that have impacted my prayer life this year. ... Keep Reading

Grabbing Our Attention

December 22, 2022 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Every day we are bombarded with spectacles. Author Tony Reinke explains, “A spectacle is something that captures human attention, an instant when our eyes and brains focus and fixate on something projected at us” (Competing Spectacles, p. 14). These spectacles spring from our screens and almost every corner of our lives. Part of the reason why spectacles grab our attention is because we were made to behold greatness. Reinke writes, “Our hearts seek splendor as our eyes scan for greatness. We cannot help it. John Piper says, ‘The world aches to be awed. That ache was made for God. The World seeks it mainly through movies’ – and in entertainment and politics and true crime and celebrity gossip and warfare and live sports” (p. 18). We ache for greatness, but thousands of silly spectacles distract us from what is truly great. As C.S. Lewis wrote a generation ago in his Weight of Glory essay, “We are far too easily pleased.” ... Keep Reading

The Path to Joy Leads Through Valleys of Sorrow

December 15, 2022 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The theme of joy permeates the Christmas season. From the angel’s announcement to the shepherds (“I bring you good news of great joy” Lk. 2:10) to carols like Joy to the World and O Come, O Come, Emmanuel with its repeated refrain, “Rejoice!” to greeting cards wishing you joy this season, joy is unavoidable. What do we do, though, when we don’t feel the joy as all these proposals encourage? What hinders joy? What can maximize our joy? Perhaps it is human nature, but we too often associate our level of joy with the circumstances of our lives. A child’s joy on Christmas morning is linked to the gifts he receives. An adult’s joy is tied to a job promotion or bonus. Or we experience joy in relation to family members, seeing a child succeed, visiting a loved one after a long separation, or enjoying a relaxing vacation together. If we do not receive what we want, lose our job, or have a loved one pass away, these joys are threatened. The Bible, however, does not speak about joy as something linked to the circumstances of our lives. In biblical terms, our joy is directly linked to God himself. Psalm 16:11 says, “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Our joy is made full in the presence of God, regardless of what is happening in our lives. Peter says that we “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible” when we believe in Christ (1 Pet. 1:8). Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). And we are encouraged to pray that God would fill us with all joy (Rom. 15:13). ... Keep Reading

This Fall we have been considering the Big Story of the Bible. I want to give some reasons why it is so important to be familiar with this Story, but first, I want to give a recap of each chapter to refresh our memories. Prelude: God’s Eternal Covenant – The Father and the Son make an agreement and plan, called the Covenant of Redemption, before the creation of the world to redeem a people who will glorify the Son for all eternity. Where to find in the Bible: Hebrews 13:20; John 17:1-5; Ephesians 1:4 Chapter 1: Creation – In the act of creation God sets the stage for the blessings of redemption to be worked out, culminating in the New Creation. Where to find in the Bible: Genesis 1-2 Chapter 2: Fall – In God’s sovereign, redemption plan, he allows Adam and Eve to fall into sin; through sin, death and all evil enters into creation, necessitating redemption. Where to find in the Bible: Genesis 3 ... Keep Reading

God’s Big Story begins before Creation and ends with New Creation. It started with a plan between the Father and the Son to redeem a people. The Story ends with those redeemed people basking in the glory of the Father and the Son for all eternity. The Story weaves through all of human history and ties the Bible into a unity. The Completion of the Story is still future and involves the final restoration of God’s people and creation. We receive a glimpse into God’s end game when Paul writes in Ephesians 2:7, “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” God loves rebellious sinners back to life because he wants to display the “immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness” for all eternity. God is most glorified when the depth of his grace is magnified and enjoyed by his people. Revelation 21 and 22 give us a glimpse of the “immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness.” Hear the words coming from the heavenly throne: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:3-4). The covenant promise of relationship with God is consummated with no more barriers. Sin will be eradicated and removed. Death will be no more. All that has caused pain and suffering will be gone. The new heavens and new earth replace the old creation that has been marred by the curse of sin. The pinnacle of new creation is the pure, uninterrupted, undefiled joy in the presence of God. That is the ”immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness.” ... Keep Reading

Unending Thanksgiving

November 24, 2022 | by: John Lee | 0 Comments

“Happy Thanksgiving!” A simple yet helpful phrase reminding us here in the United States that it is the last Thursday of November. It’s the time of year for many of us that is filled with the joy of family, food, and counting one’s blessings from the Lord. For others, this year’s Thanksgiving is extremely difficult. It has been a year of life challenges, hardships, loss of loved ones, and it may simply seem impossible to give thanks. Yet, wherever you find yourself today, God’s gracious call for us to give thanks in all circumstances is not unprecedented. In a way, the imperative to give thanks is a reorienting grace. If you are like me, my heart’s giving of thanks often finds root in things that are quite movable, unstable, and shaky. We often learn the hard way that the wonderful and good gifts God blesses His children with are unreliable sources for lasting thanksgiving. So, I’d like to draw our attention to the wonderful eternal truths in Psalm 136, a reminder that our thanksgiving finds its source in something, or rather someone, immovable. In this Psalm’s 26 verses, the psalmist lays forth the command to give thanks and the reasons for doing so. For this Touchpoint, we’ll hone in on the first 3 verses of this psalm. These first 3 verses frame the rest of this psalm. Let’s take a look: ... Keep Reading

Chapter 10, Application, and Chapter 11, Expansion, of the Big Story of the Bible go hand in hand. Application focused on the theological work of the Holy Spirit applying the redemption accomplished by Christ. Expansion focuses on the historical outworking of that application in the church age. The full fruit of God’s Covenant of Redemption expand farther and farther to every corner of the earth. Jesus’ final words before his ascension in Acts 1:8 give an outline not only for the book of Acts, but also this chapter of the Big Story. He said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The witness of Christ’s redemption expanded outward like ripples from Jerusalem. In Acts 1-7 the attention is primarily on the Jerusalem church. The persecution that arose after the martyrdom of Stephen pushed the church to expand out to Judea and Samaria. We see this expansion in Acts 8-12. And then the Holy Spirit led the church at Antioch to set apart Paul and Barnabas to carry the gospel to the Gentiles outside of that Palestine region. In each of his three missionary journeys, Paul travels farther and farther from Judea (Acts 13-20). Acts concludes recounting the story of Paul’s trials and travels to Rome (Acts 21-28). This was God’s design from the beginning. He told Abram in Genesis 12:3, “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” The expansion of the church, through the preaching of the gospel, in the power of the Holy Spirit, is the fulfillment of Genesis 12:3. Jesus also said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matt 24:14). Jesus says that the end, namely, his second coming, will not occur until the gospel has been preached through the whole world. It is not only the proclamation of the gospel that is predicted. In John’s vision of the throne room of heaven, he hears the angelic host praising the Lamb, saying, “by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9). Jesus has effectively purchased a people for God. This specific group of people will hear the gospel and respond in faith. Jesus didn’t shed his blood just to give people the possibility of being saved. Jesus shed his blood to save them. And this group of people is from “every tribe and language and people and nation.” The work of redemption accomplished by Jesus and applied by the Spirit must expand to every tribe and language and people and nation. ... Keep Reading

Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises made in the Covenant of Redemption. By his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus fulfilled the law, satisfied the just wrath of God, and paved the way for all believers to be reconciled to the Father. Jesus purchased and accomplished redemption. Question 29 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks and answers, “How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ? We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the effectual application of it to us by his Holy Spirit.” Chapter 10 of the Big Story of the Bible focuses on this Application by the Holy Spirit. Let me address this topic by asking three questions: why, how, and what. Why do we need the Holy Spirit to apply the finished work of Christ to us? Can’t we just do this by ourselves? The resounding message of Scripture is No! The apostle Paul says we “were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked” (Eph. 2:1). He also quotes Psalm 14 in Romans 3:10-1 when he says, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.” What Paul is describing in these passages is the dead condition of the human heart. Ezekiel calls this condition “a heart of stone” (Ez. 36:26). Therefore Jesus explains that one must be “born again” by the Spirit (John 3:5). The Spirit removes the heart of stone and gives a heart of flesh so we can cling to Christ by faith. Apart from this work of the Spirit, no one will ever enjoy the finished work of Christ. ... Keep Reading

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