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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

Committed to Another for Salvation

June 13, 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 one of a multi-part series. For my latest doctoral class I have been reading and writing a lot about the New Testament’s teaching on marriage, divorce, and remarriage (like 80 pages of writing). One of the passages that I have had to consider is 1 Corinthians 7:10-16. In this passage, Paul reaffirms Jesus’ teaching on divorce (cf. Mark 10:10-11, Luke 16:18, and Matthew 19:9). But the Corinthian situation presented a problem that Jesus did not explicitly address. What does a new believer in Christ do if his/her spouse remains unconverted? Paul says the believer “should not divorce” the unbelieving spouse (7:12 & 13).... Keep Reading

An Explosion of Joy

June 6, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Joyplosion! Yes, I made up the word. Let me explain why. When I was a child, I learned to cheer for the Chicago Bears from my father. Long before I understood the game of football, I had a team to cheer, because that was who my dad was cheering. When I was eight years old, I began to understand more about the game. And the Bears were winning. A lot. And they won the Super Bowl. I’ve been a fan ever since. Children learn to cheer before they fully understand why we cheer. We teach our children to sing and pray long before they understand why God is so worthy of our praise and trustworthy of our dependence. So, when we pass on the faith to our children, what do we want them to understand first and foremost? What affectional responses will become the foundation of their understanding and experience of the Christian faith? ... Keep Reading

Sin Again or Rejoice Again

May 30, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Last week we spent some time reflecting on the “Cycle of the Judges,” a pattern repeated throughout the OT book of Judges. At the heart of this pattern is the return to sin. There are parallels between this cycle we find in Judges and our own lives. We “forget” like the Israelites of the OT and fall into patterns that cause us to drift away from the Lord. We need his continual renewing ministry of the Word and Sacrament. One of the most convicting words in this “Cycle of Judges” is the word “again.” It is used frequently in the repeated phrase, “And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord” (4:1). Bible scholar, Dale Ralph Davis, reflects on the use of this word: “It tells us something about sin. It is difficult to be creative in sin; there’s a certain monotony about it; most all of it has been done before; it is simply that we do the same thing again (v. 1). Sin is a boring routine, not a fresh excitement. The fast lane becomes an old rut. Evil never lends itself to originality. Hence these are two problems: the slavery and staleness of sin” (Judges: Such a Great Salvation, p. 72). This is a fascinating insight, which impacts our wrestling with personal sin. ... Keep Reading

The Cycle of Judges for Us

May 23, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The Old Testament book of Judges is well-known for what is called “The Cycle of the Judges.” This cycle refers to a pattern of events, introduced in chapter 2, that occurs over and over again throughout the book. There are five steps in the cycle: Israel turns away from serving God. God allows a foreign nation to rise up and oppress Israel. The Israelites, typically after an extended period of time, cry out for help. God empowers a judge to rise up and rescue Israel from the oppressor. The land experiences a period of rest, typically during the lifetime of the judge. This cycle repeats in the book of Judges nearly a dozen times. It’s easy to “judge” Israel for this repeated cycle of defeat. You would think that the people would have learned their lesson after two or three times through the cycle. Doesn’t behavior modification theory have something to say about this (okay, okay… I admit, it’s been nearly twenty years since I had psychology; my memory is a little foggy)? If we are honest, though, don’t we fall into similar cycles and patterns, even with sin? ... Keep Reading

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