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Your First Love

January 25, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Do you remember when you first realized you loved Jesus? It may have been when you first placed your faith in Jesus as your Savior. Or, it may have been later, connected with some circumstances that awakened in you a love for Jesus. I grew up going to church and placed my faith in Jesus as my Savior as a child. While I believe that Jesus died for my sins, I would not have said I loved Jesus at that point. That came later when I was in high school. During the summer after my freshman year, I went on a missions trip to Jamaica. We served with an organization that built schools for deaf children. Since Jamaica frequently is in the path of hurricanes, all the construction was with concrete block. A bunch of high schoolers, with their youth ministers, don’t know much about construction with concrete. Wisely, the organization provided a concrete expert to work with our team and direct our mortar mixing and block laying. This expert went by the name of Brother T. He grew up in Jamaica. ... Keep Reading

My Favorite Places on Planet Earth

January 18, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

During my years of sojourning on this planet, I have come to value particular locations over others. As I have reflected on why these locations hold a special place in my heart over others, I have come to understand that these locations have directed my heart and mind to the wonders and majesty of God. The psalmist declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge” (19:1-12). The apostle Paul affirms, “[God’s] invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20). God’s fingerprints are all over creation. And he has intended that his creation would direct our minds to his “invisible attributes.” Not to diminish the wonder of any part of God’s creation, I want to highlight three of my favorite places on planet Earth. I will share these in the chronological order that I encountered them. ... Keep Reading

You Are a Minister

January 11, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

If you have placed your faith Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are a minister. No seminary degree required. No ordination. No prior examination (except for making a public profession of faith). No special talents or gifts separate the “minister” and “non-minister” Christians. Every Christian is a minister. That’s God’s design. It doesn’t mean every Christian ministers as God desires. Some deny that they have a ministry. Some question whether God could use them for ministry. Others are caught up in looking after their own needs that they overlook serving others. Either you are a Christian seeking to faithfully steward the gifts and resources God has given you to serve the church and those outside of the church or you are a Christian disobeying God’s desire to use you to bless others. Once again, this is not my design; it is God’s design. Consider these Scriptures: ... Keep Reading

Times of Refreshing

January 4, 2024 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Are you weary as this new year begins? I consistently hear from people that they are busy, tired, spread-thin, needing a break, and, even, weary. Perhaps this is just the post-holiday malaise, but for most people, this sense of weariness is ongoing. For some it stems from personal circumstances; for others, it is the events of our nation and world that weigh heavy on one’s soul; for most, it is the “normal” life that just naturally fills every spare moment of our calendars. So, how do we restore and maintain healthy energy? We are called to love God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength; we don’t want to be too weary to love God, do we? Therefore, how one renews his strength is one of the most important tasks for a Christian. The apostle Peter gives a beautiful promise in Acts 3. He speaks of “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.” This is the only place in the New Testament that the noun “refreshing” is used. Peter uses it as a blessing that comes from Christ. Peter knows that it has been the universal experience of humans since the Fall to be weary. It is only in Christ that “times of refreshing” may come to us. Consider Peter’s full statement in Acts 3:19-20, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.” The logical structure is fairly simple. Peter gives two, parallel commands: repent and turn back. Then he specifies three results that come from obedience to the commands: 1. Sins are blotted out; 2. Times of refreshing come; and 3. Christ may be sent (speaking of the promised Second Coming). The Greek grammar clarifies that the two results in verse 20 flow subsequently from the result of verse 19. To make this explicit, Peter calls the crowd in Jerusalem to repent their sins. As a result of repentance, the people can be assured that their sins will be blotted out, that is, forgiven. Once their sin is forgiven, they can be assured that they will enjoy times of refreshing and can look forward to the Second Coming of Christ with joy. ... Keep Reading

As we find ourselves at the close of another year and at the entrance of a new one, many of us may be filled with a mixture of emotions. The last year for many has been filled with both great joys and sorrows. For some, this past year has been the hardest year you have faced and for others, a year marked with great growth and joy. In all of this we do well to cast our gaze unto the Lord, who is our never-failing, never-changing and always present-in-times-of-trouble shepherd. The Lord is the strong and kind shepherd to His people regardless of what the landscape of our lives looked like this past year or what the next year will look like. I’d like to draw our attention briefly to Psalm 23 and to the wonderful good news that we have a perfect shepherd who leads, protects, and brings his people home safely. ... Keep Reading

Forever is Forever

December 23, 2023 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I am convinced that I have little comprehension of the concept of “forever.” Nothing in my life has been “forever.” School is not forever. Relationships are not forever. My health and youth have not been forever. The clothing I wear does not last forever. The cars I drive do not last forever. Is there anything in this earthly life that is “forever”? Then we open our Bibles and hear this word applied to God, his kingdom, and his promises. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that the word “forever” is foreign to our daily experience. So much that, if you are anything like me, we don’t think much about eternal things. Let’s push ourselves to consider that which is “forever.” Moses closes his celebration song after crossing the Red Sea by declaring, “The LORD will reign forever and ever” (Ex. 15:18). The psalms echo the same sentiment multiple times. One example is in Psalm 45:6, speaking of the Messiah, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.” ... Keep Reading

Christmas Love

December 14, 2023 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

In the announcements about the birth of Christ, we hear the promises of blessing from God. From the angels we hear of “good news of great joy” and “on earth peace” (Lk. 2:10, 14). Gabriel told Joseph that Jesus “will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). For Mary Gabriel highlighted the kingship of Jesus when he says, “of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk. 1:33). The Old Testament prophecies emphasize these similar blessings: God with us, joy, peace, a righteous king who reigns forever. There is one Christian blessing, however, that doesn’t get the same attention as joy, peace, hope, and the eternal kingdom. That blessing is love. Christmas, also, is about God’s love for his people. The Bible speaks about God’s love for his people in a variety of ways. Most prevalent, and probably what is on your mind, is the sacrificial love of God in the death of Christ. Romans 5:8 clearly states this, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Therefore, God’s love is most frequently associated with Easter, not Christmas. We have other depictions of God’s love in the Bible, however. One is of marriage. God betroths himself to his people and the new heavens is pictured as a marriage supper celebration between God and his people. In the Old Testament, this marriage union is spoken as between God and Israel. In the New Testament it is Christ and the church. Now, God is one; therefore, his bride is one. There are not two brides for God, as if God the Father has Israel and Christ has the church. The Father and the Son are one; Israel and the church are one. ... Keep Reading

Truth or Lies, Part 8

December 7, 2023 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part eight of a multipart series introducing and interacting with Rosaria Butterfield’s new book, Five Lies of Our Anti-Christian Age. As followers of Christ, we must be rooted in biblical truth as we are confronted by the lies of “this present darkness.” We have covered Butterfield’s teaching on the Five Lies. In brief, they are: Lie #1: Homosexuality is normal. Lie #2: Being a spiritual person is kinder than being a biblical Christian. Lie #3: Feminism is good for the world and the church. Lie #4: Transgenderism is normal. Lie #5: Modesty is an outdated burden that serves male dominance and holds women back. Butterfield comments, “What all these lies have in common is they don’t think that God had a plan and purpose when he created men and women. God’s proclamation in Genesis 1:27-28 stands in stark contrast to these five lies” (p. 290). We have seen in her teaching for each lie how the truth of Scripture is ignored, dismissed, or attacked. In her Afterword, Butterfield recommends two practical actions in response to these lies. The first action is “holding membership in a faithful church where you are shepherded by faithful men” (p. 292-293). With so much messaging for the lies coming through every media outlet, we need to be surrounded in the church community with the encouragement of Scripture, brothers and sisters, and faithful leaders. Let me quote Butterfield at length on this point:... Keep Reading

Truth or Lies, Part 7

November 30, 2023 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This is part seven of a multipart series introducing and interacting with Rosaria Butterfield’s new book, Five Lies of Our Anti-Christian Age. As followers of Christ, we must be rooted in biblical truth as we are confronted by the lies of “this present darkness.” The fifth and last lie that Butterfield addresses is modesty is an outdated burden that serves male dominance and holds women back. While I served as a youth minister for fourteen years, the topic of modesty focused on girls’ clothing. Butterfield briefly speaks to that dynamic of modesty, but sees that the issue as far more expansive in our social media saturated culture. She begins, however, by recounting her personal story of when she first engaged a Christian community. Coming with feminist and lesbian convictions, Butterfield believed that any emphasis on modesty was oppressive. She describes those first encounters with a Christian community as being in the presence of her enemies because of the fundamental differences in values. Overtime, however, the model of godly men and women, who value the dignity of each person and appreciate the differences between the two genders, worked on Butterfield to open her eyes to see the beauty of biblical modest and gender roles. Digging into the lie that modesty is outdated, Butterfield summarily says, “In both dress and social media use, modesty has been replaced by exhibitionism” (p. 268). Exhibitionism contends that any inhibition in what you wear or share is oppressive. Dressed up as a Christian virtue, often under the name “authenticity,” exhibitionism encourages people to hold nothing back, follow the impulses of your heart, and openly share every detail of your life. What do you have to hide? On the other hand, Butterfield commends, “Modesty, as a biblical virtue, is like a rich compound oil, marinating valor, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love to achieve a stunning embodiment of moral beauty” (p. 269). This definition of modesty demonstrates the breadth of the topic. Butterfield incorporates 2 Peter 1:5-7 into her definition. Peter writes, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” ... Keep Reading

Paul’s Thanksgivings

November 23, 2023 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The apostle Paul is well known for many things: his missionary journeys, his deep, theological writings, his martyrdom, and more. For this Thanksgiving, I want us to remember that Paul was an incredibly thankful man. It is Paul who gave us the command, “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thes. 5:18). Paul not only gave the command, but he lived it. We have thirteen of Paul’s letters in the New Testament. In nine letters he opens with an expression of thanks, usually thanking God for the recipients of the letter. For example, he writes in Romans 1:8, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you.” Paul does not merely thank God for people, however. He follows up with reasons why he is thankful. He gives thanks for people because: Their faith is proclaimed in all the world (Rom. 1:8). The grace of God was given them (1 Cor. 1:4). He heard of their faith and love (Eph. 1:15, Col. 1:4, Philemon 4). Of their partnership in the gospel (Phil. 1:5). He remembers their work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope (1 Thes. 1:3). They received Paul’s preaching as the word of God (1 Thes. 2:13). Their faith is growing abundantly and their love is increasing (2 Thes. 1:3). In a nutshell, Paul gives thanks to God for the work of God’s grace in the churches. They have vibrant and growing faith. Thank God! They actively love one another and all the saints. Thank God! They partner with Paul in the gospel ministry, even when he has been imprisoned. Thank God! They remain steadfast in hope, even in the face of hardships. Thank God! They received gospel preaching as the word of God. Thank God! ... Keep Reading

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