Thou Shalt Not Kill

June 18, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

For the bulletin each week in 2019, I wrote about one or more questions from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, unpacking the teaching of all 107 questions in one year. Those articles are still available on our website. This is an adaptation of the Catechism’s teaching on the Sixth Commandment. Here I incorporate the Larger Catechism’s teaching, which goes further than the Shorter (as you would expect). The Catechism’s teaching on the Ten Commandments is fruitful for understanding biblical ethics and God’s will for our lives. WLC 134: Which is the sixth commandment? Answer. The sixth commandment is, Thou shalt not kill. WLC 135: What are the duties required in the Sixth Commandment? Answer: The duties required in the Sixth Commandment are, all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defense thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physical, sleep, labor, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behavior; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succoring the distressed, and protecting and defending the innocent. ... Keep Reading

The God of the Adversative

June 11, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

If you have heard my preaching for any length of time at Oak Hills, you have heard me “gush” over the adversative conjunction “but” at some point. You probably think me a little weird for my grammatical excitement (you may even be right), but permit me to gush some more. Let me explain why I find the adversative conjunction so exciting. This little, three-lettered word pits two opposite realities against each other. They are like two alternatives to experience, or two paths to travel. In Scripture, when these two paths are laid out with the adversative conjunction in between, the first path is utterly bleak. In fact, if that path was the only option, we would have no hope; we would be lost. Let’s look at some examples.... Keep Reading

The Power of Words

June 4, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Words are powerful. The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” simply is not true. In our polarized culture, words become weapons. We may even be unaware of how certain words and phrases can be full of connotations, sometimes totally unintended by the speaker. And when words are used in monologues, instead of dialogues, it is far easier to be offensive (or be offended) prematurely or carelessly. ... Keep Reading

Sabbatical Report

May 28, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

For the last month, I have been on a writing sabbatical. This is the first such sabbatical I have ever had in my ministry career. I am thankful for the time that was afforded to me so that I could focus on my doctor of ministry dissertation. I want to share with you, my church family, about my time. In my dissertation, I am writing about the need for leadership development at Oak Hills. I completed revisions of chapter one in April, before my sabbatical began. Chapter two, diving into the biblical rationale and direction for leadership development, consumed the bulk of my time during the sabbatical. As one would expect, for a doctoral dissertation there is a level of scholarship required in the analysis of biblical texts. I call it the slow slog. For each passage I analyzed, I engaged 15-20 different technical resources. Then I worked slowly through writing my analysis of the biblical texts, incorporating and interacting with the various viewpoints of the scholars. ... Keep Reading

Fear God. Fear Not.

May 21, 2020 | by: Bill Burns | 0 Comments

Guest Article by Bill Burns Back in early March, I’d just begun to teach a new class for Adult Christian Education on Eschatology, which is just a fancy, three-dollar word for “Last Things.” I find that ironic, as it was the last thing I did, on the last Sunday we worshipped as a church face to face before going to online-only. Since then, uncertainty has been, as it were, on our doorsteps. Lately I’ve thought a lot about just how much this whole business parallels the Christian message at its very core. Let me explain. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And then God made…us.... Keep Reading

The Gift of the Psalms

May 14, 2020 | by: AJ Harbison | 0 Comments

Guest article by AJ Harbison, Director of Worship Music Something I’ve heard repeatedly from my friends throughout the pandemic is that they are experiencing an overwhelming range of emotions. I’ve felt the same way. We can feel grief, and fear, and relief, and anger, and anxiety, and even joy, in successive days, successive hours or even all at the same time. Into this confusion and these feelings of being overwhelmed, our God gives us the gift of the book of Psalms. He knows what we need, and in his goodness and grace he provides for us. Psalms is one of God’s answers to the pandemic and to any crisis we face in our lives, because the psalms span the full spectrum of human emotion. Consider how varied the opening lines of Psalms 5 through 10 are: “Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning.” (Psalm 5:1) “O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath.” (Psalm 6:1) “O LORD my God, in you do I take refuge.” (Psalm 7:1) “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:1) “I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1) “Why, O LORD, do you stand afar off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1) The Psalms are a gift, especially right now, because they 1) help us to express our emotions to God and 2) provide perspective for us.... Keep Reading

Needed in the Body

May 7, 2020 | by: Stephen Sprague | 0 Comments

It is important for Christians to have a proper theology of the church as the body of Christ. I would even argue that in a day and age when we are more physically separated than ever, it is essential that we continue to think of our relationships in the church as one of that of members of a body. What do I mean by that? In the Bible, Paul writes of the people of the church as being members of one body. That each of us are unique and essential to our local body, and that our local body is not complete without each other (Rom. 12 & 1 Cor. 12). In the body of Christ, we need each other, and we are needed by each other. If you think you don’t need others in the church, or hardly need them, you are wrong. If you think you aren’t needed by others in the church, or hardly needed by them, you are wrong. It’s that simple.... Keep Reading

Sojourners and Exiles

April 30, 2020 | by: Stephen Sprague | 0 Comments

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition for the word sojourn is “a temporary stay.” Thus the word sojourner refers to one who is temporarily staying somewhere. It is a word used in the Old Testament to refer to people of other nations who would live among the tribes of Israel, and as Israel and Judah were eventually exiled from the land because of the sin, to God’s people themselves. In the new testament it is used by Peter alongside the word exiles to refer to the church in this present age, post-ascension yet pre-return of Christ. Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:11, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” It is clear that Peter does not believe that Christians are ever truly “home” in this life. Ed Clowney writes, “The freedom of God’s servants in this world is the freedom of aliens and transients. Those who belong to God as his people can have no abiding city here. Like Abraham, they are strangers and pilgrims, even while they live in the world which they will inherit at last” (Edmund Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter). Simply put ... Keep Reading

Psalms of Comfort, Part 6 - Psalm 42-43

April 23, 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 42:5, 11; 43:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Do you ever talk to yourself? Some say this may be a sign of going crazy, right? In Psalm 42 & 43, however, we have an example of God-honoring self-talk, or, as some have called it, preaching to self. The psalmist asks himself, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” It’s almost like he steps away from his body and takes an outsider’s perspective, “Why are you discouraged and in despair?” He then turns to preaching to himself, “Hope in God!” ... Keep Reading

Psalms of Comfort, Part 5 - Psalm 18

April 16, 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 18 1 I love you, O Lord, my strength. 2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. David writes this psalm as a celebration of the Lord’s deliverance from his enemies. It is broadly applicable because our enemies are anyone or anything that threatens our security in the covenant promises of God, that is, anything that would undermine our faith and reliance on God alone for our eternal well-being. Our enemy may be a disease, a besetting sin, a person who turns our attention from the Lord, financial distress, and more. Anything that may distract the gaze of our heart from the goodness of God is our enemy. Psalm 18 is a celebration that God can rescue us from all our enemies. Let me highlight some of what David celebrates. ... Keep Reading

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