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Astonished by Sin… and Grace

March 21, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

How great and astonishing is the grace of God? How can we grow in our astonishment of God’s grace? The Puritans had an answer to that question. Joel Beeke and Mark Jones share, “The Puritans had a high view of the grace of God in the salvation of sinners because, in the first place, they had a high view of sin.”[1] A high view of sin? Leading to a high view of grace? The Westminster Shorter Catechism, co-written by many Puritans, helps us understand the power of sin. Question 18 asks, “Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?” The Answer: The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin; together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it. ... Keep Reading

Reflections on Hebrews

March 14, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This Sunday, I will preach my last sermon in our series on the letter to the Hebrews. This is my 37th sermon in the series. Preaching through a book of the Bible like this helps me become well acquainted with it. I have translated the entire book of Hebrews from the Greek language. I have traced the author’s argument paragraph by paragraph. I have outlined the structure of the book. I have analyzed specific words and grammatical constructions. I have thought long about the original audience and why the author communicates what he does for them (and for us). As I come to the conclusion of this series, I have been reflecting on what I have learned from the author of Hebrews. Perhaps you have as well. Let me share a couple of my takeaways from this study.... Keep Reading

Growing in Grace During Lent

March 7, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

This article first appeared in the Touchpoint in February 11, 2016. I believe it is good to revisit this topic as Lent has begun again. The season of Lent began this week with Ash Wednesday services and culminates with the celebration of Jesus' resurrection on Easter. Perspectives on Lent are almost as diverse as the number of denominations there are among Christian churches. Some love Lent as a season of humility, confession of sin, repentance, and preparation for celebrating the hope and joy of the resurrection. Others equate Lent with a legalistic works-righteousness practice promoted by the Roman Catholic Church. The observation of Lent, the six weeks leading up to Easter, seems to have developed in the early church. In the 4th century, after Constantine legalized Christianity throughout the Roman Empire, there was a great influx of converts into the church. Baptism was encouraged and often administered on Easter, reflecting on the new life promised in the resurrection (Rom. 6:4). The leaders of the church wanted to ensure that the new converts were genuine in their faith before baptizing them. So they instituted a six week preparation period. During these weeks the new converts were catechized in the faith and encouraged to fast regularly and give to the poor. An "ancient" form of a discipleship "program." ... Keep Reading

#blessed

February 28, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I’m sure you have seen this hashtag in social media. Perhaps you have even used it. I’m not here to shame anyone for using this hashtag. I want to raise awareness and caution about the use of the word “blessed.” New York Times columnist, Jessica Bennett, observes, “Blessed has reached such heights of overuse that tracking it has become a virtual sport.” She goes on to lament, “The overuse of the word has all but stripped it of its meaning.” Let’s consider some uses of the word “blessed.” “Happy Birthday! So fun doing life with you! #Blessed” “Thankful for a happy boy tonight #blessed” “Officially a College freshman. What an awesome welcome! #blessed” “Do I deserve a wife this hot? No. No I do not. #blessed” ... Keep Reading

Shaken Things Will be Removed

February 21, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

What can be shaken in your life? I’m not asking about ketchup bottles, polaroid pictures, or Italian dressing. What are the things in your life that are unstable, insecure, uncertain, unreliable? The Bible would encourage you to make that list longer than you may think. The word “shaken” is used in one form or another five times in Hebrews 12:26-28. The author is making a comparison between the giving of the Law at Sinai and the giving of the Gospel through Christ. There was an earthquake at Sinai. The author of Hebrews applies this physical reality to the spiritual realm. That “shaking” at Sinai left the people of Israel trembling in the presence of God. They understood their weakness before a holy and just God. That was one of the purposes of the Law… to uncover for the human heart the inability of humans to be holy before God. ... Keep Reading

Fighting Despondency

February 14, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

The author of Hebrews calls his readers to “be subject” to the Father’s discipline (see Heb. 12:9). The discipline of the Lord certainly includes direct reproof and correction of sin in our lives, but it also includes all suffering, which God uses for our training and equipping. In a very pastoral move, the writer anticipates the natural human responses to pain and suffering, and seeks to confront those. One response is the temptation to bitterness or resentment, the feeling that such pain or suffering is unjust. We considered that response last week when we looked at Hebrews 12:15. Another, typical response to pain, trial, and hardship is despondency. The suffering easily can feel overwhelming. We lose sight of hope and promise and resolution. Addressing such despondency, the author says in verses 12-13, “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.” What is the author saying in these verses? ... Keep Reading

The Root of Bitterness

February 7, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Bitterness. Anger and disappointment at being treated unfairly. Resentment. There is an attractiveness in bitterness… a sense of “rightness” about it. As the definition above indicates, bitterness is rooted in feeling mistreated. Someone or something has wronged me. Perhaps the anger and disappointment of bitterness is seen as a necessary motivator to confront and overcome such unfair treatment. In a culture where “you do you,” and entitlement empowers the individual towards self-justification, bitterness and revenge are commended. ... Keep Reading

Entrusted With Doctrine

January 31, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

When Paul was saying goodbye to the Ephesian elders, he gave them this charge: Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. (Acts 20:28) Paul’s love and concern for the Ephesian church did not end, however, on that beach of Miletus. He didn’t “pass the baton” and quit looking back. Even while he suffered in prison, his heart was drawn to protect the Ephesian church. He writes to Timothy, “As I urged you, remain at Ephesus that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:3). ... Keep Reading

Compelled to Pray

January 24, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

“People who know their God are before anything else people who pray,” writes J.I. Packer (Knowing God, 28). Packer is reflecting on the powerful transformation that occurs when we receive Christ by faith and begin to understand the grace God worked on our behalf. The apostle Paul exalts this work of God when he says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). And the apostle John celebrates God when he says, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1). ... Keep Reading

Is Prayer the “Very Essence and Life” of our Church? “My prayer life and habits are perfect; I have no need for improvement in my discipline of prayer.” Said no one ever. Every follower of Christ that I have interacted with about prayer has affirmed two things: 1. Prayer is utterly vital; and 2. “I don’t pray like I should/want to.” Martin Luther poignantly summarizes the importance of prayer when he said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” If praying is like breathing for the Christian, then many of us are suffocating. ... Keep Reading

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