Faith Considers the Promises of God

November 1, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

When I first began to serve Oak Hills as pastor in August 2011, I preached a sermon from Hebrews 11:13-16 titled “Where are We Going?” Hebrews 11 is called the great chapter of faith in the Bible. It chronicles the stories of Old Testament saints who demonstrate that faith shaped their lives. Most examples highlight significant trials. I get to preach on this text again this Sunday and I want to ask a different question. The writer of Hebrews makes a summary statement in the middle of the chapter, stating that these people of faith were “seeking a homeland…a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (v. 14, 16). Essential to biblical, God-pleasing faith is this longing and looking for the “better country” God has for us. Faith “sees” beyond present, physical circumstances and seeks what God has promised. ... Keep Reading

What is Faith?

October 25, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

How you define faith is of utmost importance, right? Think about it. The writer of Hebrews says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (11:6). And Paul says, “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). The importance of faith becomes even more clear when we understand that the verb “believe” (Gr. pisteuo) is just a form of the noun “faith” (Gr. pistis). So we hear John say that he wrote his gospel, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20:31). Faith, or believing, is the vital link to eternal life, as Jesus says, “whoever believes in him (God’s only Son) should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16); and again, “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life” (5:24). How you define faith is of utmost importance. Faith is the vital link to eternal life, pleasing God, overcoming sin, and escaping death and judgment. So how do you define faith? ... Keep Reading

Plunder My Property

October 18, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Every October, Moody Bible Institute hosts a missions conference. They give their students a break from their classes and invite everyone to prayerfully consider the global missions moment. A special keynote speaker addresses the biblical grounds and calling of missions. Representatives of sending agencies lead break out seminars on a wide variety of topics. Some were great, some were…not so great. One seminar stands out in my memory. The topic was the use of hospitality in missions. While the overall content was excellent, one line from the presenter still sticks with me: “If you want to find out the depth of someone’s love of people, go into their house and break something.” The test reveals whether possessions or people are more valuable. Ultimately, the presenter wanted to challenge us, the young college students, to grow in our love for people; hospitality is using our God-given possessions to serve people. ... Keep Reading

The Battle for Assurance

October 11, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Throughout my ministry as a pastor, one of the most recurring and greatest struggles among followers of Christ is that of assurance. Whether it is a teenager thinking through doubts, or a grown man who has been caught in a grievous sin, or someone who has been caught up in the great American scheme of doing everything himself, assurance of salvation often is elusive. Can I really be confident that God will save me? Forgive me of all my sins? Without my help? This struggle for assurance is only further complicated by warning passages in the New Testament, such as Hebrews 10:26-27: For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. ... Keep Reading

The Ministry of the Psalter (Part 2)

October 4, 2018 | by: Stephen Sprague | 0 Comments

Last week we looked at Psalm 121 and how the Psalms are an excellent resource because they 1) connect with us in our varied emotional states, from weak and desperate to strong and rejoicing, and 2) remind us of who exactly it is that we are praying to ... Keep Reading

The Ministry of the Psalter (Part 1)

September 27, 2018 | by: Stephen Sprague | 0 Comments

Over the next two weeks I’ve been given the chance to write for the weekly Touchpoint article. Given my current preaching series from the Psalms, I thought this might be a good opportunity to expound upon my fascination with/ appreciation for, the Psalms. There are a number of benefits to reading the Psalms regularly. Often times they connect with us emotionally in ways other biblical texts don’t, they also remind us of various attributes of God giving us a greater reason to worship and adore him. In all these things the Psalms minister to us in unique and refreshing ways. This article, and the next, will be an attempt to identify and expound upon some of those benefits of regularly reading the Psalms with a case study of one of my most favorite Psalms, Psalm 121. So pick up your bibles, turn to the Psalter, and let’s get going!... Keep Reading

Skeletons in Your Closet

September 20, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Do you have any skeletons in your closet? The first time I ever heard of that idiom and question was during my interview with a group of elders for the church I would soon serve as youth pastor when I graduated college. I asked for an explanation. “Do you have anything in your past that you are ashamed of and would like to keep hidden? Anything incriminating?” My first thought was, “Well, if I do, I certainly would not want to reveal those things here in this context. I’m trying to get job!” I answered the question, though, as honestly as I could. I don’t believe I have “any skeletons in my closet,” but I know that I am not perfect by any means. I have made choices and done things that I’m ashamed of and am tempted to keep hidden. ... Keep Reading

I Am a Perfectionist

September 13, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

I am a perfectionist. That’s not a big secret. And I’m not too proud of it either. There is a positive side to being a perfectionist, but the ugly side tends to get more attention. Perfectionism can be harmful to relationships. It can be judgmental and overbearing and ungracious towards others, especially family. It can be arrogant and self-sufficient and thus neglectful of God. The answer for the ugly side of perfectionism is not to lower one’s standards or become relaxed in one’s expectations. We’re called to be perfect and strive for excellence. This honors God (remember, there is a positive side to perfectionism). ... Keep Reading

For the Freedom of the Gospel

September 6, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

For my current doctoral class, I have been assigned some reading related to Karl Barth’s theology of preaching. Barth was a Swiss, Reformed theologian in the early 20th century. He taught theology at universities in Germany and Switzerland. Focusing primarily on systematic theology, it was highly unusual for Barth to give attention to the practical theology of preaching. In his estimation, however, the circumstances were dire. Barth petitioned the preaching professor at the University of Bonn in 1932 to allow himself to teach a couple of courses on preaching. Barth ended up holding two seminar classes during the academic year of 1932-1933. They were titled Exercises in Preaching Preparation. If you are familiar with German history leading up to World War 2, you recognize that this was the time the democracy was dismantled in Germany and Hitler rose to dictator power of the Third Reich (Reich = kingdom). ... Keep Reading

Self-Controlled is Healthy

August 30, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Health. How do you measure health? Depends on what we’re talking about, right? Physical health? Blood pressure. Pulse rate. Body mass index. Blood tests for cholesterol and sugar levels. Physical activity. And more. All of these are used to “measure” one’s health regarding his body. Mental health? Sleep habits. Social habits. Eating habits. Emotional swings. And more. All these are taken into consideration for determining one’s mental health. Relational health? Quality time. Depth of communication. Honesty. Forgiveness. And more. These prove to be marks of health in relationships. How about the church? What does health look like in the church? Good cases can be made for many different angles for measuring church health. It’s mission. It’s worship. It’s preaching. It’s ministry. It’s growth. It’s morals. And more. ... Keep Reading

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