Show Us the Father!

July 22, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Right after Jesus gives his infamous statement, “I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me,” Philip requests, “Show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (John 14:6, 8). What is Philip thinking when he makes this request? Considering that Philip was a Jew, the Old Testament would certainly have shaped his understanding of his relationship with God. Let’s think about his request, “Show us the Father,” through the lens of the Old Testament. There is no exact equivalent in the OT to Philip’s request, but that are several places where seeing God is highlighted. Moses cries out, “Show me your glory” in Exodus 33:18. This is in the context of the Golden Calf. As punishment, God declares that he would not go up to the Promised Land with Israel because of their sin (Ex. 33:3). Moses pleads for mercy and for God to remain with the people. God responds that his presence will go with them (v. 14). After receiving this gracious promise, Moses declares, “Show me your glory.” God’s glory is linked with his character, the core of who he is. So, Moses was requesting for assurance that God would keep his promises. ... Keep Reading

On behalf of the elders, I would like to provide an update on our search for an Assistant Pastor. We invite the members and friends of Oak Hills to be praying for this process and our church. The Need. Since we purchased our building in Shawnee in 2015, Oak Hills has been growing steadily in both attendance and giving. The elders believe that in order to maintain continued, healthy growth we need additional pastoral leadership. This additional leadership will provide essential oversight to help existing ministries continue to develop to meet the needs that accompany growth and to create new ministry opportunities. Through the financial growth with which God has blessed Oak Hills, we believe we are now ready to offer a full-time call for an assistant pastor. This will still stretch us financially, but we trust that the additional pastoral leadership will encourage continued growth.... Keep Reading

One of the foundational values of the PCA is connectionalism. Because of our beliefs in the depravity of man and the diversity within the body of Christ, we value the connections we have with the brothers on the regional (Presbytery) and national (GA) levels. We are better together. Cooperatively we can accomplish more together through agencies like Mission to the World and Mission to North America. For the sake of accountability, we sharpen one another as we hold to our confessional standards. This year’s General Assembly was highly anticipated since the gathering was postponed last year due to the pandemic. Many have been waiting for the Assembly’s response on several “hot topics.” The main avenue for topics to be addressed is through an overture. An overture is a request from a Presbytery or church in the PCA for a ruling from the Assembly. There were 48 overtures to the GA this year, many addressing similar matters. Let me highlight four topics. ... Keep Reading

Be Washed So You Can Wash

July 1, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

When we think of the foot-washing of Jesus, we most likely think of his follow up command in John 13:14, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” In a sense, the foot-washing becomes a model of the Christian ethic. For in this one act, core Christian ethics are all wrapped up: Love for others. Humility. Self-sacrifice. Service. And Jesus performs this action for this express purpose: “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you” (v. 15). This last week, however, we saw in Jesus’ interaction with Peter two other meanings behind the foot-washing. First, this act foreshadows Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross, which truly washes away our sin. Jesus says in verse 8, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” There are no blessings in Christ for us unless he washes away our sin. Second, the act illustrates the ongoing renewal we experience in Christ. He says in verse 10, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.” When we first place our faith in Jesus as our Savior, we are washed from the guilt of sin and united to Christ. Yet, we still sin. This second meaning shows that as we come to Christ in faith, he renews us; little by little sin diminishes and holiness grows. ... Keep Reading

Pray for the PCA

June 24, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Next week our denomination will hold its annual General Assembly in St. Louis. General Assembly is the highest court of our denomination where teaching elders and ruling elders meet on an annual basis to discuss and collaborate on matters that impact the whole of the Presbyterian Church in America. GA was postponed last summer due to pandemic restrictions. Bill Burns and I will attend next week. This is the first time Oak Hills has sent commissioners to GA. I would like to invite you to pray for Bill and me and our denomination as we give ourselves to the business of the church. Here are some highlights to pray for: ... Keep Reading

Do They Believe?

June 17, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

It is not unusual for me to finish preaching a sermon on Sunday and have more things on my heart and mind that I wanted to address. I wrestle between the desires to dive deeply into the wonders of Scripture, verse by verse, and maintaining a pace that keeps us moving forward through our book of the Bible. This last Sunday was my 47th sermon in the Gospel of John, and we have just hit the halfway mark. At the end of the day, however, my confidence rests not in my ability to map out a sermon schedule but in the efficacy of God’s Word. God ministers among us through His Word, which does not return to him empty (Is. 55:11). Some weeks, I use this space as an opportunity to address something from our sermon text that I left out from the sermon. This last Sunday we were wrestling with the hard truth of the unbelief of the Jews. They become hardened in their unbelief. God does not actively cause anyone’s unbelief, but he withholds his gracious assistance as a form of judgment. Without his help, no one will come to faith in Christ. No one deserves or has the right to God’s assistance. This is humbling, and, I pray, inspiring of worship of Christ. ... Keep Reading

An Explosion of Joy in 2021

June 10, 2021 | 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

At the beginning of 2020, the elders of Oak Hills laid out five goals for the new year. One was building bridges in the community for creating opportunities to share the gospel. We were looking at becoming more visible in the community through activities like Old Shawnee Days. We want to be more intentional in reaching and serving our neighbors. The pandemic shut down most of our plans with most everything being canceled this last year and stay at home orders in place. With the pandemic fading and most everything reopening again, it is time for us to be proactive and strategic in our “longing to make known the astonishing grace of God.” Through the riches of the gospel God has blessed us abundantly. He calls us to be a conduit of those blessings to a dying world. We have been blessed to be a blessing. Let’s get back on mission. Let me use Colossians 4:2-4 as a means to exhort us for mission. Paul writes: Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison... Keep Reading

After more than a year of stay-at-home orders, quarantines, and social distancing, we need to be reminded that God made us for community. Yes, I understand the science behind how viruses spread and the dangers of covid-19. With the best information at the time, the elders of Oak Hills made decisions to safeguard against the spread of covid. We understand that some are more susceptible to the virus and have needed to take extra precautions. None of this, however, takes away from the truth that God made us for community in the body of Christ. Take into consideration Romans 12:4-5, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Paul goes on to highlight the differing gifts of grace we receive. The point is, just as the individual parts of the human body cannot survive on their own, so also the followers of Christ cannot survive independently of the body of Christ. The phrase “members one of another” speaks to the reality of our interconnectedness. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:13, “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.” God unites us into one body. There is no such thing as a lone-ranger Christian.... Keep Reading

With the CDC’s announcement last week that fully vaccinated people can return to normal, pre-covid activities, it feels like the end of the pandemic is within sight. Yes, more still needs to be done to officially say the pandemic is over. And yes, covid-19 still is a serious disease. But there is tangible progress in the battle that has us thinking ahead to a world “post-covid.” I want to use this space over the next few weeks to think about the implications for the church. One challenge the church faces coming out of covid is the need for unity among believers. This last year has been filled with contentious debates over how to respond to the pandemic, politics, and racial tensions. The devil has been having a field day by exacerbating divisions among believers. The Bible tells us plainly that Satan is waging war against the church (Rev. 12:17; Eph. 6:12). Among his many, faith-destroying tactics, he loves to disrupt the unity Christ has created among believers (Eph. 2:14). ... Keep Reading

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