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

A Gospel Legacy for our Little Ones, Part 2

January 10, 2019 | by: Stephen Sprague | 0 Comments

Last week I talked about the “What?” of our children’s ministry here at Oak Hills. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d encourage you to check it out HERE. More specifically, I wrote about the unique opportunity that we have as a church in our children’s ministry to disciple our kids in tune with our mission statement here at Oak Hills ... Keep Reading

A Gospel Legacy for our Little Ones

January 3, 2019 | by: Stephen Sprague | 0 Comments

Recently I’ve decided to spend some time in my personal study on how best to disciple children within the context of the local church. To that end I have started reading the book Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower. It was assigned as required reading in a discipleship class at Westminster the year after I had already taken the class. Many of my peers loved it so much however that I picked up a copy myself. Unfortunately, adding it to my collection, I haven’t taken the time to sit down and read it all the way through. Until now. And it’s good. Really good. And really helpful in thinking about our ministry to our children here at Oak Hills, and what kind of legacy we want to leave behind. In my mind ... Keep Reading

Ordinary is not so Ordinary

December 27, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

At Reformed and Presbyterian churches, like Oak Hills, we like to talk about the “ordinary means of grace.” The phrase is adapted from the Westminster Standards, like Question 88 of the Shorter Catechism: “Q. 88. What are the outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption? The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are, his ordinances, especially the Word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.” The phrase and this question are addressing one of the most important aspects of Christian living. If God has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3), how has he given us “all things” and how do we make use of all these things? The “ordinary means of grace” are the conduit of God extending his powerful grace into our lives. ... Keep Reading

Exploring the Names of Jesus

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

One of the wonders of Jesus Christ is the vast number of names given to him in the Bible. Jesus, being the infinite Son of God, is far too magnificent to be summarized by one name or title. Like a multi-faceted precious gem, each name gives us a different angle to marvel at the majesty of Christ. During the Christmas season, some of the more obscure names of Christ pop up, especially while singing some of the traditional carols. Hymn writers throughout the ages have loved to celebrate the various Old Testament prophecies of Christ through these Advent carols. Some of the prophecies use a name for the promised Messiah to hint at the coming blessing. The well-loved carol at Oak Hills, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, is one of those carols that highlights some of the more obscure names of Christ. Let’s look at some of the biblical backgrounds to these names and their significance for us today. ... Keep Reading

A Good Contract

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

“A contract is only as good as the person who signs it.” A friend who runs a business said this in the context of a discussion about God’s covenant in Scripture. Covenant is a vital component in our relationship with God. “Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3) is offered through covenant promises. Those promises are ours in Christ because he fulfills the stipulations of the covenant. He says on the night he was betrayed, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28, cf. Eph. 1:7). As much as our relationship with God is rooted in covenant, my friend’s statement is still true. A contract, or covenant, is only as good as the person who signs it. If God was unfaithful and untrustworthy, we would have no hope of salvation, no matter how many promises God makes. On this side of the Cross, however, we hardly even question about the reliability of God. But what do we do when we come to doubt the trustworthiness of God? What brings assurance? ... Keep Reading

Is that Prophecy Really About Jesus?

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

During the season of Advent we hear many Old Testament prophecies that are fulfilled in the birth of Christ. Some, like Micah 5:2 (“O Bethlehem…from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel”), are explicit in their connection with Jesus. Others are not so explicit. If you ever looked up these prophecies in their OT context you might even scratch your head and wonder how that particular prophecy speaks to Jesus. Let me highlight one such prophecy. Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14 when he explains the significance of Mary’s pregnancy. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.’” (1:22). Clearly, a virgin birth can only refer to the birth of Jesus! When we read Isaiah 7, however, we learn about how king Ahaz feared the imminent attacks from Syria and Ephraim (v. 5-6). The Lord, in his mercy, promises deliverance. And then he gives Ahaz a sign: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son” (v. 14). The Lord continues to speak of this son and says in verse 16, “Before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted.” Certainly God was not telling Ahaz that he needed to wait for the birth of Jesus, over 700 years later, to be delivered from Syria and Ephraim. In fact, we can read the historical account in 2 Kings 16 & 17 how the Assyrian Empire destroys before Syria and Ephraim (Israel), thus fulfilling Isaiah 7:16. But, what about the “virgin”? Could there have been a virgin birth in the time of Ahaz? Perhaps. A more likely explanation, though, is found in the understanding of the broad meaning of the Hebrew word for “virgin.” It could mean a “young woman,” even a newly wed woman. ... Keep Reading

Christmas Through the Eyes of __________________

November 29, 2018 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

While I was growing up my pastor did a sermon series during Advent titled “Christmas Through the Eyes of ____________.” Each sermon looked at the birth of Christ through the eyes of a different participant in the event. We heard sermons about the perspectives of Joseph and Mary and Herod and Gabriel and the Shepherds and so on. Our pastor carried on this series over multiple Advents. One of the points that struck me throughout this series was that the coming of Christ had a multi-faceted impact on the people of this world. For some, Christ’s arrival brought joy. For others there was fear or uncertainty or threat. Still others were skeptical. The person of Christ and the celebration of Christmas continues to have this multi-faceted impact on people. Are we aware of this for ourselves and for those we interact with during this season? During this Advent at Oak Hills we will be looking at Christmas Through the Eyes of Jeremiah (yes, I’m stealing the idea from my pastor, although he never did a sermon on Jeremiah). Jeremiah typically is not looked up during the Advent season for “Christmas passages.” People are familiar with Isaiah 7 (“the virgin shall conceive and bear a son”), Isaiah 9 (“for to us a child is born…”), and Micah 5 (“O Bethlehem…from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler”). And we love Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 for the birth narratives. But…Jeremiah? The “Weeping Prophet”? What does he have to do with Christmas? ... Keep Reading

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