Oct 20

Three pictures of the Christian life and what they teach us

In his last letter to Timothy, as he waited to be beheaded, Paul gave his final instruction to one who would carry on his work. There would be no more missionary journeys. The great fire in Rome had damaged ten of the fourteen districts of the city. Nero had blamed the Christians and the followers of Jesus were being imprisoned and executed. Peter would be crucified as Jesus had predicted. Paul was a Roman citizen and would be spared that torturous humiliation and would be beheaded.

After he told Timothy to make disciples would themselves grow another generation of Christians, Paul gave his disciple three pictures of the Christian life that were common in experience and vivid in importance.

The soldier, the athlete and the farmer illustrated the Christian life. Paul takes one point from each picture and presents it to Timothy as something he should focus on as he leads after Paul’s death. (2 Timothy 2:1-7)

Soldiers should never be distracted. In the complicated life and death seriousness of combat, soldiers need to focus. They cannot be distracted. Our world is a distracting place. Christians need to simplify their lives and eliminate that many distractions that cause our days to fly away with little or nothing accomplished of eternal value.

Athletes are disqualified if they break the rules of competition. Christians are often tempted to cut corners and but God expects more than mere productivity. He expects moral excellence.

Farmers who work hard are rewarded. Christian service is hard work. There are easier ways to live but God will reward those who labor to serve in the churches. In addition to rewards in heaven for service there are rewards that are part of the work. We are entering the season of farmer’s markets where I live. Fruits and vegetables taste better when they were picked yesterday less than twenty miles from my home. Farmers eat fresh. In the same way Christians are grown by their service in the Church. The saying is that cutting wood heats us twice, once when we do the cutting and once when we burn the fuel. Serving heats us spiritually when we serve. We become better Christians when we use our gifted ness.

How have you and I been like soldiers, athletes and farmers for Christ in the last week?

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The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

Oct 16

How is being a Christian better than being an Olympic Champion?

Only one person in the Olympic race gets the gold but all Christians can win the crown. Olympic glory fades but a Christian’s crown lasts forever. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

Like many men today Paul knew sports and like many pastors today he used athletic images when he taught about spiritual things. Paul knew about running races (Galatians 2:2 and 1 Corinthians 9:26 ), boxing (1 Corinthians 9:26), wrestling (Ephesians 6:12), and gladiatorial contests (1 Corinthians 4:9; 15:32). (For more on this see the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery article on athletics which was helpful to me in compiling this list)

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul likens his work in ministry to Olympic competition.

There are similarities:

Not everyone gets a prize. In the Olympics most lose. In ministry some are disqualified.

We must exercise self-control. Those in athletics and ministry must learn to control their urges and practice delayed gratification.

We must prepare hard. Years of work stand behind Olympic gold. In ministry there are regular hours of prayer and study and service that build and build as the years go on and create a depth that empowers our ministries.

We must know our goals and be focused. Athletes and Christians must say “no” as often as or more than they say “yes.” They must respect their gifting and goals and expend themselves accordingly.

We don’t run aimlessly or swing wildly hitting only air. It isn’t “do something” but “do the best things.”

If we don’t compete correctly, we will be disqualified. It isn’t win at any cost- taking banned drugs or losing of our marriage. We can look good for a time but our cheating will be uncovered when we stand before Jesus or sooner.

There are differences

Our crown doesn’t perish. Many champions at the Olympics or professional athletics fade from view or become a silly embarrassment. Service rewarded for Jesus is rewarded forever.

There can be more than one winner. There is only one gold medal in each event but in the Church all can receive a “well-done good and faithful servant.”

How should these truths affect our lives?

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The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

Oct 14

Four things God has given us and four reasons why he gave them

Near the end of his life Paul wrote to Titus. He had left him on Crete to organize the churches there.

Paul was a Jew and Titus a Greek but they had a common faith (Titus 1:4).

Paul gave Titus instructions about church leaders and their qualifications and how to treat various groups in the churches. Then he gave him a summary statement of their common faith..

God’s grace has given four things to Christians. (Titus 2:11-14)

He has given us salvation. Our relationship with Jesus is the base on which we build our lives.

He has given us a sure moral compass. Because of what God has taught us, we can know right from wrong. Others may have a compass that swings with fashions and fads but God has taught his people how “to say no to ungodliness” and yes to “self-controlled, upright and godly lives.”(Titus 2:11-12, English Standard Version)

He has also given us a hope. We know that Jesus, our God and Savior, is coming again. We know how all of this confusion will end.

He has given us a place to belong. Jesus has purified people for himself who are eager to do good in this world. We are part those people. We live in this world but we have a citizenship and identity in heaven with our God and Savior. We can act to better our world because we are part of God’s counter-cultural movement not centered on the here and now. We have a transcendent vision that knows God, his word, and his sure future

Why are we given these four gifts from God? (Titus 2:15)

We should teach them to each other.

We should encourage each other. The world is not our home. Most people reject our God. We live in a world that is not friendly to godliness. We live as radical pilgrims who should not fit in.

We should correct each other when we do not meet God’s standards. We fall and we get up. We need each other in our personal struggles.

Finally, we should be confident. We should not let people despise us. We know where this world is heading and we know the only sure message of hope.

How have these gifts and these reasons changed your life?

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The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

Oct 02

Four ways that Christians can change the world

The night before he was crucified, Jesus told the remaining disciples that he was leaving this world and he would return. He told them that they would live in a hostile world.

Christians are a remnant. They wrestle with how to live in a world where most people reject Jesus.

They have looked at Scripture and have found four models that have guided them as they live in this world while being citizens of another. They have lived as monks, prophets, reformers and leaders.

Monks seek to live in this world while not being of it. They seek to live simple, disciplined, focused lives. They prove to the rest of us that we do not need the many things that we think we need. They are powerful even when they live without power. In their focused lives they can accomplish things that their scattered, unreflective friends cannot.

Prophets look around them and are compelled to denounce the evil they see. They often don’t seem to expect to convert many but they see in the Hebrew prophets examples of those who proclaimed God’s message. Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah and the others serve as examples of God using people to pronounce his verdict on the wrong actions of a society. People may not change but they have been warned.

Christians are called to be salt and light where they live. Reformers are not content and want to change their world. They participate in culture at the highest level and they seek to right the wrongs in the world around them. Christians such as Bach, Durer, Handel, Chesterton and William Booth along with countless others have practiced excellence in the arts and founded school, hospitals and other agencies that have strived for the betterment of their world.

The leader sees Joseph, Daniel, and Nehemiah as powerful people in an alien world. They see David, Josiah and other godly leaders among the Jews as examples of those who wielded power for good. Christians can wield power for good and should not shrink from doing so. Luther wrote to the German nobility to call them to action and Walter Hilton advised a feudal lord how to fulfill his role as a godly leader. Someone must be in power and it is best if those in power seek to lead in a godly way.

Some pit these models against each other and pronounce one of them as the model for all Christians.

Some see more than one of these models playing out in their lives.

The Christian community needs all of these perspectives in our churches. Those who live a simple life, show us that we don’t need every toy, every possible dollar, every ounce of power, possession, and influence to live effective lives. There is evil in our world and voices in the Christian community need to denounce grotesque evil in our culture. Our world needs those who will get dirty and show God’s love to a world that cannot understand why they do what they do. Society needs leaders and some of God’s people need to seek and exercise these roles while being led by God’s indwelling Spirit.

Which calling do you see in your life?

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The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

Sep 23

What are the seven characteristics of mature Christians?

Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi is unique. Some of his letters were predominately about an area of teaching and how to live out those principles. Some letters focused on wrong teaching or practice. Some were personal letters to nurture fellow leaders.

Philippians was written to a church that Paul founded. He maintained a close relationship with them when he moved on and planted churches elsewhere. They sent him money and one of their leaders visited him when he was in prison in Rome.

This letter was more personal than others and focused on aspects of living well that arose from their long-term friendship.

As he summed up the letter in chapter four, he pushed his friends toward growth and maturity.

He told them that:

Christians should help each other agree whenever possible. (Philippians 4:1-3)

We should praise God, publicly saying what he has done for us. (4:4)

We should be known as reasonable people. (4:5)

Jesus is coming back so we shouldn’t be consumed with worry. (4:6)

We should pray about our concerns and be thankful when we pray. (4:6)

We should think about all the things we can be thankful for and focus on good things. (4:8)

Finally, we should practice the good things we’ve been taught (4:9)

If we do these things, we will have a peaceful life (4:7, 9)

We live in a distracting, busy world. We need to plan and go against the flow if we want to live simple, focused lives.

Why are Christians so easily distracted?

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The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

Sep 16

Corban University- one of the schools where I serve

As some of you know, I am the library director at Corban University as well as Western Seminary.

Corban is an excellent school as the following facts show

 

“U.S. News Best Colleges”for 2015 honors Corban sevenfold
For the 13th year running, Corban University is ranked in the top 10 for Best Regional Colleges in the West by “U.S. News Best Colleges.”
For 2015, Corban ranks as follows:
#7 in the West. Within that category, Corban ranks
#3 for Best Value and #3 for Best for Veterans.
#1 for % of freshmen who were in the top 25% of their high school class
#2 for % of students with highest 25th percentile SAT scores
#2 for most exclusive acceptance rate
#3 for highest rate of average alumni giving

Please pray for my ministry at Corban and spread the word about this excellent school.

For more details, see http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/corban-university-210331/overall-rankings

http://www.corban.edu/news/2014/09/09/us-news-best-colleges-2015-honors-corban-sevenfold

Sep 08

Passing the baton is essential to Christianity

Followers of Jesus reach out to others.

After the final meal with the disciples and just before the arrest that would initiate his crucifixion, Jesus prayed for the disciples he was leaving behind. He also prayed for those they would tell about him (John 17:20).

Just before he ascended to the Father, he told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until that had received the power of the indwelling Spirit. Then they would share his message throughout the world (Acts 1:4-8).

God chose to use his followers to spread his message and to train new disciples.

As he languished in prison before his execution, Paul wrote to Timothy with final guidance on how to succeed in Christian service. He told him to take what he had heard from Paul and pass it on to others who would in turn pass it on to a new generation of Christians (2 Timothy 2:2).

Paul envisioned four generations of followers of Jesus. There are those who reached out to us and taught us. We are the second generation. We are to pass it on to a new generation of Christians. We are to pass it on to those who would reach a fourth generation of Christians.

Christians who want to part of the essential mission of the church must pass on what they have been taught. We must disciple those who themselves will also reach out to those outside of Christ and nurture their faith.

This has been how Christ has worked for almost two thousand years.

Are we part of this chain of ministry or are we a self-centered side shoot of the church?

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The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

Aug 18

Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord.

In the curses that were part of the Mosaic covenant, the final punishment for continued disobedience was expulsion from the Promised Land. After centuries of rebellion the prophets predicted that this exile would come and Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians in 586 BC.

After the predicted exile, God fulfilled his promise to bring the people back to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. A remnant returned and began to prosper but neglected to reestablish the worship of God in Jerusalem where Solomon had built the first temple. (Haggai 1:1-11)

This was their mission and they looked to their own prosperity and neglected God. God raised up prophets to challenge them. Haggai reminded them of their mission and told them that God would be with them when they committed to this work. (Haggai 1:13; 2:4)

“Work, for I am with you.” God promised his presence as they committed to complete the work he had given them. This is similar to the promised presence of God as part of the Great Commission. “Make disciples” for “I am with you to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

Like to returned exiles, God’s people in every age are in danger of losing their primary focus and descending into self-promotion and small self-centered agendas. When we do God’s work, we can experience God’s presence.

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The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

Jul 27

A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

I grew up in a Lutheran home and we often sang the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” at church. This “battle hymn of the Reformation” was written by Martin Luther in the late 1520s, about ten years after he posted his Ninety-Five Theses.

When I began to read the Bible through annually in my early twenties I was stopped by Psalm 46, verses seven and eleven which declare that God is with his people and he is their fortress. My mind went back to the memories of my childhood and the hymn. I found a hymnal and this psalm was listed as the text for the hymn.

Ten years later I preached on this psalm. The congregation sang “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” and a Scripture chorus based on the first verses of the psalm, “God is My Refuge, God is My Strength.”

The psalm has three stanzas.

Verses one through three emphasize God as a refuge, strength, and help in times of trouble. His people do not need to fear no matter what happens around them.

The second stanza, verses four through seven, likens God to a river that provides, first for Jerusalem and then for his people in general. Most great cities are built on or near a great river. Jerusalem has no great river. God provides the sustenance that other cities get from a river.

The final stanza, verses eight through eleven, declares that God is in control in history and will, in the end, reign supreme.

The psalm’s two key affirmations are:

God is present with his people. (Psalm 46:1, 7, 11)

God people should not be afraid but be calm and know that God is God. He becomes the speaker in the psalm and commands, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10).

We need to stop our frenetic activity to experience the security that comes in our relationship with God.

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The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

Jul 21

What happens when we sin?

Christians don’t lead perfect lives. We sin and each time we sin there is a choice. We can agree that it is wrong and decide not to do it again and be restored. We will sin again and the process will be repeated. We will mature and change but we will always be plagued by our bad choices until we die and are perfected in God’s presence. Or, we can focus on the sin, enjoy the sin, and become further ensnared by the sin. We eventually become blind like the Pharisees and sin in ways that may lead to our premature death. (1 John 1:8-10; 5:16-17; James 1:13-15; 1 Corinthians 11:27-30)

I once listened to a seminary professor tell a story about a young woman who approached him after a sermon. She told him about a sin in her life that she committed regularly, enjoyed, and couldn’t stop. She also told him that she loved God and both were equals to her. He told her that he could not help her. He asked her to spend some time alone and decide which of the two, her sin or her love fo God, was the most important part of her life. Then he could help her deal with the one she wanted to change but, he insisted, both could not be together at the top.

How people deal with their sin reveals their deepest self. Judas betrayed Jesus, felt remorse, made an attempt at making it right, failed, and killed himself. Peter denied Christ, wept, and when Jesus reached out to him, renounced his sin, and was restored. (Matthew 26:69-75; 27:3-5)

In a pivotal meeting before he ascended, Jesus completed Peter’s restoration. He asked Peter if he loved him. Peter repeatedly responded yes. He told Peter to feed his followers. He told Peter that his commitment would lead to his martyrdom. Peter asked Jesus about John’s future. Jesus told him that John’s future was none of his concern but Peter was to follow him. (John 21:15-23)

Peter’s restoration has lessons for all Christians

Do we love Jesus? (more than our sin)

Are we will to follow him? (wherever it leads)

Are we willing to not focus on others? (are they getting a better deal?)

Are we willing feed Jesus’ followers? (actively make disciples by going, baptizing and teaching) (Matthew 28:18-20)

Each time we sin, we face a critical choice.

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The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

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