Oct 30

The Greatness of Jesus- Some Pictures From His Birth

The Great Reversal is a consistent theme in Scripture.

God doesn’t do things the way we do.

My post on how God reached out to the shepherds and the leaders at the birth of Messiah explores one example of this.

There are other examples from the events surrounding the birth of Christ as well.

Jesus was greater than John the Baptist even though John was older and started his ministry first. In a culture where age was important, John’s mysterious but theologically rich and provocatively words were needed to explain her lesser role. Jesus came after John but was before him. He existed before John and outranked him. (John 1:15, 30)

Gabriel’s announcements show Jesus’ superiority.

Zechariah and Elizabeth would become parents in their old age. John would be great before God. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit from birth. He will go before Messiah in the spirit and power of Elijah. (Luke 1:12-15)

The Holy Spirit caused Jesus’ birth. Jesus would be called the Son of the Most High. He will sit on the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over Israel forever. His kingdom will have no end. (Luke 1:30-33)

Jesus is clearly greater.

Zechariah’s Spirit-inspired prophetic words recognized this. Salvation would come from the house of David (Jesus). John would be a prophet of the Most High. (Luke 1:69, 76)

Have you ever had to step aside when others thought you were best but you knew better?

Has anyone ever unexpectedly stepped aside for you?

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The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

Oct 27

The hard obedience of Mary and Joseph. What can we learn?

In the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph were called to model the godly life in different ways.

What can we learn from each of them?

Joseph becomes a model of faithful obedience to God’s commands. Mary becomes a model of faithful acceptance of God’s will.

God made a choice. He choose Mary to be the mother of the Messiah. She heard the angel and responded in submissive obedience. “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38 ESV)

Mary faced danger because of God’s choice. God is going to do this. Mary did not choose this honored position.

Would Joseph believe her?

Even if he did, what would others conclude about her.

What about penalties, death?

Joseph’s pilgrimage was different. We’re not told how he found out but when he did, he wanted to do what was right. He wanted to be just but kind. He saw no need for public humiliation and punishment. Then God spoke to him in a dream. He told him that the child was from the miraculous action of the Holy Spirit.

He received dreams from God and each time he obeyed the instructions.

He joined Mary in the risks of her situation. Her reputation became their reputation.

He also took a secondary position. The angel told him a dream to take “the child and his mother” to Egypt, not his son but the child. He is the Messiah. She is the virgin mother. He is Joseph. Jesus is first. Mary is his mother. That is not how you usually speak of a family. (Matthew 2:13)

The coming of “God with us” was not easy for Mary or Joseph. It was an adventure of risky, obedient faith.

Mary submits. Joseph obeys.

When have you been called to a hard obedience?

What have you been called to a hard acceptance of God’s will?

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The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

Oct 24

Two way to achieve unity among Christians . . . only one works

Paul wrote from a prison in Rome to a church of friends in Philippi. They had sent a leader from their congregation to visit him and he wrote back thanking them for their friendship and urging them to be unified as a church. Like any church, there were strong personalities and the temptation of false but attractive teaching.

Paul based his appeal on four supernatural facts on which they all would agree:

there was encouragement from being united with Christ

there was comforting love in the Christian community

there was participation with God’s indwelling Spirit

and, there were affection and sympathy in the Christian life. (Philippians 2:1)

Then he asks them to make him happy by agreeing, abandoning selfish pursuits, and humbly seeking each other’s interests. (Philippians 2:2-4)

He then gave them the ultimate example of what he wanted. Jesus, truly God, came to earth and died a humiliating death for them. Because he did this, he was raised to rule the heavens and earth. (Philippians 2:5-11)

There are two ways to seek unity among Christians. One is for each of us to focus on Christ and his example and live in the Christian community in humble, sacrificial service.

The second way sounds good but is doomed to failure. We focus on each other and move to where we think the other Christian would like us to be. But in this search we are self-serving, moving targets and as we move in self-coordinated ways we get no closer than when we started.

We best serve the cause of Christian unity when we deal with the evil in our own lives and developing our spiritual gifts in humble service in the Christian community.

What have you and I done to further the cause of Christian unity in the last week?

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The post first appeared on Bob Krupp’s blog

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

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