John 1: Who do you say that Jesus is?

Key verses:

vs 1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.

Breaking the Surface: John immediately connects Jesus with God and as being with God since the “beginning” and as BEING God.  There is no flowery introduction.  John is obviously making the point that everything he writes from here on out is predicated on the fact that Jesus is God.  In Revelation 19:13, John again uses this term in reference to Jesus.  “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood and the name by which he is called is The Word of God”.  No mistaking who John is referencing as he begins writing in John and who he concludes writing about in Revelation.

Digging Deeper:  Why is this important for the reader of John’s Gospel?  I mean, it’s the very first thing he inks.  As we read on we realize that understanding and knowing WHO Jesus is, will be the central subject of his gospel account.  I would argue that it really is the central subject of all of Scripture.

So, what are some of the things that people said and are saying about Jesus and his identity?  They called him many names-prophet, teacher, Rabbi, friend.  Today, He’s called those same things.  Additionally, with the advent of the internet where everyone who has a keyboard and a thought can be an expert, you can find an article or supposed “proof” about Jesus being all of those to being a “myth” as a young man and I discussed recently.  If someone thinks it, you can find it.  But John is making sure that those who read this understand exactly who He is writing about.  John is definitive in his sentence and leaves no room for doubt.

Later in Jesus ministry, after denouncing the Pharisees and Sadducees for their insincere request of a sign from Jesus as proof of His deity, Jesus uses a previous miracle to make his point to the disciples.  When they found themselves without bread, Jesus  Jesus gave them a rather and seemingly tangential response to their dilemma, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”  They were very confused.  Jesus then explained what he meant by admonishing their faith in talking about physical bread and wondering why Jesus would be warning them about the leaven that the Pharisees and Sadducees would give them.  Jesus meant (and clearly explains to them) that he was not talking about being aware of the leaven they might provide for the making of physical bread but about the “teaching they would provide for the soul.”

So, then Jesus asks them 2 questions:  In Matt 15:13-14 Jesus says, “Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say z Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”   I don’t believe that Jesus was as interested in their response to this question but, rather, he was using this question to set up the next question, which was and is the KEY question He asks all of us”.  He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matt 15:15, ESV).  Simon (Peter) responds with the correct answer, “You are the Christ, the son of the Living God” (Matt 15:16, ESV).

So What?: John establishes immediately that he is writing about the Son of God, Jesus.  There is no mistaking who he will spend the next 21 chapters writing about.  Despite the fact that many will call Jesus different names or claim he doesn’t exist, John is staking his integrity on the fact that the One he is writing about is Jesus, God incarnate, who was and is and is to come.  Today, and every day, Jesus asks us the same questions He asked the disciples.  Who do others say that I am?  Who do YOU say that I am?  I think it’s important for us to ask them together of ourselves each day.

By asking the first question, we are reminded that there are many who do not believe, teach or live as if Jesus is the Christ, the son of the Living God.  Then, Jesus asks us, “who do YOU say that I am”?  He says it to us daily.  The first time we understand and believe and respond as Peter did, our lives are changed forever.  Then, every day we take a breath and we answer that question, our lives should reflect that truth and we can be a catalyst for changing others lives forever.

So, who do YOU say that Jesus is?

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CSU – Day 7 (Wed, July 22)

As I stated in the first of these *cough*cough regular journal entries re. our CSU 09 experience, daily entries are a challenge.  Grade: D.  I’ll try to do some catch up here.

Day 1 of the conference:

  • Tim Keller spoke to us in the morning.  A great message entitled The Gospel In You (listen by clicking the title)
  • Later in the afternoon, Tim Keller held a special session re. Gospel Poor and a follow on Q&A session
  • Steve Sellers, Campus Crusade’s President of US Ministries addressed the throng with the message, Embracing the Culture of Our Calling
  • Throughout Steve’s message, tremendous stories of those who are leaving a lasting legacy for Kingdom impact were shared (listen here)
  • In addition to these events, I (Jeff) participated in our first online push to use Social Networking tools DURING the conference.  I was part of a team that monitored Twitter feeds, Facebook updates and Text Messages that came in during the morning session.  We had the chance to share some fun, interesting and powerful messages the staff was sharing live.  It was a privilege to participate (even got my ugly mug on the big jumbo-tron screen :).

Some photos from Day 1:

Me and the Tweetdeck team at CSU 2009

Emcees Bob and Rebecca with CCC Co-founder Vonette Bright

Those were the highlights for day 1 of the US Staff conference.  We’ve been able to connect with some wonderful friends that we’ve made who are on staff with CCC in other ministries as well as some of our friends at FamilyLife that we don’t see regularly.  Day 1 was a success!

CSU Update – Days 4-6

Given that the actual conference doesn’t officially start until this evenings “county fair” event, there hasn’t been a whole lot to journal.  Here are a few highlights of the last few days:

  • Sue and Jaclyn had a chance to experience the “wild west” on some slow and deliberate horses in Estes Park. 
  • We helped set up the FamilyLife booth that will be open to the rest of the Crusade staff most of the time during the conference.  The intent of the booth is to provide other Campus ministries a taste of what is happening at FamilyLife and what resources are available to help them in their marriages and ministries.
  • Trying out some of the restaurants near our hotel.
  • Enjoying the wonderful scenery and time together as a family.  Though she’s been a good sport, I’m sure Jaclyn will really enjoy itWildBoar Coffee even more when the conference starts so she can gather with her “homies” :). 
  • Finding interesting places to write, think and prepare for my upcoming seminar.  I will be co-leading a seminar on using Social Media/Networking tools to share the love and truth of Christ with a whole new generation of people.  Currently, I’m sitting at a coffee shop that was meant to make me feel like I was back in the “Razorback” nation–The Wild Boar Coffee shop  (see pic)
  • Major storm last night in Fort Collins with over 2 inches of rain with some hail in about 2 hours.  Drying out this morning/afternoon.
  • Sue’s doing the laundry today.  Pretty riveting stuff.  Would take a picture but not sure she would appreciate that much so I’ll keep it to text ;).

So, that’s about it.  Ready to begin the conference tonight at the “fair”.  The parking lot of Moby Arena is cordoned off so they can turn it into a “county fair” feel.  Some rides, carnival food and a place where we can all connect and fellowship to kick off the Conference.

By the way, if you want to follow along with some of the conference, you can check back here regularly (I’ll try to post some pics and maybe even some video), check out the CCC Conference Facebook Page or follow on Twitter.

CSU 2009 – Days 1-3

Journaling and I haven’t been fond friends over the years.  Maybe this time it will be different.  I thought I’d try to give some updates on our CSU trip this year.  For those of you who don’t know what this trip is all about, let me fill you in.

Every two years most of Campus Crusades US Staff members converge on the campus of Colorado State University
View Larger Map (thus, CSU) to participate in the bi-annual staff conference.  During the 9 days of the conference there are various times of corporate gatherings, team meetings, seminars and down time.  All of it is designed to refresh the staff and recast the vision that sometimes gets lost in the daily battle.  The vision that compelled most of us to leave our family and friends and, sometimes, our careers, to invest our lives fulltime in providing the world with the hope only found in and through Jesus Christ.  In our case, it’s been through the ministry of FamilyLife (a division of Campus Crusade for Christ).  FamilyLife’s mission is to effectively develop Godly marriages and families that change the world for Christ one home at a time.  It also serves as a gathering point for many of the ministries that don’t see each other much because they are field staff on location at their various ministry designations.

At CSU we get a chance to worship God through powerful musical praise times, impactful teaching (this year Tim Keller is our keynote speaker during the first two days of the conference) and other times of connecting and fellowshiping with other like-minded Brothers and Sisters in Christ of all ages, races and denominations.  We get to see friends that we haven’t seen for a long time (often it’s since the last CSU) or those who have left one ministry of Crusade to join another within Crusade.  In any case, it’s a time of fun, fellowship and personal growth.   By the way, if you’re interested you can follow along on the general haps at CSU on Twitter (you have to have a Twitter acct) or on Facebook.  For Twitter users click this tag: #csutweetup09 For Facebook users, follow by clicking here: Global Christian Blogference)

Our journey….

Our trip started a little early this year.  We left on Thursday, Jul 16.  The conference doesn’t officially kick off until Tuesday, July 21.  I’m co-leading one of the 15 seminars that will be offered during the week so I came up to prepare for that as well as help set up and be available as part of the CSU design team that I helped with this year.

We drove a little more than 800 miles the first night and stayed over in Colby, KS (no, there was no cheese that I found).  After a restless night’s sleep, we got up and headed for Fort Collins.  We arrived a little after noon.  Unable to check in, we met some friends for lunch.  A View of CSU campus from our hotel locationWe went to downtown Fort Collins during the afternoon as well.  It’s a wonderful downtown area with a lot of shops and places to eat.  For those who experienced Woodstock, there is an overriding sense of being in the 60’s throughout much of the city.  Plenty of old VW vans riding aroA view of our hotel room und town.   Then, Sue and Jaclyn went back to the motel after checking in and I went to help set up the electrical connections in the ministry fair booth (not quite as impressive as it might sound…I laid extension cords so that each booth had a cord available).   Last night was a pretty uneventful night as we had dinner and then crashed in our hotel.

This morning we enjoyed the hotel breakfast and then Jaclyn and Sue went on the one event we would categorize as a “vacation item”.  They went horseback riding.  I’m here writing this blog and preparing for my seminar next week.  Later in the trip, Jaclyn and I will ride the waves (whitewater rafting).  Hopefully, I will stay in the raft this year and avoid the blackened bottom I sustained on a large river boulder two years ago.  In the meantime, I’ll jot down some of the things we are doing, learning and experiencing during this time at CSU.  Thank you for your prayers.  Specifically please pray that:

  • We would hear from God during this time.  There are some significant things we are making decisions about and we need God’s direction.
  • Our time with each other as a family (this is the last CSU that we will experience with any of our children)
  • our family not with us will experience God’s presence (Erin in North Carolina where she is working at a KOA Kamp and ministering to the campers as well and Bryan who is visiting a long time friend in Chicago and then will be holding down the fort (Fort Abramovitz, not Collins) until we return.
  • the seminar I will be co-leading would provide valuable information and would be well attended, or at least, well received.
  • Our vehicle will hold up.  It’s our newest vehicle and it’s been a blessing but we’ve already put on more than 14,000 miles in 4 months.

Until tomorrow…

TechnoTrouble

Well, it was a good idea…maybe.  Though we didn’t anticipate much participation we certainly thought we would be able to at least produce our first live webcast from our home.  Having successfully tested the free Livestream online video application the day before, there wasn’t any reason to believe that we would run into difficulty doing a simple video shoot.  But, there was.  So, after sending out over 300 invitations and creating an event on Facebook, the event never quite took off.  I’m sure we were live for a while but the audio created feedback loops that we couldn’t resolve.  A friend of mines son who is proficient in video was here to help but neither one of us could figure out where the feedback was coming from.  We’ll try again this weekend with the hope of getting something recorded to put on the AbesTV channel for viewing at the viewers convenience.

If you were one who tried to “dial in” and saw only our attempt to rectify the audio problems, our apologies.  Hopefully, we’ll get it figured out.

Stand to Reason: The Faith of Our Fathers

There’s been a lot of rustle in the press lately–and in many Christian publications–about the faith of the Founding Fathers and the status of the United States as a “Christian nation.” Home schooling texts abound with references to our religious heritage, and entire organizations are dedicated to returning America to its spiritual roots. On the other side, secularists cry “foul” and parade their own list of notables among our country’s patriarchs. They rally around the cry of “separation of church and state.” Which side is right? Oddly both, after a fashion.  Read the entire article by clicking below

Stand to Reason: The Faith of Our Fathers

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Clay Shirky: How cellphones, Twitter, Facebook can make history

Great video on how cellphones, Twitter and Facebook are shaping history!  Now, imagine if you will (a little Rod Serling for you Twilight Zone fans) the Gospel being lived out in truth and grace through these tools into the lives of more people than we could ever have reached before in the history of the world…Hmmm. Thank you, God for technology that you developed way before time began.