ripple effect: vacaville

d132 Two Roads Diverged in a Wood…
August 31, 2007, 11:28 am
Filed under: god, psalms

Read Psalm 1:1-6.

Here’s my approach to Psalms this year. We’re only going to check out some selected ones this year, but next year I plan on taking the larger part of the year to look at all the Psalms and all the Proverbs.

1. It would be good to not get advice from “wicked” people. That would be a true blessing to only get godly advice. But, what do you think this means for our culture? Do you think nothing can be gained from someone who is “wicked”?
2. Also, what would “wicked” look like in our culture?
3. Yeah, again, it would be nice to not stand around sinners all the time. But, um…am I the only one who’s thinking that we’re all sinners? So…how is this one possible?
4. Now, I definitely understand the sitting with “scoffers” thing. Scoffers are defined as people who know the right thing to do but who do the wrong thing anyway–and talk smack about the right thing. These people are bad news.
5. Notice the progression–walk –> stand –> sit. The person is getting more and more comfortable.
6. It’s a blessing for someone to meditate on God’s instructions day and night. Man, I need to get better at that. But…this blog is a start, right?
7. Righteous guy is like a tree that is close to its supply. That makes sense. If you are a tree close to water it’s like being a person close to Christ, the living water. But how often do we experience that sustained closeness?
8. Fruit in season. Who doesn’t want to have fruits for their labors?
9. Leaves don’t wither. Um…maybe this person doesn’t get worn out. Cool quote…”A worn out Bible has an owner who isn’t.”
10. Wicked are like chaff in the wind. Um…sounds like a Kansas song.
11. The wicked won’t be able to stand when judgment comes. Hmm…judgment. This is one of the first times that this is referenced. What do you think that’s going to look like?
12. Sinners won’t be able to stand in the congregation of the righteousness. I think this is like future tense. So…does this mean that they are going to lose out on the opportunity to spend eternity with the believers?
13. God knows what’s going on. And He knows that the wicked are going to die. Spiritual death? No eternal life?

Yeah…these Psalms are chocked full of interesting theology.


d131 Happily Ever After?
August 30, 2007, 10:20 am
Filed under: bildad, eliphaz, god, jemimah, job, keren-happuch, keziah, zophar

Read Job 42:1-17.

[Stuff we’re skipping:

* God gives Job a whole lot more questions that He knows he can’t answer. Finally Job says he’ll stay quiet. God challenges Job even more just to bring home His point.]

1. Job basically says that he knows God can do anything, and he’s the guy who’s talking without knowledge here. So far, a humble confession.
2. Job says that he feels dumb because, before all he knew about God was what was told to him; but, now that he has seen God, he feels really dumb for questioning him like he did. Is there a difference between questioning God and wondering what He’s up to?
3. Job’s friends aren’t spared from God’s anger. Not only that, they are supposed to make sacrifices for Job to bless them. In other words, Job wasn’t completely right; but he was a whole lot more right than you quacks!
4. He got twice what he once had back. Amazing. That’s cool for donkeys and camels, but do you still feel bad that his original kids died?
5. All of Job’s family rallied around him. That’s nice.
6. Job went on to have three beautiful daughters (I guess the other three weren’t that great?). And one, the kids of Keziah and Keren-happuch had an Aunt Jemimah. She made really nice syrup. It’s interesting that it says that Job gave his daugters the same inheritance as her brothers. This was totally against the culture of the time. Why do you think he did that?
7. I like Job.

d130 God Talks Back
August 29, 2007, 11:07 am
Filed under: bildad, elihu, eliphaz, god, job, zophar

Read Job 38:1-41.

[What we’re skipping:

We’re skipping 36 chapters of discussion between Job and his friends:

* Job curses the day he was born. Eliphaz explains his theory that innocent people all prosper (so…apparently Job must have done something to tick God off). Job says that he didn’t do anything wrong, so he feels justified in complaining to God. He feels as if his life has no hope. Bildad tells Job that he should repent from whatever sin caused this. Job explains that there is no one to work any of this out with…where is God? Zophar tells him that he deserves even worse than what he got. Job says that God is the one who is causing this…not him. But he says that he will still hope in God because, shoot, everyone dies. Then Eliphaz says that Job doesn’t fear God. Job then tells him and the other two friends that they are pretty lousy friends. Job feels hopeless. Bildad says that God punishes the wicked. Job says that the One who can redeem him from all of this is alive. Zophar explains that wicked people suffer. Job says that all wicked people DO NOT suffer; some actually prosper. Eliphaz continues to say that Job must have done something wrong. Job asks where God is right then and there? Bildad says that it’s impossible for a man to be righteous. Job says that God’s ways are too difficult to understand, but he will still maintain his integrity. Job tries to figure out where to find the wisdom to deal with all of this because he thinks that he didn’t do anything wrong, still. So…he appeals to God.

* Then Elihu, a younger guy, had had enough of these old guys’ theories; and he told them that they were wrong to be harassing Job with stupid theories. Also, he rebuked Job for trying to justify himself. He reiterates that God is just…bottom line. He says that Job is not as holy as he thinks he is if he is so preoccupied with making himself look good. Elihu talks about how great God is. And then…]

God talks. All of these chapters upon chapters of man’s theories, and finally God talks.

1. God is talking out of a whirlwind. Wow.
2. God first says, who is trying to darken the light of knowledge with stupid theories. Bow up because I’m about to ask YOU some questions. Uh oh…
3. I’m just going to answer God’s impossible questions as best as I can from Job’s perspective: a) I wasn’t even an idea yet, b) um…I don’t know, c) don’t know, d) don’t know times two.
4. It’s cool to see that the “morning stars,” the angels, sang for the joy at the work of God’s hands (like that song, Shout to the Lord).
5. Again, don’t know who did all that with the ocean.
6. Nope…haven’t commanded the morning or the dawn. Have not done that thing with the sea…and I definitely don’t know how to see the gates of death. Also, don’t know the expanse of the earth.
7. You know…I have a sneaky suspicion that God is trying to prove a point by asking all these questions.
8. Don’t know how to control light and darkness.
9. Whoah! In verse 21, God is definitely being sarcastic!
10. Don’t control snow or hail or light or wind or rain or thunder or dew or ice or the constellations.
11. And I don’t know how to create intelligence. I also don’t know how to hunt for lions or ravens.

OK…so I’m thinking that there is a reason that God asks all these questions.

First of all…He doesn’t answer any questions from Job or his homies. What do you think of that?

Second of all…what do you think of him railing Job with these impossible to answer questions? I mean, I don’t know the answer. But I would say that most of the real answers would be: “you did it” or “you can.”

So…what are you thinking right now?

d129 “Do Your Worst!”
August 28, 2007, 4:24 pm
Filed under: bildad, eliphaz, god, job, satan, zophar

Read Job 2:1-13.

1. Yeah…so the next part begins just like the last part. Must be some kind of literary device…parallelism?
2. “He still holds fast to his integrity.” Cool. Don’t you wish God would say that about you?
3. So…Satan thinks that if God allows him to mess around with Job’s body that he’ll buckle. Interesting theory…
4. God doesn’t want him to die, but he tells Satan to do his worst.
5. Hmm…I bet these loathsome sores were not cool at all. Now, I know that when I had chicken pox when I was a kid that my mom told me not to scratch. This hurt so bad that Job swipes a piece of pottery to scratch with. Man…that had to hurt!
6. I joke around a lot and talk about when wives don’t support their husbands–I call them “curse God and die” moments. Boy, that Job’s wife. She sure does have a lot of faith, doesn’t she?
7. Man…I am so surprised at Job’s level-headedness. Should we only expect “good” things from God?
8. So then his three buddies show up: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. It’s nice that they originally came to comfort their friend. Good guys…
9. Imagine how jacked up Job must have been! His own friends didn’t even recognize him!
10. Wow…they sat for seven whole days without saying a word. You know…sometimes, you don’t have to say anything…they’re going to get into real trouble once they start talking.

128 About as Depressing as a Country-Western Song
August 27, 2007, 12:14 pm
Filed under: esther, god, haman, job, mordecai, satan, xerxes

Read Job 1:1-22.

[Stuff we’re skipping:

* The book of Esther wraps up with Mordecai taking over Haman’s house after Esther explains to Xerxes that he is her cousin. Esther is allowed to reverse the edict to kill the Jews. She actually writes it and the king signs off on it! After the edict had been reversed, people were converting to Judaism.

* The killing actually happened in reverse. On the day that the Jews were supposed to be killed, all those who wanted to have the Jews killed were killed (with support from the government). Even all of Haman’s sons were killed, along with 750,000 people who were against the Jews in the neighboring provinces. The holiday of Purim was inaugurated that day–a day to celebrate when disaster turned to rejoicing. In the end, both Mordecai and Esther were in powerful positions of influence to maintain the welfare of the Jews in Persia.]

And now…Job. This story is written by an unknown author and takes place somewhere around 2000 BC to 500 BC. Yeah, that’s a wide frame of time, but understand that this is a really old story, and it could occur anywhere from the time of Abraham to the time of the judges to the time of the kings to the time of the exile. Anyway, the story is definitely applicable to all who read…

1. So…first thing we learn about Job is that he had good character. Second thing…he had a lot of stuff.
2. It is obvious that Job loves God and loves his family. He blesses all his kids and offers sacrifices to God on their behalf. Good dad.
3. All of a sudden, the story gets zoomed way out to the cosmic level. We get to see an interaction between God and Satan! Whoah. This is rare.
4. From the interchange between God and Satan, we can glean some understanding of the role of Satan in the world. It appears that God has granted Satan permission to go “to and fro” on the earth. Also, it seems obvious that Satan is ultimately subject to God’s authority. What’s interesting, though, is that God “brags on” Job here. He seems like a proud Father, wanting to show off how cool his son is to Satan.
5. Satan doesn’t mess around. And it’s obvious that he doesn’t appreciate God’s way of doing things. He’s angry because Job is blessed. And he thinks that if that is taken away, Job will stop being so cool. First question: what do you think this “hedge” of protection God gives Job is? Do you think it’s some cosmic thing, or do you think it’s just the fact that Job doesn’t really want for anything?
6. So Satan thinks that Job is going to curse God if things stop going his way. He wouldn’t be the first or the last, would he?
7. God gives him permission to take everything away–just don’t touch him. I’m thinking this was an errand that Satan was looking forward to running.
8. Country song:

“The Sabeans sold mah oxens and donkeys;
Mah servants was hacked to death.
Far fell from heav’n and burned up mah sheep and shepherds;
Chaldeans stole mah camels and killed mah camel-riders;
But worst of all…
All mah chillins were havin’ a party
When a tornader swooped down and killed all of ’em.”

9. I think Hank Williams sang that song. Anyway…look at Job’s response! What would you do? Really, what would you do? Because, Job physically shows signs of mourning and WORSHIPS God!?!? What about you…really?
10. Then Job gets philosophical: born naked…die naked. Everything that is gained in this world is added by God, so when He takes it away, is it really like He’s stealing?
11. “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.” A great song written by Matt Redman and his wife after the events of 9/11. And here it is…the source. Job’s heart chose to worship God anyway…when it didn’t make sense! Wow.
12. And look at the comment. Job didn’t sin. Man.

d127 Confronting Xerxes
August 26, 2007, 11:45 am
Filed under: esther, god, haman, mordecai, xerxes

Read Esther 6:1 – 7:10.

1. Did you know that Esther is the only book in the Bible where God’s name is never mentioned? He works behind the scenes throughout this story to save His people. Although God is subtle throughout this story, I think that this part begins with God’s not-so-subtle workings. It just so happens that Xerxes can’t sleep. It just so happens that he wants to read the chronicles of Persia. It just so happens that he reads the story of Mordecai saving him? Hmm…
2. It just so happens that Haman arrives at exactly the time that Xerxes has decided that something needs to be done for Mordecai? Hmm…
3. Interesting that Haman comes during the middle of the night to try to have Mordecai’s death sentence issued. Boy, he’s really chomping at the bit.
4. I love dramatic irony. We all know that Xerxes is asking about how to honor Mordecai, but cocky Haman thinks that he’s talking about HIM!?! I love it. So, Haman asks for the hookup. He’s goes for the gusto.
5. And then Xerxes says, “Yes, excellent…do all that for…(me, me, me)…MORDECAI?” You can imagine Haman’s response, “Yes…wait…what? Not me…who? No…argh!” I love it.
6. Imagine the crow that was being eaten by Haman that he actually had to lead the horse around and shout about how awesome Mordecai was. Beautiful. (Then again, the death issue has still been declared, so…I’m thinking that Haman is still licking his chops a little bit.)
7. Wives are great. Haman goes home to tell his wife all that has happened and she says, “You’re dead meat.” Love that loving encouragement.
8. Well, at least Haman gets to go to that exclusive dinner. He he he…
9. That feast was two days long! Can you imagine all the thoughts that were going through Esther and Haman’s minds?
10. Esther tells him that someone is plotting to destroy her and her people. Of course, the king is incredulous, and asks who… And she points the finger at Haman. In the words of Scooby Doo…”Ruh roh.”
11. Xerxes was angry, but he went away to think about what he should do. In the meantime, Haman starts tugging on Esther, trying to spare his life. And, of course, while Haman was “all over” the queen, Xerxes returns. Talk about confirmation! He thinks that he’s trying to kill her then and there!
12. They cover Haman’s head and seize him. I love that one of the eunuchs happens to bring up, “Oh, by the way, um, Haman’s got a new, never-been-used gallows beside his house. Oh, and he was going to use it to kill your new favorite guy, Mordecai!” He he he…no question who’s side this guy was on. You know, that’s two eunuchs who seemed to stand up for Esther. That’s got to say something about her as a person, that so many people stood up for her. Anyway…
13. They hang Haman on his own gallows. That’s what you call situational irony, kids.

d126 Give Him Enough Rope…
August 25, 2007, 11:22 am
Filed under: esther, god, haman, mordecai, xerxes

Read Esther 5:1-14.

1. After three days of praying and fasting, she probably feels strong spiritually but weak physically…I bet she almost feinted walking in to the court with Xerxes on his throne.
2. Whew…the scepter. Yet another reason to almost faint?
3. The whole, I’ll give you half my kingdom thing was probably a figure of speech. Maybe this is where divorce attornies got the idea from? Either way, Xerxes is in a giving mood. Oh…isn’t he a nice “god-king”?
4. I love the subtlety of Esther’s approach. She doesn’t come straight out with the news and her plans. She’s stealth about it. First step, throw a party for Xerxes and Haman. What does Xerxes like to do? Come on… Party!
5. See…to me, this is kind of a risky thing. Allowing Xerxes to get a little tipsy off wine is rarely a good idea. Oh…and I bet Haman thought he was the junk to be invited to this “private” and “exclusive” party.
6. Xerxes is still in a giving mood. What does she want? Again, Esther says she would like to throw both of them another feast. Man… She’s really buttering them up.
7. I bet Haman did feel like the man. And nothing wrecks that euphoric feeling of feeling like you’re on top of the world more than realizing that you’re NOT on the top of the world. Seeing Mordecai refuse to bow or tremble probably infuriated him.
8. Looks like Haman’s trying to remind himself that he IS on top of the world. Throwing a party to remind everyone how awesome he is? Hmm… Oh, and he’s all over being the only one invited to eat with the king and queen.
9. He’s so mad that he can’t recognize all that he has. One little thing is about to cause a world of hurt for him. Isn’t it interesting that everyone else comes up with the plan to construct the HUGE gallows to hang Mordecai from?

How are we feeling about Esther’s approach here?
How about Haman’s issues?