ripple effect: vacaville

d162 A Long Time Coming…
September 30, 2007, 2:50 pm
Filed under: anna, god, jesus, joseph, luke, mary, simeon

Read Luke 2:21-39.

1. And the baby’s name was Jesus… And, like a good Hebrew boy, Jesus was taken to the Temple after eight days to be cicumcised. Even God’s own Son got the sign of the covenant between God and man.
2. So…Jesus was taken to the Temple because the first son was always supposed to be set apart for God. So Joseph and Mary took him to the Temple to make sacrifices on His behalf (again…this is more an act of obedience of the parents…because, I mean, does Jesus really need to make any sacrifices of animals?)
3. Simeon was “waiting for the consolation of Israel.” That means that this guy was a heavy believer in all the prophets teaching that there will be a day when things are made right. This dude was full of faith. And, even though there were many people like him who never got to see this in person, he does!
4. Imagine this wise man picking up your baby and saying the things that he said! Notice that this is a devout Jewish man, and he exclaims that Jesus will bring salvation to Jewish and non-Jewish (Gentile) people! Whoah.
5. I bet Joseph and Mary marveled a lot.
6. Anyone want to take a stab at the meaning of what Simeon is saying to Mary?
7. And then you have this old lady, Anna. The worshipped, fasted, and prayed all night and day for decades. Imagine that. Decades. And she knew what was going on at that very moment and could not keep quiet about it. Redemption. Buying back. What does “the redemption of Jerusalem” mean?
8. Then they went back to Nazareth. (I like that song “Love Hurts,” by the band Nazareth.)


d161 Away in a Manger
September 29, 2007, 1:59 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, joseph, luke, mary

Read Luke 2:1-20.

1. Those extra details about the timing of the census help us to pinpoint when exactly Jesus was born. It’s funny that a lot of people think that BC means “before Christ”–which it does; and AD means “after death.” Um…that doesn’t make sense. What would the time between birth and death be? He he he… It does reveal something about Christians, though. We celebrate the birth (Christmas) and death (Good Friday), but we don’t place as much emphasis on Jesus’ life. OK…so AD actually means “anno domini,” which means “year of the Lord.” So…again, you’d think that Jesus would have been born in 0, right? Nope, through a calendar error that was eventually noticed many years later, Jesus is actually born in 3 BC. That means Jesus was born three years “before Christ.” Funny, huh…
2. OK, so Joseph lives in Nazareth; but he has to go to Bethlehem because that’s where his people come from. He’d also register with Mary.
3. Without the notorious “naughty inn keeper” (who is never really mentioned in the Bible, by the way), we simply learn that Mary had Jesus in a place with a manger, a feeding trough for animals. This could have been in a barn or a cave for all we know. It’s just amazing to think about the Word become flesh’s first scents in the air being animal poop and straw.
4. Imagine being a shepherd, hanging out with his sheep; and, all of a sudden, an angel appears to you and your compadres! Boy…I’d wonder if someone spiked my canteen!
5. I love that the angel tells them that this JOY is “for all people.” Do we share Christ with others as if He truly is for ALL people?
6. A Savior! Savior from what? What do you think the shepherds thought at that moment?
7. A baby in a trough would be a sign.
8. As if one angel wasn’t enough, suddenly a host of them show up and praise God. Notice the “song” they sing. I think we think that it’s just a general “world peace” that God desires. Notice that the angels exclaim that peace belongs to the people on earth with whom God is pleased.
9. Those shepherds might not have been the most educated bunch, but they knew that this was something they HAD to check out… Do you think they abandoned their flocks for this?
10. The shepherds came, saw, and repeated what the angels. I’m sure they were all wondering, “Savior? What kind?” But Mary took it all into her heart. Awesome.
11. I bet the shepherds were stoked. Imagine what their lives were like after this moment? I wonder if any one of them were young enough to hear Jesus speak thirty years later. Wow…

d160 Jesus’ Family Tree

Read Matthew 1:1-25.

Some people get turned off by reading this genealogy. I say it is due to lack of the proper background. Oh, the stories that are embedded in this genealogy…

1. Jesus is referred to as the son of David and the son of Abraham. Why David? I’m guessing because he was the iconic king. This would imply that Jesus is going to be the King. Then you’ve got Abraham. He’s the father of the faith. Jesus isn’t just going to be the continuation of that faith…He’s going to be the fulfillment of it.
2. Notice that this geneology doesn’t start with Adam. It starts when the faith starts (with Abraham). I think that’s interesting.
3. OK…so we know Abraham (far from perfect), Isaac (not really perfect), Jacob (definitely not perfect), and Judah (not perfect either). These are all direct descendents of Jesus. Their stories are wrapped up in His DNA. Cool huh?
4. Then you’ve got Perez (don’t really know), Hezron (who?), Ram (nice name), Amminadab (don’t know), Nahshon (who?), and then Salmon. Now, you might think that Salmon is just a dude with a fishy name. But, look who his wife is…Rahab! Does anyone remember who she is? She’s the prostitute from Jericho who hid the Israelite spies. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus Christ comes from a line that includes a foreign former prostitute?
5. And that’s not all. Look who Rahab’s son was: Boaz. Remember him? If you guessed the husband of Ruth you would be right. How cool is that! The story of Boaz and Ruth getting together is the story of two people coming together who will eventually be ancestors of Jesus. Oh…and Ruth was foreign too.
6. They had Obed. Obed was the father of Jesse. And Jesse was the father of David. He’s the rock star in the bunch. And it’s cool to see that David was a relative of Jesus too.
7. Interesting choice of words next: “David was the father of Solomon by THE WIFE OF URIAH.” I don’t think this is intended to belittle Bathsheba. But, it does remind us all that Solomon came from David’s sinful relationship with Bathsheba (at the expense of Uriah). Wow…it’s amazing to know that THIS is in the line of Jesus Christ as well.
8. Solomon had Rehoboam (remember the king who listened to his young friends over his older advisors and split Israel). Then King Abijah, King Asaph, King Jehoshaphat (a great king), King Joram, King Uzziah, King Jotham, King Ahaz, King Hezekiah (another good king), King Manasseh, King Amon, King Josiah (my favorite king), and King Jechoniah (the king who was taken away to Babylon). That’s a rich history, and Jesus is a direct royal heir to the kingdom of Judah.
9. Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel, who was the father of Zerubbabel (who was in charge when they were allowed to come back to Jerusalem), who was the father of Abiud, the father of Eliakim, the father of Azor, the father of Zadok, the father of Achim, the father of Eliud, the father of Eleazar, the father of Matthan, the father of Jacob, the father of Joseph…this is the Joseph who is engaged to be married to Mary! Hmm…now this is the shocker…why does Matthew list the geneology of Joseph instead of Mary? I mean, technically, is Joseph REALLY Jesus’ father?
10. Nice symmetry. 14 generations from the beginning of the faith until the line of David. 14 generations of the line of David until getting exiled. 14 generations from the exile to Christ. Wow…
11. Then we get to the story of Jesus’ birth. This question can’t be asked enough: what do you think was going through Joseph’s mind when he found out that his woman was pregnant?
12. Joseph didn’t want to shame Mary, so he was going to break things off silently. Nice guy. Maybe nicer than you think. She could have been stoned for this “crime.”
13. Wow…I still would have wondered if I had eaten some weird lamb when an angel came to me in a dream. But, Joseph “gets it” to the best of his ability and mans up.
14. Can you imagine receiving that kind of message about the baby inside your fiance’s womb? (one that you didn’t make!)
15. Isaiah prophesied about this centuries earlier. Wow. Do you even think that Isaiah knew what he was predicting?
16. Immanuel…God with us. My favorite name for God.
17. Joseph is an amazing man. He really swallowed his pride for God.
18. And he also didn’t have sex with her UNTIL she gave birth to Jesus. I don’t know why that offends people to think of Mary having sex. But, after Jesus, she did (and made more babies). Anyway…Joseph was strong for not having sex. Again, maybe that had something to do with his sinful-nature seed not messing with the sinless baby forming in Mary’s womb?

d159 One Proud Mamma…
September 27, 2007, 9:36 am
Filed under: abraham, elizabeth, god, jesus, john, luke, zechariah

Read Luke 1:57-80.

1. If Elizabeth had been hidden during her pregnancy, imagine what kind of surprise it would have been to her friends and relatives when she did give birth to a son!
2. As God-honoring Hebrews, they a) circumcised the boy on the eighth day and b) were going to name him Zechariah, after his daddy. But, Elizabeth tells them that his name is going to be John. This means that Zechariah must have communicated to her in some way to let her know what was going on (even though he was silent). [I like this part in the movie, “The Nativity.”] Dad backs her up with the writing tablet. Sweet.
3. It’s interesting that, at that moment, Zechariah’s tong was loosed. Maybe it was because the name was chosen to honor God and not him, and maybe this was the final act of submission/faith on Zechariah’s part?
4. I bet the neighbors were a little kooked.
5. You would have to think that this boy was going to be something…
6. Let’s break down Zechariah’s prophecy about Jesus: God has brought up salvation from the house of David. This is going to be the culmination of all the promises that God made through the prophets. This is going to be the fulfillment of all that was promised to Abraham and his family.
7. His prophecy about John the Baptist: He’ll be God’s prophet, giving the people a heads-up to what’s coming.
8. I wonder what a kid like that was like when he was a kid.
9. Why do you think he was raised in the wilderness?

d158 Diary of a Teen Girl
September 26, 2007, 9:59 am
Filed under: david, elizabeth, gabriel, god, jesus, john, joseph, luke, mary

Read Luke 1:26-56.

1. If we don’t read these stories with the end in mind (and take them as they come), this is pretty crazy.  You’d think the Zechariah story would be the main event.  But, no, Gabriel makes his way to a little town called Nazareth…
2. The angel goes to a young, engaged girl. Her name was Mary. And, even though we don’t know much about her, she must have done something right because the angel says that she is “favored” by God. Now, I know that for some, the discussion as Mary as a HUMAN is almost out of bounds. But, do you think that she was super-holy or an ordinary high-school-aged girl?
3. Interesting that Mary was troubled. What do you think disturbed her about the situation?
4. She will conceive a son…and his name will be Jesus. That sound like something I should put on the front of a Christmas card. He he he… No, but seriously, this is the first time that we get His name. The first time that we have a name for this “Word became flesh.” Goosebumps…
5. He will be great and be called the Son of God! OK…that’s bigger than John. This is bigger than anyone, any prophet, any holy person. This is the real thing. And he will take over the reign of Israel, the throne of King David (that has since kind of fallen to mean very little). What do you think Mary thought the angel meant when he said all these things to her?
6. His kingdom will have no end! Again, what do you think Mary was thinking?
7. We get a slight clue. She was confused. She’s trying to figure out how a girl who has never had sex could have a son. Fair question. How is her need for clarification different than Zechariah’s?
8. The Holy Spirit will come upon Mary. Now, that doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit will have sex with her, but it does mean that the Holy Spirit (the essence of God) will literally be the father. Whoah!
9. [A little side note: since sin is passed down through the “seed” of the father…um, what does that mean about Jesus being “born into sin”?]
10. Then Gabriel clues her in that Elizabeth is pregnant too! Whoah. (Incidentally, if you have not seen the movie, “The Nativity,” I think it is amazing.)
11. “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Can I get an amen?
12. Check Mary’s obedience here. Let it be. We don’t hear much about the personal consequence that she would have had to have been “knocked up” in this culture, but I can assure you that any social stigmas that are attached to it today are nothing compared to what would have happened in that culture. And yet, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (who were willing to be burned if that’s what it took), she says I’ll do it. I’m never going to worship Mary, but I do respect her.
13. How cool is it that fetus John leapt for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice! Awesome.
14. The Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth and she drops the “Hail Mary” prayer that is known so well by all my Catholic family…”Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” I would definitely say that this is the greatest honor that any woman could ever have.
15. Notice the reverence that Elizabeth gives to Mary, though (her neice): she calls her “the mother of my Lord.”
16. Don’t know why Mary’s prayer is called the “Magnificat.” Sounds like a name for cat food. But…
17. We learn that Mary considered herself in a humble state. She’s an underdog, but she won’t be considered that anymore…
18. It’s not all flowers and butterflies. You can get a sense that Mary believes that she is a part of an oppressed people. The people in power at the time are rich, proud…all the things that she says God is going to set right. Mary was no cupcake. She wants change too. And she believes that this act is going to make it happen.
19. Isn’t it interesting that we don’t ever hear anything from Mary’s parents?

d157 Shut Yo’ Mouth
September 25, 2007, 5:52 pm
Filed under: elijah, elizabeth, gabriel, god, herod, john, luke, zechariah

Read Luke 1:5-25.

1. OK, so Zechariah is married to Elizabeth during the time of King Herod. Got it…
2. Wow…they were righteous and blameless in ALL of God’s statutes. No wonder God picked them for what He’s about to do…
3. Can you imagine being so faithful to God but being unable to have a child?
4. It was a big deal for Zechariah to go in there and burn incense…a great honor.
5. Hmm…what would you do if an angel of the Lord just happened to show up there? How about on a Sunday night, between the keyboard and the drum shield?
6. Angels must have been scary because Zechariah was scared…
7. Does the angels words mean that Zechariah must have been praying for a son?
8. I don’t think the angel needed to tell Zechariah that he would be happy.
9. He mustn’t drink alchohol because he’s going to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Interesting question…was this a specific case, or should followers of Christ (who are filled with the Holy Spirit) follow this model too?
10. He will turn people to God. Imagine hearing that about your unborn baby! Wow.
11. He’s going to be like Elijah. That dude was awesome.
12. Isn’t it interesting that the first thing that it says John is going to do is “turn the hearts of fathers to children.” What’s that about? [Hint: read the last verse of the last book of the Old Testament.]
13. Turn the disobedient into wise people. Yeah, that would make people ready for God.
14. Uh oh…Zechariah doubted. Can you blame him, though?
15. Notice that Gabriel’s response is that you can trust him because of WHO he is, not what he’s saying. This guy is in the presence of God…this guy was sent from God.
16. What do you think of Zechariah’s “punishment”?
17. Being unable to speak when he came out, I bet people thought that Zechariah had done something wrong and been cursed by God or something. I bet that was hard.
18. He had a couple of days it seems before he could get home to Elizabeth. I bet it was agonizing not being able to tell her what was going on.
19. Hmm…I’m not sure why Elizabeth was hiding. Any theories?

d156 The Word / Life / Light / God / The Son — Well…You’ll See…
September 24, 2007, 4:35 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, john, moses

Read John 1:1-18.

OK…I’m not trying to confuse you, but we are going to read about the life of Jesus by reading a interwoven, semi-sequential, big-picture story from all four gospels. Since all four gospels speak about the life of Christ, I am going to get the big picture by reading them in an order that makes a little more sense than reading all four account in a row. Here goes…

1. The word for “Word” in the Greek is “logos.” Not too different for our word that describes a logo. The Nike swoosh. The BMW propeller. The Cowboys’ star. These things all, in some way, seem to capture the essence of what they represent, but they aren’t what they represent. Anyway, the Word captures of the essense of who God is. And it was around in the beginning. It was with God in the beginning. It was God in the beginning. Crazy.
2. The idea is that this “Word” has no beginning, like God has no beginning. Eternal!
3. Everything that was made was made through God. And, since the Word was God, then, nothing was made that wasn’t also part of the Word. Whoah. My head hurts. So…who is this mysterious Word?
4. Life comes from this Word. Life…well…everyone wants life…so who is this Word? (I know in Christianese, we already know who this is. But humor me a little bit…can you imagine reading this and not knowing who this Source is. Wouldn’t you be very, very interested?)
5. This life lights the way for mankind. This light makes it so that darkness cannot overtake mankind. This Word is very important, whatever it is…
6. Enter John the Baptist…his job? He was a witness. He could only testify as to what he knew about this light. He wasn’t It. But he could talk about It.
7. Light was coming. Imagine. The implication is that the world is in darkness. But it won’t be for long…
8. Then this light, this life, this Word, this It, this God. It came into the world He created! Like a set-maker coming and being the actor in the middle of the stage. Funny thing, no one knew that it was the set-maker. Some people didn’t even realize it was the main actor.
9. He came to the people he created! But they didn’t even consider Him to be one of them?!?!
10. To everyone who believed in His name (a name that hasn’t really been revealed yet) He gave the right to be called children of God. Children? Not slaves? Children? Whoah…
11. This is not a right that comes with your bloodline. This is a right that doesn’t come with your efforts or willpower. This could only come from believing in this mystery’s name.
12. Imagine hearing about this spooky mysterious Word, life, light, God…whatever human terms you want to use…and then…IT BECOMES FLESH! MAN! Insane…
13. This Word in flesh lived among human beings…in other words, human beings could know this Word. Human beings could see this glory.
14. A further clue…we are talking about the Son, the Son of the Father. Because He put on human flesh, we can describe Him/It? in more human terms. He is the Son of the Father, full of grace and truth. Well, of course He would be full of those things…
15. John the Baptist agrees.
16. Seeing Him, we get grace after grace. (Just you wait and see…)
17. Moses gave us a law. This law was God’s standard. This was to prevent us from destroying ourselves. This was the only thing that made sense to finite people trying to connect with an infinite God. Give me rules. That would help. And that’s what God did. But, this God in flesh…this Son…He offers grace and TRUTH! The heart of it and the meaning behind it. That beckons a drum roll…
18. Bottom line is this…up until this point…no one had ever seen the Son of God…but they are all about to…

I am genuinely excited to rediscover this Son of God over the next few months. Don’t speed ahead in your brain, though. Think about what John is saying here. Think about what he’s talking about. Man…what do you think?