ripple effect: vacaville

d209 Saint Nic
November 30, 2007, 2:52 pm
Filed under: david, god, jesse, jesus, john, nicodemus, saul

Read John 7:32-53.

1. Jesus was often in danger of being arrested. Kind of different than the picture you have of a serene dude in a white robe sauntering about the Israel countryside.
2. Jesus talks about His departure earth and reconnection with God up in Heaven, but the Jews didn’t get it. They thought that it meant that Jesus might go to Greece. Hmm…some people say Greece looks like heaven.
3. Jesus restates the idea that all who are thirsty can come to Him. And, John explains that this means that they will be given the Holy Spirit– the Holy Spirit can satisfy.
4. Who do you think you would have thought Jesus was back then?
5. “Christ” means anointed. I missed that one on a quiz. Why couldn’t the anointed come from Galilee? Did they forget that Saul came from a small tribe? Did they forget that David was the runt of Jesse’s litter?
6. If only people knew that Jesus was born on a “night in Bethlehem”…
7. Why do you think the people were afraid to “lay hands” on Jesus?

8. The guards seemed scared to take Jesus in. He he he…
9. Typical “people in power” philosophy: the Pharisees know what’s really going on– how could a “mob” know anything?
10. Hey, it’s Nicodemus again. He wants everyone to hear Jesus out. (It worked for him.)
11. What’s the difference between Nicodemus and the rest of the Pharisees? What can we learn from him?


d208 Drawing a Crowd
November 29, 2007, 2:40 pm
Filed under: abraham, god, jesus, john, moses

Read John 7:1-31.

1. Already, the Jews are trying to kill Jesus. Wow.
2. It doesn’t seem as if Jesus really wants to be a “public figure” yet. Why do you think that is?
3. Isn’t it crazy that even His own brothers didn’t believe in Him?
4. Hmm…Jesus is obviously waiting on God’s timing. So, He avoids going to Judea during this Feast of the Tabernacles, a time when He could have a HUGE audience. He’s intentionally not making a big show.
5. But, Jesus sneaks over there anyway in secret; so He can hear the chatter about Him: anticipation, praise, and criticism. Why do you think Jesus “eavesdrops” on the Jewish people?
6. Can you imagine being such a polarizing figure that the very mention of your name could get people in trouble?

7. Apparently, halfway through the Feast was God’s timing. And He preached outside the temple courts. I bet that was packed. Yeah, I’d be a little confused at how a carpenter could have so much knowledge about God.
8. Jesus says nobody taught Him. His knowledge comes straight from God. Wow, if that were the same for all “preachers” we’d be a whole lot better off…
9. Then Jesus throws in the fact that none of them are even keeping up with the Law of Moses, so why are they all agitated about Jesus giving them something straight from God again.
10. You can always count on stupid answers from a crowd: “You are demon-possessed” and “Who is trying to kill you?”
11. Hmm…that’s interesting logic: the custom to cicumcise you child on the eighth day of their life comes from the time of Abraham. And, if the eighth day happens to fall on a Sunday, so be it. So…why are they getting mad that Jesus healed someone on the Sabbath? It’s as if Jesus is saying that, in order to obey God, He HAD to heal this man.

12. Then they ask if this is the Guy everyone’s trying to kill. OK…so which is it? Are they not trying to kill Him or they ARE trying to kill Him?
13. They say that Jesus can’t be the Christ because they know where He is “from.” Yeah, but they don’t know the full story…
14. Then Jesus says that they don’t know God because, if they did, they would know that God sent Him. Uh oh…
15. How did He get away?
16. Some people were won over because of the signs that Jesus did. I guess that’s ok, but wouldn’t you think that His words are what did it?

d207 How to “Deal With” Sin
November 28, 2007, 12:08 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, matthew, peter

Read Matthew 18:10-22.

1. The implication behind Jesus’ statement here is that “little ones” (or kids) have angels in heaven who can always see God. Guardian angels! Cool.
2. In the parable of the lost sheep, we see God’s heart towards the lost. If, by “little ones,” Jesus is talking about children (or maybe all people), we can see that God has the utmost concern for the most lost. And, man, when they are found, God rejoices. That’s cool. I want to have a heart like God’s heart. I know that I need to help all the “church kids” grow in their walks with God, but I also know that God’s heart is to reach those lost kids. So, where should my priorities lie? Where should I be?

3. Here’s an awesome model, a direct instruction, on what to do if someone wrongs you. Jesus doesn’t give us specifics a lot of the time; so, when He does it here, I think our ears should all perk up.
4. How many people actually go to the person who sins against them? That is so un-American. We love to gossip to our friends, avoid people, and allow that severed relationship to get worse and worse. Jesus says go to the person. If the person listens, awesome. I guarantee that a stronger relationship will come out of that. But…what if the person doesn’t listen? OK…first of all, we use that as an excuse to not follow Jesus’ command to go to the person. We can’t assume that they won’t. You know what you’re supposed to do first.
5. If the person doesn’t listen, bring witnesses. This is obviously not to escalate the matter and make it “the news of the day.” This is more for those people to be witnesses. Who knows…maybe they will recognize where you are at fault. And, if you’re truly trying to live for God, wouldn’t you want to know when you are not doing the right thing? Or, is being right more important to you than being righteous?
6. If that person still refuses to listen (with the witnesses), you are supposed to “tell it to the church.” This is an interesting statement. Does this mean that sinners should be pointed out between worship and announcements on Sunday morning? Or, could this mean something else? (Do you think that it might have something to do with the church leadership?)
7. Wow…and, after all that, if the person is still hell-bent on sin, you are supposed to treat the person as if they were a pagan or a tax collector. Hmm…ok. I know how I would treat those people. We’re supposed to think that they’re bad, right? But, isn’t this interesting that it’s recorded in the book of Matthew. Any guesses on what he was before he was a follower of Jesus? If you said “pagan” “tax collector” you are right. So…how did Jesus treat pagans and tax collectors? Is this about Jesus saying, “You’re too holy for that punk”; or is there something here about having compassion and changing your approach?
8. What’s up with the binding and the loosening? Is that kind of like a “what you reap is what you sow” comment?
9. Isn’t it interesting that this statement about two or three people asking for something is right after Jesus talks about how we should assemble two or three people together to keep someone from sinning?

10. Kind of makes you wonder who Peter was having to forgive. Also, yet again, isn’t it interesting that this story about forgiveness is placed right after Jesus’ instructions on how to deal with a sinner.
11. So…there you have it. Not seven times. But seventy-seven times. Hmm…so, if you have forgiven your dog for pooping on the carpet seventy-seven times, and it’s now time seventy-eight– you can kill you dog. Or…am I missing something here? Did Jesus mean something different?

d206 More Cutting than “The Saw”
November 27, 2007, 4:59 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, john, mark

Read Mark 9:38-50.

1. Why the concern over other people using Jesus’ name to cast out demons? Do you think the disciples thought they were special for being Jesus’ “elite” group?
2. Jesus says that people who perform miracles in His name won’t be able to “speak evil of [Him]” soon. Why?
3. Christian waterboys will be rewarded.

4. Definitely still thinking about the millstone statement from yesterday. You won’t see me confusing little kids.
5. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. Wow. Do we think that Jesus is being literal here? I can think of many innappropriate things that guys (and girls) do with their hands to cause themselves to sin.
6. Since we know that Jesus ends up dying for our sins, do we ever really break a sweat when thinking about the “unquenchable fires of hell”?
7. Same for feet. Hmm…how could you foot cause you to sin?
8. OK…now the eye thing is a HUGE deal. Most guys would have a huge struggle with this. So…should we all be plucking our eyes out like grapes?
9. [Incidentally, I am half-blind; but my good eye still causes me to sin.]
10. Worms never die in hell. What’s what about?
11. I don’t know if this whole “purification by fire” thing is a good thing.
12. Salt again. Hmm…why does Jesus use this idea of salt again?

d205 Hanging Yourself with a Golden Compass?
November 26, 2007, 3:45 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, matthew, peter

Read Matthew 17:24 – 18:6.

1. The temple tax guy is hitting up Peter for temple tax money. Hmm… I’m assuming that the temple tax wasn’t a bad thing. I mean, it made it possible for them to have the money to run the temple. It’s nice of the Romans to let the Israelites continue to practice their religion. I guess each Jew had to pay for the temple, though, as a way to fund it. Kind of like when a city agrees for a tax increase to fund a new sports stadium.
2. Then Jesus gives Peter this weird response. He poses a question. OK…apparently, in this culture, a king would not tax his own people. OK…got that. They would tax the foreign people they had conquered. OK…got that. So…who is the “king” of the temple? God…right? And who are Jesus and the disciples? “His” own people, right? And who are all the people who have to pay who don’t know anything about the real God? The “foreigners,” right? So…Jesus is saying that He doesn’t have to pay. Interesting.
3. But, Jesus says to pay anyway, so as not to offend them. Hmm…what application would this kind of thinking have for us? Would Jesus prefer for me to say “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas” because it is less offensive?
4. Dude, Jesus’ way of getting a coin is elaborate. Why get it from a fish’s mouth?

5. I thought the disciples were done talking about who is the greatest! OK…Jesus must have said more when He pulled that little kid towards Him. Matthew emphasized that it’s not just about welcoming kids–it’s about coming to God with the faith of a kid. Faith like a child. What does that look like?
6. Also, we get another important thing from Jesus from Matthew’s perspective: He also warns us not to cause little children who trust in Him to lose faith. Wow. I’m not trying to be controversial here, but that really raises the bar (to me) for all the teachers who “shoot down” Christianity in their classrooms. This is also a dire warning for anyone who creates things for children that cause them to lose their faith (hmm…can anyone say Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy???) Hmm…but it’s not just our words that can cause kids to lose faith. What about our actions?
7. Anyway, stick a millstone around a dude’s neck and toss him in the Hudson Riva. Sounds very mafia. Very effective.

d204 I Thought Muhammad Ali Was the Greatest
November 25, 2007, 11:54 am
Filed under: god, jesus, john, judas, luke

Read Luke 9:38-50.

1. I have some doctor friends who would probably read this passage and say, “Of course, the disciples can’t cure it– the kid is obviously having epileptic seizures.” Hmm… Then again, Luke was a doctor too…
2. If this was a spiritual war against an evil spirit, why couldn’t the disciples cast it out?
3. At first glance, Jesus appears irritated, using words like “stubborn,” “faithless,” and “put up with.” What do you think Jesus means when He says these things?
4. Jesus knocked out that demon (or epilepsy). Either way, it’s pretty amazing, right?

5. Hmm…and, out of nowhere, Jesus says He’s going to be betrayed. Do you think that Judas knew what He meant?

6. Typical guy conversation: who’s the best? Hey, at least you know these guys were real guys.
7. Jesus gets a child and explains that welcoming children on behalf of Him welcomes God. So…if you were throwing a dinner party for God, I think you’d know who was the greatest there. And I think you’d know how to treat the Guest. So…Jesus says that it’s like that when we take in children. Definitely flipping the script.
8. Do we go out of our way and fawn over other people like we would if our hero was coming over for dinner? Who would be considered the “least” in our society?

9. He he he…John thinks that God only works through his “church.” Boy, that’s something Christians still struggle with today.
10. What do you think of the “if they are not against you, they are for you” statement?

d203 Get Behind Me, Satan!
November 17, 2007, 2:41 pm
Filed under: elijah, god, jesus, john, mark, peter, satan

Read Mark 8:22 – 9:1.

1. It’s hard not to grow “accustomed” to all of Jesus’ healing miracles. They all seem so similar. But it’s crazy because each was a life that was touched by Christ. Wow.
2. Imagine being that guy, praying for a miracle when “phew.” That’s my onomatopoetic spit word. Anyway, imagine Jesus spitting directly into this guy’s eyes. Do you realize that Jesus has about seven different ways to heal blindness?
3. The spit made people look like trees walking around. Maybe Jesus spit in my right eye…
4. This time Jesus puts the hands in there to rub the spit. That does the trick. And then He tells the guy to go home and not even return to the village. Again, the secrecy…

5. Could you imagine Jesus asking this question to you, after all the things that have taken place? Who do you say that He is?
6. Safely, in perfect teenage Bible-study form, instead of saying what THEY believe, they safely say what PEOPLE believe. Why is it so hard to be honest about what we really believe?
7. John the Baptist. Hmm…those people must not have seen the two talking together in that river.
8. Elijah again. Yeah, I guess because of the miracles and the fact that Elijah never died, he warped up into heaven in a chariot of fire.
9. I love me some Peter. He steps up. He answers. He risks being “wrong.” He goes. He says, “You are the Messiah.” No gold stars in this story…just a warning to keep in on the down low…

10. Imagine Jesus teaching these things. It’s one thing to talk about being nice and performing miracles. I bet the disciples loved that. But, what do you do when your leader (your Messiah!) starts talking about things getting really bad, so bad in fact, that He’ll die. And then He’ll rise from the dead. This would be information overload.
11. I love me some Peter, even though he’s way out of line in this story. He probably thinks that he’s doing Jesus a favor by pulling Him aside and telling Him that it’s wrong to say that these things are going to happen. And what does he get for this?
12. He gets called “Satan.” Point blank. At least this was off to the side. Why do you think that Jesus calls Peter “Satan.” Here’s a hint. His name does mean “adversary.” Is Peter being adverse to something important in God’s will here?
13. Then Jesus tells people that they have to “take up their cross.” They didn’t have cute little wooden crosses to wear around your neck back in the day. This is something else. This is “carry your Roman execution device.” This is “walk around with an electric chair.” This is serious stuff. I mean, we pick on those cults who all drank the poisoned Kool-Aid to follow their leader, but doesn’t it almost sound like Jesus is saying that His followers should commit some sort of “suicide” for Him?
14. “What good is it to gain the whole world but forfeit your soul?” OK…we’re talking about soul death and soul life. This isn’t literal suicide, but there is definitely an element of putting to death all things that would prevent you from being able to connect with God and have eternal life. Here’s a cool quote from Jim Elliot (one of my heroes, a guy who died in South America trying to reach the Auca Indian tribe): “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
15. Not to be funny here, but someone did try to sell their soul on eBay…and it was for a lot of money. But, of course, he didn’t really sell his soul. And, your soul isn’t really “tradeable.”
16. Wow…for Jesus to be ashamed of me. That would be the worst feeling.
17. Is Jesus saying that some of the people would not die until Jesus returned, or does the “kingdom of God [coming] with power” mean something else?