ripple effect: vacaville

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?


d197 Hell Hath No Fury…
November 11, 2007, 3:05 pm
Filed under: elijah, god, herod, herodias, jesus, john, mark, philip

Read Mark 6:14-29.

1. Jesus was generating a lot of buzz, and Herod started hearing about Him. Some people were saying that John the Baptist had been raised from the dead and it was a zombie-like, John that was performing all these miracles.
2. Other people apparently thought Jesus had the miracle performing abilities of Elijah or some other prophet. Apparently there was a lot of speculation as to who Jesus was (because they couldn’t accept that He was God’s Son?).
3. Herod tells everyone, “No, it can’t be John the Baptist. I cut his head off.” Alas, it is unfortunately true. Herod had him arrested because John was preaching against the fact that he had married his brother Philip’s wife, Herodias. That would be kind of bad to take your sister’s wife. I’m assuming that he was still alive…
4. Herod didn’t want to kill John, though, because he liked to listen to what he had to say (apparently, there was something about what he was saying).
5. I wonder what kind of dancing Herodias’ daughter did.
6. Herod might have been a little tipsy to make a promise like that to her…
7. Herodias knew what she wanted– John the Baptist’s head. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
8. On a platter. Wow. That’s sick.
9. Herod had been backed into a corner because he had made that grand promise to Herodias’ daughter (his neice?). So…he had to let it happen.
10. I wonder if the music stopped when the head came in on a platter. That is insane.
11. It does say that John the Baptist’s followers buried his body, but I don’t think they ever got to bury his head. Man…

d186 Real Authority
October 31, 2007, 10:41 am
Filed under: abraham, elijah, elisha, god, jesus, luke, naomi, ruth

Read Luke 7:1-17.

1. OK…things I’m noticing from this story. One, we are talking about a powerful guy’s servant who’s sick here. Not a family member. Also, it just says that he “valued” him. That could mean he either had compassion or needed someone to get the job done. And then, you’ve got the fact that this guy doesn’t go to Jesus himself. He sends important Jewish elders along. And, the elders (who you’d think would be thinking spiritually) say that Jesus should help him because he loves the nation (good) and built the synagogue (um…so, he is valuable to them?). To me, unless I’m reading this with a suspicious eye, I haven’t really seen a huge amount of faith or spirituality yet…
2. Wow…and then everything changes in the second paragraph. He sends out friends to stop Jesus from coming. He felt unworthy to see Jesus or even have Him under his roof. Whoah. I think I’m beginning to understand this guy. He’s a Roman leader in a Jewish nation. And he’s seeing God in their synagogue, and he’s seeing God in this Jesus. But, he feels unworthy, as a Gentile, to have Jesus near him. His only hope is for a long-distance relationship because of who he is. (I love that Jesus doesn’t think like that…)
3. How about this dude’s faith! He just asks (through his friends) to have Jesus “say the word.” He believes that when someone is in authority that a command is carried out. So…he believes that Jesus is in command over life and death, so why wouldn’t they do what He told them to do?
4. For Jesus to say this about a Gentile was an act of grace. It was faith that mattered to Jesus, not lineage to Abraham. So…this guy simply took Jesus at His word. I think we still squirm at Jesus’ teachings and promises. So…it’s refreshing to see someone who didn’t have childlike faith, but more like military certainty-like faith.

5. A widow (no husband) losing her only son (no heirs, no providers) would be up a creek without a paddle in this culture. (Kind of like Naomi in the book of Ruth and the widow that Elijah stayed with.) In the two previous cases, we know that God has compassion towards widows…
6. Jesus’ heart went out to this lady, while she was in the funeral procession. He tells her not to cry… What do you think her response was at that moment?
7. I love Jesus style here. Almost to reinforce what the centurion had said, he commands the boy to get up. He does! And he talks. I wonder what he says!
8. Prophets could do what Jesus just did (see Elijah and Elisha…of course, that was only with the power of God). So…it comes as no surprise that the people simply think that Jesus is a prophet. Oh…but He’s so much more…

d174 This Is Where I Grew Up
October 12, 2007, 11:46 am
Filed under: elijah, elisha, god, isaiah, jesus, joseph, luke

Read Luke 4:16-30.

1. Imagine all the hype surrounding what Jesus has already done. And now He’s going to come home to where He grew up…this ought to be interesting.
2. I don’t know much about the customs surrounding this, but it seems like it was normal for Jesus to read the scrolls in the synagogue. Or is just me?
3. OK…so we didn’t spend a ton of time in the book of Isaiah; but this passage is from that book. And, in the passage, Isaiah seems to be describing himself, talking about how he’s filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaiming good news, liberty, and the year of the Lord’s favor. I think that’s probably how everyone always read that passage.
4. There is no “sermon.” Jesus just rolls up the scroll and sits down. Imagine that. Someone just got up, read a passage, closed his Bible, and sat down. Some teenagers would cheer! He he he…
5. And then Jesus says that the passage has been “fulfilled” today, in their hearing. Imagine the confusion. Some people probably thought that He was simply saying that He was a prophet, like Isaiah. Some people were probably thinking that He was saying that He is bringing good news and setting people free. Some people might be thinking that THIS is the year of the Lord’s favor. And some people were probably looking for some rocks.
6. I bet people were wondering how a carpenter’s kid could say such a thing. I would be.
7. Jesus says that they would tell Him, “Physician, heal yourself.” Hmm…what do you think that means? Do you think it means that they’re saying, “Hey, if you could heal all those people on Capernaum; why don’t you show some love to Your own people?”
8. Jesus says that He, a prophet, is not acceptable in His hometown. Why do you think this is the case?
9. Then He goes on to talk about Elijah. Remember, he was around during a great famine in Israel; and, instead of staying with a widow in Israel, he was sent to a woman in a foreign place. He also talks about Elisha. There were a lot of lepers around at the time in Israel, but he was sent to Naaman, who was a foreign guy. Yeah…ok…I get that…so is Jesus saying that He’s not been “called” to the people of Nazareth; or, like the widows and lepers in the Old Testament, maybe they aren’t going to be as receptive of His message as “foreigners”? Hmm…
10. I guess my question is this, because, why would the whole synagogue get so ticked off at Him?
11. They “escorted” Jesus to a cliff, so they could toss Jesus off! Whoah! I’d say they were mad. Somehow, though, Jesus got away. Did He teleport?

d167 That Guy
October 5, 2007, 5:34 pm
Filed under: elijah, god, jesus, john

Read John 1:19-34.

1. Hey…I can’t blame the Jews for sending Levites and priests. When you’ve got a religious situation on your hands, you call in the “clergy.” And the priests and Levites are trying to make sense of John.
2. John didn’t have dilusions of grandeur. He didn’t think he was the salvation of the Jews.
3. Why would they have thought he was Elijah? Do you think the Jewish people were waiting for him to come back since he technically never died?
4. So John didn’t say that he was a prophet. Why? I mean, aren’t his messages from God? Or would it be too simplistic to say that he is JUST a prophet?
5. John drops the Isaiah prophecy on them. He says, “I’m that guy.” Would you think this would be more offensive than if he chose option A or option B?
6. I’ll have to do some Pharisee research, but I’m pretty sure that I can say that these were alright people who just reacted to Jesus in the wrong way. I’ll research some more, though.
7. We know why he’s baptizing. Because he can. Not to rock any boats, but can’t anybody do that? Or do you have to be “ordained” to baptize people? Ironically, I have baptized four people in my life; but now I’m a part of a denomination that doesn’t let me because I am not “ordained.” Hmm…what should be the qualifications to baptize someone?
8. He says the water baptism is no biggie compared to the fact that there is a Hero among them.
9. That is no small thing for John to say about Jesus: “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” This would be a reference to the old sacrifices that people used to make to “pay” for their sins. Jesus is going to accomplish that for everyone. Of course, at the time, that means that John has an inside track on what Jesus is going to do and be for us.
10. John was born first, but Jesus was definitely “before” John.
11. So…when the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus, that’s when John the Baptist knew that He was the One. John was just following instructions. But now he knows that Jesus is the Son of God. (Do you think John knew Jesus as his cousin prior to this?)

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?

d116 Make Way for the Seven-Year-Old King!

Read 2 Kings 11:1-21.

[We’re skipping a lot…

* When all the prophets are trying to cut wood to build a place, one drops his borrowed axe into the Jordan River. Elisha tosses a stick into the water that makes the iron axe float!

* Every time Joram, the king of Israel went out to ambush the Israelites, Elisha would tell Joram the game plan (even though he was miles away from the king of Syria). The king of Syria sent out guys to take him out. When the Syrians surrounded the city, Elisha’s servant wigged out. Then Elisha allowed his servant to see what he saw: an army of fiery horses and chariots of God. Then Elisha struck the army blind and led them into Samaria to the king of Israel. Elisha instructed the king to feed them and send them home. He did, and the Syrians didn’t raid Israel anymore.

* But…Ben-hadad, king of Syria, decided to beseige Samaria. The Israelites were so bad-off that they were eating their babies to stay alive. Because of this calamity, Joram wanted Elisha to pay with his head. The Joram’s guard goes to seize him, but Elisha promises that there will be plenty of food tomorrow. The next day, a couple of lepers decide that they would rather take their chances with going to the Syrian army for mercy than die outside the city of Samaria. So, they go and realize that the former Syrian camp is a ghost town. God had caused them to hear a huge army around them, and they fled, petrified. The lepers raided booty for awhile, but they eventually told Joram. Everyone ended up getting plenty of food. Also, the guy who came to “arrest” Elisha was killed according to a prohesy that Elisha had made.

* The Shunammite woman (who had her kid brought back to life by Elisha) left Israel during the famine because Elisha had warned her. When she came back, she got all her land back because Joram was fascinated with Elisha’s “power” over life and death.

* Ben-hadad was sick, so he sent his servant Hazael to find out what his future held. Elisha told Hazael that Ben-hadad would recover from the sickness, but then he would die. He stared down Hazael and began to weep. Hazael asked why, and Elisha said that it was because of the future pain that Hazael would wreak on Israel as the new king of Syria. When Hazael returned, he told Ben-hadad that everything was going to be ok. The next day he choked him to death.

* Then we learn about the new king of Judah: Jehoram. He was king for 8 years. He married Ahab’s daughter, so he was a low-down rotten king too. God spared him, though, to honor the promise he had made to David. His claim to fame was that he couldn’t defeat the Edomites, so they were no longer under the rule of Judah. He died, and his son, Ahaziah became king of Judah.

* Ahaziah only reigned one year. He was also inter-married with the house of Ahab, so he was a bad dude. He and his buddy, Joram (king of Israel) went out to fight Hazael, king of Syria. Joram got hurt, so Ahaziah went to visit him.

* Elisha ends up telling one of his assistant prophets to annoint Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat (if I’m keeping track, that would be Ahaziah’s uncle?) to be king of Israel. The prophet went and told Jehu that he was to kill off all of Ahab’s descendents from Israel to serve as punishment for the way that Ahab and Jezebel treated God’s prophets. After this meeting, Jehu was proclaimed king.

* So Jehu was on a collision-course to find Joram (non-anointed king of Israel) and Ahaziah (the bad king of Judah). Joram saw Jehu coming, and he sent out messengers to see if he came in peace; but it appears that the messengers joined Jehu’s forces. The two kings came out to meet Jehu, and Jehu basically let Joram have it about the “whorings” of Baal-worship. Joram tried to leave, but Jehu shot him in the heart with an arrow. He just so happened to kill him on the land of Naboth (the guy that Jezebel had killed so Ahab could have his vineyard). This fulfilled a prophecy of Elijah. Jehu also ended up killing Ahaziah with an arrow. So…if you’re tracking, all the descendents of Ahab are dead and there is a leadership void in Judah now. Whew…

* Then Jehu had his sights set on Jezebel (yeah, she was still alive as the “queen mother” of Israel). Jehu shouted up to a tower, “Who’s on my side?” And three of Jezebel’s servants shucked her out the window, her blood splattering everywhere. Jehu went inside and told the servants to bury her, but the dogs had already eaten her up (according to the word of Elijah).

* Jehu had all of Ahab’s seventy sons killed and had their heads delivered in baskets to him in Jezreel. Jehu then killed all of Ahab’s loyal followers. Jehu was traveling back home when he came upon a random group of people. Turns out they were relatives of Ahaziah (aka…relatives of Ahab), so Jehu had them all killed. Jehu takes a guy named Jehonadab into his chariot. And he shows him his zeal for God by killing all the descendents of Ahab in Samaria.

* I love this. Then Jehu and Jehonadab call a huge assembly to let (wink, wink) all of Israel know that Jehu is going to serve Baal like no other. So…when all the Baal prophets show up, he sets up his army outside the temple and has them ALL killed. Awesome. Then he burns the pillar of Baal.

* It says that Jehu did well, but there were places he didn’t deal with. He left the golden calves of Jeroboam out, for one. It says that, during that time, Syria really was doing a number on Israel, by splitting the territory. Anyway, then Jehu dies; and his son Jehoahaz reigned in his place.]


1. Did you know that Judah had a queen? Hmm…well, when Athaliah killed all the boys off, that’s what happened.
2. Cool that Jehosheba hides the last heir, Joash. This also means that God is being faithful to the promise of having an heir of David all the time.
3. A priest named Jehoiada charges the guards to protect little king Joash. This kid had to be pretty young. But then they anoint him as king.
4. Imagine how Athaliah felt when she heard that! She yells out treason? Um…isn’t she the one who killed off all the candidates to be king of Judah?
5. Then Jehoiada makes a covenant for the people of Judah to be God’s people. Wow…it’s been awhile since we’ve heard that. I like that they are cleaning house.
6. Little Joash is going to grow up in an environment free from Baal-worship and with a priest as a mentor. Let’s see how he does.