ripple effect: vacaville

d243 Courtroom Drama
January 24, 2008, 10:41 am
Filed under: god, isaiah, jesus, john

Read John 12:37-50.

1. How could you doubt these miracles?
2. Isaiah said that they would basically have hard hearts and not be able to understand that this was “the arm of the Lord”…
3. So…is God the one who “blinded” and “deadened” the eyes and hearts of the Jewish people? If so, why would He do that? All I see is God’s heart in that prophecy: He says that if they turned, He would “heal them.” So…
4. That’s crazy to know that Isaiah saw Jesus’ glory…I mean, he did. Read Isaiah 6.
5. So…there were leaders who did believe in Jesus, but they were afraid to tell anyone because they didn’t want to lose their sweet jobs. Not cool. Not cool.
6. Are we silent about our faith at times because of fear of what it might cost us?
7. Jesus is saying that believing in Him is synonymous with believing in God. Is believing in God the same thing as believing in Jesus? What’s the difference?
8. I don’t want to stay in darkness.
9. How about the fact that even Jesus will not judge the person who hears His words and ignores them? Jesus isn’t the judge. He’s the savior. More like the defense attorney. Or maybe, He’ll just become the defendant in our place…
10. God, the Father is the Judge. So, don’t got thinking that God is a pushover…
11. Sometimes we think of God as a cruel judge, but we have to understand that his Judge is sending His Son to take the stand for us. To follow the court room analogy, that means that we have a judge who believes highly in the law and the justice system, but he also loves people. How do you satisfy the law by loving people? I think we’re about to find out. Because, unlike “real life,” a slap of the wrist and a “I can tell you’re sorry” is not enough. That doesn’t satisfy the law. So…how is it done?


d241 Rolling Out the Green Carpet
January 22, 2008, 6:29 pm
Filed under: david, god, isaiah, jeremiah, jesus, matthew, zechariah

Read Matthew 21:1-17.

1. Sounds like Jesus is sending two disciples on a mission to steal some donkeys. I know that’s not what it is, but it’s kind of funny…
2. Do you think that the disciples would be nervous to go and do this strange task? Apparently, there’s someone on the other side who God is going to speak to, telling him to let these guys take the donkey and its colt.
3. That prophecy is from Zechariah. All these things were foretold…
4. Why a donkey?
5. Notice that the two disciples made their coats Jesus’ saddle. The crowd followed suit and laid their cloaks on the ground, for Jesus to trample over with a donkey. Now that’s reverence!
6. Other people made a “green carpet” for Jesus. Others yelled “Hosanna,” which is a shout of praise meaning “save.” They’ll get what they’re asking for…
7. I bet people were wondering who He was. He was entering with a rock star welcome. He was this country novelty, but He’s about to bring His show to the big time– Jerusalem.

8. Why do you think Jesus was so concerned with people buying and selling in the temple? What was the temple supposed to be for?
9. Would you consider Jesus to be “out of control” in this passage? Why or why not? Is this a license for us to go nuts on people?
10. Now He quotes Isaiah, saying that His house is supposed to be a house of prayer, not a tourist trap. I wonder what He’d think about La Basilica di San Pietro in the Vatican. The den of robbers quote comes from Jeremiah. He’s dropping a lot of old testament prophet on these guys…
11. Jesus healed the blind and the lame there. Awesome. Why do you you think the priests and the teachers of the law were so angry?
12. Jesus quotes David, by telling the religious leaders that these “children” know about worship than they do. Man, sometimes that’s the case in today’s church.

Does anything about Jesus’ behavior in this passage trouble you?

d201 Can I Get a Doggie Bag?
November 15, 2007, 3:30 pm
Filed under: god, isaiah, jesus, mark

Read Mark 7:1-37.

1. I bet this Pharisees and teachers of the law were a big deal because they were from Jerusalem.
2. Apparently, those Pharisees were dead set on being clean.
3. Is “the tradition of the elders” the same thing as following God’s laws? That definitely comes up a lot in church settings. I have a hard time caring too much about what is a Presbyterian “tradition” as opposed to what the Bible teaches. Most of the time, I don’t think they directly oppose one another; but, if push came to shove, I know where my allegiance lies.
4. Then Jesus pulls out another quote from Isaiah, about how the people follow human rules over obeying God. I think we’re sometimes guilty of this. Can you come up with any great church examples?
5. OK…I’m trying to figure out this Corban thing. Apparently, people would set aside resources that could have helped their father and mother to God when they could have used them to help their mother and father. Hmm… So, God is saying that that would defeat the purpose because the person best “honors” their mother and father by looking after their needs.
6. What goes in (like food) can’t make you unclean– it’s what comes out! The Pharisees had set up all kinds of external rules to preserve “cleanliness” when they weren’t doing good (the true sign of being “clean”). They were, for lack of better term, too “religious.”
7. Hooray for all foods being clean! Why did that “change” from the Old Testament, where certain things (like pig, shrimp, and rabbit) were unclean?
8. Our heart produces the uncleanliness, not food. Check out the list of junk that comes out of a wicked heart…
9. What is the root cause of sexual immorality? Theft? Murder? Adultery? Greed? Malice? Deceit? Lewdness? Envy? Slander? Arrogance? Folly?

10. I’d imagine it would be hard for Jesus to go around in secret. He was like the Beatles.
11. So…a foreign woman brought her daughter to Jesus. She believed he could cast out the evil spirit. That would be faith to me…
12. Jesus has a strange response. He says that the Jews should get what Jesus has to offer first. And it kind of seems like He’s calling the foreign woman a “dog” for not being an Israelite. Jesus is good…so…what’s He doing here?
13. Humbly, the woman says that even dogs get scraps from the table. Hmm…this all seems kind of weird to me.
14. Jesus apparently appreciated her faith and her diligence. Her daughter was healed. So…as mostly non-Israelites here (I mean, I’m not Jewish), what do we have to learn about how Jesus interacts with this woman?

15. Again, foreigners want Jesus to heal somebody. I think it would take more faith for these people to believe in a “foreign” God.
16. Interesting that Jesus pulls the guy away from the crowd and then sticks His fingers in his ears. Weird. Then He spit and touched the guy’s tounge. You know, we know that Jesus can do things through a command; so why does He do it in such a magic-like way here?
17. Again, Jesus is trying to “cover up” His miracles. Why?

d200 Communion or Cannibalism?
November 14, 2007, 11:30 am
Filed under: god, isaiah, jesus, john, joseph, peter

Read John 6:41-71.

1. Oh…the grumblers. They just could believe that Jesus was the “bread that came down from heaven.” They were stuck on the fact that they knew Him as Joseph, the carpenter’s son. In their defense, they would “know” that He didn’t come down from heaven. They would know that He was a baby in Nazareth, raised in Nazareth, grew up in Nazareth. They would be wondering, “Um, so when did He ‘come down’ from heaven?” Of course, we know that it was at conception.
2. Isaiah says “they will all be taught by God.” Well, it’s happening now.
3. Jesus is truly the only one who has ever seen the Father, in all His glory. Yeah, other people have seen other aspects; but only Jesus has seen God in all His essence.
4. Nice simple verse: “Whoever believes has eternal life.”
5. Here we go again, talking about the bread. It is true, the people who ate manna eventually died. But, this bread (this Truth from Jesus) will allow us to never die! We are a culture that is afraid to die. How can we tell? Men color their grey hair. Woman get plastic surgery to keep them looking young. No one wants to age. No one wants to admit their mortality. And, here, Jesus is saying that we can “never die.” If we weren’t afraid of dying, how would that change how we lived our lives?
6. OK…flip the script. I was thinking that the bread was God’s truth. Maybe you were too. And then Jesus says, “Oh no, it’s not just this truth– the bread is MY FLESH.” Whoah…this is alluding to the fact that Jesus allowing Himself to die is what really brings us this everlasting life. At the time, though, you have to wonder what His spectators were thinking.
7. Is anyone else thinking about Willy Wonka, when he says that everything in the room is edible, including us, but that would make us cannibals?
8. “Eat flesh” and “drink blood.” It sounds like a werewolf and vampire movie. Of course, we understand that this is not literal. But, by taking part in the death of Jesus’ flesh on the cross and becoming one with the lifeblood that He shed on the cross, we can have this life. (But, from an outside looking in, I bet this was some freaky stuff– not to mention how weirded out the disciples must have been.)
9. The whole idea of eating flesh and drinking blood is “communion,” forming a common union (a link, a connection) between ourselves and Jesus. (Kind of reminds me of the blood link between Lord Voldemort and Harry in the Harry Potter novels.)
10. Can of worms alert: some churches believe that, when a person takes communion, the bread and wine transform into Jesus’ actual body and blood upon eating. What do you think about that?
11. Jesus is saying that, as close as He is to God, that’s how close we can be to Him if we participate in this “communion” with His death and His resurrection.
12. That’s some kind of “manna”…

13. Hey, I think I would be in the crowd who said that it was a hard teaching.
14. Jesus is alluding to the fact that His death would be “offensive” (especially if He’s the Son of God), but that would definitely be more than balanced out if Jesus returned to “where He was before.” And, it is true. Without the resurrection, Jesus’ death on the cross is nothing more than the morbid “death of God.”
15. Jesus says that He’s talking about spiritual things…not physical things. I wonder how hard it must have been for the disciples to stay “tracking” with all of the different types of language Jesus used…
16. There is this little part where it says that Jesus knew who would betray Him. Imagine that– imagine sharing meals with someone who you knew would eventually turn their back on you.
17. Why do you think many of the disciples quit after all of this?
18. All I’ve got to say about what Peter says is, “Good answer.”
19. What would you be thinking if Jesus said that one of your eleven buddies was the devil. Do you think Judas knew? Do you think any one suspected? Do you think some people, because of the sin in their lives, thought that they were the devil when it really wasn’t them? When we see all that Jesus will do for Judas, remember that Jesus KNEW.

d190 Seed Stories
November 4, 2007, 12:13 pm
Filed under: god, isaiah, jesus, mark, satan

Read Mark 4:1-29.

He he he…in college, I wrote a twelve-page paper on this parable for my Intro to the New Testament class. I’ll talk less about it today…

1. Jesus was always preaching by lakes, and He always seemed to be hopping in boats for space.
2. OK, so a farmer goes to plant seeds and he drops a lot on different types of ground with different effects: on the path (birds ate it), on rocky places (sprang up quickly and withered because it didn’t have roots), among thorns (choked the plant so it couldn’t produce grain), and on good soil (produced a crop that multiplied). Nice story.
3. I have ears.
4. So…Jesus seemed to tell these stories without explanation. It’s implied that he never really told the lake crowd what it meant. He left a lot up to interpretation!
5. Yeah, if I was a disciple, I’d be wondering what it meant too. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus tells them the “secrets,” but He doesn’t tell the others?
6. The Isaiah quote seems odd to me. I mean, wouldn’t you want them to perceive and understand? Wouldn’t Jesus explaining the parable while at the lake help people to turn and be forgiven?
7. Apparently this parable is one of the easier ones to understand, according to Jesus; and the disciples still don’t get it. Uh oh…
8. The farmer is someone who plants the “word” of God. Got it…
9. The seed on the path is like people who hear the Word of God but Satan swoops in and takes it away from them. Wow…how do you think that happens?
10. I can understand the seed on rocky places. It reminds me of retreats, mission trips, and good worship service responses. People get stoked, but then they lose their joy because they don’t think it’s important to have roots (accountability, a prayer life, regular time in the Bible). Yeah, the first time life throws them a curveball, they’re out because they aren’t “feeling it” anymore.
11. Another common one is when the seed hits the thorns. Life’s worries, wealth, and desires choke the growth of this person. That’s a pretty exhaustive list. Worry doesn’t seem like a sin, but it can hold you back. Wealth seems pretty ok (Joel Olsteen…cough, cough), but it can definitely prevent growth. And desires feel right (follow your heart?), but they can keep you from reaching your potential. In the end, a person that becomes consumed by one or any combination of these things doesn’t produce fruit because they are occupied on other stuff.
12. I like the good soil seeds. They produce. I guess it’s just because it is ready to receive it. They multiply. Good stuff.

13. I don’t put a lamp under a bowl! That’s silly, Jesus. Also, I don’t put it under my bed because that would light me on fire during the middle of the night.
14. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…on a stand!
15. Now, what does Jesus mean by this light?
16. I have ears.
17. “The measure you use” what?

18. Another seed parable. In this one, though, I think it’s about the fact that, yes, we do have a role in His kingdom; but, at the same time, God’s work “sprouts” and “grows” without us knowing how. It’s about God’s power.

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?

d166 When I Dip, You Dip, We Dip
October 4, 2007, 5:19 pm
Filed under: god, isaiah, jesus, john, mark, satan

Read Mark 1:1-13.

1. Mark wasts no time calling Jesus the Son of God. Good. We’re all caught up.
2. Mark alludes to the prophecy of Isaiah about a forerunner to Jesus…a person who will bring the message of preparing the way of the Lord. Wouldn’t it be cool to look back at the life of Jesus and to realize how many of those old prophets’ words made more sense?
3. John the Baptist. OK…his main act: proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Why get baptized? To repent. What is repentance? Turning away from sin. And this would lead to forgiveness for these people because they would have turned away from their sin…or maybe they would be more ready to receive Jesus’ message (which would lead to THE forgiveness from sins).
4. That had to have been amazing. So many people confessing their sins and turning away. Wow.
5. John was extreme. Sounds like one of those Berkeley tree-huggers. He he he…
6. John was humble about his role…he knew that he was nothing compared to Jesus…
7. Baptism with water. OK…so, what are we seeing as its purpose? I’m seeing a sign of turning away from sin and being made clean. Oooh…baptism of the Holy Spirit…that sounds like that’s going to be cool… Why do you think people argue so much about what baptism means and how to do it “properly”?
8. Why do you think Jesus was baptized? I mean, didn’t he have no sins to turn from?
9. The heavens opening, the Holy Spirit descending like a dove, and a voice from heaven. Whoah! Trinity alert: Father talking, Son getting baptized, Spirit coming down.
10. Do you think something different happened to Jesus after the Holy Spirit descended on Him, like maybe this was when He was made “ready” to preach?
11. The Holy Spirit took Jesus out into the wilderness…do you think He was led out there to specifically be tempted by Satan? (40 days = a period of testing in Hebrew tradition)
12. The angels took care of Him out there. I wonder if they did that frequently while He was growing up…