ripple effect: vacaville

d210 Caught in the Act
December 1, 2007, 3:05 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, john, joseph, leviticus, moses

Read John 8:1-20.

1. I bet the very fact that Jesus was teaching people was making the other teachers pretty mad (jealous?).
2. How do you catch a woman in the act of adultery without catching the man too? Do you think this was a set-up?
3. OK, so the stoning of an adulterer (man and woman) is found in Leviticus 20:10. So…how is this situation different from the Law that God laid down to Moses back in the day? A skeptic would say that Jesus has “changed God’s mind” on the subject. Or…is there something that we are missing here?
4. (Maybe the thing that we’re missing is that the whole thing is a set-up.)
5. Just for argument’s sake, how would the world be different if we actually did stone adulterers?
6. What do you think Jesus was writing in the ground?
7. Who would claim to be free from sin? If this is the case, should people never kill anyone for any reason because we are all inherently sinful?
8. Notice that the old people knew how sinful they were before the younger, proud guys.
9. How would you feel if all your accusers had left, and it was just you and Jesus? Would you be relieved or more scared?
10. Jesus seems to be less concerned with her “punishment” and more concerned with her experiencing real life– life without sin. Do you think that this is always the case when it comes to Christ? Could this be taken advantage of?

11. Jesus is Light. Without light it’s hard to see in darkness. Got it. Jesus is our guide.
12. Apparently, Jesus was committing a cultural faux pas by not having a witness to testify to His validity. Hmm… Who really could besides God Himself?
13. Jesus says that He doesn’t pass judgment on anyone (from what I can gather, that will be the Father’s right at the end of our lives). He kind of just proved that with the woman caught in the act.
14. Jesus says that His judgments are right because His father is His witness. Yeah, I’d say He’s credible.
15. Of course, they are asking about Jesus’ earthly father. Do you think that Joseph ever caught flak for Jesus always referring to His “Father”?


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.

d195 Light Packers
November 9, 2007, 3:05 pm
Filed under: god, james, jesus, joseph, judas, mark, mary, simon

Read Mark 6:1-13.

1. Imagine Jesus returning home after all the things that He had done “on the road.” I bet there was some hype surrounding Him as He rolled up into Nazareth.
2. I’d be amazed if I heard Jesus teaching in the synagogue too. I wonder if He was allowed or if He jiust started teaching…
3. Of course, I’d have a hard time wrapping my head around how DIFFERENT everything Jesus was saying. Um, this was Joseph’s Son, right? Do you think Mary and Joseph advertised who Jesus was when He was growing up?
4. Apparently, Jesus wasn’t raised to even be a priest; He simply was to follow in His father’s footsteps as a carpenter.
5. And, yes, Jesus had brothers: James, Joseph (Junior?), Judas, and Simon. Apparently, He also had sisters. So…it’s kind of funny that we still call Mary “the virgin, Mary.”
6. People were offended at Jesus because they thought that He was too ordinary to preach like this. To me, that reveals that Jesus wasn’t showy about His powers as a kid. If He was, the people would assume this was a natural progression. The going idea is that Jesus was 30 when He began His ministry. I’m 29. That’s a lot of living to live, not being able to “show who you really are.”
7. Why do you think prophets are without honor in their hometown?
8. It says that Jesus “could not” do miracles there. Do you think He “could not” or “would not”? Why?

9. Jesus sent off the disciples in pairs, and He gave them the authority to cast out evil spirits. Do you think this is an “authority” that Jesus gives to all believers or just these disciples? Why?
10. Apparently, you were supposed to bring nothing with you. They just had staffs (to whack wild beasts with?). They weren’t supposed to bring food, a pack, or money. They were at the mercy of the people they were going to. Why do you think Jesus had them do this in this manner?
11. Rock flip flops, but they couldn’t even bring an extra shirt. Hmm. Does this make anyone think about how much we pack for mission trips?
12. You would go to one home and stay with that one home the whole time. Why?
13. If someone was mean, you would shake the dust off your feet and leave. How would this serve as a “testimony” to them?
14. The message was simple: “Repent.” Turn away from your sin.
15. In the midst of this message, I guess they showed their power and compasion by driving out evil spirits and healing sick people. But, in the end, it was all about the people needing to repent.

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?

d165 Parents Just Don’t Understand
October 3, 2007, 10:38 am
Filed under: god, jesus, joseph, luke, mary

Read Luke 2:41-52.

This is the ONLY story we have of “youth group Jesus.” It’s a shame, really; but let’s see what we can glean from the coolest teenager (tweenager) of all time…

1. Amazing that young Jesus made a trip every year to Jerusalem. In light of what’s going to happen in the future, what do you think Jesus was thinking about when He looked around? At twelve years old, how much do you think He knew about where His life was headed?
2. Imagine being entrusted to do one amazing task with your life. Joseph and Mary didn’t have to find the cure for cancer…all they had to do was take care of this Kid. All they had to do was keep Jesus safe. Imagine how freaked out they were when Jesus wasn’t in their party. Whoah!
3. The search took three days. I know my mom would flip out if she had to look for me at all, much less three days! Imagine the state of mind Mary is in at this point!
4. And where’s Jesus, in the Temple, listening to the priests and asking them “searching” questions. This isn’t normal. He wasn’t hanging with His friends, looking for two-headed chickens. He’s in a very adult setting, listening and asking questions that these guys had never thought of.
5. And everyone was blown away. Wouldn’t you be? This Kid knew His stuff. My question would be, who taught Him? Do you think Joseph could have? Do you think Mary could have? How do you think His parents felt to hear this kind of depth in their 12-year-old? Do you think this was normal for Jesus?
6. Emotional Mary flips out a little bit. “Why have You done this to US?” I think that learning that it wasn’t always about them was a lifelong struggle for Mary and Joseph…
7. And Jesus says that He’s in His Father’s house. To Him, it was perfectly logical. Like Clark Kent wanting to find out about his Kryptonian roots by going to the Fortress of Solitude, this made sense. But the “surragate” parents probably lost site that Jesus wasn’t “normal” at times…
8. They were confused at Jesus. Won’t be the last time that happens…
9. It does say that Jesus went home and was “submissive” to Mary and Joseph. Why? Did He have to be?
10. It sure did win Mary over…she “treasured” these things in her heart.
11. What Jesus does from the age of twelve to thirty is my hope for all the middle school, high school, college-aged, and young adults of my generation: that we would “increase in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”

d164 The Fugitive
October 2, 2007, 3:26 pm
Filed under: archelaus, god, herod, hosea, jeremiah, jesus, joseph, mary, matthew, rachel

Read Matthew 2:13-23.

1. The angels were looking out for Jesus here. Through that dream, they saved His life. And, yet again, the hopes of Israel go down to Egypt…
2. Herod was so hell-bent on killing Jesus that they had to wait until he died to come back to Israel. Talk about being insecure in your position…
3. Crazy that this also fulfills a prophecy, this time by Hosea. Jesus ends up being “from” a ton of places.
4. Herod is sick. There’s no way around it. He kills all those kids. Man…
5. Fulfillment of another prophecy. This one by Jeremiah. It speaks about loss and pain of losing children. Why do you think they used Rachel’s name in this?
6. And just like that, Joseph and Mary get to go back after Herod dies… It makes you wonder what sorts of Egyptian habits they might have picked up while they lived in Egypt.
7. Apparently Archelaus wasn’t that nice either. So…they went to Galilee, Nazareth, to be exact. And, that’s how Jesus was from Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth, and Galilee all in one.

d163 Jacking Up Your Nativity
October 1, 2007, 2:30 pm
Filed under: god, herod, jesus, joseph, mary, matthew, micah

Read Matthew 2:1-12.

1. Wise men, seemingly out of nowhere, come to see Jesus. I think it’s awesomely symbolic. The shepherds learn about Jesus from God directly, an awesome act of grace. Simeon and Anna were as ready as ready could be, and they saw Him too. These guys. Well, how did they discover that Jesus was born?
2. Astrology. Wow. Yeah…these guys looked at the stars to try to derive meaning from life. That was the best they could come up with. And, in their studies of charts and the sky, they noticed a star. They referred to it as “his star.” These guys weren’t meaning to find the Savior of the Jewish nation. Shoot, they weren’t from the Jewish nation. They were from the east! They found God…randomly?
3. What I love, though, is that they might not have all the details of Levitical Law worked out; but they came to WORSHIP Jesus. Awesome…
4. Imagine Herod at this point. Oh, this is a detail that he has seemed to overlook. His reaction reveals that it is news to him. He should have been ready. He should have been expecting. Instead, some strange foreign guys realized the truth before he did.
5. Here’s what’s funny: you know Herod wants to “get rid of” this potential rival to his throne, so he asks where the Christ is supposed to be born. He’s a Hebrew. Shouldn’t he know that?
6. **edit** Ah…so…the chief priests and scribes know the story. They know where to look for this Messiah from the prophet Micah, but they couldn’t figure it out like the wise guys could. Amazing. Do you think they didn’t act on this knowledge because they didn’t believe that the Messiah was actually going to arrive? **edit**
7. Herod gets sneaky and tries to calculate how old Jesus must be at this point (yes…devestatingly…I hope you can handle this…the wise men didn’t visit Jesus as a baby in the manger…this is more like a year after all of that…don’t waste your nativity money on the “three wise men”–they weren’t there).
8. Herod is lying. It would seem obvious to me that they were following a star.
9. These guys didn’t hesitate. They got down and worshiped Jesus. Can you imagine what Mary must have been thinking? a) who are these guys? b) it is so weird to see people bowing to my kid and c) seriously, who are these guys?
10. We are simple people. We assume that since there were three gifts, there must have been three men. Not in my life. I usually go in on bigger gifts. There’s nothing to say that these guys were particularly rich. Would it bother you if there were ten wise men who all “went in” on getting the gifts?
11. Gold…a gift fit for a king.
12. Frankincense…a gift fit for a priest.
13. Myrrh…a gift fit for a a healer.
14. You’ve got to love those dreams that warn you about bad people. I wish I could have more of those.