ripple effect: vacaville

d248 And1
January 29, 2008, 11:37 am
Filed under: david, deuteronomy, god, jesus, mark

Read Mark 12:28-37.

1. Why would it be important to know which rule is most important?
2. Jesus quotes Deuteronomy. In other words, He’s not inventing a new rule. He’s perfecting an ancient one…
3. I just realized that the whole part of God being “One” is critical to this. This “oneness” of God is central to why we should be “one” with Him and “one” with each other. We reflect something about God’s glory when we have that kind of “oneness.”
4. What’s the difference between your heart and your soul?
5. Isn’t it cool that we are to love God with our minds! I think it’s crazy when people think that they have to leave their minds at the door of the church and put it back in once the ceremonial brainwashing is over. No! God calls us to love God with our minds! Very awesome.
6. My biggest struggle is with my strength. Do my actions reflect the love that I have for God? I don’t think this has much to do with how much I can bench press. This goes much deeper…
7. Is anyone else thinking that Jesus can’t count here. Um…Jesus, you can only give one answer to the MOST important commandment. But, Jesus is being Miss Teen South Carolina here. These statement and two “rules” are inseparable. GOD IS ONE. WE ARE TO BE ONE WITH HIM BECAUSE HE IS ONE. AND WE WILL SEEK TO BE ONE WITH OUR NEIGHBORS BECAUSE THAT IS A REFLECTION OF ONENESS WITH GOD. It’s all together. Inseparable. ONE, if you will. Kind of like the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
8. Like Jesus needed this man to tell Him that He was right…
9. Why are these things more important than burnt offerings and sacrifices?
10. Imagine Jesus saying, “You are not far from the kingdom of God” to you. Wow. What was it about what this man said that was so dead on?

11. It is kind of weird that people say the Christ (the redeemer of Israel) as the “son of David,” only focusing on His humanity, especially since David talked about Him as if He was devine. David refers to the Christ as his Lord. That has to mean that He’s going to be more than just a descendent of David. David’s “lord” because he’s king; the Messiah is LORD for other reasons beyond being an earthly king…


d244 Genie in a Bottle?
January 25, 2008, 10:30 am
Filed under: god, jesus, john, mark, peter

Read Mark 11:20-33.

1.Wow…I don’t remember reading about Jesus cursing the fig tree in this Bible reading plan. Uh oh… OK…so, in review, Jesus curses a fig tree because it is blooming, as if it is ready to yield fruit; but it isn’t. It’s like a person who looks like they are following God on the outside but is bearing no fruit. Got it? Jesus doesn’t like that…

2. All the stuff Jesus has done, and Peter can’t believe that Jesus could make a fig tree wither? Sheesh…
3. Jesus says that, with faith, we can do all things. I don’t think it makes sense to just go on throwing mountains into oceans, so I’m going to assume that Jesus is using figurative language here to explain the power of faith.
4. I believe that this “what [we] ask for in prayer” has to be in line with God’s will. None of this God is a genie in a bottle.
5. The idea here, though, is that we should have faith that what we ask for in prayer will happen. Why would that be important for us to do? Do you have any objections to that kind of thinking?
6. Yeah, you can’t go to God when you have feuds with other people. Jesus is implying here that our biggest project is to have good human relationships, that is how we can honor God. What would be the point of going to God in prayer, asking Him how we can honor Him, when we know good and well that we need to repair a broken relationship?
7. There’s also a tie between us forgiving others and God forgiving our sins. Maybe God isn’t down with hypocrisy.

8. All the religious leaders are looking for some kind of human authority that has endorsed Jesus. This thinking goes on today. If you’re not “ordained” by some organized religious establishment, some people think that you can’t be worth much to the Church.
9. Jesus comes back with a trick question about John the Baptist’s ministry: “was it from heaven or from men”?
10. I would have to think that Jesus asked this question to reveal the fact that, no matter what these religious leaders think, they base all their thinking on how people will perceive them. So, even though no man endorsed Jesus’ ministry. God did. And Jesus is basing what He does off of God’s approval. The truth is that the religious leaders could have easily, because they believed it, said that John’s baptism was from men…but they were afraid of the people. Jesus basically called them out. They care too much about what people think and not enough about what God thinks.

d238 Jockeying for Position
January 19, 2008, 2:07 pm
Filed under: bartimaeus, god, james, jesus, john, mark

Read Mark 10:35-52.

1. We’ve been hearing so many stories recently, that it’s refreshing to get into a story that reveals a little about the personality of the disciples. So…here’s James and John, acting like little kids that are trying to trick mom or dad into getting away with something. “We want You to do for us whatever we ask.” He he he…reminds me of being a kid.
2. Jesus doesn’t take the bait. He simply asks what they want. You can’t put anything past Jesus. Why try?
3. I’m assuming that this left and right hand thing would be pretty prestigious. Why do you think they wanted that?
4. Jesus, I think, is alluding to all the suffering that He is about to undertake. And, I guess, to be on His left and right in heaven, that’s the kind of commitment that it would take?
5. Like kids making a promise to take care of a dog (not knowing what it all entails), the brothers say sure. They have no idea.
6. Jesus explains that they will suffer, like Him. But, it’s not His place to decide who gets to sit on His right and left in glory. I’m assuming that God has prepared those places.
7. Imagine being the other ten disciples, hearing about this stuff. They think that John and James are getting a “prize” to suffer like Jesus. Man, they’re all clueless.
8. Jesus puts an end to all this posturing by talking about the posture that a person should take– to be a servant. It’s not about positions. It’s about serving.

9. Remember Jericho? That’s the place that had its walls fall down…
10. Interesting that we get a name for this blind guy, Bartimaeus. Normally, the people who receive miracles from Jesus are nameless.
11. That’s an awesome thing to shout.
12. I can’t believe that people tried to get this guy, who is showing authentic faith, to shut up. Some people…
13. This guy threw aside his beggar’s cloak, his identity. He jumped up to go to Jesus. This dude was excited.
14. The blind man tells Jesus that he wants to see. Of course, he does! Jesus tells him, without doing anything, that his faith has healed him. Jesus heals blind people in so many different ways.
15. I love that Bartimaeus followed Jesus. Maybe that’s how we know his name…

d236 You’re in Good Hands
January 17, 2008, 4:08 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, mark, peter

Read Mark 10:17-31.

1. OK…so this young man falls on his knees before Jesus. At first glance, this guy seems to be a humble guy.
2. Why do you think Jesus says what He says about being called a “good teacher”? Do you think it’s because he wants the young man to say that Jesus is more than a teacher, or do you think it’s because He thinks the man doesn’t realize who he is talking to?
3. The guy wants eternal life. Who doesn’t?
4. Notice Jesus’ initial response. He goes over a lot of the commandments. He skips all the ones that are God-focused and instead talks about the ones that are about how to treat other people. Why do you think He does that?
5. Do you think this guy actually has never done these things? I mean, Jesus is rewriting what murder and adultery mean. Do you think this guy has never hated, lusted, stolen, lied, or been disrespectful to his mom and dad?
6. Jesus loves this guy. Do you think that He chuckles when this guy makes this ridiculous claim about himself?
7. Jesus knows how to hit him where it hurts– his security. He tells him to sell everything and give the proceeds to the poor. That would be good. Hey, quick question…is this the way all of us reach eternal life, or is this just Jesus’ “remedy” for this particular guy?
8. That guy wasn’t so excited when he found out he couldn’t be loaded anymore. We don’t really know what he did after that because he left. What do you think he did?
9. Why would it be hard for a rich person to enter God’s kingdom? Isn’t about where you place your trust? It makes me think of Allstate. Their motto is “You’re in good hands.” Don’t you think that’s somewhat sacrilegious for an insurance company to take the idea of us being in “God’s hands” and saying that, because you have your finances in order with us, you are in good hands? Doesn’t that fly in the face of what Jesus is teaching here?
10. That would have to be one skinny camel.
11. I would think that we are all in trouble when it comes to this idea of wealth because I think we all have more than we could possibly need. I don’t know how many starving people have time to get on my Bible blog.
12. So…God makes it possible for us, for rich people, to have eternal life. How?
13. Peter pipes in that they have done what the young guy wouldn’t do– they gave up their lives to follow Jesus. But…would that really be enough, in and of itself?
14. Jesus says that they will be repaid for that they are doing, but did you notice that one of the promises that comes with this sacrifice is “persecutions”? That doesn’t sound like a reward. Then again, there is that eternal life at the end. What is eternal life? Why is it so precious?

d235 For the Childrens…
January 16, 2008, 3:42 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, mark, moses

Read Mark 10:1-16.

1. Jesus was teaching, and the Pharisees put Jesus to the test. Doesn’t it stink that they can’t just listen to Him?
2. Maybe divorce was a hot-button issue back in the day too because the Pharisees ask Him if it is “lawful” for a man to divorce his wife. Uh oh…
3. If you want to ask a law question, Jesus says to consult the law-giver. The “maker” of the law, back in the day, was Moses. So, Jesus asks what he said…
4. …he said that a man could write a certificate of divorce and kick his wife to the curb.
5. Jesus agrees that that is what the law says, but He explains that that law was written because of the hardness of Israel’s hearts. So Jesus is saying that God was accommodating for Israel’s sin. His standards weren’t different. It’s just that God knew what His people could handle.
6. God gets to the original, pre-Moses, law. That law said that God joins two people together in marriage; and “what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Seems pretty clear to me. This is when we throw out all the “but what about” situations. And, I think that’s what Jesus is talking about when He says that our hearts are hard. This is the way it should be. But, look at the mess we make of marriage.
7. Again, Jesus seems to be pretty clear about divorce. To me, any “new law” that Moses makes or a church makes (like Presbyterian USA) is only made because we have failed to have the heart that God has called us to have. And that’s nothing to be proud of.

8. Jesus was like Santa Claus. Parents wanted their kids to touch Jesus. Aww…
9. The disciples thought that was too “low” for someone of Jesus’ stature. But, Jesus flipped out on them. Jesus tells his disciples that their priorities are out of whack if they think that children aren’t important to Him. Children demonstrate faith and trust that us adults could learn a whole lot from.
10. What do you think childlike faith looks like?

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?

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?