ripple effect: vacaville

d240 Don’t Kill the Messenger
January 21, 2008, 7:03 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, john, judas iscariot, lazarus, martha, mary

Read John 12:1-11.

1. Yeah, I’d throw Jesus a dinner if he raised my brother from the dead. Isn’t it crazy that now Lazarus is simply reclining at a table at this dinner. Wow…
2. As always, Martha is working…
3. I know nard just doesn’t sound like that nice of a thing, but apparently it’s an expensive perfume. When I was a kid, it was a dirty word. Go figure. Mary pours the whole pint on Jesus’ feet and wipes it with her hair. Wow. Does anyone else think that this is crazy?
4. Judas flipped on Mary. He was counting the dollars melt away with every wipe of her hair. He could have used that money to help the poor. At least, that’s what he said. We actually learned that he was the treasurer of Jesus’ church, and he liked to skim money off the top. Punk.
5. So…Jesus calls this act and anointing for His burial. Do you think this confused everyone?
6. Yeah…there’s the miracle worker and the miracle man. Can you believe that the chief priests wanted to off Jesus AND Lazarus. What did Lazarus do besides die and then live again? Maybe it was because Lazarus was telling so many people about the power of God, and Jews were converting…


d230 Jesus Wept
January 11, 2008, 2:10 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, john, lazarus, martha, mary, thomas

Read John 11:1-36.

1. Here’s the other Lazarus. I’m not strong with all the relationships here, but John does say that this is the brother of the Mary that poured all that perfume at Jesus’ feet. So, it would appear that Jesus had already known Lazarus through Mary and Martha. They call Lazarus “the one [He] love[s],” so He must have been a friend.
2. Jesus says that Lazarus’ sickness won’t end in death. It’s going to be an opportunity for Jesus to be glorified. So…maybe there hope in the fact that this seemingly horrible situation is an opportunity for God’s strength and compassion to be shown…
3. Isn’t it interesting that it says that Jesus loved all of them, but He still hesitated. If Jesus was really “on call” to help His friends, it appears as if He’s really taking is time to get to them. Hmm…
4. In the midst of this narrative, we find out that Jesus is going back to a place where they were going to try to kill Him. Jesus doesn’t seem to care much for that fact. He seems to want to go to His friends.
5. What do you make of this phrase about 12 hours of daylight? What’s He talking about?
6. To Jesus, death is only sleep. Wow.
7. I guess Jesus means that if He was there when Lazarus died that people might have thought that his “death” and “resurrection” were a trick.
8. I love Thomas. I guess I have a special affinity towards him because it’s my middle name. His name means “twin.” I’ve heard it said that this alludes to his “twin” hearts. He has one side of him that wants to believe and another side of him that always doubts. Boy, what an encourager, though. “Let’s go die with Him.” In one sense, you have to appreciate his commitment to Jesus. On the other, you have to think, “Dude, what a pessimist.”

9. Martha trusts Jesus. Although she is mourning for her dead brother, she still believes that Jesus can do some good for him.
10. Jesus sure is misunderstood a lot. She thinks that He’s talking about the future resurrection. He’s talking about today.
11. Jesus uses this physical resurrection to help all of us understand that IN HIM is the spiritual resurrection.
12. Martha knows. Good stuff.
13. Mary’s feelings are a lot more raw. She almost blames Jesus for Lazarus dying. She knows that Jesus could have healed him. And her feelings are all just being tossed down at Jesus’ feet.
14. Jesus’ feels her pain. As He does ours too.
15. We don’t really know why Jesus wept. All we know is that, upon hearing the offer to be taken to where Lazarus was buried, He wept. Maybe it was compassion for Mary. Maybe it was a sense of loss for Lazarus. Maybe it was a lament for the brokenness of this world. We don’t know. All we know is that we have a God who feels, a God who feels deeply.
16. All the people were moved by Jesus’ response to this situation. I think it’s awesome that Jesus was humble enough to cry in front of His own creation like that. It tells me something about God’s heart. Awesome.

d215 Hail Mary
December 6, 2007, 11:32 am
Filed under: beelzebub, god, jesus, jonah, luke, mary, solomon

Read Luke 11:14-32.

1. Why would a demon be mute? Do you think that modern-day mute people are possessed by mute demons?
2. Uh oh…here they go again, saying that Jesus is powered by Beelzebub (or the devil). I think the repetition of this fact is important. It’s obvious that these people thought that Jesus was demon-possessed. Isn’t it interesting that such an insult is repeated over and over in the Bible?
3. I never really understood all that “strong man” talk. Is the idea here that the “strong man” is a demon who has possessed a person? Then, the “stronger” man is the Holy Spirit? I can see where that would make sense because the Holy Spirit would then take away all the “armor” that the person trusted in. But, I’m not sure. What do you think?
4. [I grew up Catholic, so I can make this joke…] Hey, that lady is the first Catholic! He he he… Praising Mary for giving birth to Jesus! Note that Jesus is more concerned with obedience than stuff like that… Why is it easier to worship people, though?

5. Jesus again talks about the “sign of Jonah.” (Gone for three days, and then back.) We already talked about this. Jesus is also using the Ninevites as an example of people who heard God’s wisdom and responded (unlike this generation). He also uses the “Queen of the South” (the Queen of Sheba) who visited Solomon as an example of someone who sought after God’s wisdom (unlike this generation).

So…we get a little repetition in this passage; but I think it’s to reiterate these eyewitness accounts.

Remember, no Christian rockstars (like Mary)…it’s more important to simply obey!

d213 Stump Jesus
December 4, 2007, 4:42 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, luke, martha, mary

Read Luke 10:25-42.

1. These experts were all about “stumping” Jesus. It’s like a stupid game show: “Stump Jesus.”
2. I don’t think this guy really wanted to know how to inherit eternal life. I just have a gut feeling.
3. I like how Jesus boomerangs the question back at him, “You’re the expert in the Law. What does it say?” He he he…
4. Apparently, the guy was an expert because he gave the heart of the Law. Love God. Love people. So far so good…
5. Then the “expert” hangs himself. He asks who his “neighbor” is to justify himself. What do you think that meant? Do you think that there might have been people in his life who he mistreated, and he wanted to make sure that they didn’t fall within the bounds of “people”?
6. I would first like to say that I again love the fact that Jesus answers his question with a story.
7. OK…half dead guy on the side of the road. Priest doesn’t want to deal with it, so he goes to the other side. Maybe because he couldn’t be near blood and stay “clean”?
8. A Levite (another “holy” man) passed on the other side too. Hey, ministry is hard. Don’t let anyone fool you. And, sometimes, people get it in their heads that they have “more important things” to do than love people. It’s sad, but it’s true…
9. Use whatever phrase you want, but a Samaritan stuck out in those times. This would be like saying an “Iraqi” in the wartime U.S. or a black man in the South during the time of the Jim Crow laws. Jesus was choosing the most outcasted person in that society to be the hero of the story. Hmm…
10. The Samaritan treated the half dead man like a man. He took care of him, at a great expense to his money, time, and personal comfort. He did it anyway. Why?
11. And then Jesus comes back with another boomerang question to the crowd: “Who was the neighbor?” He he he…
12. The expert was “right” again. And, this time, he realized that it’s not about WHO your neighbor is (we’re all people, right?), it’s about HOW can I be a neighbor…

13. Martha opened her home to Jesus. Mary was also there. Two sisters. This would probably be considered taboo for Jesus to be in the home of a couple of ladies (no mention of fathers or husbands). So…why would Jesus risk that?
14. We might get a clue when we realize that Mary was listening to Jesus. It appears that He was teaching them. Jesus doesn’t seem to discriminate when it comes to who should hear His words…
15. Anyway, that’s not the point of this story. The point is that Martha was too busy trying to be Betty Crocker that she actually accused Mary of being lazy because she was at the feet of Jesus. Uh oh…
16. I always think of the Brady Bunch here…”Martha, Martha, Martha…”
17. Only one thing is needed…and what is that? To be with Jesus, to listen to Him?
18. I definitely get stuck in “Martha mode” a lot at church and in my normal life. Maybe the priest and the Levite were stuck in that line of thought too. “I don’t have time for this. I have to…” But, the Samaritan and Mary showed us that sometimes you have to break away from the day to day…

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.

d189 Beelzebul, Has the Devil Left a Sack for Me?
November 3, 2007, 3:49 pm
Filed under: beelzebul, david, god, jesus, jonah, mary, matthew, satan, solomon

Read Matthew 12:22-50.

1. Let’s take second to talk about demon-possession. A lot of people think that this was just these people’s way of describing people with mental illness, and there is no such thing as demons. What do you think? I mean, the Bible doesn’t really mince words when it talks about demons…
2. This guy was blind and mute as well. Jesus healed him (I suppose of his demons and his illnesses). Amazing.
3. People were referring to Him as the “Son of David.” This name occurs in prophecy and refers to the future Messiah of the Jewish people that had been foretold for centuries. So…they are starting to wonder if Jesus is the real deal…
4. The Pharisees say that Jesus is driving out demons because He is the prince of the demons, who is named Beelzebul. Interesting thought process. No wonder He can control them. He commands them. They are His friends.
5. Jesus knew their thoughts. Oh, to be omniscient…
6. OK…division ruins a kingdom. Got it. This would go for Satan too. Got it. So…Jesus is basically saying that Satan’s way (division, every man for himself) won’t work. It won’t stand. So what will?
7. Jesus confuses me after this. If the Pharisees are driving out demons (and Jesus is theoretically casting out demons by the name of Beelzebul), that would mean that (um…since the Pharisees are doing the same thing?) the Pharisees are too. So…um…that would put them in the position of being judged by demons? Right? So confusing…
8. If Jesus is doing it by the power of the Holy Spirit, though, here comes the Kingdom of God!
9.When Jesus is talking about tying up the strong man, is He talking about His present and future work of tying up Satan?
10. Jesus says you have to be with Him. There is no middle ground. Whoever isn’t with Christ might have well be undoing all of His work. Scattering.
11. What is this blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Why would it be worse to speak against the Holy Spirit than Jesus? And, are the Pharisees in great danger of doing that right then?
12. Is Jesus knocking the fruit of the Pharisees while saying, “Hey, look at what I’m doing with these people! Look at My fruit! Isn’t it obvious I’m good?”
13. Jesus calls the Pharisees a gang of snakes. He wonders how they can say anything good at all. He also says that there will be a time when their hot air will go away. They will have to speak from their heart. No hypocrisy. No empty words. You say what you mean. And, when you are as messed up as these guys, that will not be a good thing…

14.Why would the teachers and Pharisees need a sign? Isn’t what Jesus is doing enough?
15. The only sign that this generation is going to get is seeing someone gone for 3 days and back. Jonah was in the belly of a whale (some people believe he had died) for 3 days. Jesus will be dead for 3 days and come back. How’s that for a sign?
16. Then Jesus flips the whole analogy by saying that, hey, the people of Ninevah repented at the words of a shmuck like Jonah– shouldn’t these people repent with the Christ standing there talking to them?!?!
17. The Queen of Sheba traveled mile upon mile to hear from the wisdom of Solomon. These guys don’t have to walk that far to hear from the source of wisdom. Geez!
18. This stuff about the evil spirit is difficult to understand…ok, so the evil spirit leaves a person (why or how?). Then the spirit looks for a place to crash and decides to just go home. When it returns, the person who had “gotten rid” of the evil hadn’t added anything GOOD in its place. So…the evil spirit calls up all its friends and has a evil spirits party in him for life. Let’s try to apply this to this generation…
19. The Pharisees say that shun what is evil. Well, they do that; but it is empty, not powered by the Holy Spirit (shoot, they even talk smack about the Holy Spirit). Then, the evil decides that it is going to fill up this person because their hearts are oh so cozy for evil. I mean, aren’t super-religious capable of some of the worst sin?

20. So…Mary and Jesus’ brothers wanted to talk to Jesus. Imagine being Jesus’ brother. Whoah.
21. Do you think what Jesus was saying about His fleshly family was hurtful to them?
22. Do you think Jesus is simply using exaggeration or shock-value to explain to them that blood-lines aren’t what matters…it’s faith in God? How would this be important for the Pharisees to hear?

d169 Your First Miracle Is Going to Be WHAT?!?
October 7, 2007, 2:43 pm
Filed under: andrew, god, jesus, john, mary, nathanael, peter, philip

Read John 2:1-25.

1. Cool…this must have been a family close to Jesus because why else would both He and Mary be there?
2. Jesus brought along his boys. At this point, we know it’s Andrew, Peter, Philip, and Nathanael.
3. Hmm…there are so many implications to this story. OK…one, why did Mary tell Jesus that the wine ran out? Was she used to him “creatively” solving household issues?
4. OK…the shame of not having enough wine at a wedding would be devastating in that time. Granted, nowadays isn’t that much different. But, still… This would have placed the family hosting the wedding in a tought predicament. (Then again, it wouldn’t have been life-threatening–let’s not get carried away.)
5. Let’s not split hairs on why Jesus calls His mom, “Woman.” Unless you want to…
6. Jesus tells Mary that His time had not yet come. Hmm… OK… Let’s tab that in our mind when we get to the doing of what He’s about to do…
7. I love Mary’s faith. She tells the servants to do whatever Jesus tells them. As if she knows that He’s going to “take care” of the situation. He he he… I like Mary’s patient persistance in this story.
8. Huge stone jars. Let’s not diminish what this water was used for– Jewish rites of purification. A lot of this would involve the washing of feet. Ewww…these jars would be full of foot juice water.
9. Jesus asked for a refill. (But still…there was foot juice in those jars!)
10. It’s funny that we don’t get any kind of story of what the servants thought when Jesus said to “draw out” some of the water and present it to the host (probably their BOSS). That would have been priceless. I think “unemployed” was probably a word that they grumbled under their breath.
11. That dude tasted that water, and it had turned into WINE? Whoah. A little Cabernet Sauvignon? Amazing. The juxtaposition in my mind of those snobby wine tasters and the jars of foot juicy water makes me laugh. He he he… It’s kind of like when you put Exlax in brownees, and you giggle while your friend eats them. Only thing, this isn’t a gag. The water became wine! Whoah.
12. And then the bridegroom gets recognition for “saving” the good wine for last. See, the practice back in those days was to get everyone drunk off the “good” stuff; and then sneak in the bad wine towards the end. By then, everyone would have been so lit up that they wouldn’t have noticed the difference. So…this was rare! And what started as a situation that could have yielded tremendous embarrassment became a cause for celebration.
13. This was it…the first miracle. Water to wine. Some people question whether or not Jesus made “alchoholic” wine. The way I see it, the master wouldn’t have called it “good” if it didn’t have a little kick to it. It definitely wasn’t Welch’s grape juice.
14. I bet the disciples believed. Hey, Nathanael, that’s a little better than that “you were sitting under a fig tree” business?
15. Big question #1: If it wasn’t Jesus’ time, why did he obey Mary’s wishes? (Because I’ll tell you: Catholics pray to Mary because they believe that Jesus HAS to obey her. So…pray to her, and Jesus won’t be able to say no when she intercedes on your behalf.)
16. Big question #2: Why water to wine? Why would that be a first miracle? Do you have any reservations about that?
17. Big question #3: Anything significant about the symbolism?

Wow…there’s a lot today…

18. Something interesting always happens with Jesus in Jerusalem…
19. OK…so…um…what’s the problem with selling animals for sacrifice at the Temple? Also, what’s wrong with being able to convert Euros to dollars? Is it the what or the where?
20. Jesus made a whip of cords! OK…let’s think about this. This would mean that it would have been a long, calculated act. What do you think Jesus was thinking about while He was making this whip? It wasn’t out of passion or a knee-jerk reaction. Jesus seems to very much have meant to do this…
21. Then Jesus cleans house. Would this have been considered inciting a riot? Or damage to private property? Or communicating a threat? What makes this act “right”?
22. Jesus doesn’t want His Father’s house to be a “tourist trap.” Then we get a psalms reference about Jesus being consumed with zeal for God’s house…
23. The Jews simply ask when the heck is He trying to teach through all of this. Good question.
24. Jesus answers cryptically, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” That phrase will come back to bite Him later. At the time, though, no one really understood what He was talking about. They were trying to figure out the contruction logistics. John lets us know what He was talking about, though. This was a hint that Jesus was going to die and rise again after three days. Whoah… And notice that nobody “got it” until after the fact…


25. People believed because they saw Him do miracles. It would make sense to me.
26. Jesus didn’t trust the people’s reactions or support, though. He knew what people were capable of… What do you think that this means?