ripple effect: vacaville

d253 I Just Wanna Be a Sheep
February 3, 2008, 5:42 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, matthew

Read Matthew 25:31-46.

1. Imagine what it will look like when Jesus returns in all of His glory. We know that He will have all His angels around Him, sitting on his throne. Awesome.
2. I don’t want to be a goat.
3. To be a sheep means to be blessed by God, to have an inheritance (the kingdom of God). It also implies that sheep did something with their lives– feeding the hungry, giving the thirsty something to drink, inviting in strangers, clothing the unclothed, looking after the sick, visiting those in prison. I want to be a sheep, but do I live that way? Do you?
4. God places a greater emphasis on loving the unloved than He does worshipping Him. Kind of changes the idea of what the church is for, doesn’t it?
5. I think we need to be more “least”-focused…
6. How would your church change if it behaved more sheep-like? Do you think that a lot of church is a waste of time and effort?


d252 Silly Virgins and the Godfather
February 2, 2008, 2:47 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, matthew

Read Matthew 25:1-30.

1. First of all, when we’re talking about “virgins” here, we’re not talking about whether or not the ladies had sexual experience or not. This simply refers to young women. (I guess, to some degree, it was assumed that younger, unmarried girls wouldn’t have sex.)
2. Why would the ten young girls want to see the groom? This almost seems like a Duracell commercial. Five used the copper top, while the other five used store brand lamps. He he he… Anyone, five were prepared. Go girl scouts!
3. I guess the groom coming at midnight was like him arriving after he got married? Either way, the girls all wanted to see him. And some were prepared and others weren’t. Then the five unprepared ones try to bum some oil off of the smart girls. Do you think that being prepared is a high priority? I remember being in school and knowing kids who simply expected to be able to bum stuff off of their neighbor (like a pen or paper). Is this healthy?
4. How many oil stores are open at midnight?
5. Imagine that, they missed out on the party. Darn. Man, they must have been partying until the early light…
6. So the girls get shut out. What do you think this has to do with the kingdom of God?

7. For the sake of ease, let’s call a talent a G (or 1,000 bucks). One guy gets 5 G’s. The other gets 2 G’s. And the last gets one G. Apparently, the man knew who was skilled or trustworthy and gave them responsibility to coincide with that.
8. 5 G guy made 5 more G’s, making him 10 G guy. Good for him.
9. 2 G guy made 2 more G’s, making him 4 G guy. Good for him too.
10. There might be a reason why 1 G guy got only 1 G. He just dug a hole and put his money in there. Ruh roh… This left him 1 G guy.
11. And now this episode of “The Apprentice” nears its end. The Donald comes in to check how everyone did. 10 G guy is living large and gets a pat on the back and assurances that they will have many more opportunities to do business together.
12. 4 G guy also gets love from the boss man. He will also get more opportunities to work with the master. Niiice.
13. And then 1 G guy comes in. Uh oh. He implies that the master is kind of lazy and evil, maybe like a mafia boss. So…in fear, this guy gives his excuse. Oh oh…
14. The master flips out. He basically says that if he was so afraid of Him, the least he could have done is gained some interest or something. This guy was so scared he did nothing.
15. Mr. 10 G’s becomes 11 G’s. Maybe this is to show the extravagance of perks that one gets if he does well for the master.
16. Mr. 1 G becomes penniless. That’s what you get if you put nothing into it. And, beyond that, this guy is going to get thrown out of the business and experience pain.
17. Why did the guy think that the boss was like a mafia boss? If this whole story is analogy of God’s character and our response to it, do we ever look at God like this harsh mafia boss?
18. Do we make excuses for why we are not productive?
19. Do we actually think that God would prefer for us to do nothing with out talents (out of fear) than to at least fail in an effort to grow His kingdom (the family business)?

d249 Crazy Chicks
January 30, 2008, 12:19 pm
Filed under: abel, god, jesus, matthew, moses, zechariah

Read Matthew 23:1-39.

1. It’s interesting that Jesus is clearly saying that He believes that the religious leaders are hypocrites but that they still must obey them. Wow. He says it is because they are in Moses’ seat, placed their by God. Would you want to follow a hypocrite?
2. The religious leaders make the common person jump through all kinds of hoops to earn salvation, but it seems like they consider it to be automatic for them.
3. They are focused on the outward: wide phylacteries (pieces of scripture woven into their hair), long tassels (I don’t know what the significance of that is), sitting in the big boy chairs, being greeted and recognized, and having people call them by their title and not their name. Note to self…don’t become Rev. Mannino. Stay Paul.
4. This shoots a hole in calling priests, “Father,” doesn’t it. We don’t toss “Rabbi” around, but other people do. We’re not to call another person Master.
5. Why is it so hard for average people to think that they are on the same level as priests, rabbis, and preachers?
6. I wonder if Jesus intended for us to not even call our own dads “Father.” It says that He is our Father. Hmm…
7. Again, wouldn’t we get into a lot of trouble if we didn’t call our teachers “teacher” and our professors “professor.” Is there something deeper that Jesus is talking about here?
8. Incidentally, “minister” means servant. It’s funny how that term is used to elevate people to a “higher” position.
9. And now…the woes. [#1] How do you think they “shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces”? It’s like they are bouncers who won’t let the people experience God.
10. [#2] Wow…so…they are all about “converting” people; but, once they are converted, they become more lost than ever. Hmm…I wouldn’t want to be called a “son of hell.”
11. [#3] He he he…a blind guide would be funny. Think about taking a tour on a bus with a blind guide. He he he… Not funny to Jesus though. For some reason they made up stupid rules about what kind of swear (like a pinky swear) is more important. They’re missing the point.
12. [#4] They are so careful to tithe their spices, but they ignore all the important stuff like LOVING PEOPLE. Now, I know some churches like that…
13. [#5] Again, cleaning the outside but not the inside is a sign of too much concern for outward appearances.
14. [#6] Outside = righeteous, inside = wicked. Not good.
15. [#7] They thought too highly of themselves. They think that they wouldn’t have been jerks to all God’s prophets in the past. Um…based on the way they are treating John the Baptist and Jesus, I’m having a hard time believing that.
16. Snakes! Wow…the whole idea of Jesus petting sheep isn’t really in this verse. He’s bringing it! Jesus tells them that they are so thickheaded that He is sending people to change their minds. Too bad they kill people who think differently than they do. And, when they do that, they are only making things worse. They are already accountable for the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah. The religious leaders have killed God’s people for thousands of years. It’s kind of their trademark.
17. Look at Jesus’ love for His people, though. He wants to tuck them all in “under [His] wings.” These chicks are crazy, though. Are we crazy too?

d246 The Wedding Crashers
January 27, 2008, 11:42 am
Filed under: god, jesus, matthew

Read Matthew 22:1-14.

1. Again, our excuse-making culture would think that this is totally acceptable. But, I mean, the guy is THE KING. What excuse could you have to not come to the prince’s wedding banquet?
2. It almost seems like the king is lowering himself to even have to beg people to come to this banquet. He shouldn’t have to be telling them what the menu was. They should just come because he is the king.
3. They seem preoccupied with their work or evil. Busyness and wickedness. Yeah, those will keep you from experience the parties of life.
4. Wow…he killed the killers.
5. I love the fact that the king invites anyone his servants can find, good and bad. Amazing. If the king is God and we’re the servants, does this mean that God will accept into heaven “anyone [we] can find”?
6. Why would it have been important to be wearing wedding clothes? Did it mean that this random guy wasn’t showing the king or the prince respect? Was he simply a wedding crasher?
7. The king deals with wedding crashers harshly.
8. So…if this is all an analogy about how God treats us, I would look at it that the religious leaders are the people who rejected the invitation, and the servants are God’s servants (prophets and evangelists or even us). There is no discrimination towards the people who are invited, but there seems to be a requirement for these people…that they at least show some respect for the occasion. What do you think this means about the way that God looks at people and salvation?

d245 The Capstone
January 26, 2008, 10:58 am
Filed under: god, jesus, john, matthew

Read Matthew 21:28-46.

1. The first son kind of sounds like me. My initial response is usually a dumb one. It takes me a little time (and prayer) to come to my senses. The first con does go to work in the vineyard. Kudos to him…
2. I would hate to be like that second son, but I know I have been. There a lot things that I have SAID I will do in this life that I haven’t. That’s definitely not a good thing…
3. A no-brainer story. And then Jesus turns it on their heads. Tax collectors and prostitutes have said “no” to God, but now they are saying “yes.” Religious leaders say, “Yeah, sure, I’ll work for You, God,” and then don’t. Not cool. Not cool. I bet this ticked them off, but it was true!
4. John the Baptist brought the truth and the “bad” people responded. The “good” people sat on their butts. Hmm…

5. Another parable…ok…guy builds wine-making operation, rents it out, goes away, and has some servants to come by to collect the fruit during harvest time. Easy…
6. Apparently, these renters forgot whose land it was because they beat, killed, and stoned the servants! Dang! Twice. Dang!
7. The man thought they’d at least respect his son (I mean, the son is an owner too!). They didn’t. They killed him. They wanted what was his. Greedy.
8. You’d have to think that the owner is now going to bring the heat with him.
9. No brainer story. Right…wrong…
10. Jesus then quotes a Psalm, saying that there is a “stone” that the “builders” have rejected. But now it will be the “capstone,” the stone that holds everything together. In an archway, you build with stones, up from each side. Finally, you place the middle stone (the capstone). This stone is central and bears the most weight, making it the most important. Amateur architecture. Yeah…
11. So…who were the “servants” from the story?
12. The “son” and the “stone” that was rejected are the same. Who is that?
13. How will the “stone” that was rejected become the “capstone”?
14. The religious leaders seem to be the renters of the vineyard because Jesus talks about taking the kingdom of God away from them and giving it to people who will produce fruit (tax collectors? prostitutes?).
15. You know that you feel guilty when you want to shoot the messenger. They wanted to arrest Jesus. Man… I guess it was a good thing that they were so worried about the crowd.

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?

d237 Minimum Wage
January 18, 2008, 1:56 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, matthew

Read Matthew 20:1-19.

1. A denarius was a fair amount of money, just to let you know.
2. I don’t know what kind of days we’re talking about here; but imagine…the first group (the ready group that got out of bed early) goes to work, then the next group comes in three hours later, another three hours later (six hours in!!!), another three hours later (nine hours in!!!), another two hours later (eleven hours in!!!). Wow…those must have been long work days. I don’t work twelve hour shifts! Can you imagine busting your tail in a vineyard for that long!
3. Notice that the owner never said he how much he’d pay the later people, except that he would be fair. Ok…
4. Do you feel sorry for the people who were waiting around at the eleventh hour? I mean, where were they in the morning? Is this like that movie, “Cinderella Man,” where work was that hard to get? I don’t know how I feel about these guys. While these guys are waiting to work, the other guys have been working for eleven hours!
5. OK…so it’s time to get paid. Now, if we were going by modern thought, wouldn’t you pay like this: the original crew gets a denarius (as promised), the next guys get 3/4 of a denarius, the next get 1/2 of a denarius, the next get 1/4 of a denarius, and the final crew would get a paltry 1/12 of a denarius. Seems fair, right?
6. Whoah! The 1/12 workers received a WHOLE denarius! Man…ok…so, like the first guys, I’d be thinking, “Well, I worked 12 times as much; so maybe this dude is going to give me 12 denarii!!!” I’d have been wrong…
7. They got what they were promised (a good day’s wage). So…what’s the problem?
8. Did they have a legitimate gripe? Why or why not?
9. Man…this is a tough story for me because, I’m not going to lie, I’m always comparing myself to others. It’s wrong. Doing that only leads to pride or shame. But, I do it. And, this would just seem unfair. But, then again, isn’t this guy simply being gracious, feeding all the families of the workers in his field? What’s wrong with that? I know, in our modern sensibilities, we would think that this would make the last people think that they didn’t have to work hard to get their money and thus perpetuate a culture of laziness. Hmm…
10. So…WHY do you think this story reflects the kingdom of God?

11. Could you imagine what it would be like to be a disciple of Jesus and hear Him say that He is going to be betrayed, condemned, mocked, flogged, crucified, and raised? I think I would think that Jesus was telling some kind of metaphorical story. I couldn’t believe that that would be real. Place yourself in their shoes. What would you have thought?