ripple effect: vacaville

d256 Two Kinds of Betrayal
February 6, 2008, 10:38 am
Filed under: god, jesus, john, judas, peter, satan

Read John 13:21-38.

1. I know how it feels when someone has betrayed me. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to know that someone is GOING TO betray me. That would be heart-wrenching.
2. I wonder how long they stared at one another. Hmm…is it you, Thomas? Is it you, Nathanael? What about Judas? I’m wondering if it was common knowledge that there was something “off” about Judas.
3. “The disciple whom Jesus loved” is John. So…it’s interesting that Peter asked him to ask Jesus who He meant. John must have been the closest to Jesus, even though Peter seems most like the leader.
4. I wonder if Judas was hearing all of this. I wonder if he was just oblivious to the whole “tipping off” through the dipping off.
5. Satan entered Judas when he took the bread. Interesting. I wonder if Satan kept entering and leaving and re-entering Judas. I mean, we know that Satan entered him when he was cutting deals with the religious leaders too.
6. Jesus just told Judas to get it over with. Of course, nobody else knew what that had meant. They thought he might have been going to the grocery store or to a charity. How wrong they were…

7. This is all about God’s glory being made full in Jesus.
8. Jesus alludes to His going away, but I don’t think the disciples truly understood what He was talking about.
9. I don’t know if “love one another” is a NEW command. Maybe the newness of it is the fact that they now have Jesus’ example to follow. So…would the world know that you are a Christian by the way that you love people?
10. I love Peter. He pledged his undying loyalty to God. Which, if I’m honest, I do quite a bit. Unfortunately, like Peter, I am not capable to make those kinds of pledges and make good on them.
11. Jesus lays the truth on Peter. He’s not as committed as he thinks he is. He will not only not follow Jesus, he will actually deny him three times before daybreak. That’s our belief in self being contrasted with human weakness.


d254 The Devil Made Me Do It
February 4, 2008, 6:34 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, john, judas, luke, peter, satan

Read Luke 22:1-13.

1. Oh, man, here we go. We’re getting close to the Passion of the Christ…
2. Wow…so…we already knew that they were looking for a way to get rid of Jesus, and it appears that Satan gave them a solution. Question…do you think Judas had a choice as to whether Satan entered him, or do you think that this was the purpose of Judas’ life? Do you think that Judas’ previous behavior made him more susceptible to being “possessed”? Do you think this still can happen today?
3. Mental note: Jesus probably knows, in all the upcoming events, that Judas is possessed by Satan.
4. Judas knew that if he betrayed Jesus in a crowd that they’d probably not be successful. This was methodical. Why do you think Judas accepted money? I mean, if he was really possessed by Satan, do you think that the devil cares about money?

5. Jesus told Peter and John to get things ready for the Passover. I wonder why it isn’t common for Christians to honor the Passover. I mean, Jesus celebrated it.
6. It’s crazy to think that Jesus and His disciples were essentially homeless. Where would you make a meal if you had no home?
7. Here’s a specific time when Jesus tells them exactly where to go and what to do and what to say. Man, too bad life isn’t always that easy. We do have the compass of the Holy Spirit, though, to guide us towards where God is leading us…

d212 72 Is a Magic Number
December 3, 2007, 4:20 pm
Filed under: abraham, david, esther, god, jesus, job, luke, moses, satan

Read Luke 10:1-24.

1. Thirty-six pairs went out as workers. Do you think there was any significance in the number? I mean, 12 was always a good number. And three was too. So…twelve times three with two together. Hmm…seventy-two is a magic number.
2. Interestingly, Jesus is telling these 72 workers to pray for more “workers.” What is the “harvest”?
3. Who would send a lamb into a den of wolves? Hmm…following Christ is definitely risky.
4. Why not bring any supplies? Why not say “whassup” to people you saw on the road? Is Jesus trying to emphasize something here? Urgency? Focus?
5. So…stay where you are welcome. Don’t stay where you are not. Pretty clear. The idea, also, is that they would take whatever was provided for them. This is where that “the worker deserves his wages” comes from. What is the “work” that’s being done?
6. Why do you think it was important to stay in the same house?
7. “Eat whatever is set before you.” No problem.
8. They were to heal the sick and preach about the coming kingdom of God. What does the “kingdom of God is near you” mean?
9. Whew…wouldn’t want to be the town that wasn’t welcoming. Let’s do remember that Sodom that was destroyed, and that would be more enjoyable?
10. Uh oh…and then we get this list of places that rejected Jesus: Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. Jesus says that the pagan towns of Tyre and Sidon would have repented at the coming of Jesus, but they didn’t flinch. Uh oh…
11. It’s crazy to think that a follower of Jesus is like Jesus Himself in the regard that, if a person rejects him or her, they are also rejecting Jesus. And, if anyone rejects the actual call of Jesus directly to them…even worse, that’s like rejecting God Himself. I guess that’s why those towns had it so bad. They heard Jesus firsthand and didn’t respond.
12. I’d be stoked if I was casting out demons.
13. Jesus saw Satan falling from heaven because this new force was on earth, a force of people empowered by God to change the world. Awesome.
14. These guys were apparently impervious to poison (unless I’m being to literal here). God made it so that they could go around without fear of being “bitten.” I guess this is why there are those crazy snake-handling churches. I guess they think that they also have this same authority. That brings up an interesting question, though. Is that authority that God gave those 72 available to us today?
15. Jesus also reminds them to get over themselves. They should be thankful that they are going to be able to go to heaven. Christians do have a hard time getting over themselves sometimes (including me).
16. Jesus is full of joy because these guys are getting it done in His name. He is happy that these “little children” (maybe uneducated Jews) were changing the world.
17. It’s amazing to know that it is even a miracle to be able to recognize WHO Jesus is. And I still think that we don’t know God like Jesus does.
18. No doubt they were blessed. I feel blessed to read this. And I know people like Abraham, Moses, Job, Esther, and David would have died to see this happening!

d211 Lemme Upgrade
December 2, 2007, 3:57 pm
Filed under: abraham, god, jesus, john, satan

Read John 8:21-59.

1. Jesus really wants to communicate the fact that He’s going away. Do you think this is so that the disciples do not become attached to Him and instead focus on His teachings?
2. Some Jews thought Jesus was suicidal. Wow.
3. Wow, Jesus draws a line in the sand when He says “if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.”
4. Jesus talks about being “lifted up.” What does He mean there?
5. It’s amazing to think that Jesus was so in tune with the Father that He wouldn’t do anything that His Father had not asked Him to do.
6. People were putting there faith in Him. Well, I guess that’s better than asking silly questions and saying that He was “of the devil.”

7. A couple of key things: we demonstrate our being disciples of God by holding to Jesus’ teachings; and, when we do that, we will know the truth. This truth will set us free. Holy living is a reward in and of itself. We will be set free when we follow Jesus’ commands.
8. Always missing the point, the Jews say that they are not physical slaves to anyone. Of course, Jesus is talking about being a slave to sin. Or, maybe like Morpheus tells Neo in the Matrix, we are slaves in our minds.
9. Somewhere in here is the idea that we will go from being a slave to sin to a son of God. That’s (in the words of that stupid Beyonce song) an upgrade.
10. Somewhere along the line, the descendents of Abraham missed the point that Abraham learned directly from God. They think that if it doesn’t come from Abraham, it’s no good. Jesus is saying that His Father is bigger than their father.
11. When Jesus calls them on their failure to be like Abraham, they say that they aren’t “illegitimate children.” Hmm…could have fooled Jesus…

12. Jesus says that they would definitely recognize Jesus if they were their Father’s sons (and daughters). He implies that, perhaps, they have a different “father.” How about the “father of lies”?
13. We learn a little about Satan. Apparently, he was always a murderer, always a liar.
14. I bet it appalled Jesus on so many levels that these people wouldn’t listen to the truth. It’s like the Dr. Phil guest that just doesn’t get it. Only, we’re that Dr. Phil guest.
15. If we “belonged” to God, we would hear what He says. What do you think about that?

16. Wow, so they throw out racial slurs and accusations of being demon-possessed. Those Jews sure knew how to make Jesus feel welcome…
17. Yet again, Jesus reiterated that He is not even doing this for Himself–it’s all for the Father’s glory. Where’s the demon-possession in that?
18. Jesus promises eternal life to those who keep His word. Awesome.
19. This eternal life idea causes the Jews to go off. They can’t imagine being any more righteous than Abraham, and HE died. “Who do You think You are?” I can answer that one. Jesus.
20. Jesus again says that this idea of Him living forever isn’t something He made up to make Himself look good. This was God’s choice. This is God’s doing. And, even though Abraham did die physically, HE longed to see the day when Jesus (THE MESSIAH, THE SON OF GOD!) would come!
21. The Jews response: “You’re not old enough to have known Abraham.” He he he…yeah, well, that’s up for debate.
22. Talk about a conversation ender…Jesus says that before Abraham was born, He existed. His words, “I AM,” were clearly the name that God had given Moses in the burning bush! Jesus is saying that He is THAT GOD, the “I AM” GOD. No wonder they picked up stones. What would you have done?

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?

d194 Counting Sheep
November 8, 2007, 12:00 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, matthew, satan

Read Matthew 9:27-38.

1. Has anybody any wondered how blind men “followed” Jesus?
2. There they are, again, calling Jesus the “son of David.” This is a meaningful name for the Jewish people…it would be synonymous with “savior.” These guys believed in who Jesus was and what He could do…
3. Imagine Jesus touching your eyes and you could see. Wow. Why do you think that Jesus told them not to tell anyone?
4. Also, why do you think the two couldn’t keep their mouths shut?
5. Another demon-possessed guy. This guy was unable to speak because of the demon. Jesus caused the demon to go away and enabled the guy to speak. I wonder what he said?
6. Of course, the people were amazed. Yeah, I would be too.
7. There go those Pharisees again, saying that Jesus is by Satan’s strength that He’s casting out demons…uh oh…

8. Could you imagine someone who didn’t just preach, but actually healed everyone of everything? I know that a lot of televangelists claim to have the power of healing, and they have been to-do’s up on stage at their big events…but, does anyone else doubt the validity of what those guys are doing? Is that my weakness?
9. Jesus had compassion on the crowd because they were like “sheep without a shepherd.” Ok…I lived on a ranch with about fifteen sheep; and, to some degree, I think I can understand this. I remember what happened when the sheep lost their chief ram. Old Jed was getting a little too aggressive around my landlord’s baby, so they had to put him down. Anyway, after that, without their protector, the sheep acted weird. Harrassed is a good way to put it. Helpless is another. Not long after that, a mountain lion kept creeping onto the ranch during the middle of the night and taking out the ewe lambs one-by-one. It was so sad. My wife and I were there the day two of them were born, we held them in our arms; but, without the protection of Jed (who was like their shepherd), the mountain lion teed off on them. So…the people were like this because they were desperate, but they didn’t have anyone to make sense of things to them, to protect them from evil. But, now Jesus is here…
10. Then Jesus compares all these people, these people who need to hear the good news, who appear ready to hear the good news, He compares them to a harvest. If a farm doesn’t have enough people to pluck the fruit from a harvest, the harvest just goes to waste. Jesus tells these guys that they need to pray to God to bring enough “workers” into the field to receive all that God is doing. It’s interesting to think that if there are not enough “workers” out there that people who could have had faith won’t have faith. OK, Boss, where do You want me to start picking?

d191 Shining or Burning?
November 5, 2007, 1:02 pm
Filed under: god, jesus, matthew, satan

Read Matthew 13:24-43.

1. More stories about planting. I guess, in an agrarian society, this would make the most sense to them. This is pop(ular) culture to Jesus.
2. Dude, how much would that stink. You planted good stuff, and some jerk comes by in the middle of the night to plant weeds! Crazy. I’d be mad!
3. OK…so then the servant notices what has happened, and he goes to the master. And the master doesn’t want to uproot the weeds just yet because it could hurt the good stuff. He tells him to wait until harvest time. Wow.
4. So, interpretation here: God has planted His word in the Law, the prophets, and Jesus. The enemy (Satan) has sown in a bunch of lies. Instead of going on a rampage and destroying all evil in the world, it appears that God would prefer to “let things play out” and deal with it when it needs dealing with. What do you think about this approach? How could believers be hurt if God were to remove all lies and sin from the world too early?
5. Burning weeds…scary…

6. We got the mustard seed parable yesterday in the gospel of Mark.
7. OK…but we don’t know about the yeast. A woman works the tiny bit of yeast into a bunch of dough. (Incidentally, I was watching something on the news the other day about yeast that is like 100 years old that makes the best sourdough. They grow it, then cut it off. Yeast can last forever, as long as it stays alive.) Bottom line, the little bit can affect everything.
8. Jesus was always talking in parables to the crowds. Why? Why not tell them plainly what He means? (Besides the fact that it fulfills a prophecy from Psalms.)

9. Again, I would be wondering too if I was a disciple.
10. OK…so the sower is Jesus. The field is the world. The good seed is all believers. The weeds are the people who belong to Satan (wow…this brings up a whole question about how each “side” is decided during a lifetime). The devil is the enemy who sows. The harvest is the end of the age. And the harvesters are the angels. Whoah…so this isn’t about truth and lies. This is about believers and non-believers. This is about the fate of people. This is much more weighty with that explanation!
11. The angels will take all those who are evil and cause evil and they will be thrown into a “blazing furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” OK…taking the text as it is. This place is a real place. This in the interpretation of the parable. This place will be a blazing furnace. Fire? A lot of fire. I have heard people say that this is a metaphor for ultimate truth (because fire is a symbol of truth). Hmm…I don’t know if Jesus is in metaphor-mode right here.
12. A place of weeping. I think that’s pretty clear.
13. A place where people are gnashing their teeth. OK…i looked up “gnashing teeth” all over the web, and I came to this startling conclusion: there is no regret or remorse involved in this– this is about pain, anger, and frustration. In other words, the wicked who are in this furnace still will think they are right to be angry. Whoah. There will be no regret of actions on this earth or “poor choices.” Instead, at least, according to this passage, that they will simply be extremely uncomfortable and hopping mad about their current situation. Wow. What do you think about that place and those people?
14. And the people of God will shine like the sun. Very cool.