ripple effect: vacaville

d190 Seed Stories
November 4, 2007, 12:13 pm
Filed under: god, isaiah, jesus, mark, satan

Read Mark 4:1-29.

He he he…in college, I wrote a twelve-page paper on this parable for my Intro to the New Testament class. I’ll talk less about it today…

1. Jesus was always preaching by lakes, and He always seemed to be hopping in boats for space.
2. OK, so a farmer goes to plant seeds and he drops a lot on different types of ground with different effects: on the path (birds ate it), on rocky places (sprang up quickly and withered because it didn’t have roots), among thorns (choked the plant so it couldn’t produce grain), and on good soil (produced a crop that multiplied). Nice story.
3. I have ears.
4. So…Jesus seemed to tell these stories without explanation. It’s implied that he never really told the lake crowd what it meant. He left a lot up to interpretation!
5. Yeah, if I was a disciple, I’d be wondering what it meant too. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus tells them the “secrets,” but He doesn’t tell the others?
6. The Isaiah quote seems odd to me. I mean, wouldn’t you want them to perceive and understand? Wouldn’t Jesus explaining the parable while at the lake help people to turn and be forgiven?
7. Apparently this parable is one of the easier ones to understand, according to Jesus; and the disciples still don’t get it. Uh oh…
8. The farmer is someone who plants the “word” of God. Got it…
9. The seed on the path is like people who hear the Word of God but Satan swoops in and takes it away from them. Wow…how do you think that happens?
10. I can understand the seed on rocky places. It reminds me of retreats, mission trips, and good worship service responses. People get stoked, but then they lose their joy because they don’t think it’s important to have roots (accountability, a prayer life, regular time in the Bible). Yeah, the first time life throws them a curveball, they’re out because they aren’t “feeling it” anymore.
11. Another common one is when the seed hits the thorns. Life’s worries, wealth, and desires choke the growth of this person. That’s a pretty exhaustive list. Worry doesn’t seem like a sin, but it can hold you back. Wealth seems pretty ok (Joel Olsteen…cough, cough), but it can definitely prevent growth. And desires feel right (follow your heart?), but they can keep you from reaching your potential. In the end, a person that becomes consumed by one or any combination of these things doesn’t produce fruit because they are occupied on other stuff.
12. I like the good soil seeds. They produce. I guess it’s just because it is ready to receive it. They multiply. Good stuff.

13. I don’t put a lamp under a bowl! That’s silly, Jesus. Also, I don’t put it under my bed because that would light me on fire during the middle of the night.
14. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine…on a stand!
15. Now, what does Jesus mean by this light?
16. I have ears.
17. “The measure you use” what?

18. Another seed parable. In this one, though, I think it’s about the fact that, yes, we do have a role in His kingdom; but, at the same time, God’s work “sprouts” and “grows” without us knowing how. It’s about God’s power.


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?

d166 When I Dip, You Dip, We Dip
October 4, 2007, 5:19 pm
Filed under: god, isaiah, jesus, john, mark, satan

Read Mark 1:1-13.

1. Mark wasts no time calling Jesus the Son of God. Good. We’re all caught up.
2. Mark alludes to the prophecy of Isaiah about a forerunner to Jesus…a person who will bring the message of preparing the way of the Lord. Wouldn’t it be cool to look back at the life of Jesus and to realize how many of those old prophets’ words made more sense?
3. John the Baptist. OK…his main act: proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Why get baptized? To repent. What is repentance? Turning away from sin. And this would lead to forgiveness for these people because they would have turned away from their sin…or maybe they would be more ready to receive Jesus’ message (which would lead to THE forgiveness from sins).
4. That had to have been amazing. So many people confessing their sins and turning away. Wow.
5. John was extreme. Sounds like one of those Berkeley tree-huggers. He he he…
6. John was humble about his role…he knew that he was nothing compared to Jesus…
7. Baptism with water. OK…so, what are we seeing as its purpose? I’m seeing a sign of turning away from sin and being made clean. Oooh…baptism of the Holy Spirit…that sounds like that’s going to be cool… Why do you think people argue so much about what baptism means and how to do it “properly”?
8. Why do you think Jesus was baptized? I mean, didn’t he have no sins to turn from?
9. The heavens opening, the Holy Spirit descending like a dove, and a voice from heaven. Whoah! Trinity alert: Father talking, Son getting baptized, Spirit coming down.
10. Do you think something different happened to Jesus after the Holy Spirit descended on Him, like maybe this was when He was made “ready” to preach?
11. The Holy Spirit took Jesus out into the wilderness…do you think He was led out there to specifically be tempted by Satan? (40 days = a period of testing in Hebrew tradition)
12. The angels took care of Him out there. I wonder if they did that frequently while He was growing up…

133 A Personal God?
September 1, 2007, 11:59 am
Filed under: david, god, psalms, satan

Read Psalm 8:1-9.

OK…like I said, I’m not going to talk about the Psalms in between…so here we go.

1. Just looked up “majestic” in a dictionary. Two things stuck out: a) it means that it is above mundane, ordinary things b) it just meens worthy of praise and honor because of nobility. I think God’s name makes every other name appear mundane. Kind of makes you wonder about the whole “Jesus is my homeboy” movement.
2. God’s glory is above the heavens. Well, I’ll put it this way. I think that the expanse of the cosmos is pretty glorious, pretty impressive…if God’s glory is greater than that, my head my blow up trying to think about it.
3. Hmm…strength out of the mouths of babes and infants? Are we the babes an infants? I guess David might be comparing himself to God, and that makes him on baby-level? And…we get strength against our enemies even though we are this small. Wow. We can still “the enemy” and “the avenger.” Hmm…enemies of God? Satan?
4. Yeah…I know my wife’s taking astronomy right now, and space is huuuge. So…wow…we are pretty small to be cared about as much as we are. (Side note, I bet David had a lot of time during his shepherding days to look up at the sky at night and think about this.)
5. We have been made a “little lower than God” or “heavenly beings.” Either way, it doesn’t seem possible, does it? The Trinity of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) have perfect intimacy with each other; and, yet, They invite us into that! Whoah.
6. What did we do to get this glory and honor?
7. We have dominion over all the animals. We rule. Interesting question then, in light of the whole Michael Vick situation…where does that dominion become un”ethic”al. I have noticed in my life that a lot of animal “rights” activists aren’t very “ethic”al in their day-to-day lives, but they sure do like to take care of those animals. I mean, I have a suspicion it’s wrong to kill dogs for money…but, then again, where does the line begin and end…hunting? Rodeo? Bull-fighting? Horse-racing? Having pets? Zoos? Circuses? Traveling on horse-back? Eating meat? It’s a huge source of debate within my household, and I’m interested to see what people have to say about this whole “dominion” over animals thing. And, secondly, isn’t David using this fact as a way to say that God is awesome? Is PETA basically saying that God made a mistake by letting us rule over the animals? Hmm… Super tangent.
8. Anyway, God is majestic. David gives some reasons: His care for us, the greatness of his creation, and the fact that we are allowed to be “in on” all of it.

d129 “Do Your Worst!”
August 28, 2007, 4:24 pm
Filed under: bildad, eliphaz, god, job, satan, zophar

Read Job 2:1-13.

1. Yeah…so the next part begins just like the last part. Must be some kind of literary device…parallelism?
2. “He still holds fast to his integrity.” Cool. Don’t you wish God would say that about you?
3. So…Satan thinks that if God allows him to mess around with Job’s body that he’ll buckle. Interesting theory…
4. God doesn’t want him to die, but he tells Satan to do his worst.
5. Hmm…I bet these loathsome sores were not cool at all. Now, I know that when I had chicken pox when I was a kid that my mom told me not to scratch. This hurt so bad that Job swipes a piece of pottery to scratch with. Man…that had to hurt!
6. I joke around a lot and talk about when wives don’t support their husbands–I call them “curse God and die” moments. Boy, that Job’s wife. She sure does have a lot of faith, doesn’t she?
7. Man…I am so surprised at Job’s level-headedness. Should we only expect “good” things from God?
8. So then his three buddies show up: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. It’s nice that they originally came to comfort their friend. Good guys…
9. Imagine how jacked up Job must have been! His own friends didn’t even recognize him!
10. Wow…they sat for seven whole days without saying a word. You know…sometimes, you don’t have to say anything…they’re going to get into real trouble once they start talking.

128 About as Depressing as a Country-Western Song
August 27, 2007, 12:14 pm
Filed under: esther, god, haman, job, mordecai, satan, xerxes

Read Job 1:1-22.

[Stuff we’re skipping:

* The book of Esther wraps up with Mordecai taking over Haman’s house after Esther explains to Xerxes that he is her cousin. Esther is allowed to reverse the edict to kill the Jews. She actually writes it and the king signs off on it! After the edict had been reversed, people were converting to Judaism.

* The killing actually happened in reverse. On the day that the Jews were supposed to be killed, all those who wanted to have the Jews killed were killed (with support from the government). Even all of Haman’s sons were killed, along with 750,000 people who were against the Jews in the neighboring provinces. The holiday of Purim was inaugurated that day–a day to celebrate when disaster turned to rejoicing. In the end, both Mordecai and Esther were in powerful positions of influence to maintain the welfare of the Jews in Persia.]

And now…Job. This story is written by an unknown author and takes place somewhere around 2000 BC to 500 BC. Yeah, that’s a wide frame of time, but understand that this is a really old story, and it could occur anywhere from the time of Abraham to the time of the judges to the time of the kings to the time of the exile. Anyway, the story is definitely applicable to all who read…

1. So…first thing we learn about Job is that he had good character. Second thing…he had a lot of stuff.
2. It is obvious that Job loves God and loves his family. He blesses all his kids and offers sacrifices to God on their behalf. Good dad.
3. All of a sudden, the story gets zoomed way out to the cosmic level. We get to see an interaction between God and Satan! Whoah. This is rare.
4. From the interchange between God and Satan, we can glean some understanding of the role of Satan in the world. It appears that God has granted Satan permission to go “to and fro” on the earth. Also, it seems obvious that Satan is ultimately subject to God’s authority. What’s interesting, though, is that God “brags on” Job here. He seems like a proud Father, wanting to show off how cool his son is to Satan.
5. Satan doesn’t mess around. And it’s obvious that he doesn’t appreciate God’s way of doing things. He’s angry because Job is blessed. And he thinks that if that is taken away, Job will stop being so cool. First question: what do you think this “hedge” of protection God gives Job is? Do you think it’s some cosmic thing, or do you think it’s just the fact that Job doesn’t really want for anything?
6. So Satan thinks that Job is going to curse God if things stop going his way. He wouldn’t be the first or the last, would he?
7. God gives him permission to take everything away–just don’t touch him. I’m thinking this was an errand that Satan was looking forward to running.
8. Country song:

“The Sabeans sold mah oxens and donkeys;
Mah servants was hacked to death.
Far fell from heav’n and burned up mah sheep and shepherds;
Chaldeans stole mah camels and killed mah camel-riders;
But worst of all…
All mah chillins were havin’ a party
When a tornader swooped down and killed all of ’em.”

9. I think Hank Williams sang that song. Anyway…look at Job’s response! What would you do? Really, what would you do? Because, Job physically shows signs of mourning and WORSHIPS God!?!? What about you…really?
10. Then Job gets philosophical: born naked…die naked. Everything that is gained in this world is added by God, so when He takes it away, is it really like He’s stealing?
11. “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord.” A great song written by Matt Redman and his wife after the events of 9/11. And here it is…the source. Job’s heart chose to worship God anyway…when it didn’t make sense! Wow.
12. And look at the comment. Job didn’t sin. Man.

d2 The Creation of Woman & The Fall
April 9, 2007, 4:29 pm
Filed under: adam, eve, genesis, god, jesus, satan

Read Genesis 2:15 – 3:24

We’re skipping a little here; but, of course, you can read the stuff in between. We’re skipping over the creation of Adam; but, then again, maybe we shouldn’t. In that particular passage, God seems very intentional in what He is creating. So…does that put the creation account against the idea of evolution?

Here are some thoughts on the passage you read:

1. People think of Christianity as a huge list of don’ts. But, how many don’ts are there in the beginning?
2. Did you notice that it says that men need women, that it’s not good for a man to be alone? What do you think about that?
3. Ladies, what do you think about the term “helper” to describe women?
4. Scientific question: we all know that scientists name animals (ie, the duck-billed platypus). Does this passage suggest that every animal has a unique name given to them by Adam?
5. Guys, do you see how man picked up his first girlfriend? He didn’t. God did it for him. He was sleeping. Is there anything to learn from that?
6. According to the Bible, what is the purpose of marriage? What does that little phrase mean?
7. How cool would it be to run around naked and not be ashamed?

Also, check out the serpent’s strategy to tempt Eve (and Adam):

8. The serpent phrases his first question to make it sound like God is keeping her from so much, when, in reality, if you look at the original command from God, there is only one restriction.
9. Notice that the serpent uses the “God is holding back on you” technique to get her to eat the fruit.

Now, before we lash out at womankind for being deceived…let’s not forget about that tiny little phrase about where Adam was throughout this exchange…”who was with her” or “with her.” Adam was there, knew what to do, and didn’t say a thing!

10. Guys, what can you learn about leadership and being assertive from this passage?
11. Cool little detail, God would meet with Adam and Eve during the cool of the day, when it would be most comfortable for them.
12. Why would God ask, “Where are you?” when He knows everything already?
13. Check out the excuse-o-meter: Adam blames God for giving him Eve, blames Eve for giving him the fruit. Eve blames the serpent. No one really accepts responsibility for failing to follow God.

About the curses:

14. Check out the serpent’s curse…did he used to have legs? What does “he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel” mean? Hint, some people think it has something to do with Satan and Jesus.
15. Check out the woman’s curse…ouch on childbirth (and maybe periods, too?); and what does “your desire shall be for your husband” an “he shall rule over you” mean?
16. Check out the man’s curse…having to work to get food out of the ground and having to work, work, work.

17. Adam and Eve had a way of covering up their sin, but God made a new way (animal skins are better than fig leaves, but they require sacrifice!)
18. So…God kicks man out…He doesn’t want man to live, in broken connection with God, for the rest of his life.
19. Just a side note, my friend, Jared, has the cherubim with the flaming sword as a tatoo on his arm.

So…yeah…there’s a ton in there. Only respond as you feel led. Don’t feel like this is a crazy burden. What, of all that, sticks out to you?

This is a fundamental part of the Bible because this is where sin enters the world; and, from this point on, the relationship between man and God is not what it was originally.