Trouble

If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge—
then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.” (Psalm 91:9-1)

If God loves me so much, then why does my life suck so badly? It is odd, really, that human beings imagine that love can’t hurt. God says that “I will rescue him.” This implies a need for being rescued. If you need to be rescued, that means you’re in a bad place, whether through your poor choices, or whether through circumstances beyond your control. God doesn’t say, “I’ll never need to rescue you.” God will not protect us from being uncomfortable, unhappy, lonely, disappointed, hungry, tired, short of cash, sick, or victimized. In the same breath that he says “I will protect him” he says “I will be with him in trouble.”

When we marvel at how someone survives a disaster and comment how God protected them. But why didn’t God keep that bad thing from happening in the first place? We are impressed how God preserved the lives of everyone in the plane that crashed in the Hudson River. But why did it crash in the first place? Wouldn’t it have been easier to keep them all safe if the plane had just gone to its destination without incident?

God promised no harm, and yet every day his people suffered death and destruction. How did that work? God promised long life, but he didn’t promise we won’t die. And death is not the worst thing that can happen to us, after all. Whatever we face, what God promises is simply that he will be there with us: nothing we face do we face alone, no matter how much it hurts. And someday the resurrection is coming. By “no harm” he means that whatever happens to us happens for a good reason, not a bad one, even if we don’t—and can’t—see it.

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Dragon V.2

dragonv2

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Grasshoppers

John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.

Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:4-15)

John did not eat grasshoppers because he liked them or because they were low in fat. He ate them because that was the only kosher meat he could find in the middle of nowhere. He proclaimed a message of repentance and he proclaimed that a man would soon come to baptize people with the Holy Spirit. That someone was the Messiah, the promised savior of Israel. When the Messiah, Jesus, arrived, he took John’s message of the Gospel and brought it back from the wilderness.

“Gospel” is an old English translation of the Greek word that just means “good news.” So what was the good news Jesus taught? First, the kingdom of God was near. Second, repent of your sins. And third, believe it!

Repentance is not just about feeling bad for your sins. Repentance is all about changing your mind. It means that you realize you’re going the wrong way, so you turn around, and take a different path.

Jesus’ Good News is that the kingdom is here, you’ve been going away from it, but he wants to show you how to go toward it.

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Deliverance

But thus says the LORD:
“Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away,
And the prey of the terrible be delivered;
For I will contend with him who contends with you,
And I will save your children.
I will feed those who oppress you with their own flesh,
And they shall be drunk with their own blood as with sweet wine.
All flesh shall know
That I, the LORD, am your Savior,
And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Isaiah 49:25-26)

God has more in mind than we do. His mind is bigger than ours. Israel wanted to be delivered from their enemies and God promised them that deliverance. God also told them that every human being would know that God was their savior, their redeemer and the mighty one of Israel.

Why should everyone know of God’s deliverance? God was not going to save only the people of Israel. God’s goal was to rescue everyone. And the rescue was not just, or even primarily physical rescue. His concern was not just to send a captive people back home to their Promised Land. Rather, the physical rescue served as a parable for the real task that God had envisioned. The story of God’s people was the story of salvation: God’s ability to rescue his people from their physical trials was proof of his ability to save them from their spiritual trials: their bondage to sin could be broken just as easily as their physical chains. Bringing them to freedom in Christ mattered more to God than anything else.

God loved his people and intended to rescue them. But God loved those who were not yet his people and intended to transform them from enemies into friends. He intends to deliver us all from our slavery.

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Fear Not

In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Do not fear;
Zion, let not your hands be weak.
The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
“I will gather those who sorrow over the appointed assembly,
Who are among you,
To whom its reproach is a burden.
Behold, at that time
I will deal with all who afflict you;
I will save the lame,
And gather those who were driven out;
I will appoint them for praise and fame
In every land where they were put to shame.
At that time I will bring you back,
Even at the time I gather you;
For I will give you fame and praise
Among all the peoples of the earth,
When I return your captives before your eyes,”
Says the Lord. (Zephaniah 3:16-20)

God tells us “do not fear” because we’d really like to be afraid. God does not just warn us away from those things that we’d really like to do. “Do not eat the dirt,” is an unlikely commandment. But there are other things equally unpleasant, that appear desirable or reasonable at first glance. Fear is that way, and certainly for Jerusalem they had many things to fear. Zephaniah prophesied during a time of revival, but the international situation was in flux: the balance of power was shifting to Babylon and the revival had touched but few: the rot in the heart of Israel remained festering with no solution left but exile. Captivity was inevitable, the destruction of Jerusalem guaranteed. How could there be no fear facing that?

But Zephaniah pointed out that someday their punishment would be past tense. In that day, Jerusalem would stop being afraid. In that day, God’s love would quiet them instead of punish them. Their hearts would grow calm and then turn to joy. The captives would come home. Whether times are good or times are bad, we are still with God. We do not need to be afraid. With God, we can capture the attitude of joy we will have tomorrow when the pain of today has become yesterday.

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Good Times Coming

“Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
he who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere youth;
he who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed.
They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
No longer will they build houses and others live in them,
or plant and others eat.
For as the days of a tree,
so will be the days of my people;
my chosen ones will long enjoy
the works of their hands.
They will not toil in vain
or bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the LORD,
they and their descendants with them.
Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
but dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the LORD. (Isaiah 65:20-2)

People had lived a long time on the wrong side of morning. But the dawn finally came. The last of Isaiah’s prophesies predicted a new heavens and a new earth, a time when weeping would cease, when infants would not die shortly after birth, when people would live well into old age, when they would build houses, plant vineyards and harvest the fruit produced and keep it all for themselves instead of giving it to others. When we hear God telling his people about “new heavens and new earth” we are tempted to imagine that God is talking about the eternal kingdom. When we see the wolf and lamb feeding together, the lion eating straw, and dust becoming the food of serpents, it is hard to think of anything else. But in between those words, God spoke of people dying: that those who died at a hundred were dying young. God spoke about babies being born. Neither death nor babies being born seems to fit the normal notion about the Kingdom of Heaven. So what to make of the passage, then?

Are the blessings of the passage literal, or are they analogical? A clue comes from remembering that God chose to speak in poetry. The purpose of the passage is to tell us of the hope that is to come when God truly reigns in the lives of his people. The serpent eating dust takes us back to the curse in Genesis following Adam and Eve’s first sin. God proclaimed victory over the old.

In Christ, we become new creatures. The old has passed away. All things become new. The strength and power of sin are gone, the strong no longer prey on those who are weak. God spoke of the healing of old ills, of joy and life, of security and fellowship with him and harmony in the creation that comes to us in Christ. The kingdom of heaven even now lives in our hearts. No matter what the world may throw at us today, God still reigns.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 First Stage Recovery Test

From a chase plane:

From the booster:

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Bigelow BEAM

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Star Trek Technology

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He Has His Ways

He said, “Listen, all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, and King Jehoshaphat: Thus says the LORD to you: ‘Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s. Tomorrow go down against them; they will come up by the ascent of Ziz; you will find them at the end of the valley, before the wilderness of Jeruel. This battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.”

Then Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the LORD, worshiping the LORD. And the Levites, of the Kohathites and the Korahites, stood up to praise the LORD, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice. (2 Chronicles 20:15-1)

God has his own ways of taking care of things. No matter what methods he happens to use, all that God’s people have to do is believe him and do what he says. Somehow, God makes it all work out.

Jehoshaphat was facing an invasion of the Moabites and Ammonites coming from Edom on the other side of the Dead Sea. He was the king. This was his responsibility. It was his job to do something. But Jehoshaphat didn’t have any way of stopping the invasion. So he called all the people to fast. The people of Judah and Jerusalem came to Jerusalem and sought for help from God. Jehoshaphat led them in prayer, concluding that “we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12).

God’s spirit came upon one man, a Levite named Jahaziel and God told him what to do. Jehoshaphat and the people responded by bowing down, worshipping God and thanking him, then Jehoshaphat sent his army to face the enemies approaching Jerusalem. At the front of his army, he had people singing and praising God. And his army never had to face the enemy. Instead, God made the enemies fight among themselves. They destroyed one another. All Jehoshaphat’s army had to do that day was gather the plunder left behind.

If God has given you a job to do, then do it. God will make sure it works out if you do as he instructs, ever depending and trusting in him. Even when it seems hopeless.

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