Love Song

I’ll sing a ballad to the one I love,
a love ballad about his vineyard:
The one I love had a vineyard,
a fine, well-placed vineyard.
He hoed the soil and pulled the weeds,
and planted the very best vines.
He built a lookout, built a winepress,
a vineyard to be proud of.
He looked for a vintage yield of grapes,
but for all his pains he got junk grapes.
“Now listen to what I’m telling you,
you who live in Jerusalem and Judah.
What do you think is going on
between me and my vineyard?
Can you think of anything I could have done
to my vineyard that I didn’t do?
When I expected good grapes,
why did I get bitter grapes?” (Isaiah 5:1-5)

Unrequited love is unfulfilling. It is more painful than simply being lonely. But unrequited love is the love that God has more familiarity with than any other kind. God pictured Israel as a carefully tended and protected vineyard. But despite all the efforts of the farmer, the vineyard was completely unproductive, giving grapes that were good for nothing.

And it wasn’t the farmer’s fault that the vineyard was so bad. There was nothing more that the famer could have done. He did everything right; everything perfectly. There was nothing he could have done better.

The point of the parable was simple: Israel was without excuse. God was not demanding from them that they love him in the face of unrelenting misery. He did not ask them to return good for the evil being heaped upon them. He made it easy: he gave them everything, made them prosper, gave them anything they needed or asked for. And what did God get back?

Most people respond to good gifts with at least a thank you. They feel obligated to the person who has treated them well. But not God’s people. The nicer he was to them, the worse they treated him. Like a bad vineyard, they gave him stuff that wouldn’t even make good vinegar.

Despite the misery and evil they gave God, he always and forever did—and continued to do—what was good for them. God’s love is not dependent upon the actions of those he loves. God’s love comes from who he is.

Send to Kindle
Posted in Bible, Religion, Theology | Leave a comment

What’s Wrong with Google?

Quartz Hill School of Theology received the following notice from Google:

This is a warning message to alert you that there is action required to bring your AdSense account into compliance with our AdSense program policies. We’ve provided additional details below, along with the actions to be taken on your part.

Affected website: theology.edu
Example page where violation occurred: http://www.theology.edu/antisemitism.htm
Action required: Please make changes to your site within 3 business days.
Current account status: Active

Violation explanation

Google does not allow the monetization of content that may be sensitive, tragic, or hurtful. While we believe strongly in the freedom of expression and offer broad access to content across the Web without censoring search results, we reserve the right to exercise discretion when reviewing sites and determining whether or not we are able to provide a positive user experience delivering contextually targeted ads to a site with this type of content.

For more information, please review Google’s program policies.

My guess is that this communication from Google is an example of the words attributed to Napoleon:

“Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.”

It seems unlikely, therefore, that Google has become antisemitic and is upset that we trashed antisemitism, though it is entirely possible that antisemites wrote to Google to “alert” them to our page with a claim that it was “offensive.” I suspect Google’s response to claims of offensive content is to assume guilt. I could be wrong, but it is hard for me to understand otherwise–besides the possibility that whoever reviewed the claim against us is an idiot. It is far less likely that Google has an evil antisemitic whackjob working for them. If an antisemite found our site “hurtful” then good. Maybe they’ll repent of their evil ways.

In any case, Eric G Miller removed the Google ads from that page. Perhaps that will be enough to satisfy the stupid autoprogram or bureaucrat at Google.

Send to Kindle
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

Send to Kindle
Posted in Bible, Religion, Writing | Leave a comment

Dragon V.2

dragonv2

Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration.

Send to Kindle
Posted in Science, Space, Technology | Leave a comment

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.

Send to Kindle
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

Send to Kindle
Posted in Bible, Religion, Theology | Leave a comment

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.

Send to Kindle
Posted in Bible, Religion, Theology | Leave a comment

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.

Send to Kindle
Posted in Bible, Religion, Theology | Leave a comment

SpaceX Falcon 9 First Stage Recovery Test

From a chase plane:

From the booster:

Send to Kindle
Posted in Science, Space, Technology | Leave a comment

Bigelow BEAM

Source SPACE.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Send to Kindle
Posted in Science, Space, Technology | Leave a comment