Self-Driving Cars: Programmed to Fail

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The next big life changing advancement in modern society must be the self-driving car. When I was growing up I thought cars would fly but that practicality has never materialized. The idea that a car could drive itself is even now at this moment something many may scoff at. Except the technology is already here. Cars are on the road driving themselves based on destination information provided by a user. The technology is being integrated into production cars at a fast pace. In production now are cars that will stop on their own to prevent a crash, cars that will parallel park themselves, and cars that auto pilot once on the interstate. This technology is a game changer. A car could be ordered and it would arrive at your location without the need for a driver to bring it. The application of the technology in long haul trucking or other businesses is far reaching. Proponents claim that computers will be safer than human drivers and that may well be the case at some point however self-driving cars will still never be perfect. There have been deaths in the past due to errors in the computer programming and there will be deaths in the future.

However, what is more interesting about this technology is that developers will need to make ethical choices in the computer logic. They have programmed the car in the right situations to crash endangering the driver verses a crash that might hit something else.

Self-Driving cars will never be perfect. They will always fall short of being perfectly safe. Just like the self-driving car that will never be perfect we are not perfect. We fall short before God’s perfect expectations.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23 ESV

It is a sad state that is hard accept. All have sinned. All are broken. All fail. All are second place. There is no way that we can be perfectly safe any more than 100 years of self-driving cars can be programmed to be 100% safe.

But God is better than the best programmers. Programmers are stuck working with the laws of physics and limited knowledge of what other cars or people are doing. So they must write code that could decide death for the passenger. God does not need to deal with the ethics of programming failure. God is literal perfection and his solutions will always be perfect. He knows all things so there are no surprises that he must account for. So what is the solution? How does God break out of our earthly failure to give us heavenly perfection?

21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. Romans 3:21-22 NLT

God’s solution, his heavenly perfect solution, is to save people apart of the laws that highlight our failures. No longer is second place a problem. No longer is my brokenness a hinderance. My sins are no longer held against me.  God has made me right when I placed my faith in Jesus Christ. It is not works, privilege, power, money, or family. Faith in Christ is freely available to all no matter where or in what time.

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8 ESV

1 Samuel 2:26 | #Blessed

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Some people seem to have a perfect life. Everything they touch turns to gold. Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, comes to mind. He has a perfect family. Financial independence. As close to perfection as one can be on the football field. He is a winner. I wonder sometimes how it is even possible to be that successful. Tom Brady has mastered the perfect media persona and there are many people who want to emulate that packaged presentation. Even everyday people like me post the best photos and highlight the events we want everyone to see. The problem with our media selves is that it is almost all fake and illusion. We present only a cherry-picked view or highlight of life. Our poor youth think that these lives online are real and then they are devastated when they can’t live up to the unrealistic expectations. Even Tom Brady is not perfect and has issues and burdens he must carry. I have observed teens absolutely melt down because of social media posts that were not favorable. The obsession around self-worth found online is more than concerning and impacts our very mental wellbeing.

Success is sometimes ascribed to God. In fact, many people do this by saying they are #Blessed because of some earthly success in their lives. If one person has more money than someone else then some believe that God has blessed the person because they have money.

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Is there any truth to this perspective? Samuel the leader of Israel is one of those blessed people. He is blessed by God from the very start of his life.

26 And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with people. 1 Samuel 2:26 ESV

Further once Samuel came into power the Bible states that the “hand of the Lord” was actively engaged to support the hot political agenda of that day in Samuel’s favor. Even further God picked sides and lifted Samuel up by pushing others down.

So the Philistines were subdued and they stopped invading Israel’s territory. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines. 1 Samuel 7:13 ESV

God did bless Samuel in his professional life as a ruler and priest. We also see this phrase “hand of Lord” in other places throughout the Bible. Of note is the description of the very early church.

19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. Acts 11:19-21 ESV

Here is God’s hand clearly at work and it states that their actions came with success because of God. Now before there is any confusion or taking a truth out of context there is something fundamental we can take away from these instances of God’s blessing on these people.

There are two key observations about Samuel and the early church that we must understand before we ascribe #blessings on anyone.

First the Lord’s hand is not on just anyone but on people dedicated to Him. Samuel is a priest of Israel. The early church fathers found God’s hand working for them when they were sharing the gospel of good news about Jesus.

Second of note that none of these people had perfect or pain free lives. (If you are looking for a Christianity that makes you happy and free of pain then you are looking for something that does not exist. Jesus said pick up your cross and follow me. He died a painful death on his cross)

Samuel’s life was not perfect. Like Eli before him his sons did not follow in ways of the Lord.

3 But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. 1 Samuel 8:3 ESV

How painful must that have been to see his children not following God but following their own desires. Obviously, Samuel has serious problems on the home front. Or look at the early church who had the hand of God on their work. That blessing came in the midst of Stephen being killed. These men had fled their home leaving behind material things, family, and community because of Christ. The world that would sign #blessed for YouTube stars would call these followers of Christ losers in life.

This brings us to the conclusion that there are two types of blessings. First is the type that Tom Brady clearly has in his life. That is the general blessing of God that is on all people (some more than others). All people are created equal in the image of God but not all people are created equal in opportunity.

For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:45b ESV

Success in this life is nice but this kind of success has nothing to do with the blessing of God where it matters and that falls in the second category of blessing. The blessing of God’s outpouring of eternal significance. The Philistines wanted to enslave the Israelites and corrupt them with an unholy culture. Samuel was blessed by God so that the Philistines were unsuccessful for the benefit of the nation of Israel and God’s glory. The early church found success in the murder of Stephen to share the good news of Jesus to the benefit of the church and for God’s glory.

Be blessed like Samuel and the Church fathers because their rewards are eternal. Tom Brady’s reward is here and now and will be gone in a season.

The Hero of Spirit and Life

Human Effort

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What are superheroes? Well does it not say it all in the name… Superman! They are super human. Better than humans. They have that “X-factor”. Something that makes them better. In the past these superheroes were part God, part man. Hercules son of Zeus the strongest man to ever live. Now there are people in general culture who believe we will one day evolve these super human abilities. Yes your descendants might one day be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. For me in the here and now I have only evolved the super human skill of digesting cheese (that is no joke click the link). When I watch TV or Movies then I know that every “hero” makes the superhuman look easy. Falling, shooting, hacking computers there is no limit to their pain tolerance, hand eye coordination, or knowledge. Those are heroes that are…

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Genesis 3:17 | The Curse with a Promise

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Genesis chapter three is a pivotal entry into the history of creation. It is the event that changed the course of mankind and explains why the world is the way it is today. Without Genesis chapter three it would be impossible to understand the evil and hardships of this present world. What happened then that directly links to now is that the first man and woman living in a perfect habitat broke fellowship with their Creator. Two people without a care or want found the one thing that was off limits and started a rebellion that is still ongoing today.

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:2-5 ESV

Why is there evil in the world? Why is life hard? Why is there death? Why are so many relationships difficult or strained? Why is there war? Why would a loving God create such a world that we see today? The answers to these and many like them are found here in chapter three as the consequence of what happened on that day at the beginning of the created world.

As a result of what our grandparents Adam and Eve did on that fateful day God leveled out three curses one to each participant in this first transgression. I will cover the First curse to Satan and Third curse to Adam in this post and leave the second curse to Eve for another time. The Third curse that was leveled that day was on Adam and this curse impacts all of the created world.

17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:17-19 ESV

In this curse there are three parts that impact humankind in general and make up the order of the fallen world we live in. First is that Humans would live in pain and hard work all the days of our lives. The ground will not give to us without work and perseverance. Even then what we work for will be fraught with thorns and disease. Imagine the created world that God had looked at in the beginning and saw as good has now become a source of pain and toil for all that live in it.

20 So I turned about and gave my heart up to despair over all the toil of my labors under the sun, 21 because sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity and a great evil. Ecclesiastes 2:20 ESV

Second Humankind will face death itself. We once were created to live forever with God in the perfect world, but now it is a guarantee that we will return to the dust from where we came. I can’t imagine the weight of such a concept on Adam since before this moment death would have only been an abstract idea and not a reality in the perfect world that God had created.

For the wages of sin is death, Romans 6:23a ESV

Third this curse impacts more than just Adam and Eve it impacts all of creation including the universe itself. The weight of sin and rebellion to the Creator is so serious and is so destructive that the entire universe has fallen. A sun that was created to live forever will one day fail. We see evidence of the failure when looking out into the universe and see stars that have exploded causing destruction in all directions. A current fear of mankind is that one day an asteroid could crash into this planet ending all life. What had once been created for perfection and eternity is now temporary.

20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. Romans 8:20-22 ESV

However devastating this curse was to Adam and to everyone reading this post the First curse God made was to Satan and in this curse we find the present hope we have Christ.

14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:14-15 ESV

There are two curses in this section that we should take note of. First is the curse that all animals must endure along with everything else. Have you ever wondered why God made the mosquito? They are irritating and they carry disease. Why would God have looked at the mosquito and thought to himself this is good? The result here is that animals and insects are all under the curse. Whatever their original purpose they are now only twisted curse infused replicas of the original. Animals were not originally created to kill and hunt each other. There was no death before these curses.

The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the Lord. Isaiah 65:25 ESV

Second and take note of this is the promise of God to undo the harm Satan intended. Through the offspring of Eve God will strike a crushing blow to Satan’s head and while the blow will be painful to the offspring of Eve it will not be fatal to this future person of promise.

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 ESV

This curse to Satan is a promise to us that God would restore what was broken. The curse that God laid out is actually a blessing because this present world must be destroyed in order to create a new heaven and new earth free from the broken relationship that was caused here in chapter three. Without the curse and the eventual destruction of what had once been perfect we would live on forever in pain and toil forever struggling without a relationship with our maker.

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 ESV

23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:23 ESV

We live in a brief moment of grace that God has provided in this cursed and dying world. Turn from your rebellion against God and seek salvation in the promised savior. Our hope and our future lies only in Christ and the restoration he provides from what happened to creation so many years ago.

The Hero of Spirit and Life

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What are superheroes? Well does it not say it all in the name… Superman! They are super human. Better than humans. They have that “X-factor”. Something that makes them better. In the past these superheroes were part God, part man. Hercules son of Zeus the strongest man to ever live. Now there are people in general culture who believe we will one day evolve these super human abilities. Yes your descendants might one day be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. For me in the here and now I have only evolved the super human skill of digesting cheese (that is no joke click the link). When I watch TV or Movies then I know that every “hero” makes the superhuman look easy. Falling, shooting, hacking computers there is no limit to their pain tolerance, hand eye coordination, or knowledge. Those are heroes that are championed everywhere we look. People who can save us from the enemy. Jesus had those kinds of skills for real. 

When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself. John 6:14-15 ESV 

The disciples most closely following Jesus wanted him to kill the Romans and become king as well. Jesus blows up this idea because unlike the superheroes that mankind craves Jesus is not here for the temporary things of this life. Jesus refuses to use his powers the way they wanted, the way they expected, or the way they demanded. 

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. John 6:60-63 ESV 

What! The “flesh is no help at all”, did he just say that superman can’t help? Did he just say an army behind the most powerful superhuman ever to walk the earth is of no help? It begs the question then help to do what? Certainly Jesus could have kicked Rome out of Jerusalem. Jesus had another agenda for his super human skills and the people of then and the people of today do not like that agenda. The plans that Jesus had that he spoke about in this conversation with the disciples involved something more than human. These plans involved “spirit and life”. Jesus did something crazy. He did something Heroic. He allowed the evil of this world to kill him. He willingly allowed himself to die because as he said “the flesh is of no help” in solving this problem.  

No sooner were the words out of his mouth when Judas, the one out of the Twelve, showed up, and with him a gang of ruffians, sent by the high priests, religion scholars, and leaders, brandishing swords and clubs. The betrayer had worked out a signal with them: “The one I kiss, that’s the one—seize him. Make sure he doesn’t get away.” He went straight to Jesus and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. The others then grabbed him and roughed him up. One of the men standing there unsheathed his sword, swung, and came down on the Chief Priest’s servant, lopping off the man’s ear. Jesus said to them, “What is this, coming after me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day I’ve been sitting in the Temple teaching, and you never so much as lifted a hand against me. What you in fact have done is confirm the prophetic writings.” All the disciples cut and ran. Mark 14:43-50 (MSG) 

Jesus could have started a war. He could have let Peter go all Jack Bauer on those men, and Peter wanted that war. Rome could have fallen. The world could have fallen on their knees before the feet of Jesus. That moment could have been it. But Jesus refused. He stopped Peter and all the disciples “cut and ran”. What is so heroic or super human about this? Would it not be more heroic to become king and force all the world into peace ending the evil we see? Would not a King Jesus be better than the evil we see in wars of divided mankind? Let us pause before answering that question and see the birth announcement of Jesus by the angels themselves.  

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11 ESV  

Did you hear that women and men, boys and girls, workers and executives, Kings and homeless? Jesus was born to save and he saved everyone through his death. If he had become King at that moment when the world came to kill him then he would have been king over a people of death. Savior would not have been his title. Jesus came not to be a king over dead people, but to be king over a regenerated and living people. Jesus came not to be King over Rome, but to be King over death itself. 

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, Hebrews 2:14 ESV 

Remember Jesus telling the disciples that he was here for “spirit and life” and the “flesh is no help at all”? Jesus knew what he was doing. His death gave me life. His death covered over my shame and my sins. His death reconciled me to God who created me. Jesus the most heroic super human savior the world will ever see died in my place that I might be made alive in the spirit.  

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 1 Peter 3:18 ESV