“Fault Tolerance”

September 27, 2016

White horse in Amish barnA horse keeping an eye on the passing traffic.
This open barn door is on an Amish farm on Kraybill Church Road down the road from our house.

“Fault Tolerance”

Message Summary:  Fault tolerance is an engineering term describing the property that enables a system to continue operating properly in the event of the failure of one or more faults within some of its components. We believe it applies to spiritual things as well.

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“For the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16).

Stephen using CADEngineers apply science to meet practical needs. In virtually every sphere of modern life engineers are involved. You are likely reading this on a computer, tablet or phone. A lot of engineering went into that. If you are reading it on a piece of paper someone designed the printer and paper mills have engineers.

In several companies we visit with engineers, programmers and other technical designers. It’s amazing what they do on their computer screen using Computer-Aided Design (CAD). Some now have up to three monitors open at once and I asked a lady this morning if she used all three at the same time and she replied “definitely”. I suppose a lot of it is multi-tasking.

Space Shuttle liftoff However they also work with the physical product. The other day I came across Amos and Daniel who were examining a disassembled regulator. They were having a problem with a gasket. I quizzed them as to what was the most famous O-ring failure (an O-ring is a type of gasket) and Amos immediately stated the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Indeed a fault in the O-ring design was determined to be a major factor in causing the horrific crash. It may have been a relatively small part of the massive space shuttle but it was vitally important.

Tom testing watering system An interesting engineering concept that has a spiritual counterpart is “fault tolerance”. Fault tolerance is an engineering term describing the property that enables a system to continue operating properly in the event of the failure of one or more faults within some of its components.

Thankfully fault tolerance is part of the design in any product. It’s similar to the factor of safety, that is, a product is typically overbuilt. If a bridge is designed to have a ten ton weight limit it won’t necessarily collapse if that is exceeded by 1 pound. In fact it can very likely withstand considerably more than ten tons but there is still a limit.

In yesterday’s message we wrote how the Bible is like a tech manual for life. We sure see a lot of abuse toward God’s tech manual. Life has been devalued and millions of unborn babies have been aborted. God’s Word states, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.” Many have determined they can ignore God’s design and directions regarding marriage. God specified in Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The latest frontier of radical disobedience is in regard to the fundamental creation of sexuality, Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

Jerry testing electrical component It may seem hard to grasp but on both an engineering level and spiritual level fault tolerance is a blessing. What would the world look like if every deviation from the intended design, no matter how small, was catastrophic?

We had an experience the other night when we were in Lancaster City that illustrates the blessing of fault tolerance on the individual level. Now we are not city folks and I doubt if we would be described as “street-wise” (we have other forms of wisdom we are pursuing).

At 10:00 PM we walked back over to the Convention Center to pick up Ester, following the Newsboys concert, when a pitiable man quaking in what was surely some type of need for a fix approached us. Realizing that he had startled us he quickly informed us that he was not violent which was hardly reassuring. Do violent people honestly disclose that they are violent?

He pleaded for ten dollars, which is pretty specific and even rather greedy for a pan handler! I had ten dollars and could have easily given it to him but I’m virtually certain as to how it would be spent. I would have merely been aiding and assisting him in his own self-destruction. I told him where he could find help at the Water Street Mission just a few blocks away. We prayed for him as he rejected our advice and moved on. He appeared to be familiar with the Mission, perhaps he had already utilized their services. But he didn’t want that kind of help as we spoke to him. We wondered aloud, how long had this man been using alcohol or drugs? He was still living but just barely. Just how close was he to the fatal overdose that is all too common now. But up to the point we saw him fault tolerance was still in effect.

Just how much can mankind ignore the spiritual tech manual and still go on? Just how much fault tolerance has the Master Designer built into His created order?

The Lord spoke to Abraham in a vision concerning the future of what would happen to his descendants (Genesis 15:12-16).  Before Isaac was born God spoke to him and looked ahead to when his descendants would be slaves in Egypt. “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there.” But they would return to the land of Canaan and the present inhabitants would be judged.

Genesis 15:16 is a rather obscure verse that illustrates fault tolerance and its limits. “For the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” The NLT puts is this way: “Your descendants will return here to this land, when the sin of the Amorites has run its course.” Now that’s a remarkable concept to consider. The time would come when it would be complete and history records the time they faced the consequences.

Another example of this in Scripture was in the waning days before the Babylonian exile. The people continued to sin and for a time it might seem they were getting away with it. This was the period of fault tolerance. But there came a time, there always will come a time, when that fault tolerance is exceeded and then comes judgment.

As individuals we must never take God’s mercy for granted and choose to continue in willful sin. It may seem as if we are getting by without any consequence but the time will come when we exceed His fault tolerance. Let us always keep our accounts short with God through repentance and consecration.

Finally, we wonder, on a national level, just how close we are to exceeding God’s fault tolerance?

Be encouraged today and stay faithful,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, as we consider the fault tolerance designed in products by engineers many times the items are used in less than perfect circumstances. We consider Your fault tolerance in relation to Your chosen people. We are forgiven of our sins as we receive Your redemptive love and forsake our sinful ways, yet we falter from time to time and don’t measure up according to Biblical standards on many occasions. Still Your mercy and love is just as powerful and available to us as when we first surrendered our hearts to You. Yet when we choose to sin or take on a pattern of sinful behavior we are dealt the consequences of such rebellion toward You. We see the disastrous choices people make who are not believers, but we also see it among some who claim to believe. The consequences are the same for believer and unbeliever. You may not call the believer to account immediately, but the fall-out from sinful choices can follow us the rest of our days on earth and spill over to many that we love and have opportunity to influence. Father, we ask for Your help as we make daily choices to stay within Your Biblical boundaries so that we can enjoy Your blessing and not risk being unprepared to meet You should we be called out of this world without warning. Jesus told His followers to “Be ready” for He could come back any day. So I want to be ready for His unannounced return or for my unexpected departure through death. Amen.


Brooksyne’s Note:  As I was editing Stephen’s message today and prepared to write the prayer my thoughts drifted off to a conversation I recently had with a 35 year old woman I met in the course of our chaplaincy work. Her alcoholic father abandoned her and her siblings, as well as her mother when she was a small child. He was an absentee father and his absence left a vacuum in this woman’s life, as a child and later as an adult woman. She chose a life of high risk behavior including drugs and other self-destroying habits. She, along with her sibling, recently met up with her dad. Not a believer, she expressed to him in language I won’t repeat just how he devastated her life. Still an alcoholic he was given an ultimatum that if he wanted to now begin a relationship with his grown children he would have to make a choice. This story is all too common in our day with absentee dads and and in more recent years absentee moms. The choices we make, as believers or unbelievers, do carry tremendous consequence. God allows us a free will and so often we squander it by making choices that are far away from His prescribed commands in Scripture. Yet He gives us chance after chance just as this father has been given a second chance. I pray that he will not squander it as well.


Ron Hoover and SheldonThis morning I had breakfast with Ron Hoover (right in photo) and several other friends at a company we serve. I told Ron, who has a PhD in Electrical Engineering, what I was writing on today and he informed me that his PhD thesis was on “Fault Tolerance In Asynchronous Sequential Networks” and gave me an engineering perspective on fault tolerance which is “designing enough redundancy that you can mask around the fault. But if there are multiple faults this creates multiple consequences. You will eventually reach the limit that you can no longer rely on the built in fault redundancy. In other words there is a finite amount of faults you can have because you cannot have infinite redundancy.”

Another interesting interaction this morning was when I mentioned the O-ring failure in the space shuttle and Sean, another younger engineer, told us that he was in fourth grade at the time of the Challenger disaster and his teacher was the alternate for Christa McAuliffe, the teacher who died that day.

Corner Acre Mums
The horse in today’s lead photo is peeking out of this barn, which in previous years had these mums for sale in front of it.

Beautiful Sin Tattoos, Lancaster, PAThis is the name of a tattoo shop on Queen Street in Lancaster. We know there’s a lesson here but haven’t developed it yet. We expect to have a future message based on the lie of “beautiful sin”. Do any of our readers have thoughts on this?

Chaplain Frank Lewis 6/23/14
Congratulations to a friend
Frank Lewis, a chaplain friend of mine has been named 2016 Pennsylvania Prison Chaplain’s Association (PPCA) Correctional Chaplain of the Year. When Frank Lewis was just five years old, his grandfather took him to pass out toiletries to the inmates at Greene County Jail in Waynesburg, PA.  His grandfather’s simple action planted a firm conviction in Frank’s heart that those in prison are never to be forgotten and are deserving of God’s care. I took the photo above several years ago at Lambert’s Cafe, home of the throwed rolls, near Springfield MO.

Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

“I Want To Be That Man”  Video  Brian Free & Assurance


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