Human or Is It Artificial Intelligence? Should We Be Asking Now?

What is your preferred gender pronoun?

Which restroom do you FEEL like you need to use today?

Do you have an online chat with a customer service rep?

They really need to connect with us more on a human level so we can take ‘them’ seriously.  Right?  NOT TO WORRY…nope!  They are working on that right now.  Please…read this article.  Read it twice.  Then read it again.

Are you ready?  Things are getting creepier by the day!

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Sagar and BabyX in Soul Machines’ Auckland office.

Photographer: Ian Teh for Bloomberg Businessweek

Mark Sagar Made a Baby in His Lab. Now It Plays the Piano

The AI genius, who has built out his virtual BabyX from a laughing, crying head, sees a symbiotic relationship between humans and machines.

People get up to weird things in New Zealand. At the University of Auckland, if you want to run hours upon hours of experiments on a baby trapped in a high chair, that’s cool. You can even have a conversation with her surprisingly chatty disembodied head.

BabyX, the virtual creation of Mark Sagar and his researchers, looks impossibly real. The child, a 3D digital rendering based on images of Sagar’s daughter at 18 months, has rosy cheeks, warm eyes, a full head of blond hair, and a soft, sweet voice. When I visited the computer scientist’s lab last year, BabyX was stuck inside a computer but could still see me sitting in front of the screen with her “father.” To get her attention, we’d call out, “Hi, baby. Look at me, baby,” and wave our hands. When her gaze locked onto our faces, we’d hold up a book filled with words (such as “apple” or “ball”) and pictures (sheep, clocks), then ask BabyX to read the words and identify the objects. When she got an answer right, we praised her, and she smiled with confidence. When she got one wrong, chiding her would turn her teary and sullen.

If it sounds odd to encounter a virtual child that can read words from a book, it’s much more disorienting to feel a sense of fatherly pride after she nails a bunch in a row and lights up with what appears to be authentic joy. BabyX and I seemed to be having a moment, learning from each other while trading expressions and subtle cues so familiar to the human experience. That’s the feeling Sagar is after with his research and his new company Soul Machines Ltd.

The term “artificial intelligence” has become a catchall for impersonal, mysterious calculations performed behind closed doors. Huge farms of computers crank away at piles of data, using statistics to analyze our internet history, driving habits, and speech to produce targeted ads, better maps, and Apple Inc.’s Siri. This sense of AI as an amorphous shadow falling over more and more of our lives has left people from Stephen Hawking to Elon Musk skeptical of the technology, which tends to feel unnatural, somehow less than real.

Sagar is a leading figure in the camp trying to humanize AI, which he says has the potential to yield a more symbiotic relationship between humans and machines. While he wasn’t the first to this idea, his approach is unique, a synthesis of his early years as a computer scientist and later ones in the world of Hollywood special effects. The face, he’s concluded, is the key to barreling through the uncanny valley and making virtual beings feel truly lifelike. Soul Machines’ creations are unparalleled in this respect, able to wince and grin with musculature and features that move shockingly like ours. They have human voices, too, and are already contracted for use as online helpers for companies ranging from insurance providers to airlines. Soul Machines wants to produce the first wave of likable, believable virtual assistants that work as customer service agents and breathe life into hunks of plastic such as Amazon.com’s Echo and Google Inc.’s Home.

Source: Soul Machines

Companies with similar aspirations throughout Japan and the U.S. have produced a wide array of virtual avatars, assistants, and holograms. Many of the people behind these projects say AI systems and robots can achieve their full potential only if they become more humanlike. They need to have memories, the thinking goes, plus something resembling emotions, to propel them to seek out their own experiences.

Sagar’s approach on this front may be his most radical contribution to the field. Behind the exquisite faces he builds are unprecedented biological models and simulations. When BabyX smiles, it’s because her simulated brain has responded to stimuli by releasing a cocktail of virtual dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin into her system. This is part of Sagar’s larger quest, using AI to reverse-engineer how humans work. He wants to get to the roots of emotion, desire, and thought and impart the lessons to computers and robots, making them more like us.

“Since my 20s, I’ve had these thoughts of can a computer become intelligent, can it have consciousness, burning in my mind,” he says. “We want to build a system that not only learns for itself but that is motivated to learn and motivated to interact with the world. And so I set out with this crazy goal of trying to build a computational model of human consciousness.”

Here’s what should really freak you out: He’s getting there a lot quicker than anybody would have thought. Since last year, BabyX has, among other things, sprouted a body and learned to play the piano. They grow up so fast.

Unlike most of those working in Silicon Valley, Sagar doesn’t reflexively defer to engineering. “When scientists see the world and artists see the world, they are looking at the same thing,” he says, “using a different language and viewpoint to describe it. But it’s all true. Everything is interconnected.”

He got that idea early. When he was born in Nairobi in 1966, his father was working for the East African Railways and Harbours Corp. as a systems analyst, programming punch-card computers to run the train infrastructure. His mother, a painter, took him to game reserves every Thursday to practice drawing animals. A few years later, the family moved to New Zealand, where Sagar started helping his dad DIY around the house—fixing the TV, monkeying with the plumbing, tuning up the cars. He kept honing his drawing skills, too, paying particular attention to his mom’s portrait work. “She was able to almost capture somebody’s likeness with about three lines, getting someone’s curves just right,” he says. “It made me really conscious of the importance of the exact curves of people’s eyes and mouths and things like that.”

Sagar made use of those observations as a young man abroad, when he sketched portraits for cash on the street and in restaurants. Like many youngsters from his part of the world, he took an extended break between high school and college. For four years he crisscrossed the globe, drawing, bartending, selling door to door, even filling sandbags for the Australian army to pay his way. After returning to New Zealand, he earned a Ph.D. in engineering from the University of Auckland, then pursued postdoctoral work at MIT. In Massachusetts, he and some colleagues built digital models of the human eye that were detailed and lifelike enough for surgeons to use for practice. By 1998, Hollywood had called on Sagar to try to make computer-generated imagery, or CGI, look less CG.

His first project was a remake of The Incredible Mr. Limpet, which called for Sagar’s team to morph Jim Carrey into a talking fish capable of hunting Nazi U-boats. (Yes, really. The original starred Don Knotts.) Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. abandoned the project after paying for $10 million in digital Carrey-fish expressions, deeming it too costly for a full-length film. Sagar, however, wasn’t ready to stop working on digital faces. For a couple of years he used the creatures as the basis of a virtual assistant startup called Life F/X and had his faces read emails aloud. The company died with the dot-com bubble, so Sagar took a job doing special effects for Sony Pictures Imageworks Inc. (Spider-Man 2). That made him well-known in the movie business and led him back to New Zealand in 2004.

Source: Soul Machines

At Weta Digital, the effects shop run by Lord of the Rings director and fellow Kiwi Peter Jackson, Sagar won two Academy Awards in seven years, overseeing the digital character creation for Jackson’s King Kong remake and James Cameron’s Avatar. His synthesis of engineering and artistry had provided him with an advantage in making Kong and the alien Na’vi seem real. Years of drawing portraits and crafting virtual eyeballs had given him insights into the nuances of the face that are uncommon among CGI specialists, while his effects software has made it relatively easy to film an actor going through a range of emotions and to automatically fuse the expressions into, say, a giant gorilla. “It’s these almost imperceptible movements in the eye and face that we pick up on as something having a soul behind it,” he says.

Feeling he’d solved the riddles of the face, Sagar dreamed bigger. He’d kept an eye on advancements in AI technology and saw an opportunity to marry it with his art. In 2011 he left the film business and returned to academia to see if he could go beyond replicating emotions and expressions. He wanted to get to the heart of what caused them. He wanted to start modeling humans from the inside out.

At the University of Auckland, Sagar created the Laboratory for Animate Technologies and recruited about a dozen researchers. Far from Weta—or his Life F/X office on Hollywood Boulevard, with Bob Marley’s star out front—the Animate team worked in a cramped room kept permanently hot and sticky by the heat from their powerful computers. When I saw the space last year, the engineers were surrounded by giant animated faces projected onto the walls, every pore and eyebrow hair distinctly rendered. Far from being lifeless, the faces appeared eager to strike up conversations, their muscles contracting and relaxing with each breath.

At the back corner of the lab, Sagar sat amid a clutter of notes and books such as The Archaeology of Mind and Principles of Computational Modelling in Neuroscience. It was there, on his pair of massive computer monitors, that he put BabyX through her virtual paces. The baby represented the culmination of much of the lab’s efforts, combining Sagar’s facial artistry with the latest in AI learning and speech software. Underneath that cherubic face, there was also some pioneering, and borderline horrifying, technology.

With a click of his mouse, Sagar stripped away BabyX’s skin, leaving a floating pair of eyes—bloody veins and all—attached to a finely detailed brain with a brain stem running down the back. This version of BabyX could still see out into the world and interact with us. When we showed her words, the part of the brain that deals with language glowed purple. When we praised her, the pleasure center lit up yellow. “Researchers have built lots of computational models of cognition and pieces of this, but no one has stuck them together,” he said. “This is what we’re trying to do: wire them together and put them in an animated body. We are trying to make a central nervous system for human computing.”

Sagar clicked again, and the tissue of the brain and eyes vanished to reveal an intricate picture of the neurons and synapses within BabyX’s brain—a supercomplex highway of fine lines and nodules that glowed with varying degrees of intensity as BabyX did her thing. This layer of engineering owes its existence to the years Sagar’s team spent studying and synthesizing the latest research into how the brain works. The basal ganglia connect to the amygdala, which connects to the thalamus, and so on, with their respective functions (tactile processing, reward processing, memory formation) likewise laid out. In other words, the Auckland team has built what may be the most detailed map of the human brain in existence and has used it to run a remarkable set of simulations.

BabyX isn’t just an intimate picture; she’s more like a live circuit board. Virtual hits of serotonin, oxytocin, and other chemicals can be pumped into the simulation, activating virtual neuroreceptors. You can watch in real time as BabyX’s virtual brain releases virtual dopamine, lighting up certain regions and producing a smile on her facial layer. All the parts work together through an operating system called Brain Language, which Sagar and his team invented. Since we first spoke last year, his goals haven’t gotten any more modest. “We want to know what makes us tick, what drives social learning, what is the nature of free will, what gives rise to curiosity and how does it manifest itself in the world,” he says. “There are these fantastic questions about the nature of human beings that we can try and answer now because the technology has improved so much.”

Source: Soul Machines

Not long after my first play date with BabyX, Sagar packed up his lab and researchers and moved them to the top floor of Auckland’s iconic Ferry Building, where he started Soul Machines to commercialize his team’s breakthroughs. By his standards, the near-term commercial applications are pretty straightforward. About 45 staffers, including artists, AI experts, language experts, and coders, are building a cast of virtual assistants. For the most part, these are refined versions of Sagar’s Hollywood work, only they’re smart enough to understand spoken language and respond to queries, with less of the creep factor characteristic of virtual people.

The first face Soul Machines revealed to the world, in February, is Nadia, a pretty white woman with pulled-back brown hair, greenish eyes, pink lipstick, and Cate Blanchett’s voice. Sagar’s team developed her for Australia’s National Disability Insurance Agency, which plans to employ her as an online aid for the country’s 500,000 people with disabilities. The hope is that those interacting with Nadia on the agency’s website will find her more personable and usable than text-based chatbots or the menu trees on its automated phone line.

The interactivity goes both ways, according to Sagar. Nadia gives a subtle nod to signal understanding and appears quizzical when confused, but she also interprets viewers’ expressions through the cameras on their PCs or mobile devices. “If you look confused, it can see that and proactively guide you,” Sagar says. “You can also still yell at these things, but they will respond in the most gracious way. People are good at dealing with irate customers and adjust their body language for the situation. We can do the same thing.”

Sagar had some help with Nadia, using International Business Machines Corp.’s Watson technology as the basis for her speech recognition. His company recruited Blanchett to spend 15 hours recording phrases that the software can turn into a much wider variety of responses to questions. Nadia has already been tested on 10,000 people, who taught her to refine her answers and the emotions she displays at certain times. The Australian government expects her to start full-time work early next year.

Soul Machines has 10 trials under way with airlines, health-care providers, and financial-services firms. In the early going, the company’s biggest test will be whether users find its software realistic enough to be as satisfying as human conversation. Even successful customer-relations experiences with chatbots, ones where the bot gives the right answer, tend to leave people dissatisfied because they feel like they’ve been pawned off on an inferior being.

Source: Soul Machines

For now, Sagar’s team has been developing each of its first few virtual assistants in a one-off fashion, a bit like a consulting company. “Most of our clients today see their first digital employee as an extension of their brand,” says Chief Business Officer Greg Cross. “They are going through a design process that is similar to selecting a spokesperson for your TV advertising campaign.”

To make its process easier to repeat, Soul Machines is writing character creation software that reduces development to a series of simple menus. By sliding a few dials, Sagar can transform a young, thin avatar into an older, chubbier one and alter complexion and other features. Each menu-built result looks as lifelike as a character that a film production or video game developer might spend millions of dollars and many months to create. The company has paid actors to record hundreds of hours of monologue, assembling an audio library it can use to give voice to characters such as a troll meant for a client in Scandinavia or an animated, anthropomorphic strawberry that’ll be used on an educational site for children.

As the technology matures, Cross expects it to travel further from the PC screen. Automakers are already thinking about the characters fielding questions and answers from riders on screens in their self-driving cars. Similarly, Amazon, Apple, and Google parent Alphabet will likely want faces to go with their voice-activated virtual assistants. “We’re also exploring the idea of creating a digital celebrity,” Cross says. “What if you could take one of the top recording artists or sports people and build a digital version that fans could interact with in a very emotionally intelligent way?”

Like Cross, Sagar often appears oblivious that his pitch might sound creepy. In August, when I pay a visit to Soul Machines to see Sagar’s latest creations, he’s wearing a T-shirt that depicts two fetuses sharing a womb, arranged head-to-toe in a kind of yin-yang pose. One of the fetuses is human; the other has a distinctly artificial brain filled with circuitry. He wanted to make this design the company logo. The investors who gave him $7.5 million last November said no.

Sagar comes off like a visionary academic, at times almost possessed. Ask a basic question, and you’re likely to get an impassioned 30-minute response that weaves in AI, art, psychology, and Plato. It’s hard to imagine this man holding court with a car insurer, trying to sell a suit-wearing executive on a virtual avatar, without things getting weird. But Sagar says he relishes the commercial part of the business, because it’s helping him better understand what people like and don’t like about his avatars and zero in on the finer details of interpersonal interactions.

Version 5.0 of BabyX has gone far beyond the original floating head. BabyX now has a full body that sits in a high chair, legs bobbing back and forth while her hands look for something to do. For the next part, you’ll want to sit down and grab a pacifier, too.

Source: Soul Machines

Sagar’s software allows him to place a virtual pane of glass in front of BabyX. Onto this glass, he can project anything, including an internet browser. This means Sagar can present a piano keyboard from a site such as Virtual Piano or a drawing pad from Sketch.IO in front of BabyX to see what happens. It turns out she does what any other child would: She tries to smack her hands against the keyboard or scratch out a shabby drawing.

What compels BabyX to hit the keys? Well, when one of her hands nudges against a piano key, it produces a sound that the software turns into a waveform and feeds into her biological simulation. The software then triggers a signal within BabyX’s auditory system, mimicking the hairs that would vibrate in a real baby’s cochlea. Separately, the system sets off virtual touch receptors in her fingers and releases a dose of digital dopamine in her simulated brain. “The first time this happens, it’s a huge novelty because the baby has not had this reaction before when it touched something,” Sagar says. “We are simulating the feeling of discovery. That changes the plasticity of the sensory motor neurons, which allows for learning to happen at that moment.”

Does the baby get bored of the piano like your non-Mozart baby? Yes, indeed. As she bangs away at the keys, the amount of dopamine being simulated within the brain receptors decreases, and BabyX starts to ignore the keyboard.

Sagar has teamed up with Annette Henderson, a psychologist who runs a baby research lab in Auckland, to advance the technology. Henderson has filmed hundreds of hours of interactions between babies and caregivers while performing different experiments, such as teaching a baby a new word or ignoring him for a few minutes. The children’s response data—laughs, cries, hand movements, shifts in posture—are being digitized to create a better-informed behavioral model. “We know the exact movements, microexpressions, and responses,” Sagar says. “When we build our next models for BabyX, we should be able to generate this same behavior.”

In about 18 months, Henderson plans to use an upgraded version of BabyX to run experiments with caregivers and other children. She sees the virtual baby as a way to test new theories in previously unimaginable ways, by altering thousands of variables at will—what if a baby doesn’t smile, what if she won’t hold your gaze, and so on. Studying a virtual child’s response to stimuli, she says, may help researchers understand how to better engage with flesh-and-blood children who aren’t particularly social.

In return, Sagar gets to advance his quest to understand human nature. “We can record the mother interacting with a virtual baby and keep adding features to BabyX until she is so lifelike that we get a natural interaction,” he says. “At that point, we have achieved our goal.”

And then what?

Source: Soul Machines

Many of the world’s leading brain researchers have come away impressed by the types of simulations Sagar and other AI optimists are building. “I spend more and more time with these guys,” says Gary Lynch, a professor of neurobiology at the University of California at Irvine. “This is all real. It’s not an academic enterprise any longer.” The problem with work like Sagar’s, as Lynch sees it, is that the end result—a truly conscious virtual baby—is so complex and unique that it’s not a useful mirror of human behavior. “It will do something that nobody ever dreamed of,” he says. “It will head out the door and say, ‘Goodbye. I have stuff I want to do.’ ”

Other researchers caution that Sagar could be misleading people about the state of the technology through his cute, intricate faces. “Westerners tend to want to anthropomorphize these things, and we can get very enchanted by them,” says Ken Goldberg, a professor of industrial engineering and operations research at University of California at Berkeley. “If you make it look human and act human, you almost have a double responsibility to be clear about its limitations.” He applauds Sagar for doing this type of research but doesn’t want people to get false hope about the near-term benefits of such technology. Sagar has a tendency to talk as though BabyX can already do all the things he’s dreaming.

While it seems reasonable to assume Sagar’s endgame is a world that ties humans inextricably with machines, he often spends weekends in the wilderness to get away from computers, and he won’t let his kids use the internet at night. This isn’t exactly the type of behavior one might expect from someone pushing AI as fast as he can into the unknown and hoping for the best. During one of our conversations, I point out that tales such as Frankenstein don’t usually end up well for the humans. “We’re not digging up dead bodies,” he says, neatly dodging the real moral of the playing-God story.

You don’t have to be paranoid to believe the rise of AI could turn out quite badly for humans. The computers might start making decisions for themselves, and those decisions could include things detrimental to mankind. One minute, BabyX is eating a virtual pudding cup off a website; the next, she’s sold your house for personal amusement or decided she should be in charge.

Sagar remains sanguine about the lessons AI can learn from us and vice versa. “We’re searching for the basis of things like cooperation, which is the most powerful force in human nature,” he says. As he sees it, an intelligent robot that he’s taught cooperation will be easier for humans to work with and relate to and less likely to enslave us or harvest our bodies for energy. “If we are really going to take advantage of AI, we’re going to need to learn to cooperate with the machines,” he says. “The future is a movie. We can make it dystopian or utopian.” Let’s all pray for a heartwarming comedy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Truth – Is there Any? What is Truth? Does it Even Matter?

In the days of my youth I thought truth was pretty clear.

Today, all I can say is WOW.  The world is so messed up.  Truth, something that should be easy to distinguish has become so twisted that most are totally clueless to what “truth” actually is.

How did it become so murky?  Now I hear that “truth” is depending upon who’s truth you are speaking about.  It can be different if it is my truth.  If it is your truth it might be something else.  Then your coworkers may have even another truth.

WHAT???  See how messy this has become?  How senseless it sounds?  How can you go into a court of law and swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth and in doing so expect for a jury to use each persons “different truth” to decide on a persons innocence or guilt?

When anyone asks a question of me and I know if I answer how I personally think I know it is time to say, let’s go to the word of God and see what the word tells us.  Do the scriptures say anything about truth?  Truth is mentioned in the KJV 237 times.  Here are just a  very few verses.

Jer 5:1 KJV  Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, that seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it.

This next verse should cause each of us to open our eyes and look around.  How fast has America gone down hill?  How fast are we watching this nation transition from one horrid sin into yet one more and then one more and we are sitting in utter shock wondering what is going on.  Is God trying to get the attention of any?  Yet, are we refusing correction?

Jer 5:3 KJV  O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.

This next verse pretty much sums it up.

Jer 7:28 KJV  But thou shalt say unto them, This is a nation that obeyeth not the voice of the LORD their God, nor receiveth correction: truth is perished, and is cut off from their mouth.

Jer 9:3 KJV  And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD.

Dan 7:16 KJV  I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things.

Dan 7:19 KJV  Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;

Dan 8:12 KJV  And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression, and it cast down the truth to the ground; and it practised, and prospered.

Dan 9:13 KJV  As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.

Dan 10:21 KJV  But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and there is none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.

Dan 11:2 KJV  And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.

Then of course we have this.  (Climate change?  I don’t think so.)

Hos 4:1 KJV  Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

Hos 4:2 KJV  By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.

Hos 4:3 KJV  Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.

Blame?  We only each have to look within ourselves.  Stop blaming everyone.  REPENT, turn to the LORD GOD now.

Hos 4:6 KJV  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

Jer 8:7 KJV  Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD.

Jer 8:20 KJV  The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

 

What Would You Do?

I like to think we would each stand for the right thing,  for the truth.   Do you KNOW Him? If you don’t know Him intimately then ask Him right now to speak to you , to reveal Himself to you.  He can and will if you are seeking Him in truth.   He has to do it and nothing that anyone might say can show Jesus to you or put you in the place where you KNOW that you KNOW that you KNOW you are a child of the one true God.  If you are unsure then start today and talk to Him and bathe in His word and He will open your ears and your eyes and remove the impurities from your heart.  He is waiting.   / If you don’t know Him in that way then ask yourself  this,  would you be in the crowd in yhe scripture below yelling CRUCIFY…CRUCIFY?  

John 19:6-11
As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”  The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”  When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid,  and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer.  “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”  Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
Commentary
Pilate wants nothing to do with the crucifixion of Jesus, yet the Jewish leaders continue forcing his hand. Pilate is afraid, and he is beginning to believe that there might be some truth to Jesus’ claim: the Son of God, Messiah. Jesus is the King that Israel always needed, He is the King that all people need in order to be in right standing with God. He is the ONLY one qualified to be that King – forever mediating our relationship with God.

Verse/Commentary courtesy of ‘Verse-A-Day’ android app.
http://www.verse-a-day.com/Apps

Middle – East Prophecy Update – February 28th, 2016

A Christian Response to the Supreme Court’s Decision – The Hypocrisy – Billy Crone part 3 of 4

Church. ..can we handle the truth?

Overcomer – Are We?

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So what does the word of God say about being an overcomer?
There are several instances it is used but I an going to go straight to 1st John who tells us how we become overcomers.  The verses following that passage tell us about the rewards of being overcomers.

1st John 5
5 Who is the one that overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?  6 This is the One who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ;  not with the water only,  but with the water and with the blood.  It is the Spirit who testifies,  because the Spirit is the truth.   7 For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood. (I suggest you continue reading the rest of the chapter.)

Revelation 2:7
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

Revelation 2:17
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Revelation 2:26
And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

Revelation 3:5
He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

Revelation 3:12
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Revelation 3:21
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Revelation 12:10-12
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

Revelation 21:7
He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

REVELATION  21:8
(WARNING) But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

Let’s pray…
Dear Father in Heaven,  my God,  my King,  you are worthy to be worshipped and praised and exalted in all the earth and the universe.
I  pray Lord God that You might have mercy upon your children and that your grace might be poured out over us even though we are not deserving of it. We humbly ask you to help each of us in these last days. We are weak but in Your mighty strength we can continue on toward the goal You have set before us. Lord, You know each of our weaknesses in this flesh we currently dwell in,  so please help us Lord, help us not to fear, help us to stand courageously for Your names sake. Help us to boldly testify to Your goodness and Your word and Your truth and the salvation that only comes from Your Son Jesus Christ . Help us that we might share the gospel of Jesus Christ without fear of man.  We ask that You would do this supernaturally by the Holy Spirit because we left to ourselves will surely fail.
We ask all these things for Your glory and we give thanks in every circumstance and praise Your most holy name. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen

What is Truth? Many are Searching and Many are Confused.

I am afraid that no matter what I say here I could have an argument with many. Why? I suppose because so many are lost and confused. That is because of the evil that is in this world. Not all lost people are evil people. Not all unbelieving people are evil people. All lost people are unsaved people.

Some will agree with me and some will say, “saved from what?”
Truth to me may not be truth to another. In that case then just what is truth? Is there even such thing as truth?

Galatians 1:6-8

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

John 8:31-33

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

So, I say to seek the Lord with all your heart and soul and He will reveal the truth to you.  The evil one has come to steal and kill and to destroy.  Don’t be fooled by smooth words.  Measure everything by the word of God.  When you hear those who lead this world and say that we are all following the same God and we should all come and worship together I pray that you will really look at and listen to what is being said.  One group may believe Jesus was a man and a prophet but not believe that He is God and that He came and He died for you and me and for our sins so that we might have life.  So that cannot be the same god that I worship and believe in.  We must be on guard.  We must seek truth.  Be careful and be not deceived.

I will end with what I know to be my truth.

John 14:6

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Matthew 7:13-15

13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

Surrounded By Water and Sleeping Well…

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Something that most of us have felt here in the good old United States of America.  We have always had a terrific military we could count on to fight for our freedom and to keep us safe.  We were always far enough from all those we deemed as lunatics and we (until we hit a certain age?) usually felt like we could trust our government to do the right thing for us.  Ok, so I felt that way until a few years ago.

So what has changed?  Well besides EVERYTHING…I suppose a better question to ask is why has everything changed?

I know much of it is me who has changed.  I have a different idea of what is good and right than maybe I did when I was younger.  As I have grown closer to the Lord much of my views have changed.  I used to not be any better than the younger generations today at watching the things happening in the world.  I get frustrated with them now.  I think….dear Lord, and they are voting?  Yikes….that is scary when they are voting because of the color of someone’s skin and they want to just be able to say they were a part of it.  Next will be they just want a woman president and want to be a part of that.  I have nothing against either view as long as they are voting because they agree with the issues.  The thing is that most of the youth or a lot of the youth are not any different than I was at that young age.  They are young adults that are clueless and only want to know who might put more money in their pockets.  Thing is that I did not vote then.  Glad I did not.

So, back to my point.

Oh yes….we can sleep soundly at night because we are in America.  We are surrounded by big bodies of water and we have a big military.  We can sit and play video games all day and teach our children to do the same.  We can legalize pot and tell everyone it is no big deal.  Don’t smoke a cigarette though….(really?  think about it…good grief).  Then lets let out thousands of felony drug dealers and say, it is no big deal.  Then lets bring in 100,000’s of refugees, not the Christian ones, but the ones who would love nothing more than come here and have many children and over power us and or simply just kill us from the moment they arrive.  After all, how hard is it to kill a nation that is high on legal pot and while stoned they sit and play video games.

What about the so called Church?  Not saying I am much better, but we all are such push overs.  This group that runs this nation has us so afraid to open our mouths for fear we will be called bigots or that we might offend someone or that we are on a watch list because we believe in one true God!  We believe in Jesus Christ!  Our King of Kings!  Because we believe in the word of God and that it is the TRUTH!  We are against this new “we all should unify, after all we all believe in the same god.”

When will we stand?  When will we say enough is enough?  When will we stop saying it is ok because we don’t want to ruffle any feathers.  What should we do?  I don’t know all the answers, I know if we do not begin to do something we may find ourselves wishing we had of after it is toooooo late.

So, in light of everything how well should we be sleeping at night?  How safe are we really?  I cannot remember a time when we were hated more and respected less in the world than we are right now.

Climb out of bed!  Wash your face!  Let’s pray!  We cannot fix this thing, but maybe God will hear our prayers and give us more time, give our children and family more time to open their eyes before it is too late.

God have mercy on us all….God please watch over us even though we as a nation have told you to leave….many of us want you hear with us.  Guide us Lord God.  Walk with us and teach us your ways and show us the light on the path to you.  Help us not to be frightened by the sounds we hear that are created to distract us and to take our eyes off of the one and only true God that can save us.  Thank you for loving us and for forgiving us.  Thank you for not forsaking us.  Help us to stand firm and to hold on to You and Your word and the hope that lies within our faith in our Savior, our King.  In the name of Jesus Christ I ask these things and I give thanks.

AMEN

Boot Camp in September

Boot Camp in the Military is for the purpose of preparing a group of people for something that they probably aren’t fully ready to experience.

“Guest Speaker Ray Heitzman: “What has September’s Prophecy Events done for me?”

Great Deception Is Settling In

By …..
(Pastor Charles Lawson)

Have You Been Lied To?

If you have been lied to and especially by someone close to you then you were probably wounded.  It is usually not something that heals overnight. 

People are going to let you down.  People might shred you to pieces.   They might claw your eyes out and then try to pretend it never happened.

When you have been there,  that is where the sweet TRUTH couldn’t taste or sound better.  Do you have 7 minutes for some sweet truth?  Just 7 minutes.

Middle East Prophecy Update August 30th, 2015

Keep looking up!
Thank you Pastor JD Farag

Middle East Prophecy Update-August 2nd, 2015

Thank you Pastor JD Farag

Middle East Prophecy Update on July 26th, 2015

Thank you Pastor JD Farag. …