Pastor Mac fills in for Pastor JD Farag!
Do you need fed? This is powerful! Please take time to listen to the end and be blessed!
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!
Mark Sagar Made a Baby in His Lab. Now It Plays the Piano
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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?
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.
The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Matthew 13:18-23: “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Verse/Commentary courtesy of ‘Verse-A-Day’ android app.
Don’t you love great endings? Even when you have sat through a nail biting, edge of your seat, heart pounding suspenseful thriller. You know the ones, where you find yourself saying “NO..DON’T DO IT! DON’T GO IN THERE!” They always go anyway and you knew they would. I don’t watch much these days because they are full of garbage but, I still remember the feelings that a good movie stirs up inside of you. It is all about the ending. Have you watched a movie that was on track with all the emotions and then the end either leaves you just hanging out to dry without intension of a sequel OR it just ends in such a way that you find yourself throughly depressed. You end up feeling like you just totally wasted all of that time not to mention emotion that you invested in it. (Spoiler alert….you did waste time and emotion…moving on.)
Now, think about the one that ends in a way that just blows your mind! You would happily go through the stressful scenes again in order to achieve the high from the terrific stand up and cheer ending!
Ladies and gentlemen that is where we are approaching. I don’t know how much time we have left but we are closer to the end every single day. If you have read the book then you know how it ends. In one way it differs from the movies we watch because this time we get to choose what ending we want. Choose life!
Even so come Lord Jesus come!
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Powerful! This gave me a renewed passion to pray for those I love so dearly that are lost. God works in amazing ways!
Are you waiting on the right time?
Do you need to get things right first?
Do you need to stop the sin first?
How about starting the conversation with our Savior first. Get to know Him. Talk to Him. Read His word and keep asking Him for His help. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. He loves you already. He knows you now. Come to Him just as you are and have faith that He will do just as He said He would.
Because He Lives
God sent his son, they called him Jesus,
He came to love, heal and forgive.
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my savior lives.
Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because i know he holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because he lives
How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives,
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain day because he lives.
And then one day I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain.
And then, as death gives way to vict’ry,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know he reigns.
The High Priestly Prayer
Joh 17:1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
Joh 17:2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
Joh 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
Joh 17:4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
Joh 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
Joh 17:6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
Joh 17:7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
Joh 17:8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
Joh 17:9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
Joh 17:10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
Joh 17:11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
Joh 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
Joh 17:13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
Joh 17:14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Joh 17:15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
Joh 17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Joh 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Joh 17:18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
Joh 17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Joh 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
Joh 17:21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
Joh 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
Joh 17:23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Joh 17:24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.
Joh 17:25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.
Joh 17:26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.
So, let’s take a walk….
A Once Great Nation
United States of America
The Star Spangled Banner
Oh, say! can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming;
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:
Oh, say! does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In fully glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution!
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Oh, thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
That brings tears to my eyes. Just thinking about singing the song. My heart filling with joy, joy of the Lord! Knowing He was watching over us. Taking care of us. This once great nation.So much has happened over the years. So much more than my mind could have or would have ever conceived.God gave us space. He gave us room. He has been more than patient.How much more? I have to turn to scripture. Let us see what God has done in times past. (Before I go on, let me just say that if you don’t believe in God then read it anyway. Why? Maybe one day you will remember what you have read and maybe then you will believe. You see, God wishes none to parish and therefore maybe the things that are about to come upon this once great land will cause many to repent and be saved.Let’s remember that today this once great nation has erected the Arch of Triumph? Or the doorway to Baal. Yes, one in the same. So, how much more? Let us take a look deeper into the past.I am not saying we are at the end. America could be. The world? No, not the world just yet. But, will America go soon? Will she be gone in a day? In an hour?We can all remember that Israel became a nation again in a day…who ever heard of such a thing? Pray….God have mercy on us all.
2Ki 17:8 And walked in the statutes of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.
2Ki 17:9 And the children of Israel did secretly those things that were not right against the LORD their God, and they built them high places in all their cities, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city.
2Ki 17:10 And they set them up images and groves in every high hill, and under every green tree:
2Ki 17:11 And there they burnt incense in all the high places, as did the heathen whom the LORD carried away before them; and wrought wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger:
2Ki 17:12 For they served idols, whereof the LORD had said unto them, Ye shall not do this thing.
2Ki 17:15 And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.
2Ki 17:16 And they left all the commandments of the LORD their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made a grove, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.
2Ki 17:17 And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
Psa 106:37 Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils,
Psa 106:38 And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood.
Jer 19:4 Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents;
Jer 19:5 They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake it, neither came it into my mind:
Jer 19:6 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter.
Jer 19:7 And I will make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place; and I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hands of them that seek their lives: and their carcases will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth.
Jer 19:8 And I will make this city desolate, and an hissing; every one that passeth thereby shall be astonished and hiss because of all the plagues thereof.
Jer 19:9 And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege and straitness, wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them.
Jer 19:10 Then shalt thou break the bottle in the sight of the men that go with thee,
Jer 19:11 And shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Even so will I break this people and this city, as one breaketh a potter’s vessel, that cannot be made whole again: and they shall bury them in Tophet, till there be no place to bury.
Jer 19:12 Thus will I do unto this place, saith the LORD, and to the inhabitants thereof, and even make this city as Tophet:
Jer 19:13 And the houses of Jerusalem, and the houses of the kings of Judah, shall be defiled as the place of Tophet, because of all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned incense unto all the host of heaven, and have poured out drink offerings unto other gods.
Jer 19:14 Then came Jeremiah from Tophet, whither the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the LORD’S house; and said to all the people,
Jer 19:15 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words.
WHAT SHALL HAPPEN?
Isa 47:8 Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children:
Isa 47:9 But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.
Isa 47:10 For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me.
Isa 47:11 Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, which thou shalt not know.
Isa 47:12 Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail.
Isa 47:13 Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee.
Isa 47:14 Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.
Isa 47:15 Thus shall they be unto thee with whom thou hast laboured, even thy merchants, from thy youth: they shall wander every one to his quarter; none shall save thee.
Rev 18:3 For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
Rev 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
Rev 18:5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
Rev 18:6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
Rev 18:7 How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
Rev 18:8 Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
Rev 18:9 And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,
Rev 18:10 Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
Rev 18:11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more:
Rev 18:12 The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble,
Rev 18:13 And cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men.
Rev 18:14 And the fruits that thy soul lusted after are departed from thee, and all things which were dainty and goodly are departed from thee, and thou shalt find them no more at all.
Rev 18:15 The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing,
Rev 18:16 And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!
Rev 18:17 For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,
Rev 18:18 And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What city is like unto this great city!
Rev 18:19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
Rev 18:20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
Rev 18:21 And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
Rev 18:22 And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers, and trumpeters, shall be heard no more at all in thee; and no craftsman, of whatsoever craft he be, shall be found any more in thee; and the sound of a millstone shall be heard no more at all in thee;
Rev 18:23 And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.
Rev 18:24 And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.
He is at the door.
“The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the LORD swore to give to your fathers. And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
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?
6 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— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 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.
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.
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
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.