Sunday, March 17, 2019
Over the last three years I've posted the same blog on St. Patrick's Day - Happy day to all who celebrate. This year I focus on a different aspect of green.
On June 13th, 2017, one week before my wisdom tooth was extracted, I was praying on the day bed in our living room with its beige walls and white ceiling, when suddenly I had a vision of being in a room filled with what looked like green and purple Northern Lights.
The green is dominant and intense, punctuated intermittently by streaks of purple, and both colors are true to the Aurora Borealis I’ve witnessed. The green has more yellow than the rainbow shade. The lights look like opaque gossamer, and they dance thick and heavy in a rhythm. The room is massive, as everything is in Eternity, but where I am feels small because I cannot see beyond the lights. I’m reminded of fog, thick white prairie fog that reduces visibility to mere meters, except this is green, impenetrable, riveting fog. Where I stand is all green. I am spellbound by the living, moving curtains of light that appear 3-dimensional. Green glory. I do not know anything more nor do I receive any special knowledge just then.
I contemplated the vision over the following days and prayed for revelation. Then, as if shot from a quiver, the meaning pierced my spirit. I was in a preparation room, not unlike the Green Rooms of television houses I’d waited in to be interviewed. The Green Room at CTV is literally painted green, and guests wait there until it’s their time to walk onto the set under the hot, bright lights to go live on air. I was in a Green Room in Heaven, the Preparation Room, waiting to go into the presence of the Son who is the Light.
Holy, holy God!
I delved into the significance of green and discovered some fascinating facts. Green is the most common color in the physical world and is found everywhere in nature. It is the color of awakening, of resurrection and rebirth in spring, and there’s a guarantee that life will go on while things remain green. Green symbolizes fertility and harmony. Researchers have found bodily benefits to green, such as improving vision—watching green soothes the eyes—and alleviating stress though the relaxation of the body. A Harvard study showed that people working in green offices are more productive and satisfied. Further, the green light on the traffic trio equates to safety.
I was in a safe place, in heaven.
Purple is associated with royalty, nobility, and sophistication, and speaks of wealth and luxury, creativity and mystery. I had been swaddled in purple lights in the mysterious after-world created by our Lord for those He will receive as His own. Putting the significance of the two colors together, I wondered if I was getting close to the Throne Room of God.
Eleven days later, on June 24th, 2017, as I lay dying following dental surgery, I saw Jesus, the Light of the World. I am convinced that I had indeed been in a “waiting” room!
An excerpt from the chapter The Alfalfa Field and The Green Room, from Touched By Eternity: A True Story of Heaven, Healing, and Angels by Susan Harris. Print book releasing in April (contact susanharris.ca)
E-book available for pre-order at: https://www.amazon.com/TOUCHED-ETERNITY-Heaven-Healing-Angels-ebook/dp/B07P6DCGGW/
Monday, March 11, 2019
We’re now at the time of year, in our family, when we’re celebrating quite a few birthdays. For the numbers in our immediate family, it's quite a feat to have a late February birthday, three small ones in March, and four more birthdays, all adults, in April. After that our pocketbooks get a break. Not that we go crazy or anything, because we don’t. Even a modest birthday gift, one on top of the other adds up.
Now that the two smallest grandchildren have acquired a number of words, thanks in part to an older sibling and one in child care, they’re learning to say “Happy birthday” and the name as well.
Yesterday we had a birthday supper to mark a significant year for one of our daughters, and as the little ones could at least say some of those words, I gathered all the children from their various playthings, and we all sang Happy Birthday, while I accompanied on the guitar. We sang it twice for my daughter, then someone wishing there was another verse prompted the number verse (How old are you now?), we sang it again without the number.
We also sang the song for Nolan who’d just turned two and whose party will be later in the month. One of the older granddaughters who is in French immersion suggested we sing it in French, so we sang along with her as best we could. I kept my accompaniment minimal and soft so as not to overpower her seven-year-old voice. I think we’ve begun a new tradition. Maybe later the nine-year-old will join us with the ukulele that she's beginning to learn, thanks to one of her teachers at school.
Today the first grandson to turn two, in spite of feeling unwell, repeated the word happy when I sang each line of the birthday song that we performed last evening for his aunt. At the end of the song, he said, “Happy birthday, Wowa (how he says Laura).”
These are happy celebrations, meant to be marked in some way, if only by a family gathering, a gift or two, and the birthday song. It wasn’t so long ago that we could have sung Happy Birth-day to a special baby whose arrival we celebrate each December 25th, one who came to save our world and who wants to be Redeemer of our hearts. At the beginning of Lent, try to remember why he came to us and what he offered for us all.
Carolyn Wilker, author and editor
Saturday, March 09, 2019
By Rev. Dr. Ed & Janice Hird
By Rev. Dr Ed and Janice Hird
What if most of the people in your family died from incurable illnesses? Born in St Mary’s Ontario in 1870, John G Lake with his family moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan in 1886. Eight of his siblings died, despite the best care from medical doctors. This family tragedy inspired Lake to seek the healing power of Jesus Christ. After Lake was healed in Chicago from a digestive disease, his whole family went from chronic sickness to supernatural health. His invalid brother got up and walked after healing prayer, his hemorrhaging sister was healed, his mother was restored at the brink of death, and his wife was cured from tuberculosis. Upon being filled with the Holy Spirit in 1907, Lake said: “My nature became so sensitized that I could lay hands on any man or woman and tell what organ was diseased, and to what extent.” Rev Audrey Mabley of Eternally Yours TV describes John G Lake, a fellow Canadian, as the greatest man of faith for healing that perhaps has ever lived. For the first nine months after being touched by the Holy Spirit, Lake could not look at the trees without it framing itself into a glory poem of praise: “Everything I said was a stream of poetry.”
Feeling a call in 1908 from God, John G Lake and Thomas Hezmalhalch decided to take a ship to South Africa with their large families. Being sure that God would provide, they arrived with the clothes on their back and not enough money to enter the country. While they were waiting in line at customs, a stranger gave them enough money to pay their way into the country. The family were unexpectedly greeted in Johannesburg by Mrs C.L. Goodenough, offering a furnished cottage to American missionaries with exactly seven children. The only way that Lake could describe the anointing that fell on him while in South Africa was as ‘liquid fire’ pumping through his veins. Lake believed that the power of God is equal to every emergency. The well-known South African author Andrew Murray commented of Lake: “The man reveals more of God than any other man in Africa.” Mahatma Gandhi notably said: “Dr Lake’s teachings will eventually be accepted by the entire world.” So many people were healed in South Africa that Lake was brought by Arthur Ingram, the Bishop of London and Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury, to address a Church of England conference. Bishop Ingram said of Lake’s Triune Salvation talk: “this is the greatest sermon I have ever heard, and I commend its careful study by every priest.” Out of this healing revival was birthed the Apostolic Faith Mission in Southern Africa, a movement now numbering 1.2 million people. Sadly, on December 22nd 1908, while Lake was ministering in the Kalahari Desert, his wife Jenny died from malnutrition and exhaustion. She had been feeding countless poor sick people on her front lawn, while waiting for Lake to return.
Feeling a call to Spokane, Washington, Lake left South Africa, and then married Florence Switzer, having five more children. In 1915, he began the Spokane Divine Healing Institute, later called the Healing Rooms, training up ‘healing technicians. His instructions to them were to go to the home of a sick person and not come back until that person was healed. Some might be gone for an hour, some a day, and some for weeks. Lake commented: “We pray until we are satisfied in our souls that the work is complete. This is where people blunder. They will pray for a day or two, and then they quit.” Having previously been a manager for a life insurance company, his extensive business experience caused many business people to be more open to the gospel. Lake commented: “If there was one thing that I wish I could do for the people of Spokane, it would be to teach them to pray.” In Spokane alone, 100,000 healings had been documented and recorded within just five years. Dr Ruthlidge, of Washington DC, said that Rev Lake, through the Healing Rooms, made Spokane the healthiest city in the nation. This Spokane Blessing even spread back to Lake’s Canadian homeland. A 32-year-old Canadian, William Bernard, had been suffering from curvature of the spine, since being dropped by his nurse at age 3. When Bernard said that he had no faith, John G Lake laughingly said: “I have enough faith for both of us.” After his spine was healed, two physicians certified him as fit for military service. Bernard commented: “I’ve always longed to give my service to my country of Canada.”
Lake fearlessly submitted to a series of experiments at a well-known research clinic where they watched him through x-rays & microscopes in a laboratory context as he successfully prayed for elimination of leg inflammation in a dying man. He called the Healing Rooms the most amazing adventure in the world. The Spokane Better Business Bureau investigated the healings, giving Lake and the Healing Rooms an opportunity to vindicate themselves by presenting numerous local healings with Spokane residents. Most of the cases where people were healed were ones that physicians had pronounced hopeless. One such case involved the healing of a 35-year-old woman from a 30-pound fibroid tumour in her abdomen. The tumour was completely gone after just three minutes of prayer. Even the Mayor of Spokane publicly celebrated the Healing Rooms’ measurable health impact on Spokane. Lake commented of the Healing Rooms: “The lightnings of Jesus heals men by its flash; sin dissolves, disease flees when the power of God approaches.”
Thanks to Healing Rooms International Director Cal Pierce’s redigging of the wells in Spokane in 1999, there are now 2961 Healing Rooms in 69 countries around the world. According to Tiny Marais, Director for the Greater Vancouver Healing Rooms, the Healing Rooms teams at the recent Missions Fest Conference prayed for over 230 people: “We saw the hand of God on everyone we prayed for.” Today John G Lake’s life, through the Healing Rooms revival, still impacts millions of lives around the world.
Rev. Dr. Ed & Janice Hird
-an article previously published in the March 2019 Light Magazine ‘Biography Column’, covering BC and Alberta
Thursday, March 07, 2019
Stephen Hawking envisioned an AI apocalypse and noted astronomer Sir Martin Rees envisions cyborgs on Mars. A tech analyst thinks robots should run for office. Never mind, Dilbert’s creator, Scott Adams, thinks we’ll soon be ruled by The Algorithm anyway. And cosmologist Max Tegmark explains how he thinks AI could end up running the world. It’s a cool apocalypse but does that make it more likely?
All around us, people, some of them prominent, talk as though machines are learning to think.
Here are some of the true limitations on machine intelligence, for the next time the subject comes up over coffee:
● Computer science professor Robert J. Marks points out that machine intelligence is much more sophisticated today than in the past but it hasn’t fundamentally changed: “A bigger computer would be like a bigger truck. All a truck can really do is haul things and all computers can really do is calculate. Limitations on computer performance are constrained by algorithmic information theory. According to the Church-Turing Thesis, anything done on the very fast computers of today could have been done—in principle—on Turing’s original 1930’s Turing machine. We can perform tasks faster today but the fundamental limitations of computing remain.”
● Software pioneer François Chollet points out that an intelligence is not capable of designing an intelligence greater than itself.
● Melanie Mitchell, Professor of Computer Science at Portland State University warns that machines do not understand what things mean. However powerful, they will always be vulnerable to malicious takeovers:
Numerous studies have demonstrated the ease with which hackers could, in principle, fool face- and object-recognition systems with specific minuscule changes to images, put inconspicuous stickers on a stop sign to make a self-driving car’s vision system mistake it for a yield sign or modify an audio signal so that it sounds like background music to a human but instructs a Siri or Alexa system to perform a silent command.Those who say that a system can be designed that is sophisticated enough to prevent that miss the point: The hacker is looking for a vulnerability due to the fact that the system only mimics understanding but does not possess it. To the extent that the system does not possess understanding, such points will probably always exist.
Melanie Mitchell, “Artificial Intelligence Hits the Barrier of Meaning” AT New York Times
● Computer engineer Eric Holloway reminds us that a defining aspect of the human mind is its ability to create mutual information. You might understand a sign you have never seen before because you can guess, on your own, what someone might be trying to tell you. Machines operate according to randomness and determinism but Levin’s Law of independence conservation states that “no combination of random and deterministic processing can increase mutual information.”
● Software architect Brendan Dixon adds that human intelligence is not simply a matter of IQ; culture plays an important role. The geniuses who develop great ideas are working within a surrounding culture of other unique people with ideas. One can input a great deal of information into a system but the system isn’t a culture in the same way.
● Finally, physicist Alfredo Metere of the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) insists that AI must deal in specifics but humans live in an indefinitely blurry world that is always changing:
AI is a bunch of mathematical models that need to be realised in some physical medium, such as, for example, programs that can be stored and run in a computer. No wizards, no magic. The moment we implement AI models as computer programs, we are sacrificing something, due to the fact that we must reduce reality to a bunch of finite bits that a computer can crunch on. Alfredo Metere, "AI will never conquer humanity. It’s too rational." at CosmosSo, given these limitations, is AI a threat to democracy? The main problem that neurosurgeon Michael Egnor sees is its obscurity. We often don’t know how AI is being used:
What algorithms does Google use when we search on political topics? We don’t know. It is inevitable that such searches are biased, perhaps deliberately, perhaps not… It is not far-fetched to imagine self-driving cars “choosing” routes that go past merchants who “advertise” surreptitiously, using the autonomous vehicles. How much would Mc Donald’s pay to route the cars and slow them down when they pass the Golden Arches? How much would a political party pay to skew a Google search on their candidates?In short, the real concern is not that the machine will run the show but that the machine’s owners will run it and we won’t know exactly how they are doing it. They'll say they don't know how they are doing it either. It just somehow happened.
Assuming we get past that, non-hype experts think that our future is more likely to include coexisting with AI and robots than having our lives run by them:
Once people come to understand how limited today’s machine learning systems are, the exaggerated hopes they have aroused will evaporate quickly, warns Roger Schank, an AI expert who specialises in the psychology of learning. The result, he predicts, will be a new “AI winter” — a reference to the period in the late 1980s when disappointment over the progress of the technology led to a retreat from the field… David Mindell, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who has written about the challenges of getting humans and robots to interact effectively, puts it most succinctly: “The computer science world still has a long way to go before it has a clue about how to deal with people.” Richard Waters, "Artificial intelligence: when humans coexist with robots" at Financial TimesAnd with that, of course, supercomputers are not going to be much of a help.
See also: The way the media cover AI, you'd swear they had invented being hopelessly naïve (Jay Richards)
Top Ten AI hypes of 2018 (Robert J. Marks)
Posted by Michael Laven at 3/07/2019 08:03:00 am
Wednesday, March 06, 2019
The six weeks or so leading up to Easter afford another boom time for the confectionary industry, following in the wake of Valentine’s, as chocolate eggs and Easter bunnies are on offer at every turn.
Egg decorating and springtime painting competitions engage kids, while backyard birdhouse installations invite birds returning from the south to enjoy nesting accommodations. Farm acreage and gardens begin to show evidence of preparation for planting.
|Pic Credit: dreamstime.com|
These all contribute to the celebration of nature’s spring awakening. It’s a marvellous time of year for young children to be awakened also, to the wonder of nature’s life-cycles. Unfortunately some city-bound children may not have as much opportunity for this as do those in small town and rural areas.
My appreciation for spring goes beyond those elements of spring, as much as I delight in them, for this period leading up to Easter provides me with opportunities to consider the wonders of my faith and to journey forward in mind and heart, by reflecting back on Jesus’ path to the cross in the concluding period of His earthly ministry.
And so, as I’ve mentioned from time-to-time in former years, my wife and I join weekly with people in our town from across the Christian community for a one half-hour lunchtime service each Wednesday during the pre-Easter period of Lent.
A different theme is adopted each year and the brief homily in each service is presented by the pastor of a congregation other than that of the host church for that particular week. Therefore, the venue changes and so does the speaker. This is followed by a simple but welcome lunch. We enjoy the inter-church fellowship immensely.
I engage privately in several other personal disciplines during that period. Perhaps this is all foreign to you, and maybe events like this aren’t convened in your community. Your local churches may, however, get together on Good Friday for a service to commemorate Jesus’ sufferings and death for humanity’s sins.
But remember too, that Easter Sunday Morning is more than chocolate bunnies and decorated eggs. It is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, when the significance of it is brought front and centre.
My pic: Will this place be filled with
praises on Easter Sunday morning?
There will surely be a company of worshiping people near your home, people who, especially on Easter Sunday, sing joyful songs or hymns of thanksgiving and praise in honour and gratitude for God’s love, mercy and grace.
My word – how far I’ve strayed from chocolate bunnies and decorated eggs! Not really, for I’m on track with millions who see in spring’s awakening an apt parallel to the lives of those who have awakened to the new life that God imparts once they embrace in faith that Jesus Christ died and rose for them.
Peter is a retired pastor – well, sort of retired – as he is currently engaged as an associate volunteer pastor. He lives in Southwestern Ontario with his wife, May, and writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column and occasional magazine articles. Peter is author of two books: "Parables from the Pond" (Word Alive Press) and "Raise Your Gaze . . . Mindful Musings of a Grateful Heart" (Angel Hope Publishing). He and May are also engaged in leading nursing home / residential chapel services and music. ~+~
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