Christ's Glory, Not Mine

Devotions, advice, and book reviews from science fiction author Andrea J. Graham

Journey to Web Surfer Part IV (Final)

Excerpt from my testimony on the Helping Hands’ Press Blog.

First if you need to catch up and read the first three parts just click and read. Tweets you can share on Twitter are at the end.

A concussion stole @andreajgraham’s story and launched the Journey to the #WebSurfer Series as it is today.

Journey to #WebSurfer PT2: How God challenged @andreajgraham to rely more on God in the writing process.

Journey to #WebSurfer PT3: Eye-opening lessons from an unexpected, challenging answer to #sci-fi author @andreajgraham’s prayer.

After God challenged me to write about a character I feared would be too controversial, I wrote a brief sample and showed it to several of my fellow Christian sci-fi authors. To my surprise, they all encouraged me to keep writing. That encouragement led me to decide to give Elisha his own 12,000 word novelette. It ended up needing a 7,500 word sequel that still didn’t tie up all the loose ends. Those stories were such fun, gave such a wider view of King Sander and his users’ world, I decided to do ten more short works depicting the Man-AI from his users’ perspectives, with a different one in each of those ten. (Some of them feature the AI-Girl, Sander’s sister.)
regeneration
To make the users’ voices and their corners of the globe more authentically diverse, I asked some of my author friends to write stories set in Sander’s world, written from the POV of a Web Surfer user who gets to customize either Sander or Lexus on each of their Web Surfer devices via a plethora of personas.

To this project, H. A. Titus and Travis Perry each contributed one story about 5,000 words long and Cindy Koepp playing with three novelettes and another story in the “5,000 words or less” category. I wrote three stories in that category plus another novelette myself and pulled the stories and novelettes together as episodes of an in-world “reality” show. They’re part of an e-serial split in two in reality. Most of them are earlier in time than the first novel, so Helping Hands Press is releasing the serials first.

 

Read the rest of the final part of “Journey to Web Surfer at the Helping Hands Press Blog.


Flashback Friday: Holy Grace

A revised reprint of a timeless article from May 11, 2007.

grace of god

 

The Church is a family, not a daycare. Yet many churches say “when you’re here, you’re family” à la the Olive Garden. While we focus on numbers like a business, some in our churches today have been raised in church their whole lives and still have little understanding of the gospel.

The surrounding culture says, “there are no absolute boundaries of right and wrong. We each get to create our own, and all of our contradicting boundaries are valid as long as we’re each doing what is right for us.”

gracethornHow should we respond in the Church? By explaining the gospel like this? “Bad news, you were born on the wrong side of the boundary, and are incapable of getting on the side where God lives. Good news, Jesus died to remove the boundary.”

While this may sound good, what the post-modern soul makes out of such teaching is, “By saying a little prayer, you can live however you want and still go to Heaven.”

The only difference the unchurched postmodernist sees between that and what they’ve already got is the prayer of salvation and getting up early on Sundays to get hit up for money. And quite a few of them did say the prayer once, back when their parents dragged them to church as kids. This gospel is attractive to those looking for a commitment-free eternity-insurance policy, not a life-changing relationship with a Holy God. In this business transaction, the throne of their hearts rarely comes included.

We are born sinners on the wrong side of God’s boundary and incapable of changing that on our own. Jesus died to make a way for us to cross over the boundary, transform from sinners into saints. He nailed our sin to the cross, yes. And as Ephesians 2:8,9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast.” The common cultural misunderstanding comes in with our understanding of grace.

Grace isn’t a static thing where Jesus accepts us as-is by enabling us to commit our pet sins consequences-free for all eternity. On the flip side, Jesus also isn’t a far-away-tyrant demanding we do what the Bible teaches we’re incapable of in our own strength.

When we’re born again, God freely places within us a new spirit–-a new heart–-one that lives on the right side of the boundary and wills to act in accordance to His will. This is a gift solely of God’s craftsmanship. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

At the same time, we still live in a body of dead flesh that’s just as wrong-side-of-the-boundary as ever.

At every minute of the day, Christians face a choice whether to walk in the ways of our dead flesh, or in the Spirit, with Christ’s grace actively giving us the will and the strength to live in accordance with God’s ways. Let’s ask for it, step back, and let God change us.

 

 


Worth a 1000 Words?

Took Victoria Knight’s painting class at Epworth Chapel on the Green. Hoping you’ll forgive my missing blog post if I give you a free image of my painting instead.

Held by the artist

Held by the artist

Just the landscape "Purple mountains majesty."

Just the landscape “Purple mountains majesty.”

You’re welcome to caption this in the comments or suggest Bible verses that would pair well with it.


Journey to Web Surfer Part III

Part One: a concussion launched me on the journey to the Web Surfer Series as it is today.

Part Two: How God taught me to rely more on God in the writing process on the journey to the Web Surfer Series.

01 Andrea Graham 2Preview of Part Three:

The character God challenged me to write about, Elisha Micah Gabrielson, was born with gender-ambiguous genitalia. In his day, the turn of the 22nd century, such children’s original birth certificates always give their gender as “intersexed” and the only treatment option the parents are allowed is surgery to give the child normal female genitalia. Elisha was born to Christian conservatives who went against this tide to raise their child as male and fought a court battle to get him legally recognized as male and to get him surgery to give him normal male genitalia.

regenerationThey won those objectives when he was five. By then, he already shared his family’s Christian faith and conservative values, he self-identified as male, and he desired surgery to be a normal boy. When puberty partially feminized him again, the surgical options he was given for gaining full adult male functioning struck him as immoral, and he retains an all or nothing mentality on that issue clear into his sophomore year of college. The local church he grew up in accepts the teen as-is, but he gets rejected a lot in our wider subculture by folks confusedly mistaking him for a female-to-male transsexual. Likewise, the world hates him for his beliefs.

Continue reading Journey to Web Surfer Series Part III at Helping Hands Press’s blog

Part Four is expected to conclude this testimony at the end of August.


Dangers of Righteous Anger

Jude 1:21
The most dangerous anger I’ve witnessed lately is righteous indignation. The reason it is dangerous is humans aren’t righteous. We are most prone to do ugly things to each other when we’re angry and either it is justified or we believe we are justified.

It saddens me that so many grown adults behave as if they honestly believe “I am angry, and you were wrong, therefore you are no longer worthy of my respect, kindness, or being treated fairly, and I have every right to lash out and hurt you.”

This may be one of the greatest social ills plaguing my country today, perhaps the world. I see it all over the news, cropping up in many different ways, but the underlying spirit of “righteous” rage is the same, and it can drive good, reasonable people to do the cruelest of things to the people they love, sometimes perfect strangers.

angerOne danger I see is how this rage can blind us to the hypocrisy of our actions. “Person X said/did Y to person X and this is deplorable. We should never do/say such hurtful, mean-spirited things. I will teach Person X by saying/doing hurtful, mean-spirited things to Person X. They deserve it, so I am totally clean. My nasty behavior is justified by the nasty behavior of Person X.”

When we succumb to such thinking, in realty, we have become part of the problem ourselves. We have become what we hate.

Brothers and sisters, we can be dismayed but not too surprised when the world behaves in this manner as our culture slides further and further away from any sort of Christian foundation. Let’s seek to keep it out of the Church, starting with the one person whose actions we have any control over: the person in the mirror.

Let’s respond to evil with good. When they curse, let’s bless. When they’re rude, let’s pray for strength from God to speak kindly and respectfully back. A soft answer turns away wrath; turning the other cheek to insults can break the spread of the rage overtaking many.

No matter how wrong they are, and what we think they deserve, let’s try to take a step back, remember Christ took the wrath of God that we deserved for our wrongs on the Cross. Let’s offer freely the love we have received from Christ, and let’s try to keep in mind the love of Christ is also rather different from the world’s idea of love, but that’s a whole other blog post.

Breathe. Slow, long. When your body tenses up, choose to unclench those clenched muscle groups. Acknowledge to yourself that you are angry. Acknowledge the reality of the wrong/injustice/threat provoking the anger response. Pray and ask God for wisdom in how to address the real issue while by being kind, respectful, gentle, patient and forgiving toward the other party rather than attacking in kind. We won’t always succeed. We will fail and make our own mistakes. As much as we safely can, be sure to acknowledge your own wrong to the other person as their wrong does not justify ours.

Hate can’t be overcome with hate. It only can be overcome with God’s love.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Ro 12:14;17-21

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