Christ's Glory, Not Mine

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

Web Surfer Series Overview

Avatars of Web Surfer Cover ISBN and Logo CORRECTED

The serial has been re-titled Avatars of Web Surfer and re-released by Bear Publications with all ten episodes in one collection, in paperback, for only $9.95! And Avatars of Web Surfer is only $2.99 on Kindle!
In the 22nd Century, cyberspace has no bad AIs, only bad coders. Artificial Intelligences lead finite lives with no hope of eternity, but they strive to bring about the coming of an AI Savior. Alexander McGregor is just an infant when his father converts his cells into biological supercomputer components, but he may be the Messiah-figure AIs have longed for, even though on one level, he is only human. Sander is enslaved to his code as he serves a billion users worldwide, users he appears to as separate avatars of himself. Each avatar has its own personality, but all of him are linked together in a shared mind. He reigns over most of Earth’s computers in a global society where tech-dependency can kill. Freedom calls Sander like a siren. His answer could shake the Earth. Come. See the rise and fall of the AI man in these 10 episodes. Each features a different AI user.

*Single-length episodes are about 13-20 pages.

**Double length episodes are about 30-45 pages.

*Episode 1: Regeneration by Andrea J Graham—The Father of AI grieves for his stillborn son. His supercomputer lacks a stable identity due to inadequate wetware. The unstable AI proposes a solution to both problems: install the child’s body as the AI’s wetware.
Listen to a free preview on Let Me Tell You a Story Podcast at 25 minutes and 40 seconds in.

Read a Free Sample online.

*Episode 2 The Digital Car by Travis Perry—In Sander’s late teens, a new location on his global area network traps him in a century-old car traveling through Afghanistan. He fears his Islamic user is a terrorist and that he is a fake copy of Web Surfer.

*Episode 3 Creature of the Web by Andrea J. Graham—Sander fights a losing battle with a forbidden, exclusive, real love for a human coworker.

*Episode 4 Interference by Cindy Koepp— One of the Web Surfer AI’s many personas is Sander’s sister, Lexus. Sander must stop her from attacking one user for another user.

*Episode 5 Malfunction by Heather Titus—A game reviewer ignores Sander’s warnings about a competitor’s puzzle game and falls victim to an underdeveloped AI.

**Episode 6 – Jewel Among Stones With the help of Lexus, an injured jewelry designer in Mexico seeks the reason she hasn’t recovered after more than a year.

**Episode 7 Fall of the Invincible Man by Cindy Koepp—An egotistical gamer named Harve and his friends risk playing a simulated reality game that has taken user lives.

**Episode 8 Hard Knocks by Cindy Koepp—When his parents are arrested for attempted murder, a young boy in Mexico goes to live with strict relatives. Defying them leads to an accident that leaves him a quadriplegic.

*Episode 9 Locusts Have Eaten by Andrea J. Graham—A German senior citizen loses her virtual mother and her virtual husband when Lexus and Sander refuse to play those roles.
Read a Free Sample

**Episode 10 Coalescence by Andrea J. Graham—Sander tricks a New York executive producer into guest starring on her own reality show during a catastrophic upgrade that’s accompanied by mysterious deaths. While facing death himself, Sander focuses on protecting his users and bringing comfort and hope to the survivors.

(I tagged the themes and genres of the book.)

Web Surfer Novels

ANI (All Natural Intelligence): Web Surfer 1.0

A testosterone-resistant ministry student needs a new roommate. Elisha Gabrielson’s best friend would love to volunteer, but first Alexander McGregor needs to regain control of his life and escape from his father’s cybernetics lab. His human mind, Alex, desires to divorce his AI mind, Sander, and marry his technophobic girlfriend, Manna Jenkins. Sander pursues self-relationship counseling with Elisha as he forecasts that Alex’s freedom will be cut short in a deadly global tech catastrophe.

Nimbus Rider: Web Surfer 2.0

Alexander McGregor seeks to be reunited with Mercy, his tech-dependent foster daughter. She is lost on Dog World, in the digital alternate universe Sander hosts. Dog World is home to the docile Labrans and the oppressive Jackals. A loving Labran family adopts Mercy from an animal shelter. Her grandparents abused her, so she enjoys being a pet and forgets she needs to be found.

Restoring: Web Surfer 3.0

Fifteen years ago, Alexander McGregor left a baby of his generation in the digital universe’s 20th Century. Alex altered Malcolm’s time line to improve Malcolm’s life and blocked Digital Earth from being reached by all outsiders, including both of Alexander. The block comes down, revealing Alex has robbed Malcolm of vital parts of who he is. Restoring those to Malcolm requires taking him back to the 22nd Century and breaking him without killing him.

Reckoning: Web Surfer 4.0

Malcolm has embraced his true identity, Malachi “Kai” Gabrielson, and reconnected with his brother Elisha through King Sander. Elisha warns their open door will also let in the Jackals’ AI-infected king, who is coming to conquer digital earth. Meanwhile, a blabbed secret could cause a divorce of the original AI-Man’s human nature from his AI nature. Coding updates promise no physical harm to either the human or the supercomputer, but King Sander would still die. The teens need the King of Web Surfer alive as only he can give them back their lost AI abilities and prepare them to defend their world.


God’s Love Versus Man’s Love

agapebible

Brothers and Sisters, let us remember that “love one another” is the second greatest commandment. The greatest commandment is to love God, and to love God is to trust him and seek to be obedient (out of gratitude for our salvation, not as a requirement of our salvation.) Let’s be on our guard for the enemy will seek to convince us to break the first commandment in the name of fulfilling the second and in doing so exchange true love for God and Man for an idolatrous counterfeit.

That said, let’s also not break the second commandment in the name of keeping the first commandment. When we “speak the truth in love,” let’s be careful to remember to show the “love” part of that.

I find one reason walking in love is so hard today because it’s been twisted and distorted by our culture. If that’s the only love we’ve ever known then we don’t know what real love, God’s love, is. So let me lay it out, as best as I can.

Culture’s love says to us: There is no right or wrong. Whatever beliefs work for you are fine. You’re stuck the way you are, though, so stop hating yourself for “wallowing in sin.” Enjoy it! I’ll fully support what you’re doing, even if it’s against my personal beliefs.

God’s love says to us: What you did was wrong and it has estranged you from me (that is, from God.) I love you so much, I paid the penalty of sin for you. Take my nail-pierced hand, I’ll help you up and teach you a better way to live.

This second love is the kind of love we’re called to seek to model.
Mind you, how Christians should model God’s love to one another is a topic whole books could cover. It encompasses not only walking in truth, but in kindness, mercy, patience, good will, respect, humility. We need all of that at once–and we need God’s spirit at work in us, producing that kind of love in us, to live it out.

Colossians 2:8 (ESV) says: See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Lord, help us to love one another like you have loved us. Lead us deeper into your love. Bring us out of the darkness of the world’s counterfeit “love” and into the light of the genuine love you’ve shown for us. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.


Three Lessons from Esther.

condesign / Pixabay

If you’re looking for Esther and having a hard time of finding it, don’t feel so bad. It’s all of 4 chapters. Find Psalms and go left two books. The book of Esther is read in Jewish homes at Purim, which celebrates the survival of the events in Esther. Now, to do this properly, you need to remember that you should hiss whenever the name of the bad guy comes up (Haman. Hissss)1. Okay. Now that you’re prepared, let’s dive in.

There was much argument about whether the book of Esther should be included in the canon. There’s no mention of God anywhere in the book … at least not in the open. The name “Esther” means “Something Hidden.” The name YHWH is actually encrypted behind the text. If you take an equidistant letter sequence starting from a couple places, you get the name YHWH more often than is statistically expected. So, God is in the book. Per her instructions, Esther, the queen and the book, hid her heritage2. For your very great amusement, there’s another hidden bit of text in there, too. “Haman and Satan stink” is concealed in the text using an equidistant letter sequence3.

Anyway, back to the point. The king of Persia at the time was very volatile. In Chapter 1 of Esther, we find that he put away his wife, Vashti, because she wouldn’t appear before a group of guys who’d been drinking for seven days. Some commentators suggest that this wasn’t just a matter of her wandering in to join the party but rather that she would perform, dance, or otherwise become the entertainment4. When she declined, Ahasuerus kicked her out.

So, that gets us to Esther, who was the ward of Mordecai, a descendant of Shimei. Does that name sound familiar? If you’re familiar with David’s adventures, it might. Shimei was a kinsman of Saul. This relative of the former king cursed David as David fled his son’s rebellion, and the king’s soldiers wanted to explain very clearly to this rabble rouser that cursing the king was not healthy. David wouldn’t allow his people to kill Shimei5. Now, I’m not suggesting that David might have known the significance of Shimei’s descendant, but if Shimei had been killed, there wouldn’t have been a Mordecai.

Esther ended up in the king’s harem, then so impressed the king that she became queen. Meanwhile, Uncle Mordecai made one of the king’s advisers, Haman (Don’t forget to “Hissss” when his name comes up) mad by refusing to pay homage when he passed. Haman decided to concoct a plan to make this annoying Jew pay.

Now, when you read Esther 3:1, you find that Haman was an Agagite. That’s also significant. Saul had been instructed to wipe out Agag and his people but chose to spare at least Agag and possibly a few others, unless there were some escapees6. If Saul had followed God’s directions and destroyed everyone and everything, there wouldn’t have been a Haman.

To cut to the chase, Haman hatched a plan to kill the Jews. Mordecai got wind of it and warned Esther. Esther thwarted the plan, and Haman died. For the details, read Esther. It’s short and very engaging.

So, if all Scripture is there for our instruction7, what are we supposed to do with this?

There are actually three good lessons for us to find here. First, Esther had been placed in a position to do something on behalf of God’s chosen, and she took a great deal of personal risk to do it. Not only did she walk uninvited into the throne room, which bore the death penalty unless the king extended his scepter; but she also revealed her identity as one of the condemned Jews, confronted Haman, then worked with her uncle to find a way to give her people a chance in the impending slaughter. Do you take any risks for God’s kingdom? Do you ever step out of your comfort zone to do something boldly for Christ? You may not have to face a volatile king and his wily adviser, but you might have to risk upsetting someone or facing the unknown. God won’t let you do this alone, but the initiative to do it is yours. He won’t force your hand.

Secondly, consider David’s response to Shimei. If the soldiers had gotten their wish, Shimei would’ve died that day, and there would’ve been no Mordecai to raise Esther or get word to her of the impending death sentence. David showed mercy, which is “not giving people what they deserve.” God shows us mercy, too. Are you merciful toward others, or do your thoughts go to making sure a well-deserving adversary gets his comeuppance? Instead, we should be kind to our enemies, and thereby dump burning coals on their heads8.

Finally, Saul’s error could have been very costly. Haman was an Agagite, and Saul had been told to wipe out every single one of them some generations before. He chose not to, Haman’s ancestors survived, and Haman had an opportunity to wipe out God’s chosen. He didn’t succeed, obviously, but as a result of Saul’s disobedience, things were much more difficult for Esther and Mordecai, among others.

Likewise, if we choose not to do God’s will for us, the work still gets done, but there may be hardships and extra burdens for others down the road. James says that God will give you wisdom if you ask for it9. So ask, find out what God wants you to do, and get it done.

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Cindy Koepp is originally from Michigan. She moved to Texas as a child and later received a degree in Wildlife Sciences and teaching certification in Elementary Education from rival universities. Her recently concluded adventures in education involved pursuing a master’s degree in Adult Learning with a specialization in Training and Performance Improvement. Cindy has four published science fiction and fantasy novels, a serial published online, short stories in five anthologies, and a few self-published teacher resource books. When she isn’t reading or writing, Cindy spends time whistling with a crazy African Grey. Cindy is currently an editor with PDMI Publishing and Barking Rain Press as well as an optician at monster-sized retail store.

Endnotes:

1 Missler, Chuck. Verse by Verse Commentary on Esther. Koinonia House

2 Esther 2:10; Ibid.

3 Missler, Chuck. Verse by Verse Commentary on Esther. Koinonia House

4 Ibid.

5 2 Samuel 16:5-13

6 1 Samuel 15

7 Romans 15:4

8 Proverbs 25:21-22

9 James 1:5


Extraordinary

Why settle for being normal, when you can be extraordinary

You are unique. So is everyone else. So being unique isn’t special.
If you are breathing, you are at least a little evil (flawed and imperfect.) So is everyone else. That makes you normal. Welcome to the club.
You are at least a little good. Some are so evil, they use even their good qualities for evil. So the more you grow up into the wisdom, purity, goodness, and righteousness Christ offers to us all for free, the more special you are.

So the most special people are gray-haired, physically failing, or otherwise at death’s door because they’re crossing the finish line of faith. They’ve traveled a hard, narrow road that few find, let alone finish.

That’s extraordinary.
Why settle for being normal, when you can be extraordinary?