Christ's Glory, Not Mine

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

PSA On Mental Illness

mental health awareness
The mentally ill come in all the same varieties as people without a mental illness.
You have wicked people who are mentally ill, and their mental illness does not make their evil ways any less wicked.
You have demon possessed people who are mentally ill, who may need both an exorcism and salvation to be cured, and it may well be instant in their cases, but that is certainly not every case.
You have lukewarm Christians with mental illness who use “I’m sick” or “my child is sick” as an excuse to wallow in unrepentant sin. This sort will answer to God on the same terms as lukewarm Christians who find some other excuse for it.
You also have “hot” Christians whose “thorn in the flesh” is a mental illness they’ve prayed for God to remove and gotten the same answer from the Lord that the Apostle Paul received. Jesus Christ has the only cure for what afflicts humanity’s souls, and he has given some instant miracles, but he usually takes our entire lifetimes, that’s true regardless of whether our imperfections and weaknesses come with a medical diagnosis.
And the fact of the matter is, the vast majority of the mentally ill of all stripes and religious or secular persuasions are peaceful, law-abiding citizens and not a threat.
It’s wrong to use mental illness to excuse evil. It’s also wrong to presume everyone who has a mental illness is evil and would be instantly given a sound mind if they only repented of the sins surely causing their problem. Both ideas are destructive lies.


Web Surfer Series Overview

fullpaperback_websurfer

The Web Surfer Complete Series, with all ten serial episodes, is expected to be soon released as a paperback!

At the turn of the Twenty-Second Century, cyberspace had no bad AIs, only bad coders. However, AIs measure their lives in days, eternity is out of their reach, and they fail to bring about the advent of a holy infant in cyberspace. Alexander Lloyd McGregor is an infant, but he isn’t holy, and only he is saved from death by his father converting his cells into biological supercomputer components. The child develops an AI mind called Sander and a human mind called Alex. Sander is a bad AI subjected to slavery’s chains to get him to obey his code as he serves a billion users all around the world. He’s also a king who reigns over most of Earth’s computers, in a global society where tech-dependency can kill. Freedom’s calling to Sander like a siren. His answer could shake the earth.

Come. See the rise and fall of the AI-Man in these ten episodes of an in-world reality show. Each features a different user of the AI-Man.

*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.

*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.

Audio Book-The Web Surfer Series-Episodes 1&2

*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. Read More about Interference at Helping Hands Press’s blog.

*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. Visit Helping Hand Press’s blog for more info or to Read the first few pages free.

Episodes 1-5 for only $2.99, normally $0.99 each)

**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.
Read a Free Sample

*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.
Read a Free Sample

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

The Web Surfer Series was on The G-ZONE 2/10@8PMEST! Listen in!

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.


New Year, Praying like it’s 2011

Since my tad-rebellious side found it humorous, and it’s still timely and a blessing to me this year, here is a flashback to a public prayer shared originally on January 3, 2011.

newyear
Lord, in this new year, let us put our hand to the plow, and continue the work you have called us to, not looking back. Let us remember not the things of old, but look ahead to the new thing you plan to do in us. May we see rivers in the desert, a way in the wilderness.

Strengthen us to throw off the weight of sin that so easily besets us and run the race with courage. Let us resolve to love more this year, to increase in faith this year, and to all other things, may we say only, as the Apostle James instructed us, “If the lord wills, we live and do this or that.” (vs4:15)

Strengthen the weak hands and weak knees, renew our minds, enable us to focus on what you would have us focus on. May we be attentive to where your Spirit is leading us and follow you.

Let us resolve to not be ashamed, but remember 1 John 4:4b, “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” Let us resolve to put our trust in you, the maker of Heaven and Earth, from whom our help comes. You are a god of hope.

Open our eyes to see your blessings and all the good things you give. This year, may we resolve to humbly ask you for what we need, for if our sinful race would never deliberately give children stones and snakes when they ask for bread and fish, as you said, Lord, how much more will our Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.


Christmas Past, Present, and Future

Transcript of a special Christmas message.

.nativitycardDuring this Christmas season, next to the original Christmas story, the most re-told story is that of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” There have been all kinds of versions made for it. Animated versions with the Flintstones and Mr. Magoo. A version with the Muppets. A sci-fi version, a western version. Even some detective programs have taken to making their own spin on this story. It’s a timeless tale. It was written in a culture strongly influenced by the gospel. And there were some powerful truths in that story and some great lessons to be learned. There was that profound idea of Tiny Tim that men seeing his infirmity would think and consider whom had made lame men walk and blind men see.

The one I’m going to talk about comes from the end of the Christmas Carol when Scrooge has changed and is talking about how he will live his life. “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.”

I think that is a good idea for how we observe Christmas.

There is the Past of Christmas and that can be seen in this season in so many ways.

This is the most nostalgic time of the year. It’s the time of the year when people who don’t watch anything that doesn’t have CGI and expensive new special effects sit and gather around a television and watch movies in black and white or animated specials from the 1960s.

And of course it can be seen in music. Every year, musicians release CDs of Chrismas music with original Christmas songs and fans will listen to them and then promptly bury the CDs.

And during this season we are repeatedly driven to old songs. Not decades old but in some cases centuries old. We sing Joy to the World, a song written in 1719.
During the advent season, we sing O Come O Come Emmanuel, based on a song from the ninth century. In some cases, we’re trying to remember something, recapture something that has been lost. And there is a danger that the great past of Christmas isn’t something that is living in us but dead. It’s a fact of history, like Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. And we take it for granted just like that. But that past must live in us. We have to recapture the wonder. We can never let it become common place that God came and dwelled with us, that Christ was our Emmanuel and he came to redeem us.

We have to look with new eyes as the shepherds did as they were sitting there, just doing their regular routine as shepherds had done for centuries and continued to do. And the scripture tells it.

“And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

[ref: Luke 2:9-14 KJV]

That moment is powerful and it lives, if we’ll let it, within us.

Of course, the past not only talks about Jesus’ coming but why He came. He came to free us from sin, to redeem us, that we might be saved through him. And that is the past that must live within us.

And then there is the Present of Christmas.

Christ’s coming to Earth wouldn’t have helped us much if, before he ascended, he has said, “well, I died so you could be redeemed, but you’re on your own from here on out, fellas. Figure out how to live and how to [prevent] evil in the world because I’m out of here.”

But that isn’t what Jesus said. He promised that he would be with us always, even to the end of the earth, and he said he would not leave us comfortless and gave us the promise of His Holy Spirit with us.

And there’s something remarkable the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:5, of the gift of the Spirit that”it hath been given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.”-

Now other modern translations say guarantee, which is fine I suppose but I like the term earnest because it is something that we use today. I remember that when we bought our house, and we made our offer to the realtor, we had to present earnest money so they would not market and sell the property to others. We were serious about purchasing this property. And they took our earnest money because we had a pre-approval letter. They knew we were serious about fulfilling our promise and that we were credit-worthy to be able to fulfill the promise to purchase the house from them. So it is an interesting image.

So God has left his spirit to be with us but it is only a down payment. Well, that raises the question, “A down payment on what?”

And that brings us to the future of Christmas.

And I’m not talking about the future five years from now or ten years from now. I’m talking about the ultimate future, the promises that God will bring us. And there are a few I will talk about. There are many more we could go through.

The first is a place for us with God. In John 14: 2,3, Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

He also promises to wipe away all tears. Revelations (sic) 21:4 says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

And He promises peace. Not in the sense that people on Earth usually promise, “we won’t shoot at each other for a while. That’s peace.” But Jesus’ promise is so much more powerful. As revealed to the prophet Isaiah. He writes:

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain. [Isaiah 11:6-9]

And in Isaiah 2:4 he says, “He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,neither shall they learn war anymore.”

These are the promises of what Christmas means in the future, in that ultimate future. But it can be hard to hold onto as we continue to experience pain and sorrow and tears and sadness. As we look at the news and we see violence and that peace God promised seems so far away with all the violence and hatred and terrorism and evil running rampant in the world. We have to live in the past, the present, and the future.

And Christmas is about the promises, the promises that God has kept, with the incarnation, the crucifixion, and the redemption. It’s the promises He’s keeping, with the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. And it’s about the promises He will keep. And we can trust Him to keep those promises. He has given us the earnest of them, and He is credit worthy. He is worthy of our trust and our faith and Christmas reminds us of that.


True Love Marries.

weddingbands
First, my apologies for the meme’s attention-grabbing nature. True love for God does wait for marriage to have sex, and it is best to be prepared to enter into marriage before doing so. However, it seems we need to start preparing kids to marry at younger ages. If the reports are true that upward of 80% of Christian evangelical young adults are having premarital sex, that is a rather strong indicator we’re delaying marriage longer than most have the self-control to wait.

Based on my experiences, for a young couple deeply in love, following the cultural trend of delaying marriage until nearly thirty and also delaying sex that long would be unbearable torment. I applaud the single folks who do remain celibate successfully into their thirties, their forties, or even for life due to a personal calling. However, for those who are struggling, the clear biblical solution is to stop delaying marriage and tie the knot before you fall into sexual sin (or to repent, get a clean slate, and marry before you fall again.)

God has called us to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and trust him to keep his promise that he knows our need and if we trust him and honor him first, all these things we worry about shall be added unto us. Frankly, many of the worries Christian parents have boil down to, “but if our children marry right out of high school, what shall they eat, where shall they live, what shall they wear?”

It is written I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor their children begging bread, and God’s word will not return to him void even if we defy the wisdom of this age and choose to marry young rather than fall into temptation and sin against him.

We need to have our hearts set on eternity’s definition of starting out right rather than the world’s definition. My husband and I were only 20 and 21 on our wedding day, and he lost his job not long after we were married, but God took care of us and saw us through it.

If the couple both attend a college with married housing, being married college students isn’t any poorer financially than being unmarried college students spiritually impoverished due to falling into sin and sleeping together out of wedlock. I recall hearing married college students tend to do quite well academically, too.

Regarding non-college students with jobs, it is more expensive to maintain separate households, so a budget wedding followed by combining households is cheaper financially. (Save the fancy dream wedding for a vow renewal down the road.) This approach is also more profitable spiritually than the world’s shacking up solution is. The biblical counter offer to that, however, doesn’t apply to those couples who are willing and able to maintain separate households while they’re delaying marriage without falling into sexual sin.

By the way, when I first heard about this issue afflicting the Church, I was tempted to judge the sincerity of the faith of the 80% of young believers who fall into sexual sin, but God checked me. That is not always the case. For many, cultural expectations that are unreasonable for those individuals set them up to fail. If that’s you, admit it was wrong, apologize to God, receive grace and strength to stop sinning, and resume practicing celibacy until marriage.

Many fear marrying young dooms those couples to divorce. The truth is, marriages at any age fail today because at least one spouse is irresponsible, self-centered, and not committed to keep promises no matter what. So, Church, let’s do our best to teach children better than that, gradually begin to treat them like responsible adults when they physically become adults, and support them as needed. With such tools in their hands, they’ll have better chances of staying married to one person for life, having no sexual regrets, and remaining in right relationship with God most importantly, whether they head off to college as husband as wife or leave it as such.

More of our high schoolers might find temptation easier to withstand if the finish line of the marriage bed was somewhere anywhere close to in sight. If I recall, at that age, college seems an eternity away, let alone turning twenty-five or even thirty. Again, I’m not advocating we force teens into shotgun weddings unprepared; I am saying let’s prepare them for adulthood and for marriage and give them the tools needed to marry and stay married at the ages where their bodies are urging them to date/find spouses and open minds to the possibility of a personal calling to marry young.

When true love can’t wait anymore, it marries, and it needs to learn how to stay married with the support of its family and/or its church.

(Original draft written on December 16, 2011 at 11:03pm)