It was the early afternoon of June 19, 2008, and I was on-line using my game computer. My internet connection was feeling wonky, so I decided to reboot, since when it comes to Windows, 90% of most problems solve themselves after a reboot. Unfortunately, I didn't connect the problem with the internet with the decision I made to go ahead and install an update from Microsoft: these updates are downloaded via the internet, so if my internet connection has a problem, the update will get screwed up. Well, after waiting for a half hour on what looked like a stalled update, I manually cycled power. When Windows came up, it stayed on the Windows splash screen that comes up while the operating system is loading itself. For a long time. I rebooted again, twice, and the Windows boot program didn't throw up the splash screen, but displayed a message on the boot console display (white teletype text on black background) that some system files were missing and to reload Windows XP from the CD-ROM. No problem. I pulled out the CD, selected the recovery option, and was promptly dumped into the recovery console, which is Windows' way of saying "This install is so screwed up, only someone from the Microsoft OS division can fix it manually, so here it is. Go to it!"
Now, providentially, I had done a backup the previous Saturday evening. I normally do one every couple of weeks, but I had waited two months before doing that one. I say "providentially", because at the time I decided to do it, I happened to note that the urge to do so happened to come from the Holy Spirit's direction, not from the part of me that plays the prudent computer geek. To be blunt, I have been concentrating on these essays so much that I had entirely forgotten to do the normal monthly backups. Having not only done a backup, but had verified that the new backup software I was using was able to restore the image without anything on it, I confidently pulled out the CD with the backup software on it, put it into the DVD drive, and rebooted. It came up and located the backup I had saved with no problem.
Problem was, it could not find the DESTINATION hard drive. The one that had that broken Windows operating system. I rebooted several times, with the same results. Well, that's no problem: I could RELOAD Windows XP and do the restore using the Windows version of the program. So I rebooted the Windows XP Installation CD and tried to have it load a fresh copy of the OS into the partition.
And Windows REFUSED to recognize the partition as useable. AFTER I deleted it. Several times.
Now, I am a computer geek. I have good cause to believe that my quad core, 4 gig of memory, one terabyte storage, two video card game computer is unequalled in the part of Georgia that is north of US 280, south of Interstate 16, and between the municipal borders of Savannah and Macon. Three months ago, I'd have been in a raging panic at this time. I'd have been yelling curses that, if granted by God, would have Melinda Gates on the other side of the country calling 911 to get someone out there to rescue her husband Bill from the strange collapse he would have suffered. I got a very horrible temper from my dad, and I would have shown it! If I still had my old boss, I'd have called him up and said, "Boss! I can't come in tomorrow! My Baby's dead!" "Which boy are you talking about?" He'd ask. "Not my boys, but my quad core baby!" "No problem!" he'd say, and after hanging up, would have marked the day on my time sheet down as "sickness in family" rather than "vacation".
But I was cool, in the French sang froid sense. I was calm throughout this time, even though it was starting to look as if the hard drive would have to be replaced due to a software problem (software is NOT supposed to kill hardware). I went to bed on time, and slept better that night than on the previous three. I woke up feeling rather good despite having dreamed of seeing a column of purple smoke coming from a motherboard: If I had dreamed during my sleep, that meant that I had slept well, so I thanked God more for that than about the computer. I decided to delete all the partitions before re-installing a fresh copy of Windows that morning, but that didn't work either, both for the recovery program or the Windows XP installer. If I was non-communicative that Friday morning, or slightly grumpy, it was from the computer geek inside of me wondering what was causing the problem and not coming up with any good ideas. It was about mid-morning that Friday when God finally got through to me to point out how different my reaction was.
I realized that, of all the ways for God to really get through to me the realization that the Holy Spirit had really changed me, this one was the best possible one. I mean, I could have had a medical emergency. My wife could have been diagnosed with cancer. One of my boys could have gotten into a terrible wreck. The house could have burned down. The computer could have actually gone up in a puff of purple smoke. Instead, He decided, out of an abundant and truly amazing grace, to put only bits into peril to show how much the Holy Spirit had changed me. The distance between "My Baby" and Gollum's "My Precious" (as David, a Christian brother, later pointed out the following Sunday morning) was not spacious, and previous reactions to similar occurrances in earler years were all predictably the same, and uniformly non-Christian in character.
My reaction this time was different. And it definitely did not come from me.
Once I had gotten the message that I was different, and it did not come from me, I got a revelation of what to do to restore the backup. I say revelation, because I was beginning to be able to tell whether a thought is coming from the Holy Spirit within, or from my natural heart. I had thought of some other reason during the morning drive to work so, fool that I was, I tried that one first. An hour and a half later of no success, I decided that it was time to try fixing it God's way.
The backup was streaming to the hard drive within ten minutes, and the computer was fully restored an hour later. And well before bedtime.
Now, I had to tell you that experience to tell you the experience that motivated the change in copyright policy of these essays.
I have had such a foul temper for so long, and which pops up so suddenly and almost beyond my control so many times, that this experience really had a personal impact on me. There was no question in my mind that this was due to the Holy Spirit working symbiotically in the human heart from where the Bible assures me such rages spring, acting to moderate, modify, suppress, replace, and strengthen the various thoughts being generated therein. "This stuff really works!" I thought, "I really have stumbled onto the beginnings of a real revolution in the way Christians live their lives!"
Now, several weeks before this, I was worrying about my sample size. It was slowly becoming apparent that this was definitely working for me, but what about everyone else? Simply put, it would be less than desirable to have a method for living the Christian life more perfectly and happily that works only if one has the mentality of an engineer and a scientist. Having some people living the high life is certainly better than having no one living the high life, but dang it, we're ENGINEERS! We make stuff that everyone can use. And having a dual level Christianity, with one group of people enjoying the benefits and the rest struggling along because they haven't the right mental equipment is not acceptable. In fact, it's downright gnostic. If Moses refused to compromise with Pharaoh to the point of not leaving the single hoof of a Hebrew Cow behind in Egypt, then by golly, this revolution is not going to leave any brother or sister behind either.
It was while thinking about this problem in the back of my mind that, while I was relating my witness to Kathy, a church member, that the thought suddenly popped into my head, "Hey, get back into prison ministry and practice on them to get the message right! If it helps them, it'll help everyone!"
I started taking steps to do so. This incident happened just before I was to attend a qualifying class to get into the prison that Saturday, and which I had just become aware of by an "amazing series of coincidences".
The long and the short of it is, I was pumped up. I felt sure I was on the ground floor of the biggest thing to happen to Christianity in two millenia. I was so amazed at my reaction that I told Ken Fuqua, a co-worker who has been following these essays and giving me feedback, that probably the only thing that might upset me would be if I wrote a book, sent it for publication, and had the ideas stolen from me. As a programmer and a former professor, attribution of credit is a big thing in those circles.
Well, guess what happened. The Holy Spirit told me, "Guess what? You sent out a manuscript to a publisher, who sent it famous writer Xyz Abcdef! He xeroxed it, panned it so it wouldn't get published, and just wrote and published a best seller on living the Christian life that really works, totally based on a rewrite of your stuff! He now appears before Conferences stumbling through explaining it and being lauded nevertheless. HOW DO YOU FEEL?"
To be blunt, despite knowing this was merely a simulation of a book I had only been thinking about writing after finishing these on-line essays, I felt furious. Betrayed. Used. Exploited. I even felt the same way in my physical gut that I felt when I lost my first lady love, and I couldn't sleep at all for days when that happened! When I reacted by deciding to stop this line of research, the Holy Spirit immediately intervened and said, in no uncertain terms, that I had to go on. I got visions in my head of this individual checking my website several times a day for updates and new essays and ideas to steal and use in the next conference, seeing the fear of being discovered as a fake while doing so.
I tried beating it down, only to have the Spirit "shake" his head and state "That's the truth of what's in your heart. For all it knows, all this has really happened, and this is how it will respond. And this is how you'll feel when that happens. What are you gonna do about it?"
It was about six that Monday night when the Spirit "helpfully" suggested that I actually APPLY what I had theorized about variance management, "Time," he seemed to say, "to put into practice what you've theorized."
So I pulled up my hurt and resentment, compared it to the law, and stated in my mind "This is how I feel, and this is how I ought to feel. This is unacceptable. It is wrong. Jesus says I should turn the other cheek and love my fellow Christians, despite what they do. I don't know if I can manage love, but I know hating this person is not acceptable, and I want it GONE."
In short, I used the Law of Love, and the teachings in the New Testament, to compare the output to the standard, found it wanting, isolated the variance, and sent a request to correct the output down to the Holy Spirit.
After two hours, I began to feel it less. Still there, and still not acceptable, but making progress.
By bedtime, the pain in my gut was small enough to allow me to sleep. By the next morning, the pain had subsided to a very minor nusiance. Small, but I was determined to work it to zero. I tried to provoke it by posing other people as the criminals, and got little response. I got a mild response from my heart when I began considering putting these essays in the public domain, essentially allowing anyone to copy them word-for-word and publishing them as their own for profit, counting on my silence after reading this very essay. I kept working at it, specifying the variance, stating it was unacceptable, and leaving it to the Holy Spirit in my heart to reduce the variance.
By that afternoon, I was unable to detect any pain in my gut that represented any resentment or anger to the simulated offense.
That evening, I changed the footer so that the essays are now in the public domain, squeezing the resentment down to near immeasurability. I later modified the footer when I realized I didn't have to release the Content management toolkit to the public domain. I did this, despite knowing that, after eliminating in 24 hours a set of feelings that had formerly taken several weeks to make barely manageable, I knew I had a real solution. And that knowing came from the experience of eliminating a real resentment to having these essays being ripped off without attribution.
Let's get one thing straight, though: ripping these essays off without attribution is wrong. My change in attitude doesn't change that fact. What's changed is that I won't honestly resent it if anyone does. However, keep in mind two things: During my struggle, the Holy Spirit did contribute this: "Why do you think I won't fight for you if someone does this to you?" My spiritual dive buddy, Ken Fuqua, pointed out "If they rip it off, how could they possibly do it right? How could they make the progress you've made if their claims are built on a lie?" I summarize what they both said, to point out that this whole process deals with working with the Holy Spirit, and requires working with the Holy Spirit to propagate. Eventually, to do it right, you'll have to face the Holy Spirit while living a lie. Look up Ananias and Sapphira on how well the Holy Spirit tolerated lies in Christians.
Today is July 4 while I'm writing these last few lines. While doing so, I realize that, by putting it in the public domain, I have made it easier and quicker for 12 step programs, and their derivatives, to adapt and incorporate these principles to improve the performance of their members. I have always respected and supported such programs, so PLEASE do so, with my blessings, my prayers, and my time and help to help you do so. A 13th step? Certainly you jest: it'd be best put into the "big book" as one option among many. I'm taking the attitude here of a consulting engineer being paid by the government to counsel its agents on a cost only basis. That's the best kind of arrangement that a consulting firm could give the government short of giving it away free. The US government itself doesn't want any stuff free: they know the oxen need to eat of the grain that they are treading out, so they mostly negotiate cost plus contracts.
While I struggled through the above process, I had no idea that this stuff could be put into 12 step programs, taking the attitude of "I don't care!". Now I see the wisdom and foresight of the process, and hear the amused chuckle of the Spirit within as I got this clue.
I had the delusion that I was liberating the brethren this Independence day. Now I see that *I* have been liberated as well.
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