Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Single's Conference was too great

I had the privilege of welcoming a brother from Paris, and to attend the North American singles' conference, hosted by the Montreal Church of Christ (yes, us!)

This week, I went on monday to welcome a brother and a sister from France, who were to spend some vacation time in Québec and to attend the conference.
I had a good time with them. The brother was staying at my place, and the friendship we had in Paris was just as good as when I left!
Something great happened to me on Friday morning, when I was jogging... I saw a fox! And it was running after me for a little while :) I was praying in a small pavillion close to the Tree House and I had my face in the sun, feeling warm and loved by God.
Then, for work, we fixed bugs and we made a real move forward in the software. I'm so glad!
In the afternoon, we went to the conference. We had a few hiccups with registration, but things turned out all right.
We went out with a few sisters to see a bit of Old Montreal and Chinatown, and ate a a chinese buffet (yummy!).
Afterwards, I made good contact with a bunch of brothers and sisters, and we kicked into Karaoke night :D Our group played "Thriller" and everybody liked my zombie (mwahahahahahahaha).
One brother from Halifax (I think) sang a great song with the piano, and another one from Montreal rapped something really inspiring too.
We had a little dance afterwards. I was loving the way it was starting!
On Saturday morning we woke up early (6:30) to go pray in the Old Port (under the rain too!) and it was good. I forgot my umbrella and a sister let me use hers. We were praying on our way back and she was holding on my arm so that she was better covered by the umbrella.
It was a great revelation for me: I was able to pray in all purity in this context. Not only that, but I did not feel any supposition or insinuation in my mind ("does she like me?" kinda thing), but just that I was a good brother holding an umbrella for two. God did a miracle that morning!
At 9:00, the teaching began, with Chip Mitchell. The message was focused on the need to remember how bad people we were before we were saved... and how much God does not need us... that his love is really for our own benefit.
We were heavily exhorted to be more active in loving and helping the needy and our neighbourhoods. That was a major shakeup. I would only say that I didn't follow all his references and that I'd need to study the idea that people are sent to Hell for not helping the poor.
One thing is certain, is that God is sending me a lot of messages to die to myself more to take care of the others, both on Campus and in the church... maybe even in my community ;)
In the afternoon, we had a good time at paintball. The sisters wanted me to brief them on strategy, and I gladly did so... that computer gaming paid off ;)
I really had a blast, and I even done some sniping :D
I had a deep conversation with a brother of Toronto who told me about the challenges he faced in his last year, on how God is powerfully pulling strings to make things good for him.
After a power nap, I went to the supper. The food was great, and I had great conversations with the sisters at my table... I've got myself a blind date set for when I go to Boston!
A sister asked me out for a blind date for breakfast, and I had to tell her that this would not be very possible, since I was serving. She was still interested and told her I had to come back and note it down not to forget it, and she ended up not interested in the end... I really mis-expressed me, and she felt rejected. If you read this and know this sister, please extend my apologies to her, I did not want to reject, I was just tired (which gets my English to a lower quality) and I can't be trusted to remember something if I don't write things down (which is almost universally true)... it was a bad set of circumstances.
One guest came by and joined in the fun, as the dance was starting. As of me, I had to leave to get the baptistry from our basement, to only come back near 11 PM... this means that I danced only a few dances before going back to bed.
On Sunday, I had to wake up earlier than most, since I was serving as an usher, and got to the Marché Bonsecours at 8:30 with a muffin in my pocket and a tea in hand. I've served in setting up the room and to help people not getting lost on their way there :D I also took care of the collect, but I otherwise had lots of opportunity to focus on the message.
Chip Mitchell's message was very much along the lines of what was preached the day before, and was built around the three major points from the praise to the Thessalonians (1 Th 1:3-4... works by the faith, labour by love and endurance by hope). Otherwise, he was on the same lines as the day before, boosting us to get serving.
We had a great climax in the service with the baptism of a sister in Campus. I felt like crying when we were singing "Sing Hallelujah" afterwards.
Afterwards, I had a brief moment of fellowship. I already arranged to exchange emails with the people the day before, so I had no rush whatsoever. Afterwards, I went back serving in dismantling the room. I was frustrated, because almost all the ushers vanished quickly, and that everybody was WAY gone by the end of the dismantling... I felt I was being penalized for serving the Body.
I had lunch with a single brother and a couple from Montreal (near 4 PM, none-the-less) before going home, feeling tired and frustrated.
My discipler showed up with a six-pack of Guiness beer and my roomate showed up... and I got to confess my bitterness. That, combined with my brothers' love and the beer, got me upbeat again.
To make things better, a sister calls me and sets a date for Monday with New York sisters and another brother. My serving felt less futile... I felt like God IS DEFINITELY pulling strings in the background for my good, as things litterally come to me. Even though I wanted those things to happen, I did not even ask them or pray for them, but they were given to me by my Abba, simply because He cares.
Conclusion: I need to develop more thankfulness. I don't think I'm remotely close to being fully thankful for all those small miracles. As with all good things coming from above, I know I just need to ask for it, and it will be given to me :D

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Feeling like a headless chicken

Chicken were made particularly by the Lord. They have a lot of nervous nerve arcs (or something to that effect) in the lower body, which makes them able to work well without brain intervention. A decapitated chicken will run left right and center, without direction.

I feel my week has been a bit like that. I got major issues in time management, and weird decision-making sometimes kicks in. All comparisons taken, I guess I'm doing an OK job compared to many, but I know that I have room for major growth left.

I've got some work done this week, and I can say I have some satisfaction about the progress, even though many frustrations remain. I have issues being thankful for God teaching me I'm not a manager.
I have a policy not to give information that could give room for insinuation or hurt people. I've had a study that did not turn the way I was expecting, and I feel that its hard to be selflessly loving, as much with people in the world as for brothers and sisters. My selfish nature does not want to surrender.
I lead a bible talk at UQAM on Friday, which turned out in an unexpected manner, with major arguing. My efforts to control met the reluctance of the two involved who really did not want to stop there. Some good was there still, as one guy who would've been late for the study hung around, and asked many questions. We will see what happens.
I visited a few apartments with the brother who'll be my only roommate. I'm praying for getting a HUGE 5 1/2 apartment close to Vendome metro. Well located, good price, very big. Its downsides are that its not at the level floor and that I didn't see the place for washer and drier... things we can live with.
I also did repent by Thursday to resume my jogging schedule, instead of letting the worries divert me.
My Québec taxes are done and ready to be mailed, and the Federal ones will be tomorrow. I'm glad to have this done.
On saturday, I helped a couple shop for their new computer. I asked a few questions to a friend of mine and the shopping went weel. We narrowed it down to a few systems that look reliable enough for their needs. In the evening, I went for supper with them and had a good time!
On sunday, after service, we had a barbecue at our place it was good. I spoke with a brother who had a "vision" for me in Ministry a while ago. I use the quotes because I wouldn't swear that he has a gift of prophecy, but I'm using the word vision in the standard sense of the world, that is of a dream. I know that I am at crossroads in my faith and how I live it, and that I will have to make a lot of effort to turn away from the World's way, it is getting clearer.
I agreed with a brother to read Purpose Driven Life, and this will be a tough challenge, but something I must do, just for the sake of increasing my confidence in my Shepherd. Then again, maybe I will have THE revelation, who knows? Anyone who reads this will see that I need to learn patience and trust in God.
Finally, I've been asked to be second in command of the Campus ministry... I don't feel qualified to have any leadership position whatsoever, but we'll let God work through the events.
There is stuff unfolding, and I know it is for the best. We will see what the future has in store. This is a redundent theme for me ;)

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Climactic week

We are talking about a very bad (professional) start, and an amazing (spiritual) end for this last week.

The week started badly, with the software expiration algorithm that worked a bit too well! It expired in advance, and this caused a lot of last-minute code fixes and everything!
And this was coupled with a lot of requests from my client on project management that left me drained. I am a developper first, a manager second (or third, or fourth...)
I had a good time with the Campus on Wednesday, and I led my first Bible talk on Thursday at McGill! It was sweet.
On Thursday evening, I had a good time with my roomate. We talked about different stuff, mostly jazz music. My horizons are expanding :D
On Friday, before leaving for the retreat (read associated entry on that), I had a Bible study with our evangelist and a student, who is really earger to learn. I can't wait for the next one. Being in the mission field is exciting, after sitting on the fence for all that time I was in Europe. Yes, I did work a little bit for the Gospel, but this is little compared to what I feel I did in a month. Maybe I did more than I think I did... future will tell me.
Anyhow, I was braindead and felt I needed a break, and I got a ton of spiritual edification on a silver platter. God's sweet caring is all one needs :D

Amazing Campus Retreat

This is the example of a spontaneous decision that payed off...
This wednesday, a sister sends us an email about this upcoming retreat, and I decide that I'm going.

With lots of driving in the picture, 3 fired up disciples from Montreal got there and had a great time!

So, on Thursday, I've made the planning required, and we left on Friday afternoon.
We were headed to Waterville Valley, in New Hampshire. We stayed at the Black Bear Hotel, and the events were at the Conference Center. The event was brought together under the theme of Unity, for the Boston Campus Ministry. There were guests from Sprinfield (MA) and us Montrealers.
We got at the retreat, and we had a cool worship time. People were amazed at how clearly the stars were. I was with a brother,and we prayed in thanksgiving for the amazing nature that God gave us. This brother speaks French, and he asked me to pray in French, and he prayed in English. We were looking at the stars, next to a small river in the village, with the woods right on the other side... a wonderful setting!
Afterwards, I went to a restaurant with 4 sisters. The owner called his chef passed 23:00. The chef was drunk and he decided he could cook us anything, on the menu or not. I had a great dish of veggies served on a salad. And the guy was entertaining! He even brought us in the kitchen and demonstrated how to make a desert. And the owner decided to charge us next to nothing for our meals!
On saturday, I woke up late (i.e. 8) and went jogging with three sisters, because the brothers were hesitating about basketball. I also had a good time of prayer and Bible reading. I finished 2 poems and wrote another one. I'll put them in the blog after I read them at church in a month.
That was a good run and I really need that kind of exercise. After going to the grocery store, I invited a brother to eat and we had a chat about our respective conversions. I was amazed at how many brothers and sisters were baptized at 14! Even if I were one of the oldest around, I was one of the least mature of the group!
In the afternoon, we had a teaching about the challenges in unity of the early church, through the first 12 chapters of the book of Acts and James' epistle.
Afterwards, the group split in 3 different classes, and I picked the class on brother/sister relationships. I did not hear much new, but this confirmed my convictions on relationships with sisters. I feel that a brother, no matter how much he wants to get married, must focus on building a frienship, to serve and to encourage, and so on. One brother in Montreal told me this wisdom in a very useful quote: "a good husband is before all a good friend". There was also a challenging question: Would you like your sister to date someone like you?
Also noteworthy is a commentary about the gift of celibacy (1 Corinthians 7), with the brother saying that it is not as much as a "gift" like healing, but more as a blesssing from God, since celibacy helps us invest more time and energy in serving Him. I like that interpretation/commentary, and it would be interesting to research what the Greek text was saying in this regard.
There were also warnings about emotional over-proximity. In short, there are some things that should not cross the border of the sexes, no matter how good is the frienship.
The sisters were strongly warned about flirtatiousness and clothing, being reminded that they had a responsibility in the brothers' purity. All in all, I think that the content was well-targeted and worthwile. It is simply hard for me to put in practice. I need more prayer to have a very brotherly heart.
In the evening, sisters cooked us "sloppy joes" and spaghetti, and we had a good time with good food. Afterwards, we all went to the dance.
At first, I went there and I was thinking of how to dance with sisters, how to get to the center and show off, and so on.
And I realized that I had a wrong focus, and not having fun. I went out to pray, and resolved to pray for God, like David did when he called back the arch of the alliance to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). It did loosen me up. I spontaneously could get to the center and "show off my moves" (really just some martial arts with nice movements in between) which everyone appreciated. In general, I was feeling great, knowing that Adonai was there with me.
For those who don't know Hebrew, this is one of the names for God in the Old testament. It encapsulates multiple meanings: God, king, master, husband, which describes how I see Jesus.
They put on a slower song and said that it was time to demonstrate what we learnt in the earlier lesson. I felt like inviting a close-by sister to dance, but kept my resolve. I had my eyes half-closed, dancing, and a sister came and asked me to dance. The message I got was clear: focus on God, and the rest will be taken care of.
In short, an amazing evening! I had a great time.
Afterwards, I went back to the restaurant to take a drink (I promised I would come back), and spent a little time with a brother looking at an episode of Evangelion, an anime series.
On Sunday, after a bad night (which accumulated the lack of sleep), I got up and had a good prayer time, and then joined brothers to read a part of psalm 119. Reading it, I found myself guilty of having a bad attitude towards the Word of God. I would treat 10'000 pieces of silver with a lot of care, and a LOT more than I've treated the Bible in my heart.
The preaching was from David McAnulty (I LOVE this brother!), who showed us the Scriptures clearly demonstrating that unity is a gift from God, and that it tends to be ousted by our sinful nature. I need to go through my notes and adjust my requests for personal growth.
I took a while to say goodbye and exchange emails with brothers and sisters. I think the Montreal crew managed to convince a few to come over... I can't wait to receive those brothers!
I also see how the event helped to deepen my relationship with the two other disciples I was with. The talks in private and in the car really broke some serious ice.
God has been really good to me this weekend. I felt I just needed a break from work, and I've got a lot more than I bargained for!

Sunday, April 3, 2005

Last week in Québec City

I've spent a few weeks at my parent's place for now, and its time to get back to Montreal.
It was a week of work and work and paperwork, in short.

The "break" was not much of one, and I doubt it will get any better, in all honesty.
The week was mostly focused on work, and resolving little details for my health card and my driver's license. I've spent a little bit of time on campus for a Bible study. I've spent time with the church on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Friday's time was a good one. I worked a little bit on my poems, and we shared our creativity. We settled a date for a special service. I'll give you the details when we are there. One brother rapped one of his songs for us, and its INSPIRING rap!
I took some time to watch the movie "Lost in Translation" with my parents on Saturday. I found the twisting at the end disappointing. The relationship between the two main characters sounded like a great friendship shaped by the circumstances, but the subtle hints started coming more and more, until the ending scene that left no questions hanging. I feel like this could have been a good shot at men-women relationships. oh well.
The church had a movie night on Saturday, and the next service was based on the movie. Which movie? The Incredibles! I loved the spiritual parallels. its when the characters put aside the great calling they had for "normal life" that the problems emerge in all areas of their lives. But when they live fully their mission, this is when the marriage and family is strong.
I see how much, in my time in Europe, I've put the Mission aside. There were a few "spurts", but not much really, which left me wanting for a "nice quiet life": good job, great wife, serving the Church, having great friendships. Inasmuch as this is great, I know for a fact that I've been called for more than that. I see how much my thinking has been twisted without me noticing!
I saw an amazing movie from the 40's: DOA. You can download it legally for free on the Internet Archive. The story is about a man who received a slow-acting poison for which there is no cure as part of a twisted cover up for an affair. The whole movie is centered on this man's investigation, trying to find out why his death is coming.
It shook me, because this could happen to me tomorrow.
I feel the need to read "Purpose-Driven Life" increasing. I've resolved to read this book seriously right after I finish my current book (the commentary on Joseph from Boice).
On a totally unrelated topic, I've done most of my re-encoding job. I've re-encoded most of my CDs unsing the ogg Vorbis format, instead of MP3. They claim smaller files, better audio and open source, patent-free, goodness... sweet! I use AudioGraber with the latest libvorbis and it does a fantastic job!
A small howto guide is available . In case of needing the files in MP3 format, for my MP3 player, I'm using DB PowerAmp . Since this is the media player I use for jogging or while in the bus, I can tolerate lower-quality media, so the conversion is OK.
I'm becoming such a purist :D