Friday, September 30, 2005

Debate between Rabbi Shmuley and Dr. Michael Brown

After class, I rushed to go attend this debate. I wanted to have an answer to my questions about messianic prophecies... how could a Jew, who knows the Scriptures more than I do, can manage not to believe that the prophecies were accomplished in Jesus.

I did not have much of an answer to my question, even though I enjoyed the debate.

To learn more about Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.
To learn more about Dr. Michael Brown.

My opinion is that Brown won. Not because I am a Christian and that he is one too, but because I did debating and I am able to see when an argument is left standing.
Brown's approach was very sound intellectually and focused on the accomplishment of the prophecies. The basic claim is that if Jesus is not the Jew's Messiah, he's nobody's messiah. And if he's not, we can throw the Torah out of the window.
Shmuley had a far more emotive approach, straightly quoting from Brown's books, and emphasizing about antisemitism a HUGE lot. It almost drowns, in my mind, the rest of his points. His interest was clear: to bring back Jews who converted to Christ. The rest of the audience did not matter to him, or so I felt.
I was surprised by a lot of stuff, and learnt a lot too. From his perspective, that I'll assume to be mainstream judaism, the Messiah must insitute world peace. If that doesn't happen, there is no Messiah. All the rest of the prophecies revolve around that. Also, the next life doesn't matter. This life matters, and we are to serve God the best we can. Also, that Paul was not a Jew, but merely a Roman agent, that was working to destroy judaism. Jesus was an orthodox Jew that the Pharisees tried to save from Pilate, and he was fighting against that tyranny. Also, that the history of Christianity proved, especially what relates to horrible abuses committed agains Jews, that Christianity was bogus.
A lot of his arguments were not backed up with real solid claims, so I found hard to believe them. Saying that Paul coming from Benjamin is too unlikely, so it shows he's lying. Also, since he quoted the Septuagin, it showed that he did not know Hebrew.
I felt a lot of his claims were well-refuted by Brown, and that he did not really touch on the messianic prophecies brought forward by Brown.
The discussion about genealogies was interesting. It was interesting to find out that about 80% of the average Jew in the 21st century could claim Davidic ancestry, and that not all of the genealogical tables were destroyed by the Assyrians, unlike I previously thought.
There was a major futility at the end of the debate about something in the Proverbs (ch 30)
18 "There are three things that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand:
19 the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a maiden.
20 "This is the way of an adulteress:
She eats and wipes her mouth
and says, 'I've done nothing wrong.'
Is verse 20 linked to 19? This debate was essentially trying to demonstrate that the other was not a good scholar and couldn't interpret Scripture. It broke the flow of the debate and it was at the end. I could've lived without it.
Noteworthy fact, some dude apparently blew a fuse, forcing himself to be listening, telling how much this was a mockery, and that he felt the pain of the rabbi. That's when we learnt that a lot of the Jewish community did a lot of pressure to have the event cancelled, and that many were boycotting it altogether. No wonder the room was full of christians...
I really don't understand this mindset. I just don't. No matter how much I want to intellectually recognize the cultural and social pain that Jews lived through centuries of abuses, I simply am not able to get it. I know of many Québécois who just don't want to let go of the last 2 referendums, and I don't understand them either. I haven't found a better link in my society to help me understand (even though I wish I did).
My consuming questions were not addressed, and I got more now. I left the place my heart pounding strongly, under high adrenalin, knowing that I would do something like that (the debating part) one day. Still, I don't understand. I guess I'll have to just grab a rabbi some day and beg him to explain to me. Why is the Messianic evidence so hard to believe? Why the paranoia? Why do you see conversion as cultural anhilination?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Traditions

Traditions are necessary to put beacons in human life. They are part of culture and national identity. Every country has its national holiday after all. But what if tradition looses its meaning?

Matthiew 15:1-2
As a matter of context: The jewish law set standards in personal purity, especially based on what you touch. If you touched blood or a corpse, you had to clean up, etc.
Very orthodox people washed their hands systematically because of their desire to have always "pure" hands. People imitated them, and generation after generation, this became an unwritten law.
Question: was the basic principle good? Can you name a good and not-so-good tradition.
[Sharing: Mothers' day, a given truck of beer at the Poly]
Matthiew 15:3-14
These guys are the most religious of their time... how come that Jesus, who's talking about God 24/7 say that they are hypocrites?
What makes them blind?
Matthiew 15:10-20
Have you ever felt in you anything that is in verse 19? [Exemple personnel]
A lot of reproach has been done to religion... but what is the core problem: God or humans?
Conclusion
Taking the whole passage, what do you personally conclude?
Any religious life lived with bad motives or simply following tradition is bad in Jesus' perspective. What is this provoking in you?
[Après, partage: première communion pour faire plaisir à la grand-mère. Je l.ai fait sans savoir ce que je faisais, surtout pour avoir la paix.]
[Interesting fact: According to the 2001 survey, 43% in Canada are catholic, nearly 75% claims to be Christian]

Les Traditions

Les traditions sont nécessaires pour fixer un point de repère. Elles sont des éléments importants de la culture et de l'identité nationale... on n'a qu'à penser à l'importance de la St Jean Baptiste pour les Québécois.
Que se passe-t-il si la tradition perd sa signification?

Matthieu 15:1-2
Explication du contexte: la loi de Moise ordonnait des standards de pureté personnelle, particulièrement face à ce qu'on touche, comme le sang ou un cadavre. C'est pourquoi il fallait se laver, pour se purifier de ce qu'on touche.
Des gens très orthodoxes, de peur d'avoir touché des choses qu'il ne fallait pas, se lavaient les mains systématiquement.
Le problème, c'est que le principe est devenu tradition, puis une "loi".
Question: à votre avis, le principe de base de la tradition est-il bon?
Question: Nommez une tradition bonne, comme une moins bonne?
[Partage: St Jean Baptiste (bonne), camion de bière à la poly (moins bonne)]
Matthieu 15:3-14
Les scribes et les pharisiens sont les gens les plus religieux de l'époque... pourquoi Jésus les traite d'hypocrites?
Pourquoi les pharisiens sont "aveugles"?
Matthieu 15:10-20
Avez-vous déjà ressenti ce qui est décrit au verset 19? [Exemple personnel]
On reproche à la religion beaucoup de chose, par exemple les croisades. Le problème vient d'où: de Dieu ou des hommes?
Conclusion
Si vous prenez le passage en entier, que concluez-vous?
Une tradition pratiquée qui dérive de Dieu, quand le coeur n'y est pas, ou avec de mauvaises intensions... est-ce bon, selon Jésus? Avez-vous déjà ressenti ça?
[Après, partage: première communion pour faire plaisir à la grand-mère. Je l.ai fait sans savoir ce que je faisais, surtout pour avoir la paix.]
Que pensez-vous d.une vie religieuse qui ne fait que suivre la tradition « parce que » ? Comment qualifieriez-vous votre spiritualité?
[Fait intéresant: selon le rescencement de 2001, au Canada, 43% de la population canadienne est catholique, et près de 75% de la population se disent chrétiens]

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

News update of me

Ok ok ok... I did not talk of myself recently.

I have been having a cold for a week and its draining me very much. I'm alive, with all my parts. Amen!
I jogged a few times with a sister, which was cool, but we need to make it happening more often!

My Bible talk is becoming "popular", since I have regulars coming... that's kind of unexpected. I hope this doesn't mean that I'm preaching itchy-ears material, but the Word.

We finalized project proposals for 2 classes, and we have to get started. I started in one, for cryptography, by gathering some good plaintext for us. The Gutenberg Project was happy to oblige.

My reading of Victory of Surrender is chalenging. I feel like a mega-control-freak, which I probably really am. Surrender is and will be a struggle for me for a long time, I fear.

Readers, please pray for the church here, for the Campus ministry, for my surrender, for fruits of the Spirit, and that God uses me conversions. Oh, and studies too ;)

Briliant!

I love this idea:

A small, versatile, and very cheap laptop, done with cutting edge technologies, to help education in the developping world.

Sounds impossible? Think again.

I hope they'll license the technology for commercial use in our countries as well. This would totally bring technology to everybody's home, make ebooks a reality, etc. Maybe there is a hope of me taking e-course notes one day... :)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Other Recent Discoveries

Here is some reading I'll eventually be doing:
Tortures et tourments des martyrs chrétiens talks about persecutions that were imposed on our brothers and sisters of the first century. This will be a very interesting reading... the kind that challenges.
Being a disciple of Christ in this society has a "persecution factor" that goes as far as social exclusion, to a certain extent. This is something else, and should fire up some zeal in me for sure!

It looks there is some good content in the Canadian Libraries of the Internet Archive... check it out.

Here is something that sounds like a good rendering of the Dance of the Maids. Please keep in mind that I'm no expert.


Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Classical Jackpot

The MIT actually has music talent.
And its available on the net, in Vorbis format, under Creative Commons.
Can things get better?

Something tells me I'll rediscover the virtues of web crawling applications tonight. :D

Monday, September 19, 2005

Leadership Weekend

On Friday, we had our first Campus devotional. We had a sermon on discipling, a "survey" about our dreams, and we saw The Messenger, starring Mila Jovovitch as Joan of Arc. I did read the trial notes before, and I'll just say that she was a great example of faith, and a great example of ignorance of God's ways...

On Saturday morning, we left for Brockville, Ontario, for a leadership conference with the Syracuse church. The messages were very challenging and stirred up quite a bit of emotion. This helped me get much closer to a brother of Montreal. We had a supper at the Swiss Chalet, that has nothing swiss there... We had a games' night and I had a great time with the brothers and sisters.

On Sunday, we left for Ottawa and had the celebration dinner of the Church's 10th anniversary. There was a BBQ afterwards, but did not enjoy it fully, as we had to be back in MTL for the service, since there was someone that was supposed to go with me. The communion message was right on target, which I always like, and the teaching on the parables of the kingdom were reaching a need in me and in the congregation.
Still, I got a preaching overload with all that...

I was happy to go to bed that night, the tiredness, the emotions and the sheer amount of stuff roaming in my head got to me ;)

Friday, September 16, 2005

Petite Routine

This week has been suprisingly "normal"... isn't that exceptional? ;)

I was able to have a good productivity boost at work and did some progress I should've made a month ago... but progress nevertheless. I did receive critics from my boss about my mismanaging of the team meeting organization, which I really botched. That's the researcher's curse: you get stuck in your research and forget about the "little details" like booking a room and so on...

Got an eye exam and my sight has deteriorated. I am considering laser surgery, but will probably opt against it because that my sight has not stabilized yet. Advice on making my eyes more beautiful are welcomed!

Had quite a few administrative worries to take care of, but its mostly done.

One class got moved to the 8:30-11:00 PM slot, which is evil. I nearly fell asleep on that one. I did look like a whiner talking about it...
but but but... its my sleeeeeeeeeeep we're talking about here! :(

The crypto class was neat, because we were in the action, trying to improve old ciphers and breaking them. In Network Security, we saw some vulnerabilities in old network protocols (mostly for key exchange). In OS, we learnt about an ACM and some security policies. There is a formal part to it that I disconnected from. The book says the exact same thing, so its not helping :'( I'll figure it out.

Tonight will be our first Campus Devotionall. I'm looking forward to that.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Barrage Fire

Woah, Satan has been working on my case real hard this week.

There are some good news though.
We met a guy who finally came to our Bible talk, and he's really fired up about the whole thing. I gotta invite him for a study.
I spent time with the guys in my Bible talk, and I felt that our relationships are deepening. I do confess that I need to be more involved in their lives.
I spent time with a brother who gave me advice on time management, objectives, etc. It was real good. He saw my study Bible and showed me that it was a corrupted version for the Baptist church. In short, don't buy the Scoffield version in French (and maybe also in English). Needless to say, I bought a pocket-sized Bible in French (version de la colombe) for now, and I'll look at different options for a good study Bible. The good news is that I can pick in either English or French ;)
I took the time to, finally, listen to Israel in Egypt, composed by Händel, recorded by Virgin Classics. I enjoyed it. There were only a few pieces that reached me though. Most of it was at the end of the second part and in the third part. It was a great idea to transpose the Scriptures of Moses' song into this format, and the "I will sing unto the LORD" parts at the beggining and the end were very strong.
Now, on the gory stuff, in very short. There has been some sin that was exposed, mainly in my behaviour and my leadership.There has been also the tensions in church leadership who are being more and more public that did have an impact on my overall state. I went to a few very emotional phases where I was bitter at brothers and everything. I took the time, this morning, to leave those emotions to God in prayer, to pray for all the brothers and sisters who, in some way, brought this to light, and I got to a point of thankfulness for having things exposed in the way they were. I am sure God considered it the best manner to disciple me. Prayer is really a powerful medicine! There is some stuff to be dealth with, but the storm is behind me.
Now, I'm more or less serene about all that stuff. No matter what happens, what infighting, what namecalling, I am just going to focus on doing my service to God, and pray about the situation. Like a friend said, Jesus is gonna take care of his girlfriend ;) (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to read Revelations and Ephesians.)

Friday, September 9, 2005

Juicy guide on securing Windows

While scratching contents from the Internet, I found the following:
Windows XP Security Guide

Microsoft has far more resources on security that one might think... surprising even!

*grumbles*

Tired physically and emotionally. Had tough talks with a brother, and that exposed a lot of sin and bad attitudes, especially in my human relationships. My lack of skill and wisdom is very apparent.

That has just been a LOT to handle in a very little time. I sometimes wonder if anybody sees how brittle I am. I always thought it was obvious after spending a little bit of time with me.

Anyway, I can't let go of all that stuff right now. No matter how much I pray about it, it doesn't help. I'll use my old reflexes: dig into work. That'll move my head elsewhere for the time being. Not a good option, but I lack a better one.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Worrying

Bible Talk notes on Matthew 6:26-34

Worrying

So... anybody has assignments and papers to hand in? Anybody has finals coming?

Is anybody stressing about that? Personally, I'm a perfectionist, and I tend to stress a lot about my schoolwork.
And there are a lot of stress and worries we live: will we graduate on time? What about my career? Can I afford that cool iPod? And the list goes on and on...

Today, I want to share with you something that has changed my life, worrywise.

I'll just start by putting some context here: this passage is part of what is called the sermon on the mount, where Jesus is talking to its disciples about what a life of faith should look like.

Matthew 6:25
What kind of fundamental worries does Jesus talk about here?
Does anybody remember the pyramid of needs we learnt in high school?
Self-fulfillment: Education, contribution to the world
Esteem: need for respect of self and others
Love: need of socialization, belonging and recognition
Safety: physical and emotional feeling of protection
Physiological: eating, sleeping, hygiene
From this basic model, there is one thing to keep in mind: if the physiological needs are not met, the rest will not necessarly stand. Doing a final without sleeping, without eating will be a lot harder.
Jesus was saying what psychologists rediscovered many centuries later: there is more than physiological needs, but still acknowledges that they are important.
verses 26-27
Jesus is reminding us of birds, and how God feeds them.
And then, he talks about how much stressing won't help us live longer. What are the effects of stress in your life?
[WebMD has a page about chronic stress. It talks about depression, cardiovascular problems, asthma, memory loss, etc. In short, stress is more likely to shorten your lifespan than to extend it. Jesus knew, well before doctors realized it, how dangerous stress was.]
verses 28-31
As an historical reference, King Solomon was the richest king in Israel's history, and was one of the richest rulers of the middle east in his time. This is what Jesus is refering to when he mentions Solomon.
What would be, in your words, the comparison between Solomon and the lillies?
[God made the flowers more beautiful than anything we can build for ourselves, and they are so little overall. God is demonstrating by that how well He can take care of us ]
verses 32-34
Jesus is basically saying to trust God that He is gonna take care about everything. Did something like that ever happened to you?
[Sharing about getting the internship at MobiLuck]
What are the two solutions that Jesus is proposing about dealing with worry?
[Seek God's kingdom and take it a day at a time]
Concretely, what does it mean to seek God's kingdom?
Finally, how can we practically take it a day at a time?
Conclusion
I hope that you will leave this talk feeling that the Bible has deep knowledge about our human nature, and has practical advice on how to live our lives better.
I also hope that you will be curious to find out more about it, not only to know more about it, but to also live it practically.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Amazed...

In order to obtain the companion contents of a book (Writing Secure Code), I need to go to the website. So far so good.

BUT! The file to download is an .exe
Double-clicking it opens the Windows Installer. Pretty Fancy. Contents must be great...
No. Content is a set of folders with files in them. Nothing else.

I personally use zip files to distribute those. They are standard, multi-platform, lightweight, etc.
All the reverse of what Microsoft forces me to use.

I'm amazed at this... I don't know if its sheer disconnect from reality, stupidity, or evil, but that looks like someone is begging the government for an antitrust lawsuit.

Not-that-great week

This is the one week I have between my vacation and the starting of classes. I was hoping to fully recharge myself before the start of classes, but it didn't happen. Bad sleep mostly.

I spent most of my week researching stuff on the Internet in order to know who's who in my field, the conferences, journals, etc. Not very stimulating, but far better than reading theoritical/mathematical papers.
On Wednesday, we had a Bible Talk. I felt drawn by the Spirit (or so it seems) and ended up inviting... my ex! The fact she tried to ignore me and stuff did not make me feel very good. I was upside down.
There has been some fluctuation in the leadership of various churches and I became very afraid of a split. I am surrendering this to God (even though not 100%... I'm no good at that), as I am not a leader, and thus don't have to be involved. I did get involved in some emails with brothers, but things are back in order.
A sister talked about me about her spiritual state, how she started to attend another church, etc. It was not good at making me feel better.
Good stuff did happen. I went to take a coffee after the Women's Bible Talk on Friday, and we spent time together as a small group. We saw a movie afterwards, Shi mian mai fu (LE SECRET DES POIGNARDS VOLANTS), directed by Zhang Yimou, a good Chinese movie. It had a few adult scenes in it, sadly. Imagine the scene: I'm close to a sister who's an open feminist, and there's one of those scenes happening... I turn to her and ask "could you please tell me about the history of feminism..." We did a few more jokes on that topic, but it did allow me to turn my attention to better things than the screen! The scenes are beautiful. The director really gave us beautiful painting-like images.The storytelling starts very linearly, then twists and intertwines like crazy near the end, but never leaving you confused. If you like good kung fu action and beautiful scenery, this is a must
On Saturday, I did some progress on settling in my room. It looks better now. I took the bus to go to Quebec City to go to a 25th wedding anniversary for an uncle.
On Sunday, got to church and served in the kid's class, then spent the afternoon with a friend who had a lot of questions about the whole idea of a church. In the evening, I spent a little bit of time with my parents and saw Amen, a great movie about the Holocaust and the Vatican's silence on the issue. It was good two see two "christians", a Protestant SS officier forced to serve on Cyclon. B gas production, and a Catholic Jesuit priest trying to get the world to move and stop the killings in the concentration camps. It is a well-rendered true story.
On Monday, I spent time with the church in the afternoon for a BBQ. We played volleyball too and it was a good end-of-summer celebration. I got back to with a couple of the Church here.

Monday, September 5, 2005

Guilty Soul's Guide to Grace

The Guilty Soul's Guide to Grace
Sam Laing
Discipleship Publications International
2005
ISBN: 1-57782-196-3

Short review: I really reccomend.

This book from Sam Laing is about Grace, for the Grace-challenged. He targets people like him who live more under judgment and guilt (often self-imposed) than in blissful acceptance for forgiveness. To quote the author, "This is a book by the guiltiest of Guilty Souls, a man whose instinct has been, and is, to feel guilty and out of sorts with God" (p. 10).
The work is divided in 3 sections: understanding, accepting and living in grace. The author's style combines a lot of personal experience (and associated generalizations) and a solid foundation of Scriptures to bring his teaching forward.
In "Understanding Grace", we are presented by a description of the greatness, and gratuity of God's Grace for us. We are challenged to find out with whom we are confusing God, that Jesus was the incarnation of Grace, and that Jesus did not change God's mind about us, that we have always been His delight.
"(...) We think if we don't properly berate and beat ourselves into submission, we will end up abandoning God and becoming spoiled, selfish egoists. We think our pride is such a lurking beast within us that to give ourselves any sort of affirmation would let it out of the cage, and expose us as the spiritual werewolves we really are.
God doesn't have such a low estimate of us. He believes that the best way to make us loving is to love us first. (...)" (p. 24)
In "Accepting Grace", we are reminded about issues of trust in God, about tuning our over-zealous consciences to the standard of the Bible, about commitment, repentance, baptism. Ultimately, grace is a gift often unopened, and we have to learn to open it!
"This is my story of praying through prayers in the Bible. You need to live out your own story and make your own claim on grace. I urge you to do so. Go to God and claim his grace. Praise him and thank him to the limit you are capable, even if it seems awkward and artificial at first. This is where you must decide to love God with your mind and think the thoughts he wants you to think, no matter what you feel." (p. 111)
In "Living in grace", we learn to deal with matters of discipline, adversity, pride, worry, regret, fear, security, etc. This section gets very practical on the consequences of Grace, as in how it shapes us to be more Christlike.
"The grace of God softens our hearts. It reasons with our minds. It empowers our will. It heals our emotions. It leaves us not merely forgiving, but triumphant. Not merely free, but empowered- empowered to live again, to live again, to be happy again.
My two cents:
I am struggling with Grace, a lot. Reading this book helped me with some of the theoretical aspects, especially that I had issues with God's judgmental and expectant sides of His personality. It is hard for me to fully understand that I'm fully forgiven, loved freely, and yet see results expected of me. I could not realize, however, that i could not accept that God loved me, somehow. I felt like the dirty sinner he "fixes" with Jesus' blood, someone who's naturally evil. I got to pray over psalm 103, as the author recommended, and I begged God to help me understand His love. I can tell you that He answered my prayer, and that this belief is more than intellectual. I am still struggling, but I made a huge step forward.
I was so joyful after this that I started calling friends to share my "discovery"!