Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Haendel: Water Music, Music for the Royal Fireworks

So, I finally listened to this CD with two other major works from Haendel, and little snippets of his other compositions.

I got it cheap, a eloquence recording from Decca:
water music music for the royal
fireworks, etc.
Stuttgarter Kammerorchester
Karl Münchinger
CD 467 406-2

It included Music for the Royal Fireworks, Water Music, Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, etc.

Overall, I enjoyed it. I liked the Water Music in G Major and the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba. I want to listen to it a bit more though.
I'll update this entry when I'll have done that :D

Gaaaaaaaaaaaah week

So... what shall I say?

I was under pressure from the two papers to be done in a week, and it looks like some brothers were acting on purpose to drive me crazy.

How can I summarize it well?

For starters, I had the impression that I was not being told the full truth, that school was so important that even God had to go second, and that my efforts in the service were worth nothing. I went blue on a brother who took the communion without any appearance of introspection and I abstained myself from taking it because of the state I was in. I was confessed sins like I would never have imagined a saint do.
Telling more would allow you to identify the folks, so I'll abstain.
Also, I spent my sunday evening trying to fix my roommate's computer and to install some kind of Linux on that old Pentium 1 we got, to no avail.
On the plus side, I had a big opportunity to work on my surrender. I'm not there yet, but I'm getting there, I guess.
Lets talk about the nice things.
We had a great message on salvation on Wednesday, and our resident teacher-in-training rebuked a few false doctrines while being at it :)
Sunday's message was great. Our evangelist was talking about walking with God based on Psalm 16. I requested a copy of his notes, since I was too caught translating to take notes myself).
On Saturday evening we had a great meal cooked by the single brothers for the single sisters. We had a great line-up, and its sad I forgot some of the food served. We had a special soup made with apples and onions, croustade aux pommes, bison, horse steak, etc.
I was delegated to dish-washing, and I'm glad I got some washing done during the evening, because we are still piling them up in the kitchen as of this morning.
I'm reading a nice little book on emotions that is really simple and short, and that is leaving a lot of room for thought too.
BTW, I'm not sure I mentioned that I finished 'Surprised by Joy' by CS Lewis... one more thing to write about in this blog or in TheoThoughts. Oh well :)
I spent some time to listen to a Haendel CD too. I'll write in another entry.
Its hard for me to focus on the positive... at least this blog helps.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

L'homme Riche et Lazare

Il est dur dans notre société de ne pas avoir été exposé à une multitude de croyances multiples concernant l'après-mort. Quelles sont vos convictions?

Nous allons étudier un passage où Jésus nous parle de l'après-mort, et surtout ce que nous devons en savoir pour cette vi-ci.

Luc 16:19-21
Dressez le portrait des deux personnages. Décrivez la générosité du riche.
vv 22-26
Explication: les théologiens ne sont pas unanimes sur ce fameux lieu. Il est probable qu'on parle ici du Sheol. terme utilisé par les juifs et souvent traduit par le séjour des morts.
Certains y voient ici une parabole qui parle du Paradis et de l'enfer, d'autres voient une description factuelle que Jésus connaîtrait.
Ce qui sera notre focus, ce ne sera pas la nature précise de cet endroit, mais la conversation qui vient, et ce qu'elle nous apprend à nous pour nos vies.
Histoire de contexte, Abraham est le père de la nation juive, puisqu'il est celui qui a reçu les bénédictions de Dieu pour sa foi et qui a formé une première alliance.
Dans ce texte, le sein d'Abraham serait donc un endroit réservé à celui qui met sa foi en Dieu.
Faire un petit dessin du lieu dans lequel ils sont.
Que ce passe-t-il ici? Pourquoi veut-il que ses frères soient avertis? Pourquoi ne pas avertir les autres?
Pourquoi est-ce qu'envoyer Lazare changerait quelque chose? [réponse: un mort parlant de la mort sait de quoi il parle]
Ici, la Loi et les prophètes fait référence aux Ecritures. L'ensemble des Ecritures, maintenant, c'est la Bible.
Qu'elle est l'assomption dans la tête du riche? Pourquoi Abraham répondit que la loi de Moïse et les prophètes de l'ancien testament sont suffisants?
Pourquoi est-ce que Moïse et les prophètes ne sauraient-ils pas de quoi ils parlent?
Pourquoi le message d'un mort ne convaincrait pas les gens?
[En réalité, c'est un problème de foi. S'il ne peuvent pas croire un prophète, ils ne coiront pas un mort?]
Résurection de Lazare sans effet: Jean 11:43-48, Jean 12:9-11
Un homme est revenu des morts, et même cette preuve n'a pas été acceptée par ceux qui avaient le coeur dur.
Un autre homme est revenu des morts... Jésus. Depuis 2000 ans, son enseignement est ignoré. Si on se ferme le coeur à la Bible, on ne pourra jamais écouter le témoignage de Jésus.
La question est, veux-tu faire comme l'homme riche et ignorer la Bible? Ou préfères-tu faire comme Lazare, sachant quelle est la conséquence?

Lessons From Sick People

It is interesting how many people in our society will care for God only when things are going badly.
Just as a way to break the ice, could you please tell me when you were the sickest in your life, and how did you feel ten?

Today we'll learn about Jesus' personality in how he dealt with two sick people.

We will use a passage in Luke 8:40-56
Luke 8:40-42
Who is this man? What was his position? What did it imply for him to do this?
[The leader of the synagogue is a man with a proeminent position in
his community. Jesus was a controversial preacher, and it was a big thing for this man to be asking Jesus' help]
What would make him beg Jesus to help his daughter?
A first trait of personality: Jesus is aproachable.
v. 43
Could anyone describe what would be the health-related impacts of this bleeding?
[ Even though it is not written what kind of bleeding it was, I went on WebMD and found a description for uterine bleeding, a condition related to hormonal levels. There are also digestive track bleedings, And diverticular bleeding. If we take the first option, the uterine bleeding, what do we have? One of the obvious symptoms, except the bleeding, is the lightheadedness and fainting. In the case of diverticular bleeding, the blood loss can be so bad that a transfusion is needed. This woman was constantly in a state of weakness.]
And now, what were the psychological impacts of her sickness?
[The Law of Moses declared her "impure" for a week every time she bled. She was socially outcast, because noone had the right to touch her or touch anything she touched herself. She needed help from the outside, but noone would dare touch her...]
How desesperate was she? What were the fruits of her efforts to arrange things? What parallel do we see with our lives?
[We are often facing problems, and nothing we can do will solve ourselves. To many problems, there is no solution than turning
to Jesus. If we look at AA, NA, SA, etc., their 12-step program is centered on God. Our modern day problems are like that bleeding,
and the solution is the same as it was for her.]
How would you compare her social status with the first guy?
A second trait of personality: Jesus is no snub.
vv. 44-48
Why did she touch his cloak? [She had the faith that just touching it would be enough to heal her.]
Was she healed? Was it psychosomatic or real?[v. 46 says that something real happened, that Jesus felt it.]
Why did Jesus stop? Wasn't he busy with a very pressing matter? What of Jesus's character does this tell us?
[Nobody is unimportant for Jesus]
[Your faith in Jesus should not be a secret, and the blessings that he gave are also not secrets. Jesus wanted to break the wall of shame that was surrounding this woman, that people built around her and that she built around herself. Her reaction show a lot of fear, but her confession and Jesus' reaction show her liberation.]
Another trait of personality?
[Jesus cannot help but help those who have faith in him.]
vv. 49-53
Note: Jesus used more than once the idea of sleeping for someone who would be resurrected. In the case of Lazarus, he used
dead only when people did not understand.
What kinds of faith do we see here?
What is Jesus' view of death? [If you have faith that he will resurect you, then you are just sleeping, waiting for him to wake you up]
[Compare with the resurection of Lazarus in Jn 11:11, to see that, for Jesus, the death of the believer is nothing. Jesus sees beyond this earthly living.]
[There is no emergency with God. Resurrecting is not more difficult than healing.]
Another trait of Jesus' character: he looks beyond the immediate, he sees long-term, and he knows what he's talking about.
vv. 54-56
What happened here? What of Jesus' character is showing up here?
[He really wants her to do well. He's not the "I've done what I had to do, byebye" kind of guy, but someone who goes the extra mile.]
Now, why would Jesus ask the parents not to share what happened? How is that coherent with asking the bleeding woman?
[The father already showed his faith, whereas the bleeding woman did not... As far as I remember, Jesus often tells people not to talk about the miracle they lived... (c.f. LK 5:12-15) but they do so anyway. Jesus was very closed when people asked him for miracles out of the blue.
Jesus wasn't a roaming doctor, but someone who brought God's Word, and who would heal people out of their faith for him.
Healing was not his point, it was a side benefit.

A Free Meal

Opening question: Who likes to eat? Who likes free stuff? Who would like a free meal?

I would!

Context: Jesus was dining with a religious leader and his guests on the sabbath day. This parable comes talk about the Kingdom of God.

What we will read had a lot of meaning in its day, talking about the establishing of the church, but has meaning for us today.

The passage we will use today is Luke 14:16-24.

V. 16-17
What strings were attached to the invitation?
[No Strings are attached. The man is making a large feast, he has many servants, he has money. In the middle east, hospitality is sacred, and making a guest pay anything is an insult.]
In your opinion, did the guests remember the invite?
[Not mentioned, but we can assume not]
What excuses do we have?
[Evaluate the quality of purchases after the deed, or just "play" with our new toy. Another one is putting a relationship first.]
How sound were those excuses?
[There is no urgency in testing a purchase you already have. Your wife can join you at the banquet. Those answers were really dismissals]
Did you ever make up excuses to to avoid doing something you didn't want, or to do something you wanted before?
[Sharing: told was sick to play on the computer instead of skiing with the family.]
Why would someone choose to spend the evening with 10 stinky ox, instead of having fun at a party? What sense of priorities does this show?
Who would you invite to a party?
[Normally, I would invite the people closest to me, those who are the most interested in me.]
What is the spiritual parallel for us today?
[God is sending an invitation to those who are the "closest". We are in a traditionally christian environment, and God keeps on inviting us towards him. If we look around us, we are seeing a lot of invited people turning down the invitation.]
[I can tell you, I've seen many people interested in God who have been "too busy" to really study the Bible and live a spiritual life. I can tell you that it is possible, though. I personally am finishing a degree in Engineering and I am there with you today.]
How does God deal with the rejection?
V. 21-24
Who are the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame?
[those are the "rejects" of the time. Unable to work, often begging for survival.]
What do we learn from God in this?
[god is offering the free meal to those who are in the greatest need, who are starving. Salvation is offered to those who are thirsty for God]
What about verse 23?
[God wants to save as much as possible. He wants to fill heavens with the willing]
The last verse make it clear, though: There is no room for the unwilling.
Thus, there is a choice. Through me, today, God has invited you for this free meal.
This free meal is the Kingdom of Heaven, a relationship with God, the eternal life after this one, and a fulfilled one in your living.
What is your choice? Will you put priority on studies, on relationships, on material things? Or will you put a higher priority on God?

Bad Impressions of People

Did you ever cast a judgment on someone too quickly? Did you ever make false assumptions on people?

We're gonna look today at a passage today where those false assumptions play a key role. I've seen people say a lot of different things about Jesus and christianity as a whole, that I think this passage will help us clear out some fog.

Before starting, I would like to know what's everybody's vision of Jesus?

The passage of reference for today is Mark 8:27-37.
Verses 27-30
So, how do people see Jesus? [A prophet]
What does Peter see? [The Christ]
The vision of the Christ, at that period of time, was very close to the Judges in early Israel history: a warrior that would rule the people and kick out the oppressors, and would also be a spiritual leader for the nation. There is a passage where people want to make Jesus their actual king.
How could some believe one thing and Peter see something else? How come he's able to say what he said?
[Other passages say that it is thanks by the power of God. but also because Peter has been with Jesus for a long time and knows him more.]
Verses 31-33
Jesus now moves on and addresses the misconceptions about the messiah. He prophecies his own death.
Why does Peter counter? [The text does not mention what he said, but it is a matter of rebuking: proving the other wrong. Peter had a misconception about the christ, and he was offended at Jesus' teachings that went against his vision.]
The final rebuke from Jesus, in verse 33, teaches something important: our own vision of the "right thing" can be corrupted and plainly wrong compare to what God teaches.
Verses 34-38
There is another misconception in society that having a christian life means going to church on sundays and having a somewhat stronger moral sense. This is not what Jesus is teaching.
Jesus, in other passages, tells us to expect persecution.
In this passage, he tells us that our commitment must be total. Life and death is to be commited to God. Death here has two levels of meaning: a first level that refers to actual death for your beliefs, but we also understand, from the context of the passage, death to ourselves, to our selfish lives.
Verse 36 make it clear: "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"
And for the one who accepts the challenge of being a disciple, verse 38 imply one thing: sharing the good news again and again. This is radically different than going to church every sunday.
We live in a corrupt generation that has only a christian makeup. Those teachings apply to us more than they did at that time.
--- Conclusion
I'll conclude as follows: in our lives, we are surrounded by misconceptions about a lot of things. We can have misconceptions about what the Bible teaches. And Jesus' answer to this is simple: we have to rely on God's answer, not on our misconceptions.
As a consequence, we are called to make a choice.
"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."
There is a choice for you to make

Friday, February 24, 2006

Nice conference on globalization

Our brother from Québec City, Ghislain, was over to deliver a message on globalization "from Babel to the New Babylon" that was interesting. I learnt some stuff, and it was useful perspective, even though I was out of energy and overall excited.

Afterwards, I spoke with a guy who is evangelizing too and asked me the coordinates of the church. Talk about eagerness!

Another paper done

So, after submitting a paper for a conference on Monday, we rushed to complete this one for submission tonight.

I submitted my last comments to my colleague before typing this, and he will do the sending very soon.
I'm not feeling my head all that much. The good news is that, despite the high stress of this week, I was able to maintain some kind of decent sleep schedule and activities :)

Monday, February 20, 2006

One Paper Done!

The pressure has just gotten lower. One of the papers is submitted on time.

It actually is my baby, if you want. I spent quite a lot of hours on it that it feel like if it was "my first paper", even though it is not, technically.

We submitted it to a prestigious IEEE conference. There are quite a big number of papers that were submitted, as far as I can see, so acceptance is not guaranteed.

I'll tell you more about it if we are accepted :)

Trying to Keep the Blog Looking Good

For some weird reason, MovableType reverts to the old file system path. I changed that for security reasons, and some of my template is missing, making the page look bad. I tried using a symlink to work around the problem and it looks OK for this new template... lets hope it keeps on working ;)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Grrrrrrrrreat Campus Service

So, the Campus ministry was in charge of doing the service today.

We had a video that was filmed by our evangelist and edited by a brother.
We split the preach in 3 parts, of which I did one.
We had a sharing and a deep passage for communion.
We had a performance of a Bob Marley song and a rap song too.

It was great, and people loved it.

Our theme was "Those Who Dream"
We preached of 3 dreamers: Samuel, Saul and David. I did Saul, and he's a wonderful counter-example.
He managed to annoy God to the point of loosing the Holy Spirit by his disobedience, now that's something!
I served a few strong exhortations about religiosity, following what you think is God's way without checking if it is, about the risk of loosing our salvation.
I had to squeeze it shorter than it was supposed, as the brother before me took more than his planned time, and that we were asked to shorten the whole sermon to avoid making the service too long... it was the first time I was doing a point such as "and this happenend, check xyz if you don't believe me"... I'm typically much more of a purist than that. :)
The response from the brothers and sisters was very encouraging. I was stressed beforehand, as this was the first time I was preaching before the whole congregation. I am glad this is done. It is a victory and a milestone for me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Interesting Discovery

While listening a webradio, I liked the sound of Mozart's 40th symphony, 1st movement.

I tried to see where I could get a legal MP3 or OGG of it, and a quick search got me to The Classical Music Pages, which have MP3 samples of many works... just to help remember what that work is all about. Interesting, and it looks like an interesting use of "fair use" clause of copyright laws (even though I don't know the German law).

To get back to the 40th symphony, it looks like Wikipedia has a copy of it. The vorbis is of good quality, and we have a decent recording (even though I don't think the beggining was as strong as it should've been).

Monday, February 13, 2006

'Revolution' at School

There is one of the classes where many students are very dissatisfied by the professor. I agree with them to a certain extent.

Yet, some are really going crazy. They are pushing for recourses that the situation does not justify, and this is making too much of a mess for my taste. I like to translate Mt 18 to real life for situations like that, and I don't think we're at the last stage just yet...

Anyway, things should get back in order... lets just hope so.

Nice Retreat in Syracuse

We had a good time, as our evangelist drove some of us Campus folk to a Campus and Teens Retreat done by the Syracuse church.

We did some tug-of-war, a coolified treasure hunt (running in the snow, none-the-less), a prayer walk, had an awesome testimony and some messages. Also, we had a good dance. I had the chance to hang out with a very cool and surprisingly sophisticated sister...
At the dance, I also had some powerful times of prayer that gave me, overall, a Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat Saturday evening.

Our evangelist also officially nicknamed me 'rabbi'. Not a bad nickname :)

Website is Back


The admin of the server hosting had a few problems with bad users not keeping their installs secure and everything, and disabled all web space of users with blogs. He reccomended some preventive measures, which I mostly put in place (work in progress, ~90% done). You will not see much of a difference as a user.

Anyway, its good to have the world connected to me once more :)