Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hospital Shopping

I love Québec...

My corporate doctor told me to get a CT scan for my sinusity joys. That's not cheap... I never thought I would actually shop around for that.

Anyways. I'f I'm stuck having to go to Hiranandani, I'll ask for a second opinion there.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Teaching Ministry is Back To Life

Here are some quick notes about what is happening in my life
- Preached at the house church on Sunday
- I was invited to have a short message at the singles' meeting in early February

I am now weaving some commentary reading with my everyday Bible study in order to deepen my understanding. I'm in Matthew now.
I haven't deepened my study of santification for a few weeks now. Yikes! I need to fix that!!!

I'm not in top shae though, neither physically or spiritually. I know I need a stronger prayer life. I'm in a vicious circle: low sleep, trimming of quiet times because I try to get some more sleep in, bad prayer because being sleepy... I'm grumpy too, and so on.
And I'm working a lot, and being a bit anxious wrt a situation in the fellowship that is not turning the way I was hoping.
God is faithful... I'm able to work smartly enough, a miracle in itself.
Things will get better... its just taking time to happen. All things work for the good of those who love God.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Student Prostitution

Its data from France, but very interesting... about 40000 students engaging in prostitution to fund their studies... wow!

Moi, Laura D., étudiante et prostituée

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Work: First Week of the Sprint

First week of the sprint, yay for stress!

I've been allocated as pretty much the only resource for a module. Not what I wanted really, but I get to design the whole thing. The problem is that the customer has some fancy ideas that I'm trying to cool down.

I am getting help from colleagues to be better organized and reporting better to my boss and so on.

The pressure is on... and I'm not doing too well with the stress right now. I need more prayer. And to take appointments with the brothers to keep the bonds strong.

Mumbai's Leaders' Retreat

So, this weekend, I was in Goregaon for the leaders' retreat. The Mighty Men and Mighty Women group were invited too.

The preach was inspiring, and I had the great time there.
Surprisingly, I won prizes for my Biblical knowledge. Let me tell you more

Saturday, 5:30 AM: wake up, shower, cycle to that brother's house, and take a Rickshaw to Goregaon. Arrive at 7:00 to find noone else brave enough to have their quiet time with us there. So we pray together and people eventually joined.
We had breakfast, worship time, and we split men/women. We had the chance of having a ministry couple from Bangalore to join us and they taught. The message focused on relying on God. In the afternoon, it was mostly practicals.
I got a good (and really overdue) d-time. The evening was mostly a waste due to the fact that the supper was more than one hour late, so the movie was canceled.
One brother came to me and inspired me. He told me how inspired he was by my example of leaving my comfort zone and adapting to Indian life. Its not the first time I get such feedback, but its always touching. Most people here never left India. In many case, barely left their state. The airfare that is a budgetable expense for a 25-year old North American engineer is a dream for the Indian one.
So you can tell that I have experienced things that many people here might never. I'm glad and thankful for all of them. And the mere fact that I am with my brothers is really inspiring for them... its Christianity in its real form: loving one another no matter where are are from, how much we make, etc.
I recall a conversation with an African brother... I was asking him how I could contribute if I decided to go there. His answer was simple: just come... people will be fired up that someone actually wants to be with them. I'm understanding that better now.
We also had the first exam. 2 points for a good answer, -1 point for a wrong answer (including no-answers). 50 questions, I scored 46. My hope was 0, since I didn't study (I focused on my teaching ministry instead). I was shocked to see I was a top ranker (except for brothers in the ministry, who were out of competition). I was selected to be in the final, much to my surprise.
On Sunday, we had a service in the morning, with strong reminders about some of the basics, including giving. Then a preach for the brothers about having godly conversations, and giving everything to God. Finally, some people stressing the real things! After lunch, we had the finals. I scored 92 points, first place!
That is, having barely any sleep, being braindead in the competition, with no real study...
I think I've been blessed by God a bit more than I expected. I'll be asked back much more than I thought. Oh well, that's being a saint.
There was a talk I was supposed to have with a brother that didn't happen. Its about a giving plan that I'm offering, and about a sister. Don't start rumours, I'm still single, and I wouldn't bet on that changing.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What Happened during "Holidays"

Well, I didn't have much vacation. I had the 25th and the 1st off, and that was it!
I had some "Christmas" celebrations, and a New Year party.

I also did some training at work during the "holiday" time.

Oh, and I celebrated my 4th spiritual birthday too.

I was invited to two house church Christmas parties. One of which I was doing the games.
Otherwise, I didn't celebrate Christmas, because its a worldly celebration that has nothing to do with Jesus.
I had a New Year's party in Mira Road (AKA Mosquito Town). I went with a bunch of AIESECers, thinking that the Indian host would keep things at a half-decent level. Tough luck. People getting drunk, four guys per girl on the dance floor, groping sessions, people passing out because they are so drunk, the host forgetting that he's married, etc.
What's a saint to do? Well, I have a couple follow-up phone calls to make. I'm praying for God to put in place the opportunity to do so, because I don't have most of their phone numbers (you know that I don't like to ask people's numbers).
During the party, I did not get drunk, did not covet the girls, kept my eyes clean as much as possible. Overall, I had a spiritual victory, leaving the party with my head high. In the past, I would feel like a loser for not having a girlfriend... that's one powerful before/after shot!
I did a training on Canadian business culture at work. The most interesting part was to analyze indirect communications and see how all the Indians understood the underlying point... and then be shocked at how a Canadian would be seeing it: being lying, disorganized, lazy, etc.
I've been baptized four years ago. I celebrated by going to a nice restaurant with my roomate. He asked a lot of questions which I was glad to answer. I also preached for midweek and managed to watch the Narnia movie (I had to waste a bit of time on my computer to fix the drive since the movie wasn't playing or being choppy. The house church leader asked me to do another message this week on the same topic (sanctification). I'll post notes when I'll feel that they are ready.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Celebrated 4th Spiritual Birthday

So... 4 years down the road. I feels unreal. What happened of year 2 and 3?

I wanted to celebrate, yet not to celebrate at the same time. The Indian overworking spirit is getting to me :(

Yet, friends, do not despair, I did something about it!

I got my new roomate, also from the ACE program in the company, and took him to dinner at a nice place not too far from the office. I answered a lot of questions about my experience.
I also did a message for midweek. We could not meet at the household where we were supposed to do it. So we had it outside. And it was "cold"... meaning that I was feeling comfortable while the sisters were shivering. So the leader asked me to do it again next week with more people present. I am glad. I studied sanctification for a long time and its starting to pay off in my life and enabling teaching for God's people.
I also wanted to watch the Narnia VCD I bought last week, but it wouldn't play, or would be choppy. I wasted a lot of time trying to fix it and its not really fixed either.
I also took the time to update my vision. Surprisingly, I'm praying to be loving by 3 years from now, and for eldership in the far future.
If you know me, you know its that good time to knock on wood.
Eldership used to be the one thing I thought I could never do! Yet... I can't help but to see an IT career, some missionary episodes, raising a nice godly family, a lot of theology all over the place, and somehow focusing on helping my brothers and sisters' spiritual well-being.
Don't worry, I'm not putting aside the teaching ministry. I'm just accepting the idea of being loving.
I'm also taking some time to reflect on things I'm grateful for. Lets think of a few:
- Humility. The Scriptures say to see others a better than myself. I'm not there yet, but I can accept that I don't know everything and be OK with that.
- Maturity. I'm less crazy emotional. I still need to grow up in many ways, but things are better.
- Purpose. I have something better to spend my time on than being better than everybody else. I want to hack myself and be the best that I can be (not the same as being better than everybody else) and help others do that. And bring them to heaven too.
- Joy. I'm not Mr. "joyful joyful, we adore thee" (c.f. Beethoven's 9th symphony), granted. But I don't feel my life as a burden as I used to. I'm discovering the virtues of Christian Hedonism (that's the real thing, baby!). I can put aside my stupid narcisic hedonist ways that bring me more burdens, and start enjoying the real life. God has given me a lot of sources of joy, and I'm starting to appreciate them.
- Social Strenghts: I can read people much better than ever, and build rapport and bonds very easily. In the 2 months I was in Thane, I made people LOVE me and regret my departure. Wow!
- Job: I have a job that has potential and will help me grow professionally.
- Housing: I don't live in a dump, have electricity and water all the time, etc. I am close to work, and transportation is not too much of a pain.
- Health: in a country where hepatitis can float in the water or be on your veggies, I'm generally healthy and I even lost weight. I have hope to get under 200 lbs even!
- Relationships: I'm closer to God, I have loving parents, real friends I keep in touch with despite time zones and seas, brothers, etc.
- Money: I can afford to be generous. How cool is that?
- Experiences: I have lived in those four years what many wouldn't dream of living.
That's what comes to mind for now... I'm sure that I'm being very ungrateful on so many things.

Reading notes: Morison's book on Sanctification

Hello brothers and sisters!

I am not giving up the teaching ministry yet, and I'm sharing my reading notes on this wonderful book. It has a bit of a Protestant bias that one must ignore for a few pages, but its overall very instructive on the nature of our new birth in Christ. I was able to better understand the freedom that Jesus bought on the Cross for me and it gives me great encouragement and renewed strength in the spiritual battle.

The book is now in the public domain, and you can get it at the Internet Archive:
http://www.archive.org/details/stpaulsteachingo00moriuoft

Title: St. Paul's teaching on sanctification : a practical exposition of Romans VI
Author: Morison, James
Year: 1886
Publisher: London : Hodder and Stoughton

(Verse 1)
p.2 Sanctification is part of the big picture of Christian salvation.
p.3 Context is the following of the discussion that says that God's grace is over-abounding compared to sin.
(Verse 2)
We died to sin, and are united to Christ Jesus in His death. We have been absorbed, to a degree, in His being. By death, we are free from penal claims of sin.
p.5 Our understanding of the liberation from sin results in us choosing to to sin anymore
(Verse 3)
p.6 Rephrasing of the previous idea in other words.
(Reader's note: False doctrine of inward baptism)
(Verse 4)
p.11 Imaged, use of transition death -> burial, preparing us to the idea of Christ's resurection.
p.13 The point of all this is that we walk in newness of life.
p.14 Defines glorification as life of infinite bliss after resurrection.
The newness of life is not of ethical nature, but a matter of a new heritage.
The resurrection of Christ was an act of glory of the Father, with participation of the Son.
(Verse 5)
p.16 Complicated Greek. The idea is that we have grown together with Christ, meaning intimately united. We are united in His death as well as His resurrection. This crowns the development of the last verses.
p.18 However, this is not just an association or union. We are united in the likeness of His death.
Likeness is not the same as identification, which means that our death is similar, but is not the exact same.
p.19 Union in Christ's resurrection is a logical consequence of our union in His death.
(Verse 6)
p.20- talks about the old man as the old self, antithesis to the new self expressed at other places in Scripture. The old self is crucified with Christ. Faith comes first, and union with Christ second.
Immunity and inheritance comes after this union. The objective of this union is not for Christians to indulge themselves, but to disable the tyranny of the body of sin.
The author describes Paul's view that sin is tyrant ruling fully a body. But this body is not our litteral physical body, but an illustrative tool. The old man is not precisely the body of sin.
The verse promises a grand divine reality.
The author presents his thesis:
"The aim is this, that by the might of matchless generosity and loving-kindness on the part of God, the delusive and seductive power of sin may, on the part of men, be broken in their hearts. Men's 'sanctification' is God's aim ; and His principal ethical leverage within the heart is the noble principle of gratitude for grace received."
(Reader's note: This is at first glance a reductive view of sanctification, where God's grace convicts us towards a greater godliness. This is certainly true, but is it the full picture?)
The power of sin is crucified, and its authority is gone, yet still is still there. But that was the objective, to disable sin so that we can have freedom.
(Verse 7)
p.26 Reaffirms the previous verse.
p.27 Context is critical here. By he who died, it means the believer who died in Christ through baptism. Liberation is subsumed in the idea of justification from sin. Same is expressed in Acts 13:39. (Reader's note: the idea is not so clearly expressed in Acts)
p.28 The terminology is legal. The Greek speaks clearly that the freedom is a freedom of justification, not the freedom of sanctification. Here, justification leading to sanctification.
(Verse 8)
p.28 Transition to another point of view.
p.29 Death in Christ happens at moment of conversion.
p.30 Is on Christ life after resurrection. The future tense indicates that this life continues forever and thus forces us to look onwards. Weak reference to Rom 8:24, 1 Pet 1:4.
p.31,32 Forgiveness of sins only one half of the blessing. The greatness of heaven is the other.
(Verse 9)
P.33 continues the previous point.
(Verse 10)
p. 34 Splits the idea in two. The death he died was towards sin. The life he lives is towards God.
p.36 The freedom obtained is obtained for perpetuity. This idea is echoed in Hebrew 9:12. The death was momentary, but the life is of continuity.
p. 37 Builds on previous ideas. Freedom from sin and judicial exactions on account of sin. Life is liven to God. This life is about the fruition of rewards of righteousness
p. 38 This life is described. Ps 16:11 talks about the fullness of joy. Phil 2:6,8 talks about his glorification following His humilitation.
(Verse 11)
p.39 There is a parallelism of thought introduced here. This is a parallel between the life of Christ and the one of those who are united in Him. Paul wants believers to realize the privileged nature of our position in Christ.
p.40 In which way we are dead to Sin in Christ Jesus? Not in respect of character or ethical demeanor, but in freedom from the wages of Sin. This state helps build the proper character, but is not the fruit. The essential part of the Gospel is Jesus' death for our sins and rose again.
p.41 In which way are we alive to God? Not an antithesis with the preceding, as both relationships are complementing each other. They are full of morally motivating potential that can be steered to a godlier life.
(note: this ties in to grace very very much)
By life, we can understand Christ's life before death, full of ethical glory, or His life after death, of great exhalation and honour. It is the latter that fits here.
p.43 God is life and has plenty of life to give. See John 26?. This is the everlasting life that Jesus talked about in John 3:16. This verse tells us to really look at this spiritual reality instead of just storing it behind the back of our minds, since it is full of power enabling godliness.
(verse 12)
p. 44 The 'then' bring things back to previous discussions, and is the introduction to sanctification. Sin is personified. It cannot reign in us without us choosing to give him the throne.
p.45 The power of Sin is limited to the mortal body. It is mortal. We are reminded that it will pass away and that there is thus no point in doing so. 2 Co 7:1 also talks about the body, but both body and spirit. 1 Co 6:20 also states that we are to glorify God in our spirit and body, both belonging to Him. The deepest transformations of ethical nature are those that happen in relation to our body, which is also synergic with Ro 12:1-2. We are to prevent sin to reign in the body, so that it may have no hold in the spirit.
*** p.47 The lusts referred to are lusts of the body, which can penetrate the mind. They are not sinful in essence, but are natural desires. "Sin begins when they are no longer controlled, restrained, denied." Those lusts turned sinful must be reined using reason and conscience.
(Verse 13)
Continues on the previous idea. It presents sin as reigning, and engaged in a war. Our body can serve as weapons for either God or sin.
*** p. 50 The Greek is elaborated for the second half. We must present ourselves at once to God. We have to show ourselves for services dressed in our true colours, as paretakers of the life in Christ.
p.51 We must realize that, as redeemed souls, we are alive in a sea of dead people.
"To His all-seeing eye, as well as to their own self-conscious faith, they were alive from among the vast masses of the dead. In their every-day experience they had earnests of the grandeur of their destiny. It well became them, therefore, to be lifted up into a lofty mood of gratitude, and thus to consecrate ungrudgingly their most devoted and loyal service to their infinite benefactor."
In other words, our gratitude for our new life brings us to consecrate ourselves to a full service to God.
p. 51-52 dismisses an alternative reading. This reading suggests that we are not really in a new life. The union would be there in terms of privilege and promise, but it would not be a litteral new life, but was in ideal new life. This is to be dimissed because many authorities are on the side of the traditional reading, and that the likelihood of transcription is not favorable to it. Further, it is more Paulinian.
p. 53 return to the spiritual warfare
(*** Soldier of God is an inherent element of our new selves in Christ Jesus)
(Verse 14)
p. 54 Sin must not be able to lord over you does not mean that you stop sinning altogether (although this is an ideal supported elsewhere)
p.55 It concludes the previous point. We are enticed in the service of God by two points a) immunity to the deadly consequence of sin, b) glorification to come (?)
The reason why sin cannot lord over us is that we are not under law, but under grace. Although all men are, to a degree, under both law and grace (see Tit 2:11, grace is brought to all men, but they have to take it).
p.56 Christians have some privilege under this law+grace pair. We are not under law as we do not die if we disobey, and we have forgiveness of our sins.
Our sanctification would be great if we understood this, understanding that sin is effectively disabled by this.
p. 57-58 Attacks the interpretation that this refers to a dispensation of law that is superseded by a dispensation of grace. This does not fit the context, as Paul is focusing on the immediately practical, and we see that sin lords over unbelievers in all ages.
(Verse 15)
p. 60 Should we go multiplying our sins? No, we are under the authority of grace. All things are ours: forgiveness, eternal life, all of this world we will inherit one day. Of course we shouldn't!
(Verse 16)
p. 62 This verse has no rhetorical finesse and no linguistic fanciness. But great ideas.
"Do you not know" addresses the audience directly. It is about to introduce an obvious and unchallengeable idea.
"The drift of what he emphasises is this, - When any ethical course of conduct is deliberately
chosen and pursued, then the naturally retributive consequences necessarily stereotype themselves in
the experience of the individual. If the course chosen be righteous, then the consequences within
the sphere of consciousness are pleasant and tend to bliss."
The analogy is used to bring the idea,and then used in the rest of the verse to drive the point home. All men are servants and under authority. The choice of man is which ethical precepts he will follow. They are masters in the sense that they give a clear consequence for following them (there is thus no contradiction with the earlier point that Sin has no power over us: here it is us who follow sin and get punished by it). So, we must present ourselves before a master in view of habitual obedience. The reciprocal is not guaranteed, and our treatment will depend on our master, not on our obedience to it.
p. 65 * obedience to goodnes and will of God -> righteousness. Sin = disobedience.
The verse has an antithesis: sin to death, obey to righteouness. The antithesis is indirect and double:
sin -> death, obey -> life eternal + sanctification
(Verse 17)
p. 67 Servants of Sin is a thing of the past. God emancipates us from this bondage and we are to be thankful for that.
p. 68 That is the reason to be glad: revolution in the mode of life and ethical aims.
The teaching received was the Gospel, and it was impressed on the recipient's mind. This impression expresses itself in the believers by conversion and holiness.
p. 70 This teaching was not full-fledged apostolic teaching. It is by giving ourselves most heartily to the Gospel (and you don't need to have a perfect understanding) we are no longer in service to sin. There is another view derived from metallurgy: Christians are poured in the mould at baptism. This would be unlikely, since the idea of freedom is embedded in ethical obedience, but is lost in a mould. This means that no disobedience is possible if we are cast in a metal mould.
*(Verse 18)
p.72 Happy result to obey the message: freedom from sin. The service to righteousness is an ethical necessity from this.
(Verse 19)
p.74 He concedes that this discourse is not of the highest order of thought. Humans are limited to human thoughts, hardly able to go beyond that sphere. But God is a revealer, and thus allows flashes to come accross. In paul's experience, he received these via the Holy Spirit (1 co 2:10,12 2 co 2:6). But many were not having a developped mind to understand (1 Co 3:1-2).
His images of sin as a master and a tyrant are quite improper without considering free choice and responsibility, but that is how he portrayed it to the Romans.
p. 76 The infirmity of the flesh is an infirmity emanating from the flesh. And the infirmity is not of any specific flesh.
p.77 what kind of service? The minimum measure of devotedness: present your members as servants to righteousness unto holiness. Parenthesis on the degress of wickeness that are all, in fact, impurity.
The Apostle has made here a strong contrast, before the dark past life that yield iniquity into the glorious light-filled life, with a focus on a grand ethical imperative.
(Verse 20)
p.81 The "for" it starts with is a link with the previous verse.
'It is as if he had said, "I do well to urge upon you the service of righteousness unto holiness, for assuredly the very fact that formerly ye did nothing of the kind is a reason why you should improve your present opportunity."'
It refers here to evil freedom.
An example is given: In society, we must give away some of our freedoms in order to fit into this society. We could enjoy a freedom by parting with society, or ignoring its rules, but that wouldn't be a blessed freedom.
p. 83 the summary of the argument: not all freedom is good. Only freedom consistent with the social, moral and spiritual principles is.
The verse says: when you were sinners, you were unengaged in reference to righteousness. This freedom for righteousness comes at a price though: slavery to sin.
p. 84 In our case, it is the other way around... we are servants of rightousness, and free from sin.
The word "free" here denotes disengagement, not freedom. This is jargon related to servants.
The Roman's problem was disengagement towards righteousness.
(Verse 21)
p. 85 The 'then' connects with the preceding text. The term fruit here represents what is positively delicious (so many bad results would still be unfruitful).
p. 86 There are two views to translate the text: Question + answer, or a long question. The author sides with the second, which could be read "What good fruits came out of what you are now ashamed of?" Implicitly, it almost says "you had no sweet fruit of happiness at all".
The end of those things is death, but death here means more than just the end of natural life.
p.87 this death is the destruction of well-being, the natural consequence of shameful and shameless doings.
(Verse 22)
Another contrast: when you believe in Christ, you are a new creature. You are no longer slave to Sin, but a willing servant of God. This service is free of constraint and compulsion. The outcome: fruit, in its richest form: fruit issuing into holiness.
(Verse 23)
p. 88 Starts with a "For", as this sentence confirms the preceding affirmation. The future is a pure consequence of the present. The imagery of the master is persisted here too, as masters give wages to their servants. In the case of sin, the wage is the destruction of the soul. However, God is contrasted as that it is not wages He offers, but the grace of everlasting life. This reward was procured by Jesus' death and resurrection. He is enjoying it right now, and we have the same reward the moment we are united in Christ.
'Let any man be so closely united to Christ, that "to him to live is Christ" day after day of his probationary existence, and then there is no evil influence in all the Universe that can separate him from the love of God.'
Appendix 1: The law is dead?
p. 91 Discussion on what "The Law" means...
a) Whole OT
b) Pentateuch
c) Pentateuch + Psalms + Prophets
d) All of duties of Jewish man, in a general sense
e) Authoritative revelation of the will of God
p. 92 Paul shifts the perspective frequently. We must keep this in mind, otherwise, we will have a problem understanding him.
Romans 6:14 and 7:1,6 refers to the moral law (often summarized in the 10 commandments or the two most important commandments told by Jesus). Romans 7:7, 8:8-9 refers to this.
p. 93 the law has dominion over man, as it has the power to give man what he deserves. The law is not dead, as some suggested. The same law is alluded to in 1 Co 15:56. No law, no sin.
What does Ro 6:6 mean then? The KJV did not translate the Greek well, and it looks like the law is dead. But it is believers in Jesus who are.
p. 94 believers now occupy the same situation as Jesus by being in Jesus.
p. 95 History of the error:
The manuscript was not authoritative. Beza misunderstood Erasmus who refered to Chrysostom. He also assumed that Chrysostom's was the universally accepted reading of his age. Many scholars protested, but some further falsely claimed that Origen supported this reading too. Some inferred that not the law, but sin was dead, since the death of the law is foreign to Paul's theology.
Appendix 2: Some other references dealing with Romans 6