Friday, December 16, 2011

To Follow Jesus All The Way

     Have you ever had one of those moments when you experience a partial flashback of an event, person or memory from long ago, that suddenly hits you without warning? It's amazing how the sudden recollection of two lines from a long-forgotten song from the teenage years can suddenly emerge at an unexpected moment to give strength, encouragement and fill the heart with renewed happiness and determination.

    That's what happened last night at the end of a draining day's work, while in the shower. I have recently been wrestling with some difficult issues that have been close to my heart, related to examining my experiences in churches over the last several years, and discerning right doctrine. It has not been easy, scrutinizing and questioning my own assumptions of teachings that I have absorbed over the years, and in some cases having to face the reality that they might be wrong. It has also been difficult as I have had to think about the possible consequences of what my conclusions might have on my relationships with people in my life who hold views that are differing, or even diametrically opposed to the convictions that I feel moved towards.

    And then last night, two lines came to mind from a little song that I had learned in a Christian youth group during my high-school years in Dubai. "Youth In Action" was founded by an elderly couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. M. C. Ambrose, who were also directly responsible for bringing my own parents (and many other families that we would come to know), to saving faith in Christ. While meeting in weekly small groups in different cities in the UAE, we would all meet once a month for a youth rally. It was during one of those rallies during my first years in YIA that I heard the words of the song "I've Got My Mind Made Up". Some of the people singing that song that day - Ronnie Thomas, Nibin and Nisha Oomen, Anjali Vase - would go on to become very dear friends of mine.

     It was their voices and two lines from the chorus that I suddenly heard in my head in the shower yesterday. I am very grateful to the Internet for being the archive of even the most obscure things, and for Google in helping us find them. Here is a verse and the chorus of that song, written by Norman Hutchins:

I've Got My Mind Made Up
    I've got my mind made up,
    my heart is fixed to follow Jesus all the way.
    I've got my mind made up,
    my heart is fixed to follow Jesus all the way.

    On this journey, there'll be many ups and downs,
    but I know the Lord will see you through.
    There has never been a time when He has let me down,
    that's why I'll follow Jesus all the way.

     I've been thinking about these words since last night and all of today, and asking myself the question - What does it mean to follow Jesus "all the way"? There are several thoughts that have come to mind as I've contemplated the implications of these words.

    Implicit in the phrase "to follow Jesus all the way" is the assumption that He is going somewhere, and that I know Him well enough to have confidence that the "somewhere" good and worthwhile for me to follow Him to. This raises the question of His character and trustworthiness. What do I know of Jesus? Is what I know about Him accurate? Is He trustworthy and truthful? Do His words make sense to me, in what He has to say about my origin, search for meaning, the condition in which I find myself, the deepest questions of my heart, my destiny? How has He proven Himself? Jesus had a lot to say about these things:

    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, 'Lord, kwe do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?' Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.' Philip said to him, 'Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.' Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves."
- John 14: 1-3, ESV

    Following Jesus all the way also implies that it involves a choice, not a compulsion. I must make up my mind and set my heart on going with Him, and count the cost of this journey. And this cost might be great; He might ask of me everything that I have and hold dear and valuable. Jesus talked about this as well:

    "Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 'If anyone comes to me and odoes not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not sfirst sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." 
- Luke 14:25-33, ESV

    "As they were going ralong the road, someone said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.' And Jesus said to him, 'Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.' To another he said, 'Follow me.' But he said, 'Lord, let me first go and bury my father.' And Jesus said to him, 'Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.' Yet another said, 'I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.' Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.'" 
- Luke 9:57-62, ESV

     These are not easy words for any of us to hear, including myself. What will I give up for Jesus, to follow Him all the way? I might not like what I am asked to let go of. For some of us, it might be a relationship that is dear to us - parent, lover, husband, wife, children, relative, friend. It might be a dream that we have longed earnestly and worked hard for. It might be things that we have built our identity on - our ethnicity, culture, religion, organization. Those of us who are parents might have to surrender their wishes or preconceptions of what they perceive to be ideal futures for their children, so that Jesus can do something greater with them. And there is the ultimate surrender of one's own life, trusting that Jesus has a purpose even in the midst of terrible personal suffering and death, and that the glory of His cause and name is greater than any personal glory that I can gain for myself.

     Ultimately, what I am willing to let go of and the extent to which I am willing to go says a lot about the value that I place on Jesus among everything else in my life. I am reminded of the words of the missionary Jim Elliott, who wrote: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." As I bring tonight's post to a close and head to bed, I feel my conviction solidified by the following words composed by the martyred missionary William McChesney:

    If He be God, and died for me,
    No sacrifice too great can be
    For me; a mortal man, to make;
    I'll do it all for Jesus' sake.

    Yes, I will tread the path He trod,
    No other way will please my God,
    So, henceforth, this my choice shall be,
    My choice for all eternity.
- William McChesney, from the poem "My Choice"

     My mind is made up. My heart is fixed. I'm following Jesus all the way home.

- The Wisdom Seeker

     This post is dedicated to Uncle and Aunty Ambrose, my brothers and sisters at Youth In Action whom God used to sow the seeds of the Gospel in my heart many years ago, and to Nibin Oomen and Nisha Susan Philip who have followed Jesus all the way these many years at great personal cost and suffering for the sake of His name and glory.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gear Up: Licensed To Drive!

After a long, hard Canadian driving license arrives :)
      It's finally here.

     I found this slipped under my door a few minutes ago; it was probably my while I was typing out my last blog post on the finished set for Willingdon Church's Christmas musical production. I had been expecting it over the last week, but didn't check our post box today after I got home from work. I'm guessing my roommate Alex found it, since I asked Paulman and he said it wasn't him.

     It's difficult to describe the relief and satisfaction I feel looking at the little plastic card that certifies me as a full Class 5 driver. It's been a hard struggle to get to this point, with massive investment of time, money and effort. Although I had gotten my first ever driving license during my undergraduate years in India, and it was indeed a significant milestone, this is different. 

     Getting my Canadian license was not only much harder, but significantly more meaningful for many different reasons. It followed on the heels of some very important milestones in life: stepping out of university into the real world, after seven-and-a-half years in academia; getting established in my profession with a job that I deeply love and am committed to; my first ever steady income of my own that wasn't from part-time odd jobs; and, the driving factor (pun unintended) that made it so significant and memorable - my very first car.

     I had often read and heard that for a young man, his first car is a very important and significant experience in his life. I had never really believed it until now. Of course, since childhood I had always had more than a passing interest in cars and their evolving design and technology. But I had never experienced the real thrill of driving a car on my own. The only extensive driving experiences I had had prior to this were during driving lessons with a driving school, both in India and here. There were the occasional short chances to drive my father's or cousin's car, but the feeling is not the same when one does not have a proper license to drive alone, the car is someone else's, and the drive is just for learning purposes. In addition, I had either taken transit everywhere for the last twelve years, or hitched a ride with a friend or my father. I believe it would not be inaccurate to say that I languished in apathy and indifference for the last twelve years, after living in cities with extensive and frequent transit systems.

    But then I came into my own, stepped into the real world, and everything changed in a matter of months. My job necessitated me to own a vehicle and drive; without it, transit was taking too long to get to the office or to project sites. I was getting involved in other activities outside work and feeling a desire to expand the boundaries my new-found freedom and explore the world. So I bought my very first car in April, and was itching to drive it.

    But the frustration grew after spending several months and lots of money on driving lessons with a driving school that hindered more than they helped, and failing my road test. Despair began to grow; it seemed that I was looking at a road of drudgery and suffering to licensed automotive happiness, filled with insurmountable obstacles of grumpy and bellicose driving instructors, right hand turns, left-hand turns, speed control, shoulder checks, confounding road signage, parallel parking, reverse parking and the short tempers of other motorists. I think the despondency was only compounded by the sight of glossy automotive magazines at shops and bookstores, covered with handsome drivers with their 30mm Kodak smiles, proudly standing next to some insanely priced and desirable supercar that was guaranteed to incite envy and covetousness in the aspiring but unlicensed male motorist. Ah, the sorrow of not being able to join the company of the automotive faithful in motoring heaven...

    Things finally came to the do-or-die point of internal frustration. I tried again, this time with Excel Academy [1], a much better driving school, taught by a wonderful British gentleman who used to be a professional instructor in the UK. Skip was calm, gentle, patient, reassuring, explained things clearly and logically, and best of all, spoke excellent British English :) I tried for my license again...and failed. But this time was different. I felt good; I had done much better than before. So I waited two weeks, practiced hard, tried a third time last Monday...and passed.

    I've been driving on my own a lot over the last week - to work, church, dinners, birthdays - and loving it. It feels incredible. But more importantly, the wheels in my head have been turning; I am planning and looking forward to what I have heard is a favourite male hobby - working on my car :) But more on that in the next post. Until then, goodnight!
- The Wisdom Seeker


Christmas At Willingdon: Set Construction & Cleanup

     This post is coming 3 days late. Last Friday, I headed to Willingdon Church after work to help with the final day of set construction and cleanup in time for the weekend services on Saturday and Sunday, and the opening night this coming Wednesday. Towards the end of the night, while cleanup was in progress, I took a panoramic photo of the almost production-ready set. My stitching attempt on the photo wasn't too good; my photographic and editing skills are in need of improvement, so my apologies in advance:
Almost-finished set at Willingdon Church for "Christmas At the Starlight Theatre"

The right end of the production set
      My only regret was that I didn't know when construction had actually begun, so I actually showed up halfway into the 2-week construction process. In any case, I will be ushering at the Friday evening 7 PM show, and both shows on Saturday and Sunday. Do say hello if you've been reading this blog and if you're at one of the shows!

     Floor Tickets for "Christmas At The Starlight Theatre" at Willingdon Church can be bought at Ticketmaster or Ticketweb. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to the Make A Wish Foundation. Balcony seating is free, but from my experience over the last two years, you will need to line up well in advance to get good seats. See you there!
- The Wisdom Seeker

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas At Willingdon: Set Construction, Day 2

     I just got home about half an hour ago, and am going for a much-needed shower and then off to bed. Before I do, I thought I'd post two photos I took today of the set construction for the Christmas musical production at Willingdon. First is a panorama shot that I took at the end of the evening and quickly stitched together just now. This should hopefully provide some idea of the scale of the set and the kind of undertaking in which it gets built in just over a week:

Panoramic shot of the set at Willingdon, Day 2
     Below is another shot that I took from the doorway that you can see at the top of the black steps towards the right hand side of the stage:

The mess on stage and in the sanctuary during this week of set construction
     Well, that's it for today. More to come tomorrow. Until then, good night ladies and gentlemen!
- The Wisdom Seeker

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas At Willingdon: Set Construction, Day 1

Willingdon Church gets ready for Christmas!
     It's that time of year at Willingdon, and I've been eagerly waiting for it - again. Last December marked a special time in my life, as a difficult year drew to a close. Fresh out of graduate school with a Master's degree, no savings and dependent on my parents, 5 months into a job hunt with very little to show for it, struggling with matters of the heart and mind, I was looking for something meaningful to pour myself into. With all the pent-up energy of a frustrated young man, I had thrown myself into helping with set construction for my church's annual Christmas production - and had one of the most memorable Christmases of my life.
      It's amazing what God can do with a hammer, saw, nails, paint and drills to teach and mold a man. I grew and learned tremendously through the experience of one intense week of set construction, followed by another week of volunteering during the nights of the actual production. I poured myself into serving with my utmost energy, and came out the happier, content and peaceful for it. And so it was that this Christmas, I returned to help and serve once more, this time after a full day's work. I'm really looking forward to the next two weeks!

     Today was my first day with set-building, although it seems they had started earlier this week. Here are some photos of how things went:

At the end of Day 1: Framing and set layout

Painting and adding set detail during orchestra practice!
     Willingdon is generally a busy place almost every day of the week, as there is always something going on in a church attended by 5,000-odd people. But Christmas seems to ramp this up a notch. There is a hum in the air of excitement  and eager anticipation, as people come together to serve and prepare for this time of the year. I took some photos of other events which were happening in the area outside the main sanctuary, that I had seen or been part of last year:

This foyer will soon be crowded everyday for a week for the 3PM and 7PM shows!
The cafeteria crowded with Christmas dinner hampers for delivery to needy families!

This brings back such wonderful memories of last year :)

The Willingdon Orchestra arrives and sets up for practice amongst the mess!
     I'm too tired to write anymore at the moment, and it's time to hit the bed for another day on site tomorrow. I'll be back at Willingdon tomorrow evening for more set construction, so see you soon for another update and more photos of how things are coming along!
- The Wisdom Seeker

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Haunted By The Gospel

Haunted by the words of Romans1:16-17
     It happened again today morning. I woke up, as I have for the last week, with the words of a poster that I see every day above the foot of my bed resounding in my head:

    "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God, the salvation of everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith.'"
- Romans 1:16-17, ESV

    It has come to the point where I must settle once and for all my questions of faith and teachings of church doctrine that I have been wrestling with for quite some time. I don't think I can take much more of the internal turmoil that I've been experiencing over the last three years, which has only increased since I began asking some hard questions after some painful realizations. I traced some of my experiences in different churches over my spiritual journey over my first 25-odd years, and my "patchwork quilt" theology and confusion that developed as a result, in my post on Reformation Day titled "Visiting The Crossroads".

    Thus it came to be over the last week, that I began re-reading Paul's Epistle to the Romans, every morning on my transit to work and while coming back in the evening. I have decided to study the book of Romans this Christmas season and while working my way through it, I will also connect its thoughts with the truths of the Christmas story recounted at the beginning of the four Gospels. I think this will be a very different Christmas from any that I have seen over the last 30 years, because I want to plumb the depths of the Gospel as I have never done before. By the grace of God and the guidance of His Holy Spirit, I hope to systematically work my way through my questions, find conclusive answers and make firm the convictions of my faith.

    Over the last week, I also remembered a series of sermons that was preached on the book of Romans in 2004 by John Neufeld, the senior pastor at my church. I listened to the opening sermon today. I will bring this post to a close with some of Pastor John's words from his opening sermon:

    "The book of Romans...has profoundly changed the lives of individuals, it has directed the life of the Church and it has changed the life of nations...Why study one of the most doctrinal books of the Bible, and I might add, one of the most difficult? The answer is that it has been used by God to effect the greatest revivals and reformations in is the remedy for a world of lies, half-truths and lies about God. We live in a society that has become divorced from the idea of a revelation from God...many in North America have therefore adopted a concept of God which ranges from the what Stuart Driscoll calls 'the outright bizzaire to the downright blasphemous.' Many today think that they must be happy and comfortable, popular, wealthy and famous, and any shortage of this leads to howls of pain. We can't conceive of a God who would'nt give us exactly what we want...We live in a society divorced from divine revelation. We live in a society that doesn't understand the human problem. We live in a society that has all sort of convoluted means to solve human problems. And finally, we live in a society that does not understand the power of faith, that does not understand the power of the Cross to lead us to grace."
- John Neufeld, "The Heart of The Gospel", 2004

    There is a popular saying that one learns more and is transformed more through life's valley's than one ever does on it's mountaintops. Christian history will testify through the stories of faithful men and women that is the difficult times, the times of wrestling and struggle that God uses to hammer and mold us into the people that He wants us to be.
  • September, AD 386: In the city of Milan, two verses from the book of Romans (Romans 13:13-14) brought a despondent pagan professor and philosopher by the name of Aurelius Augustine to his knees in submission to Jesus Christ as his Saviour and Lord, and transformed the course of the Christian Church. Also known as St. Augustine, he became the greatest Christian thinker for the next 1,000 years and still influences many today.
  • AD 1517: Just over another 1,000 years later, the book of Romans transformed the tortured soul of a young Augustinian monk by the name of Martin Luther, teaching in a seminary in the city of Wittenberg in Germany and ignited the Protestant Reformation. 
  • May 24th, 1738: 200 years after Martin Luther, a dejected young Anglican priest and a missionary was struggling with his faith, and about to leave the ministry. While unwillingly attending a bible study that was studying the book of Romans, the life of John Wesley was transformed. In the process, the history of England was transformed, as has been recorded by both secular and Christian historians; in the words of a secular historian, "the same revolution that destroyed France would also have been the revolution that destroyed England, except there was a man by the name of John Wesley." England did not turn to revolution, but turned to Christ, because of the preaching of John Wesley and his friend George Whitfield.

     I am hoping that God will use the Epistle to the Romans to work the same change in my life as He did in the lives of Augustine, Luther, Wesley, Chrysostom, John Neufeld, John MacArthur, Ravi Zacharias, and countless others who have made a mark for His Gospel. I might lose people, possessions and relationships in the process of what I am about to do, but I WILL find the most important thing - the truth of God and about God. And life will never be the same. Amen.
- The Wisdom Seeker

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Great Week In Vancouver with RZIM Canada!

     Yesterday marked the end of RZIM's week long itinerary of events in the greater Vancouver area, which I had mentioned in my earlier post. Dr. Andy Bannister spoke at The Point Church's 10 AM service at SFU, and then flew back to Toronto, with a stopover in Winnipeg. Most of the team would have left by late morning, some like Michael Ramsden and David Lloyd heading back to Oxford, and the Canadian team heading back to Toronto. Unfortunately, I was only able to make it to two events during the week - the "Stripped Down Faith" event at SFU on Wednesday, where Michael Ramsden spoke on the topic "Is The Christian God Schizophrenic?", and the RZIM Builder's Dinner at the Ramada Hotel in Abbotsford, held last Saturday for RZIM's financial supporters.

    The event at SFU (in partnership with Campus for Christ) went very well, and the talk was most interesting and engaging. I recorded most of the main talk, and some of the Q&A session, which featured some very interesting, heartfelt and thought-provoking questions. I hope to have video highlights of the evening up on the YouTube channel shortly. Until then, here are some of the photos from the evening:

Andy Bannister and Michael Ramsden during the Question & Answer segment at SFU
Dr. Andy Bannister in conversation with a student after the event

Michael Ramsden deep in discussion. This conversation went on for a long time!
     The Builder's Dinner during the weekend turned out to be a wonderful evening, as I got to meet and connect with a number of RZIM supporters, some of whom were also graduates of RZIM's six-week summer program offered at their Oxford Centre of Christian Apologetics at Oxford University. It has long-been a dream of mine to one day do their one-year course, so it was with excitement (and not a little envy) that I listened to stories of their experiences in class, being taught by and spending time with some of the finest thinking minds in the Christian community. During the course of the evening, in between starters and the main course, we got to listen to Dr. Andy Bannister describe some of their experiences at their speaking engagements in the lower mainland over the last week. After that, Michael Ramsden gave a small talk on the famous doxology of Jude 1:24-15, intertwined with inspiring and powerful stories of their ministry experiences all over the world of the past year. It was a personally humbling experience to sit in the company of such great men and women, most of whom were much older than I yet both supporting RZIM and tirelessly involved in ministry of their own, even in their old age. Here are some of my favourite snapshots of the evening:

The venue at the Ramada Plaza in Abbotsford
Rick Manafo, setting up the soundstage
Testing, Testing...

With Andy Bannister, Rick Manafo and Michael Ramsden at the end of a memorable evening!

     Although I wish I had been able to attend all of RZIM's speaking engagements on the Mainland and Vancouver Island, it was a great week nonetheless. One of the unofficial highlights was being able to go out to dinner with my friend Rick Manafo, one of RZIM Canada's apologists and also their event manager. I had had the privilege of meeting Rick for the first time last year while visiting the RZIM Canada office, and helping him over the last several months with some of the details related to the Stripped Down Faith events at SFU and UBC. It was wonderful to go to dinner on a cold and rainy night in downtown Vancouver on Thursday, at the Banana Leaf restaurant on Denman Street, before he joined the team on Vancouver Island for one of their main speaking engagements. We got to both fellowship and review the events half-way through their itinerary, and possible plans for next year and the short-term future. I was really excited to see God open doors and connect people during this trip, and am looking forward to partnering and participating with more RZIM events in the Lower Mainland in the years to come!
- The Wisdom Seeker

Monday, November 21, 2011

Intercultural Marriage In A Diverse Culture: Kaleidescope or Collision?

"...for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." 
- Galatians 3:26-28, ESV

    Yesterday, I attended the second of a two-week class on marriage at Willingdon Church. It was particularly interesting because of two primary reasons. First, in all my three years at Willingdon, I had never been to a marriage-related talk, so I wanted to see how they would approach it. Second, this was more than a general marriage talk; it focused on a unique situation that many couples pursuing a romantic and marriage relationship in our cultural environment and time find themselves, where each comes from a different cultural and sometimes ethnic background. The series was appropriately titled "Intercultural Marriage in a Diverse Culture: Kaleidescope or Collision?", and was delivered by Pastor Cliff Ursel who serves as one of the overseers of the adult ministries at Willingdon. I had questions of my own regarding this topic that I wanted answers for, and so went for both sessions.

    In all, it was a fascinating talk with tremendous insights that provided me with helpful tools to critically think through the challenge of such situations. I scribbled furiously during both sessions, trying to take down as much as I could on the worksheets provided. Regrettably, the idea of recording the sessions on video never occured to me until after the first session, but I made sure to do so for the second with my little Cisco Flip. This post is special in this regard, because it marks the first time that I am making use of the YouTube channel that I created some time ago, which will hopefully contain many more interesting videos in the coming months! Here then is the complete main talk of the second session, and as much as I could record of the Q&A period that followed it, before I ran out of memory on my video camera. Please note that although these videos can be played in High Definition at 720p!

     This is Pastor Cliff's main talk:

     And this is most of the Q&A session that followed:

     Like the Willingdon IRONMEN retreat that I went on two months ago, I will be updating this post in the next few days with the detailed notes that I took during the two sessions. I will post notifications on Facebook and Twitter when I do. If you aren't following or subscribing via e-mail and want to keep updated on this post, please check this space over this week! I'd love to hear your thoughts on the points put forward on this talk, so please feel free to leave them below this post, or on the YouTube channel here. See you soon!
- The Wisdom Seeker

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

RZIM In Vancouver!

     I've been wanting to put up this post for several months now, and the time has finally come! Ever since I first heard from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries [1] at the beginning of year that they would be coming to Vancouver for a week of speaking engagements at different venues, I've been looking forward to seeing them again. Last year, I had written about how RZIM has been used by God to tremendously impact my life in a post [2] that featured a video of Dr. Zacharias in an interview with 100 Huntley Street [3]. I was elated when I got to visit RZIM Canada's office in Toronto while on vacation last year! Since then, it has been a real privilege to get to know the team that comprises RZIM Canada, and support and help them in whatever way I've been able to. In the process, God has kindled a burning passion in my heart to use my abilities to write, speak and think for Him in a similar fashion. But those are aspirations for the future, and I should come back to the events of the here and now!

    RZIM will be in the Greater Vancouver area (including Vancouver Island) towards the last week of this month, from the 22nd to 28th. As far as I know, their public speaking itinerary is as follows:
  • Tuesday, Nov. 22 @ 11:30 AM - TWU chapel @ TWU (Dr. Andy Bannister)
  • Tuesday, Nov. 22 @ 5:00 PM - Wood 6 @ UBC (Dr. Andy Bannister, Nathan Betts)
  • Wednesday, Nov. 22 @ 11:30 AM - TWU chapel @ TWU (Michael Ramsden)
  • Wednesday, Nov. 23 @ 6:30 PM - SSCB 9201 @ SFU (Michael Ramsden, Nathan Betts)
  • Wednesday, Nov. 23 @ 7:00 PM - Mark Isfeld Secondary School, Vancouver Island (Michael Ramsden)
  • Thursday, Nov. 24 - Vancouver Island
  • Sunday, Nov. 27 morning - The Point Church @ SFU (Dr. Andy Bannister)

        I will definitely be attending the events at SFU and UBC after work. They should be really interesting given the topic that Andy Bannister and Michael Ramsden will be speaking on respectively - "Stripped Down Faith", looking at what faith is, and why it is even necessary in this day and age. I really wish I could make it to the event on Vancouver Island, which addresses the perceived "failings" of the Christian faith, raised by those who believe that it has failed them or preached an empty promise that is unable to deliver. You can find more information by clicking the pictures below, or at RZIM's Stay In The Conversation website:

    RZIM's University Tour: "Stripped Down Faith" at UBC and SFU respectively
    RZIM's main Vancouver Island event: "Christianity - A Failed Hope?"
         There are other public and private events happening during the week, and I will update details here, on Twitter and Facebook as I get to know more from RZIM. Buy your tickets now!
    - The Wisdom Seeker


    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    The Shout of The Gospel!

         I came across the following video a few hours ago, and have been replaying it a few times while clearing up my room. The words of this short but powerful and riveting vignette, created by South Hills Evangelical Church (SHEC) in Missoula, Montana [1] for their Easter 2011 service are a compilation of verses from across the Old and New Testament that relate to the person of Jesus Christ and the saving power of God through His Cross.

         It stirred my heart deeply, because my mind and heart hears once again the thundering shout of the Gospel - the message of the unfathomable love, forgiveness and justice of God upon the evil of the wretched man that I am, visibly demonstrated with real power on the broken body of Jesus Christ that hung on His blood-soaked Cross. I do not compose these words out of maudlin emotion, brought on by a need to vent a superficial sentimentality. Rather, it is grounded upon solid conviction of the reality and depth of my own depraved nature, written with very real grief and sorrow in the kinship that I share with the Apostle Paul who wrote thus of his own desperate struggle:

        "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with ythe law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!" - Romans 7:15-25, ESV

        Yet even as I share sorrow with the Apostle over the contemplation of my struggle against sin, I also share his joy and hope as I follow his call to turn my thoughts to the person of Jesus Christ. The call to persevere, struggle and overcome is worthwhile and meaningful because of the One who has won. It is a message with power because of Him who has the power in Himself to save us, because He has done the impossible. A passage that was quoted from in the compilation used in this video is one of the most famous prophecies about Jesus from the Old Testament. It is taken from the book of Isaiah, and says:

        "...he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected2 by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and lwe esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.

        All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

        Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities."
    - Isaiah 53:2-11, ESV

        This is the thundering and victorious roar of the Gospel, its "Good News"- that there is hope for mankind, because God has sent redemption. And it sets my soul on fire because the burning passion of my heart is that same message that brought life to my dead spirit be shouted across the streets and rooftops of this city. I want the millions of parched souls across the GVA to hear the words of the Gospel of John, that "these things are written so that you may believe that that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name." (John 20:31, ESV)

        May I live and breathe this message for the sake of His name and glory.

    - The Wisdom Seeker


    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Visiting The Crossroads: 494 Years After The Protestant Reformation

    The door to the Wittenberg Castle Church engraved with Martin Luther's 95 Theses
              Today, a sizeable portion of the population of North America will celebrate a festival that is common to the prevailing culture and environment, that of Halloween. Over the last few days, I had seen people around Vancouver dressed up in various costumes - some comical, others provocative. But today is important to me for a very different reason. It marks an event whose repercussions have played a large part in defining the identities of millions of Christians over the last five centuries and today as well, including my own. Today is Reformation Day [1], marking the event of October 31, 1517 that began the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century and resulted in the biggest fracture in Church history that has drawn a firm dividing line between the Roman Catholic Church and all others who identify themselves as Christian for the last five centuries. I have been listening to some great talks from Dr. R. C. Sproul today, outlining the historical events of the Protestant Reformation, and thought I'd post the links to two of them here:

        Although I had never bothered with it before, Reformation Day is very important to me this year for a very personal reason. I am at a point in my own spiritual journey where I am attempting to sort and think through the deep theological issues, differences, teachings and controversies of differing church environments that I have been part of over the last 30 years. I am doing this because I want to better discern the truth of my faith and decide with conviction what my stand will be.

        Much of this is tied to my own spiritual history. I was born into a Christian family in India that was several generations old and originating from an apostolic-era church unique to Southern India, the Mar Thoma Syrian Church [2]. One of the churches in India that traces its origins back to the missionary work of the Apostle Thomas, it describes itself as "Apostolic in origin, Catholic in nature, Biblical in faith, Evangelical in principle, Ecumenical in outlook, Oriental in worship, Democratic in function, Episcopal in character and is a Reformed Church". At the age of two, my parents moved to the Middle East, and we attended an Anglican Church there [3] - for almost a decade. At the same time, I attended an international Catholic school [4], just up the road from our church where I spent all 15 years of my school life, well versed in Catholic theology and doctrine, but still inherently Protestant in my faith. When I was about 10 or 11, events in my family resulted in us transitioning in our church attendance into a Pentecostal and Charismatic Church [5] that used our Anglican Church's compound for their services. While my family has stayed within that general community of Christians since then, I left to pursue a Bachelor's and later, Master's degree that took me on quite an adventure (which I wrote about two years ago in my post 'Where Is Home?'). In the process, I attended four different churches in almost as many countries [6 - 9]. The last church, in Vancouver - Willingdon - is where I have stayed for the last three years, and God willing, will never leave because I have found a rare gem and as the saying goes, "once you find a good thing, don't let go".

        The upshot of such a hike (through the spiritual terrain of differing church groups and perspectives of faith - Mar Thoma Syrian, Anglican, Catholic, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Mennonite - is that I've had first-hand, in-depth experience of differing perspectives, theology and teachings in Christendom. The downside, which was inevitable, was that I came to a point of crisis a few years ago in trying to figure out what to believe and where to find truth and take a stand among the differing, contradictory, and sometimes seriously erroneous teaching that I had seen, heard, learned and experienced. Although there was a common core of agreement that I could see, I was confused about differences and disagreements in doctrine, theology, attitudes towards each other, practice of their faith and many other things. Catholics taught one thing, Protestants another; Pentecostals and Charismatics emphasized different things from Anglicans and Marthomites; the Word of Faith movement preached a God who would deliver unlimited blessing and anything one asked for. I believe that this eventually led to a 'patchwork quilt' theology and confusion in my own walk with God, and was directly responsible for some of my personal failures and the painful correction that has been necessary over the last few years.

        Consequently, the last two years have been spent doing a lot of hard thinking, reading, research, conversation with solid believers, prayer and seeking of discernment in trying to figure out what is truth and error, right and wrong. Two books that have been of tremendous help and influence in establishing a foundation for thinking were both given to me by very dear friends - "The Knowledge of the Holy" by A. W. Tozer and "The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment" by Tim Challies. I still struggle a lot and haven't found conclusive answers to all my questions, but through these books and other resources, a coherent church community at Willingdon and some wonderful friends, I believe God has granted me a firm footing to start with, and out of my pain, an idea for a theory related to a framework for testing the integrity of doctrine. I hope to write about and develop all of these ideas, slowly but regularly, in future posts.

        In my search for answers, my current study is spanning church and secular history, theology, doctrine, hermeneutics, philosophy and many other areas of study. It is hard work with toil, tears and sometimes sleepless nights. But it is worth it because the truth, when we find it, is sweet. As I wrap up this post in the midst of some of the internal frustration and conflict that I still wrestle with, I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Ephesian church. I feel that they are a gentle reminder from the Holy Spirit in moments like this:

         "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of other calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." - Ephesians 4:1-6, ESV

        Thanks for taking the time to read what I consider to be a very important post on this blog. To those who read this - Catholic and Protestant - and would like to share their own experiences, questions, doubts, and insights on their own spiritual journey through the Church and Christian community, I would love to hear from you. I hope you had a great Reformation Day and have a blessed week ahead!

    - The Wisdom Seeker

    [1] Reformation Day
    [2] Mar Thoma Syrian Church
    [3] Holy Trinity Church
    [4] St. Mary's Catholic High School
    [5] King's Revival Church International
    [6] Cathedral of Praise
    [7] New Life AG Church
    [8] Kerala Christian Assembly
    [9] Willingdon Church

    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    In-Flight Insights: YYZ - YVR

    WestJet Flight WS 0713 at the boarding gate
         Fourth row from the front, aisle seat, 37,000 feet and rocketing along at 499 mph. I'm almost an hour into my return flight from Toronto to Vancouver as I write this post. I don't feel like looking out of the window at what seems to be an endless landscape of cotton; the scenery doesn't seem to offer much in terms of intellectual stimulation, though the shades of orange and pink are unquestionably beautiful as the sun sets to our left. Having the entire row to myself, there's no one to talk to either, and the two ladies in the seats across the aisle from me are chattering away with an enthusiasm that I doubt that I can muster at the moment. I've already had a short in-flight nap, so I'm hoping to take a little time to think, and God willing, upload this post from Vancouver YVR airport after touching down in about three-and-a-half hours or so.

        It's difficult to believe that a little over a week has gone by since I touched down in Toronto to visit my family. In one sense, it feels like a month has gone by since I last saw Vancouver or anyone there; so much has happened in the seven days that I've been away that heading back feels a little unreal. In another sense, it feels like I've just landed, glimpsed my family's faces, and taken off again. So many events have been squeezed into such a short span of time, and I'm finding time to reflect on all of it only now. I hope to write more about it over the next few days, before my vacation ends.

        Whatever my perception of the passage of the last 192 hours, it is without question that this trip has been memorable on many, many levels. I saw my family after just over a year. I met a dearly-loved cousin who I hadn't seen in almost six years (5 years and 10 months, by his precise reckoning), and his wife who I'd never met. We all went on a road trip to visit relatives in Canada's capital, Ottawa, and breifly ventured on an impromptu excursion into Quebec. I visited my high-school friend and former roomate Brendan, who is just past his first anniversary of marriage and two months away from becoming a first-time father, and reminisced about old times over a cup of his home-made chai tea. But most of all, it is the conversations with my family that I remember and cherish as I look back at the last 8 days that I've spent in Toronto. Conversations about life, love, marriage, family, hope, faith, purpose, suffering, trial, burden, heartbreak, God and the future, among so many others. It is not that I have not conversed with them about these things in some manner before, for we frequently have; rather, it was a difference in depth, openness and oneness of heart with which I felt as we engaged with each other. A difference in kind, and not just degree. And it has given me immense pleasure, much to reflect on, and much to miss until I see them again.

        It is definitely true that much has changed in my relationship with my parents. When visiting them last year, I had turned 29, just graduated university with my Master's degree, and was undergoing a time of transition as I began searching for work and wrestled with questions of the mind and heart, for which I wanted answers. I was also desperately wanting stability and to get started on a path to establishing myself, both professionally and personally. All of us were undergoing a time of trial and refining in our lives in differing situations, though I have no doubt that theirs was much more severe than mine. One year later, I had crossed the significant age of 30, found a deeply fulfilling job with a wonderful company, begun taking the first steps to standing on my own feet, persevered through some difficult and painful times of mental, emotional and spiritual refinement, growth and change and embarked on another stage of adventure in my journey with God. Over the last week, I found that in the process of all that had happened to me at the other end of the country, I had also come to understand and empathize with them better, to relate and connect with their joys, sorrows, disappointments, hopes, concerns and faith in Christ. Looking back at the years gone by, I found that I had a better perspective and appreciation of their thoughts, endeavours, effort, struggle and sacrifice for our family, and all that they had endured; looking forward, I found a better empathy and appreciation for their ongoing concern for our family's future, for the generation that now is and those to come. I love and appreciate my parents more than I have ever loved them in my life, and I do not write superficially when I make that statement. May my love for them grow only deeper and stronger.
    My awesome parents :)
        As much as I have enjoyed this deeper connection with my parents, I have similarly enjoyed a closer relationship with my "little" sister, who is not so little now! With the kind of age gap that exists between us, we have had been apart for much of the last decade. Those have combined to bring about their own difficulties of being close in general, and being there for her when she needed me in particular, which on many fronts I have not done and not been the brother that I could have been. I have missed our times together of long ago when we were still children and had not come to the time where we had to "grow up". So I was happy to see her again, and connect with all that was going on in her life, especially as she goes through her own growing pains in university and other fronts. It meant a lot to me that we were able to watch the movie 'Soul Surfer' together, which has had a significant impact on my life and my sister felt was a really good movie. However, the most memorable moments that I had with her were actually quite simple - walking her to the bus stop across the main road from our house to see her off as she caught the bus to Square One shopping mall from where she would then catch the connecting express bus to York University. As I watched the bus pull away and we waved to each other, it brought back happy memories of long ago, when I was a teenager and she a toddler, and I would pick her up from her school bus stop after school. I am really looking forward to having her visit me in Vancouver when she is able to!
    Seeing Tiffany off at the bus stop before heading to the airport
        There is so much more that I want to write, about my cousin Aju (whom my father lovingly calls his "other son") and his wonderful wife Indu, and all that I learned from my time with them. But I will stop here for now, and pick up my thoughts tomorrow of the trip that is speedily coming to an end, for we are just one hour away from Vancouver, and my battery is getting low. Hopefully, you will be reading this post after my safe landing at YVR and I'll see you in the next post. Bon Voyage and Godspeed to all my fellow travellers out there who are reading this!
    - The Wisdom Seeker

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    IRONMEN Session 3: Christian Faith and Homosexuality

         It has been a busy week in Toronto with the family since my last post. This final post of the IRONMEN Adventure Weekend is arriving more than two weeks late. There are other posts that I have in mind about things that have been happening in my life and thoughts, but I wanted to finish and upload this before I write anything more.

         The last session of the Willingdon IRONMEN Adventure Weekend in Whistler dealt with examining and understanding the issue of gender identity and human sexuality in the light of the wisdom called for in the Christian faith. As we began this rather intense session after the similarly fascinating talk of the night before on the topic of evolution and the Christian faith, I glanced over the general notes that had been provided and realized that there would be a lot of writing to do.

        As Pastor John opened the session with prayer that Sunday, he read from the book of Isaiah. It reminded us once again that though we had gathered to think and seek wisdom in dealing with the challenges that we faced to our Christian worldview, that we would find our ultimate answers only in humbling ourselves and considering the nature and majesty of Almighty God:

        "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
        and marked off the heavens with a span,
        enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
        and weighed the mountains in scales
        and the hills in a balance?
        Who has measured the Spirit of the Lord,
        or what man shows him his counsel?
        Whom did he consult, and who made Him understand?
        Who taught Him the path of justice, and taught Him knowledge,
        and showed Him the way of understanding?
        Behold the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
        and are accounted as dust on the scales;
        behold, He takes up the coastlands like fine dust
        Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,
        nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
        All the nations are as nothing before Him,
        they are accounted by Him as less than nothing and emptiness.
        To whom then will you liken God,
        or what likeness compare with Him?"
    - Is. 40:12-18, ESV

        With that in mind, Pastor John led us to his first point, in considering key scriptures that would be relevant in thinking through the issue at hand:

    A. Key Scriptures

    1. Proverbs 9:10: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight."
    2. Genesis 1:27-28:
         "So God created man in his own image,in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
        The essence of the commandment being given to Adam and Eve was that in carrying out God's command to "be fruitful and multiply", they were to fill the earth with the knowledge of the glory of God. There is something unique and profound about being male and female.
    3. Genesis 2:21-24:
         "So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
         “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
    Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh."
        We are told that man and woman are of like substance. We are also held to believe that we are not egalitarian, but complementarian. Men and women are wired differently. As an illustration in differences in behaviour, Pastor John used the analogy of the modes of headlamps on a car to describe his observation of the differing perspectives of men and women - men frequently and inherently tend to focus on thinking about the long-term and the future (high beam), whereas women frequently tend to pay more attention to the short term and current circumstances (low-beam).
    4. 1 Peter 3:7: "Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered."
        It is important here to note that God is angered when men do not honour their wives, and will not answer their prayers.
    5. Matt 15:19:
    "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander."
        The word used in the greek for 'sexual immorality' is 'pornea'.

        Having gone through the ideas presented by these important verses with regard to the nature of men, women and the specified covenant of marriage, Pastor John turned our attention to specific passages in both the Old and New Testaments with regards to homosexuality.

    B. The Overall Teaching of Both Testaments - and Homosexuality

    1. Leviticus 18 & 20 - the holiness codes 
       Lev. 18:22: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination."
        Lev. 20:13: "If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them."
    2. Romans 1- The depravity of man
        Rom. 1:18: "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth." The Apostle Paul clearly illustrates that the truth is plan to all men - and yet we repress the truth
        Rom. 1:21-23: "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things." The failure of mankind to honour God as God
        Rom. 1:24: "Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves," God gives them up, surrenders them to dishonour
        Rom. 1:25-27: "because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error." It is indicated that both male and female sexuality are contrary to nature
    3. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11: "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." It is noted that there is a penalty to walking contrary to God's design of biology and sexuality - denial of entrance into the Kingdom of God. But even here, there is good news. The Gospel comes to broken and non-functioning people to wash, sanctify and justify them.
    4. 1 Timothy 1:8-11: "Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted." There isn't an abundance of literature in the Bible about homosexuality. It is usually categorized in a group with other sins that break the system.

         Though we had waded through some of the critical passages of Scripture that defined the biblical and Christian perspective on homosexuality, there was still an equally critical and important aspect of the issue that John Neufeld wanted to clearly walk us through. We proceeded to an in-depth examination of what scientific research actually had to say about the subject.

    C. What Does Scientific Research Say About Homosexuality?
      1. How prevalent is homosexuality?
    • 10%?
      • This value is commonly presented, cited or referenced in statistics, reports and literature regarding the size or prevalence of homosexuality within a population group. However, it is important to consider the origin of this value and the nature of the source. This statistic is generally credited to a study conducted in 1948 by Dr. Alfred Kinsey [1], researching the nature of sexuality in individuals in North America, specifically in the United States. Among many other statistics, Dr. Kinsey reports seemed to indicate that a large proportion of the population identified itself as homosexual, as high as 10%. This report has often been used and cited in the decades since it was first released. However, it should be noted that this number has never been sucessfully duplicated since then. With the claims of this report in our hands, and noting the counter-claims raised against its contents, we must also ask ourselves about its author. Who was Alfred Kinsey and what sort of man was he?
    • Kinsey
      • James H. Jones [3] authored a biography of Alfred Kinsey, titled "Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private Life", attempting to construct a portrait of the man. Kinsey's spectrum of research involved more than just formulation of theory and interview of subjects. He notes aspects of Kinsey's own sexual activity and participation in experiments in great detail, noting that Kinsey was both a masochist and exhibitionist, who regularly filmed himself having sex with his wife, as well as other people, including co-workers. He also filmed her having sex with other men. In addition, Kinsey filmed himself engaged in what would be classified as sexually deviant behaviour, allegedly for the purpose of experimentation. He collected sexual material from around the world, which included pornographic films. In the process of investigating pre-adolescent orgasms, he is alleged to have interviewed a single paedophile and presented the data as being from various sources. He is also alleged to have over-represented prisoners and prostitutes in his work, and to have distorted his studies by including a disproportionate number of homosexual men in his sample. These and other details can be found in Jones' and others' biographical works of Alfred Kinsey.  
    • Real Numbers
      • Dr. Judith Reismann [5], who has authored a number of books on Kinsey and his work, cites studies that indicate that the actual proportion of homosexuals in a population sample may be 1 - 3% at the absolute most. But even that is not the central issue. So we must ask ourselves this question: 
    • So What Is This All About?
      2. What Causes Homosexual Behaviour?
    • Biological Basis? 
      • There is so far no evidence regarding a marker for homosexuality in human DNA. It has simply not been found.
    • Dangers
      • Studies and reports conducted among homosexual and heterosexual populations indicate that homosexuals in general:
        • Are 300 times more likely to commit suicide
        • Are likely to be involved with multiple sex partners
        • Are more likely to contract Sexually Transmitted Diseases and struggle with depression
        • Have a lifespan of as much as 20 years less than that of heterosexuals
    • Why hard to break?    
      • Yes, it is true that breaking the pattern of homosexual behaviour is one of the hardest things to do. But in the end, it essentially reduces to the truth that all behaviour pattern of sin are tied to the "flesh"
        As I listened to Pastor John thinking through the above points, it gave me much cause for thought and compassion towards the internal struggle of the homosexual person. I had encountered transsexuals in India, but I had never met a homosexual person in my life until I first moved to Vancouver, where my first roomates in a basement that I rented was a homosexual male. Though my acquaintance with him was short (he moved out to Montreal two weeks after I moved in), it was one through which I learned a lot and had much cause for examination of my own paradigm and behaviour, and still does so to this day. I have often wondered what became of him. And it was thus that John Neufeld moved on to the next section, which I found personally relevant.

    D. How Should Christians Respond?

      1. In wisdom - in a way that breathes life into other men
      2. With discretion
      3. With love - the greatest need that any man has is to known Christ and the love of the Creator

        Pastor John then proceeded to tie all his thoughts together and bring them to a close with the relevance of the Gospel and the truth of the Bible in this matter. I have more notes on this final section which I will update when I get back to Vancouver. Not having the time or space to pack the notes from the Adventure Weekend, I had attempted to photograph the last page using my phone and transcribe it from there, but it didn't turn out very clearly. I will update this final section before the end of this week, hopefully by Thursday night or Friday, and move on to other matters that I've been wanting to write about. Keep watching this space!
    - The Wisdom Seeker
    [1] Dr. Alfred Charles Kinsey
    [2] Kinsey Reports
    [3] James H. Jones
    [4] Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private Life
    [5] Judith Reismann