God Answers Prayers!

God answers prayers in ways that are sometimes surprising…

I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
(Psalm 121.1-2, ESV)

I would never have imagined that He would answer my prayers by leading me to create the web site  Savoir et croire .ca, and its Forum chrétien la Rencontre.

The entire text of his testimony is available in French : Dieu répond aux prières !

You wish to get involved and discuss about life-related subject matters, feel free to join our trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish). You are also welcome to share below some aspect of your hard-gained life experience.

You may communicate with me through the indications under Questions or Comments.

Daniel Garneau, B Th, B Com, MA,
Updated: February 6, 2018; July 21, 2018.

Choosing a Bible Translation

What are the best versions for reading and studying the Bible for oneself , or to recommend to people enquiring from us to help them with their choice? I did an in-depth study of the Bible Translation world based on a life-long practice of reading the Bible, primarily in French, then in English, and to a lesser degree, in Spanish also. The entire study is available in the French language, under Choisir une traduction de la  Bible.

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (Psalm 119:18, ESV)

Even if you don’t read French, you still might want to browse through the French language version of this article, for it will lead you to English or Spanish resources that will help you answer some of your questions about Bibles and Bible translations. Sites as that of  the New Living Translation (NLT) from Tyndale House publishers. The latter covers some of the same grounds as does the French version of this article, along with suggestions for studying and applying the Bible.  It also uses samples of the NLT for discussing what it means to be a Christian on a day-to-day basis.

Please don’t underestimate the potential that resides in reading the Bible in a language other than your own as a complementary means to increase your fluency in that language. I am saying this from personal experience, for I heavily relied on such an approach when I chose to learn Spanish as a foreign language.

You wish to get involved and discuss about life-related subject matters, feel free to join our trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish). You may also share below what you consider important in choosing a Bible translation.

Daniel Garneau, B Th, B Com, MA
June 18, 2018

Being a Christian?

Being a Christian is about being. From who we are flows what we like and dislike, what we do and don’t do. To become a Christian, one must start by knowing who God is. Reading about the life of Jesus as told in the four gospels is a good place to start, but then the rest of the New Testament also provides very important insights about what it means to be a Christian. Also, reading the same books Jesus read (Psalms, Isaiah, Genesis, Jonah, Jeremiah and the rest of the Old Testament) will provide bits of understanding about God, as one reads more and more over the weeks, months and years.

Whoever abides in me and I in Him, he is that bears much fruit (John 15.5)

My own road from agnosticism to belief in Jesus Christ as my Savior involved a key step, which occurred after reading in the Bible that anyone who seeks Him will find Him. Once I read that, I prayed to God that He would make Himself known to me. That was a very important attitude quite early in  my quest after God or rather His seeking me out.

The above is an adaptation of an answer I gave to the question someone asked, and which I would sum up in these terms: What are the rules for being a Christian? The thread was titled «Important things I need to know in Christianity» at Christian Forum Site. To read the thread itself, go to my profile (member name : DanielGarneau), click the Postings tab, and search for my posting dated October 27, 2014.

If what Christianity is all about is of interest to you, you may enjoy visiting the section of www.savoiretcroire.ca called Believing and from there Christian Faith. Many short videos provide information about some key aspects of what it means to be a Christian. The testimonies found at www.savoiretcroire.ca, under the Autobiography and Learning, could also help you along in your searching for God.

You wish to get involved and discuss further about the above topic, please consider doing so at Christian Forum Site. I will be happy to engage with you there.

We also would like you to feel more than welcome to join our nascient (as of this writing) trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish). Additionally, you may simply share your response to this post in the comment box below.

Updated: May 11 and 17, 2016; January 5, 2018.
by Daniel Garneau, B Th, B Com, MA.

Primary and Secondary Convictions?

Why is it that, from the pages of the same Bible, Christians come to convictions that diverge from one another? ask some to themselves, on the web, and elsewhere? Why is it that when different people ask the Bible the same question their answers are not identical? Should this be so? Or could we expect the Bible to yield a single answer to any given question one might expect to draw from its pages and from the writing or teaching of those who have studied it with the most astute of competences? The first part of this article will attempt to answer why this is so, the second part, what to do about it.

1. Why the varying interpretations of the bible?

From my perspective there are many factors involved in the fact that not all readers or students of the Bible come with the same answer to the same questions.

1.1. Having to Bear with Imperfect Skills and Background Knowledge

First, we have not a perfect knowledge of the culture and languages of Bible times. Second, even when the actual knowledge does exist, not everyone knows of it, or knows of it entirely, or understands it with an absolute degree of perfection.

I will take my stand at my watchpost, and look out to see what he will say to me (Habakkuk 2.1)

1.2. Giving Priority to Culture, Christian Heritages, or the Bible

There is also a set of reasons why we do not all come out of the Bible with the same answers to the same questions: not every one approaches the Bible in the exact very same way. There are those who believe that only some parts of the Bible are valid for us today, but they give higher credence to Christian heritage and culture in interpreting what the Bible means for their current situation and context. Others take their own cultural setting and Christian heritage into account, but consider that everything the Bible has ever said is true and should be given a higher degree of authority than the rest.

If one prioritizes the cultural premises of his day and of the place where he lives on earth, he or she will come-up with a certain set of conclusions. If someone, on the other hand, considers that the Christian tradition inherited from her or his family’s adherence to a Church as being at the top of what deserves to be trusted, above current cultural trends, or even above what the Bible itself says on a given issue, this would justify in their eyes yet a very different set of convictions than for the previous person.

There are also those, on the other hand, who considers that the Bible has priority in the value of its truth-statements. Yet at the same time, they also consider that the Christian heritages to which we still have access today can shed a fair amount of light on how certain Bible difficulties could be understood. These would weight what is brought to bear by such heritages onto their understanding of what they understand from the Bible. In addition, they may also want to look at what the culture brings to the table that is helpful to understand what the Bible and what the Christian heritages tell us. And then, having weighted all these, such a person would be able to answer both culture and tradition from what the Bible says, sometimes agreeing with them, sometimes not. Conclusions here would not be identical with those who allow culture to prime on their interpretation of the Bible, nor with those who concede priority to Christian heritages.

My articles under Theological Analysis develop this latter reason as to why we do not all come up with the same answer from the same Bible. Evaluating Theological Statements and Practices thoroughly explains how to apply and work with these concepts, while Understanding Culture and Responding from the Word provides an example of how Tim Keller applies this to what, from memory, I believe he calls the literature of suffering.

1.3. Not Wanting to Yield Oneself to What can Easily be Understood

But there is yet another completely different set of reasons why we do not come up with the same convictions when looking at the Bible with the same set of questions: some of us find the Bible so disturbing that we barely look into it. Many people today criticize the Bible as if it were a book of old tales without anything important to tell us, because they don’t want to yield to what is otherwise easy to understand, when one actually reads it.

2. What to do about the varying interpretations of the Bible?

Integrating all of the above reasons why the Bible does not always yield the same answer to the same questions into a comprehensive view of biblical hermeneutics, a distinction must be made between primary and secondary convictions in matter of biblical interpretation among Christians. In a nutshell, it is essential to bear in mind that some of our beliefs our extremely important because of their consequences in people’s lives.

For example distinguishing whether Jesus is or is not God determines at least in part whether one is or is not truly a Christian, so it is essential to know where one stands with regards to this. On the other hand, whether one adheres to the charismatic or pentecostal perspective is clearly of chief importance, but it does not distinguish in and of itself between whether one is or is not a Christian, so while important it is not as vital. Third example , the way a given group of churches makes its decisions is important, but not to the same degree as the previous two. Finally, there are many practices in church groups, local churches, and person’s lives that are related to preferences. It should be borne in mind that these are far from being as important as the previous three examples.

Showing the relationship between varying levels of convictions and providing examples from different denominational contexts is what the French language version of this article Convictions essentielles et secondaires adds to the preceding one. Also, the Spanish version of it, Convicciones esenciales y secundarias, deals with the same set  of preoccupation, but from a slightly different angle.

So, if you are able to read all three of these languages, you might draw something complementary from the French, the Spanish and the English version. This was not intended, but is due to the way in which this site developed. However it does illustrate the point I am making within this article. We can learn from what others have said from their perspective instead of being obfuscated by the different light they bring on things.

You wish to get involved and discuss about life-related subject matters, feel free to join our trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish). You are also welcome to share a response to this post in the comment box below .

You may also communicate with me through indications from Questions or Comments.

Author: Daniel Garneau, B Th, B Com, MA,
June 18, 2018

Research Key words: primary convictions; secondary convictions; essential convictions; primary Christian convictions; secondary Christian convictions.

Testimony and Training

This site constitutes an example of the fact that one’s Christian testimony may take many forms, even that of a Master’s degree thesis presented in the context of a secular university.  The reflective work involved in the process of preparing such testimonies lead to formation and growth. One must also not discount what can be learned by hearers of such. This is the theme discussed in, Testimony and Training.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16.11)

This site constitutes an example of the fact that one’s Christian testimony may take many forms, even that of a Master’s degree thesis presented in the context of a secular university.  Following are a few examples of my testimony produced from different angles and contexts, not always in the direct form of a testimony:

More examples of learning through various forms of autobiographical writing are available under, Témoignage et formation, and Testimonio y formación.

You wish to get involved and discuss about life-related subject matters, feel free to join our trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish). You are also welcome to share your response to this post in the comment box below.

Daniel Garneau, B Th, B Com, MA
Updated: June 18 and July 13, 2018.

Bird’s Eye View

My preceding testimony,  God’s Outworking in my Life, provided a detailed view of some of the major events that drew my attention to God in the first place, and that contributed to make me want to stick with Him throughout the years of my life. The testimony you will read below is simply titled Bird’s Eye View, because, as its name suggests, it provides an overview of the same without entering into specific details. These titles are intended to reflect that both testimonies are complementary of one another.

Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful (Joel 2.13)

I became a Christian in 1977. I clearly understood that I was leading a life that displeased God, although I had been considering myself as doing no harm to anyone up to that time when I began reading the Bible for myself.

Changing my attitude, ways of thinking, of doing, and of being, required a decision on my part which I was not willing to make at first. I believe today that this refusal on my behalf was what eventually led me to declare myself an agnostic.

But, as a self-declared agnostic I could not explain how a God that does not exist could have answered one of my «If you exist, then you must…» type of prayers which I had made earlier on, when seeking God, and asking Him to reveal Himself to me.

That answered prayer nagged me until such a day I realized agnosticism was not a valid world view, and decided to turn away from the life I had been living, up to then, and to begin living in ways taught by the Word of God.

This led me to become dynamically involved with sharing my faith all around me, up to a point when I joined a «servant in training» program, preparing for what turned out to be a Church Planting pastoral ministry.

I was devastated, when I came to realize – in 1987, after eleven years of training and ministry – that there were issues in my personal life that would not just go away, and that I had to make a choice that involved stepping out of full-time Church leadership, and going back to secular work.

I stayed in the small Church I had been the founding pastor of, but soon realized people kept coming to me with situations that the new pastor was teaching and leading in ways that were sometimes opposite to what I had done. So within the same year that I had left full-time Christian ministry I also felt I needed to move to a different local Church.

From 1988 to 1997 my family and I worshipped and shared about God and His ways in a nondenominational Christian assembly called Assemblée chrétienne la Bonne Nouvelle (Good News). It was a good Church, and it helped us in our spiritual walk. But a situation came up that led our family to join a start-up local Church involving leaders that were from the same denominational background that we were.

So, from 1997 to March 2017, we were involved in a second non denominational group, La communauté chrétienne des Deux-Rives. The name has to do with the premium value this local church lays on the notion of community, and to the fact that its participants are spread out on the North and South shores of the Quebec city area, Quebec, Canada. From that community church we moved on to our current Église vie abondante.

It was not until 2008 that came about a life-changing insight, which I am convinced was from the Holy Spirit of God, and which led me to confess my sin in a specific area of my life I had progressively let myself slip into with the passage of time. As a result of this, and of several other factors that were part of God’s doing, I began to experience a deep and permanent joy I had tasted a little of before, but that had not been my daily lot.

My family, and the people who had known me for years, asked me what had happened. But I could not explain it apart from the above. I do know that even when we are convinced that nothing will ever come of our life again, because it did not turn out as we wanted, God is there doing His work, and leading us to greater knowledge of Him. My article Can Married Couples be Restored is a direct outcomes of this life-changing event.

In light of one of what I am trying to accomplish through www.savoiretcoire.ca, perhaps concentrated on the page titled Autobiography and Learning, and documented more in-depth in my master’s thesis (French only), it might be appropriate to add that the current synthesis is an example of the level of abstraction that one can choose for presenting  autobiographical material, in cases he or she does not wish to provide some of the specific details, yet is determined to stay true to what actually occurred in his or her life.

Please check out www.christianforumsite.com, where a draft of the above testimony was first published as part of my profile. I’d be happy to engage with you there.

Daniel Garneau, B Th, B Com, MA
Updated: Sept 2014; Aug 2015; May 2016; Jan, Feb, and June 9, 2018.

God’s Grace Working in my Life

This article is a personal testimony of God’s grace working in my life. It was written down spontaneously, as I took part in the Christianity Board Christian Forum community. I had felt led to write my testimony of conversion to Christ from the perspective of God’s intervening in several sets of circumstances throughout a period of several years. I’ll just share some chunks of my testimony here, skipping huge portions.

One day, sometimes in the 1970’s, I read in the Bible that God will reveal Himself to those who seek Him. So I prayed that if He existed, he revealed Himself to me.

At another time, as I had read the Bible a little bit, trying to understand it as best I could, I read that God wanted all men to be saved, and also that any prayer we made according to His will, he would answer…

At some other time, while hitch hiking from Calgary Alberta to Vancouver British Columbia, it turned out that I teamed-up with another guy, and we began hitchhiking together. As we waited, I learnt he was from some kind of a Christian background, and knew his Bible quite well. But instead of using his knowledge to help me understand what it all meant, he tried to destroy Christianity with what he knew.

So, I said “God, if you exist, give us a ride with someone who knows the Bible and who will be able to answer this guy’s criticisms against Christianity.” Not long after that, within minutes in fact, a man picked-us up, and before we had time to say anything at all, he came up with: “I never pickup hitchhikers, but God told me to take you two in my car and give you a ride”. There was a Bible on the dash of his car, and right away we began talking about God. The other hitchhiker argued against everything the man said, just as he had argued with me. But later, when I tried really hard to not believe in God, because I did not want to change my life and abide by His ways, this story stuck with me.

The Lord is my strength and my song (Isaiah 12v2, ESV)

Eventually I chose to repent and to obey God. That is when I right away got involved with evangelism on the Military Base I worked at at the time (Valcartier, Quebec) as a corporal in the Military Police. My conversion to Christ radically changed the way I did my police work, and since I was also patrol chief for the team of a few men I was leading, I imposed very strict conformity to the respect of any servicemen we had to arrest, even if they became extremely injurious against us. As a result, I got instant respect from the entire group of 50 or so Military Policemen, as well as from the civilians that worked for our Military Platoon, as for example, the secretaries.

Why this respect? Because I went from a bad-mouthed cursing-lad with a code of ethics that needed much improvement to a cleaned-mouth and cleaned-attitude person whom no one found anything to criticize against. In brief, I became perceived as very coherent in my new walk with Christ, and it gained me a lot of respect from everyone around…

At first, I was hoping God would not ask me to share my faith on the military base where I lived. But it only took a few weeks until huge doors opened-up for me, and I organized what could almost have been called evangelistic campaigns, going from tent to tent on the base and sharing the Gospel to anyone who wanted to hear. Even once, I went to the military base bar, where I talked about nothing other than what God had done for me by way of salvation, and what He could do for those listening to me. In that context, there was a woman who seemed very impressed with my testimony; she asked me a ride home after the evening, and invited me in, mentioning that her husband was away somewhere on military duty, and would not be back for a few weeks. Then I realized I had naively walked into some kind of a trap. As soon as I realized this, I left right away, before anything could develop that would destroy what I had said that evening.

One guy I had preached the Gospel to in the military quarters where we both lived found himself in the hospital, and had one of our common friend ask me to visit him. So I went. And while in that military hospital on the base, I preached the Gospel to his three roommates who all seemed to me very interested in what I had to say.

Then, a few days later, I was invited in the Military Police commander’s office. He gave me the order to stop talking about my religion while I was on the military base, whether I was on duty or not, because, as he saw things, I was misusing the authority that came with my rank and trade. To which I answered: “With all due respect, Sir, I cannot comply to this order, because it goes against what the Bible teaches.” He asked me to put this in writing, which I did. In my written statement, I assured my superiors that I was willing to comply to any order I was given that did not conflict with what God clearly taught in Scriptures.

A few days after that I was sent to a psychiatrist operating on the military base. My pastor had advised me to tell him nothing except that I had been sent there to be examined, and then to answer whatever questions he would ask of me, sticking to the facts, and not volunteering anything I was not being asked for. This was sound advice: my interview did not last long, and I was deemed “normal.”

However a couple of days or so later, I was discharged with a clause that went something like this : “developed a weakness that he refused to correct.” I immediately became involved in my local church on a full-time basis, then went to Bible school, and eventually started a small daughter Church, of which I was pastor. Ten years or so went by between this rerouting from the military to the ministry.

My life broke apart because there were issues I did not know how to handle. So I decided to leave the Christian ministry, and get a regular job for a living. That is how I eventually became a Technical Writer, communication analyst, and managing consultant (conseiller en gestion), for a large Quebec based consulting company which operates in the field of corporate computer systems management…

I kept going to Church all along, but my heart was not really there any more. I did feel however that it kept me in God, and protected me from turning away from the Faith. People still did find encouragement in what I shared with them, but deep down inside of me I was discouraged beyond words, with regard to the really important aspects of life, meaning, everything that has to do with Christian spirituality or Christian life.

Then, in 2008, everything began to turn around. We hired a Pentecostal believer to replace me in the job I did as a Technical Writer for the National Defence of Canada, as a consultant for the large Quebec company I mentioned earlier. But the work we had to do just happened to double in intensity during that time period, so that we ended up working together for over six months or so. My daily relationship with this believer did much good to me. We became friends, and shared about God and His work in our lives.

During that period, something really strange occurred to me which is really difficult to put into words. But God showed me very clearly that there was an area of my life that I had to repent from, as if I had to choose there and then between God and that sin. My immediate response was to choose God, repenting, and never returning to that which I repented from since that time on. Within the same month , perhaps even during the same week, I did feel that a weight was lifted away from me. The best I can do to describe it is to say that it was as if I had been living under an atmospheric pressure system that felt ten times lighter after this experience with God than before it occurred.

As people in the Community-Church I was participating at at that time observed the changes in my general attitude towards others, and especially towards my wife, they asked me what happened. And for the most part, I was unable to explain in a way that was even close to being adequate what exactly had happened to me. Now, at this point, I must tell you that I am the type of person who reads a lot. So books are and have always been an important part of my life. Amongst the books I read, I found one author in particular that helped me maintaining my life in the direction that God gave it in 2008. Here are two of his books that go in the general direction of what I am now living on a daily basis:

  • Victory over the Darkness – Realizing the Power of your Identity in Christ, Regal Books, 1990, 2000;
  • The Bondage Breaker – Overcoming Negative Thoughts, Irrational Feelings, Habitual Sins, Harvest House Publishers, 1990, 1993, 2000.

Please receive the above testimony as a spontaneous expression of what God did and is doing in my life… […] God bless… […]

The above testimony was first published in thread titled Whats Your Testimony? I am reproducing here what I wrote there on June 17, 2014, editing it only very lightly as I go, in order to correct typos and respect the new context, which now is the present site.

You wish to get involved and ask about my testimony or share yours, please consider doing so at Christianity Board Christian Forum, under Whats Your Testimony? to which the above was my response. I will be happy to discuss the above with you there.

The above mentioned Christianity Board is a huge Christian Forum with many interesting topics and people to interact with. So don’t hesitate to get involved there. But, of course, we also would like you to feel more than welcome to join our nascient (as of this writing) trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish). In addition, you may share your response to this post in the comment box below, or join me through one of the other means mentioned under Questions or Comments.

Daniel Garneau, B Th, B Com, MA
Updated: September 2014; August 2015; May 2016; January, February, and June 2018.

Web Research Key Words: God’s grace working in my life; testimony of conversion; personal testimony; Christian testimony; testimony of conversion; conversion to Christ; The Lord is my strength and my song, Isaiah 12v2, English Standard Version, ESV.