Faith in times of pandemic

The original French version of this article, La foi en temps de pandémie, was produced in response to a question asked by a new believer of our Church group. The article provides a biblical understanding of human suffering in the context of a loving and all-powerful God. Nellie walks us through key aspects in the lives of Joseph, in Egypt, Job, and Jesus, leading us to understand that God, through Jesus, is a suffering God, and that he suffers along with us.

There is no planning for providing a full translation of the full article. However, you might chose to have a peek at La foi en temps de pandémie through TranslateTheWeb.com.

This synthesis of Nellie’s article was provided by Daniel Garneau, March 2, 2021.

Christians and Forgiveness of Severe Offences

How Should Christians consider forgiveness when dealing with the most severe of offences imaginable? This question of how to face severe offences can be considered  from complementary angles: to whom does forgiveness benefit? forgiveness considered as a choice; forgiveness as a refusal to avenge oneself; the forgiveness offered by God to the worst offenders; Christ’s sacrifice for our forgiveness and that of others.

1. Forgiveness benefits the offended, not just the ofender

People from all sides would agree on this with what Christians have been saying for a long time. Forgiveness not only benefit to the offender, but also to the offended. When you have been sinned against with a great evil, forgiving the offender frees you. It allows you to love again, to trust again, to live again, without keeping to yourself.

2. Forgiveness is a choice

When we stop to think about it, everything we do or don’t do in life is the result of a personal choice. It is a lie to think that because so and so did such and such we have no choice to react in any socially predictable manner. «He struck me so I had no choice to strike back» is a lie that only leads to being enslaved to circumstances and people.

Some choices are difficult to make, and they certainly don’t feel natural. Forgiving falls in that category. Someone compared the choice of forgiving to a monk’s poverty vow. You make your choice once, when you join the brotherhood, and you renew it daily. Forgiveness is of that nature. We need to decide that we do forgive Amanda or Freddy for what they have done to me. The fact of having forgiven them does not mean that you don’t need to reiterate this forgiveness, for example when the pain is there again.

3. Forgiveness as a refusal to avenge oneself

Now, those of us who define ourselves as Christians should not consider it Jesus’s wish list that we would forgive one another our offences or even the offences of our enemies. These are part of the Christian’s marching orders, that we forgive not only the minor irritants caused by our interacting with others, but also severe offences from anyone. Let us review a synthesis of Jesus’ teaching presented by the apostle Paul in what is quite a systematic presentation of the Christian faith found in the Bible, the book of Romans. Towards the end of that book, we can read what follows:

Repay no one evil for evil. Respect what is honorable in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as it is up to you, be at peace with all men. Don’t seek revenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to God’s wrath. For it is written, “Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord.” Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing so, you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12: 17-21, WEB).

One of the things it means to truly forgive is that we do refuse to avenge ourselves. This Christian attitude can be observed in the lives of Joseph, David, Stephan, and Christ.

4. The forgiveness offered by God to the worst offenders

I have just mentioned David amongst those who refused to avenge themselves for severe offences brought against them. But David, at a later time in his life, became very aware of the fact that he was the recipient of God’s forgiveness.  Here is how David expresses it:

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit (Psalm 32.1-2, ESV).

By that time in his life, David had ordered the murder of the husband of a woman he had seduced while the man was fighting on the front. Yet God had forgiven him.

5. Christ’s sacrifice for our forgiveness

Likewise, all of us living today stand before God’s offer of forgiving any severe offences we might have committed. He expects for us to accept this free gift from him to us. He also expects that we will forgive the offences of those who offended us. This forgiveness comes to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. We may live in a time and culture that makes this very difficult to us to understand.  Still, try to considering the following passages of Scripture in an prayerful attitude before God:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2.1-10, ESV).

A man of sorrow and acquainted with grief…
he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53)

(Photograph of a painting from Cécile Beaulieu, used with permission)

You don’t quite understand the above quote? Ask God to help you through it. Pray as your read! Talk it over with God assuming that He has the Power and Interest to listen. Also you may want to read some of the personal testimonies and articles of this web site dealing with various aspects of my own conversion or sometimes that of others. These may help provide some concreteness to what God wants to do for yourself, dear reader:

The French version of this article Le chrétien et le pardon d’actes graves provides a more in-depth coverage for most of the five complementary angles we have just surveyed above: to whom does forgiveness benefit? forgiveness considered as a choice; forgiveness as a refusal to avenge oneself; the forgiveness offered by God to the worst offenders; Christ’s sacrifice for our forgiveness and that of others.

I pray that God touches the heart of every person reading this article, from anywhere in the world, and at any time that they happen to be doing so. Please let us know of how God stopped you in your ways and transformed your life through this or other means.

Daniel Garneau
Savoir et croire .ca
June 21, 2018

Research key words:
severe offences, forgiveness of severe offences, forgiveness, forgiving process.

Do We Have a Leader’s Heart?

This article attempts to extract from the second epistle of Paul to the Corinthians what were some of the key attitudes of the apostle towards leadership in his life and ministry. Please note that the concept of leadership as we understand it in this article applies to every person, since all of us have roles of leadership in certain spheres of our lives. The reflection aims at sensitizing everyone of us to develop a leader’s heart inspired by Paul.

The Lord takes pleasure in those who hope in his steadfast love (Psalm 147:11)

Do we ask God to help us having a leader’s heart, as the one Paul showed to have? We criticize spiritual leaders around us; sometimes rightly so, sometimes not. Jesus warned  that there would be those teaching what people wanted to hear, instead of God’s truth. Prophets before Him and apostles after Him have also been warning us against this. Their words have been recorded and preserved to this day, for us to read, in the Bible.

We must imperatively remember that if there are false prophets, there are also true ones. If there are those teaching without sincerity, there are those who teach with sincerity. If there are those leading their hearers into a path of death through lies and seductions, there are also those who lead towards life telling the truth on behalf of God. If there are, even amongst Christians, those whose opposition to Christ is made in the name of Christ, there are also those who teach the very message of Christ, in truth and with His approval.

Before meditating upon the leader’s heart as demonstrated concerning Paul in Scriptures, let us ask a few questions about where we ourselves stand with this respect. What sort of inner attitudes do we carry toward people under our leadership? Do we pray for them? What sorts of things do we do in that which pertain to our responsibilities toward them? Do we place the interest of others ahead of our own? Are our relationships characterized by truth, sincerity and faithfulness toward what God requires from us?

Paul Manifested the Outward Signs of Having a Leader’s Heart

As we are about to delve into 2 Corinthians seeking to observe the outward manifestation of a leader’s heart. I invite you to listen for yourselves. This you may do, for example, using the English Standard Version Dramatized available from Bible.Is.

Having read this letter a few times in various translations, I was touched, first of all, by the sincerity of the apostle. Next to that, what stood up for me was Paul’s trust in God. He had learned to rely upon God’s strength, instead of his own strength. Also, i was happily struck by the fact that he spoke frankly and truthfully.

Yet another important characteristic of Paul’s leadership is that he counted it as more important to achieve well his task of ambassador for Christ, even at the cost of not  defending his personal reputation, whenever necessary.  This included the audacity of saying to others what they did not like to hear if that’s what they needed to grow in faith.

Paul also demonstrated a remarkable zeal to communicate the message of God to those persons whom God wanted it to be told on His behalf. On the other hand, I was intrigued and edified to observe Paul’s sensitivity in setting aside a door that had been opened by the Lord to proclaim the Gospel because he worried about Titus (2 Cor. 2:12-13).

Moreover, Paul recognized that his ability to live as God wanted Him to came from God not from his own efforts or as a result of the zeal which he is ceaselessly giving proof of.  Paul rested upon ways of doing that were conform to the will of God and faith in Him, instead of trusting in ways of doing that came from the world. As he was facing oppositions or obstacles to Christ’s message he stayed steadfast in his ways (2 Cor 5).

In fact, Paul knows that he is fighting against modes of reasoning that rise in opposition to the knowledge of Christ and of God. His talking aims at destructing such obstacles. But he does so with the strength and methods provided by God, praying to Him, trusting in the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of his hearers. Trusting the Giver of Life to lead people to the peace that comes with abiding in Christ as a result of new birth. Trusting the Light of the world to shine in the heart of those immersed in darkness.

What more? Many a time within 2 Corinthians and in his other letters as well, Paul demonstrates his profound love and sincere interest towards the persons that God placed under his leadership so that they would come to know Christ and then grow in Him.

The Leader’s Heart that Paul’s Example Invites us to Grow

What effect can Paul’s example have on us living in the 21st Century?  All of us have functions of leaders in some circumstances and within some circles. How does Paul’s example contribute to inspire or to encourage us with regard to our own leadership? Are there not some specific areas about which the Spirit of God is inviting us to trust Him? Growing in our faith and trust in Him through tough times with regard to leadership? Trusting God for growth in our willingness and determination to obey Him as we lead? Do we need growth in our love and sensitivity toward those — loved by God — and with whom our common Father entrusted us with a leadership fucntion and relationship.

May be the area we need to grow the most as leaders is learning to accept and receive the love God has toward ourselves! May be do we need to grow in the love we have toward God, our Father, toward Christ, His Son, our Savior, toward the Spirit, who lives in us, through faith in Christ, who lives in us as a gift from our Father and from His Son. This Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, who gives us eternal life and, here and now, peace of heart.

If y0u have not yet done so, please do listen to this epistle while reading it, for example, in the English Standard Version Dramatized available through Bible.Is. And please let us know what leadership attitudes you observed in Paul’s life and ministry that you could ask the Lord to help you develop with regard to the people God put in your life.

The article Do We Have a Leader’s Heart? may be consulted in its original language of publication, Spanish, under the title ¿Tenemos un corazón de líder?

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

Author: Daniel Garneau, B Th, B Com, MA;
Published in Spanish: February 19, 2018;
Translated to English: March 6;
Edited: March 8 and March 27, 2018.

 

Difficulty of Admitting God’s Action on My Behalf

How did I move from a situation where it was evident for me when God was answering my prayers, to a mindset where it had become natural for me to doubt about God’s intervening in my life after I had prayed, instead of believing He has answered? How did I move from a posture of faith to one of struggling to perceive God’s action on my behalf?

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer (Ps 18.2)

Becoming conscious of this difficulty helped me to slowly move from this posture of doubt to the posture of faith I had earlier held in my life. One key to this reverting from unbelief to faith in practical affairs of God’s answering or not my prayers was to consider as a part of my faith to thank God for what He had done in response to any given prayer. Faith is thus not be limited to the act of asking, but is also extended to that of receiving.

Full text available under, La difficulté d’admettre l’action de Dieu en ma faveur (French).

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.

This page was last updated on August 2017, January 2018, and March 31, 2021.

Knowing one is Loved by God: the Key for Loving Others

Knowing one is loved by God: the key for loving others–Our love for others will be limited unless we understand God’s love toward us, since it is the love that God has for us that is the source of the love we have for others.

Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you. (Isaiah 49:15, ESV)

Although Se savoir aimé de Dieu : la clé pour aimer autrui is currently available in French only, this site contains English language articles covering some of the same ground and that may be of interest to you, for example: Testimony and Training.

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.

Author: Daniel Garneau, B Th, B Com, MA.
February 8, 2018.

__________
Research key words:
knowing one is loved by God; key for loving others; loved by God; loving others.

Merging of Past, Present, and Future

My journey of faith, when I consider it today, may be considered from the angle of a merger of horizons, or the encounter of past, present and future.

What is man that you care for him (Psalm 8:4)?

Three events have been turning points in my Christian life. Witnesses of Jesus told me about the love of God for human beings, guiding me in this with the Word of God. After a fairly long period of resistance on my part, I finally decided to make the changes that needed to be made in order to obey God and follow Jesus. But it was several years later only that I came to understand what to be loved by God meant, and what it entailed in terms of the peace that comes with knowing we are forgiven by Christ no matter what.

Always, God was there. Keeping watch over me. Guiding me. Respecting my refusals.  For God does not impose himself upon us. Instead, he invites us, and waits until we are ready. In the past, God waited for me. In the present, he does not bully-me around, but waits for me to become ready to enter more and more fully into the love He has for me. For, from our human perspective, all begins with our understanding that we have God’s love for us.

No matter how despairing your situation might seem to be at any given point in your life, please always remember that God is preserving your life all along. Personally I went through phases of high expectation, deep despair, and to one of peace and joy in Christ. Today I realize that God is using every dimension of my personal history for His glory. One way to put it is that I am now living at the encounter of past, present and future.

Full text available from :  La rencontre du passé, du présent et du futur (French).

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.

Summary created: August 28, 2017.
Updated: January 5, 2018, and June 28, 2018.

Follower or Fan of Christ?

Are we truly disciples of Jesus Christ or just person who connect emotionally with the propositions of Christianity and the nice statements it issues as mentioned in the Bible?

To one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God (Psalm 50:23, ESV)

Follower or Fan? is the title of a post that drew my attention in the General Discussions of Christian Forum Site. I found stimulating the opening post (OP), where a forum member, who identifies himself as JohnC, says the following about the question “Follower or Fan?”:

That was a thought on one of the radio shows the other day…. Are you a Follower or a Fan?

and it got me to thinking of Facebook…. A “Fan” is someone who “Likes” a post from far away…. Not someone who shares your life with you…

Someone who hears a saying and says “Yes, I like that” or “Wow, that’s deep”… Maybe thinks about it a little afterwards…

This takes us back to Ezekiel 33:32: “Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them.”

We love to be fans…

But… We don’t think how being a fan is different from following or relying on the Lord in an active sense…

And.. being a fan is also very different from being a Friend.. there’s no intimacy… There’s not the assumption that the fan has something to offer that the star wants besides money, notoriety, a feeling of importance/glory…

But… Is that what Jesus is after? Notoriety, formality, glory, and no intimacy? For us to click the “like” button whenever some scripture hits you…

Think of Luke 9:23… Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

Then another member of Christian Forum Site, one who goes by the nickname of “boltardy“,  posted a response that begins with the following words :

I’d put myself in another category which I’d call struggler […].

This led me to write the following response to the question “Follower or fan of Christ?”, reproduced below, as posted, except for the correction of typos or language glitches, and some expansion, wherever I felt it helpful in clarifying the meaning of this short testimony:

A struggler, that is how I perceived myself for many years as a Christian going to Church, reading the Bible, serving God, and doing my best most of the time to obey God. Then I really got discouraged, so I kept going to Church, but got less involved in Christian service, Bible reading, prayer…

I became a Christian in 1977, and would have defined myself as a struggler, until bout 2007, although from 1977 to 1987 or so I was intensely involved in Christian growth and service, and really felt that my heart strove after God. Then, in 1987, I broke and stayed broken until 2007.

Many times I thought: “I have no one else to turn to but Christ, yet I am not sure I understand what it means to truly follow him.”

To sum up, from 1977 to 1987, I was a struggler with hope that God would somehow fix my life one day and make it as He wanted it. Then, from 1987 to 2007, I was a struggler who was gradually losing hope until I became quite convinced that I would never get anywhere spiritually.

Year 2008 was a turning point. That is when somehow the Spirit of God showed me I had to repent from one sin I had let myself slip into, and that was creating guilt, and hindering my ability to live a joyful Christian life. Since then, I have generally been experimenting joy and peace.

Which brings me to the Opening Post about being a fan or a follower of Christ. One of the things that struck home for me in 2008 was that Christianity is not about how well I am successful in doing what I understand from the Bible that I should be doing.

NO! Not at all! Instead, Christianity is about trusting Christ for having justified me and empowered me to live as He wants.

So when I sin, I confess, and I trust God that I am forgiven. Forgiveness does not occur once I have forgotten my grief over sin… Not years later. Not months later. Not weeks later. Nor does forgiveness happen days later, hours later, minutes later.

Instead, forgiveness has occurred when Christ died. And it does take place now, at the very instant I appropriate it, for the first time, or reappropriate it in any given situation. Forgiveness occurs here and now, wherever and whenever I kneel before God in recognition of His authority in all areas of my life including the one I just understood I needed to turn away from.

Now, many Christians live a life where they try their best to do what God teaches in His Word. That was my case. That was my problem too. From 2008 and forward, I found it much easier than before to rely on Christ for His righteousness and His forgiveness. I came to realize that the enemy of God could attempt to convince me that I was unable to obey God based on past failure, but that, as Christ’s co-heir, I could call upon my Father to send armies and set me free from any prison where I might be constrained. So this was of great help to me.

Being a fan is not so difficult as being a follower. Followers do struggle sometimes. But an outcome of following Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, is real joy and inner peace… Never perfectly here on earth… Never without glitches here and there… Yet real joy, and real peace…

You are interested in reading this post in its original context? You would like to read for yourself what more was said in this thread by OP author and other forum members? Why not visit Christian Forum Site, and navigate to the General Discussions and to the post Follower or Fan? opened by JohnC. on Dec. 1, 2014.  I encourage you to do so.

Or Perhaps you would like to add your own contribution to this topic and others like it. Then, why not sign-up and then login to Christian Forum Site? Make sure you take the time to read their statement of faith, and respect forum rules, and then you will be able to participate in whatever discussions seem interesting to you.

You don’t know where to start from, and you like what you have read so far at www.savoiretcroire.ca? Then you might want to follow the threads that I found interesting, and read how I responded to them. My Forum member name  is DanielGarneau. Choosing the Postings tab there will allow you to view my postings.

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. You may also join our trilingual Community of dialog about the Christian Faith (French, English, Spanish), or simply leave your response to this post using the comment box below.

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

Daniel Garneau,
B Th, B Com, MA.
February 7, 2018.