Recently I’ve been going through a dry patch, spiritually and emotionally. I started praying the psalms and was comforted by the word of Psalm 18:18-19 (below). I’m so grateful that I am God’s delight. יחלצני כי חפץ בי (He rescued me because He delighted in me).
‘Gay Christian’: “I call myself a gay Christian and you can’t tell me I’m wrong”.
Me: “Really? The Bible says it’s wrong. But God cares about you and I can help you to do what God’s Word says”.
GC: “Nope. I don’t trust the Bible. It’s made up by men. And those bits where it says homosexuality is wrong are SO misguided. I know more about that topic than the Bible!”
Me: “So you’re telling me that the Bible is so corrupted by man that you – A MAN! – is going to set the Bible right?”
GC: “That’s right!”
Me: “You know, you’ve just admitted to me that you’re not really a Christian”.
GC: “Well, you’re a ***** and a ***** and you can go to *****. You’re in so much denial it’s not funny”
A conversation that I had once.
Here is my latest sermon on Genesis 46 (c.f. Revelation 21:1-7), named ‘One Big Happy Family’. Joseph is finally reunited with his father, but it’s a somewhat tepid reunion. Yet at the same time it shows the sovereignty of God in making Israel a great nation (which refers back to His good promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:2). It also shows a remarkable number of truths about the work of Christ and what that means for His elected heirs. A message full of hope and faithfulness.
‘From Pastor Haydn': GRCC Church Bulletin Devotion – Why Not Pray: Not in the ‘Right Mood’
Recently I was finding it hard to pray in particular, and so I did a bit of soul searching. What shocked me was that, on reflection, there were so many excuses. To simply name a few, my ‘reasons’ were 1) Maybe I’m not using the right vocabulary; 2) perhaps God isn’t listening, or doesn’t care (besides, doesn’t He have more important things to do?); 3) I’m not ‘spiritual’ enough and maybe I don’t have the so-called ‘gift’ of prayer; 4) it’s so hard, like a wrestle (Gen. 32:22ff) and not something I should undertake lightly (Ecc. 5:1-6; Matt 6:5-8). Why can’t prayer be easy? However, my biggest excuse was often “I cannot pray because I’m not in the right mood or am spiritually dry”.
In the last month I have been reading a book about the prayers of the apostle Paul and how Christians can emulate those prayers, by North American theologian D.A. Carson (see left). In chapter 7, he tackles this prevalent obstacle to prayer. He observes that “hidden behind this excuse are two [monstrous] presuppositions: the first is that the acceptability of my approach to God in prayer ought to be tied to how I feel … [and that] my obligation to pray is somehow diminished when I do not feel like praying” (pp. 114, 115). The problem, ultimately, is that I am deciding how I should be approaching God, as if I need to make myself presentable in a certain way, rather than as I am. Doing that, however, makes me the arbiter of my relationship with God, rather than the other way around. And that certainly does not rely on grace but me and my efforts. As Carson rightly puts it, that is simply idolatry.
Perhaps you are dealing with the same thing. The good news is that Jesus spoke in various parables to show how much God loves to answer the prayers of His children (Luke 11:5-13; 18:2-8). They each contrast the reluctance of earthly creatures in granting requests over and above God’s abundant willingness. I encourage you to repent of sin in this regard where it is an issue for you, and to read these parables slowly and meditate on them. For (Luke 11:13) If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! Ask God to help you to trust Him and come as you are in your need with humility.
Shalom, Pastor Haydn.
Being the pastor of a church, you expect there to be objections to your work, both on the outside and even at times on the inside. But never has the attack been so strong on me helping those with unwanted homosexuality. I even have non-Christians asking me for help. When I publicly speak on these issues, the most dull-minded and negative responses often come from within the Christian community. Very often discouragement comes not so much from people being caustic, but not giving any encouragement at all (deliberately or otherwise). Very often people ARE supportive and do pray, but they never say they do which actually is in itself discouraging. Often times it’s others’ timidity and gutlessness in not standing with you, or standing up for what is true out of fear of man.
It’s just as it was for Nehemiah in the days when he was asked to rebuild the temple. “But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews” (Neh. 4:1). Sanballat was not a Jew, but he was determined to stop Nehemiah. Like Satan, he had no actual power to do it, but sought to accomplish it through mockery and disheartenment. He operated through cynicism, making Nehemiah sound like he was the bigot and the one with the problem (sounds like something going on these days, right?). Like Satan, those closest to Nehemiah were often the ones sent to discourage him (Psalm 55: 12-14). He was a nasty tormentor, and sadly many Jews conspired with him. I’ve dealt with similar types when giving interviews in the media. Peter writes (1 Pet. 4:4), In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.
Today really is NO DIFFERENT. Temple-building is unpopular; the world hates it and even some in the church regard it with equal hostility. It is very lonely work, and often unthanked, but it is the only stuff that will last through eternity. And eternity means that once it is established, it will not change. I love to bits my men who are determined to fight for freedom: to them I say don’t regard the Sanballats. God will deal with them- give them to Him and fight hard with all your might to be built into an unassailable temple. Nehemiah didn’t; Jesus didn’t. Even if all the world doesn’t get it WE CAN DO IT through Him who gives us strength. WE ARE THE TEMPLE OF GOD (1 Cor 6:19); so let our building project go on unhindered.
Today in The Australian newspaper there appeared an enormous spread on an Aboriginal Australian acknowledging the positive role that the Christian gospel has had on indigenous communities. If only white people saw things this way. What a blessing and so encouraging. Just goes to show that Christian missions did NOT ‘vandalise’ other cultures as many have falsely claimed.
It’s good to put momentary defeats, even ones by sinful Supreme Courts, in their rightful context: “The emotions may be overwhelming for a time — disappointment, depression, or disgust. However, for all who have been rescued from sin and promised an eternity of sinless safety and satisfaction, sadness will not ultimately win the day”. A great word from Desiring God.
“Yahweh said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.” ~ Ezekiel 9:4