This is my sermon today on the three temptations of Jesus in the desert in Luke 4:1-13, c.f. Numbers 14:26-45 (Provender, Power, and Protection). Jesus proves not only that He is sinless and was obeying where the first Adam was so disobedient (and brought sin into the world) but that those who trust in Him can fight temptation too. He can completely empathise with us. It was a joy to preach this.
From Pastor Haydn – GRCC Church Bulletin Devotion –
BE the Change You Wish to See
The problem with the world is not the non-Christian and the evil ‘out there’: IT’S YOU AND I! IT’S the so-called ‘faithful saints’. Stop blaming the media, the left-wing, our shallow politicians and take a look at yourself. Kill the ISIS that dwells in your own, and exterminate the monsters within yourself. Worryingly, I never learned that at previous churches or seminary. We are often told that the world’s problems exist ‘out there’ in the world and that what we need is more Judeo-Christian laws, policy advocacy and protests. Apparently, only non-believers only must be changed by the gospel.
God, however, has an entirely different perspective on that. Answering Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple in He said in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, “When I … send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land”. Daniel prayed (9:3-19) and we see God judging the church before the heathen in Revelation 2-3.
What causes natural disaster and war? It is the sins of God’s people who are called to be holy. Is His solution to wipe out them out or judge the non-believers? No; instead, He asks His people to turn back to Him. ‘Turn back’ in Hebrew (shoov) means to repent, but it also practically means walking. God’s solution is that we humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and repent. And that is not merely verbally saying ‘sorry’ to God but actually killing sin and no longer doing it (2 Corinth 7:8-12). It means slaying sinful desire and allowing God to fill us with joy so we can obey Him (Deut 28:47).
Are we humbling ourselves and demonstrating this daily in prayer and the reading of God’s Word? I don’t believe that it happens sufficiently in our church; I too need to do it more. Do we have a passion to have our own hearts converted to the gospel, and not just the non-believer? Are we disturbed by our failure to do what we should and not doing what we must? Do we really ‘let go and let God’ and neglect to play our own role? Our sin may be killing others. We must be the change that we wish to see in the world.
God bless, Pastor Haydn.
This time last year was a terrible time in my life. I’d finished studying at a college where I was often sidelined and very unfairly attacked by others. Then I started working at a legalistic church that came to dismiss me as its associate pastor 1) because my wife didn’t drive a car; and 2) I cooked dinner for my family, which supposedly ‘took me away from ministry’. Slanderous lies were also levelled against my wife to make hear appear ‘divisive’. הרדופים . The pastor had a Saul spirit that made it impossible for us to work together. Those were dark days that brought with them mistrust, sadness of heart, weariness, a near-crushing sense of self-defeat, and uncertainty. I almost quit ministry altogether. But God has brought me through so many of that, and has been my vindication. Now I’m walking on more level grounding. After all that happened last year, I feel like I can face anything (Ps 55:12-19). God is so good to me and mine and I have survived!
From Pastor Haydn – GRCC Church Bulletin Devotion –
Come, Bring Your Muck to God!
Since the Vietnam War, one of the methods of warfare has been to make use of landmines. What makes them so dangerous is not just the explosion, but that you have no idea you’re standing on one until it’s too late. Then you lose limbs or, worse, you die. Life is like a minefield, when it comes to dealing with others and ourselves. Others can ‘trigger’ our emotions that suddenly overwhelm us (such as anger, frustration, anxiety, and joy). They can do it just by saying something in a certain way, wearing cologne, or even by wearing a particular garment. It can be enough to bring back a whole flood of emotions and memories, and provoke negative reactions. We can also do the same to others, inadvertently.
Often the source of these things is emotional pain, and sadly sin is frequently our way of seeking to comfort ourselves from the pain we feel inside. People like to escape through work, affluence, and entertainment: anything to deaden themselves to their emotions. This, in the short-term, keeps away the ‘raging monkeys’. The problem, however, is that by stuffing emotional pain down deep inside, forgetting it, and hoping it will all go away will not deal with problems. In fact, it will exacerbate them like bad bacteria in a warm incubator.
Doing so also keeps God’s love at a distance and sends us to hell (Psalm 34:18, Hebrews 12:15). Additionally, unresolved pain and bitterness will eventually eke out and hurt the person carrying it and those around them. Healing begins by feeling and processing those emotions and the memories attached to them, and bringing God into ALL the parts of who we are so they can be healed and ‘put back together’ again (Psalm 86:11-13). To overcome all this, we need to come to love ourselves – not in a narcissistic way, but with the good news of God’s love for sinners (1 John 4:9-10). If we love self with God’s grace, we can love others and serve Him (Matt. 22:36-40, 15:16-20); as Paul wrote in Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others”. Psalm 62:8b tells us how we can do this, “Pour* out your heart before God’s presence” (II Corinthians 10:4-6). Pour it all out – the good, the bad, and the ugly and watch Him heal, even if you weep as you do it.
God bless, Pastor Haydn of Georges River Congregational Church.
* In Hebrew, this word is associated with the pouring out (or shedding) of a bull’s blood in order to atone for sin, and other atoning sacrifices.
A completed Bible study is as good as a holiday, and this week my church finished its 2-year sojourn in the John Macarthur ‘Fundamentals’ Bible study (which my predecessor instigated). Well done, church. We put the *fun* back into fundamentals :D
Here is my sermon today on Jesus’ family tree and His connection with the Father and the Holy Spirit at His baptism (Luke 3:21-38, c.f. Ruth 4:13-22). It shows that the man Adam in Genesis was REAL and historical, and hints that Jesus is the second Adam to remove sin from the world. BUT in Luke 3, we see Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together at the commissioning of Jesus’ ministry on earth – the WHOLE godhead turns up, even as it did at the creation of mankind in Genesis 2. Because Jesus is the beloved Son who has the delight of His Father, so those who trust in Jesus can also be His beloved children :) This was a great morning today at Georges River Congregational Church.
From Pastor Haydn – GRCC Church Bulletin Devotion –
He NEVER Sleeps!
During the 1990s, the flame-haired Jewish singer Bette Midler sang a song called From a Distance. Its memorable lyrics told us liltingly,
From a distance we all have enough/ and no one is in need and there are no guns/ no bombs and no disease/ no hungry mouths to feed. From a distance we are instruments … playing songs of hope … God is watching us/ from a distance.
If Midler was trying to give God a makeover, she certainly went backwards. For her, God is watching us from a distance, but from that distance it looks like world is buzzing harmoniously. Is that a true portrayal of what the world is really like? She needs to watch the news.
The real tragedy is the claim that God is watching from a distance. It states that God is not involved; He is just an interested spectator. God is possibly like an old grandad who is too powerless or, worse, disinterested to participate. This is the lie of Deism, that God is like a maker of a watch; once he makes it, he no longer needs to be involved in it. God is so transcendent that He never gets personal. Many people like that kind of non-interfering God until, of course, they suffer and beg to know why He ‘doesn’t help or care’.
But is it true of our Heavenly Father? Psalm 121:4 differs on this: “Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep”. Jesus says in Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
God is watching us so much all the time that He never ever sleeps … His eyes are constantly on His Christian covenant people. He knows when every sparrow falls and even how many hairs we have! (Matt. 10:30) He also knitted us intimately in our mothers (Ps 139:13). He knows our thoughts even before we’ve had them! (Ps 139:1) And this is the same God who, 5,000 years ago, created the whole cosmos. God cares about YOU, even if you don’t feel it. He loves you, though perhaps He may seem far away and uncaring. If you feel that way, pour out your heart to Him and ask Him to show you His love this week.
God bless, Pastor Haydn.
Hypocrites, hypocrites, hypocrites! I’m never going to church because it’s just full of wretched hypocrites who never practise what they preach!”
It’s a common objection that is touted many times when people don’t want to become Christ. It’s not Jesus, they say, whom they have a problem with – it’s the people who bear his name. Mahatma Ghandi was known for publicly rejecting Christianity for that very purpose.
Yet it’s also an interesting, if not a self-defeating, excuse if you think about it. The person who says this assumes that he is more consistent within himself than the Christians that he is criticising. You can only conclude that others are hypocritical if you are not doing the same thing. But how consistent are you to your own ideals?
The second problem with this objection that it ignores the fact that us human beings are always trying at some point to live up to some higher ideal even if it is not religious. Ever tried going on a diet? Precisely. Ever tried to consistently be gracious to your kids, no matter what they do or how you’re feeling? Exactly. Ever tried to get all your work done even though you’re really tired and know it can be done another day?
See, we’re not as consistent as we would like to be; but does that mean we don’t strive to be better merely because so few of us actually do? No – in fact, we often work harder. THAT’s why we have role-models and heroes.
The Son of God, Jesus Christ specifically chose 12 men to be his friends – two of whom publicly denounced him. Some even tried to stop Jesus dying for sin! When Jesus did die on the cross, all his friends walked away. Jesus’ ‘friends’ were immature, annoying, inconsistent and, yes, hypocritical (fallen). YET he chose them to build and continue his church.
You and I are inconsistent people. We make mistakes, cause misunderstandings, and hurt others. We hurt God more than we will ever know, and yet those are exactly the kinds of people Jesus came to save and be friends with! Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick”, and then said that was why he came to die for us. Christians and non-believers are all hypocrites and many times Christians are no better than others. That is inexcusable, but it shows what kind of people Jesus saves. It means we don’t have to measure up to his standard for him to save us – he saves us so that we can measure up to him. We will never do that perfectly on this earth, but as far as God is concerned, hypocrites are welcome – Christian and non-Christian. Please come and join us on Sunday so we can hear of God’s salvation.
I am re-blogging this after I first wrote it in January of 2012. Many people have been encouraged and touched by it. I regret sleeping around but there is a way to love those that I once slept with, in a godly way.
Originally posted on Senator Mish'lei (מִשְׁלֵי):
Of late, I have been thinking a fair bit about the way that I first came out of the gay world and how I now feel about the men whom I had slept around with. There were so many of them I have lost count, but that does not diminish how I now feel about them. A big part of me used to blame them for the situations where we had found ourselves, crossing boundaries and doing sexual things with one another that we thought would give us love, acceptance, and the man of our dreams who might one day hold us together and make everything ok again. The sad reality is that we would have sex, use each other, and then throw one another away to look for someone else. It wasn’t uncommon for that to happen and as I looked at other gay men that I knew, they were going…
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