From Pastor Haydn – On The Walls of Valour (4th of October 2015)

From Pastor Haydn: GRCC Church Bulletin Devotion – On the Walls of Valour

During the past week, my family and I had a short trip to Canberra, the capital city of Australia, to see some sights. We cycled, saw the floral display of Floriade, meandered through the portrait gallery, got lost in traffic, and rolled down the slopes of Parliament House. We also visited the War Memorial. It had all manner of collections of memorabilia, including diaries, clothes, planes, and submarines. The most popular section was the Walls of Valour, where the names of countless human souls were inscribed, who had died in the service of fighting for freedom. They were decorated with endless red poppy flowers, in commemoration of their sacrifices.

            The collection of memorabilia and the walls of valour demonstrated one outstanding truth: their sacrifice was not forgotten, and not in vain. I don’t (of) know anyone listed on the Walls of Valour, because I had no family member killed in the line of duty. But even that doesn’t matter: their sacrifice is what counts, and by having their name on the wall – even if they are otherwise unknown – does not diminish their significance.

            As Christians, our battle every moment is against Satan and his legion of demons. In our hearts is the battle, as in the world there is a constant and concerted war between light and darkness. Jesus’ words to His disciples demonstrate that the He pre-empted this battle: If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you (John 15:18). It’s so fierce and real, that Peter writes, But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be vigilant and watchful in your prayers (1 Pet. 4:7). We’re therefore called to amputate anything in us that hates God (Col. 3:5-6, Matt 5:29), be incessant in reading God’s Word (Ps 1:2), softening our hearts toward God (Heb 3:15), meeting together as much as possible (Heb 3:13), and ending any relationships with others that cause us hindrance (2 Cor 6:17-7:1). We need to fight because the battle is real. At the end of it we too will be inscribed on God’s Walls of Valour. Revelation 3:5 writes, He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.  Fellow saints of Jesus Christ in the Georges River and abroad, let us keep fighting the good fight – it is not going unnoticed and will one day be permanently recorded.

The peace of Jesus Christ be with you.

Pastor Haydn Sennitt of Georges River Congregational Church.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is EVERYTHING


The forgiveness of sins accomplished by the DEATH of Jesus Christ takes care of the old man and sins of the PAST. The new life accomplished by the RESURRECTION dispenses the healing power of Jesus for the PRESENT and the FUTURE, not only for forgiving sin but creating new desires in the heart that issues forth in visible obedience on the outside. And those things, being from the heart, are a JOYFUL delight that no external imposition can bring about by crude force. As Christians we CAN learn to obey and we CAN do it by resurrection power. The problem is so many churches only focus on the death of Jesus that they overlook the power of the resurrection and then lament that no-one in the church is obeying but remains stuck as hypocrites. The resurrection is everything.

I experienced this personally in the last week; in the last couple of days I’ve been so tired from our journey and back to Canberra. (I’ve had to write two sermons!!) But what encouraged me so much was when I visited our hosts, who have known since me since 2004, they said to me, “We cannot believe how much God has been at work in your life. You used to be angry, joyless, and not-at-peace, but we can see how much God has changed you”. Seeing a good Christian counsellor has borne so much fruit, as the Spirit has worked powerfully in it. God*is*good.

~ And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable: 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 ~

Turnbull in Julius Caesar


(Recently elected Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who got the position by betraying his predecessor, Tony Abbott.)

“Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; he thinks too much: such men are dangerous … if my name were liable to fear, I do not know the men I should avoid so soon as that spare Cassius. He reads much, he is a great observer, and he looks quite through the deeds of men. He loves no plays … he hears no music, and smiles in such a sort as if he mocked himself … Such men can never be at ease whiles they behold a greater than themselves, and therefore they are very dangerous” ~ Julius Caesar to Mark Anthony about the conspirator, Cassius, in the Shakespearean play, ‘Julius Caesar’ (Act 1, Scene 2, Lines 190-213).  

It’s not hard to see parallels with recent political dramas in Australia. 

Why NOT read God’s Word?

Here is an article by Dr John Piper on why people often do not – but must – read their Bibles if they are going to stand out and live well as the people of Christ on earth.  I really need to read this too.  The four common causes of Bible neglect in the Christian life that Piper goes through are:

  • . . . it seems so irrelevant to my life.”
  • . . . I don’t have time.”
  • . . . I go to church every Sunday.”
  • . . . I find it confusing.”

It’s worth praying over it and acting on it.

From Pastor Haydn – Confidence in the Full-Filled Word (27th of September 2015)

From Pastor Haydn: GRCC Church Bulletin Devotion – Confidence in the Full-Filled Word

This week, I was encouraged to have attended the Pastors’ and Families’ Retreat of the Fellowship of Congregational Churches in the Blue Mountains. The talks through 2 Timothy 2-4 that I attended were particularly encouraging, and all the more so because the work of pastoring is often so hard and, at times, discouraging. Often the efforts of a pastor seem to be water on a rock, which makes a nice splash but just runs off and never gets absorbed. Yet, I suspect, this is not just the case for pastors, but for those of us who wish to share Christ with our neighbours, for their salvation.

Days before I went to the conference, I read this encouraging – and sobering – statement by Charles H Spurgeon concerning sharing the gospel:

“You may have heard the story of one of our first [seminary] students, who came to me, and said, “I have been preaching now for some months, and I do not think I have had a single conversion.” I said to him, “And do you expect that the Lord is going to bless you and save souls every time you open your mouth?” “No, sir,” he replied. “Well, then,” I said, “that is why you do not get souls saved. If you had believed, the Lord would have given the blessing.” … many others would have answered me in just the same way …

They tremblingly believe that it is possible, by some strange mysterious method, that once in a hundred sermons God might win a quarter of a soul. They have hardly enough faith to keep them standing upright in their boots; how can they expect God to bless them? I like to go to the pulpit feeling, “This is God’s Word that I am going to deliver in His name; it cannot return to Him void; I have asked His blessing upon it, and He is bound to give it, and His purposes will be answered, whether my message is a savour of life unto life, or of death unto death to those who hear it”.#

            Sheep of Christ, share the gospel boldly, and pray earnestly beforehand that God’s hand of blessing will be upon it. If we doubt, nothing will happen; but if we wait and see … just see what God will do. God will not be domesticated or thwarted – what He purposes will happen.

God bless, Pastor Haydn of the Georges River Congregational Church.

# This is the full text of what Spurgeon said concerning the preaching of God’s Word. 

Sexuality and the Authority of God’s Word

Recently, a member of my congregation was sent the September 2015 edition (issue 26) of a ‘Christian’ magazine called Equip (which is published by an organisation called ‘Ethos’, the ‘Centre for Christianity and Society’).  In the September edition, it featured a number of special articles on the issue of homosexuality and the church, and in the spirit of this discussion it included a free book on the issue called ‘Beyond Stereotypes: Christians and Homosexuality’ (see below).


The magazine itself contains the fatal mistake of including Islam as an ‘Abrahamic faith’ equal to Judeo-Christianity.  Yet after that I looked inside the book, and one thing concerned me right up front, in its introduction.  That contained a very frank admission about how it went about ‘discussing’ the issues of homosexuality (see below):


If you can’t read that, this is what this paragraph says, in a succinct nutshell: “Rather than start with the biblical material and move ‘out’ from there, we have sought to … [give] recognition to the three other sources of authority through which we interpret that biblical witness: reason, experience, and tradition …”  In other words, the Biblical Word of God is NOT the starting point in the discussion – and, even more the point – it’s not the only authority.  It’s only one of four authorities, and cannot stand on its own.  How, one wonders, is this an evangelical Christian starting point?  2 Timothy 3:15b-17 tells us, “the Holy Scriptures … are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work”.  Get that?  GOD’S WORD ALONE is authoritative.  Not Word + pope or PhD graduate or best-selling writer.  GOD’S WORD ALONE (Exegesis 101).  Anything less than or in addition to it is a counterfeit message.

2 Peter 1:20-21 adds, “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit“.  Scripture interprets us- we don’t interpret Scripture.  Our reason is WARPED BY SIN (Prov. 3:5-6, contra. Aquinas), as is all other authority.  Culture (as we know from 1930s Germany) is no flawless authority.  So how on earth can ‘Beyond Stereotypes’ claim that it can ‘help interpret’ the Word of God?  That is an audacious and arrogant claim.  Theologically, the book’s authors are on very shaky ground; it saddens me to see that my predecessor at Liberty Christian Ministries has contributed to it, and I have already emailed the editorial staff of this magazine concerning this issue.

This is one of my big concerns in the church with a lot of the resources ‘informing’ the conversation on sexuality and Christianity at out of their depth.  Many are off the deep end, not even letting the Bible be the primary source of authority.  On the one hand, they understand the topic well, but only theologically and not personally.  They are at a distance from the topic. On the other hand, those that personally have dealt with these issues have thrown solid, biblical, God-honouring theology out with the proverbial bathwater.  That sets very dangerous precedents, because people then decide what bits of God’s Word they like, based on their own prejudices and preferences.  In other words, anything goes and man is God.

One article that stood out for me in the magazine, written by an author named Simon Carey Holt, argued rightly that the Baptists need to talk about the issue.  However, the sad reality – as I have seen up close, as I was a student at a Baptist bible college, is that his beloved church has become more worldly as it is standing LESS on the firm Word of God than it did in previous times.  (Though this is not just occurring in the Baptist church, I hasten to add.)  When I attended seminary (2013-2014) I repeatedly offered my personal expertise to help other students to understand these issues and continually I was rebuffed.  I have lost many former ‘friends’ in the Christian church trying to help deal with these issues, sadly.
Yes, the church needs to discuss these issues, but it must do so properly informed, and it must be willing to do it.  The problem is, many churches don’t want to face it, thinking it will just go away.  Many try to make it go away by becoming like the world.  Others may say it wants to ‘discuss’ issues of sexuality and personhood, but it wishes to do so sanitised, I believe, from any real first-hand knowledge of it.  It likes to treat it as a theological issue, and is discussed by people with a very vague understanding of the issues.  But the conversation must balance truth and grace AND most importantly it can only do so ON THE WORD OF GOD.  Other authorities must pass the test of timeless Scripture, rather than the other way around, otherwise the church will simply fail.

20 September 2015 sermon – Luke 1:39-56 – Effervescent Gratitude

Here is my sermon from today concerning the worship song of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:39-56, c.f. Exodus 15:1-12).  It’s a lovely song of humility that challenges any Christian as to how much they really love and yearn for God and His goodness.

Pardon my broken speech in the beginning of the talk: a member of the congregation had disclocated her shoulder, and as I was talking, some paramedics entered the church with a stretcher and had to take her to hospital.  (She is now fine.)


From Pastor Haydn – Put No Trust in Princes (20th of September 2015)

From Pastor Haydn: GRCC Church Bulletin Devotion – Put No Trust in Princes

This week, we have witnessed political tumult in Australia, as Tony Abbott was voted out as Prime Minister by his own party. His replacement endorses ‘gay marriage’, and many who supported replacing Abbott did so out of crude self-interest. In many ways it is a cruel blow to those who saw in the former PM a buffer against regressive policies like ‘gay marriage’. Among many people are feeling betrayed, frustrated, and concern. One response to this has been to think about the invention of a new conservative party.

At Bible college in 2014, I had the chance to meet former deputy Prime Minister of Australia, John Anderson. When I asked him what he thought of Australian politics, he told me that western culture is so corrupt that seeking to influence things through the political system is effectively much a waste of time. Former school friends of mine who have been involved in politics have resoundingly echoed those sentiments.

So, is a new political party the answer? Looking at the Bible, there is nothing to suggest that God’s people need to go into politics to influence things.  It doesn’t say that they shouldn’t, but there’s not a lot of precedent for it. Yes, there are people like Daniel, Esther, and Joseph who were involved, to some extent, politically.

However, they are the exception.  In the Old Testament, God frequently circumvents political power by judging it (Exodus 7:14-12:30, c.f. Heb 11:24-27). The same thing is demonstrated in Jesus’ incarnation (Matt 2:13), ministry (John 2:13ff.), and death (Matt 27:11-14). In the early church book of Acts, there is not one individual who changes the ancient world by holding political office; in fact, the apostles audaciously disobey human authority when asked to not preach the gospel, saying, We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

While we ought to pray for Christians who wield the power of Caesar, we need to remember that politics is not where change and power truly rests. This is observed in Psalm 146:3-5: Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in Yahweh his God. God is above politics and our real hope – man will always fail us, but God never will. In Him is our hope, not another political structure.

God bless, Pastor Haydn.