All posts by Haydn

About Haydn

I am the sole senior pastor of a church in Sydney (Australia), and married with two kids under the age of 11. I love Jesus and adventure.

Haydn’s Bible Studies on Hebrews

In August of 2017, I began taking my church through the New Testament book of Hebrews.  It’s a letter that is often considered to be one of the most complicated books of the Bible, and is one of the most frequently avoided as a consequence.  I love getting through the more challenging texts of the Bible, and I decided to take my church through it because I found Hebrews to be a very important influence on myself since I came to Christ in 1998. 

I decided to take my church through this book because its meaning is too valuable to miss.  As with the church written to in Hebrews, the church I am leading is very much in need of similar revival.  How will revival arrive?  According to Hebrews, that will only occur when we strengthen what is weak to walk in holiness with Jesus as intimately as possible.  We cannot get sloppy and merely rest on our predestined salvation to get to the end of our journey: we are to grow in Christ-likeness and share in God’s holiness (10:11). 

Therefore, while the promise of entering His rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it – Hebrews 4:1 (ESV)

Much has happened since we began this Bible study, but as of this week we have finished the series on this wonderful epistle.  I wrote all the Bible studies myself, and I have published them here for others to use.  They include: 

  • Questions about the passage;
  • A reflection on the implications of the passage for us;
  • A prayer that uses the themes of each passage to pray for ourselves;
  • Finally, notes to help users to understand what the questions are getting at.

Hebrews Bible Studies Introduction

Hebrews 1. 1-4 Bible Study

Hebrews 1.5 – 2.4 Bible Study

Hebrews 2.5-18 Bible Study

Hebrews 3 Bible Study

Hebrews 4.1-13 Bible Study

Hebrews 4.14 – 5.10 Bible Study

Hebrews 5.11 – 6.12 Bible Study

Hebrews 6.13 – 7.10 Bible Study

Hebrews 7.11-28 Bible Study

Hebrews 8 Bible Study

Hebrews 9 Bible Study

Hebrews 10.1-18 Bible Study

Hebrews 10.19-39 Bible Study

Hebrews 11 Bible Study

Hebrews 12.1-17 Bible Study

Hebrews 12.18-29 Bible Study

Hebrews 13.1-16 Bible Study

Hebrews 13.17-25 Bible Study

Here are the prayers that I wrote for the Hebrews Bible study that have been assembled in one file –  Extra – Hebrews Bible Studies Prayers.

God bless, Pastor Haydn.

Advertisements

How can we dwell with God? (Psalm 15 Bible study)

To live with God is something that most people in the world are fixated upon (whether their god is the right one or not).  We are all created to worship something bigger than ourselves, and were were made by the God of the Judeo-Christian Bible to live with Him, and He with us.  So how is that possible?  Is it simply a matter of just believing in Jesus Christ: what else are we meant to do?  Here is my Psalm 15 Bible Study about this topic

God bless, Pastor Haydn.

 

Work to Live or Live to Work? – Pastor Haydn’s Sermon – 17th of June 2018

What’s work worth when it’s all you focus on?  How does death affect how we (think about) work?  Why pursue wisdom when you suffer the same fate as a fool (which = death)?  How does Jesus Christ make any difference to this?  Here is my sermon on King Solomon’s wisdom about these issues.  Here is the readings for the sermon, which I translated from Hebrew – Ecclesiastes 2.15-26 Readings (English)

God bless, Pastor Haydn.

Next week’s sermonLife Cycling Out of ‘Your Control’ (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11).

Life: God’s Merry Merry-Go-Round? – Pastor Haydn’s Sermon – 10th of June 2018

You can build everything for yourself, be a “self-made” man, and all the rest but it will just leave you empty.  You can get stuff but then you may end up objectifying people (and treating them like objects), but it won’t fill you.  You can pursue as much earthly pleasure as you like, but will it fill you?  Quite the contrary, says The Assembler (King Solomon) who wrote the biblical book of Ecclesiastes: It will keep you searching and at the end of life you will find yourself out of right relationship with God.  But if loving God is your greatest pleasure, then you will always be satisfied.  Here is my sermon on this from Ecclesiastes 2:1-14 (c.f. Matthew 16:24-27).  This is Ecclesiastes 2.1-14 Readings (English)

God bless, Pastor Haydn.

Next week’s sermon: To Be or Not Be a Fool? (Matthew 6:25-32, Ecclesiastes 2:15-26).

Charles Spurgeon on homosexuality

S&G

“Shall the bestial vice of which Sodom was guilty never be checked? Why, if this should spread amongst the sons of men, it would bring in its infernal train ten thousand times more damage than the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The sin itself is infinitely worse than the fire which burned it up” – C.H. Spurgeon. 

Gosh, I wonder what he would think of people today in the church calling themselves “gay Christians”, be they ‘celibate’ or not!

Getting past distress and doubt in thankful prayer (Psalm 77)

No life goes smoothly, not even for God’s children; in many ways, their woes seem to get bigger once they do follow God because Satan, the enemy, is on their case.  But no matter how deep we get into distress and doubt, we can bring it to God in prayer and get out of it by remembering God’s kindnesses towards us, both cosmic (e.g. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection) and the smaller, everyday ones (e.g. living in affluence and having access to clean drinking water).  Here is my Bible study on a passage on this – Psalm 77 Bible Study

God bless, Pastor Haydn.

 

I asked the Lord that I might grow

In faith and love and every grace,

Might more of His salvation know

And more earnestly seek His face.

‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray,

And He, I trust, has answered prayer;

But it has been in such a way

As almost drove me to despair.

I thought that in some favoured hour

At once He’d answer my request

And by His love’s constraining power,

Subdue my sins and give me rest.

Instead of that, He made me feel

The hidden evils of my heart,

And bade the angry powers of hell

Assault my soul in every part.

Nay more, with His own hand He seemed

Intent to aggravate my woe.

Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,

Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

“Lord, why is this?”, I trembling cried.

“Wilt Thou pursue this worm to death?”

“This is the way”, the Lord replied,

“I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ

From self and sin to set thee free,

And cross thy schemes of earthly joy

That thou might’st find all thy in Me”.

–  pp. 23-24 of Spiritual Maturity by Oswald Sanders (Moody Publishers: Chicago), 1994.

.

Life: A Misty Phantasm – Pastor Haydn’s Sermon – 3rd of June 2018

What is the meaning of life, and how do we handle it?  Doesn’t being a busy buzzing bee fix it?  What about more study?  What about novelty?  What about going on a holiday?  Well, the Bible has some raw, honest, unvarnished words to say about life on this side of death, and it’s rather sobering.  Our time here is a misty vapour, like warm breath coming out of a mouth on a freezing winter morning: there one second, gone the next. It’s short and fleeting, but we can make the most of it.  Here is my sermon on this from Ecclesiastes 1 (c.f. 1 Corinthians 2:1-16).  This is Ecclesiastes 1 Readings (English)

Before the sermon, my congregation watched this stand-up comedy speech by Jerry Seinfeld (from 1:13 to the end):

God bless, Pastor Haydn.

Praying the Psalms Over 30 Days

One thing that I am very big on, it’s prayer and particularly praying the Psalms.  If you want to get your heart, mind, soul, and spirit into the heavenly realms, pray the Psalms.  If you want heaven to enter your heart, pray the Psalms.  If you want to be really open with God and feel intimate with Him, pray the Psalms.  If you want your prayer to be more alive than the boring ones offered during the Sunday service, pray the Psalms.  If you want the Sunday church prayers to be more dynamic, pray the Psalms.  The good thing is that you can actually do this in one month!  During the Reformation, English bishop Thomas Cranmer created a schedule of praying through the Psalms in one month.  I thought I would mention it here for the edification of others.

In a sermon I heard on Psalm 1:1-6 and 150:1-6, the preacher made an allusion to the Lord of the Rings, where Pippin stands next to Gandalf, whose face looks careworn. Tolkein wrote, “Yet in the wizard’s face he saw at first only lines of care and sorrow; though as he looked more intently he perceived that under all there was a great joy: a fountain of mirth enough to set a kingdom laughing, were it to gush forth”. For me, the parallel in Scripture is that even when sorrow and evil seem overwhelming, there is something beyond it that will hold me onto my Rock.  I want to make Psalms my prayer book so that my soul is anchored to Christ, that what I learn in my mind percolates down into my heart and permeates my life and strengthens my love of God so that nothing can toss me about so that, like Gandalf, I can set a whole kingdom laughing (Prov. 17:27).  May it bless you too  🙂

Day Morning Evening
1 1 – 5 6 – 8
2 9 – 11 12 – 14
3 15 – 17 18
4 19 – 21 22 – 23
5 24 – 26 27 – 29
6 30 – 31 32 – 34
7 35 – 36 37
8 38 – 40 41 – 43
9 44 – 46 47 – 49
10 50 – 52 53 – 55
11 56 – 58 59 – 61
12 62 – 64 65 – 67
13 68 69 – 70
14 71 – 72 73 – 74
15 75 – 77 78
16 79 – 81 82 – 85
17 86 – 88 89
18 90 – 92 93 – 94
19 95 – 97 98 – 101
20 102 – 103 104
21 105 106
22 107 108 – 109
23 110 – 113 114 – 115
24 116 – 118 119:1 – 32
25 119: 33 – 72 119:73 – 104
26 119:105 – 144 119:145 – 176
27 120 – 125 126 – 131
28 132 – 135 136 – 138
29 139 – 140 141 – 143
30 144 – 146 147 – 150

You needn’t memorise the passages: just pray them. On the morning of the first day, for instance, you pray through Psalms 1-5. Then in the evening, pray through Psalms 6-8.  Read through the whole Psalm to God and then adapt it to your own circumstances. So, for instance, pray through Psalm 1 and choose maybe one big prayer point that strikes you (e.g. the need to pray to God morning and evening). Then move onto Psalm 2 and do the same. With Psalm 2, you can praise Jesus that He is God’s king in whom we find mercy from God’s wrath, etc. You need not stick too rigidly to this schedule either but move around various Psalms to different times and days … not every Psalm and verse will impact you in quite the same way.

Once you’ve gone through them all in a month, go back and pray them at a much slower pace, maybe one psalm in the morning and one in the evening.

God bless, Pastor Haydn.

Enjoying Quality Time With God

qt.jpg  I have now been a Christian for exactly 20 years, since the year I finished high school.  Since then I’ve been schooled in the Bible and devoted myself to understanding it, but until a few ago I never really understood the power of prayer.  How long it has taken me to grasp it!   14 long years it took me …  I am often surprised that I am still a Christian given what a lousy pray-er I was.  At my former churches I was told what prayer was and though it was routinely practised, more often than not it was done because it was something Christians ‘just did’, rather than because they got to do it and had power behind it.  Prayer in some situations and in some circles was viewed at as an optional extra, something that was done when all other efforts failed; and Quiet Times (or Devotions, time where a person connects with God by reading Scripture and interacting with prayer and by various means) were viewed this way in particular.  In fact, I cannot remember many of my former church friends discussing their one-to-one Quiet Times as being a core part of their journeys with God or moments where they were significantly revitalised in their spirits.   (More often than not, time with other Christians, conferences, church, and other activities involving being in the presence of other believers).

That’s not to say that they didn’t do QTs, but their silence about them was quite revealing: either they weren’t done very often; or they weren’t done properly; or they yielded no insights or revelations; or they ultimately meant little to the people doing them, especially if they were done out of a sense of duty.  I was very much in this camp and eventually I stopped doing them, and the fact that so few others around me (seemed) to not do them either reinforced my decision to foresake them.  It wasn’t always that way for me: back in 1999-2001, at Mid-Year Conference of Campus Bible at the University of New South Walwa, students were encouraged to do QTs and we were shown how to do it.  A pity it isn’t re-inforced in a lot of fellowships.

Recently I’ve been getting back into them and have made some very helpful, albeit dramatic, changes to the way that I do them.  Rather than squeezing in the Bible when I can (like on the train after a long day at work when I’m feeling knackered and can only keep the eyelids open with toothpicks and have the enthusiasm of a salted slug).  These are things that I have found helpful (no hard an fast rules, just helpful suggestions) and have dramatically re-shaped the way I connect with God.  You can see most of them in the picture to the left, and each one has a good reason for being there:

  1. Choose a quiet location – as quiet as possible- where there are no distractions.  Cafes, generally no because there are people and conversations about.  On the train, maybe not.  Maybe sit in a park or a bench somewhere where you can sit and just take in the goodness of God’s creation.  Not a place close to work or where they are others who may recognise you and interrupt.  I sometimes like to connect with God at home, but with it being so messy even when the kids are out and there’s no noise, my mind wanders.
  2. Give the time completely to God.  Believe it or not, if you switch the phone off and heaven forbid if you lose it and don’t allow it to intrude your life, the world will not fall apart!  Shocking, I know.  Tell Facebook to go away …  (Consider: If the prophet Daniel, a very busy, high-paid administrator of the pagan king Nebuchadnezzer could face Jerusalem 3 times a day and turn off his iPhone to connect with his Maker, is it really not a possibility for you and I?)  This is the same God who connected with the figureheads of the Bible (Moses, Elijah, David, Solomon, Abraham, Adam and Eve, Isaiah, Jesus, Holy Spirit, the apostles) as well as many martyrs (Cranmer, Jonathan Edwards, George Mueller, Bunyan, Spurgeon, etc) don’t you think he wouldn’t want to talk to the likes of you and I?  So talk!
  3. Ask God how He made the mountains and not just the usual religious stuff.  Be prepared to talk about anything and everything and make it real.  Kids like to ask their dads about their work.  If a kid has a dad who is a television producer, he may say, “Dad, how do you get the images from the camera onto the TV?”  So ask God the cool, funky stuff.  “So, how did you send manna from heaven?  Could I try some?” or  “Man!  (Even though God isn’t.)  How on earth did you manage to be so kind to that screwball Balaam in the book of Numbers?” or “What did it look like when the Roman Empire fell?”  It’s important in all this to be respectful and presume not to take liberties or make it the only prayers, but this kind of thing is natural and has its place.  Even if you don’t get an answer, it’s so cool to ask!
  4. Read the Scriptures and pray through them.  LOTS can be said about this, but to read Scripture and to apprehend it- not merely comprehend it- by personalising, owning, and emotionally engaging with it.  The Bible is God’s perspective on yourself and you’ll need that because our hearts are sick (Jer. 17:9) and often don’t even understand themselves.  So being God-centred is critical.  Don’t allow emotions or even your reasoning skills, as sharp as they are, to deceive because they can (Prov. 3:5-6).  Even the most seasoned and well-experienced ministry workers get things wrong (e.g. Billy Graham) so don’t kid yourself; get yourself in it and enjoy it!  And even if it is a challenging part of Scripture like Leviticus and Deuteronomy (which can feel like watching wet paint dry), ask God to keep you going and reveal His life-changing insights.  After all, the Torah (‘legal’ books of the Bible) are actually wisdom lit (Deut. 4:6).  As I discovered, even the genealogical lists of the Bible can reveal the most surprising insights about God’s character!  Use the Psalms as a model to pray through: I have never been disappointed in doing so!  
  5. Pour your heart out to God.  It says it right there in Psalm 62:8 (“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us”).  Engaging with God is not (meant to be) purely intellectual, and if it is for you then you need a re-evaluation.  We’re not robots or fembots: we’re people and people have emotions which are core parts of their humanity.  Use them as a means of connecting with God and if you need help doing it, Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotions are just what the Good Doctor ordered.  Bring everything to Him: good, bad, ugly, beautiful, terrifying, and name it for what it is.  Don’t know what to say to God?  Tell Him.  Angry with God, maybe even hate Him?  Tell Him.  Be careful how you speak and don’t take liberties or be profane, but be frank and don’t hide anything.  Why shouldn’t you?  He knows it anyway but wants to hear it from you and have a relationship.  And if we don’t tell Him about the stuff in our lives, how can He help or heal if we don’t TELL Him?
  6. Remember that in prayer God will talk back!  He doesn’t just sit and listen as Dr. Freud might, nodding his head and umm-ing and aah-ing.  So let your words be measured (Ecclesiastes 5:1-3) and don’t ramble.  As I have learned the painful way, God is untamable.  He’s the wild God and trying to domesticate Him and assuming about Him will only make Him wilder, in a way.  So be prepared.  And it may be a surprising answer.  If we pray vengeance against another, be careful because He may actually answer the prayer, so it’s wise to be careful circumspect about what we ask for.  If something is spoken to your mind during prayer, test the spirits and make sure it really is God speaking.  Test whatever you hear with the Word.  Yet God will and does speak to His people as we would with our everyday friend so expect and open up to it, as disorienting as that can often be (Ex. 33:11).

As I have in my picture, I like to make QTs interesting and fully engage myself.  I don’t use all the things all the time, but they help:

  1. I have my Bible (NKJV or ESV), with pen and highlighter to note anything that really strikes me.
  2. I have a small brown notebook to jot down anything that God has to say to me.  When I look back on it, it’s amazing what He has been saying and doing: He never misses a thing.  I also like to write down prayer points and answered prayer.  That REALLY opened my eyes to the power of prayer in both small and big things!  I also jot down powerful stuff that is spoken to me in church.
  3. In my black notebook (under the small brown one) I have written down some awesome songs and hymns that I have come to love and speak to my heart, such as Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah and Count Your Blessings.  I also have found and posted them here on this blog so I can listen to them if I’m away from home.  They open my heart and speak truth into it and gives me models of how to engage with God because, like a sheep, I’m prone to forget.
  4. I draw pictures with crayons and coloured pencils!  I also underline and highlight in my Bible with these coloured tools, in order to bring the Word alive.  I portray visually and artistically what God has been showing me which helps me to apprehend, own, and emote His Word.  In this picture I drew as many things that I could of Hebrew Bible stories, like the building of the temple and the Yam Suph (Red Sea) crossing.  I sometimes even draw pictures of God loving me and being with my family.  When I look back on them they have a funny way of speaking to my heart and keeping me safe.  I don’t quite know why, but that’s ok  ><
  5. A cup of tea!  Twinings is 10/10.

I wanted to share these things because they have helped me a lot and they can probably help others.  I like to get creative with prayer because they help me to be real and to engage deeply with God, but when doing so I keep in mind that I need to speak with God on His terms.  May it help you, reader  

God bless, Pastor Haydn. ^^

Jesus Christ & our fear of abandonment (Psalm 22 Bible study)

Abandonment is one thing that human beings are absolutely terrified of, and that’s because we are made in God’s image, and therefore designed for relationship with Him and one another.  It can occur when a parent leaves home, a death happens, or a divorce.  It can result in work-a-holism, obsessive behaviour, addiction, fearful attachment, and anger.  God understands that, and Jesus does too.

Jesus Christ experienced abandonment on the cross when God the Father put all His wrath for sin on Jesus.  Why?  Because every man, woman, and child has rebelled against God – and therefore deserves His anger for that disobedience.  That consequence is Hell, where people are abandoned by God forever.  Yet Jesus experienced abandonment on the cross 2,000 years ago so that those who trust in Him will not experience Hell, but have friendship with God forever.  It also means that when Christians experience sorrow, betrayal, and abandonment, that Jesus Christ completely sympathises.  Here is a Bible study that I went through with my church today on this subject, based on Psalm 22 and Matthew 27-28: Psalm 22 Bible Study

God bless, Pastor Haydn.