Category Archives: Wholeness

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.

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Time for Healing, Tears, and Deliverance

During this last week, I spent two days at a healing retreat at Ellel Ministries just outside Sydney, to get some help and encouragement for healing.  I have struggled for many a year with emotional wounds, anger, bitterness, unmet needs, besetting sins and all manner of things that happened during my years of upbringing.  These roots have brought to me little more than misery, sin, addiction, loneliness, and major blockages to intimacy with God and His blessings.

In many ways I didn’t really need the teaching component that I was exposed to Ellel, as I have been learning about these matters with my Christian therapist.  However, it was great to be around other people who understand my need for healing and wholeness and have others to pray for me, gently goad me where I needed to be pushed, and even give me the opportunity to physically vent my anger and invite God to heal me with His fatherly heart.  I was able to even forgive, in part, those who’ve abused me.  I wept a LOT of tears, and continue to do so even after returning home.  After a day and a half of Ellel, I dearly wanted to stay for longer and benefit more from it.

[There is] a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance ~ Ecclesiastes 3:4.

I have been surprised to see that the Bible says a lot about healing and the place of emotions; surprisingly, even anger is OK when it comes from the right place and is used for godly purposes.  Here are some biblical references to healing to think through:

This is just a sample of what the Bible teaches about healing and it only scratches the surface.  I do not seek here to defend healing because it does happen, and have seen it in my own circumstances, but I have listed those references here so others can learn from them.  With emotional wounding, like what I’ve gone through, it is through heartfelt, honest prayer that allows God to enter in and restore what was broken.  This kind of healing is generally shunned in the church and many are downright fearful of it, because it means that God is in control.  Many, like myself, were told not to feel our emotions (especially anger, because that’s “Not godly”) but actually things are not like that.  In a healing ministry like this, feelings of anger can be safely expressed and lead to healing.  And with God in it all, the truth of His revelation becomes more true for me personally, as I am set free of judgementalism, bitterness, vengefulness, spite, and sin.  No man can presume to be close to God with simmering anger and expect the past to just ‘melt away’ – it must be dealt with.

I would warmly encourage others to consider going on such a healing journey as well.  The following books can really be of help:

  • The Healing Journey, by Thom Gardner;
  • Fathered by God, by John Eldredge;
  • The Papa Prayer, by Larry Crabb;
  • The Father Heart of God, by Floyd McClung;
  • Who I Am in Christ, by Neil T. Anderson;
  • Healing the Wounded Heart, by Thom Gardner;
  • Come to Papa: Encountering the Father That Jesus Knew, by Gary Wiens.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the healing retreat and learned the freedom of weeping tears, and how God honours a weeping, wounded heart that seeks for Him.  We’re told in Psalm 34:18 that “Yahweh is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit“, and that He comforts those who experience affliction (2 Corinth. 1:3-5).  I actually look forward to weeping out my pain because it means I then get to the other side (and I always do, because God is in it) and watch the blessings flow from it.  And I love more than anything to be around others who have gone through the same! I also get to ‘train up’ my wife, kids, and church to do the same.  It baffles me as to why Bible seminaries don’t train their students on how to do this kind of stuff!  Here are some lovely pictures about tears and Jesus’ love:

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28 January 2018 Pastor Haydn’s Sermon – Spiritual Warfare: Overcoming Satan

Here is my sermon about overcoming our enemy Satan after becoming Christian.  Even after we come to faith, we have an enemy who is trying relentlessly to take us back into his domain and we must not be unaware of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11).  Satan wants us not to grow strong in Jesus because if that happens, we become a threat to him.  But we have every weapon at our disposal to defeat him (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).  The readings were Ephesians 6:10-20 and Joshua 7:1-15.

During my sermon, I referred to a list of statements called Who I am in Christ.  These I have reproduced below, and they were put together by Neil T. Anderson:

Who I Am in Christ

I am Accepted and Complete in Christ

  • I am God’s child (John 1:12)
  • I am Jesus’ friend (John 15:16)
  • I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
  • I am united with the Lord and one with Him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17)
  • I have been bought for a price: I belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:20)
  • I am a member of Jesus’ body (1 Corinthians 12:27)
  • I am a saint (Ephesians 1:1)
  • I have been adopted as God’s child (Ephesians 1:5)
  • I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18)
  • I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins (Colossians 1:14)
  • I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)

 

I am Secure in Christ

  • I am free forever from condemnation (Romans 8:1-2)
  • I am assured that all things work together for my good (Romans 8:28)
  • I am free from any condemning charges against me (Romans 8:33-34)
  • I cannot be separated from God’s love or abandoned by Him (Romans 8:35)
  • I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God (2 Corinthians 1:21)
  • I am hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3)
  • I am confident that the good work which God has begun in me will one day reach completion and perfection (Philippians 1:16)
  • I am a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20)
  • I have not been given a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)
  • I can find grace and mercy in times of need (Hebrews 4:16)
  • I am born of God the evil one cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)

 

I am Significant in Christ

  • I am the salt and the light of the Earth (Matthew 5:13-14)
  • I am a branch of the True Vine, a channel of His life (John 15:1,5)
  • I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16)
  • I am a personal witness of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8)
  • I am God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16)
  • I am a minister of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)
  • I am God’s co-worker (2 Corinthians 6:1)
  • I am seated with Jesus in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6)
  • I am God’s workmanship and handiwork (Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 139:13-16)
  • I can approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3:12)
  • I can do all things through Jesus who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)

(Taken from ‘Living Free in Christ’ by Neil Anderson.)

Prayer of Dedication:  Oh Heavenly Father, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden, please cleanse my heart and thoughts by the inpouring of your Holy Spirit, that every thought and word of mine may proceed from You, and in You, and be perfectly completed, through Jesus Christ my Lord.  Amen.

To be a Quaking Christian

Throughout my recent summer ‘holidays’, I began preparing for my upcoming sermon series on the New Testament letter to the Thessalonians.  In the process, I came across two verses that really stuck out at me:

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ – 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV)

But on this one will I look:  on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word – Isaiah 66:2.

The first one struck me because it is a prayer of encouragement for the whole church to be one with God in ALL things: body, spirit, and soul.  Much of Christianity today, especially in Sydney, there is a conservative Reformed evangelicalism that prides itself on knowing about God rather than knowing (and being known) by Him.  For many Reformed Christians, the Holy Trinity is Father, Son, and Holy Bible, rather than Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! Many such churches certainly do not emphasise walking in wholeness of body, soul, and spirit; for many, the spirit and soul may be seeking to walk with God, but the body and mind are somewhere else altogether.  Gradually, that actually prevents the spirit and soul from being completely sanctified by the Holy Spirit, much like a man’s hands and head cannot move away if he has a foot fastened to a brick tower. 

This verse struck me because I need – really need – to have more of a walk with God which has me uniting all three of these things together.  99% of the church does too.  In his book to student pastors, ‘Lectures to My Students’, CH Spurgeon once wrote, “Sacerdotis Christi os, mens, manusque concordent” – [which means] a servant of Christ should have his tongue, heart, and hand agree”. (Chapter: The Minister’s Self-Watch).  And the Christian walk is just that: seeking to have absolutely every part of himself united and knitted together with Christ, for Christ, so that we give God ‘access to all areas’ of life.

That is where, interestingly, Isaiah 66:2 comes into play.  The verse, if you notice, does not say, “But on this one will I look: on him who … reads My word “.  Many people know the Word of God – even Satan does, as did those who killed Jesus – and yet do not change one bit from it.  They can quote it, use it for their own purposes, use it for evil purposes, disobey it, mock it, dilute it, add to it, subtract from it, put words in God’s mouth through selective reading, and attack those who live by it.  But reading it, per se, does not change a man. 

At issue for God in Isaiah is what our attitude is when we read His Word, not merely the crude reading of it.  The reading of God’s truth is to be accompanied with godly fear (trembling).  We fear God because He is the powerful all-seeing, all-knowing God who will one day judge all souls for both the good and the bad that they have done (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).  The God behind the book has the power to cast into hell those who disobey His good and loving Word.  They know and trust that God’s Word is good and is not to be mocked or twisted (Isaiah 5:20-21) – and so they tremble at it. This is probably the basis of Jesus’ prayer for His disciples in John 17:17, in His farewell discourse: Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

At the end of all time, Revelation tells us that the Lamb will overcome [the powers of evil] … and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful” (17:14).  Later, in chapter 19, the saints in heaven proclaim: Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”  And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints (19:7-8).  What will define Christians at the end of all time and heaven are their acts of obedience towards God. 

This is a shock in today’s world because there are many in the church who don’t like this.  They think it too ‘strict’ and emphasise salvation divorced from obedience post-salvation.  They often do this by emphasising an “uber-grace” message of Once-Saved-Always-Saved, so that all you need do to be saved is confess Jesus as Lord but never evidence that salvation with a changed life.  It’s like being married, but still acting like you’re single.  Such people like to think you can walk up to a wedding banquet in the White House in beggars’ clothes, as you burn the curtains with cigarettes and spoil the carpet with red wine.  But according to Isaiah 66:2 and Revelation, it’s not those who read the Word and merely call upon Jesus as Lord and Saviour who get to heaven and receive God’s blessings – it’s those who tremble at His Word in reverence and demonstrate all that in obedience.  God saves people to make them holy and presentable to Him, not to keep provoking His displeasure by continuing to live in sin.

This continues to amaze me because there are parts of me that still don’t quite grasp this and disbelieve.  But God wants all of me (body, mind, heart, will, spirit, soul, etc) to be one with Him and presentable on the Last Day.  I can’t be ‘all good’ with God a little bit here and a little bit there, like a dissembled jigsaw puzzle, and ‘not good’ in other aspects.  The Israelites of Isaiah’s day tried it, and failed – and it will always do so.  Genuine faith cannot be faked or half-baked, and Isaiah 66:2 gives the impetus for having such a faith – it’s to have a humble, fearful disposition that has been cultivated over time by obedience and a trust in the goodness of the God who wrote the Holy Scriptures. 

This, then, is my New Year’s resolution: to have more of me in more complete submission to God in body, soul, and mind, and to tremble in loving, trusting fear of my God and Saviour.