home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > JUNE 3rd > UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY

UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY

UNPACKING CHRISTIANITY

I have a thing for bags. Not shopping bags or lady’s handbags, but manly bags – functional bags. A few years back I became fed-up with the number of bags I was wearing-out, patching-up and hoping that I could extend their lives a little longer, only to accept the fact that despite all of my attempts, I had to throw them out. It was then that I made a life-changing decision. I decided that would stop buying bags and begin to buy luggage that was guaranteed to last. Since that moment, I have never had to throw out a bag or a case. As you could imagine this required a huge change in what I was prepared to spend on luggage. But the reason I value good luggage is not because I like carrying or wheeling bags and cases around — it’s because the right luggage enables the right things to be packed for the right journey. This is how I see Christianity. It is a journey because it requires packing our life luggage and following Christ as we walk with Him. If we were to unpack this life luggage we would find three essential items, and this what we will discover now as we unpack Christianity.

¶ Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught,
abounding in thanksgiving.
Colossians 2:6-7

PACKING FOR THE JOURNEY WITH CHRIST

The Bible describes following Christ as a “walk” (Col. 2:6). It is a journey, a life-long journey. There are many people in our church who enjoy going on long hikes. Some of these adventurous people introduced Kim to the joys of bushwalking for days on end through forests, along rivers, through streams, up steep hills, across inlets in small row-boats to continue walking through the bush on the other side. After Kim had tasted of the joys of walking through the gorgeous Tasmanian outdoors, she insisted that I join with her in a walk from Melaleuca to Cockle Creek so that I too could become enraptured by the incomparable pleasures of strolling in the sunshine through the Tasmanian countryside.

To go on this stroll from Melaleuca to Cockle Creek would require proper walking boots, gaters, a raincoat, a walking pole, and a hiking backpack, Kim said. But then, she explained, we would also need to pack certain things to make our journey possible. Possible? Yes, possible. We would need to pack food, a tent for shelter, and some emergency supplies. Emergency supplies? I wondered. Why would anyone going on a little stroll through the Tasmanian bush need emergency supplies?

To commence this journey required a small plane trip. We were dropped off at Melaleuca (about as south-west as you can in Tasmania). We unloaded our packs from the plane and set out. I discovered that this was not a stroll, nor was it an overnight stroll. This journey usually takes 5 – 7 days. It involved walking over the Ironbound Range and traversing through some very muddy rough bush. Now that I think about, this journey has many similarities to our journey through life. And, as Kim said, we really did need our hiking backpacks. And, as Kim said, we also really did need to pack the three essential items in our backpacks to make the journey possible. This also is just like being a Christian, because being a Christian is not merely an event, or even a moment, it is a journey that requires packing our ‘life bag’ appropriately.

¶ Beloved, it is a faithful thing you do in all your efforts for these brothers,
strangers as they are, who testified to your love before the church.
You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God.
3John 5-6

 

THE THREE ESSENTIAL ITEMS TO PACK FOR YOUR JOURNEY WITH CHRIST

Food. Emergency communication. Shelter.

Following Christ is a journey, an adventure, a trek. It’s a journey that comes with a map, sign-posts, and travelling companions. It’s journey that comes with a complimentary “hiking backpack”. Into this spiritual hiking backpack you need to pack your inexhaustible food supply: God’s Word. The new Christian feeds on the goodness of God’s Word in the same way that a newborn baby feeds on his or her mother’s milk (1Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12, 14; 1Peter 2:2). Packing the Word of God into your pack involves reading, listening, pondering, study, and applying. It is in the learning to apply it that the growing believer begins to enjoy the “solid food” of the Bible.

Into this spiritual hiking backpack you need to pack your communication device. The new and growing believer discovers that they are never alone. They discover that they can talk with their Creator. While non-believers mistakenly think of prayer as the way to control their ‘gods’, the growing believer comes to understand that prayer is talking with the One who has saved and adopted them into His family. Whenever I prepare a couple for marriage, the first and main thing that we work on together is communication. It is in communication that develop intimacy and trust. On the journey with Christ throughout your life you will grow closer to Him by learning to pray. You discover that prayer is not giving God a list of demands, but a means by which you can pour your heart out to Him just as you would with any person you have committed your life to and are increasingly becoming transparent with.    

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
¶ “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do,
for they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.”
Matthew 6:6-9

Into this spiritual hiking backpack you need to pack your shelter. God has provided shelter for each of His children. It is the local church — their new family. It is in the church that every growing believer finds that they are welcomed, accepted, and belong. It is not just the house of God it is the believer’s spiritual home. God plants His people in a spiritual home where they can be sheltered, protected, nurtured, and nourished. When Jesus told His disciples of His mission to save people from eternal lostness, He described those whom He would save as being formed into His church. The local church is what every growing believer belongs to and makes a priority in their life.

And He [the Father] put all things under His [the Son] feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church…
so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities
in the heavenly places…to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 1:22; 3:10, 21

Over the next few Sunday evenings I hope to unpack and explain these spiritual backpack items to several growing Christians. It is my hope that you will join with me and our team to welcome people into our church family and show them their spiritual backpacks and what Christ has put inside each of them. We kick off this Sunday night with a welcome and introductory dinner, then the following three Sunday nights we will ‘unpack’ Christianity together. I hope that you will be able to sit across the table, enjoy some light supper, and be an encouragement to those who are just starting out on their journey with Christ.

 

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

1 Comment

  1. Marko

    Well done team Kim!
    The hike would have taken longer by Kim dragging baggage along.
    Hope you all got back safely.
    Not for the faint hearted, well done to you all.
    Regards and God bless you all.

    Reply

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PENTECOSTALISM, THE TWO SIDES OF REVIVAL

home > Pastor's Desk > 2024 >June 21st > PENTECOSTALISM, THE SIDES OF REVIVAL Pentecostalism began with a move of God - a revival. This happened on a Jewish Festival called the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1). This was when the Holy Spirit was given and poured...

MY BIGGEST BURDENS

A burden is something that weighs on you. You could be burdened emotionally because a relationship that is weighing on you. You could be burdened psychologically because of the weight of a looming deadline. You could be burdened spiritually because of the weight of guilt you are carrying. You could be burdened physically because of your weight and depleted strength. We all carry burdens. There are seasons in our lives where some burdens a big and you do not feel that you will be able to bear up under the enormous pressure you are under. Those seasons will pass. For those in leadership there is the constant burden of the weight of responsibility that must be carried. (Have you ever noticed what this kind burden bearing does physically to a President or Prime Minister over their term in office?) In the Bible we read that GOD actually gives people burdens so that they become stronger, wealthier, happier, and more productive. These types of burdens always involve caring for others. (Have you ever considered why Jesus was sweating great drops of blood as He was praying just before He went to the Cross via His hours of humiliating pummelling, beating, scourging, hair-pulling, and mockery?) I want to share you with you why I am now carrying an enormous burden that I would consider that biggest burden I have ever had to carry. I do so in the hope that this might help you to bear your burdens with greatest expertise and joy. Yes, joy.

HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR RELATIONSHIP SKILLS

This year we have been laying a foundation for knowing God and then each Sunday building upon it. Throughout June we are focusing on how knowing God enables us to find our joy in Him and consequently to discover that He enables us to find joy in our relationships with others. But sadly, for many people who have vowed to love, serve, and follow Jesus, this has not always been easy to do. This is why the current sub-theme of humility is critically important if someone desires to truly experience joy in each of their various relationships with others. 

KNOWING GOD

In the past few months, we have been hearing in Church and also by reading the Pastor’s Desks that through the Psalms and by the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, we can know God more. The Psalms show God as our Shepherd, God’s character is unchanging, we can be still and know Him, and that He is poetic. The Fruit of the Spirit reminds us that God is faithful, gentle and kind, and that we need to stay close to Him in the same way a baby gets nutrients from its mother through the umbilical cord. Knowing these things, we can become more like God as He helps us outwork His character in our lives. Philippians 3:10 challenged me in this regard some time ago.

RULES RULES AND MORE RULES

What comes to mind when you hear the word Rules? For some, it is a welcome relief to all the chaos surrounding us. Rules can provide comfort, safety, stability, predictability and protection. But for many others, as soon as you hear the word rules, it causes you to sigh loudly, followed by the instant urge to do the opposite. It can cause an immense sense of frustration along with that feeling of being boxed or caged in. Then some rules are plain silly as they make no sense, or there appears to be no apparent reason for why the rule/s exists in the first place. 

The Vine and the Umbilical Cord: Life, Abiding and Bearing FruitThe Vine and the Umbilical Cord: Life, Abiding and Bearing Fruit

Jesus’ allegory in John 15:1-17 of the vine and the branches provides a beautiful picture of the intimate and living relationship available to those who would abide in Him, the true Vine; and it illustrates how naturally the Holy Spirit is able to produce fruit in the lives of those who are willing to be branches abiding in the vine.

Knowing God Through The Fruit Of The Spirit

I’m sure you can picture an occasion where food delicacies are served and someone is there who has lost all sense of decorum to the point of being rude to get to the food before others and is unable or unwilling to engage in any level of conversation for the sake of finding the choicest of foods. Maybe that was you or me on occasions. Or an All You Can Eat challenge restaurant. It is a picture of complete lack of self-restraint (especially if Homer Simpson is involved). Whilst we are away, I am looking forward to visiting a town (Kenilworth) with a bakery tourist attraction that sells 1kg doughnuts. I’m not sure what will happen there, but I can imagine many have risen to a challenge.

WHAT CHARMING BETRAYERS DESERVE ACCORDING TO THE PSALM OF KING DAVID, NUMBER 55

Australia is now grappling with a national crisis — the violent abuse of women by men. Every four days in Australia a woman is being murdered [Source]. The sad probability is that she was murdered by “a current or former intimate partner” [Source]. But added to this alarming statistic is the even greater and more horrifying statistic of number of women who are experiencing abuse – physical; sexual; verbal; financial; psychological – daily. In fact, it is so prevalent that most people working in this arena know that most domestic abuse incidents in Australia are not reported. Abuse is oppression. And since the Bible is so clear and consistent in its condemnation of oppression of the vulnerable you would naturally assume that this national crisis was being thundered and denounced as a great evil from the majority of pulpits around our country at the moment. This assumption is further reinforced by the guesstimate that one-in-four women in every Australian church is regularly abused in some way by a man. But I suspect that it is not.

KNOWING GOD THROUGH PSALM 23

My cat, Lola, had a beautiful, fluffy, soft coat. I had her for 13 years so I knew her very well. She loved a cuddle and snuggling at night sleeping in the crook of my arm. She loved me but with others she could be a rascal, hissing or swiping her claws. She never scoffed her food but was a grazer. It was common to hear her crunching her biscuits for a midnight snack and she loved ice cream. She loved hiding in cardboard boxes or in the pantry. She particularly hated the car evidenced by her continual mournful meowing til she got out. As I knew her, she also knew me. She knew I would feed her and give her pats or cuddles. When I called her she knew my soft voice, my touch, my smell. She knew my growly voice when she had done the wrong thing. When I’d take her to the vet she would be still in my arms as the vet examined her and vaccinated her. If she was injured or sick I would look after her.

KNOWING GOD THROUGH PSALM 22

The Bible is an amazing book. As we look through the book of Psalms we can so unbelievably clearly see God at work. And also most poignantly, this Psalm – Psalm 22 – prophetically points to, and closely mirrors Jesus and the events of the cross mentioned in the New Testament. This Psalm is well over 1000 years prior to Jesus.There are some well known passages of Scripture that stand out as being prophetic promises of the Messiah. These prophetic words show us that God is Omniscient; He knows everything. The first Messianic prophecy shows that the seed of the woman would eventually defeat the devil.