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


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



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,


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.


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Perhaps I was a little unfair to this gentleman though, because it is a well established fact that all men are born with selective hearing (as every wife can testify to) and perhaps this may sometimes spill over into incidents such as the one I just recounted(?). But I also suspect that some women have a similar deficiency.

A few years ago the kids and I were a little concerned about Kim’s hearing difficulties. As it turned out, one day outside a shopping centre that we had just arrived at, there was a government sponsored mobile hearing clinic. We urged the reluctant Kim to go in and have her hearing checked. Much to the utter shock of myself and our children the clinician told Kim that she had “perfect hearing”! This then proved that even women may be able to imitate the innate ability of a man to produce selective hearing 🙂 Therefore, there is a high likelihood that both men and women are equally subject to hearing difficulties.

The problem with any hearing difficulties is that it inevitably leads to the far more serious problem of misunderstanding. Misunderstanding is at the heart of nearly every relationship problem that anyone will ever face. Misunderstandings due to mis-hearing or mis-communication frequently leads to disputes that if not handled correctly, which it is mostly not, is likely to lead to relationship breakdowns. But there is a different – almost secretive – way to deal with misunderstandings. Let me explain by using several pictures that will make my point. 


Mark Lowry is normally comedic. But his now classic Christmas song is no joke! It presents baby Jesus as the eternal God the Son, the creator of heaven and earth, the Saviour of the world, the Redeemer of all humankind who turn to Him, the all-conquering Lamb of God, and the Great Judge of all people, the I AM. The event of His miraculous conception is known as the incarnation (God becoming human). But the incarnation was not Jesus the Christ’s first entrance into our world. In fact, it is as though He felt a divine right to enter our world any time He chose. These various appearances of Jesus prior to His incarnation are referred to as theophanies (appearances of God) or more particularly as Christophanies (appearances of God the Son). I want to highlight one of these in particular…


We have all seen parents abruptly terminate conversations with other adults to keep an eye on their children. Children can wander about easily. They could get involved in acts that are detrimental to themselves. Parental instincts, often reflected more in the mother, is one of those protective gifts that ensures children are kept safe.

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 6 – The deGorified Newborn The ReGlorified Lamb of God

One of my favourite stories of concealed identity hiding in plain sight is from Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, Les Miserables, where the escaped convict, Jean Valjean, is pursued for years by now retired Inspector Javert. As it turns out Jean Valjean, who had changed his name to M. Madeleine has now become a successful business man and the Mayor of Toulon. Javert arrives in Toulon and is immediately recognised by Valjean. But Javert does not recognise the now clean-shaven, genteel aristocratic Mayor of Toulon as his nemesis. But when he observes the compassion of M. Madeleine he recalls the time in prison when Jean Valjean had also displayed a similar extraordinary compassion for unfortunate fellow prisoners. The more he observed such acts of kindness and generosity from M. Madeleine the more Javert became convinced of the true identity of Madeleine. There is something about this idea of concealed identity that comes from the story of Christ. The prophet Isaiah foretold that when the Servant of the LORD would appear He would be largely unrecognised – there would be no form, no beauty, that we would desire Him (Isa. 53:2). But how on earth was this possible? How in God’s Name  could those who were created by Him in His image not recognise Him for who He was? The answer to this great puzzle lies in one word: the kenosis.


Andrew, on occasions, used to wistfully say, “You know, all I really want is…” then he would say some ephemeral pleasure, like ‘a drink of coke’, or ‘quiet’, or ‘to get something finished’. So, one day I decided to ensure that his greatest desire (‘all I really want’) was met. This time all he ever wanted was a coffee, so I bounced up and brought him the best cup of coffee I could make and added a little yummy treat to compliment it. A few days later he once again said, “All I really want…” and I interrupted to finish his sentence for him … “was the cup of coffee that I was able to make for you the other day. I bet it was the best ever. I’m so glad I could meet that greatest desire you have.” He never said, ‘All I really want’ again!


THE LORDSHIP of JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 5 – He is the Creator of Heaven & Earth and all things Visible and Invisible
While the pagan religions in the days of the patriarchs, judges, and kings of Israel, all conceived of their gods as territorial, the God of Israel, Yeshua, declared that He was the Creator of all things and that He was Lord of Heaven and Earth. And He still is.

Freedom in Christ encompasses Freedom FROM and Freedom FOR

God offers freedom to those who turn to Him in faith, and this, as Pastor Andrew says, deserves a Toyota jump. It is worth celebrating. The freedom the New Testament speaks of is not just any old freedom. In Romans 8:21 Paul speaks of ‘the glorious freedom of God’s children’ (NET). In the same way you might savour a piece of chocolate as it slowly melts in your mouth, allow your spirit to savour the meaning of the freedom that is yours in Christ in all its richness. This single word freedom is densely packed with meaning, and we benefit from taking time to unpack just a little of what it means for believers.


Throughout the Old Testament, God made certain promises to the patriarchs (Abraham, Issac, and Jacob/Israel) that their descendants, the nation of Israel, longed to see fulfilled. These promises centred on having a holy Homeland and a Messiah. Over the centuries that followed their expulsion from their Land which sent them into exile into Babylon initially and then into Persia, the Israelites became known as Jews. Their expectations of how these divine promises would be fulfilled became greatly embellished with powerful military overtones.

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST, Chapter 3 – Before He was Incarnate, He was the Eternal LBefore He was Incarnate, He was the Eternal Lordord

For those unfamiliar with the story of the Bible who may be seeking to remedy that unfamiliarity, I would recommend that they start reading in the New Testament. It is there that they will be introduced immediately to Jesus who is the central character of the whole Bible. For many novice readers of the Bible who then attempt to read the Old Testament of the Bible (its first 39 books), it initially seems like they are reading a completely unrelated story which seems to describe a completely different God. But with a little patience and persistence the reader will begin to suspect that this is not a different story but is in fact the prequel to the New Testament. Then a strange supernatural thing happens as they continue to become acquainted with the lives of the patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets, as these characters interact with enemies, giants, angels, strange heavenly beings, and GOD Himself. The reader begins to see in a similar way to what a photographer could not previously see clearly until his camera’s focus was adjusted to make the picture clear — the GOD who created, acted, spoke and judged, frequently referred to Himself as ‘us’, ‘we’, ‘our’, and at times seemed to have conversations with divine characters identified as ‘the LORD’ and ‘Me’ and ‘His Spirit’ (Isa. 48:16). And this all begins to sound very reminiscent of the GOD described in the New Testament as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. With a growing knowledge of the Bible and hunger to understand it, the follower of Christ discovers that literally for thousands of years prior to this day there have been many many others who have also walked the journey of discovery through the mysterious pages of the Bible and have each made a startling discovery about the human Jesus’ pre-existence throughout the pages of the Old Testament.


The One who spoke the world into existence entered materially into His World and “split time in half”. He came to rescue the world because a great betrayal occurred. One of His chief agents was filled with self-deception and conceited envy and manipulated a serpent to his bidding in destroying the very last and highest of the Lord’s “very good” creation. Disappointingly she fell for it – and her husband who supposed to protect her failed in his most basic of responsibilities. Their fall from innocence and into grace plunged that was momentarily and formerly under their vice-regency. The world had now gone rogue. When the Eternal Son of God submitted to His co-LORD, the Holy Spirit placed Him into a virgin’s womb by uniting his consciousness and sinless essence with the ovum of this young virgin. In doing so, Immanuel relinquished none of His sovereign power or prerogatives but chose to lay aside His glory and become fully human. And for those who came to recognise who He actually was, it ever caused them to fall down at His feet in adoration, or shrink back from Him in terror. The side-effect of those who who adored him was a new ability to sleep. If you have trouble sleeping because of worries, you too can discover how an acquaintance with the Lordship of Jesus the Christ can also help you to sleep better.