The Measure of a Man

Measure of a Man

What does it really mean to be a man? 

Welcome to a new series.

And by this blog title, we do not refer to the physical measures of a man. We are not talking metric and imperial units here. Professional athletes do not get a free pass. We are asking one question: What is a real man? What would be the increments on the measuring stick that sizes up a real man?

A quick disclaimer to all the women reading this: please do not feel undervalued. Yes, this series is directed at men. But a massive reason behind that is because of one thing: I am convinced that one of the biggest problems in the world is our men. However, I take it that many of the points I will make are valuable for both genders. So feel welcome.

And if you are game, keep reading.

Ultimately, the measure of all men is Jesus Christ. This is the ultimate premise behind every post in this series. Jesus Christ is the standard. The straps of his sandles I, and every man that has or ever will be, are unworthy to untie. And he came to set every man and woman free from his and her failures and fallings short. Therefore, we look to Jesus.

It is fitting, therefore, that we are going to work by an acrostic word. STRAP. Each letter stands for something that I characterise as being a true hallmark of a real man. And to do that – we are going to privilege the voice of men. And I’m not just talking males. From now on, when we refer to a man, we are talking about a man. A real man.

Another quick disclaimer: I by no means consider myself a model of any of these qualities. Hear this. It is precisely as a result of my own failure and frustration that I was forced to consider what it takes to be a real man. So. Disclaimer over. Let’s get into it.

Time to man up.

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One Man with God

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Hey crew.

I’m doing something a little different with this one. Most of you would be familiar with my writing about the Bible. But a majority of you know nothing about me. Nothing about my story. Nothing about my life. Nothing about how I got to this point in history.

And I’ve got no problems with that. At all.

This blog exists to make much of God. It is the very fabric of this whole thing. I have no higher goal or prayer. That through these words of mine, you would come to know God more. That these words would simply compel and drive you further into God’s word. 

Not mine.

So. Working off the premise that God is glorified in our weakness. I want to do something a little bit different. I want to share with you a story from my life. It’s about a man I hardly knew. I never even got his name. But looking back, I realise how important this man’s actions were in my life. And how he challenged me without him even realising it.

Quick clarification necessary: I have always considered myself a Christian. And tons of awesome Christian men and women have come alongside me over the years. Pastors. Teachers. Grandparents. Friends. The best parents in the world. But it was the actions of a man I hardly knew that challenged me to get baptised.

Mystery set up. Let’s get into it.

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The Word of God (II)

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“The word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8)

Part 2 in my life-long series.

This post works off one simple premise: God’s word is powerful. And if you don’t believe me, let me just discredit your objections in advance. I’ll just throw some truth your way:

“The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born” (Psalm 33:6). We know a God who “calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17). It was “at the blast of his breath, that the bottom of the earth could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare” (2 Samuel 22:16).

God is “sustaining all things by the power of his word” (Hebrews 1:3). The hum of the generator powering the whole universe is every word that the comes from the mouth of God. And we have at our disposal this same word of God, that which is “living and active, sharper than a two edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). Knowing that “all scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and “spoken that our joy may be full” (John 15:11).

God’s word sits on a shelf. And he intendeds it not be a proficient dust collector. Because God’s word doesn’t just sustain the whole universe (although that alone boasts an impressive resume). God also intends his word be personally, individually, life changing. Given so we can claim no condemnation (Romans 8:1) and fullness of life (John 10:10).

I don’t boast much experience. But I can boast in God’s word. So. Having said all of that. Here’s three absolute gems of God’s word that have really hit home for me.

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Kingdom Culture

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Why do I exist?

Such a simple question. And yet, perhaps the most confusing. New theories for life are constantly being developed and followed. Explanations for a statistically near-impossible universe are mass produced on the conveyer-belt of human reasoning. Even the most mind-boggling advances in design and technology, in this day and age of such incredible knowledge, leave us wanting. It’s beyond us. We can’t reach a consensus conclusion.

And so the answers to why we exist range on a ridiculously large spectrum.

And here’s the deal. Everyone answers the question of why they exist. Whether consciously or not. If not in words, then it shows up in actions. Because what you believe, will always impact how you respond to the world. And how you respond to the world, will always be a reflection of what you believe.

And so this post comes with two prongs.

First, to those of you who are willing to bet your lives away on the education of chance – the everything springing into existence from nothing, all just a statistical freak accident of nature – consider why you exist. Consider how worthless and hopeless you are in light of this view. And then think long and hard about whether this is worth going all-chips-in.

Secondly, for those who are aboard the God train-of-thought. I want to put before you the words of Jesus. I hope to hit you afresh with the blood-bought way Christians are to live and so respond to this world. As described by Jesus. And as recorded in Matthew 5:11-16.

Let’s get stuck in.

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Santa on Trial

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The big fella.

Every Christmas the big red starts making his appearance. And so we dust off and roll out the red carpet for our hailed guest at Christmas Carols. News Shows. Adverts. Major festivals. Photo shoots. Sporting events. Pageants. Ceremonies. Parties.

Santa’s social stocks go off the freaking charts. 

And amongst all the flashing lights and fan-fare, the true Christmas story appears increasingly irrelevant. God is thrown onto the back-burner. Jesus is once again driven back into his manger on the outskirts of town, as we fill and leave no room or vacancy for the God who came to save the very people who showed him the stiff arm.

It’s not unusual for Jesus to have opposition. Hear that loud and clear. Jesus is no stranger to rejection. Jesus even expected it (John 15:18). But if you’re going to hate on God, at least get your criticisms remotely right. Get it right. See it clear. Don’t mix it up.

Don’t make the mistake of muddying the waters of God himself.

Christmas is an indictment before it becomes a delight. It will not have its intended effect until we feel desperately the need for a Saviour

Here’s the creed.

In Jesus we have a crystal clear image of God. And so if other people or ideas are subtly smuggled into the conversation, we have a muddying of those waters. When the focus is taken off Jesus as our final and decisive image of God, the water pollutes.

And here’s my issue. Some people I meet legitimately see God a heck of a lot like Santa. And I’m not just talking about kids. There are adults I know that have bought into an image of God that is really just Santa in disguise. Sounds stupid. But it’s true.

Santa becomes a tragic distraction when we blur the lines and muddy the waters between him and God. And Santa perpetuates three huge myths about God. Three myths that the very meaning and purpose of Christmas set in motion to abort – once and for all.

It’s time to put Santa on trial.

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Brokenness to Beauty

My little sis just started a blog! Kicked things off yesterday with an absolute ripper of a post. Go give her a follow if you want to stay updated 😊

Tahlia Camac

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When picking through shells on the shores of the beach, the odd one or two pieces of sea glass may catch your attention. And why wouldn’t they? In their vast array of colours and the way they reflect the sun’s rays, the sea glass pieces are so beautiful; often used in mosaics or jewellery.

Interestingly, sea glass endures a long process to be made into the smooth and frosty jewel that we find ashore on our beaches. Taking from around 20 – 30 years, this process completely transforms these sharp broken pieces of glass into something of beauty, purely by the movement of the waves and sand.

Our hearts in response to Jesus acts in the same way.

Before Jesus Christ comes into our lives, we are like the original pieces of glass that lay on the beach. Our hearts have sharp edges. We seek destruction and ruin, entangled in sin…

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The Word of God

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“The word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8)

Welcome to the start of a new series.

This post works off one simple premise: God’s word is powerful. And if you don’t believe me, let me just discredit your objections in advance. I’ll just throw some truth your way:

“The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born” (Psalm 33:6). We know a God who “calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17). It was “at the blast of his breath, that the bottom of the earth could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare” (2 Samuel 22:16).

God is “sustaining all things by the power of his word” (Hebrews 1:3). The hum of the generator powering the whole universe is every word that the comes from the mouth of God. And we have at our disposal this same word of God, that which is “living and active, sharper than a two edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). Knowing that “all scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and “spoken that our joy may be full” (John 15:11).

God’s word sits on a shelf. And he intendeds it not be a proficient dust collector. Because God’s word doesn’t just sustain the whole universe (although that alone boasts an impressive resume). God also intends his word be personally, individually, life changing. Given so we can claim no condemnation (Romans 8:1) and fullness of life (John 10:10).

I don’t boast much experience. But I can boast in God’s word. So. Having said all of that. Here’s three absolute gems of God’s word that have really hit home for me.

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Redefining #Blessed

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Our society is always changing.

And perhaps this is best represented in our weird tendency to redefine things. Particularly nowadays. It seems everywhere we turn, a previously unquestioned concept is experiencing a huge social reconstruction. I’m looking at you, marriage. Not forgetting the 63 genders you can now choose from. Here’s the problem:

We all want a say on how life should be defined.

We do it in more subtle ways too. For example, the hashtag #blessed has been used 77,000,000 times (on Instagram alone). And for many (not all) it appears to be a way of boasting whilst remaining humble. Win a sporting event. Pass that hard university topic with flying colours. Get a promotion at work. Be surrounded with friends and family. Live in a huge house. Such events seem to qualify our ability to say that we are blessed.

And so our culture has formed something of a silent creed. An unspoken but very loud anthem, drummed into the hearts of many. That to be blessed is to be subject of favourable circumstance. This is the lie we have smuggled into our internal dictionary.

And there’s a reason I say this is a lie.

To be blessed has become totally synonymous with gain in this life. But Jesus came to tell us those who lose their lives for his sake are blessed.

As always, my opinion means squat.

My greatest hope is to draw attention to the works and words of Christ. And as I understand it, Jesus seriously challenged our definition of what it is to be blessed. And he didn’t do this privately. He challenged it publicly. 

To a crowd of eager and expectant people, Jesus said some shocking stuff. Jesus defined the truly blessed people in life as being poor, hungry and thirsty, and persecuted to the point of death (Matthew 5:2-12). The crowds were not expecting that. Because it sounds like the complete opposite of being blessed. So we have to ask ourselves:

What did he mean by it?

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BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT 

The world says those who are rich and esteemed are blessed, Jesus says blessed are the poor and humble before him.

This one is so counter-cultural.

Because most of us spend our lives trying to be rich. Whether you realise it or not. We strive to be rich in money. Many of us aim for richness in achievements. Most of us long to be rich in our friendships. Rich in reputation. Rich in purpose. Rich in happiness. And so for the most part, we look to life’s many riches as our primary source of joy.

Well, Jesus uses the very first words of his sermon to tackle this issue.

Jesus has little time for those who use stuff as their primary pursuit of joy. He makes it crystal clear – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:2). Incredible! Jesus is extending to us the richest richness possible. He is literally ushering us into the Kingdom of Heaven. And get a load of this:

The only requirement to God’s kingdom is empty hands.

Those who fall at the feet of Jesus totally broken. Those who fall at the feet of Jesus bankrupt. Those who fall at the feet of Jesus bereft of all pride and life’s riches, in passionate abandon of he who can satisfy every longing. It is to that calibre of people, Jesus promises to bless with everything.

Namely, himself.

BLESSED ARE THE HUNGRY AND THIRSTY

The world says those who have everything in abundance are blessed, Jesus says blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

We have so much stuff.

Food isn’t even an issue for us,  because every type of food we need is at the supermarket down the road. To hunger and thirst in the first world is pretty much a non-issue. But we aren’t let off the hook to easily. Because Jesus isn’t just talking about food and water here.

You see, when you hunger and thirst after something, it controls you. It dictates your movements. It becomes the very thrust of your life. In fact, you know you hunger and thirst for something when you cannot go one day without feeling the pain of its absence.

Because in the end, desiring the things of this world never truly satisfies.

Death puts a dramatic end to all pursuits of happiness. So the words of Jesus ring all the more louder: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). Jesus is saying we need to develop an appetite that won’t be satisfied by this world. Jesus wants the stomach of our soul to rumble.

Jesus wants our lives to be so changed, so controlled, and so dictated by a hunger and thirst for more of God. To the point where our reflex-reaction is to show people undeserved mercy, and to spill over with blood-bought purity and peacemaking. And it is to that calibre of people, Jesus promises to bless with eternal satisfaction.

Namely, more of himself.

BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED

The world says those who are secure are blessed, Jesus says blessed are those who risk everything for his sake.

If the others haven’t blown you away, this one will.

Jesus says “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:10). Craziness! Nobody in their right mind considers being killed a blessing. Our image of the good life doesn’t usually include death. In fact, hundreds of surveys all come back with the same result – our greatest fear is death.

Yet, God welcomes us to be fearless in death.

How could Dietrich Bonhoeffer, after standing against the Nazi party and sentenced to the gallows, say with his last words “this is the end – and for me, the beginning of life.” How did Obadiah Holmes, arrested and whipped 30 times for holding a church service, turn around to his executioner and say “you have struck me as with roses.”

What made John Cardmaker, sentenced to death for his faith, walk up to the stake on which he was to be burned and kiss it. How did Kayla Mueller – after getting captured, tortured, sexually abused and killed (by ISIS) for defending the lives of children – say in her last letter “by God and by your prayers I have felt tenderly cradled in freefall.”

Holding tight the words of Jesus, these people experienced death as gain.

This is what sets Christians apart from the world. We are blessed because through Jesus, the power of death is no more. Nothing can shake this. Not persecution, poverty, danger or death itself (Rom 8:35). And so we shout “Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:55) Because death doesn’t steal our joy.

It only advances it.

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THE MARCHING ORDERS

Our ability to say we are blessed should be primarily predicated on what God is to us. Not what God gives to us.

So go on. Use the blessed hashtag.

But Christian, make sure the world hears you loud and clear. We march to a different drum. We preach a different creed. It goes like this: Jesus is the root of my ability to say I am blessed. And so we count all else as loss except for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ (Philippians 3:8).

Jesus said it in the most explicit way possible. He wants us to desire heaven infinitely more than we desire earth. More than all of life’s riches. Higher than any vain satisfaction in this life. Greater than personal security. Worthy of our whole lives. 

So let the world hear it. Our hope is not in this world. Our hope is in the resurrection of Jesus. And so we live to advocate serious joy in Christ at all costs. We might face poverty, famine, or even death. But Jesus remains the strength of our hearts and our portion forever (Psalm 73:25-26).

Life uncertain. Hope secure. Blessed always.

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The Next Decade

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Tomorrow is my birthday.

August 8th. 1997. At 10:10 am. 20 years ago tomorrow, I started my journey in this out-of-womb world called planet earth. And my parents began their journey with the boy who is still by far and away their favourite child to date (alongside my brother and sister).

On the way to the hospital, Dad (driving) and Mum (just hours away from giving birth) drove past a church. The church had a sign out the front. It said this: A baby is God’s way of saying life goes on. I love this. This is the awesome miracle of us. Life goes on because God is good. All life is made possible because God wills it. God breathes it. God gives it. 

I turn 20 years old in less than 24 hours. And here’s the thing: I do not intend on wasting the rest of my life. I am convinced that the unwasted life has one all-satisfying goal. To make much of Christ. This is how I intend on living. So here it is. My journal entry.

My prayer for the next 10 years.

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#EscapeTheState

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G’day good humans.

I just want to start off by saying that this isn’t one of my usual posts. In other words, this post is not directly about Jesus. If you didn’t already know, or are a new reader of this blog, 99% of the time I write about Jesus. And I do this for good reasons.

Not least because He is the way to the truth and fullness of life (John 14:6, John 10:10). He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25). He is the revelation of God (John 1:1-4). He is totally worthy of all our affections and every ounce of our lives (Acts 20:24; Matthew 16:24-26). And ultimately, He is the end to which we live and breathe (Colossians 3:4).

His name is Jesus. 

So you can understand my joy in writing and making much of Jesus. But you will notice this post is slightly different. I say slightly, because I hope there will still be echoes of Jesus in this post. I say slightly, because I am aware that we can make much of Christ in many ways – particularly through helping others in their affliction (James 1:27).

Disclaimer over. Let’s get into this.

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THE CHALLENGE

RIDE or HIDE

Soon, I will be riding my bike. Quite a long way.

I posted the above photo on Facebook two weeks ago. And I added to it a challenge. This is the challenge: That if the photo gets 259 likes, I will ride my bike to the Victoria and NSW border in one day. I live in South Australia. The border isn’t exactly on my doorstep. So this poses itself as a significant challenge.

The public responded. Over 300 people liked the post on Facebook. From the comfort of their couches, they have sent me out of the comfort of mine. And so the planning process began – and is still continuing as I prepare for a day of suffering.

I am aware that the majority of followers on here are American. And so you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. So, for those of you who don’t know, the ride will total approximately 430km. Or, in your outdated metrics (the truth hurts), 267 miles.

Check out the photo below if you are struggling to get your head around it.

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That’s Australia.

The blue line is where my legs will (hopefully) take me. In one day. No, this is not a joke. I’ve started preparing myself physically and mentally, in gathering gear, sorting out a support car with a couple of mates, and setting aside a date to give this challenge a red hot crack. This is not a hoax. I stress that for an important reason.

Because I need your help.

I am doing this ride for a charity. Compassion Australia. If you have never heard about them, check them out. There should be a picture in the sidebar with a link to their website. Their tagline says it all: Releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

They do incredible work in child sponsorship programs – freeing children from, and relieving symptoms of poverty. But their fullest impact is seen clearest in their passion not just for the temporal prolonging of lives, but in the eternal saving of souls.

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So a fundraiser sprang to life. Some absolute legends have given out of their own pockets to help those in desperate need. And as I write this, we have raised a whopping $604. We are rapidly approaching our target of $1000 – which we will no doubt eclipse at this rate.

I contacted Compassion recently. They have been awesome. And so for every dollar we raise, they have agreed to direct straight into emergency medical care. So our money will not only be helping the poorest of the poor. We will also be directly helping the sickest of the sick – in the poorest communities on planet earth. Providing them with resources. Access to doctors. Pregnancy help. Cancer detection. Medicine. Surgery. Hope.

You contribution, big or small, will work to save someone’s life. No exaggeration. I can think of no better reason to get involved than that. The link to donate is at the bottom of this blog. But just in case you don’t make it that far, here it is:

https://compassionaustralia.gofundraise.com.au/page/JonathanCamac

WHAT ARE OUR AIMS FOR #ESCAPETHESTATE?

If successful, we will #escapethestate in more ways than one.

Firstly, I will literally be escaping the state. Two, actually – South Australia and Victoria. If all goes successful, I will cross two borders in a day. There is a challenge in front of me. But truth is, there is a challenge in front of of us. Which leads to our next aim.

Secondly, we all need to escape the state. Not necessarily South Australia or Victoria, or any other country or state border. Rather, we need to escape the state of mind that we cannot make a difference in the world. If this is going to be successful, we need to be in it together. Because together, we can make a lasting difference in the lives of many.

Lastly, we aim to help others escape the state of poverty. It is time to cross physical, mental and economic borders to help out some friends in need. But it’s in your hands. It’s up to you. Want lasting change? Then join me in fulfilling the goal in front of us:

To release children from poverty in Jesus’ name.

legends

“Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed” (Proverbs 19:17)

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Thanks legends!!

DONATE HERE: https://compassionaustralia.gofundraise.com.au/page/JonathanCamac

DONATE HERE: https://compassionaustralia.gofundraise.com.au/page/JonathanCamac

DONATE HERE: https://compassionaustralia.gofundraise.com.au/page/JonathanCamac

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