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 ūüėä

Tahlia Camac

DSC01149.JPG

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 ‚Äď 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…

View original post 181 more words

Advertisements

The Word of God

FullSizeRender-1

“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.

Continue reading

Redefining #Blessed

img_3208

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?

_________________________________________________________________

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.

_________________________________________________________________

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.

____________________________________________________________________________________________ 

 

The Next Decade

IMG_4617

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.

Continue reading

#EscapeTheState

legends

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.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

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.

Screen Shot 2017-06-21 at 10.18.29 AM

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.

compassion dawg

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 Рwhich 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)

____________________________________________________________________________________________

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

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Jesus: Living Water

living-water

Imagine it.

You have just turned on the TV when an advertisement pops up. In this advertisement, a man is selling a drink. Living Water. You sit up in your chair to listen.

The man begins by looking straight down the barrel of the camera. You notice his eyes are brimming with compassion. And without the aid of smoke machines or sound effects, he starts making his case. And with a voice of authority, yet unmistakable urgency, claims this drink he is selling will make you never thirst again. 

Questions start to flood¬†your mind. Is this guy serious? Could this be the solution to¬†poverty?¬†You turn the volume up.¬†His assurance in this living water is incredible. He guarantees it with his word: “Everyone who tries this living water will be totally satisfied.”¬†Not just a select group of people. Not just a select group of¬†tastebuds.

Everyone.

But he doesn’t stop there. This man puts his words into action. You are left absolutely stunned when he offers the greatest discount ever. Not 20% off. Not even 50% off. This living water is¬†totally free of charge.¬†He finishes with his final appeal: “Come and drink!”

His words speak for themselves. You are left in a state of shock. Either this drink is the real deal, or the man selling it is a nutcase. You are left with one burning question:

Who is this man? 

“Whoever drinks of the water I give them will never thirst again” – Jesus (John 4:14)

This man is Jesus.

Before televisions were a thing, Jesus ran this advertisement on the streets. On more than one occasion, Jesus advocated a kind of water that makes you never thirst again. To his friends, to his enemies, to the whole world. This was the campaign of his whole life.

Living water.

That might surprise some of you. For me, it brings some questions to mind. And it probably does for you too. So we are going to tackle three main questions together:

  1. What is this living water?
  2. What does this living water offer us?
  3. How much does this living water cost?

Let’s go with the flow.

Continue reading

Jesus: No Ordinary Teacher (Part 3)

img_4327

I’m currently undergoing an education degree. Training to be a teacher. And throughout my first year, I learnt some of the qualities and disciplines required of a good teacher.

In looking back on 2016, I began a summary of the key qualities to a proficient teacher. Just jotted some bullet points onto paper. And being a Jesus follower, knowing his claim to be our teacher, I looked at the list and asked myself one question:

How would Jesus stack up to the list?

_________________________________________________________________

CHECKING THE LIST

In Part 2 we covered three more bullet points. A good teacher sets clear classroom standards, becomes a role model of how to live within them, and then sacrifices time to help struggling students in the classroom.

Jesus aced the test. In fact, he far surpasses the standards of a good teacher. But now we turn our attention to three more qualities of a good teacher. So get your red pens out.

Because it’s time to give Jesus a grade.

Continue reading

An Open Letter to John Piper

jonny

John.

The reason for this letter is ultimately to thank you. Your words have had a profound impact and a solidifying effect on my faith. And yet, I have never met you. So it would make sense for me to outline how you fit into my story.

When I consider the people in the closest sphere of influence in my life, you do not sit among the parents, grandparents, pastors and friends that have come alongside me. Such people have, and will continue to have, a huge impact on my walk with Jesus.

My early life really set up the kindling. And a fire for God was definitely going by around Grade 10. But then a couple of years later, you waltzed into my life brandished with a flamethrower. And by the grace and power of God, began to ignite a passion in me.

It all started in early 2015. I listened to my first sermon by you РFor His Sake and for Your Joy, Go Low. Soon after I found a series you preached on Job. From there I sourced a series on the Beatitudes. All of a sudden, the earphones were out at every opportunity.

All of a sudden, this Bible of mine was coming alive. 

____________________

You taught me many things, for which I want to publicly appreciate.

Firstly, you taught me that the Bible is a feast. Not a snack we choose to ration, but a feast we are required to attend. The absolute centrality you place on God’s word in your public ministry is incredible. In preaching, debating, interviews,¬†social media, blogs, books. What I notice in you is not a half heartedness to the word, but all-out saturation in it.

The way you labour over it. The way you aim to juice every bit out of the word, in order to pierce the heart with Biblical truth. The passion you present it with. I had never realised the Bible could be so interesting. You make obvious your aim to draw attention to God and away from yourself. I have grown to love that.

Secondly, you showed me that real men are totally flawed by the grace of God. Sometimes it makes me smile. Those times when you are preaching and absolutely lost for words. Arms extended, huge smile on your face, eyes brimming with joy as you find yourself passionately struggling to express the depths of the grace of God. I love that. 

I love your presentation of Christ as a wonderful crutch we (the poor in spirit) can rest in and find saving grace. I love strategies like APTAT, by which there is heavy reliance on the grace and promises of God. And so it became much clearer to me. The grace of God is not a once-off experience. The grace of God is radically life-changing stuff. 

Lastly, and ultimately, you taught me that Jesus is worth everything. Even¬†my life. Especially my life.¬†I love how you¬†shine a light on the surpassing¬†worth and supreme treasure that is Christ.¬†The don’t waste your life sermons. The way you slam the prosperity gospel with actual gospel. The purpose behind all of your writing.

It is the echo of the call to magnify the LORD (Psalm 34:3). The rally cry to suffer for Jesus (Philippians 1:29). The longing that we would deny ourselves to a greater joy (Mark 8:34). To make much of Christ whether by life or death (Philippians 1:20-21).

To live a life rooted in the all-satisfying reward of being more close to Jesus.

____________________

John Piper.

In reflection, I think we both see something pretty clearly. What I love about you isn’t you.¬†It is God working in and through you. And for that I will be forever grateful.

See you soon.

Jesus: No Ordinary Teacher (Part 2)

img_4327

I’m currently undergoing an education degree. Training to be a teacher. And throughout my first year, I learnt some of the qualities and disciplines required of a good teacher.

In looking back on 2016, I began a summary of the key qualities to a proficient teacher. Just jotted some bullet points onto paper. And being a Jesus follower, knowing his claim to be our teacher, I looked at the list and asked myself one question:

How would Jesus stack up to the list?

_________________________________________________________________

CHECKING THE LIST

In Part 1 we covered three of the bullet points. A good teacher has proficient knowledge of the content, has a passion for the topic and students, and knows how to convey the content in relevant and understandable ways.

Jesus aced the test. In fact, he far surpasses the standards of a good teacher. But now we turn our attention to three more qualities of a good teacher. So get your red pens out.

Because it’s time to give Jesus a grade.

Continue reading

Jesus: No Ordinary Teacher (Part 1)

img_4327

Teaching.

We would all be dead without it. Consider this. Somewhere along the line, you were taught everything you know and do today.

We all go through a process of learning the bare essentials. The toilet training stage. Learning how to eat and drink. Walk and talk. Then as we walk through life, we begin to understand more complex lessons. Skills like how to read and write. How to tie your shoes. How to cook. How to apologise. How to interact with one another.

Some are still learning those lessons. But truth is, we all are. Anyone who claims to know everything is delusional. The fact that we are in the 21st century, part of society as we know it today, is thanks to our ongoing learning over hundreds of years.

You see, life is a great teacher.

Teaching is part of the fabric of life, and we are students to it

And Jesus claimed to be a great teacher (John 13:13).

Now, Jesus didn’t claim teacher status to get a job down the road. This wasn’t his little spoken resume. No, this Jesus claimed to be the Son of God (Matthew 16:15). The¬†way to the truth and fullness of life (John 14:6). In light of this, we see something clearly.

When Jesus accepts claims to be a teacher, he claims to have incredible authority. Not just a teacher of maths or science. This is a teacher of life itself. Essential for the forward movement of the world. Essential for the continuation of society. Essential for life. 

And importantly, every teacher has students.

In claiming to be a teacher, Jesus invites us to come and learn. To be his students. Therefore, it is essential we assess his credentials. It is essential we understand what sort of a teacher he is. Hence this new 3-part blog series. So get your red pens out.

Because it’s time to give Jesus a grade.

Continue reading