#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.

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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 Or, in your outdated metrics (the truth hurts), 267 miles.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.

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 – 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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The Race Ahead

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I love cycling.

And I don’t use the word love lightly either. At times I wonder how I’d have gone on if not for cycling. It was my release – huge to me in my high school years, and I still love to get out when I can.

There are tons of things I love about cycling.

Summiting a mountain solo. Alone, but not lonely. Guided by my bike light; a hum in the darkness. Morning fog thickening as I rise higher. Sounds of my raspy breathing. The occasional dog bark or cow’s moo. The chain cranking as it propels the wheels around. Life’s problems fading on each pedal stroke. The sun rising over Adelaide – a whole city wakes from sleep. Wind in face as I’m propelled down the mountain. Sweat in hair, eyes wide open. Feeling of aching, tired legs. I’m stuffed, but I’ve never felt more alive. Back home for coffee before school.

I love it.

And some thought I was a bit mental. The amount of time I put into it each day was somewhat unbelievable to them. But to me, it wasn’t crazy at all.

There was something about cycling that made dedication to it easy.

Getting up at 5:30 every morning – rain, hail or shine. Making training programs. Spending hours on the bike. Rarely eating bad food or having soft drink. Shaving my legs (don’t hold it against me). Following other dedicated cyclists on social media. I would admire the professionals, talk about them, watch their races.

I was committed, but I was loving it. The sacrifices I was making were nothing in comparison to the perceived rewards of joy, temporary release of problems, and the increase in fitness.

So where am I going with this.

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Paul uses the analogy of running a race to explain how the Christian life should look. It goes like this:

‘…let us lay aside every weight, and sin that clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race set before us.’ – Hebrews 12:1

And my past dedication to cycling should look like my dedication to Christ.

Just like I would lay aside bad eating and drinking, and the minimal weight that was my leg hair – this passage says we are to lay aside every weight that slows us in our pursuit of God. Anything that gets in the way. What a statement.

I was regularly setting aside time early in the morning, 5:30 – to dedicate myself to cycling before the day. In the same way, there is a need for me to dedicate myself to God and his will before every day. To seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.

All this cycling took endurance, perseverance. I wasn’t going to get much better at the sport after a week of cycling. It took a long time. But as I’ve stated, I found huge joy in the dedication to it.

Likewise, growing as a Christian and forming a strong relationship with God is a life-long pursuit. We need endurance. I need endurance – I sure don’t claim to have this covered. But we find immense joy in the reward ahead of us – eternity with Jesus and perfect community with his people.

How much greater is that reward than temporary gains in fitness!

cadel

‘Looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Who for the joy set before him, endured the cross…’ – Hebrews 12:2

As part of my cycling addiction – I would follow professional bike riders and watch some of their races. I particularly admired the likes of Cadel Evans, Lance Armstrong and Chris Froome.

Whilst Lance Armstrong might not the best example nowadays, the fact remains. I admired each of these men’s grittiness and strength of character. The way they shone above the rest through sheer determination.

Particularly in Cadel, who had this way of making suffering his friend.

Cadel was characterised by his ability to endure. Pain and suffering written all over his face, yet this uncanny ability to power through it – even in the late stages of a grand tour (see picture above). These men embraced pain, adversity – but found a weird sense of joy and success through it.

In a similar way, Paul says (in Hebrews 12:2, highlighted above) we should look to Jesus as our example in this race of life.

We are encouraged not just because Jesus endured suffering, but that suffering was central to Jesus’ victory.

Cadel pales in comparison to what Jesus went through, and I wouldn’t ever wish to put Jesus on the same level as Cadel. But for the sake of this cycling analogy stuff – understand the context of the comparison I’m making.

Jesus is the picture of suffering if there ever was one.

In a prophecy made 680 odd years before Jesus was born, Jesus was described as becoming The Lord’s suffering servant. A man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief, oppressed and treated harshly (Isaiah 53). The prophecy was spot on.

Jesus, the Son of God was whipped, skin tore off his body. Blood poured freely. Thorns were shoved into his skull. He was tortured, spat on, crucified, killed. Unrecognisable. God turned his face away.

So, all this pain and suffering – how did Jesus endure it all?

Because the joy set before him was so great. His love for us is so much greater than the (literally) excruciating pain he endured. He was making a way for us, his people, to be in full relationship with him.

And we are called to live with the same goal in mind. We cannot fully mature in faith without trials. Therefore, we should be careful not to betray God’s invitation to maturity. But in the same breath, we can find strength in knowing all suffering, all pain on earth, is just temporary in our pursuit of his kingdom.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” – Jesus

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Sometimes the wind will be at our backs as we gun it downhill. Life is just a cruise along the esplanade at sunset. Everything is going great.

But then we will turn a corner. The wind is suddenly all in our face. Rain is spitting into our eyes. Ahead of us is a big-uphill. The chain comes off, a wheel is punctured. It’s remarkable how often these things seem to happen all at once – in cycling and in life.

What was once an easy cruise has become a battle against the elements. A battle against our will to push through. Others whizz past on the other side of the road as they head downhill, wind at their backs. The other way looks so much easier as we trudge uphill. We begin to envy other’s lives and the lack of suffering they have. Turning around to join them becomes an appealing prospect.

But we do not turn around. We keep moving in the right direction, slow as it is may be. For we know the strong winds and the hill climbs build up perseverance, character, and hope (Romans 5:4). Keeping our eyes set on the goal ahead of us, looking to he who completely shattered the elements of death itself.

The Everest we face today just an ant mound in comparison to the joy ahead of us.

Eyes set.