I realised something today. Often I do not spend time with you on my weekends.
I was already aware of this. But I had narrowed my reasoning down to a certain busyness of life and loss of routine. However, I now realise it is far more involved than this. As Friday evening rolls around, I naturally get excited (no work for two days). I get excited for a weekend of doing some stuff that I like to do. I am choosing the day I want. I now realise this weekend busyness and loss of routine is actually largely self-directed. In that process, God gets pushed out of the picture. I zoom in on myself. And for two days, the Kingdom of Joff triumphs over the Kingdom of God.
I then realised something else. Often on a Sunday evening, I am more drawn to the things of you.
On a Sunday evening, I am more inclined to pray for the week ahead. I am more inclined to consider the things of God. Again something I have been aware of. But today, I realised this is not just because I attend an evening church gathering. It is because I am zooming back out at a week ahead. I see and am confronted with my personal insufficiency to meet the unknown needs of the days ahead. All of a sudden, I am looking to the things that you offer me Father. I need your strength. I need your help. I need your presence. I need your grace. All of a sudden, I need you again.
On a Friday evening, the Kingdom of Joff in the heart of the city declares its independence. And on a Sunday evening, the Kingdom of Joff raises the white flag of surrender to a loving Father.
Oh Father, make me see the futility in living for myself! What a waste of life! Only you can satisfy. Thank you for exposing me to the war that I wage with you, and yet how you extend with open arms and pierced hands, grace. It is genuinely hard for me to fathom your patience with me in this. You see my hypocrisy and love me still. That is an image I want to image. Let this love of yours sink deep into the foundations of my heart. Only your Spirit can do this work. Make me willing.
Joff, lay down your arms of independence. Come home.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:3)
“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7:24-25)
There is sometimes a strong tendency in me to self-loathe. I get in the dumps about my failure. It eats at me. I want to be good. I want to be pleasing. I want to be desirable. I want to be fault-free.
It is not primarily because I am well meaning of others. I cannot possibly claim that a desire for others to experience only the unfailed version of Jonathan will do.
It is because I am living for the righteousness of Joff. And in this kingdom I am acutely aware that only perfection will suffice. So when I fail, and fail I do, and particularly when it is done spectacularly before others, the metaphorical marching-band proclaiming Joff’s righteousness gets steamrolled by reality. All sound is lost. The sweet tune is gone. The victory is over. I am naked. I am alone.
I am not who I want to be. I have nowhere to go.
Except to Jesus.
‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven’ (Matthew 5:3)
by William Ernest Henry, 1875
Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
by Jonathan Blake Camac, 2021
Out of the night that covers me
Now resplendent light that makes whole,
I thank my God in Jesus Christ
For conquering my wretched soul.
In the hands of Almighty God,
I have oft winced and cried aloud.
Yet due the bludgeonings of God,
Christ’s head is bloodied, mine is bowed.
Within this place of wrath and tears
A Father whose strength is a shade,
And so the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
Hard the way and narrow the gate,
Yet payed the charges on my scroll.
Christ is the master of my fate:
Christ is the captain of my soul.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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 Christ we have a crystal clear image of God. And so 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.
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 😊