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Fridays with Phil

Life, family and unshakeable faith

Month

September 2015

A decision not taken lightly

I have made my decision and it wasn’t one taken lightly.

It is with much thought, prayer, research, investigation and hope that I have decided to take a trip to Europe to have some tests and start a trial treatment that isn’t available here in Australia.

It’s not a cure, but it could slow down the progress of Motor Neurone Disease (MND, also knows as ALS) in my body. While I’m doing reasonably well, and have already outlived my initial prognosis, this is the time to act.  It’s a “sooner rather than later” approach.

With ALS / MND, it’s not like you wake up one morning and suddenly you can’t do something.  Instead, little by little, you lose your strength, some people faster than others.  I’m the only one who really notices that decline day-by-day.

In the past 76 years, since the famous baseball player Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with this disease, there has only been one drug approved for ALS / MND patients: Rilutek.  Rilutek was approved in the 1990s and is said to add 2 – 3 months of life to your prognosis.  In some parts of the world this drug costs up to $4000.00 per month.  In Australia, I pay only $37.50.

While I understand that there is more awareness, finances and scientists than any other time in history dedicated to finding a cure for this disease, I also understand that any new drug could take many more years to be released to the general community.  In that sense, the money we are raising now is for the next generation of sufferers.

Some people have inferred that I should just relax and wait for God to heal me.  My thinking is that when your daughter breaks her leg or your tooth needs filling, do you just pray or do you do what you can and leave the rest to God?

I’ve seen God miraculously heal people of cancer through divine intervention and I’ve seen God heal people through medical intervention.  I’ve also seen people experience their healing through entering into eternity.

I have always seen God move in my life when I do my part and leave what I can’t do to Him. 

Faith, trust, rest and hope are not couch potatoes, they are active and courageous as they approach the battle.

So for those who are praying, thank you, your prayers are effective and mean the world to me.  Be encouraged, I am also doing what I can do to partner with your prayers.

My treatment in Europe will cost in the many thousands of dollars per year, but it has also been known to add 3 – 4 years to a patient’s life.  Next week I go to Europe, hoping for the best, mainly because I want what you would want in my shoes:

I want more time with my wife.
I want to see my grandchildren go to school.
I want to be around long enough so they have some memory of me.
I want to hug my own children for as long as I can.
I want to be around to cheer them on in their lives and adventures.
I love this life.
I want to finish the race at the finish line, not mid-field.

And so, Fridays With Phil will take a short break. If you are interested in updates while I am away and post-treatment, you can follow me on Instagram (@pcamden) or Facebook.

I covet your prayers over this time,
Phil

No more silence

Today I want to add my “whisper” to what will hopefully one day become a collective shout that will break the silence surrounding domestic and family violence.

At a young age, I can remember my mum and dad getting into verbal and physical altercations, escalated by anger and alcohol.  This would normally finish with my mum, sister and I walking out and looking for a place to stay that night.

I remember one incident when dad came home drunk, I was asleep and he mistook me for someone else. He took a kitchen knife and tried to stab me with it, only to be apprehended by my brother-in-law.

Without alcohol, my dad was a quiet and soft-spoken man, but under the influence, he could become very angry and violent.  It is probably why his drinking buddies nicknamed him “Jack the Ripper”.

Why am I telling you this?  So you will understand that I have experienced (to an extent) domestic violence first hand. I understand how complicated the surrounding circumstances can be, and I also know how important it is to get out and get safe.

I consider any violence towards women and children by men as being completely inexcusable, even given the many layers of “reasons” I have heard over the years (anger, drugs, conditioning by upbringing or parents that its normal behaviour).

As equally inexcusable is violence by women towards men and children, albeit far less common. There simply is no excuse for this shameful crime that erodes the safety of too many families.

It is unacceptable that women aged 15 to 44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, motor accidents, war and malaria (stoptheviolencecampaign.org).

As human beings living in community, I think we all have a responsibility to each other to watch for signs of domestic violence, and ensure that the silencing of this issue doesn’t stand a chance.

Domestic and family violence is indiscriminate; it does not have a type and can range from physical, to financial and psychological abuse.

There should be no safe place of silence in our society for those perpetrators who are violent and abusive.

I am proud to report that in the last 40 years of my mum and dad’s life, I never saw them raise a hand or even their voice to each other. As well as that, my dad stopped drinking for the last 30 years of his life. This change happened only after my mum made the courageous choice to leave, a decision I can only applaud.

There is no doubt in my mind that a collective of men and women committed to ending the violence can and will make a difference. Let’s be proactive and courageous in taking a stand against domestic and family violence.

Change is possible.

Phil

Local contacts for support:
Police Force – Phone 000
Domestic Violence Line – Phone 1800 656 463
Victims Support Line – Phone 1800 633 063

Live and let die

Most of us at one point or another will experience a challenge or temptation that puts a demand on our resolve and commitment to our values.  It will bring the focus of our worship and spiritual direction to a pinnacle.

At the core of that crossroads tension is not only whether we have decided what is worth living for but what is worth dying for.  What will we lay our self down for?

Three boys in the Bible teach us a lot about faith, about facing worse case scenarios and about real worship.

Their story is found in the book of Daniel, chapter 3.  They are sentenced to being burnt alive in a furnace for making a stand and not changing the affection of their worship.

They made a courageous decision that even in the very worst-case scenario, death by being burnt alive, they would not give into the King’s demand to reject their faith in God.

When these three boys made a commitment not to bow down to the King, they believed God would save them, but even if He didn’t, they would not bow down.

They were ultimately committed to their God through faith.

You see, happy endings are easy to put our faith in, but what if God requires a higher faith, faith in Him regardless of the outcome.

For me, I absolutely believe in God’s ability to heal me, but ultimate faith begs the questions, “even if He doesn’t, will I believe and follow Him until the end?”

These three boys have taught us that we can live with the dichotomy of full assurance in God’s goodness and full commitment no matter the outcome: ultimate faith.

Not only that, but these three boys decided that staying true to themselves and the God they served was worth dying for.

How practical is this in our everyday life?

Well, when you have learned to die to self, you can then live for others.

Die to the demand to succeed at any cost and live with a desire for the best for others.
Die to the demand of temptation to adultery and live with a fresh commitment to your spouse.
Die to the desire to hit back and live with an ability to turn the other cheek.
Die to the insatiable demand for more and live with a seeking for opportunity to give.
Die to personal freedom and live to emancipate others.
Die to judging and live with a heart to accept and forgive.

It is only in facing death head on that we can begin to live life full on. This is where death, literally and figuratively speaking truly looses its sting, it’s power, it’s dread, it’s fear.

I wonder what fiery furnace is challenging your core beliefs today?

Maybe it’s time to put more faith in your God than in the immediate threat, maybe it’s time to accept that only as we refuse to bow down, refuse to change the object of our worship, God alone, that we will see breakthrough.

Only when we can come to terms with worst case scenario can we be assured that He will be with us through the fire, through the pain and gives us rest and peace in the face of death.

Live fully today! Live by faith.

Phil

What makes a mate?

Most of the time when I sit down and write this blog, I’m not totally sure where it will land.  This week is no different as I sit in a cafe at Airlie Beach.

I’m here celebrating my mate Steve’s 60th birthday.

Mateship is a well-celebrated value in Australian culture. We are quick to call someone a “mate” – a taxi driver, a bank teller, or anyone whose name we have forgotten.  But I wonder what a true mate looks like?

Steve is a true mate.

I met him 20 years ago when he was 40 and I was 36.

For all those years, most separated by distance, we have watched our kids survive their teenage years, we have talked about the highs and lows of business and personal life, we have attended one of our best buddy’s funerals, navigated some dark moments and celebrated each others triumphs.

So why do some friendships, like ours, last the test of time and distance, while others fade and fizzle out?

I’ve always lived by the philosophy that to have good friends, you need to be a good friend.

A true friend is first, friendly.

If a dog is a man’s best friend then it’s the loyal, predictable, friendly companion not the crazed, aggravated, vicious attack dog.   If we are approachable, easy going, kind and agreeable, friendships will follow us.  If our countenance is hard, stand-off-ish, or attacking then we will probably find it hard to make friends.

A true friend is second, true.

Truth, honesty and integrity is what to look for in friendship. A commitment to respect each other’s confidentiality when it comes to sharing deep personal struggles and realities creates an environment of trust.

Friendship can only flourish in an environment of trust.

When Steve and I first met, we started playing golf together. I would inevitably hit the ball into the trees and at times, to save my club from damage, I would have to move the ball (in golf, this is a shot).  Steve wouldn’t see me move the ball so it would have been simple to hide it and not concede the shot. But, true friendship wouldn’t let me get away with not telling him. It’s a simple example, but friendship and trust are in the small things as well as the big.

A true friend is third, a listener.

Transparency in friendship includes not just what you say, but more importantly, how you listen. Listening reveals that you genuinely value the other person and you are interested in what they are going through.

To be honest, listening is one of the hardest of the communication skills to master. We are so quick to want to speak that it’s hard not to cut the other person off mid-sentence before we forget what is so important for us to say.

The practice of listening is a powerful friendship adhesive.

Finally, remember that a real friendship is not about what you can or can’t do for the other person, but who you are free to be.

Steve and I are no longer in the positions we were when we met, there have been significant changes in our public lives, but thankfully our friendship has never been about what we did but who we are. Any good friendship is.

That’s my two cents worth on being a good mate.

Phil

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