Tag Archives: Jeremy Camp

God Is Always with Me

At the end of the book of Matthew, Jesus says to the disciples, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b (NIV). When He said this, He was talking not just to those disciples who were present, but to all who believe in Him even today. That includes me. He is always with me. He showed me that in a very concrete way this past week.

On Tuesday I had an appointment that I had been putting off for over a year. It may seem like a small thing to many of you, but to me it was huge. I was afraid to make and keep this appointment. But with God’s encouragement I finally did it.

I went to the dentist to have prep done for a crown. I know, people get crowns every day, but I have since childhood been extremely uncomfortable in the dentist’s chair. It stems from a childhood experience that I won’t go into because it’s not the point of this story. Suffice it to say that I have for as long as I can remember been tense and nervous when I have to go to the dentist, even for a cleaning.

There was no getting around the fact that I needed a crown. I have a hairline fracture in a tooth and I barely chew on that side because if I chew on anything even slightly hard it hurts. A year ago the new dentist I started seeing told me I needed to do this. He was nice about it and understanding about my fear, and he didn’t pressure me to put a crown or overlay on every molar in my mouth as a prior dentist had tried to do. I liked his manner enough that I finally felt like I’d found a dentist I could trust. (His name is Jack Henry in Lake Oswego, if you happen to be looking for a good dentist.)

After praying for God’s peace (see Philippians 4:6-7), I finally scheduled a cleaning one week and the crown prep the following week. Halfway through the cleaning appointment, I realized I was the most relaxed I had ever been in a dentist’s chair. This gave me hope that the crown prep wouldn’t be so bad.

Did I mention that I dislike Novocain intensely? It tends to cause my cheek and jaw to hurt for several days. So in spite of the good cleaning appointment, I was still feeling anxious as I looked ahead to the crown prep because I knew there would be Novocain and drilling involved.

But again, I prayed that God would give me peace and help me to not be afraid during this appointment.

I arrived on time and was escorted to the dentist’s chair. I asked if I could listen to music while they worked because I had brought my iPod and headphones. The dentist not only said I could but said it was a great idea. He likes to listen to music when he has dental work done, too, because he doesn’t like the sound of the grinder and drill. It was very reassuring to know that he understood that this procedure was not at all pleasant and that he was going to do whatever he could to make it better.

As he began to work, I shuffled my iPod on a MercyMe and Jeremy Camp playlist I had created in anticipation of Fish Fest that I am going to in August with some friends. And that’s when God so clearly reminded me that He is always with me. The first song that played was God with Us by MercyMe. I heard these beginning lyrics:

Who are we
That You would be mindful of us
What do You see
That’s worth looking our way

We are free
In ways that we never should be
Sweet release from the grip of these chains

I knew that He was mindful of this small thing in my life. I knew He had released me from the chains of fear that had kept me from making this appointment a year before. As that song ended, I felt the peace of knowing God was with me, but He wasn’t done reminding me. The next song to randomly play on shuffle was Here with Me, also by MercyMe, with lyrics that say:

And I can feel your presence here with me
Suddenly I’m lost within your beauty
Caught up in the wonder of your touch
Here in this moment I surrender to your love

You’re everywhere I go
I am not alone
You call me as your own
To know you and be known

Oh, that He would care so much for me; that He knows so well my anxiety and fear and also how to calm that fear. And then He reminded me of why I was feeling such peace in what would have otherwise been a tense and stressful situation. The next song to play was Every Time by Jeremy Camp. The chorus and one of the verses of this song say:

Every time I’m on my knees, pleading for Your strength
I will find You there, find you there
Every time I’m on my knees, reaching for Your strength
I will find You there, find You there

I’m holding on to this hope
I’ve been given, to be always with You
I’m seeing now
That this fullness of faith is, always seeking You

That very morning I had been on my knees pleading God for strength and peace to endure this appointment that my natural self dreaded. I held onto the hope that He would be with me, and He was faithful as always. Rather than be anxious about my appointment, I brought my concern to God, with thanksgiving, and His peace was my reward.

By the time this third song ended, Dr. Henry was done with the drilling and grinding. I was not tense and had not felt a thing. And to top it all off, the Novocain wore off much more quickly than I had expected and there were no lasting effects of pain in my cheek or jaw.

God is always with me, even at the dentist. What an awesome and wonderful God He is!

 

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The Music of the Psalms

I love when contemporary Christian artists put the words of a Psalm to music. Many of them were, after all, written as songs. Then when I am reading through a Psalm I can hear it sung in my head and the words of promise and praise rest more firmly in my heart. This happened the other day when I was reading the second half of Psalm 119 and I could hear Jeremy Camp singing Revive Me from his album Carried Me: The Worship Project. I decided I wanted to share it today. I hope it blesses your soul as much as it does mine.

 

Psalm 119 (NKJV) (with lyrics italicized)

153 Consider my affliction and deliver me,

For I do not forget Your law.

154 Plead my cause and redeem me;

Revive me according to Your word.

155 Salvation is far from the wicked

For they do not seek Your statutes.

156 Great are Your tender mercies, O Lord;

Revive me according to Your judgments.

157 Many are my persecutors and my enemies,

Yet I do not turn from Your testimonies.

158 I see the treacherous, and am disgusted,

Because they do not keep Your word.

159 Consider how I love Your precepts;

Revive me, O Lord, according to Your lovingkindness.

160 The entirety of Your word is truth,

And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.

 

161 Princes persecute me without a cause,

But my heart stands in awe of Your word.

162 I rejoice at Your word

As one who finds great treasure.

163 I hate and abhor lying,

But I love Your law.

164 Seven times a day I praise You,

Because of Your righteous judgments.

165 Great peace have those who love Your law,

And nothing causes them to stumble.

166 Lord, I hope for Your salvation,

And I do Your commandments.

167 My soul keeps Your testimonies,

And I love them exceedingly.

168 I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies,

For all my ways are before You.

 

169 Let my cry come before You, O Lord;

Give me understanding according to Your word.

170 Let my supplication come before You;

Deliver me according to Your word

171 My lips shall utter praise,

For You teach me Your statutes.

172 My tongue shall speak of Your word,

For all Your commandments are righteousness.

173 Let Your hand become my help,

For I have chosen Your precepts.

174 I long for Your salvation, O Lord,

And Your law is my delight.

175 Let my soul live, and it shall praise You;

And let Your judgments help me.

176 I have gone astray like a lost sheep;

Seek Your servant,

For I do not forget Your commandments.

 

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Rejoice! He Ransomed Captive Israel!

I’ve been listening to the new Jeremy Camp Christmas Album, Christmas: God with Us, in my car this past week. He does one of my all time favorite Christmas songs: O Come O Come Emmanuel. Of course he does an awesome rendition. My son was with me in the car the other day when it was playing and he said, “I love the way he sings ‘Israel.'”

On a side note, my son and I were on our way to a Winter Orchestra Concert at his high school when he said this. I wasn’t thrilled about going because I didn’t expect any Christmas music at all. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed the whole show and they played some good old traditional Christmas songs, like Silent Night and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, as well as two songs from my favorite Charlie Brown Christmas (which I still need to watch this year). The reason was that the orchestra students were told to form small ensembles and to choose whatever they wanted to play. It was such a blessing to see so many of the kids choose some of my favorite Christmas songs.

Anyway, I thought I would share with you Jeremy Camp’s rendition of O Come O Come Emmanuel to get you in the Christmas spirit if you aren’t already. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

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The Problem with Santa Claus

For many people, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Santa Claus. As soon as Thanksgiving is over, they start looking forward to Jolly Old St. Nick bringing presents to all the good little boys and girls. Every shopping mall has a Santa Claus waiting for long lines of children to sit on his lap and tell him what they want for Christmas. I’ve even known people whose only Christmas decorations in their homes are Santa themed.

Now I will admit that I have a few Santa Claus decorations and we do hang stockings to be opened on Christmas morning. We even label some family gifts as “from Santa.” The spirit of giving that surrounds Santa Claus—which started with the very first real St. Nicholas who gave presents to needy children—is wonderful.

But there is a problem with Santa Claus. The whole idea of a Jolly Old Elf bringing presents only to good boys and girls contradicts the Gospel message of Christmas. We are reminded in Christmas songs that Santa “knows if you’ve been bad or good,” and if you are bad all you get is a lump of coal.

This is the story of most major religions—that if we are good enough we will earn whatever it is we want most.

Jesus tells a different story. Immanuel, God with us, came because He loves us all whether we are good or bad. He offers salvation and eternal life to all. It’s a free gift and all we have to do is accept it to be on His list.

Santa’s list of who’s naughty and who’s nice might seem to work for making kids be good. But long ago God showed that the threat of punishment or withholding of blessings doesn’t work to make people do what is right. “For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.” Romans 8:3 (NIV).

That is why for me Christmas isn’t Christmas without the Christ child and most of my Christmas decorations are nativity scenes. And my favorite Christmas songs aren’t about Santa Claus but are old standards like O Come O Come Emmanuel, O Holy Night, and Mary Did You Know?

Which is why today I want to share Jeremy Camp’s rendition of that last of these on his recently released Christmas CD.

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Overwhelm Me with Your Love

Several months ago I wanted to do a post with this song, but couldn’t find a YouTube video of it. Then when I was in Boston I was listening to my iPod while I was packing to come home and it came on. I decided then that I would look again on YouTube, and I was pleased to find it this time.

The song is called “Overwhelm Me” by Adie Camp, the wife of Jeremy Camp. It is a beautiful song, and since I’m on the road once again (this week to Austin, TX with my sister) I decided I was going to do simple posts all week. Instead of writing anything about this song I’m just going to let it stand on its own merits. I hope you like it as much as I do.

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My Desire Is to Know God’s Purpose

I’ve been listening to Jeremy Camp in my car this past week, and one song in particular spoke to me. “My Desire” expresses how I feel about my life and my God. I want my life to be real. I want to set aside all of my pride and embrace humility. I want my life to have purpose, the purpose that God has set before me. I want to be free. This song provides the means for achieving all these goals and desires: “lay it all down before the King.”

You want to be real
You want to be empty inside
You want to be someone laying down your pride
You want to be someone someday
Then lay it all down before the King
You want to be whole
You want to have purpose inside
You want to have virtue and purify your mind
You want to be set free today
Then lay it all down before the King

Without Jesus, it is impossible to be completely real because a part of me would always be false. Without the King of kings, it is impossible to be whole because He is an essential piece of my being. Without the Christ, it is impossible to set aside pride because He grants humility and shines His light on the pride deep within my heart. Without the Lord, it is impossible to be whole because He is what completes me. Without His Holy Spirit, it is impossible to have virtue and a pure mind because He reveals that which must be washed away by the blood of the lamb.

On our own, we can try to find purpose, to be humble, to be virtuous. But in the end all we will end up with is an inferior purpose, pride in our ability to achieve that purpose, and a mind corrupted by the world that applauds that purpose. I’ve tried things on my own and found less than what I truly desire. I was left empty, but not in the way I desire to be or in the way Camp refers to in this song.

Life without Jesus is an endless striving for more, a reaching for something to fill us up. We must be emptied of all that is worldly so that we might be filled with His love, mercy, grace, and compassion. We must let go of what we think we desire so that He might place in our hearts a greater desire to be a blessing in this world for His sake.

What is your desire? Do you seek to find what God’s purpose is for you? Do you desire to be set free? Then lay all your life, all your love, all your sins, all your pain, all your struggles, all your striving down before the King. He will give you the desires of your heart.

Trust in the LORD and do good;
   dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Delight yourself in the LORD
   and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:3-4 (NIV)

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Take My Life – I Am in Awe

Last week, I was listening to Jeremy Camp’s CD “Stay” in my car all week. It is his debut CD from 2002, and it’s one of my favorites.

When I listen to my iPod in the house, I usually put it on shuffle and so I never know what song is going to be next. But often I prefer to listen to a CD all the way through from beginning to end, in the order the artist chose to arrange the songs. That is definitely the case with “Stay.” There are two songs in particular on that CD that seem to me to be so perfectly placed one after the other.

The first in “Take My Life.” This is a hard rocking song and quite possibly my favorite Jeremy Camp song. I love the electric guitar riffs and the emotion in his voice as he sings:

Take my life
Take my mind
Take my soul
Take my will
I am yours and I give it all to you

As I listen to this song, I can feel the struggle I have within myself to give my life, my mind, my soul, my will completely to Jesus. I desire to give Him my all because of all He has done for me and because of who He is. But I also know that I cannot on my own give it all to Him because of my sinful nature, because of my inherent selfishness. I want to keep some of it, maybe just a little piece, for myself. Jeremy sings and I pray, “Here I am I’m giving all I can.” And so I offer all my everything, but the only way I can truly become His alone is if He takes that which I offer.

There is an urgency in this song, a crying out for God to “quick, take it, take it all, before I change my mind.” I hear in the rawness of Jeremy Camp’s voice and the driving power of the electric guitar the tension between my sinful nature and the desire for God that the Holy Spirit has place in my heart.

I find, as this song comes to an end, God is faithful to honor my prayer. He will take, for His glory, that which I offer. Suddenly, the next song on the CD begins. It is called “In Your Presence.” It is a more tranquil song, with an acoustic sound and softer vocals. I can feel that I am in the presence of the Lord. I can see in my mind the beauty of Jesus on the cross, and His majesty on the throne. I am in awe of who He is and what He alone can do in my heart.

He alone is able to take my life and turn it into something worthwhile. He alone is able to take my mind and fix it on that which is holy. He alone is able to take my soul and save it from certain death. He alone is able to take my will and make it His own. He alone is worthy of praise. I am in awe of His love and mercy.

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Words of Comfort

In my office at work I have a little deck of angel cards with uplifting or encouraging words on them. I always keep three of those angel-word cards next to my computer monitor to brighten my day. When I change them, I always pull three new cards, for Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Today I decided I needed some new words on my desk, and here is what I randomly chose from the deck:

  • Beauty
  • Grace
  • Love

What wonderful words of comfort to make me smile because these are all things that come from God and exist in their perfect form in Christ.

The word “beauty” made me think of the beauty of God and all that He has created. “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” Psalms 27:4. But it also made me think of what Isaiah said about Jesus the Messiah in Isaiah 53:2-5.

 2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
       and like a root out of dry ground.
       He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
       nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

 3 He was despised and rejected by men,
       a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
       Like one from whom men hide their faces
       he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

 4 Surely he took up our infirmities
       and carried our sorrows,
       yet we considered him stricken by God,
       smitten by him, and afflicted.

 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
       he was crushed for our iniquities;
       the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
       and by his wounds we are healed.

Jesus the man was quite ordinary looking by Jewish standards. Although popular paintings and drawings of Him often portray Him as handsome and taller than the average Jew, there was in fact nothing particularly beautiful or attractive about His physical appearance. What makes Jesus the epitome of beauty are His grace and love. It is that “he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows” that makes Him so beautiful. Nothing in all the world — not all the jewels, not the Rocky Mountains, not a field of iris flowers, not all the stars in Hollywood — nothing is as beautiful as the willing sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins.

Jeremy Camp sings a song called “Beautiful One” that starts like this:

Wonderful, so wonderful
Is your unfailing love
Your cross has spoken mercy over me
No eye has seen no ear has heard
No heart could fully know
How glorious, how beautiful you are.

CHORUS
Beautiful one I love you
Beautiful one I adore
Beautiful one my soul must sing.

But where does “grace” fit in? The Apostle John wrote, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. His grace is one of the things that makes Jesus so beautiful to me. Grace is the unmerited or underserved favor that God shows to the sinner through the cross of Christ. That He would bestow that grace upon us is truly beautiful.

Then there is “love.” As Christians, we love and adore Jesus because of His great love for us. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16. Without knowing the loving sacrifice of our Savior, we would not even begin to fathom the potential depth and breadth of true love. It is by understanding His love that we learn to truly love others, to care about even those who ridicule and scorn us. And the beauty of Christ shines in us when we show true love to those around us without expecting anything in return.

Words of comfort: Beauty, Grace, and Love. Have you found the perfect beauty, grace, and love of God in Christ Jesus? They are worth searching for.

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Thank God I’m Not Done

This morning I was listening to my iPod on shuffle and the song “I Am Nothing” by Jeremy Camp came on. The first verse goes like this:  

Seems I’m always in this place,
Where the things I seem to take,
Are the things I wish would fade
I always purpose in my heart,
Well to do things the right way,
Then I realize I’m still clay
And this piece that’s being shaped,
Will be a beauty You create  

I love this verse because it reminds me that God is the potter and I am the clay. And He’s not done yet shaping and sculpting me. This is a good thing, because if how I am now was my finished state, I would be quite disappointed. But I do not need to be disappointed because God is still working on me, and “being confident of this, that he WHO began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus “(Philippians 1:6), I know that someday I will be His masterpiece.  

Are you feeling discouraged that you are not the person you think you should be, or that God wants you to be? Take heart – God’s not finished with you yet, either. You are still clay. But to be shaped by God you must stay moist and pliable. To do that, you must stay in His Word and in prayer. Without the Word of God and communication with God through prayer, we become dry and brittle. Although nothing is impossible for God, it is more difficult for Him to shape us as He wants if we are dry and brittle clay. And the shaping is more painful and parts break off.  

The prophet Isaiah called out to God as He tried to shape the people of Israel:  

7 No one calls on your name
or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and made us waste away because of our sins.  

 8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
We are all the work of your hand.  

9 Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD;
Do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look upon us, we pray,
for we are all your people. Isaiah 64:7-9.  

God does not remember the sins of His people forever. When we confess our sins and return to Him seeking His face and His Word, He gently moistens the clay and continues to shape us into the beautiful sculpture we are meant to be. I am thankful for that.

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I’m the Branch, Not the Vine

I was listening to Jeremy Camp this morning and the song “This Man” came on. The song is about the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, and the chorus asks the question:

Would you take the place of this man
Would you take the nails from his hands
Would you take the place of this man
Would you take the nails from his hands

I suspect most, if not all, of us would answer “no” to that question. None of us wants to endure the pain, torture, ridicule, and death that Jesus endured for us. In Romans 5:7, Paul writes, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.” Possibly, but not the kind of death Jesus suffered. We just are not that selfless, even if we want to be.

Whenever this song plays while my 15-year-old son is around, he can’t help but answer the question out loud. “No!” That is always his answer. But I am amazed at his reasoning and the understanding that it reveals. His stated reason is not because he is afraid to die as Jesus did (though he might be if he thought about it). The reason he gives for not wanting to take the place of “This Man” is that it would do no good.

He is absolutely correct. The death of no one but Jesus could result in the blessing of salvation that we reap from His sacrifice. The sacrifice of even a good kid like my son, or even a saint like Mother Theresa, would not provide the blessing of salvation. Only the blood of the sinless Lamb of God could do that.

We cannot take the place of God. Many have tried or desired to. Humans (and angels) have from time immemorial desired to take the place of God. That is what got Satan kicked out of Heaven. It is what lead to the deception of Eve in the Garden of Eden – she and Adam ate the forbidden fruit so they could be like God. Inventors, writers, artists, and actors often want to be immortalized and remembered forever as if they were God.

But we cannot do what God does. We can do great things through the strength, wisdom, and power God gives to His people, but alone we can do very little. We certainly cannot create the universe or save the souls of the world. We cannot bear fruit. As Jesus told His disciples, “a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” John 15:4. Let us remain in the vine, not try to take its place.

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