“‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again”’ Then they remembered his words” (Luke 24:5–8).
He is alive and I am forgiven and my soul has been set free. He is alive and I am forgiven and my joy I cannot contain. He is alive and I am forgiven and my faith is here to stay. He is alive and I am forgiven and my love flows deep and wide. He is alive and I am forgiven because He did what He promised—He arose after three days. He is alive! He is alive! He is alive!
What emotions did the friends and disciples of Jesus feel when they realized He was real? Certainly they were surprised by the joy of knowing Jesus was back, even larger than in life. Even though they had watched Him raise Lazarus after four days of death, their faith had forgotten. But now they were glad again because God raised His Son to life.
If you look for Jesus among the dead you will not find Him. He has left the cold cemetery and risen to be with the warm love of His Father. Dead churches cannot claim the calming presence of Christ because they have forsaken the faith required to recognize Him. Look for the Lord among the living, those who live out their faith with bold grace.
Remember the words of Jesus, and your faith will resound with reassurance. “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades” (Revelation 1:18). You serve a risen Savior who lives in your life by faith. Take Him at His Word, and joy will fill your innermost being as you celebrate His appearance almost two thousand years ago. Enjoy Jesus, anticipating your Lord’s second return.
“So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28).
Prayer: How can I reassure my faith with the reality of a risen Savior? Where are the places I can find Christ among the living? What words of Jesus do I need to constantly remember?
Related Readings: Matthew 24:30; Acts 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 1 Peter 3:18
Post/Tweet: Look for the Lord among the living, those who live out their faith with grace and transforming truth. #amongtheliving
“Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen” (Mark 16:14).
Jesus Christ is alive and well. His earlier followers, taken aback by His death, initially denied His resurrection. They rejected reliable testimonies and refused to receive the truth of Christ rising from the dead. However, when they encountered the risen Lord, He rebuked them and then loved them. Unbelievers can loathe the Lord. Deists can deny Christ’s deity. Agnostics can be apathetic over His resurrection, but He is alive and well.
Contemporary Christ-less cultures could care less about Christ’s resurrection, but it does not lessen His lordship over them. Everyone will one day confront Christ. “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10–11). Easter is an excuse for Jesus followers to celebrate His resurrection and His relevance.
The Lord is alive and well in your heart. His resurrection resulted in Christ taking residence in your soul and transforming your life. By faith you believed, and God gave you grace upon grace. Because He has risen from the grave, He has given all who confess Him as Lord abundant grace on earth and the promise of heaven with Him.
“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). He is all you need.
Lastly, you can live large for the Lord because He has triumphed over sin, sorrow, death, and hell. Easter is your eternal encouragement that He is alive and well. There will always be doubters, but do not dwell there. Focus on the undeniable force of faith that has captured you and millions before you. Because He has risen, you can rise above your circumstances, your hurt, and your fears.
“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).
Prayer: Am I a disciple who ignores His power or one who proclaims His power?
Related Readings: Numbers 14:11; Matthew 28:17; Acts 10:41; 1 Corinthians 15:1–58
Post/Tweet: Because Christ has risen, we can rise above our circumstances, our hurt, and our fears. #resurrectionpower
“So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him…” John 19:16b-18a
Good Friday is really good for those who have come to the foot of the cross of Jesus, in repentance and faith. It is a commemoration for Christians of the ultimate and final sacrifice for the sins of the world. Through a cruel and grueling death, Christ gave His life—His body wreathed in pain, so the sick could be healed. He felt abandonment, so the rejected could be accepted. He knew no sin, but became sin, so sinners could be forgiven.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Oh what salvation and love—the Lord’s life consummated on Calvary. Oh what forgiveness—His raspy voice reiterated. Oh what compassion—His swollen face communicated. Oh what grace—His nail pierced hands activated. Oh what good news—His nail pierced feet initiated. Oh what humility—His crown of thorns demonstrated.
It is Good Friday, because the good news of Jesus Christ’s love and forgiveness has been proclaimed around the world for almost two millennium. Taste and see that the Lord is good. He is good on Friday, but He is great on Sunday—because on the first day of the week He rose from the dead. Friday is good—but three days later is better—for He lives! Indeed, some who killed Him instantly recognized Him for who He was—they believed.
“And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, Surely this man was the son of God” (Mark 15:39)!
Good Friday’s come and Good Friday’s go, but how is it with your soul? Does the cross of Christ move you to emotion—are you a grateful and engaged follower of Jesus? If not, embrace and celebrate the Cross. Ask your heavenly Father to restore the joy of your salvation, or maybe, you are coming to Him for the first time in faith and trust. Surely, this man must be the Son of God—who came to save you and the world from their sins.
Make today a meaningful memory of what your master Jesus did for you. Linger long in reflection of the love that flowed down, and mingled with His precious blood. See His hands, see His feet; oh what love that makes your joy complete. You serve a risen Savior, who’s in the world today—He walks with you—He talks with you—He gave His life just for you. Good Friday is good—because Jesus is good—and His cross is God’s loving gift.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Prayer: How can I celebrate Good Friday as a sacrifice of praise and gratitude to God?
"Then he said to them, 'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.'" Matthew 26:38 (NIV)
I dipped my piece of torn bread in the cup of dark purple juice and placed it in my mouth. I tasted the ripeness of the fruit and savored the texture of the bread. "I will remember, Lord." I spoke the words in my head, silently thanking Jesus for the sacrifice He made for me on the cross.
Within a minute, the aftertaste of the juice distracted my communion meditation. It was more bitter than usual and I thought about taking a sip of something else to remove the flavor from my mouth. Should I grab my coffee, or some water?
Immediately, the Lord spoke to my heart: "Suffer with Me awhile."
Sadness filled my heart as I realized how quickly I wanted to remove the unpleasant taste ... how fast my thoughts drifted from the suffering of Christ to my own comfort. And I wondered how many times my self-focus had led me away from obedience in the hard places of life.
The Bible tells of three disciples who also chose comfort over obedience. On the night of His betrayal, Jesus asked Peter, James and John to watch and wait for Him while He prayed. During the time when our Lord was "overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," His closest friends couldn't keep awake. Three times Jesus returned to find them sleeping.
For those disciples, it was sleep that drew them from Christ's request to keep watch with Him. What is it for me? What keeps me from obeying Jesus' requests? Oh, the easy ones I have no problem with. It's the ones that infringe on my comfort that I wrestle with.
Someday, we'll get to enjoy heaven and all its perfection. But for now, the work God calls us to do here on earth is often uncomfortable, physically tiring and emotionally draining. Some days it's downright dirty and difficult.
While my flesh would prefer a cushy assignment, I don't want to shake the nail-scarred hands of Jesus—the hands that touched lepers, the hands that stroked the head of a broken sinful woman—with hands that have never gotten dirty with life.
During this time before Easter, consider what sacrifices the Lord might be asking of you. Perhaps it's serving in an area at church that's difficult, reaching out to an unfriendly neighbor, or mending a damaged relationship. Or maybe it's getting less sleep in order to wake up and spend time with Him through prayer and reading Scripture.
Moving from serving in comfort, to serving in sacrifice, builds spiritual character and maturity. But more than that, our hearts unite with Christ as a suffering servant.
Jesus asked us to carry our cross daily. Before we can truly appreciate what happened on the cross 2000 years ago, or the resurrection that happened on Easter, we need to deny ourselves and follow Jesus wherever He leads. And stay awake while we do.
Heavenly Father, You are faithful and awesome. Forgive me when I disobey Your requests to sacrifice my own comfort. I ask for a heart like Yours that sees beyond the surface of this life, a heart that sees the work that needs to be done from an eternal perspective. Please give me courage and boldness to become a steadfast servant, pleasing in Your sight. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Find new boldness in serving Christ by getting to know Him through Scripture. Proverbs 31 Ministries' team included 366 devotions to study the Word with you in our new NIV Real-Life Devotional Bible for Women. Pick up your copy here.
Reflect and Respond:
Why would Jesus have asked Peter, James and John to watch with Him while He prayed?
Is there something that Jesus has asked you to do that you haven't done? Define what that is and take a first step toward it today.
Luke 9:23-24, "Then He said to them all: 'If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.'" (NIV)
Phillipians 1:29, "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have." (NIV)
I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. Luke 11:8
Sometimes our prayers are too pretty and too pious. They become a work of art instead of a work that conforms our heart to Christ. We can pretend things are better than they are and we can lack a sense of urgency with matters that mean the most to our Heavenly Father. He wants our prayers to persistently punctate heaven for help, for wisdom, for the least, the lost and for those who need His healing. Indeed, our big God wants us to offer up big bold prayers with shameless audacity.
Men and women tire of our requests, but not the Lord. He is ever vigilant to take our weary requests and revitalize them with His robust resources. Jesus is the Master of the Universe in meeting needs that seem to be a nuisance to the naked eye. He longs for His children to linger long in importunity for other needy friends. When prayer flows from an unfeigned faith, what man says is annoyance the Spirit commends as shameless audacity. Bold prayers breakthrough!
So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer. Ezra 8:23
Moreover, you can be an aggressive advocate for others, because you have a generous advocate in Jesus Christ. Your advocacy for those stuck in adversity grabs God’s heart. Perhaps a portion of your prayer time is to lift the downtrodden to the Lord. Your heart will follow, as it seeks provision for your petitions. Also, pray for creative ways for your house to become a haven for those who need a safe place to stay. Your warm home will warm hearts to Christ’s heart.
Shameless audacious prayers are the product of a broken and contrite heart. The more the Lord has of you, the more you will want of Him. The world brands foolish what God calls wise. Thus, don’t let go of dreams and visions that raise the stakes of your commitment to your Savior Jesus. He gave His all for you, so that you can give your all for Him! Lastly, pray bold prayers with other shameless servants of Christ. He answers prayers produced during intimate encounters.
After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.And they were all filled with the Holy Spiritand spoke the word of Godboldly. Acts 4:31
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I will pray shameless, audacious prayers on behalf of others.
1. Your song, ‘All This Time,’ seems to be dealing with the loss and brokenness of this world and God’s grace to overcome it. Would you mind sharing the story behind the lyrics?
This song is very personal to me, but people relate to it in all different ways. For me the song is all about the moment that I realized I was not alone, but that God was right there with me. I was seven years old and my family was going through some hard things and I didn't know what to do, or where to go. I remember running to my room, with tears rolling down my face, and grabbing my bible. My grandfather is a pastor and he told me that Jesus would always be there for me. The song talks about how God sees our heartache, He sees our broken dreams, and how He's right there with us through it all, It's a reminder that we don't have to walk alone, God is right there and He always will be.
2. In your song ‘Ready or Not,’ you did a collaboration with Lecrae. What was that like?
I really look up to Lecrae, for his talent but even more for who he is. He is truly speaking into the lives of young people all over the world, so it was amazing to be able to work with him! The song is one of my favorites on the record.
3. Britt, you’re an entertainer, an evangelist for the Gospel, a wife, a soon-to-be-mom; how do you handle “life?”
Ummmmm..... Sometimes it's crazy! :) No, honestly by the grace of God and taking one day at a time. I focus on not worrying about tomorrow but trusting that God knows and has everything I need for today, whether that is joy, patience, rest, a pedicure..... He knows, haha! Life has only gotten sweeter since I have become a wife, and I can not wait to be a Momma! :)
4. Who are your influences? What authors do you follow? What artists do you listen to?
I look up to people like Heidi Baker, Mother Teresa, Esther in the Bible.... These are woman who changed and are still changing the world. The courage, grace and love that they have for people and God is hard to put into words, I just know that I want to learn from their life and be that hope for my generation that they were for theirs!
Jeremy Camp’s seventh recorded studio album Reckless needs a warning sign: NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.
Camp explains the concept of recklessness through the life of Paul. In Acts 14, Paul returns to Lystra to share the gospel—a city where he had been stoned and left for dead just days before. Sounds crazy that he would return to a place like that. But as Camp explains, it’s more reckless than crazy, and there’s a difference. “[Paul] wasn’t being crazy for crazy’s sake, saying ‘I don’t care what’s going to happen. I just want to go.’ No, when you feel God calling you to do something, you have to be obedient. And that’s the difference. Paul was just obedient. That’s what reckless is.”
I caught up with Jeremy before one of his concerts. Sitting across the table from this man, you can certainly see his genuineness. He is a real man that has a heart for God. For his wife. For his kids. And for the church.
John: We’re here to talk with Jeremy Camp about the new record coming out, Reckless. But before we talk about the record, I just want to hear a little refresher on who you are today and what’s been going on with you. We know you’re married, that you have three kids, and that life is good and that you’re basically having fun.
Jeremy: Yes, and this has definitely been a year of reflection for me. I’ve got three kids now. One of my daughters is eight, and she’s rocking the piano and even writing songs. She’ll sit there and I’ll walk in, and she’s singing worship songs that she’s learning. It’s unbelievable.
John: I was going to ask, are any of the kids going to be future singer/songwriters? I mean, they have two artists as parents.
Jeremy: Yes, I think so... My oldest is more of a Type A personality, but she’s creative too. Kind of like me. It’s the Type A personality with a creative side as well, and so she’ll be putting together the songs. She’ll sing harmonies and be the more structured one. Then Arie, my six year old, has the voice where she does the vibrato at the end already. I’m like, “Holy cow!” When she’s messing around, she does all these things with her voice. But she’s too goofy right now to really do it in seriousness, which is okay, of course. Let her have fun!
John: She’s having fun.
Jeremy: Yep, so I don’t care. But wow, I could hear her in a few more years when she actually wants to start singing... I could see the girls working together. Bella writing the songs, structuring things out, her singing the lead, and Arie holding down the fort and singing harmonies. That’s kind of what I see. but we haven’t pushed them that way.
John: And your son on percussion.
Jeremy: My son, he rocks! He likes to dance, so he gets down and he does this jig thing and then he’ll clap his hands. I mean, every once in a while he’s on beat. It’s because it just happened to be that way, not because he’s really on beat. So, I think it’s definitely something that has to naturally happen. We haven’t forced my girls to play anything or do anything. My daughter just goes in there and wants to practice, so I’m like, cool. Because I’ve always said, I want them to do what they feel like they are called to do. Not, “Hey, you should do music because we did.” So, that’s been a joy watching my kids grow up. It’s really cool to have a boy that I can play football with too. He loves watching me. He can’t grip the football, even the little kid’s kind yet, so he gives it to me and just wants me to throw it. He’ll get it for me and wants me to throw it again. So he enjoys that, you know, he’ll watch football with me and if I turn it, he gets kind of bummed. Which is sweet, because I love it.
My wife is doing great. She’s home-schooling and a super mom. She’s been huge, just in the season too of saying, “Honey, let’s just do it. Even if we move somewhere random. If that’s what God has, I don’t care.” And these are her words. She told me, she said, "Listen, I’ll live in a shack somewhere, if we’re just ministering as we’re going, I don’t care." And she meant it.
It’s like one of those things that you just don’t say, right? Unless you mean it. And you’re like, I’ll do this. She’s like, “I really at this point, I just want to be completely in God’s will. Because I want God’s perfect will and we can step into that. Because I already know what I can be doing practically, but I want to be willing to move if He says move or go here if He says go here.” So, it’s been neat to watch my wife be so on fire, and it’s great that we’re on the same page. Whatever the Lord is leading us to do, I feel we can let each other know, and we can pray about it and that’s where we’re at.
John: That’s really awesome. Putting your artist hat aside, how do you feel that both you and Adie have changed or grown by having kids?
Jeremy: Oh man. We definitely understand, I know it’s very cliché to say, but it’s just true. The heart of a father. And for me I always understood Jesus as my Savior and I’m in desperate need of the Savior. And even His comfort and understanding when you read about Him washing His disciples’ feet and all these different things, but there is something to the heart of the father, the protector, the comforter, the encourager. And Jesus does all of that too. You know what I’m saying? It’s all one. You’ve got the Father, you’ve got the Son, you’ve got the Holy Spirit, but there’s that nature of God the Father that helps me see things when I make mistakes. How it’s not discipline and anger, or discipline and frustration. It’s like, “Hey, I’m disciplining you because I love you, because I don’t want you to make these mistakes.” I tell my kids, "Girls, the reason why daddy is disciplining you is not because he’s angry or frustrated, it’s because when you grow up, if we don’t instruct you in these ways, it’s going to be very difficult for you. If you don’t understand authority and stepping under authority, you’re going to have a very rough life. We’re helping you in the future because we love you. We want you to grow up and understand how to step into the world, and understand how to walk and how God wants you to walk." And so that’s a huge perspective that we have to have.
John: Definitely. So, your new record this time is obviously about living out a “reckless” life.
John: Why don’t you briefly explain what that means, and let’s just start there. What does that mean to you to live a reckless life?
Jeremy: I think it’s giving up all your rights and saying, “God, my life is not my own; it’s yours.” And I think there are so many times in the Bible that we see people that were used by the Lord in a great way. They made mistakes. Look at David. He did some crazy things. And you have Moses. He was like, "I don’t want to speak and God, I can’t articulate anything." And God is like, fine, he is arrogant, but God still used Moses and led him into the wilderness. And Moses is like, “All right God, here we go. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I know I’m supposed to be going to the Promised Land, but there’s the Red Sea, there’s no food, there are all these different things.” Even people creating idols. I mean, all throughout the Bible we see people that just had this faith of, “All right Lord, I’m just going to recklessly abandon myself to you.”
And so, I think what that means is: “God, I’m willing to go and do whatever it is—despite the consequences and what it looks like.” That is what faith is to me. You look at Esther. She’s like, “I’m going to go to the King because if my people don’t bow down they’re going to get killed. So, I’m going to go and say this is an awful thing. I’m one of those people. I’m just going to walk in, even uninvited.” And so she walks in. She could have been killed, but she didn’t care. She knew she needed to do it. And what happened? Something good happened in that case. But good things don’t always happen, of course. But here we have these people in different parts of the country that were willing to be martyred for their faith—that’s truly being reckless in the best sense! People don’t like hear that who live in America where it’s very comfortable, without much of challenge. But I’m not necessarily saying that in order to be reckless, we have to say, “I will die for my faith.”
As I was saying earlier, it could be. I mean, I know people that right now are going into places in Iran and Iraq and Afghanistan that are saying I literally could die for my faith, but I know God is calling me. Not that they should do it because they want to die for their faith, or just being crazy for crazy sake. But because they are being fully obedient even without knowing what’s going to happen. Paul was such a great example. Because how do you truly do that when we live in a bubble here in America. (Not that there’s not great things happening here, but it’s just a fact.) I live in it and get caught up in it. I get distracted. I am selfish and all that, but Paul is like, “Hey, my life’s not my own anyway.” That’s the whole point to being reckless.
John: Yes. I think, to some extent, there are a lot of people within the Evangelical Church that when they go to church Sunday morning or Sunday night, Wednesday night, or what have you, like when they’re in a bible study, they’re more than willing to live their life in a reckless way there. How do you challenge them both as a Pastor and as a singer/songwriter to say, “Well, that’s good, but let’s move outside of that bubble”?
Jeremy: Here’s a couple of things people say: “Okay, I’m ready to go do something, but what do I do now?” Well, the Bible clearly states—and this is what I love—the Great Commission, to go into all the nations and preach the gospel to every creature. So, whether it be in your community, your neighbor or others, we can actually just step out and invite them over and give them the love of Christ and preach the gospel. There are practical things we can be doing.
Or, they’ll say, “I want to go and take six months of my life and go to this mission field—whatever it may be.” So, it’s another practical thing we can be doing. Well, the Bible also says to make disciples. That’s what Jesus says. There are things He says that we can be doing. So take that person that is Saved, and raise them up and encourage them; take time out and pour into them. Walk life with them. That may be rough. You may feel the pain that they may be going through. Because when one part of the body hurts, we all hurt.
James said it. It’s from the heart of the Lord. It’s what is pure and undefiled religion to take care of the widows and the orphans. So, what do I do? I don’t know, Lord. I don’t know how to be of use. He tells us of practical things we could be doing all the time. I think we just have to step outside of our comfort zone sometimes and ask, “What’s the situation?” Like the people who are in church doing things, possibly even when they could be stepping out of their comfort zone. It might be a little rough trying to do that. I don’t know how to even do it. But, it’s okay. Be loved by the spirit. If you have a heart and spend time with the Lord and that heart is there, then He’s going to give you the wisdom and the ability to do things for Him. So, there are practical things we can be doing. Then, there are things that I think He might say personally to you. Give this up or go here and I do believe those things too. He just wants a willing heart.
John: And sometimes those things are not huge, necessarily, like going to the other side of the world...
Jeremy: Right. It doesn’t make you more spiritual either to do that. I mean it‘s just being obedient when he calls you to. Sometimes you don’t know what that really is, but He knows what it is. So, you just go, and that’s where being “reckless” comes in. You don’t know what’s going to happen, and it may not end up great. Paul kept having these struggles. But, it’s okay because our life is not our own anyway. It’s easier said than done, I know, trust me. I say this stuff and God’s challenging me with, “Okay, are you willing? “
John: Yes, and the second half of that promise in the Great Commission is the fact that Christ, himself, goes with us. I mean, how beautiful is that? He’s not saying, “Go! Now I’m going to leave you alone.” He promises He’s going to be with us.
Jeremy: Yes, take heart. “I’m going to be with you.”
John: You have had many songs that have made a big impact on people. And, at times, I guess the things that people tend to do is put an artist like you on a pedestal, and make much of you. When you are at a show and people see you perform, there’s a tendency in a lot of hearts to worship Jeremy Camp. Up on the stage, how do you steer the audience away from that and say, “This is not about Jeremy Camp. This is all about Christ.”
Jeremy: That’s a challenge, because you know people will say, you have a new CD coming out and I want to see you do that. It’s a reality, and you have record companies saying this too. So it’s like this: How do I get stuff out there but not make it about me? And still prompt them to go out and get the record or the ticket? It’s a challenge. But God gave us Scripture for this, and in Isaiah 42 it says, “I’m the Lord, that’s my name, and I will not share my glory with anyone else” (nor praise to idols).
So once you realize this, you have to walk a very fine line, knowing He won’t share His glory with anyone else. I think the best thing we can do is to steer people away from their natural tendency to worship me, as an artist, and get them into Scriptures and point them that way as much as I can. You can’t control what people do, but you can control what you do as much as you can.
If I can share Scripture and try to leave them in a good place at the end of the night, then it was a great show. I know I can always count on the Lord. The biggest thing for me is that we have prayer time before we go on. Asking the Holy Spirit to move and do the work in our hearts and those of the people in the audience, allowing us to just be the vessels He flows through. People are going to be what people are going be. You have to do the best you can to point them to Christ, and let the Holy Spirit move letting God do His thing; all the while, praying that hopefully artist worship won’t happen. It’s part of the business, and honestly, it’s not always easy.
John: Well, I’m sure you’re tempted along that road as well.
Jeremy: For me, the temptation is more about how the song is doing on the radio? And how the album sales are coming along. If those things are doing well, it feels good because it seems to solidify what you’re doing—even though that’s not actually the case at all! But there’s still a battle. I still have that battle. So, it’s not that I want that praise on stage, but that I like to see them engaged, and hopefully I’m letting the Holy Spirit move. I think that can be a challenge.
You can’t find your worth in how many sales you have or how a song on the radio is doing. You have to find your worth in Christ, so that those circumstances won’t determine your joy or happiness. Joy should always be there—in Christ. Your happiness can sway back and forth. If your worth is in Christ, those things won’t matter. Not that I always say to myself, my worth is in Christ, so it doesn’t matter ever. I battle it too, and that’s why every single day I pray and go, “All right, I blew it again Lord,” and I let that bother me. So it’s a constant battle because we live in a fleshly world and a fallen age where we do daily battle.
That’s the hope of Heaven too. Personally, I can’t wait to not have to battle this anymore. I can’t wait until none of that matters anymore. So, I’m moving towards that the rest of my life, but I’m going to have to keep battling those things. That’s why we need Jesus. If we didn’t have those battles, we wouldn’t be desperately going, “I need you Lord.” That’s why we need Jesus. God kept showing people in the Bible that they couldn’t do it on their own. He pointed out, “See where you turn when you think you can do it by yourself? You start making idols. You start worshiping a calf!” He constantly shows us that we can’t do it on our own. It’s kind of discouraging to always face this struggle, but it actually just comes down to understanding that we need Jesus every day, desperately.
John: What is the most important song you’ve ever sung for you?
Jeremy: Honestly, I think “I Still Believe.” Because, here’s the deal. There’s honesty that we have to have, and David was very honest in the songs. How many times has he said, “Why are my enemies prospering? Why is this happening to me?” But he always resolved it. So, he was honest in what was going on because he went through struggles and saw things happen, but his resolve was this: “Your loving kindness endures forever. Your mercies are new every morning. You’re good. You’re a faithful God.” All these things are resolved at the end of that.
So the reality of us in our lives is that we’re going to go through struggles and we’re going to say, “Why is this?” And that whole song asks questions in the verses. But I still believe that you’re faithful. I still believe that you’re true, and I still believe that your Word is still here. Even when I don’t understand, I still believe. It’s a truth that we can always hold onto, but the honesty of what happens in our life being here on this earth—the goodness—is that He is still faithful. That His Word is still true and that we have to hold on to that.
John: It is a great song. And I think, to some extent, Jeremy, whether you would agree with me or not, that’s okay, but I think the idea of living a reckless life is a continuation of that song.
John: Because the whole world is telling us to give up. Just like the wife of Job. She’s saying, “Just give up, curse God, and you’ll be fine. And to some extent that’s what the whole world is doing to us. But I think your call in this new record to live a reckless life is for us all to continue to believe.
Jeremy: No matter what the circumstances. Amen.
John: Who are your influences, authors, pastors, singer/songwriters, artists? Who speaks to you?
Jeremy: My dad was a big influence to me growing up, and I also see a lot of things when I go out and meet a lot of great people. But to live with my father, of course growing up, and see him love on people and to see us have hard times, but then to watch him stay faithful was the greatest teacher I could ever have—because he was someone close to me. Nowadays, people like John Corsin, a pastor in Oregon, influences me. He went through losing his wife to a car accident and then two years later his daughter in a car accident. So two major tragedies. So those types of people speak into my life because I understand the pain they’ve been through. When they speak things, they speak through experience. As far as singer/songwriters go, I like Tim Hughes and Matt Redman with their worship songs because there’s just something different there. It seems deep. Or Steven Curtis Chapman. If you hear some of his songs and really listen, you can hear that he has a walk with the Lord. He gets it. And so I think there’s some good influences throughout the years that I have had, with musicians and others who I respect and have gleaned experience from.
John: Jeremy, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.
"Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)
Fourteen years ago I was stuck in a rut of want. There was an opportunity that looked so promising. A publisher expressed genuine interest in my writing. It seemed to be right. It felt right. I wanted it to be right. It must be right!
But it never came to pass.
In my most mature moments I reasoned, "It wasn't meant to be. I trust God and believe in His perfect plans."
In my not-so-mature moments I wondered, "God, this isn't fair. Why do You keep saying no?"
And in my immature moments I whined, "God, do You care this hurts me?"
Have you ever been there?
Ruts of want are tough places to be stuck.
When God says no, we are sometimes tempted to wonder if He loves us. In reality, it's because He loves us, He sometimes says no.
Read that last sentence again and rub it into your heart. The hurting part. The part that throbs and aches when you see others getting the exact opportunity you want. You fake a smile to hide the pain.
God brought this change of perspective to me through a baking disaster that happened to my youngest daughter Brooke. She came to me at 9 o'clock one night and asked if she and her friend could bake a cake.
Hope, Brooke's older sister, had offered to help and I was too tired to argue the incessant pleas of a nine-year-old.
So, the girls began to bake.
Brooke measured and poured, whipped and stirred, and carefully placed a batter-filled cake pan into the oven. Then she turned on the oven light and watched the cake bake. Her cake became her whole focus. She couldn't stop looking at the cake and grew increasingly impatient with the slow-passing minutes on the timer.
Nothing kills patience like solely focusing on the object of your desire. And tragically, impatience becomes the breeding ground for compromise.
About 30 minutes into the 45-minute baking time, the cake looked done. It smelled done. Brooke and her friend wanted it to be done. She reasoned it must be done!
Hope helped retrieve the cake and placed it on the counter to cool.
And it wasn't long until the cake imploded.
The cake couldn't withstand the pressure of an undone center ... and neither can we.
If we obsess over the cake and make it our whole focus, character atrophies. If we make growing in godliness our obsession and keep our focus on God, our character matures. And a mature character makes for a solid and well-done center.
I thank God every day for every "no" He has graciously allowed and continues to allow in my life. Our key verse Proverbs 16:3 teaches, "Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans." Through placing my focus on God, I have embraced His plans for me, and I trust that a "no" from Him is really a blessing.
I used to pray, "God, let me, let me, let me!"
I now pray, "God, please never let my success outgrow the character necessary to handle it."
Indeed, it's because God loves us, He sometimes says no.
Dear Lord, although I don't always understand, thank You for saying "no." I know that You do so as a measure of protection for me. Help me to embrace Your best for my life, Father. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Is there a young woman in your life who is striving for God to be the center of her focus? Lysa TerKeurst's new book What Happens When Young Women Say Yes to God, co-written with her teenage daughter Hope, would make a wonderful gift! Click here to purchase your copy.
Sometimes a "no" from God can make us feel like we'll unravel. For help in navigating these emotions, check out Lysa's book Unglued by clicking here.
Reflect and Respond:
What "no" have you thanked God for lately?
Soak in the truths of our key verse and power verses. Then, think about instances in the past where a "no" from God has really been a blessing in disguise. Use these tools in an area of your life that needs reminding of His faithfulness now.
Psalm 31:14-15a, "But I trust in you, LORD; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands." (NIV)
Proverbs 16:9, "In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps." (NIV)
Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied, The one who had mercy on him. Jesus told him, Go and do likewise. Luke 10:36-37
Who is our neighbor? Jesus says our neighbors are those we meet who are in need, especially the needy who are outcasts. Religious people may ignore a suffering race indifferently, or label a lifestyle as repulsive, but Jesus sees them with compassion. The individuals Jesus spent most of His time loving are the ones who were marginalized by those who felt spiritually superior. Ironically, the “Good Samaritan” loved someone who may not have done the same for him.
Furthermore, when we take time to care for those much different from ourselves,we model the love of Christ. It is easy to love those like us, but more difficult to love those from a diverse culture. We do risk rejection from religious people too busy with programs that care only for their own kind. They reason, “We don’t have the time, money or interest to care for those of a different culture, while our people still have needs.” However, love looks beyond its own and offers care!
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. Luke 6:32
Racism is a raw nerve that requires intentional investment by those of us with influence. We all have opportunities to accept those who have been rejected and bring healing to those who have been hurt. Yes, those who have been robbed of equal rights need us to make things right through education, legislation and jobs. However, the quiet generosity and engagement of Jesus followers is the most effective in affecting society for good. The sufferings of those trapped in generational cycles of cynicism desperately need our compassion. Christians are called to care for strangers.
Who in your life is beat down by their circumstances and needs you to lift them up? Who can you search out that has been robbed of their rights, that you can stand in as their advocate for justice? Perhaps for a season your generosity will give hope to someone who faces temporary setbacks. It may require you to get your hands dirty in dealing with their issues, because relationships are messy and complicated. Care for strangers can lead them to love Christ, the ultimate caregiver!
I was a father to the needy; I took up the case of the stranger. Job 29:16
Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me a heart of courage to care for those different from me, who are in desperate need.
Related Readings: Leviticus 25:35; Job 31:32; Matthew 25:35-44; Hebrews 13:2; 3 John 1:5
Post/Tweet today: The quiet generosity and engagement of Jesus followers is the most effective in affecting society for good. #involved
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." Matthew 5:9 (NIV)
An eight-year-old boy named William once wrote his pastor a letter. "Dear Pastor, I know God wants us to live in peace with everybody, but He never met my sister. Sincerely, William."
I bet you and I could write similar letters. There's always someone who seems to get under our skin, isn't there? In a world filled with irritating people and problem makers, being able to bring peace in the midst of it all can feel impossible.
Because we are born into a world of sin, we don't always have automatic peacemaking reactions. One of our responses may be to engage our defense mechanisms and retaliate when provoked. Or we may turn inward and shut down, not seeking to work things out. This is why parents and schoolteachers struggle to train children to resolve their issues with each other peaceably.
While I am no longer a little girl flustered by the annoying boy pulling my pigtails on the playground, I still find myself not responding well when irritated or aggravated by someone. It's hard to want to bring peace to situations with people I don't like.
God, however, modeled the right way to seek peace. When we offended God with our disobedience, He took the initiative to reconcile a relationship with us through His Son's death on the cross. Through Jesus' sacrifice and salvation, I'm no longer subject to my defensive reactions or to shutting down. Instead, I have access to His peace, which makes being a peacemaker possible.
Recently, while going through some conflicts with people, I read Matthew 5:9: "Blessed are the peacemakers ..."
When I first read this I thought, "If I will just memorize this verse, boom ... I will be a peacemaker." So I did. Big surprise ... I wasn't a peacemaker the next time conflict arose.
I recognized that I needed to have a deeper understanding of what it meant to be a peacemaker, so I dug into the scripture.
If we look back to the original text, we see the word for peace here means harmony, security and rest.
These words that define peace remind me of the things Jesus brings into our lives. Because we follow Him, He gives us the ability to make peace. When we do, He promises we "will be called children of God" (Matthew 5:9). We can be a representation of the peace He gives.
So when Jesus said we are "blessed" when we bring peace, it is because being a peacemaker allows us to represent the depth of who He is as His children.
Some people will go to great lengths to prove themselves right. Pride and arrogance convince them that laying aside differences is a sign of weakness. But if we can catch God's vision of what it looks like to be a peacemaker—to bring harmony, security and rest to a difficult situation—it will allow us to feel secure and at rest in the midst of conflict. We can stand confident as children of God.
As we let go of petty stuff, we are peacemakers. When we are the first to say, "I'm sorry," we give peace. When we talk calmly, rather than yelling, we bring peace to the situation. By learning to give peace the way we receive peace from Jesus, His peace flows through our lives.
Being a peacemaker is challenging and may not come naturally. But may we be reminded today that in every conflict we have the capability to bring resolutions of peace. We can bring harmony, security and rest because Jesus' death and resurrection gave that to us.
Dear Lord, You are the ultimate peacemaker. Help me keep my eyes on You in difficult circumstances. And to bring peace to conflict with others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
How would being a peacemaker and having peaceful reactions change your relationships?
Pick three ways you can react peaceably today. Here are some examples: Changing your tone of voice. Forgiving. Being humble. Talking a situation through. Not being defensive. Choosing kind words. Believing the best, rather than assuming the worse. Not interrupting, or taking sides.
1 Corinthians 13:11, "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me." (NIV)
Romans 8:16, "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God." (NIV)