Last year I had the privilege of sitting down with Jeremy Camp to talk about, then, his new album, Reckless (find the interview here). It was an honest conversation with a man who continues to struggle with what it's like to pursue Christ with his whole life. His whole being.
I say down with Jeremy again because I wanted to "check in" and see what God has been teaching him through this journey. What follows is certainly a continuation of where we left off.
John: Jeremy, the thought behind the record is obviously living out this really reckless life with complete abandon to the call of what Christ has for you. What has that looked like in last few months for you?
Jeremy: Yea... We've been talking to some missionary friends in the Ukraine and Kurdistan. I didn't know much about Kurdistan at first and we were going, "Hey, let's do these outreaches. This has been in our heart to go to these places. Wherever God leads." Ukraine was coming at it pretty easy. We're like, "This is awesome." Everything was coming together. Churches were coming together. It was one of those, "Yeah, this is definitely the Lord's doing." Then, Kurdistan seemed like it was red flag after red flag. I'm getting all these papers and trying to get my government friends to get papers to say that the government of Kurdistan, "He's a legit person. It's okay." The KGB's looking at me and literally ...
John: This is serious stuff.
Jeremy: This is all serious. They were looking at YouTube videos and listening to my music and they were concerned. "Why does a Christian artist want to come over here?" I didn't really realize to the full extent that it was a Muslin country so I'm going, "Walking into this proclaiming Christ is not going to be well accepted." When we said we wanted to come over, there was a lot of question, "Why are you coming over?" What happened was it wasn't happening so I started feeling like there was some red flags, maybe we shouldn't go. That wasn't because I was afraid, but it was more like, "Wow. It didn't seem like it was coming together." My missionary friend who had been there for seven years, he emails me back and says ... I've been talking about going, "God, whatever you want, wherever you want me to go I will go." And I meant it from the bottom of my heart. He emails back and says, "Hey. If you don't feel like God wants you to come, that's fine, but just so you know, there's never been an outreach ever in Kurdistan. This is probably the last year that it'll happen because doors are closing very quickly." He said, "We need this. Churches are underground here. People are fearful in their faith."
Here we are going, "Maybe we didn't really pray about this because my minister director's going, "If we started a non-profit called Speaking Louder Ministries to do these outreaches …" And he's going, "Should we do this? Because it seems dangerous." I go, "Listen, are you willing? Are you willing no matter what God has? We need to pray about this." So we prayed and God gave us, all of us, scriptures, instances where we go, "Yeah. This is definitely what we're supposed to do." We said, "We're going to go." I told my guys, I said, "Guys, here's the dangers: it's underground churches, persecutions, there's stuff going on. Are you willing? Because I don't know what's necessarily going to happen. This is trust in the Lord." I say all this and I'm going to share it tonight the more I think about it because I try to make sure that I'm not exploiting what I went through, "Look what I just did." Because that's not the point, but you're asking ... "Since you've been talking about being reckless. What's going on?" God said, "You want to do this? You want to be completely surrendered and trust me in the mist of the hardest circumstances? Here you go." Not, "I'm going to teach you how to swim during this ... starting this new ministry that going to do that." I want to throw you in the water and say, 'All right. You're going to trust me.'" That's what it was. I was thrown in the water and said, "Okay God. I've got to look to you completely because I don't know what I'm doing."
We get over there. Ukraine was amazing. We had 150 people plus come forward at the show and accept Christ in of Ukraine. It was amazing.
John: That's awesome.
Jeremy: We get to Kurdistan and I'm not going to get fully into it, but we had ...it wasn't well received. We had a cable news program; basically, spreading lies about us saying, "Don't come to the event." The main cable news program in Kurdistan saying, "Don't come." We were warned not to speak. I couldn't speak at the concert they said. They were like, "Jeremy can't speak." This is all the truth. It sounds like, "This really happened?" Even when I looked back, I was going, "This really happened?" I was there and I was in it. I was just in the warfare of it having to get on my knees, basically, and cry out to God. They said if we do something wrong, they were going to imprison one of the locals there for a year. Here we are, faced with reality, faced with like, "Okay God, we’re actually doing what you've laid on our hearts for a long time." I had to get to a point where I said, "Alrigh, God. My life's not my own. Called my wife weeping saying, "Okay. Here we are. What do we do?" It's so hard sharing this because I don't want it to be ... It's not ... I'm still processing it. I just got back a month and a half ago.
John: It's real. It's real life.
Jeremy: It's real what's happening and people being persecuted, people being afraid of sharing their faith. Their fear is gripping them, all that. I'm fine with the point where I'm weeping saying, "God, I can't do this." And he says, "Perfect, because you can't do it." We get there and hundreds of people left. Eight thousand people showed up, hundreds of people left when we said, "In the name of Jesus," because it was offensive. [inaudible 00:06:01] who were stumbling, in the name of Jesus is. To us, it's life. We saw that. Lyrics meant so much more to me than I can even ... I'm talking about not being ashamed of the Gospel. I'm going, "Oh, wow. We have lyrics on the screens huge in the stadium in their language so they can see what we're saying." It's not just hearing music. They know what we're saying. At the end, people came down to hear more about Jesus. The sad thing is, we got to leave and the missionary friends over there have a warning. If they speak at church anymore, then they'll be deported and they'll close the church down. That's what's happened from this. You know what they told me? The locals have all stepped up and they're on fire because people are wanting to do an event in the stadium, a worship event with the local people. Not an artist coming, but the local people saying, "Let's get together. Let's do this if we're going to really ... "
I saw the affect of that and it was nothing I did. I was like, "I don't want to go." God goes, "You will go and be obedient." I was like, "Okay." Then, he just showed up and we said, "All right. This is not us, at all." We knew that. It wasn't anything we did. It was God leading and directing. That's what's happening. Speaking louder ministries is the next season of my life where we're ready to go and preach the Gospel. We're going to Japan next year. Going to the Philippines, going to Guatemala.
John: That's awesome.
Jeremy: That's what I feel like is the next step for us. Whatever it is, wherever he leads, I truly will go and lyrics mean a lot more than they used to because I realized I'd actually lived them out more than I ever have before.
John: How can we be praying for you and Addie and the kids? Especially in this next ... whatever this next season, year, whatever this is.
Jeremy: We need wisdom. We need wisdom because there's a lot of things we could be doing. Going, "Yeah. That sounds great. We're in a new season." We just need a lot of wisdom because we want to be ... I know it's the basic thing of Christians, "Always want to be in God's will." Honestly, stepping out into something like that, we don't want to be ahead of God's will. You know what I'm saying? It's a serious thing. When I realized the very words that I could have said could have affected the missionaries and the local people there in a heavy way, I realized that my very words and the very actions that I take, if I'm not led by the Lord, could be devastating. I want wisdom to be led by him in everything I do. That's where we're at and I don't really know what this next season looks like. I know what we're going towards, but we don't want to be on the side building our little kingdoms, I know that. That's very easy, especially in this industry. You know?
John: Mm-hmm. (affirmative)
Jeremy: Everyone had built their little kingdoms and where's the balance? I don't know. That's where we're going. Give us wisdom. I don't want to build my kingdom because that's going to crash and burn. We're here to build the kingdom of God and that's it. That's where we're at.
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.
The Camp family
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.
Family Christian: Congratulations on your new album! What can people expect to hear on this CD?
Jeremy Camp: Thanks! People will hear music that encompasses a new season in my life. It’s more of an exhortation for people to go out and have a heart for the lost and understand what Christ has done in our lives.
I hope it helps encourage people to go serve and love on everyone, no matter who they are! I am so overwhelmed by who Christ is and I have to go proclaim to everyone who He is and what He has done for all of us. That is what these songs are about!
FC: "Reckless," the first single from the album, really challenges believers to live in radical faith. What inspired this song?
JC: I feel that God has brought me to a season in my life where He is challenging me to live recklessly – not in a destructive way, but in an “all for Him” way.
I’ve also been inspired by verses like Matthew 28 18-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
FC: How have people responded to "Reckless"?
JC: A lot of people have said that they have a lot of challenges in their life, especially fear, that this song has helped them overcome. It’s helped them to have a renewed outlook on exactly how they are living their life for the Lord.
FC: We're featuring your worship album, We Cry Out, as a Members Only title right now. It's full of songs that align our hearts for worship. So we wanted to know: what's a worship song that's meaningful to you right now?
JC: I would say "Never Let Go" by Matt Redman. It fully relates to my life and all the things I have been through.
FC: We'll soon be wrapping up 2012. What were some of the highlights of the year for you?
JC: 2012 has been an amazing year and God has been doing some awesome things. One of the highlights has been starting our nonprofit called Speaking Louder Ministries. I’m excited to be able to use this ministry to serve communities in major cities around the world and host free concerts where I’ll be able to lead worship and share the gospel.
FC: Wow, that's a full year! What are you looking forward to in 2013?
JC: I’m excited to see what God’s going to do next year and how He’s going to use this ministry. We are preparing to play overseas in several different countries that God has placed on my heart. Other than that, I’m really looking forward to releasing my book, I Still Believe, and the new album!
FC: As we wrap up, what are some of the things God has been teaching you lately?
JC: The biggest thing right now that I feel the Lord is teaching me to do is rest in Him and His goodness. To trust fully in ALL of His ways. To be still and listen. I know I still have a lot to learn about this subject of rest, but feel each day I am getting closer to understanding the fullness that God has for me in this.
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