Matt Campbell – Reflections on Life, Ministry and Scripture

Giving Thanks
November 25, 2008, 3:41 pm
Filed under: Church, Family, Oklahoma, Seminary, Thankful | Tags:

10 Reasons I am giving thanks this season (in no specific order):

1. My father and mother (Bill and Sue). Few people are as blessed as I am to have the quality of parents I have. I don’t mean to sound arrogant at all, but it’s the plain truth. My parents loved me and my siblings and gave us a wonderful childhood and prepared us for our lives out from under their authority. My parents parents raised five children, teaching them live simply and walk humbly with God in view. They are as involved in each of our lives today as they were twenty years ago. I am thankful for them

2. Music. I love driving by myself late at night with good music like Coldplay or U2 on the radio while I sing, strainging to reach all those high notes. It’s especially good when it’s warm yet just cool enough to drive on the interstate with the windows down. It takes me back to the days of college, traveling to and fro the church served at the time. Good times!

3. Books. I love to read authors who write from a Christian perspective concerning a Biblical theme. In particular, I love Eugene Peterson, N.T. Wright and Dallas Willard. These guys get me jazzed about teaching and preaching! Writing is very tedious work for me so I admire reading the work of those who continually pump out something new and fresh.

4. College football. This past weekend was the finest representation of why I am thankful for college football…the Oklahoma Sooners. Might I add that this weekend I am as equally thankful (bedlam week – OU vs. OSU). There is just something special about waking up on Saturday morning to watch College Gameday, work around the house a bit, eat some lunch and then settle in for the days games. I am also thankful for the system in place. Call me crazy, but I like the BCS. I like the fact that it makes people pay so much attention to what is going on (strength of schedule, wins/losses, the strength of a teams conference, etc.). It makes for better radio conversation, tv analyst’s have more to talk about and, hey, it just creates a lot of fun for the sport. Not to mention that the majority of the time the system works itself out. I could go on, but let’s go to the next.

5. My wife, Nicole. Nicole makes my life special. I think back to as many memories as I can and the majority of the time she had a hand in making that memory. She is a gift…she’s my gift. We have a daughter together (for which I am forever grateful). We have a home together. We have a church home together. We have best friends in each other. And we have a life together. What more could a man ask for than a woman who loves him enough to wash his dirty underwear? Anyways, I married way over my head.

6. My childhood. My life is filled with memories of a wonderful childhood. Being the youngest of five I grew up envying three older brothers who loved baseball, fishing, Jesus, church, wiffel ball and backyard football. Wouldn’t you know that many of my memories come from one of those. I had a great childhood!!!

7. Leclaire CC. I kind of fell into this situation by the grace of God? Wouldn’t you know that Leclaire fits me and I fit Leclaire. This congregation has allowed me to mature as a man and a leader while I was fairly green coming into this situation. I reflect on five of years of serving here and notice the ways in which my life seen fruit from serving. These are good and Godly people led by a great staff and leadership team. I am thankful to be here.

8. My dog, Boomer. This little guy has brought some serious joy into my life. If I wrote a book on him, which I could very easily, I would be sure to mention the time I saw my neighbor at the grocery store and she told me Boomer was on the roof. I would also be sure to include the time he got skunked at 3:30am. Or what about the time he got beat up by the neighbor dogs who happened to be 5 times his size (a jack russell vs. great dane and boxer). He spent a few days in the hospital after that one. Perhaps I might include his love for Nicole’s lotion and hate of the vaccuum. More than anything I’d be sure to include that he is a cuddler who loves to sleep under the blankets and sighs quite often as he goes to sleep. Or I could just write for a while about the terrible gas he always has.

9. The Bible. I have always loved Scripture, but at this point in my life I have a certain respect for it that I have never had. The greatest catalyst in my love for Scripture was a class I took at Lincoln Christian Seminary entitled “How to Read the NT as Literature.” Our teacher, Dr. Bob Lowery, had rented out a campground in the middle of nowhere where we were to meet all week long. It was during this intensive style class that I began to see Scripture as a beautiful piece of art into which God had woven his story. I was assigned the task of studying Matthew’s Gospel and reporting to the class that which I learned concerning plot, characters, conflict, etc. That intensive week branded me in a way no other class ever had. I love God’s word…it’s beautiful.

10. I am thankful for life. I am able to experience life because God is creator. I am thankful is creative as a creator. While we are all in the image of God we are all unique. He loves diversity. I am thankful He made us with the capability to love others who may seem different. I am thankful He sent His sent to show us how to live properly and to be life for us. Not simply for the Jew, but for the Gentile so that ev’ry tongue and tribe and nation might hear of His goodness and mercy. I am thankful for a great God who made a way in wilderness…who shined light in the darkness…who set a bridge over a great canyon. Praise Him, praise Him, praise Him.

Happy Thanksgiving! Peace…Matt c.

Way Cool!!!
November 18, 2008, 11:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I will posting another tomorrow, but I ran across this sweet video worth sharing. This video was recorded at Fellowship Church (Ed Young Jr.) in Dallas and was part of the release party for their latest worship CD. After watching this it’s hard to imagine the production it required to get everything in line…pretty daunting for one song. Nonetheless, it’s way cool and those who experienced this will most likely never forget the idea of new creation.

My Battle
November 11, 2008, 5:41 am
Filed under: Church, Family, Leadership, Uncategorized | Tags:

One of the personal frustrations that constantly brews for me between the professional and personal is that of looking ahead vs. looking around. Or, put in other words, vision vs. impulse. Or, put yet another way, tomorrow vs. today. These two are always battling for control of my attitude.

By nature I do not tend to be visionary rather a bit more impulsive. It’s not that I don’t look ahead; it’s just that I have to work harder than most people to look ahead. In fact, I have to make myself sit down at the end of each week (and most days) to plan the following week otherwise I probably wouldn’t get much done. So I make myself consider what needs to be planned, prepped and/or pushed back and it helps me maximize my week considerably. But where I struggle is keeping my eyes up for long periods of time. I may spend two weeks working on the non-immediate, setting vision and keeping attuned to my agenda, but it’s like I hit a brick wall after some time and I put my head down. And for a few I seem to get lost in the moment. Ever been there?

During these days I think about being at home more often and consider leaving the office early to be with Nicole and Lily. During these days I am not as committed to prepping for lessons/sermons that are not immediate. During these days I play more MLB 2K6 and work on the house far more. During these days I am not as sharp as I’d like to be, though I am not bothered at the time. I think of fishing more often or consider getting out of town for a few days or staying up late to watch a movie. I guess you could say that rather than looking “ahead” I now look “around.” I like these days and wish I didn’t feel so guilty liking them.

I think one of the reasons I live in the moment from time to time is that I often struggle to see fruit from working with people. Maybe you’re not aware of this but fruit from vision casting in church leadership is rarely immediate. I remember one conversation with my brother Mike and him stating that just now after five years he is beginning to see some fruit in his youth ministry. So from time to time I get to the point where I need a jolt or buzz or something that offers instant gratification. I think this is why working on my house is rewarding (the results are immediate) or fishing is so enjoyable (immediate jubilee… and because fishing rocks). I also think this is why I enjoy preaching and teaching so much (I really feel like I accomplish what I set out to do).

I find myself praying for stamina often. But I also find myself wondering if isn’t such a bad thing. Sure, it flies in the face of about every leadership philosophy, but, still, maybe it isn’t such a bad thing. Today is as important as tomorrow, right??? I guess this is my leadership battle. On the other hand, leadership guru’s have probably arrived at the conclusion that I am just plain selfish and lazy. I guess everyone’s entitled to their opinion. But this is reality in my world and it “is” a battle.

When I set out writing this post I didn’t intend to get so caught up in the moment. Wait, shoot, I’m doing it right now. I better sign off before this gets too bad.

Peace…Matt c.

“Then” to “Now”
November 4, 2008, 9:12 pm
Filed under: Worship Ministry | Tags:

One of the responsibilities I have at Leclaire is to oversee the Worship Ministry. Until my last year of undergrad I never envisioned myself with such a role. In fact, I don’t think anyone who knew me envisioned me in the role of a worship because I loved preaching/teaching far too much to do that secondary, I had no formal music background (couldn’t and still can’t read music, was never in band, etc.) and, truth be told, I couldn’t sing. Seriously, if you talk to some who knew me 6 years ago they will tell you I was as poor a singer as most jr. high boys are in the midst of puberty. I played a lot guitar with my buddy Lucas, but that was the extinct of my music background.

I remember my first few years in worship ministry as I struggled to get my bearings as a leader and worship leader, learned how to deal with difficult and opinionated people, tried to find and maintain balance with other reponsibilites (students, college and young adults) and scratched the surface of how to be a man and husband. Those were a few tough years sprinkled with pointed meetings, confrontations with controlling people, stress out the whazoo, etc. I thought God had thrown me into lion pit and left to go fishing. Man, I was tempted to quit at least… … …probably 20 times (haha) and take a job mowing for the city.

But I see the fruit from those tough years and now smile that they have passed. Refined in the fire, if you will. I learned a lot about my leadership style and the need to surround myself with others who were strong in my weakness. I also learned that transition can be long and arduous requiring stamina and utter dependence upon the Almighty. Quite frankly, were it not for God using a couple and their two boys during these few years Nicole and I probably would be living in another state right now. But that couple is a post within themself…more on them later.

The defining turning point in my ministerial career thus far came when, divinely, a family moved from Texas to Edwardsville and began attending Leclaire. Their gifts and hospitality brought me out from under a dark period. They could sing and play about anything. More than these, they were a picture of health in a time of unhealth personally.  I owe this family enormous gratitude. They loved me and encouraged me and had me out for supper and even let me fish in their pond.

Now, at age 28, I oversee a great worship ministry with as good a team as there is and I even get to lead worship as often as I like. I am probably not the most qualified for worship ministry, but, hey, calling is far superior than qualifications. And while I am aware that I am not some awesome worship “minister” I do take pride that I am as gifted in “leading” worship as I am at about anything else. Six years ago this was not case!!! As I look at how God has shaped my gifts to do ministry I am pretty amazed at how I have grown as a leader, singer and, most importantly, as a worshipper.

Great Read!!!
October 30, 2008, 7:38 pm
Filed under: Books | Tags:

My Dad put me on to reading the memoirs of Calvin Miller entitled Life is Mostly Edges. Do yourself a favor: take an afternoon away, go to Borders, sit down with a cup of coffee and Calvin Millers book.

Miller splits the book into three sections: 1. Childhood, 2. Life as a Preacher, 3. Life as a Professor. And while the childhood years were interesting I lost myself in his section about life as a preacher. He looks back upon those early years in ministry recognizing his mistakes, funny stories, difficult decisions, his family and the church, etc. I read the majority while in bed and would lay there laughing and then reading excerpts to Nicole. In one particular story he reflects on the conversations he had in Bible college and I thought it very humorous because I had the same conversations in Bible College.

Again, do yourself a favor: go read this book. If you’re in the ministry or not you’ll read it from cover to cover. I did, twice!!!

Peace…Matt c.

Hello Again!!!
October 21, 2008, 8:39 pm
Filed under: Family

Well…considering I have not written in over a month I am sure I am writing this note to myself. No one keeps tabs on a site that is not updated, right?

Lily has doubled her life span since I wrote last…she is 3 1/2 months now. And not only is she a little older, but she is way cuter. She talks and is even beginning to giggle a bit. Nicole and I cannot wait until she giggles real big! Her neck is strong enough to sit in her bumbo seat and check things out and she absolutely loves it when Boomer comes around. Her eyes never lose sight of him. The only point that stinks? She still is not sleeping all night! That will change in time, though.

Nicole and I are doing wonderful. Other than e-mail Nicole has never been much into the internet…that is…until she discovered facebook. She has friends galore, pictures posted, videos uploaded, etc. It’s a whole new world for her now. I, on the other hand, try to stay up-to-date with the facebook, but it’s not my cup of tea. I am currently spending a lot of time preparing to write my thesis for school and am close to submitting my proposal. It is not finalized yet, but I will consider the shape of Jesus’ teaching in the sermon. I will use another post to elaborate on all of us…I am very eager to get begin writing on this thesis, though.

Well…more later!!! Peace…Matt c.

Currently Listening to: Keith Green: The Live Experience

Fall Is On the Doorstep…
August 21, 2008, 7:33 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Fall is on the doorstep! I love the fall because I crave college football and am always glued to the post-season baseball in October.  Sadly, it looks like the Cardinals may not make the post-season this year. Even sadder is that the Cubs are tearin’ it up. My love for the Cardinals is equaled by hatred of the Cubs. With this in mind, I have as much incentive to remain glued to October because I must root for the team playing Chicago.

Better than October baseball, though, is college football in October. In the fall my energy is given to Oklahoma and the Big 12. Now, I live in Big 10 country and must cope with my faithful Illinois friends who, each year, insist that the Illini will do great things this year (please join me in my disgust. ). At the other end of the spectrum, are my Illinois friends who cheer on those over-hyped Tigers of Mizzou. Seldom do I come across an individual who has the college football head on straight. Oklahoma, on the other hand, is poised to have a great year…again.

I also love the fall because it is a bit of fresh beginning for church stuff. We still carry the baggage of our past failures and weak areas, but the fall gives opportunity to make changes, start new programs and begin certain ministries the right way. I guess you could say that the church’s new year lands just after Labor Day! I am so excited about starting up the Student Ministry with a full head of steam. It was a great summer for our students. But I have a hunch that this fall the Spirit will move through this ministry is a powerful way. It is a step up for the Student Ministry. Last week I sent out a letter to all my parents concerning the Student Ministry along with a postcard advertising our regular programming. This week I sent that same postcard out to around 60 students. The first week of September my team and I will be making personal phone calls to further invite our young people. God will bless this ministry and He will impact young lives beyond our imaginations. Our job??? Dream big and let imaginations run wild…