Derek Webb: I Was Wrong, I’m Sorry, and I Love You

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’ve learned two things:

  1. I’m a huge Derek Webb fan.
  2. I have some huge resentments against the church.

I like Derek Webb for several reasons. The simple reason is that I like his music. Beyond that, I respect him for his willingness to speak things that aren’t popular, especially in the church. He’s spoken up about politics, called out Christians who hate on homosexuals, and talked about how stupid a concept “Christian” music is. I’m usually cheering him on for his bravery, and wishing I could be so bold.

He also calls himself out. Many of his songs speak of his personal struggles, and he’s stated that he often writes songs for no one else but himself. His latest album, I Was Wrong, I’m Sorry, and I Love You, speaks of his struggle with his hard heart and cynicism. I relate to that.

This new album is a follow up to his first solo album, She Must and Shall Go Free, one of my favorite albums ever. That album focused on the relationship of Jesus and the church, and this new album dives in even deeper.

When I listened to it for the first time, I sat down with the lyrics so I could fully digest it. I forgot how deep Derek’s lyrics run, so fully digesting it didn’t happen after the first listen. I have to dig deep and really think. Layers reveal themselves the more I listen. I love albums like that.

I’m still figuring out most of the songs. Some are absolutely perplexing me. Others speak straight to my hurt, and very stubborn, heart.

I’m slowly coming to grips with my resentments against church, all while closing up my heart to the community that is the Church. I know I need that community, but it’s just so much easier to walk away and ignore the hurt.

This album is helping me release the grip on those resentments.

When I listened to Everything Will Change, I cried.

you place your vote

misplace your hope on men

who let you down

with loaded words and broken promises

it’s hard to trust in anyone

it’s easier to just fold up your arms

I cried because I’ve been in this place for far too long. Because I’m tired of being here.

But I know I’m not alone, and can move forward with hope. I’m thankful for albums like this, that speak deep truth with brutal honesty, passion, and love. I’ll continue to listen and challenge my brain and my heart.

I’m glad I can still find music that touches my soul. Music that convicts and comforts, confounds and clarifies. And although I have a long way to go in completely letting go of my resentments, I still hold onto the power of the cross.

and, though my heart is dark i am still compelled

to where your body broke,

to where your blood was spilled

– A Place at Your Table

 

You can pre-order I Was Wrong, I’m Sorry, and I Love You now. The album comes out in September, and each week leading up to the release, Derek will be releasing an acoustic video of a song off the album. 

Secular worship: Galaxies

I’d like to share another song for my “Secular Worship Series.” This song was brought up by a commenter. I gave it a listen and found it interesting.

Galaxies by Owl City

Call back the cap-com,
Tick off the time-bomb,
Let felicity fly!
Armour the airlock,
Blanket the bedrock,
And kiss the planet goodbye!

Dear God, I was terribly lost,
When the galaxies crossed,
And the Sun went dark.
Dear God, You’re the only North Star,
I would follow this far.

Fight back the flight deck,
Bring on the breakneck,
Cue the solar eclipse!
Summit the sunset,
Dubtail the dragnet,
And blow your backbone to bits!

Dear God, I was terribly lost,
When the galaxies crossed,
And the Sun went dark.
Dear God, You’re the only North Star,
I would follow this far.

Oh telescope, keep an eye on my only hope,
Lest I blink and be swept off the narrow road.
Hercules, you’ve got nothing to say to me,
‘Cause you’re not the blinding light that I need.

For He is the saving grace of the Galaxies!
He is the saving grace of the Galaxies

Dear God, I was terribly lost,
When the galaxies crossed,
And the Sun went dark.
(Went dark)
Dear God, You’re the only North Star,
I would follow this far.

I would follow this far.
(Galaxies, galaxies, through the galaxies, through the galaxies)

On my first listen, I haven’t a clue what this song is trying to say. It has a catchy beat but incredibly cryptic lyrics. But I appreciate songs that make me dig for the meaning.

The chorus is pretty simple to understand. The writer was lost and found hope through God. It’s the verses that leave me scratching my head. I read the Wikipedia article, and it says the song was written about the Challenger disaster. It is meant to depict what the crew members might have been thinking in the last moments of their life.

I doubt I would ever play this song in a worship service. I think it would leave too many people confused. But it’s a great song for personal listening and “pondering.”

What do you think? What song would you contribute for a secular worship song?

She Must and Shall Go Free

Some albums never get old, no matter how many times you listen. Derek Webb’s She Must and Shall Go Free is one of those albums for me. It is one of my favorite albums of all time. Seriously.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the album, and to celebrate, Derek Webb is giving it away. You can pick it up for FREE.

These songs ask some really good questions about the church and the Christian life. The album isn’t all wrapped up and pretty. It’s raw, gut-wrenchingly honest and even a tad vulgar at times. That’s right, there are a couple of “naughty” words. No F-bombs, but those with small children might want to be warned.

I love how Derek Webb asks some really tough questions of the church. Are we really living as we should be or are we just parading our Christianity around because it looks pretty? His songwriting continues to convict me.

Seriously, download the album.

Secular “worship” songs: Mad World

I wanted to share another secular song that speaks to me. I don’t exactly consider it worship, but it has some spiritual elements woven  into it. The song is “Mad World.” It was originally written and performed in the 1980s by the band Tears for Fears. In 2003, it was covered by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules and done much slower. Since then, I’ve heard more covers of this song then I can count.

Mad World

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I’m dying
Are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It’s a very, very mad world mad world

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
And I feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what’s my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me

And I find it kinda funny

I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I’m dying
Are the best I’ve ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It’s a very, very mad world … mad world

This song is haunting. The minor key gives it a sad feel, and the melody is soft, gentle and unassuming. First look at the words tells me that there is nothing worshipful about this. It is sad and depressing. A quick glance at the chorus tells me that the writer may be contemplating suicide.

Then I remember about 40% of the Psalms. The Psalmist often declares his sorrow very openly. There is nothing happy about many of the Psalms, and there is nothing wrong about expressing worship through sorrow.

O Lord God Almighty, how long will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people?

Psalm 80:4

This song tells me that the writer is weary of his day to day life. The meaningless running in circles, the exhaustion from trying to keep going… it sounds a little like Ecclesiastes to me.

I don’t like how worship music has to be peppy and energetic to be “truly” worshipful. Sometimes I worship best through sad songs. Sad songs help me feel. By acknowledging the sorrow, I find that I can rise above it.

What are your thoughts on this song, or on sad songs in worship?

 

Singing worship songs in weird places

Ever had a song pop in your head at random times and in weird places?

About a month ago I had a tube put in my left ear in an effort to help with the pressure and problems I’ve had with my Eustachian Tube. (It didn’t help, but that’s a whole other story.) I was quite nervous leading up to it, even though it was a simple outpatient procedure. I’m not a fan of needles or scalpels or surgery of any kind, no matter how simple.

They put me in the chair and dropped some crazy drops in that numbed everything. I sat there with my head cocked to the side, half hearing the jokes my husband was telling to make me feel better. A couple minutes after that, the doctor came in, grabbed his instruments and talked me through each step of what he was doing, while I tried not to think too much about what he was doing.

He suctioned the numbing drops out, then grabbed the scalpel and went to work. Knowing there was a sharp object heading for my eardrum made me panic slightly, no matter how tiny it might have been. It literally only took five minutes to do the whole thing. There was no pain, just a weird sense of pressure when he made the incision. Still, I was nervous and ready to be done.

While I was lying cockeyed in that chair, staring at the fluorescent lighting and ceiling tiles, a line from a worship song popped in my head. Just one line, over and over in my head. Thinking back on it, I can’t recall what song it was, or what the line even said. I tried to recall it 20 minutes after the procedure and couldn’t remember. But in that moment of slight panic, I silently sang that line over and over. Perhaps it was a plea to God to get me out alive (I’m a bit melodramatic some days) or maybe it was God bringing me something to  calm my nerves. I don’t know why it popped in my head and stayed there while that scalpel was aimed at my eardrum, but it did.

Funny, isn’t it? I don’t really like worship songs, yet a worship song was the first thing that came to mind in a moment of stress. I could have had any song pop in my head, but that song (what was that song???) was the one that came to mind that day.

I’m thankful that it did.

I’m curious; what do you do (subconsciously or not) in a moment of stress? Prayer? A comforting line of Scripture? Or are you like me and sing some random song?

Secular “worship” songs

I’m not always so excited about worship songs. I think they often lack a certain something. Like substance.

I know it’s tough to write worship songs. I get it. People like me rag on them. But there’s become such a formula for worship songs that they’ve kind of lost their luster.

Which is why I get excited when I discover a secular song that seems to have spiritual undertones. A song that makes me feel something inside. A song where I’m not just going through the motions of verse, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus.

Many months ago, I wrote a post about Mumford and Sons and how their music isn’t Christian, but often worshipful. A reader commented that I should do a post about secular songs that inadvertently speak of God’s grace. I thought it was a great idea, and accepted the challenge.

Sort of. I’ve put it off for months because I wasn’t sure where to start with it or how to handle it. Someone else mentioned that they would love to see a list of “secular” songs that have Christian undertones and might be suitable for worship. Again, great idea, but not real sure how to start.

So here’s what I’d like to do. I’m going to share some of these secular songs, and what “spiritual” message I get out of them. And I’d like you to help. Please share a non-worship song that is worshipful to you. Share in the comments, or shoot me a private message through the contact page.

These songs may not be suitable for Sunday morning corporate worship, but I find it so important to find music that connects on a deeper level. Music that speaks to me in a unique way.

I’d like to start with the first suggestion from a reader; the song Falling Slowly, from the film Once.

Falling Slowly

I don’t know you
But I want you
All the more for that
Words fall through me
And always fool me
And I can’t react
And games that never amount
To more than they’re meant
Will play themselves out

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You’ll make it now

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can’t go back
Moods that take me and erase me
And I’m painted black
You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It’s time that you won

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice

You’ve made it now
Falling slowly sing your melody
I’ll sing it loud

First off, I just love the melody of this song. It’s singable, catchy, and passionate. It’s the kind of melody that makes me want to grab my hairbrush off my dresser and wail right along.

Second, the words. They make me think. I appreciate a song whose meaning isn’t totally surface value. I really had to take time to think about these words.

I think the spiritual message I get out of it is that there is always hope, no matter how hopeless a situation. The line in the chorus, “Take this sinking boat and point it home,” makes me think of a God whose grace is never ending. Always time for a second chance.

What do you get out of this song? Anything? Nothing? What song would you like to see discussed?

Check out the list I’ve compiled of secular worship songs. 

We must love the church

Today I celebrate four years of marriage.

It’s been an amazing four years, filled with lots of laughter and love. I am very blessed.

I’ve always loved how God compares His relationship to us as a marriage. We are the bride of Christ. I know a lot of men shift uncomfortably with all that romantic imagery, but as an emotional woman, it connects with me.

During our wedding ceremony, some talented musician friends performed a special song: “The Church” by Derek Webb. The church is the bride of Christ, and if we love Christ, we must in turn love His bride. It’s a hard message for me to hear some days. I love Jesus, but often want nothing to do with the church. It’s full of ugly people who are underhanded, selfish, and hurtful.

Unfortunately, they come with the package. Most days I am no better than they are. Part of us loving on Jesus involves loving on His people.

If we love Him, me MUST love the church.

 

*There is an offensive word in this song. In context of the song, it makes perfect sense. Just be warned in case you’re sitting at your desk at work!*

The Church

I have come with one purpose
to capture for myself a bride
by my life she is lovely
by my death she’s justified

I have always been her husband
though many lovers she has known
so with water i will wash her
and by my word alone

So when you hear the sound of the water
you will know you’re not alone

Chorus:
‘Cause i haven’t come for only you
but for my people to pursue
you cannot care for me with no regard for her
if you love me you will love the church

I have long pursued her
as a harlot and a whore
but she will feast upon me
she will drink and thirst no more

So when you taste my flesh and my blood
you will know you’re not alone

(Chorus)

There is none that can replace her
though there are many who will try
and though some may be her bridesmaids

they can never be my bride

(Chorus)

Writing to process

I found this bit of attempted poetry/song lyrics in an old journal recently.

Pen to paper

Brings healing

And clarity of mind

Thoughts written out

Dealt with

And then left behind

This is ultimately my motivation for writing. My mind is a big, jumbled, scary mess. I often am afraid to even go there. I am a typical emotional woman, and during certain times of the month I get so overwhelmed that I burst into tears because I don’t even know what’s going on in my brain. I try to take deep breaths, process, and think through, often to no avail.

This is why writing has been a savior to me for so long. It’s why I’ve got a big bin filled with journals I’ve filled through the years. It’s why I’ll often sit in coffee shops and spend hours spilling onto page after page after page. After I write, it makes sense.

It’s why I have a desire for songwriting. If I can put thoughts/emotions into a neat little song structure, it makes more sense to my brain. I can rest easy, knowing things have been processed.

It’s why I started this blog.

In recent years, I’ve struggled with worship in ways that I myself cannot even comprehend. My brain has been racing with worship issues, and I wanted and needed to sort through them. I knew that writing was the way to do it. As I vented to my husband about my struggle, he would tell me, “Sounds like a book that needs to be written.”

So I started to write. Little snippets here and there. I’ve written memories to sort through and maybe locate the source of disconnect in this worship thing. I’m hoping to turn it into some sort of book, if for nothing else than to have it make coherent sense in my brain.

At first, I kept the snippets to myself, then I soon decided to put some of it out there, and this blog was formed.

I have managed to put some of my issues and frustrations into coherent posts and put some of that struggle into place in my brain. However, much of it still remains a jumbled mess. Sometimes I have an idea for a post, a struggle I need to process through, so I sit down to write. It won’t come. I write words but none of it makes sense. I try to connect sentences and they won’t connect.

I’m hoping at some point to offer some answers in this whole journey. But I’m not there yet. I’m still in the struggle through it phase. I thank you for letting me process here and I hope that soon all my jumbled thoughts will make sense.

A couple of weeks after discovering the buried piece of poetry that I shared at the beginning of this post, I was pleasantly surprised to find it slowly evolve into a song. Enjoy “Words on a Page,” my ode to journaling and writing. Lyrics below the video.

Words on a Page

Pen to paper
Brings healing and clarity of mind
Thoughts written out
Dealt with
And then left behind

What am I trying to say?
I don’t know
But I know that’s okay

Things trapped inside
Don’t always know what I might find there
Sometimes hurt
Sometimes hope, sometimes a helpless prayer

What am I trying to say?
I don’t know
But I know that’s okay
This simple act helps assuage
All my fears
It’s more than words on a page

Free my soul
Release all control

What am I trying to say?
I don’t know
But I know that’s okay
This simple act helps assuage
All my fears
It’s more than words on a page

You Are

Recently I have been working on my dreams and uncovering some passions in my life. One of them is songwriting. It’s something I have felt called to do for years and have dabbled in with other musicians. One of my ultimate goals was to sit down and write a song all by myself. With the help and encouragement from fellow dreamers I’ve connected with on JonAcuff.com, and some motivation from the Quitter Conference I recently attended, I am beginning to see that dream come to fruition.

I’ve sat down this month and worked on churning out a few songs. I’ve completed two. Ironically, my first song was a worship song.

I found it funny that through all my criticism and ragging on Christian and worship music that I wrote a worship song. But I felt that I really wanted to pour out my own heart to God, with my own words. So often I feel I can’t sing along with a worship song because I can’t really get behind the words. So I wrote something that feels true, at least to me. It’s honest and simple.

I gotta be honest… I’m terrified about putting my music out there. My current songwriting capabilities are not where I would like them to be. But I know I need to start somewhere and my first few songs are not going to be stellar. But even so, this first song is kinda special to me.

So without further adieu or more excuses, here is my first song. I’ve got lyrics under the video.

Enjoy.

You Are
You are real
You are more than what I feel
You are
You are
You are more than a song
You are peace when all is wrong
You are
You are
(chorus)
You are perfection
You’re my direction
I want You to be all I need
You are consuming
You are moving
Come be all I need
You are all I want to want
You are all that haunts me
You are
You are
(chorus)
You are why I live
Or at least You should be
You are strength when I have nothing left to give
You are the best of me
(chorus out)

How to “label” worship music

Though not a South park fan, my husband is. He occasionally makes me watch an episode, and I confess, I have laughed. No harder have I laughed at an episode though than Christian Rock Hard. In it, the boys try to start a band, and Cartman decides to start a Christian band; because Christian music is easier to break into, and because it’s easier to write Christian songs. He then takes a pop song and plugs “Jesus” into the lyrics. Voila. Instant Christian classic.

This makes me wonder… does a song have to mention Jesus to be a worship song? I have heard discussions on Christian radio where people have tried to remove certain songs from the station because it didn’t mention God or Jesus. Never mind the positive, encouraging message it was communicating. Apparently that’s not enough.

I confess, I used to be of this mindset. I didn’t really want to listen to a song unless I was sure that it was talking to or about Jesus. My intent was to protect my mind from some of the crap that is communicated through much modern music, but I took it to the extreme. All of a sudden my music tastes became incredibly narrow-minded. Even my pastor encouraged me to branch out.

Now I’m discovering that worship music doesn’t have to be so limited. I just read this article on Relevant Magazine’s website and was impressed by the band interviewed.

This was my favorite quote:

Writing music, you can write any sort of music, and that can be a sacred act; it doesn’t have to be Church music. That was a theological shift for me, personally, seeing it wasn’t about me having to put enough crosses in every painting I paint, enough Jesuses in every song I write. Not that you don’t ever do those things, but it broadened the scope of potential human work that could be sacred.

More than praise and worship music can be sacred. That’s a freeing thought for me. The simple act of writing a song from the soul is a sacred act. It doesn’t need to mention Jesus.

This song doesn’t mention Jesus, but I challenge anyone to say this isn’t worshipful.

And what about instrumental pieces? There’s no mention of Jesus’ name, yet there are so many that are mysteriously worshipful. Granted, this one is based on a classic sacred melody, but the way he plays with such passion just screams worship to me.

My mind is open to so many other musical options, and I think it’s opening wide the avenue for worship again.