Since the early days of his music, Matthew West has been trying to write and sing words that go beyond trite statements and cliches relating to the walk of faith. From his debut project, Something to Say, he's been doing just that--saying things that first were on his heart, and then, realized the power of sharing others' stories.
As we mark the release of West's seventh studio album, All In, we take a look back through the seven Behind the Song devotional interviews he's done with us, pulling from them some of his more memorable musings.
(We'll be doing an interview with Matthew West soon for the new record, but in the meantime, go hear it for yourself here.)
"The Motions" Something to Say - 2009 interview
"Over the years, I've gotten great at looking, talking and acting like a good Christian, and making everyone around me think I've got it all together. But God sees the real condition of my heart, and even if I can fool other people, I can't fool Him. He knows if I'm really pursuing a passionate relationship with Him or if I'm just going through the motions. We'll never realize God's amazing plan for our lives if we live a lukewarm life. Life's too short to go through the motions."
"My Own Little World" The Story of Your Life - 2010 interview
"I spent two months in a Tennessee cabin reading every story and writing songs inspired by them. During those months, my eyes were opened to see the world outside my door like I had never witnessed before. It was as if a veil had been lifted, allowing me a rare look into the lives of everyday people. I read joyful stories about adoption and cancer survivors. I read heart-breaking stories of abuse and broken homes. And with every look into someone's life, something began to stir in my own. This song was written one night in the cabin as I found myself humbled by the realization of just how sheltered my safe little Christian life is most days. For the first time, I was truly sharing in the hurt and the pain of these other people who I've never truly seen before, and it felt good. I first walked into that cabin with my own little world being "population me," but with each new story God began to change that."
"Strong Enough" The Story of Your Life - 2012 interview
"In my life, I've been amazed to see the lengths that God will go to draw us closer to Him. It sounds gentle, to draw near to God. Some of the ways that God has drawn me closer is to allow things to happen in my life. Everything that happens in our lives--good and bad--goes through God first. Not that He makes them happen to us, but allows them to happen. If He's going to allow something to happen, we need to draw closer to Him. Sometimes for stubborn people like me it takes those extreme circumstances to remind me that I wasn't created to live this life in my own strength."
"Forgiveness" Into The Light - 2012 interview
"When I read a story that would make me have an emotional response like no other, I found myself jumping to my guitar, whether it was amazingly heartbreaking or amazingly redemptive. The song 'Forgiveness' chronicles a mother dealing with the death of her daughter at the hands of a drunk driver. Regarding the stories on this album, sometimes I respond in some way and encourage people with Scripture, which has created a unique dialogue. People have been thankful that they've been able to share what's been going on in their life and I've found it wasn't even as much that they were a fan of my music or dreamt of having a song written about their life. It was more that somebody asked them to share it, and in some cases, they had no one else to talk to. It dawned on me that maybe this whole idea is not about music after all. Though it's awesome to make records inspired by true stories, it's more special that there's a chance for dialogue and to give people an outlet to let them know somebody's listening and praying for them."
"Do Something" Into The Light - 2014 interview
"As a songwriter, and as a communicator through music, I'm very wary of sending out a song that calls for action if it doesn't start with calling me to action first. It starts with a first person perspective with me talking to God about what I see going on around me and asking if God is going to fix it. The 'aha' moment happens with God responding by saying, 'Matthew, I did something; I created you. You go out and change the world and make it a better place.' That's important to me. That change has to start with me and people need to see me living that out."
"Day One" Live Forever - 2015 interview
"This process of six years and 40,000 stories collected and three albums filled with songs all inspired by stories--the process has become a marriage of where others' stories end and my story begins. Every song is a personal expression of my own journey of faith. What I've noticed is when someone tells their story, it makes me look at my own life. No matter where you are in the story of your life right now, no matter how stuck you might have felt, no matter what last year signified for you in your life, whatever struggles you are facing, today is a new day. In our journey of faith, every day is day one. Every day is a new beginning. Every morning His mercy is new, and that makes this day one."
"Grace Wins" Live Forever - 2016 interview
"The message that I hope to share with people is that if we were perfect, there would be no need for grace. Grace goes hand in hand with imperfection or flaws. I grew up going to church my whole life, and we unrealistically place pressure on ourselves to live a perfect life. There is only One who lived a perfect life, and He is the One who gave His life so we imperfect people could find grace in the hope of a new beginning. The big message is that the goal is not perfection, the goal is that we are to be made proof of a perfect God."
NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.
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