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A Story Of Matthew West's Impact
NRT's Paul Phillips gives life to the artist's music, from a fan's perspective

AN NRT EXCLUSIVE EDITORIAL, A Story Of Matthew West's Impact
Posted: January 12, 2023 | By: PaulPhillips_NRT
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I've been a big fan of Matthew West since his first album in 2004. Back then, I was trying to find my way in my faith, but I wasn't really living it out in my daily life. But God didn't give up on me and used Matthew's music, along with other Christian artists, to help bring me back to Him. A friend introduced me to Christian music, which included bands like Newsboys and Third Day, and I was surprised to find that it sounded just like regular rock and pop music, not just the kind of stuff you hear on Sunday mornings. I started looking for more Christian music on my own and that's how I discovered Building 429, Kutless, Skillet, and of course, Matthew West. 

The first Matthew West song that caught my ears was, "More,"
a lively love song featuring impressive guitar riffs. It was Matthew's breakout single from his debut album, Happy. In short, "More" is a love song from God, not a significant other: "I love you more than the sun and the stars that I taught how to shine / You are mine, and you shine for me, too. I love you / Yesterday and today and tomorrow; I'll say it again and again / I love you more." To me, this was weird. Love songs from God? Interesting concept. I've always been used to love songs about marriage, broken relationships, and long-lost love. "More" left a lasting impression; it showed me that there are love songs that transcend human relationships. This eye-opening revelation was only the beginning.

I was a new Christian by the time "History" hit the radio. As a seeker, there were many reasons why I didn't give myself to Christ (not wanting to separate myself from the world was a big one). Another reason was shame. I thought God would never want me, especially after what I've done. Plus, how could I live up to these Christians who live such a wholesome life? "History" spoke truth into this shame: "You know you can't stay right where you fell / The hardest part is forgiving yourself / But let's take a walk into today / And don't let your past get in the way / Yesterday is history / And history is miles away / So, leave it all behind you / But let it always remind you of the day / The day that love made history." God loves me despite my checkered past. The blood of Christ has washed away every sin, leaving me free to have a relationship with Him. This song helps me remember that whenever I hear it.

"You are Everything"
For me, this is "More," Part 2. "More" gave me a glimpse of Matthew's love for God through the eyes and ears of a seeker. This time, in "You Are Everything," I got to experience Matthew's message of reverence as a new Christian: "You're everything good in my life / Everything honest and true / And all of those stars hanging up in the sky / Could never shine brighter than you / You are everything that I live for / Everything that I can't believe is happening / You're standing right in front of me / With arms wide open, all I know / Is every day is filled with hope." To me, this song says, I'm not a seeker with one foot in the water, I'm a child of God walking on water, with Christ.

"Family Tree"
By the time "Family Tree" hit the radio, my family was recovering from many tragedies: the death of my grandfather, a nasty divorce, and two breakups. Feeling a taste of Job's devastation, we had lost a lot and had to rebuild. Matthew West's "Family Tree" reminded me that God never let any of us suffer alone, especially through these hard times: "No, this is not your legacy / This is not your destiny / Yesterday does not define you / No, this is not your legacy / This is not your meant to be / I can break the chains that bind you." Since then, my family has experienced many new beginnings. I have a beautiful, loving wife and two adorable nieces. God's redemption is good. Just ask Matthew West.

My wife and I are unable to have children. "Untold" stings when I hear it. The message serves as a reminder that many people take life, and having a child, for granted. There are many people out there who can't have children. These couples would do almost anything to have a child. Cherish the life of your child; you're blessed beyond compare.

"The Motions"
This song is more relevant to me now than it was 10 years ago. There was excitement when I first became a Christian. Everything was new; the life, the experiences–like a new relationship. But, like many other Christians, I've fallen into the "business as usual" slump. Or, as Matthew Matthew puts it, "going through the motions": praying, reading the word, worshipping, et cetera, et cetera. Matthew's "The Motions," from his 2009 album, You Are Everything, acknowledges these setbacks. Songs like "The Motions" bring out my passion for Christ. It takes me out of my slump and reminds me of what God has done for me in my life.

"Broken Things"
This is "More," Part 3, my 10-year anniversary of living with Christ. I remember hearing "More" in my ratty, tatty one-bedroom apartment. My attitude of, "I should give my life to God, but..." has been replaced with a solid relationship with Him. Today's struggles are so much different than what they were back then. Instead of the old proverbial, "should become a Christian" has been replaced with, "Why can't you be more forgiving, loving, graceful, etc.?" I condemn, instead of having self-compassion. Matthew reminds me that God uses broken things, including us, to do His will.

“Truth Be Told”
Once, I believed the lie that I needed to be perfect before I came to Christ, that I needed to have it all together. Or he wouldn’t accept me. Unfortunately, this lie keeps us away from the cross, not coming to it.
Another more potent lie I believe is that I should keep my messes, my wounds, and my secrets behind closed doors. Unfortunately, this also keeps us—believers and non-believers—away from God. In “Truth Be Told,” Matthew West blows these lies out of the water.
Matthew emphasizes honesty, not secrecy, can heal hounds. He compares the church to a hospital: “A safe place for the sick and the sinner and sick and the scarred and the prodigal.” “Truth Be Told” is great for those running from God or others because of hurt.
"Can I really stand here unashamed? / Knowin' that you love for me won't change? / Oh God if that's really true / Then let the truth be told"

“Me On Your Mind”
This is "More," Part 4. I have a fear of abandonment. When my family and friends are busy, do they think of me? Do they even want me around? You know, I never once thought of God in this scenario—until I heard this song. 
These lyrics say it all: “I've read the words in red / How You leave the 99 / To find the one missing / Feels like that was written / With me on Your mind / And the prodigal son who ran, leaving his home behind / The part where the father came running to meet him / Did You say that with me on Your mind?”
Two of my favorite parables—Luke 15—are in these two song verses alone.
Parable of the lost sheep: “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Parable of the prodigal son: “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
Biblical truth that I’m—we’re—on his mind. I condemn myself for what I do. The devil’s voice is often more audible than God’s. But that’s because I’m listening to the wrong voice. If I spend a little more time listening to him, He’ll always remind me that I’m ‘on his mind.’

Now, my relationship with Christ—and Matthew West's music, continues. I'm ready for "More, Part 5."

Paul Phillips is a Canadian journalist with 20 years of experience writing and editing digital and print content. He specializes in health, fitness, nutrition, and travel. He loves music, movies, and, of course, living for Jesus.

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