So where did all of this [your music career] start? When did
your love for music begin?
Well I grew up in a real musical family. My dad wrote songs
with his friends on the weekends and he began to perform them around town. I remember them
all huddled together in a room, recording songs and my brother and I would press our ears
against the door to listen. My dad, my brother and I all became Christians at about the
same time. And my dad, part time, began to serve as the music minister in our church. In
fifth and sixth grade I began playing drums and my dad used to give guitar lessons as I
was growing up, so I took them too. So really, my musical interest was being fed from all
sides from early on.
It has been about 3 years since your last completely new album. Why did you take this hiatus of sorts from recording?
This has been something I've been
planning to for about six or seven years. I was really being encouraged by my manager and
some people in the industry who had worked with artists for many more years that I had and
had seen the value of stepping out the limelight, getting off the treadmill for a while. I
really needed the break, especially in the role that I'm in where I'm trying to
communicate what God is telling me, the truth of his love. And really, when you look at
the people who God has really spoken through, he has spoken to them while they were out
alone in the desert, or sitting on some hill tending sheep or something. I realized it was
time to step out for a while, and possibly never step back to it in the same way that I
I think I will always be writing and singing songs that glorify God, but it won't
always look like it has up until now. It might not always be recording and going on tours.
I had to let God shake the foundations of
my life and get back to what is really at the core of why I do this. I had to ask myself, what part of this has become a machine that just continues and carries me on with it?
God has really used this time to refocus
me. In many ways God has taken me back to the drawing board of why I do this.
Did you find what you
were looking for in your time off?
I can say that my sabbatical time
was both very rewarding and very frustrating. We got to the end of it and my wife and
family said Wait, I want a redo! My wife and I had thought that I would get
all the things on the "honey do list done. That we'd have all the closets
in the house clean and that no music would be involved at all, which of course was silly.
Because in the meantime I had the opportunity to perform a song for The Apostle, and for The Prince of Egypt and several other projects. Also we had a lot of
tragedy come into our lives with the school shooting at my high school in Paducah, Kentucky and the daughter a family that was very close to us dying in a car accident. We
were able to walk alongside that family, and it really had a profound impact on all of us.
I mean our kids had been playing together just before that [accident happened]. Here it is
a year later and we still feel it. To be honest, I think those tragedies are a big reason
why I had that time off. I can't imagine walking through all this with my family
while being on the road. I was able to be home, I was needed at home. Watching my daughter
turn 12 and then 13 and everything that comes with that. I was able to be with my family
through all this.
What I had prayed for at the beginning was, God I want to have a true sense of the Gospel run true and fresh in my heart.
In one way [the time off] was very good for that, in another it was very difficult.
It has been 12
years since your first album, and you now have a very successful career, what is next for
you? Will you continue to tour and record, or are you looking toward new challenges?
I didn't know 10 years ago that
my life would look like this, so it would probably be stupid to say; This is what the
next 10 years will look like. I'm trying to be much more intentional in how I
handle things with my family. I just got out of a marketing meeting where I heard 104
great ideas, but as I was sitting there with my wife next to me, I could feel the full
weight of it coming down on us. I was just thinking, "How are we going to get to all
the soccer games and baseball games? How will I have time to be around so that when
those teachable times with my children come along, those times you just can't plan, I
won't be on tour, out on the road? At the same time though, I think, how can I tend
this wonderful, incredible opportunity God has put before me?
I know for sure that I will work to spread
the message of this album and this book. I'll work to keep sharing God's love
and God's peace with those who have not yet heard and those who have not yet made a
personal decision to follow Him.
I think it would also be fun to write some
kind of musical. I also really enjoyed parts of the process of writing this book with
Scotty Smith, my pastor. I enjoyed it to the point that I could see myself sitting down
someday and really focusing on doing that.
Most of all, I will continue, day by day to
ask God,What does obedience look like for this season of life, for this day
And most importantly, What is my greater calling, to be a father and a husband, going to look like?
Tell me a
little more about the new book.
My pastor Scotty Smith and I have been
trying to write and dreaming to write this book for years. He helped me write out a lot of
the ideas for the Signs of Life album and we would get to the end of writing
these songs, and at times they would just scratch the surface. There is so much more that
I would like to share, that go into those songs, but I just don't have time to
communicate it in a 4 minute song. So many of the themes come from ideas and thoughts from
sermons that Scotty has led me in.
The theme of the book is astonished
by the Gospel. I heard him use that phrase as we were having a lunch meeting and
talking over some ideas for the upcoming album. As I was telling him some of my ideas, he
stopped me and said, "So what you really want to say is that you're astonished
at the Good News and hope of the Gospel. I realized, well, yes, that is exactly what
I want to say.
So this book is telling our own stories in
coming to see what huge sinners we are in the face of even greater grace, and then just
being astonished by His love and mercy. This was really a chance for us to tell these
stories, and how, as the subtitle says, we are Living in awe of God's
disruptive grace." Because God's grace really is more disruptive and messier
than I ever imagined. But that is because I'm in much worse shape than I ever
imagined. If we ever think, "Everything is OK. I'm OK, you're OK, then the Gospel is just OK. But when we see just how desperate and needy we are, then the
Gospel truly is amazing.
over your career, is there anything you would change?
I'm sure that are some small
things that I would change. At the time, I didn't want to do a big tour for the Signs
of Life album, I wanted to just do something small. What is really wonderful though, is
that when I go back and listen to the music God has allowed me to make, there isn't a
one where I think Oh man, I was trying to be too cool or I was trying to be too
trendy. I realize that it really was God moving in me to make those songs.
If there was a way that I could do what I
do and not be away from my family, I would do that. Sometimes I think I might set up a
little theater in Branson like those country guys do and have people come to me. Then I
could go to work at 8 and be home by 5. It would be great.
What has been
your favorite part of it all?
Songwriting really is my favorite
part of the process, that is the part I get really excited about. But if I didn't go
out and sing those songs, no one would ever hear them. Then of course, my very favorite
part is doing interviews like this one (he pauses then laughs). No, I guess I am being a
Tell me a
little about yourself. When you're not onstage or recording, what do you do to have
fun? To relax?
Hang out with my kids. My guys are
both really good pitchers and there isn't much I like more than going out and playing
catcher for them. I also like to ride my Harley Davidson with Geoff Moore. Or maybe grab
my fishing pole and catch some fish with my kids. Really, if its with my family, that is
really where I love to be.