derek webb is a singer/songwriter who is drawing many comparisons, from christian and secular media alike, to bob dylan and other folk singers of past generations who became “spokespersons” for and against ideas and concepts of their time. formerly a lead singer, guitarist, and songwriter for the band “caedmon’s call”, derek launched a solo career in 2003 and has released four albums to date, with another coming in may of this year.
i first met derek after a caedmon’s call concert in 2000. we spent about thirty minutes talking about various topics ranging from music, haunted schools in memphis, growing up in tennessee, and other random things.
after that meeting, we were able to talk a few more times over the years. he was always gracious even remembering my name each time we met.
through conversations with derek and through his music, other writings, and various media related to him, the lord brought to me to a place of intense self – examination which led to a fierce desire growing inside of me to study the bible, doctrine, and church history.
this time of my life also coincided with my brief stint in music as a profession, (recounted here)and i was able to be the opening act for derek a couple of times. backstage we picked up where we had left off on some old conversations.
i hang on to those memories because they are reminders to me of how the lord worked in such odd circumstances with results that changing my life. if i had been told earlier in life that i would be a pastor, i would have never guessed it would by way of being a musician and the opportunities and encounters that would come with that.
i say all of that to preface my next several posts. i will be taking some of derek’s songs, both older and more recent, and exploring the lyrics. i want to make the disclaimer that i do not, myself, nor do i recommend that anyone get their religious beliefs from fallible people or their music. but i do believe that music can open our eyes to concepts and ideas that in turn push us to find out “if these things be so”.
like the bereans in acts 17, derek’s words have pushed me to scripture over and over again. a lot of the time i have come away agreeing with the message of his music. there are some ideas that i either do not agree with, am not in complete agreement with, or am still sorting out what i think, but i will focus on a handful of the many songs derek has written that have forced me to scripture, and proved themselves trustworthy.
the first song i want to share is called “i repent” from the album i see things upside down.
i repent, i repent of my pursuit of america's dream
i repent, i repent of living like i deserve anything
of my house, my fence, my kids, my wife
in our suburb where we're safe and white
i am wrong and of these things i repent
i repent, i repent of parading my liberty
i repent. i repent of paying for what i get for free
and for the way i believe that i am living right
by trading sins for others that are easier to hide
i am wrong and of these things i repent
i repent judging by a law that even i can't keep
of wearing righteousness like a disguise
to see through the planks in my own eyes
i repent, i repent of trading truth for false unity
i repent, i repent of confusing peace and idolatry
by caring more of what they think than what i
know of what we need
by domesticating you until you look just like me
i am wrong and of these things i repent.
this song can easily move me to tears. it is so true of my own life. confusing what i have with what i deserve. patriotism with christian faithfulness. knowledge of my liberties with prestige. trying so hard to earn god's favor despite saying i know it is only by grace through faith in christ.
having small sins that no one sees and thinking i am better than those whose sins are more public. by making god in my own image so i can rationalize my actions and live a "safer" life.
of keeping silent when the truth is betrayed just to keep the peace and perhaps gain a bit of realestate in society. of caring more of what people think about me than about the eternal state of their soul.
our actions betray what we really think, more than what we say we believe.
how often do we repent of what is in our hearts. the pride, the arrogance, the intentional ignorance, the tendancy of self-preservation at the expense of the glory of christ.
we are too often lacking in self-examinanation and more so in acknowledging sin in our lives and saying " i am wrong and of these things i repent"