BETWEEN THE LINER NOTES
John Waller: As For Me and My House
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
The last year has been one filled with highs and lows for contemporary Christians recording artist John Waller. On July 28, John and his wife celebrated the birth of a new son. The very next day his mother died suddenly from a heart attack.
To be so overjoyed and then devastated in a period of just a few hours can severely shake the faith of a person. But according to Waller, “It’s in moments like these when you realize how deeply God loves you.”
These are fitting words when considering the title of Waller’s new album, As for Me and My House. Based on Joshua 24:15, Waller hopes this recording will boldly proclaim the Word of God to this generation.
CBN.com Program Director Chris Carpenter recently sat down with Waller to discuss how the huge success of his song “While I’m Waiting” actually turned into a time of discouragement, his desire for Joshua 24:15 to become a battle cry for Christians, and why our valleys are sometimes better than mountaintop experiences.
The last time you and I talked was in 2009. It was about six months after the release of the Fireproof movie, and your song “While I’m Waiting” was taking off. It continued to climb the charts even higher after that. What was that experience like for you?
You know, it was good. I mean, it’s been great. The residual of that has been amazing. And, yes, there was definitely a surge in my popularity. All of the sudden there was traffic on my website and lots of downloads. It was definitely a huge surge of activity. It wasn’t like all the sudden a number one hit and I was selling millions of records. It wasn’t anything like that. It was different. I think it was just the way God designed it, that it brought something into my ministry, a point of reference to people. Now, most people say, ‘Fireproof, oh yes, John Waller. I don’t know who the guy is, but I love the song.’ So that was kind of interesting but you know, but it’s been great. I thank God for that, and would love to have another surge of activity and momentum. We’re praying for that. You never know how God’s going to do it.
Leading up to that success, you were discouraged and considering leaving music. But then along comes “While I’m Waiting”. Did this song and experience validate what you were doing? Was this a God confirmation moment for you?
Oh, yeah, without a doubt, it definitely renewed my passion for what I do, because I saw so many people relate to that song and who are hurting. I can’t tell you how many thousands of stories I’ve heard and some crazy stories about how that song ministered to people, in ways that I never would have dreamt when I wrote it. And that’s the beautiful thing about when God gives you something that’s really from the Spirit, it’s like a receiving a word that really speaks to someone where they are, where for me it was a different kind of message where I was, but it meets people on so many different levels.
As is sometimes the case with highly popular songs, there is often an incredible push on people to get a follow-up record out quickly to capitalize on the momentum. Was this the case for you?
Well, the song came out. I had just done a record, and it wasn’t out. So they changed the name of it to While I’m Waiting to get that song on there. But then, you know, it didn’t take off like they were hoping, the record label was hoping that a lot more would happen from that for the record. It didn’t quite happen that way. It did well, but still, expectations always seem to be higher than what ends up happening in reality. So I ended up getting out of the record deal not too long after that, maybe a year after Fireproof, because I just felt like I needed to get back to a place where I wasn’t writing for anyone else, I wasn’t writing for the industry or a record company. I was writing from the heart of what I feel like God wants me to say. And then I had to trust God with the outlet to get it out. So this new album is on an independent label, and I feel good about it. It may not sell millions of records, but it’s exactly what God wanted me to do.
I’ve listened to the new record, As For Me and My House. It’s really good. And like your previous work, I discovered that you have a wonderful way of weaving scripture into the lyrics of a song – hence the album’s title. What was your inspiration for this record?
There are a lot of valleys that I went through after my last album, a lot of uncertainties, a lot of times of like, “What am I doing? Am I supposed to keep doing this?” And so there are several songs that come from that place but they’re not downer songs. They’re very encouraging, but I think this album meets a lot of people where they are. The title track was inspired by the need to lay it down, that my career and my talent and what I do is not who I am, and the lines started getting blurry again. That has happened many times in my life where my identity gets wrapped up in what I do, and the pats on the back are writing songs that are going to get people’s attention. So I fell into that for a long time, not where you’d necessarily notice, but where it really kind of became an idol in my life. So on the title track, “I’m done building my own kingdom,” is the first line of it. No more seeking worthless idols, and for me the worthless idol was my pursuit of Christian music, and that became a worthless idol.
If you don’t mind, could you give me some insight on a couple of the new songs on As for Me and My House? Let’s start with “Man of the Valley”.
That’s one of my favorite songs on the album. Who I am today did not come from the great times of my life, the mountaintop experiences. I’ve had a lot of mountaintop experiences with the Lord, but I can’t look back on any of them and say that’s what defined me, that’s where God really used me. That’s where I wrote this song or that song. The ones that really have made an impact, if you get right down to it, songs like “While I’m Waiting,” and “Blessing,” songs that people probably would know me for did not come from the mountaintop. They came from a time of brokenness, in the valley.
What can you tell me about “Our God Reigns Here”?
I wrote that one in Wales. I was on a mission trip, and my background is I was healed from depression. I struggled with it for 20 years, and seven years ago at the end of my 15-year journey of pursuing Christian music, I hit my rock bottom, and God healed me. Some people prayed over me. I wanted it, and God healed me, and so the whole spiritual realm of depression, anxiety, fear, addiction, and all these different things that people deal with. There is such a spiritual aspect to that, an aspect where the enemy is trying to kill, steal, destroy us all. I went on a mission trip a couple of years ago. I can always sense when I walk into a room, the climate --the spiritual climate. I can feel if there is oppression. I just felt that in Wales big time. Someone shared with me about a town called Aberfan were a tragedy in the 1960s occurred. I sensed the darkness there. People were still depressed. It was a depressed town.
There’s a monument on the side of the mountain where all these kids, like 144 children and teachers were killed by this landslide in this coal mining town. I was told that the spirit of death reigns over this town; that's what someone said. That was what inspired me to write this song, just a song that comes out against them, in the name of Jesus.
Joshua 24:15 is the root of the title track. I understand you want this verse to kind of become a heart’s cry for families across this country. With that said, this song also appears on the Courageous soundtrack. Why do you feel this way?
As a father, and a husband, I’ve had to come to that to realize that it is about His Kingdom, and I'm either building His and advancing His, or I'm advancing mine or the enemies, or both. Men need to come to a place where they're going to put down their secret sins, and their idols and everything that keeps them from leading their homes and giving the heritage, a godly heritage to their children and their wives. I'm excited for Courageous. I think that it's the right time for this message.
After people listen to As For Me and My House what do you want them to take away from this experience?
I’d like them to get freed up from something. I would like them to find deeper freedom. I’d like them to find a truth in one of these songs that will bring a freedom to their life, whether it’s freedom from depression—and I’ve seen a lot of people get free from depression from me just sharing my story or me singing blessings over—I’ve seen people get freed from addictions by me blessing them when they’ve never been blessed by their father. That’s what I want. If we’re called to set the captive free, then this is what I want to have to happen with this.
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