Between the liner notes
The Sweetly Broken Surrender of Jeremy Riddle
By Jennifer E. Jones
He came out of nowhere to the top of the charts with his hit song "Sweetly Broken". In spite of his "sweet" success in ’07, Jeremy Riddle is still a simple pastor with a heart for the people.
Jennifer E. Jones: I absolutely loved Full Attention. I have to ask this of all new artists. You’ve got all this talent. Why choose to go into the Christian market when you could go mainstream?
Jeremy Riddle: I started out intending to be mainstream. Then I came back to worship… I was never a huge fan of "Christian" music. I never envisioned being in this market. So this is weird for me. In fact, the irony of it is pretty huge... I don’t think I’m a Matt Redman that will just write congregational worship songs. There’s something [about] worship when I’m leading people – that’s something I know, hands down, I’m going to be doing the rest of my life. That’s a huge part of me. I want to see people come to know the Lord through music. Bottom line.
Jones: Plus you pastored at Anaheim Vineyard. How do you do that and all of this?
Riddle: A huge part of my assignment is the local church. That’s what grounds me; that's what attaches me to reality. If I were to continue to write worship stuff and if I didn’t have an active engagement in the church, I would consider myself disqualified. The songs from the church need to flow from an active life within the church, and you have to engage. In order to do that, you can’t be on the road all the time. Music flows from life. It isn’t life itself. I never want to be on the road all the time. Then it becomes everything.
Jones: And you have a family to consider.
Riddle: I’ve got three kids and a wife. That keeps me pretty grounded as well. God’s enabled me to juggle everything. It’s not to say it hasn’t been hard. It’s hard. And then I always feel like I’m too divided, and I can’t do anything well.
Jones: I know that feeling.
Riddle: I think I’m headed in a season where things are becoming a bit simpler. I’ll always be active in my church.
Jones: "Sweetly Broken" is the big radio hit. Why do you think it has really touched people?
Riddle: I’m not all together sure. Radio and what people gravitate towards is always a mystery to me. Most of the time my favorites aren’t the popular favorites. That single was released a year before the album ever came out. That was the beginning of a whole chunk of songs. There’s an emotional chord. People like the melody, but beyond that, what connects people is: this is what God’s done. This is it right here, and this is the response. A lot of people feel that, and they’re not able to express it. You look at the Cross, and you watch movies like The Passion. You begin to understand what was done for you and what was paid for you. Being broken, being surrendered is the natural response of the heart that has encountered such love. I think for a lot of people, that song just gave voice to that. So it doesn’t really speak of me. It’s not like people made a connection with me. Ultimately it’s making a connection with what’s God done for them.
Jones: What’s packaged in all of this is such a great message. It’s why I love “Call to Praise” where you say, “Truly we were made to praise the Lord.” Since releasing the album and being in the spotlight, is it harder to press into worship or has this somewhat forced you to your knees?
Riddle: It’s a mixture of both. That’s definitely a struggle, but I’ve found that it's led to crying out to the Lord. The reality is: I’m not even here to be an artist. The goal of my life is to be used as an instrument, as a message to usher in the kingdom of God. I see it as a very real thing, not just something we say. God uses who I am in music to come and visit His people. That’s something really powerful.
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