U2: Worship

23 08 2007

If you ask me what my favorite band is, I’ll tell you that it is U2.

If you ask me what my favorite Christian band is, I’ll give you the same answer – U2.


Now, I know you won’t see U2 performing at the Dove Awards. And you definately won’t find them on tour with Stephen Curtis Chapman or Third Day. But, if you listen to their songs, you will find spiritual insights, professions of faith and unabashed quotes from Scripture. More importantly, you’ll hear conversations with God (and sometimes from the perspective of God) which express the raw emotions of a believer — joy, wonder, fear, doubt, love, anguish, intrigue, shame and surrender (to mention a few).

A few years ago, while doing survey work in Burkina Faso, some interns and I were passing the hours of travel in the truck by asking each other a bunch of hypothetical questions. One question went something like this: “If you could only listen to 2 musical artists, who would they be?” My answer was: U2 and Crosby, Stills & Nash. At this, one of the interns asked me, “How would you get fed (spiritually, I assumed)?”

The following playlist is my answer to that question.

It is a collection of U2 songs which feed me (and my family) spiritually and it is listed as U2: Worship on my iPod. Now, this playlist doesn’t include all of the U2 songs which contain references to faith, love, hope or even biblical scripture but each song moves me to worship God in its own unique way. Enjoy.

1. GraceAll That You Can’t Leave Behind

“Grace makes beauty out of ugly things.”

— Tracey loves this song and so do I. It sums up the bottom line of the Christian faith in poetic imagery. We should sing this song at church.

2. Mysterious WaysAchtung Baby

“To touch is to heal, to hurt is to steal.
If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel
On your knees, boy!”

— Towards the end of the song is the lyric, “The Spirit moves in mysterious ways.” Very true.

3. All Because of You How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

“I’m alive
I’m being born
I just arrived, I’m at the door
Of the place I started out from
And I want back inside”

— This could be my absolute favorite U2 song for two reasons. 1) It flat out rocks and 2) it is a confessional worship song to the One who makes us who we are.

4. The Three SunrisesB-sides 1980-1990

“Spirit of the rising sun lift me up
Hold me there and never let me fall
Love me till I die, my heart won’t wait
Soon I will be loved…”

— An up-beat song with great harmony. I guess it could be considered a ‘stealth’ worship song as you need to listen to it a few times to catch the meaning. That okay though. It was, after all, on a B-side.

5. GloriaUnder A Blood Red Sky

In te domine
Oh, Lord, if I had anything, anything at all
I’d give it to you.”

— Hard to add anything to that. So much energy in this live version of the song.

6. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking ForRattle and Hum

“You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross of my shame
Oh my shame, you know I believe it.

But I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.”

— U2 state that this was written as a gospel song and in the Rattle and Hum version it is sung like one. I used to struggle with the chorus line (and title)– does it express hope, disappointment, doubt – what? In the end, I think it is pretty honest expression of what most believers feel from time to time. “I’m searching, I believe but…I’m just not satisfied.” And I don’t believe we will be satisfied — or even should be — until we are glorified by Christ, in complete union with Him for eternity. (That doesn’t mean we should quit searching though!)

7. When I Look At The WorldAll That You Can’t Leave Behind

“I can’t wait any longer
I can’t wait till I’m stronger
Can’t wait any longer
To see what you see
When I look at the world”

— I hear this song as psalm of lament. A prayer to God for the ability to see the good in the world. Amid all the brokenness, idolatry, pain and hurt – what is redeemable? We need God to help us see the world with his eyes.

8. The First TimeZooropa

“For the first time, I feel love”

— If you don’t know this song, look up the lyrics. (It was just too long for me to put them here.) From the Spirit (”lover”) to Christ (“brother”) to God (“father”), the song describes the relationship the believer has with the Trinity. It wraps up in ambiguity, with the believer “throwing away the key” to the keys of the heavenly mansion. But then the singer sings the line quoted above. More honest struggle with belief, rebellion and grace.  I’ve read that some church used this song was during its communion service.

9. Drowning ManWar

“Take my hand
You know I’ll be there
If you can
I’ll cross the sky for your love.”

— A love song from God. “Hold on,” he says to the drowning man (us). “My love lasts forever.” The imagery of God “crossing the sky” for our love — the incarnation — is stunning. Isaiah 40:31 is quoted at the end of the song.

10. Stay (Faraway, So Close!)Zooropa

“If I could stay, then the night would give you up.
Stay, and the day would keep its trust.
Stay, and the night would be enough.”

— Another love song from God. This time God is pursing us as the prostitute stuck in a cycle of self-destruction. If we would only listen, only call to him, only let him stay… My friend Paul Casner first introduced this interpretation of the song to me. Thanks, Paul. I can always use the reminder that God’s heart aches to be with me, if I will only let him.

11. Until The End Of The WorldAchtung Baby

“Waves of regret and waves of joy.
I reached out for the one I tried to destroy.
You, you said you’d wait till the end of the world.”

— I loved the music of this song from the first listen. But, it blew my mind when I heard that it was sung from the perspective of Judas. Some may be uncomfortable with the open door left for even Judas return but that is how our God is. He waits and waits and waits, until the very last moment. Amazing.

12. YahwehHow To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb

“Take this city
A city should be shining on a hill
Take this city
If it be your will
What no man can own, no man can take
Take this heart…
And make it break”

— Another song we should be singing in church! (It wouldn’t surprise me if some people already were.) A great song about surrender, repentance and anticipation of redemption. Plus Edge’s chiming guitar gives the song a classic U2 sound.

13. Window In The SkiesU218 Singles (Deluxe Version)

“The rule has been disproved
The stone it has been moved
The grave is now a groove
All debts are removed”

— Amen! What has love done? Love has opened up heaven to us. That should make us smile and sing. If this song doesn’t do that for you, I don’t know what will.

14. Walk OnAll That You Can’t Leave Behind

“And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it’s a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong”

— Whenever this song plays, I hear it as if the Lord is singing it to me. “Stay strong. Walk on. I know it is hard. Believe me, I know. But, you’ll make it home. Remember that love is the only thing that matters in this life.” The emotions this song evokes in me usually bring me to tears. It’s that meaningful.

15. 40Under A Blood Red Sky

“I waited patiently for the Lord.
He inclined and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit
Out of the miry clay.”

— U2 has joked that this song is titled “40” because it took only 40 minutes to write, rehearse and record. That may or may not be true. What I do know is that King David originally wrote these lyrics in Psalm 40.

“All the best songs are co-written by God, y’know!” — Bono





25 02 2006

Well, I’ve been “tagged” twice now (thanks Anthony and Carter!), so I guess I’d better play. Looking at the categories, I can tell this is going to be a bit torturous for one who lives so far from home, but I think I can manage. I’ve also taken the liberty of adding a “Four Favorite Pets” category.

Four Places I’ve Lived:

Davenport, IA – My only home until I left for college. Great place to grow up.

Memphis, TN – Lived here while in grad school, preparing to leave for Togo. The best BBQ in the world can be found at The Cozy Corner.

University Park, TX This is actually in Dallas, but the Park cities have their own police, city council, etc. Very upper class. We would have lived there if our sponsoring church, Preston Road Church of Christ, wasn’t located there and owned an apartment next door. We had to laugh driving our beat up Honda Civic around while everyone else was driving a BMW, Mercedes, Hummer or Rolls Royce!

Albertville, France We lived here for 8 month while in French language school. It is right in the French Alps, definitely the most beautiful place we’ve ever lived. Outside our living room window, we had a great view of the medieval town Conflans and the mountains. You know, my French isn’t as good as it should be, maybe we need to go back for a refresher course…

Four Jobs I’ve Had:

Counter clerk – Village Bakery – Bettendorf, IA – My high school job where I baked cookies, sold merchandise, cleaned the shop and washed more cooking trays that I could ever count! Sweet (literally) perks were all-you-can eat goodies and trading day old stuff for leftover Happy Joe’s Pizza (see below).

Laborer – DRI Railroad – Davenport, IA – “I’ve been workin’ on the railroad…” I did this for two summers and one winter break my first two years of college. While repairing railroad track, I learned to really appreciate getting an education — shoveling rock for 8 hours in sweltering heat will have that effect on a young man! I also learned that one actually can smoke 4 packs of cigarettes a day (Rod), use more curse words than not (forgot that guy’s name) and be a complete idiot except when behind the controls of a backhoe…most of the time (Rick)!

Chemistry Lab Assistant – Harding Univ. – Searcy, AR – Not much excitement here, it was just fun to mix chemicals and help students do their experiments.

Youth Minister – Holmes Rd. Church of Christ – Memphis, TN — I kind of fell into this job, but it was a great experience that taught me a ton about people, churches and ministry. All those kids we worked with are in or out of college now. Scary how time goes by!

Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over:

Since we don’t have a Blockbuster nearby, we re-watch movies often. It is tough to narrow it down to four.

Hoosiers – I get goose bumps whenever I hear the theme music. After watching, I have to go shoot some hoops.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy – A couple of days ago, I was telling a friend how I wish I could see them all over again, as if it were for the first time.

U2 – Rattle and Hum – The most movie-like of the U2 concert DVDs I own. I remember seeing it on the big screen when it was released. The last 30 min. is golden.

Any comedy with my teammate David Reeves – His laughter is highly contagious. Rat Race and Barbershop particularly stand out, but just about any funny movie will do the trick for us. (I’m actually afraid to watch Napoleon Dynamite with him for fear that one of us will end up with a hernia!)

Four Books I Could Read Over and Over:

The Gospel of John – My favorite book in the Good Book.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis – So very poignant and still relevant. This book reminds me what really is important in Christianity.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – Read it for the first time in 2000 and have read it thrice more since. Better than the movies (but it takes longer).

The Brothers K by David James Duncan – This book tackles religion, Vietnam, baseball and family in a beautifully woven, majestically written story. It is outright hilarious in parts and heartbreakingly tragic in others. (I’ll get your copy back to you someday Andy!)

Four TV Shows I Watch:

On tape (sent by our dear friends and family)…
Law & Order
Without A Trace
Everybody Loves Raymond

On DVD (we are year behind on these as we wait for the DVD release – no spoilers please!)

*Ed — The one show we really, really wish was out on DVD, but isn’t.

Four Places I’ve Been on Vacation:

Yosemite National Park – Tracey’s favorite place to go when she was growing up. We went here on our honeymoon.

San Diego, CAOur kids love the zoo & wild animal park, we love the beach and great weather. We also get our favorite Mexican food there. Would love to live there someday…if we could ever afford it!

Coconut Grove Beach Resort, Ghana – Another family favorite. We thought it was paradise the first time we went (it isn’t, but we were in culture shock then) and it hasn’t disappointed us in the many visits since.

Pendjari National Game Park, Benin – Our ‘home’ game park is only 4 hours away. I try to go at least twice a year. It’s the best game park in W. Africa. We seen elephants, lions, hippos, antelope and all kinds of exotic birds.

Three Websites I Visit Daily:
My Yahoo

Four Favorite Foods:

This is the killer category. I can’t tell you how many times we think about these foods…
By the way, Tracey is an awesome cook! I’m just listing my favorite specialty foods.

Happy Joe’s Pizza with Whitey’s Ice Cream for dessert — The best pizza and ice cream in the world and you can find it only in the Quad Cities! Each place was within 2 blocks of our house growing up.

Cozy Corner BBQ –- Memphis, TN – The best of the best Memphis BBQ. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Got to go for lunch or early dinner, though, the neighborhood is too rough for them to be open at night!

Nati’s Mexican Food San Diego, CA – A family favorite for generations (Tracey’s side). It’s 3 blocks from the Ocean Beach pier and less than a mile away from Grandma’s house. Owen had been there 5 times before he was even a month old (we lost count of the inutero visits)!

Les TrappeursCol de Tamie, France – Fantastic fondue and crème brule. You can also grill you own meat at the table (‘La Braserade’). We loved going here while were living in Albertville. Need to get back there someday…

Four Places I’d Like to Be Right Now:

Another tough category as it is something we think about often…

First/Second round site of the NCAA tournament – 6 games in two days, (plus all the others you watch on TV). The only thing make this sweeter is if I get cheer the Hawkeyes on to victory in person.

Somewhere in the Rocky Mountains – I love the mountains and could use some cold weather.

Mare Bali, Pendjari Game Park – A relaxing, if not comfortable, place to sit and watch all kinds of animals come and get a drink of water – and, if you’re lucky, a meal!

Anywhere with Tracey
– Corny, but true!

Four Favorite Pets

Shama – The first dog I ever had, she was part beagle, part dauchund. She’d keep my feet warm at night during the winter.

Smoky – The first cat we ever had. He was a tom that came and went as he pleased. One time he brought home a live mouse which he released in the middle of my sister’s slumber party. I couldn’t have done a better job of scaring those girls myself. Who said the only good cat is a dead cat?

LaRoy – Our chameleon former known as Leroy (we changed her name when we found out that she was she, not a he). She changes colors all day and is great fun to watch eating dragonflies, grasshoppers and praying mantises. And she was free! I caught on the road outside our teammates’ house.

Hawkeye – Our first family dog. He’s a hyper German Shepherd who loves to jump and play fetch. He also has a pretty mean bark which scares off any unwanted visitors. (He’s got a great name too!)

People to Tag:
David Reeves
Matt Miller
Brett Emerson