Joshua Swanson: Welcome to The Walk; a Devotionals podcast for worshipers. Martin Smith is our guest, and for those of you who remember songs like I Can Sing Of Your Love Forever and Waiting Here for You, you’ll remember Martin as the frontman Man of Delirious?. Which is arguably the most influential Christian band to come out of the UK. On today’s devotional episode, he shares a bit of his story. Here we go.
Martin Smith: Hi, it’s Martin here. I wanna start, uh, this devotional by reading Psalm 27 verse six. It’s a great Psalm. It says, “God holds me head and shoulders above all who try and pull me down. I am headed for his place to offer anthems that will raise the roof. Already I’m singing God’s songs. I’m making music to God.”
I really love that psalm because there’s a bit of me in there really. There’s a bit of my life wrapped up in that. Um, my heart is always to see the roof raised. And, uh, you know, often when I’m leading worship or singing or playing in a club or wherever, wherever, you know, I’m, I’m playing music. I just want that roof to lift off.
And, um, you know, I just get a sense today that for some of you, that the God wants the roof in your life to lift off and get ready for a brand new season.
Joshua Swanson: In just a moment, Martin shares about an incredible prayer from his father that changed the direction of his life. Stick around.
Martin Smith: I was born in, uh, in England, as you can tell from my voice. Um, I was born in a town called Woodford Bridge in Essex in England. Uh, within two weeks of being born, I was back in hospital. So my mom tells me with, uh, bronchial pneumonia, which is like a, a breathing thing that attacks the lungs. And, uh, again, the irony of it all, I came from a family, uh, my parents are Christians, great people, they love God. Um, but no music in my family whatsoever. So that’s always been a mystery to me that I ended up being involved in music. My whole life is dedicated to music and singing God’s songs and, and, and all that sort of stuff. But here I was two weeks old in an iron lung, which is, you know, like a sealed oxygen unit. Um, fighting for my life. I couldn’t, I couldn’t breathe properly, I, and apparently I didn’t make a sound, um, from the day I was born because my lungs were all messed up.
So my, um, my parents who were, I would say not charismatic, you know, they, they’re steady people, but probably we wouldn’t be raving miracle believers and, you know, uh, running around church, like mad people, sort of people, but they were steady and they believed in the power of prayer. And apparently my dad prayed this audacious prayer, said, look, if you let our son live, God, we will give him back to you.
And that’s what happened a couple of weeks later, um, you know, e everything came back to normal and I, I came outta hospital and, and my dad would say to this day that that’s what they did. They, they gave me back, which is a pretty, pretty crazy thing really. And uh, and I guess I’ve always had that sense of, you know, having this strange connection with my heaven father.
Um, that, that, you know, I’ve been a child of God and, you know, like millions of people around the world, but, um, knowing that this was my destiny to give my life a away and serve him. So anyway, the music thing came a bit later. Um, my, my dad bought me a guitar when I was 12 and basically said, right, there’s a youth group meeting tomorrow, we need some songs. There’s no one else to lead the music, so you better learn a few songs.
So a day later I’d learn DG and A, uh, the classic church, three chords that you need that can get you through a whole lifetime. And, um, and, uh, you know, until you discover B minor, but that’s another story. Um, anyway, so I learned these three chords and a few old songs, you know, a few old choruses that were famous in England.
And, uh, and that’s what I did. I, performed at the youth group. Little did I know that I was leading worship, but I didn’t even know it was called that then. Anyway, I fell in love with music and, uh, While there was loads of sport in my family, which I loved too, I fell in love with music. I felt it was running through my blood.
Uh, and at the age of 16, um, I did a crazy thing. I entered a TV competition, which was in, uh, in England somewhere. And uh, it was on national tv and I got in and, um, no one could quite believe it. I was like an academic dropout in my school. Um, pretty hopeless academically, but I, I wrote this song and, um, yeah, I, I went from being the school dropout to the school hero overnight because I was invited to sing it on TV and whatever, and that was a great experience.
Um, but anyway, the reason I tell you that is because the school, um, headmaster, um, the guy that ran the school, said to me, “Hey Martin, would you sing this song in front of the whole school on Monday morning?”
You gotta, you gotta bear in mind, I’m 16 years old, I’ve got no reference for the Holy Spirit or performing, or the presence of God, really. Um, and there I am with my little guitar in front of 800 boys in an all boys school dinner, ladies, um, all the staff were rammed in there to hear me sing this song. And, uh, I remember that funny thing that happens when, um, God shows up and I didn’t know it was that really, but you could hear a pin drop in the room and I knew that something in the room changed. I knew the atmosphere had changed. I knew that somehow, uh, people were being touched by the music. There was a connection, uh, between me singing and people experiencing God. And I just thought, this is incredible. This is the most wonderful thing I’ve ever, um, could discover in my whole life that, that something I love doing could help people.
So that led on to, um, again, just being more and more, uh, passionate about music. I joined a recording studio. I realized in that school moment that that was the presence of God and I and I, and I think that I dedicated my life at that point to the pursuit of that, to knowing that that could change people’s lives. It could change where people live. It could change schools, it could change colleges, universities, cities, nations, uh, kings and queens. And I, and I did believe that.
So I joined this studio and, uh, there I became a sound engineer. And it was at that point that I really began to discover music and, uh, you know, every single genre sort of style of music you could ever dream of, from local punk bands to heavy metal bands, to opera singers, to, uh, Christian folk singers, to choirs, uh, you name it. Um, everything came through that studio and it was such an education for me in wanting to learn about music and how music touched people. So that’s where I really, um, began to, I guess, lead worship, what you call leading worship.
I joined this amazing church. I left home, uh, people there seemed to be passionate about God and I hadn’t really seen that passion, um, anywhere else. And so I fell in love with that and people were raising their hands. They were happy to be in church. I’d never really seen that. So that was where I started to lead, and um, and loved it and ended up leading an event called Cutting Edge, which was a movement really of young people all across the south of England. And we gathered all these young people, uh, now it would be Gen Z, I dunno what you would call it then. Millennials maybe. Um, but, uh, the same thing, just kids, teenagers on fire for God.
We saw kids people saved, healed, delivered miracles happen. But the biggest thing was, uh, we were encouraging the youth of Great Britain to be history makers. We’re like, you can do this. Whatever God is leading you into, you can do it. Lift your head up. And so that’s what we did for five and a half years. Every Sunday we did, uh, every month. On a Sunday night, we did that event and, uh, in the end that led to that band becoming what’s known as Delirious?. And then that was the beginning of a whole brand new season in our lives.
Joshua Swanson: We’re gonna take another quick break. When we come back, Martin takes us through some of the Delirious? days and brings a word of revelation about those with creative gifting, which is all of us.
I wanted to quickly remind our listeners that through our Song Discovery platform, we are curating the local hymnal and our intention is to take some of your songs and introduce them to the global church. To submit some original music that you wrote for your local church. Head over to song discovery.com.
Okay, back to Martin to close us out.
Martin Smith: So Delirious came around in about 1997. Uh, it was an amazing privilege to be part of that. It was five guys in a band, five families. We were all married. There were 16 children between us. It was mad. Can you imagine that? At an airport or on a tour bus? So we were passionate about seeing music touch people, not just inside the church, but outside the church of all walks of life.
And we believed it. We believed that that’s what Jesus was living was here on the earth for. And we just were picking up that idea. We just thought, look, wherever we go, we’re gonna see the power and the presence of God come. And we believed it with everything inside us, and that’s what we saw.
We ended up not just playing in churches on a Sunday morning, but going into some really weird and wonderful venues around the world. Places where mainstream bands play, and we loved that. We loved the challenge of seeing the living presence of Jesus inhabit, um, those dark places. And, uh, you know, we were very privileged to be a part of that.
So that went on for 17 years. Uh, it was the most amazing season of our lives. And, and as I say, we, I think we vir virtually visited most countries in the world and uh, we were just very, very grateful to be a part of that. We saw God do some amazing stuff and see a generation really build their faith in God.
And when I look back, the proudest thing about Delirious? was seeing a generation set on fire for God. And, you know, you cannot put that into words really, when I meet people now, um, even 20, 30 years on, people were touched by the music. You know, certain songs encouraged them to do something brave and, uh, and I love that so much.
Anyway, 2009, that came to an end, which was very sad. And, um, this last decade, I guess I’ve been rediscovering what it means to wait on God, make music, write songs, um, be a part of seeing the presence of God, touch people. And, and I’ve absolutely loved that. And I think the thing that I’ve really been learning in this last few years is how much God loves music.
And how important it is to him. And whenever anything important was gonna happen in the scriptures, you know, all those amazing stories, um, there’s always music involved somewhere. You know, it stirs people, it encourages people. There’s gonna be a word from God when music’s played. And, um, I love the role of music in our culture.
You know, the pandemic taught us that if you take art and music out of culture, people get really sad. It’s interesting to me how still in general music is undervalued. Uh, the arts is undervalued and sometimes, you know, there’s so much emphasis put on the word of God coming through the pulpit, but sometimes, you know, the word of God comes through a simple song or just waiting on him, or someone’s singing out a song. And, and I love that about the power of music.
So there’s this great story in the Old Testament about a little boy called David. He eventually went on to be the king of Israel, of course. But you know, he started as a, as a guitar player, uh, out in the fields, honing his talent and his craft. And, uh, eventually he gets asked by the King to go and play for him.
And this is 1 Samuel 16:14. “At that very moment, the spirit of God left soul, and in its place a black mood sent by God settled on him. He was terrified. This awful tormenting depression from God is making your life miserable. oh Master, let us help, let us look for someone who can play the harp. When the black mood from God moves in, he’ll play his music and you will feel better.”
Hey, look, I, I dunno about you, but I know people even now that are miserable. You know, this is written nearly 3000 years ago, but even now, you know, people are still miserable and still run down and depressed and oppressed. And we see the power of music in this scripture so clearly that when that little boy played his harp, his guitar, uh, somehow it made the King feel better. And you know, now we would know that the power of music, it comes against oppression and it brings joy.
And so I just love this story. It sort of endorses everything that we are really as musicians and worship leaders, that we’re not just in the business of doing Sunday morning services. We’re not just in the business of picking the right set list and, you know, landing it on the 18th minute. We’re really in the business of healing and through what God has given us, he’s gifted with us, whenever we get up and play or lead or sing over people or play over people, whatever it is that we do, whether we write movie scripts or we take photographs or we’re a sculptor, do everything to the glory of God and do it knowing that people will be touched by what you do. People will be healed by what you do. People will be moved by what you do. People will be set free by what you do. And um, and I love this story and it goes on to say, whenever the king was tormented by this evil spirit, he’d call this kid back to say, please, please, would you play over me? And what I find fascinating about this is that he didn’t ask for a doctor or a priest or a physician, or a politician or anyone fancy, anyone trained, anyone educated. He got this little kid to play his guitar.
And that is great for me. Because that’s pretty much all I can do. And so I, I love the fact that God uses people who maybe aren’t the most educated or the most trained in something or the most gifted or come from the right family or come from the right money or whatever. But God, he’s so clear in that he just uses people whose hearts are after God.
And if you’re listening to this in, i, I guess that’s what I want you to take away from today is turn your eyes, turn your heart to him, and he will bless your life. He will bless your life and take you into places you never dreamed.
And, um, always come humbly before him. You know, always come humbly before God because he’s the only one that he will open the doors. He will exalt you if you come humbly. And so when you get that guitar again, or you play that piano, or you sing or whatever, whatever instrument you’ve got, play it with pride, play it with brilliance and play it knowing that you’re gonna move the mountains in people’s lives.
So, Lord God, we thank you for who you are and that you are all knowing, you’re all powerful, all majestic, you are holy. There is no one else that who is holy but you. And we thank you for giving us the gift of music, and we are so grateful that we get to play a part in your great song and we can’t believe that you chose us to do that. Amen in.
Joshua Swanson: Thank you so much, Martin, for contributing to our show. We are going to close out this episode with a song called Holy that Martin released on his latest album called Dancing in the Fire and it is a song that will most definitely shift the atmosphere of any room.
As always, special thanks to Matt McCarty for producing and editing today’s episode, Jacob Fairclough produced our theme song. The Walk is brought to you by Worship Leader. I also want to thank the team at Life Audio for their partnership. If you go to life audio.com, you’ll find dozens of other faith centered podcasts. They’ve got shows about prayer, bible studies, parenting, and more. So check ’em out at lifeaudio.com. I’m Joshua Swanson. Here’s Holy.