Peter Furler of Newsboys

After five million career sales, 19 No. 1 hit singles and continual record-breaking attendance at concerts, the four-time Grammy nominated group Newsboys is finally attracting mainstream media coverage. But itís obvious after only a few minutes with songwriter and frontman Peter Furler that his life is not defined by accolades but by a profound adoration for Christ. The changes in Peterís personal life over the last few years have undoubtedly served as an impetus for the Newsboys latest CD devotion, a thought-provoking combination of new worship songs. In this interview with Servant, Peter talks with Phil Callaway about the struggles of his marriage, his career, and his faith. 

Itís been said that the Newsboys ďhave less flash, more contentĒ now. Is that accurate?

More content? I would hope so.

Who comes to a Newboys concert?

Moms and dads and kids. A lot of them were fans 18 years ago, now theyíre in their late 30s and weíre seeing them with their kids.

Itís clear in listening to your albums that there has been a maturing process. Have you undergone a major spiritual change?

Yes, in the last four years. You can believe that Jesus is the way but your lifeís really lost. You can believe Heís the truth but you donít have as much truth in you as what you need. You can believe Heís the life but youíre not really living the life He called you to. And thatís kind of where I was, even though I was in a Christian band. It took a toll on my relationships and my family. It got to a point where the toll was too hefty. You come to a place where you fall to yourself or you fall at the feet of Jesus. Four years ago I didnít really have any foundations in my life even though I grew up in the church. Every time a storm would come, my foundation was really built on sand. I was swept about and swayed by peopleís opinions. The Bible is something I didnít have in my life. I respected it but I really didnít have a knowledge of what it was there for. I began to ask God to lead me and guide me. There are some things He loves to give and grants us swiftly and a love of His Word is one of them. Revelation of His Son is another. So as I started going through the Word and applying it to different parts of my life, itís living and active and I started to realize that I really wasnít walking in fellowship with others and I didnít have a spiritual family and He led me to that. These things started to change and I began to see how the Body works together and why thereís so many people running from it, not unbelievers, but people running from the great things God has.

How much of people running away from the faith has to do with us as believers?

Well, thatís exactly it, really. Jesus said to go into all the world and make disciples and we need to ask ourselves how are we following? We ask, can we trust God? I think it should be maybe, Christians, can we trust you? Are you worth following? Do people see it being lived out? That doesnít mean youíve got to be walking around with your nose in the air. Itís a vibrant life led by the Spirit of God.

What does true devotion look like, Peter?

You can be devoted to yourself, worried about how people see you and in the end you put yourself in front of God. Or you can live to please Him and allow Him to be the first part of your day, the one who goes before everything. Thatís really what it is. Thereís no condition that comes before you and the Creator.

Youíve been at the forefront of a return to ďworshipĒ music. Are you concerned it may be a fad?

No. Because in the end of the Book of Revelation itís people singing ďHoly, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.Ē Rock and Roll has only been here for a short time and itís got more of a chance of being a trend. If itís a trend, itís not real worship. Itís infatuation or an emotional high. Weíve had enough altar calls in America. We need to make disciples and the only we can do that is if we are one.

Are groups like the Newsboys just preaching to the converted?

Converted to what?

To Christianity?

There are so many Christians who donít know the Word, who are not in fellowship with other believers and have not found a spiritual family or had a revelation of why Jesus really came beyond that He died for our sins. So if thatís who weíre preaching to then weíll keep preaching.

What do you see God doing through your music?

Weíve seen people getting a love for the Word and a foundation in their lives. Weíve seen people recommitting their marriages. Weíre seeing restoration. Weíre judged by our fruit and weíre looking for lasting fruit, not just numbers or an emotional kick.

You admitted a few years ago that your marriage was in trouble.

We have no authority to be on stage if our family life is in a mess. We wonít really have anything to say. I figured out the right reason to love one another is out of respect and reverence for Christ and what He has done, and you do these things as unto the Lord, for Him. You separate yourself in a Holy way. So I had to find that, and until that time, it became a bit of a mess.

What was the problem? [Peter is pictured with his wife Summer]

I was in a Christian ministry. I was in the Bible every day, reading books, preaching on stage. But I had a form of godliness but with no power. It was all about me and my rights. I would come home from providing for the family and I thought I was owed something. Thatís not the attitude Jesus had. We can love people for the wrong reasonsĖto get something out of them. But weíre to love one another as unto the Lord and out of respect for what Jesus did. Itís about giving up ourselves and our ways and respecting our wives and putting them above our business and ministry.

How difficult is it to nourish a marriage when youíre on the road?

Itís actually quite easy now because Iíve put the marriage first. I realized that she needs someone to love her and cherish her and she should be involved in everything. She travels with us whenever she wants to. I had to put her first with actions. That means not just calling her four times a day, it means not touring as much. My marriage is more important than music, than ministry, because marriage is ministry. A lot of ministers get tricked. Thatís why thereís so much divorce in the church because we get tricked. I have a theory that a man is meant to worship God and put Him first and seek His kingdom and to love his wife as unto the Lord and everything after that is secondary. Iím just not worried about the next gig any more, itís just not my priority. Before we would do 65 shows in 90 days. Now I play Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and Iím home. Four weekends and the tour is finished.

What changes have you seen in your marriage?

He has restored my marriage where I saw no hope. Heís blessed us immensely. Itís been a tremendous year. Sometimes itís hard. I have to trust God that His ways are not my ways, theyíre better.

What do you believe now about marriage?

I believe that no matter what youíre going through in your marriage, especially if you have children, youíre better off to stay in that marriage. Do it even as a sacrifice unto the Lord and you will start to see mighty miracles happen. Youíll start to see it in the children and the next generation.

What would you say to struggling couples?

Donít go through it alone. You need people around you who have people around them. I would not be under a pastor whoís not under other people. My pastor walks has people in his life that heís had for 15 or 20 years. Thatís a sign of a man whoís under authority. Thatís not bondage, itís freedom. So now my wife has someone she can go and talk to if Iím out of line and thatís freedom for her. Ask God to bring people into your lives and then submit to them. The first key is to do things for each other even if youíre angry and you feel youíre right. Itís not about your rights. Jesus gave up His rights. He had the rights to call down the angels but He didnít. He gave up His rights for us. Heís our model as husbands. I have seen restoration happen when I thought there was no hope. God can do the impossible, but we have to do it His way. We have to walk in fellowship with other believers and be men that walk in the Word and know the Word and be sons of God because weíre lead by the Spirit of God.

What steps do you take to protect your purity?

We walk in pretty tight circles. Iím not out here alone. I go through the same struggles as every other man does but Iím not alone in it so thatís probably the best thing. Iíve got the sword of truth, Iíve got the helmet of salvation, Iíve got this armor and people to help me put it on. Iíve got men in my life that I just donít want to disappoint because I love them so much, and Iíve made a commitment to them. And my wife is starting to meet women who are great women in the Lord, who are not phony.

What has helped you in restoring the devotion to God in your life?

Having the knowledge of Godís word, for it be revealed to me. It canít just be words on a paper. Itís got to be alive and living and active in my life. Itís got to be penetrating, dividing spirit and soul, joints and marrow. Itís got to be judging my thoughts and attitudes, revealing to me that nothing is hidden from the sight of God, and that everything would be uncovered and laid bare before him to whom we must give account.

How would you define true success?

That Iím still married and thereís a process of restoration in my life. Thatís success. That I was devoted to the kingdom and Godís purpose, not my purpose. My purpose is finding out Godís purpose and doing it. All the other stuffís dross and it wonít make it through the fire eventually.

Whatís next for you guys?

Weíll I can tell you this: We wonít be up on the rooftops with our bags packed waiting for Jesus to come back, thereís work to do. Our job is to restore, and to be the pillar of truth and integrity in the world. The only way we can shine a light in this world is if itís really operating in our lives. That light canít be man made.

How would you like to be remembered?

Iím not really sure I care that much, probably just by my wife as a great husband. Thatís as good as you can get. Sheís the one that counts  

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