Monday, November 14, 2011

For Every Mountain

Yesterday, the choir & orchestra at church led us to throne of Glory (as they do each week).  They did one of my favorite that causes me allergy attacks and that won't let me sit still & keep my hands under that I'd love to be sung at my funeral one day.

I've heard the song several times before.  It rocks me every single time, for it takes me deep into the depths of my soul & my theology, while at the same time greatly magnifying God and His gracious goodness to me in so many ways.

Before sharing the lyrics with you, a simple question: what are you thankful for?

My own typical answer is "that's easy! (followed by a list of pleasant things like spouses, parents, jobs, pets, friends, Fall leaves, football,...)"  You know, Fun & Pleasing things.  Which I *am* OH-so thankful for!

But what about the trialsWhat about the mountains that stood in your pathWhat about the valleys that sprawled before youWhat about those times your world was totally rocked & you looked up in total despair, wondering why & how

Why are we not typically thankful for those? 
(Answer: because we're human!  And thus, we forget.  One of my very favorite names of God in Scripture is "Jehovah Shammah"...basically, "The Lord Who is Present"; that's what I need to remember more often.)

With that said, here are the lyrics to Kurt Carr's "For Every Mountain."

I've got so much to thank God for
So many wonderful blessings
and so many open doors

A brand new mercy
along with each new day
That's why I praise You
and for this I give You praise

For waking me up this morning
(That's why I praise You)
For starting me on my way
(That's why I praise You)
For letting me see the sunshine of a brand new day(that's why I praise You)

A brand new mercy
along with each new day
That's why I praise You
and for this, I give You praise

You're Jehovah Jireh
(That's why I praise You)
You've been my Provider
(That's why I praise You)
You see so many times You´ve met my needs
So many times You rescued me
(That's why I praise You)

I want to thank You for the blessing
You give to me each day
That's why I praise You
For this I give You praise

For every mountain You brought me over
For every trial you've seen me through
For every blessing
Hallelujah, for this I give You praise.

My challenge to myself every time I hear this song is to be thankful for the mountains He's brought me over... be thankful for the trials...and, of course, for the light, pleasant blessings too.  I challenge myself--and you too!--to not miss the huge blessings of God during the dark times.  When things happen like cancer...loss...illness...death...struggle... For God is NO LESS GOOD in those times than in the pleasant times.  Perhaps one day, I'll remember this; until then, I'm thankful to the TBC choir & orchestra for the reminder yesterday morning.

Click => here to see the always-amazing Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir perform "For Every Mountain."  It's about 6:24 long.  Enjoy!

p.s. - as it turns out, it's rather difficult for the Powerpoint guy to click the last few slides when the choir is performing this song...seems streaming tears block out a clear view of the computer screen.  Or so I hear.  *blushing smile*

Wednesday, November 02, 2011


"Those who honor me, I will honor..."  1 Samuel 2:30 (excerpt)

I met him 20 years ago last week, when he moved from McComb, MS to Hattiesburg to take a staff position @ the church I attend.

Gloriously, I'll never be the same.

He has been quietly faithful these past 20 years (and, I'm quite confident, the years before too.).  I have learned so very much from him, some by direct teaching & most by just living in his orbit & attending church & sitting on committees & such.

Here are just a few areas where I hope I'm better because of the influence of this remarkable guy:
--Family - one of the great husbands, sons, & fathers I've ever known!  His two grown children are very thankful for him, as is his beloved bride, whom he deeply cherishes.  Despite a crushing schedule, he hung out every week with his Dad until Dad entered the presence of Jesus.
--Church Membership - From him, I have learned much about what it means to be a faithful church member who supports the mission of the church--and of the Church at large.  In the past, I have disagreed on some minor details; I was wrong.  And I was NEVER condemned by him.
--Friendship - I think he knows everyone in the greater southeastern U.S., and yet he faithfully keeps up with most of them--us--via phone, visits, Twitter, Facebook,...
--Discipline - He honors the Lord with the totality of his life, mostly by being disciplined about the basics.  Time in the Word, worship, prayer,...and amazing schedule management.
--Prayer - He's one of my "prayer Bros," the go-to guys who I turn to regularly to ask them to intercede for me before the throne of grace.  And I am just one of *many* whose name & situation is mentioned in his prayers.  And always with confidentiality, never engaging in what I call "Baptist gossip" in, "we need to pray for ______, because I've heard that s/he's really struggling with ______"
--Ministry - Despite time demands that I cannot imagine, I don't know of anyone more faithful to visit people in the hospitals in the area.  Whether members of his church or not!  On one occasion, he flew a long way across country to be with a church member's family while the church member had very serious & long surgery.
--Grace - This is probably where I've learned the most from observing this guy.  First, there's his very good sermon "Grace Clothes" that I've heard him preach a couple of times, & been challenged mightily both times.  Then, there's the reality that on three occasions in the last 20 years, our church has had a pastor leave.  Twice under a very serious cloud.  At no time did my buddy dishonor the departing pastor by rumor-mongering nor even by sharing the truth.  Not one time.  (Thankfully, the most recent pastor's "leaving" earlier this year, was NOT under a cloud.  But it still imposes a large burden on the Executive Pastor.)
--Trust - in the Gospel, which enables all of the above.  I've watched his family go through the death of a beloved son-in-law to leukemia when the son-in-law was all of 33 years old.  I've seen my buddy re-orient his entire life in order to help his daughter raise three young children.  All the while, continuing to smile & press on in faithful ministry.

Is he a perfect guy?  No.  Is he a perfect minister?  No.  Does he make mistakes?  Yes.  But he's much more of the first two than I, and he makes FAR fewer mistakes than I.

I thank God for leading Gary Shows to Temple Baptist Church 20 years ago.  I know of very few who have consistently honored the Lord as consistently & faithfully over a very challenging 20-year period as he.  I'm glad he's at my church.  I'm even more glad he's my friend.  His grandkids named him "G," which is, of course, the perfect name for him.  A number of us who are not his grandkids call him that now with the greatest affection.

Thanks, G, for all you do.  And selfishly, for all you do & have done for Mike Madaris.  Keep pressing on, amigo.

With much love,