One of my favorite people in all of the world is Fred Weyer, a former Minister of Music at Pine Lake Baptist Church. Fred is a dear friend. He has served most of his life as a bi-vocational minister of music while holding down demanding full-time positions. He served Pine Lake multiple times over many years and under many pastors and interim pastors. He always conducted himself with enthusiasm and integrity. Over the years Fred served 15 or more churches in 3 states. Fred attended Centenary College of Louisiana where he studied music and participated in choral groups. He received special coaching and training from his mentor, Martha Moore Clancey, then professor of music theory and voice at Southwestern Seminary.
On the vocational side, Fred worked for a major automobile manufacturer and traveled extensively every week. Somehow he always made his way back to the Atlanta area for Wednesday night services and choir practice. I sang in his adult choir, sang duets with him, and sometimes filled in for him when he was on vacation. I have often said that Fred was the most enthusiastic congregational leader that I have ever known and the best Minister of Music Pine Lake has ever had. He could get the most out of a choir and the congregation every Sunday. I loved to sing in his choirs and especially in the special music presentations at Christmas and Easter. Over the years our choir had as many as 50 people singing and as few as 15. But Fred was just as enthusiastic no matter how many were singing.
One of the things I admired most about Fred was his flexibility and his unique ability to change things on the fly to match the Pastor’s message and the spirit of the service. I learned so much under his leadership and can not tell you how much I have appreciated his friendship and his service for the Lord over the years. He and his lovely wife Dolores are now retired living in a suburb of Atlanta and are true examples of life-time Christian servants. I love them both dearly and look forward to singing with them in Heaven’s choir.
One of the special music numbers that Fred taught our choir has been running through my mind over and over lately. The song is “His Grace Is Sufficient For Me” by Mosie Lister. Every time the choir sang the chorus of the song it touched me deeply, bringing tears of joy to my eyes and to my soul. I believe that recalling the song so many times recently is God’s way of telling me to write something about it. So, below you will find a brief story behind the song, the scripture that inspired it, and a link to a great presentation of the song by the Statesmen and the Booth Brothers via Youtube.
Scripture: (all NIV unless otherwise noted)
2 Corinthians 12:8-10 – 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
In 2 Corinthians chapter twelve, Paul speaks first of a vision and revelations he has received from the Lord. He boasts about the Lord (Jesus) but refuses to boast about himself. If fact, Paul says that “in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me (vs. 7).” Paul “pleaded with the Lord” three times to take away the thorn but Jesus told him “My grace is sufficient for you.” Why? Paul said it was to keep him from becoming conceited. So, the emphasis should not be on Paul, it should always be on Jesus where the true power for the Christian really comes from.
Sometimes we think that we just need to try a little harder … to be a little better … to dig a little deeper … when what we really need to do is depend totally on the Lord Jesus and keep the focus on Him and not ourselves. Man seeks the praise of other men. But Jesus wants us to praise Him and not man. The Lord’s grace (God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense) is abundant and costs us nothing. Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for us. He gave His life for us. He was sinless. Yet He took upon Himself the sin’s of man and paid the price for the forgiveness of our sins. Nothing else is sufficient — only God’s grace.
Let me now expand further on Mosie Lister’s song, His Grace Is Sufficient For Me. I did a little research and found that John Scheideman wrote an article for the Absolutely Gospel Music web site profiling Mosie Lister. You can click on the previous link to see the entire article. Some of it is reproduced below for convenience.
“Thomas Mosie Lister was born on September 8, 1921 in Cochran, GA. In the early 1940s, Lister became one of the original members of the Sunny South Quartet in Tampa, FL … a quartet that spawned the careers of such singers as Jim “Big Chief” Wetherington, John Mathews, Horace Parrish, Lee Kitchens, and JD Sumner. Sang with the Melody Masters after WWII. Ultimately replaced by Jake Hess.
1948 He joined original Statesmen Quartet formed by the famous Hovie Lister (no kin) but sang only a short time due to health reasons. From that point on he concentrated on writing gospel music and primarily wrote for the top gospel groups of that day.
One Lister song, 1952’s “I’m Feeling Fine” was originally conceived as a slow ballad-type number, and that’s how he pitched it to the LeFevres. Instead, however, the LeFevres performed the song in a rollicking, uptempo version and it was so successful that way that the song was done that way by virtually every other artist that subsequently recorded and performed it. Since the song was successful that way, Mosie Lister didn’t mind the alteration too much.
Other Lister songs more closely followed their writer’s intentions, including 1955’s “Then I Met The Master”, recorded by the Statesmen (with Jake Hess featured), and 1953’s “His Hand In Mine”, the title song for a gospel album from Elvis Presley.
A roll call of Lister’s other major songs will amply demonstrate the breadth of his ability and influence, many of these becoming gospel classics still performed today by many artists. They include “How Long Has It Been” (1956), “Happy Rhythm” (1953), “Goodbye World Goodbye” (1952), “He Knows Just What I Need” (1955), “I’ve Been Changed” (1959), “Till The Storm Passes By” (1958), “Where No One Stands Alone” (1955), “The King And I Walk Hand In Hand” (1954), and “While The Ages Roll” (1970).”
In her book “Stories Behind 50 Southern Gospel Favorites, “Lindsay Terry records an interview with Mosie Lister where he discusses the story behind “His Grace Is Sufficient For Me.” In that interview Lister said the song …
“… was literally a gift from God. In the mid-1960’s, I realized I had gone for an incredibly long time without writing a song that had real worth — that really meant something. It had been more than a year, and that was really rare for me. Though I sometimes worked on songs for several months, I never thought they were difficult to write. I had never been through a dry spell like that before. I began to search my mind and my heart. We were living in Tampa, Florida, then, and one morning I was driving downtown to pick up my mail. On the way I started thinking about how long it had been since I had written a song, and I just sincerely and honestly prayed to God about it. I told Him that I felt that I might be at a place in my life where He was pointing me in another direction — away from writing music. Yet I really loved it and felt that it was given to me from Him.
I told God that I was despondent over not writing anything in a long time, and that I just didn’t understand the reasons for it. I said, ‘Right now I just give You whatever ability I have. If You want me to go in another direction and leave writing, I’ll do that, and I will be happy about it. I just need to know what Your will is. If you’ll show me Your will, I’ll do it.’
After returning home, I did what I had done very often in those days. I took my guitar, sat down, and started strumming and humming to myself. I found myself singing, ‘Many times I’m tried and tested as I travel day by day … .’ I was on the second verse before it dawned on me what I was doing. It occurred to me that this was a new song, and I hadn’t written one in over a year.
I then thought of the verse in Scripture where Paul says, ‘My Grace is sufficient for thee’ (2 Corinthians 12:9). That became the chorus of my song. Since then, I’ve never doubted that I’m doing exactly what God wants me to do. I feel that this song came along when I needed its message for my own heart.”
Mosie Lister was in a real dry spell. Writing gospel music was his profession. He had fluidly written many, many songs which were recorded by top Southern Gospel groups. Perhaps his personal success had caused him to focus too much on himself. When he admitted to God that he was despondent about not being able to write music and turned his abilities over to the Lord, the Lord’s grace was immediately sufficient for all of his needs. He once again began to write amazing gospel music and continued to do so for the rest of his career. No telling what would have happened if Lister had continued to depend on his own sufficiency instead of the Lord’s.
God’s grace is not something that is earned, rather it is provided freely to those who trust in the all mighty, all powerful, all sufficiency of the Lord.
I sang in the The Good News, a Southern Gospel quartet for more than twenty years. We sang many of Mosie Lister’s songs over that period including Where No One Stands Alone, While The Ages Roll, and How Long Has It Been. In addition, Mark Fuller, our piano player, loved to play an uptempo version of Goodbye World, Goodbye which always brought the house down. Mark’s presentation of Goodbye World, Goodbye is on our recording, Spreading The Gospel, and can be played at www.jimdavenport.wordpress.com under the “Listen To The Good News” tab. (Note: If you are reading this article online, then the “Listen…” tab can be found near the top of this page.)
Every time I hear this song or even think about it I think of Fred Weyer and his unselfishness, his love for the Lord, and his dependence on the Lord’s sufficiency. I miss being with my friend physically, but we are still together spiritually and will spend an eternity in Heaven singing about the sufficiency of God’s grace.
Well enough babbling, here’s a video of Hovie Lister and the Statesmen singing His Grace Is Sufficient for Me. I hope you will enjoy this wonderful song as much as I do.
Here’s a more recent video version of His Grace Is Sufficient For Me by the Booth Brothers … different presentation but the same wonderful song.
His Grace Is Sufficient For Me (Mosie Lister)
Many times I’m tried and tested
As I travel day by day
`Oft I meet with pain and sorrow
And there’s trouble in the way.
But I have a sweet assurance
That my soul, the Lord will lead
And in Him there is strength for every need.
O, His grace is sufficient for me.
And His love is abundant and free.
And what joy fills my soul,
Just to know, just to know
That His grace is sufficient for me.
When the tempter brings confusion
And I don’t know what to do,
On my knees I turn to Jesus
For He’ll always see me through
Then despair is changed to victory.
Every doubt just melts away
And in Him there is hope for everyday.
And what joy fills my soul,
Just to know, just to know
That His grace is sufficient for me.
You can read another of my articles on a similar topic by clicking this link: The Believer’s Sufficiency In Christ.