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Songwriter recounts memories & moments behind the songs

SALEM, Mo. (BP)–Like all songwriters, Mark Mathes can point to the times of inspiration that have sparked the Southern gospel music he has penned.

Three examples:

— “I Believe,” No. 2 for 2002 on the Singing News Top 40 Chart

Mathes attended a campmeeting in Corinth, Miss., several years ago, and on the door of the church he saw a plaque that read: “We believe in the Blessed Hope, the Book and the Blood.” He wrote down the phrase, but it was several months later when he heard a preacher during a revival at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Salem, Mo., say, “I believe in the Blessed Hope, the Book and the Blood.”

“That reminded me of the note I had made a few months earlier,” Mathes recalled. “When our group, Heartbeat, began looking for new songs, I asked God for an upbeat, preaching-type song, and he gave me I Believe.”

— “I’m Not What I Was,” No. 11 for 2002 on the Singing News chart

During a prayer, a preacher in a small church in Montear, Mo., offered the words that inspired Mark Mathes to write “I’m Not What I Was.” The preacher’s words were: “I’m not what I want to be. I’m not what I’m gonna be. But, thank God, I’m not what I was.”

“Before I got home that night, I had the chorus,” Mathes said. “I wrote it while going down the road. As I began studying in Philippians, I found that the apostle Paul — no matter how close he was to God — desired to know the Lord even more and to know the power of his resurrection. I have been a Christian for 33 years, and I’m still learning more about his love, but one day, I will be like him and with him forever. Thank God I’m not what I was.”

— “Then We Shall Sing,” new release

Mathes, who serves as music minister at Oak Grove Baptist Church in Salem, Mo., was thinking one day about how the angels sing in heaven and was wondering, “Do they have scheduled rehearsals? Do they memorize their material? How beautiful they must sound!”

“But they can never sing the song of the redeemed. Only those who have been saved, washed in the blood of Jesus, can sing that song,” Mathes recounted. “Just think how beautiful it will sound when we, the redeemed, all sing together in heaven for the first time. Like never before, all in one accord and unity, worshiping the one who redeemed us. The thunderous harmony of millions of voices will fill the heavens!”

    About the Author

  • Stacey Hamby