Tag Archives: Ministry

#445: The Song “How Many Times”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #445, on the subject of The Song “How Many Times”.

I can explain why this song was not on the original “short list” for the Extreme Tour demo:  I wrote it in high school, and I feel like it shows the marks of an immature believer.  Yet I might judge it too harshly for that.

After all, my youngest son Adam (who co-wrote Even You, featured a few months back) likes it a lot, was learning to play the piano part for it.  I could discount that, because I think he likes angsty songs–but he says that “people” like it.  It also has a long history that commends it.

It is probably the song that put my music on the map.  The Last Psalm had been playing very small venues when we were invited to perform at the Luther College Coffeehouse Night, an invitational gathering of the heads of coffeehouses throughout the northeastern New Jersey area early in 1974.  I had Peggy (Lisbona, also contralto vocals) sit at the piano, while I joined Ruthann (Mekita, soprano), Ann (Hughs, alto), and Jeff (Zurheide, baritone, also lead guitar) in a stairwell adjacent to the dais.  The four of us sang the first verse and chorus of the hymn Softly and Tenderly in four parts a capella, and as we finished Peggy started playing the introduction to this song on the piano.  I scampered up the stairs, picked up my guitar, stepped up to the mic, and on the downbeat of the first verse I hit the CM7 chord and began singing.

At that moment, several people who thought all my talk about how to run a musical ensemble was hot air suddenly updated their thinking.  Andy (Andrew Hagan Nilssen) followed me and began playing bass mid-verse, followed by John (Mastick) on the drums, and Jeff came to the stage to play lead frills behind the vocals as the second verse began.  Ruthann and Ann joined us in time to sing the four part vocal ending, and the audience welcomed us to the stage.

We played a carefully-planned twenty-minute slot, and yielded the stage to others, but were invited back on stage at the end of the program to play another maybe half hour.  After that, several local coffeehouses invited us to play their venues.  This song had a lot to do with that, I think.

After The Last Psalm dissolved, I made a monophonic multi-track recording in which I improvised lead guitar frills; I liked them enough that I expanded them to two parts, and recorded that on a regretably lost tape I made in a studio at Gordon College.  I preserved the parts, though, for this vocals-over-midi-instruments recording, made as part of the nostalgic collection of recordings of Last Psalm songs for Jes Oldham entitled When I Was Young.  There is a midi “hiccough” in the second line, but it’s barely noticeable.  Although the lyrics don’t really strike me as great, I do like the inside rhymes.

I don’t perform it because I always feel like it needs the four-part ending vocals; I have a live recording I did at the Silver Lake Community Church one week which to my mind underscores that.  Yet it was an important song in my history, and worth preserving in its own right.

How Many Times.

So here are the lyrics.

How many times can I look down,
Only to find I’m still on the ground?
How many days?  I can’t even count.
How many ways have I tried to get out?

How much more is all I can take?
Before I know I will break?
And if I break, what else will there be?
Is it too late to care about me?

Is there someone, somebody, somewhere,
Or someone’s son who really cares?
Is there a man–there has to be–who would lay down his life,
Do what he can for you and me to save us from strife?

Yes, there is someone:  Jesus loves you.
Yes, there is someone:  Jesus loves you.
Yes, there is someone:  Jesus loves you,
Jesus loves you, Jesus loves you.

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices” | #326:  The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334:  The Song “Convinced” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor” | #433:  The Song “From Job” | #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again” | #438:  The Song “Even You” | #441:  The Song “Fork in the Road” | #442:  The Song “Call to Worship” |

#444: Ability versus Popularity

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #444, on the subject of Ability versus Popularity.

The world seems overrun with supposed talent contests in which ordinary people are invited to vote for the winners–the best musicians seems the most common, but other forms of entertainment are not exempt, including the best books.  I generally do not participate in these (that is, I don’t vote in them; not ever having been nominated, I cannot speak to that side of it), and I expect that people who think that I am at least nominally a friend are upset when I don’t rally to support them.  However, I think such support would usually be dishonest, reducing what is supposed to be a measure of ability to a measure of popularity.  Permit me to explain.

I have thought of this many times before, but this morning an announcer on a radio station which is a bit bigger than “local”, being a network of I think four stations covering sections of four states, encouraged listeners to go to a web site and vote for a particular contestant in a televised contest because he happened to live somewhere in the listening area.  Quite apart from the fact that the specific place he lived was at least a hundred miles from where I was when I heard this, that to me seems a very bad–and truly dishonest–basis on which to vote for someone in a talent show.  It wasn’t even suggested that the specific contestant was a listener of the station, which also is a bad basis on which to cast such a vote.  Nor did the announcer suggest that voting should be limited to people who actually saw the show.

I similarly get personal invitations to vote for people I have at least met, or with whom I have interacted over the Internet, who are participating in local contests, usually musical.  I also am encouraged at times to vote for the best books of the year.

The fundamental problem here is that I am ill-informed on the subject.  Often I have not actually heard the musician or band who wants my support–certainly my fault, that I fail to get to concerts and other venues or to watch many internet music videos, but a clear fact.  I also don’t read most of the best-selling books–I rarely read any of them, truth be told, reading books that are less familiar and usually older most of the time.  For me to vote for a band or book based on the fact that I know the artist or author without having any direct exposure to the work is itself dishonest.

So then, does that mean it is less dishonest to vote for the book I read, or the band I heard?  I think not.  If we are voting for the best book of the year, and I read one of them, on what basis am I asserting that this book is better than all the other books published this past year?  If I’ve only heard one of the bands in the competition, what value is my opinion that it is better than all the bands I haven’t heard?

When I was in radio I several times selected what I believed were the most significant Christian albums released over the year.  Arguably popularity could be a factor in significance, but I was more interested in ministry and artistic factors.  Someone once asked me what right I had to presume to review record albums, and I said, as the first point, that my job meant I heard every record released in the genre every year, and my second point that I had studied and performed music and made my own recordings, so I was intimately familiar with the process and the product.  If I chose an album as among the best, I had a reasonable and defensible basis for saying so.

Of course, people have all kinds of reasons for recommending a vote for a particular selection.  This candidate is from our home town, a member of our organization, an advocate of a particular position on an important issue, a member of a minority group, a Christian.  Every single one of those notions is a very poor basis on which to vote for the best in any group.  It devolves to a question of whom we like, and that’s not what we’re supposed to be choosing.

Thus such “talent” contests devolve into popularity contests.  I don’t like popularity contests, and maybe I’ll talk about that on my Patreon web log, but there is fundamentally a problem with determining the best based on who is the most popular–and it is a problem that infects everything in America from television shows to government.

And since it is thus dishonest to vote for who is the best on any basis other than a more than passing familiarity with all the candidates and an honest assessment of their relative merits, almost everyone who votes in such contests is dishonest.  I will not be dishonest that way, and will not ask you to be dishonest on my behalf.

#438: The Song “Even You”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #438, on the subject of The Song “Even You”.

It is difficult to know what to write about this song, because I wrote about it before.  Back when it was written, I posted web log post #181:  Anatomy of a Songwriting Collaboration, in which I described how beginning with the memory of something Jack Haberer posted in our high school yearbook I engaged my youngest son Adam in constructing this song.  Here I offer this recording, done in my living room with an acoustic guitar in competition with an air cleaner, not long after a hospitalization so I would have a recorded copy.  There is an earlier recording on another web site somewhere, linked from the previous article, in which Adam is playing the piano.

Tristan did not mention the song on his list; I suspect he had never heard it, as it was fairly new and he was not at our house much.  I placed the song itself at twenty-ninth, and the recording, flawed as it is, at thirty-second, which tied it with the previous song, Trust Him Again, at thirty-second overall.  The progressions were mostly somewhat common, and although I liked the lyrics I admit that there are spots where I’m not at all sure what Adam meant.  But it is a good song, and I’ve performed it at least once or twice live despite the fact that I rarely get to perform live anymore.

Even You.

So here are the lyrics.

If deep in your heart you remember when,
Did you want to be born again again?
The good news is the news is true:
Jesus comes to make all things new,
Even you, even you, even you, even you.

There in your mind when you feel abused,
Don’t you get tired of being used and used?
Darkness falls, then the light breaks through.
Jesus comes to make all things new,
Even you, even you, even you, even you.

You want what you want.
You get the joy, he took the pain.
You get what you get:
Redemption sustains, sin is a stain.

Ask yourself why you want to sin,
Why you lose; you were made to win.  To win
Victory, and to make it through.
Jesus comes to make all things new,
Even you, even you, even you, even you.

Thank God for what He’s done
To set us free.
He gave His only Son
For you and me.

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices” | #326:  The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334:  The Song “Convinced” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor” | #433:  The Song “From Job” | #436:  The Song “Trust Him Again”

Next song:  Fork in the Road

#436: The Song “Trust Him Again”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #436, on the subject of The Song “Trust Him Again”.

I am not entirely certain when I wrote this.  I am inclined to think that it was during or just after my time at WNNN, which makes it mid to late 80s.  I do know that the only time it was performed the way I had envisioned, with four vocals taking turns on the verses and singing in harmony on the choruses, was at Scott and Sue Kirkegard’s house near Freehold, New Jersey, before they moved to upstate New York.  I don’t know the dates for that, but again I think that puts it in the mid 80s.  This recording was me, live in I think my kitchen this time; it’s a WMA file, so it might take a bit of download time.

The song came from an idea, the notion that we trust God now because we see that He has been trustworthy in the past.  We see it in the life of Abraham, very specifically and clearly.  I didn’t want to make it too personal, though, so I wondered what I could cite that would demonstrate that God is trustworthy, and for some reason I struck upon creation.  The seven days of creation would give me too many verses, unless I covered two days in each chorus; that gave me an extra half a chorus, and when I got there I decided that I should cover the new creation with that last couplet. From there I built the verses as something more personal, individual, so that the song would say that I trusted Jesus with this part of my life, and I’m going to trust Him again because of all He has done beyond that.

Tristan did not include this song on his list.  I listed it twenty-seventh for the quality of the music and lyrics, and thirty-fourth for the quality of the recording and performance.  This landed it at number 32 on the list.

What held the song back as a song is primarily its length. I often considered whether there was a way to cut the second verse, but once I was committed to the creation structure I couldn’t cut the second chorus.  Also, I am often uncomfortable with songs or parts of songs that talk about how much faith I have, because I don’t always have quite as much faith as the words suggest.  But it’s a good song, and it was put on the repertoire list for 7dB (Tyler liked the way it stopped and started), although we never actually got to the point of learning it.

As to the performance, it really is extremely difficult to do as a solo piece, and it loses so much without the other voices.  You can hear me trying to get enough breath for it before the first chord, and trying to catch my breath after the last one.  The song is relentlessly demanding when you can’t split the verses between four singers, not to mention that the lyrics are not entirely easy to keep straight.  All I can say of this performance is I managed to get through it.

Trust Him Again.

So here are the lyrics.

I trusted Jesus as the savior of my soul.
I trusted Him to make me pure and make me whole.
I know that Jesus said He’d take away my sin,
And so I trusted Jesus to begin.

And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the day and the night.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who died that may be made right.
So I’ll trust Him again,
For He died for all men.
He will free us from sin
If we just let Him in.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the sky and the rain.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who for us endured so much pain,
So I’ll trust Him again.

I trusted Jesus when He said He’d make me well.
I trusted Him, for I was sure He could dispel
The sickness and the symptoms, and my health renew,
And so I trusted Him to see me through.

And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the sea and the land.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who frees us by His mighty hand.
So I’ll trust Him again,
For He died for all men.
And the Bible decrees
He will take our disease.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the moon and the sun.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who died and the victory won.
So I’ll trust that it’s done.

I trusted Jesus when He said He’d be my guide.
I trusted Jesus to remain beside, beside my side.
He knows the way to keep me safe, if I’ll obey,
And so I trusted Him to lead the way.

And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the fish and the bird.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who authored the wonders we’ve heard.
So I’ll trust Him again,
For He died for all men.
Since He knows what will be
He prepares you and me.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the beasts of the earth.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Lord Who gives life and Who gives us new birth.
Give the trust that He’s worth.

I trusted Jesus when He said He’d take my place.
I trusted Him to live within me by His grace.
I know that sinless is what He will always be,
And so I trusted Him to live through me.

And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who gave us the Sabbath of rest.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Lord who has given us His very best.
So I’ll trust Him again,
For He died for all men.
He’s as close as a prayer
And has power to spare.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who died and Who rose up again.
And I’ll trust Him again:
He’s the very same Jesus Who lives to give freedom to men,
So I’ll trust Him again;
I will trust Him again.

Again, again, again, again, again.

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices” | #326:  The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334:  The Song “Convinced” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor” | #433:  The Song “From Job”

Next Song:  Even You

#434: Foolish Wisemen

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #434, on the subject of Foolish Wisemen.

For most Americans, Christmas is over.  Many took down the decorations on Boxing Day, and few will leave them up past New Year.  Yet this isn’t really about Christmas.  After all, we know that the wise men did not actually find Jesus in a manger in a stable; we are told they found him in a house.  Had they arrived and given gifts of significant value, Joseph and Mary would have had to offer a lamb with their two birds as an offering for her cleansing, but we are told that the couple delivered the poor man’s pair of birds.  Unless we think that the gifts were paltry tokens, they had not yet been delivered in that first week, and not before the couple made a trip to the temple.  Some of us celebrate Epiphany, which is a somewhat random number of days after a somewhat randomly assigned date of birth, but makes the point that the wise men didn’t get there that first night.  But that’s not what this is about, either.

Rather, I am recalling Balaam, who in Numbers 24:17 prophesied in the famous words “There shall a star from Jacob come forth”.  The Israelites preserved those words, and recognized within them a messianic prediction.  However, Balaam was not an Israelite; he was from Mesopotamia, the land whose people became the Medes and Persians, east of Israel.

It seems that they, too, preserved those words.  Matthew makes the connection for us, that wise men, scholars who studied the books and the stars, came from the east, which would probably mean Persian astrologers, because of a star–probably the star predicted by their ancestor Balaam.  It didn’t need to be a big, bright, obvious star; it needed to be a configuration of celestial objects that they understood to mean the birth of the ruler predicted by their own ancestor.  Seeing the star, they came to bring gifts to the baby, and to honor him.

Then they left, and we read nothing more about them.

Of course, it would be three decades before Jesus worked the miracle of redemption, and another several years before the faith was pushed out of Jerusalem into the rest of the world.  Whether those scholars still lived we don’t know.  But there is this question:  did these scholars who were aware of the arrival of the Anointed at His birth, who made a great effort to find Him and gave Him valuable gifts, ever do anything else, learn anything more, actually come to faith in Him?

And that question then transfers to the people of our time.  How many celebrated the birth of Christ, one way or another, recently, spending significant amounts of money and time and effort on the holiday, who never returned to see what more He had done?  The deliverer came, and those needing deliverance honored that arrival; but then they left, never to be delivered.

That’s sad.

#433: The Song “From Job”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #433, on the subject of The Song “From Job”.

This song doesn’t really have a title.  I’m bad at titles, and while I suppose in one sense the title here might have been obvious, I always called it the one from Job.

It’s called that because somewhere late in that book, after Job and his three friends have finished bickering about whether his suffering is attributable to some secret sin he has been harboring, Elihu speaks, and in the middle of his speech he speaks about the righteous man, saying of this best of men, He will sing to men and say, “I have sinned and perverted what is right, and it is not proper for me; He has redeemed my life from going to the pit; my soul shall see the light.”

It wasn’t the first time I’d seen the words to a song in scripture and set them to music; it did require a few minor changes, but it produced this song about someone who thought himself fine but then recognized that he was not.

I wrote this when I was at Gordon College, probably after I got married but definitely while my cousin Peter Grosso was still attending Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in the next town.  That hurt the song, because the first people for whom I played it were him and a couple of his fellow students, and their only reaction was that it was long.  It is long, but I realized after the fact that I should have mentioned they were expected to sing along on the choruses, which they didn’t do.  Because of that response I rarely ever performed it live, and this recording, which I ranked 26th for quality of performance and recording, was done live, another done in my living room with the air cleaner coming through when the automatic level control kicked up.  I ranked the song at 32nd, and Tristan did not include it on his list, but since then I’ve come to think that this is a very important song for our era, so despite it being number 31 overall I think it worth singing, primarily because the revival so many want begins not with worship or evangelism but with repentance among believers, and that’s what this song expresses.

From Job.

So here are the lyrics.

I was no worse than the next guy–
That’s what I told myself,
And I didn’t even see why
God would ask for something else.
But I wouldn’t help another
If it broke my life of ease,
So I sinned against my brother;
So I fell down on my knees.

I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light,
Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light.

Well, I knew the twelve apostles
Had all done what Jesus said,
And I thought it was collosal
That God had raised Him from the dead,
But I didn’t really care about
What He had done that day.
But His love just kept on reachin’ out
‘Til I fin’ly came to say,

Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light,
Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light.

Well, I once knew all the theory,
And I didn’t care a bit,
‘Cause it only made me weary
Try’n’ to make life’s pieces fit.
Now I’ve got Him on the inside–
He’s become my everything–
So I’ll shout it from the hillside,
‘Cause He’s taught me how to sing

Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light,
Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
The Bible says that death is the wages of sin,
But the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus our Lord.
He’s knockin’ at your heart, so won’t you open up and let Him in.

Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light,
Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light.

Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light,
Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light.

Oh, and I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light,
Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light.

Oh, and I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light,
Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light.

If you’ve listened to this story
And you wonder what I mean,
When you’ve seen the land of glory
This life isn’t like it seemed.
Well, you’ve cheated, hated, cursed, lied–
Admit to God you’re wrong,
Then come join me on the hillside
And we’ll sing the world this song.

I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light,
Oh, I have sinned, and done what’s wrong for me,
Perverted what is right;
He redeemed my soul from misery,
My life has seen the light.

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices” | #326:  The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334:  The Song “Convinced” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me” | #428:  The Song “To the Victor”

Next song:  Trust Him Again

#431: Mark Joseph Young En Français

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #431, on the subject of Mark Joseph Young En Français.

Over two decades ago, the respected Australian role playing game e-zine Places to Go, People to Be asked if they could translate an article series I had written for them, three parts under the title Law and Enforcement in Imaginary realms, to republish in their then-new French edition.  This was the beginning of a long and continuing relationship during which they continued translating my work into French for release to a wider audience.  Recently I received word that they were releasing the twenty-sixth such article, and I had often realized that I had not been keeping track of what they had published and ought to do that, at least for my own sake, but also for yours.

This is in roughly the sequence in which the articles were originally translated and posted.

  1. La Loi et l’Ordre dans les Mondes Imaginaires – 1re Partie : Les sources de la Loi, written for and still published at the Australian version back in perhaps 1998 and translated shortly thereafter, was entitled Law & Enforcement in Imaginary Realms Part I:  The Source of Law, and dealt with how legal systems develop from primitive tribal structures to modern governmental systems, and how we derive laws from that.
  2. La Loi et l’Ordre dans les Mondes Imaginaires – 2e partie : la procédure judiciaire was the second part, Law & Enforcement in Imaginary Realms:  The Course of Law, presenting the issues of who executes the law and how is it executed, including what rights people might or might not have.
  3. La Loi et l’ordre dans les mondes imaginaires – 3e partie : Les Forces de l’Ordre finishes the series with Law & Enforcement in Imaginary Realms:  The Force of Law, dealing with matters of how and why we punish criminals.
  4. Des pièces de monnaie invisibles was originally a Game Ideas Unlimited article (at Gaming Outpost), more recently republished by the Christian Gamers Guild as RPG-ology #34:  Invisible Coins, about an illusionist technique and referee control of play.
  5. Gauche ou droite ? was again from Game Ideas Unlimited, again republished as RPG-ology #47:  Left or Right?, one of my personal favorites and another illusionist technique.
  6. Dans l’esprit de la radio is an article I wrote for the Winter 2004 edition of the e-zine Daedalus, entitled In the Spirit of Radio, and no longer available in English on the web.  Fortuitously I downloaded that issue, so I have a copy, and although it was not easy to convert PDF into HTML I expect it to post in the RPG-ology series next spring.
  7. La Sagesse dans les jeux de rôles, originally published as Game Ideas Unlimited:  Wisdom about how to play a character said to be wiser than the player, but only partially preserved on the web in English, it is my hope to reconstruct this eventually.
  8. LNS : de la théorie à l’application is a translation of an article originally published at The Forge and still available there as of last look, as Applied Theory, discussing how to apply concepts of gamism, narrativism, and simulationism to game design.
  9. Théorie 101 – 1re partie : le système et l’espace imaginaire commun is a significant piece.  Some years after I had written the Law and Enforcement series for the Australian e-zine, their editors put out a general call for someone to summarize the main features of role playing game theory as it was then being expounded at The Forge.  Being at that time involved in that work, I offered to compose something, and this, Theory 101:  System and the Shared Imagined Space, was the first of three parts.  It explains the concepts system, credibility, authority, and other aspects of how games work “under the hood” as it were that enable the creations of a shared world.  This article was later republished by Gaming Outpost, and the three-article translation was compacted and published in the French print magazine Joie de Role.
  10. Théorie 101 – 2e partie : Le Truc Impossible Avant Le Petit Déj’ is the second of the three parts, Theory 101:  The Impossible Thing Before Breakfast, discussing referee styles and how they resolve the conflict between the statement that the referee controls the story and the fact that the players control all the actions of its main characters.
  11. Théorie 101 – 3e partie : Les propositions créatives is the third part of the series, originally Theory 101:  Creative Agenda, discussing what is popularly called “GNS” or gamism, narrativism, and simulationism, the three primary approaches to player play, and what makes games fun for different people.
  12. Étreintes was originally Game Ideas Unlimited:  Embraces, and is scheduled to be reposted as RPG-ology #48:  Embraces on November 16 (2021); it deals with romance in role playing games.
  13. Valeurs was originally Game Ideas Unlimited:  Value, discussing what makes anything valuable or cheap.  It is on the list to be republished as an RPG-ology piece, but not yet scheduled.
  14. Récompenses was originally Game Ideas Unlimited:  Rewards, dealing with in-game reward systems, no longer available in English but on the list for eventually republication.
  15. Création de perso was originally Game Ideas Unlimited:  Chargen, about different ways of creating characters.  The English version only exists as a partial article, but eventually I hope to reconstruct it from the translation and republish it in RPG-ology.
  16. Du cash was originally Game Ideas Unlimited:  Cash, addressing the development of systems of exchange from barter through the invention of money in various forms to the future of electronic credit.  An English version exists, and will eventually be republished as an RPG-ology piece.
  17. Points négatifs was originally published as Game Ideas Unlimited:  Negative Points, a further discussion of character generation extolling the virtues of stronger and weaker characters.
  18. Maîtriser l’Horreur comes from closer to home, a translation of mark Joseph “young” web log post #132:  Writing Horror, about some of the elements that create a good horror story, whether for a book or for a game session.
  19. Moralité et conséquences : les fondamentaux oubliés. recovers the first article I wrote for someone else’s web site, Morality and Consequences:  Overlooked Roleplay Essentials, originally published among the earliest articles at Gaming Outpost around 1997 and restored as mark Joseph “young” web log post #237:  Morality and Consequences:  Overlooked Roleplay Essentials in 2018.
  20. Les Pactes avec le Diable is a translation of Faith and Gaming:  Deals, from the Christian Gamers Guild, about the Christian value in roleplaying deals with the devil.
  21. Le festin de Javan is again from the Christian Gamers Guild, Faith in Play #3:  Javan’s Feast, about an act of charity that rocked the game and impacted the players at the table.
  22. Histoire des Points de Vie was RPG-ology #3:  History of Hit Points, discussing the origin, development, and value of a fundamental mechanic in many games.
  23. Sentience was another Game Ideas Unlimited article, not spelled differently in English, and dealing with the elements of intelligence as a groundwork for creating alien minds.  It is scheduled for RPG-ology early next year.
  24. Funérailles reproduces another from Game Ideas Unlimited, this one republished recently as RPG-ology #46:  Deceased, asking why we don’t have funerals in our role playing games.
  25. Blessures is translated from Game Ideas Unlimited:  Wounds, addressing how events from adventures should impact character personality thereafter, which eventually should wind up in the RPG-ology series.
  26. Vous avez le droit de garder le silence… was more simply Game Ideas Unlimited:  Silence, about the relatively modern right against self-incrimination and how legal systems were different without it.  It, too, is slated for inclusion in the RPG-ology series.

The original French index on their site is here, for those more facile in French than I.  They expect to continue adding my material to their collection in the future, so I expect there may be a sequel to this article eventually.  My contributions are a drop in the ocean of excellent material they have gathered from a wealth of well-respected writers whom I will not begin to name for fear of omitting someone who ought to be mentioned.

#429: Luther College of the Bible and Liberal Arts

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #429, on the subject of Luther College of the Bible and Liberal Arts.

In Teaneck, New Jersey, at the corner of River Road and Pomander Walk, there is a somewhat elegant retirement home.  It occupies the grounds formerly utilized by a small religious junior college, Luther College of the Bible and Liberal Arts, no longer there.

I attended that school when it had existed, under perhaps several different names, for a quarter of a century, and now participate in an unofficial alumni group on Facebook.  Periodically someone will post to the list asking what remains of the campus, and whether anyone might post a sign memorializing the location.  It was, after all, for many of these students a place of great significance, holy ground if not literally at least in function in their lives.  The answer has been the same for a number of years, that if you know where it was there is a grove of trees within which once stood an outdoor chapel, and the mortared stone “altar” of that chapel still stands, or apparently did last time anyone sought it.

To the students, that seems an inadequate testament to the great things which once happened there.  It was a turning point in many lives, a foundation for many ministries, a first meeting place for many important relationships.  Because of the timing in which it entered our lives and the Biblical principles it brought to us, it cannot have been less than that.  Yet there is nothing there.

There are memories, of course.  I can still see the buildings that once stood there–a chapel with classrooms, a dormitory, and several repurposed residential buildings which provided offices, cafeteria, library, rec center, and more student housing.  It was ever a small school, with one teacher for every dozen of the fewer than two hundred students, and the unofficial slogan, “At Luther, you’re not a number, you’re a rumor.”  It was not a place to be anonymous.

It has by now been gone longer than it had been there.  Periodically someone goes through the mad search to locate whatever institution currently maintains the school’s records and transcripts.

Hope for some kind of sign or marker is probably faint.  I doubt the school, shadowed as it was by the rather large Farleigh Dickenson University campus a block away, was ever of any significance to the people of Teaneck.  The Lutheran denominations which cooperatively supported it then have all by now merged and morphed into new ones.  It is ultimately only the alumni, those touched by its presence in the past, who remember it or care that it was ever there.

But then, the location is not important.

The legacy of Luther College is not the dirt on which it was built.  It is the lives of those who attended.  You whose faith was formed and informed by the teachers and other students in your time there, you who have carried that faith into the world and into the lives of others, you are the legacy of Luther College, the only part of what remains that ever mattered; and as that faith impacts others, that legacy spreads, the unimportant name of the place lost but the faith it engendered and nurtured growing and spreading.

A plaque or sign marking a location where some buildings once stood won’t matter to that.  Eventually even that stone altar will vanish from the world.  However, because of you, the faith built in you will not vanish from the world.  You are the marker that says Luther College was here.  That is the location that matters.

#428: The Song “To the Victor”

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #428, on the subject of The Song “To the Victor”.

This is one of the very few praise songs I’ve written, and being a teacher I had to incorporate something extra so it’s structured as a trinitarian hymn.

I’m not sure whether that matters.

When I posted the song Why (listed and linked below) I mentioned that I preferred to have it segue from this song.  They are both worship songs, in the key of D, with similar instrumentation, beat, and tempo.  I did not do that here.

Cardiac Output performed this; I’m not certain whether we did it with two vocals or with the third middle vocal I omitted here.  At the time I made the recording, I was concerned about whether the vocals included unsupported parallel fourths and whether that would create the sort of acoustic problems for which they are known, but I thought it would be too much work to check for them and see if there was a simple fix, so I simply left out the middle voice.  That may be part of why I ranked it twenty-eighth for performance and recording, although it might also be because I didn’t really like the sound of my voice on the soprano part, particularly on the solo second verse.  I listed it twenty-fifth for quality of the song itself, and Tristan did not include it in his list, so it landed at number thirty.

This recording was one of the early vocals over midi instruments ones I made in the early aughts.  The midi guitar is not as expressive as a live acoustic version, but is technically fairly accurate, and the bass guitar adds something worthwhile.  The lead guitar at the end happens to facilitate a transition into Why, but predates the connection and provides a satisfying ending.

To the Victor.

So here are the lyrics.

Forever in Your hand
I will rest securely.
What can man
Do to me?
You set me free.
And I thank you for the love You give to me.

You sent Your Holy Blessed Son.
The fight is over now, the victory’s been won,
And all that’s left is for the praises to be sung
To the Victor, to our God, the three in one.

Forever in Your hand
I will rest securely.
What can man
Do to me?
You set me free.
And I thank you for the love You give to me.

You came and gave Your life to me.
You took away my death, and gave me eyes to see,
And now I know I will sing praise eternally
To the Victor, oh, my Lord, I sing to Thee.

Forever in Your hand
I will rest securely.
What can man
Do to me?
You set me free.
And I thank you for the love You give to me.

You came and filled me with your power.
You took my sin away, and caused my life to flower,
And now you pour on me your blessings like a shower.
To the Victor I’ll sing praises ev’ry hour.

Forever in Your hand
I will rest securely.
What can man
Do to me?
You set me free.
And I thank you for the love You give to me.
And I thank you for the love You give to me.
And I thank you for the love You give to me.

I can only hope you benefit from the song in some way.  I will continue with additional songs in the future.

*****

Previous web log song posts:

#301:  The Song “Holocaust” | #307:  The Song “Time Bomb” | #311:  The Song “Passing Through the Portal” | #314:  The Song “Walkin’ In the Woods” | #317:  The Song “That’s When I’ll Believe” | #320:  The Song “Free” | #322:  The Song “Voices” | #326:  The Song “Mountain, Mountain” | #328:  The Song “Still Small Voice” | #334:  The Song “Convinced” | #337:  The Song “Selfish Love” | #340:  The Song “A Man Like Paul” | #341:  The Song “Joined Together” | #346:  The Song “If We Don’t Tell Them” | #349: The Song “I Can’t Resist You’re Love” | #353:  The Song “I Use to Think” | #356:  The Song “God Said It Is Good” | #362:  The Song “My Life to You” | #366:  The Song “Sometimes” | #372:  The Song “Heavenly Kingdom” | #378:  The Song “A Song of Joy” | #382:  The Song “Not Going to Notice” | #387:  The Song “Our God Is Good” | #393:  The Song “Why” | #399:  The Song “Look Around You” | #404:  The Song “Love’s the Only Command” | #408:  The Song “Given You My Name” | #412:  The Song “When I Think” | #414:  The Song “You Should Have Thanked Me”

Next song:  From Job

#415: Can the Exodus Story Be True?

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #415, on the subject of Can the Exodus Story Be True?.

A Facebook contact sent me a link to an article, Ten Reasons Why the Bible’s Story of the Exodus Is Not True, and asked for my comments on it.  After some consideration, I determined that the only effective way to tackle such a massive undertaking was to create another web log miniseries.  Here it is.

The first point that must be considered is the early statement “…most experts and scholars dismiss the story as mythology.”  Although the article does mention that there are what it calls “literalists” who believe that the events happened, it cites none of them in its presentation, and this reflects a very particular form of bias among liberal scholarship.  We might call it a litmus test.

I heard Reverend David Redding talk about his own journey to faith, in which he ultimately confronted the question of whether the miracles reported in the Gospels actually occurred.  He noted that C. S. Lewis believed in miracles, which was interesting.  Lewis was Professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at both Cambridge and Oxford Universities, and a respected writer in the field of myth and legend.  However, liberal Bible scholars insisted that he was no scholar precisely because he believed in miracles.  (He wrote an excellent book on the subject, Miracles:  A Preliminary Study.)  Therein lay the problem:  no credible scholars believed in miracles because a belief in miracles automatically disqualified you from being a credible scholar.

Thus in citing scholars for the article, the author sticks to “credible” liberal scholars and ignores anyone who believes that the miraculous might have happened, dismissing them perfunctorily.  I note, for example, that a professor from Hebrew Union is cited.  Hebrew Union is liberal enough, as Jewish institutions go, that they conferred a degree on Dr. Marvin Wilson, as such authorizing him to teach at any synagogue.  Dr. Wilson is no liberal, but he is an Evangelical Episcopalian who was chairman of the Biblical Studies department at the Evangelical school Gordon College.  Conservative Jews are not comfortable with his rabbinic ordination.  He, incidentally, believes that the Exodus did occur.

Liberal scholars begin with the belief that miracles cannot happen and therefore never did happen, and that because of this any claimed historic accounts which contain them must be false.  It then becomes the task of the “scholar” to explain not how these things happened but how these documents which make impossible claims about supposed historic events came into existence.  You have a problem of presuppositions:  since these books contain records of impossible events requiring divine intervention to have occurred, they must be false, and we have to find another way to explain them.  The article begins from the assumption that the account is false, and looks for ways to demonstrate it, rather than approaching the evidence in an open and fair way.

In fairness, the article raises what must be called “practical” issues, and this series will attempt to address them in the articles ahead.

As a final caveat, I am not an Old Testament scholar.  My studies are very much focused on the New Testament; my Hebrew is limited to a few words which I cannot even spell because I do not know the Hebrew alphabet.  I studied these questions half a century ago, have lost all my books, and am working predominantly from memory.  I will recommend the work of Josh McDowell; his More Evidence That Demands A Verdict provided excellent insights into several of these issues and got Jeff Zurheide and me through a very grueling Old Testament Origins course (OT337) with Dr. G. Lloyd Carr back then.  He has written more since then, but I have not had the privilege of reading it.