There's a Trick of the Light I'm Learning to Do

This is a collection of songs I wrote and recorded in January - March, 2020 while on sabbatical from ministry. They each deal with a different aspect or expression of the Gospel. Click on the image above to listen.

Three Hands Clapping

This is my latest recording project (released May 27, 2019). It is a double album of 22 songs, which very roughly track the story of my life... a sort of musical autobiography, so to speak. Click the album image to listen.

Ghost Notes

Ghost Notes
A collections of original songs I wrote in 2015, and recorded with the FreeWay Musical Collective. Click the album image to listen.

inversions

Recorded in 2014, these songs are sort of a chronicle of my journey through a pastoral burn-out last winter. They deal with themes of mental-health, spiritual burn-out and depression, but also with the inexorable presence of God in the midst of darkness. Click the album art to download.

soundings

soundings
click image to download
"soundings" is a collection of songs I recorded in September/October of 2013. Dealing with themes of hope, ache, trust and spiritual loss, the songs on this album express various facets of my journey with God.

bridges

bridges
Click to download.
"Bridges" is a collection of original songs I wrote in the summer of 2011, during a soul-searching trip I took out to Alberta; a sort of long twilight in the dark night of the soul. I share it here in hopes these musical reflections on my own spiritual journey might be an encouragement to others: the sun does rise, blood-red but beautiful.

echoes

echoes
Prayers, poems and songs (2005-2009). Click to download
"echoes" is a collection of songs I wrote during my time studying at Briercrest Seminary (2004-2009). It's called "echoes" partly because these songs are "echoes" of times spent with God from my songwriting past, but also because there are musical "echoes" of hymns, songs or poems sprinkled throughout the album. Listen closely and you'll hear them.

Accidentals

This collection of mostly blues/rock/folk inspired songs was recorded in the spring and summer of 2015. I call it "accidentals" because all of the songs on this project were tunes I have had kicking around in my notebooks for many years but had never found a "home" for on previous albums. You can click the image to download the whole album.

blogs I follow

Readings, 2020

Readings, 2020
Paradise Lost, John Milton

Adorning the Dark, Andrew Peterson

The Soul of Shame, Curt Thompson

Cure for the Common Life, Max Lucado

Halos and Avatars, Craig Detweiller, ed.

Fool's Talk, Os Guinness

Brendan, Frederick Buechner

The Screwtape Letters

Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis

The Pilgrim's Regress, C. S. Lewis

Becoming Whole, Brian Finkert and Kelly Kapic

Real Sex, Lauren Winner

Out of the Silent Planet, C. S. Lewis

Voyage to Venus, C. S. Lewis

random reads

A Stumper of a Sign

Last night I was reading from Paul's letter to the Corinthians, and I finally stopped to try and figure out something that has stumped me for many years. In 14:22, after a long discourse on the role and meaning of "speaking in tongues," Paul goes on to say: "Tongues, then are a sign not for believers, but for unbelievers."

For the record, I am not a "charismatic" nor a "cessationist" per se, but the stump for me is just this: in what way is speaking in tongues a sign for unbelievers?  A sign of what?  And how, exactly does speaking in unintelligible languages function as said sign?  And the stump gets stumpier, because in verse 23-25, Paul goes on to describe a scenario (ostensibly as evidence that tongues are indeed a sign for unbelievers) where the "sign" of tongues actually draws the scorn of unbelievers, and it's the sign of prophesy (which according to v. 22 is meant as a sign for believers) that convicts unbelievers and elicits from them a response of faith.

I've been stumped over this for a long time:  Paul says tongues are a sign for unbelievers, and then (it seems) he goes on to say that tongues do not bring unbelievers to faith at all, rather prophesy does.

But yesterday, I noticed that the "therefore" clause of v. 22 actually connects Paul's argument to the prophesy from Isaiah he quotes in v. 21:  "Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me."  And when you look up Isaiah 28 in context, you see that it records God's indictment against Israel for its religious apostasy and corruption, and his announcement of pending judgement in the form of Assyrian invasion (the "men of strange tongues" in question are the Assyrians, and the "strange tongues" in question is a reference to the language of the Assyrian invaders).

In Isaiah, then, Assyrians speaking in "incomprehensible languages" as they invade is a sign to unbelieving Israel that they are indeed guilty of corruption and apostasy (as charged) and that God's verdict against them is just.  And, of course, Isaiah's Israel failed to feel the portent of this ominous sign, and, in verse 14 are accused of being blind scoffers who, in their unbelief, are unable to heed God's Word.

In this context the Assyrian invasion (and by metonymy, Assyria's "strange tongues") is an incomprehensible sign to unbelieving Israel of God's judgment on their disobedience.

Flash forward now some 750 years, after the death and resurrection of Jesus has recapitulated and fulfilled the story of judgment, exile and return for the people of God that Isaiah is telling here, after the gift of the Holy Spirit that Isaiah promised has been poured out lavishly on the reconstituted "Israel of God" (i.e. any and all who confess the crucified and resurrected Christ as Lord).  Now Paul's claim that "tongues" are a sign to unbelievers makes perfect sense.

Obviously the charismata of tongues is a sign to unbelievers that God has punished and forgiven Israel's sin once and for all in the cross of Christ, because the promised "sign of tongues" (prefigured by the Assyrian invasion) now obtains in the Community of Faith that confesses this crucified Christ as Lord; and, further, it's a sign to unbelievers that such communities of Faith actually now comprise the reconstituted people of God, because the "sign" of Assyrian invasion that Assyria's "strange tongues" once announced to apostate Israel is now being announced (through the charismata of tongues) in the Spirit-filled Christian community; and further still, just like the Assyrian invasion once showed the world that Israel's sin has indeed been judged, so too the gift of tongues is a sign (albeit an incomprehensible one) to us that our sins have been judged through the cross of Christ.

And for those who disbelieve this inexpressibly good news, the sign of tongues not only remains inpenetrable, but actually points them out as unbelievers by their inability to understand or accept the phenomenon of tongues for what it is.

So no wonder that unbelievers in 1 Corinthians 14:23 scoff at what is, to them, an incomprehensible sign.  The unbelievers in Isaiah 28:14 before them scoffed at the signs of judgment Isaiah promised, too.  And I can't help but think of Babel's architects before them all as Paul's point slowly sinks in on me:  the confusion of incomprehensible tongues is a sign to unbelievers that their unbelief stands judged by almighty God.

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