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

Paroxysms of Peace

The English word “paroxysm” is an oldie but a goodie. Literally it describes a sudden and/or violent outburst of emotion. You could have a “paroxysm of laughter,” though the term generally has negative connotations. Paroxysms of rage are more common.

The word itself comes from an old Greek word, paroxusmous, which, according to my Greek lexicon, means “stirring up, provoking”. It only appears twice in the New Testament.

The first appearance is in Acts 15:39. Here Paul and Barnabas have what the NIV calls a “sharp disagreement” and the KJV a “contention”. Literally, Luke says they had a paroxusmos so intense that they parted company. The fight, it turns out, was over John Mark (of the Gospel of Mark fame), who had deserted them on their first missionary trip over in Pamphylia. Paul felt he was unreliable and didn’t want to bring him on their next foray. Barnabas begged to differ—begged so sharply that a paroxysm of conflict flared up—begged so sharply that he and Paul parted ways, Barnabas to Cyprus with Mark in tow and Paul off to Cilicia.

It’s a sad story, to be sure, but then, those of us who have been doing ministry for a while now know that churches have split over smaller issues than the roster of the mission committee. And bigger.

But here’s the fascinating thing. Besides its use to describe the “sharp disagreement” in Act 15:39, the word paroxusmos only shows up another time in the New Testament. In Hebrews 10:24 the writer says, “Let us consider how we can spur one another on to love and good deeds.” This is how the NIV renders the verse. NASB says “to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” Old KJV says, “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.”

Literally what it says is something like: “Let us consider one another towards paroxusmon-- incitements, provocations—of love and good deeds.”

Now, former Bible teachers of mine read this blog from time to time, so I need to be careful here not to commit the exegetical fallacy of semantic anachronism, but I find it worth reflection, at least, that the Bible uses the word paroxusmos once to describe a sharp disagreement between two Christian ministers, and elsewhere to describe (in what most biblical scholars would agree is an startling image) our duty to “provoke” one another to Christian love. On the one hand, a paroxusmos led to a deep rift between two friends; on the other hand it leads to Christian charity and shalom.

And I’m reflecting on this especially, because like I say, conflict in ministry is inevitable. Paroxysms of all sort are bound to come. And because we tend to prefer smooth feathers and shiny faces on Sunday morning, I think received wisdom is that they ought to be avoided, or at the very least resolved discretely, even if, in their avoidance or resolution, we find ourselves settling for false peace. At least the tomb looks white, right?

But Hebrews 10:24 and Acts 15:39 fly like two sticks between the spokes of Received Wisdom’s bicycle, sending False Peace head over handlebars. Because when you line these two verses up, they suggest that conflict is not by nature bad; nor is it to be avoided at all cost; and there are fates worse than ruffled feathers.

These two verses suggest that conflict can actually become a catalyst towards charity and service, if it’s entered into for Christ’s sake; and what determines whether or not it will is whether or not the parties involved are really provoking one another for Christ’s sake. (Even Paul and Barnabas’s paroxysm led to love and service in the end. In the short term, it expanded the ministry of the gospel by sending Barnabas to Cyprus and Paul to Cilicia; and in the long term, we have hints that things get patched up between Paul, Mark and Barnabas (see Col 4:10)).

This is hard work.  Paroxysms of any sort (ancient or modern) hurt. But then the cross itself teaches us that the Way of Christ has never avoided the suffering that redemption costs. And conflicts that redeem will cost us: utter humility and risky openness, and above all real, raw honesty about our own goals and agendas in any given dispute. But if well seek those treasures of his Kingdom, first, then we may find that redemptive Paroxysms of Peace are being added to us, as well.

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