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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis

Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis

random reads

Seven Things I Like Best About Being A Sub

I love substitute teaching.

No. Really. I do.

And as I sit around in ministry limbo these days, waiting for God to show me the next step after seminary, I've been biding my time by taking a lot of sub calls. Since I've been mulling over the unique joys and challenges of this specific occupation a lot lately, I thought I'd share the seven things I love best about my job.

7. Daily lessons in mental yoga. In what other job can you go from teaching grade one phys-ed (love those parachute games) to grade twelve algebra in the course of a week? Sometimes I feel like my brain is gonna get stuck in permanent lotus-position.

6. Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Nietzsche never subbed for grade nine sex-ed or grade eleven shop. If he had, he would probably agree that, according to his dictum, junior high subs should rank among the emotional Joe Weilders of our day.

5. Because John Coltrane is easily as cool as Mozart. I like to think of subbing as the experimental jazz of the teaching profession (mostly because no one else will). I never knew what improvisation was until I had to stand in front of a room full of mid-pubescent strangers-- who can smell fear like sharks can blood-- and convince them that they really care to know how to solve a quadratic equation by completing the square. (You have five minutes to prepare. Go.)

4. Broad scope for the imagination. One of my favorite little games is to imagine a creative story about why the regular teacher is away. My list of theories includes things like "called on assignment for the British Secret Service," and "Space/time vortex in the refrigerator."

3. Ties. Now, I realize many would put this on the list of things they hate about their job, but I love wearing ties. There is something truly liberating in being able to match the mood of the day with the appropriate tie. Feeling mysterious? the blue silk tie with the obscure Mandarin symbols all over it that my father in-law got me from China. Feeling playful? the tasteful-but-edgy Snoopy tie. Feeling like you need to regain a little control in your life: the burgundy print on the burgundy shirt. Feeling a little gutsy: the navy paisley.

2. (What I like to think of as) the mythic status of my occupation. Who doesn't have a glory-days story about the time their class made the sub cry? Or some semi-repressed memory of a sub-Nazi who could wither houseplants with a mere glance? Or a no-holds-barred game of "tell the sub the wrong name at role call and then mix up the seating plan" lurking in their middle-school past? Now I'm living those mythic memories on a daily basis.

1. Constant reminders of the Image of God. Each sub-call I get is a chance to walk into a room full of perfect, innocent strangers (who can smell insincerity like bears can campfire bacon) and be deeply reminded that these young lives--full of exuberance and hopes and hurts and questions-- these young lives are each made in the image of God. Each day is a chance to show young people, through careful acts of grace and love, that they are made in the image of the God I serve and love with all my life.


Jon Coutts said...

i admire your gumption