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

random reads

Book Reviews

Book Reviews
The Shallows, Nicholas Carr
In this very readable, very thought provoking analysis of electronic communciations technology and its impact on our brains and culture, Nicholas Carr brings together media theory (think Marshall McLuhan), history (think Gutenberg) and neuroscience (think discoveries in brain plasticity) to show how computer technology is shaping us in ways of which we are only dimly aware. He argues that such technologies reduce our capacity for deep, creative and sustained linear thought (or at least have the potential to do so) and predispose us to the fragmented, the cursive and the superficial. Worth the read.

Exclusion and Embrace, Miroslav Volf

Ecstasy and Intimacy: When the Holy Spirit Meets the Human Spirit, Edith Humphrey
A fascinating and engaging introduction to spiritual theology-- or the theology of spirituality, as the case may be. This book is a very scholarly, devotional, christo-centric, ecumenical and trinitarian overview of what it means for Christians to live in the Spirit and with the Spirit within. Bracing and enlightening.

Leading with a Limp, Dan Allender

five smooth stones for pastoral work, Eugene Peterson

From Darkness to Light: How One Became a Christian in the Early Church, Anne Fields

Life in the Ancient Near East, Daniel C. Snell
Snell's Life in the Ancient Near East offers a social history of the ANE, tracing the earliest settlement of Mesopotamia, the development of agriculture, first cities, ancient economy and the emergence of empire. Bringing together a rich variety of data gleaned both from the archaeological record and extant historical texts, he tells the history of this cradle of civilization with a special eye for the "human" element - focusing on the forces and factors that would have directly affected the daily life of the various strata of society. Worth a read generally, but all the more for someone with a particular interest in the biblical stories that find their setting and draw their characters and themes from the same provenience.


The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene

Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament, Richard Davidson
Davidson's Old Testament theology of human sexuality is stunning in its achievement, challenging in its content, and edifying in its conclusions. Davidson addresses every-- and I do mean every-- Old Testament text that deals (even obliquely) with human sexuality, and, through detailed exegesis, careful synthesis, and deep interaction with the scholarly research, develops a detailed picture of the Old Testament's vision for redeemed human sexuality. 700 pages of Biblical scholarship at its best.


Eaarth, Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben's Eaarth, is a call for us to wake up smell the ecological coffee...while we can still brew it. Unlike his previous work, or any writing on ecology I've yet read, however, Eaarth does not argue that catastrophe is pending. Instead, he argues that catastrophe has arrived, and that our all talk about "going green to avert disaster," "and "saving the planet" is woefully obsolete. In ecological terms, the planet as we once knew it is gone, he argues, and rather than trying to "avert" disaster, we need to start figuring out how to live in the disaster that's happened. Key themes he identifies as important for life on planet Eaarth resonnated with me as profoundly Christian ways of being (disaster or no). We must stop assuming that "bigger" is better; we must acknowledge limits on economic and technological growth; we must get reacquainted with the land; we need eschew self-sufficency and nurture community.

Love Wins, Rob Bell
So fast and furious has the furor over this book been, that any review will inevitably feel redundant or tardy. Given the crowd on the band wagon by now, I actually had no intention of hopping on myself, but my kids got it for me for Father's Day. About 15 pages in, I realized that I could probably finish it in on good push, so I got it over with. My thoughts: probably the most over-hyped book I ever read; I loved it and found it frustratingly under-developed at the same time; while he raises some important issues, his handling of them reads like a yoda-meets-Tom-Wright account of salvation; nothing C. S. Lewis hasn't already said more clearly and more cleverly; I'm glad he wrote it, and I'm glad the Evangelical world has errupted over it the way it has, and I hope a much more spirited and generous and optimistic understanding of soteriology and eschatology will infuse the evangelical church's mission as a result.

Rediscovering Paul, David Capes et. al.
Rediscovering Paul is a hepful overview of Paul's life, times and theology. While at times I felt it might have gone deeper, or expressed its ideas more clearly, it provides some interesting and inspiring insights into the man behind the letters. Among these is its discussion of the communal aspect of first century letter writing, and the influence of one's community on one's personal sense of identity, and how those issues might have played out in Paul's writings. Another challenging issue that it tackles is the whole process of letter writing in the Greco-Roman world, especially as regards the role a scribe often played in shaping the text, smoothing out the langugae or providing stock phrases, etc.


Lavondyss, Robert Holdstock
If you've read George MacDonald's Lilith, then think of Lavondyss as sort of a Lilith-for-Non-Christians. It's the convoluted labyrinth of a story about a young girl called Tallis and her adventures in a magical wood that brings the Jungian archetypes buried deep in our subconscious to life. Dense with questions about Jungian psychology, and the spiritually-thin-places of the world, and death and myth and magic and story, it's pretty tough slugging at times, but thought provoking and challenging. At times I felt like I was reading the Narnia book C. S. Lewis might have written if he had pursued the "stab of northerness" in directions other than the Christian Faith where he found it eternally satisfied.

Jesus and Money, Ben Witherington III
My friend John Vlainic once ranked Ben Witheringon as one of the strongest Biblical scholars in the Wesleyan tradtion working today. This thin but powerful volume is evidence to support such an accolade. I opened it expecting (judging by the cover) either a how-to book on Christian finances, or (judging by the other books I've read on Christ and Money) a hodge-podge of Bible verses taken out of context and mushed together as proof texts about the tithe. I got neither; instead, Ben Witherington walks slowly, thoughtful and exegetically through the breadth of Biblical teaching, with special sensitivity to the cultural context of the various texts, the tension between Old and New Testament teaching on the topic, and the differences between modern and ancient economies. If I were to recommend one book to develop a biblical theology of money, it would be this one.

The Gravedigger File, Os Guinness
My first taste of Os Guinness, and, if you don't mind a mangled metaphor, it went down like a bracing pint of... well... Guinness. Grave Digger file is sort of a "Screwtape Letters" project on a church-wide scale. In concept, the book is a series of "training files" for an undercover agent attempting to undermine and ultimately sabotage the Western Church, delivered from the pen of a seasoned saboteur to a young agent recently assigned to Los Angeles. In plot, the young agent ultimately defects, and delivers the "Gravedigger File" into the hands of a Christian, urging him to alert the Church to the operation. It is bursting with "things that make you go hmmm..." and deserves a second, careful read with pen in hand, ready to mine it for its scintillating and eminently quotable lines.

Prayer for the Offering (5)

God, as we prepare to worship through this act of offering today, we invite your Holy Spirit to remind us that really, we all come to you empty handed.

We have nothing to offer the Creator of the Universe that isn’t yours already. We have nothing to give a perfectly pure God that isn’t somehow muddied up with our human ambition and agendas. Nothing to do for the Lord of the whole Earth that you couldn’t do for yourself.

We’re empty handed.

And yet by your beautiful and mysterious grace, God, you invite us—empty handed though we are—you invite us to be part of your plan to heal and renew and bless this world through the unconquerable love of your Son Jesus Christ.

Thank you for that invitation, God. And as we give back to you now a portion of what is yours to begin with, Lord will you transform this offering into just one of the many ways we say “yes” to your gracious call on our lives?

Purify our motives, transform our agendas, and bring our ambitions into perfect alignment with Jesus, because it’s in his name and for your Glory that we pray. Amen.

***


Loving God, in Jesus we’ve discovered that you are generous beyond our ability to imagine.

So as we prepare to give back to you a portion of the money that you’ve entrusted into our care, we remember what he taught us.

He said: whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much… and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much… And he said: If we’ve not been faithful in handling worldly wealth, how can we expect God to trust us with true riches?

God, we invite your Spirit now to show us the true riches that you want to entrust into our care: riches like the grace, hope and love that is ours in Jesus Christ; riches like the good news about his immeasurable love for this aching world that is ours to share so generously; riches like the real life-purpose, the meaningful mission in the world, the beautiful destiny as His people that is ours to spend so freely.

O God, help us to see those riches today.

And then God, can you make us faithful in handling this worldly wealth here, today, so that we might learn in a small way what it means to be faithful in handling of the invaluable things of God?

Can you teach us, in this act of offering today, what it means to be trustworthy with the small things like money… so that we will grow more and more trustworthy with the big things… the good news of Jesus and the generous gifts of his Spirit. Make us trustworthy with those things, we pray, in his name, and for his sake. Amen.

****


God, in your book you tell us not to put our hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put our hope in you, because you richly provide all things for our enjoyment.

And you tell us, too, to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous, and willing to share. You said that in this way, we might take hold of the life that is life indeed.

So we ask, Lord, that you would show us where we’ve been putting our hope in uncertain wealth instead of in you. Show us where we’ve been spiritually poor, despite our material wealth. Teach us how to become truly rich in generosity and good deeds.

O God, make us want, more than anything, to take hold of the life that is life indeed. And then Lord, take this offering today, and transform it into a sign of that desire in us, the passion for heavenly things that you are kindling in us.

We pray in Christ’s name and for his sake. Amen.



***




Father in heaven,

Thousands of years ago, one of the wise teachers you inspired looked at the way people are with money and he called the whole project “a chasing after the wind.”

He said things like, “whoever loves money never has money enough and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” He said things like, “The sleep of a poor labourer is sweet, but the abundance of a rich man permits him no sleep.” He said things like, “I have seen a grievous evil under the sun: wealth is hoarded, to the harm of its owner, or lost through some misfortune.”

“This, too, is vanity.”

God, thousands of years later we still stand under those all-wise words. And if we’ve been losing sleep over our money, or hoarding money to our own harm, or never satisfied with our income, Lord, I invite your gracious, loving Spirit to convict us of that vanity today.

Set us free from chasing after the wind, and set us, instead, to chasing after the Way of Jesus. With all our heart, soul, mind and strength may we live as his servant-followers and sibling-friends.
It’s in his name and for his sake we pray, amen.

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