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.

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random reads

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

Screwtape Proposes a Toast, C. S. Lewis

On Being a Reject Messiah

In 1 Samuel 15:26-29, after a disastrous mission against the Amalekites in which Saul "pounces on the plunder" instead of completely destroying it, Samuel announces that God has rejected Saul.  In Samuel's words, "because you rejected the Word of the Lord, the Lord has rejected you as king."

There's a lot going on in this dark and confusing passage, but I was reading it the other day and something in particular struck me as odd.  In 1 Samuel 15:28, Samuel turns to leave Saul and Saul, afraid of the political ramifications of this public withdrawal of Samuel's support, attempts to detain him.  Now a-days we might say, "he was worried about the optics."  So he catches hold of Samuel's robe, which tears in the subsequent tussle, and in that moment he becomes his own prophetic object lesson:  just as Saul has torn the Prophet's robe in his efforts literally to seize the bearer of the Prophetic Word, so too YHWH will tear the Kingdom from him because he has metaphorically seized on the Prophetic Word and used it to his own ends (i.e. he seized on the prophetic commandment to attack the Amalekites, but used it as a license to loot and pillage for political gain). 

And here's where things get both convicting and freeing.  Samuel's precise words are:  "The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to ..."

To whom?

"One of your neighbours, who is better than you" is how we translate the verse in English, and this is accurate, but the actual word is reyah, which means "friend/close companion."  I don't want to make an exegetical mountain out of a linguistic molehill here: there is a Hebrew word for "intimate friend/confidant" (côwdh) and that's not the word that's being used here, but there's also a word for neighbor (shachen) and that word's not being used either.  The word is reyah; and the nuance, I think, points us to someone of more significance than simply "one of Saul's neighbors."  Because, the reyah in question, we'll find out later, is none other than King David himself, who will indeed become Saul's close companion before he becomes Saul's replacement.   But at this point, the Prophetic Word is just left echoing ominously.  God has rejected Saul and has chosen his reyah, his close companion who "is better than him," to replace him as the Lord's Annointed.

I read this verse the other evening and as the weight of the word-choice sunk in, it seemed to me that God was saying:  "Oh yeah; I've also rejected you as Messiah, too, Dale, and given that role to a close companion of yours, who is far better than you."  And as that prophetic word sunk in, God gently started to show me ways I've been "playing Messiah," or have done in the past.  I won't share those here, except to say that they're the same kind of ways we all, I think, play Messiah -- in our churches, in our families, in our marriages, in our relationships, in our spheres of influence -- by trying to "fix," or "reign-over" or "own" or "save" ourselves and those around us.

God showed me some of my own efforts at self-Messiahship for what they were, and assured me that it's just not my job anymore.  I'm a reject Messiah.

And there is something convicting about this, but also deeply liberating:  God has rejected us all, with Saul, as Messiah, and has turned that onerous responsibility over to a close companion of ours-- a true reyah who is infinitely better at this role than us.  And he, we will discover if we will chose a path different than Saul's, he is the true "Beloved" whom David only prefigured and who delights (like he said it John 15) he delights to call us friends, rejected Messiahs though we are.


Tyler Lane said...

An excellent and challenging word.
How often have I found myself feeling that I must fix, or save or take charge of things? Even worse, how many times have I tried to do so, and caused more damage in the process? Reading this makes me feel even more humbled, and grateful for God's Grace and Forgiveness.