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

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

Three Minute Theology 2.3: Words, Words, Words




When I was about 14, I started drinking 7-Up for no apparent reason, even though deep down inside I hated the taste of it.  I couldn’t say why I’d made the switch until one day I happened to be standing in front of a convenience store cooler and suddenly it dawned on me.  I’d been sucked in by the ads.

Earlier that year, 7-Up had run a series of TV ads that featured a good-looking guy driving around in a cool green convertible.  The storyline of every spot involved the guy winning the attention and the admiration of a stunningly beautiful young woman, and then drinking a cool, refreshing can of 7-Up in the closing frames.

In retrospect, the message is kind of obvious: men who drink 7-Up are irresistible to the ladies; and to a 14-year-old-boy right at the outset of puberty, this message was itself irresistible.

So I started drinking 7-Up.

 “Semiotics” is the study of how signs—images and symbols and so on—mean things.  It’s the “science of signification” and it’s very important in advertizing.  Because, as the creative minds behind the 1980s 7-Up ads would tell you, commercials don’t induce us to change our shopping habits simply by pointing to the produce itself.

The “sign”—in this case the commercial—actually points to deep down, psychological needs or desires—in this case the desire to be sexually attractive.  That desire is the ad’s “referent,” and this “referent” points us back through the “sign” to the ad’s “message”: drink 7-Up.

The Bible, of course, is unlike television commercials in almost every way, except this: as a sign, it too has a semiotic referent and a message.

Because Christians believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, and it is; but the Bible itself actually says that Jesus Christ is the Word of God.  In John 1, for instance, it says “in the beginning was the Word and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  The word in Greek there is logos, and the point is: Jesus is the logos, the living Word of God, God’s message of love to us.

Of course, we also have the written Word of God—the literal words on the page of the Bible.  Often when the Bible wants to refer to the written Word, it will use the Greek word graphe, which means “the Writings” or “the Scriptures.”  And the thing is, the written word—the Bible—is the Word of God because it points us to Jesus, the Living Word of God; and the best way to encounter Jesus, as God’s Living Word, is by meeting him in the written word.

The Bible, we might say, is the “sign” and Jesus is its “referent.”

But there’s a third layer to this; because the Bible also speaks to us directly about our actions and attitudes, and how they ought to look as followers of Jesus.  This is the Word of God spoken to us directly, as God’s Spirit applies the Bible’s message to our lives. Often when the Bible is talking about the Word of God on this third level, it uses the Greek word rhema, which means “the utterance” or “spoken word” of God.

Similar to how a 7-Up ad points us to its referent—our deep down needs and desires—and the referent then points us to the message—“drink 7-up”; so too with the Bible.  It points us to Jesus, and then he points us back through the text to its “message”: “live, love and believe in this way.” 

Theologians sometimes call this a “Christocentric” reading of the Bible—one that keeps Christ at the centre—and it’s essential if we want to read the Bible for all its worth.  Because reading the text without keeping Jesus as the referent can lead us into lifeless literalism, and reading it without applying the message to our lives can lead us into lifeless abstraction.  But when we let its referent—Jesus Christ—point us to its message, that’s when God’s Word will become for us what the Bible says it is: a lamp for our feet and a light for our path.

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