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

Song of Ascents, a song

A song about the West and homesickness and also hope and wonder.





Song of Ascents

The harvest moon is hovering
On the edge of autumn orange
And I’m rising up
But that’s no way to start a song
When there’s no good rhyme for orange
And I’m rising up

And the noonday sun is nearly there
At the tip of the blue sky
I’m rising up
After all my life I’m looking down
And I haven’t risen high
But I’m rising up

I’m rising up, out of a haze of innocence
With a song in my head that just dies on my lips
When I try to listen for it
I’m rising up, drawn on by your magnificence
And I know what you said when we started this trip
You’re gonna fly when you catch wind of it
Your song of ascents

The city lights are sparkling
On the edge of the horizon
I’m rising up
Though there’s miles to go I’m almost home
I just have to close my eyes
And I’m rising up

The prairie wind is wandering
Like the footsteps of a pilgrim
I’m rising up
And her clouds are piling in the sky
Like a bowl filled to the brim
And I’m rising up

I’m rising up, out of a haze of innocence
With a song in my head that just dies on my lips
When I try to listen for it
I’m rising up, drawn on by your magnificence
And I know what you said when we started this trip
You’re gonna fly when you catch wind of it
Your song of ascents

Sometimes the lights above seem just within my reach
Sometimes you can’t get there for trying
Sometimes it seems the ground is reeling far below
And what you thought was angel-song was only vertigo

I’m rising up, out of a haze of innocence
With a song in my head that just dies on my lips
When I try to listen for it
I’m rising up, drawn on by your magnificence
And I know what you said when we started this trip
You’re gonna fly when you catch wind of it
Your song of ascents

On Knowing What You're About, a devotional thought

There's a small, almost throw-away line in Mark 1:37-38 that speaks a powerful word to followers of Jesus as they respond to his call on their lives.

 Jesus has been up all night healing the sick and casting out demons. They've brought their wounded to him where he was staying at Simon Peter's house, and from the sounds of things, there was no end of work to do. They were crowding all around the door, is how Mark says it.

So in the morning, Jesus exhausted (I'm assuming), and heads off to a quiet place to regroup (I figure), and when his disciples come looking for him, he says, "It's time to move on." And here's the part that speaks to the heart. Because there's much, much more to be done here, where Jesus is at now. There are sicknesses to heal, blind eyes to open, demons to throw down for the ten-count here. And Jesus is leaving?

In Luke's telling of this part of Jesus's story he draws out the struggle: "The crowds begged him not to go." But Jesus is undeterred; he says, "I've got other cities I need to preach in, for this is the reason I came." Every servant of Jesus (pastoral or lay, vocational or not) is going to see far more Kingdom work that needs doing, than they themselves can possibly do. Wrestle all night with anti-Kingdom demons, and there will still be crowds needing healing, crowding the door come morning. If it was true for the Son of God incarnate, how much more is it true for his disciples? And yet Jesus--and I can only imagine how wrenching it must have been for him--left those crowds to preach elsewhere.

The thing about Jesus is that he knew what he was about. He understood clearly why, in particular, the Father had sent him, what, in particular his Kingdom mission was, and this became the compass point for his life, allowing him to navigate the sometimes overwhelming demands of ministry.

I am learning, or trying hard to learn, from the Master's example here: to be clear on "the reason for which Jesus came into my life. Because the ability to say, with gracious humility and transparent honesty, "this is the reason he sent me," allows us also to say the much harder thing: "that's not the reason he sent me." And the freedom from self-Messiahship, and Christian-super-heroism and needing-to-be-everything-to-everyone we will find in Jesus when we can say that, I think, is a path to re-claimed joy in ministry and renewed passion for serving Him.

The Slow Burn, a song



They say a smoldering wick is safe
With him, or so they say
They say he’d never snuff it out
If the light is dim he won’t leave you without it

They say your weary heart is safe
With him, or so they say
And you can tell him how you yearn
And all about the slow burn

Come to me and I will give you rest
I’ll be your host, I’ll be your guest
That’s me at the door, they say He said

They say a smoldering wick is safe
With him, that’s what they say
And you can tell him how you yearn
And all about the slow burn

No Loitering, a devotional thought

Any careful reader of Mark's Gospel will notice that one word, in particular, shows up with unusual frequency in his account of the life of our Lord, especially in the opening chapters.  In Greek the word is euthus, which means "immediately," or "right away." Jesus came up out of the baptism water "immediately" (1:10); the Spirit led him into the desert to be tempted "immediately" (1:12); the first disciples left their fishing nets to follow him "immediately" (1:18).  It actually appears 5 times in the first 21 verses alone (about once every 4 verses), and 42 times in the entire book (which is about 10 more times than all the other Gospels combined).

And here's what I think it's doing there: you see, Jesus' Gospel is breaking over Mark's world at such a thrilling pace with such a breathless urgency, that in his telling of these tales, the immediacy of the events seems to get special emphasis.  Things happen one after the other at such break-neck speed that the next wave's upon you before you even have time to clear the foam of the last one from your eyes.

A friend of mine suggested once that Mark's telling of the Gospel reads a bit like a 2nd Grader's retelling of a story they can't wait to get through for excitement: "And then .... and then ... and then ..."

I get that.  But it leaves me wondering if we share Mark's sense of urgency when it comes to the Story of Jesus. Do we feel the same immediacy and excitement and expectation about what's happening in our midst and all around us as long as Jesus is walking among us, as Mark seems to have? When I'm most honest with myself, I have to admit that I seldom do.  More often than not, I'm spiritually sauntering in my walk with Jesus; not a peaceful stroll, mind you, but a lally-gagging shuffle, sure I'll get there eventually...

Whatever else Mark's euthus is doing in his book, I think it's there so that we might catch a little bit of Mark's spirit as we read, and feel it in our core how urgent it is, what Jesus's doing immediately, here, right now in front of us, in his mission to bring the Shalom of God to the world.

23 (What it Feels Like), a song

This is another song from my inversions album.  It was inspired one afternoon when I mentioned to my Dad that I need to get some new shoes (literal shoes...) and he, always quick with the wit said, "Well, if you walk a mile in them then you'll know what it feels like to be you."

I was still mulling over the possibilities of that line when I was talking to another friend later on, about leadership and authenticity and stuff, and she said this off hand comment about the strength that comes from reaching a place in life where we have "nothing to lose, nothing to prove, and nothing to hide."  The two lines came together in my mind, and a few weeks later I'd written this song.

Special thanks to my daughter Rachael who lent her flute on this recording, along with the rest of the FreeWay musicians (Tyler, Chris, Andy, et al.).  The "23" in the title is a reference to the 23rd Psalm, which also makes an appearance on the track.




We were singing your
Song about resting by
Quiet waters and
Pastures green

Hoping you’d restore
My weary soul I sat
Down to feast with
My enemy

Cause there’s nothing left to lose
And there’s nothing here to hide
When I got nothing more to prove
I’ll know what it feels like
To be me

I was wandering
Valleys of shadow your
Rod and your staff they were
Hard to see

I was wondering
Over my shoulder if
That was your mercy
Shadowing me

Cause there’s nothing left to lose
And there’s nothing here to hide
When I got nothing more to prove
I’ll know what it feels like
To be me