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

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

random reads

An Ancient Path for a Modern World (V): Spiritual Journaling


On April 25, 1725 John Wesley, the great leader of the 18th Century Methodist Movement, penned the first entry in his spiritual diary. He was 21 years old at the time, studying theology at Oxford, and the diary in question was an old red notebook in which he detailed the vicissitudes of his spiritual life as a student.

This habit of spiritual journaling, stayed with John Wesley his entire life—over the next 65 years he would fill the equivalent of a book-shelf’s worth of old red notebooks, in which he would record the trials, the victories, the struggles and the developments both mundane and profound in his work as a minister of the Gospel. On July 16, 1790, he penned his last journal entry. On March 2, 1791, he died.

The Published Journal of John Wesley, a carefully edited digest of his journal that he prepared for publication, covers the years from 1735 – 1790.  For the glimpse it offers into 18th Century English life, the portrayal gives of the challenges faced by the Methodist movement during its early years, and the spiritual portrait it paints of its author, it is fascinating reading.

Over the last month or so at terra incognita, we have been exploring some of the more modest, or lesser known disciplines of the Christian life, things like silence, solitude, breathing, fasting. The goal has been to explore how these spiritual practices can actually deepen and strengthen our habits in the more essential means of grace, such as Scripture reading, prayer, care for the marginalized, and so on. If John Wesley is any example, one spiritual discipline that can be found profoundly helpful in our development as fully devoted followers of Christ, is the habit of journaling.

Though we don’t always think of it in this way, a spiritual journal can be a powerful tool for our growth in the way of Jesus.

My personal experience with journaling has been varied. Though my bookshelf has any number of abandoned journals on it with only the first three pages filled, still I can think of at least three seasons of my life when journaling played a crucial role.

When I was a young man nearing the end of my university studies, I kept a journal for about 8 months, in which I processed many of my struggles to discern next steps for my life after school.

Later when my first child was born, my parents gave me a “Father’s Prayer Journal” as a congratulatory gift. It included prayers and guided journaling exercises, which, as I did them, began to open up a number of my insecurities and immaturities as a new dad. God used this journaling experience to confront me with and heal me of some unhealthy habits of the heart that were keeping me from being the best dad I could be.

The third season of my life when journaling played a significant role was during a time of pastoral burn out, back in 2013-14. This journal contains a number of very raw entries, some of which I completed under the direction of a Christian counselor, where I uncovered and exposed some of the inner stuff that had led to my burn-out.

So there have been seasons when this spiritual discipline played a crucial role in my discipleship. And that is, actually, one of the points I’d like to make about journaling: it is best understood, I think, as a "for-a-season" discipline. When God is doing some fresh work, taking us to new heights or depths in our discipleship, or we’re going through a major life transition, these are times when it is an especially useful tool, for documenting and processing what God is up to.

As I look back over these seasons of my life, however, I am aware of two journaling alternatives that have also played a significant role for me. This blog, for instance, though it is hardly an old red notebook, still has been one of the most important repositories of my spiritual musings, reflections and insights I’ve ever kept. I began blogging back in 2009, and here, some 6 and a half years later, I can (and sometimes do) look back on old posts and discover all sorts of spiritual memories of things God was doing for me and in me and to me at certain points in my pastoral ministry. In many ways, this blog has become for me a digital journal (though not in every way: what I publish here is highly edited and polished, in ways that most spiritual journaling probably shouldn’t be).

The other “journaling alternative” in my life has been my habit of song-writing. I began writing songs back when I was 17 and my guitar teacher told me that if I really wanted to grow as a guitarist, I should start writing my own material. I took him at his word, and 25 years later I have a notebook filled with about 120 songs that I’ve written over the years. My guitar teacher was right.  It did help me grow as a guitarist, but what is interesting to me, as I look back, is how I’ve grown as a Christian, too, trying to put my responses to God’s grace into verse and set it to music.

I share this only to encourage creativity when it comes to journaling. It may not be an old red notebook for you. This is a new age and perhaps there are new wineskins for this old wine (although there is still something to be said for the slow, reflective pace of a pen scrolling over paper). But whatever it looks like, perhaps you are in a season in your walk with God, today, where this very old Christian practice may open up fresh avenues for meeting with and responding to the Lord Jesus.

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