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

That Hideous Strength, C. S. Lewis

random reads

An Ancient Path for a Modern World (VI): Spiritual Reading

The other day a group of us from the FreeWay were sitting around talking, and the topic of “books that were part of my spiritual formation” came up. No one used that phrase, exactly; we were just sharing the most influential Christian books we’ve read. C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters was high on most people’s lists, along with Mere Christianity. J. I. Packer’s Knowing God got a nod, as did Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ. My own list included both How Should We Then Live, and He is There and He is Not Silent by Francis Schaeffer. It struck me, as we talked, that almost everyone one had a book or two (or in my case, many) that God used at just the right time, in just the right way in our lives, to shape our thinking, our feeling, our being in Christ.

Over the last month or so I have been going through some of the “more obscure but still spiritual vital” disciplines of the Christian life here at terra incognita. We’ve looked at silence, solitude, breathing, fasting, journaling each in turn. However, after that evening swapping book titles with some brothers and sisters in the Lord, it occurred to me that, though it’s not often thought of as a spiritual discipline, reading good Christian literature—and by good I mean both well-written and spiritually edifying—is and has long been a formative practice of the faith.

Anyone who has ever stumbled their way into a Christian classic like The Confessions, for instance, or a contemporary classic like The Screwtape Letters, or more weighty stuff like The Cost of Discipleship, or even more pop-y fair like The Sacred Romance, and closed the book changed, will know that it’s not just because I’m a former English Teacher that I’ve listed Christian reading as a spiritual discipline. It’s because there is something profoundly formative about opening both your heart and mind together, to receive the musings or the insights or the teachings or the story of another Christian who is perhaps further along the road than you, or travelling a slightly different path, but still walking with the same Lord. All sorts of studies have been conducted to demonstrate the positive psychological effects of reading generally; Christian reading has all these benefits with the added benefit of a beautiful, focused, extended conversation about God, and the things of God that can move at whatever pace we choose and can be shared with others and yet is still deeply personal and intimate.

Like I say, Christians have long known that spiritual reading is a practice to be encouraged in the life of a disciple. In 1750, for instance, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, published a thirty-volume set of Christian classics called A Christian Library, which he encouraged all good Methodists to read, and expected all his preachers to know. The Christian Library was a wide-ranging collection of Christian literature that Wesley had gathered together from all corners of the Christian world. It included works by the ancient fathers, all the way up to his contemporaries like Jonathan Edwards. Wesley, it seems, recognized that a steady fare of good Christian literature is vital for a thriving Christian soul, that if a Christian really wants to expand their spiritual horizons, conversations with spiritual friends who have gone before, conversations outside and beyond our immediate circle of spiritual experience, conversations that can only happen between the pages of a book, were necessary.

Spiritual Reading is an especially difficult discipline top maintain amid the frenzy of the modern age. On the one hand, the time for reading, and especially time for reading the slowly-digested stuff that is really going to nourish the soul, is hard to come by. To work through Wesley’s Christian Library today seems an onerous task, even for a voracious reader like myself. But on the other hand, good—in every sense of that word: well-written, soul-nourishing, spiritually deep and theologically rich—good literature is harder and harder to come by. If I wanted to be a humbug, I might raise against popular Christian publishing some of the same critiques you hear raised against contemporary Christian music: that it’s repetitive and superficial and lacks substance and creativity.

But I don’t want to be a humbug; and that’s not really a true statement anyways. The fact is, there is good work still being produced and published, maybe more and better than ever. It’s just not getting the same shelf space as the pop, the fluff or the trivia at the local bookstore.

The other fact is, even if another word never gets put to pen, still we have a lifetime’s worth of Christian classics already to choose from. If you’re wondering where to start, might I suggest these, from my own list of books that left a spiritual impression on my Christian formation (in no specific order):

1. Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis
2. Jesus and the Victory of God, N. T. Wright
3. The Sacred Romance, John Eldridge and Brent Curtis
4. Loving God, Chuck Colson
5. Worship, Community and the Trinue God of Grace, James Torrance
6. The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis
7. Paradise Lost, John Milton
8. He is There and He is Not Silent, Francis Schaeffer
9. Life Together, Dietrich Bonheoffer
10. The Cross of Christ, John Stott
11. Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton
12. Naming the Powers/Unmasking the Powers, Walter Wink
13. The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence
14. How Should We Then Live, Francis Schaeffer
15. The Confessions, Augustine
16. Knowing God, J. I. Packer
17. The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonheoffer
18. The Everlasting Man, G. K. Chesterton
19. The Resurrection of the Son of God, N. T. Wright
20. Walking on Water, Madeline L’Engle


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