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

Book Reviews

Book Reviews
The Shallows, Nicholas Carr
In this very readable, very thought provoking analysis of electronic communciations technology and its impact on our brains and culture, Nicholas Carr brings together media theory (think Marshall McLuhan), history (think Gutenberg) and neuroscience (think discoveries in brain plasticity) to show how computer technology is shaping us in ways of which we are only dimly aware. He argues that such technologies reduce our capacity for deep, creative and sustained linear thought (or at least have the potential to do so) and predispose us to the fragmented, the cursive and the superficial. Worth the read.

Exclusion and Embrace, Miroslav Volf

Ecstasy and Intimacy: When the Holy Spirit Meets the Human Spirit, Edith Humphrey
A fascinating and engaging introduction to spiritual theology-- or the theology of spirituality, as the case may be. This book is a very scholarly, devotional, christo-centric, ecumenical and trinitarian overview of what it means for Christians to live in the Spirit and with the Spirit within. Bracing and enlightening.

Leading with a Limp, Dan Allender

five smooth stones for pastoral work, Eugene Peterson

From Darkness to Light: How One Became a Christian in the Early Church, Anne Fields

Life in the Ancient Near East, Daniel C. Snell
Snell's Life in the Ancient Near East offers a social history of the ANE, tracing the earliest settlement of Mesopotamia, the development of agriculture, first cities, ancient economy and the emergence of empire. Bringing together a rich variety of data gleaned both from the archaeological record and extant historical texts, he tells the history of this cradle of civilization with a special eye for the "human" element - focusing on the forces and factors that would have directly affected the daily life of the various strata of society. Worth a read generally, but all the more for someone with a particular interest in the biblical stories that find their setting and draw their characters and themes from the same provenience.

The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene

Flame of Yahweh: Sexuality in the Old Testament, Richard Davidson
Davidson's Old Testament theology of human sexuality is stunning in its achievement, challenging in its content, and edifying in its conclusions. Davidson addresses every-- and I do mean every-- Old Testament text that deals (even obliquely) with human sexuality, and, through detailed exegesis, careful synthesis, and deep interaction with the scholarly research, develops a detailed picture of the Old Testament's vision for redeemed human sexuality. 700 pages of Biblical scholarship at its best.

Eaarth, Bill McKibben
Bill McKibben's Eaarth, is a call for us to wake up smell the ecological coffee...while we can still brew it. Unlike his previous work, or any writing on ecology I've yet read, however, Eaarth does not argue that catastrophe is pending. Instead, he argues that catastrophe has arrived, and that our all talk about "going green to avert disaster," "and "saving the planet" is woefully obsolete. In ecological terms, the planet as we once knew it is gone, he argues, and rather than trying to "avert" disaster, we need to start figuring out how to live in the disaster that's happened. Key themes he identifies as important for life on planet Eaarth resonnated with me as profoundly Christian ways of being (disaster or no). We must stop assuming that "bigger" is better; we must acknowledge limits on economic and technological growth; we must get reacquainted with the land; we need eschew self-sufficency and nurture community.

Love Wins, Rob Bell
So fast and furious has the furor over this book been, that any review will inevitably feel redundant or tardy. Given the crowd on the band wagon by now, I actually had no intention of hopping on myself, but my kids got it for me for Father's Day. About 15 pages in, I realized that I could probably finish it in on good push, so I got it over with. My thoughts: probably the most over-hyped book I ever read; I loved it and found it frustratingly under-developed at the same time; while he raises some important issues, his handling of them reads like a yoda-meets-Tom-Wright account of salvation; nothing C. S. Lewis hasn't already said more clearly and more cleverly; I'm glad he wrote it, and I'm glad the Evangelical world has errupted over it the way it has, and I hope a much more spirited and generous and optimistic understanding of soteriology and eschatology will infuse the evangelical church's mission as a result.

Rediscovering Paul, David Capes et. al.
Rediscovering Paul is a hepful overview of Paul's life, times and theology. While at times I felt it might have gone deeper, or expressed its ideas more clearly, it provides some interesting and inspiring insights into the man behind the letters. Among these is its discussion of the communal aspect of first century letter writing, and the influence of one's community on one's personal sense of identity, and how those issues might have played out in Paul's writings. Another challenging issue that it tackles is the whole process of letter writing in the Greco-Roman world, especially as regards the role a scribe often played in shaping the text, smoothing out the langugae or providing stock phrases, etc.

Lavondyss, Robert Holdstock
If you've read George MacDonald's Lilith, then think of Lavondyss as sort of a Lilith-for-Non-Christians. It's the convoluted labyrinth of a story about a young girl called Tallis and her adventures in a magical wood that brings the Jungian archetypes buried deep in our subconscious to life. Dense with questions about Jungian psychology, and the spiritually-thin-places of the world, and death and myth and magic and story, it's pretty tough slugging at times, but thought provoking and challenging. At times I felt like I was reading the Narnia book C. S. Lewis might have written if he had pursued the "stab of northerness" in directions other than the Christian Faith where he found it eternally satisfied.

Jesus and Money, Ben Witherington III
My friend John Vlainic once ranked Ben Witheringon as one of the strongest Biblical scholars in the Wesleyan tradtion working today. This thin but powerful volume is evidence to support such an accolade. I opened it expecting (judging by the cover) either a how-to book on Christian finances, or (judging by the other books I've read on Christ and Money) a hodge-podge of Bible verses taken out of context and mushed together as proof texts about the tithe. I got neither; instead, Ben Witherington walks slowly, thoughtful and exegetically through the breadth of Biblical teaching, with special sensitivity to the cultural context of the various texts, the tension between Old and New Testament teaching on the topic, and the differences between modern and ancient economies. If I were to recommend one book to develop a biblical theology of money, it would be this one.

The Gravedigger File, Os Guinness
My first taste of Os Guinness, and, if you don't mind a mangled metaphor, it went down like a bracing pint of... well... Guinness. Grave Digger file is sort of a "Screwtape Letters" project on a church-wide scale. In concept, the book is a series of "training files" for an undercover agent attempting to undermine and ultimately sabotage the Western Church, delivered from the pen of a seasoned saboteur to a young agent recently assigned to Los Angeles. In plot, the young agent ultimately defects, and delivers the "Gravedigger File" into the hands of a Christian, urging him to alert the Church to the operation. It is bursting with "things that make you go hmmm..." and deserves a second, careful read with pen in hand, ready to mine it for its scintillating and eminently quotable lines.

3 Minute Theology 5.3: Prayer and the Mediation of Christ

The Little Lighthouse, a Parable

(My retelling of a traditional story I heard many years ago.)

Once upon a time there was a lonely little lighthouse, set on the edge of a rock at the lip of the sea.

This was a dangerous part of the sea, with many storms and huge waves, and it was very common for ships to get blown off course and crash against the rocks.

The lighthouse was small. It was really just a hut with a tiny light on top. It only had one little life boat and a small crew of just a few men and women. But that didn’t matter, because this small lighthouse crew kept constant watch over the sea. With no thought for themselves, they went out day and night, tirelessly searching for people who’d been lost in shipwrecks on the coast.

They were so good at saving lives, in fact, that soon the lighthouse became famous. Some of the people that the lighthouse had saved were so thankful that they joined the lighthouse crew themselves. Others heard about the good work it was doing, and started to support it with their time and money.

One rich man who had a passion for sailing bought some brand-new life boats for the crew, to replace the little dinghy it had been using. Another man, who knew all about sailing, started offering yatching lessons, so that people would know how to use their fancy new boats.

Slowly the little lighthouse grew.

Some of the members were unhappy with the crude little lighthouse hut. They felt that people who were rescued should have a more comfortable place to rest in while they were recovering from the shipwreck.

So they enlarged the building, and added nicer furniture.

Some members felt like there should be something to do when they weren’t out rescuing people, so they decided to add a tennis court. Others felt achy and chilly when they came in from rescue missions, so they decided to add a hot tub. Still others wanted their children to enjoy being there, too, so they added a playground.

Soon people from the town started coming out for visits to the lighthouse, on holidays and days-off. It was, after all, a very beautiful spot, with its yatching club and tennis courts, all overlooking the sea like that.

The lighthouse crew was so busy tending to these visitors, that they didn’t have time for many rescue missions anymore, so they hired some full time rescue crews. Someone even paid for them to get fancy “Little Lighthouse Rescue Team” uniforms.

One day a very large ship was wrecked, not far from the little lighthouse. The hired hands went out and brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people.

They were very ragged looking.

Some of them were sick.

The beautiful little lighthouse was considerably messed up, and the regularly scheduled activities were all disrupted as everyone tried to find room for the newcomers.

At the next meeting of the Little Lighthouse Management Board, there was a long discussion. “What should we do about all these shipwrecked castaways?“ they wondered.

“They put muddy footprints in the lobby!” said the Head of Lighthouse Décor.

“They’ve thrown the tennis schedule all out of whack!” said the Program Director.

“They’re crowding out the playground!” said the Facilities Manager.

“I think we should get out of the rescuing business altogether,” called out someone from the back.

As the discussion got heated, one small voice in the corner tried to speak up. “I though we were a lighthouse,” she said. “Isn’t rescuing people from shipwrecks what we’re here for?”

But she was completely voted down. “Saving people is important,” agreed the President of the Little Lighthouse Yatching Club, after the vote. “But if that’s what you want to do, maybe you should start your own lighthouse further down the coast. We’ll even donate some money to help you get it started.”

After the meeting, a small group did try to set up another lighthouse, but before long, the very same thing happened there as what happened at the Little Lighthouse.

In fact, if you visit the seacoast today, you will find a good number of exclusive Little Lighthouse Clubs along the shore. Shipwrecks are still very frequent in those waters, but now, most of the people simply drown.

On Resisting the Will of God (Luke 7:30)

Wish You Were Here, a song

Wish you were here, it's been such a long time
Since you were here, I almost forgot
To leave the light on

I'm running out of wick
And the night is coming on
Nails bitten to the quick
I wish you were here

Wish I was there, it's been such a long time
Since I was there, I almost forgot
To find my way home

I'm running out of wick
And the night is coming on
Nails bitten to the quick
I wish you were here

On Receiving the Accolades of the World (Luke 6:24-26)

For My Daughter on Her Birthday (a poem)

I told you once I’d carry you
Around a mountain lake.
And as you know, I did it too
Long after my arms began to ache.

You clung to me and I to you
Where ever the trail led
Despite the fact that we both knew
That you could have walked instead.

Well that was many years ago.
I'm getting grey and you are grown
And though the lakes still come and go
I’ve had to set you down.

But come what may, may you know it’s true:
If the trail gets steep or there’s no way through,
When the lake is wide, or especially blue,
I'll still always do my best to carry you.

You Said (Seeking You), a song

You said if we would seek you we would find you
If we sought you with all of our heart
You said if we would call you you would answer
If we called you with all that we are

You said if we would ask you, you would grant
If we asked you according to your will
You said if we would seek you we would find you
If we knocked you would open the door

We are seeking you with all of our heart Lord
We are seeking you with all of our mind
We are seeking you with all of our strength Lord
Leaving the treasures of this world far behind

You said if we would seek you we would find you
If we sought you with all of our heart
You said if we would call you you would answer
If we called you with all that we are

We are seeking you with all of our heart Lord
We are seeking you with all of our mind
We are seeking you with all of our strength Lord
Leaving the treasures of this world far behind

Hallelujah, hallelujah!
Hallelujah, hallelujah!

We are seeking you with all of our heart Lord
We are seeking you with all of our mind
We are seeking you with all of our strength Lord
Leaving the treasures of this world far behind

On Going Deep with Jesus (Luke 5:1-11)

For Cephas (a poem)

Jesus came to church today
Hands bruised by the frost
On a bitter Wednesday afternoon.
He had no where to lay his head
And the acrid smell of street-sleep
Hung like a halo about his hair.

And no one quite knew what to say—
The meaning of his words were often lost.
But someone put the kettle on
And someone warmed some soup and bread.
We gave him gloves he could not keep
And everyone was honored he was there.

Then Jesus Christ fell fast asleep
In the corner while we turned to prayer.
He woke up when we read his Word
And grinned to hear His story told—
And as he left we understood:
Tonight the Christ-child’s homeless hands
Are bleeding with the cold

Speak Lord (a song)

The voice of the Lord is rolling on the waters
The voice of the Lord it thunders from the deep
The voice of the Lord it flashes forth like lighting
For who can hear his mighty voice
Its power and its majesty
It’s calling to his people, the voice of the Lord

Speak Lord your servants are listening
Touch us an open our ears
Whisper your light in our darkness
Teach our hearts how to hear

The voice of the Lord it breaks the mighty cedars
The voice of the Lord it strips the forest bare
The voice of the Lord is might and majestic
For who can hear his awesome voice
Its scattering His enemies
It makes the nations tremble, the voice of the Lord

Speak Lord your servants are listening
Touch us an open our ears
Whisper your light in our darkness
Teach our hearts how to hear

The voice of the Lord it whispers in the darkness
The voice of the Lord it echoes in the night
The voice of the Lord is summoning his servants
For who can hear his small still voice
It beckons in the silences
It’s searching for an answer, the voice of the Lord

Speak Lord your servants are listening
Touch us an open our ears
Whisper your light in our darkness
Teach our hearts how to hear

In his temple all cry glory!
In his temple all cry glory!
In his temple all cry glory!
In his temple all cry glory!

Speak Lord your servants are listening
Touch us an open our ears
Whisper your light in our darkness
Teach our hearts how to hear

Jesus and the Spiritual Battle (Luke 4:31-37)

Sweet Contentment (a poem)

Were you standing there the whole time?
That late night on the fair grounds
Watching fireworks burst and sparkle
While my youngest child pressed herself
Against my chest for warmth and strength
And together we watched the scintillating
Floral starbursts punctuate a day well played?

And was that you peering over my shoulder?
That afternoon my first-born son and I
Canoed across a quiet lake
After a long and weary week of summer camp;
He waiting days for this one lone outing with his dad
And I sinking slowly into a stillness in my heart
While the breeze pushed us back to shore
And he asked me if God had ever spoke to me?

The day my middle one led the praise
While we all sat round a glowing yellow fire
With the rocky mountain sunset long since faded
And the campground neighbours stopping by
To hear her sing and join the song
While every strum was a rhythm we both knew
That I had taught her—
Was that you?

Through soft nights pressed up warm and safe
Against the shape of my beloved?
Holding out the cup and bread
To any who would dare to feast on grace--
Thoughtful walks through autumn leaves--
The warmth of summer sunshine on my face--
A hint of Russian olive on the breeze--
A lingering joy that never leaves a trace?

Were you waiting for me all the while,
To turn to you without yearning or resentment?
You’ll have to forgive me my neglect:
If somehow I missed the overwhelming smile
Of your sweet contentment.