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

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.

The Scruffy Little Puppy, a Parable for Children

Once upon a time there was a scruffy little puppy who lived in a pet store on the corner of a busy street in the city. Scruffy little puppy was not like any of the other puppies.

Sparky was fully of vim and vinegar and all the children who visited the pet store loved to play with him. But Scruffy Little Puppy had one lame paw and couldn’t run very well.

Sophie had a beautiful curly coat and wore a bow behind her ears. All the grown ups who came to the pet store said how lovely she was. But Scruffy Little Puppy’s coat was all ragged and tatty.

No one ever took any notice of Scruffy Little Puppy. No one loved him. And no one wanted him.

One day a man came to the pet store and told the Keeper that he wanted a playful puppy for his little boy, and he was prepared to pay fifteen dollars for one. The keeper pointed out Sparky, bouncing around with his ball in the shop window.

“That Puppy,” said the keeper, “is worth fifteen dollars for sure.”

Another day, a young lady came in. When she saw Sophie’s curly coat, she said she just had to have her, and the keeper should name his price. The keeper said that Sophie was worth ten dollars at least.

But no body ever came in asking how much Scruffy Little Puppy was worth. No one told the Keeper that they just had to have him. No one loved him. And no one wanted him.

One day a nice-looking young man came into the pet store. Scruffy Little Puppy didn’t look up from his basket, but he listened closely.

“I saw that puppy with the lame paw in the window,” the man was saying to the keeper. “I think I might like to have a dog like that.”

The Keeper laughed. “You mean Scruffy Little Puppy?” he said. “Oh well. He can’t run very well. And his coat is pretty mangy. Let me show you some different puppies.”

“No,” insisted the gentle young man. “I want that puppy. How much is he worth?”

The Keeper scratched his head. Sophie had sold for ten dollars. Sparky for fifteen. But Scruffy Little Puppy wasn’t worth anything near as much as them.

“Well,” he said at last, “I could give you Scruffy for two dollars. That’s probably a fair price.”

The kind-looking young man rubbed his chin. Scruffy hung his head in shame.

“Two dollars is a lot of money,” he said. “But it’s not enough for my Scruffy Little Puppy. I’ll give you a hundred dollars for him!”

Scruffy couldn’t believe what he just heard. Nor could the Keeper. He said, “Sold!” and put the money in the cash register before the young man could change his mind. And that was the day Scruffy Little Puppy went home with his new master.

Sold for a hundred dollars!

Well. Months and months went by. But the Keeper of the Pet Store never forgot the strange young man who had bought the worst puppy in the store for a hundred whole dollars.

And one day, looking out the window of his shop, he saw that same young man walking past. He was holding a dog leash, and on the leash walking next to him was the finest-looking looking dog the Keeper had ever seen.

The dog had a glossy grey coat. He walked with his head held high, and each step he took was so strong, and graceful, that you never would have noticed that he had just the faintest little bit of a limp.

The Keeper rushed out of the store to greet the man. “My,” he said. “That is a fine-looking dog you have there. What ever happened to the scruffy-little mutt you bought from me?”

The young man looked at the keeper for just a moment, and then he laughed. “Sir!” he said, “This is my Scruffy Little Puppy. It’s the same dog!”

The Keeper was astonished. “But how?” He asked. He just couldn’t believe that this fine-looking dog was the same sad-looking puppy he had sold so long ago.

“Don’t you see?” said the wise young man. “We are as lovely as we’re told we are. If you only pay two dollars for a dog, you’ll get a dog worth two dollars. But a puppy that believes he’s worth a hundred dollars, will become a hundred-dollar dog.

I showed Scruffy he was worth a hundred dollars to me, and that’s what he’s become.”

The Keeper walked away scratching his head. He just didn’t understand.

But God wants us to understand.  Because in a way, what the nice young man did for Scruffy Little Puppy, by showing him just how much he was worth to him when he felt worthless an unloved, that’s like what God did for us.

We were like the Scruffy Little Puppy, and Jesus is like the kind-young man. Because like the man in the story, who paid a hundred dollars for a puppy that no one else would even pay two for, Jesus gave his very life for us on the cross, when we were broken by sin and marred by selfishness. Jesus paid his very life for us, so that we could be with him, and so that we would know how precious we are to God.

And that’s what God wants all of us to know. He loves us so much that he gave Jesus, his one and only Son, who died on the cross for you, so that you would no it for sure, that you are infinitely precious to him.

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