How would you describe your musical style?
The musical style of the album Scars I would describe as ‘broken’. When I wrote it, I was physically and emotionally broken down. Similarly, Scars is broken and simplified purposefully in its instrumentation; I feel the depth of the songs come from the sincere lyrical content. As a genre it could be called acoustic, folk, or worship.
This gospel album is a new direction for you. What inspired you to write it?
Two years ago I broke my neck in a mountain biking accident. The seriousness of this injury was such that 97 percent of people incur paralysis or death. At Kelowna General Hospital I was placed in traction for 36 hours to align my neck and then put into a halo with four self-tapping screws torqued into my skull for complete demobilization. During this time the Lord drew my focus onto him and under the pressure of the situation I learned to seek him more earnestly. Tenessa, my wife, gave me a journal and I wrote freely the raw prayers, laments, and promises of God. There wasn’t an intent from the beginning that they would become songs, but as I was eventually able to pick up my guitar and sit with it, the words on the pages began to take form into the songs that you hear on this album.
There is a youtube video of you playing the blues while wearing a halo. Did this typify the writing process for you this time around? What role did music play in your recovery?
That video was actually quite out of the ordinary! I had the song and for some reason just decided to film it.
I don’t feel like music played a defining role in my recovery; rather, music is the vehicle that the Lord has given me to share our journey and the theme of his faithfulness in the midst of trial and loss.
What challenges did you and your family face after the accident?
Life at home with a broken neck presented many challenges. The simple and ordinary things in life suddenly became difficult: sleeping, eating, bathing, sitting up, walking, dressing, not sneezing, not lifting over 5lb, and preventing infection at the bolt sites, all presented extraordinary physical challenges. At that time we were also dealing with an uncertain future, looming family decisions and living in a small rental cottage with a toddler and colicky baby.
Were there specific bible verses or theological truths that ministered to you during this challenging time?
During this time the Lord took our family on a journey into greater faith. Contentment was our family’s theme, and specifically Philippians 4:11-13 where Paul says “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Jeremiah Burroughs’ book, The Rare Jewel Of Christian Contentment, was medicine for my soul.
The power of the promises of God also came to life in this time of brokenness. I began to search God’s word for promises to which I could hold fast. One of the songs on this Gospel Album is called Lamentations 3. In that Biblical chapter the writer is in deep distress and sorrow. He feels and sees that God is against him and his prayers are shut out, but halfway through that chapter he says “but this I call to mind and therefore I have hope, the steadfast love of the Lord.” The writer of Lamentations calls to mind the promises of God’s steadfast love before he feels the deliverance from his current sorrow. It was a mindful decision to trust in the Lord and in his proven character even though emotionally and situationally he wasn’t there. This reorientation was important for us too; we learned that our circumstances and feelings don’t change the character of God and as a result we found great hope in his bedrock promises.
The Lord also changed the way I view trials and brokenness during this time. All too often we view brokenness as a burden which we need to shed as quickly as possible. I think that’s really the wrong perspective, brokenness may actually be the safest place possible because the Lord has promised a broken and contrite heart he will not despise (Psalm 51:17). Instead of rushing to fix what is broken, we should view brokenness as a city of refuge where we can wait for the faithfulness of God.
How do you hope this album will minister to others?
First, I hope this album brings comfort to suffering Christians who hear it. I hope they are pointed back to Jesus as their steadfast foundation when the storms of life come. Much of this album is pulled directly from scripture with the intent of pointing the listener away from themselves and toward God. When we look to God, it reminds us of the steadfast love of the Lord and though not relieved of our grievous condition, we are encouraged to wait in brokenness for the salvation God will work in his time.
Second, I hope this album brings an opportunity for people to share the Gospel with those who don’t believe. Part of our journey has been sharing this music in house concerts hosted by people who want to share the Gospel with their neighbors. Music is a great vehicle to carry the message because it isn’t a debate but simply about the Holy Spirit attending the words he inspired the biblical writers with, and replacing hearts of stone with hearts of flesh.