A Piece of the Puzzle

I was thinking today of the deep sense of belonging I have when, after I am able to find the quietness in me, I can be still long enough to ‘enter’ God’s presence. All I need is a moment, and the weight of the world falls from my shoulders and I remember once again who I am… and that I have some value… and an important job to do.


I am not sure what your typical day looks like but mine is mostly one of chaos in which I am constantly battling my way through a jungle of work, stress, finances, emotional ups and downs, fatigue, ‘getting older’, other people’s expectations of me and my own distorted view of the path ahead.


When David so beautifully wrote “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere…” he knew what he was talking about.
We are each designed to be an important part of a puzzle… of God’s great plan. The plan doesn’t make sense unless all the pieces of the puzzle are in place.
I need you to be you as much as you need me to be me.
We spend so much of our time not really knowing who we are or believing the lie that we don’t have anything of value to offer our community… and or we see more value in another and so then we try to be like him or her… and that doesn’t work… no matter how hard we try.This is why… the one moment alone with our “Dad’ is so imperative.
Without water we dehydrate, without oxygen we suffocate, and without some aloneness with His spirit we depreciate our own spirit, our identity and our value to each other.
So please do me a favor will you… put down your phone… and take a stroll along the beach or sit for a few minutes in the garden or hide yourself away in the attic, or turn off the car radio on your way home from the office… and be silent and try to enter that mysterious place of welcome, of identity, of permission… to be encouraged, to be reminded of the simplicity of who you are and how valuable you are to the rest of us.
I need you.


A Simple Practice of Letting Go

Cast all your cares upon him for he cares deeply about you.

Its a great little passage of new testament scripture but used more often than not as a cliche or throw away line from a ‘sincere’ care giver.

But this casting or letting go of ‘our cares and woes’ is a method that counselors and therapists  have used for centuries in the treatment of emotional and mental afflictions.

In essence, Jesus is offering to be our counselor… our therapist. An offer you should seriously consider… his rates are quite reasonable.

Here is a little prayer practice of mine that I use in my own quiet times and in larger group training sessions on identity and creativity.

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I’m Stuffed

Water-pourImagine your life as a bottle of water… full to the brim.

But you want more… more of everything…

The thing is… there is no room for anything more. You are full up.

May I suggest you pour out a little of your ‘self’ from the bottle… and make room for something new and fresh to ‘drop in’.


Silver and Gold

We each have something priceless, a ‘thing we do’… that we take for granted, often unable to recognize its value or worth to others.

Some of us can create a gourmet meal out of bread crumbs and leftovers, or see the potential in an old ramshackle house and turn it into a mansion, or enter a pig stye and tidy and clean it as if it were our own, or sit, listen and stay with someone who needs to download their grief or the gripes, or keep a secret and rebuild broken trust, or hug and hold and carry a deeply wounded person, or just be there for that broken soul when all seems lost.

Most of these actions of love go unheralded. Rarely do leaders or public speakers applaud the many actions of unconditional love by ordinary folk on a day to day basis. There is no big story or answer… just lots of little conversations.

I don’t have too many of the qualities mentioned above… neither do I have an abundance of silver and gold… but I can sit and strum and sing for hours to someone who needs a little peace. And regarding this small thing… I am slowly learning that, in a way, it’s my contribution to the community around me.


Falling in Love Again

A story of escaping the prison of professionalism after finding love inside the music.

I was raised to be a professional musician. To play all the right notes at the right time. Nothing more and nothing less. Do the job, take the money and move on to the next gig.Barry-300x300

Like a coal miner’s son I was born into a trade and a tribe that I would serve, through good times and bad for the rest of my days. They’d bury me with my guitar and my union card.

I had a dinner suit for the bigger clubs and casino shows, blue jeans, black T’s and doc martins for the smaller pubs and seedier clubs, an array of guitars and amps, skills and ‘guitar licks’ enough in the genre’s of jazz, blues, rock and country music to make a decent living. After several hundred club gigs I graduated up into the recording studio brotherhood and, as a professional I was on time, I played my parts proficiently and I got the job done.  I continued to rise through the ranks and soon I was performing on network Television.

I had made it and as much as a guitar player can be, I was model professional.

Now and then in the midst of this professional journey I would be foolish and play music for fun… on my own of course, in a room somewhere private… where no one could hear me… and I would fall upon little treasures that I didn’t understand or know what to do with… and so, I would keep them to myself and then go off onto my next professional gig, keep my head down and do my job.

But, like a child reading his first Agatha Christie novel… I could not put ‘the book’ down… or stay away from my closet musings with my guitar and these little noodlings or melodies of childlike lyrics… all of which… was very unlike the professional I was trained to be. For, without realizing it, I was falling in love… with music and these simple little musical ideas and chordal shapes.

imgres-2I would stumble upon a basic uncomplicated chord progression and begin to imagine a rock pool or a mountain stream and I would sit there and let the peace wash over me. Then I would hear someone walking down the hall towards my hideout and I would hurriedly put my guitar away as if I had been caught doing something naughty.

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Getting off the High Horse

It can be difficult as a ‘professional’ to step down from the ‘lofty’ stage-platform to enjoy music as much as the fan or the amateur. When I listen to my live recordings with my professional ears I hear flat notes, wrong chords, jumbles lyrics, imbalanced mixes and the occasional annoying cough from an audience member (would someone please pray for that person).

And so I need, from time to time to be reminded that, often the most beautiful recordings, perhaps like people, are the slightly broken or imperfect ones. And… I should know this… because it is in these ‘live’ moments that I am at my best within myself, collaborating with the other musicians and singers and of course, the most important people in the room… the audience.

Quite recently, a good friend was thanking me for my new live album and as he mumbled on about how he and his wife had been fighting over the CD… I wondered to myself… ‘What new live album?’ I soon understood that he was talking about this mix of live recordings I had collected over a few years and had (in a weak moment) given to him as a present.

The thing is… the request for the live concert recordings is becoming all to common… and while I battle with the sliding scale of quality I am gradually weakening my resolve in favor of the lovely messy moments of live music making… and like Jesus… I am stepping down off my throne… and setting the mixes free. For, my fan ears tell me that there is something lovely in these recordings… and these same fan ears allow me to enjoy or enter into the moments of worship as I listen to these tracks.

And so… I want to make this available to all the people that have encouraged or prayed or supported me over these many years. It is a live worship merry Christmas present (without the carols and bonbons).



Hometown Blues

“A seer has little honor in his hometown, among his relatives, on the streets he played in as a child.”

thoughtful-man-small-800x800This morning as he reflected on the words of Jesus this man, well into his middle season of life, considered his own past, his hometown, his old church days, the albums he had made, the songs he’d written, all the band members and different kinds of friends he’d journeyed with over the years and it occurred to him that he was in the process of re-creating himself… with a lot of outside help of course… and that ‘he was not the man they think I am at all’

For somewhere along the road he had let go of the mantles of boy next door and street musician  for the cloak of… well (it felt even strange for the man use say this word)…  a seer…  and though he was still getting used to wearing this elaborate costume in public…  he could feel the change in his songs, stories, the sound of his music, the tours and projects he was now planning… his reason for being was all about breaking shackles, tearing down old rickety boundary fences and preparing others for strange seasons and times ahead. It no longer mattered to him where he had come from or if ‘they’ didn’t get it… for the man was compelled to sow the seeds he gathered from the orchard storehouse behind the kingdom gates.

This, he had to admit was all rather new and sometimes confusing and so, this morning, as he prayed, he soon found himself, in his mind’s eye, running forward into the arms of Jesus, who, once he had him in his grasp, twirled him around and around like a small child.

purple-wild-flowers-pol-ledentIn that cocoon of motion Jesus began to smother the man with an oil blessed with the fragrance of spring and then, blew some kind of angel dust into the man’s eyes, ears and hair so that flowers of bright colors began to grow wildly all about him, so much so that in the days to come, the pollen from the flowers would fall onto all those that came in contact with the man… with the effect of creating an insatiable and infectious desire in them to hurdle the ancient gates and walk within the grounds of the Kingdom on their own.

The man could not help but say “Wow..thank you Jesus”.

The twirling continued at such speed and revolutions that when Jesus let go of the man he was propelled forward into a kind of cosmic space… and so the man assumed he was flying into the future… and yet, when his feet touched down he realized that he was being sent back into his own world… and as he ‘re-entered’ he carried a new restful authority and an eye to recognize that, while circumstances would at first appear no different from any time previous … he now had an understanding of what was going on… where this road was leading… and that he was equipped for the job at hand.

The day was afoot… and there was much to do.