The Sword!

I got the privilege of covering one of my favorite metal bands for the second time in about seven months the other night. Austin, Texas’ stoner metal quartet The Sword swung through Portland and thundered people’s faces off. It was enjoyable from front to back. Check out my full review here.

Review: Beck – Morning Phase

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Talk about anticipating an album for many years. We’ve all been waiting for a proper studio album from the great Beck for, what, six years now? His new one, Morning Phase, might not necessarily be the Beck you’re used to, but it doesn’t disappoint. Check out my full review here.

My Reason For Being

Life almost never turns out how we hope and rarely do things go the way we want. These are simple yet frustrating truths.

I am a broken man. When I was a boy and thought ahead to the man I wanted to become, none of those visions included a bad temper, a worried mind, and least of all OCD – all of which are parts of who I am today.

So what is supposed to happen when reality sets in, when we are faced with the realization that there are parts of us which are not only unwanted, but which we hate? What about when we start allowing ourselves to be defined by those things? You begin to tread water. You begin to do whatever it takes just to stay afloat.

Treading water can only be done for so long before you begin to give out. After a while of chasing God’s coattails we find ourselves asking Him, “Will I ever be able to just see you face-to-face?”

I’ve spent the last few years of my life feeling that way. I have anxiety and OCD and because of that, I spend the majority of my days feeling foggy headed, tired, and anxious. My OCD flares up during times like these and takes hold of my mind. It then becomes hard to concentrate on much else besides the troublesome thoughts that land in my head and before I know it, I’m a crumpled mess inside and it affects how I view life as well as treat my family. If I allow it to be, it’s a rather vicious cycle.

Today, by the Grace of God, I have realized that not only is the answer right in front of me, it is actually inside of me. It is a person with a name; His name is the Holy Spirit.

I’ve been a Christian my whole life and have understood little about the Holy Spirit. I’ve held little to no regard for Him mainly because I never really understood what His purpose was.

That all changed today when I heard a teaching at my church all about the presence of God. In short, the purpose of the Holy Spirit is so that we can live within God’s presence. And living within God’s presence is why we were created.

Why do we need to live in God’s presence? Well, apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). We need to live in His presence because we can’t expect to go into the world and accomplish God’s mission of our own strength and resolve. When we partner with the Holy Spirit – God’s presence – we begin to fire on all cylinders. And the really cool thing (I’m hoping to find this true for myself as I move forward) is that along the way, while spending each day relying upon and basking in the presence of God, we find that all those plans and desires we had for our lives that aren’t going as we’d hoped melt away in the light of His glorious embrace.

For me, that means that my bad temper, my worried mind, and my OCD all suddenly become small quirks about my life rather than things which define it. I become who I was meant to be, I become whole.

Suddenly, my life is defined by a recognition of and thirst for the presence of God. I orient my life around God’s presence by looking to Jesus as my example. In Him, I see a person who had a clear identity and a deep sense of intimacy with His Father – all stemming from and flowing out of His hunger for God’s presence and willingness to seek it out.

Why is this so important? Because the world thirsts for a church who knows what it is like to exist in the intimate presence of God.

May these things be true in my life. May I no longer chase God’s coattails, but instead be with Him wherever He is and partnered with Him in whatever He is doing there.

Then, and only then, will I be cooking with gas.