Spirituality

Holy Matrimony, Batman!

Holy matrimony, my friends, is a booby-trapped obstacle course full of perilous challenges. Think Legends of the Hidden Temple (my greatest childhood regret, oh how I wished to be a Blue Barracuda!). Last night, Megan and I overcame the single most formidable hurdle of our marriage. That’s right. We finished our first marriage book. And not just any marriage book, a Christian marriage book, one we started over three years ago.

Consistency is overrated.

Well, anyhow, we did it. We got through it. Ironically, we almost quit on the book, a year or so ago, while in a chapter labeled “Perseverance.” But we didn’t! (I have a feeling the author intended that chapter to be the book’s longest).

It’s called Sacred Marriage and is written by Gary Thomas. The book is pretty great, really. The speed at which we read is not indicative of the quality of the work or the messages in the content: we’re just lazy and watch a lot of Netflix and fall asleep way too early for mid-twenty-year olds. But I do recommend it. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of the content (hey, I liked the ending; that’s got to count for something right?).

Best yet, I have another book on my shelf. Inquisitive friends will ask me about it, and I’ll look up and say, “Yeah, it was good.” They will nod their heads, and I will feel smart.  (more…)

Overcoming Spiritual Inconsistency: Me So Thorny

In 2 Corinthians, Paul vaguely writes about a thorn in his side. Most likely a personal ailment, or, as he puts it, a “messenger from Satan,” scholars have debated for centuries on what this thorn really was.

When it comes to faith and spirituality, we all have a thorn that tests our faith from time to time—a personal battle.

I love the Lord and His teachings, and wouldn’t trade my faith journey for all cheese on the Moon. Truthfully however, I show up for class roughly half the time; my spiritual thorn is inconsistency.

I know I should read my Bible everyday; I know I should serve fellow-man and spend more time in prayer. I know I need to worship. I know I need to love.

Yet, on a busy day, these desires are the first I give up. Heck, half the time I’m not even that busy.

Everybody Has One

My spiritual life is about as consistent as my bowling game is: Strike. Gutter. Spare. Grandma Roll. Punch the Chair. Gutter. Get a Hot Dog. Gutter.

I’ve had this problem for a while, you see. Years and years of inconsistent faith. I’d be on fire for God and then quickly fade, or receive a vision of helping the homeless, and then go buy a Playstation.

On January 1st, I committed to a read the “Bible in a Year” regimen. An everyday sort of thing. WIth two chapters of Old Testament, one Psalm, and a New Testament chapter everyday, I was excited to sign up. I even thought the daily structure looked a little light.

Then life set in. I got busy. My thorn started jabbing, and now I’m three weeks behind in the Old Testament and two weeks behind in the New. How could this happen?

Well, there are excuses, of course.

I was traveling…

I had a test…

I’ve been busy at work…

(Never mind the time spent on Facebook, Temple Run 2, and the NBA Finals).

Scripture is just one example. There are times when prayer is all I want, and others when I’ll do anything I can to avoid it. Consistency is just beyond me.

Simple religious guilt? To be honest, no. I sincerely desire a healthy relationship with God. I long for a day where my spiritual agenda can’t be easily shaken—when God’s will can be carried out in confidence—despite whatever my Facebook feed feeds me or the limitations I find in my schedule.

I see the inconsistency in other places, too. The more I look around, the more I see others who suffer like me. I can say this in confidence because of the state of the world we live in; we could all be a little more consistent in our faith and in the Gospel.

We are a generation of Christians who could spread the Gospel like wildfire if we would only light the match. We say things like, “I’ve been busy at work,” though inside, I think we’re all just waiting for a little push.

Some Thoughts

Is spiritual inconsistency a natural part of faith? Is this where, as they say, the rubber meets the road?

Is spiritual inconsistency another name for laziness? The more I write about it, the more I wonder.

Does the Church unintentionally encourage spiritual inconsistency? Showing up on Sunday is a popular (and shallow) way to keep each other accountable. Has the “one-day-a-week” mentality played a part in these habits?

How do we tackle spiritual inconsistency without encouraging empty religious guilt? Not all guilt is bad, but we need to be careful about labeling our own judgements as God’s.

picstitchDo you struggle with spiritual inconsistency? Any thoughts to share or advice to give?

Does God Leave?

God will never leave you. Have you ever heard that? I have. All my life, it seems. You could call it the core theme of my childhood spirituality. This idea—the one of an omnipotently present God—both intrigued me and frightened me as a child. The good news (back then), was that if God were always around then I’d be bound to catch Him sooner or later.

I’d walk around and flip my neck—like some sort of weirdo—trying to catch Jesus in the corner of my eye. I’d pray and strategically leave enough room for my eyes to peek through… just incase. The freeway held great potential. It made sense to me, “Angels ride on the back of motorcycles.”

“Those aren’t angels,” my dad would say.

The Guardian

My great grandma had the guardian angel over the bridge painting in her bathroom—you’ve probably seen it somewhere along the way. Slightly crooked, her painting rested comfortably in the wall above the toilet—as permanent as God’s Word. I assumed it had always been there and always would be. Most plausibly, the painting was a gift, given by the house itself and birthed from its foundation.

To me, the painting was nothing but a stark reminder—angels watched you pee. I blame my shy bladder on this haunting print.

Then there’s that Footprints poem. (Don’t get me started).

In 200 years, I’m curious if Footprints will be canonized into scripture. Maybe we’ll be giving piggy-back rides in church on Sunday as an act of worship.

“God will never leave you. There’s guardian angels and footprints in the sand.”

An Example or Two

From youth we’re taught the doctrines of our faiths and of God, as concrete as a grandmother’s painting. Then we get older and read scripture for ourselves; sometimes, our doctrines turn to sand. Sometimes we discover our beliefs were never written in stone, but passed down through magnets on a fridge.

A couple Bible passages have recently revealed some startling news. God does, in fact, leave. Often in the most troubling of times, too! I’m not talking Bruce Almighty vacation or anything, but it would seem apparent that He leaves us, individually, from time to time.

God left Samson in Judges 16. God left Israel in 1 Samuel 4.

I don’t bring this up to unnecessarily riffle any feathers. It’s in the Bible and I believe it’s worth talking about. Hopefully you’ll want to join in on the fun.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Maybe it’s in response to sin. Sin is forgiven under Christ; sure, but there’s still consequence. Does God temporarily leave as a consequence to sin? (These may read as rhetorical, but they’re not. I’m asking you).

Maybe it’s an assumption of the Bible writer. Regardless of what you believe about scripture’s origin, it makes sense that each Biblical writer had a cultural and linguistic lens through which he or she wrote.

Maybe God is incapable of leaving his creation. This feels most comfortable to me, though I hesitate saying it. God is not a math function; there is no limit we can assign.

Maybe this was Pre-Jesus. The smart readers/bloggers out there may have a verse or two (or a personal experience) to back this theory up. I’d be interested in reading those.

Whatever the outcome may be, we most likely won’t fully know it anytime soon. Until then, I’ll continue to look for God where I can—in the corner of my eye, in every blade of grass, on the freeway, in my heart, in my friends, in my family, yes, even WordPress.

Even WordPress.

Well, what say, you?

Freshly Pressed: My Favorite Comments

Last week, I found myself struggling with writer’s block. Yesterday, I was Freshly Pressed on WordPress. That kind of took care of it. If you’re not familiar with WordPress, basically, Freshly Pressed is their sort of… front page.

Alternate blog title: Freshly Pressed: How Keva Got His Groove Back

Just last week, I was telling my wife about some of my goals. Freshly Pressed was numero uno. So that’s cool. Now, I can move on to goal numero dos: hand model. Well no…

What a huge honor. The Freshly Pressed came at just the right time, too. My writer’s block has since been smashed, chopped, and blended… and digested.

Confessions of a Former Worship Leader was featured. I wrote the post straight from the heart, so it was nice to get such a wide array of feedback and responses. “Confessions…” seems to have struck a chord, no pun intended.

The internet is a strange place, and it gets a lot of flack these days (Facebook rants, mean-spirited debates and criticisms, message boards), but I’m continually impressed by the genuineness and civility of WordPress bloggers. It’s quite a special place.

Comments are still coming in (slightly overwhelming)! In truth, everyone’s comment has touched my heart. Some responses have been encouraging, some have disagreed; all have contributed towards my healing in some way. The best part is the overall, much-needed conversation of corporate worship has begun. It’s been an honor to have lead this discussion.

Here’s a few comments (from yesterday) that have, so far, stood out to me. A lot of these are just excerpts. I might add one or two more as I continue to read.

Comments, Comments, Comments,

Melissaraptor

During the few Christian services I’ve attended in my life, I’ve felt so confused and taken aback by the focus on modern music. The services were not what I imagined at all and frankly I felt more uncomfortable in those which relied heavily on the performance. Thank you for sharing the thoughts of someone behind the scenes, so to speak. It’s comforting to know that someone so involved with religion shares or at least reflects some similar input on a few of the topics I’ve been so confused by. Thank you so much.

Constance V. Walden

When people get up on a stage or stand up before the congregation and sing, with or without music, it it becomes a concert or entertainment. It becomes about them, really. Yes, they may be singing about the Lord, but, it’s really about them. When the church comes together to worship, they should sing together as one to the Lord on the same level. No one up front, no one on stage, and not drowned out by musical instruments. It’s OUR voices together in praise to the Lord. Thanks for sharing.

measureofagift

My heart broke last week when a dear friend told me she chose a church for the “worship experience” she told me it was “very spiritual” and that what she loved was that she could go there, feel blessed, talk to no one, and then return home, untethered to anyone in the congregation, or anything she needed to carry around with her all week. She could “just leave it there til next week.” We’ve turned worship into a gratifying experience, so much so that in “trying to serve God” in worship, we end up hurting those who come to our churches.

sandydog44

Hello, I quit the church for many reasons ….and the hypnotizing of the congregation by emotional music and all that goes into producing a good concert to move your feelings….it was called being moved by the Holy Spirit, but exactly the same feelings are produced at a “secular” concert. People are fooling themselves.

Carpenter’s Quill

Worship is: Dance, art, a prayer, thanking God by using our talents, helping people around us, or even singing in the shower. I agree that ‘worship’ isn’t just one singular act of service/praise. I also like your response about being ‘hurt by the church’. Too many people forget that the church is full of humans. We are individuals incapable of perfection. I’m glad it didn’t squash your faith, and that you’re uncovering hidden feelings. I think the mega church culture (as a whole) needs to get back to authentic ‘worship’

Kris

I appreciate your honesty with where you are at and think it was wise for you to pull back as you did. It seems to me, our spiritual life and our interactions with others and service ebbs and flows, inevitably produces flaws, retracts in disgust and renews itself in purity through the Spirit. It is not just this way in worship of course, but in any aspect we participate in communally. Anytime our faith goes public in service we drag along our personal spiritual fights and encounter those of others and sometimes we just need to pull back and regroup.

kevindeisher

I sang and led worship at my church for several years and like you suffered burn out. I left the church in search of something better and more genuine for me to believe in. I can so relate to your post and agree with it all. I am attending a micro church now where the worship music is by most standards poor, but it is genuine and heartfelt and I enjoy it more than the concerts of the past.

Thanks again, WordPress! What an honor to have been considered and chosen.

That One Time the Roof Caved in on Me

Memories from my past bubble to the surface every now and then. At times, they feel larger than life—tall-tale even, like in Big Fish. Since taking Psychology 101 last year, some memories have become suspect.

There’s this one memory I have; the one where the ceiling caves in on me. Until recently, I wasn’t sure it was real. I asked my older brother about it. In the memory, he’s the one who carries me to safety.

Quickly, here’s the memory: 

It’s an old white house in Paso Robles, California. Two stories, maybe, just one. I’m eight years old or so and scared to death of the Daddy Long Leg spiders that inhabit every corner of every room in the house. Everything is dirty and dusty. I hate it here.

“Kevin,” he yells. I wake up. The air is thick with dust and drywall; broken wood is everywhere. In fact, my bed is covered with it. I look over to my brother, standing beside the bed. He’s laughing. “You slept through it,” he says and laughs again.

Everything is confusing; I’m paralyzed with fear and can’t move. The next thing I know, my brother is carrying me out of our room and into the kitchen where everybody is listening to music and eating popsicles.

Party

My early years were quite… different than most. After the parents split up, my dad moved us around a lot. Life got weird. Shady, actually, is a better term.

We were those obnoxious, trashy neighbors. The ones with the loud, late night parties, or fights that ended with clothes on the lawn and the cops being called. That was us.

Sorry neighbors.

“They were partying in the next room,” my brother said. Last year, we reminisced about our childhood and I asked him about this event. “We came out of the room,” he continued, “covered from head to toe in drywall dust. No one knew it happened. I think it was the music that caused the ceiling to fall. The bass.”

“And I slept through it?”

“Yeah,” he laughed, “you slept right through it. I thought you were dead.”

Guardian Angles 

It seems a little self-absorbed to claim this event as a miracle of God. Honestly, I’m really not that important. It could’ve just been dumb luck.

Still though, I think back to the broken wood in and around my bed—some pieces large and quite dangerous. All I know is that the ceiling caved in, one ugly night in Paso Robles, California, and two young boys were spared.

In times like these, I’m reminded that I need to live my life in a worthy way. Not because I survived my childhood or because a ceiling caved in on me, but because I was born at all.

Life is an opportunity and everyday among it a unique gift. Don’t wait for tomorrow or you may just get crushed to death by your own ceiling.

“If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die.”

What are your thoughts? Do you have any good memories from your childhood you suspect are false? What is your response to living life as a gift?