Thursday, February 26, 2015

Baggage (Jacob, part 3)

Please note...this is "Jacob, part 3."  I encourage you to scroll down and start with "Jacob, part 1." 

Are you aware of the baggage you’re carrying on this journey of faith?

Are you exhausted from the weight of hiding it from the world?

I love the Jacob story not just because I see myself in Jacob, but because the story reveals a piece of our stories, namely, the baggage we carry.  Baggage is the residual affects of life’s painful experiences, whether we were violated or abused or neglected; whether it was what we ourselves did, or what someone did to us; baggage is the lingering affects of our past, carried out in our present.  It is our woundedness, our brokenness.  And almost everyone I know has it.

Brokenness and baggage is rampant in our culture, but it seems to me like no one wants to talk about it, not even the church!  No one, it seems...but the Bible.

Allow me to set the stage.  An elderly, nearly blind Isaac asks his favorite boy, Esau, to hunt, then cook, his favorite meal, so he can bestow his favorite blessing.  His wife, Rebekah, conspires with her son, Jacob, to steal the blessing through deceit, disguising the younger Jacob as the older Esau.  

And Jacob answered his mother Rebekah, "Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man and I am a smooth man.”  Genesis 27:11

At this point, I must digress from the text simply to point out that “smooth man” is code for “wussy boy.”  In other words, Jacob is not the man’s man, that his brother Esau was, and his dad’s disappointment in who Jacob was, was self evident.  Imagine the heartache of loves...Esau.  As a result of his baggage, Jacob stoops, not merely to stealing from a blind man, but robbing his brother of his inheritance as well.

Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16 And she put the skins of the kids on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17 She also gave the savory food and the bread, which she had made, to her son Jacob. 

With the clock ticking and his heart racing, Jacob deceives his dad, while his brother is off hunting game. 

24 And he said, "Are you really my son Esau?" And he said, "I am...27 and when he smelled the smell of his garments, he blessed him and said, "See, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the LORD has blessed; 28 Now may God give you of the dew of heaven, And of the fatness of the earth, And an abundance of grain and new wine; 29 May peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you; Be master of your brothers, And may your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be those who curse you, And blessed be those who bless you." 

This is ugly. 

But this is what flows out of the heart from people who carry baggage, people For oh so many years, I had no idea that the loneliness I felt, the drive to prove myself, my defensiveness, my relational aloofness--I could go on and on--was coming from a very broken place inside.  I had baggage.

There are several things to note about baggage.  

1-Open your eyes.  Note that even godly families can carry major baggage.  Isaac and Rebekah love God, and yet, they make parenting mistakes, out of their own baggage, that deeply affect their kids.  So listen, it’s a GREAT day when you recognize you have baggage!    

2-Soften your heart.  Notice that baggage is passed on in different ways to different people; Esau becomes a worldly man who despises the blessings of God; Jacob becomes a deceiving manipulator.  Everyone is different.  Some people become driven because of their woundedness; others become passive.  Some people become rebellious; others become people-pleasers.  BUT WE ALL HAVE BAGGAGE!  And our baggage is different in effect as well as in size.  Some of us have small little carry-on bags, while I would say of myself, that I have an 18’ U-haul truck filled to the top with bags upon bags upon bags.  My baggage may be greater than yours, but almost all of us carry it.  And my baggage has softened me toward the baggage of others.

3-Trust in your God.  I'm not sure you can actually trust a God you think is disgusted with you.  But notice what God does and does not do in this story.  God doesn’t wave a magic wand over Jacob’s issues.  Being a believer most definitely does NOT automatically fix everything!  In fact, Jacob makes some progress, but never fully stops living from his brokenness, yet God faithfully walks with him every step of his journey.  More so, while seeing the ugliness of Jacob’s baggage and its devastating effects, our faithful God refuses to back away a single inch.

Jacob didn’t have a story to see himself in; he didn’t have a mirror in which to see his own baggage on display.  But you and I do.  We have this story, Jacob’s story, to simply recognize...

It’s o.k. to not have it all together.  It’s o.k. to not be o.k.

So let’s shake off the lie that we need to be perfect.  The weight of perfectionism...can be lifted...God doesn’t love some ideal image of you.  He loves you...and does so...with your baggage

I’m so tired of pretending to have it all together.  Of feeling like I need to be”fixed” in order to be loved. 


Blog writing ®John Hever. Unless otherwise stated, photos are not the original creative works of John Hever. To access the website of h2o church, go to

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Holy Lust (Jacob, part 2)

Please note...this is "Jacob, part 2."  I encourage you to scroll down and start with "Jacob, part 1." 

Do you lust for the things of God?

From cradle to grave Jacob is determined to get ahead, at all costs, grabbing his older brother by the heel at birth, earning the name Jacob, which means “supplanter.”  A supplanter is a person who bumps you out of the way in order to get what he wants.  And Jacob soon lives up to his name as the story unfolds:

28 Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game; but Rebekah loved Jacob. 29 And when Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and he was famished; 30 and Esau said to Jacob, "Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished." Therefore his name was called Edom. 31 But Jacob said, "First sell me your birthright." 32 And Esau said, "Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?" 33 And Jacob said, "First swear to me"; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”

Let me give you a little background music here-the birthright was a special blessing from God, to be given to the oldest son. It was a double portion of the inheritance, as well as the position of honor and leadership in the family. And Jacob wants this birthright BAD!  Esau, in contrast, trades it away for a bowl of lentil stew, gaining the infamous nickname, “Edom,” or “Esau the Red.” The testimony of scripture is clear: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Rom 9:13).  Check this out...

Jacob is never corrected for wanting too much.

In the quiet moments of life, when I am able to slow down the rpm’s of my heart, I find in me a strong, passionate desire...I want victory over my sin struggles, I want blessings in my life, I want growth in my ministry, I want intimacy in my marriage, I want depth in my get the point.  I WANT.  I want nothing less than the ABUNDANT life Jesus came to give us. 

To be honest, I WANT IT ALL.

Yet desire is a dangerous thing.  It can be incredibly destructive and self-serving.  And yet, if you think about it, desire also fuels almost everything godly as well. Men and women get awakened from their unholy contentment with the world.  They get delivered from their apathy.  They get freed up from the false idea that everything that happens is God’s will.

“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” reveals that God’s will is not done on earth; that’s the point.  We should crave it, desire it, long for it. 

And if there is one character in the Bible who is ambitious after the blessing of God, it’s Jacob.  In fact, his ambition is so great, nothing comes close to describing it other than the word “lust.”  Lust, of course, is usually connected to unholy sexual desire, but it can also describe an ardent enthusiasm for the things of God, a prevailing hunger, a “must-have.”  Jacob had a holy lust.

Again, desire is a dangerous thing.  Living from desire WILL, I promise you this, lead you into risk, confusion, and disappointment.  We just don’t always get what we want.

But we can allow God to be God.  And we can allow ourselves to face disappointment.  Living from desire is so much better than living from apathy, helplessness, and unholy contentment.

Our desires are the arena into which God moves.  

I firmly stand with C.S. Lewis, when he wrote, “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desire not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, we are like ignorant children who want to continue making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Are you ambitious after the blessings of God?  Or have you settled, like I have so many times, for whatever life has to offer, something equivalent to a bowl of lentil beans?  

I find myself provoked by Jacob

deeply stirred in some unseen place in my heart

that I must meet God in the space that He chooses

Not in my unholy contentment

But in a most passionate expression of faith



Blog writing ®John Hever. Unless otherwise stated, photos are not the original creative works of John Hever. To access the website of h2o church, go to

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Clay (Jacob, part I)

Stories have power. 
And the power of the Biblical stories is that they reveal the divine Potter.  How God fashions and molds us, the clay in His hands.  

Enter Jacob.  This man has got to be the most manipulative, self-serving deceiver in the Bible!  To be honest, this dude is a nasty man!  And yet God set His covenant love upon Jacob.  God met Jacob’s primal drive of “ME!” by choosing him, blessing him, loving him, and breaking him.  That’s covenant love, what Francis Chan calls “crazy love.”  I mean, we would be hard-pressed to come up with a better example of God loving someone more than Jacob.  And...invisible blush and a hard swallow on this end...embarrassing as it is, I see a lot of ME in Jacob; I see an insecure man extremely driven out of some wounded place in his heart.  Jacob’s story is my story. 

Scene 1 of Jacob’s story begins even before his birth, as God explains to Rebekah why her twins are having a wrestling match in her womb...

“Two nations are in your womb; and two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; and the older shall serve the younger.”  Genesis 25:23

God reveals to Rebekah His choice of Jacob.  Oh, Esau will be blessed too, but God sets His covenant love upon Jacob.  Let’s let the mystery of divine sovereignty--the way God rolls--alone.  We don’t need to fully grasp it nor exhaustively explain it to our unbelieving friends.  If you try, good luck with that:)  Instead of trying to explain it, let it simply wash over you...God chose you.

I mean, seriously, you aren’t going to say you got into this party without an invite, right?  

Scene 1 of Jacob’ story is pregnant Rebekah, but scene 1 of God’s story is simply God, by Himself, in eternity past, deciding to set His covenant love and me...and Jacob.

“for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls”  Romans 9:11
This story confronts me.  

It confronts me with a God who  It confronts me with there being some great purpose behind that choosing.  It confronts me with a God who faithfully accomplishes ALL that He sets out to do...all that He promises to do...despite our circumstances, sins, and slowness to trust.  Why God chose Jacob, and why God chose us, remains a mystery, except for this one stunning revelation...

“so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” Ephesians 2:7. 

Please read this next line slowly.  It’s as if God were to say, “I just want you to know how much I love you.”  It’s just who God is, the way He rolls.  And this story, perhaps more than any other, highlights the faithfulness of God toward a really broken man.

There is much more to see in this story, but--spoiler alert--despite all his conniving, all his desperate attempts to push others out of the way, all his deception and selfish ambition, Jacob gets blessed by God.  Ultimately, he wrestles with God saying, “I will not let go until you bless me,” to which God essentially responds, “O.k...You got it.  You’ve had it all along.”  For all time, God has set this story before us to confront us with His love.

So the hero of Jacob’s story...and your the eternal God, Yahweh, the LORD, the One who fashions the hearts of them all” (Ps. 33:15), the divine Potter.

And do you see that lump of clay in His hands?  That’s you.

Blog writing ®John Hever. Unless otherwise stated, photos are not the original creative works of John Hever. To access the website of h2o church, go to

Friday, February 13, 2015

The View from the Mountain Top

                                       Have you ever forgotten what life is all about?

I came to know God at a Young Life camp on the top of a mountain in Colorado in 1980.  Yes, mine was the proverbial “mountain top experience” of meeting Jesus and being transformed.  I had this epiphany that if God deeply loved me, then nothing else could compare to simply knowing God.  Wow, that sounds cliche, but if Jesus be God and He died for me, I would go anywhere He called and do anything He asked.  I was “all in.”  My road map was marked, my compass calibrated; for me, it was “Jesus Only, None but He.”  I just wanted to know Jesus. 

I returned to that same camp in Colorado after my freshman year in college, this time serving as a camp counselor.  Our week of bliss included rappelling down cliffs, white-water rafting and mountain climbing.  On the last day of the camp we were guided up a mountain, being instructed to walk the last fifty yards backwards, lest we sneak a peek at the view that literally took your breath away.  It was amazing.  From the mountain top, we gazed at yet another mountain, magnificent and majestic, shrouded in mist yet so close that it seemed we could almost stretch out and touch it.  It was, well...surreal.  After a while, we began our descent, passing by a rough wooden cross just off the beaten path, with the words of Psalm 46:10 written on the crossbar, “Be still and know that I am God.” Then it hit me.  

I began to weep.  I’m not talking about wiping a tear or two from my eyes, I’m saying it was the kind of blubbering boo hoo that happens when you feel wrecked by something.  I realized something had changed in me.

Slowly, imperceptibly, something tragic had happened, something truly horrific.

In the busyness of life, I lost sight of what mattered most.  I lost sight of Jesus.

Since my mountain top conversion, life had become exceedingly busy.  Part of that was due to my own failure to study as a freshmen, leading my parents to tighten down the screws on my academics.  Part of that, though, was that I was busy doing stuff...for Jesus.  But in my busyness, I felt like I had traded  knowing Jesus for serving Jesus.  I felt like I had lost my best friend.

I still loved God...He just didn’t take my breath away.

So here’s MY challenge. I’d love to live on the mountain top where seeing Jesus is easy, where nothing competes for my heart.  But that’s not where I live.  I live in the valley, full of noise, busyness and the chaos of life.  I’m exhausted.  Everything is clamoring for my attention, demanding my time and energy.  In the valley, I simply get...distracted.

I stumbled upon a helpful hint, one time, for my spiritual “A.D.D.”
The apostle Paul was awaiting his execution under Nero, and he wrote to his protege and friend, Timothy, (2 Timothy 2:8) this simple advice...

“Remember Jesus.” 

It’s as if we sit at the desk of life, with piles of bills to wade through, endless “to do” tasks awaiting us, our minds cluttered and distracted.  Then the Voice of God whispers, “Come away from all this.  Ascend the mountain, if but for a little while to remember Me and who you are, in relation to Me.  I’m inviting YOU up the mountain.”

Honestly, this is my greatest strength, my secret, really...and my biggest struggle.  What I need perhaps more than any other thing is to focus my eyes on a suffering Savior until this image is brought into crystal clear focus.  It is to consciously, intentionally, and slowly, bring to my mind what life is all about.  

It is to recalibrate my heart from doing to knowing. 

So let the Voice of God again be heard in our souls.
“Come away from all this.  Ascend the mountain, if but for a little while to remember Me and who you are, in relation to Me.  I’m inviting YOU up the mountain.”


Blog writing ®John Hever. Unless otherwise stated, photos are not the original creative works of John Hever. To access the website of h2o church, go to

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Simplicity of Love

“Do you love Me?”

Can you imagine Jesus asking you today what He asked Peter, His disciple, 2000 years ago?  Even worse, He asked him, “Do you love Me more than these?” In other words, do you love Me more than what you love most, which, for Peter, was fishing.  Not only that, but holy smokes, John 21 records that Jesus asked Peter this three times (!), leading him to his embarrassed confession, (revealed only in the Greek language), “You know that...I am fond of you.”  

Now, this is not about shame or us feeling guilty that we don’t do more for God.  In this confrontation, Jesus is enticing Peter to put first things first, to love Him more than the “stuff” of life.  Enticing.

The Apostle Paul knew loving Jesus is hard because of the stuff of life...“lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Cor 11.3).  

Just love Jesus.  It seems so embarrassingly simple.

Do you realize what we get, that most people don’t get?  We get the chance to simply sit at Jesus’ feet.  We get to look with childlike wonder at a God who calls Himself, “Father.”  (If you’re a parent, go gaze at your child while he or she sleeps and let that sink in a little).  We get to have a lump in our throat as we gaze upon Jesus crucified with the astonishment that “God so loved the world...” That God so 

I get to love Jesus.

The Martha & Mary story illustrates this (Luke 10:38-42). Jesus told Martha that this is the “one thing” that really matters.  It’s the one priority in life that simply cannot be neglected. I think this “one thing” was something more than the duty and obligation to merely read the Bible.  The clutter of life didn’t matter to Mary; she couldn’t take her eyes off Jesus.

Because here’s the thing about people in love.  They don’t do things because they’re supposed to.  They don’t write poems, buy roses, or write mushy love songs out of “ought.”  They gaze into their beloved’s eyes because they want to.  And to those who are in love, nothing else in life really matters all that much.

So why do we get this so twisted around?

Should do less, to gaze more?  Could it be that what He wants from me, today, is simply to enjoy Him?

Simple devotion to Jesus is the secret to living a bold witness before a lost and dark world.  It’s what our world needs from us.  But simple devotion to Jesus is what we need more than anything else; it is the one thing. It is what our souls were made for.  It’s what we have been wired for.

G.K. Chesterton put it this way:

 “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.”

There is something attractive and powerful about a person in love, a person so caught up in the relationship that nothing else really matters. 



Blog writing ®John Hever. Unless otherwise stated, photos are not the original creative works of John Hever. To access the website of h2o church, go to

Monday, February 2, 2015


 “If you knew you wouldn’t fail, what would you attempt to the glory of God?”  

In other words, if success were a given, what would you attempt?  This question haunts me.  I HATE it.  Simply because everyone I know--me included--lives bound by the chains of fear. We walk underneath the grey, overcast skies of mediocrity.  And God wants us unleashed from fear.

One of my favorite stories about our kids comes from my son’s adventures in soccer.  As a totally non-biased dad (wink:), I could tell he was probably the best player on the team (Some of you may relate to my “non-bias”); he had a strong kick, good footwork, and excellent field awareness.  This season was gonna be fun!...

But the first game wasn’t.  I stood on the sidelines, with feelings of anger and embarrassment as my son...acted like a child.  Yes, yes, he was only eight, but “For goodness sake, Caleb, get your head in the game and stop acting like a...boy!”  Now, to the uninitiated, we parent types can often discern what is going on in the heart of a child, mainly because that’s what I used to do...that’s what I still do! 

And my son was scared.  I could tell.  I’ve been there many times.

He was covering it up pretty well, but he was afraid to fail, and consequently, wasn’t putting out all that much on the soccer field.  Listen up: the battles that are won or lost on the soccer field, gym class or baseball diamonds of childhood are absolutely vital to the development of a healthy confidence in the rest of life.  I wasn’t about to let my son’s fear control him the way my fears have controlled me.  He needed help.  He needed Dad.

Over the next few weeks, we worked hard!  We focused on dribbling, shooting, and passing, but mostly on him simply believing he could do it.  I asked him, time and time again, to “man up,”  to play without fear of what could go wrong.  We even developed a secret signal, a fist pump to the chest that meant “I’m going for it!” Game time finally arrived, and he got his first goal of the season.  The next game, he scored twice, then three times in the next.  His confidence was soaring.

It was half-time of the next game and his team was getting shut out, 1-0.  I went over to him, and looked down into his eight-year old eyes.  I asked, “Son, do you know what your team needs?...For you to go crazy out there! For you to leave it all on the field, no fear, no holding back.”  He looked up at me with eyes of faith that his father was telling him the truth and just nodded.  Then, as he lined up for the start of the second half, get this...he looked over at me...and gave me the secret signal.  With the whistle about to blow to start the second half, he looked at his dad and gave a fist pump to the chest.   It was awesome!  Then the explosion happened.  He scored with his right foot.  Then with his left.  He scored off of a throw-in from the sidelines and on a break away.  He scored six times in 20 minutes.  Parents were looking at me and asking, “What did you feed that boy this morning for breakfast?”

I walked off the field with my arm around my son, telling him how proud I was of him, and then I heard it--the whisper of God.  “This is what I am doing in YOUR life, too,”  the Voice said.  “I want YOU to live...UNLEASHED.”

They call Him “The Comforter,” the Paracletos, One who draws alongside to encourage, to coach, to call out what is there, to ask us to “man up.”  For many of us, our fears have followed us into adulthood, lying there like a mighty barrier between what we are and all that we could become...if we would just leave it all out on the field.  If we could just get unleashed.

Ephesians 3:20–21 says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”  To HIM WHO IS ABLE.  It’s most definitely not about us; it never has been. 
So what are YOU afraid of?  What would it look like, today, to live all out, without fear of what people thought of you, fear of failing, fear of not having what it takes?  What would that look like?  What do you want out of this day, today, right now?

It’s half time, and you’re the one lined up at midfield...

“If you knew you wouldn’t fail, what would you attempt to the glory of God?” 


Blog writing ®John Hever. Unless otherwise stated, photos are not the original creative works of John Hever. To access the website of h2o church, go to

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Welcome to my Blog!

Hey, I'm Pastor John Hever of H2O Church in Orlando, and I'm really excited to get to use this as an avenue to dive deeper into scripture and life. I trust my ramblings will somehow be an encouragement to you :)  Check out the blog and if you're local, check out our church!