Friday, March 17, 2017

The Christian “F” word

A few years ago, I went to a pastor retreat in Toledo, Ohio. I was most definitely NOT in a good place. I headed into this retreat winded, weary, disappointed. There’s just so much more that I’ve wanted God to do in my life, there’s been such difficulty, such hardship. 

At this retreat, I had friend after friend after friend pull me aside and ask how I was doing. Apparently, the mask I was wearing that said, “I’m good” had fallen off without me noticing. One dear friend I had known for years had a look of deep compassion as he asked, “Are you o.k.?  You just look like the wind has been knocked out of your sails.” 

At this retreat, with maybe a hundred pastors and full-time missionaries, someone suggested to me that I take the opportunity to share where I was at WITH THE ENTIRE ROOM about some of my life disappointments and ministry hardships. What resulted was a... PRAYER-FEST! After I publicly shared, one of the retreat leaders suggested a few people gather around me and pray. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this, but there is something incredibly powerful about people not just praying FOR you, but OVER you. While this was going on, I decided to be entirely inappropriate and peek to see who all had come forward for this informal prayer-fest. It was about 2/3 of the room. It was a powerful moment. I felt loved. I felt like there was hope. I felt like I had friends.

Nothing had really changed EXCEPT I went public.

A few days later, I received an e-mail from an old friend who has really gone through it. There is a mental health condition in his family. I had no idea.  

I had no idea how much confusion and pain and bitterness and disappointment he has battled. How many dreams of his had gone up in smoke. How many times he had felt lonely.  Afraid.  Angry at God.  Angry at himself. Needing a friend.  Needing a Prayer-Fest or even just one person to show they really do care.
The Christian “F” word is “Fine.”  It’s a plastic, surfacy answer that we Christ followers sometimes give...when what we really need is to feel safe enough to shoot straight and let it fly. We weren’t meant to carry our pain alone.

War is hell.  Life is war.
We all have friends who are going through it, whether or not we know it.

Let’s love each other well enough to never let ourselves or our friends get away with using “the F word.”  

Look in their eyes.  How are they really doing?

How are you really doing?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Defense for Hope (Questions for God, part 1)

but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:15-16

The story of Christian hope is not well known. As a Roman world attempted to understand the beliefs and practices of the early believers, it became common thought that they, “the Christians,” practiced cannibalism and sexual orgies. Tatian explained it this way; “Because we do not make any distinctions in rank and outward appearance, or wealth and education, or age and sex, they devise an accusation against us that we practice cannibalism and sexual perversions.” Micinius Felix, a lawyer who converted to Christianity, acknowledged this slanderous allegation against believers, after he had converted; “We too were the same as you. We were blind and callous, sharing your ideas in supposing that the Christians worshipped monsters, devoured children, and joined in lascivious feasts.” 

In that context, with such cultural misconception of what Christianity even was, how did the church respond?

What the words of Peter reveal to us is that there is a defense to be made. As we launch into this new series, “Questions for God,” it would be good to reflect on this. The “defense” we are invited to make to the world is not defensive; it is NOT an argument. It is “with gentleness and respect” that we are to dialogue. It is NOT a proof, as if we can persuade people against their will, to commit their lives to that which they do not yet even desire. No, our defense is to explain our HOPE. It is to deconstruct the misconceptions about Christianity, and give solid evidence for the hope that we have. We know something that the world needs to know. More precisely, we know Someone. 

We have a story to tell…a story of love, the greatest love the universe has ever known. And if it be true, then there IS hope for every man, woman, and child.

But that story of hope can only be told as we unpack together the misconceptions people have today about Christianity, just as the early believers did 2,000 years ago, to a hostile Roman world. Study hard, my friends. Love seeks to help those who want the hope we have. May we “always be prepared.”

How can an Intelligent Person believe the Scriptures?
Hasn’t Science Disproven Christianity?
Hasn’t Evolution Disproven the Creation Myth?
How can God be good and allow for Pain & Suffering?
Is Jesus God?
How can Jesus be the Only Way?
How can God be loving if Hell is real?
If Christianity is True, how can there be so many Hypocrites?


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