Tag Archives: jesus

You’ll Be Sunk Without This Guy In Your Boat…

If you’ve ever been whitewater rafting, then you know as well as I do that you NEED to have a weird-looking hippie in the back of your boat…the grungier the better.

WHY? Because he has already been where you are going…and he knows how not to DIE along the way.

In life, we are all moving along towards our purpose one way or another. Some of us are coasting along happily, some of us are freaking out in the rapids, and others of us have relegated ourselves to just surviving on the banks after a total wipeout.

But if we are Christians, there is One who is present with us all…urging us to get back out there on the river of our purpose, and lean into Him for wisdom so that we can properly navigate these unpredictable waters of our lives.  He is our GUIDE, otherwise known as the Holy Spirit.

Jesus spoke of Him, saying: “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will GUIDE you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that ARE TO COME” (John 16:13).

He has already been where we are going and he knows the way. Yet 3 questions remain:

  1. Is he in your boat (are you a Christian yet)?
  2. If so, have you decided to yield to him? He is a gentleman and will not force himself or his opinion upon us. We are ultimately ‘the boss’ of our boat, but he is there to help if we will honor Him and let him be the GUIDE that he can be.
  3. Do you know how to hear him? I had been a Christian for 6 years until I was convinced that I “heard” the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. It took a while to be able to discern which voice in my head was his!

THIS might really help you…here are 5 distinguishing characteristics of the thoughts in my heart that I have come to KNOW are His voice:

1) His thoughts have LOVE in their tone. God is Love (1 John 4:8). Love is patient and kind, always hopes, always trusts, and never fails. The Holy Spirit does NOT and will NOT use the tactics of the enemy to accomplish his purposes: guilt, shame, condemnation, fear, control, and manipulation are not in his arsenal.

2) His words are CONSISTENT. The Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture (“all scripture is God-breathed”) and He will many times speak to us using the Word that we have hidden in our hearts. So that means that we need to have disciplines of reading, listening to, and memorizing the Scriptures.

3) His thoughts are CONVICTING. He is the HOLY Spirit, after all. If we have any unconfessed sin, He will reveal it to us as we linger with him. As we remain in the light of his presence, he will show us our sin and give us the opportunity of being forgiven and cleansed (see 1 John 1:9).

4) His words are REVEALING. Take a look at prophecy in the Old or New Testaments and one thing will become clear about the Holy Spirit…He is not always clear! Jesus spoke in parables in order to hide the golden nuggets of the Kingdom for the seekers to find. The Holy Spirit speaks in mysteries and prophecies that are only pieces to a much larger puzzle, yet which bear the unmistakeable imprint of His voice. Sometimes one of the ways that I know it is the Lord that is speaking to me is because it seems out of left field. I will ask one question and then the next thought that will come to my mind will be something that seems, at first, to be quite random. But I have learned to trust these adventures. Usually, the Holy Spirit will take me down a path of trust until I find that I am forced to deal with the root issue behind the presenting problem that I originally asked about. He knows how to get to our hearts, and the direct approach is usually not the path he takes.

5. His ways are LIFE-GIVING. He is not the author of depression or disease.  He is the comforter, the redeemer, the healer.  I am convinced that the majority of the work of the Holy Spirit is for encouragement rather than rebuke.  He is willing to be tough on us because he loves us, but I would encourage you to stay in your prayer closet until you sense his kindness all over you again.  I promise you…He has some words of life to share with you!

At the end of the day…in the river of our lives, we are SO much better off having a GUIDE in the back of our boats. He knows the way; He has our best in mind when He gives us direction; and, most importantly, we can trust Him. I encourage you to get to know your GUIDE better than ever today. He is just a prayer away…

Are you SURVIVING or THRIVING?

Right now, as we are all gearing back up to head into the new school year and all that the fall season entails, let me ask you a question:

Are you planning to survive, or are you planning to THRIVE?

In John 10:10, we learn that the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy…but Jesus says that He came that we might have LIFE, and have it to the full.  In essence, Jesus is saying that He wants us to thrive.  He wants us to be hitting on all cylinders, to experience life in all its beauty and joy, to (as Thoreau put it) be “sucking the nectar out of life.”  Yet how many of us, if we are honest, are actually experiencing this abundance that our savior says he came to give?  

As a pastor to several hundred people in Charlotte, NC I have the privilege of getting to know all kinds of people and get to hear all sorts of stories.  Unfortunately, most of the stories are filled with tragedy, hurt, and a hefty dose of heartache.   And usually, those human hearts that have ached long enough inevitably decide to build up walls of self-protection to try to prevent future hurts from happening.  Therefore, the longer we live, the more we tend to live insulated, isolated, and fragmented lives…”safe” behind our walls.  Sadly, the thief has been having his way.

Yet Jesus still beckons us to come out and play.

He patiently promises that if we will risk all and follow him…if we are willing to surrender control and find ourselves on a faith adventure that doesn’t necessarily promise rose petals…then and only then may we find ourselves on the verge of awe, tasting goodness, experiencing beauty.

I don’t know about you…but I want more.

I want more of God this fall than ever before.  I’m tired of the level that I have been living on.  The sermon that we heard at Redemption the other week from Dharius Daniels opened with this quote “God will allow you to live on whatever level you settle for.”  My question to both you and me is this…what level is that going to be?

Will we settle for the level of surviving…or will we reach up with arms outstretched in faith for a new level of thriving…a level which we perhaps have never touched before?

I have decided that I am reaching up…I hope you will join me.

~Brandon

P.S.  I will be posting a series of videos in the coming days entitled “Planning to THRIVE this Fall.” They come from a challenge that I presented to the courageous people of Redemption Charlotte.  I recorded it and plan to make it available because I really feel like God revealed some things to me and has been answering a lot of my questions lately…and I’d love the opportunity to share what I’ve been learning with you.  Some of my questions include:

  • Is there a recipe for thriving?
  • What are the components to the life of a fully engaged disciple?
  • How do we grow in abundance as we mature?

I hope to address these questions and more in the coming days, and I hope you will engage in the quest with me. Cheers! ~BB