Episode | October 23, 2023

Podcast for Benji Cowart’s the Walk Podcast

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Joshua Swanson: Welcome to The Walk; a devotionals podcast for worshipers. During a recent meeting I had with our guest, Brian Johnson, of Bethel Music, he said to me, “I am a worship leader, and that’s all I want to be.” So with that, I’ll introduce our guest as Brian Johnson, Worship Leader.

In this episode, he talks about the elevated perspective of God. Here we go.

Brian Johnson: Hey everyone. I’m Brian Johnson with Bethel music, and I wanna start with, uh, Revelations 4, part of the verse chapter one and then from there I’ll go into kind of like the story and the kind of the concept. So the verse is, it’s like the classic verse that says, “come up here and I’ll show you what must take place after this.”

And the whole premise and idea of this is that elevation point, God’s perspective. Um, and I mean, I’m thinking over the last three years, all these moments where I reacted and I live my life out of the temporal, live my life out of, you know, like reacting to what someone maybe said on social media or my friends or even a family member’s stuff, relational stuff and so, um, I can remember a few years ago, especially, we went through a lot of stuff within our label and even relationally with my wife and I, we’ve really, we’re very strong personalities, but we’re total opposites. And whenever you have that, you can change the world or you can blow each other up and so we’ve gone through so much. And um, I remember those feelings of just feeling so hopeless. Just so hopeless.

And it’s not because of like moral failure or anything like that, but just relational, normal. Opposites of opinions trying to lead together. You know, we have five kids trying to parent well and who, whoever knows what that means, you know, it’s like, um, Adam, and were put in the garden by the best father, the best scenario, and they still disobeyed.

And so, um, but Jen and I just going through it, through the years and, and just feeling hopeless. There’s these moments you get to where, when you get real desperate that you know, it shouldn’t be this way, but then you cry out to God and you’re like, “Lord,” you know, “I know it’s taken me this whole time, but I need an answer from you. I need you to speak to me.”

And the premise of this verse is really simple. And for me it’s like, shut everything else off. Shut culture off. Shut what everyone else is saying and I want you to come up here to my perspective. And so Jen and I started, um, getting up early in the mornings. And, um, there’s a country song in this, but she makes the coffee, I make the fire and we sit by our fireplace together and we read for 30 minutes to an hour together and it sounds monotonous and it sounds, and it’s early and it’s obviously hard, but what we’ve noticed by doing that, um, cuz we have a big life together and there’s a lot of stress and there’s a lot of fast moving things and what we’ve noticed though, is when you slow that down and you start reading the Bible and it’s so simple that like the Holy Spirit speaking to us individually and to us together.

You know, sometimes I’ll just get up and open my Bible and I’ll read, man, I’m reading the Old Testament and I am absolutely loving it and there, honest, there needs to be more movies about some of these stories. Like it’s just epic. But it’s incredible to hear a story or read a story and then, and have it be so similar to what you’re going through and that’s what the Holy Spirit’s been doing for both of us. And it’s not only helped us on an individual level, but our relationship gets like the Holy Spirits really um, mending things, mending a lot of pain and hurt and putting us more together in union spiritually.

Joshua Swanson: When we come back, Brian shares how he had to shut down social media and get back to the basics to save his heart from bitterness.

As some of you know, we have a content-packed online institute that is all about worship, theology, practical training, and equipping for those of you listening that may serve on a worship team. We recently loaded up an incredible workshop titled, “Called By Name and Filled By Spirit” with Dr. Vernon Whaley.

He’s written a number of books, including Worship Through the Ages and The Great Commission to Worship. Here’s a clip from the workshop.

Dr. Vernon Whaley: King of Solomon provides perspective when he says in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purposes that prevail.” You see, when being obedient to God’s calling, we begin to understand the plans of our heart must align with the Lord’s purposes for our lives. It’s when we live on this level to be obedient in our vocational calling, that we begin to develop a passion for authentic, genuine, reliable, and trustworthy worship.

Joshua Swanson: It is well worth your time to head over to worshipleaderinstitute.com and explore some of the great pieces of training content that you can find there.

Okay, back to Brian.

Brian Johnson: So I think no matter what we’re going through, there’s lots of verses about this in the Bible, but um, you know, I, I had to shut basically social media off. I, I I unfollowed everyone and I only follow my wife and my kids because, um, you know, I had a big falling out, lost a ton of followers cuz of some stances on things and, and it, it starts to eat at you, you know, you start to get bitter and, and it’s funny, I’m writing some songs right now and they’re not worship songs, but, um, there’s songs geared towards bitter church kids.

And I think one of the biggest tricks of the enemy is like bitterness, hurt, pain causes us to do the craziest things. Pain is causing, um, you know, people to walk away from him. Just pain being, being bitter. And, um, one way to keep yourself from being bitter is to get up, read your Bible. It sounds so traditional. It sounds so typical, but it’s been a lifeline for my wife and I.

Um, we’ve done all the counseling, we’ve done all the things, but that one little change in our life has been one of the biggest key factors, um, for us relationally. And I just want to encourage you, If you’re single or if you’re married, um, never forget the things that got you there. Never forget the basic, the simple things, the, the stuff that seems so monotonous. Getting up, reading your Bible, spending time where you’re actually, you know, I listen to worship music. I love worship music, um, having those, those times where just lay in your bed and turn some worship music on, even if it’s a song or two, and God, well, God, God looks at our hearts. He sees those little moments and he is like, oh, I love this moment where he is like, “he shut everything off for me.” And I just wanna encourage you with that, especially if you’re feeling yourself drifting solely, drifting away from your partner or um, your spouse or the church, or even God. I just want to encourage you, choose to believe again, choose to be like, I’m not giving up on you, God, I’m not giving up.

And I, you know, someone gave me a word years ago that said, and I was really in a dark season and um, yes, even I was in a dark season of wanting to throw in the towel on everything. And um, the word came at the perfect time and it said, Brian, you don’t have to run, but you can’t stop. You have to keep. And walking to me looks like just the simple things again.

So in closing, I wanna read this verse out of Acts. It’s Acts 3:19, and it says, “repent then and turn to God.” And the word repent actually means change your way of thinking. “Change your way of thinking then and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out. That times refreshing may come from the Lord.”

And, um, I think that our view of repentance sometimes can be a certain way, but if we think of it as we’ve gotta change our mindset, change our way of thinking and turn back to God.

So, Lord, I pray for all the listeners, um, if there’s things in our lives that we need to dis, we need to, we need to come up here to your level of thinking, to that elevated place, that elevated heart posture, to really see life through your lens. And I pray that for everyone there’d be such a grace for this whole thing of repentance.

Lord, we repent for the way that we’ve lived. We repent for the way that we think, we repent for, um, the way that we have perceived certain things and we change our way of thinking and we return to you Lord, and that you promise when we do that, that times are refreshing will come.

Not just for us Lord, but for our families. Lord, I pray refreshing for all the families connected to these individuals listening to this podcast, that you’re a generational God and that times refreshing would come to all the families. Amen.

Joshua Swanson: Thank you, Brian, for lending your authentic voice to this podcast. I am abundantly grateful for your transparency and willingness to share some of your personal journey with our audience. I’m gonna play out this episode with a song that Brian wrote and performed called The Great Beyond.

As always, special thanks to Matt McCartie for producing and editing today’s episode. Jacob Fairclough produced our theme song. The Walk is brought to you by Worship Leader, which is an Authentic Media brand. Find out more about us at worshipleader.com. I’m Joshua Swanson. Here’s, The Great Beyond.