Retain. Record. Relate.

Jonathan Brownson

READ : Luke 8:4–15

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (v. 15 NIV)

During one of the last nights of my trip, I woke three times—at 1:30 a.m., 2:20 a.m., and 3:30 a.m. I sensed from God that when I got home from Korea, he wanted me to write a book about my experience. But what should I include or “retain”?

There is a fine line between “hearing from God” and “hearing voices,” as my dear brother David was prone to do in his struggle with mental illness. The Bible is a filter through which every thought or inclination of our hearts must pass.

God’s word filters, and God’s people also focus. If God calls us to be a prophet, we may have little opportunity for corroboration. However, if God calls us to be pastors, we must listen to the people we shepherd. I had to ask not only whether this assignment I thought I had from God to write a book was consistent with biblical revelation but also whether it seemed right to the Holy Spirit and our local congregation.

That is where my friend Charlie came in. Shortly after getting back from Korea, I asked Charlie to partner with me in “retaining”: to help me filter my thoughts through the Scriptures and focus them on the ministry context we both shared.


Lord, thank you for “Charlies” who encourage us to hear and retain your word whether in book, journal, or diary form.