Welcome to the Episode 3 of The Brittany Bruce [link] show!
Do you feel like there is an entirely different life out there that God has for you, but you’re not totally sure how to get it or what that would even look like? You see these other Christians experiencing WILD and miraculous things, or some acting in a faith that seems impossible, you see them being called to move to Africa, or quit their jobs, or pursue ministry…and you know there is a deeper way to experience God, but honestly, you’re too caught up with raising kids, working your 9-5, paying bills and checking off the endless to-dos to even ask God what that is?? I get it…I felt like that too. And thankfully Jesus has a lot to say about it!
Today we are going to talk about The Adventure of Surrender…but before we dive in I want you to download the The Bible Study Guide! This guide was created to equip you with the tools and knowledge to study scripture on your own without a curriculum! The goal is to get you digging into the Word and applying what the Holy Spirit revealed to you! Just go to www.brittanybruceeducation.com/guide to get yours!
A little over a year ago, we were on vacation at our condo in Orange Beach that we had recently purchased and heading back in from the beach with all 4 kiddos. My kids at the time were 7, 7, 5, and 3 and every time I bring them anywhere…literally anywhere…I question why we ever leave the house. We typically always have at least 1 kid unhappy about something, 1 kid ungrateful about something, 1 kid crying or whining, and 1 kid making all the other kids unhappy, ungrateful, cry and whine. It’s literally by God’s grace that Thomas and I are still in love and still like each other. We sometimes compare ourselves to prison cell mates who are just trying to survive the day and our deep bond comes from helping one another survive and live on to see another day. On this particular day, we decided to be brave and try once again to be good parents and bring our kids to the beach. It was a full blown olympic event to get out there, dressing everyone, packing 47 snacks, hauling beach toys, two chairs, an umbrella, and sunscreen all 6 of us… but once we were there, it was all worth it. We sat, we took in a deep breath, and just rested in the glory and goodness of the beach waves, warm wind, and toes in the sand. It lasted about 3 minutes before the complaints and fighting happened but man those 3 minutes were heavenly. On our way back to the condo to get cleaned up, Thomas let me know nonchalantly that our online business hit 7-figures…Um…excuse me, What? Are you freakin kidding me? This was something we had dreamed of, but never something we actually thought would happen. I mean don’t get me wrong, we worked A LOT and poured our entire life into the photography community teaching them, hosting retreats, coaching, workshops, courses, and our most successful portion of the business was our online membership community! I was shocked. And I was like, wow, that’s really cool…
It was such a non-climactic moment…
It was more disappointing how I felt than the fact that I realized I couldn’t tell anyone about this. I didn’t feel like I had anyone to celebrate with.. which is another show for another time… but the most shocking thing happened just a few hours later. After feeling really REALLY weird all day. Feelings of “now what” and “is that it?” And “why was this ever a goal? This is awesome, but this isn’t what I thought it would feel like” we ended up just capping the day, put the kids to bed, watched our nightly Netflix show and went to sleep.
I knew Thomas wasn’t feeling the same feelings I was because he was sound asleep, snoring, and probably feeling super proud of his part in reaching this goal. But I was not okay. I started to pray and just tell God what I was feeling.. and within seconds I felt Him say, “Let it go”. “Move on” I have something different for you.” Walk away”. WOAHHHHHH. HOLD UP LORD. I immediately sat up and stopped praying because I wasn’t liking what I was I feeling. The next morning I woke up and I told Thomas what I felt God spoke to my spirit while I was praying, and he said, Umm…I don’t think that’s what He said. So I said, “yeah you’re probably right. That’s super irresponsible. And makes no sense what so ever. Plus- what else would we do?”
Several months went by…MONTHS Y’ALL…and I couldn’t shake this voice in my spirit that kept saying let it go. LET WHAT GO!? But I knew…I knew exactly what I was suppose to let go. It was our biggest income stream and our most popular product, our membership. I knew it. I knew it from that first night that’s what meant. But I ignored Him. I chose to not listen, I chose not to follow him. I was just like millions of people who are called to Him, and just ignore and move on with their lives. I look back and ask myself why I didn’t have a bigger faith? Why didn’t I have a deeper trust in my good and gracious and perfect Father?
We do that don’t we? We KNOW we are taken care of and we KNOW He provides for us and we KNOW He goes before us and is ALL powerful and ALL knowing and ALL sufficient….we pray to be a part of the miraculous! We want to experience His presence and His glory and His supernatural abundant living. We KNOW all these things, yet when He gives us an opportunity to participate and walk along side of Jesus…we say no. Out of our own fears and comforts because it’s easier to see what’s directly in front of us.
We don’t want to let go of the things we think WE built and WE earned…you all know that’s not true- scripture says EVERY good thing comes from the Lord.
But why is it so hard to obey and do what he says the first time? Is there something we can do first? Is there something that we are missing fundamentally as christians and disciples of Jesus that prevents us from completely and totally surrendering to His will? To His calling?
Thankfully, Jesus addresses this very thing. He teaches his people and his disciples what it means to truly follow Him and be a Christian.
In Luke 9:23 Jesus says, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Now, I know this can be a really hard scripture to come out the gates with in this new series, but I felt like THIS was the message that was put on my heart. It won’t be a feel good, fluff your ego, make you feel special message, but my prayer is that it will change you, move you, guide you into taking the crazy faith, blind obedience, deep trust action towards living a super miraculous abundant life that you KNOW God has for you…doing things that don’t make sense. Stepping out into faith when no one understands you, but God does. And he starts with an invitation. An invitation to YOU.
“If ANYONE wishes to come after me”- I love how Jesus invites anyone and everyone, but gives us the choice and decision, which makes it personal. It makes it relational. Jesus isn’t a monarchy or dictatorship- He makes it clear right here that we have a choice to be his bride and to have an intimate relationship with Him where he speaks to us, blesses us, guides us, holds us, forgives us…Saves us. We have a choice. We can choose to follow Jesus, or choose to follow someone else, or something else.
From the beginning of time, we have been making choices on who we want to worship or devote our life to. For the Egyptians it was the gods and goddesses and Pharaoh. For the Jewish people it was God and the Law of Moses. For the Romans it was their idols and Caesar. And today we want to say as Christians we worship and devote ourselves to Jesus, but really, if we truly examine where we put our time, what we spend our money on, what content we consume, the words that we say, the things that we now celebrate as a culture, we have chosen to worship and devote our life to ourselves.
We are our god. Our work is our idol. And we worship politics, pop culture, and getting more as long as it benefits us, entertains us, or gives us more comfort, fortune, or fame.…
Jesus is saying first and foremost- you have a choice. You can follow Him, have a relationship with Him, truly KNOW Him, truly EXPERIENCE Him and His wonders and presence….or not.
So the first question you need to ask yourself, is do I wish to come after Jesus? Or am I going to continue to follow the people and things, the lifestyle, the fortune, the fame, the spotlight…that I’ve been chasing after…it’s not an easy decision, but it’s one that needs to be made. Like, soon…So have you decided?
If you’re choosing to follow Jesus…keep listening, if not- go ahead and turn this episode off and continue about your life because if you can’t make the choice to chase after that intimate relationship with Jesus, you surely aren’t going to like this next part of Scripture.
The next part of this scripture, Jesus says, If ANYONE wishes to come after me or follow Me as my disciple, HE MUST DENY HIMSELF.
Wait. What? Hold up Brittany…I thought Jesus was going to give me some spiritual encouragement here…yeah. Me too.
When I first read this scripture it rubbed me the wrong way. It felt uncomfortable. It was like…woahhhh Jesus. I was all on board when you said you wanted a relationship with me, you wanted me to experience your presence, your miracles, your wonder, your awe, your blessings…but DENY MYSELF?
First of all, what does that even mean? Because it doesn’t sound fun or exciting or easy or comfortable..(I don’t like it) If this was your first thought too, you’re in good company.
The amplified version says it this way, If anyone wishes to come after me as my disciple, he must “SET ASIDE SELFISH INTERESTS” or in other words, it can mean to GIVE UP YOUR OWN WAY OF DOING THINGS…Or FORGETTING about your own ideas, your own thoughts, your plans, your dreams, your ambitions.. your way of doing things YOUR way. Forgetting about how you were raised, the culture you live in, the traditions you live and die by, the religious practices you are bound by.. Jesus says deny it all, forget it all, set your selfishness aside.
This is a big ask. But then I am reminded of WHO is asking this of me. Jesus. The Son of God. My perfect, sinless, Savior who denied Himself to save my life so that I wouldn’t experience eternity apart from God…
Jesus, who made the CHOICE to obey His Father, for MY sake. If Jesus, being perfect, blameless, holy, deity, can deny HIMSELF, who am I to say that this is asking too much.
This leads to the very next “big ask” of Jesus…He says, If anyone wishes to follow me as my disciple, he must deny himself, set aside selfish interests…AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS DAILY.
I thought the first commandment of denying my selfishness was hard…this one shook me to my core. Over the last 30 years or so there has been a huge shift in the way that pastors and speakers have presented the gospel. They quit talking about living righteously like Jesus, and repentance being the key to freedom, or the fact that obedience is the first step to living abundantly…not much of that anymore, but a LOT and I mean A LOT of what is called prosperity gospel.
This is the marketing tool that they use that says if you follow Jesus, He will give you millions of dollars, a dream home with acreage, an escalade, vacations to the Maldives, a ton of followers, and a hot spouse. Money and fortune and wealth and fame and more and more and more.
And you know what? As embarrassing as this is to admit, I, like a lot of us, bought in to this mindset, because who WOULDN’T want this to happen to them? This gospel FEELS GOOD. This gospel feeds MY DREAMS . This gospel makes it about ME. This prosperity gospel sold thousands of books, and packed out arenas, and blew up church attendance, but you guys – As I am studying Scripture, I cannot find ANYWHERE where Jesus teaches about getting ANY OF THESE WORLDLY THINGS!
Jesus is actually teaching the exact opposite right here!
He says if you want to follow me you must FIRST deny yourself from these selfish ways of thinking AND THEN take up your cross DAILY! Not just once or twice in your lifetime. DAILY.
This phrase is repeated throughout the gospels. In Matthew 10:38 Jesus says, Anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me…In Mark 8:34 Jesus says If anyone wants to follow me he must take up his cross and follow me. And in Luke 14:27 Jesus says And whoever does not carry his cross and follow me CANNOT be my disciples.
So now that we know that this phrase “take up your cross daily” is something we REALLY need to pay attention to because it was repeated multiple times, we need to figure out what in the world does this mean.
I went ahead and did some research for you and here is what I’ve learned. In the amplified version it says— He must deny himself and have the willingness to endure whatever may come…in another version, it says “willing to suffer or die because of faith in me.” Taking up your cross is the ultimate and true cost of discipleship.
You guys, this is hard. This is a gut check. A faith check. A disciple check. We are all calling ourselves disciples, Christians, believers…but when it comes down to it- Are you willing to suffer and die for your Savior?
I don’t mean to be dramatic, but I am just taking what Jesus said slowing down to truly understand what He was speaking to the jewish people, and to us today, and to everyone who has lived since then and everyone who lives after me!
My husband and I were having dinner the other night on one of our date nights, and as I was preparing for this show and studying these scriptures it was so heavy on my heart and so I was just word vomiting to him as we were getting through our appetizer. And I asked him this question and I’ll ask you too. If today was the best your life will ever be. If today was all that God had for you (as far as worldly gifts) there were no millions of dollars waiting for you at the end of your 5 year plan, there was no dream home, or bougie Escalade sitting in your driveway when you’re older. You never made it to 100 thousand followers on instagram. You never got the book deal, or became the president of your company..
Would you still follow where God was leading?
Would you still choose Jesus? Would you still follow Jesus, KNOWING there would be persecution, suffering, and even a cross? When I asked this, Thomas took a big gulp of his water and his eyes were bug-eyed, like WOW Brittany, is this really how we’re starting date night?!
Yes, Yes it is. And it’s how I want to start this podcast right out in this first series.
…..My answer is yes.
It wasn’t an easy answer… but it was a confident answer.
Why? Because I’ve experienced the world. I’ve experienced hitting that impossible income goal, the dream home, the pool, the bougie vacations, the lux life, the spotlight…and the most disappointing thing about it all is that NONE OF IT satisfied me or brought me continuous joy or peace or fulfillment. Once you choose to follow Jesus FULLY, and experience Him, His presence, and His miracles…it RUINS YOU for enjoying anything this world can give you. NOTHING can replace the feeling and the high and the peace and the simple joy that the Holy Spirit brings me on a daily basis.
So if you’re not sure if this is truly what you want, you’re not sure if denying yourself and taking up your cross is worth being a disciple of Jesus, I can PROMISE YOU- it is.
And the best part? God promises His disciples a HEAVENLY INHERITANCE in 1 Peter 1:3
and in 1 Corinthians 15:30 Paul basically says that he’s fine with dying daily because he knew there was a reward in heaven and eternal joy for his pain on earth. This is the perfect example of blind obedience, bold faith, and reckless trust. And I believe, THIS is where Jesus wants His disciples.
To give you something to help you take some action on everything we covered today, I want to end with the last part of this scripture which says,
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
If you are willing to let go of your own way of doing things, and you’re willing to go through trials and persecution for the goal of knowing Jesus and making Him known…then congratulations, you are now qualified to be a disciple and FOLLOW JESUS.
So what does THAT mean?
It means that you believe what He says and you obey what he calls you to do! We already know from the previous episodes what that looks like.
Seeking Jesus first and looking to HIM for how to live, how to work, how to function in life instead of literally everyone and everything else…
It means coming to Him and resting in Him…a humble surrender because you can’t continue to live this way anymore.
And now Following Him means that you may need to re-evaluate how you’re living your life.
Do you have selfish ambitions? Are you in pursuit of the American dream or what the expectations are of culture? Or your family? Did you get caught up in what your mentor says your life should look like? Or caught up in keeping up with your friend group?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where Jesus wants to change you, shape you, mold you into the disciple he NEEDS YOU TO BE.
This could be as simple as changing the way you spend your time… or as radical as walking away from your 7-figure business to pursue ministry.
Whatever it is, it’s not going to be easy. But it’s going to be worth it not just for today, but for all of eternity. How cool is that?!
I love the very next verse when Jesus talks about your life, he says, Whoever tries to save his life, will lose it. And whoever loses his life for My sake, will save it.
I don’t know about you but I don’t want to lose my life.
I want to finish up with letting you know where I am now in my walk with Jesus. I am sharing this update exactly one year later so you have an idea of how God works. Last Christmas, I said YES and I chose Jesus. Although hesitant, like REALLY hesitant, Thomas supported me and helped me cancel every single monthly payment that was made to me. Thousands of photographers. Thousands of monthly payments. We canceled them all, and I made the announcement that December 31, 2021 was the end of BB Coaching. It was a sad day in our community, but I have NEVER I my life felt a peace like that. It was a peace and a joy that I can’t truly explain- but those of you who have been obedient, and said yes to something crazy, you know.
I wish I could tell you that since I was obedient in that first step my life became so easy and everything was amazing…It wasn’t. I went through a solid year of trials and suffering, and silence and doubt, and seasons of humble beginnings and character development which has honestly been the hardest part…we lost a lot. We are living in a small condo in Orange Beach, being minimalists with our 4 kids. We aren’t even making a percentage of what I was a year before. We have had family disown us. We’ve had friends leave us. We’ve lost social media followers, we’ve had false gossip spread throughout online communities. And you know what?
It sucked! I’m not going to share this story and not talk about how much it has sucked. BUT, what you REALLY need to know is that He has revealed Himself to me more in this year than my entire 33 years of life combined.
I have seen actual miracles happen, we’ve experienced unexplained blessings. We grew deeper in the Godly relationships in our life, we are happier as a family…and we for the first time in our entire life feel CONTENT. We don’t want anything. We don’t desire anything. We don’t have to have the next thing. We only want more of Jesus. More time with Him. More of His presence. More of his voice. More of His supernatural .If its Jesus, I want it. I want the sunsets and the slow mornings and the laughing til I pee my pants joy from real friendships because again, now that I’ve experienced Jesus, nothing else can measure up or fulfill me.
I am ruined to worldly happiness or worldly success.
It’s something I pray that you too experience for yourself. Jesus is waiting for you to let go of your life, so he can give you LIFE ABUNDANTLY. Choose Jesus. Seek Jesus First, Above All Else. Follow Jesus No Matter the Cost. And Rest in His arms. He’s waiting for you. Come to Him and you WILL find Him!
He’s not hiding. He’s only waiting. Seek JESUS FIRST. And you’ll too experience the adventure of surrender.