What is the "Spirit-Led" Life?
CHARLES CARRIN'S ministry spans the final half of the twentieth century. He was ordained in 1949 and in his youth traveled with men who preached in the 1800's. For the first twenty-seven years of his ministry, Charles was a hyper-Calvinist Baptist pastor and Presbyterian seminarian who denied the miraculous works of the Holy Spirit. Mid-way in his ministry that abruptly changed. Personal crisis forced him to acknowledge Scriptures he had previously ignored. It was a time of intense pain and testing. The truths he saw were frightening; they had power to destroy his denominational ministry and at that point he had no hope that another, more wonderful ministry awaited him.
As a result of his submitting to God in that crisis, Charles emerged with an amazing anointing of the Holy Spirit. Today, his ministry centers upon the visible demonstration of the Spirit and imparting of His gifts. This new ministry has taken him to London's Westminster Chapel, the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, and other significant places. He, R.T. Kendall, the former, 25 year pastor at Westminster Chapel, and Jack Taylor, former Vice President of the Southern Baptist Convention, travel together holding "Word, Spirit, Power, Conferences."
As an evangelist/writer, Charles' articles have appeared in major Christian magazines in the United States and abroad. He travels extensively, teaching believers how to operate in the power of the Holy Spirit. Charles' web site is www.charlescarrinministries.com.What is the "Spirit-Led" Life?God wills that every Christian life be a miraculous life. The truest meaning of the word “Christian,” or “anointed one,” implies the miraculous presence of the Holy Spirit.
While my 54 year-ministry has witnessed numerous disappointments and failures on my part, I have also been blessed by astonishing manifestations of the Holy Spirit that can only be termed as “miraculous.” Looking back over a half-century of pastoral work I am able to say without hesitation that the time spent at all five churches I served began and ended with a specific “word” from the Lord. The choice of where I went, how long I stayed, was never left to me. Because these decisions were directed by the Holy Spirit, I was supremely blessed in every case. When crisis came in some of those congregations, I could rest in the assurance that I was there by divine appointment.
In speaking of the “Spirit-led” life, I wish to emphasize that this benefit is available to all believers--not just ministers. Housewives, truck drivers, doctors, professionals of every sort and common laborers, should anticipate God’s miraculous leadership in the ordinary routine of their living. And it is important that we realize this leadership is not limited to “spiritual” matters only. God wills that every Christian life be a miraculous life. It is wrong to concentrate our attention on physical healings or the Spirit’s more spectacular works and fail to appreciate His other benefits.
In my own experience, there were numerous times when little incidents spoke more powerfully to me about God’s presence than did the bigger blessings. In this way, ”We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Corinthians 4:18. Let me illustrate what I mean about being led by the Holy Spirit:
Once, in Rome, I was escorting a group of Americans through the Forum area, was below ground in the old political prison, when an elderly lady in our party fell and fractured her hip. For the moment, I panicked, not knowing how to get help or whom to call. Rome is a city of millions. We were scheduled to fly home the next day and the lady insisted that she not be taken to the hospital. Without knowing why, I suddenly left her, raced up the steps, and began running down a crowded sidewalk to a huge, circular intersection a block away.
The sidewalk was mobbed, traffic was snarled, there were no traffic lights, and the area where I headed was jammed with cars. Many were blowing their horns. As I ran, my actions seem illogical. In my mind, I said, “Charles! This is foolish! You don’t know where you are going! Go back to the woman and help!” Even so, I kept running. The moment I reached the intersection, out of breath and confused as to why I was there, I looked up, and a short distance away saw a van driven by an American missionary. He recognized me and waved, I signaled him to come, told him of the crisis, and in a few minutes, the injured lady was on her way to the hotel. I made no phone call, contacted no help. Yet, here I was, a stranger in a city of millions, and the Holy Spirit directed me with absolute precision to the exact spot I needed to be. There was no way my meeting the missionary was accidental. I was guided to that special place by the Holy Spirit.
Another time, when I boarded a plane in Miami for South America, I discovered that friends from Delray Beach, Florida--a husband and wife--were on the same flight. They were going to Cartegena, Columbia, and I was continuing to Medellin. When we realized we would both be in Bogota at the same time, they said, “We want you to meet our friends there. How may we get in touch with you?” I explained that I did not know where I would be staying and suggested that they contact the American Embassy. I would leave the information there. We parted in Cartegena, I continued to Medellin, met a group of American biologists there, flew next to Bogota with them, moved into a hotel, and told the Embassy where I was. But I never heard from the couple on the plane. A short time later, the biologists told me about meeting another gentleman from the States who lived in Bogota and felt that I should meet him.
Reluctantly, I called the man, spent an interesting afternoon, learned much about the huge, over-crowded city, and amazingly--that he knew my wife’s family in Georgia. He apologized for his wife’s absence, explaining that she had driven to Medellin to bring friends back to their house. A short time later, I left Bogota and returned to the U.S. My friends soon called, disappointed that they had been unable to reach me and that I failed to meet their hosts in Bogota. When they called the family’s name, I was shocked. That was the same man I had visited! “I did meet him!” I said, “Americans in Medellin gave me his name! You did not introduce us so they did that for you!” I was more shocked when I learned that the reason his wife was absent that day was that she had gone to Medellin to bring my Florida friends back to their home.
To this day, I have been unable to identify the “spiritual” motive the Holy Spirit had in that strange meeting. One thing I know: He showed me that He can make paths cross when human efforts fail. He even uses total strangers; in this case--a group of American biologists--to perform His will.
One of the most astounding “meetings” that the Holy Spirit directed took place on a ship in Dikali, Turkey. I was retracing the missionary journeys of Paul and visiting sites of the Seven Churches of Asia. We were trying to get ashore in Western Turkey to visit the ruins of Ephesus but were handicapped by a storm at sea. Waves were treacherous, there was no gangplank, and passengers boarding the tenders had to step directly from one boat to the other. This was hazardous as the two vessels rose and fell independently of each other. When my turn came, I miscalculated the step and fell about three feet, landing with my elbows in another man’s lap. I was not harmed and we both laughed.
When I learned he was an American, I asked which state he was from. “Georgia,” he answered. “I live in Georgia!” I replied in amazement. “Where in Georgia?” I asked again. “Atlanta,” he continued. “I’m from Atlanta!” I half-shouted. “Where do you work in Atlanta?” I asked. “I’m a pastor ...” By this time, I could hardly believe my ears. “I’m a pastor too,” I answered, “Where is your church?” He was answering, “Ponce de Leon Avenue and Oakdale Road ...,” when I interrupted. “My church is on Ponce de Leon Avenue and Oakdale Road!” Foolishly, I asked, “Which one?!” (There were only two churches at that intersection--mine and a Lutheran Church.) When we both recovered from the shock he said to me, “I think the Lord wants you to know that no matter where you go--anywhere in the world--He can have someone there to help you.” And he was right. The Holy Spirit is our “p
Last year I was sitting in Detroit’s huge airport, having already run into another friend from South Florida, when a young woman came rushing to me. “Pastor Charles!” she half-shouted, “I prayed that I would find you! I told God that I wanted to talk to you!” I recognized her immediately as a former Moslem, now a dynamic Spirit-filled Christian who had worshiped at Grace Fellowship when I was pastor. In an excited voice she kept talking, “I am on my way home from a mission trip in Mongolia, on the plane I was reading your book, The Edge Of Glory, and prayed that I would find you! I did not know you were in Detroit but God has answered my prayer!” She dropped onto the seat beside me and shared exciting things the Holy Spirit was doing in central Asia. On the long flight to Florida she sat in the seat directly in front of me and told how the Lord was moving in her life. The Scripture says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and He delights in his way.”
In 1977, I received the Holy Spirit’s wonderful baptism and discovered a new world around me. One of the regrettable changes was that I lost a lot of old friends and found myself having to start over with new ones. That loss of friendships was very painful. The following year I returned to Florida, rejoicing in the Lord, but feeling very much alone. When I learned of a Pastors’ Prayer Meeting in West Palm Beach I hurried to it. The men I met were all delightful, welcomed me into their fellowship with open arms, and understood the pain of separation I was encountering. After the meeting I went to Morrison’s Cafeteria, was sitting alone at my table and watching others entering the dining room. A young man I had never seen before, left the serving line and walked toward the tables carrying his tray. As he approached, the Holy Spirit distinctly said, “He is your brother. I want you to meet him.” The man sat down, prayed over his food and began to eat.
As soon as I finished my meal, I stepped to his table, introduced myself and said, “The Holy Spirit says that you are my brother ...” “Sit down!” he answered quickly, “I am glad to meet you!” As we talked, he told me about his own encounter with the Holy Spirit and the changes it brought to his life. A moment later, the Spirit spoke again; His words were distinct and clear: “Show him the card in your pocket.” There was only one business card in my pocket--one that had been given to me by another pastor at the prayer meeting that morning. I was shocked at the Holy Spirit’s instruction but removed the card, handed it to my new friend, and said, “Do you know this man?” He looked at it and then jerked his attention back to me, “Yes! I know him,” he answered, “This is my prayer-partner! Where did you get his card?”
Briefly I explained about our meeting that morning. Sitting there in the restaurant, we rejoiced at the goodness of God in “putting the solitary in families.” Psalm 68:6. Later, we parted, he going one way, I another, and for a long while I sat in my car, silently amazed at what the Lord had done. It was at that moment my wonderful Friend, the Holy Spirit, spoke again, “You only think you are alone, Charles,” He said, “You have many new brothers and sisters here in Florida whom I will bring to you.” Acts 18:10.
I want to share one final memory with you: I was in a telephone booth in Brighton, England, attempting to call a pastor friend in Wales but unable to correctly operate the system. Through the glass I saw a young oriental man using the adjacent phone. When he stepped out of the booth I stopped him, “Can you help me?,” I asked, “I can’t seem to dial correctly ...” He apologized, explaining that he had the same problem. We immediately got into conversation and when I asked where he was from, he answered “Bangkok, Thailand.” “I have a friend in Thailand,” I answered, “Charlie Milbrodt, an American missionary ...” “I know Charlie!” he answered happily, “I am his chauffeur.” In the next instant, we grabbed each other, hugged like long-lost friends, rejoicing as if we were old buddies, when we had known each other less than a minute.
We were both foreigners in Britain, thousands of miles from our homes, but connected by the Holy Spirit in a surprise meeting. Such is the wonder of the Holy Spirit’s leadership! Such is the love that exists in the Body of Christ! Such is the joy of a Spirit-led life!
While you and I may be able to point to such instances of the Holy Spirit’s miraculous blessing, it is more important that we realize there are millions more such situations of which we are totally unaware. Our lives have more secret encounters with God’s grace than a Spring morning has bird songs. Heaven only knows the countless times His protecting providence surrounded us when we were totally unaware of His presence. Perhaps when we get to Heaven He will give us a re-play of our lives and of His unseen grace. An old hymn-writer said it this way: “He leadeth me, O blessed thought! O words with heavenly comfort fraught. Wher’ere I go, wher’ere I be, Still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me.”