The Grime of Sin | Bible Gleanings – Sept 18-19, 2021

The sidewalk was caked in stubbly greenish lichen. Decades of black algae enveloped each concrete step. My pressure washer was up to snuff, and the icky gunk peeled off without a fight. Sandy white steps now sat beside grimy ones, and a friend remarked, “I didn’t realize how nasty they were until now!” The muck didn’t seem so bad when all the steps were buried in grime. The depth of the filth was only evident when compared to the speckless and sparkling steps beside them.

We don’t seem all that bad when compared to supposedly more wretched sinners. Our grimy sins don’t seem that horrible measured against the unfathomable sins committed by others who appear to be more depraved than we are. None of us have mass-murdered millions of people the way Hitler, Stalin, or Mussolini did. Who among us has a gangster or drug-trafficking background like Al Capone or Pablo Escobar? Who among us, like Jim Jones or Charles Manson, has formed a cult?

However, such worthless comparisons will only deceive. The truth is that we are all buried in the vile muck of evil. We are sin-aholics—slaves of darkness who can’t seem to get enough of it. We are darkness-lovers and light-haters; rotten to the core and contaminated by sin’s putridity (John 3:19; Psalm 14:1-3; Romans 1:18-31; 2:1; 3:10-18, 23). And we can only grasp the seriousness of our sinfulness when we compare ourselves to the sinless and spotless Savior, Jesus Christ.

The depth of our depravity becomes apparent when we measure ourselves against the untainted righteousness of the Lord Jesus. Our garments are soiled—His robes are white without a speck (Isaiah 64:6). We have the scarlet stain of sin on our hands—He is wholly unstained (Isaiah 1:15; 59:3). Our eyes are fixed on evil—His are immaculately pure (Habakkuk 1:13). We are enchanted by sin’s darkness, but, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).

Fortunately for you and me, Christ is up to the task—He will thoroughly wash us of sin’s sludge. His blood erases the stain of evil (1 John 1:7). His Spirit detoxifies us from the filth of sin (Titus 3:5). His grace scrubs the guilt of our wickedness away (Jeremiah 33:8).

Therefore, come in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ—just as you are—begrimed and bedraggled by the mire of sin. Turn away from the foul path of spiritual filth toward Jesus, believing that His blood can wash you. When you do, God says to you, “You will walk with Me in white!” (Revelation 3:4).


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Beagle).

The Death to End the Duel | Bible Gleanings – Sept 11-12, 2021

According to plan, both men appeared on the plains of Weehawken to settle their squabble in a duel. The first shot rang vociferously. Alexander Hamilton fired his custom-made pistol and missed Aaron Burr, trimming off a nearby branch. The second shot produced two sounds: one was gunfire, the second was a thud from Hamilton’s body collapsing to the ground. The physician darted toward him, but there was nothing he could do, for as Hamilton declared, “This is a mortal wound, Doctor.” The bullet struck him above his hip, bounced off his rib, cut through his liver, and cracked his lower spine. Hamilton died the following day on July 12, 1804.

Hamilton’s death was not according to plan, however. Neither Burr nor Hamilton expected to walk away as the last man standing. They both intended to simply wound—to make a statement with a bullet—rather than kill. The resulting public humiliation forced Burr to flee to Georgia, which proved to be a saving grace for our fledgling nation. A conspiracy was afoot for the northeastern region of New England to secede from the rest of the country, with Burr as president. Hightailing it to the south destroyed those plans. You could say that Hamilton’s death, albeit accidental, saved the entire nation in its fragile infancy.1 

The political salvation obtained by Hamilton’s blood pales in comparison, however, to the spiritual salvation purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ, whose grim death also saved an entire nation—the nation of God’s people. Jesus of Nazareth achingly ascended the hill of Golgotha, bloodied and bruised from Roman whips, but He had not come to duel. He came to end the greatest duel of all: the war between God and man. As Jesus drank the whole cup of God’s wrath against sinners, the sound from the cross was not a gunshot, but a piercing cry of anguish: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). And His death was not an accident; it was according to God’s plan. “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him,” said Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 53:10).

Although Burr’s story ended in humiliation, the story of Jesus Christ did not. God raised Him from the dead, exalting Him at His right hand (Acts 2:32-33). We are saved, then, not only by His humiliation on the cross, but by His exaltation from the tomb. As Paul perfectly stated,

“Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life” (Romans 5:9-10).

The duel is over if you have believed in Christ for your eternal salvation. The fight died when Christ died; now you are God’s friend.

  1. No one narrates the famous story of Hamilton vs. Burr like Joseph J. Ellis in Founding Brothers (New York: Random House, Inc., 2000).

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Beagle).

Nothing But Wax | Bible Gleanings – Sept 4-5, 2021

I stood beside Jackie Chan. I took a selfie with Nicholas Cage. I was in a room with Adam Sandler, Angelina Jolie, and all the big-name celebrities. They had all assembled at the Hollywood Wax Museum in Pigeon Forge. They had, in fact, been assembled by professional wax artists who shaped and fashioned them to appear as real people.

It’s remarkable how much they look like real actors. However, they are dead despite the fact that they appear to be alive. They’re made of wax, not flesh. They are devoid of a beating heart and a rational mind. Sometimes, what appears to be alive may actually be dead.

It’s a pity, but when we are born into this world, we are nothing more than empty wax figures without spiritual life. Although we look to be lively, we are spiritually dead on the inside. We are spiritually deceased, unable to walk in obedience (Rom. 8:7), and incapable of seeing or hearing the truth (John 8:43; 1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 4:4). That is why Paul wrote, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins, in which you once walked” (Eph. 2:1-2a). That is also why Jesus commanded, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

It makes no difference how well-sculpted and painted you are on the outside. You are lifeless wax if you have not been born again by faith in Jesus Christ. You might be suitable for a museum, but you will melt before the scorching heat of God’s judgment. “As smoke is driven away, so you shall drive them away; as wax melts before fire, so the wicked shall perish before God!” (Psalm 68:2).

You will never be able to fashion and mold yourself into a righteous person. You will never be good enough to be accepted in God’s sight. You must come to the One who is good enough, whose finished work on Calvary is already accepted in God’s sight. Come to Jesus in repentance and faith, and He will make you new. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17).


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

Thank God for Thrown Bricks | Bible Gleanings – Aug 28-29, 2021

John Wesley (1703-1791), the passionate preacher and founder of the Methodist movement in England, was riding along a road when it occurred to him that he had gone three days without being persecuted. Threats and insults had ceased. No chicken eggs or bricks had been thrown. Wesley came to a halt, alarmed, and shouted, “Can it be that I have sinned, and am backslidden?” He interpreted the lack of persecution as a lack of devotion to Christ.

Wesley leapt from his horse and went to his knees, pleading with God to show him how he had sinned. A burly man on the opposite side of the hedge heard the prayer and recognized the preacher. He picked up a brick and hurled it at Wesley, saying, “I’ll fix that Methodist preacher!” It landed gently beside Wesley, missing him by only a few inches. Wesley leaped to his feet cheerfully crying, “Thank God, it’s all right. I still have His Presence!”1

Thank God for thrown bricks! When the world hurls bricks of slander, contempt, and ridicule at you, it simply means you are glowing with God’s presence. The world despises Christ, and when you live like Him, you arouse their rage toward Him, which they then direct at you (John 15:18-25). You shouldn’t be shocked if the world hates you. You should be shocked if they don’t.

That is what the apostle Peter meant when he wrote, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Peter 4:12-14).

Do not sulk when you are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. Do not shut up, back up, or give up. Instead, praise God and keep on preaching. Rejoice and continue to represent Jesus in the world. Being ostracized and opposed for following Jesus is a blessing unlike any other. As Reverend Obadiah Holmes exclaimed after being whipped for preaching Christ, “Gentlemen, you have whipped me with roses!”

  1. This story has been circulated for years, but I first discovered it in Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations (Rockville: Assurance Publishers, 1979), 995.

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Beagle).

Mirror, Mirror, in the Word | Bible Gleanings – Aug 21-22, 2021

“Magic Mirror, on the wall—who is the fairest one of all?” asked the Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Mirror never lied, so the Queen was always confident in his answers and advice. But sometimes the truth hurts. As the mirror responded, “My Queen, you are the fairest here so true. But Snow White is a thousand times more lovely, fair and beautiful than you.” Despite the fact that the Magic Mirror was the Queen’s slave, he was no respecter of persons. He told the truth: the Queen was no longer the fairest.

Mirrors reveal reality—they show the naked truth. Mirrors uncover our imperfections. We cannot see our blemishes, scars, and wrinkles without them. Since the eyes cannot stretch out and glance backward (which would be a terrifying sight), looking at a glass reflection is the only way to see ourselves as we truly are. And for centuries, the mirror on the wall has shown that we are not the fairest of them all!

One mirror in particular reflects more than just the speckles on your face. This mirror exposes the specks and spots on your heart. It can be found on a pulpit or in a pew. You probably have one on your nightstand at home. It is made, not of glass, but of paper and ink bound between a leather or paperboard cover. It’s a mirror that isn’t gazed into nearly enough, but it is the one we need the most: the word of God, the Bible. 

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like” (James 1:22-24). 

You see the truth about who you are when you look in the mirror of God’s word. The Bible always gives an accurate reflection because its Author never lies (Titus 1:2). It perfectly reveals our imperfections and never comes short of uncovering our shortcomings. It points out sinful blemishes that need healing, smudges that need cleaning, and other unsightly things that need correction. And it shows that only Christ is fairest of them all.

The Bible is not just a mirror for reflection, however. It is also a mirror for restoration. It points out flaws, but it also gives guidance for how to address them. Looking in the mirror but overlooking a massive pimple defeats the purpose of using the mirror in the first place. Looking in God’s word but ignoring what it says about the solution(s) for your sin is also a waste. Gaze at the Bible to have an accurate analysis of who you are. But gaze even deeper into its pages so you can pursue God’s remedies for your imperfections.

Look in the mirror of the word today for an honest look at who you really are. And look to God’s solutions, and ultimately God’s Son as the healing for your blemishes.


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

Hit the Hay | Bible Gleanings – Aug 14-15, 2021

It eats up one-third of your life, and there are over eighty disorders that prevent you from doing it: sleeping. Hitting the hay is the God-designed mechanism that allows you to physically recharge. Therefore, sleeping like a log is crucial for your brain and body. However, a large number of people are restless and can’t sleep a wink. According to the Sleep Foundation, many individuals aren’t sleeping well or long enough, regardless of how many sheep they count.1

Although many of us suffer from sleeping ailments such as insomnia or sleep apnea, King David was one of the few people who always got a good night’s sleep. He once said, “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me” (Psalm 3:5). And similarly in Psalm 4:8, “In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.” But what was his secret for snoozing? It wasn’t a shot of Nyquil or sleeping on a Tempur-Pedic mattress, since neither existed back then. Apparently, David slept peacefully because of his faith in a trustworthy God. While David slept, the Lord was awake, keeping watch over him all night—and that tranquil thought was a pillow for David’s head.

A lot of things will keep you up at night. Anxiety is a restless pillow. Worry is an itchy blanket. An unclear conscience is a bed of nails. Sometimes melatonin knocks you out. Sometimes a hot bath soothes restlessness. But the greatest medicine for a deep sleep is resolute trust in the sovereignty of God. As C. H. Spurgeon said, “The sovereignty of God is the pillow upon which the child of God rests his head at night, giving perfect peace.”

God can run the world without you. He will take care of business while you sleep because He doesn’t sleep: “He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121:3-4). You don’t have to sleep with one eye open—God is watching over you. God is not a man, so He doesn’t need seven to nine hours of rest to function properly—but you do. 

Are you worried at night? Does your mind wander in the nightmarish realm of uncertainty? Then pray, trusting that God will meet your needs: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).

Are you restless because of unconfessed sin? Confess your sins to the Lord and He will purify your conscience (1 John 1:9).

Lay down tonight and rest, “For he gives to his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2b).


  1. 35.2% of all adults in the U.S. report sleeping on average for less than seven hours per night. As many as 15-30% of males and 10-30% of females have some form of sleep apnea. See Suni, Eric. “Sleep Statistics.” Sleep Foundation, 8 Feb 2021, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/sleep-facts-statistics

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

What Ed Litton and the SBC Need to Do Right Now

“Take it from Fred, vote for Ed!” he thundered. During the recent Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville, Fred Luter, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention (2012-14), gave an absolutely glowing nomination speech in which he praised and promoted Ed Litton as the man most qualified to head the SBC as president. Thousands of messengers surged to their feet in ovation after Luter’s pithy conclusion. Thousands also cast their ballots for Ed Litton, who is now the president of the country’s largest Protestant denomination.

I did not vote for pastor Ed Litton. I had reservations because he shared the pulpit with his wife, which is in clear violation of both Scripture and the Southern Baptist Faith and Message of 2000. But, to be honest, I didn’t care that my guy lost. It’s just an election. I’m just thankful to be a member of a denomination that holds free and fair elections. Accepting the outcome, I pledged to pray for Ed Litton and support him.

I still accept the outcome. Pastor Litton is still in my prayers. But I am unable to support him in good conscience. And I stand alongside hundreds of other pastors and messengers who are calling for his immediate resignation. If you are a Southern Baptist, you should know why.

Why Should Ed Litton Resign?

Shortly after Litton was elected, there were allegations that he plagiarized a few sermons. “This is probably nothing,” I reasoned. “It is likely some ‘discernment blogger’ unhappy with the election results, and they’ve edited or doctored videos to smear him.” However, I felt compelled to look into these claims myself, especially when Litton repeated J.D. Greear’s famous (and erroneous) statement that “The Bible appears more to whisper when it comes to sexual sin compared to its shouts about materialism and religious pride.”

What I discovered was shocking: sermon after sermon where Ed Litton blatantly plagiarized sermons by J.D. Greear. Litton reused identical sermon outlines, illustrations, and titles. He even repeated many of Greear’s quips and words word-for-word. This was the most egregious case of plagiarism I had ever seen, and I am not exaggerating.

Not long after these allegations were made, Litton apologized for not properly crediting Greear for using a few of his ideas, which I appreciated. He wrote, “But I am sorry for not mentioning J.D.’s generosity and ownership of these points. I should have given him credit as I shared these insights.” Additionally, Greear revealed that Litton actually had his permission to use some of his insights and outlines. The old idiom is, “If my bullets fit your gun, then fire away!” Apparently, they had an arrangement for Litton to fire Greear’s bullets. And that is fine and good.

However, Litton used a lot more than a “few of his insights,” and he never admitted to plagiarizing. For instance, he bizarrely employs the exact same personal mannerisms as Greear, as seen in the dozens of videos. He tells the same jokes, interacts with his congregation in the same way (literally the same), and even uses Greear’s personal experiences as his own. Worse, Litton commits the same exegetical errors as Greear. Litton has plagiarized not just Greear’s sermons, but he has even imitated his personality and copied his mistakes! The evidence is here, here, here, and in all the links above.

Please hear me: if you have any doubts about the credibility of these plagiarism allegations, watch the videos for yourself. There is no denying it: Ed Litton has plagiarized dozens of J.D. Greear’s sermons.

Is Plagiarism Really That Bad?

Plagiarism is a serious sin. Plagiarism violates the Eighth Commandment where God said, “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). Plagiarism is laziness (Prov. 18:9; 2 Thess. 3:6). And above all, pastors should be above plagiarism. The primary qualification for a pastor or elder is that he must be “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:1-2), and if a pastor is caught undeniably plagiarizing, as in this case, he should at the very least come under the discipline of his church.

Litton serves in a high and holy position, not just as president of the SBC, but also as a pastor of a local church. This conduct is inappropriate for any man who holds the office of pastor and president. Moreover, his hesitancy to resign (or own up) sends a terrible message to the rest of the world and to our churches: Southern Baptists do not care about pastoral integrity. As a Southern Baptist pastor myself, I am deeply grieved in my soul, and I detest this assertion. And I know I am not alone.

Therefore, resigning immediately is the righteous, good, and humble thing to do.

I am not trying to cause a ruckus. I don’t want to slander a fellow brother in Christ. And I pray that any brethren who disagree with me will look into these matters, set disagreements aside, and continue to work together to fulfill the Great Commission.

I am still proud to be a Southern Baptist. I have no plans to leave the SBC or withhold Cooperative Program dollars, although I definitely understand why many churches have already done so. I am simply extremely concerned about the leadership and reputation of our Southern Baptist Convention. And I cannot stay silent about this unbiblical and unacceptable conduct for which there have been no repercussions.

At the SBC in Nashville, our messengers called for transparency. Well, now is the moment for transparency. This is the time for accountability. Ignoring these claims is not transparency. And privatizing over 100 sermon videos doesn’t exactly scream transparency.

Shocking Silence and Support

And while I am shocked at Ed Litton’s conduct, I am appalled by the silence from SBC leaders on this matter. This is how it should have gone down: prominent leaders of the SBC should have spoken up and graciously called for his resignation. But leaders whom I love and respect have not said a word. If they did, Ed Litton may take the advice of his friends and do the right thing.

I am even more shocked that many have risen to his defense. Some have even written articles claiming that it is impossible for pastors to plagiarize. “There’s nothing new under the sun, so you are bound to repeat what someone has already said,” they say. But this is a different matter. This is blatant theft and repurposing of sermon content (and much more).

What Can We Do?

I have felt hopeless and helpless regarding this situation. Pastors that are concerned, like me, are mostly underrepresented in the SBC. In fact, Tom Ascol and Jared Longshore of Founders Ministries are the only prominent leaders that have spoken extensively on this issue (to my knowledge).

Although discouraged, I still had to do something. So, I emailed the SBC’s Executive Committee, to see what they might do. Here is the reply I received:

“Thank you for your inquiry, but the EC does not have the authority to investigate and sanction the duly elected President of the Convention. Nevertheless, the Baptist Press, maintained by the EC has publicized the story including Pastor Litton’s address concerning the issue. Only the Convention itself, in which does not meet again until June of 2022 can do this—through the election process. We hope our note was helpful.”

In other words, “Sorry, but the Executive Committee can do nothing.” Would they be as powerless if Litton was involved in a sexual abuse scandal? I have a hunch that they would respond quite differently. Although the Executive Committee serves as the SBC’s ad interim, apparently there is nothing they can do regarding Litton’s integrity.

From what I have gathered, there are only three things a concerned Southern Baptist can do under these circumstances. We can (1) pray and continue to call on Ed Litton to resign, (2) vote against him in 2022, and/or (3) take to the newly formed Credentials Committee.

#1 Continuing to Pray and Call for Resignation

I am still praying and hoping that Litton will do the right thing and resign. That would send a great message to the world about who we are as Southern Baptists and how important it is to have honesty and integrity in the pulpit. Whether directly or indirectly, this scandal is satanic, an effort from the enemy to discourage us from preaching the gospel. Therefore, we must pray as we engage in what is clearly spiritual warfare. Let us continue to call on the Lord to convict president Litton. And let us relentlessly call on Ed Litton to resign.

#2 Voting Litton Out

In 2022, the SBC will meet in the Southern-Baptist-rich territory (not) of Anaheim, California. Given the public nature of this scandal, the chances are high that Litton will be contested. Under normal circumstances, a good SBC president serves another consecutive term. If Litton refuses to resign, we will have the chance to remove him with our ballots next year.

#3 Talk to the Credentials Committee

The Credentials Committee is a newly formed committee within the SBC that makes inquiries of churches that are found to be not in friendly cooperation with the SBC. They don’t have the authority to remove churches, but they communicate with churches in question and present their findings to the Executive Committee. I have quoted their Statement of Assignment for clarity’s sake on what they can and can’t do:

If a church is deemed not to be in friendly cooperation with the Convention’s adopted statement of faith and practice, the Convention has the autonomous authority to declare it will no longer recognize the church as a cooperating church with the Convention and to sever its relationship with the church. Upon receipt of a submission, the Credentials Committee may inform the church of the concerns raised against it. If necessary to adequately garner the information necessary to fully vet the concern, the identity of the individual or individuals making the allegations may be shared with the church . . . If a church is deemed not in friendly cooperation, the Credentials Committee will notify the SBC Executive Committee in accordance with its assignment in SBC Bylaw 8. After this assessment is made the following steps would ensue. The Executive Committee, upon the next scheduled meeting, will consider the recommendation of the Credentials Committee. The Credentials Committee will issue statements concerning a church’s relationship with the Convention as follows: a recommendation to ask the Executive Committee to declare a church not in friendly cooperation with the SBC, which will be incorporated into the Executive Committee agenda which is distributed to Executive Committee members, Baptist media, and other elected Southern Baptist leaders prior to each of its scheduled meetings.

You can express your concerns about Ed Litton on the Credentials Committee’s webpage, as the congregation he pastors does not appear to have subjected him to official church discipline. He is the lead pastor of Redemption Church in Saraland, Alabama. It is the leadership’s biblical obligation to deal with Litton’s plagiarism. Their pastor is making a grave error, which they do not appear to have rectified.

Conclusion

In this moment, we ought to remember these sober words:

“Without a sacred weight of character, the most splendid rhetoric will win only a short-lived applause; with it, the plainest scriptural instructions are eloquent to win souls. Eloquence may dazzle and please; holiness of life convinces. The pastor’s character speaks more loudly than his tongue.” — R. L. Dabney

Ed Litton, please repent of your plagiarism and resign as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, for the sake of character my dear brother. It is the right thing to do.

Hold the Flashlight | Bible Gleanings – Aug 7-8, 2021

Holding the flashlight made me feel like a real big shot. I spent many nights with my dad under the hood of an old Pontiac Bonneville, while he changed the oil or replaced the spark plugs. He’d say, “Shine that over here,” and I would swing that five-pound Maglite over to where he pointed. I almost never got it right, and I never fully understood what he was doing. But I was convinced that finishing the job was impossible without me and my flashlight. 

Now that I think about it, he didn’t really need me to hold the flashlight. He could have worn a headlamp or attached a magnetic light to the hood’s underside. In retrospect, I know he wanted me to observe his work so I could learn from him and spend time with him. He used me even though he didn’t need me. And he still used me, despite the fact that I did a poor job.

Friend, God doesn’t need you to do His work. God is not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25). He is the sovereign Creator, the sufficient Sustainer, and the supreme Lord of the universe. He can do anything at any time without help from anyone or anything. He doesn’t need you and He doesn’t need me. 

The good news is, however, God wants to use you to do His work. Even though He doesn’t need you and you sometimes mess up, He still wants to use you as an expression and extension of His grace in this world. He wants you to hold the flashlight of the gospel, so that its saving message may shine for those who are lost in darkness (Matt. 4:16; Rom. 2:19). It may not seem like much—it may not seem like enough—to hold the flashlight and do your small part. But it is just enough for God to show you that He is enough.

Remember the feeding of the five-thousand? What the disciples offered the Lord was puny and insufficient—five loaves and two fish (Mark 6:38). However, Jesus didn’t criticize them for having only enough food to feed a handful of people. He used what they could offer, albeit small, and fed five thousand people. Additionally, since He miraculously multiplied the fish and the loaves, He did not need the disciples to distribute it among the people—surely He had the power to do it Himself. Yet, “[He] gave them to the disciples to set before the people” (v. 41b).

The Lord will use you as you are with what you already have. If all you can do is hold a flashlight, then do that.


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

What Can Man Do to Me? | Bible Gleanings – July 31-Aug 1, 2021

On a square of papyrus, he wrote: “I don’t know what to do with these Christians!” Pliny the Younger, governor of Bithynia from 111-113 AD, was agitated and perplexed by the faithful witness of the early Christians, and once wrote Emperor Trajan a letter seeking guidance on how to deal with them. Their unwavering joy and resolute devotion to Christ bewildered him. Despite harsh interrogation and brutal chastisement, they never once renounced their faith.

According to some sources, one Christian was brought before him, and Pliny, finding the man innocent, proceeded to intimidate him.[1]

“I will banish you from Bithynia,” he said.

“You cannot,” said the Christian, “for all the world is my Father’s house.”

Irritated by this reply, Pliny said, “Then I will kill you!”

“You cannot,” the Christian answered, “for my life is hid with Christ in God.”

Pliny continued, “Then I will take away every possession you own!”

“You cannot, for my treasure is in heaven, Governor,” he replied.

Then came the final threat: “Then I will drive you away from man and you shall have no friend left!”

And the peaceful reply was as before: “You cannot, for I have an unseen Friend from whom you are not able to separate me.”

This faithful believer was right. The world can never take away what you have in Christ, if you are a follower of Jesus. If you live a godly life, persecution is a guarantee (2 Timothy 3:12). But it is also a guarantee that the world cannot seize the spiritual riches you possess in Jesus. The world hates Christ and they will hate you, too (John 15:18-25). Until the end of the age, when our Lord Jesus returns, the world will oppose, slander, and even kill you for your faithfulness to Jesus: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9). The world can only do so much, however. 

The world may oppose you, but God still approves you: “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33). The world may ostracize you, but the Lord is still your friend: “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14, KJV). The world may deprive you of possessions, but you still have heavenly treasures: “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). And even if you must die for Christ, you will be “absent from the body, [and] present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).

When you are inevitably persecuted for faithfully following Jesus Christ, you may truly say with David, “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6).


[1] You will find this story in many books. I read it first in Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations (Rockville: Assurance Publishers, 1979), 993.


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

Rallying to Save the Fields | Bible Gleanings – July 24-25, 2021

A ten-mile stretch of highway suddenly transformed into a community of 50,000 passionate people united to save their fields. According to the New York Times, thousands of Indian farmers and like-minded supporters marched to the streets of New Delhi last winter to protest Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s harmful policies that would suffocate India’s agricultural economy. They swarmed India’s capital like an unstoppable army. Unlike an army, however, there was more singing and dancing than fighting. In fact, their rambunctious gathering resembled a large-scale pep rally instead of a national protest. 

Surprisingly, although they rallied during the cold and rainy winter months, they never lost their zeal or excitement. The strength of their passion to save the fields was unhindered apparently because of the activities they did to keep themselves revitalized and recharged. Politicians and other leaders delivered rousing speeches on stages built specifically for them. Music blared from speakers attached to tractors, filling each tent with songs to keep everyone pumped. They even excommunicated troublemakers who threatened to disrupt their rallying.

They held an exuberant and sprightly rally for the sole purpose of saving their fields. And they did whatever it took to keep themselves focused on that goal.

Every time we gather as the church on the Lord’s Day, we are also hosting a rally to save our fields. The primary reason for assembling together on Sunday is to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24), but we should also get electrified and excited about saving our fields. We ought to get charged up each Sunday so we can go into the field of the world and bring the unsaved to the only One who can save them.

Jesus said the fields are ready: “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest?’ Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest” (John 4:35). The fields are ready to be harvested—God is working the soil and preparing the “crops” of unsaved individuals to be brought into the barn of His kingdom.

But why do many of our churches appear to have little “grain” in their pews? Answer: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).

If you know Christ as Lord and Savior, you are a spiritual farmer called to labor in the fields with the gospel message of salvation found in Christ alone. But you cannot fulfill that task alone. To work the fields, you need to assemble with other spiritual farmers in the local church. And the greatest way to stay motivated and energized to fulfill that goal is to meet together with faithful believers in a biblical church, where every Sunday is a rally to save the fields.


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English shepherd), and Dot (beagle).

Biblical Resources From Eleven Years of Ministry