Category Archives: News

Missions Panel Discussion With Bro. Nicholas J. Rafael and Bro. Brandon Bramlett

Following Bro. Nicholas’ message on missions emphasis, we had a panel discussion on missions. Several questions were submitted to us that we attempted to answer on this panel, that you can listen to below:

  1. What is/are missions?
  2. Does God call all Christians to missions?
  3. How do I know if I’m called to missions?
  4. Why are missions so expensive?
  5. How can I be mission-minded?

WATCH THE PANEL DISCUSSION HERE:

I invite you to listen to his message that was preached that night also. You can hear it by clicking here: Missions Emphasis Message.

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Missions Emphasis Message by Bro. Nicholas J. Rafael

“As His followers, we are His hands, we are His feet, we are His mouthpiece. And it is our duty to make His word known.”

Recently at our church, we had a missions emphasis night with our students. We focused on unreached peoples, we prayed, and we heard a great message from Bro. Nicholas J. Rafael from Murphysboro, IL. This was a great message on missions, and I invite you to take a few minutes out of your day to listen/download his message below:

Be sure to check him out on Facebook, and to listen to our panel discussion that also took place that night by clicking here.

WATCH THE MESSAGE BELOW:

Further From Equality Than We’ve Ever Been

Bullying hurts. We all had that one bully during grade school that no one liked. A bully was usually someone bigger than us who was making fun of us, putting us down, threatening to beat us up, or take our lunch money. Bullying has really progressed through recent decades. My generation has lived through the uprising of what is known as “cyber-bullying” where bullying can be done via social media and the internet. But I believe bullying has taken on a different form than student to student, as was in my school (and likely yours).

We are seeing today more than ever, what I believe to be bullying disguised as “equality,” or “equal rights.” Different groups have been fighting for the past couple of years for what they refer to as equal rights or equality, but at the same time, the greater majority of our nation is being bullied. Thousands of people in this nation are having their God given, and constitutionally mandated rights either taken away, infringed, or ignored.

Yet at the same time, this is called “equality” for those who are gaining dominance over others who are having their rights infringed. But how can it be equality for all when someone else’s rights and privileges granted to them by God and by the Constitution are taken away, infringed, ignored, or even obliterated?

Let me illustrate how this has been happening for decades, and has culminated in recent days.

First of all, unborn children who haven’t even had the chance to receive their birth certificates, are immediately denied the most important right of all because they are seen as “a collection of cells,” or “inconvenient.” What is this most important right? The right to life. There are about 3,315 abortions daily in the United States alone.¹ Does that sound like equality to you? The world considered it a damnable atrocity when the Nazi Regime took the lives of over 11,000,000 Jews, homosexuals, children, and disabled people – and those people had already been born.² But an unborn child is denied the right to live, and it’s mother is told by organizations like Planned Parenthood, that “options are available.”

Equality is not defined as, “when the helpless and unborn are denied the right to life by those bigger than them.” That is murder. That is bullying in the highest degree possible.

Secondly, notice the so-called “equality” taking place in the marriage realm of our country. The Supreme Court ruled not long ago that all states must recognize same-sex marriage, and that states cannot deny or ban same-sex marriage within their own state.  This decision was celebrated all over the country on the day it was publicized, but as with anytime someone is bullied, the “little guy,” is taking a beating. Who is the “little guy” whose rights are being ignored, taken away, or infringed? How about the Kentucky clerk, Kim Davis who is now being jailed for denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples?³ How is that equality for those whose conscience cannot allow them to do so? It is a violation of one’s right to believe what they want to believe.

Or what about Aaron and Melissa Klein who were ordered to pay $135,000 for refusing to bake a gay wedding cake?4 They were punished for not participating in a wedding that violated their conscience. That doesn’t sound like equality, that sounds like bullying. That’s $135,000 that could have fed their family, or sent their children to college, or paid their bills. Instead, they lose that amount of money, in addition to their right to believe what they want to believe. Bullying happens when someone bigger than you oppresses you because they have the upper hand. And bullying can lead to tyranny in the political realm. That’s clearly what has happened here.

There are plenty of other examples I could give where bullying is disguised as “equality,” in our nation but I’d like to close with a few suggestions on what Christians can do in light of this discrimination taking place.

  1. Prepare for persecution. You had better get ready. History is doomed to repeat itself, and a day is coming sooner than ever where we will see an exact replica of the persecution that took place in the early church. Christians were imprisoned for their faith. One was sentence to jail just today. Don’t think you won’t see more and more of this in the coming days – you will. If believers are still on the earth at the time when this climaxes, we will need to mimic the same practices of the current underground churches in China, Vietnam, India, and other countries where Christianity is illegal.
  2. Preach the gospel more than ever. As a minister, I am concerned, saddened, and even angered that we are being bullied and our God given rights are being infringed, and plain ignored. But at the same time, my love and concern for souls who need Christ is stronger than ever. We should continue to preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), and do so with more diligence and perseverance, than we ever have before.
  3. Pray for and support those standing up for the faith. Christians all over the country are standing up for their faith, and for their Constitutional rights. They need our prayers and encouragement. We need to stand with them.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).


  1. “Abortion Facts.” Abortion No, https://www.abortionno.org/abortion-facts
  2. “11 Facts About the Holocaust.” DoSomething.org, https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-holocaust
  3. Blinder, Alan “Deputy Clerks to Issue Gay Marriage Licenses in Kentucky.” The New York Times. Sept. 3, 2015.
  4. Starnes, Todd “Christian bakers fined $135,000 for refusing to make wedding cake for lesbians.” Fox News Opinion. July 3, 2015.

Exciting Bible Study Series in 2015

One of my favorite things to do as a minister is to plan future Bible studies and sermon series. The anticipation is more intense than a three-year-old waiting for Christmas morning. I cannot wait to teach the Bible. Jeremiah’s words burn in my heart (no pun intended): “There is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (Jer. 20:9). I am privileged at a local church to teach regularly, and with this privilege I get to plan for upcoming Bible studies. I will share with you some of God’s stirrings in me for upcoming Bible studies in 2015:

1. A Gospel-Shaped Community

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If the gospel doesn’t shape you, you’ve never experienced the gospel. One of the most unique things about the gospel is that it doesn’t just transform individuals, but it transforms individuals into a community of people shaped by the gospel. That’s what Titus is all about. Often times, people overlook this letter because it is a pastoral letter from Paul to his “true child in the faith,” Titus (1:4). But in reality, it’s not just a personal pastor letter from a concerned Paul to a young Titus. It’s a rich, theological letter, full of implications for what it means to be shaped by the gospel. Paul describes various people that make up this new community, and how they should be shaped by the gospel: Elders (1:5-16); Older men (2:2); Older women and younger women (2:3-5); Young men (2:6); Servants (2:9); and all of God’s people (2:11-14). We will study through Paul’s letter to Titus to see how people shaped by the gospel are called to live. I am excited about the spiritual growth and discussion that this sermon series will bring about.

2. 7 Churches of Revelation

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Revelation. Some people study this daunting book of the Bible with unreasonable skepticism, others stay completely away from it because of its unusual literary type. But even amid Revelation’s difficult symbolic language, and despite all the scholarly skepticism that surrounds it, Revelation is highly practical (as all of the Bible is). One of the most practical sections of Revelation is an outstanding section on the 7 Churches of Revelation. Now if you’ve read Revelation before, you easily recognize that there are seven-fold series (seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls, etc.), and the first seven-fold series consists of the seven churches. In this section, Jesus Himself gives a diagnosis of each church, with both positive and negative elements. These were churches that were existent at the time when Revelation was written, and we must reflect on what characteristics we should have as Jesus’ church, and what characteristics we shouldn’t have as Jesus’ church. This is going to be an expositional study of Revelation 1:1-3:22.

3. Who Am I?

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Who are you? The answer to that question says everything about you. In our culture today, we allow so many things to define who we are. But what about who God says we are? Isn’t that infinitely more important? This study examines Ephesians 1:3-14 and looks at what God says about us as His people. No one can define who you are but God alone through what He’s accomplished through Christ.

4. In The Beginning

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We need to know about our origins. . . period. Everything else in the world is dependent on answering the question, “Where did we come from?” Looking at the first chapters of Genesis, we will learn how to defend the Genesis account of creation, looking at Genesis literally and expositionally. We will learn about the creation of the world, the creation of man, and the origin of sin. Your knowledge of origins will far exceed what it was before. I had tried to do this Bible study earlier this year, but couldn’t find a spot to slot it in, so I am going to aim for it again this year.

You can keep up with these upcoming Bible studies right here on Brandon’s Desk. I look forward to what God is going to do during these expositions of His Word.

Google is Taking Out the Trash

Recently, I read a short article from Jarrid Wilson titled, “Google’s Done With Internet Pornography,” and I’ll have to say. . . I was a bit skeptical at first. People have been accessing pornography via internet for years. Just decades ago, you had to buy movies and magazines to get exposed to pornography—today however, it’s as easy as accessing an internet search engine. Since Google is the most widely used search engine, it didn’t sound right to me for them to take a stand against internet pornography. But that was until I read their new policy about adult content. Here it is:

“The AdWords policies on adult sexual services, family status, and underage or non-consensual sex acts will be updated in late June 2014 to reflect a new policy on sexually explicit content. Under this policy, sexually explicit content will be prohibited, and guidelines will be clarified regarding promotion of other adult content. The change will affect all countries. We made this decision as an effort to continually improve users’ experiences with AdWords. After the new policy goes into effect, the adult sexual services, family status, and underage or non-consensual sex acts policy pages will reflect this change.” (1)

For those struggling with pornography, this is great news. I have dealt with it in my own life for many years, and also counseled many people who have struggled with it. While God alone grants the grace to overcome all addictions, including addictions to pornography, this is a huge step in overcoming it. One of the best ways to overcome the sin is to get away from it. Stay away from the influences.

Paul writes, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexual immoral, not idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). There is hope for those struggling with internet pornography. Paul’s readers had once been people who practiced sexual immorality of all sorts, but as he writes, they were washed and sanctified and justified.

Pray for Google. Pray for those struggling with internet pornography. Pray that this will be a major step in setting people free from the slavery of the pornographic industry.


1. Adult Content, https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/4271759, (emphasis mine).