Category Archives: Other

Bro. John Baker – Pastor, Mentor, and Friend

“He never said it would be easy. He did say it would be worth it.”

That was one of Bro. John’s many idioms and I never forgot it. He maintained a biblical perspective no matter his personal pain or ministry hardships. And anytime difficulty arises in my life, I hear him say it.

But far more than his words of wisdom, I remember the life he lived. He was the most biblical, godly, and sacrificial pastor I have ever known. When I sift through the memories I have of him, I constantly think of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” Bro. John was truly all things to all people. He made a memorable impact on everyone he knew and he certainly made an impact on me.

His influence on me began in high school. He was my bus driver during my final years at Ballard Memorial High School. In no time, we were having daily conversations on the bus about preaching and the Bible. He sacrificed precious time befriending me and he did so because that’s just the kind of person he was.

Then came the invitation to preach at his church, Ohio Valley Baptist, which would become my place of ministry for five years. They were hosting a large youth rally and he graciously invited me to preach—at 17 years of age, with no formal theological training, and little pulpit experience. But he trusted the Lord and he believed in me.

A few months later, my relationship with Bro. John deepened as I accepted the call to be the minister of youth at Ohio Valley. He poured into me in ways that have made an eternal impact. His influence and leadership are the reason I’m in the ministry today. Every day, I aspire to be the kind of pastor and Christian that he was. In our relationship, he faithfully applied 2 Timothy 2:2, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” Throughout the entirety of my time serving in ministry with him, he mentored me for pastoral ministry.

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I’ll never forget the day he shook my hand and presented me with my license to preach. I preached a bummer sermon that morning, but he knew the Lord had called me to preach and on November 25, 2012 he and Ohio Valley confirmed so by licensing me to preach the gospel. He also conducted my ordination on December 15, 2013 and I’ll never forget what he said: “I’m gonna tell you what the apostle Paul told Timothy and how I believe he said it: PREACH. THE. WORD!”

They say faithfulness in ministry is both taught and caught. That is, you learn to be a faithful pastor through instruction, example, and experience. He provided me with the right combination of all three. He wisely counseled me in matters of life and ministry, but he simultaneously provided the best example for me to follow and gave me plenty of opportunities to serve the Lord (and even make mistakes).

318311_4771256193513_2126824425_nI remember vividly when he taught me how to baptize new believers. He insisted that I join him in the baptistery to watch and learn. He even assisted me as I baptized one of my best friends. He knew I needed the experience for when I would become the pastor of my own church.

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Bro. John is also the reason I went to Bible college. After graduating high school, I didn’t want to do anymore schooling. But he continued to encourage me to pursue some kind of formal theological training. Recently, I graduated from Boyce College with an Associates of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies. I just received my diploma in the mail and I wish I could have shown it to him and expressed my deepest gratitude for his encouraging me to pursue it (I have a feeling he knows now).

414627_4004776351996_1691435617_oHe was a man who “walked slowly through the people.” That is, he made a real effort to spend time with people. He would listen to you—not just to reply, but to show that he loved you. He was the most relational pastor that I’ve ever known. He was there anytime he was needed. He was at every event. He had fun during church events and always made them more lively.

I remember the times he rushed to the hospital to visit people in need. Many of those times, he brought me with him. Whether it was a routine surgery, a sudden illness, or a tragic death—he was there to love and lead people who were hurting. He taught me that a pastor ought to be seen outside the church as much as inside the church. 

1223121212And he always did more than what was required of him. He was a faithful pastor who always exceeded his job description. Even before he came to Ohio Valley, I am told that he got on his rubber boots and helped one of the families move things out of their house before it flooded. When there was something that needed to be done, he did it—no matter how mundane. In fact, another idiom of his was, “Sometimes if it’s not done by the pastor, it won’t get done.” 

622411_3910863644237_1265532537_oBro. John also exemplified Paul’s command to always be ready to preach (2 Tim. 4:2). Everywhere was his pulpit. He preached outdoors on the church lawn and at the public parks. He preached at weddings and funerals. He even preached to the folks down at the nursing home. He was always ready. No matter how busy he was, he was always prepared to open and explain the word of God.

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He was also instrumental in the relationship that me and my wife share. We both distinctly remember how he tenderly counseled us as we prepared for marriage. When the wedding day arrived, she and I were shaking like leaves on a tree, but he was calm and composed—which really helped ease our tensions. 

Words can never express how much he means to me. There is so much more that I want to say. But all in all, Bro. John taught me how to be a faithful pastor, a devoted Christian, and a loving husband. I’m going to miss his wise counsel and quirks. I am going to miss calling him on the phone for advice regarding issues in ministry. But I am anticipating the day when we will be reunited in glory.

I love you, Bro. John. You did so much for me that you didn’t have to do. I am who I am today because you befriended and mentored the young man on your school bus.

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A Guide for Thanksgiving

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, it’s important to remember the history of this holiday. The first Thanksgiving in America was celebrated among the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians in 1621. Over a century later, President George Washington proclaimed Thursday, the 26th of November 1789, a day of public thanksgiving and prayer. However, Thanksgiving became an official federal holiday when President Lincoln declared it as such during the Civil War, 156 years ago. Thanksgiving is rich with American history.

And while nothing is more American than abandoning our diets and fighting each other over discounts the day after we remember what we’re thankful for, Thanksgiving is not exclusively American. The Bible tells us that the Israelites celebrated their own “thanksgiving” nearly 3,000 years ago, and it was much more than a holiday—it was an act of worship.

Three millennia ago, Psalm 100 was written as a guide for the Jews as they gave thanks and expressed gratitude for their blessings, much like we do at Thanksgiving. It is, as the superscript of the psalm says, “A Psalm for giving thanks.” It provides guidance and instruction regarding thanksgiving. And as Thanksgiving approaches, you can use this psalm as a manual for how to give thanks to the Lord.

Psalm 100 tells us four things about thanksgiving:

(1) Giving thanks can be done through song. In the first two verses, it says, “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!” Singing is essential to giving thanks (Acts 16:25; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; James 5:13). Sing a song to the Lord as an expression of your gratitude for who He is and what He has done.

(2) Giving thanks is personal. The psalm continues, “Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture” (v. 3). In order to give thanks to God, you must have a personal relationship with Him—you must know Him as Lord. You must be among His people—a sheep in His pasture.

(3) Giving thanks should be corporate: “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” (v. 4). You cannot fully give thanks to God unless you are in the presence of other believers. Thanksgiving happens in His “courts” and “gates.”

(4) Giving thanks should be done because of God: “For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever; and his faithfulness to all generations” (v. 5). You are to give thanks because God is good, loving, and faithful.

Let Psalm 100 guide you this week—honor the history of Thanksgiving by honoring the Lord with your thanksgiving.


profile pic5Brandon 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, Aries, and Dot.

The Roaring Lion

There are thousands of good ideas in the world—entering into a lion enclosure at the zoo is not one of them. Earlier this year, a man miraculously survived a lion attack after doing just that. An employee at the Serengeti Zoo in Hamburg, Germany, entered into the enclosure to do a routine fence check. Usually, the lions are in their cages when employees enter, but not this time. One of the lions pounced and attacked the man and he sustained several serious injuries as a result. Needless to say, lions are dangerous whether they are in the wild or in zoos. They are territorial and always ready to fight anything that may challenge them. Not to mention, they are natural hunters that can reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

Another bad idea is walking around as a Christian, unaware of the fact that a more dangerous lion lurks around, waiting to chow down on your life. In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter gave a firm warning about this lion: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Peter says that Satan wants to devour and destroy you, just like a roaring and hungry lion.

Comparing the devil to a lion suggests at least four things about his nature and work. First, the devil wants to consume you just as lions consume their prey. Lions hunt by staying hidden so their prey will be inattentive to their presence. Once they get close enough to the unsuspecting animal, they chase them until they are caught. This is precisely what the devil does to believers. The devil is always hidden, disguised as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). And he will attack when you are ignorant of his presence.

Second, like a lion, the devil attacks the weak. Lions don’t normally hunt elephants or giraffes because they are too challenging to kill—they are much larger than lions. Instead, lions will stalk smaller and weaker animals—antelopes, zebras, or wild hogs. Likewise, the devil hunts the spiritually weak. The devil will tear you apart when you are frail and defenseless without your spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-20).

Third, the devil intimidates just as lions do. Lions roar to show how big they are—to scare their prey and competitors. The devil also roars to instill fear and he does so through persecution, fierce trials, and strong temptations.

Finally, the devil devours just as lions devour their prey. Lions don’t eat with silverware and neither does the devil. Like a lion, the devil wants to consume you until there is nothing left and he will leave a mess.

The best idea is to be sober-minded and watchful, alert and prepared to fight when he attacks.


profile pic5Brandon 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, Aries, and Dot.

Hungry Christians

The following column was published in the Murray Ledger & Times, Weekend Edition November 9-10, 2019:

Hungry Christians

Bible Gleanings by Brandon Bramlett

Pastor of Locust Grove Baptist Church

All babies cry. Their cry is one heard ‘round the world, too. One, because all babies everywhere cry, no matter their skin color or ethnicity. Their squeal requires no translation—every language understands it. And two, some cry so loudly that it appears to travel the globe. A variety of things may cause an infant to cry. Perhaps they need a diaper change. Maybe they want to be held. It may be that they are trying to break a world record for the loudest and longest cry. But every parent knows that infants often cry when they are hungry. It’s their way of saying, “Hey, I’m hungry—feed me.” It is healthy for a baby to be hungry—they need nourishment to be strong, growing, and healthy.

If you are a Christian, so do you. You need spiritual food so you can thrive, flourish, and grow. It is healthy to be spiritually hungry for spiritual nourishment. No wonder the apostle Peter wrote, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2). Just as newborns naturally hunger for the nutrition that comes from their mother’s milk, it should be natural for you to hunger for the nutrition that comes from God. More specifically, this spiritual nutrition comes from, “the pure spiritual milk.” Clearly, this is referring to the word of God in the Old and New Testaments. The Scripture is pure—undefiled, free of contamination and error. The Scripture is spiritual—it deals with our spiritual lives. And the Scripture is like milk because we can digest it and be nourished by its contents.

As a believer, you are commanded to hunger and cry out for the word of God so you will feast upon it and “grow up into salvation.” The more you hunger for the word and are fed by it, the more you’ll grow in your salvation. This intense desire for the word of God has been characteristic of believers since the time of Job. Job described his intense longing for the Bible like this: “I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food” (Job 23:12).

But how can you maintain a hunger like this? Here’s the answer: understand that hunger is directly correlated to taste. Think about your favorite meal—you hunger for it because you know how good it tastes. Likewise, you will hunger for the word of God the more you taste it. Many have no desire for the word because they don’t know what it tastes like. But the more “meals” of God’s word you consume, the hungrier you’ll be, and the more you’ll grow. So, are you a hungry Christian?

Psychological Child Abuse: Raising Children as “Theybies”

The latest attempt at normalizing the popular idea of gender fluidity comes from a large group of parents in the U.S. who believe in raising their children as “theybies.” NBC recently published an article documenting what several couples are doing to shield their children from gender stereotypes: concealing their biological sex. These couples represent a growing number of parents who are bringing their children up without gender designation. Children should get to decide their own gender when they get ready, they argue, so the use of pronouns he, she, him, or her, are totally avoided. To ensure kids have complete freedom to decide what gender they want to be, their biological gender is hidden from the children and from everyone else. Parents who propose this are calling their children “theybies,” since they refer to their children using only gender-neutral pronouns such as, “they, them, and their.” Experts say this could prevent a number of problems seen in children (and adults) today, although they admit there is no existing scientific research conducted on the result of raising children this way. The experts claim that this way of raising children could prevent “gender dysphoria,” which is when a person feels that their gender doesn’t align with their assigned sex at birth. It reassures children that there is “more than one way to be a boy or a girl.” These parents readily admit that this approach to parenting is not easy or comfortable “in a gendered world.” Not everyone understands the reasoning behind the decision to keep their children’s biological gender hidden. The couples in the article explain several confrontations which have been awkward and even offending, simply because people do not understand their intentions. Modern-day society has not yet evolved into gender-nonconformity, they say, but they are willing to make whatever sacrifices necessary to defend their children from gender stereotypes for as long as possible. Society is the problem—it hasn’t progressed to the point where it needs to be regarding gender fluidity. Until society does, these parents will raise their children as “theybies,” without gender designation.

This movement and the ideology behind it is detrimental to the upbringing of children and extremely troubling, to say the least. Let’s start at the beginning with the ideology. The idea of gender fluidity is completely subjective, grounded in neither science nor biology—only in personal experience. Scientific or biological proof for gender fluidity is totally nonexistent. When an individual feels they should be a different gender than that which was assigned at birth—that’s all it is—a feeling. Thus, advocating that children should decide their gender on the basis of its fluidity (and because it is a part of the human process, as they argue), is misplaced and flawed from the start. Gender is assigned biologically—you are either male or female. This is something which the Christian worldview affirms (Gen. 1:27; 5:2) and recognizing the immutability of gender is crucial to how we relate to one another and contribute to society. This is especially important for children to understand—the truth should not be concealed from them. They need to understand the way the biological world works, especially given their developing minds.

Moreover, the whole concept of gender fluidity and identity is assuming too much about the mental capability of children. Children don’t make life decisions, much less the decision of what gender they want to be (which apparently happens at age 4, the proponents argue). If children believe that gender is fluid, they are suspect to change their genders multiple times throughout the course of their childhood. As children, how many times did we change our career interest, for example? Some of us wanted to be astronauts or firefighters, later changing our interests to photography or geology. And now the majority of us are pursuing none of those fields. The point is this: children are subject to change frequently throughout the course of their upbringing. Therefore, they do not have the comprehension to make the significant decision of gender identity (regardless of how irrational gender fluidity is).

Additionally, consider the practical inconsistency and the overkill of raising children without gender designation. This approach to parenting is practically inconsistent—parents know that a child’s freedom should be limited. No parent allows their child to decide for themselves what time they will go to bed, and no parent allows their child to eat junk food all day long. If you wouldn’t allow children total freedom in those insignificant areas, why would you allow them freedom in a significant area such as their biology? This proposed solution to preventing gender stereotypes is just plainly overkill—it is extremely disproportional to the problem. Complete annihilation of gender-specific pronouns is taking things too far. There is a plethora of other (and better) ways to ensure that children are not “pigeonholed into gender stereotypes.” Let boys have tea parties with their sisters and take your daughters fishing. But don’t obliterate empirical and biological truth.

This entire ideology and its proposed application is disturbing because, in it, you can see that the ripple effects of the sexual revolution in America have arrived at the most crucial and vulnerable area of human life: child development. As our culture has “progressively” abandoned sexual morality, they have also abandoned sexual reality. All of this arises from the idea of a secular nation—a nation free of objective morality—the morality which comes exclusively from a Christian worldview. Unfortunately, the influence of secularism has made its way to vulnerable children.

Compelling Questions for Those Who Believe Salvation Can Be Lost

I want to say from the start, I am not making the case here for the doctrine of the perseverance of the believer, even though I firmly believe it to be taught throughout Scripture. In fact, I could take up all the space on your screen with both a firm biblical argument for this doctrine, and a corresponding polemic against the opposite view if I needed to. At the present time, however, I am just looking for solid answers to some genuine questions I have for the individuals who do not believe in the doctrine of the believer’s perseverance. This doctrine is sometimes referred to as eternal security or the perseverance of the saints.  I will not post any Bible verses or any of “my interpretations” whatsoever in this post – I simply want answers to a few questions.

It’s pretty crucial because if any doctrine is to be proven biblical, and therefore true, then it should be fully developed in Scripture. In other words, it shouldn’t just be one thing and nothing else. It should be the game of basketball and not just the ball or the goal. If you hold the view that a believer can lose his or her salvation, you should be able to explain the whole doctrine with all of its facets and implications. It’s not enough to just say, “You know the Bible teaches you can lose your salvation, right?” You should be able to explain how this teaching, if true, relates to every other teaching in Scripture – and that’s where my questions come in. I want to know what the implications are for some other areas in Scripture if this teaching is biblical. I also want to know how it relates to other areas of the believer’s life. These questions have to be answered clearly, with examples, and with plenty of Scripture, otherwise there can be no real case for this view. It has to be more than just the ball – it must be the whole game.

With that said, all of my questions are listed below with brief commentary. Feel free to answer these questions in the comment section, or however you wish.

  • What must a believer do in order to lose his salvation?

In other words, what must take place for the believer to lose his salvation? If this teaching is true, then believers should definitely guard themselves against doing the very thing which causes him to lose his salvation. So what must the believer do to lose his salvation, what line must he cross, or what requirement must he fulfill to no longer be a believer?

  • Can salvation be regained? If so, how?

If there are passages which mean that salvation can be lost, then equally there must be passages which speak to it being regained. I may be wrong, but if God clearly prescribes what one should do in order to be saved, and if Scripture teaches salvation can be lost, then surely it states in some way that it can be regained. If it cannot be regained, then just say so. But if it can be lost, then surely it can just as easily be regained.

  • Can a believer lose their salvation multiple times, and can they regain it multiple times?

This is banking off the previous question, but if there is a way for the apostate to gain his salvation back, then can he lose it again? And if he can lose it again, then can he regain it again? Is there an endless cycle here, a certain number of times, or no such thing at all?

  • How does a believer remain saved, so that he doesn’t lose his salvation?

This is probably the most pressing question – if salvation can be lost then what must a believer do to ensure that he doesn’t? In other words, what must a believer do to maintain his salvation so that it cannot be lost? Or is it an absolute mystery, where you cannot know whether or not you have lost your salvation?

  • Who or what decides when a believer loses his salvation?

As an extension of the previous question, is there an action or person which decides that the believer becomes an apostate? Said another way, does the believer do something which causes him to lose his salvation or does God decide that unbeknownst to him?

  • What are the mechanics of how a believer loses his salvation?

This is something I would really like to know. What actually happens when a believer loses his salvation? I have a lot of questions following this one because of how extensive the effects of the gospel are for the believer. Is the Holy Spirit withdrawn from him and is he now dead in sins again? What happens to the progress he made during his sanctification? Does God remove the righteousness of Christ from his account, and credit his sin back to him? Does he have any recollection of what his life was like when he was saved? What spiritual state is the once-a-believer in, now that he is once again unsaved? Is everything about his salvation now reversed, or is he better or worse off than he was before?

  • What did Jesus actually accomplish through the atonement at Calvary if salvation can be lost?

Did Jesus die for all sins except for the one sin which causes the believer to lose his salvation (whatever it may be)? Is the atonement temporary, or eternal? What exactly is salvation for the believer who loses it? In my view, it is by all accounts a significant wreckage if salvation can be lost if it was purchased by Christ for the believer. Wouldn’t it be a waste of Christ’s crucifixion if the believer can lose what Christ bought for him?

  • Where, specifically in Scripture does it state that a true believer can lose his or her salvation?

While all of these questions are pressing, this is probably the most significant. If salvation can be lost, there should be clear exegetical proof from Scripture as a whole. It shouldn’t be a few verses here, and a few verses there. This should be a clear message throughout all of Scripture. Additionally, there should be plenty of examples of this in the Bible – nothing occurs in Scripture without an existing personal account.

So if you hold this view that a believer can lose his salvation, then feel free to answer below or e-mail me.

The Need for Studying Theology, a Guest Post by Michael Chadwick

Before I dive into the subject of why theological study is crucial for the Christian, I would really like to address something important. When you read the title of this post, you may have had certain doubts. You might have had one of these reactions: Theology? I don’t want to lose the simplicity of faith! Won’t I substitute thought for action? I mean, theology has caused divisions – theology uses big words, and it just complicates communication. Isn’t theology all based on speculation, and doesn’t theology major on minor truths? 

If you had a reaction similar to this, you’re not alone. You see, a large number of people in the church, unfortunately try to avoid theology and all that goes along with it like avoiding some plague. Most people have strong doubts about theology – but let me encourage you by saying that theology is not a bad thing. In fact, if theology is done with the right motive, it is a most glorious thing. With that said, let’s dive in deeper into why we should study theology and why it is definitely a good thing.

First of all, what is theology? Theology, in its literal translation is the study of God. The meaning of the word comes from two separate words: Theo (meaning God) and ology (meaning study). Essentially, theology is the study of God. Henry Clarence Thiessen gives us an even better way to understand the definition of theology, saying that “we may define theology as the science of God and His relations to the universe.”¹ Why is this? Why is theology the science of God and how He relates to the universe? Because in Christian theology, you have to include many different doctrines. Throughout years of study, we now include every Christian doctrine to this idea of theology. Doctrines such as:

  • the doctrine of revelation (the study of how God reveals Himself to us, etc.)
  • the doctrine of God (this includes His nature, His attributes, His decrees, His works, etc.)
  • the doctrine of humanity (this includes our nature, and our relationship to both sin and a holy God)
  • the doctrine of Christ (includes both the person and the work of Christ)
  • the doctrine of the Holy Spirit (includes both the person and the work of the Holy Spirit)
  • the doctrine of salvation (how it is that we are saved, what does that entail, etc.)
  • the doctrine of the church (how is the church to be led, what is the purpose of the church, etc.)
  • the doctrine of last things (consummation and what will happen when we die)

This was far from a complete list, but it definitely gives a good overview of what we consider to be theology today. It’s not just one idea, or a few scattered ideas – it is a science – the science of God. Theology is important because it deals with every day Christian life, as you can see clearly from the list above.

Why should we study theology? There are four main reasons why it should be important for Christians to study theology. So why should we sit down and enjoy studying theology?

1. Study Theology Because the Bible Teaches That Theology is Important

The first reason is because the Bible teaches us that theology is important. Look at Hosea 4:1-6:

“Listen to the word of the Lord, O sons of Israel, for the Lord has a case against the inhabitants of the land, because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land. There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and everyone who lives in it languishes along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky, and also the fish of the sea disappear. Yet let no one find fault, and let none offer reproof; for you people are like those who contend with the priest. So you will stumble by day, and the prophet also will stumble with you by night; and I will destroy your mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest, since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (NASB).

In the beginning verse, God tells the people of Israel that there is a case against them – because on top of many other things, there was no knowledge of God in the land. And this is an essential part of theology. We as theological students try to learn more and more about our God. We need the right knowledge of God as Christians. This passage from Hosea calls us to pursue that knowledge, and it does so through one of its many warnings found in verse 6: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest, since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” If God is unchangeable (which is one of His many attributes), then He can do the same thing to us. We can be spiritually destroyed and reap the consequences without knowledge of God. We as Christians, as God’s people, need to have knowledge about God. Also, similar instruction is found in Malachi 2:7, “for the lips of a priest should preserve knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.” In the local church, your pastor(s), deacons, elders, Sunday school teachers, or any other persons in leadership roles should help you in your personal study of the knowledge of God. This study is what we call theology. So first we see that the Bible teaches that study of theology is important.

2. Study Theology Because Jesus Demonstrated That Theology is Important

Secondly, we should study theology because Jesus demonstrated that theology is important. Let us look at Matthew 16:13-16:

“Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” (NASB)

What is pictured in this passage is that they are walking in a line and Jesus goes to each disciple individually and asks these questions. When it says that Jesus was asking the disciples, it has the action of beginning to ask and kept asking. Finally, after he got through all of the disciples, he got to Peter. And Peter said that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah. The point: Jesus wanted to know what people were saying about Him. By doing this, He was demonstrating that theology is important to Him. If we cannot answer this fundamental question right, then we cannot dive further into theology, for if we have an answer any different than Peter’s, anything else we say is as flawed as the “wisdom” of this world.

3. Study Theology Because it is Important for Discipleship

Thirdly, to be a disciple we need to study theology. Remember, if we cannot answer who Jesus is correctly, we cannot begin to go anywhere else in Scripture. To be a true disciple of Christ, we have to know what Christ says, does, and thinks. The only way we can figure this out is by reading our Bibles and by studying theology. We need theology to help us in our walk with God. We need theology to be better ambassadors for Him. The Christian life may start out with a “blind” and simple faith, but God does not want us to stay there. God wants you and I to grow in our faith. God wants us to learn more about Him, and as we do we will be growing disciples.

4. Study Theology Because the Early Church Demonstrated That Theology is Important

Last, the early church demonstrated that theology is important. The early church had to rely on sound theology to safeguard against the all-too-frequent heresies that came about. Many of the major heresies really started after the apostle John died. Soon after his death was when Gnosticism was on its rise. This heresy affected people’s understanding of the doctrine of Christ, the doctrine of God, and the doctrine of humanity. If you ever decide to research Gnosticism, you will see that its impact was so sever that we are still trying to recover from this heresy. On a similar note, you even have to be careful when studying the heresies! Make sure you have a very solid foundation on the Bible before you work through those. There were many other heresies that came about that compelled the early Church to rely completely on sound theology. And that demonstrates the need for studying it.

Conclusion: Study Theology for the Glory of God

As I said in the introduction, if you study theology with the right motive, then it is a most glorious thing. Since we know why we should study theology, then we need to find out what the right motive is for studying theology. So what is this right motive? The answer to that is really the answer to why we do anything. We as Christians do everything to bring praise, honor, and glory to our sovereign King. That is always the end goal in everything that we do. Our motive for studying theology is no different. We study theology for God’s glory. If our motive is anything other than to learn more about our Creator, and to grow in our relationship with Him, then we are wrong and need to desperately repent. There are many who study theology so that they can answer all the questions, and be the smartest person in the room – quite plainly, that is wrong. They need to repent because it is clear that God is displeased with that. Truthfully, they would be better off not studying theology in the first place. So before starting to study theology, ask yourself why you are doing this. If the answer is not so that you can grow in order to glorify God, then wait until you can answer that way.


  1. Thiessen, Henry C. Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006), 1-2.
13716047_10153790694491547_9032896755713306761_nMichael Chadwick is the pastor of Jensen Baptist Church in Pineville, Kentucky. He and his wife Kari live in Pineville, where they both study at the acclaimed Clear Creek Baptist Bible College.

Weekend Reflections: Time Management and Training Others

What you are about to read are my weekend reflections. Back a few weeks ago, I started doing this in a notebook for my own personal benefit. This isn’t a diary, trust me, I have a beard. But it is a time for me to reflect on the past week for the following purposes: so that I may contemplate on what most stood out to me Sunday through Friday; so that I can think on the biblical and practical lessons the Lord has taught me most recently; so that I can see what can be done more productively or differently; so that I can improve upon what I’m already doing; and so that I can encourage you in your own personal walk with Christ, or you area of ministry.  Til now I’ve been keeping these reflections to myself, but I’d like to share them with you today. These are some of the lessons the Lord has impressed upon me this past week.

Time Management and Productivity

We are called by God to be stewards. A steward is someone appointed to look after, manage, or supervise another’s property. We know from Scripture that everything in the earth is the Lord’s, and that He has called us to steward His property. So Christians are to be stewards of their talents, their finances, and also their time. All of these things which belong to the Lord. But perhaps the most difficult area of stewardship is our time, and managing it well. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:15-16, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (emphasis mine).

In today’s world, it is increasingly difficult to spend our time most efficiently – let alone spending that time honoring the Lord in what we do. Well, the Lord has been teaching me a few lessons for the past few weeks, and especially this past week. One of those lessons is this: faithful time stewardship today ensures faithful time stewardship tomorrow. Or put another way, faithful time stewardship yesterday ensures more faithful time stewardship today. If we spend our time well today, it always ensures that tomorrow’s time will be spent even better. 

Practically speaking, there are many things I’ve tried to do that have proved helpful in being a better steward of my own time. Knowing that if I spend my time well today I can spend it better tomorrow, I have implemented a few different habits that have certainly helped me. First, I’ve tried to wake up earlier and get to bed earlier. Waking up early is sort of a “love-hate” thing for me. I love the stillness of the morning, and I am as active as a carpenter’s pencil in the morning. But I have difficulty getting up at my first or second alarm. What helps me to wake up is to prepare my favorite breakfast the night before, and plan on doing at least one major thing that will get my blood pumping the next morning. That way, I’ve got something enjoyable to look forward to when I open my eyes in the morning. I know that I’ve got that delicious smoothie waiting to be enjoyed; I know that I’ve got at least 15 mins to run in my neighborhood as the sun rises. Of course, as a pastor, I work the same 9-3 hours as most everyone else. Those hours are not always spent at the office (which is my bedroom too), but they may be spent visiting, making calls, printing materials, or a host of other things. But no matter how busy I am during the day, I try to make it a priority to plan something enjoyable the night before, so that I can wake up ready to go. I mean, when did any of us stay in bed on Christmas morning anyway?

The second thing I’ve tried to do is ordering my daily tasks by importance and order. I’ll sit down on Sunday evening or Monday morning and write out everything I can perceive that needs to be done on what day(s) – appointments, sermon preparation, visitation, everything. And when I get those tasks written out, I will write a number to the left side of each task. This number indicates the order in which I need to accomplish the tasks. For example, if I’m heading to the church and I need to stop to make a visit, I’ll put a out by the visit and a out by my stopping by the church. That way, I can keep up with the order of things and not leave anything out. I also do this for the principle of doing first things first. If I get an unexpected interruption and I’m not able to complete some of the smaller, less important things, then I’m still okay. Why? Because I completed the first things first. The things that are most important in my to-do list need to be done first. That way I’m not having anxiety about completing those important tasks, and my less-important tasks can have as much flexibility as they need.

Training Others to Teach Scripture

When God gives us a task to complete, or when He calls us to a particular task or ministry, we are to do those things and fulfill those ministries with excellence because it is the Lord’s work that we are doing. Paul says that we are to give ourselves fully to the Lord’s work: “always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58, ESV). So for this reason and many others, all that we do should be done with excellence of service—whether it is teaching Sunday School, cleaning the worship center, setting up the student area, or helping a child make a craft.

In order to complete those tasks, and fulfill our ministries, we need to be properly educated and trained to do so. One of the best ways that excellence is ensured in our service is being well-trained at our vocation. Because of this, I try to emphasize the urgency and need for training in all areas of ministry at our church. If you teach the children, you need to know how to teach them and answer their questions. If you work the soundboard, you need to know how to monitor its diverse mechanics. If you teach students, you need to know how to teach in a way that is relevant to this stage in their life.

In the area of Sunday School, it’s been a pleasure for me to train a young man to eventually teach our high school students’ class. He’s been making a lot of progress as we’ve talked, and as I’ve given him a plethora of materials for his training. It’s taken more time out of my daily pastoral ministry duties, but it has been worth it and it will be worth it. I would encourage you to do the same, because we need to take time to invest in our church members, we need to disciple them, teach them new skills, and help them discover their calling or spiritual gifts (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Pet. 4:10-11).

Pray for this young man, and do the same in your churches – our teachers especially need to be continually refreshed so that they can refresh others. They need to be well-trained so that they too can one day train another to take their place. It’s the biblical model for enlisting and recruiting people to serve in various ministries: “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2, ESV).

As an aside, here are the best resources I’ve ever used or passed on to our Bible teachers:

1. Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

2. How to Study the Bible by Robert M. West.

3. 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible by Robert L. Plummer.

4. The ESV Study Bible by Crossway.

5. The Complete Bible Answer Book by Hank Hanegraaff.

My Tribute to Theresa Hughes

Tomorrow I preach the funeral of one of the most loved students at our church. She was one of the sweetest young ladies I ever knew, and it was a privilege and honor to be her youth pastor for many years. Preaching her funeral is not something I’ve ever thought once of doing since the moment I met her. I certainly didn’t think it would be this soon. This is definitely the hardest thing that I’ve had to deal with as a minister. Below is my tribute to this wonderful young lady, who I loved very much.

“It takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, and a day to love them, but it takes an entire lifetime to forget them.”—Anonymous

Without a doubt, as our lives go on, you and I will never forget Theresa Hughes. We’ll always remember her and all the times she made us laugh, all the times she made us cry, all the times we had fun with her, all the hard times she helped us get through.

If you ever met her, I can guarantee you that you have positive memories with her. She was just an overall great-spirited person to be around. Never once did I ever hear an ill word utter from her lips. She was a bright, and always smiling young lady who made a lasting and positive impact on everybody who knew her.

That’s just the kind of person she was. You can’t say that about everybody, but you can sure say it about Theresa. She was friends with everybody in our youth group, and if she wasn’t your friend, it was just because you weren’t introduced to her!

I was her youth pastor for several years (since 2012), and because of this I have many wonderful memories with her. When I first came to Ohio Valley, she was one of the first persons I was introduced to. I knew from the day I met her that there was something special about her.

I could talk all day long about so many good memories and experiences that I had with her, but I’ll just highlight a few that stand out the most to me. I’ll never forget this one time she smashed a plate full of shaving cream right into my face. Yes, as a youth pastor, you have those type of experiences. Moral of the story: teenagers cannot be trusted with shaving cream. 

We had an outdoor event, and I had just recently been hired by Ohio Valley to be their youth minister. I was rubbing elbows with all the students they had, getting to know them and their stories. And I was only briefly introduced to Theresa a few times, but I recall sitting down in a lawn chair and it got real quiet. I also didn’t see any of the other students around, and the next thing I know: SQQUIISSHH! I had a face (and mouth) full of shaving cream, and the culprit standing behind me was Theresa. Next thing you know, everyone is wiping shaving cream on everybody! (pictured above)

I’ll never forget all the times she sat in our Sunday school class and asked questions about the Bible. I’ll never forget all the discussions we had about the Bible on Wednesday nights with our youth. I’ll never forget about all the volleyball and kickball we played during VBS together. I’ll never forget about all the events she went to with our group, and how she fit right in with everybody.

But I thank God for the memory of her that is pressed in my mind. There’ll be times when you and I are at work, while we’re at school, while we’re in bed, or while we’re outside that we will remember Theresa and the good times we had with her and our hearts will be warmed by those wonderful memories.

Praise God for Theresa, and praise God for allowing us to know her, befriend her and love her these 18 years she was allotted to be with us on this earth. She was truly someone we will always remember, and someone we will always love and cherish.

When God Prayed: Jesus’ Devotion to Prayer (Luke 5:16)

That annoying alarm wakes us up. We grab a shower and a cup of coffee, then we’re out the door on our way to work. We might listen to a sermon on the radio during our morning commute, or we might read the Bible at lunch time. And soon enough, it will be time to go home. We go home, do a few things around the house, cook supper, pay bills, and then we’re off to bed to restart the process. But here’s a pressing question: when did we stop and talk to God, and really spend some time praying to Him? If you’re answer is anything like mine, you might feel a bit of shame. Most of us would likely admit that we haven’t been praying as much as we should be. For me, reading the Bible isn’t a problem. I’ve got a Bible reading plan that keeps me in line. But prayer . . . that’s another story. It is difficult for me to find time in my busy day to really spend time with God. That’s an honest confession.

I read something in the Scripture today that drove me to prayer this morning. It’s something I’ve read dozens, probably hundreds of times before. But a few details helped my understanding and application of it. What I read today was Luke 5, the verse that convicted me to prayer was v. 16 where Luke notes that Jesus prayed at His busiest moment at the beginning of His ministry. It reads in this way:

“But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16).

In this passage, Luke records Jesus cleansing a leper saying that once He healed this leper, “even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities” (v. 15). Jesus cleansed this leper, and word got out about His healing power. Because of this, crowds came to hear Him preach and teach, and they came to be healed of their many diseases and infirmities. Jesus was getting popular at this point. More and more people began to know about Him as time went on. And Luke says that there was one thing He would always do, even when He was busy with His teaching and healing ministry: He would withdraw Himself from the crowds, to places where He could be alone, and He would pray. There are several passages of Scripture in the gospels that tell us that Jesus prayed alone, prayed for others, and prayed long prayers (Matt. 11:25-26; Matt. 14:23; Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12; 22:41-44; 23:24; John 17:1-26). The fact that Jesus prayed is astounding for two main reasons. First of all, because He was God in the flesh, and still prayed. Because He was God, it would make you think that Jesus would not need to pray, but it is very apparent from the gospels that prayer is something that He needed and something that He did. Though Jesus was God, He prayed to His Father and He made use of prayer.

Second, it is astounding that Jesus prayed because He was occupied with more tasks than any of us ever will be, and He still found time to pray. We might say, “But Jesus didn’t have a full time job like I do. Jesus’ didn’t cook supper for children, or pick them up from school everyday like me. Jesus didn’t have emails to send and receive.” Historically, that’s absolutely true. Jesus wasn’t a factory worker, working from nine to five. Jesus didn’t go to see His children play football at the high school. Jesus didn’t have an iPhone and wasn’t able to Tweet or check emails. But let me tell you what Jesus was involved in doing: Jesus was teaching crowds of hundreds of people everyday, and they were increasing as He became more popular. When is the last time you taught growing crowds of people multiple times a week? He was healing all kinds of diseases, people were coming to Him to be healed of all their infirmities and sicknesses. When is the last time you cleansed a leper? He was calling and teaching His disciples. He was dealing with the persecution of the religious rulers. Everywhere He went, He had to walk. When is the last time we did any of those things? And here’s the biggie: no one else could duplicate Jesus’ ministry. No one else could do what He was doing. It would be different if Simon Peter could heal the same way Jesus was, and teach the same way He was. But there was only one Son of God, and there was only one ministry that could do all this: Jesus’ ministry. Jesus was one busy man.

So even though Jesus was God, and even though He was unbelievably busy, nothing seemed to deter Jesus from spending extensive time in prayer. So we need to reflect now on our own prayer life. In light of this passage of Scripture, what is keep us from spending time in prayer? Whatever it might be, we need to get it out of the way and spend time alone with God, taking our requests to Him, praising Him for His blessings upon us, and praying for His grace and enabling to be obedient. I’ve said it before, and it’s something I have to constantly remind myself of: if you are too busy to pray, you are too busy. Let us pray, and let us devote time to prayer. Jesus did, so should we.