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What’s Missing In Our Evangelism (It’s Not What You Think)

It is incontestably true that, with the exception of Jesus, the apostle Paul made the deepest spiritual impact upon the world and spread the gospel further than anyone else in history. It is also fair to say that, as believers, we all have a desire to transform our world and reach lost souls the same way Paul did. But, as painful as it is to admit, it is observably true that we are not doing so for the most part. So, what are we missing in our evangelism? Why aren’t we impacting the world like Paul did? 

We have a plethora of evangelistic resources and tools at our disposal—much more than Paul had—so that’s not the problem. We mostly know how to share the gospel with sinners who will listen, so that’s not the issue. And, we certainly have ample opportunities and plenty of “open doors” to proclaim the gospel every week, so that’s not the hang-up either. What we don’t have oftentimes is the heart Paul had. 

What we need in order to reach the world like Paul is a burning and broken heart—a heart that burns hot for God’s glory, and one that is broken and shattered for the sinfulness of man. That’s the heart Paul possessed, and it drove him to evangelize a place as depraved as Athens, Greece. Paul was consumed by a conviction that compelled him to preach the gospel and point idolatrous sinners to the only God who is worthy of worship:

“Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.  So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him” (Acts 17:16-18)

As soon as Paul arrived in Athens, he wasn’t struck by the alluring ancient architecture; he was struck by the awful idolatry that filled the streets. “The city was full of idols,” Luke says. In Greek, this literally means the city streets were “smothered in idols.” And people who passed through Athens confirmed this, as they would often say that it was easier to find a god than a man. 

Athens was an idol-factory that never ceased operations. Temples to mythical gods towered thousands of feet high. Every street corner had an altar. Marble busts depicting every fictitious deity imaginable were almost innumerable. And, at the sight of this, Paul was “provoked” within his spirit.

His heart simultaneously erupted in righteous indignation and fractured into a thousand pieces. He was enraged that wood and stone idols were given glory that belongs to God (cf. Deut. 9:7), and he was saddened because he knew that all sinners are hopelessly enslaved to such idolatry. And a burning and broken heart drove him to proclaim the gospel—the only remedy for sinners steeped in perverted idolatry. 

Thus, Luke says: “So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him” (vv. 17-18a).

Paul did not raid temples or topple idols. He didn’t grab robes or protest in the streets. And most importantly, he didn’t stand idly by while people sailed merrily to eternal torment. Instead, he patiently and boldly preached the gospel to anyone who would listen.

He “reasoned” with the Jews, proving to them that Jesus was the Christ, just as he had done in many other cities. He conversed with people in the public marketplace, engaging in street evangelism with pedestrians. And he debated the philosophers of the day, arguing that Jesus was the way, the truth, and the life (cf. John 14:6).

Here’s the bottom line: Paul saw sinners the way they truly were, and it compelled him to impact the world for Christ and proclaim the gospel to every listening ear. And thus, we have the missing ingredient in our evangelism. If we want to transform the world the way Paul did, we must speak the way Paul spoke. If we desire to speak the way Paul did, we must feel the way he felt about the world. And, if we want to feel the way Paul felt, we must see the way Paul saw the world: steeped in idolatry and in need of redemption from the Lord.

Seeing the world’s pitiful idolatry through biblical eyes is what fuels our zeal to point lost sinners to the only God who is worthy of worship.

How do you see your unsaved family, friends, and neighbors? Do you see them the same way Paul saw the world? Do you see them as helplessly and hopelessly enslaved to idolatry? That’s the conviction that will compel you to proclaim the gospel to a place as sinful and unreachable as Athens.

The Lord Blesses an Evangelistic Church

“Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord” (Acts 11:19-21).

Any church whose members offer their hands to labor in preaching the gospel will have God’s hand of favor resting upon them. He blesses churches who “bring in the sheaves.” His blessing will come inside the church when believers go outside the church with the gospel of grace. He fills the barn with wheat when laborers work the field for a harvest.

We often experience a shortage of God’s blessing on our churches because of a shortage of gospel-laborers gleaning in the field. There is no undersupply of gospel seed. There is no lack of fields ripe for planting. What is in short measure are grace-empowered, Spirit-compelled believers sowing the gospel seed in fertile fields. That is precisely why Jesus said, “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).

The gospel harvest was abundant in the city of Antioch, according to St. Luke in the passage above. Believers fleeing persecution in Jerusalem took the gospel seed with them, scattering it in the soil of many unsaved hearts (cf. Acts 8:1, 4). As a result, multitudes came to Christ, eventually forming a large church in the city.

As the scattered saints sounded the saving message of Christ, they experienced the spectacular blessing of God, for, “the hand of the Lord was with them.” You can’t stifle the outstandingly powerful hand of God Almighty. The Scripture declares, “None can stay his hand” (Daniel 4:35b). His hand of grace can lift any sinner drowning in the mire pit of iniquity. His hand of salvation can reach the farthest wandering soul, no matter how vehemently they run hellbound on the broad road to destruction. His hand of mercy can pry open the most impenetrable prison cell to liberate even the most enslaved sinner.

By God’s hand of blessing and grace, a growing church was born without seminary training, strategic planning, or the spending of money. Believers preached. God saved souls. Membership skyrocketed. That’s it.

The hand of the Lord—that’s what it takes. Of course, offering your hands to sow the gospel seed in evangelism is essential, too. God does the saving, but no one can be saved unless they first hear the gospel—from you (cf. Romans 10:14-17). Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ.

Moreover, we would be foolish to try to channel growth into our churches any other way. Solomon warned, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1a). And God’s chosen means of building His house, the church, is evangelism, where we take the gospel to the unsaved in faith that God will save them, and lay them as living stones in His ever-growing spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5). Let’s stick to it.

An Unexpected Obstacle That Hinders Evangelism and Fellowship

“Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” — Acts 11:1-3

The Jerusalem church received an incredible report: the Gentiles embraced the gospel with open arms. The gospel ship landed on the Gentile shores of pigs and pagans. The sweet sound of salvation in Jesus’ name echoed from Jerusalem to Caesarea (Acts 4:12; 10:1). The promises Jesus made about His gospel reaching the nations were being fulfilled (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).

The only right response is, “To God be the glory, great things He hath done!” But strikingly, that is not the way the church in Jerusalem responded. Instead, they scorned Peter, saying, “What have you done?”

They were appalled that Peter made friends with the Gentiles, glossing over the awesome reality that the Gentiles became friends of God. They criticized Peter for socializing with Gentiles, slighting the fact that Peter evangelized the Gentiles. They reprimanded him for welcoming Gentiles with a hand of fellowship, disregarding that God had welcomed Gentiles into His kingdom by His righteous right hand.

Genuine believers like Andrew, James, and John criticized Peter for doing good—taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. Of course, they were stirred up by the devout Jews of the “circumcision party,” but isn’t this bizarre? How could true believers be so frustrated by a trivial issue such as eating with Gentiles? And why were they hesitant to welcome the Gentile believers into the church?

On the one hand, you have to cut them a break. They did not yet understand what God was doing by expanding His kingdom beyond Jerusalem. We have the books of Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, and Hebrews to explain the union of Jew and Gentile into one body; they did not. Additionally, the Lord had only spoken to Peter in a vision about including Gentiles in His saving plan (Acts 10:9-16).

On the other hand, this was a grave error. Because of their fixation on circumcision and the Law of Moses, they instinctually required Gentiles to do more than embrace Christ as Savior and Lord—they also had to embrace Judaism. Thankfully, they later understood their error and addressed the issue as a congregation (Acts 11:18; 15:1-35). But at this point, their high regard for circumcision and law-keeping was a barrier to unity and a roadblock to evangelization. Their imposition of criteria and conditions that had no saving value were a clenched fist to communion and a locked door to fellowship.

We should be careful in pointing fingers at these Jewish Christians for their subtle favoritism, however, because the Lord points His finger at us for precisely the same sin. Sometimes, we tend to focus on trivial issues that have no saving value. Whether we realize it or not, we sometimes erect artificial barriers that disrupt unity and discourage evangelism. This is what we refer to as legalism, when we knowingly or unknowingly bind others to observe man-made rules.

This may sound shocking, but sometimes what hinders evangelism of unbelievers and fellowship with fellow believers is not cultural differences, geographical distance, or even Satan—it is us. And believe me, I want to shout, “Say it ain’t so!” But if believers were totally immune to such partiality, Paul would have saved his ink in Romans 14 where he wrote, “Don’t quarrel over opinions” (v. 1), “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God” (v. 10), and “Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother” (v. 13).

Every true believer should be enthusiastically offered the hand of fellowship, regardless of whether they vote differently, look differently, or hold contrary opinions. External and superficial matters like these do not matter to the Lord who sees the heart—what matters is that one’s heart has been changed by the Lord.

Furthermore, the gospel message should be fervently carried to every unbeliever, regardless of whether they are alcoholics, addicted to drugs, immersed in false religion, stubborn to the things of God, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, black or white, or pro- or anti-vaccine.

All those guilty of such partiality will give an account to the Lord for standing in the way of the saving gospel and sanctifying fellowship. Such a discriminatory spirit is anti-gospel, satanic, and should be immediately repented of when found in the heart. Don’t let inconsequential things get in the way of fellowship or evangelism. Every believer should be embraced. Every unbeliever should be evangelized.

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 Holy Spirit Doesn’t Need Your Help

“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” — Acts‬ ‭10:44‬ ‭KJV‬‬

One of the most essential and encouraging truths in all Scripture about preaching the gospel is that the Spirit of God works mightily while we preach.

The Spirit of God punches His timecard when you proclaim the full gospel to the lost. The Spirit engages in CPR, reviving a heart once dead when you engage in evangelism (Eph. 2:1). He shines gospel light in darkened hearts when the blazing gospel torch is carried to those in darkness (2 Cor. 4:6). The Spirit opens blinded eyes when you call the unregenerate to look away from themselves to Christ (2 Cor. 4:4).

The very first thing He does is convict, according to Jesus. He said, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). The Spirit puts a person’s conscience on trial when the gospel is published. And He says to them, “You are in serious trouble with God, and you are in serious need of salvation. Wake up! God is holy and you are not. You need Jesus!”

Furthermore, the Spirit converts a sinner’s soul. Paul said:

“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:4-6).

He regenerates the unregenerate soul. He creates new life within a person devoid of spiritual life.

The Spirit does it all, and oftentimes in the very moment we present the gospel.

This does not mean that every person who hears the gospel will be saved. Sometimes your gospel preaching falls on deaf ears. Unsaved sinners still resist grace (cf. Acts 7:51).

What it does mean is that Spirit can penetrate the hardest heart, loosen the stiffest neck, and overcome anyone’s resistance to His call when He wills (John 6:37-40; Acts 16:4; Romans 8:29-30).

What it does mean is that you can faithfully present the gospel and walk away with a full heart, knowing that the Spirit leads a person to Christ.

What it does mean is that you don’t have to worry about whether your presentation of the gospel was eloquent or sophisticated enough to convince someone to believe.

What it means is that you don’t have to use gimmicks, tactics, bouncy-houses, potlucks, or concerts to win a person to Christ.

And it means that no amount of therapy, theories, or prescriptions make a person a better candidate for salvation.

The Spirit of God alone convicts and converts lost souls—and He doesn’t need any help. Just preach the gospel (Romans 10:14-17).

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.

Clinging to the Cross | Bible Gleanings, March 6-7, 2021

Clinging to the Cross

“Dear Lord, are you taking me home right now?” That is what resonated in the mind of Clara Gantt as she barely survived the historic and record-setting flood that ravaged Charleston, South Carolina back in 2015. On the first Sunday of October, Gantt was driving to church when a sheet of water plowed into her car. Panic immediately set in as flood waters threatened her life. After dialing 911 and receiving no answer, she called her grandson, but by the time he arrived, her car had floated backward into a submerged field while water rolled and rushed around her. Her grandson, Travis, waded to his grandmother with a harness and rope and pulled her out of the vehicle, but there was nowhere they could go.

Miraculously, Gantt’s car had gotten caught on a large red cross near a little church in the area. Travis wrapped the rope around the cross and they clung to the cross for hours in the raging waters while they waited for emergency personnel to arrive. Travis and Clara were rescued five hours later and here’s how she summarized the experience: “I was literally, after I got out of the car, holding onto the cross. I was clinging to the cross.” The only way they were saved from the turbulent flood was by clinging to the cross.

This story is a perfect illustration of how your only hope of being saved from the flood of God’s wrath is by clinging to the cross of Jesus Christ. God’s righteous wrath against sin and sinners is like a mighty and unstoppable flood. It is described as, “a deluge of rain” and as a storm with wind, rain, and floods (Ezekiel 13:13; Matthew 7:24-27). In fact, God used a literal flood to express His wrath and displeasure with man’s wickedness (Genesis 6:9-9:17). The good news is that you can avoid the flood of God’s wrath because it was poured out in full measure upon Jesus. Not one drop of God’s eternal wrath will touch you because Jesus absorbed it all on the cross. He swallowed every drop of the cup of God’s divine anger (Luke 22:42).

Are you clinging to the cross of Christ? It is the only way for your soul to be saved from the flood God’s divine displeasure. Good intentions and good works are not sufficient for salvation—His wrath will wash those away. You must do what is beautifully written in the hymn, Rock of Ages: “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” Cling to the cross, dear friend, by coming to Jesus in repentance and faith. Acknowledge your sin before Him and trust completely in His finished work as the only means of salvation.


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 (Bluetick Beagle).

Defibrillator for the Soul | Bible Gleanings – Feb 27-28, 2021

Defibrillator for the Soul

Your heart has landed you in the emergency room and your life is on the line. The same heart that has sustained your existence for years has thrown itself into a chaotic rhythm, and now your life is slipping away. At this point, revival is the only way to survive—your heart needs its life back. “CLEAR!” shouts the doctor as he administers an electrical shock to your chest to restart your heart and keep you alive. The life-saving device used was an automatic external defibrillator (or AED), which delivered a pulse of electricity to your low-battery heart.

While this scenario is fictional, it is the reality for thousands of people whose lives have been saved by defibrillators since they emerged in the 1980s. Thanks to colossal advancements in medical research and the experiments of a few mad scientists of long ago, the defibrillator has been saving lives and reviving hearts through controlled voltage for decades.

Another defibrillator exists that is supremely more important, infinitely more powerful, and gravely necessary to keep you alive: the word of God, the holy Scriptures. David wrote in Psalm 19 that the Bible, God’s only authoritative and inspired word, is the defibrillator for the soul of man! He declared, “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul” (v. 7a). The Scriptures function like a spiritual defibrillator to get your heart going again. When you read and study the word of God, the Spirit (who inspired the Bible) beams spiritual energy and vigor to your soul. When your soul is depleted of strength, God’s word restores and revives you with all the kilowatts you need.

Nothing else in the universe is able to revive your soul other than the word of the living God. When your heart is about to give up, no doctor administers Advil. Likewise, the only device that can restore your soul is God’s word —everything else is an ibuprofen substitute that won’t work. In order for your out-of-rhythm heart to praise God, you must “learn [His] righteous rules” (Psalm 119:7). If you want your heart to seek God, you must “not wander from [His] commandments” (Psalm 119:10). If the strength of your soul is melting like snow, let the Lord strengthen you “according to [His] word!” (Psalm 119:28).

Does your soul need a shock? Do you need revitalization and renewal on the inside? Lay the Bible open before you and savor its contents so that its restorative power may be unleashed upon you. Read and reread its promises to recharge your batteries. Heed its warnings and exhortations to restore a healthy heartbeat. Open the living and active word of God so that the Spirit may administer a life-saving jolt to your soul.


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 (Bluetick Beagle).

The Lights and the Darks | Bible Gleanings – Feb 20-21, 2021

The Lights and the Darks

Everyone has heard the age-old proverbial caution about washing clothes: don’t wash the lights with the darks. Don’t throw your black socks in the wash cycle with your white dress shirt. The purpose of keeping them separate is not to prevent the darker clothing items from being ruined by the lighter ones—just the opposite. Dye from the dark clothes will penetrate and stain the fabric fibers of your lighter-colored clothes.

Apparently, even God believes in separating the lights from the darks. One of the first things God did when creating the universe is separate the light from the dark:

“And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness” (Gen. 1:4).

God partitioned and divorced light from the dark because, as polar opposites, they did not belong together. He wanted no association to exist between light and dark, perhaps to reflect His own sanctified nature: “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5b).

God also wants His people, who are called “children of light” to remain separate from the dark—the darkness of sin (1 Thess. 5:5). If you have believed the gospel, then God has “called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9), and He wants you to be disconnected and disassociated from the blackness of sin in the world. Paul asked the obvious question, “What fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14b). There should be none—no fellowship, no mingling, and no mixing with the filthy and dark garments that are the ways of the world. When you get into the washing machine with the world, its darkness will not be stained by your light—the pitch-black dye of sin will stain you.

Unfortunately, because of the corruption of sin, we love the darkness instead of the light (John 3:19). We would rather remain in the black clothes pile of the world, the very “domain of darkness” (Col. 1:13). But for those who know Christ by repentance and faith, a great separation has taken place. The Lord God separated and removed you from this dark and grimy world and clothed you in pure and unstained vestments of white (Rev. 3:4-5; 7:9). He has separated the “lights” from the “darks.”

God delivered and disentangled you from the world’s dark clothes pile. You must resist the enticing appeal of the flesh to jump back in. As a follower of Christ, you cannot love or live in the darkness any longer. As Christ said, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness” (John 12:46). And the same God who separated you will sustain you with the resisting power necessary to abstain from the darkness, so long as you continually submit to Him.


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 (Bluetick Beagle).

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 (Bluetick Beagle).

“I’m Trying to Connect You” | Bible Gleanings – Feb 13-14, 2021

“I’m Trying to Connect You”

“Hey Siri, call John.” Nowadays, that’s all you need to do to contact somebody. The artificial intelligence in your smartphone will do the work for you. You can also send a text message or e-mail in less than a minute. Technology and the internet have made present-day communication instantaneous.

But it has not always been this way, as some of you may know. Before the days of smartphones and computers, we relied on switchboards and their operators to contact people. Calling your neighbor or relative required an operator and a manual telephone switchboard. You would dial the operator and they would connect you by inserting a pair of phone plugs into the appropriate jacks. And oftentimes, especially if there was a bit of delay, the operator would say, “I am trying to connect you.” That was their purpose and mission—to connect you. And operators were indispensable and necessary for connecting you with whom you needed to speak—there was no other way.

While cellphones and laptops have eliminated the need for operators, one kind of operator will never be replaced by technological advancement: you. If you are a follower of Jesus, the Lord has commanded you to be an operator to connect people to Him. It is your glorious mission and purpose to connect people to Jesus. The Lord commissioned you with this blessed task when He said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15, KJV). He also charged you to be His witnesses and to make disciples of all nations (Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:19-20).

The word of God teaches that the only way sinners can be saved is if they “dial” Jesus: “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). People have to get connected with Jesus in order to go to heaven. As Christ Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). There is only one way, one Circuit that will connect a person to God, as Paul said: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

And you are essential for connecting people to Christ and helping them dial Him for their eternal salvation. No person can call on the name of the Lord without an operator! You must preach the good news and publish the gospel of Christ to the unsaved or they will never call out to Jesus for redemption. That is why Paul asked, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14). Christian Operator, to whom are you saying, “I am trying to connect you”?


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 (Bluetick Beagle).

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 (Bluetick Beagle).

Redeemed, Redeemed, Redeemed | Bible Gleanings – Feb 6-7, 2021

Redeemed, Redeemed, Redeemed

A youngster frolicked on the church lawn on a summer Lord’s Day, carrying in his hand a rusty cage with several nervous fluttering birds. Pastor A. J. Gordon inquired, “Son, where did you get those birds?” “Trapped ‘em out in the field, Reverend,” the boy replied. “Well, what are you plannin’ on doing with them?” Gordon asked. “Gonna play with ‘em for a while and probably feed ‘em to the old cat we have at home.” Gordon hated to see the birds consigned to such a fate, so he offered to buy them. The young lad exclaimed, “No sir! You don’t want these birds—they’re wild and can’t sing very well.” “What if I gave you two dollars?” Gordon proposed. As the boy conceded he admitted, “It’s a deal, but you’re making a bad bargain.” The exchange was made and the boy skipped away whistling with his shiny coins. Gordon strolled to the back of the church, opened the wire prison, and released the captive birds into the blue sky.

On the following Sunday, the empty bird cage sat beside the pulpit as Gordon preached on the topic of redemption—the doctrine about Christ purchasing sinners’ freedom with His blood. And Gordon remarked, “The boy told me the birds were not songsters, but when I released them and they winged their way heavenward, it seemed to me they were singing, ‘Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!’”

Redemption in Scripture simply means deliverance by payment of a price, and Christ Jesus delivered and released you from the slave cage of sin by purchasing your freedom with His precious blood! You were not a trapped bird, however, but a slave completely allegiant to sin and miserably held under its dominion. You were willingly in the custody of sin. But God bought you—and He didn’t pay chump change for your redemption: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Once you were captive and captivated by sin—hopelessly confined to its rusty cage. But now liberation from the slavery, penalty, and power of sin are yours as God’s gift to you, paid for in full by the blood of Christ. You are, “justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24; see also Ephesians 1:7). The shackles of sin are broken, the chain of sin that would have dragged you to hell has been pulverized, and the prison door has been kicked down. And friend, if you have been redeemed, the only fitting response is singing, “Redeemed—how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child, and forever, I am.”


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 (Bluetick Beagle).

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 (Bluetick Beagle).