Category Archives: Other

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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (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 (Beagle).

Leaving the Dark Side | Bible Gleanings – Jan 30-31, 2021

Leaving the Dark Side

Finn is an unusual stormtrooper who served in the First Order under the tyrannical reign of Darth Vader’s grandson, Kylo Ren. This new and daring character was introduced to the Star Wars universe in the 2015 film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Finn (or FN-2187) was one of the bad guys—complete with a bulky stormtrooper suit, intergalactic weapons, and allegiance to the dark side. That is, until he made the bold resolve to break free. Finn and Poe Dameron, a captured Resistance commander (one of the good guys), hijack a TIE Fighter and speed away into space, savoring freedom as they escape the Star Destroyer together. Finn was no longer a servant of the dark side—he broke free from their rank and file. He was no longer bound to his old stormtrooper suit. And he began serving among the rebels—the good guys.

Finn’s break-away story sounds a lot like the believer’s conversion story. Paul the apostle explained in Romans that believers have been released from the stranglehold and tyranny of sin: “And, having been set free from sin, [you] have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18). Christ made the bold resolve to break you free from “the power of death” and “lifelong slavery” to sin (Hebrews 2:14-15), and he gloriously succeeded. You have escaped from the dark dominion of evil because God transferred you into His marvelous light (Col. 1:13; 1 Peter 2:9). Because you are free indeed (John 8:36), you have died to the old order, the rank-and-file of your former way of life.

Your old relationship to and with sin has been severed and destroyed. And just as Finn ditched his stormtrooper suit, you likewise have shed the old self along with your old ways when you came to Christ: “[You] have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Col. 3:9-10). What is perhaps most fascinating and paradoxical is that, at your conversion, you died and came alive simultaneously. You came alive at your second birth and you were crucified! As Paul testified, “the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

Of course, the old you sticks around and continues to cause trouble. You will continue to wage war against sin that lies within, although the old you has truly died. That’s another paradox in the Christian life. But here’s the point: if you have been set free from sin, you cannot live in it any longer—you must live a new life. God buried the old you so that you “might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). And the Spirit of God will strengthen and enable you to live like someone who has broken free from the dark side.

Here is the exciting scene referenced above:


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

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

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).

Job Satisfaction | Bible Gleanings – Jan 23-24, 2021

Job Satisfaction

The national unemployment rate was at a record high last spring due to the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic: 14.7%. The current unemployment rate is now significantly lower (6.7%) because many medical achievements have accelerated our nation in the right direction, and we have learned how to live with this virus. More people are working and earning an income—that is a great thing for America and Americans.

However, having a job doesn’t equal happiness for most Americans. Overall job satisfaction in our country is depressingly low. One study found that over 55% of Americans are dissatisfied with their jobs. Many people feel they have hit a brick wall in their jobs with no chance of climbing the success ladder. Some working folks wish they could change their careers or work in a different field. Job satisfaction is important—you need to find something you like to do. As the old proverbial saying goes, “Work doing something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

As vital as personal job satisfaction is, the Bible says that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should have an entirely different approach towards job satisfaction. The word of God teaches that the question you need to ask is not, “Am I satisfied with my job?” but, “Is Christ satisfied with my job?” Christian—when it comes to your job, what matters most is if your job performance is satisfactory to Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul wrote,

“Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:22-24).

God wants you to render straightforward obedience to your employer—so long as they don’t require you to disobey God. If you know Christ, you ought to be the best worker on the job, so much so that you show up the laziness of the other employees! Moreover, God wants you to work sincerely even when the boss isn’t watching. This is because your ultimate motivation for working hard is fear of the Lord and a desire to please Him. Therefore, do a good job, show up on time, go above and beyond, and work hard even when no one is watching because your ultimate Boss is Jesus Christ. He is your Master and He is watching you. He will reward your hard work, even if your employer won’t. Is Jesus Christ satisfied with your job?


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

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

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).

Rewards for the Conqueror (Expanded) | Bible Gleanings – Jan 16-17, 2021

Rewards for the Conqueror (Expanded)

A special designation is assigned by God to all who refuse to succumb to the evil influences in the world and triumphantly conquer its temptations: conqueror. Jesus, the ultimate Conqueror, will grace you with heavenly rewards if you stand your ground victoriously against the flesh, the devil, and the world system. In fact, seven distinct rewards are promised, “to the one who conquers,” at the end of the letters to the churches of Asia Minor in Revelation 2-3. For believers who trample the world underfoot and win the war against the influence of the world, the enticement of the devil, and the lusts of the flesh, these seven rewards are promised:

(1) Access to the Tree of Life (Rev. 2:7b). “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” The tree of life was in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:9), but Adam and Eve were restricted from it by cherubim with flaming swords because they had sinned against God (Gen. 3:24). The tree of life will be waiting in the new heavens and new earth to be enjoyed by all who overcame the world by the power of the Second Adam. Permission to the tree of life was denied in Eden because Adam and Eve listened to and obeyed the devil. Permission to the tree of life is granted in glory to those who listen to and obey God.

(2) Eternal Life (Rev. 2:10b-11). “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life . . . The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.” The crown of life represents participation in Christ’s heavenly and victorious rule. Right now, you reign with Christ on earth in a spiritual and unseen kingdom. When all is said and done, you will reign with Christ on earth in a literal kingdom—in the new heavens and new earth. He will crown you with life if you are victorious over the world. He will also prevent you from being touched by the second death. The second death is, of course, the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14; 21:8). If you believe in Christ and overcome the world, you only die once. If you reject Christ and serve the world, you die twice. As someone once said, “Born once, die twice; born twice, die once.” The second death is of no concern to the overcomer.

(3) Feasting with Jesus (Rev. 2:17). “To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” Jesus promises that overcomers will feast with Him in eternity. The hidden manna is the heavenly food you will consume at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9). You’ll share a feast with the True Bread from heaven Himself (John 6:32-33). The white stone is your admission token. It is the invitation pass to partake in Jesus’ supper. That it is white symbolizes righteousness, meaning those who receive it are only those made righteous by the atonement of Christ. And finally, the new name simply means you will have a new status in heaven. God’s name will be upon you (Rev. 22:3-4). Feasting with Christ—what a reward! To feast with Him, you must resist feasting at the table of the world, as God enables you by His grace. The conqueror is rewarded after a bloody fight with the world by eternal fellowship and feasting with the King of kings.

(4) Ruling and Reigning with Christ (Rev. 2:26-28). “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star.” Jesus guarantees that if you triumph over the world you shall rule and reign with Him. Psalm 2 explained that the Messiah would build an invincible kingdom and you are part of it right now. You rule and reign with Christ in this life, for He has made you a kingdom (Rev. 1:6). Moreover, you do not need to worry about prestige and approval in this life, because in the next life you will rule with the Lord Jesus Christ.

(5) Your Name Will Remain in the Book of Life (Rev. 3:5). “The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” Jesus promises that your name will never be removed from the book of life. In addition to the white robe of righteousness, which will be your heavenly attire, Christ assures that your name will never be taken out of His book. This book is, of course, the “registry” of the names of all believers. Christ also promises that He will confess your name before the Father and the angels in heaven. The assurance Christ gives here, that your name is permanently written in the book of life, is another way of describing the doctrine of the security of the believer’s salvation. All true believers will endure to the end, and part of that endurance is overcoming the world.

(6) Eternal Belonging to God (Rev. 3:12). “The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” Christ says you’ll be a pillar in heaven, meaning, like a pillar, you will not be moved—your heavenly residence will be permanent. It’s not like a hotel where you check in at 3 and check out at 11 the next morning—once you check in to heaven, you can’t check out. Also, many names will be “written” on you, indicating complete irrevocable belonging to God. You name what is yours; you are God’s.

(7) Sharing in Jesus’ Victory (Rev. 3:21). “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” The overcomer will sit on the throne with Jesus Christ. Christ said something like this to His disciples in Matthew 19:28, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” In Revelation, that promise is expanded—the overcomer will sit on the throne with Jesus Christ. As Paul said, “If we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Tim. 2:12). Don’t you want to be there with Him? Don’t you want to be by His side throughout all eternity? What a wonderful promise to encourage us to persevere!

Will you wield your Sword, clothe yourself in armor, and brace yourself for a bloody fight (Eph. 6:10-20)? Will you persevere and stand your ground till the end? Will you be a conqueror?


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

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

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).

Covering It Up | Bible Gleanings – January 9-10, 2021

Covering It Up

A cover-up is an attempt to conceal evidence of wrongdoing, usually to avoid embarrassment. Politicians cover up their scandals by burying them in lies and abusing the power of their office to escape scot-free. Criminals try to avoid justice by destroying physical evidence that ties them to their crimes and misdeeds.

You and I do it, too. We cover our writing mistakes with opaquing fluid, like Wite-Out (I thought this whole time it was spelled “White-Out”). We apply make-up and other cosmetics to cover our blemishes and improve our appearance. Even young children will stand their ground and deny any association to the lipstick smeared on the bedroom wall while it’s caked on their faces.

Where does the tendency to cover up wrongdoing come from? Why do we go to great lengths to conceal our mistakes? Perhaps the book of Genesis holds the answer. Observe how our first parents reacted when God confronted them about committing the first sin, eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil:

“And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths . . . The man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:7b, 8b-13).

Adam and Eve attempted to cover up their evildoing by covering themselves (v. 7), hiding from God (v. 8), and blaming everyone else—Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed Satan (vv. 11-13).

Albeit futile, it is within our nature to cover up sin. We try burying our sin in good works that make us feel better about ourselves. We try covering our sin by blaming the culture. We sometimes cover our sin by denying we’ve even committed any.

But God sees all things—His sight is so penetrating that it burns through everything we might use to cover it up (Rev. 1:14). The only cover for sin that is sufficient is the blood of Jesus Christ—the covering God Himself provides (see Genesis 3:21). And the proper response to committing sin is not covering it up—it’s confession: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).


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

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

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).