Category Archives: Other

Charles Spurgeon on the Winter Season

I’m not a big fan of winter. I really enjoy the Christmas season, but I could do without the frosty weather. The snow for example, it’s beautiful and breathtaking, but I’d rather have fall, spring, or summer over winter any day. I know I’m not alone in that conviction. It’s probably safe to say that the majority of people easily prefer other seasons to winter. With that being said, I read an interesting perspective on winter from Charles H. Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening today as winter is beginning to usher in with its sharp winds, frost, freezing rain, and snow. I would like to share with you some of Spurgeon’s thoughts on the winter season:

Scripture: “Thou hast made summer and winter.” (Psalm 74:17)

Spurgeon: “My soul begins this wintry month with thy God. The cold snows and the piercing winds all remind thee that He keeps His covenant with day and night, and tend to assure thee that He will also keep that glorious covenant which He has made with thee in the person of Christ Jesus. He who is true to His Word in the revolutions of the seasons of this poor sin-polluted world, will not prove unfaithful in His dealings with His own well-beloved Son.

Winter in the soul is by no means a comfortable season, and if it be upon thee just now it will be very painful to thee: but there is this comfort, namely, that the Lord makes it. He sends the sharp blasts of adversity to nip the buds of expectation: He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes over the once verdant meadows of our joy: He casteth forth his ice like morsels freezing the streams of our delight. He does it all, He is the great Winter King, and rules in the realms of frost, and therefore thou canst not murmur. Losses, crosses, heaviness, sickness, poverty, and a thousand other ills, are of the Lord’s sending, and come to us with wise design. Frost kills noxious insects, and put a bound to raging diseases; they break up the clods, and sweeten the soil. O that such good results would always follow our winters of affliction!

How we prize the fire just now! How pleasant is its cheerful glow! Let us in the same manner prize our Lord, who is the constant source of warmth and comfort in every time of trouble. Let us draw night to Him, and in Him find joy and peace in believing. Let us wrap ourselves in the warm garments of His promises, and go forth to labours which befit the season, for it were ill to be as the sluggard who will not plough by reason of the cold; for he shall beg in summer and have nothing.” ¹


1. Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening(Scotland, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 702.

Charles Spurgeon on “Walking in the Truth”

Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) was born in Essex, England. He became a Christian in 1850 and a year later he was the pastor of a small Baptist church. In 1854 he was called to the pastorate of New Park Street Baptist Chapel in Southwark, London. His preaching attracted great crowds, so much so that a new building, the Metropolitan Tabernacle, was erected. During his ministry, he built up a congregation which numbered about 6,000. As well as being a popular preacher, Spurgeon was involved in several charitable organizations, including an orphanage at Stockwell. ¹

Spurgeon’s influence is still affecting millions of lives even today, and one of the ways his influence has been spreading is through his classic devotional, Morning and Evening. This is one of the best devotionals you can buy even today (and it’s offered in a variety of formats: leather-bound, paperback, hardback, Kindle and eBook, etc.). In this devotional, you can read Spurgeon’s writings, sermons, and deep reflections on various Scriptures. One for morning, and one for evening. Now there are some excellent classic devotionals out there, like My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers, but none compare to Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon.

I was reading today’s devotion, and I was struck by Spurgeon’s description of “walking in the truth,” and wanted to share it with you. Enjoy:

Scripture: ‘For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth’ (3 John 3)

Spurgeon: “The truth was in Gaius, and Gaius walked in the truth. If the first had not been the case, the second could never have occurred; and if the second could not be said of him the first would have been a mere pretence. Truth must enter into the soul, penetrate and saturate it, or else it is of no value. Doctrines held as a matter of creed are like bread in the hand, which ministers no nourishment to the frame; but doctrine accepted by the heart, is as food digested, which, by assimilation, sustains and builds up the body. In us truth must be a living force, an active energy, and indwelling reality, a part of the woof and warp of our being. If it be in us, we cannot henceforth part with it. A man may lose his garments or his limbs, but his inward parts are vital, and cannot be torn away without absolute loss of life. A Christian can die, but he cannot deny the truth.

Now it is a rule of nature that the inward affects the outward, as light shines from the centre of a lantern through the glass: when, therefore, the truth is kindled within, its brightness soon beams forth in the outward life and conversation. It is said that the food of certain worms colours the cocoons of silk which they spin: and just so the nutriment upon which a man’s inward nature lives gives a tinge to every word and deed proceeding from him. To walk in the truth, imports a life of integrity, holiness, faithfulness, and simplicity – the natural product of those principles of truth which the gospel teaches, and which the Spirit of God enables us to receive. We may judge of the secrets of the soul by their manifestation in the man’s conversations.

Be it ours today, O gracious Spirit, to be ruled and governed by Thy divine authority, so that nothing false or sinful may reign in our hearts, lest it extend its malignant influence to our daily walk among men.” ²

Wow. As a student of the Bible, and a Bible college student, I think I have easily recognized the importance of doctrine and truth in the life of a Christian. But up until today, I have never heard such a picturesque description of how it truly affects the Christian life. Get a copy of Morning and Eveningand start growing in your faith.


1. This introduction is adapted from Morning and Evening(Scotland, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 1994).
2. Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, (Scotland, UK: Christian Focus Publications, 1994), 694.

Exciting Bible Study Series in 2015

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

1. A Gospel-Shaped Community

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

2. 7 Churches of Revelation

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

3. Who Am I?

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

4. In The Beginning

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

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

Resisting Temptation, a Guest Post by Bradley Finley

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Cor. 10:13, NIV).

How cool is that? God makes sure that every temptation comes with it’s own escape plan! While God “tempts no one” (James 1:13), Satan presents before us the opportunity to sin, but God allows us a way of escape. So this means if you really want to get away from a tempting situation, you will be able to. In fact, in most cases, all you have to do is run.

Everybody gets tempted to do something they know they shouldn’t do. In some cases you may need to actually run to avoid making a mistake. When you get hit with temptation, do something to get it off your mind right then and there. Go mow the yard, or clean the house, or take a drive because if you don’t do anything to resist giving in to temptation, chances are you will give in. Prayer shouldn’t be neglected either. It is truly a big help. God wants you to come to Him in prayer with every request that you have. We must understand that He may not always give us the answer we want, but He will give us the strength and endurance we need to accept our situation, grow from it and move forward.

You know, there are two kinds of role models: The ones who say, “Do as I say and not as I do, ” and the ones who say, “Follow my example.” Jesus definitely belongs in the second category. Not only did He talk the talk, but He also walked the walk. He had to deal with the same emotions we all struggle with. (We can relate to Jesus) He faced the same major temptations you face; but He never got beaten by them. He left the earth with the only perfect record against sin. That’s great news for you! No matter what your going through, Jesus can relate to it. Want to know something even better? He can give you the strength you need to be victorious over sin and also temptation.

The Need for Biblical Interpretation

The need for biblical interpretation is ever-increasing in our postmodern age, especially considering the growing pluralism in the world. Since God is the ultimate authority in all matters, and we believe that the Bible is God’s very words, we look to the Bible for a solid foundation to all matters of life. Because of this, we want to know what the Bible means. In order to find this out, we need to reflect on how the meaning of the Bible is obtained.

Since we know that the books and letters of the Bible are a written form of communication, we know that three main components are involved, because these three components are part of any written communication. These are: the text/writing, the reader, and the author. First, it is important that we evaluate all three and see if they could be the determiners of meaning. We are asking, “Who or what determines the meaning of a biblical text?” The text cannot be the determiner of meaning because it is an inanimate object, and cannot produce meaning—it may convey meaning, but can never produce it. The reader cannot be the determiner of meaning, because if that is true, then there can be as many meanings as there are readers—and they cannot all be right. The author as the determiner of meaning is the only legitimate conclusion. The author meant one thing by what he wrote, and that intention was fixed at the time of writing—and cannot be changed. All literature is rightly interpreted this way.

Therefore, the main goal in interpreting the Bible is determining what the author meant by what he wrote. This goal that we want to reach cannot happen spontaneously, however. There are many barriers to discovering what the author meant by what he wrote. Historical barriers, cultural barriers, linguistic or language barriers, and philosophical barriers. Because of these barriers, the need for biblical interpretation is created.

First of all, we are centuries in time difference from the authors of the Old and New Testaments. There were things that were common to them back then, that may not be to us today. For instance, we cannot necessarily interpret Leviticus through a 21st century lens. Second, there are many cultural differences that cause a barrier between us and the time of the biblical writers. Namely, oaths and marriages were quite different in that day than in ours. It would not be sound, then, to think of Mary and Joseph’s “betrothal” (Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-56) as simply an engagement in our time because engagement is culturally relevant to our world today. The culture then was much different than today, and this creates the need for biblical interpretation. Third, the very language of the Bible is not the language we speak. The original language of the Old Testament was Hebrew (with portions of Aramaic), and the New Testament in Greek. Hebrew and Greek are an entirely different language, with different letters, usages, rules, and phrases. Biblical interpretation is important because in order to determine what the author meant by what he wrote, we must look at the original languages as best as we can. Finally, the philosophy of the Bible is very different than that of our 21st century. We live in a postmodern world with pluralistic ideologies. This creates the need for biblical interpretation because the philosophy of the Bible is not pluralistic, and it is not hedonistic either, like our world is today. People today doubt the existence of a Triune God, while the people of Bible times just assumed His existence—their philosophy was different.

So then, discovering the author’s intended meaning will require biblical interpretation in light of all of these barriers that might hinder us from finding out the meaning that the author intended.

[Below is an addition, published on July 29, 2017]

So do we arrive at the true meaning of the Bible based on our own interpretation of the Bible? Can we arrive at a biblical interpretation on our own? Do we all have an equally valuable opinion about what Scripture means? Does everyone have a shot at biblical interpretation and can we use any rules of interpretation we want? It’s not exactly as simple as it may sound.

Consider the oft spoken phrase, “Well, that’s just your interpretation.” This is easily the most cliche statement uttered in Christian circles, usually when there is disagreement about the meaning of a text. And it is becoming quite wearisome to continually hear it spoken as a defense of one’s own interpretation of a text. Usually they add, “That’s your interpretation and this is mine.” I will go ahead and say at the outset that there are two fundamental reasons why this assumption is not only wrong, but even heretical in my estimation. First of all, it allows for everyone and anyone to have any opinion whatsoever about the meaning of Scripture. And secondly, it doesn’t allow the real meaning of the Bible to be preserved and taught.

Let’s deal with the first reason. It may sound narrow-minded to say that no one should be allowed to have as many opinions as they want about the meaning of Scripture, and yes – it is narrow-minded, but in a good way and I will explain this more later. The fallacy with this idea that everyone has a “say-so” concerning the meaning of Scripture is found in the implications and logical conclusions of that approach. What this approach to interpretation implies is that there is no real, concrete, or reliable interpretation of any biblical text whatsoever. If everyone has an equal say in what a text means, and if everyone’s assumption holds equal value (what this assertion implies), then there can be no real meaning. If A is equally valuable to B, C, and D, and they are all esteemed as possibly correct interpretations, then either everybody is right or everybody is wrong.

Now, let’s be honest – most of those interpretations are likely going to contradict one another. Most of the time varying interpretations contradict one another, otherwise there would be no disagreement leading to a round table discussion where everyone gives their opinions about meaning! And in the case when those interpretations do contradict, plain sense would tell you that not everybody around the table has an equal say about what a biblical text means. Either they are insane, or the authors of the Bible were insane. If Billy thinks the verse means that Scripture is without error, and Sally thinks the verse means that Scripture is full of error, then somebody is wrong because those two assertions contradict one another. Both of them might be wrong, but both of them cannot simultaneously be right.

The second reason this approach to interpretation is wrong also has to do with consistency – the author’s original meaning is no longer preserved. Consider that we do not believe it to be ethical or right to take a historical document and twist it anyway we want. When a document is written in history, the author’s meaning is sealed forever. Therefore, the only correct interpretation of any historical document must be in harmony and accordance with what the author really meant by what he wrote. We dare not do this with great works in history such as the writings of Eusebius, or Josephus, or the Constitution. One could possibly be jailed for reading something into those documents that was not intended by the original author.

So then, it is absolute insanity to suppose that it is wrong to do this with historical works, but it is right to do this with the Bible. The Bible is the word of God, supremely more valuable than any historical document – and like any historical document its meaning is sealed in history forever. The only way one can discover its meaning is by discovering the author’s original meaning – which we are very much able to do.

But note the insanity of interpreting a written text in any fashion desirable: If I text my wife that we need milk and eggs, she is not free to interpret that in any way she wants, and neither is anybody else. To take it a step further, let’s suppose I send her that text on Monday, and she doesn’t read it until Wednesday. Can she now interpret that anyway she wants, because it is an old message? I would believe her to be insane if she sat down with a group of her friends for two hours trying to figure out what I meant by that text. How strange would it be for each of her friends to offer a different interpretation of what I meant by that text. One might say, “Well here’s what I think – he probably wants you to buy rice milk and snake eggs.” Another remarks, “Your husband strikes me as the type that likes to get prepared, so he probably wants you to bring home a cow and a few chickens so that you never have to go to the market to buy milk and eggs ever again.” Another says, “Well, let’s think about it this way – what do you get when you mix milk and eggs? Usually scrambled eggs, right? He probably has a craving for some scrambled eggs from Cracker Barrel.”

It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Clearly, I meant that my wife needs to pick up a gallon of milk and a carton of eggs from the supermarket. But with a philosophy of interpretation that allows for anyone to interpret what I wrote in any way they want, the original meaning is lost and no longer preserved. In fact, the value of my text becomes virtually worthless. The interpretations make my text obsolete. My text no longer has any value if it is subject to this many interpretations. Neither are we allowed to do this with the Bible!

It doesn’t matter what your interpretation is, and it doesn’t matter what my interpretation is. What matters is the right interpretation. We must answer the question: What did author of the text mean by what he wrote to the original audience?

Clearly, there are many other rules of interpretation to follow when seeking to discover the author’s original meaning. But all of those rules must flow from pursuing the answer to this one question. Therefore, any interpretation which does not agree with the author’s original meaning is false and should be rejected. And we discover the original meaning through careful study of the context, study of history, study of the original languages, and many other things. I understand that many of us do not have either the time nor the professional training required to use all of those means listed to discover the author’s original meaning. But there is one rule of interpretation upon which we must all agree. And this one rule of interpretation is fundamental to understanding any verse of Scripture, and it is certainly fundamental to discovering the author’s original meaning by what he wrote. In addition, while we may not know much of how to use those means of discovering the author’s meaning listed above, this one rule alone will suffice. In fact, all of those other means proceed from this one rule, therefore even using them is an extension of using this one rule (and to some degree is necessary to using this one rule in its fullness). This one rule concerns consistency, and it is this: We must interpret Scripture with Scripture. We must do so, brothers and sisters. This is to say, what we assert as an interpretation of any biblical text must agree with Scripture as a whole. If our interpretation is in disagreement with any other verse, idea, or teaching in Scripture then our interpretation is wrong and must be changed.

To the example earlier, if Sally asserts that the correct interpretation of 2 Timothy 3:16 is that Scripture contains error, then we must endeavor to discover if that interpretation agrees with the rest of Scripture. And anybody who knows their Bible even remotely understands that 2 Timothy 3:16, and Scripture as a whole refutes that interpretation. The Bible itself claims that it is a book that should be received as the divine revelation of God, for that is what it is. Therefore, it is without error and inerrant. So Sally’s interpretation is wrong.

Well, that’s just your interpretation.” Let us both stop saying this and encouraging others to do so. We are not free to interpret the Bible any way we want – we are only free to discover the author’s original meaning by what they wrote in the sacred text. Let us study the Scriptures daily to discover their true meaning, and may our interpretations be in unison with the overall teaching of Scripture.

God’s Protection, a Guest Devotion by Bradley Finley

Matthew 28:20b: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

God is saying that you never have to feel outnumbered, intimidated or outclassed by anything on earth. Why? Because, “I am with you.” As His follower, you have 24/7 access to Him; to His power and His protection.

Isn’t it amazing that God is there for us all the time? Whenever you need him, He’s there and He will always protect us. A great example of God’s protection is in the book of Daniel. (You can read chapter 3 for the full story.) There were three men: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. These men were thrown into a fire because they did not worship King Nebuchadnezzar. King Nebuchadnezzar saw a fourth man in the fire that looked like a “Son of God” (3:25). He called the three men out and their bodies had not been harmed, nor was a piece of hair from their heads singed, their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. They were faithful to God and God protected them from a fire! Like them, God wants us to defend Him. Sometimes when we stand up for Him, we may face harm. It’s important to remember, if God protected them from a fire, what else can He protect you from?

Boundary Map: A Guest Devotion by Bradley Finley

2 Kings 17:14-15 reads, “But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their fathers, who did not trust in the Lord their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their fathers and the warnings he had given them. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless. They imitated the nations around them although the Lord had ordered them, “Do not do as they do,” and they did the things the Lord had forbidden them to do.”

When you get serious about a sport, one of the first things you have to do is learn the rules. The better you understand the boundaries set by the rules of the game, the more effective you will be competing within those boundaries. The same holds true for God’s work. The better you know the boundaries set by God’s determination of right and wrong, the more effective you will be in living a life that pleases him. Hint: You already have the “boundary map” right now: the Word of God. All you have to do now is read it and learn from it.

In regards to living a life that pleases God, think about good works. When you are doing something to help someone, whether it be hauling hay, carrying groceries for people, helping a person move, or mowing the grass for somebody, it’s good works. Nothing is wrong with good works. But we must remember that when we do good works, its for God’s glory and honor instead of for ourselves.