Tag Archives: 2021

A Safehouse for Sinners | Bible Gleanings – July 10-11, 2021

They were sanctuaries for slaves—homes that made history. Lionhearted abolitionists all across the North volunteered their homes as safehouses for slaves seeking freedom prior to and during the Civil War. Homeowners from Indiana to New York partnered with antislavery activists like Harriet Tubman in a secret network known today as the Underground Railroad. They worked together to provide pathways to freedom for exhausted slaves. And over time, many of these homes were awarded landmark status because history happened within their walls.

When visiting places like the Johnson House in Philadelphia or the Levi Coffin House in Fountain City, one is filled with awe and humility because lives were transformed there. The hardwood floors are not divine. The brick walls are not holy. There is no mystical aura surrounding these historical sites. They are sacred sanctuaries because of what happened there: weary captives were liberated from slavery. 

The same can be said of any biblical church that faithfully preaches the gospel of Christ. A church that proclaims “repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15) is a holy sanctuary, not because the carpet and stained-glass windows are sanctified, but because enslaved sinners are set free within their walls. It makes no difference if your church is massive or miniscule; what matters is whether miracles happen within its walls. God wants our churches to be “safehouses” for sinners—places where they can be emancipated from spiritual slavery. He wants our churches to be places where hopeless sinners can experience the reality of Romans 6:

“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (vv. 17-18).

Jesus came to release men, women, and children from spiritual bondage to sin, the devil, and the world. He said it Himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18-19). Such exhilarating freedom comes to weary sinners when they hear and believe the truth about Jesus: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). And it is the duty of every disciple to declare the gospel truth so people can believe it by faith. As God said in Isaiah, “[Say] to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’” (Isaiah 49:9b).

Does your church have “landmark status?” Is it a place where history is made, where sinners are redeemed from spiritual slavery? Is it a safehouse for sinners?


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 (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

Proof of Residence | Bible Gleanings – March 20-21, 2021

Proof of Residence

Ryegrass had sprouted in the driveway. The parking lot was void of vehicles. There were no tricycles or children’s sneakers piled by the doors. The creamy white paint was chipping off the building. There were no signs of life at this apartment building. I drove there to deliver a meal that a customer ordered online. I had received an order to deliver lunch to this address, when I was, for a brief time, employed by a food delivery service.

Upon arrival, every internal alarm sounded off—something wasn’t right. Even from my vehicle, I could see an aged eviction notice fastened to the outside door. I proceeded up the rusty steps and knocked firmly on the door—nothing. Through the grimy window, I could see that the lights were off and the television was blank. This home was hollow and vacated—unoccupied and uninhabited. The online profile claimed that so-and-so lived at this exact residence, but the evidence contradicted the claim. There was no evidence of life—no proof of residence.

Unfortunately, many who claim to be Christians have no evidence that the Spirit of God lives in and occupies their heart. But the word of God clearly declares that when the Holy Spirit dwells within you, there is always undeniable proof of residence. When the Spirit settles in your heart, it shows. All the signs of life are there—the lights are on, the house is clean, and maintenance work is being done. There is activity on the inside and the outside. If you truly possess the Spirit, no one can drive by the house of your life and say, “There is no proof of residence here.” You might claim to be a true believer—a church membership card or Facebook profile might say so. But the claim is always corroborated by evidence if it is true, and if you truly possess the Spirit of God, the truth will come out.

The Spirit demonstrates proof of His residence in your heart in a variety of ways. He speaks through you (Matt. 10:20; Mark 13:11), He bears fruit (Gal. 5:22-23), He teaches you (John 16:13), He emboldens you to witness (Acts 4:31), He leads you (Rom. 8:14), He assures you of sonship (Rom. 8:16; 2 Cor 1:22; Gal. 4:6), He gives gifts (1 Cor. 12:11), He transforms you (2 Cor. 3:18), and He helps you fight the flesh (Gal. 5:16-18).

The key, however, to the Spirit demonstrating proof of His residence in your life is by being filled with the Spirit—submitting to His influence and relinquishing control of your heart to Him: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). Is there proof of His residence in your life?


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 (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

“The Prayingest Prayer I ever Prayed” | Bible Gleanings – March 13-14, 2021

Prayer Posture

It was a sweltering and sultry summer day—an unpleasant ninety-five degrees—when five local clergymen convened for an afternoon of enriching fellowship. The baking heat outdoors paled in comparison, however, to the steam in the meeting room. These residential ministers—deacons and pastors both—had begun to argue. Not long after the exchange of pleasantries and mutual spiritual check-ups, the men engaged in a respectful but conviction-driven debate about the proper way to pray.

“The proper way for a man to pray, and the only proper attitude, is down upon his knees,” said Deacon Keyes. His proposition was immediately met with retort from Reverend Wise. “No, I should say the way to pray, is standing straight, with outstretched arms, and rapt and upturned eyes,” he remarked. Elder Slow, who couldn’t bear this heresy, corrected: “Oh no! Such posture is too proud! A man should pray with eyes fast closed and the head contritely bowed.” Having heard enough nonsense, Reverend Blunt observed, “It seems to me his hands should be austerely clasped in front, with both thumbs pointing toward the ground.”

After everyone zealously preached their opinions, Brother Cyrus Brown decided to preach his experience. Leaning back with his thumbs in the straps of his overalls, he recounted, “Las’ year I fell in Hodgkin’s well head first, with both my heels a-stickin’ up, my head a-pointin’ down; and I made a prayer right then an’ there—best prayer I ever said, the prayingest prayer I ever prayed, a-standing on my head.”1

Cyrus made his point loud and clear: there is no correct physical posture for prayer. As long as you are an adopted child of the heavenly Father (Gal. 4:6), God will hear your prayers at anytime and at any place. Moreover, people in Scripture were heard by God whether they prayed kneeling (2 Chron. 6:13; Dan. 6:10), prostrate (Neh. 8:6; Matt. 26:39), with lifted hands (Ps. 141:2; 1 Tim. 2:8), or lying down in bed (Ps. 6:6). What matters in prayer is not your physical posture, but your spiritual posture—not the position of your body, but the position of your heart.

In the passage famously known as The Lord’s Prayer, but more fittingly called The Disciples’ Model Prayer, Jesus explains what the right heart position is for prayer (read Matthew 6:5-13). First, the motivation of your heart must be right. You ought not pray only for the approval and applause of others (vv. 5-6). Don’t pray to be seen by men—pray to be seen by God, who “sees in secret.” Second, the mindset of your heart must be right. God is omniscient and “knows what you need before you ask Him,” and therefore you do not need lengthy liturgical prayers and mindless religious repetitions to get His attention (vv. 7-8). Don’t try to impress God when you pray—just be humble and honest before Him. Finally, there is a model you must follow in order to orient your heart in the right position (vv. 9-13). Jesus instructed that your prayers should begin with a focus on God, His kingdom, and His will (vv. 9-10). After expressing praise to God and submission to His will, you should pray for your physical and spiritual needs (vv. 11-13).

Take it from Cyrus Brown—the prayingest kind of prayer depends, not on where you are, but where your heart is.

  1. This story is modified from a poem by Sam Walter Foss. Some say the poem stands by itself, some say it is adapted from an anecdotal story. This is just how I’ve told the story through the years, though it is not entirely original.

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 (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

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 (Aussiedor), 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 (Aussiedor), 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 (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).