Tag Archives: Jesus

The Uniform is Useless | Bible Gleanings – June 26-27, 2021

The truth always comes out—just ask John K. Giles, the failed escapee from Alcatraz Island. After an unsuccessful train heist, he began serving his federal sentence in the legendary Alcatraz Penitentiary. This maximum-security prison housed gangsters and thugs like Al Capone and George “Machine Gun” Kelly—and Giles landed himself behind bars with them. Such infamous criminals were sent to Alcatraz because it was considered inescapable. But Giles was cunning—and he found a way out.

The U.S. Army used to send laundry to Alcatraz Island to be washed—it kept the prisoners busy and kept our armed forces in clean uniforms. Giles worked at the loading dock where the military laundry was delivered to be washed. And piece by piece, he sneakily snagged a complete army uniform. Then on July 31, 1945, he merely dressed in the uniform and walked aboard an army boat, pretending to be an officer. Unfortunately for Giles, the boat was not headed for freedom like he expected. The boat docked at Fort McDowell on Angel Island, a major processing location for troops during World War II. As he set foot on Angel Island, he was back in cuffs again.

He fooled the army officials for a while, and may have fooled himself as well—but he couldn’t keep it up forever. He wore an army uniform on the outside, but he was still John K. Giles, the criminal, on the inside.

One of the most sobering truths in all of Scripture is that many people wear the Christian uniform on the outside yet remain unconverted on the inside. You can wear every piece of the suit and still be lost in your sins. You can be baptized, read the Bible, attend church regularly, give large offerings, and do other good works, but none of that matters if you aren’t changed by the gospel. According to Jesus, many individuals will fool others and even themselves into believing they are sincere believers, but they will not fool Him.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23).

How can you truly be saved, according to Jesus? By coming to know Him in faith. People trusting in their “many mighty works” will be cast away from the presence of the Lord into eternal hell. Only those who know Christ can be assured that their boat is headed for heaven instead of hell. Since you can’t fool the Lord, repent of your sins and believe that Christ and His work are enough for your 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).

The Highest and Holiest Name | Bible Gleanings – May 15-16, 2021

The Highest and Holiest Name

As I turned the dial in search of some tunes to pass time on the interstate, an ad from a prominent law firm played between songs: “Name recognition matters, so let the biggest and best name in Alabama represent you and your personal injury claim. Contact our office today!” They boasted of the millions of dollars recovered for their clients, and assured that clients only pay, “if and when we win your case.” However, their greatest appeal was that no law firm in the state was as recognizable as they were. Insurance companies would sweat and shudder when they heard the name. The defendant’s lawyer would melt like wax. And the client could have unshakable confidence in their ability to win the case because of being represented by the most popular name in law.

They were right—name recognition does matter, and who you chose to present your case before a judge is crucial. Who you chose to represent you before the throne of God in the heavenly court on the day of judgment is far more important, however. One day the books will be opened and God will judge you according to what is written in them (Rev. 20:11-15). And you need the highest and holiest name in all the universe to win your case before God so you can spend eternity in heaven. This Man’s name is the most exalted “in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” so much so that every knee will one day bow at the mere mention of His name (Phil. 2:9-11). Who is this man? John the apostle told us: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1).

As a sinner, you stand condemned before God (John 3:18). Your sins are piled higher than your head and your guilt reaches the heavens (Ezra 9:6). The good news is, if you have believed on Christ, He is your defense attorney before God. He is your Advocate, the One who pleads (and wins) your case. The only defense sufficient to cover your sins is Jesus Christ and His shed blood. Ironically, Jesus is also the one who will do the judging: “[God] will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him [Jesus] from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

The greatness of your name doesn’t matter, and neither does the name of the church you belong to—there’s only one name that saves: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).


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).

Power in the Blood | Bible Gleanings September 12-13, 2020

Power in the Blood

Dr. Benjamin Planer, a 58-year-old doctor in New Jersey, has blood like no one else, according to an article in April published by the New York Times. He is known as the “superdonor” at Hackensack University Medical Center because his blood is rich with antibodies—proteins made by the immune system to fight infections which help to ward off future infections. His blood is especially valuable in today’s war against the coronavirus. He contracted the virus himself, along with his wife and 17-year-old son. Antibodies formed specifically to combat the coronavirus and helped him recover from it.

Dr. Planer remarked, “My body obviously had it. My body responded. My immunity worked. And I hear that I made a lot of antibodies. I was very happy to hear that—and very happy to share.” Because he beat the coronavirus, his blood now has the power to save lives—and he’s giving it away to help others beat the virus. He prevailed over the coronavirus and his blood has what it takes to enable others to prevail over it as well.

Dr. Planer is not the only man whose blood saves lives. The Bible says of another man, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7). This man has, “freed us from our sins by his blood” (Rev. 1:5b). If you are a part of the church of God, this man has “obtained [you] with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). This man has blood like no one else, which is why we sing, “Would you be free from your passion and pride? There’s power in the blood, power in the blood. Come for a cleansing to Calvary’s tide, there’s wonderful power in the blood.”

This man is Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, who conquered the disease of sin and whose blood has the power to ensure your own victory over it. Christ triumphed over sin and gave His blood to help you triumph over it as well. Because Jesus gave His life, His blood is life-giving. That is why the apostle Peter exclaimed, “By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24b). If you have been covered by the blood of Jesus by trusting only in His finished work for your salvation, you have been justified (Rom. 5:9), reconciled to God (Eph. 2:13; Col. 1:20), purified (Heb. 9:14; 1 John 1:7; Rev. 7:14), forgiven (Eph. 1:7; Heb. 9:22), and ransomed (1 Peter 1:18-19; Rev. 5:9).

His blood is the only thing sufficient to save from the virus of sin. Have you been washed and healed by the blood of Jesus?

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 will 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).

Start With Prayer | Bible Gleanings August 29-30, 2020

Start With Prayer

Without question, science and experience affirm that how you start your day is vitally important. What you do or don’t do in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. According to several mental health studies, the first twenty minutes of the day are the most crucial. An article by the Entrepreneur confirms this, saying, “whether you get out of bed at 5 a.m. or 3 p.m., it’s the first 20 minutes of your day that can set you up for success.” Most people don’t take the time to get mornings right and waste a great opportunity to get started on the right foot.

One man who always started His day on the right foot was Jesus Christ, the Lord. He would begin His long days of preaching and healing on His knees. As John Mark tells us in his Gospel, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

There are several elements of Jesus’ “morning routine” that, if incorporated into our own lives, would set up each day for the blessing of God. Here are a few things about Jesus’ prayer that will set the right tone for the rest of your day, if you imitate His example.

(1) Jesus prayed even when exhausted. Granted, Mark doesn’t say Jesus was tired. However, we know from the context that Jesus couldn’t have enjoyed a full night of sleep. On the previous day, He was healing the sick and casting out demons—beginning at evening and ending possibly until midnight (Mark 1:32-34). Although He was tired, He woke up early and prayed anyway. You will pray when you hunger for God’s presence, no matter how tired you are or how busy you are. Learn to pray when you are tired—even if it’s only for a few minutes. God will grant you spiritual and emotional rest that is far greater than physical rest.

(2) Jesus prayed early. When Christ prayed, it was so early that the sun hadn’t yet risen. He knew prayer was the best way to start the day. Practically speaking, given Jesus’ busy life in ministry, this may have been His only opportunity to spend alone time with His Father. We should learn to pray early as well. While the mind is refreshed and the world is still waking up, we should wake up with prayer.

(3) Jesus prayed alone. Jesus often prayed in public and with His disciples, but He also prayed in desolate places so He could talk to the Father free of distraction or disturbance. In our prayer lives, we also need to pray as often as we can alone, one-on-one with the Father.

How will you spend the first twenty minutes of the day tomorrow? Remember—the best way to start the day is to start to pray!

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 will be posted for reading here.

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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).

Day 24: Jesus is Comin’ to Town

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.”—Revelation 22:12

Children all over the world are waiting for Santa Claus to deliver lots of toys and goodies to their homes. The anticipation for Santa is so great that the children go to bed early and cookies and milk are left out for his enjoyment. There are even songs about Santa’s coming which dominate the radio waves: Here Comes Santa Claus and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town. Little boys and girls are told that they’d better be on their best behavior because Santa is making a list and checking it twice. He’s “gonna find out who’s naught or nice.”

This expectation of Santa’s coming does not compare with the eagerness the Israelites had in waiting on the arrival of the Messiah. For thousands and thousands of years, they waited on the One who would bring them salvation by offering Himself as a substitute (Isaiah 53:4-6). They were waiting for their Savior to come, the One who would crush the head of Satan and reverse the curse of sin (Genesis 3:15-19). On Christmas day, He came to earth; He finally arrived. He was born in the likeness of men with a fleshly body—like you and I in every way, yet without sin (Philippians 2:5-8; Colossians 1:22; Hebrews 2:14, 17-18).

His first advent was humble, quiet, and observed by only His earthly parents, lowly shepherds, and a few bystanders. Now that He accomplished the work God sent Him to do, we are waiting on His second advent. He will come to earth a second time, but this time everyone will see it: “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen” (Revelation 1:7). He will not come as a helpless babe, but as the King of kings and Lord of lords riding on a white horse to, “tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty” (Revelation 19:15). And you need not be concerned about whether or not you are on Jesus’ naughty or nice list—you need to be concerned about whether or not your name is found in the book of life (Revelation 20:15).

One glorious day, Jesus is comin’ to town. Have you made preparations for His second arrival? He is coming soon—it may be today, it may be Christmas, or it may be a hundred years from now. In any case, you must be ready—ready by trusting completely in Christ and His finished work for your salvation.


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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, Aries, and Dot.

Day 22: Savior, Christ, and Lord

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” —Luke 2:11

There are many characters that we think about during Christmastime. And simply by hearing their names, we instantly think of who they are and what they do. When you hear of Santa, you think of a big-bellied, red-cheeked, jolly man who delivers gifts around the world to well-behaved children. When you hear the name Rudolph, you think of the bullied reindeer who was commissioned to guide Santa’s sleigh. Or when you hear about the Grinch on the radio, you think of a miserable and irritated man who sought to steal Christmas joy from others.

And when you hear the precious name of Jesus during this season, whether in the carols or the term Christmas itself (Christ-mas), you should be reminded of who He is and what He came to accomplish. In the announcement of Jesus’ birth, the angel told the shepherds three memorable things about Jesus and what He came to do—and they are found in the names and titles given to Jesus. He is Savior, Christ, and Lord.

Jesus is the Savior. Even His name, Jesus, conveys this truth. As the angel said to Matthew, “you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). He saves sinners from the power, penalty, and presence of sin. He delivers you from sin’s dominion (Romans 6:1-4). He eliminates sin’s penalty against you (Romans 6:23; Colossians 2:14). And He will one day remove the presence of sin from the earth as you commune eternally with Him in a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1-22:5).

Jesus is also the Christ. He is the long-awaited Messiah, the One through whom God will accomplish His saving purposes. Christ is not Jesus’ last name—it is His messianic title. You need not turn to anyone else for deliverance from sin, for Jesus is the Christ—the chosen and anointed Savior. Like Peter, you can (and must) confess Him as, “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

And Jesus is Lord. He is the sovereign ruler and King of the universe. Nothing is outside of His rule and reign. As Isaiah the prophet declared many years before Christ’s birth: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders” (Isaiah 9:6a, NIV).

Remember—as great as these eternal benefits are, they can only be yours if you know Jesus as your Savior, Christ, and Lord. So, do you?


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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, Aries, and Dot.

Day 21: Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” —Luke 2:14

Everyone is familiar with the beautiful refrain of Angels We Have Heard on High which exclaims, “Gloria in excelsis Deo, Gloria in excelsis Deo.” Written by James Chadwick in the 1800’s, most of the carol’s lyrics are in English, with the exception of this well-known chorus. The phrase is the Latin rendition of what the angels declared during their heavenly jubilee as recorded in Luke’s Gospel: “Glory to God in the highest.” Also, in many other Christmas carols is the rest of the angelic doxology, “and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.” The KJV translation is the most recognized: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

No phrase is more fitting to sing at Christmastime since it reminds us of what Christ made possible by His coming: glory to God and peace to men. The angels first declare that glory is to be given to God in the highest. This means that such glory is given to God who is in the highest (since He is the Most High) and it is to be given to Him in the highest degree. The birth of Christ in the Bethlehem and His corresponding work at Golgotha enables you to give glory to God in the highest degree, as you will do one day in His eternal presence if you have made Christ your Savior.

But His coming also brings peace to those with whom God is pleased to give it. The peace and well-being that God gives comes to those who please Him by turning from sin and trusting in Jesus for salvation. If you know the Savior who was born on Christmas day, you can experience peace with God (Romans 5:1), inward peace (Philippians 4:7), and peace with others (Ephesians 2:14-16). This time of year, no matter how busy or even lonely you may be, you can gleefully sing Gloria in excelsis Deo because Christ’s coming empowers you to glorify God and experience true peace.


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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, Aries, and Dot.

Day 20: Offspring of a Virgin’s Womb

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” —Matthew 1:18

Larry King used to have a television program, Larry King Live, where he would interview different people and most often the topics were heated or controversial. One time a reporter asked him, “If you could only interview one person in history, who would it be?” Surprisingly, King replied, “Jesus Christ.”

“And if you could only ask Him one question, what would it be?”

“Were you really born of a virgin?” he said.

“Why would you ask that question?”

King replied, “Because that would define history for me.”

Larry King was right. If Jesus was divinely conceived and born of a virgin, then He’s the most important person in history. And this was the case, as Matthew explained, Mary was, “found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” Matthew emphasized that Mary was pregnant before her marriage to Joseph was consummated because God had performed a miracle in her womb (Luke 1:35). Jesus was astoundingly and miraculously conceived, thus making His conception and birth unlike any other in history.

Jesus is the God-man, born of Mary (the human side) and the Holy Spirit (the divine side). But His virginal conception was not just so that God could become a man, it was so that the nature of Jesus would be completely sinless. Had Jesus been conceived like the rest of us, He would have inherited the corruption and guilt of sin. He could not atone for sin if He were born into it. For the lamb of God to take away the sin of the world, He had to be a spotless lamb (John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:19). No wonder Charles Wesley penned these words in Hark! The Herald Angels Sing:

“Christ, by highest heaven adored,

Christ, the everlasting Lord,

late in time behold him come,

offspring of the Virgin’s womb:

veiled in flesh the Godhead see;

hail the incarnate Deity,

pleased with us in flesh to dwell,

Jesus, our Immanuel.”


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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, Aries, and Dot.

Day 17: If the Fates Allow?

“So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.” —Matthew 1:17

One of the most beautiful Christmas songs is Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. It reminisces about all the joyful Christmases shared with family and friends and wishes the same to be enjoyed by all who hear it. However, one line in the song reflects a faulty (but common) understanding of the ordering of the universe: “Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.” Fate is the ordering of events outside of human control, usually by some unknown supernatural power. And in the song, fate is credited as making possible or impossible the togetherness of family and friends. Some have recognized the error of this and rightly modified the lyrics to say, “If the Lord allows.”

Fate has nothing to do with the development or unfolding of anything. Only the Lord is sovereign and in control of all situations and events. If the Lord permits something to occur, it will—if He does not, it cannot occur. And this wonderful and comforting truth of God’s sovereignty pulses in every verse of Matthew’s seemingly unnecessary genealogy. To demonstrate God’s rule in the world and His commitment to fulfill His plan, Matthew traces God’s providential hand through history beginning with Abraham and ending at the birth of Jesus Christ (see vv. 2-17).

Many things occurred in those thousands of years that should have obliterated God’s plan to save sinners through Christ, but the will of God prevailed. During the period of time from Abraham to David, there were wars, famines, debauchery, idolatry, and destruction. Many things happened that even threatened the existence of the Davidic line—the one Jesus had to be born into. But God’s plan revealed to Abraham to bless all families of the earth through his offspring was indestructible, unstoppable, and immutable (Genesis 12:1-3). Despite all of this, God fulfilled His word by bringing forth, “the son of David, the son of Abraham” at the right time (Matthew 1:1b).

God’s plan never fails—it never fails for you, either. It might take some time to see it fulfilled and things may appear to be hindering it, but as Matthew’s genealogy demonstrates—nothing can stop the plan of God. As Job of old proclaimed, “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2). You need not depend on fate—you need only to trust the Lord.


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.

Day 12: The Gift of Life

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” —John 10:10b

Christmastime in eastern Czechoslovakia was bitter and cold in 1910. A terrible plaque of diphtheria had swept through and devastated many lives in the little village of Velky Slavhov. Half of the village contracted the disease and many of the victims were just children—less than ten years of age. When anyone in the family would start to show symptoms, they’d put a large black “X” on their doorpost to warn others that it had been quarantined.

There was an “X” painted on the doorpost of the home of Jano and Suzanna Barotkova. In less than a week, this couple found themselves childless. Their oldest child, only five, was the first to pass because of the disease. And even as Jano was working in the woodshed building her coffin, his other two sons were dying.

The two young boys eventually breathed their last and Suzanna finally broke out in agonizing sobs. The couple carefully laid their children, one by one, into handmade pine caskets and lifted them onto a wagon and started towards the graveyard. They passed house after house marked with a black X, but they were too weak and too depressed to offer any sympathy or encouragement to the others.

They buried their children, struggled through the Lord’s prayer and headed back home. Jano himself was sick now. He said, “I won’t see another Christmas. I don’t think I’ll see the New Year in, either.” He pushed away his soup and bread because it was too hard for him to swallow. The diphtheria had begun to constrict his throat. Suzanna gathered some kindling and lit a fire for the night, sure that her husband would be dead by morning.

Suddenly she saw someone approaching—a peasant woman tramping through the snow wearing a red and purple shawl. She had a jar of clear liquid in her hand, and she approached the couple’s home and knocked on the door. Suzanna cautiously opened the door and said, “We have the plague in our home, and my husband is in a fever right now.” The old woman nodded and asked if she could step inside, and she held out her little jar. She said, “Take a clean, white linen and wrap it around your finger. Then dip your finger into this pure kerosene oil and swab out your husband’s throat—then have him swallow a tablespoon of the oil. This should cause him to vomit the deadly mucous. Otherwise he will suffocate. I will pray for you and your family.”

Then, the woman left behind her remedy and left the home. Suzanna followed the woman’s instructions and early Christmas morning, Jano retched up the deadly mucous. His fever broke and Suzanna had a flicker of hope. There were no presents or children that year, but an old woman with her jar of oil was a gift of life to that couple. Jano recovered and eventually, he and Suzanna emigrated to America and had many children.

That story has been handed down through the generations of that family—how a little peasant woman came on Christmas Eve bearing the gift of life for those who were dying. And this is exactly what Jesus has done! He came on Christmas day bearing the gift of life for those sick, dying, and hopeless. The deadly plague of sin has affected all of mankind and we cannot cure ourselves. The good news is, Jesus came to give life—eternal and abundant life. There is hope if you have the gift of life that Jesus came to bring on Christmas day.


profile pic5Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie, Aries, and Dot.