Tag Archives: membership

Sermon: The Dead Church (Revelation 3:1-6) | January 23, 2022

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).

Coals in the Fireplace | Bible Gleanings – Nov 13-14, 2021

He arrived bright and early every Sunday to greet each churchgoer with an inviting handshake. You could hear him from the back pew each time the sermon stirred his heart, too. “Amen, pastor. Preach it!” he’d say. He gave generously to every offering and served on every committee. That’s why, after missing church for four weeks in a row, his absence was obvious to all. Something wasn’t quite right.

Although the pastor wrote him letters, the back pew remained empty. Members of the church encouraged him to come back when they saw him in the grocery, but to no avail. “I’ll visit him at home. I’ve got an idea,” the pastor thought.

The minister was warmly welcomed inside after knocking on the door. The two exchanged pleasantries and then sat by the fireplace. “I’m sure you understand why I’m here,” the pastor added. “It’s not good for you to be absent from church.” The pastor then listened patiently as the man rattled off excuses for why he had missed church for so long.

The pastor then reached for the fire poker and pushed one of the coals away from the fireplace. Without saying a word, they both sat watching the coal slowly burn out. “Would you look at that?” asked the pastor. “The heat of the coal goes away if it’s not in the fireplace, surrounded by other hot coals.” The man’s eyes welled up with tears as he realized the object lesson: his spiritual fire was burning out because he had spent too much time away from church, the Christian’s fireplace.

This story has circulated for many years because it conveys a timely truth: Christians need the church to stay on fire for the Lord. We should gather each Sunday with other hot coals in the local church to rekindle our own flame for the Lord and His work. The kindling we need to stay on fire is available every Sunday: fellowship with the saints, preaching from the Bible, and the exercise of our spiritual gifts. The flame of our zeal for God will burn out if we are absent from the fireplace. The pouring rain of life’s trials and the strong wind of Satan’s temptations threaten to extinguish it, too.

The Lord commands us all to congregate with His people so that we can burn for Him rather than burn out: “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25, KJV). Are you a coal in the fireplace or a smoldering ember?

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

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

Training Together | Bible Gleanings – March 27-28, 2021

Training Together

“It’s hard to be by yourself,” said Kyra Christmas, a 23-year-old athlete who plays on Canada’s national water polo team. Like most professional sports players, she was devastated by the emergency lockdowns last year which upended team sports and stifled training for competitions. Water polo is a game that requires team effort and cooperation, just like baseball, football, or any other mainstream sport. She shared her griefs in a New York Times article titled, How to Train for Team Sports Alone, and made the case that there is no substitute for being together. When it comes to team sports, you simply have to train as a collective body.

Individual training is crucial but it is no replacement for conditioning together as a group. She recalled training alone and watching videos of past games—imagining competing in the water alongside her teammates—but it wasn’t sufficient. Finally, in mid-August of last year, her team was able to resume training. “It felt so good to be together again,” she remarked.

Likewise, you must train together with other believers in order to win in the Christian life. To be sure, Christian living is not a game—it is warfare—but it is meant to be lived in the community of faith. In order to live a life of godliness, you must be surrounded by other godly people in the local church. There is no substitute for church membership and participation. When it comes to walking on the straight and narrow, you cannot train yourself or train by yourself—it’s a team effort. As you run the Christian race with endurance, nothing is more beneficial than running that race with other believers.

It is within the local body of assembled believers that you discover and use your spiritual gifts—the abilities God gave you to be an efficient teammate (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:7-16; 1 Peter 4:10-11). It is only by cooperation with other Christians that you may fulfill your chief goal of making disciples—remember, it is called the Great Co-Mission for a reason (Matt. 28:16-20). You need a faithful congregation to lift you up when you fall and support you when your burdens are too heavy to bear (Gal. 6:1-2). True Christian love is expressed exclusively within the gathered body of Christ—loving “one another” requires that you know and interact with “another” to love (1 John 3:11-24). It is solely within the family of God that gratitude and praise reach their highest levels of expression (Col. 3:16). The Bible even says that you are prevented from being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin through the encouragement and reproof of the church (Hebrews 3:13).

Friend, it’s hard to be by yourself. Find and join a faithful church where you can train for the Christian life with other “teammates” who are aiming at the goal of God’s glory. 


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

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