Tag Archives: sacrifice

The Dangerous Christ | Bible Gleanings | March 4-5, 2023

In C. S. Lewis’ famous work, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Mr. Beaver tells Susan that Aslan, the ruler of Narnia, is a great lion. Susan is naturally surprised because she imagined that Aslan was a man, not a beast. “I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion,” she tells Mr. Beaver. And then she asks if he is a safe lion, to which Mr. Beaver replies, “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King.”

The same is true of Jesus, the King of kings (Rev. 19:16). He is dangerously unsafe, especially to those who love their sin, because He calls sinners to forsake their sins and follow Him. Jesus is dangerous to sinners in the same way that a lifesaver is dangerous to a swimmer basking in the warm ocean while a life-threatening tsunami roars behind him—the lifesaver might ruin his good time, but it will save his life. So also, the gracious Lord rips sinners from sin’s warm and merry waters, but He saves them from the tsunami of God’s roaring wrath. He may be dangerous, but He is good.

Moreover, Jesus is not safe for those who prefer comfort over sacrifice. Following Him is not cheap. You will have to deny your sinful flesh daily (Luke 9:23). You will have to put your hand to the plow without looking back (Luke 9:62). You will have to carry your cross all the way to death (Luke 14:27).

Therefore, Jesus admonished all His would-be followers to count the great cost of following Him. He warned, “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace” (Luke 14:28-32). Indeed, following Jesus is costly, but what a great gain it is! As Paul said, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8).

Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. 

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).

For more devotional entries like this, check out Brandon’s latest book, Bible Gleanings Volume II, which features 100 daily devotionals gleaned from God’s word:

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).

Review: Zeal Without Burnout by Christopher Ash

Burnout is a serious problem in Christian ministry. It occurs when you are at the end of your rope—when all of your emotional, physical, and spiritual resources have been used up and you are exhausted. It is a cunning problem too, both because we are often unaware of it until it is too late, and because we usually think we aren’t suspect to it at all. But anyone can experience burnout, especially those serving in ministry. Pastors like myself are keenly aware of this epidemic. We have experienced it in our own lives, and we have painfully witnessed it in the lives of others. Scores of pastors leave their places of ministry every year because of ministry burnout. On the other hand, some pastors get so close to the cliff that they nearly fall, but by God’s grace have been awakened and renewed.

Is there a way to maintain our ministry passion and work fervently without burning out? Or is there a way to recover from a serious burnout? Thankfully, Christopher Ash answers those questions in his book, Zeal Without Burnout. Christopher is himself a pastor who knows exactly the kind of damage that burnout can bring. Through solid theology, raw testimonies, wise counsel, and practical suggestions, Christopher tackles the problem of burnout. He makes us aware of the seriousness of burnout, equips us with tools to prevent it, and may even take some on a drive down the road of recovery.


The book’s main premise is simple: God is God and we are not. We are merely creatures of the dust and therefore we are fragile, very susceptible to the problem of burnout. And there are certain things that we need, which God does not. Chris says, “We need sleep, but God does not. We need Sabbaths, but God does not. We need friends, but God does not. We need food, but God does not” (p. 41). Preventing burnout starts with a recognition of these things that we need for day-to-day sustenance. Things such as sleep, Sabbaths, friends, and inward renewal are all things which God has given us to serve Him sustainably without fizzing out.

Chris introduces the book by describing his own experiences with burnout, then he makes a distinction between sacrifice and burnout—noting that they are different in nature. In other words, one can make a sustainable sacrifice for the Lord without burning out—burning out is not a sacrifice. Then Chris expounds on the truth of our human nature, that we are made from the dust of the earth, and the next four chapters are implications of that truth. First, Chris talks about how we need sleep and how lack of sleep can contribute to burnout. Second, Chris explains the need for us to take regular days off, or Sabbaths. If we work on Sundays (like pastors do), we need to intentionally plan whole days off for worship, rest, and refreshment. Third, he expounds on the need for us to have friends—friends that will help us share the load and recognize potential burnout in our lives. And finally, he speaks of the need for inward renewal, that we need both time with the Lord and time for leisure activity to refresh ourselves. He is worth quoting at length on this point when he says,

“It is good to develop a healthy self-knowledge about what energizes us—what the Holy Spirit uses to bring us that inward renewal. But these activities will never be enough on their own to bring us true spiritual renewal. Each of us needs our personal devotional times with God: times of Bible reading and prayer, times to be glad to be in Christ, times of thoughtful reflection before the Lord: times to be refreshed. It is not selfish to guard those times, any more than it is selfish for a firefighter to take a break before heading back into the fire. Indeed, if we do not give space for renewal, there will soon be nothing left of us to give” (p. 77).

The final portion of the book concerns a warning to stay away from self-centered motivation, an encouraging note to depend on the Lord for our labors, and an exhortation to delight in God’s grace and not in our performance. The conclusion of the book is perhaps the most practical part of the work—there, Chris suggests four simple and wise practices for preventing or overcoming burnout. There is one more chapter at the end of the book, which serves as sort of a footnote to the book—it’s a concise psycho-spiritual analysis of burnout. It helps with defining exactly what it is and it lists some of the warning signs that burnout may be approaching.


I give the book five stars because it is a biblical, concise, and real treatment of the issue of burnout. Also, you can’t go wrong with the length of this book. You could easily read through the entire book in less than a week – the book is mercifully short. That’s a good thing because the principles in this book need to be learned and implemented immediately. Finally, the book is very relevant. The book is filled with testimonies and real-life experiences. Testimonies impact you in a very unique way, and this book is replete with testimonies of individuals who have experienced and recovered from burnout.

It was like sitting down with a doctor—a doctor who’s had the disease before and is most qualified to treat it in others. I have begun to implement the principles of this book into my personal life and ministry so that I can remain zealous in my service without burning out. And I would highly recommend that all Christians read the book so that they can have a lifelong ministry of sustainable sacrifice without burnout.

You can purchase Zeal Without Burnout on Amazon in these formats: Kindle, hardcover, and audio CD.