Tag Archives: weekend

Defibrillator for the Soul | Bible Gleanings – Feb 27-28, 2021

Defibrillator for the Soul

Your heart has landed you in the emergency room and your life is on the line. The same heart that has sustained your existence for years has thrown itself into a chaotic rhythm, and now your life is slipping away. At this point, revival is the only way to survive—your heart needs its life back. “CLEAR!” shouts the doctor as he administers an electrical shock to your chest to restart your heart and keep you alive. The life-saving device used was an automatic external defibrillator (or AED), which delivered a pulse of electricity to your low-battery heart.

While this scenario is fictional, it is the reality for thousands of people whose lives have been saved by defibrillators since they emerged in the 1980s. Thanks to colossal advancements in medical research and the experiments of a few mad scientists of long ago, the defibrillator has been saving lives and reviving hearts through controlled voltage for decades.

Another defibrillator exists that is supremely more important, infinitely more powerful, and gravely necessary to keep you alive: the word of God, the holy Scriptures. David wrote in Psalm 19 that the Bible, God’s only authoritative and inspired word, is the defibrillator for the soul of man! He declared, “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul” (v. 7a). The Scriptures function like a spiritual defibrillator to get your heart going again. When you read and study the word of God, the Spirit (who inspired the Bible) beams spiritual energy and vigor to your soul. When your soul is depleted of strength, God’s word restores and revives you with all the kilowatts you need.

Nothing else in the universe is able to revive your soul other than the word of the living God. When your heart is about to give up, no doctor administers Advil. Likewise, the only device that can restore your soul is God’s word —everything else is an ibuprofen substitute that won’t work. In order for your out-of-rhythm heart to praise God, you must “learn [His] righteous rules” (Psalm 119:7). If you want your heart to seek God, you must “not wander from [His] commandments” (Psalm 119:10). If the strength of your soul is melting like snow, let the Lord strengthen you “according to [His] word!” (Psalm 119:28).

Does your soul need a shock? Do you need revitalization and renewal on the inside? Lay the Bible open before you and savor its contents so that its restorative power may be unleashed upon you. Read and reread its promises to recharge your batteries. Heed its warnings and exhortations to restore a healthy heartbeat. Open the living and active word of God so that the Spirit may administer a life-saving jolt to your soul.


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).

Redeemed, Redeemed, Redeemed | Bible Gleanings – Feb 6-7, 2021

Redeemed, Redeemed, Redeemed

A youngster frolicked on the church lawn on a summer Lord’s Day, carrying in his hand a rusty cage with several nervous fluttering birds. Pastor A. J. Gordon inquired, “Son, where did you get those birds?” “Trapped ‘em out in the field, Reverend,” the boy replied. “Well, what are you plannin’ on doing with them?” Gordon asked. “Gonna play with ‘em for a while and probably feed ‘em to the old cat we have at home.” Gordon hated to see the birds consigned to such a fate, so he offered to buy them. The young lad exclaimed, “No sir! You don’t want these birds—they’re wild and can’t sing very well.” “What if I gave you two dollars?” Gordon proposed. As the boy conceded he admitted, “It’s a deal, but you’re making a bad bargain.” The exchange was made and the boy skipped away whistling with his shiny coins. Gordon strolled to the back of the church, opened the wire prison, and released the captive birds into the blue sky.

On the following Sunday, the empty bird cage sat beside the pulpit as Gordon preached on the topic of redemption—the doctrine about Christ purchasing sinners’ freedom with His blood. And Gordon remarked, “The boy told me the birds were not songsters, but when I released them and they winged their way heavenward, it seemed to me they were singing, ‘Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!’”

Redemption in Scripture simply means deliverance by payment of a price, and Christ Jesus delivered and released you from the slave cage of sin by purchasing your freedom with His precious blood! You were not a trapped bird, however, but a slave completely allegiant to sin and miserably held under its dominion. You were willingly in the custody of sin. But God bought you—and He didn’t pay chump change for your redemption: “You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Once you were captive and captivated by sin—hopelessly confined to its rusty cage. But now liberation from the slavery, penalty, and power of sin are yours as God’s gift to you, paid for in full by the blood of Christ. You are, “justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24; see also Ephesians 1:7). The shackles of sin are broken, the chain of sin that would have dragged you to hell has been pulverized, and the prison door has been kicked down. And friend, if you have been redeemed, the only fitting response is singing, “Redeemed—how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child, and forever, I am.”


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).

Job Satisfaction | Bible Gleanings – Jan 23-24, 2021

Job Satisfaction

The national unemployment rate was at a record high last spring due to the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic: 14.7%. The current unemployment rate is now significantly lower (6.7%) because many medical achievements have accelerated our nation in the right direction, and we have learned how to live with this virus. More people are working and earning an income—that is a great thing for America and Americans.

However, having a job doesn’t equal happiness for most Americans. Overall job satisfaction in our country is depressingly low. One study found that over 55% of Americans are dissatisfied with their jobs. Many people feel they have hit a brick wall in their jobs with no chance of climbing the success ladder. Some working folks wish they could change their careers or work in a different field. Job satisfaction is important—you need to find something you like to do. As the old proverbial saying goes, “Work doing something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

As vital as personal job satisfaction is, the Bible says that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should have an entirely different approach towards job satisfaction. The word of God teaches that the question you need to ask is not, “Am I satisfied with my job?” but, “Is Christ satisfied with my job?” Christian—when it comes to your job, what matters most is if your job performance is satisfactory to Jesus Christ. That’s why Paul wrote,

“Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:22-24).

God wants you to render straightforward obedience to your employer—so long as they don’t require you to disobey God. If you know Christ, you ought to be the best worker on the job, so much so that you show up the laziness of the other employees! Moreover, God wants you to work sincerely even when the boss isn’t watching. This is because your ultimate motivation for working hard is fear of the Lord and a desire to please Him. Therefore, do a good job, show up on time, go above and beyond, and work hard even when no one is watching because your ultimate Boss is Jesus Christ. He is your Master and He is watching you. He will reward your hard work, even if your employer won’t. Is Jesus Christ satisfied with your job?


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).

A Broken Compass | Bible Gleanings – November 21-22, 2020

A Broken Compass

“I’ve got some bad news—we aren’t heading north.”

That was the draining report I gave to my friend as we exhausted ourselves attempting to hike in the right direction. An enjoyable day hike quickly became a frustrating struggle to find our way back. The rain was against us, turning dusty trails into sludge hungry for unsuspecting shoes. The trail markers were against us—some contradicted the trail map and most were indecipherable from being timeworn. The whole afternoon was burned up backtracking and circling back to places we’d already been to.

Something was off—we were seasoned hikers—being on the hamster wheel made no sense. Besides, since we trekked this trail system on previous occasions, our feet were somewhat acquainted with it. Why were we wandering and lost? Days later I found that a broken compass was responsible for our aimless ramble. Apparently, the circular plate that allows the needle to point northward had locked up. We were wandering and wayward because our compass was damaged. Going in the right direction was impossible because the device created to guide our steps was wrecked and ruined.

I’ve got some bad news—the compass of the human heart is likewise defective and disabled. The word of God teaches that we wander from the Lord because our inner compass is broken. No man’s heart points in the right direction towards God. As a matter of fact, “No one understands; no one seeks for God” (Romans 3:11). Our sinful and corrupt heart points toward evil and we are, “accustomed to [doing] evil” (Jeremiah 13:23). The feet of every sinner is fastened to the wrong path—the path away from God (Isaiah 53:6). Until the Lord repairs the compass of your heart by giving you a new one, you will hopelessly wander on the wayward path that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13).

The good news is that God is ready to point your heart’s compass toward the path of godliness. He wants to give you a new heart and a new compass: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

God will do this when you repent of your sin and trust wholly in Christ for your eternal salvation (2 Cor. 7:10; Romans 10:9-13). However, even after you experience this transformation, you are still prone to wander. Therefore, you must continually depend on God’s grace and the power of His Spirit to keep the compass of your heart pointing heavenward.

What direction does the compass of your heart point towards?


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).

Weeds of Worldliness | Bible Gleanings – October 31-November 1, 2020

Weeds of Worldliness

Russia has been infiltrated by an alien—an alien species of giant hogweed, that is. The invasive plant dominates thousands of miles of rural Russia like a million-man military. The hogweed began to conquer the wilderness of Russia in the 1980s, and continues to subdue fields and even villages. In fact, according to the New York Times, “The weed is expanding its coverage by about 10 percent every year.” The big issue with the alien weed is its toxicity. It contains deadly sap which causes third-degree burns and even blindness.

Why is this dangerous weed quelling Russia’s forests and neighborhoods? The answer is twofold. First, the weed loves soil that is fickle, weak, and unsettled. Dmitry Geltman, a botanical expert, remarked, “It takes over deserted fields because it likes unstable soil.” Second, the government has done practically nothing to eradicate it. The weed has advanced and increased due to government neglect and wilderness mismanagement. A mere hogweed plant has tyrannized land and puts people’s lives in danger—that is astonishing!

Infinitely more astonishing is that another kind of weed can vanquish your life and put your soul in danger: the weeds (or thorns) of worldliness. Jesus taught, “A sower went out to sow his seed . . . And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it . . . And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature” (Luke 8:5, 7, 14).

If you are preoccupied with worldly things—wealth, possessions, pleasures, and earthly pursuits—the word of God (the seed) will not be able to take root in your heart. The thorns of worldliness will occupy your heart and choke it out. If the “soil” of your heart is unstable, if you are distracted by the world’s worries and pleasures, the word of God cannot bear fruit within you—the weeds and thorns of worldliness will crowd it out. And as long as the weeds of the world are allowed to live, they will continue to spread and grow.

Do the thorns of worldliness rule in your heart? Do you love the world so much that you have no love for God? If so, then your soul is in serious danger. Forsake your sin and earthly pursuits, and come to Jesus Christ for salvation so that He may tear out the tyrannical weeds of worldliness. God will change your heart so you may bear spiritual fruit when you hear and believe the word of God.

However, even if you are a true believer, the world’s weeds and thorns can still prevent God’s word from going deep into your heart. Therefore, deny the lure of the world, hold fast to the word, and continually yield to the Sower so He may rip out the choking weeds of worldliness


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).

Actor Portrayal | BIBLE GLEANINGS AUGUST 22-23, 2020

Actor Portrayal

Many commercials on television promote new products and services with personal testimony from people who have benefited from the product themselves. When a new gadget hits the market, you’ll see someone in the commercial rave about how it has changed their lives for the better. When a new medicine is developed, the person in the commercial is seen enjoying their lives like never before. However, if you pay close attention you will often see the words ACTOR PORTRAYAL in tiny print near the bottom of the screen. That signals that the individual in the advertisement hasn’t actually used the product or service for themselves.

I don’t know about you, but I immediately question the effectiveness of whatever they’re advertising if the company has to hire an actor to promote it. In fact, it makes me think the product or service doesn’t work at all! The actors are real and so is their enthusiasm, but their claim about the proficiency of a product or service is repudiated when there is no real evidence that they themselves have been changed by it. It’s all acting.

The Bible talks about actor portrayal. The Lord Jesus sternly warned that it is possible to offer lip service to God while your heart is far from Him: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matt. 15:8). You can be enthusiastic about God and the gospel without actually being changed by the gospel or encountering God for yourself. Reading the Bible, going to church, singing hymns, and doing good works are just an actor portrayal if you haven’t experienced the life-changing power of the gospel firsthand. Even if you have genuinely trusted in Christ and believed the gospel, people will question the effectiveness of the gospel if you show little to no evidence that you’ve been changed by it. If you don’t practice what you preach, people will wonder whether or not the gospel works at all. When we live no differently than anyone else, it is as though “actor portrayal” has been visibly labeled upon our lives.

Hypocrisy always kills the appeal of the gospel. God doesn’t call you to act before men, but to live a genuinely righteous life before Him: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 6:1). Obviously, no Christian is perfect and there’ll even be times when you live hypocritically—it happens to all of us. The issue is not with occasional falls into the sin of hypocrisy. The issue is if you promote the effectiveness of the gospel but contradict that claim by living the same as everyone else. Have you been changed by the gospel or is your life an actor portrayal?

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).

Weekend Reflections: Time Management and Training Others

What you are about to read are my weekend reflections. Back a few weeks ago, I started doing this in a notebook for my own personal benefit. This isn’t a diary, trust me, I have a beard. But it is a time for me to reflect on the past week for the following purposes: so that I may contemplate on what most stood out to me Sunday through Friday; so that I can think on the biblical and practical lessons the Lord has taught me most recently; so that I can see what can be done more productively or differently; so that I can improve upon what I’m already doing; and so that I can encourage you in your own personal walk with Christ, or you area of ministry.  Til now I’ve been keeping these reflections to myself, but I’d like to share them with you today. These are some of the lessons the Lord has impressed upon me this past week.

Time Management and Productivity

We are called by God to be stewards. A steward is someone appointed to look after, manage, or supervise another’s property. We know from Scripture that everything in the earth is the Lord’s, and that He has called us to steward His property. So Christians are to be stewards of their talents, their finances, and also their time. All of these things which belong to the Lord. But perhaps the most difficult area of stewardship is our time, and managing it well. Paul writes in Ephesians 5:15-16, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (emphasis mine).

In today’s world, it is increasingly difficult to spend our time most efficiently – let alone spending that time honoring the Lord in what we do. Well, the Lord has been teaching me a few lessons for the past few weeks, and especially this past week. One of those lessons is this: faithful time stewardship today ensures faithful time stewardship tomorrow. Or put another way, faithful time stewardship yesterday ensures more faithful time stewardship today. If we spend our time well today, it always ensures that tomorrow’s time will be spent even better. 

Practically speaking, there are many things I’ve tried to do that have proved helpful in being a better steward of my own time. Knowing that if I spend my time well today I can spend it better tomorrow, I have implemented a few different habits that have certainly helped me. First, I’ve tried to wake up earlier and get to bed earlier. Waking up early is sort of a “love-hate” thing for me. I love the stillness of the morning, and I am as active as a carpenter’s pencil in the morning. But I have difficulty getting up at my first or second alarm. What helps me to wake up is to prepare my favorite breakfast the night before, and plan on doing at least one major thing that will get my blood pumping the next morning. That way, I’ve got something enjoyable to look forward to when I open my eyes in the morning. I know that I’ve got that delicious smoothie waiting to be enjoyed; I know that I’ve got at least 15 mins to run in my neighborhood as the sun rises. Of course, as a pastor, I work the same 9-3 hours as most everyone else. Those hours are not always spent at the office (which is my bedroom too), but they may be spent visiting, making calls, printing materials, or a host of other things. But no matter how busy I am during the day, I try to make it a priority to plan something enjoyable the night before, so that I can wake up ready to go. I mean, when did any of us stay in bed on Christmas morning anyway?

The second thing I’ve tried to do is ordering my daily tasks by importance and order. I’ll sit down on Sunday evening or Monday morning and write out everything I can perceive that needs to be done on what day(s) – appointments, sermon preparation, visitation, everything. And when I get those tasks written out, I will write a number to the left side of each task. This number indicates the order in which I need to accomplish the tasks. For example, if I’m heading to the church and I need to stop to make a visit, I’ll put a out by the visit and a out by my stopping by the church. That way, I can keep up with the order of things and not leave anything out. I also do this for the principle of doing first things first. If I get an unexpected interruption and I’m not able to complete some of the smaller, less important things, then I’m still okay. Why? Because I completed the first things first. The things that are most important in my to-do list need to be done first. That way I’m not having anxiety about completing those important tasks, and my less-important tasks can have as much flexibility as they need.

Training Others to Teach Scripture

When God gives us a task to complete, or when He calls us to a particular task or ministry, we are to do those things and fulfill those ministries with excellence because it is the Lord’s work that we are doing. Paul says that we are to give ourselves fully to the Lord’s work: “always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58, ESV). So for this reason and many others, all that we do should be done with excellence of service—whether it is teaching Sunday School, cleaning the worship center, setting up the student area, or helping a child make a craft.

In order to complete those tasks, and fulfill our ministries, we need to be properly educated and trained to do so. One of the best ways that excellence is ensured in our service is being well-trained at our vocation. Because of this, I try to emphasize the urgency and need for training in all areas of ministry at our church. If you teach the children, you need to know how to teach them and answer their questions. If you work the soundboard, you need to know how to monitor its diverse mechanics. If you teach students, you need to know how to teach in a way that is relevant to this stage in their life.

In the area of Sunday School, it’s been a pleasure for me to train a young man to eventually teach our high school students’ class. He’s been making a lot of progress as we’ve talked, and as I’ve given him a plethora of materials for his training. It’s taken more time out of my daily pastoral ministry duties, but it has been worth it and it will be worth it. I would encourage you to do the same, because we need to take time to invest in our church members, we need to disciple them, teach them new skills, and help them discover their calling or spiritual gifts (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Cor. 12:4-11; Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Pet. 4:10-11).

Pray for this young man, and do the same in your churches – our teachers especially need to be continually refreshed so that they can refresh others. They need to be well-trained so that they too can one day train another to take their place. It’s the biblical model for enlisting and recruiting people to serve in various ministries: “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2, ESV).

As an aside, here are the best resources I’ve ever used or passed on to our Bible teachers:

1. Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

2. How to Study the Bible by Robert M. West.

3. 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible by Robert L. Plummer.

4. The ESV Study Bible by Crossway.

5. The Complete Bible Answer Book by Hank Hanegraaff.