Showing posts from February, 2012

Who's to Blame for T.J. Lane?

T.J. Lane is the most recent teen to take a gun to school and kill defenseless kids.  Immediately the media tries to profile the young mass murderer.  What’s wrong with T.J.?  What would move him to do something like this? The talking heads bait the questions wanting desperately to cast T.J. as the victim.  The common scapegoat, he must have been bullied.  He was an outcast.  People picked on him. So he killed them.  That explains it. Teen bullies have joined the long list of scapegoats for bad behavior.  Also in the fraternity is the millionaire, the evangelical Christian, and the social conservative who opposes homosexuality and/or abortion.  The media regards murder as unfortunate, but given the environment of such heinous social pressure why are we so surprised?  As tragic as homosexual suicide, teen pregnancy, and a plethora of crimes amongst economically oppressed sub-cultures may be, the behavior is not condemned because the blame for it all rests squarely on som

Sermon Audio

For the past 9+ years I have been posting audio content to The result is roughly 450 sermons that date back to my early days at Ridgecrest. To make sure none of it was lost in the transition I have brought that content under the banner. Many people have asked me if I will continue to post audio and make it available online. Absolutely. However, in the past I have not been able to find a good way to integrate SermonAudio, podcasting, and written content on By paying the base price for SermonAudio you are only able to post audio at a certain bitrate and the result is a sound much like AM radio. However, SermonAudio does offer some advanced packages and I will explore these options so that I can upgrade the sound quality, but for now I hope I have found a good solution to help bring all my content together.  If you would like to listen to the sermons I will be posting, follow the "Sermon Audio" tab located at the top

The Perils of Paradise Lost

Milton described the perils of our present world simply as paradise lost.  In each of us is not only the desire to live, but the desire to live in a pleasurable place.  Yet we contend with our vulnerabilities.  Children should never get sick, but they do.  Accidents are surprising twists of reality, sinister interruptions of the good life.  We don’t want them to happen, but they will.  We travel familiar paths everyday and take it for granted that we will always make it from point A to point B, then one day we don’t.  Such is life in paradise lost. The world was not supposed to be this way.  God created a world in which we could enjoy His rest (Gen. 2:1).  Rest, in the Gen. 2:1 Shabbat sense, is not to be thought of as physical exhaustion, but as paradise completed.  Rest comes from the will of God being fully satisfied.  Man was created with full access to life.  It is the life you have never experienced but your soul can never forget.  This is why accidents are so disappointi

James Canupp Coming to Liberty

I know many people in the congregation at Liberty are Southern Gospel music fans.  I know I have only been your pastor for a day and a half, but I wanted to get things rolling quickly.  Therefore, I give you James Canupp!  I hope you enjoy and I would like to know, which Sunday you would like for us to schedule him?

Election? (Just Ask)

What is the doctrine of election? Is it Biblical? The doctrine of election speaks simply of God’s choosing.  While God may choose people to do or be certain things (ie. David as King 2 Sam. 6:21), the greater act of God’s election is His choosing of a people for salvation.   Election is definitely a Biblical doctrine that can be readily found in both Old and New Testaments.  While the word “election” may not be used or rendered to English in every case, the act of God’s electing is apparent, especially in the Old Testament.  In the Old Testament Israel is the most prominent example (Deut. 7:6).  We also see the heritage of election traced back to the patriarchs in Genesis as God chose Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be the family of blessing for the whole earth (Gen. 12, 15, 17, Isa. 41:8).  In the New Testament we see Jesus introduced as the “chosen” of God (Luke 9:35, 1 Peter 2:4,6).  Interestingly, the word “chosen”, in most cases, is a translation of the Greek word “ele

Losing God in the Debate

Apologetics is the term we use to describe the discipline of defending the gospel.  The word “defense” is somewhat misleading because it assumes that all the apologist does is to ward off the attacks of his opponents.  Yet apologetics has an element that is very much on the offense.  By synthesizing theology with philosophy apologetics seeks to enter the worldview debate by proving that the Bible offers the most logical conclusions on why the world is as it is.  The beauty of apologetics is that it does not necessarily rely on the Bible as its starting point.  The Bible becomes an end.  An apologist is then able to enter a secular environment and talk about almost any subject from biology to ethics.  These are forums that have otherwise exiled religious faith, but the apologist is able to reenter them and contend that “yes” the Bible has something important to say as well.   Being an apologist is a very Biblical thing to do.  Some of Paul’s speeches in Acts are known as apologi

The Dirt Series

The Dirt Series from Brian Branam on Vimeo .

A Short Trip Down a Long Road

Last summer we drove to San Diego, CA and back.  It took us 14 days and we logged almost 6,000 miles.  Yet I can recall 100 great stories and 1,000,000 images from that trip in my mind in about 30 seconds.  I guess this is why everyday is 24 hours no matter how you approach it, but looking back makes life seem as if it happens way too fast.   If I could sum up my ministry here at Ridgecrest it would be to describe it as a short trip down a long road.  There were times it seemed as if we would never get there and like impatient children we pleaded with God, “How much longer?”  By the calendar we have been together for about 9.5 years, but looking back it doesn’t seem long at all. When a pastor enters a new situation the focus is on what must be done for the church.  The agenda is on where the church is headed.  What will be its new direction?  Where does it desire to be?  We call this vision.  Personally I can look back and realize there was another journey on the agenda of

Random Thoughts on Friday (2/10)

I am not a handyman, but when you are trying to sell a house you are motivated to fix things. For the past three weeks I have been repairing things I should have done 9 years ago. When you are not accustomed to stuff like this it is amazing how the little things can make you feel like a real man. I installed a new motion detector light over our garage. Our neighbor Ramone is an electrician, but I didn’t ask him to help because I’m a man. Yet after the whole thing was wired it wouldn’t come on. So I did an unmanly thing. I went down and asked Ramone why it wouldn’t work. “Well, its broad daylight right now. I bet if you cover the sensor the light will come on.” He was right. You the man Ramone! This week is my final full week as pastor of Ridgecrest. I am not quite sure how to feel in this moment. There is a deep mixture of joy at what is next, but sadness that an important chapter of my life that is coming to a close. I know a large part of the memory of my ministry here

On the Good and Bad Economy (Reposted)

While listening to the radio today there was a repeated theme of government entitlements and bailouts.  In June of 2010 I wrote an article in response to an article that appeared in TIME magazine.  Since there are so many new readers to, and since we are in an election season, I thought it would be apropos to repost it. ___________________ Michael Crowley’s entry into this week’s TIME magazine, “The Good and Bad Economy” outlines the difficult agenda of economic recovery facing the Obama administration as it deals with not only conflicting economic data but also with an electorate sharply divided philosophically on how to end the current recession.  There is a looming fear of the “double dip,” that after some signs of growth our nation’s economy will shrink once again.  Although the nation’s economy has “double dipped” a few times since, the dreaded “double dip” is most often associated with 1937 “when a U.S. economy fighting its way out of the  Great Depression

Bible Versions - The Bad Ones (Just Ask)

Question:  Are there any "bad" versions/translations of the bible? (KJV, NIV, etc.)  Why does Ridgecrest use ESV? When it comes to Bible versions there is a wide range of understanding from totally oblivious to militant.  Before I became a serious student of the Bible I was firmly in the oblivious category thinking that the different labels we used to designate Bibles KJV, NIV, NASB were simply brand names.  KJV was to the Bible what NIKE was to shoes.  You have the gold standard KJV=NIKE and then you have the rest NIV or NASB = Reebok or Adidas. In my journey from oblivious to being someone people asks about Bible versions I have met the militant.  The militant would include people who believe that since the KJV was good enough for Paul, it should be good enough for the rest of us :).  Personally, I find those who argue passionately for the KJV as the only preserved Word of God to be misguided and divisive.  If the KJV is your personal favorite that is one thin

Being Organic

Life is agricultural.  No matter how industrialized or technological the world becomes the principle of sowing and reaping is inescapable.  We are organic at the core.  Much of who you are can be attributed to decisions you made many years ago.  Something in the past was planted in your life, your character, your personality, your circumstances - today you eat the fruit. Being organic has its positives and negatives.  When it comes to the negatives we would rather keep them hidden below the surface.  The problem here is that in an agrarian world, what is buried will soon grow.  Your sins will find you out (Num. 32:23).  The fruits of past sins are bitter herbs indeed. The positive to being organic is that we can sow things into the soil of our soul that will, given time, become life giving.  Saving $10 per week will give you $1,000 in two years.  It is easy to waste $10 a hundred times.  It is hard not to need $1,000 just once.  In an organic world a little bit (the seed) c

Random Thoughts on Friday 2/3

Shannon and I celebrated 15 years of marriage this week.  The official wedding anniversary gift almanac says that this is our crystal anniversary.  I did not buy Shannon crystal.  Instead I bought her tickets to Wicked.  This is our wicked anniversary.  Strange to hear a preacher say something like that. I am continuing to trudge through the massive biography of  Dietrich Bonhoeffer .   He was a gifted theologian with an amazing story.  There are plenty of books about his life that will help you get the jest of who he was without reading the most recent 500 + page edition.  I'm not saying the book is bad, it is just really, really, really detailed.  At this point I am too far in to put it down and I have too much pride to quit.  There is just something nerdy cool about saying you read a 500 page biography about a German theologian.  Another thing keeping me in the book is to see how many casual conversations I can drop the name Bonhoeffer into and share an obscure fact about his

Storage Sale

On Feb. 10 - 11 (8 a.m. - 2 p.m.) Ridgecrest Baptist Church ( will hold a storage sale.  We will offer a massive inventory of items which include children's furniture, church furnishings including pulpits and a communion table, drama and stage items, electronics, various construction material (doors, ceiling tiles, etc), and tools.  For more information visit our Facebook page .   

15 Years

A lot of things have changed in our lives over the last 15 years.  The increasing numbers of grey hairs near my temporal region indicates that in the next 15 years things will change even more.  We have two daughters now.  We don’t eat Little Debbies as much as we once did.  We went through a Peanut M & M’s phase, but now our cravings have gone more Peppermint Pattie.  We survived Y2K.  We started out in a Queen bed, now we have one with zip codes.  We have had 8 different cars and lived in 3 houses.  There are many things about us that are similar to the people we once were, but in a very distinct way, we are nothing of the people we used to be. In the last 15 years we have learned to laugh more.  We have learned how to laugh less at the television and laugh more at each other.  When I asked Shannon to marry me I did so because I thought I loved her and I thought I knew what it meant that I needed her.  15 years later I realize how deeply I love her and how much she really