100255856_0941538d88_mThe facts are these.  1. Our purpose is to love God + 2. Our purpose is to love others.  Everything else that comes with our faith are just details.  You may be a Christian who chooses to live in the details or you may decide your life is better spent just trying to master the first two purposes.   If your like me loving others ‘as much as I love myself’ is about as difficult a task as they come.  I believe that God knew how difficult it would be for us to love each other, but He also knew that His beautiful sacrifice would be the example that would stir men’s hearts to action.  His love for me, the King of the unlovely, has stirred my heart.  It is now my hearts great desire to love those that the world deems unworthy, unspecial, and unlovely.  Today I was able to speak to the ministries director at the Panama City Rescue Mission about having our youth ministry help with some of the programs that they are providing.  I pray that the youth of Eastgate will see through clear eyes the love that God saw when He looked down at us from His heavenly perch.

A special object of God’s love.

You are who you are for a reason.You’re part of an intricate plan.

You’re a precious and perfect unique design,called God’s special woman or man.

You look like you look for a reason.

Our God made no mistake.

He knit you together within the womb, you’re just what He wanted to make .

The parents you had were the ones He chose,and no matter how you feel,they were custom-designed with God’s plan in mind, and they bear the Master’s seal.

No, that trauma you faced was not easy.

And God wept that it hurt you so;

but it was allowed to shape your heart, so that into His like-ness you’d grow.

 You are who you are for a reason,

you’ve been formed by the Master’s rod.

 You are who you are, beloved , because there is a God.

 This poem by Russell Kelfer is a fun poem that always cheers me up when I feel down about myself. Knowing that God had us in mind before He laid the very foundations of the world changes the way I look at everything.  We may come from a home where we were dubbed a mistake. We may not have been  accepted by our parents or peers in our childhood or even now, but knowing that we are the special objects of God’s love changes everything.

Ephesians 1:3-6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
  to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

A Parable of Christmas Lights


Each year, my daughter Janelle and I are in charge of putting up the Christmas lights.  We usually do this the day after Thanksgiving…and we will be doing so later on this afternoon.  I just wanted to share something I wrote about it several years back.


My daughter and I put up the Christmas lights yesterday. I look forward to it every year. It’s our project, the passion of two exterior holiday lighting junkies. I love the search for the old boxes where we stored the lights from the season before. It’s almost like a treasure hunt, because we have no real system of storage when we rip them down (and rip them down is apropos, because there is nothing so “over” as Christmas, as my Dad used to say). Usually, we have to rely on help from my wife to find them, who tries to stay out of this process as much as possible. She comes out to the garage, moves a few boxes, and locates them. Of course we take credit for the find, congratulating each other while my wife rolls her eyes.

Then the Jelly Bean and I lug the boxes to the front lawn and open up them up to find the tangled glory of our lights. Relying on a very stale joke from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, I make the obligatory command, “A little knot here, I’ll let you work on that.”…while I steal away to find every available (and those I consider to be used superfluously) extension cord in the house.

This is our raid on the redundant. Every year, we are commandos, who wrestle away the sameness of our house, and turn it into something bright and gaudy (and even dangerous because of my propensity for running staples right through the electrical cords).

With ladder in tow, and staple gun in hand, we survey our canvas.

“Did we run those blue ones around the window last time?”

“I’m not sure, but I think the big ones go across the garage.”

“We should really write this down someday.”

But we never will, because then it would be a job, a construction project. Then it would be a routine that held no surprises, no adventure, worst of all, no laughter.

“Which end do we start with?”

“The plug end….I’m sure of it.”

 If we charted it out, numbered our steps and followed them flawlessly, we could do the same thing every year. It hurts just writing a sentence like that.

“Wait a minute…now that they’re all up there…how do I plug this….OH NO…we put the whole string up BACKWARDS!!!” The Jelly Bean is doubled over laughing.

I ask my friend B___, “Do they make an adapter that has a plug at each end?”

“No, people would kill themselves with that.”

 “Can I make one?”

“No, you definitely would kill yourself with that.”

 The Jelly Bean’s laughter has spread to the whole house; it’s infectious. Plans? We don’t need no stinkin’ plans. This is our escape from the order. This is our joy in the journey.

 “We need more extension cords…do you think the boys would miss their T.V.?”


One more thing….I thought this was hilarious!

Happy Turkey Day!

A list of things I am thankful for, by Dustin Bryson

  1. My King and his love for wind up toys like me.
  2. My Wife & Family
  3. Eastgate
  4. The youth
  5. Friendship
  6.  Corndogs
  7. Starbucks
  8. Mac’s
  9. Blogging
  10. Laughter
  11. Good TV
  12. ipods
  13. Samuel Adams
  14. Freedom
  15. Holding hands
  16. Turkey sandwiches
  17. Santa
  18. Cameras
  19. Love
  20. Moleskines
  21. TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
  22. The hard stuff on the top of creme brule
  23. Sunsets
  24. Arm wrestling
  25. Hot Pockets … my back hurts.

The Wisdom of Youth

Sammy carries boxes to the car for Operation Christmas ChildYes this is a shameless plug, and I will concur that his may not be the correct venue, but since I write on Monday’s I get to do stuff like this.

The youth of Eastgate are amazing! I am sure you were already aware of that, but for a few minutes I would like to explain to you exactly why.

I believe youth are a wonderful example for the church. They are enthusiastic about our faith and dive in head first to whatever study we are currently in. They are hungry for truth, and show up to every bible study, youth meeting and worship service that is offered. They also show their faith with actions. At least once a month they are serving the church, or the community in some tangible way. You probably don’t know this, but they once cleaned up after a wedding and then picked up all the garbage that had sprinkled the ground at the Panama City Rescue Mission, just because they were asked to! They are both hearers and doers of the word, and that makes me excited, but where I think they shine ever brighter is in their love for each other. They have had more than one conflict, cried together and for a moment wanted to annihilate one another, but in the end, love prevails and they are back, stronger than ever. We really can learn something from these young people. We can learn to love our brothers and sisters.

Hey, isn’t there even a verse about that or something? (wink, wink)

Click Here to See More Photo’s From Last Nights Operation Christmas Child Event.

Adopt a new law!!!

  When the law was given, it was given in order to instruct the Israelites how to live and please God. It was a tutor to show mankind the holiness of God and to teach man of his inability to attain that holiness on his own. It still teaches mankind of its need for a Savior and that Savior is Jesus. For those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior that law has been replaced by an indwelling of the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth and teaches us the will and desire that God has for our lives. The Holy Spirit unites our hearts to Gods

Heart and restores the relationship that was broken in the fall. This restored relationship replaces the need for a law.


    Ok so you’re probably saying, ”this is all basic Christianity”. What’s your point? My point is that this new relationship isn’t always easy to navigate. Its not always as clear as a neatly written law. It requires some thought and prayer on our part. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of all is it requires honest self-examination in the light of God.


    Because of these difficulties has the church at large adopted a new law? Instead of deciding what kind of entertainment is appropriate for our children and us have we left it up to the law of Christianity so that anything dubbed Christian is ok? There is now a satellite TV service called Sky Angel, which supplies its customers with nothing but Christian TV. Who decides what Christian TV is? Are we placing ourselves under a new law with things like this? I heard a pastor on a nationwide Christian radio station the other day say “There is so much cancer in this country because we don’t eat the way God has instructed us to. We have chosen to eat pork and that’s the reason why people are sick”. To me that’s absurd but I wonder how many people adopted a new law from that pastors teaching.  It’s not only in entertainment but this adopted law extends into all aspects of our lives. Instead of making educated decisions about political candidates are we just going along with the Christian majority in placing our votes and putting our trust in candidates who we honestly know little our nothing about? Are we in some way living a lifestyle that reflects the way other Christians think we should live instead of the life God wants for us? Have we carried a new law down from the mountain of modern day Christianity?


67109527_f967441f23_mWhile working on a sermon awhile back I was once again struck at the awesome love of God. I am floored at how God chose to extend His loving hand toward us, his broken children. It’s an easy equation really. One that shouldn’t require much discussion. God loves us like crazy, Sends Jesus to show His great love, Jesus is a perfect example, and then we are told to love like Jesus. Pretty simple right? WRONG! There is nothing easy about love, and right when you think you have it all locked down Jesus throws in ‘Love your enemies’! The wonderful thing is though, we do have His example. Without it Love would have no definition.

When have you felt his daddy arms around you?

Jesus for Christmas?

 An article caught my eye on the MSN homepage yesterday and I wonder what others are thinking about this. It seems a company that manufactures dolls has offered to donate 4,000 talking Bible action figures including Jesus dolls to the Toy’s for Tots program. Toy’s for Tots collects and distributes toys as holiday gifts to children who would otherwise not have any. The Jesus dolls are battery powered and recite such verses, as “unless a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” and “love you enemies”. The spokesperson for Toy’s for Tots said they would have to “regretfully decline” the offer fearing that the toys may wind up in Muslim or Jewish homes and cause offense. He went on to say, “ Kids want toys that are fun and religious toys are not.”


   At first I was wondering why anyone would make plastic Jesus dolls to begin with. To me the whole idea is kind of yucky and weird. After I thought about it I could see the educational value of religious action figures. In an educational setting children acting out the stories of Bible would be beneficial to learning the stories. As toys though, what boy would want an action figure that says, “love your enemy” instead of one that says, “Annihilate your enemy with your full laser proton action blaster”. Who can compare an action figure that slays Philistines with an ass’s jawbone to one that has a tank that really shoots? This brought back memories of my childhood and sitting in cars that had a glow in the dark plastic Jesus on the dash. I remember thinking how tacky that was. In spite of the tackiness did it somehow remind those people of their identity in Christ and help them through tough times? Am I being to judgmental when I say it’s weird and yucky?

   So anyway I am really interested to hear where everyone stands on this. Should Toy’s for Tots have accepted and distributed those dolls? Is it offensive to give Jesus dolls for Christmas? Should I get one of those plastic glows in the dark dash mounted Jesus figures to remind me of who I am and where I am going? The Coalition to save Christmas and Christianity has said “this is just more proof there is a war against Christianity and Christmas in this country” Is there?  Do we really need a coalition to save Christianity? What do you think?

It’s all About Who Holds the Hand

 Rob Woodrum

He wasn’t really walking as much as he was dancing.  Dressed in a blue Power Rangers sweatshirt, he cavorted in front of the line of cars in the Wal Mart parking lot. 

I had to stop for him.  I watched with rapt fascination as he moved to a position that was more in line with my vehicle’s projected path than he had been  before, for the sole purpose of stomping through a puddle of rain water.  Was he Godzilla, smashing a town?  What images were conjured in his mind as water dropplets hurled from either side of his foot?  Another car came to a stop behind mine.

A strong hand pulled on the little boy’s left hand, and he literally soared away from the puddle, back into a position which provided more safety than his previous one.  Out from the path of the waiting cars, off to the side of his parent.  He tilted back his head, all buzz-cut and freckles, and let loose a laugh from the ride.

I didn’t move until they were safely inside, and I could virtually feel the impatience of the driver behind me.  I had to wait…let it soak in.  Lessons like that are important.  He was not in a safe place…nothing safe about a sea of cars laden with consumers.  Danger rolled on each side of him, in front and behind him, but he was calm.  He was dancing.  It’s all about who holds the hand.  For that little man, nothing around him posed a threat, because he knew his mom was there, holding his hand, guiding him to safety.

There was shopping to do, there were cars to park, but I was caught up in a little angel’s jig.

There are a lot of things facing me…facing us….that could threaten, and frighten us.  Bewildering things like church growth and responsibilities…mysterious things like illness and death.  I want to be like that angel in blue.  I want to joy in the journey like he did.  I want to trust that the One who’s holding my hand is good, and have confidence that He will guide us all through. 

The problem is, it’s easier to write about it than live it out.  Well…maybe not for you, but it’s that way for me.