Author: Michael Bannon

Navarre brothers pitch in to help strangers

While many Americans breathe a sigh of relief that trouble-filled 2020 is behind us, the residents of many coastal communities in Alabama and Louisiana are still cleaning up after last year’s hurricanes.

Two Navarre brothers gave up time during their Christmas break to help with the hurricane cleanup work in Foley Alabama.

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labor

‘A long labor of love’

“It was a long labor of love, a lot of late nights,” said lead pastor AJ Rice, his T-shirt spattered with paint.

Rice and a small crew were completing the setup on the new stage in Liberty Church Gulf Breeze campus’ newly expanded worship center.

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For God’s Sake: Do not live as if this world is your permanent home

Looking around our home, post-Christmas, I noticed something – we have a lot of empty cardboard boxes.

In addition to a nice collection in our garage, we have a fine display of sturdy, reliable boxes in our dining room, a room we rarely use. I know what you are thinking – somebody got a load of presents this Christmas.

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Faith

Faith in Review: Churches changed in 2020

A bizarre year that all would love to forget, but none ever will, is behind us. It was a year when two alphabet’s worth of tropical systems assaulted the Gulf states, persistent wildfires scorched the western states, and massive tornadoes ripped through the Midwest.

Seamy political ads and noisy debates assailed our sensibilities and culminated in a hotly contested election.

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For God’s Sake: Free TV for price of kindness

My wife and I had a strange, wonderful experience recently. I was working from home when our doorbell rang. What used to be a childish prank – ring a doorbell then run away – is now the norm for package deliverers. I opened the door and propped up against the wall was an enormous, thin box. It was a 50-inch flatscreen TV. I hadn’t ordered a flatscreen TV.

I stared at the box thinking through the possibilities. A Christmas gift from my wife? No, we have no room for a TV that large. I checked the shipping label. The addressee was a name I did not know. The address looked like ours, “6455,” but with the poor print quality, it could have been “6466,” hence the delivery error. My smartphone said that “6466” was a mere 150 feet to my west. It was now dark and cold outside, so I brought the TV inside, threw on a coat and started up the street. I walked west, retraced my steps, then walked east. My phone lied, there is no 6466.

My wife is more resourceful in such matters, so she took up the quest when she arrived home from work. First, she snapped a photo of the shipping label and enlarged it. It read “6455,” which made the delivery even more strange. An online search of the addressee yielded a possibility. My wife fired off an appropriately cryptic note to the person on Nextdoor and on Facebook Messenger. No response. Studying the shipping label, she noticed a 10-digit number under the address. A phone number? She tried the number, gave me a smile, and left an explanatory message in a voicemail. A short time later, we got a call back.

The flatscreen was a gift from her mother for one of the grandkids, the caller explained and, yes, they used to live at our address but had moved two years ago. Even though “mom” had been to their new home at Thanksgiving, she still had the TV delivered to the old address. “My mom could get lost in a closet,” the caller chuckled and then offered to send her husband over to pick up the TV. My wife then asked that all-important Christmas question, “Is this gift supposed to be a surprise?” It was. “Do you want us to keep it here until Christmas?”

“You would do that for us?!” the caller asked. “Yes, thank you!” After more friendly small talk, the caller added, “You’ll probably get another delivery tomorrow.”

We did – another 50-inch flatscreen.

Some 2,000 years ago, God surprised the world with a gift on its doorstep, God the son, come in human flesh, born as a baby. God had promised to send a redeemer; the surprise was that the redemption the redeemer would bring required his death. Christ Jesus died for sin then God raised him from the dead so that whoever would put their faith in Christ alone would be saved from the judgment and have eternal life with God. Friends, the gift of Christmas is the Christ of Christmas. Trust in him.



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