Meet Will

June 7, 2017


Serving as preaching intern this summer at Levy is Will Brannen. Will will be a junior at Harding University in Searcy, AR studying Bible and ministry. He is from Houston, TX. He and his family worship at the Bammel Church of Christ.

I have known Will since 2003 when my family and I moved to work with the Gateway congregation in Pensacola, FL. Will and his family were living there then.

Will has an amazing God story to share about his life. He had a heart transplant as an infant and is a two-time cancer survivor. He plans to tell us a little more about that soon at Levy.

In spending dedicated time with Will–studying text; talking ministry and preaching; visiting people–I am deeply impressed by Will’s desire to serve God, his genuineness and his maturity.

I am thankful that Will is with us for six weeks and I urge everyone at Levy to pray for him, encourage him and support him in his pursuit of a life of ministry.

The Adventures of a New Preacher

October 1, 2011

I am a new preacher again and at my age that is no small feat!

Actually, I am now the new preaching minister for the Levy Church of Christ in North Little Rock, Arkansas.  God works in amazing and surprising ways and did so by opening up the door to me for this opportunity. For over sixty years Levy has been an active kingdom presence in her community. I feel blessed to join the ranks of those who have preached before me and I look forward to the wonderful adventures God has planned for my ministry here. By God’s grace, I think we are off to a good start.

As I get settled in here, my mind still drifts back to my family in Pensacola at the Gateway Church of Christ. Regardless of where God may lead me, I will always cherish my time there. This church loved me and my family and supported and encouraged my ministry in tremendous ways. They are family and I love them. My prayers are earnest in asking God to bring them a special servant to minister with them in the Word. It was not at all easy to depart, but I felt that perhaps they needed a new voice. I will be excited to see what God has in store for this sweet church next. I expect it to be terrific.

I have some pretty high expectations at Levy too, but they have much more to do with the heart of this family than with me.  I see an incredible and grace-oriented servant spirit saturating this church and an encouraging vision for letting God work in powerful ways.  From every thing I have observed so far, the Levy family is fully committed to being a church who serves her community. The direction and extent of the ministries here clearly demonstrate that. Talk about exciting!  This desire to be a church of the community stems from a heart for reaching people for Christ- both here and abroad.  I am truly humbled to now be a part of this family- my family at Levy.

I still do not think Levy is fully aware of what they have in their new preacher. I have yet to introduce the theology of country music into my sermons or to quote Barney Fife! 🙂

For now, I am just enjoying the adventures of a new preacher!





Camp Ruta 2011

July 7, 2011
Once again God blessed us with an outstanding week of Lithuania Christian Camp at Camp Ruta, near Moletai, Lithuania. Almost 70 children enjoyed the little kids week (ages 7-13). Our theme was Step by Step and together with the local and American counselors from Gateway Church of Christ -we all grew closer to God. Many people in both countries are to be thanked for making this session happen.

This is the thirteenth summer for Lithuania Christian Camp. The evidence of the power of this ministry was all around us during June 27-July 2 as most of the Lithuanian counselors had first been campers in years past. As we listened to the current campers speak on Saturday night of how meaningful the camp was to them in bringing God into their lives, it is not difficult to imagine some of them becoming Christians and Christian counselors in the future.

Of course the camp ministry is an extension of the work of the Vilnius Church of Christ (for many more photos go to their facebook page here). Your continued support, prayers for this body and for the camp ministry is always appreciated.

Here are some photos and a wonderful video put together by those in the Vilnius church:

Bible Class


Morning Blast








Chariot races


Saying Goodbye


“Haste the Day When My Faith Shall Be Sight”

April 8, 2011

Death has visited us at Gateway. Two brothers- both amazing men- have gone to be with the Lord. They are asleep- at rest from the diseases that slowly ravished their bodies. I praise God for that. While they will missed greatly it is better for them that they went home.

Oscar Bell (along with his wife Lucy) was a trailblazer in racial integration among Churches of Christ in Pensacola. If you knew Oscar, you would not be surprised at this. This gracious brother quietly made lasting impacts across two continents in his long military career.

David Jordan was the definition of a servant. He spent his life serving God, his family, the hurting and his country. David survived (and helped dozens of others to do so) an Amtrak train accident in Mobile Bay. Later he served the devastated people of Pascagoula, MS after Hurricane Katrina as a key man “on the ground” for the relief efforts of the Central Church of Christ. (John Dobbs writes about David’s work).

Sunday (April 10th) at Gateway the sermon focus will be on the resurrection followed by a related sermon on Easter Sunday about heaven. Oscar and David are learning more about this right now then I will be able to share. But I can imagine.

MercyMe sings a deeply moving song entitled I Can Only Imagine. (posted below) It lifts me up to God’s throne every time I hear it. As I mature I find myself thinking more frequently about the things Oscar and David are now realizing. Then I think about another song.

It is Well with My Soul is an old standard that has touched generations. There is a phrase in this song that has become much more meaningful to me- Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight. Right now (to paraphrase the apostle Paul) I can only see darkly, but one day I will see God face-to-face. This will be the day when faith becomes sight- when all I’ve hoped and lived for and struggled to know becomes reality.  Lord haste that day!

I think Oscar, David and a whole host of others will be there- waiting and grinning. 

As for now though, I can only just imagine.

Homeless Outreach

February 19, 2011

Every month at Gateway we gather with our homless friends to celebrate Christ, enjoy some food and fellowship and just get to know each other. I thought I would share some pics from today

Singing and devotional

Food and Friends

Smiling servers

Kitchen crew

Neal getting a haircut

Shopping at the store

Clothes Closet

Robin Hood

Trying to Find Jesus

August 5, 2010

Just who is Jesus anyway?

In his book, Fearless, Max Lucado tells about a Brazilian taxi driver who had a miniature statue of Jesus on his dash. When the driver thought he needed a favor he would rub the statue and ask. Max called it a “make-a-wish” Jesus. Jesus as a genie!

I can think of some others:

  • Let’s Make a Deal Jesus– Jesus as Santa. If I am good then I will get what I want.
  • The American Dream Jesus– Jesus as the guarantee of good health and prosperity. The health and wealth Jesus.
  • Validate Me Jesus– Or the justify-me Jesus. Jesus used as a reference to validate my life choices and justify my behavior regardless of what it might be.
  • Disney Jesus– Or my-Sunday-morning-fix-Jesus making sure my worship experience and spiritual life is always full of magic and fireworks.
  • Discount Jesus– Ask for much, but only willing to offer just so much in return.
  • Jesus is Just Alright With Me (thanks Doobie Brothers!)- I will take just Jesus but not his church or discipleship expectations.  

Will the real Jesus please stand up! How can we find the authentic Jesus among all of this?

Here is a good place to start- Jesus in his own words. 

  • “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”- John 6:35 & 48
  •  “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”- John 8:12 & 9:5
  •  “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.”- John 10:7
  • “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me….”- John 10: 11-14
  • “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.”- John 11:25
  • “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”- John 14:6
  • “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”- John 15:1-5

Over the next few weeks at Gateway we will examine these “I am” statements and try to find Jesus through them.

Some Kind of Summer!

July 26, 2010


Anyone still stopping by?

If so, you are well aware that my blog has suffered greatly this summer from neglect.  I will not make excuses just share what has been happening in this summer of 2010.

First up, my latest class in my M.Min program from Harding- Christian Communication- has had me communicating in all sorts of ways mainly to my professor! It has not been a typical laid-back summer course.

Next, I got to spend a wonderful week with two of my daughters (and other family members) at Sardis Lake Christian Camp. I took Taylor to her first full session of camp as a camper back to my old stomping grounds. Natalie, my oldest daughter,  also came and served as the camp nurse. Nat grew up going to this camp. My cousin, Kenny Jackson, directed the week. It was a grand family reunion.

Then we went on the family “road-trip” vacation. The first stop was Mayberry- Mt. Airy, North Carolina. This is where Andy Griffith grew up and the town Mayberry was based on. Way cool for me and my girls. We have been watching DVD episodes of The Andy Griffith Show ever since the visit.  Our main stop was Washington D.C. We enjoyed a July 4th concert and fireworks on the capital lawn, visiting the museums and seeing the sites and the hospitality of our friends- Will, Michelle, Kaitlyn and Rachel Hawkins.

Then I was off to Chicago to check off another bucket list item. Thanks to friend, Scottie Ray, I basked in the sun during a Saturday afternoon at Wrigley field! Fantastic! The Cubs lost, of course, in the ninth inning- so I got the real experience. lol

Beyond travels, our summer at Gateway has been busy- all about community outreach. Our summer Sunday night program has moved out of the building and into the lives of people. Our Latino ministry kicked off this summer and is going well, praise God. We also have begun a homeless outreach ministry- providing showers, food, and supplies to our surrounding  homeless population.

As always- thanks for dropping in and visiting even while I have been away!

Gob bless!