“Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!”

You are in a fight! It may even be the fight of your life. It may be a fight for your life. As the noise of the situation you are in is loud, it seems slurred because it’s as if time is slower. You can’t get to the other side of what is happening to you fast enough.

“How did I get into this fight?” “Where did my foe come from?” “How many rounds will it last?” “Wait, Aren’t I supposed to get a break from the punches between rounds?” Are these the types of questions you have asked yourself lately?

If so, know that you are not alone! It seems as if everywhere you turn, you encounter someone who is facing a difficult situation, who is in a fight. The Apostle Paul compared living life to a fight, and he said in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight…” Those who have accepted Jesus are not fighting by themselves. Jesus is in your corner, rooting you on and empowering you so that you may come out victorious! You will receive the title belt, so to speak.

The enemy who has come against you may not fight fair, and he will most likely hit you below the belt or keep wailing on you even after you lie flat on the mat. Do not despair, do not throw in the towel. The fight is not over until you are declared the winner.

You might even see an imp prancing around the ring, displaying what round it is. An ugly, vulgar, disgusting character who is rooting for your enemy. You may be shocked to discover who the enemy uses to come against you, but greater is He who is in you than anyone in the world.

No matter how long you have been fighting, know that fights don’t last forever. I agree it is difficult, tiring, and sometimes you want to or have someone else end it, but don’t! When you come through a winner, you, like Paul, can encourage others.

Prayer: “Father God, help us ask you to help us. Then help us to take your hand and not let go. Please help us to keep our focus on you, and no matter how long it takes, strengthen us to endure to the end. Thank you. Amen.”

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Your Address Matters

I often see Facebook posts by someone I know personally but won’t name them here because it doesn’t matter. What does matter is, what they post. It seems that a lot of life happens to them, and I say, “Life Happens” instead of using the other word.

The other day after reading yet another one of these posts, I started thinking and asked, “Why?” It didn’t take long before I realized their address was wrong, and that’s the problem.

No, I’m not saying that it is because they are poor and can’t afford to live in one of the nicest areas of their town because those people can have “life” happen to them as well. The issue is this; they do not live in the garden!

God created a garden, made Man, and intended him to always live in that garden. But after God gave Man free will, Man decided to exercise it and choose not to live by God’s rule to stay in the garden.

God took the Man and set him down in the Garden of Eden to work the ground and keep it in order. God commanded the Man, “You can eat from any tree in the garden, except from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. Don’t eat from it. The moment you eat from that tree, you’re dead.” Gen. 2:15-17 (MSG)

That’s the very problem today with people. For whatever reason, they may think they have, decided not to follow God’s commandments and live according to His Word, the Bible. Therefore their address is where trash goes, and life “dumps” upon them often, perhaps even daily!

It doesn’t have to be like that!

I will not claim that accepting Jesus into your life and making Him “Lord” of your life eliminates all of life’s problems, but it sure makes getting through them more manageable. You can be assured that you have a loving God to help you get through the trials, and being the great provider that He is famous for, you might even be surprised at how He takes care of those trials. You have to trust in Him.

So accept Jesus into your life by asking him to forgive you of your past wrongdoings and then read God’s Word and start talking to Him daily. Oh, and get some boxes and start packing because you are about to start living in a garden.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Zone, Free of Judgement

Photo by Ivan Samkov

“I can’t believe they are wearing a hat in church!” said one man. “You should be glad they’re here,” I replied. I wanted to say, “The Pope wears a hat in church”, but I didn’t. “How dare they wear shorts in the sanctuary,” another person commented out loud.  “Perhaps they would have missed church altogether if they had stopped at home to change first.” “All they do is sit there while the pastor is speaking and play on their phones,” one griped. “Were you aware that many people have a “Bible” app on their phones these days and they are following along with the pastor as he reads the scriptures?”

I have recently joined a gym. Their slogan is, “Judgement Free Zone®”. And I have seen all types of individuals in a variety of shapes and sizes there. Some good and some, well, like me out of the proper shape. But true to their slogan, no one has ever judged me. They are just glad I’m there.

Shouldn’t the church of God be a zone, free of judgement as well? After all, who are we to judge anyone?

for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, Rom. 3:23 (KJ21)

Not everyone who enters the church doors is in the best “spiritual” shape just as those who enter the gym are not in the best physical shape. April says, “I’m still the same woman you fell in love with. I’m just a different shape now.” It is best if we smile, greet them, make them feel welcome in the church, and be ready to help them if they ask. They need to develop a spiritual workout that is best for them. One that meets them where they are.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Why?

The year was about 1981. The place was Woodlake Assembly of God church, Tulsa, Oklahoma. The evening’s speaker was Rev. Dan Betzer. Rev. Betzer has one of those voices like James Earl Jones. He was an anchorman in Buffalo, NY. I believe he mentioned, where he confessed to not being able to say, “hypodermic needle”. He said no matter how hard he tried it always came out as, “hypodemic nerdle”. He was also the voice of an Assembly of God radio program for many years. He is currently a pastor in Ft. Myers, Florida.

Rev. Betzer delivered a dynamic message that I remember in detail some 41 years later. Yeah, it was that good, inspiring, powerful, and truthful. Perhaps one of these days I’ll post it. But only a portion of it do I want to share now:

A young man became the new associate pastor of a thriving church. On his first Sunday morning, he stood on the platform next to the pastor staring at the standing congregation. The sound of small conversations could be heard. Nervously he leaned over and asked the pastor, “What are we waiting on?” The pastor leaned back and whispered, “The organist.” “Where are they?” he asked. “She’s late. She’s always late.”
A few minutes later a side door of the sanctuary flung open and in walked a large woman dangling keys. She dramatically flipped her dress and proceeded to the organ used one of the keys to unlock it and then turned it on. Everyone heard the old organ warm-up and then she nodded to the worship leader who then led the congregation in that day’s selection of hymns.
The next morning after the pastor went over some announcements in their staff meeting the new associate pastor brought up the situation of the late organist. “Why do you put up with that?” he asked. “Because she is the only one who has a key to the organ,” replied the pastor. “Well, why don’t you ask her for it?” The pastor looked at the young naïve man and said, “You’re the new pastor here, you ask her!”
Seeing no harm in asking for the key to the organ he phoned the woman and made an appointment to visit her at her home. He informed her he desired to meet with each person in the church to get to know them.
After he arrived, he settled in and started his chit-chat while drinking some tea and eating one of the freshly baked cookies she had made for the occasion. Then he made his move and asked her for the key to the organ so they could have someone show up on time and have the organ warmed up and ready for the morning worship service. “What? No way! I will not turn over that key to you, the pastor, or anyone else! You see my family donated that organ and I have been the only one to play it for the past 35 years! Now I am going to have to ask you to leave!” demanded the woman. “But I haven’t finished my cookie,” the now a little older associate pastor replied. “GET OUT!” she shouted.
The following Sunday morning the organist showed up ten minutes late as was her custom but when she flung the door to the sanctuary open she heard the congregation in the middle of a glorious hymn and she saw someone else playing the organ. She was outraged. After the service, she bee-lined it to the new associate pastor. “How dare you! How dare you have someone else play the very organ that my family donated. And how in the world did you get it unlocked, anyway? I didn’t give you the key!” The associate pastor looked at her, smiled, and said, “Ma’am, there isn’t anything that God and a crowbar can’t accomplish!”

Yes, those listening to Rev. Betzer laughed as you probably are now, but he went on:

You see that organist will stand before God one day and He will ask her, “While you were on earth what did you do for me?” She will most likely say, “Well, you see God, I faithfully played the organ, which my family so generously donated, for thirty-five years!” God will no doubt look intently at her and ask, “Why?”

What is your motivation for serving God? Are you doing it for the right reasons? Do you have the right attitude to go along with that motivation? I hope so. If after searching your heart and being honest with yourself, if there is any reason other than the right ones, then I hope you correct them, or at least be willing to give up the key.

(Thank you, Rev. Betzer, for your faithfulness to God for over 60 years of ministry. God used you to make an impact on me when I was a young, naïve associate pastor.)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Hearing Aid

As a follower of Jesus Christ for many years, there can still be circumstances that can weigh us down to the point that even for us there can be moments where we might still ask, “Does God exist?” It’s okay when that happens as long as those “moments” aren’t too often and last too long.

Imagine then how difficult it can be for one who has never accepted God and has not had the experience of walking with Him. They are not aware of His goodness and His faithfulness. They have not witnessed His miracle-working power for themselves in their lives. They have not seen God make a way when their back is up against the wall and in the natural world, there is no way! They need help, they need an aid.

May I propose they could benefit from a “hearing aid”? The one who doesn’t know God intimately yet needs you to “tell” them about Him. They need you to list His credentials and share His character. They desperately need to know now and therefore they need you now.

13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord [in prayer] will be saved.”

14 But how will people call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how will they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher (messenger)? 15 And how will they preach unless they are commissioned and sent [for that purpose]? Just as it is written and forever remains written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” Romans 10:13-15 (AMP)

People are desiring help, guidance, and direction. They want to know what to do and where to turn. They are listening. Unfortunately, if they don’t hear about the hope of Jesus Christ they will listen to the world, and the media, and for the most part their message is not a positive one.

Allow God to use you to be a “hearing aid” for someone. Don’t think you have to know the word of God like a preacher does simply share your testimony and share what God means to you. Tell them of His unbelievable love. They’ll listen.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Counterfeit

Life is hard sometimes. Lately, it seems like, for April and me, things have been more difficult than usual. Perhaps I had gotten too used to God pouring out his blessings regularly because life was easy. Direction came easy, and so did His provisions.

I know what the scriptures say about trials and patients but that doesn’t mean I have to like them! It can be extremely challenging to wait on God. To accept the idea that it is better to live according to the watch that He wears. Some people give up hope and decide to settle for Satan’s substitutes.  Their “knock-offs” of God’s original designs. “Counterfeits.”

“Satan can’t give you the fruits of the Spirit!”

Sadie Robertson Huff of Duck Dynasty fame.

He can’t give you love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, gentleness, or self-control. If you think he can, examine it thoroughly because it’s a fake!

You know, perhaps God’s pouring out His blessings from a higher dimension, and that is why it is taking longer to get here but when it does it will be abundant, more than enough, overflowing. “Okay, God. I’ll wait for your originals in my life. Thanks and I love you!”

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

They Lost It!

I know there are several people who absolutely LOVE Christmas. If it was more socially accepted they would leave the tree and the decorations up all year and they would probably go as far as to leave the lights on the house, lit! I know one particular person who has been posting on Facebook a countdown of how many days till Christmas. I think she started it on January 1st.

One Christmas lover does leave ornaments out in various rooms around the house. I heard that one day a friend who wanted to play a joke removed one of the ornaments that were displayed in the guest bathroom. They hung on to it for a few weeks expecting to get a call that would be accompanied by an accusation. The call never came.

Apparently, when the missing ornament was discovered the one who seriously loves Christmas went on a rampage trying to find out what happened to it or who took it. I guess they got quite upset over the ordeal. One family member tried their best to find or order a replacement in order to restore peace in the home but learned the ornament was no longer being made.

It happens. A person’s “joy” can be taken, or even stolen if they let it. It doesn’t take much at times. What we should do is calmly evaluate the situation and realize “no one got hurt”, “it’s only a thing”, and recognize that though it may bother you or hurt it’s not the end of the world. That it was simply an item and not a person. It certainly isn’t worth hurting a relationship over!

My brothers, you will have many kinds of troubles. But when these things happen, you should be very happy (joyful). You know that these things are testing your faith. And this will give you patience. James 1:2-3 (ICB)
[The “joyful” in the parenthesis was inserted by me.]

The joy of the Lord is my strength. Neh. 8:10

The person who took the ornament eventually gave it back and though the Christmas lover laughed and said they were okay they ended the friendship. They lost more than an ornament for a time, they lost a friend. Sad end to the story especially when the ornament (pictured) shared “joy” and was an emblem of love and happiness expressed at Christmas.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

How do You Measure it?

Growing up, a lot of children’s parents mark their bedroom door jambs and date it as to how tall their child is. This is a way to measure their physical growth. A child’s maturity growth is measured by the fact that they can make sound decisions in life situations. But how does one measure spiritual growth? Paul gives us the answer:

“However, brothers and sisters, I could not talk to you as to spiritual people, but [only] as to worldly people [dominated by human nature], mere infants [in the new life] in Christ! I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Even now you are still not ready. You are still worldly [controlled by ordinary impulses, the sinful capacity]. For as long as there is jealousy and strife and discord among you, are you not unspiritual, and are you not walking like ordinary men [unchanged by faith]?” 1 Cor. 3:1-3 (AMP)

In other words, one displays spiritual maturity in Christ Jesus when they react to world situations and relationships the way Jesus would. And that is with one or more of the fruits of the Spirit. You know them; love, joy, peace, kindness, longsuffering, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

I like how Paul says, “unchanged by faith”. When you have known someone for a while who you know claims to be a Christian, a Christ-follower, and you have yet to see spiritual growth in them, then you know for sure that their faith in God has not changed them. Most likely, they are not reading their Bible, talking to God other than to make a request for something, and while in the church are probably making out their shopping list!

A true, mature, developed, and strong relationship with God will change us. Why? Because we see, feel, and experience his love and we begin to desire to imitate his character in our own lives. It’s all part of being made in his image.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Time Out? Or Out of Time?

One thing I learned from my father was that spending time with people was a gift and to be generous. I have noticed an alarming trend. When desiring to get together with others more often than not they will respond, “We just don’t have time.”

I feel as though people have “time” for what they want to spend it on. Kind of like money. They spend it on what is important to them at least in most situations. There are times when their life situations prevent having extra time or money.

Jesus was busy! He could easily be one to say, “I don’t have time” and be justified in saying it. Yet He spent time with people. He made time for them, and there were moments when they interrupted what He was planning on doing. (Matthew 14:14)

“As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.”
Luke 5:16 (MSG)

More importantly, Jesus spent time with his heavenly Father, God. Since he set the example of how often and how important it was to do so, then we should as well, especially in these current times, but if the truth was known every period people needed to spend time with God. We should be generous with that time as well.

Take time out and spend it with God before you run out of time.

Tell him what bothers you. Share with him your concerns, what scares you and what you are thankful for. Ask him for help with everything. Ask for guidance and direction. God loves you so much and cares about what you care about. He wants to spend time with you as well. You will walk away feeling recharged, encouraged, but most of all, loved.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Believing in the Impossible

Photo by Rafal Maciejski

“Welcome to Hollywood. What’s your dream?” A famous line from the movie, “Pretty Woman”. I realize I have been blessed to be born in America. I grew up hearing and believing you can do anything you put your mind to. America offered opportunities and to some point, still does.

My plans and desires have not all worked out yet or without challenges, but I have gotten to do and see some pretty exciting and beautiful things. For example, while in the 8th grade I read a book about a young man who flew gliders. I wanted to do that. I got that chance about ten years ago. It was awesome and exhilarating. I wanted to be an architect. I have worked for several years in an architectural office. I even worked for Frank Wallace the architect of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There are so many other things I could list as well, but I try to keep these posts as short as possible.

A few years ago I begin to believe that I could write a book. I have done that but it has not been easy. “Kill The Preacher Man” is a novel. https://bradymarka.com/current-projects/ Today, I am working on my next book, “Ask, Flip and Invite”. (Coming soon) I have written devotions, articles and have contributed to two books. This very blog has been read in 120 countries. That blows my mind! Only God can take something, bless it and multiply it.

My wife, April is new to living in America and is originally from the Philippines. She is beginning to realize anything is possible, especially with God. She likes to cook and she likes to share her cooking skills on the internet via her YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxCVluI_lWrk-bwaie1QF7w The number of subscribers is growing and she is encouraged to do more and be even better at her craft of being an influencer.

Believing in the impossible is nothing new. Mary had to do that when an angel announced to her she was going to give birth to the Son of God. (Luke 1:26) Countless others in the Word of God have dared to believe in the impossible and as a result, have changed the world. They could probably be counted as the first influencers on earth.

If you have a dream, give it to God. Ask Him to help you and lead you in it no matter how big it is. Place it in His hands. Ask Him to bless it and multiply it, then believe in the impossible! “Welcome to God. What’s your dream?”

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.