No Plain ‘O Blessing

April was feeling homesick and was desiring to go to the Philippines for the Memorial Day Weekend. I said, “Baby, that’s too far and expensive for a weekend trip. How about we drive to Plano, TX., and you can eat at Jollibee?” She thought for a moment and said, “That will do.” Jollibee is the Philippines’ national fast food chain.

We drove straight there from our home. It took three hours and thirty-nine minutes of driving time.

After the first meal, we went to our hotel one block away (I’m a great planner). While checking in, I asked for a room on the top floor so it would be quieter by not having someone walking above us. I’m a light sleeper sometimes.

The man looked at his computer and said, “I’ll do ya one better. I’ll put you on the third floor at the end of the hall in a suite with no extra charge.” I was very surprised. When April saw the room, she couldn’t stop smiling. “What’s with you?” I asked. “I have never stayed in a suite at a hotel before. She loved it.

Later that evening, we were reliving the highlights of the day, and she brought up the man putting us in the suite and that I hadn’t even asked for it. I thought momentarily and then reminded her that we are blessed and highly favored as God’s children who strive daily to walk with God.

For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly. Ps. 84:11 (AMPC)

Getting something extra for free always feels good. We thanked God for adding some sprinkles on top of our day. He also kept us safe as we traveled, and we had a great Memorial Day getaway. God loves to give good gifts to his children even when you don’t ask!

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? Mat. 7:11 (KJV)

Walk with God every day. Walk upright. Always do the right thing no matter the cost, and do it with love.

and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Eph. 5:2 (NIV)

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Understanding Others

Photo by: Kaique Rocha

I got a phone call last night that bewildered me. In full disclosure, I struggled to accept the situation. I don’t think I can even begin to understand how the events expressed by my caller would put one in a hospital.

After the call, I sat and pondered what was told to me. I eventually had to ask God to help me understand. He didn’t. But He did help me remember that all of us are individuals, and we all have our weaknesses. We all have areas where we are strong and weak. What doesn’t take me out can devastate another. It’s all because of sin in the world. It’s like attracting a disease in a way. One illness that can harm another may not affect me at all.

One thing that immunizes me against being affected is my relationship with God. I spend time with him. I talk to him during the day, and I read his word. I call out to him for help when I struggle with an issue and ask him to take the weight off of me when I stumble.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble. Ps. 46:1 (NIV)

So understanding the truth about people and how or why some are affected by events in life more than others leads to one conclusion. And this is what God did reveal to me. It’s not about understanding others but accepting others.

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

How Long?

I once took a youth group to a cemetery, and as we walked around looking at the different tombstones, I asked volunteers to make up a story of the life of the one who lay before us. Of course, some lived a long time while others not so much.

We have all heard it said that what matters in life is what you do with the dash! You know,

Here lies John Doe
September 3, 1962 “–“  April 4, 2029

What does one do while living the dash?

For me, it’s always doing what I can to help someone and encourage them to grow in their relationship with God. The second part is the purpose of this blog. I want to borrow the words from Psalms 71 from “The Message.” I promise to return them after I am done:

I’ll write the book on your righteousness,
    talk up your salvation all the day long,
    never run out of good things to write or say.
I come in the power of the Lord God,
    I post signs marking his right-of-way.

You got me when I was an unformed youth,
    God, and taught me everything I know.
Now I’m telling the world your wonders;
    I’ll keep at it until I’m old and gray.
God, don’t walk off and leave me
    until I get out the news
Of your strong right arm to this world,
    news of your power to the world yet to come,
Your famous and righteous
    ways, O God.

I’ll keep at this until I am, “old and grey” and no longer have a way to love on people as God has shown me love. I guess I am trying my best to do what the wisest man on earth stated is our responsibility:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. Ecc. 12:13 (KJV)

I hope and pray that you are too!

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Oh No, They Didn’t!

Photo by: Andrea Piacquadio

One of the most challenging things about life is having relationships with people! I haven’t been shy about my allergy to people. If given a choice, I avoid them, but that can be hard to do when you work, have friends, or have a love life. It doesn’t matter if that love is within a marriage or if one is dating.

I recently became aware of a person who is dating, and the relationship hit a major snag. I understand the feeling of being cheated on (I should insert here, not by my wife, April.). But when we get hurt by a relationship, what’s the appropriate reaction?

Should we curl up and die? Do we withdraw from life, turn off the lights and hide? Press the pause button?

Some might seek revenge and physically harm the other person or their property, or worse, hook up with someone else. That saying, “Two wrongs don’t make a right!” is undoubtedly true.

Jesus was cheated on, betrayed, so He knows the pain you are going through or have gone through. We should look at how He reacted when his friend, Judas-Iscariot, his co-worker, hurt him. First, Peter got angry and went for revenge by cutting off the ear of one there to arrest Jesus. Jesus commanded him to stop, and then Jesus healed the man’s ear and went peacefully with them. (Matthew 26:47-56)

Judas no doubt knew that Jesus still loved him and forgave him but could not handle the guilt. And that is why I think he committed suicide. Sad! Loving and forgiving sets you free. It doesn’t tell the other person, “What you did to me was okay.” it does tell them, “I’m not going to allow your actions to stop me from living life!”

I, too, know it’s hard, and fair warning, it will take time to get over it. And you will have to make that decision many times to forgive and to go on living and loving. It’s not a “one-time” decision.

Keep in mind responding inappropriately can not only hurt you or put you in jail, but it can hurt those around you. How you decide to respond can have life-changing and long-lasting results. Forgiving and loving is best.

Prayer: Father God, if someone reading this post is currently living with this kind of pain or has and hasn’t dealt with it, then I ask you to help them. Comfort them, Father, and help them to ask you for assistance in dealing with the pain and respond in a forgiving and loving way. Help them remember your Son, Jesus, has “been there!” Assure them that life will go on, and they will be a survivor. Thank you, Amen.

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Out of Order

Sermons can come in different forms and formats. Today’s came from the First Church of Hollywood. Yep, a movie. It was about a man who followed the rules and insisted others do. He would get upset when they took a “flippant” attitude toward them and dismissed him when he pointed out their misconduct.

Some got annoyed at him. For them, the rules didn’t seem to take on the same importance. The man often got frustrated. I can identify with the man who followed the rules and expected others to do so as well. The man found peace when things were in order and went as ordered. Like for me, it creates a sense of peace. I want to think I get that from my heavenly Father!

For He [Who is the source of their prophesying] is not a God of confusion and disorder but of peace and order. 1 Cor. 14:33 (AMPC)

The man also suffered from the medical condition “Cardiomegaly.” I didn’t know either, but it means an enlarged heart. At one point, when one of his neighbors heard he had a big heart, she laughed. She and her family had been one of his violators.

As the movie played, the man realized that “order” was still good but that people were more important than “order.” He quit judging others as to why they didn’t have order in their lives or struggled to follow the rules. He stopped the condemnation, listened, and sought ways to help them. Perhaps he had a big heart after all.

No spoiler alerts here. I only give away the endings when begged to. I will tell you, though, that the Holy Spirit brought conviction upon me. I want “order” in my life, but instead of giving “orders” as to how others should live, I, too, need to focus on the person. I need to listen and find a way to bring peace into their life.

Prayer: God, help me to identify the needs of others and to have the compassion needed for the situation. Help me take the time to listen and find ways to bring “order” and “peace” into the lives of others. Thank you, Father. Amen

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Inside Out

Photo by: Pexels

“I never wanted you to see The darkest part of me.” A line in a song by Red. I have said that many times. I don’t like it when I lose self-control, and someone gets hurt. I don’t mean it to happen, and I definitely don’t want it to happen, but it does sometimes.

The darkest part of me is big, loud, mean, and ugly. It violates the scripture of Eph. 4:29. (Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, Amp.) Whenever it happens, I am embarrassed and immediately feel guilty. The Holy Spirit quickly convicts me of my sin, and I seek out the person I offended to apologize.

I was thinking about this the other day and wondered, what if I put on God’s armor? I know in Eph. 6:11-12 we are taught that it helps protects us against external attacks by the devil. But could some armor also protect others from the darkest parts of us getting out and hurting them?

If I was to put on a “Helmet of Salvation,” it might remind me I am saved from death. Therefore, I am in Christ and a Christian. Called a, “Christian” means being Christ-like. If I am an authentic Christian, then I need to act like Christ. Jesus Christ would not and didn’t hurt others by any means. Yet he did face frustration and anger but stayed in control while dealing with it.

If I do this and make it a regular practice in my life over time, I think I will change. As I become more like Jesus, the love in him will be in me. That love shining inside will be light that will cast out the darkness. That’s what light does. Eventually, what’s on the inside that comes out won’t hurt people but will cause them to feel loved.

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Another Blog Post?

When I started writing blogs, I posted them on Blogspot. I probably wrote over a hundred or so. The site was free to use. Then I heard about the features of WordPress. I knew I had to make a switch. Then to keep ads out of my post, I decided to pay. The other day, I noticed I have now posted over 700 blogs on that site, so all together, over 800 blog posts.

I don’t struggle coming up with content because I ask God for help, and He is faithful to do so. He will quietly speak a word in my spirit, or He will point something out.

I generally take it from there. I love writing because I love creating. I enjoy turning a blank page into something that can encourage, help, or highlight the love of God. Being creative is my favorite thing about being made in the image of God. Blogging would be easier if I could speak them into existence, but I’m okay with the writing process. I get more out of the post by doing the work.

I have shared this before, but these humble blogs are fulfilling the great commission. Taking the gospel to the world. There are roughly 167 countries around the world. Give or take, depending on whose list you use. Some countries don’t recognize others as countries. (Like Hong Kong or Taiwan.) These blogs have been read by at least one person in 128 countries. Only God could have made that happen. I remain humbled and in awe of what He can do.

What’s my point of all of this? That’s easy to answer. Take what is in your hand and give it to God. If it is a pen or a staff like Moses, allow Him to use you and the gifts He put in you as He knows best. What we hold on to may be simple and plain, but when placed in God’s hands, it can be blessed and multiplied, even if it is only five loaves and two fish. (Mat. 14:17)

Our job is to become as good as we can using our gifts. To be faithful and obedient.

Those who know your name trust in you,
    for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Ps. 9:10 (NIV)

Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A staff,” he replied. Exo. 4:2 (NIV)

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Drive-Thru God

Photo by: Jonathan Borba

Have you ever sat at a fast food establishment and watched how people interact with the staff? I have. In fact, I am doing it now. I’m writing some blogs here while eating breakfast and waiting for April’s women’s Bible study to finish up. The first thing I have noticed is who comes in. It’s the young and the old among us. The young are enticed by the toys that come with their meals. The seniors come in for convenience. Another meal they do not have to cook and no dishes to clean afterward.

In this place, the music is loud, and the air is cold, but that is probably how the workers like it. The average customer doesn’t seem to mind because they did not come here for the atmosphere! They want to place their order and get what they ordered fast! Very fast!

When I was in the Philippines, We went t what they consider “fast food.” There was nothing fast about the place! On one such visit, it took them twenty-five minutes to make and serve me my breakfast sandwich. The lines were typically long, and the service needed improvement. As I began to observe their process intently, I saw the flaws. This was certainly not a place of “best practices!” As I learned a popular phrase while living there, “What can I do about it?” If they had known me, they would remember that I hate waiting.

This order now and receive in 22.495 seconds attitude has transferred into our relationship with God. Fast food places added drive-trus to speed up service and convenience. This doesn’t help us either. I think most believers of God would love it if He added a drive-thru. He tells us in his word to make our request known. Most of us would love to pray from a menu board too.

“God, I’ll take a number 5 to go. Oh, and I want fries with that!

Wouldn’t it be fast and convenient? God knows me and knows I don’t like waiting but answering prayers quickly or quicker might improve his service rating, but He is not concerned about that. He doesn’t care about any reviews believers might post on Yelp, either! God will do what is best for his children when it is best. Nothing changes that. Complaining doesn’t work, or asking to speak to the manager either. Nor does threatening to go somewhere else.

If you are going to be in a relationship with God, and you should, you have to accept the way He chooses to do things. Like in the Philippines, “What can I do about it?” Know that He does care, and He wants us to trust him. We have to acknowledge that his ways are “best practices.”

God isn’t going to install a drive-thru anytime soon or a menu board. We must learn to trust and wait in a loving relationship with him. Your prayer request will be served up prepared his way and in his time, so please, don’t go anywhere else. You may think you are getting what you want, fast, but I assure you it will leave a bad taste in your mouth for a long time. Perhaps even for eternity.

The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
2 Pt. 3:9 (NET)

Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 (NET)

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Desiring God

Last week, I witnessed a woman get married. She had known the groom for a very long time. Fifty-six years to be exact. Their friendship had grown all those years. She admired his kindness, humor, demeanor, and his temperament. She felt warm inside when he complimented her. She was not used to being shown such consideration. She desired him all those years. She wanted him in her life, but it was not to be until this past week.

The woman was married, not to a bad man but not to the man she desired. Over the years, her affection for this man grew. After she got divorced, she got to know him even more by going on trips with the man she would have liked in her life and his wife. She honored their marriage and kept her longing quiet, but those closest to her knew because they knew her.

You could hear it in the way she talked about him. The way she used flattering words to describe him. How she hung on to every word he spoke. She yielded to his ideas, plans, and ways. “Okay. No problem. Sounds good,” would be her usual response.

This past week, she finally became intimate with the man she desired. She is 81, and he is 87. His wife passed away months earlier. He missed his wife. He missed his friend, so he reached out for her companionship, and she said, “Yes.”

What would happen if people similarly desired God? If they hung on every word He said. Suppose they got to know his true character by spending time with him. What would result from their trusting him and going along with his plans, ideas, and ways? Can you imagine what could be accomplished for the glory of God if they went on trips with him?

We should desire and long for God like the woman above did the man for all those years. Fortunately for us, we do not have to wait for anyone to die before we can enter into an intimate relationship with God because his Son, Jesus, died on the cross, forgiving us of sin so we can be in a relationship with his Father. We can enjoy a loving relationship. We can feel warm inside as God encourages us and speaks words of life to us. Having the confidence to take him at his word and follow him anywhere, He directs us to go.

If you have not accepted Jesus into your heart, asking him to forgive you of your sins, you can. You don’t need to wait until you are 81. You can enter into a love relationship with God now. And you should because I tell you this; God has desired you your whole life.

1-3By this time a lot of men and women of questionable reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story.

4-7 “Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue. Luke 15:1-7 (MSG)

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.