Initial Words

“What’s that symbol tattooed on your back?” I asked the girl I worked with.  I knew, I thought, what it was, but had not seen one that elaborate.  “It’s a pentagram,” she replied.  “I’m a Pagan.”  “Oh, well I don’t judge,” were my initial words.  She said, “I know.”  I wasn’t exactly sure why she said that, but she did.

Because of my cautious and prayerfully planned out approach to the inquisition, I found out later it’s what I “didn’t say” that allowed for an ongoing conversation concerning her beliefs and spiritual practices vs. my own to take place.

Now, you may find it odd knowing a Christian is even talking to a Pagan, but I ask you, “Why?”  Jesus was misunderstood for talking to tax collectors, or prostitutes, and he about gave the so called “religious leaders” of his day, a heart attack if he dined with them.

Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and misfits?”

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” Mat. 9:10-13 (MSG)

Why venture outside of your comfort zone, and talk with those who choose to live a different lifestyle than you?

Because they need to know, see, and hear the love of Jesus as much as anyone else, perhaps more!

They need to feel what is authentic and that might help them reject, cast off, Satan’s cheap substitutes or imitations of what is real.

So what was it that I “didn’t” say to the self-proclaimed Pagan?  After hearing what she was, I didn’t say, “Oh, I’ll be praying for you.”  She explained hearing those words infuriates her, and she refuses to listen to anything else a person who says that has to say.  She said it immediately makes her feel as if her choice is wrong.

Say a prayer before engaging one that you know is living a life less than what God intended.  Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your tongue, as you dare, or take a risk to speak words of life to them.  Your initial words may be the only ones they hear, but hopefully they’ll stick around to hear more, and perhaps even dine with you.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Who Do You Say I Am?

Some time ago I met a lady at work, and the first thing she started informing me was she was the best one, on our shift, doing the job.  She wanted me to know that her “rate per hour” never dipped below 500, and even on the day she poked herself in the eye she maintained her excellence.  For reference, the average rate per hour is around 270.  I must confess, her boasting was a turn off.  Later I thought, if you are that great at your job then why haven’t I heard about you from others?

The second time I encountered this same woman she was bragging to some other coworkers, in the break room, of her greatness in doing her job.  The third time I crossed her path she was wearing a shirt that proclaimed, “The Boss”.  The very next day she wore a T-shirt stating, “World’s Best Mom”.

It got me to thinking, perhaps she is extremely insecure in who she truly is, and tries to command respect by telling everyone who she wants to be?

After thinking about this for a while I heard in my mind a question Jesus once asked;

“But you—who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked.
Mat. 16:15 (TPT)

Jesus knew who he was, and didn’t go bragging about it to anyone, or ware a tunic stating it.  In fact, God declared who Jesus was when he rose up from the water after being baptized.  God said, “This is my Son, whom I am well pleased.”

It’s important to know who Jesus is.  He’s a healer, a brother that never leaves you, a calming source in any storm, but most important, he’s a savior whose death on the cross saves your soul from hell, if you accept who he is and ask him to forgive you for your sins, wrong doing.  Your eternal life depends on this because one day you will stand before Jesus, and He will ask you, “Who do you say I am?”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Grumpy Old Man?

I believe I have expressed how much I dislike “injustice” before, but it seems like I am becoming more vocal when I see it.  Either out loud, or under my breath.  I don’t like how it makes me feel, and if I am not careful, I go on way too long about it.  This is a pattern I’m not too fond of.

The other day, and I wish I could remember the source, I was involved in my devotional time and I came across the phrase, “a gentle and quiet spirit”.  It keeps resonating in my head.  Kind of like a “LSS” (Last Song Syndrome).  You know, the last song in your head that you keep singing over and over.  It seems I can’t get away from thinking about it, so I determined, this must be something God is calling me to.

Now, raising awareness of an injustice is needed and getting loud about it is important for it can draw attention to the situation and cause others to stop, look and decide to join you in your fight to alleviate it, but in everyday life, how you call out something that isn’t fair and or even mention it at all, is important.  That’s where I have been failing in recent days.

Not using the right words, the correct volume or the Godly wisdom to get my point across.

So mush so, I could be labeled as a “Grumpy Old Man”!  I don’t want to be known that way.  When I hear that phrase, I think of the old man in the Disney movie, “Up”.  And now that I think about it, there was a movie titled, “Grumpy Old Men”.

So I am now in the process of transforming my mind.  Training it to “capture” every thought of negative, grumpy, stinking, old criticism and renewing it to handle what I see that bothers me in a “gentle and quiet” way.  I may actually find that technique gets more people to hear what I am saying.

“Do not be shaped by this world. Instead be changed within by a new way of thinking.”  Rom. 12:2 (ICB)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

No Way!

I was sitting here at my desk waiting on direction from God on what to write, while looking out the window.  We have a lot of snow right now in my city, and the sun is out.  It looks beautiful outside, like you would want to be there, but it is only 5 degrees with a negative degree wind-chill. A couple of thoughts came to mind:

  1. When we are forgiven of our wrong doing, our souls are as white as snow.

“Take away my sin, and I will be clean.
    Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
Psl. 51:7 (Int. Children’s Bible)

2. How on the outside of a person, everything may look beautiful, but once you enter into their world, you discern the flaws, or hurts behind the public image.

“People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Sam. 16:7 (NIV)

But what really got my attention, was a squirrel going out to the very limits of a tree limb.  There was another tree that looked to be several feet away.  I was in the process of thinking, “There is no way he will try to jump.  It’s way too…” and before I could finish he started running and leaped into the thin, cold, air and landed on a limb, on the other tree.  Now his form was excellent.  I gave him a “9.5”, but the Russian judge only gave him a “6”.  Perhaps because he wasn’t a “Red” squirrel. Witnessing this “leap of faith” triggered another thought:

  1. The squirrel knew he would make it.  He was so confident that he ran vigorously with no plan “B” in mind.  There was no backup plan.

If only we, who walk with God, could be so bold and sure of Him that we live with astounding assurance.  We can, by knowing the God we serve.

“being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;”
Phi. 1:6 (NKJV)

God has a purpose, a plan, and a path for each one of us.  We can, via several means, determine what God has for us and then walk it out with confidence.  As George Zimmer would say, of “The Men’s Warehouse”, “I guarantee it!”  So go ahead and take that leap of faith!  The Russian judge may not give you a good score, but the angels will and that great cloud of witnesses in heaven will root you on.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Which Way Do I Go?

Direction.  We seek it a lot, especially for those who have a strong and thriving relationship with God.  We want to go in the correct direction and not waste time or resources.  I sure messed up the other night.  I live in a city that doesn’t receive huge amounts of snow that often and as a result the city doesn’t have the equipment to remove it as say, Chicago does.  So when the meteorologist were predicting 6, 8 to 10 inches of snow, and hyped it up, I left where I was sooner than I needed to in order to get home safe.

I realize now I could have asked God for direction on when to leave, but I didn’t.  I acted out of fear instead.  At times, it’s hard not to.  There is something innate about us that wants to be moving.  This inward motivation makes it difficult to sit and wait, and when it comes to waiting on God for direction it is even harder.  Do we not trust Him?  We should!  We have His word we can go to and read of His promise to guide us:

1–2 I look up to the mountains and hills, longing for God’s help.
But then I realize that our true help and protection
come only from the Lord,
our Creator who made the heavens and the earth.
He will guard and guide me, never letting me stumble or fall.
God is my keeper; he will never forget nor ignore me.
He will never slumber nor sleep;
he is the Guardian-God for his people, Israel.
Jehovah himself will watch over you;
he’s always at your side to shelter you safely in his presence.
He’s protecting you from all danger both day and night.
He will keep you from every form of evil or calamity
as he continually watches over you.
You will be guarded by God himself.
You will be safe when you leave your home
and safely you will return.
He will protect you now,
and he’ll protect you forevermore!  Psalms 121 (TPT)

I was having a conversation this morning, with a friend, about this very topic.  He has been asking God for direction when it comes to finding his spouse.  There are a few potential mates and he has been trying to discern God’s will on the matter.  As we continued to speak, it became obvious to both of us that he needs to stay in “neutral” right now.  If you think about the gear shift on a car from neutral you can go forward or backwards, but you can move in an instant.  Your only other option is “Park”.

A parked car doesn’t need to be steered,

because it isn’t going anywhere!

So I challenge you, if you find yourself needing direction, guidance from God, be patient and be willing to sit in neutral for a while.  Keep your foot on the brake. You are ready to move, and you will, when the time and direction is right, therefore not wasting either time or resources, and when it comes to matters of love, possibly not suffering another heartbreak.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

This Side of Heaven

I was “Two Way Journaling” this morning, a spiritual practice I don’t do enough of.  It’s writing out your conversation to God, and then waiting to hear in your spirit what God would say to you.  I was thanking him for using me to be his “Man on the street” if you will.  In other words, it seems as if whenever I am out in public I come across a soul that needs encouragement, acceptance, love, or to be introduced to God.

It humbles me knowing that God would work with me, or I should say through me for I don’t do life in a perfect manner all the time.  I think one reason He does reach people through people is to put a physical dimension to the encounter the person is having, for after all, we are made in God’s image, and I strive to be made in his nature.

I often think about those God directed me to, and I wonder, how is their relationship with God now?  Are they closer to accepting Truth?  Have they learned to take God’s hand and overcome with him their struggles?  Below is a comment from one of my faithful readers of this blog, and what she said about a woman God directed her to in a coffee shop.  (You can also get to her blog posts by clicking on the link.)

From seekingdivineperspective:

“Thanks for taking the time to write, Mark, and especially for praying. We’ll probably never know this side of heaven what happened to that young woman, but God knows, and I hope we will meet her when we all get there.”

There are a few times we do get to know how things turn out, but those are seldom.  For instance; did the lady at a Quick Trip get reacquainted with God and go back to the church her grandmother took her to, or is she still living with the guy she was with that day, hoping for real love?  Will a woman at work accept God and his love and allow him to comfort her in the loss of her mother?  Did the gentleman I talked to while sitting on a cold sidewalk give God a chance to restore his life and his relationship with his wife and kids?

So it’s important to not hurry out there to run our errands and then hurry back home, or to just go to work and only do what is expected of you,

but while living life, look for opportunities to give life.

For as Life Church declares all the time,

“Whoever finds God, finds life.”

You may not know the results, this side of heaven, but something will happen, and one day, when you get to that side of heaven, you will know, and if the results were good you will probably tear up, and give thanks to God for using you, and be thankful for the work God did in the life of the other person.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Have They Heard Yet?

“World Famous”.  There are lots of things that are known around the world.  There are places, there are people, and there is food to name a few.  When I lived in the Philippines, back in 2019, I was always surprised by what the people there knew of, but then I started realizing most had cell phones and with that comes social media and YouTube, etc.

I am still reading from the book of Job, in the Bible, and I came across the following verse:

“After all, he’s famous for great and unexpected acts;
    there’s no end to his surprises.” Job 5:9 (MSG)

That verse struck me as so true, and so profound.  When we least expect it, sometimes, that is when God answers our prayers.  It seems as if it happens when we realize it has to be God, because there is nothing left for us to do, or there is no way we can accomplish it ourselves.  Perhaps He waits for us to get out of the way, or maybe He wants us to know it was definitely him who did it.

As I meditated on the verse above one thing hit me,

“fame only comes when people hear!”

In other words, we need to share with everyone, who is willing to listen, about God and how much He loves us and wants to be a part of our lives.  He wants to be that loving father we so desperately need all the time, and yes, even in the good times.  This thought triggered another verse in my mind:

“But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims,

A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
    telling all the good things of God!

But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: “Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?” The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.” Rom. 10:14-17 (MSG)

So get out there.  Talk about God, and his involvement in your life.  Let’s make God famous!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

God’s Glory

I mentioned in my last post about people who are never wrong and how frustrating I get when I encounter such an individual.  Well, my week continued to be frustrating, until today.  A conversation with a friend brought up music by Brandon Lake. (I’ve mentioned him before in a previous post.)  My friend sent me a link to a video on YouTube he has been enjoying.  The video started playing and at first, honestly, nothing, but then, the video kept going, and things started to change.

Brandon begin singing a new song, and the more I listened to it the more it ministered to me.  It drew me in, and the next thing I knew I was worshiping God.  Whenever you worship God in spirit and in truth, you get caught up into his presence and your spirit gets energized.

“It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.” John 4:23-24 (MSG)

Brandon Lake introduced that new song, “Show Me Your Glory” by sharing something Bill Johnson said,

“When the glory of God comes into the room, nothing else is needed.”

A true and powerful statement.

The song broke through my frustration, refocused my thoughts on what is most important, God.  Everything else going on grew strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.  So I challenge you right now to put on some worship music, or click on the YouTube link below, and turn off those electronic interrupters and just soak in the presence of God.  You too will discover peace, comfort, love, and the proper perspective on whatever is going on in your life.

Blessings

The link on YouTube my friend shared with me:

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

It’s Not My Fault

One thing that gets me upset faster than most is encountering someone with a self-righteous attitude.  You’ve met them too I’m sure somewhere in life.  It doesn’t take long to discover them.  As soon as they tell you their life story, or if they hit your car and jump out and say it was your fault even though it wasn’t.

Well, I had another run in this past week with such a person.  I have known them for a few months now and have heard how their current life issues are a result of everyone else.  Sure, other’s actions do affect us, I get that, but at the same time we have to take responsibility for our part, and for our decisions.

After the person blamed me for their current displeasure I will be honest and say, I got mad!  Very mad, and I made enough noise to let them know of my displeasure.  I’m trying to learn how to respond to everyone and in every situation with one or more of the fruit of the Spirit, but I failed that day. I didn’t say a word, but they knew I didn’t like it.  I decided the best thing to do was to remove myself from their presence.  Being honest, I was concerned I would say something that they would use against me in the future.

But the whole time I was stewing I kept thinking this:

“When you stand before God, are you going to try to blame someone else for not accepting Jesus?”

These self-righteous individuals may think they are getting by with it here on earth, but in heaven I’m confident it will be a different situation.  I’ve often wondered if their attitude makes them feel better about themselves.  I mean what’s so bad about being wrong?  Apologize and then move on.  We are human after all, and in heaven, if you have accepted Jesus Christ then your wrong doing have been forgiven.

I feel sorry for people like the one I encountered this past week.  They are believing lies the devil puts in their mind, and those lies may, someday, determine where they spend eternity.  That’s a long time to regret your decisions! It’s possible that blaming others most of your life will make it difficult to identify as someone who does this, but perhaps there is a sliver of truth in you somewhere.

If you consider yourself self-righteous then I pray you will learn to be bold and brave and stop believing the lies, and face the reality of the truth and stop hurting others, but also stop hurting yourself.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Drive thru God

Then Eliphaz from Teman spoke up:

“Would you mind if I said something to you?
    Under the circumstances it’s hard to keep quiet.
You yourself have done this plenty of times, spoken words
    that clarify, encouraged those who were about to quit.
Your words have put stumbling people on their feet,
    put fresh hope in people about to collapse.
But now you’re the one in trouble—you’re hurting!
    You’ve been hit hard and you’re reeling from the blow.
But shouldn’t your devout life give you confidence now?
    Shouldn’t your exemplary life give you hope?  Job 4:1-6 (MSG)

Do you find it difficult to encourage yourself, even with the very words you have used with others?  I do.  At times it seems impossible to find hope and peace when you look at your own life.  Funny, how sure you are of the power of the words you spoke to another, but when it comes to applying them to your situation, not so much.  They seem empty.

In the above portion of scripture, Job’s friend, Eliphaz (it’s ok, I don’t know how to pronounce it either) was trying to remind him of what he has done to help others.  What he has said that encouraged, lifted up, and gave them hope.  Then he asked two very good questions. “Shouldn’t your devout life give you confidence now?  Shouldn’t your exemplary life give you hope?”

The answer is, “YES!”  It should, and will if you allow it.  God hasn’t changed, just your current situation has.  I struggled with this myself as I have described in recent post.  Yes, I knew better, and after giving it a lot of thought I think I have figured out partly why.  Time.

We live in such an instant gratification world that we expect everything to get resolved fast.  I mean, we have fast food, Prime same day delivery, one hour photos, why not “Fast God”?  Would it be asking too much for God to open up a drive thru?

Time seems to do a work in us.  Someone once said, “Time heals all wounds.”  Not sure about that.  It does seem to make us take survey of our lives though.  I think there are some things we go through when God gives us the time we need to know the bottom line is, we need him to do his best work in the situation.  I know the end of Job’s story and that is what happened in his life.  God did a work in the heart of Job by allowing tragedy to strike.

God really does work all things to his glory.

“That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”  Rom. 8:26-28 (MSG)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.