Graffiti

Graffiti Building – Tulsa
Gum Wall – Seattle

I was driving my wife, April around downtown Tulsa the other day.  It was her first tour of the big city.  We went under a bridge and as in most urban areas, there was graffiti painted on the sides.  There was also a couple of buildings with it as well.  One building’s graffiti has become a little famous, but it’s nothing compared to the “Gum Wall” in Seattle, Washington.

A couple of days later, while I was having a moment with God, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “What kind of graffiti have you allowed to be written on the walls of your heart?”  Ouch!

I began to think about the messages I see, hear, and the stuff that shows up on TV.  Those messages affect us more than we realize they do.  For example, we may start accepting the lifestyle as okay, or normal that some choose to live that God calls sin.  We will always love the individual, but never the sin in their life.  That’s God’s approach.  We might chose to stay quiet instead of calling it out for what it is, “destructive lifestyles”, or accepting Satan’s substitute for what God has for us.

I realize now, I need to wash the walls of my heart from time to time.  To get the, what some may call, “expressive freedom” removed and put things back to having only the words of God written there.

Proverbs 7:3, talks about writing God’s words upon the walls of your heart:

“…etch it on the chambers of your heart.”

We are also instructed to guard our hearts.  Why all this care about our hearts?  Because what is in our hearts is what we believe to be true, and that belief comes out of our mouths.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The Unexpected Sermon

“It’s okay.  It’s all in the past,” said my great niece as she waved her hands back and forth down low by her side.  She had gotten caught doing something that turned out okay, but would not had been sanctioned by either of her parents.

We laughed as my mother shared the story of the incident with my wife and me, but later in the week my wife quoted my great niece after doing something I did not appreciate.  Yes it’s true, I’m a recovering control freak, and I always argue that I like things done a certain way, because to me it seems like the fastest and easiest way to accomplish that task.  I know, there are many ways to doing some things, and there are times when someone would rather do it their way.

It may seem silly, but my four year old great niece preached with conviction a sermon I needed to hear, but more than that, live out!  I have spent the last several days practicing to let things go and not to mention that my wife may have done or said something that turned out okay, but not something I would have done.  And you know what?  Our marriage is better for it!

In those times when we mess up, do things that God would rather we hadn’t, and we go to him and ask for forgiveness, he always says, “Its okay.  You’re forgiven.  It’s now in the past.”

God makes everything come out right;
    he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
    opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
    not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
    nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
    nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
    so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
    he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
    God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
    keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long;
    like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
    leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always,
    eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
    as they follow his Covenant ways
    and remember to do whatever he said. (Psalms 103:6-18 MSG)

Forgiveness is not a license to go sin more, or even again, but it lifts the burden of guilt off of us, and allows us to go on, living life in peace.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

God Day

Okay, I do realize that this coming Sunday is Mother’s Day, but at the time of this writing it is the anniversary of my father’s death, so I was thinking about him as well.  Then a thought came flying down the big brain bypass.  I say “big brain” not because I am smart, but because I am always thinking.  The thought was, “What would God want for “God Day”?

Pastor Robert Morris says, “To find Biblical answers, you must look in the Bible.”

“I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Deu. 30:19-20 MSG.

God wants you to have life now and for eternity.  He wants to talk, yes talk to you.  He has a lot to say.  He created man in the first place to have someone who would choose to love him back by their own doing.  He wants to have a great relationship with you.  He hopes you will choose him, which is choosing life.

God is amazing.  He made us, therefore we belonged to him, but He gave us the freedom to choose to love him.  Then, after Adam and Eve sinned and mankind was doomed to eternal death, God gave us his only son to die a brutal death on a cross that purchased us back to God.  But then He did the most unselfish thing one could do afterwards, He gave us that freewill again to decide for ourselves if we want to love him.

God wants us to have a life full of the fruit of the spirit.  You know, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  That means, no one can police them, regulate them, market them, or stop them, but all mankind can profit from them.

Don’t you see?  God wants nothing but good for you, but the only thing He wants from you, is your heart.  I hope you have already given it to him, or you will, soon, perhaps even today.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Be Like God

Most of her life she heard, “You’re so stupid.”  “You can’t do anything right.”  “You’ll never amount to anything.”  “Why can’t you get this?  It’s not hard.”  She heard messages that she wasn’t good enough and that she never would be.  One negative message after another, and the worst thing happened…she believed them.

Thirty some years later, after thinking that life was just okay, and it couldn’t get any better, because she was taught not to expect anything special, it happened.  She moved away from those she loved, and into the arms of man, who loved her, but more importantly, loved God.  After a while he recognized her insecurities, but he knew how to reverse the years of damage and pain done to her.

He begin being gentle with his deeds, and especially with his words.  He had to make sure he didn’t expect perfection out of every task, as he had been raised to.  He needed to find the capacity to let her do things her way, and then to compliment her on a job well done.  She needed to know he trusted her, and believed in her.  He had to speak love to her and to speak life. He would hide notes and things around the house for her to find that reinforced what he was verbally telling her.

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.  (Prov. 18:21 MSG)

Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.  (Prov. 15:4 MSG)

Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.  (Col. 4:6 MSG)

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.  (Eph. 4:29 MSG)

Over time, because he will be like God to her (and not “a god” over her) she will heal.  Her mind will be cleansed of all of those negative comments.  Each day, she will grow in confidence.  She will soon stand up straight and hold her head up high.  She will begin to believe that she is a child of the most high God and that He loves her, and she will start acting like she knows it.  She will seek out God’s plan and design for her life and purse it with strong conviction.  One day she will be God, or be like God to someone else who is currently walking where she once did.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

There is More Than This

How much effort does it take to “hope”?  Hoping for a life that is better than the one you are currently living.  I think most don’t say, “I hope I …”, but instead they say, “I wish I …”.

Hope definition is – to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true

Wish definition is – feel or express a strong desire for something that is not easily attainable; want something that cannot or probably will not happen.

Do you see it?  Do you see the difference in “wishing” and “hoping”?  “Hoping” comes with anticipation, because it can actually happen!  This is why “hope” is so powerful.  Hope can restore a marriage.  Hope can lead to someone getting their health back.  Hope can get you a better job.  Hope causes things to happen. 

God’s word says, “These three remain: faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13)  I like what “The Message” translation says, “Trust steadily in God (that’s faith), hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.”

Hope, can help you go from where you are to the kind of life God intended for you all along.  I mean seriously, he started man and woman out living in a garden.  It’s a lie from hell to accept, “Well, this is as good as its ever going to get.”  NO!  You can have what God wants for you.  How?  Ask for it.  Ask God to help you achieve that life.  Believe it can happen.  Start today renewing the way you think, for what you think is what you believe, and what you believe is what you say, and what you say comes to pass for words have a lot of power.

Every time you speak, generally, you are speaking life, or death.  Start listening to how you talk, and pay attention to the kind of words you use the most.  Especially those words you say to other people.  Those words matter, but also what you say to yourself in your mind.  Changing those words can change your life.

God loves you, and wants you to have his best.  He doesn’t want you living in a dump, but in a garden.  He wants you to live above your current situation.  He wants you looking up, for something better, for there is more than this, and when you are looking up he can see you smile.  God wants so much love, happiness, and joy for his children, who love him, and He does work “all” things out for good, for those who love him. (Rom. 8:28)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

God, My Enemy?

Have you ever heard someone blame God for their troubles?  Or insurance companies label calamities as an “Act of God”?  I have.  Job, from the Bible, he certainly did.  In fact, he went so far as to accuse God as his enemy.  (Job 16:9)  I have also heard people say this, “When I get out of the hospital I am going to start living for God.”  Yeah, as you might have guessed, months later they are still living life in the same manner before they went into the hospital.

I was cleaning a stain from the ottoman we recently picked up with a chair for our new “Conference Room” where we go to meet with God.  I looked at the can of “stain remover” and couldn’t help thinking about God removing stains from our own lives.  The foam that comes oozing out of the can is white, and because Jesus died for our stains, our sins, he makes us white as snow.

Though your sins have stained you like the color red,
you can become white like snow;
though they are as easy to see as the color scarlet,
you can become white like wool. Isaiah 1:18

Did you notice who makes the stain remover?  “Woolite”.  Did you also see the brush on the end of the can?  Even after our sins are forgiven when we accept Jesus and ask for that forgiveness there can be consequences of wrong doing in our life.  And sometimes it takes a lot of work, or “scrubbing” for those results to be removed.  It can take time and commitment to clean up the mess we have previously made with our lives.  Max Lucado once wrote,

“My mess, is His message.”

I also liked on the can where it said, “Triple Action”.  As you know the Trinity is made of God the Father, Jesus, God’s son, and the Holy Spirit.  All three work together to bring us to the saving grace of God.  I am so thankful to know that when I make mistakes I can be forgiven.  Being clean, free from sin, is a good feeling. God is not our enemy, but our friend and loving father.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The Cook Was Sick

The other day, while at a restaurant, I commented, to my wife how the beef and broccoli wasn’t as good as it normally is.  She replied, “Well, maybe the cook is sick.”  I laughed and thought she was just being silly.  She’s often funny like that, but she went on to explain how that phrase was a real thing in the Philippines.

I was intrigued and thought about this.  So what she was saying was. The food wasn’t at its best, because of sickness.  Isn’t that like us at times, servants of God?  When we allow sin into our life we are not at our best.  We do things, small perhaps, but they allow sin into our lives, and sin, is sickness, which can, if ignored, lead to death, spiritual and even physical. We miss opportunities to speak of the love of God.  To testify of his glory.  We miss experiences with others that can lift someone up, or encourage them.

A “diet” is defined as: the kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats, or a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons. 

It seems as if some people restrict God from their life, and boy, do they ever pay for it.

Those who live by their own rules, not God’s, can expect nothing but trouble,
    and the longer they live, the worse it gets.
Every little sound terrifies them.
    Just when they think they have it made, disaster strikes.
They despair of things ever getting better—
    they’re on the list of people for whom things always turn out for the worst.
They wander here and there,
    never knowing where the next meal is coming from—
    every day is doomsday!
They live in constant terror,
    always with their backs up against the wall
Because they insist on shaking their fists at God,
    defying God Almighty to his face,
Always and ever at odds with God,
    always on the defensive. Job 15:18-26 (MSG)

Even though they may look fine on the outside, things are not healthy on the inside, and just like your body, it will manifest.

As God can be restricted, so can sin, but it’s a choice.  When we encounter an opportunity to sin we can call out to God to help, for when we are weak, He is strong, therefore we are strong. (2 Cor. 12:9)

Just as maintaining a healthy diet and saying, “No” to things we shouldn’t partake of helps us continue to be strong, we should maintain a healthy balanced diet built on God.  A diet of prayer, reading God’s word, and taking action to serve God as he directs.

It would be a shame for someone to encounter us, and leave with a bad taste in their mouth, because we were not at our best.  Remember this; as children of God, we are always reflections of our Heavenly Father.  And people do watch us constantly, looking for a reason to not accept God.  Their favorite excuse is this, “If they are a so called Christian, then that’s not for me, because I don’t want to be like them.”  Yes, it’s true we are forgiven, but they do not understand such things yet, for they have not experienced that forgiveness for themselves.  So be careful, every day.  Stay healthy, and stay good.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The Conference Room

You really can “walk with God”.  It’s not a clique only found in the Bible at all, but something you can ask for, something you can expect, count on, and do. 

Leviticus 26:12 “And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people.”

Each morning my wife and I join hands to pray over our breakfast. We include the words, “and God lead us this day.  Guide our steps.  Direct us to those who we need to spend time with and when there give us your words to speak to them.”  It’s not something we have memorized, so the actual words may come out different each time, but that keeps it fresh.

I knew of a child and when called upon to pray over their evening meal she said the same thing every night.  It got to be kind of a joke to the whole family.  In fact, it didn’t take long for it to get the nickname, “Prayer number 505.”  The family got seated each night for dinner and settled by 5:05 PM.

I know God has guided my steps for most of my life.  After all, He has lead me to my wife April, and I am now experiencing the fullness of what it means to be married, at least how God intends a marriage to be.  But it seems as if in the last month his direction has been every day, and in the last week especially.

God has lead us to the right people, at the right time, to have the right conversations.  A big blessing this past week has been putting together our new room, “The Conference Room”, as my wife labeled it, because it is there we meet with God.  We dedicate that room for time with God, whether in his word, or in conversations with him, as we pray for friends, family and others around the world.  Or perhaps we will just sit and wait for God to provide wisdom, understanding and direction for a particular need.

The original idea for this room only came about Sunday just over a week ago, and before a week could go by, the room has taken shape, and is only in need of a few final pieces, like photos hung on the wall of those we pray for.  The room came about so quickly because we wrote out a list of what we wanted and we prayed over it.  Then, early in the week, I told a friend of what we wanted.  He mentioned, the next day, seeing a chair for our room at a new discount store where the proceeds go to build housing for those in need.  A cause I can get behind and support, by shopping at the store.

So needless to say we visited the store and bought the majority of the pieces we desired from that store and the bookshelf came from a curbside, discard pile of a homeowner’s furniture. The bookshelf just needed a little cleaning up and some minor repairs.  There have been times in my life when I may have been discarded, thrown out of someone else’s life and Jesus looked at me and said, “He just needs a little cleaning up and some minor repairs.”

My wife’s and mine first action in our new room was to pray, and dedicate it to God.  For his purposes, to his Glory, and to advance his kingdom.  This blog post was also written there, so from “The Conference Room” to your heart comes a message from God to you.

Dream with God.  Ask him to make it happen.  Write it down.  Doing so will increase your faith.  It will help you start seeing it even though it is not there.  Then, ask God to lead you and guide you to the right places, at the right time, to have the right conversations.  That is walking with God.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

To Tell the Truth

At current time, there is a popular game show on TV where celebrities try to figure out which of three individuals is telling the truth and is the actual person described at the beginning of each round.  The real person is the only one who has sworn to tell the truth.

The Bible says that the truth will set you free.

“For if you embrace the truth, it will release true freedom into your lives.”
John 8:32 (TPT)

Telling the truth can be difficult, at times, but as I trained my children, “speak the truth, for the truth can always be dealt with.”  Dealing with lies is even harder.  Lies, create mistrust.  But what do you do if you need to speak the truth to someone about their life?  You don’t want to hurt them, or take the risk of them getting mad and never speaking to you again, so a lot of the times we don’t say anything.  We sit back and watch them struggle or continue with a habit in their life that hurts others, while hoping all along they will see the light, and change on their own, but that doesn’t happen very often or quick enough.

One principle I have learned is to “ask” permission to speak into someone’s life.  I will say something like, “May I speak into your life concerning something I see that I feel needs to be corrected?”  Now it is up to them to grant that permission or not.  If they say, “No” then I say, “Okay” and I move on.  But if they agree then after I share the truth to them that I feel they need to hear, they cannot get angry with me, because they gave me permission to speak first. It is important though to always speak the truth with love when touching on a personal issue.

They may disagree with what I said, or they may not understand it right away, and there is a chance they will not want to correct their behavior, but that is all on them.  Using this principle is very effective.  After a person hears the truth and then chooses to accept it, they will begin to journey down the path that leads to freedom, not just for them, but for all the people in their life.  Especially for those they previously hurt with their old behavior.  This new found freedom fosters love and acceptance in their family, friends, and working relationships.  God’s word is again proven to be correct.  He gave us these words to help us have better and happier lives on earth, which was part of his original plan all along.

To truth and freedom.  May both spread without hesitations and roadblocks.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The April Effect

As most of my regular readers know, my wife April is now here with me in America as her immigration visa finally arrived.  In the past three weeks, she has been here, not only have I introduced her to life in America, and our foods, but also our conveniences.  It has been an enjoyable experience for me.

One such highlight was when we went through an automatic car wash.  You have thought we were at Disneyland and it was a ride.  Like “Mr. Toad’s Moving Lilly Pad”, or something.  She smiled, she laughed, and squealed through each phase of the process.  Evidently they don’t have them in the Philippines, or she had never seen one before.

But an even greater experience, for me at least, has been watching how my friends, and family members have reacted to her.  I have taken notice how easily they open up, and start sharing with her.  They warm up to her quickly and seem to feel comfortable around her, as if she was their “comfy” clothes they wear when at home.  One friend even said to her, “I feel as if I have known you all my life!”  Of course I smile with adoration when I witness this phenomenon.

Yesterday though I started thinking more about why this was the case.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out.  Okay, to be honest, I probably got a download from the Holy Spirit whispered into my mind.  God, is love. (1 John 4:8)  And my wife, April is a child of God.  She loves him very much and has taken on his character of loving people.  So whether people realize it or not they are responding, or reacting to the love of God in my wife’s heart.

I believe with strong passion that from the time a baby is born, the spirit man inside that child starts on a journey to be reunited with God.  So when a person enters their world, the spirit inside of them recognizes the Spirit of God inside the person who just entered, and they connect with the person easily.

This “effect” begs the question, shouldn’t all, who have a good relationship with God, seek and desire more of him and his love?  So when we are out and about in the world people will open up to us sooner, and easier and begin to have serious conversations that can eventually lead to God and potentially lead them to God?  Of course, the answer is, “Yes”.  What hinders this to happen is us.  We get in the way of God with our “rights” and our own “understanding” and “values”.  Ones that should be disregarded perhaps, or lined up to confirm to God’s “values”, and truths.

“Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you,but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.” Rom. 12:2 (TPT)

So, in conclusion, “The April Effect” isn’t really her, but what is happening when people encounter her is “The God Effect”.  May we all grow, in our hearts, an enormous amount of the love of God that it effects people.  It moves them closer to him then where they were before we entered their world.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.