“Life” – The Ride

I love riding roller coasters.  The thrill, the excitement, the rush they provide is satisfying.  Being surprised by sudden twists and turns, dips, and loops.  Corkscrews are always a nice touch.  One thing I have noticed designers give their coasters big names.  Such as, The Texas Giant, Millennium Force, The Beast, Nitro, Magnum XL-200, Intimidator 305, Goliath, and Cyclone in the famous Coney Island, to name a few.

Life, at times, feels like a roller coaster.  Up one minute, down the next.  Cheering with exhilaration, or screaming with terror.  Laughing one second and potentially tearing up in the next turn.  Life can change drastically in a moment.  A life is born, or a life can end.  One can meet their new spouse, or get handed divorce papers.  A job can be gained, or one can be terminated, in a moment.

Life moves, in a constant motion.  Never pausing, chilling out, or taking a rest.  It’s impossible to stay in a good moment very long.  Dealing with this moving force can be overwhelming at times.  There is no way, once the ride goes over the first hill, you can ask the operator to stop and let you off.  Sad, but true, some riders get off the ride by taking matters into their own hands and prematurely end it, causing, “an unfinished life!”  I think this is due to not knowing the Operator, and trusting Him.

Coasters are designed to keep riders safe, and getting them to the end.  Yes, freak accidents do occur at times, just like in life.  There are no guarantees, and there is no posted sign that discourages getting on the ride due to things like height, or lack of, your health, pregnancy, or recovering from a recent surgery.

The key to surviving a coaster and life is trusting the Operator.  Accepting His love, his Son, and His Spirit to ride next to you.  On my honeymoon, my wife and I went to an amusement park.  I made the mistake of asking her to ride next to me.  I didn’t get hurt from the ride, but my arm was bleeding from her digging in her finger nails, and my ear was ringing from her screams, “Take me home!”  The Operator will rejoice with you in the highs, and comfort you during the lows.  He, God, can keep you calm with the many twists and turns that comes with life.

Don’t attempt to ride life alone.  Accept God’s offer to join you.  The admission price was paid for by His son, Jesus when He died on the cross for you.  One thing I can promise you is “Life” – The Ride is much better with God.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Tempting, Isn’t it?

I once wrote a parody of Genesis 3:1-7, where Satan tempted Eve.  I expressed the idea of Satan not being successful in his first, or second attempt.  He soon realized he had to step up his game and be the best salesman there ever was or will be.  He begin convincing Eve the fruit would complete her ensemble (a word I learned from my first wife) and the forbidden fruit went well with the shoes she was wearing.  As you know, the rest of the story, it worked.

I had a Chinese friend, a few years ago, who referred to temptation as,

“her favorite sin”,

and she was convinced the devil knew what it was and how to use it against her.

What is yours?  What does your snake say to you?

But now I’m afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s clever lies, your thoughts may be corrupted and you may lose your single-hearted devotion and pure love for Christ. 2 Cor. 11:3 (TPT)

One of the greatest tools we have is knowing how Satan comes against us using the same temptation usually every time.

“so that we would not be exploited by the adversary, Satan, for we know his clever schemes.” 2 Cor. 2:11 (TPT)

So now we come freely and boldly to where love is enthroned, to receive mercy’s kiss and discover the grace we urgently need to strengthen us in our time of weakness.” Heb. 4:16 (TPT)

“We all experience times of testing, which is normal for every human being. But God will be faithful to you. He will screen and filter the severity, nature, and timing of every test or trial you face so that you can bear it. And each test is an opportunity to trust him more, for along with every trial God has provided for you a way of escape that will bring you out of it victoriously. 1 Cor. 10:13 (TPT)

The tempter wants you to fail,

but the tester wants you to succeed.

Remember Jesus has already overcome the evil one, and He is there to help you do the same.  Call upon his name, and trust He hears you and will show you the way to be an overcomer.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

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.