Your First Thought

20180412_200110It happened again.  The explosive temper from one I am supposed to love, and I do, but the pain.  I left their presence, but I was a “walking wounded”.  I kept rewinding the scene and playing it over and over in my mind.  Why?  This didn’t need to happen.  I begin seeking comfort.

I went to one of my favorite pizza places and ordered a pizza.  Sad, I know, but I tend to turn to favorite foods for comforting.  Later in the evening God whispered, “Why didn’t you turn to me for comfort?”  I searched for the truth and then had the realization, so my reply was, “It wasn’t my first thought.  God… (tears) I’m so sorry!  Help me loving Father to make you my first thought.”

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [Who is the Source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement) 2Co 1:3-6 (AMP)

But I turned to pizza instead of God.  The very pizza pictured in the photo.  It was extremely windy, and as I was taking my second step out of the restaurant a gust of wind blew the box right out of my hand.  I went back in, ordered another one, and then cleaned up the parking lot.  To be honest I looked both ways to see if anyone was watching.  You know, that five second rule.  I decided it didn’t apply to asphalt!  My turning to food first, instead of God, made for a very expensive medium pizza.  Lesson learned, I hope!

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

FILE PHOTO  Fred "Mister" Rogers Dead At 74

Some of us, old farts, have no problem remembering Mr. Rogers on TV.  Below, are the lyrics of the song he sung, at the beginning of each episode:

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?
Won’t you please,
Won’t you please,
Please won’t you be my neighbor?

Did Fred Rogers, get it right?  Did he fully understand the 2nd greatest commandment of God?  Lev 19:18  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Most people do love themselves, and sometimes it shows by how they act and treat others.  There are several other scriptures that warn about only loving those that are lovable, but God is commanding we love everyone as much as we love ourselves.  To love him first, and then everyone else second.  Why?  Because love never fails.

It’s hard to hate and love at the same time.  Yes, one can mistreat someone who is loved, but if the love is real the issue gets resolved rather quickly.  Can you imagine saying to your worst enemy, “I’ve always wanted a neighbor just like you”?  That is what we, who love God, are called to do.  Love, overcomes all, overlooks all, and let’s go of all wrong.  Love, is so generous, it causes you to share your resources.  Love, encourages you to get your hands dirty by helping.

Yes, Fred Rogers got it right.  Mr. Rogers wanted you to be his neighbor so he could love you, as he loved himself.  So I ask you, “Please won’t you be my neighbor?”

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Dump or Garden?

CtS21ft CamH3' 35mm 0001Mankind’s first address was inside Garden Grove Estates.  God gave Adam and Eve a home there, but they wanted more.  They wanted to know what God knew, even though he told them that kind of knowledge wasn’t for them.  They disobeyed, and got evicted.

Do you live in a garden?  I don’t live in a perfect one yet, but things are growing.  And I don’t even have a green thumb either!  My neighbor one day saw me trying to plant some flowers.  She said, “You don’t know what you are doing!”  I said, “I know, but I am having a great time.”  I desire, ache to live where God intended, meaning the kind of life, but since I don’t know what I am doing I need him.  I need him to design it.  I need him to remove the weeds, remove the trash, move boulders, and dig trenches for the living waters to flow in my garden.

I look around, and I see very few people living in gardens.  Instead, they have, like Adam and Eve, believed the lies of the devil, and have paid the consequences.  They have gotten hurt, down, defeated, or have settled.  Some have given up.  They act like “hope” is a four letter word, so they accept life in a dump.  It stinks!  It’s dirty, toxic, hazardous to your health, but they accept it.  More and more broken, ugly, bent, faded, rusty things of life, gets  dumped on them day after day, and they take it.  They call it life, and just assume, it can’t get any better.

This is not the kind of life God intended for you.  It hurts him to see pile after pile of trash dumped upon you.  Guess what?  You don’t have to live there!  You can move out of the dump, and into a garden, but you will need the help of the Gardner.  The One who loves you like you can’t even imagine.  Will you accept his invitation?  Will you change your address?  Come live in the garden God wanted you to live in.  Oh, and the cost?  Free, for his Son, Jesus paid it for you.

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Mark Brady    1962 – 2018

my tomb stone 2We are gathered here today to pay our respects to Mark Brady.  In this grave, six feet below us, lies his body, his flesh.  Living by his flesh caused him to hurt a lot of people.  Wife, children, friends, sibling, coworkers, and even his mother and father.  Being led by his flesh opened the door to enter into a sin, where the result cast him out of the will of God.

Mark wondered around his own Mt. Sinai for 30 years.  After getting tired of the heat, of the desert, and the sand, he said, “oh the gritty, annoying sand got everywhere”, he begin looking for the exit ramp.

The act of dying doesn’t hurt, but killing your flesh does.  It goes against everything you know.  We’re afraid, if we do, we won’t be comfortable with ourselves, or others won’t, but is that more important than having Jesus comfortable with us?  It’s completely living the way Jesus showed us how to live.  Meaning, how to respond to others in our world.  An old man once said, “Life isn’t hard.  It’s all the freakin people that make it hard.”

Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also].  (Mat 16:24 AMP)

Jesus told us to take up “our” cross and follow him.  The cross being an instrument of death.  So why would one want to?  It’s hard to describe unless you begin to experience it, but there is such joy in becoming intimate with God.  Becoming a son, like Jesus is.  God loves his Son, Jesus so much!  With that said, when you begin to walk in son ship with God, there is more peace, more joy, more faith, and definitely, more love than you could ever imagine!  It’s living life more abundantly!

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Understanding vs Knowing

PowerThere are things, that go on in this world, I do not understand.  I ask questions like, “Why”, and “How?”  There are also things of God I do not understand, but I never used to question Him.  To be honest, I felt as if it showed a lack of faith.  So I have grown in my relationship with God just believing, and trusting, and knowing, “He’s got this!”  And in some ways that is good.  I relied on the following verses whenever I couldn’t understand or know what God was doing in my life, or in other’s lives around me:

Isa 55:9  “For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think.” (MSG)
Phi 4:7  “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (KJV+)

But now I am learning from my pastor to ask God, and it’s okay.  It’s not a lack of faith.  Especially when I sense knowledge coming from Him.  Maybe another way to put it is; if I believe the Holy Spirit is showing me something, and I do not understand what I am sensing or seeing, I ask God, “What is this?”  “What does this mean?”  “Who is this for?”

My pastors are Joel & Linda Budd.  They teach a lot about this in their book, Fill Me or Kill Me.  God wants to teach us how to reach people with power and authority.  How to set the captive free, and heal the broken-hearted.  In order to do that, we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus promised this power of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1:8.  Jesus also illistrated this kind of power in His ministry while here on earth, so it’s nothing to fear.  You won’t be weird.  In truth, you will be more like Jesus.  And isn’t that what being a Christian means, an imitator of Christ?

When the Holy Spirit hands you the keys to someone’s heart, real ministry can take place.  The receiver won’t argue religion, won’t ask unanswerable questions, but they will receive God’s love through you.  Understanding is good, but there is power in knowing!

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Descending Order of Predominance

Can Label 1According to our government’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food packages have to list the ingredients, but in a particular order.  Here is the rule:

INGREDIENT LISTS 1. The ingredient list on a food label is the listing of each ingredient in descending order of predominance.

Great!  So, what does that mean?  It means all of the ingredients, in that container of food, has to be listed in order of which ingredient’s total weight is the most to the least.  I would put it this way: the predominant ingredient is listed first.  I actually looked this information up.  (I know.  I need a life!)

If someone was to list the ingredients in your life what would be the predominant one?  Greed?  Lust?  Power?  I hope not, but looking at how some people, whose lives are lived out in front of us these days, I know it is true their predominant ingredient would not be good.

I strive, to live my life in such a way, so the first ingredient would be God.  It’s hard!  My flesh’s sinful nature keeps trying to reduce the amount of God in my life.  Knowing this, I purpose my life, in a way, that focuses on God as much as possible.  I talk to him throughout my day, and read his word.  (I enjoy reading “The Message” by Eugene H. Peterson.  It’s a modern English Bible translation.)  I also spend time with others who believe as I do.

If this is your desire as well, then go for it.  Don’t get weary from trying your best.  God knows your heart’s desire, and remember this, his grace is sufficient, and new every morning.

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

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Call of Duty

A hurt soul needs a mender.
One rejected needs acceptance.
A depressed one needs to be encouraged.
One feeling like a waste needs to know their value.
A person struggling with an addiction needs a cheerleader.
Someone down and out needs a break.
One near the edge needs hope.
A person ill needs healing.
Someone lonely needs a friend.

peopleThe list, could go on.  The truth is, these individuals need Jesus.  Most do not think to turn to him, because they can’t see him, but they can see you.  In a time, when our world is in so much pain, those who know Jesus, and has the hope he provides, needs to answer the call of duty.

God has placed you where he needs you.  You’re the one, who can take the time, speak a word, or give a hug.  You may never know the impact of taking a risk of faith to say, go or do, but one day you will.  “Do not be afraid,” the angel of the Lord would say to you.  The more you reach out, the more you say, and the more you come along side someone, you will find it strengthens you, encourages you, and increases your faith to do more. God will lead you, as you are his servant, saving lives.

Keep one thing in mind; there was someone, just like you, who took the time to be there for you, and shared the love of Jesus with you.

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

 

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Stay With It to the End

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artist unknown

“Behold!  The coming of Jesus is so soon, it’s as if He is standing up now getting ready to go gather his church home!”  I was about 8 years old, when that word of prophesy sure got my attention.  I thought dang!  I had better tie my shoes!  I was ready then to stand before God and to give an account for how I had lived my life.  After serious soul searching and one more prayer asking God to forgive me of all of my sins I can say right now I am ready to stand before God.

In these last days, one has to be intentional about staying focused on the prize of eternal life.  Satan is working overtime, and with the help of the Russians putting out “fake” news to keep Americans stirred up (okay, kidding), but honestly, it can be extremely difficult to maintain a straight path toward heaven.

Mar 13:4-13  “Tell us, when is this going to happen? What sign will we get that things are coming to a head?”  Jesus began, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers.  Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, ‘I’m the One.’ They will deceive a lot of people.  When you hear of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history, and no sign of the end.  Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Earthquakes will occur in various places. There will be famines. But these things are nothing compared to what’s coming.  “And watch out! They’re going to drag you into court. And then it will go from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog, everyone at your throat because you carry my name. You’re placed there as sentinels to truth.  The Message has to be preached all across the world.  “When they bring you, betrayed, into court, don’t worry about what you’ll say. When the time comes, say what’s on your heart–the Holy Spirit will make his witness in and through you.  “It’s going to be brother killing brother, father killing child, children killing parents.  There’s no telling who will hate you because of me. “Stay with it–that’s what is required. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry; you’ll be saved. (MSG)

All one has to do is read the above verses, and then turn on the world news.  Am I predicting a date of Jesus’ return?  NO WAY!  If you read further down chapter 13 it goes on to say that only God knows the exact day and hour.  Therefore, I beseech you, okay a little too much King James, but I urge you strongly to keep your focus on God, hold Jesus’ hand, and listen to the Holy Spirit, and you will make it home.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

 

Are You Nothing?

My co-worker was questioning how someone could not give a particular race respect. Even think they are stupid animals.  As the conversation continued we came to one conclusion.  This attitude toward others can only be a result of “hate”.  Unfortunately, “hate” doesn’t just stop with people groups, but can actually be focused on coworkers, friends, and oh my goodness, family.  Wait, did I just say family?  Yes.  I did.  And what will surprise you the most is, this “hate” can even come from those who consider themselves Christian.  Guess what, going to church does not make one a Christian.  And we wonder why some people don’t like Christians.

1 Corinthians chapter 13:4-8 tells us what pure love is, but I have realized it also shows us what pure hate looks like:

Hate gives up.
Hate cares more for self than others.
Hate wants what it doesn’t have.
Hate struts, has a swelled head,
Forces itself on others.
Is always “me first.”
Flies off the handle.
Keeps score of the sins of others,
Revels when others grovel.
Takes pleasure in spreading lies,
Doesn’t put up with anything.
Never trusts God.
Never looks for the best.
Always looks back.
Hate always kills.

1Co 13:1-3   If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m not lovenothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.  If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.  If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. (MSG)

The bottom line is this:  If you “hate” anyone for any reason you are nothing!  Choose to love, and they might just choose to love you back.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Brady, All rights reserved