My First Christmas in America

by April Joy Brady (Mark’s wife)

This is my first Christmas in America.  My previous ones have been in my home country of the Philippines.  People’s attitudes here toward Christmas are a lot different than there.  It seems as if some of the people are forgetting the real reason for Christmas.  Some even go as far as to remove “Christ” from the word Christmas with “X-mas”.  It makes me wonder if they have removed Christ from their hearts as well.  I’m not trying to be judging, it would be difficult not to be that way growing up here in America, with constantly being bombarded with TV ads and popular culture.

This season here seems to be more about parties, gifts, and where to spend the holiday.  When in the Philippines, where resources don’t flow so freely, Christmas tends to be much simpler, and we are happy to get to see family and share a simple meal, and laugh.  There is a lot of laughter back home.  I imagine Jesus’s first Christmas was simple as well.  Mary and Joseph adoring their new born son, lying still in a feeding trough with some hay, and perhaps an animal’s covering over him.  A far cry from a beautiful wooden crib from Ashley Furniture with blankets from Macys!

I think I have been blessed to have my previous life and Christmas’ in the Philippines.  I hope in the years to come I do not stray too far from my roots, especially when it comes to the attitude of what Christmas really is, or supposed to be about.

I will enjoy the time spent with my husband and the gifts he has bought for me as well as the other gifts from friends and coworkers, but in my heart I will be in Bethlehem, humming, “Away in the Manger”.

Merry Christmas everyone.  May Christ fill your hearts with his love.

April

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

In the Beginning

“First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.

God spoke: “Light!”
    And light appeared.
God saw that light was good
    and separated light from dark.
God named the light Day,
    he named the dark Night.
It was evening, it was morning—
Day One.”

Genesis 1:1-5 (MSG)

In the End

Because of sin, God saw that the earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. It needed light!

God gave his only Son: “Light!”
    And light appeared.
God saw that Light was good
    and separated Light from dark.
God named the light, Jesus,
    he named the dark, satan.
It was evening, it was morning—
Day One of the end.

Light, Jesus dispels darkness.  Over takes it.  Walk into any room and flip on the switch and immediately darkness is gone.  This Christmas, accept the fact that hope remains and any darkness, trouble, depression. pain, or discomfort can be eased or dispelled by the power Jesus has over darkness, over satan, because He is the light of the world, here at Christmas time and forevermore.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Plan “A”

“I know!  Let’s confuse the wise, by doing the unexpected.”

“What do you mean?”

“Their looking for a king, and we’ll provide one, but not in the manner they are expecting.”

“So what are you thinking?”

“A baby.  A baby born to a virgin.”

“Oh, like that won’t mess with their heads!”

“So who is going to be the baby?”

“You.”

So when the proper time came about, God sent an angel to announce part of his plan to Mary, and God’s plan was launched.

28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Rejoice, beloved young woman, for the Lord is with you and you are anointed with great favor.”

29 Mary was deeply troubled over the words of the angel and bewildered over what this may mean for her. 30 But the angel reassured her, saying, “Do not yield to your fear, Mary, for the Lord has found delight in you and has chosen to surprise you with a wonderful gift. 31 You will become pregnant with a baby boy, and you are to name him Jesus. 32 He will be supreme and will be known as the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God will enthrone him as King on the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign as King of Israel forever, and his reign will have no limit.”

34 Mary said, “But how could this happen? I am still a virgin!”

35 Gabriel answered, “The Spirit of Holiness will fall upon you and almighty God will spread his shadow of power over you in a cloud of glory! This is why the child born to you will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your aged aunt, Elizabeth, has also become pregnant with a son. The ‘barren one’ is now in her sixth month. 37 Not one promise from God is empty of power. Nothing is impossible with God!”

38 Then Mary responded, saying, “Yes! I will be a mother for the Lord! As his servant, I accept whatever he has for me. May everything you have told me come to pass.” And the angel left her. Luke 1:28-38 (TPT)

Fast forward; we know God’s plan worked.  Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:52)  He stayed in constant communication with his heavenly Father, and despite his own will completed the plan.  It’s a good thing too, because there never was a plan “B”.

Why would God do such an incredible selfless thing for you and me?  There is only one reason; LOVE.  God is love, and He loves us so much that he spared no expense to rescue us from our own selves and our eternal demise.  We celebrate God’s love by celebrating Christmas.  The event that if believed and accepted gives us life.

Merry Christmas

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

What I Really Want for Christmas

Getting ready for Christmas can be tiring!  There are so many things to do, places to go, and people to see.  It’s great to have the opportunity to see people.  In fact, receiving a Christmas card each year is the only time I get to hear from some people.

I just laughed, because it dawned on me that Christmas is the only time God gets to hear from some people too!  Okay, it’s actually not funny at all.  Someone asked me what I wanted for Christmas the other day.  They suggested we go share a meal at one of my favorite local restaurants, but what I really want for Christmas is to be with them on Christmas day.  I can’t go into details as to why I can’t be with them, because I don’t want to change the names in order protect the guilty.

After all, Christmas is really only about people, or should be.  You see it was God loving his people, and wanting to be with them so bad that He was willing to give his only son to become a sacrifice for us. For the things that “we”, not him have done wrong.  God wants to be with people.  He loves us so much, and hates it when we suffer, and struggle in life.  When we hurt, feel so alone and don’t know what to do, or where to turn. You see, we are all on God’s Christmas list.  Even those of us who accepted his Christmas gift to us a long time ago.  We drift away from him from time to time.

So what do you say?  Can you join me in giving God what He wants for Christmas?  Spend some time with him?  Talk to him?  Give him an opportunity to reply to your heart.  I know this, you will be glad you did.  It might even turn out to be the best Christmas Party you go to all season!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The Little Drummer Boy

I saw the posted image in Facebook the other day.  I had to read it twice before my mind drew the correct image of what was being said.  Then I laughed, and immediately shared it with a couple of friends.  One didn’t get it until I started singing the song.  If they had gotten it on their own they wouldn’t have had to hear me sing, “Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum!”

“Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum! That line has become synonymous with the Christmas season as part of the beloved carol “The Little Drummer Boy.” The song is believed to have been written by Katherine K. Davis, and it was first recorded in 1951. The lyrics are in the first person, and the speaker is a little drummer boy at the manger scene who had nothing to give baby Jesus but his drum solo. The song is sweet, reverent, and imaginative, but, no, the little drummer boy is not in the Bible.”

Source: gotquestions.org

This Christmas song was not one of my favorites, at all.  That is, until I heard a version of it by, “White Heart”.  I found the song dull and boring before, but not anymore.

A few days have gone by since that Facebook post, but then yesterday, as April and I were out running errands and a particular Christmas song came on the radio, it dawned on me, I haven’t paused yet to reflect the true meaning of Christmas.  I haven’t stopped long enough to prepare my heart to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

Back to the little drummer boy; whether just a made up story or not, taking time to give Jesus what you have is a valuable lesson to reflect on.  He had nothing to give, but his talent of playing drums.  If it was true, I can see him standing there in perfect single formation, playing that drum with all of his heart!  Playing an anthem fit for a king, and in this case the King of Kings.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Why We Have Christmas

The Virgin Mary, accepted God’s plan, by opening up her heart,
her fiancé Joseph opened up his mind, to do his part.
Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth bore John the Baptist, though she was old,
He lived God’s call to roll out the red carpet for Salvation; freely given, not sold.

The shepherds worshiped baby Jesus, and offered him gifts, as he laid in the hay,
but their gifts wouldn’t compare to the one He would be give us some day.
The wise men searched for him, and even consulted the king,
but being warned of his plan, they went home a different way, after doing their thing.

Satan tried to use King Herod to take out Jesus, before he could live his life,
all the children in the area, under two were killed, probably with the use of a knife.
Mary and Joseph escaped to Egypt, as God is always one step ahead of Satan.
Not knowing if he was successful the devil must have been haten!

Jesus grew in stature, and knowledge of his heavenly Father’s plan,
to show the world real love, to offer freedom from sin and death to every man.
He succeeded, but had to die a horrific death on a cross with big nails,
but three days later, Jesus arose from the grave, God’s plan did not fail.

So that’s why we have Christmas day.
The beginning of God’s perfect way.
It rescued mankind from himself, as you now know.
If you accept this free gift, and do your best to be love, heaven you will go.

Merry Christmas one and all!

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Looking For Jesus (Part 7)

You.  If you have read the previous parts of this series, you have seen, most of those who played a part in the birth and early days of Jesus, were people God found to have good morals.  They were set apart from the majority of those around them in the world at that time.

Perhaps as you read those post, you thought, “I’m not righteous.  I’m not in right standing with God.”  Maybe you even had the thought, “God would never choose me, or even want me.”  Guess what?  That thought was a lie from hell, yes the devil.  He wants you to believe you have no value, no worth, to God, or even to others.  NOT TRUE! See yourself, as God sees you. Everyone, yes even you, has something to give, to offer to another person.  It’s no accident you are reading this post, or that you have read the previous 6.  Christmas will be here in a few days.

I heard a commercial on TV this morning say, “We need to rescue Christmas, for others.”  The truth of the matter is this:

We needed Christmas to rescue us!

You see Jesus IS the reason for the season.  It’s more than a cliché, and so much more than a Christmas card.  It is truth.  Without the birth of Jesus, we would be born, sin, and be destined to eternal damnation, for God is Holy, and cannot have sin in his presence.  That’s why God gave us the greatest gift, his only son.  And so we have Christmas, to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

It’s sad, how so many have lost focus of why we have Christmas, and they rush around trying to buy some happiness for those on their “nice” list, or family.  A friend of mine, who has believed the lies of the devil, and has walked away from any relationship with God in order to do his own thing, which he calls, “party” texted me the other day, “You can’t say, ‘Merry Christmas anymore’.”  I texted back, “I can, and will never stop.”  I mean come on, without Jesus there’s no “merry”, no hope, no joy, and certainly no real, agape, unselfish love, as Jesus demonstrated through his life and death on the cross.

Merry Christmas!

Okay, so now you know you have value.  Surly there is something you can do for someone else.  Even if it’s sit and listen to an elderly person retell their favorite stories, because that is the only thing they can still do, talk.  God loves you so much.  He wants you to have the kind of life He designed for you.  Living in a garden and not in a dump!

This Christmas, look for Jesus.  He has already found you, and is waiting for you to open your arms to welcome him into your life.  He opened his on the cross to welcome you into eternal life, if you only believe.  Don’t be concerned about how your life may change if you stop listening to the devil who hates you, and wants to destroy you to get back at God.  Get to know God through his word, and talk to him, just like you would talk to me.

Know I just prayed for you.  This current year, 2020 has truly opened up people’s eyes to the fight between good and evil, and to how precious life is.  A new year is coming soon, and it could be the greatest year of your life.  Look for Jesus to save you, and to deliver you out from your current struggles that weigh you down.

This Christmas, open God’s gift first.  His son Jesus, and throw away the box others try so hard to put, or keep him in.

Thank you so much for reading this blog.  I was just a kid from Oklahoma who accepted God’s gift, Jesus into his heart at an early age, and then has tried his best to live according to the word of God, the Bible.  Then to say, “Here I am Lord, use me.”  I trust He has, by speaking words of life into your heart.

Blessings,
Mark

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Looking For Jesus (Part 6)

Simeon.  He was righteous and devout, looking for the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  The Holy Spirit revealed to him he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

What the scriptures don’t share with us is how long Simeon had to wait for that promise to be fulfilled.  Did he have days where he doubted if he had really heard God, or perhaps wanted something so bad to happen that he made it up?  We don’t know, but we do know this, he never gave up.

Walking with God can be a challenging journey at times.  Especially after receiving direction, a word, a promise from God.  Day after day goes by and you lay your head on the pillow again with your heart feeling empty, because that day, wasn’t THE day what God spoke to you came true.

But know this; you are one more step closer!

I just paused from writing this post and sat in one of my favorite chairs and cried.  I too am waiting.  I know and feel your pain!  I am waiting to be reunited with my wife.  Due to slow immigration and now Covid we are separated.  I told a friend, “It’s like knowing what you are getting for Christmas, but then all the clocks stop, and Christmas never arrives!”  It’s been one year, 4 months, 15 days, or 12,048 hours since I last held my wife in my arms, smelled her hair, and felt the warmth of her love.  But I know this; when we are together again, every one of those new embraces will contain that much more value. Instead of looking at what I don’t have yet, I choose to focus on what I do have, Jesus.

Okay. I got it together again, so lets go on.

The Holy Spirit led Simeon into the temple courts on the day Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to do what was customary to the law.  Simeon took the child into his arms and blessed God saying, “Lord and Master, I am your loving servant, and now I can die content, for your promise to me has been fulfilled.  With my own eyes I have seen your Word, the Savior you sent into the world. He will be glory for your people Israel, and the Revelation Light for all people everywhere!” Luke 2:29-32 (MSG)

Simeon was looking for Jesus, and before he died, he not only saw God’s son, but held him in his arms, and spoke a blessing over him.  What an honor, to play an important part in the life of Christ.  What role does God want you to play in the life of someone else?

I close this post with a link to Michael Card’s beautiful singing of this story from scripture.  This holiday season, it’s not too late to look for Jesus.  It’s not too late to take him in your arms and as this song says, “Your life will never end.”

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Looking For Jesus (Part 5)

The shepherds.  The evening started as normal as any other.  The shepherds had done their duty of setting their night watches over their sheep.  Then, out of nowhere, an angel stood among them, and said, “Don’t be afraid.  I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12 (MSG)

Soon after, they no doubt, took a selfie of them with the angel to post on Biblebook, then decided to go over to Bethlehem as quick as they could to see for themselves what God had revealed to them.  Sure enough, seeing was believing, and they told everyone what the angel had said to them.

They left looking for Jesus.  Not believing, at first, what God had revealed to them, but after seeing Jesus they praised and worshipped him.

There are several truths here:

  1. God shows up with good news when least expected.  On the normal days.
  2. God can show up when you are going about your regular duties.
  3. There are times when his presence will catch you off guard.  When you are not looking for Him.
  4. God will use the least expected to do his work.
  5. Jesus’ birth was meant for everybody, worldwide.
  6. Some people have to see Jesus to believe, but it was still faith that got the shepherds to go to Bethlehem in the first place.

And the greatest truth in this post:

All, everyone, even you, will praise and worship Jesus when he is seen.  In that moment, everything you or they have heard, all their life, about God, and his son Jesus will be confirmed.

In everyday life, do what you need to do, but always be looking for Jesus to show up, to give you a message, forgiveness, an answer to prayer, or a gift.  And most important, be willing to share what Jesus gives you with others.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Looking For Jesus (Part 4)

King Herod.  He was not looking for Jesus, at first.  But after the wise men came to him asking, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” King Herod became interested.  In fact, the scriptures say, “he was alarmed, and all of Jerusalem with him.”  They must have liked things the way they were.

This is one of the main reasons why people don’t look for Jesus.  They like things the way they are.

King Herod gathered all the chief priest and experts in the law.  They knew the scriptures, the Old Testament and told the king exactly where Jesus would be born.  He then schemed to use the wise men to be his spies, and after finding the Christ child to report back.  Even as a child, Jesus threatened the status quo.  When the wise men found Jesus in Bethlehem they were warned not to return to the king, so they went back home via a different route.

An angel warned Joseph to take his family to Egypt so he did.  Soon after King Herod saw he had been tricked by the wise men, he became enraged.  He then sent men to kill all the children in Bethlehem and throughout the surrounding region from the age of two and under.

So now King Herod was looking for Jesus, but only because he was influenced by Satan.  The devil did not, and still doesn’t know God’s plans, but because he was once in heaven he knew the name of Jesus.  Satan, the devil used Herod to apply a shotgun approach to kill Jesus before he could grow up and do the will of God, and that was to defeat sin and death.

Satan will never win over God.  And he doesn’t know what God is doing in your life either.  Life with God is so much better than without him.  When you surrender your life to God, and ask him to lead you and guide you, I assure you, life will be so much better.  This season, look for Jesus for the right reasons.  You will soon be glad you did.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.