Happily Ever After?

Rooster Cogburn: Boots, I got Hayes and some youngster outside with Moon and Quincy. I want you to bury ’em for me. I’m in a hurry.

Capt. Boots Finch: They’re dead?

Rooster Cogburn: Well, I wouldn’t want you to bury ’em if they wasn’t.

The above are famous lines from the 1969 movie “True Grit.” It starred John Wayne, Glen Campbell, and Kim Darby. It was the first movie I ever saw at a theater. I was seven years old. The Bellaire Drive-In, Tulsa, OK. opened in 1953 with Gregory Peck in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” It was a single screen with a 600-car capacity. It closed in 1979 and was demolished later. A car dealership now occupies the land.

I love watching movies. I gained that appreciation from my parents. I watched one last weekend and was shocked by what I said when it ended. I said, “Wow, I wish that was my life.” That’s the problem with movies, especially those dealing with relationships. We start believing that’s how life should be and when our real life looks nothing like a movie, we can get disgruntled, and some relationships have probably ended because one’s real life was not happily ever after.

It’s important to remember that movies have directors, scripted lines, and makeup artists, and the actors keep doing several takes until they perfect the scene. There is also a team of professionals to get the lighting right and the costumes perfect, and real life doesn’t have an Oscar-winning soundtrack playing in the background!

It can be difficult to accept “real” life sometimes. I have found trusting God helps. If you are living with his guidance, then you are most likely where you are supposed to be and doing what you are supposed to be despite what you see around you or how hard some of the relationships are that you are in. One must find peace in their situation and contentment, knowing that it is all part of God’s master plan.

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you. Phi. 1:6 (AMPC)

If you are living life the way God wants you to, then you will live happily ever after!

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

1st and Goal

Football is a game of inches. The playing field may be 100 yards long, but an inch can make the difference in a win or a loss. A couple of weeks ago, the Chicago Bears played the Washington Commanders. Time was running out. This was going to be the last play of the game. Justin Fields threw the ball to Darnell Mooney, who was stopped just inches from the goal line, and thus instead of winning the game, the Bears lost. And in the year 2000, the Tennesse Titans lost the biggest game of any professional football season, The Superbowl, by 1 yard to the then St. Louis Rams. 12 little inches.

Many great writers have made parallelisms between life and the game of football. Today is my turn. (Not that I consider myself one of those great writers.) You may be at this moment in the game of your life. You are fighting to win, be victorious, to be an overcomer. You might be considered the underdog, and if you read my blog post a couple of weeks ago, you know how I feel about underdogs. People may even be betting against you while telling you you’re going to make it. What God has called you to do may look like it will never happen. You may be thinking the game is over.

You might find yourself with time about to run out, but in your heart, you know there is still just enough time to reach the goal. Your enemy may be taunting. Telling you, “Stay down! It’s over!” And in the flesh, it may look true, but the truth is this; the game isn’t over, and you have a secret weapon. You have on your team the power of almighty God. Remember, you are not in the game of life alone. Jesus is right there and knows exactly what you are going through because he was in the game and won. He overcame even death, death on a cross.

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. Heb. 13:5b (NIV)

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Phi. 2:8 (NIV)

So stay on the field. Stay in the game. You don’t have a backup player to come into the game and do what God has called you to do! You are anointed for the task at hand. You got this! You can do it. Look at where you are on the field. It’s 1st and goal.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

The Tiny Sermon

April works hard at a manufacturing facility. They build things that use extremely tiny parts, tiny screws, etc. Since I am retired, I willingly keep the house, including doing the laundry. If you wash the clothes in your household, you also know that you find things inside the washing machine from time to time.

The other day, I found a small screw. Actually, the one pictured here. At first, I was upset. This washing machine terrorist could easily get through one of the holes in the machine that the water drains through. Who knows what kind of damage that could cause? This is not the first time I have found one, either. I have asked April several times to check her pockets before putting things in the dirty clothes basket. Often, she doesn’t do this. Her favorite item to overlook is tissues. Yep, they make a mess!

So, while I was angry, thinking about how I would complain, chew her out, or make an issue out of it, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “Don’t say a word.” I think it is part of my Heaven Training Program to become a “quiet man.” (See the previous post but not right now. After you finish reading this one.) I know my high standard of perfection, and my unreachable expectations come from my parents. I know they meant well, as do I, but there is a way to point things out where people hear you but don’t feel bad. You know, like God does.

God loves us enough not to leave us the way we are.

God disciplines those He loves. (Prov. 3:12)

I want April to learn about life here in America. That simple mistakes can have expensive consequences. If I leave this world before her, I wouldn’t want her to suffer when a little carefulness can spare her hardship. I know God would help her, though, and bless her as she lives a life pleasing him and as she honors him. I think my parents had the same desire for me.

I’ve decided to keep the tiny screw and perhaps even put it in a case and display it where I can be reminded as often as needed till I learn to apply the message of that little sermon. Many people take notes while the minister is preaching, but how many reviews those notes afterward? I am thankful for the tiny sermon. I’m glad God still speaks in small ways. Now, if I could only get April to leave money in her pockets.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

The Quiet Man

I have always admired the man with experience in his hair and wisdom in his eyes. You’ve seen the type. They usually are tall, thin, and have grey hair. They typically have a subtle smile on their face. They watch and observe but say very little unless asked to contribute.

I think of the man pictured here in this post. I recall a time when I was mowing the church lawn, and I can’t remember why I was upset, but when Pastor Russ pulled into the parking lot, I immediately felt an atmosphere of peace come over the place. It was then I nicknamed him “Moses” for he helped me that day, and I considered him “my deliverer.” God knew what was going on. He knew my struggles, and He had heard my complaints. God sent me Moses.

I desire to be a “quiet man” without grey hair. Even at age 60, I still have a decent head of hair and very few grey strands. It’s the only good thing about my physical being. Trust me, I’ve seen the rest of it! But I respect the demeanor of a “quiet man.” I find it difficult to hold my tongue often, especially when I witness an injustice, or am offended. Too many times, I speak out first.

The hoary [grey] head is a crown of beauty and glory if it is found in the way of righteousness (moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relation).
Prov. 16:31 (AMPC)

Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. James 1:19-21 (MSG)

So if I want to be a “quiet man,” I need to apply the word of God in my life. After accepting this truth, I should practice and practice and practice being slow to anger and listening with my heart. I should have started working much earlier on this. I will probably have grey hair by the time I master it.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Living Light

Photo by: cottonbro

I have moved at least thirty-five times in my life. No, my father wasn’t in the military either. Thirty-one of those relocations took place after I was eighteen. No, I wasn’t in the military. Changing circumstances in life prompted most of the moves. So, needless to say, I know how to pack. And I am extremely good at it. Quick and organized. (I’m not soliciting for a job to help someone move!) I have lived in five different states. I think one of them was the state of “Confusion!”

Here is one of my secrets to packing: place the items you will need first in your new location into boxes with fluorescent duct tape on all four top right corners of the box. This would include towels, bathroom items, sheets, and electronics like the alarm clock. Once the truck is unloaded, set up the bed first and make it. Then when you are tired and ready to sleep, you can shower and go to bed because it is prepared for you. Those bright tape boxes are easy to find. That info is free. No need to send me any money for that professional moving advice!

I have been known to pack and unpack all my boxes in only 24 hours. One fundamental way to make that happen is to live light. No collectibles to speak of and only a few sentimental items, and the rest is pretty much only the things I need to get by in life. Things don’t weigh me down.

One can make an easy comparison between moving and living life. I have seen people so weighed down by issues, hurts, and disappointments in life that they are almost entirely paralyzed. They struggle to move through an entire day. Jesus didn’t want to see people like this, so He invites us to give the things in life that can be difficult to carry ourselves and to give them to him.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me, and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Mat. 11:28-30 (MSG)

This isn’t simply a well-known verse but an invitation to allow Jesus to take what burdens us, and when we do seriously give them to him, then forget about them. I know it can be challenging because the pain is cut deep, and letting it go seems impossible, but Jesus offers to carry it for us because He doesn’t want to see us suffer. He knows what they did or said wasn’t right, fair, or just, but He still says, “Give it to me.” So take him up on his offer. Stop packing your pain in boxes and moving them from place to place. You will feel better and live life lighter with less of a load.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Full Tilt

Photo by cotonbro

My father taught me the love of playing pinball as a young teenager. He was good. When my parents added other fun items to the “game room,” located at the back of our house, they bought a pinball machine. The rule was that my homework had to be done first before I could play, which became a great motivator to finish up fast!

If you have ever played one, you will recall the dings and buzzers, the fast action, the heavy steel ball that, at times, could move lightning fast, and of course, the flippers. Those two rubber paddles at the very bottom could keep the ball moving unless, of course, it managed to just slide between both paddles. That’s when your game was over unless you had more balls left.

Sometimes, shaking the pinball machine in a certain motion would help you get the steel ball to go where you wanted it to. But if one shook too hard, the game would end, and you would see “TILT” lit up.

Life can be likened to that steel ball in a pinball machine. It can move fast and bounce from one side to the other while noisy sounds are being made around you, and yes, it can even get stuck sometimes. You try so hard to keep things going as with those flippers but inevitably, life will end by losing control or with a full tilt!

While playing pinball, there can be times when people are standing on the sides of the machine rooting you on, or worse, perhaps yelling out instructions on how to play the game. It helps to go through life with friends and family members that love you, care about you, and only want the best for you. They are like those paddles that help you keep things going. This past week I saw one of my friends whom I have not seen in three and half years. Our visit was short but pleasant.

We always talk about life, people in our lives, people he wants in his life (a wife), and of course, God. We encourage each other to continue to follow God and, more importantly, allow Him to continue to do a good work in each of us. Neither of us wants to see the other lose at the game of life or end up tilted. Jesus is a great friend as well. Not only is He always there, He has no hidden agendas, and only tells you what you need to hear that will draw you closer to the Trinity of God.

Thank you, God, for good friends, and for your Son, Jesus. They are indeed a blessing from you.

There are companions who harm one another,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Pro. 18:24 (NET)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

A 4:46 AM Meeting

Photo by: Blaz Erzetic

My wife, April, starts her work day early in the mornings. Sometimes, due to the number of pending orders to get out, she has to be there by 4 AM. The other day was one of those mornings. Because I drive her to and from work, I also have to get up early.

“I would like mornings better if they started later.” Garfield

I certainly agree with Garfield. So, as a result, I do not have the best demeanor that early. As is usually the case, now I can’t even recall what April did that I chose to get upset about. I dropped her off without a proper “Goodbye” and proceeded home.

On the drive home, I remember the Holy Spirit whispering, “Watch Steven Furtick.” He comes on a local TV channel at 4:30 AM. I responded with a, “No! I don’t want to.” When I got home, I knew I needed to do as God instructed me, so I did. Sure enough, Rev. Furtick was delivering a message that had to do with attitudes. The word of God ministered to me as well as convicted me. I prayed and asked God for forgiveness and to help catch those situations before they escalated.

Later that morning, April texted me about something going on in our life. I responded with the requested information and included some humor with a “Love you!” After reading my reply, she texted back, “What happened? Your attitude is much better.” I wrote back, “God called a meeting.”

I don’t like it when my attitude gets out of alignment, but when it does, I am so thankful that God is right there and quick to make the necessary adjustments. That’s the work of a loving Father.

19-21 Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. James 1:19-21 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Registered Mail

A woman entered the area of life called “Grief!” This time hurt worse, for it was her mother. She had cared for her mother for the last several years, doing her best to meet her needs even while struggling to take care of her own.

About a week after celebrating her mother’s life and laying her to rest, a friend felt prompted to send her a message. A love letter from God. They prayed, typed out the message, and sent it via “Messenger.” If you are unaware, Messenger lets you see if your message has been read. The friend felt another prompting and went into the app only to see the note from God had not been opened yet.

They cut and pasted the words of love and, this time, sent it as a text message to the friend’s phone. It worked, and the message was read and received. Here is the grieving daughter’s response to God’s message:

“I want you to know your message is very timely and divine. It feels like God himself is speaking to me.”

The friend replied, “God was speaking to you. He likes to partner with those who take time to listen to his still small voice and then take action—obeying his promptings. God wanted you to know you have been on his mind, and he loves you, cares for you, and knows what you are going through. He wanted to wrap you up in his favorite comforter, the Holy Spirit”

It’s essential to be an agent of God, a messenger for those who struggle to hear his voice for themselves due to a number of potential reasons. It does take time to receive the message and then transmit it to the individual. But then go the extra mile to ensure the message was received and opened. Just like sending “registered mail.”

Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!
1 Peter 4:10-11 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

When It Matters

Figuring out life can be difficult at times, but as I have learned, it is even more challenging when your “money meter” displays, “LOW!” At least the “Fuel” light is not on, not yet anyway. When funds are abundant, it seems like you just do what needs to be done almost without considering the cost. The line between “want” and “need” gets dimmer. It’s easy, at times, to convince yourself that you “need” something that honestly is a “want.”

Whether you have a lot of money or not, it is always best to take your thoughts to the Lord. If He truly is the “Lord” over all things in your life, then decisions about how or where to spend should be guided by him. After all, those financial resources came from Him and are His.

The part of Him leading me I appreciate the most is in deciding what to buy, what brand, and what product. And at times, from where. I have found that if I feel uneasy about pulling the trigger on something, the best thing to do is wait.

“I am God, your God,
    who teaches you how to live right and well.
    I show you what to do, where to go. Isa. 48:17 (MSG)

Submit your plans unto the Lord. Trust Him to accept and hear your proposal and thoughts; what you have determined in your mind is good. It also is a good idea to talk about matters of life with your spouse. After all, they are to be your “helpmate.” And when they share their thoughts, be sure not to make fun of what they say. Their words and insights might just be what you need to hear; and who knows, it may very well be the words of the Lord speaking through them. Another source is with a trusted friend who you know walks with God. Finding a friend like that is like finding gold. Value them, express how much they mean to you, and appreciate them.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

It’s a Secret

Secrets can be fun, and they can be powerful as well. Most like knowing them, and yet others would instead tell them. It’s not always a good thing to know one. Somebody told me one the other day that freaked me out, and I wish it had never been spoken. I can never share that secret, for if I did, it might ruin the person’s life.

 A gadabout gossip can’t be trusted with a secret,
    but someone of integrity won’t violate a confidence. Prov. 11:13 (MSG)

The revelation of a secret has been known to bring down presidents, governments, CEOs, families, and individuals. Some have used the power of knowing someone else’s secret to gain wealth, threatening blackmail.

“Never secrete a secret if it is not your secret to secrete!”

Josh Brady

Argue your case with your neighbor himself, and do not reveal another’s secret, Prov. 25:9 (ESV)

The other day, a friend and I discussed watching “YouTube videos.” I revealed to him I knew how to watch them while avoiding the commercials. Then I said, “I should reveal how to do that on social media.” As soon as the words left my lips, I felt a “check” in my spirit, but I didn’t know why. He quickly said, “Mark, don’t do it! I feel like God has shared a secret with you to bless you and save you time.” I knew at that moment that he was right.

I am in no way perfect. Just ask, April, But I strive to walk with God, and I desire to have an intimate relationship with him and for that relationship to continue to grow deeper. I’m thrilled knowing the God of the universe would share a secret with me.

“For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. Amos 3:7 (ESV)

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. Deut. 29:29 (ESV)

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jer. 33:3 (ESV)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.