Being Noticed

Charlie 57I now know what an animal in a zoo exhibit feels like!  The other day I thought I heard a little boy ask his mother if he could feed the American.  I have mentioned a few times, that I am now living in the Philippines.  Now that I have been here for a while, I forget when I go out, and am near my home, that I am not in America, so when someone stares at me, I start thinking Is my zipper down on my pants?  Did I forget to shower and my hair is a mess?

The point is; I stand out!  I’m noticed!  It’s impossible for me to blend in.  It happened again tonight, as I was walking down the street, to the convenient store.  I smiled and sometimes I wave or say, “Hi.”  I am conscious of the fact I am representing America.  Some have actually told me that I am the first American they have ever seen in person.

This got me thinking, shouldn’t I have the same awareness about being a follower of Jesus Christ?  Shouldn’t I be thinking What if I am the first Christian they have ever met in person?  Or, I am representing God, and the Kingdom of Heaven.  The truth is, it should be my nature and not a thought I have to keep in mind.  And my response?  Smile, wave, say “Hello”, be love.  I know I mention this theme of being love often, but the first two commandments mention love, so it must be important to God.

  1. Love God, and put him first in our lives.
  2. Love others as we love ourselves. (And some of you really do love yourselves a lot, as do I sometimes!)

When you walk around being love, you’re being like God.   “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 JN. 4:8 NIV)  Please stop trying to blend in, and rather, desire to be noticed!
Copyright © 2019 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Knowing You Are Loved

Charlie 58I had a friend that once stated she doesn’t want to hear her spouse say, “I love you” every day.  Somehow, she feels it cheapens the words.  I asked her, “Well, how do you want to know you are loved then?”  She replied, “Just knowing someone is thinking about me makes me feel loved.”  Yes, the next question I had to ask was, “How do you know you are being thought of if that person doesn’t express it in some form?”

I like hearing I am loved.  I like better knowing that I am.  My new spouse left me the note that is pictured here.  A wave of love flowed over me when I found it hanging on my desk.  Expressing our love to others doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but goes a long way in building strong bonds in a relationship, family, friends or otherwise.  Another aspect to expressing your love is there are so many ways to do it, and one can get very creative.

God was extremely creative when He expressed his love to us.  Who else, but God would have thought of giving us his only son and that son coming to us in a small package of a baby.  As that baby grew, so did his love for mankind.  In fact, it’s Jesus’ love for us that caused him to say, “Not my will Father, but yours be done.”

Today, I can read God’s love notes to me all through his word.  The Bible is full of them.  Like Romans 8:37-39 describes how nothing can separate us from God’s love.  He won’t allow it.  Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.  To sum it up:

God is love. He didn’t need us. But he wanted us. And that is the most amazing thing.  ~ Rick Warren

KNOW THAT, YOU ARE LOVED!

 
Copyright © 2019 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Drawn by Love

Jesus 1I once had a neighbor, who on the way to the hardware mega store asked, “Why are you so different?”  I had helped them with several needs after they had moved into their new home.  He asked, I told him.  The truth appealed to him and his wife, and they accepted Jesus.

Do people in your world know you believe in God?  Can they tell you have accepted Jesus Christ and you live your life for him?  Do they think you are a Jesus freak, or a normal person who happens to love God, a lot?

Jesus hung out with people, who the Pharisees judged as “sinners”.  Jesus called them people who needed his love.  This means that even though Jesus spoke about his Father in heaven, and believing in him, the people still wanted to be around him.  They were drawn to him, because he showed love.  Jesus met them where they were.  He didn’t change his actions or message when in the presence of people of the world, but turned up the love!

Just as I didn’t join the world’s ways. I’m not asking that you take them out of the world But that you guard them from the Evil One. They are no more defined by the world Than I am defined by the world. (Joh 17:15-16 MSG)

We would be wise to follow Jesus’ example.  People will be drawn to us because of our love, and then they will be interested in hearing our message of Jesus.

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Risky Business

DSC_7833One of the hardest decisions to make, after having your heart ran through a shredder, is to try again.  You have said, “No way!” “I could never trust again.” “I can’t take the chance, or I never want to feel that kind of pain again!”

Me?  What did I used to say?  “God, it’s too hard.”

I once quoted, to a lady,  a line from a song, “All my ex’s live in Texas.”  After she got done laughing, she asked, “My God, how many do you have?”  “One,” I replied, “But that’s all of them!”  Through the many years since my divorce I have learned what real love is, by becoming intimate with my Heavenly Father, and also when man fell out with God, he fell out with women as well.  I have the vertical connection, with God, in place, and now I am open and willing, to take a risk, to try again, with the horizontal connection with a woman.

Notice the cross?  Yes, that one.  The one Jesus died on because he took the ultimate risk of love coming here to die for our sins.  I’m sure his heart aches when people reject him.  If a relationship is based on loving Jesus, then together you will have the vertical and the horizontal connections in place that will support a healthy, loving relationship.

Love is a “risky business”, but when done the way God intended, I’m trusting it will be one more thing God will look at and say, “It is good.”

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

ENOUGH!

Hate

Hate, is like cancer, it kills!

The other day, I heard another story of hate.  What got me was, this hate took place in a church.  Has hate, in our country, spread that far?  I’m beginning to decrease watching the world news every evening because of the hate.  The hate they call, “news”!

Growing up, the rule was, “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”  Yes, I’m old, but it wasn’t a bad rule.  These days, people not only speak their hate, but share it on social media, and then start a movement to spread it.  Hate is a cancer, and some people can’t bear the weight of it, so they take their own life instead of trying to face another day.  Bullying, is hate, and even adults are sometimes bullied.

Since all this hate hurts me, I realized this week, it must really hurt Jesus.  He died for the one hated, but he also died for the hater.  When he came to earth, one of the things he did was show us how to live, walk, and speak in love.  I met a lady last weekend, traveling across America, trying to spread love and motivate others to pass it on.  I pray she is successful, and she makes America great again!  Can we join her?  Instead of hating, can we try to love?  It is a better way.  If you do choose to spread love, I know it will cause Jesus to smile, for you will never hear anyone say, “Stop!  That’s enough love.”

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Guilty as Charged

judge officeI was in a court room this week.  On trial was my perception of someone.  After hearing arguments from both the accuser and the defendant, the judge was ready to rule.  I was found guilty of thinking I knew someone and the motive behind their behavior.  If the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help us God was told, the fact of the case was, I didn’t.  Honestly, I didn’t know them at all.  In court, both parties in the case, sat down and explained their side.  Each party was heard.

“Communication brings understanding.  Understanding brings acceptance.”

In God’s family, talking usually works, as long as both parties involved feel as though they have been heard.  It should be that easy in the world in general, but unfortunately it isn’t.  Some people feel they have a right.  A right to be mad.  A right to hate, and will not even consider talking, or listening to the other person.  Carrying around that kind of “right” gets heavy, and weighs one down.  Living by love is a much better way.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. (Col 3:12-15 MSG)

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Spiritual Growth

Young boy measuring his growth in heightHow do you measure spiritual growth?  Do you compare yourself to Billy Graham?  The Apostle Paul?  Mother Teresa?  Joel Osteen?  Or perhaps you compare yourself to your pastor.  First of all, what is “spiritual growth”?  It is the process of becoming more mature in one’s relationship with Jesus Christ.

So come on, let’s leave the preschool finger-painting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ. (Heb 6:1 MSG)

So how should one measure spiritual growth?  By love.  As you grow in Christ you will grow in love.  Love, will be your first thought, your first word, and your first reaction to people and things in this world that come at you.  Do people look at you and see love?  Hear love?  Feel love?  If they do then go ahead.  Go ahead and stand up next to love, and put another mark on it.  You’re growing!

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

How Much?

book 1I would go visit them, and before I knew it, they would be giving me a guided tour of their latest acquisitions.  Antiques, what nots, weird things, but things that appealed to them.  I would hear the story of where they found it, and why they liked it.  The one fact that never went unnoticed was how excited they were over their latest find, and the one thing that always struck me funny was when they would ask, “You want to know how much I paid?”

I was reminiscing the other day about those times and chuckling when I begin to envision Jesus showing me his latest acquisitions.  “This is John.  He was in a bar when he realized his life needed to change. He asked me to help.  This is Manjola from Albania.  I pursued him a long time before he finally accepted me.  Oh!  Over here is Akemi.  She’s from Japan.  She was desperate for real love, and a friend told her about me.”

Person, after person.  Jesus was enthusiastic over every one of them.  He told me their story.  How long He looked for them, as they were lost, but the one thing He never asked was, “You want to know how much I paid?”

“You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for by Christ]” (1Co 7:23 AMP)

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved