Amazing Love

c2gpic2I would turn all the lights green when I drive.  I would make people act right when I am in their presence.  I would make them drive according to the rules of the road too.  Nothing would ever go wrong in my life.  This is what I would do if I had the powers of God.

Funny thing really.  God has the power to do what I would and more.  But God doesn’t use His power for selfish reasons.  He never has, never does, and never will.  He uses His power to bless us.  To provide a perfectly balanced in the solar system place to live called, “Earth”.  He provides food, and water.  The things we need, and occasionally He spoils us, and blesses us with something we want.

Why does God do this?  Because He loves us.  He loves you.  If you could see how much He loves you, how much He cares.  God’s love cannot be measured, weighed, or exhausted.  So what’s keeping you from believing it?  Or a better question, what’s keeping you from accepting it?  God’s love is available despite you.  You can’t out do it, hide from it, or stop it.  Really, there is no other word for God’s love except, “Amazing”!

Copyright © 2017 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

 

What is Hell?

realhell

Art work by Duncan Long

I asked that question at work this past week.  One lady replied, “Sitting in Chicago traffic and having to go to the bathroom really bad!”  But what is hell to you?  Or, what do you think hell will be?

Several don’t believe in hell.  Others think it will be one big party.  Here are some facts about hell:  (to me, the last point about hell is enough to be called, “hell”!)

IN HELL – DARKNESS

1 Sam 2:9 “He will protect his godly ones, but the wicked will perish in darkness. No one will succeed by strength alone.”

IN HELL – FIRE & BURNING

Matt 25:41 “Then He (Jesus) will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels (demons).”

Mark 9:48 “… and the fire never goes out.”

IN HELL – NO HOPE

Prov 11:7 “When a wicked man dies, his expectation will perish, and the hope of the unjust perishes.”

IN HELL – NO MERCY

Psalms 103:4 “Who redeems your life from the Pit, Who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion (tender mercies).”

IN HELL – NO PEACE

Isa 57:21 “There is no peace for the wicked, says my God.”

IN HELL – NO PURPOSE

Psalms 6:5 “For there is no mention of You in death; In Sheol who will give You thanks?”

Eccl 9:10 “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity (work)or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol (Hades/Hell) where you are going.”

IN HELL – NO REST

Rev 14:11 “And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”

IN HELL – NO WATER

Luke 16:24 “The Rich Man shouted, `Father Abraham, have some Pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish in these flames.”

HELL IS A PLACE OF ETERNAL SEPARATION FROM GOD

2 Thess 1:7-10 “And God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing Judgment on those who don’t know God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction, forever separated from the Lord and from His glorious power, when He comes to receive glory and praise from His Holy people. And you will be among those praising him on that day, for you believed what we testified about him.”

You, who are reading this, are alive.  You still have hope!  Recognize Jesus Christ is God’s Son, and ask Jesus to forgive you of your wrong doing, your sins.  Then ask Him to live in you, to guide you.  You do this, and mean it, you will escape hell.

Copyright © 2017 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Just Imagine

Dust 01 (2)When I got married I thought I had found the perfect woman.  She hated to mop and I hated to dust, so I would do all of the mopping and she did the dusting.  Most of us think of dust as a nuisance.  Something that none of us want to collect, yet we all do.

God looks at dust a little differently.  He actually loves dust.  How do I know that?  Because He formed, or made, man from dust, and God loves us.

Gen 3:19   “…for dust you are and to dust you shall return.”

Yep, that’s right, you came from dust, and you are loved by God.

While I was attending this year’s writer’s conference, held at Wheaton College, in Wheaton, Illinois I was getting away for a moment and went to the 5th floor.  I started noticing some really cool art.  Then my eyes became fixated upon the image posted at the top of this blog.  It was so beautiful.  Then I read the little white sign to the right of the art.  The title of this piece of art is, “Corpus” by David JP Hooker.  The art piece is the contents of vacuum bags collected from all over the campus of Wheaton College.

If a man can make a master piece like this from dust imagine what God can do with dust.  Just imagine what God can do with you.

Do You Window Shop?

Have you ever noticed how something in a store window looks great, and you get this sense that if you were wearing that outfit it would look equally just as great? You think everybody that sees you in that outfit will just ooh and awe as much as you did when you saw it in the window. Well if you are honest then you know it doesn’t really go that way. You have learned the store has professionals dress their windows to suck you in.

On a recent trip where I picked up my mother and drove her to another state to meet her great granddaughter I witnessed another kind of window shopping. Not only did my mother meet her new great granddaughter for the first time, but she also got to meet my ex-wife’s husband. At the end of the day we were reviewing the events that had unfolded. My ex’s new husband came up. My mother went on and on about how wonderful he was, and how funny, and smart, and had the most beautiful eyes, and nice curly hair. I finally had to shut her down by saying, “Mom, I get it. My ex-wife traded up!”

My point is this: Anybody can look good in a window where the lighting is good etc., but when you really get to know someone you see through the window and into the heart. When you see their heart are they still so attractive? God is not fooled by the view through the window, but he always sees the heart. The truth is we need to be more concerned about how our hearts look, and when the heart looks great the rest will too.

My Suitcase

DSC_4957When I travel somewhere, seldom will you ever hear the words come out of my mouth, “Oh gees, I forgot something.”  I was never in the Boy Scouts, but my parents taught me well how to be prepared, how to be resourceful, and how to improvise.  On one camping trip the truck’s fuel pump went out.  Dad poured gas from the boat into a can and climbed above the truck’s engine so he could pour gas manually into the carburetor.  He told my mother, “If it runs, step on it and keep it moving.”  Something he said later he regretted as it was the scariest ride of his life.

I started three weeks ago packing my suitcase for my upcoming trip to Africa.  I want to be prepared, yet pack light.  After all, there isn’t going to be a Walgreens on the “corner of happy & healthy” where I can conveniently go.  My teammates have started teasing me, and one said, “I will just throw some stuff in a backpack the night before.”

As I stood over the top of my suitcase the other day I began to think about how people prepare for heaven.  Are they packing light, or heavy?  What do I mean by that you might ask?  Well it seems as if there are a lot of people that feel, believe, are convicted in thinking that if they “DO” enough, in the name of God of course, that God will see this, be pleased and let them into heaven.  Or if they faithfully follow a set of “RULES”, observe Holy Days and traditions, or be a “GOOD CHRISTIAN” that they will “EARN” the right to enter heaven.  The truth is they are over packing.  Their suitcase for their journey to heaven becomes heavy, weighted down, hard to bear.  Causing many to fall by the wayside, along the road of life to be robbed of their joy, their strength, perhaps their eternal life.

This is one journey where I want to pack light.  In fact so light that I don’t pack anything at all.  It is so hard for us as “doers” to do nothing.  I’m not saying that we should accept Christ into our lives and then just sit back and wait to die, or for the rapture to take place.  There is nothing wrong with sharing God’s love to others, and doing what you can for them.  Sometimes others need you, your time, or your ear more then they need tangible possessions.  The simple truth is; Jesus has already done everything for us that we need in order to enter heaven.  All we have to do is accept His death, and resurrection, His FREE gift of salvation, so I end this week by asking you, “What’s in your suitcase?”

Powerful Words

I often use “The Message” Bible translation in my blogs when I include a scripture. This week I decided to simply post chapter 19 from the book of Psalms. Read it slow, and let the proper weight of each word’s meaning sink in.

Psa 19:1  A David psalm. God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.

Psa 19:2  Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening.

Psa 19:3  Their words aren’t heard, their voices aren’t recorded,

Psa 19:4  But their silence fills the earth: unspoken truth is spoken everywhere. God makes a huge dome for the sun–a superdome!

Psa 19:5  The morning sun’s a new husband leaping from his honeymoon bed, The daybreaking sun an athlete racing to the tape.

Psa 19:6  That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset, Melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith.

Psa 19:7  The revelation of GOD is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of GOD are clear and point out the right road.

Psa 19:8  The life-maps of GOD are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of GOD are plain and easy on the eyes.

Psa 19:9  GOD’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of GOD are accurate down to the nth degree.

Psa 19:10  God’s Word is better than a diamond, better than a diamond set between emeralds. You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring, better than red, ripe strawberries.

Psa 19:11  There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure.

Psa 19:12  Otherwise how will we find our way? Or know when we play the fool?

Psa 19:13  Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh! Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work; Then I can start this day sun-washed, scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.

Psa 19:14  These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar, O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-My-Altar.

43 Years to Africa

I grew up in Carbondale Assembly of God church. I didn’t live there, but at times it felt like it, as we were there every time the doors were open, plus for many years my mother was the secretary. Our church seemed to produce a lot of pastors, evangelist, and missionaries. From time to time a missionary would speak at one of the services and talk about what they were doing in “Timbuktu”.

As I listened to these men I decided I never wanted to be a missionary, so at the age of ten I made a deal with God. I told God if he wanted I would be a pastor, or even an evangelist, but please don’t ever ask me to be a missionary, and for sure, never tell me to go to Africa. The way I saw it this was a great deal for God. He could pick either of the remaining two.

Let me tell you something about God you may not know, or have never realized; God is a gentleman. He never forces his way, never knocks the door down to barge in, but rather as is stated in Rev. 3:20 he stands at the door and knocks. So God has never asked me to be a missionary, and he has never told me to go to Africa.

When I was approached about being a team member on a serving trip to Ndola, Zambia I did what every good Christian does, I replied, “I’ll pray about it.”  The next day while in a local grocery store I was looking for some lunchmeat, I started crying. I started thinking about what someone in a village in Africa would have to do if they wanted lunchmeat made out of a chicken breast. In that moment my heart changed, I begin to have a burden for people in Africa, and not because they can’t run to the corner grocery store to buy lunchmeat, but rather for their souls, and in some cases the generational poverty they live with.

Ndola_Zambia

Ndola, Zambia – Africa

After getting home from the store that night, I got on my knees and asked, “God, can I go to Africa?” Later I imagined in the moment I asked God that question he laughed, and said, “What took you so long?” God is so good to us. He has a way of taking his desires for our lives and working them into our hearts, and then he sits back and waits for us to catch up to accomplishing his plan, for our lives, for our world. Later. I gotta
go pack!

 

What is Love?

032115_12Love, to me, is like riding a roller coaster.  When you first encounter a roller coaster you have never been on before you are filled with excitement, wonder, amazement, and even a little scared.  You agree to get on the ride, and the attendant helps you with the restraining device.  The ride starts moving and you get a half smile on your face simply because you really don’t know what you are in for, and then comes the first hill.

At the top of the first hill is the least scary moment of a ride, but seconds later you will be screaming your head off, hanging on to that restraining device as if your life depends on it, and in reality, it does.  There are twist and turns and ups and downs and tunnels of darkness, and even loops that can change your perspective, and it is about then you say to yourself, what was I thinking?  You ride, you hang on, you go through all that commotion and then you are back into the station.  The ride stops.  It is time to get off.  You stager to the exit, the contents in your stomach have been shaken, not stirred, and you certainly feel it, yet what do you proclaim out loud, “I want to ride it again!”

In a dating relationship one can certainly get off the ride, but there are some coasters you ride till death do you part.  Now that would make an interesting sign above the entrance to a coaster.  My kids and I love coasters.  There was one Saturday at Six Flags Great America the park wasn’t too busy and we rode 40 times on roller coasters.  The last coaster of the day we stayed on continuously for 16 times.  We, as humans, are addicted to love.  We like it, we want it, we crave it, and we need it.

The past couple of days I have listened to people on TV try to say what love is.  None of them, even the ones with “PHD” after their names even came close.  Real love is as described in 1 Corinthians chapter 13, and it takes this kind of love to stay in any relationship, from friends, to coworker, to family, and to spouse.  Let me list a few here:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (NIV)

The real test to see if you are love is to replace the word “love” in the above section and insert your name.  You can certainly insert the name of Jesus in there, for we know He is love.  So if you are currently in any relationship let love be your restraint, and hang on.

Did You See What I Did There?

sunsetMy son absolutely hates it when I mention something early in our conversation and then bring it back into the conversation moments later, and say, “Did you see what I did there?”  I was sharing this with a coworker and in the span of our conversation he did it to me.  We both laughed enthusiastically.   I thought it was great and didn’t mind at all.

I recently got totally out of a long dating relationship which is always difficult for me, because I don’t usually have hope of being in another one, so I tend to stay in a bad one.  I know, pretty pathetic but true.  (In a later blog I will share my views of being in love, and what in our lives I compare that to.)  So after leaving this relationship and determined this time to never go back into it I was down.  Sad feelings set in.

Six days later I received an email from my section leader, where I attend church, and he invited me to go on a serving trip to Zambia.  In a matter of hours my mood, my outlook, my focus in life had totally changed.  It took me though a few days to realize this change in my attitude.  Once I did I was thanking God for bringing this opportunity to me.  There’s no time to think about another relationship, I’m going to Zambia.  I have never been to another continent before and I can’t wait to see what God is going to do through the small team of us going.  As I was talking to God the other day about all of this, and thanking Him for His mercy and goodness I sensed God say to me, “Did you see what I did there?”

Proof once again God does see me and you, love us, and cares so deeply about us.  He never wants to see you hurting, down, or even depressed, but instead wants to lead you into an abundant life. (John 10:10)  One of the best ways for God to do that is for you to be around His people instead of isolating yourself which can lead to further sinking into despair.  Never give away the Hope that He has provided to you through His son Jesus, and then watch for what He will do for you.

 

Can You Validate My Ticket?

validateYou ever get tired of doing good?  Doing good things for your family, your friends, your coworkers, or your neighbors.  Let’s be honest, it can wear you out, especially when no one seems to notice.  I know you’re not asking for a parade in your honor celebrating every time you help someone out, but wouldn’t it feel good if someone validated your actions?

It’s your flesh that seeks this recognition.  If you received the few minutes of gratitude here on earth each time you did something good, then there might not be anything for God to reward you for in heaven that will last forever.  So ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”  Is it really to share God and His love, or is it for you?

God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.  “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or–worse!–stolen by burglars.  Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars.  Mat. 6:18-20 (MSG)

Keep doing the things that bring God glory in secret.  For there will be a day when you stand before Him.  Let God validate your ticket.  Hopefully you will hear these words from Him, “Well done thy good and faithful servant.” (Mat. 25:21)