How Fortunate!

I seldom get down, and depressed, but it happened the other day.  I knew what all was bothering me, but I could not come up with an answer to the problem.

I asked God, “What should I do?”

I sensed He whispered, “Love”.

I thought for a moment and said, “What else you got?”

His answer seemed impossible considering the circumstances, so I continued to remain quiet, and sad.

I wrote, just last week, how God gets creative whenever He communicates with us.  Last night, He just showed off!  A friend texted with a request to help her and so we agreed and went over to a different neighborhood than ours and took care of her need.  I could have completed the task by myself, but thought about the restaurants in that area and asked my wife if she would go with me.  I didn’t tell her what I was planning, but I knew one of her favorite eating establishments was close by.

I took care of the deed, and then drove about a block to the Chinese restaurant.  The look on my wife’s face of pure excitement and joy was worth the trip alone.  We ordered and she went and found us a place to sit to enjoy our meal.  I, on the other hand, got our drink, plastic ware, napkins, soy sauce, and of course a fortune cookie.  There was a whole basket of cookies, but I randomly picked one.

We ate and then I cracked opened the cookie.  Now, I am not one to believe in fortunes, or horoscopes, or the like, but when I read the message inside, I knew it was meant to be.  It read,

“Hope is the most precious treasure to a person.”

As the, so called, “random” message sunk in, I sensed a feeling of love, and God saying, “Gottcha!”  I believe in hope, I write about the importance of hope, and of the power of hope.  In that moment all of my depression left, and I knew the situation was going to be okay, and yes, his earlier message of “Love” was going to be the key.

God speaks.  Look for his words, seek them out, expect them, and listen when He does whisper to your soul.  He communicates because He loves us so much.

God always answers, one way or another,
    even when people don’t recognize his presence.
Job 33:14 (MSG)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Love at First Sight

“No!  I won’t allow it,” said the editor of my novel, “Kill the Preacher Man”.  (Not yet published.)  “I write romance novels, and love doesn’t happen that fast,” she went on to say.  I considered her chastising comments and thought, I’m not writing a romance novel!  Besides, over my many years, I have heard several stories where one, or the other of a married couple knew early on they had met their mate.  I myself have fallen in love with a woman at first sight.  Twice!  The second one, I married.

My current wife, I first saw a postage size photo of her, and said, “Wow!  Who is that?”  I wanted to click on her profile first and find out more about her.  I know now, what I saw that Friday afternoon, was the love of God in her.  I have written about it before in a post titled, “The April Affect”.  God’s love is so strong in her that people who have never met her are attracted to her.  Especially children.

So if it is possible to fall in love with someone at first sight, then shouldn’t it be possible to fall in love with God at first sight?  After all, we are made in his image.  Now not everyone acts like God, but that’s the individual’s fault, not Gods.

Yes, there are some that are crazy about God right after they meet him.  They accept his free gift of salvation and feel instant relief from the burden of sin, and they go around telling everybody about their new love.

For others, it seems as if their love of God grows as the relationship grows.  As they learn, or discover the benefits of being in a relationship with God they appreciate and their love for him grows.

A popular church proclaims, “For whoever finds God, finds life.”  I like to say, “For whoever finds God, finds love.”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Can You Hear Me Now?

When a friend of mine was in Tokyo, and getting ready to board a plane heading to Chicago, he looked out the window and noticed an airplane from Taiwan Airways. A few days later, he realized God was speaking to him about moving to Taiwan.  A year later he learned no such airline existed.  God used an open vision to help speak to him about his future.

Fast forward three years: my friend, now living in Taiwan, is currently seeing area codes of a particular major city in the United States.  We were discussing this the other day, and I reminded him, “God doesn’t always speak to us in the same way every time.  He loves being creative, and changing things up.”

God doesn’t get bored!

God is so creative.  His imagination didn’t stop after creation.  His designs of interacting with his children is genius, and can be fun as well.  God also has a lot to say.  He will share things with you if you ask him to, and if you take the time.

The devil can stir up trouble and emotions in us, and in our lives that hinder us from hearing God. Those are the times we need to focus harder on listening to him.  God speaks to us in so many different ways.  Through his word, the Bible, via dreams, through our pastor and friends.  He can use anything that we see, hear, smell, touch, speak, or even taste.

“For God may speak in one way, or in another, Yet man does not perceive it.” Job 33:14 (NKJV)

One of his specialties is using his creation to speak.  A coworker, several years ago, was questioning if God existed.  He went on vacation to the Grand Canyon where he sat on the rim, and found his answer.

One of the best ways to hear God is to get quiet.  Many times it is when we are still we finally are able to hear his gentle Spirit whisper to our soul.

“Be still, and know that I am God…” Ps. 46:10 (KJV)

Remember; just because God has spoken to you before, or even several times in a particular way, it doesn’t mean he is this time.  Nor count on him speaking to you the way he spoke to someone else.  When a famous person preaches on how God spoke to them, or how God used them to accomplish something, or to receive healing, don’t run home and try to follow a recipe and expect the same result.  Doing so and not receiving an identical outcome can cause you to get disgruntled with God.

So, when God ask, “Can you hear me now?” I hope your answer will always be, “Yes, Lord, your servant is listening.”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

First Church of Walmart

A few weeks ago, we were in a small town, in Oklahoma, on a Sunday morning, and there weren’t many people stirring around.  There were a couple of gas stations open and one donut shop.

A few days later we were warned not to go to the Walmart in that town on a Sunday morning, because all of the crazies are there at that time, instead of being in church.  Now there are a few crazies at church too, I’ve met them, but I’m talking about the ones that make the front page of Facebook as to how they dress when they go to Walmart.  Oh come on, you know what I’m talking about, and you have laughed probably harder than I have!

We went to church this past Sunday.  Yes, in person, where previously we had attended online.  My first time since January of 2020.  I said I wouldn’t go back until my toilet paper hoarding pile was used up. (kidding) I got to say, It felt good, to be with others worshiping God.  I definitely sensed the presence of God among us, but I must add there were plenty of times I sensed his presence here at home as well.

You see, “going to church” doesn’t save you.  Just “going” won’t get you into heaven. You have to accept God’s son, Jesus as the Lord of your life and the one who paid the price for you sins, wrong doing. To my knowledge, God doesn’t take attendance.  You go to church to be with others who believe like you do.  To be encouraged, and to encourage others.  To develop friendships that help each other through life.  You know, the ups, as well as the downs. God’s word mentions how he will tell some, who even did great things in his name, “Depart from me. I never knew you.” You can go to church every time the doors are open, but unless it changes your heart and fills you with the love of God, then you are probably taking a seat that could be used by one who is serious, devoted about living for God, a true believer and follower. By someone who will let “love” rule in their life.

One can feel God where ever they are, if they know him, and have a relationship with him.  In a way, God got rid of the formal church when his son, Jesus died on the cross.  For in that moment, God ripped the veil from top to bottom ever inviting mankind into an intimate relationship with him, for the purification process was taken on by his son.

So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. Hebrews 10:22-25 (MSG)

The photo was taken inside a “Life Church”.  I love their attitude, position, and inventiveness.  In the meantime, go to church as much as you go to Walmart, and don’t forget “the bread”.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Choices

Life is full of making choices.  We do it every day, all day.  The first one is; “Do I want to get out of bed?”  Having bills to pay usually answers that one for us. Then, there is, “What am I going to wear today?”  My wife and I have a friend who confessed on the average day, it would take her an hour to decide what to wear.  It bothered her, and frustrated her husband, because her final decision was most of the time the first thing he told her she looked nice in.  She prayed and God directed her to limit her choices to only four colors, and only a few items to mix and match.  Wisdom, from on high!

“What am I going to eat?” is one of my favorite choices to make each day, and it is becoming more and more important as I age.  There are so many things to decide that affect our time, who is in charge of our city, our state, and our federal government.  The type of vehicle we drive, where to live, our marital status, and how many children to have, if any?

So, it’s clear.  Some choices are a lot more important than other ones, but there is one choice to make before we leave this earth and that is;

where do you want to spend eternity?

God’s word makes it clear and easy to understand, but for some, it is so difficult to make.  That may be because they think they will give up their freewill, their freedom, or become like some of the weird “Christian” friends! I made that decision when I was 7 years old.  Others take a risk and make it on their death bed.

Not making that decision is the same as making it.  You either confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and ask him to forgive you of all the bad choices you have ever made in your life, or you don’t.  Doing so gives you life and gives it to you in abundance.  (John 10:10)   No one can make this choice for you, not even God.  He desires that everyone be in a full and rich relationship with him, personally, having discussions all during the day.

Please, take this seriously, for no one knows the day or hour they might die.  I speak from personal experience when I say;

life with God is rich in love.

“If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve—and do it today. …  As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.” Joshua 24:15 (MSG)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Put it into Practice

Have you ever met a dreamer?  They come up with all of these great ideas, and sometimes they actually put those ideas on paper, but they never seem to carry them out.  Then there are those that move slower than a glacier.  They have to have all the “I”s dotted and the “T”s crossed before they are free to move on.

Neither kind of individual is particularly bad, just not very productive.  Kind of like working with a committee where all the members think their way is best.  Not much gets accomplished.

I have often thought, what would the earth look like if it had been designed by a committee?  And would God’s son, Jesus have ever made it to earth at all?

God was clear about what He wanted to do and how He wanted it done.  With creative, artistic, beauty.  With grandeur and microscopic details.  Every aspect functioning in pure balance with the rest of creation.  God was also clear about his son coming to save us from our sins:

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. John 3:16-18 (MSG)

The above was God’s mission statement and vision, and I would say, it is still working!

I saw this the other day in an email and I thought, that should be my mission statement and vision:

Practicing the presence of God.
Operating in the gifts of the Spirit.
Demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit.
Drawing the people of God into the glory of God.

I hope I am as successful as God in living out the above declarations.  But instead of hanging them on a wall as a nice plaque I’ll have to put them into practice.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Hard of Hearing, or Hard Headed?

I’m still reading through the book of Job, in the Bible.  I think he is both, hard of hearing and hard headed.  He is not listening to what his friends are trying to say to him.  As well, he is hard headed enough to not realize how arrogant he is.  I’ve had a taste of that lately.  The arrogance, I mean.

You see God instructed me on how to handle a situation, and I would have sworn to you that I heard him.  But in the sad reality of things, I wasn’t applying it, and of course people got hurt.  Then I felt like a jerk, and I was acting like one.  I thought I was right though and in some things, I was, but how I chose to express my being right, was wrong.

I should have remembered the verse, Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.” (MSG)

So I don’t want to be “hard of hearing” when it comes to receiving wisdom, understanding, and instructions from God.  And I really don’t want to be “hard headed” when it is time to apply those words from God.  I don’t want to be a jerk, and I don’t want to hurt anyone, so I find myself asking God to help me to; pause, think, and respond with one of the fruits of the Spirit, and I think that will do the job just fine.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The Cost of Appearances

The eight year old girl had just visited her father in his downtown office.  The elevator stopped a floor below her father’s and a gentleman got on.  The young girl got scared.  By the time they reached the lobby she was in full tears and screamed as she ran out.  Those who were in the building lobby that day looked and saw the man standing in the elevator.  They imagined the worse, but the real horror was about to come.

Most likely the black gentleman didn’t do anything to the little girl, but those in lobby held an impromptu court hearing found the man guilty, and sentenced him to an immediate death.  But they didn’t stop there.  Word, their version, of what had taken place quickly spread, and the next thing everyone knew, Black people were being killed.

Today, as I write this post, it is the 100 year anniversary of the worst race riot in America.  Some call it, “The Tulsa Race Massacre”.  Even our own air force was brought in to bomb Black Wall Street and the surrounding area where most Black people lived in Tulsa.  I remember seeing, in one of my early history books, a photo of two flat train cars with bodies stacked high across it.  They took them out of town and buried them somewhere, most likely, in a mass grave.

I was born and raised in Tulsa.  I am proud to call it, my hometown, yet that day in my eighth grade history class, I bowed my head in shame.  Later, when I was in college, my history professor told us the event had been removed from the books, but he told us the above story anyway.

It does no one any good to try to hide the past.  If you do, you and or others can’t learn from it.  The saddest part of this story is how it begin.  That men looked at the skin of another and assumed the worse.  Most will say they aren’t a racist, but aren’t there times when you see someone, who perhaps looks different from you and you adjust your speech, your actions, or at the very least, your thoughts?  Racism, despite the individual generating it, is an ugly thing.  I think it makes God so sick to his stomach.

We were all made by God, and are descendants of Adam and Eve, so honestly, how can anyone be a racist toward their own family member?  And if we all had the love of God within us, there would be no room for racism.  To those who died 100 years ago today, I am so sorry.  It was wrong, and I will never forget.

“Above all continue to love one another fervently, for love throws a veil over a multitude of faults.” 1 Pt. 4:8 (WNT)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Roll the Dice

The title of this blog post, “Roll the Dice” is a phrase that comes from gambling.  A similar phrase is, “Let the chips fall where they may.”  Both of these phrases were spoken to me today by a believer in God.  I shared with my friend, who said them, “I don’t like either phrase.”  He replied, “Why not?”

I know he meant well, but he was talking about a situation that he does have authority over, because God gave it to him.  You see, when you are walking in the will of God, and He places you in a position that He wants you to have, and you pray giving the situation over to God, to be God in, then it is not up to “chance”!

Things will not fall where they may, or be decided by the roll of dice, or by any half hazard means of chance, but will work out for good for those who love God. This brings glory to God. His word says so.

 “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose,” Rom. 8:28 (NET)

This verse is well known, so why don’t those who know it, believe it?  And better yet, why don’t they live according to that knowledge?  It’s powerful!  Its life changing, and situation changing as well.

So the next time you are in a pickle, or dealing with a difficult situation, pray!  Give it to God!  Then walk with your head up, knowing, and trusting God has heard you and that it will work out just the way He wants it to in order to do a good and perfect work in the lives of all who are involved.

“Amen!”  Now that’s good preaching if I do say so myself.  Where’s the offering plate?  This message is worthy of an offering!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The Rules of the Game

Starting with the Banker, each player in turn throws the dice. The player with the highest total starts the play. Place your token on the corner marked “GO”, then throw the dice and move your token (in the direction of the arrow) the number of spaces indicated by the dice…..

You buy a new game and you can’t wait to play it, but in reality, you don’t know how, because you don’t know the rules.  Reading the rules takes time and can be kind-of, should we say, boring?  We just want to start playing.  And have you noticed?  There always seems to be that one person who volunteers to read the rules and then proceeds to tell the others their interpretation of what they know?

Rules are very specific, or should be.  They are important.  They can help protect you, if you and everyone else will follow them.  Like when driving.  When it comes to God, mankind, has come up with his own set of rules.  I mentioned a few weeks ago there are over 4000 religions.  That’s a lot!  Which one is right?  Could they “all” be wrong?  Probably.

God wrote his own, not “rules” to live by, but the kind of relationship you should desire to have with him.  In his Word, He makes it very clear, that the only way to him is by accepting that Jesus is his son and died on the cross to forgive you of your sins, wrong doings, and we have all done something wrong.

You see, God is Holy and cannot be in the presence of sin.  That is why he gave his own son to die for us, which makes us clean again.  Then He can be with us and we can be with him.  No “rules” just relationship.  It’s so simple, but mankind has a hard time with that.  He thinks it sounds too good to be true, but when it comes to God, it is true, and it sets us free.  Mankind complicates it.  It is so simple I understood it at the age of 7.

Satan knows how God designed things, and he knows he’s not going to win, but he still tries so hard to get mankind to loose with him.  He either gets them to write their own rules by telling them God didn’t mean what He said, or he accuses others of cheating and tries to make them feel bad about themselves.

Read God’s Word.  Learn about the relationship that God has wanted from the very beginning with mankind.  Doing so will give you the authority to tell the devil to, “shut up!”  Playing, or living I should say, this way will cause you to win in the end, because life is no game.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.