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.

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.

It’s Christmas at Denny’s Tonight

I dream of what my life might have been, if only…

Do you live with regret?  I could, if I allowed myself to.  I sometimes wonder what the church would look like if I had stayed on track and became the pastor I believed God had called me to be.  Would we, the people of the church be an Acts chapter 2 type of church?  Believing in, and walking out the power of the Holy Spirit.  Would we see souls saved daily?  What about signs and wonders?  If only.

But instead, I stopped holding on to, waiting for the promises of God, and I accepted the devil’s substitute for my life, because it was there, now, in the moment.  I just had to believe the lies he was telling me that it was okay.  Kind of like accepting the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.  As I mentioned in my last blog post, Satan tempts or attacks us where we are weak.

Life didn’t end there, for me, as I imagined it would.  I could have become a shell of a man.  I didn’t.  I received God’s forgiveness, asked that his Spirit not depart from me, and moved on.  That is what one should do when things don’t work out the way we think they should.

I read a post on Facebook the other day.  A young woman just had a child in the hospital, but after returning home her and her husband came down with Covid.  The baby was fine, but had to be separated from his new mother.  The baby’s father had to return to the hospital, this time in the intensive care unit.  The young mother wrote something along the lines of, “We dreamed of hiking in the mountains with a tour guide.  But now we are hiking through this with the Lord as our guide.”

Life is not going the way they dreamed, but her focus remains on target.  On the Lord.

That is the only way to deal with potential regret.  Give it to him, and continue to seek him for guidance, for his leading.  He knows the way.  Life may feel like Christmas at Denny’s, but it doesn’t have to.  It comes down to your perspective.  Your view of life.  Is your current situation a set back?  A delay?  A roadblock, or simply a detour?  No matter what it is, God can speak into your spirit and say, “Recalculating.”  God knows the way.  He will get you through the storm and to the other side.

Trust in the Lord completely,
    and do not rely on your own opinions.
    With all your heart rely on him to guide you,
    and he will lead you in every decision you make.
Become intimate with him in whatever you do,
    and he will lead you wherever you go Prov. 3:5-6 (TPT)

Copyright © 2021 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 1)

Mary.  Singing.  Dreaming of her upcoming life as the young bride of Joseph.  Tending to the laundry.  What would have been another typical day, of her life, turned into the most extraordinary day of her life.  An angel appeared.  “Fear not.”  Yeah, right.  If it happened to me I would have had to do some more laundry.

“You have found favor with God.  You will become pregnant with a Son, and you will name him, Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  God will give him the throne of his father, David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.”

Mary questioned God’s plan, considering she had never been with a man.

But the angel explained, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  Therefore the child to be born will be holy, in fact he will be called, the Son of God.” (Luke 1)

From that day forward, Mary found herself looking for Jesus.  As he grew inside her, when he turned, kicked, and did all the things babies do inside the womb, she had to have wondered, what will he look like it?  Will I see the face of God, or will he look like me?  Time would reveal that Jesus looked just like God in all ways.  For he always said, “I only do what I have seen my Father in heaven do.”

I’m sure Mary wasn’t the perfect parent, but Jesus forgave her for that.  His death on the cross not only forgave her, but all of us who accept him for who he is, the Son of God.  And guess what, he’s coming back.  He’s coming to gather those who believe and call him, Lord.  To take us to his home now, heaven to be with him forever.  I’m living my life in a manner to be invited for the second greatest coming in the history of the earth!  I’m looking for Jesus, are you?

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.