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.

God’s Opus

OpusWho’s standing at the podium of your life waving the wand?  Who’s directing you?  Who is orchestrating every step you take?  Who’s responsible for the sound coming from your life?  God, you, or someone, or something else?  If you believe in God and you see in your life things just seem to work out, look up, and smile at the conductor.  God is doing everything you will allow him to, in guiding your life.

I do see some, who say they believe in God, or even who have accepted him, whose lives are a constant struggle.  Yes, I know, it rains on the just and the unjust, and bad things happening does not always point to a life that is less than full devotion to God!

Then there are those who have not accepted God’s free gift of salvation through his Son, Jesus.  Some of those people seem to have very happy and successful lives.  I would dare say something else is directing their life, the devil, perhaps to keep them from thinking they need God at all.

I didn’t even know what an “opus” was until I saw the movie, “Mr. Holland’s Opus”.  I like the following definition:  any artistic work, especially one on a large scale.  I would say that is what God has, is and will be doing until his master piece is complete.  I believe we are in the last days here on earth.  Can you feel the crescendo coming?  I hope you are allowing God to direct your life.  You’re an instrument in the hands of the Almighty who knows how to take what you give him and make a beautiful sound with it.  Even if it’s not the life you wanted, it’s great, because God is in it.  Oh!  I got to go.  My solo part is coming up.

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

The Confession

20180618_161958Confession:  I have never been inside a confessional booth.  I grew up in a church where doing so was not part of our spiritual practice.  I am at a temple where there is one.  I am writing this blog post while sitting inside it.  Not intended, but in order to see I brought a small, but bright LED light.  It is casting such a white glow I think it scared a couple checking out the temple.

Here I sit, in this small, wooden structure.  It smells old, musty, perhaps from tears soaking the carpeted board beneath my feet.  There is carpet on the walls as well.  I guess to absorb the sound, but aren’t confessions meant to be heard?

I think there is also supposed to be a man in the booth next door.  A man to hear my sins?  My wrong doing?  What if he is actually a newspaper reporter?  Wait, when Jesus died on the cross, didn’t his selfless act of love cut out the middle man?  After all, the veil in the temple was ripped from top to bottom.  The veil that once separated man from God.  Now Jesus is our High Priest.

I guess while I am in here I might as well start talking.  Heavenly Father bless me.  It has been 23 minutes since my last confession.  You remember.  Oh, you don’t?  Then maybe I should choose to forget it also.

Now, I confess all my sins.  The ones that denied you, dissatisfied you, destroyed me and demolished others.  The sins that dishonored you, discomforted you.  The ones that would disqualify me from your presence, if it were not for your Son.  The sins that diminished others, disgruntled my employers, and devalued my wife and children.  And don’t forget the one that deflowered me before I was with the proper one at the proper time.  The ones that delayed me from being obedient unto you and your plans.  I also confess the times I digested things that defiled my body, your temple.  The words I spoke that derailed others on track to finding you.  The times my actions denounced you.  The sins that I allowed that wound up discouraging me and damaging my faith.

Forgive me Father.  I ask for your mercy and grace.  Thank you for not deleting my name from your Book of Life.  Thank you for forgiveness, and for your Son, Jesus who gives life through his death.

Now what do I do Lord God?  “Go and sin no more.”

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

It’s About Time!

clockOld Testament time:  Mankind was given “time” by God.  He created light, and separated it from dark.  He called the light “day”, and the dark “night”.  That was day one. (Gen. 1:3-5)  Pastor Robert Morris says, time gives us stability, and rhythm to life.  During eternity, there will be no need for time.  Jesus operates in a whole different realm than we do.  He is not bound by time.  He can go back in time, and forward in time, in no time.

Abraham’s wife, Sarah, had time reversed for her body and appearance.  She did not look like an old grandma when she had Isaac at the age of 90, but like a beautiful young woman.  So much so, while Abraham was camping in Gerar, he lied, and said she was his sister so he would not be killed for actually being her husband. (Gen. 20:1-18)

New Testament time:  When Jesus’ mother, Mary, asked her son to turn water into wine, while at a wedding, he answered her request.  One of the wedding guest commented the host saved the best wine for last.  Good wine takes 2 years to make.  How did Jesus do it?  I’m not sure, but I believe he could, can and did.  Mary believed as well. (John 2:1-11)

Your time:  I heard a testimony the other day where a kid closed the car door on his hand.  His mother prayed that his hand would go back to how it felt 2 minutes before the accident.  When she got done praying, he said his hand didn’t hurt any more.

Why am I sharing this?  There is a realm, we who call ourselves believers, need to move into.  The realm of possibilities that Jesus lives in.  A realm that is not bound by time.  Being “Christ like” can be for these days, and not just after we arrive in heaven.  Why now?  Because as we approach the last days our faith will need to be stronger.  We will need to know the impossible has always been possible, if we just learn to believe it, and ask for it, like Mary did.  We don’t have to know how, but that it can be done.  The Holy Spirit is sharing this with others around the world.  Jesus will help us and welcome us into this new realm of believing and living.  In fact he will probably say, “It’s about time!”

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Have You Considered?

dome 1

Covering of protection

Have you ever considered what your breaking point would be in life?  How much you could take?  What could you handle, but what is too much?  Severe sickness of you, or of the ones you love the most?  Losing your entire net worth?  Being abandoned by the very ones you thought cared the most about you?

“And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job?”  Satan replied, “Have You not put a hedge (a covering) about him and his house and all that he has, on every side?” (Job 1:8 & 10 AMP)

God, because of Job’s relationship with him, had put a covering over him, or had his hand over him, so the results of a fallen, sinful, world could not affect Job, his family, or his possessions.  Once I got really angry at one of my neighbors.  I was so mad, I wanted to harm her, but I didn’t.  Instead I prayed and asked God to take revenge on her for hurting me,  After all, “Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” (Rom. 12:19 MSG)  One day I asked God what happens when he gets vengeance on someone.  He whispered back, “I slowly remove my hand from their life.”

I shuttered!  As time went on, I witnessed my neighbor losing her job, experiencing vandalism, and worst yet, the death of her oldest daughter.  I prayed for her.  I know God was hoping she would stop resisting him, and in turn, run to him.  She finally did.

Job resisted the temptation to blame God for his troubles and die, but eventually repented of his prideful way of thinking.  Then God restored everything back to him and doubled what he had lost.  Could you have handled such loss?  Or perhaps the better question is this, would God ever say to Satan, “Have you considered my servant: __________?“ (fill in blank with your name)

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Whew!  Sundays Over!

Church 1 (2)

Photo by Michael Wall of Wall2Wall Foto

A girl in my 11th grade English class once said, “I love being Catholic!  I can have my sins forgiven Saturday night, and then live like hell the rest of the week.”  Now, I’m just quoting her and not saying a thing about the Catholic faith, so please, no emails.  I’m not Catholic, but being honest, have had similar thoughts.  Only mine are more like, “Ok.  I got the Sunday thing done.  Now, I can indulge my flesh.”

A fight, a struggle.  I want to do the right thing.  I want to please and obey God, but I find no matter how long I have been doing this, I still struggle with thoughts of wanting to do what I want to do.  Some are just down right thoughts of being lazy.

The great apostle Paul struggled as well.

Rom 7:18  I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it.
Rom 7:19  I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. (MSG)

So how, or what are we to do then?  1) Of course ask God to help us.  We will never be able to do it on our own.  2) Bring every thought into captivity.  Be honest about the thought, and if it is a bad thought then start looking for the door that has a sign above it that reads, “EXIT”.  God promises to make a way of escape.  Sometimes that exit may be praying.  Have you ever sinned while praying?  I haven’t.  Leave the room.  See what your family is doing, or call a friend.  And if they are a trusted friend, tell them you are struggling.

My classmate, I mentioned in the beginning, was married.  Her husband shoved a shotgun in her mouth and pulled the trigger before that school year was over.  I have often wondered what God thinks when people live like she did on a regular basis.  I yield my opinions to God.  This one thing I know for sure:  I can overcome, because Jesus overcame first, and so can you.

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Your First Thought

20180412_200110It happened again.  The explosive temper from one I am supposed to love, and I do, but the pain.  I left their presence, but I was a “walking wounded”.  I kept rewinding the scene and playing it over and over in my mind.  Why?  This didn’t need to happen.  I begin seeking comfort.

I went to one of my favorite pizza places and ordered a pizza.  Sad, I know, but I tend to turn to favorite foods for comforting.  Later in the evening God whispered, “Why didn’t you turn to me for comfort?”  I searched for the truth and then had the realization, so my reply was, “It wasn’t my first thought.  God… (tears) I’m so sorry!  Help me loving Father to make you my first thought.”

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [Who is the Source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement) 2Co 1:3-6 (AMP)

But I turned to pizza instead of God.  The very pizza pictured in the photo.  It was extremely windy, and as I was taking my second step out of the restaurant a gust of wind blew the box right out of my hand.  I went back in, ordered another one, and then cleaned up the parking lot.  To be honest I looked both ways to see if anyone was watching.  You know, that five second rule.  I decided it didn’t apply to asphalt!  My turning to food first, instead of God, made for a very expensive medium pizza.  Lesson learned, I hope!

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

FILE PHOTO  Fred "Mister" Rogers Dead At 74

Some of us, old farts, have no problem remembering Mr. Rogers on TV.  Below, are the lyrics of the song he sung, at the beginning of each episode:

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,
A beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood,
A neighborly day for a beauty,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So let’s make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we’re together, we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?
Won’t you please,
Won’t you please,
Please won’t you be my neighbor?

Did Fred Rogers, get it right?  Did he fully understand the 2nd greatest commandment of God?  Lev 19:18  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Most people do love themselves, and sometimes it shows by how they act and treat others.  There are several other scriptures that warn about only loving those that are lovable, but God is commanding we love everyone as much as we love ourselves.  To love him first, and then everyone else second.  Why?  Because love never fails.

It’s hard to hate and love at the same time.  Yes, one can mistreat someone who is loved, but if the love is real the issue gets resolved rather quickly.  Can you imagine saying to your worst enemy, “I’ve always wanted a neighbor just like you”?  That is what we, who love God, are called to do.  Love, overcomes all, overlooks all, and let’s go of all wrong.  Love, is so generous, it causes you to share your resources.  Love, encourages you to get your hands dirty by helping.

Yes, Fred Rogers got it right.  Mr. Rogers wanted you to be his neighbor so he could love you, as he loved himself.  So I ask you, “Please won’t you be my neighbor?”

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved