What Happened?

Have you ever wondered, where did it all go wrong? Or, how did they end up like this? I have. You look at someone’s life and you can’t quite figure out how they got where they are today.

I heard it said the other day, “I made a wrong turn on the way to church!” That kind of says it all. Somehow the individual took their eyes off of Jesus and looked instead at what was around them. Kind of like Peter when he was walking on the water. He let his circumstances disrupt his fixed gaze on the Master, on Jesus.

“Church” doesn’t save you, or even just “going to church” doesn’t either! I know a couple of women who “go to church” every time the doors are open, but there is no love of God in their hearts! As a result, people get hurt.

Back to the people who have strayed from the truth; they started looking at what Satan was offering them “now” that would fulfill that longing desire in their heart instead of waiting on God to provide something or someone pure, holy, and a part of Him.

The wonderful truth is this; it’s never too late to backtrack and take the right street to the church. In other words, it’s never too late to return to God. Most likely there is someone who is praying you would and God is sitting on the front porch staring down the road as far as He can hoping to see you come over the horizon toward him! He is waiting with open arms.

Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living
    and reorder our lives under God. Lam. 3:40 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Crumbs of Rumors

“I admit I once lived by rumors of you;
    now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!
I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!
    I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”

Job 43:5-6 (MSG)

There are a lot of people who only hear about God, but they have never “experienced” God for themselves!  They “go” to church thinking that He takes attendance, or something. He doesn’t! As if their “going to church” is the only thing required of them in order to go to heaven. I would think after hearing how great God is, how marvelous, how wonderful, and how loving they would want to spend time getting to know him. You know, reading his number one, bestselling, book, and talk to him on a regular basis.

I find it difficult to understand why they only want to “hear” about God. Perhaps they attend a church service that is lifeless, an hour of following the same rules week after week, therefore thinking that knowing God is not life at all? On the contrary, knowing God is really living! The most exciting adventure you will ever experience!

I have heard others say their priest or minister has told them the Bible is too difficult to understand. The truth is, the gospel of Jesus Christ is so simplistic that even a child can understand and accept it. Don’t over complicate the Word of God, or his plan of salvation. It’s all about an “invitation of the dying love”. That sounds like a book’s subtitle I once heard of.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Here’s What You Do

What do you do when they correct you and then proceed to give you instructions on how to accomplish a particular task? Here is how God responded to Job:

“Do you presume to tell me what I’m doing wrong?
    Are you calling me a sinner so you can be a saint?
Do you have an arm like my arm?
    Can you shout in thunder the way I can?
Go ahead, show your stuff.
    Let’s see what you’re made of, what you can do.
Unleash your outrage.
    Target the arrogant and lay them flat.
Target the arrogant and bring them to their knees.
    Stop the wicked in their tracks—make mincemeat of them!
Dig a mass grave and dump them in it—
    faceless corpses in an unmarked grave.
I’ll gladly step aside and hand things over to you—
    you can surely save yourself with no help from me! Job 40:8-14 (MSG)

It seems as if God was sarcastic.  Knowing very well Job couldn’t do anything he asked him to do. As we humans are now on Earth, there is no way we can know everything! I was talking to a friend the other day about this same issue, and I mentioned how I had learned to say, “I’ll take that under advisement”.  He laughed and then shared what he says, which is, “That’s a great idea.  I’ll look into it.” Both responses sends the “know it all” away with a sense of pride and accomplishment. They probably feel as if they just helped another one!

God was sarcastic with Job, because He knew Job couldn’t do those things, or even knew how. We don’t know what a person knows, so perhaps what to do is simply listen, and execute our escape as soon as possible. That’s better than hurting the other person or debating and or arguing.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

He Finished Well

Later today, I am going to the funeral of the man pictured here, a friend.  I have known this man for probably 54 years.  After I heard the news last Friday evening, I was latter on Facebook.  A lady from his church posted his obituary and arrangements.  Below her post, people who knew him, started remembering, and honoring him.  They commented about his smile, his kindness, his servant’s heart, and his laughter. They were good words.

I begin reflecting on this out pouring of love, and thought about what kind of life one lives that moves people to respond as they were.  It didn’t take long for the answer to appear in my heart.

First, and foremost, you love.  You love God, and then love others.  You chose to ignore what other people say about someone, and you love them anyway.

Secondly, you show kindness.  You show it at work, at church, in your community, and at home.  With customers, family and friends.

Third, you serve others, which really is “love” in action. One man posted how my friend came and got them after their car would not start.

You do all this, not to receive kind words spoken or written about you when you die, but because this is the example Christ demonstrated for us while he walked the earth.  It’s simply the kind of life God calls us to.

I have fought an excellent fight. I have finished my full course with all my might and I’ve kept my heart full of faith. There’s a crown of righteousness waiting in heaven for me, and I know that my Lord will reward me on his day of righteous judgment. And this crown is not only waiting for me, but for all who love and long for his unveiling.  2 Tim. 4:7-8 (TPT)

In the above verse, Paul compares living life on earth as a race. It’s not a competition though with others to see who finishes first, second, or third. And unlike youth community sports programs, not everyone will receive a participation trophy! It’s about reaching the finish line, with God, and in my friend’s case, he finished well.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Not Automatic

I stood there in the bathroom with soap on my hands.  Soap that was dispensed automatically.  In an automatic world there is now a dispenser that tells me how much soap is enough, and a towel dispenser only gives me enough to wipe a finger or two.  So why wouldn’t there be an auto faucet that turns on for me and decides what temperature is appropriate? I’ve seen them before.

I moved my hands up and down, back and forth, closer and further away trying to get the water to turn on.  All the while soap was dripping from my hands.  I tried everything.  Over and over again.  Then, I guess the man waiting behind me had enough.  He reached around me and turned the water on by raising the lever.

Having a relationship with God is not automatic either.  Going to church doesn’t determine your destination for eternity.  Have you ever noticed at most funerals the friends and family assumes their loved one is in heaven?  The Bible says this:

Enter through the narrow gate because the wide gate and broad path is the way that leads to destruction—nearly everyone chooses that crowded road! Mat. 7:13 (TPT)

So odds are, unless their friend, or loved one made a public confession of their faith in Jesus Christ and have asked for the forgiveness of their sins they aren’t in heaven.  Sorry, but that is truth from the word of God.  Not my words.

God wants to have a relationship with us.  He gave us his only son to die for us which paves the way.  God invites us and has done all but make the decision for us.  He leaves that to us and our freewill.  The relationship with God is not automatic.  Your sins aren’t washed away automatically without asking Jesus to cleanse you.  How you live after you are in the kingdom of God is between you and him.

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Phl. 2:12-13 (NKJV)

The above words are good words to live by, and to the man who helped me in the bathroom, “Thank you.”

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.

What’s the Problem?

Life can come at you hard and fast at times.  Bills you can’t pay arrive in the mail.  A routine checkup delivers a death sentence.  Your spouse announces their love for you has run dry.  Yes, these may be the extreme cases of life, but even the everyday life can cause you to gasp for air.  You feel, “If I could only reach the surface, I could breath.”

It is in those moments having a trusted friend helps.  So does having a church to go to where God has prepared a meal for you from his word via your pastor.  There are also an abundance of messages online, or on YouTube.  Listening to someone else’s testimony can encourage your faith, but keep in mind, just because God did something in one person’s life in a particular way does not mean He will do it that way in your life.  The point of a story, or testimony is to help you believe, be convinced, God sees you, knows you, loves you and wants to be active in your life,

Keep this fact in mind; Jesus went to the cross.  He died on that cross.  His body was removed from that cross, so he is no longer suffering to the point of death.  Then, three days after his body was placed in the tomb to rot, to decay, to go away, he overcame the chains of death.  He arose from the dead.  The stone was rolled away and the light of the morning became his “exit” sign.

My point is this: if you believe in Jesus and the power he demonstrated, and you place your trust in him and you believe that he overcame and can empower you, and lead you to be an overcomer then what’s the problem?

It’s not ignoring the issue(s) of life, but placing them in the hands of the One who overcame not only life, but death!  The problem you are currently dealing with does not own you.  It does not define you.  It has no power over you, because if you give it to Jesus, then you will overcome it.  Not only will you look at it in the rearview mirror someday, but you will recount the story of it, to others, to encourage them.  To help them overcome their current situation as well.

“I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”  John 16:33 (MSG)

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.

Knowing the Way

040420When I was four years old I was able to show people how to get from our house to JCPenny.  I didn’t know the street names, but I knew when to get off the highway, and when to turn and which way.  This may be more important; I knew how to get back home.

Funny story; when I was five, we had been to JCPenny and other stores at the outdoor mall, it was the mid-sixties okay, and I had seen at least four different “Santa Clauses”.  Something just didn’t add up.  Then it hit me, and while we were on our way home, I blurted out the truth of how the whole thing worked.  My mother almost wrecked the 1963 Chevy Impala trying to reach over the back of the front seat and slap my legs, or whatever she should make contact with and screaming at me, “Shut up!”  My older sister started crying and whimpering, “It’s not true!  It can’t be true!”

A couple of years ago, I was working security at my church, when a middle age couple approached me and asked for money.  They said they had been in town to visit his sister who was in the hospital.  They shared they had intended to drive into town, visit, and drive back home.  Instead, they said they got lost and turned around several times.  So much so, their gas tank was almost empty.

I felt bad for them, and I didn’t give them cash, so I walked across the street and filled up their car.  While the man she was living with, it was an impression, went in to the store to do something, I had the opportunity to speak to the woman sitting in the car.

After meeting them I kept getting a feeling, or was hearing from God, that she used to go to church, but because of some bad choices in life had gotten away from the faith of her youth.  I squatted down so I could look at her in the face through the driver’s window and said, “I feel like God wants me to give you a message.  He wants you to know he misses you.”  She started crying.  I said, “I feel like you used to go to church when you were a little girl.”  She, now wiping tears, mentioned, “My grandma used to take us kids every Sunday.”  I encouraged her to, no matter what, with or without him, to go back to church again.  I told her I was sure God wouldn’t hold it against her that she had been MIA for so long, because he just wanted to see her come home.  Hang out, talk, and get caught up.

Before writing this blog tonight, I got the impression there is one, or perhaps many people who need to go home again.  Not just to a “church building”, but to a place where you can learn the true nature of God.  How much he loves you.  I think the message God had for her is similar to the message he wants you to hear.  If you don’t know how to find your way home, ask Him to help you.  He will.  He knows the way.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Home Cooked Meals

HotpotIn the last blog post I mentioned a friend living overseas who had not found a church yet where he is getting a steady diet of spiritual nutrition.  Not that he hasn’t tried.

We are very fortunate here in America to have many churches where the pastor feeds the people the word of God, and we can turn on the TV at any time of the day and find religious programming.  Now hold on, I agree there are some that are much better than others.  In fact there is a very small list of who I will give my time to.  There is also opportunity to see some speakers of God’s messages on YouTube as well.

My approach in preparing to speak publicly is this, I pray and ask God what He wants to say.  I call this process getting the meal plan.  Then I want to get God’s recipe for the items He wants to serve.  In other words, I don’t want to say the same thing the way I would, but I want to say those things the way God would if He was standing in front of the people himself.  This step is my studying.  Then, when I speak I serve God’s meal, his words, to the people.

Your pastor feeds you every week.  When a guest speaker talks, it’s like eating out!

After more discussion with my friend, he got revelation that he needed to stop relying so much on others to feed him, and start preparing home cooked meals.  We aren’t talking about TV dinners that you heat up in 4 minutes either.  He is going to get back into God’s word.  He is going to study.  He’s going to pray.  He is going to cook his own meals as God directs.  He may have to eat alone, but then he can eat as much as he wants, and after he is full he can then go out and feed others.

Dietitians have been telling us for years that eating healthy foods, prepared at home is good for us.  There is nothing wrong with eating out.  There is nothing wrong with going to church and eating with others.  There is nothing wrong with ministers on TV or via social media, as long as they are preaching the word of God, but remember to have a balanced diet.

“He poured great draughts of water down parched throats;
the starved and hungry got plenty to eat.” Psalms 107:9 (MSG)

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.