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.

But They Go to Church

Charlie 33There it is.  Another ugly, races, hateful, hurtful word from one I know very well.  “I don’t understand,” has been cried out to God many times after one of their zingers comes out of their mouth.  “God, why do they still feel, act, and say these things?  After all, they go to church!”

Just the other day, when this happened again, I questioned heaven for understanding, I sensed the Lord spoke and said, “But church doesn’t go to them.”  It was in that moment I realized that even though they go to church every time the doors are open, the doors to their heart are closed!  They might even be locked, boarded up with a sign posted, “No Trespassing”.

Jane Rubietta writes, in her book, Come Closer,

“After all, what difference does the gospel make if it doesn’t make a difference, right?”

The word of God should change us, and make us more like Jesus.  It should soften our heart toward others.  Does that mean be tolerant of their sins?  Not at all, but give us understanding as to why they act out like they do.

So what do we do when someone we kind of have to be around says or does something that hurts?  We pray for them as we stand up for Truth, and then we surround them with love.  God’s love, perfect love, is the only key to opening the doors to their wounded hearts.  They must see love, hear love, and feel loved even after they hurt us or others.

If the message they hear at church isn’t getting through, then the love they witness from us just might.

Copyright © 2019 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

God is Not Religious

Charlie 230Satan is religious.  He loves churches that try to get you to follow a list of dos and don’ts knowing when you fail, you will probably hate yourself and possibly hate God.  Satan religiously tries to get you to believe the lie that you have to follow a list of rules.  The problem is simple:  you are trusting man to tell you what God desires from you instead of finding out for yourself.

If God wanted us to be religious, he would have not sent his Son, Jesus to be a perfect sacrifice for our sins, but instead would have stayed in the temple, behind a curtain.  When Jesus died that curtain ripped from top to bottom.  God doesn’t want religion from us, but a relationship with us.

When you get to know God for yourself, you’ll fall in love with him, and because you don’t want to hurt the One you love, you change your behavior.  Even if you slip up, out of love He forgives, comforts, encourages, and helps you.  This paradigm is a much better way to live.

A friend once said he didn’t have a relationship with God.  I said, “Sure you do!  It’s just not a good one.”  Everyone has a relationship with God.  He loves you, and if you haven’t talked to him in a while, then I’m sure he misses you!  God knows where you are, what you are going through, and he still knows your name.  Can you hear him whispering it?

Copyright © 2019 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

When Life doesn’t Look Anything like the Brochure!

travel brochure template printable e To Canada A travel brochure using typical CanadianWell, here you are.  In the middle of life, and honestly, it’s not what you expected.  What do you do?  Give up?  Run away?  Get a divorce?  The attraction is; wherever I go has to be better than this!  Disappointing job, house, spouse, church, etc. doesn’t really matter.  It sucks!

Some look for the answer at the bottom of a bottle, only to find it’s empty.  Others turn to substances that only dulls the pain, but never removes it.  Some fight.  They fight society, the government, churches, and worse yet, other people.  You want to know the truth? Whenever any of this happens, Satan sits back and laughs.  John 10:10 says, “Satan has come to kill, steal, and destroy…”  What you might ask?  YOU!  He’s still mad at God for not letting him have his way, and he is using you to get even.

You want to know the Truth?  The rest of John 10:10 says “…but I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.”  Jesus said that, and He is Truth.  He also said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)  Accepting Jesus and living his way is not a cliche, it is truth, and it works.  He doesn’t promise you a perfect life with a perfect job, house, spouse or church, but He says He will be there with you through it.  The reason you keep hearing this is because it is truth, and it will set you free.  Pastor Linda Budd, of RiverGate Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma said last Sunday, “Jesus doesn’t speak the problem, he speaks the answer.”  Jesus didn’t say, “Oh my.  It’s stormy out here.  We could be in danger.  Perhaps we should go back.”  No!  He said to the storm, “Peace be still!”

I needed to write this today, because I needed to remind myself of the truth, about Truth, and what He says to storms, disappointments in life.  I say to my storm, “In the name of Jesus, peace be still!”

Copyright © 2019 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Guilty as Charged

judge officeI was in a court room this week.  On trial was my perception of someone.  After hearing arguments from both the accuser and the defendant, the judge was ready to rule.  I was found guilty of thinking I knew someone and the motive behind their behavior.  If the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help us God was told, the fact of the case was, I didn’t.  Honestly, I didn’t know them at all.  In court, both parties in the case, sat down and explained their side.  Each party was heard.

“Communication brings understanding.  Understanding brings acceptance.”

In God’s family, talking usually works, as long as both parties involved feel as though they have been heard.  It should be that easy in the world in general, but unfortunately it isn’t.  Some people feel they have a right.  A right to be mad.  A right to hate, and will not even consider talking, or listening to the other person.  Carrying around that kind of “right” gets heavy, and weighs one down.  Living by love is a much better way.

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. (Col 3:12-15 MSG)

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