Marking Your Journey

Do you mark your journey? I don’t, not in a physical way that is. Like by keeping a journal, or something. Perhaps I should because it is good to look back. We are usually caught up in the moment thinking and praying about today’s needs and tomorrow’s.

But looking back is a good practice. I tend to end each day by saying, “Well, God, you got us through today. The bills that were due today were paid. The needs were met today. We ate today, and there was gas in the car to go where all we needed to go, today. Thank you, God!” And the truth is this; last year at this time I was praying about the day’s needs and the future back then. Yet, I made it through and have come to this point one year later.

You could say my journey is marked with “Mile Markers”, yet others are marked with “Tombstones”.

A mile marker indicates how far you have traveled. A tombstone indicates your journey ended. A living person’s tombstones could be where their job ended, their marriage, or even their relationship with God.

The Israelites used to pile up stones to mark where God did a great thing for them as part of their journey.

“Each of you heft a stone to your shoulder, a stone for each of the tribes of the People of Israel, so you’ll have something later to mark the occasion. When your children ask you, ‘What are these stones to you?’ you’ll say, ‘The flow of the Jordan was stopped in front of the Chest of the Covenant of God as it crossed the Jordan—stopped in its tracks. These stones are a permanent memorial for the People of Israel.” Joshua 4:5b-7 (MSG)

Be mindful of what God has done for you in the past, because the truth is, He is doing it today as well!

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

I Was Found Guilty!

“Mark, you have the right to remain silent. In fact, just don’t say anything at all unless I ask you to. Anything you do say will definitely be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you can’t afford an attorney, and at the age of seven I doubt you can, one will be appointed for you, but you won’t find any available.”

I appealed to have my hearing moved to the neighbor’s house, hoping that would allow for a fair trial, or at least a lighter sentence. The judge denied my request. As we begin, I looked around and failed to see a jury of my six, seven, and eight-year-old peers.

“Mark, where were you on the morning of July 7th?” asked my mother.

“I was in my bedroom, building a new train station,” I replied.

“Did you or did you not take cookies from the cookie jar after being told not to?” she persisted while raising her voice hoping I would crack.

Sweat began to bubble up on my back. “No. It wasn’t me.”

“You sure?”

“Yes!”

“That’s odd because I have an eyewitness that says you did.”

Gees! My accuser struck again. Seems like my older sister always caught me doing what I wasn’t supposed to be doing, and then she would run and tell my mother. In this case I was found guilty as charged. I would forever be known as a convicted cookie thief.

We all will stand before God one day. And the accuser of the brethren will be there telling on us. Informing God what we did wrong, our sins while we were on earth. We will be found guilty. But then, Jesus Christ will step forward and say to his Heavenly Father, “No punishment will be necessary. I have already paid the wages of their sin. We will escape eternal damnation, and not spend eternity in hell.

Jesus Christ did that for every one of us, out of love. Out of obedience to his Heavenly Father, God. It’s there for the asking, and it’s free. His forgiveness of our wrongdoing means we can no longer be known as a cookie thief or be forced to wear any other degrading title. We will be known as children of God and invited to enter heaven, and live happily ever after.

Salvation and power are established!
    Kingdom of our God, authority of his Messiah!
The Accuser of our brothers and sisters thrown out,
    who accused them day and night before God.
They defeated him through the blood of the Lamb
    and the bold word of their witness. Rev. 12:10-11 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Who’s it For?

“Hi. How can I help you?”

“I need to…”  “Sorry.”

“It’s quite alright.”

“I need to pick out a casket.”

“Okay. I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“Thanks.”

“Step this way. Did you have something in mind?”

“Yeah. Nothing ‘over the top’. It should be simple, but natural looking. Not that there is anything ‘natural’ about dying. I think it should reflect the kind of life the one lived who will be using it.”

“I understand. What do you think of this model over here?”

“Model? Gees! You make it sound like they are vehicles that transport the dead into eternity. Is this the newest model or a late model?”

“My apologies sir. It’s a particular style of casket. It’s in our ‘Wood Grain’ family.”

“Umm, not bad. May I see the interior, please?”

“Of course.”

“No squeaks. That’s good. Wouldn’t want to scare any children that may be at the funeral. I guess that one will do.”

“Very good, sir. Why don’t we go back to my office now and we can start the paper work.”

“You mean loan papers don’t you? With what these cost and everything.”

“Sir, they must be paid for upfront. We certainly don’t have a ‘Lay-a-way’ plan here.”

“Is that supposed to be funny?”

“It was.”

“Oh. Well I guess it kind of was. I’m just not in a laughing mood.”

“My apologies, sir.”

“Yeah, don’t worry about it.”

“Ok. Tell me about the deceased.”

“In general, all his life he tried his best to be a good man. To live according to God’s words, and overall, live a life pleasing to God. He was born here in this town, reared here also, but lived in several other places as an adult. He loved to travel. He was married twice, to two different women, had two children and two grandchildren. His first wife poisoned his children about him though, so after they became young adults they told their father he was a horrible man, and they never wanted to see him ever again.”

“Was he?”

“What?”

“A bad man.”

“No. Not perfect, but not bad either. He provided everything he possibly could for his children. Even though he was paying child support, if he saw his kids had a need, he met it. He took them places in America too. They loved traveling as much as he did. He also took them to church. He introduced them to the loving, one, true, God of the universe. He was faithful in taking them there so their faith could grow.

I guess it has become obvious which force won his kids over. They chose ‘evil’ over ‘good’. They know that their sins will cost them their life for eternity, but even though they saw ‘God” at work in the life of their father, it didn’t make the impact it should have. That broke his heart more than not getting to see and spoil his grandchildren.”

“That’s too bad. Seeing, or hearing from their father most likely brought on guilt, and the Holy Spirit bringing to their mind they should be living for God, instead of for themselves. By the way, I’ll also need where all he went to school, and the primary places he lived and worked, and for how many years. Any affiliations he was associated with and any other hobbies he had. Oh! One thing I failed to ask, who’s the casket for?”

“Sir?”

“Sir?”

“Who’s the casket for?”

“Me.”

Hebrews 9:27 (MSG) Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Circus Town

I have lived in Oklahoma for at least half my life, but I learned something new the other day. “Circus Town” Back when circuses were popular, and traveled from town to town 22 different ones wintered in Hugo, Oklahoma. Hugo, came to be known as “Circus Town”.

I know what you are saying, “Now Mark, how in the world are you going to share a kingdom principle out of this?” Watch me.

In this town, the circus people became one. They married, they had families, children, and yes, they even died there.  Others would be out on the road and when they died, they had asked to be buried in the “Circus Town” cemetery. From the three ring leaders, to the clowns, bearded ladies, and lion trainers they were family. They had a common interest in life, unity, and such as it was, they wanted to be buried together in their final resting place.  The town’s cemetery is filled with unique tomb stones to say the least! As pictured above the markers typically mentioned what the person did in the circus.

Believers, those who follow Jesus Christ also have common interest and expect to be together, not in their final resting place, but in eternity with Jesus.

So I’m asking you, my friends, that you be joined together in perfect unity—with one heart, one passion, and united in one love. Walk together with one harmonious purpose and you will fill my heart with unbounded joy. Phi. 2:2 (TPT)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Look in the Mirror

What makes people decide to accept God?

  1. The airplane is about to crash!
  2. They’re afraid of hell.
  3. A life changing moment.
  4. They are so moved by the love of God.

For me, it was the second one.  I was only 7 and we attended a church that was pastored by a “hell fire and brimstone” preacher.  Meaning, he held nothing back when it came to sharing what sin, wrong doing in your life, truly cost. At that age, I was a convicted cookie thief!  I disobeyed my mother and then would lie about it.  I was afraid if I died without God’s forgiveness I would go to hell. As I got older I learned being saved from your sins was actually about having a relationship with a loving God through Jesus.

But for others what is it? What has to happen in their life to get them to realize how loving God is? Do they need to be face to face with death before they will finally make a decision? What if they don’t have a conscience mind when they are crossing the threshold between life and death? By not making a decision is making a decision.

58 Then they pounced on him and threw him outside the city walls to stone him. His accusers, one by one, placed their outer garments at the feet of a young man named Saul of Tarsus. 59 As they hurled stone after stone at him, Stephen prayed, “Our Lord Jesus, accept my spirit into your presence.” 60 He crumpled to his knees and shouted in a loud voice, “Our Lord, don’t hold this sin against them.” And then he died.
Acts 7:58-60 (TPT)

I am convinced this really messed with Saul.  So because the Holy Spirit had been drawing him to God, when he saw Jesus appear he was ready to believe. You see, God had been pursuing Saul.

So he obtained the authorization and left for Damascus. Just outside the city, a brilliant light flashing from heaven suddenly exploded all around him. Falling to the ground, he heard a booming voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5–7 The men accompanying Saul were stunned and speechless, for they heard a heavenly voice but could see no one. Saul replied, “Who are you, Lord?” “I am Jesus, the Victorious, the one you are persecuting Acts 9:3-7 (TPT)

Talk about a life changing moment! Wow.

God is pursuing you too! If you pay attention to moments in life you will see God. You bump into him more than you realize. It’s like the car mirror, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”. God is closer than you think.

“The only way people come to me is by the Father who sent me—he pulls on their hearts to embrace me. And those who are drawn to me, I will certainly raise them up in the last day.” John6:44 (TPT)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

“Roger That”

Friends and family members of, Thomas Edward hear back from him within minutes of reaching out via a text message, or a phone call.  That is, when he is not performing his duties.  Thomas values people, and he values relationships as well.  Acknowledging someone, within a reasonable amount of time, is a special quality of a person with integrity.  Even if that response is something along the line of, “I’ll get back to you later.”

People want to know they have been heard.  They like to know their need, their bad news, or good news has been received, and the best way to affirm them is by acknowledging their voice.

The same seems to go when we pray to God, and when we don’t see some action we begin to question if He even heard us.  I assure you, He did.

16 But as for me, I will call upon the Lord to save me, and I know he will!
17 Every evening I will explain my need to him.
    Every morning I will move my soul toward him.
    Every waking hour I will worship only him,
    and he will hear and respond to my cry.  Psalms 55:16-17 (TPT)

There was one true story where Jesus’ friend Lazarus was very ill.  People came to Jesus and asked him to come heal him.  Jesus didn’t go immediately, but instead waited four more days.  When Jesus arrived his family told him it was too late, Lazarus was dead.  They knew and believed Jesus could do something while he was still alive, but now?

As difficult as it may have been on Jesus, he waited till Lazarus had died to show that the son of God had power even over death.  He did this so when He himself would come back from the dead it would be easier to believe.

So we may not know why, or understand why God doesn’t do what we need instantly, but rest assured, He does.

Oh!  Thomas Edward is no other than Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr.  Also known as, Tom Brady.  The seven time winning, Super Bowl quarterback, in the NFL.  Now if he has time to acknowledge others then what is your excuse?

Copyright © 2021 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.

He Forgot

Photo by: Bob Vander Roest

He was driving his young, observant, daughter to school.  The sun shined bright in the early morning causing sharp glares all about them.  While waiting for the light to turn green his daughter announced, “Daddy look,” as she pointed up in the sky toward the western horizon, “God forgot to turn the moon off this morning after he used it.”  A rule her father most likely preached in their household.

The little girl made a cute declaration, but we know the truth is; the moon is always on.  And just like the moon, God is always there too.  There are times we may not see him though we are desperately looking for his presence.  At other times we may only see a sliver of Him in our lives.  I think our favorite times are when we see God big, and bright, and fully present in our lives.

But the real test of our faith is moving forward in the darkest times of our lives.  Perhaps proceeding slowly, reaching out, grasping for something familiar so we know where we are and where we are going.  Knowing full well God is there even though we may not see him.  It is in those days that our faith is on exhibit for all to see.  Others are most likely watching to see how we cope with a lost job, a lost loved one, or a less than favorable medical report.

Those dark days are not the days our faith is grown, but relied upon to get us through the storm.

Hopefully we filled up our faith tank before this journey begin.

Something that is done by spending time with God in the “things are going great” days.  Talking to him on a regular basis, learning his nature, and his character.  Being confident He is always there.

38 So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles,[a] fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. 39 There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! Rom. 8:38-39 (TPT)

The little girl will continue to grow, and learn.  She will study astronomy, and realize the moon is not an object that is turned on or off, but forever present, used, and needed somewhere around the globe.  And hopefully she will learn about God, and that He doesn’t waste anything, especially the people He makes.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

“One Way, or Round Trip?”

Unfortunately, death has been all around me lately.  Not in my personal family, but in the families of others and some people I know.  My mother-in-law informed us on the street she lives, there is one person, or more who die every day.  She lives in the Philippines.  Covid is a thief of life!

But yet others have passed away from illnesses and diseases we are more acquainted with, like cancer.  Losing a family member, friend, neighbor, or a coworker hurts.  We mourn, grieve, and cry, because we will miss them, and that’s understood.  Although the pain can be great, when one we know passes but has first accepted Jesus Christ as God’s son, and has made a public confession of their faith in him, then we can be assured we will see them again.  Our grief is temporary as the sting of death first hits us.  That statement is only true if we too have accepted Jesus Christ into our hearts, asking him to forgive us of every wrong thing we have ever done.  I sense I need to write that there is nothing you have done that God will not forgive, nothing!

I had a coworker several years back that believed in reincarnation.  I learned that as we talked about life after death while riding the commuter train out of Chicago, IL.  We respected each other’s views and opinions.  You might say he believed that life offered up “Round Trip” tickets.  My view was it’s a “One Way” ticket.  Meaning, you only get one opportunity to make that important decision to accept Jesus.

27 Every human being is appointed to die once, and then to face God’s judgment. 28 But when we die we will be face-to-face with Christ, the One who experienced death once for all to bear the sins of many!  Heb. 9:27-28 (TPT)

As my friend and I debarked the train, I turned to him and said, “If you are right, and I am wrong, then I have nothing to be concerned about.  But if I am right, and you are wrong, then you will find yourself standing before God explaining to him why you didn’t accept him in your one life.”  I went on to explain that the wages of sin, unforgiven wrong deeds, is death.  For eternity!  As one of my cousins said, “Eternity is a very long time!”

So I ask you, before you die, “Would you like a one way ticket?”  Oh, and by the way, no charge.  Jesus paid the price for you when he died on the cross.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.