Christian Knock-Offs

Photo by: Anne R

Knock-offs are a massive problem in America. Every day, thousands of imposter items attempt to enter the U.S., and everyday custom agents are trying to find them and keep them from being sold. They can be hard to spot at times. At first glance, the items may look authentic, but upon further inspection, one will see the flaws.

I have begun to notice in our world “Christian Knock-offs.” By that, I mean Christians that look and even sound authentic but aren’t. Oh, they will show you their spiritual practices, instruct you on what “you” are doing wrong in your life, and they may even pray for you, but when it comes to being relatable, they fail. They often work harder trying to find someone else to help you than it would take them to help you themselves. Oh, but they will take your help in an instant, so in their mind, they can be of greater service to God.

I may sound bitter, and I assure you I am not, although I have encountered many of these “Knock-Offs,” The real problem with them is they use people and then hurt them, but they never see it that way. If someone has an issue with them, they turn things and convince themselves the problem lies with the other person. What makes this matter even worse is if the fake has a position of authority. These individuals remind me of the Pharisees and or the Sadducees. Both were religious sects during the time of Jesus. They didn’t like Jesus very well; in fact, they killed him, all because the people loved and were drawn to him.

People were drawn to Jesus because He was so relatable. People felt at ease with him, accepted, and loved. This means that if we want to imitate Christ as Paul directs us to, then we need to be authentic, the “Real Deal!” The way to do that is with love. To have and to let the love of God within us shine brightly. It should shine so bright as if a light upon a hill, so others have no problem finding us, especially in a time of need.

“Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” 1 Cor. 11:1 (NKJV)

 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Mat. 5:14 (NKJV)

 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Mat. 5:16 (NKJV)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

More Than Enough!

I love the true story, as told in the Bible, of the time Jesus fed the 5000. Of course, that was just the men. There are so many thoughts to consider when reading this miracle.

One, I seriously doubt that no one else had any food with them. They hid it, or worse, lied about having it. They looked at the situation with natural eyes and thought, “There is no way what we have is going to feed this huge crowd!” And honestly, they were right. But those same individuals didn’t fully know who Jesus was. They didn’t understand what could happen if you place what you have in Jesus’ hands and then trust him. Yes, even to do the impossible!

Two, The boy who gave the small lunch he had brought did know and therefore trusted Jesus. He also believed Jesus was the son of God. The lad had a giver’s heart, and I think he gave it cheerfully. In fact, he probably had to convince Jesus’ disciple to take it. They, too, were looking with natural eyes.

You could count the boy’s lunch. Two fish and five loaves of bread equaling seven pieces. Seven, the number of completion! Jesus took what was given, and He blessed it, and it was multiplied.

“How many vs. how much. How many you can count, how much comes by faith!” Steven Furtick

God will meet your needs when you place what you have in His hands and then trust him. He may not give you all of it at once. Like manna that fed the children of Isreal, He will provide for the needs you have for one day. I wake up, and I realize my bills due today are paid. We have food to eat and gas in the car; for today. Of course, my greatest need was salvation, and forgiveness of my sins, and He provided for that as well.

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Mat. 6:34 (MSG)

I am currently in a situation I never saw coming or planned for, and if I had known it was coming, I would have resisted it, or worse, said, “No, God.”  For I would have looked at it in the natural and had seen the “how many” and have thought, “There is no way! I can’t afford that!” Yet, I have to admit God is making a way. He is funding this project because it is His project! It is genuinely day by day, but His faithfulness provides. “Great is Thy faithfulness!”

Yes, you could count the boy’s lunch. Two fish and five loaves, yet in the end, it was more than enough!

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

“Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!”

You are in a fight! It may even be the fight of your life. It may be a fight for your life. As the noise of the situation you are in is loud, it seems slurred because it’s as if time is slower. You can’t get to the other side of what is happening to you fast enough.

“How did I get into this fight?” “Where did my foe come from?” “How many rounds will it last?” “Wait, Aren’t I supposed to get a break from the punches between rounds?” Are these the types of questions you have asked yourself lately?

If so, know that you are not alone! It seems as if everywhere you turn, you encounter someone who is facing a difficult situation, who is in a fight. The Apostle Paul compared living life to a fight, and he said in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight…” Those who have accepted Jesus are not fighting by themselves. Jesus is in your corner, rooting you on and empowering you so that you may come out victorious! You will receive the title belt, so to speak.

The enemy who has come against you may not fight fair, and he will most likely hit you below the belt or keep wailing on you even after you lie flat on the mat. Do not despair, do not throw in the towel. The fight is not over until you are declared the winner.

You might even see an imp prancing around the ring, displaying what round it is. An ugly, vulgar, disgusting character who is rooting for your enemy. You may be shocked to discover who the enemy uses to come against you, but greater is He who is in you than anyone in the world.

No matter how long you have been fighting, know that fights don’t last forever. I agree it is difficult, tiring, and sometimes you want to or have someone else end it, but don’t! When you come through a winner, you, like Paul, can encourage others.

Prayer: “Father God, help us ask you to help us. Then help us to take your hand and not let go. Please help us to keep our focus on you, and no matter how long it takes, strengthen us to endure to the end. Thank you. Amen.”

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

What To Do

A whole lot is going on these days in our world, in America, and most likely in your private lives. It would be easy for one to look at others and focus on what they are saying or doing. One may be invading a country another maybe ignoring that a lot of Americans are financially struggling, and a lot of people are more concerned about their own selfish rights than the life of a child who can’t yet protest their opinion of wanting to live.

I can just see the devil having a hay day laughing while so many people are running around screaming trying to get their view heard. He is behind these evil things, unjust actions, and selfish rights.

Instead of joining those trying to be heard I implore you to keep your eyes on Jesus! To keep a good, strong, and tight connection to the vine. Continue to bear, produce much fruit, the fresh fruit of God.

Psalm 1   The Message

How well God must like you—
    you don’t walk in the ruts of those blind-as-bats,
    you don’t stand with the good-for-nothings,
    you don’t take your seat among the know-it-alls.

2-3 Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
    you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
    bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
    always in blossom.

4-5 You’re not at all like the wicked,
    who are mere windblown dust—
Without defense in court,
    unfit company for innocent people.

God charts the road you take.
The road they take leads to nowhere.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Despite What May Be

One of the hardest things on this journey we call, “life” is overcoming. It seems as if it will never happen. Either the hole of debt we have dug is too deep, or the struggle with the one we once loved hurts too much. Perhaps the sickness seems as if it will never get better. You know, all too well, what I am talking about, and so do I.

When Jesus taught the multitudes he would often direct their attention to nature to emphasize the point he was trying to make. He didn’t have a “whiteboard” or a “PowerPoint” presentation. He used what he had, and it worked!

To borrow this method from the great Teacher, let me show you some illustrations from nature about overcoming.   Notice this Ferris wheel will someday be totally overcome by this growth in nature. It has probably taken a few years to get this to this point, but what one might of once thought was impossible, has become possible.

Consider this pile of rubble. One may make the comparison that this mess is similar to their own life. I know I once did, after making, what I thought, was a mistake that would end my service to God forever. Turns out, I was wrong on that point. In the midst of my personal, broken pile of a mess life, He slowly began to rebuild me and make me useable to him and others once again.

Then there is this tree. It found life close to disaster. It lives on the edge. Some may consider that exciting, while others would find it nerve-racking realizing that at any moment, a strong storm could come and it would lose its grip. The tree seems confident trusting the hold it has on the unmovable rock.

One can learn from this tree that finds itself so close to falling, so close to going over the edge, from becoming firewood.  Burnt up and consumed, yet today, it stands tall. If we trust our “Rock and salvation” we too could stand tall no matter what storms may come.

Admire this flower. It bloomed and grew despite not being in a beautiful garden. It has no dedicated gardener to provide daily watering, plant food, or bend down and remove any weeds that may try to enter its territory. Yet it survives and fragrances the environment around it with a sweet smell.

Maybe you’re not currently living in a garden, and maybe you struggle to have your basic needs met. Take a lesson from this flower; bloom, grow and be a pleasant odor in your world.

With God’s help, you can grow and survive despite your past, or present situation. Regardless if you have a lot or a little. Make it part of your mind to be an overcomer. Set it in your heart and mind despite what may be today.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
James 1:2-4 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

You Know What?

Big news!  I have been invited to Washington D.C. to meet with President Biden and a commission he is putting together on creativity.  I think I was selected because of this blog.  The President wants to find different ways to get young people to express themselves, to set goals, and have dreams to live for.  Okay, April’s fool.

To be honest, I have never understood this day.
It’s lying.

One year I was asked to be at a wedding.  I traveled hundreds of miles to get there and the next day, as I was on my way to where the event was to be held, it dawned on me the date was April 1st.  When I saw the engaged couple I said, “If this is an April fool’s joke you’re dead!”  They laughed and then assured me it wasn’t.  I guess it does make it easier to remember the wedding date.

You know what?  There are fools year round, not just in April, and people do foolish things all the time.  Believe it or not, I’ve been known to do a foolish thing here and there, but that’s another blog I don’t want to write!  The most foolish person is the one who does not believe in God.

“The fool says in his heart, there is no God.”
Psalm 14:1 (NIV)

There are people who say, “There is no God.”  I wonder what they will say when they stand in front of him?  How do they arrive to this opinion?  I’m not sure, but the Bible says God gave everyone a measure of faith.  I tend to think when these people boast about their opinion they have a measure of doubt.  I’m sure they hope they are right.

One might live like a fool, but you don’t have to die a fool.  You can believe in God, accept his Son, and then ask him to help your unbelief.  You know what?  He will.

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.

Were You There?

“There has to be aliens, or other beings on the other planets!  Why else would they be there?”  I thought for a second, and fortunately the Holy Spirit whispered in my soul, “How do you know that the other planets aren’t just weights and balances that keep earth in its place? Like a machine that fills the universe?” My co-worker pondered what I was told to say.  Then she yielded, “I don’t know.” The debate ended.

In that exchange I was mindful of when God questioned Job.  He said to him,

“Where were you when I created the earth?
    Tell me, since you know so much!
Who decided on its size? Certainly you’ll know that!
    Who came up with the blueprints and measurements?
How was its foundation poured,
    and who set the cornerstone,
While the morning stars sang in chorus
    and all the angels shouted praise?

“And have you ever ordered Morning, ‘Get up!’
    told Dawn, ‘Get to work!’
So you could seize Earth like a blanket
    and shake out the wicked like cockroaches?
As the sun brings everything to light,
    brings out all the colors and shapes,
The cover of darkness is snatched from the wicked—
    they’re caught in the very act! Job 38:4-7, 12-15(MSG)

You see man, who can’t fathom an all-powerful being has to make up his own explanation as to how things came about.  Some have said there was a big bang!  I simply ask, “If that is so, and it isn’t, then who lit the fuse?”  I don’t have a “big bang” theory, I have knowledge of a big God! No man was there when God created the heavens and earth.  No one but God decided how big, or how little things should be.  He, and He alone put all things in order.  He has told us so in his word, the Bible. I believe in God, and therefore what He says! Even Charles Darwin doubted his own theory!  Read chapters 6 and 9 in his book, “The Origins of Species”.

So as the New Year approaches, I challenge you to start thinking new.  Your old way probably, if you would admit it, isn’t working for you.  When you are alone, and lying in bed trying to go to sleep, your mind questions your own theories.  You spot holes in what you hope is truth.  Read God’s word.  There, you will learn everything about life that you absolutely need to know for now.  Everything else will be revealed when we die, so don’t waste your time now writing your own theories.  Believe in God. And trust in him.  He’s got this!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Big Chicken Day!

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, or as April calls it, “Big Chicken Day!”  Being thankful should come easy, but this year I had to think a moment.  Yes, I have survived any sickness from Covid, and those around me that got it have come through okay.  April and I were finally reunited earlier this year, that was awesome!  And I got medical attention before having serious issues.  So yes, I did have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  I forgot, God consistently provides for our financial needs and helps us bless others as well.

It bothers me that it took a bit of time to remember.  Those were big moments worthy of a big chicken to celebrate God’s faithfulness to me, his child, and his servant.  Why is it easier for me to only focus on the current irritants of life?  I don’t like it!

Recalling what God has done for us in the past helps our faith grow, which can help us with what we are currently going through.  The verse below is very popular, but here is a fresh spin on it.  It should help us remember how great God is; all the time:

The Eternal is my shepherd, He cares for me always.
He provides me rest in rich, green fields
    beside streams of refreshing water.
    He soothes my fears;
He makes me whole again,
    steering me off worn, hard paths
    to roads where truth and righteousness echo His name.

Even in the unending shadows of death’s darkness,
    I am not overcome by fear.
Because You are with me in those dark moments,
    near with Your protection and guidance,
    I am comforted.

You spread out a table before me,
    provisions in the midst of attack from my enemies;
You care for all my needs, anointing my head with soothing, fragrant oil,
    filling my cup again and again with Your grace.
Certainly Your faithful protection and loving provision will pursue me
    where I go, always, everywhere.
I will always be with the Eternal,
    in Your house forever.

Psalms 23 (The Voice)

So thank you God, for all, and for everything, on this day, but especially on Big Chicken day!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Go

This past week, William Shatner boldly went where no other 90 year old had gone before.  When asked, “What do you want to do when you get there?”  Shatner replied, “Come back down!”

It got me to thinking, Am I where God wants me to be?  Have I gone where God has asked me to boldly go?  Being obedient to God’s calling can be challenging some times.  It may also offer opportunities to be scared.  I can’t announce it yet, but He has recently asked me to go do something that in the natural doesn’t make sense.  The few close friends I have told have been greatly surprised, and are probably secretly wondering if I am qualified.

But I am going.  I have found over the years that when I am obedient in an area I do not feel naturally comfortable that it is in those times I rely on God all the more.  I lean not to my own understanding.  As a result, I am happy that I obeyed.  I generally realize the task was easier than it first seemed in my mind.  And when made known to me, I am excited with the results of what God did through me.

God is speaking to some of you right now.  Reading this post has brought to your mind something God’s Spirit has whispered to your heart to go do.  It may not be to go to the mission field, but possibly go across the aisle in your office, or across the street.  Go.  Go boldly.  You don’t always get to know the results of your obedience this side of heaven, but you should go anyway.  Don’t judge the results by what your eyes see, or don’t see.  You are not responsible for the results.  You’re simply asked to be obedient.

You are to follow only God, your God, hold him in deep reverence, keep his commandments, listen obediently to what he says, serve him—hold on to him for dear life! Deu. 13:4 (MSG)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.