Hemmed In

Your back is up against the wall.  You have found yourself in a corner, or down an ally with no apparent way out.  Your mind is limited on how to resolve your situation.  You cannot see any reasonable way out.  Your resources are gone.  Your bank account, savings, or 401 has been depleted.

Now what?

Such was the story of a woman in the Bible.  She is one of my favorite heroes, for she was a woman of great faith who despite what she saw with her natural eyes she believed, “My situation doesn’t have to be this way.”  She knew when to tie a knot and hang on.  She was hemmed in, her back was up against the wall.

Yes, I’m talking about the woman with the issue of blood.  She suffered from a physical aliment that lasted for 12 whole years.  She spent every dime she had visiting multiple doctors trying to find a cure.  What’s even worse, those who knew her, called her, “Unclean”.  I’m sure they assumed God was punishing her for some sin in her life.  You think the thought, “I want to die!” never entered her mine?  Or, how many times did she question God, “Why?  Why God is this happening to me?”

People, who haven’t earned the right to put on a robe,
judge anyway.

What are you facing?  What challenges are you dealing with?  Can you identify with this woman?  I too am facing a situation today as I write these words that I honestly cannot see how the situation is going to end.  My emotions got on a roller coaster today, and I did not enjoy the ride at all.  Then I saw one of my friends, Jeff Lossau, posted a new blog. (https://jefflossau.com/)  As I read God’s words, from Psalms 34, I cried.

Listen to my testimony: I cried to God in my distress
and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears!
Gaze upon him, join your life with his, and joy will come.
Your faces will glisten with glory.
You’ll never wear that shame-face again.
When I had nothing, desperate and defeated,
I cried out to the Lord and he heard me,
bringing his miracle-deliverance when I needed it most.
The angel of the Lord stooped down to listen as I prayed,
encircling me, empowering me, and showing me how to escape.
He will do this for everyone who fears God.
Drink deeply of the pleasures of this God.
Experience for yourself the joyous mercies he gives
to all who turn to hide themselves in him.
Worship in awe and wonder, all you who’ve been made holy!
For all who fear him will feast with plenty.
10 Even the strong and the wealthy grow weak and hungry,
but those who passionately pursue the Lord
will never lack any good thing.
11 Come, children of God, and listen to me.
I’ll share the lesson I’ve learned of fearing the Lord.
12–13 Do you want to live a long, good life,
enjoying the beauty that fills each day?
Then never speak a lie or allow wicked words
to come from your mouth.
14 Keep turning your back on every sin,
and make “peace” your life motto.
Practice being at peace with everyone.
15 The Lord sees all we do;
he watches over his friends day and night.
His godly ones receive the answers they seek
whenever they cry out to him.
16 But the Lord has made up his mind to oppose evildoers
and to wipe out even the memory of them
from the face of the earth.
17 Yet when holy lovers of God cry out
to him with all their hearts,
the Lord will hear them and come to rescue them
from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain,
and he is always ready to restore the repentant one.
19 Even when bad things happen to the good and godly ones,
the Lord will save them and not let them be defeated
by what they face.
20 God will be your bodyguard to protect you
when trouble is near.
Not one bone will be broken.
21 But the wicked commit slow suicide.
For they hate and persecute the lovers of God.
Make no mistake about it,
God will hold them guilty and punish them;
they will pay the penalty!
22 But the Lord has paid for the freedom of his servants,
and he will freely pardon those who love him.
He will declare them free and innocent
when they turn to hide themselves in him. (from, The Passion Translation)

The woman with the issue of blood risked everything, and went into a crowd. She pushed her way through it until she was where Jesus would pass by.  She even violated her society’s rules, because she knew with what little faith she had left, if she could just touch the hem of his garment she would be healed.  She no doubt had heard the testimonies of his healing power.  She did, He passed by, and she bowed to touch the hem of his garment, and she was healed instantly.  In a single moment, that she never could have foreseen, her issue went away, and so can yours! (Mark 5:25-34)

THEN, you can proclaim the first part of Psalms 34:

Lord! I’m bursting with joy over what you’ve done for me!
My lips are full of perpetual praise.
I’m boasting of you and all your works,
so let all who are discouraged take heart.
Join me, everyone! Let’s praise the Lord together.
Let’s make him famous!
Let’s make his name glorious to all.

The woman made God famous, and I’m willing to endure what my wife and I are going through, for someone else, so I can make God famous.

How about you?

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Seeing the Invisible

Let’s face it, faith is difficult.  It’s not hard to find it as we all start with a measure of it, according to the word of God. (Rom. 12:3b)  But growing your faith is something else.  One of the best ways is to listen to testimonies.  If God can do it for them, then it’s possible for him to do it for us.  That’s one of the reasons we have the Bible.  Reading the stories of God doing the impossible when a solution looked improbable.  Also, faith grows by hearing the word of God, according to Romans 10:17.

We can use our invisible faith
to believe in the invisible God!

If we learned anything from 2020 we should have learned that no one knows what a year will bring us.  Some had good years while others have bad years before Covid, and I have even heard of a few thankful people for 2020.  What?  Yeah, some have given thanks that the pandemic forced them to slow down, take a survey of what was really important in life, while others are grateful for the time they got to spend with their immediate families.

Businesses found out people can work from home, which reduced commuting, which reduced pollution, which has allowed nature to return to some areas where it has not been seen for a long time.  There are other things to be seen that we often loose site of when things are going well.  Like how precious life itself is, and how valuable time is.  By taking walks, some saw the beauty of nature again.

You know, perhaps 2020 did open our eyes after all, if you were looking.  So the point to this blog has to be, “open your eyes, and keep them open”.  Always be looking for the invisible in life.  Always be looking for God, because he speaks, he ministers and he teaches us despite any circumstances going on around us.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Looking For Jesus (Part 5)

The shepherds.  The evening started as normal as any other.  The shepherds had done their duty of setting their night watches over their sheep.  Then, out of nowhere, an angel stood among them, and said, “Don’t be afraid.  I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12 (MSG)

Soon after, they no doubt, took a selfie of them with the angel to post on Biblebook, then decided to go over to Bethlehem as quick as they could to see for themselves what God had revealed to them.  Sure enough, seeing was believing, and they told everyone what the angel had said to them.

They left looking for Jesus.  Not believing, at first, what God had revealed to them, but after seeing Jesus they praised and worshipped him.

There are several truths here:

  1. God shows up with good news when least expected.  On the normal days.
  2. God can show up when you are going about your regular duties.
  3. There are times when his presence will catch you off guard.  When you are not looking for Him.
  4. God will use the least expected to do his work.
  5. Jesus’ birth was meant for everybody, worldwide.
  6. Some people have to see Jesus to believe, but it was still faith that got the shepherds to go to Bethlehem in the first place.

And the greatest truth in this post:

All, everyone, even you, will praise and worship Jesus when he is seen.  In that moment, everything you or they have heard, all their life, about God, and his son Jesus will be confirmed.

In everyday life, do what you need to do, but always be looking for Jesus to show up, to give you a message, forgiveness, an answer to prayer, or a gift.  And most important, be willing to share what Jesus gives you with others.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

You Were That, but Now You Are This

“You’re such a nice person,” said the new co-worker.  The woman had been hurt by many men in the past and so naturally she was leery of any man who seemed, “nice” in the beginning of a new relationship.  Evidently, trusting a nice man and letting her guard down has put her in the position to get hurt in the past, but this guy was different.  His attitude seemed real, genuine.  She wondered how this could be.

After meeting Jesus Christ, and accepting who he is as God’s son, that encounter should change you.  It changed Saul, who was later named “Paul”.  You see after Saul’s salvation, or conversion he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and into him entered the fruit of the Spirit.

13-14 Ananias protested, “Master, you can’t be serious. Everybody’s talking about this man [Saul] and the terrible things he’s been doing, his reign of terror against your people in Jerusalem! And now he’s shown up here with papers from the Chief Priest that give him license to do the same to us.”

26-27 Back in Jerusalem he [Saul] tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. They didn’t trust him one bit. Then Barnabas took him under his wing. He introduced him to the apostles and stood up for him, told them how Saul had seen and spoken to the Master on the Damascus Road and how in Damascus itself he had laid his life on the line with his bold preaching in Jesus’ name.

28-30 After that he was accepted as one of them, going in and out of Jerusalem with no questions asked, uninhibited as he preached in the Master’s name.  Acts 9:13-14, 26-30 (MSG)

So what changes a person so drastically?  It’s the fruit of the Spirit.  Each attribute of the Spirit replaces one(s) in the flesh:

Love replaces hate.

Joy replaces sadness, depression.

Peace replaces nervousness, anxiety, fears.

Longsuffering replaces quick tempers.  Gives time for understanding.

Gentleness replaces anger, rage.

Goodness replaces selfishness.

Faith replaces worry, and hopelessness.

Having the fruit of the Spirit within you provides life, real life, the way God intended it.  People will see the difference and be drawn to you, but what they are really being drawn to is the heart of God.  If you have not been filled with the Spirit of God then ask God to fill you with his Spirit.  Then allow it to perfect your walk with God, and affect the world, the people around you.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

I Had To

This week I choose to do something I didn’t want to do.  My heart was restless as the date approached.  I discussed the situation with a friend, and also with my wife.  Then two days before the event my wife, my helpmate, said one word.  As soon as I heard it, I knew.  I knew what I had to do.  I was thankful for her hearing God where I struggled.

You see, there are times when someone hurts you, and the pain goes deep into your heart.  You tell them what they did, but they don’t care at all, and their pride keeps them from admitting wrong and apologizing.  When this happens, you find yourself wanting to avoid them to protect your heart from future pain.  As well, you don’t want to do anything for them, as you feel they do not deserve it.  I had forgiven them, but I didn’t want to see them.  I don’t mean to be so secret about the details, but I don’t want to give any clues that might identify the perp.

God’s word tells how to handle hurt:

Lay aside bitter words, temper tantrums, revenge, profanity, and insults. But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love. Ephesians 4:31-32 TPT

Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. Luke 6:28 NLT

I did do the right thing, but I had to pray, a lot, and ask God for help.  I also asked him to protect me, and help me not bring up the past while I was there.  They did do one thing that bothered me while I was in their presence, but I left before the pain erupted.  God is good at helping us in our time of need. His specialty is loving those who don’t deserve it.

If you are facing a similar situation, pray, and ask God to help you do the right thing that will glorify Him.  You never know, but your loving kindness might just be the catalyst to change things around.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved. 

Good, But Best

good, better and best word written by 3d hand“The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough.” (Oswald Chambers – My Utmost for His Highest – May 25)

Confused?  Let me explain.

We can be confident, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]”. 2 Tim. 1:7 (AMP)

Therefore, with our free will, we should be able to make good, sound, decisions for our own lives.  I felt like I had done that.  I retired from AT&T, at the age of 55, and instead of buying an RV and traveling, I decided to move back to my home town to take care of my father, to write, and occasionally speak publically.  I was happy with these good, sound decisions.

Not my will, but thine be done.

Life was, and would have remained good, but I always yield my choices and decisions to God.  Before my father passed, not long after I had moved back, we had some great moments fishing again.  (Not to tell a fish story, but we managed to “keep” 167 fish in only 3 outings.)  I bought a house I really enjoyed living in.  I was getting used to my new, good life, but God wanted “his best life for me”.  (Kind of sounds like something Joel Osteen would say.)

You see, I had been divorced for 24 years.  I kind of wanted to be married again, but was content being single.  Looking back, I see all the people God had put in front of me to work on my heart toward marriage.  One Friday I found myself filling out a profile on a dating website.  I submitted it and there she was.  From all of the women presented, the one, who would later become my wife, stood out.  I could see the love of God radiating from her postage stamp size photo.

To make a long story short, I contacted her, we texted, then talked, and then video chatted via Messenger.  I went to the Philippines to visit her and the family.  One month after returning home from the trip, I put everything in storage, rented my house out, and moved there to marry her.  It has not been a “cake walk”, but we always had love to build on.

While waiting for her immigration process to be completed, we have grown together, and lately started dreaming about our future.  There are several things beginning to open up, and reveal to us the will of God, for us, as a couple.  I love it!

You see, I could have continued to be single and have a good life, but because I surrendered my will to God, I am now living the best life I could ever have.  I thank God for loving me so much.  And ya know what?  He loves you too, just as much!

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

How Much More?

052620How do you convince someone you love them?  You could tell them over and over perhaps.  You could show them in every way possible.  You could do everything you can think of.  You could even learn their love language, and speak it fluently.  After all the effort you would expect them to accept you, to accept your love, but what if they don’t?  Can you imagine the frustration you would feel?  Then, what if you told them, “In order to prove how much I love you, I’ll die for you.”  They might still reject your offer, and even say, “You’re crazy!”

Choose Love!

The truth is, God did this very thing, but He even went one step further.  He gave us his only son to die for us.  It is never right for a child to die before the parent.  It’s not natural.  To think this was God’s plan, ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed him in the Garden of Eden.  I mean, how much more can God do to prove how much He loves us?

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” John 3:16-18 (MSG)

In these days we are living in, everyone who hasn’t, should run to God and accept his free gift.  Are you afraid of being obligated of loving God back?  Are you concerned you might have to live in a way you would rather not?  You know it doesn’t matter what you have done in your past, his forgiveness will cover it.  If you disagree then you are listening to the one, Satan, who wants you to die for eternity.  Living for eternity is better, and there is only one way, God’s.  How much more can He do?

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

False Advertising?

052220I attended a funeral this week.  My aunt.  She was the last sibling to pass on, from my father’s side.  There were 10 of them.  After the grave side service I walked over to my father’s grave.  I cleaned it off and told him I missed him, even though he was a handful to deal with in the last years of his life.

My father was 82 when he passed away.  As I was looking at his tombstone, I saw his favorite photo attached to it.  (See photo)  I laughed as I recalled teasing him, before he passed, about ripping it off of there, with a crowbar.  He’s the one who glued it on there in the first place.  It dawned on me, toward the end of his life, this is how he saw himself, still 21 and a, “Lady’s Man”.  At 70, divorced, he even had wallet size copies made up with his phone number written on the back of them.  He would hand them out to women he met at the dance halls.  I would say to my father, “That’s false advertising!”  He didn’t see the humor in it.

This brings me to a point:  Is how you see yourself, the same as others see you?  Do you think more highly of yourself than you should?  Do you consider yourself to be a better person than others would say you are?  Or, would others say more good things about you than you would say about yourself?  What about when you are at home?  Are you the same person others see in public?  At church?  Ouch!  I’ll admit, at times my wife sees my temper when it takes a lot for it to show up in public.  Reminds me of the book, “Who You Are (When No One is Looking)”.  The title alone was convicting.

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think,…” Romains 12:3a (NKJV)

Having an accurate, positive, balanced, and God focused image of yourself is very healthy.  I think it helps you relax, as well as those around you.  Anything more could be considered, “false advertising”.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Where’s the Love

051420There once was a lady, no, not from Nantucket, who was a daughter, a friend, a wife, a mother, a worker, and a church goer.  Yes, she seemed to once have a strong love for God, family, people in general, and especially children.

I thought I knew her, but after being separated off and on over the years, it took me a while to notice it, but after being around this lady again, I could tell something had changed.

I suspected many things, which I won’t go into, but it wasn’t until today, as I was talking about her that I labeled the problem correctly.  Love had leaked out over the years.  Perhaps even unnoticed by her, but she had changed. To friends, family and fellow church goers it’s got to be obvious.

So how did this happen?  I think she had gotten hurt over the years and never dealt with it.  Hurt by her husband, her children, friends, work situations, other family members, and yes, even by those at her church.  You see, there seems to be a connection between getting hurt, not dealing with it in a proper manner, like going to God with it, and love.  Also, if one is not getting filled back up on love by spending time with God then a person runs low.  It’s not obvious, because there is no internal dip stick for our love tanks.

When love leaks out, others get hurt.  A lack of love can cause many problems, so it is very important to know if you are leaking love, and why.  If you have experienced great pain from a conversation or situation last week, last year, or several years ago, please deal with it.  Either try to go back to the person who hurt you, and if that is not possible then definitely go to God with it, and ask him to help you overcome the pain.

I found myself going to God, because when I confronted the women mentioned above and shared how she had hurt me she replied, “Well just get over it!”  I was stunned, and now hurt worse.  A wounded person may come across as cynical, judgmental, critical, hateful, difficult, controlling, and even as a racist.  When love runs out it is replaced with these, and other negative attitudes.

I wonder if, after sinning, she tells God, “just get over it!”

It’s hard to love these type of people.  In my case, I now stay away to protect my heart and I pray for her.  I hope God will bring her, and others like her to a situation where they one day see how low on love they are.  It’s not too late for them.  God can easily love them back to full, but they need to get close to him, know him, converse with him and read his word.  You see, living with love shared takes two.  If only one sided, it is simply, love given.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.