“Who?”

94231915_924151661369801_2906645677645758464_nI received the T shirt pictured here in the mail yesterday.  I laughed, and couldn’t believe my knucklehead friend/ex coworker would do such a thing.  Okay, now you are probably asking yourself, “Who’s Mike?”  Mike was a manager where my friend and I worked.  He was a different soul, went by the book, and talked a lot!  I often wondered how he kept from going hoarse every day.

Over the years, my friend would say something about this Mike, and my standard reply was, “Who?”  I would say most people didn’t care for Mike.  I must admit I was one of them.  My friend knew that.  Mike had a way of doing his best to make sure you knew he was a manager, and that he was smarter than you.  My friend and I were in the union.

There were a lot of people who didn’t like Jesus either.  Yes, when he performed miracles he would draw quite a crowd and then teach them about his heavenly Father.  He taught them about “love”.  He taught them and was an example of a better way to live.  The way of “love”.  To let “love” rule over everything.  All relationships, conversations, and decisions,

because “love” never fails. (1 Cor. 13:8)

To this day, a lot of people are drawn to having a relationship with God, via Jesus.  But not all make that decision to accept Jesus into their life.  I think mainly because they don’t want to change the way they are living.  Although, if they were honest with themselves they would have to admit, the way they live doesn’t provide total peace like knowing Jesus does.  A true follower of Jesus, a disciple, does everything he can to become like Jesus.  To become, “love”.

So, I ask you, “Who wouldn’t want to be like Jesus?”

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

No Smell of Fire

042120Do you feel, like right now, you are in the fire?  You were thrown in, because who, in their right mind, would jump in on their own?  Maybe your finances are being consumed, your influence, the things you once counted on to define you, or sustain you, gone!  Burnt up!  You didn’t ask for this, but have been forced into it, and what scares you the most, is you don’t see your way out.

Some are being forced to be quiet during these isolated times.  They are struggling, because they don’t know how to live without “noise”, people, parties, activities around them all the time.  You see, there are some who don’t want to face what their life really is.  It’s not what they wanted, but they haven’t found yet what they “really” need.  They haven’t identified true happiness comes from having a relationship with God.  Talking to him, hanging out with him.

Here is a beautiful story of three young men, who in the midst of crazy life kept their focus on God.  (If you can’t pronounce their names it’s okay.  Just substitute in some other name.  I do this.)

Daniel 3:26-29 The Message (MSG)

26 Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire.

27 All the important people, the government leaders and king’s counselors, gathered around to examine them and discovered that the fire hadn’t so much as touched the three men—not a hair singed, not a scorch mark on their clothes,

not even the smell of fire on them!

28 Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego! He sent his angel and rescued his servants who trusted in him! They ignored the king’s orders and laid their bodies on the line rather than serve or worship any god but their own.

29 “Therefore I issue this decree: Anyone anywhere, of any race, color, or creed, who says anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will be ripped to pieces, limb from limb, and their houses torn down. There has never been a god who can pull off a rescue like this.”

There are people who dismiss others, who claimed to know God when life was good, but these days they can’t look away.  They are watching you in the furnace, to see if you will be consumed by the fire of today’s times, if your God will rescue you, or will it be revealed you, are no different than them.

Know God sees you, loves you, and cares so much for you and for those you love.  Another part of the story, above, is this:  they threw in the three young men, but those looking into the fire saw four men walking around.  You may not see God in this moment with you, but He is.  You can be confident of it.  And perhaps on the other side of these days things aren’t exactly what you would have chosen, if you were in control of the pen writing the story of your life, but because you never took your eyes off of God, you’ll know, it will be okay.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Surviving, Starts With Believing

041720It has been said, faith isn’t grown in a crises, but displayed.  I think today’s times would qualify as a crises.  I’m not trying to brag, but I, as well as many others, have been at perfect peace for the last two months, or so.  How did this come to be?  It started a long time ago:

Jan 1, 2020 to present day = (57) Surviving the Corona Virus peacefully.
Jan 1, 2019 = (56) Trusted God to move to the Philippines and get married.  That is working well.
November 2017 = (55) Followed God to a church, where I have learned more about Him.
September 7, 2017 = (55) Moved into my new house, back in my hometown.  I love it.
September 6, 2017 = (55) believed in God to retire.  I have enjoyed it.  God has and is still providing for all my needs.
June 2012 to September 6, 2017 = (50-55) Survived a threatening work environment, where it seemed as if my boss tried to fire me every day, or make things so hard on me to get me to quit.  If I had of, I would have lost out on half of my pension.
May 1998 = (35) God helped me survive a very rough divorce. (She asked for it, to go in a new direction.)
December 5, 1994 = (32) Started working at AT&T.  God used that company to provide for me and the family.
October 1994 = (32) Trusted and followed God to a new city in hopes of a good job.
August 1990 = (27) Heard God correctly, and moved to a place where I landed a job in two hours.
June 1988 = (25) Got married for the first time.  God had fulfilled the promise of getting married.
March 1986 = (23) Survived a moral failure situation, that at one time, tempted me to take my life.
September 1983 = (21) Followed God to be a youth minister, moved over 1,600 miles from home.
September 1980 = (18) Received a scholarship for more than my grades from H.S. should have allowed.
November 1979 = (17) Got serious about living for God.  Dedicated my life to his service.
August 1967 = (7) While attending Vacation Bible School, invited Jesus Christ into my life, to forgive me of my sins.

God has been so good and faithful to me all these years.  Not all has been perfect, as you can see, but I survived.  Over the years, hearing and reading about God has taught me his true nature, and that is of love.  God loves us so much.  My knowledge, and confidence of God has led me to this present day, these current times, and is why I can live through them with peace.

You don’t have to accept Jesus as a child, as I did, in order to have this kind of confidence in God.  You can start today, but that will require you trusting and believing before you have generated your own testimonies of God’s powerful, and loving hand to lead you, guide you, and sustain you.  It can be done.  How exciting would it be to say your first overcoming experience with God was surviving the Corona Virus, but it all starts with believing.

Psalm 57:1 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Triumphant Faith

Please, God, show me mercy!
Open your grace-fountain for me,
for you are my soul’s true shelter.
I will hide beneath the shadow of your embrace,
under the wings of your cherubim,
until this terrible trouble is past.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The Business of Restoration

041020“It’s a 3 alarm fire!” I woke up yelling a week ago, Tuesday morning, at 3:33 AM.  It freaked me out.  I sensed no present danger, so I proceeded to do what one does when they wake up in the middle of the night, while I asked God, “Why did I yell that?”  I got no impressions as to why, and thought perhaps it meant things were really bad with the Corona Virus and I should be praying more.  I did, and then went back to bed.

I was woken up at 9:00 AM to the deep rumble of engines, and to loud voices of men.  It scared me.  It took me a moment, or two, to realize my neighbor’s house was on fire and there were at least 6 fire trucks out front.  Only the man of the house was home at the time, and he had just fallen to sleep when the smoke detector saved his life.  He works the evening shift and gets home late.

When I went outside I learned my neighbors were okay, but the inside of the house had become disguised by blackness, and there was extensive damage to things that make up life, like family photos that once hung on the wall.

This morning it hit me that our lives can be disguised by blackness, evil, as well, but it seems to be subtle, over time, and not in a flash of flames.  In other words, you change from who you used to be, but you don’t see it happening.  I know it has happened to me.

Satan loves being deceitful!

My neighbours have taken a tighter hold of God’s hand today, as He walks with them through this time of restoration.  I have a feeling God will use this opportunity to do some restoration work on their souls as well.  When I was next door examining the damage up close, I saw a bright yellow, butterfly rise up out of the smoldering debris that was once bedroom furniture.  It got my attention, beautiful life rising up out of what looks to be ruin.

Psalms 23:2-3 (The Passion Translation)
He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love.
His tracks take me to an oasis of peace, the quiet brook of bliss.
That’s where he restores and revives my life.
He opens before me pathways to God’s pleasure
and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness
so that I can bring honor to his name.

God has had to restore life, real life, to me as well.  Looking back, there have been times when I have drifted from God’s plans, and purposes for me, but God has, in a tender way, restored me, brought life back.  He can, and wants to do this for you as well.  It doesn’t matter what you have done, said, or how far you have gone off track.  God loves you, and if you will ask for it, forgive you as well.  If you took a good, long, honest look in the mirror you might see the years of blackness on you.  God says, “come here, I can wipe that off, and restore you my child to be who I destined you to be.  It’s my business, and I’m good at it.”

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The Naked Tree

91878710_1505334622963387_7096843525702025216_nMy neighbor, across the street, is taking down his own tree, as you can see in the photo.  I looked out the window and commented, “That tree looks naked.”  I laughed, but then realized it will no longer serve its purpose.  The tree’s beauty will no longer be admired.  The shade, the tree once provided, the comfort, will no longer be there.

There is another tree, we tend to think about this week, in fact today, that was cut down, stripped of its leaves, and shaped to serve a purpose other than the one it was created for.  That’s right, the tree that was used as the cross Jesus was nailed to.  That tree would no longer be able to fulfill its original purpose, but was stolen by Satan, to be used for his purpose.

Then there is the Tree of Life, Jesus.  At the prime of his ministry, the religious leaders cut him down, took action to stop him from fulfilling his purpose.  They arrested Jesus, and made false accusations about him.  They stripped him of his outer garment, he became practically naked.  They beat him, and cut him as he was flogged with a whip that had stones in the ends of it.  They nailed him to the cross, and couldn’t wait for him to die.

Neither could Satan.

People ran and quarantined, hid themselves in their homes out of fear.  Kind of sounds like today’s times.  They thought all hope was gone.  Jesus had walked among them and showed them how to live, but more importantly, he showed them how to love.

The ironic thing, concerning the life of Jesus is this, those that were used by Satan to try to stop Jesus’ original purpose actually helped him achieve it.  Three days after they thought the story had ended, a new chapter began.  Jesus rose up and exited the grave, because he had defeated death.  Many of you may be feeling like your story is about to end, but no one has written, “The End” yet.  Jesus’ new story opens with him defeating all pain, all diseases, all sickness, and death itself.

Right now, it may feel like Friday night after Jesus had died, or Saturday afternoon, but Sunday is coming!  You may be losing hope, but Hope hasn’t lost you.  Your faith might feel weak, but the Author and Finisher of our faith is now seated at the right hand of God.  (Heb. 12:2)  And Jesus, the Tree of Life, is no longer naked, but clothed in glory!

Happy Resurrection Day Everybody!

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Identity Thief

WIYTGIG 1I have a theory that human spirits are in heaven, with God, and then, the moment a child is conceived a human spirit is installed.  It’s just a thought, okay?  One reason I believe this is I was in a grocery store and I saw a small child in their mother’s arms.  When the child saw me I smiled, and without hesitation the child tried to leap out of the arms of their mother into mine.  The child’s spirit wanted to be reunited with God’s Spirit, which dwells in me.

the child saw God

I didn’t encourage the child at all.  I simply smiled.  I have thought about that moment and I came to realize the child sensed God’s Spirit within me.  That led to the question, “how did the child know God?”

I have been reading “Translating God” by Shawn Bolz.  He talks about seeing people as the original version of them God intended.  This will help you relate to them better when you begin to see them as God does.

So what happens then?  How do we get so off course from being the image of God he designed?  Life, temptation, sin, and free will.  Those are the things that steal our true identity.  I know a man, who had a dream about his son before he was ever born.  In the dream he got his name and his destiny from God.  Sure enough a son was born, but today that son is not living a life anything close to what God intended.  The man continues to love his son anyway, and continues to pray for him, and believe that one day the real version will emerge, and his son will be a mighty, spiritual warrior.

It’s like when we are born, our life is perfect, and wrinkled free.  Then, as life happens we get wrinkled, but the moment we accept Jesus we go to the cleaners and there, the Holy Spirit, as steam, gets all of the wrinkles out.  He restores us to our original design, and purpose.  Yes, it takes discipleship, healing of the heart, and spending a lot of time with God getting to know him fully and his nature, but it can be done.

Jeremiah 1:5 (The Message)

 “Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations—
that’s what I had in mind for you.”

I encourage you to be hungry to be the person God intended you to be.  Ask God to show you his plan, design, and purpose for your life.  Then, I encourage you to live it.  If you choose to do this you will never be happier!

Copyright © 2020 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.

You Know What?

alte6596873Big news!  I have been invited to Washington D.C. to meet with President Trump 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 young 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 © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Truth or Dare?

Charlie 030720“YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”  A famous line from the movie A Few Good Men, yelled at Tom Cruise by the one and only Jack Nicholson.  Jack’s character thought his actions, which wound up killing a man, were right, because of the location of where they were serving in the military.  He thought his truth was real.

In my early elementary days, a school bully forced me to do something that was wrong, very wrong.  I didn’t tell anyone because I was bound by fear of getting beat up if I did.  I think the bully lived in fear of being exposed.  I found it odd when that same bully came up to me at our 10 year high school reunion and apologized.  I think his admission of guilt, once and for all, set him free.  All those years he may have justified his actions in a number of ways thinking it was truth, but it wasn’t.

I have witnessed firsthand, the damage that can be caused when someone’s truth is their reality, when in reality their truth isn’t the truth at all.  Some may be afraid to face, or own up to the truth.  Those individuals may be afraid of what the truth coming out will do to them, or to their reputation.  I can’t help but think of big time movie producer who recently was found guilty of wrong doing.  Now that people have learned the truth his life will never be the same.  Fear can bind you up, but the truth can set you free. John 8:32

Will you accept the truth, or forever dare to believe a lie?

There have been so many times people around me have chosen to believe lies told about me.  Those situations always seem to hurt the worse.  What really hurts is when those same individuals haven’t even asked me for my side of the story.  The only comfort I can grab a hold of is this; the truth always comes out.  If not here, while on earth, then one day, as we all stand before God, the truth will finally be told.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

350, 1 Hour, Serve

Charlie 0320 8You go to a friend’s house and they serve a wonderful dinner.  You go on and on over the entree and you even ask for the recipe so you can imitate it, or duplicate it at home.  Then the day comes when you make the item, and you have great anticipation of it melting in your mouth the way it did when you first tried it, but it doesn’t.  You go over the recipe line by line and you swear to yourself you followed it 100 percent.  Disappointment sets in, perhaps even anger.

I have noticed whenever there is a guest speaker, people will flock to the church and sit there with pen and paper taking notes.  The speaker may be sharing their testimony of what God did in their life.  The people listen with intent.  Then when they go home they start doing the things in their life, just like the guest speaker, but they don’t get the same results.  Disappointment with God sets in, and perhaps even anger.

There are two reasons why:

1) You aren’t them. God worked in the guest speaker’s life in a unique way knowing the best process to minister to and through them.  Now, with that said, there certainly are some principles based on the word of God that can be applied to every believer.

2) God is creative. I think he likes doing things differently for each person.

Is it the guest speaker’s fault?

No.  There is nothing wrong with them sharing their experiences with God, because their victory can increase your faith.  Just don’t expect God to do the same thing as he did for them at least in the same way.

A better way:

Instead of trying to duplicate someone else’s success with God try getting to know him.  I mean know him so well you don’t ever second guess his commandments, or instructions.  There are no shortcuts in this process.  It takes time, lots of time hanging out with the creator of the universe.  Did you know God had a great sense of humor?  There is nothing like talking to God and then having a belly laugh moment with him!  Get to know his nature, his love, and then imitate him.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.