Magkano?

I heard it said the other day, “Every relationship is a transaction.” This expression caught my attention, and I have thought a lot about it. What the man who said those words went on to share was this, “In each relationship, you are either giving or taking.”

In my lifetime, I have been in a lot of different types of relationships. Working relationships, family relationships, friendships, general acquaintances, and marriage to name just a few. So what the man was saying was that in each one of those relationships, one was giving and one was taking, or at least some percentage of both.

Was I the giver? Or was I the taker? Or somehow did I manage the relationship to give and take? Did I take more than I gave? In some of those encounters with those individuals was I fair? Was I ever starving for so much that I partook first before considering the other’s needs?

I know me and in full disclosure, I have to consciously make an effort to stop talking and purposely make myself ask the other person questions about them. I like to talk, I like to tell stories, after all, I am a writer. But there are times when it is best to not say a word about me, and to listen, to inquire, and show that I care about them.

Jesus certainly was a giver in every relationship. He gave comfort, hope, and teachings on how to live an abundant life, and He still does! He also gave his life so that we may live eternally with Him in heaven.

Are you a giver, or a taker? Magkano (ma-con-o) in Tagalog (language of the Philippines) means “how much?” A phrase I learned to ask my tricycle driver when he would taxi me into town, or back home. It wasn’t long for the local ones to not answer me when I asked them, “Magkano?” I think word had gotten out that the American who had married April Joy Santiago Cruz was generous, and he would often pay more than the actual cost. This was a good reputation to have.

Be a giver. When meeting someone, ask yourself on the inside, magkano? Meaning how much is this going to cost me? You may have a lot of untold stories pent up inside, but investing in another person is always a good investment to make. They will certainly be richer for it, and in many ways, so will you! This will be a good reputation to have.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

It’s Not Me, it’s You

Have you ever found yourself in one of those relationships where the other person does something that offends you, or hurts you? And then when you tried to share with them how it bothered you they act out and try to turn things around as if it was your fault. What the heck? Right? It can be extremely frustrating.

I was thinking about this scenario and feeling exasperated. I asked God about it as I do now when I am in need of wisdom and understanding. He is so faithful to provide an answer. He shared with me that when you speak “truth” it can convict. This can make them uncomfortable and they can get defensive. The other thing that may happen is they will distance themselves from you.

It may be they come up with excuses as to why they can’t get together anymore, or stop inviting you to events, or family gatherings. What makes it hard on you is they convince themselves and others that “you” are the problem, but it is NOT you, it’s them!

I know it hurts. It’s not right. It’s an injustice. So how do we handle it? As difficult as it is, we must still love them, and pray for them. Realize you are in good company! Jesus was falsely accused. Some of the people around him, religious leaders of that day, etc. were confronted with Truth. It convicted how they should be living. To push Jesus out of their lives they crucified him. I don’t think your family and friends will go to that extreme so don’t despair.

Keep in mind when Jesus wants to enter a person’s life, heart, He stands at the door and knocks. He waits for an invitation to enter. We cannot force someone to change. Continue to speak the truth in love, and hope that your loving actions will be used by the Holy Spirit to work into their hearts.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me. Rev. 3:20 (AMPC)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

This Isn’t What I Expected

Are you living the life you once day dreamed about?  I’m not! I’m not saying it’s bad or anything, but there is room for improvement. Especially if it is going to be like what I desired. I wanted a large family for myself. A real “Brady” bunch if you will. I love children. But after I saw the price tag for two my first wife and I decided that was enough. I wanted to marry into a large family. I did, but it wasn’t long before the realization of how one bad, sour fruit hanging on the family tree can spoil relations.

After I divorced it was many years before I dared say, “I do” a second time. And once again I found another sour fruit on the family tree. Then in my own family, yep you guessed it. Some of the sourest fruit you have ever been exposed to. So the dream of “one big, happy family” has never manifested.

I could be downright depressed about it, and at times I have been. I have prayed, asked, griped and complained. Eventually, God began to give me knowledge and understanding concerning the bad actors in this cast. That has helped. It certainly is better than giving up and running away, or doing everything and anything to avoid them.

I saw the sign in this photo and realized that’s what I’m doing, but hadn’t labeled it. God is helping me know that all I can do is make sure my attitude is right, and pleasing to him when it comes to family. I can enjoy the life I have with April, and make the most of it. I’m happy being retired, and writing books now. And next week I and my business partner will be hosting our first writer’s conference, held in the setting of an old west town. (see expwriting.com) Then my first book is coming out soon. A modern day novel, “Kill The Preacher Man”. I am extremely excited about that. So really, life isn’t what I wanted, but it’s not bad either! Thank you God for taking all of my messes, and making something that can be pleasing to you.

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
1 Thes. 5:16-18 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Here’s What You Do

What do you do when they correct you and then proceed to give you instructions on how to accomplish a particular task? Here is how God responded to Job:

“Do you presume to tell me what I’m doing wrong?
    Are you calling me a sinner so you can be a saint?
Do you have an arm like my arm?
    Can you shout in thunder the way I can?
Go ahead, show your stuff.
    Let’s see what you’re made of, what you can do.
Unleash your outrage.
    Target the arrogant and lay them flat.
Target the arrogant and bring them to their knees.
    Stop the wicked in their tracks—make mincemeat of them!
Dig a mass grave and dump them in it—
    faceless corpses in an unmarked grave.
I’ll gladly step aside and hand things over to you—
    you can surely save yourself with no help from me! Job 40:8-14 (MSG)

It seems as if God was sarcastic.  Knowing very well Job couldn’t do anything he asked him to do. As we humans are now on Earth, there is no way we can know everything! I was talking to a friend the other day about this same issue, and I mentioned how I had learned to say, “I’ll take that under advisement”.  He laughed and then shared what he says, which is, “That’s a great idea.  I’ll look into it.” Both responses sends the “know it all” away with a sense of pride and accomplishment. They probably feel as if they just helped another one!

God was sarcastic with Job, because He knew Job couldn’t do those things, or even knew how. We don’t know what a person knows, so perhaps what to do is simply listen, and execute our escape as soon as possible. That’s better than hurting the other person or debating and or arguing.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

He Finished Well

Later today, I am going to the funeral of the man pictured here, a friend.  I have known this man for probably 54 years.  After I heard the news last Friday evening, I was latter on Facebook.  A lady from his church posted his obituary and arrangements.  Below her post, people who knew him, started remembering, and honoring him.  They commented about his smile, his kindness, his servant’s heart, and his laughter. They were good words.

I begin reflecting on this out pouring of love, and thought about what kind of life one lives that moves people to respond as they were.  It didn’t take long for the answer to appear in my heart.

First, and foremost, you love.  You love God, and then love others.  You chose to ignore what other people say about someone, and you love them anyway.

Secondly, you show kindness.  You show it at work, at church, in your community, and at home.  With customers, family and friends.

Third, you serve others, which really is “love” in action. One man posted how my friend came and got them after their car would not start.

You do all this, not to receive kind words spoken or written about you when you die, but because this is the example Christ demonstrated for us while he walked the earth.  It’s simply the kind of life God calls us to.

I have fought an excellent fight. I have finished my full course with all my might and I’ve kept my heart full of faith. There’s a crown of righteousness waiting in heaven for me, and I know that my Lord will reward me on his day of righteous judgment. And this crown is not only waiting for me, but for all who love and long for his unveiling.  2 Tim. 4:7-8 (TPT)

In the above verse, Paul compares living life on earth as a race. It’s not a competition though with others to see who finishes first, second, or third. And unlike youth community sports programs, not everyone will receive a participation trophy! It’s about reaching the finish line, with God, and in my friend’s case, he finished well.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

They Don’t Like God

I was involved in an interesting discussion the other day.  Okay, some might even call it an argument.  You know how those go, someone, or both may say something hurtful to the other person.  Not really meaning it, but to push a button.  I used to stand close to the buttons in elevators and ask people, “What floor?”  Then after pressing the correct button announce, “I like pushing people’s button.”  Not really true, but at least it made them smile.

Back to the, “discussion”.  I was accused of being so bad that even certain people close to me don’t want to be around me.  This issue used to really bother me.  A lot of tears have been poured out believing that somehow I was that horrible.  Its funny how easily satan can get you to believe a lie.  I strive to be “Christ” like.  To be like God, loving.

In the middle of that, “discussion” wisdom and understanding came to me for the first time concerning this issue.  It’s not me they don’t like, it’s God!  They don’t like God.  In fact, they don’t like being in the presence of God, and when a person lives as God calls them to then surrounding them is God’s presence.  Consider this;

God is perfect and hasn’t done anything wrong to them, but yet they don’t want to be around God either!

The other person doesn’t want to feel uncomfortable simply because you are there amongst them.  Their sinful heart, chosen lifestyle, or demons get irritated when you are there.  But they will lie about you, make all kinds of wild, and false accusations of things that you have never done, and because you have a soft heart, you begin to think they are right.

Now knowing this doesn’t make it easier to deal with the hurt when you aren’t invited to be a part of the office gatherings, friend’s party, or even family gatherings, but at least you have understanding as to why.  Praying for those, the Spirit of God is working on, helps.  It helps by keeping your attitude in the proper place.  But let me say this, “I’m sorry they treat you that way.  It isn’t fair at all.”  I find comfort in the following verse:

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. Mat. 5:4  (MSG)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Don’t Forsake the Children

Her family just emigrated from India.  Mother, father, little brother, and Anara.  Anara is only three years old, and when she arrived in America, just a few short months ago she couldn’t speak any English.  Anara’s parents thought it would be best to enroll her in preschool, so they did.

Anara is smart, and soon she started learning the language, but she also started learning the Bible stories the preschool taught.  It wasn’t long before she begin sharing her excitement, of those stories, with her family.  They witnessed Anara’s happiness, and joy as she grew in her love for the one true God.

Intrigued, her father inquired of the school, and asked if they could get an advance copy of those stories.  From the mouth of a three year old, the gospel of Jesus Christ is going forth.

Jesus: Let the little children come to Me; do not get in their way. For the kingdom of heaven belongs to children like these.  Mat. 19:14 (The Voice)

Children accept Truth easier than adults.  The older one is, the more their mind gets in the way of faith.  Simple faith, like that of a child is just believing.  Not questioning, and not reasoning, because a lot of the things of God don’t make sense to mankind.  And that is because God’s ways are much higher than ours.

Be like a child, be like Anara, and simply believe.  Then, as time goes by, and you begin to experience the love of God for yourself and see his hand in your life, only then will you understand.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The April Effect

As most of my regular readers know, my wife April is now here with me in America as her immigration visa finally arrived.  In the past three weeks, she has been here, not only have I introduced her to life in America, and our foods, but also our conveniences.  It has been an enjoyable experience for me.

One such highlight was when we went through an automatic car wash.  You have thought we were at Disneyland and it was a ride.  Like “Mr. Toad’s Moving Lilly Pad”, or something.  She smiled, she laughed, and squealed through each phase of the process.  Evidently they don’t have them in the Philippines, or she had never seen one before.

But an even greater experience, for me at least, has been watching how my friends, and family members have reacted to her.  I have taken notice how easily they open up, and start sharing with her.  They warm up to her quickly and seem to feel comfortable around her, as if she was their “comfy” clothes they wear when at home.  One friend even said to her, “I feel as if I have known you all my life!”  Of course I smile with adoration when I witness this phenomenon.

Yesterday though I started thinking more about why this was the case.  It didn’t take long for me to figure out.  Okay, to be honest, I probably got a download from the Holy Spirit whispered into my mind.  God, is love. (1 John 4:8)  And my wife, April is a child of God.  She loves him very much and has taken on his character of loving people.  So whether people realize it or not they are responding, or reacting to the love of God in my wife’s heart.

I believe with strong passion that from the time a baby is born, the spirit man inside that child starts on a journey to be reunited with God.  So when a person enters their world, the spirit inside of them recognizes the Spirit of God inside the person who just entered, and they connect with the person easily.

This “effect” begs the question, shouldn’t all, who have a good relationship with God, seek and desire more of him and his love?  So when we are out and about in the world people will open up to us sooner, and easier and begin to have serious conversations that can eventually lead to God and potentially lead them to God?  Of course, the answer is, “Yes”.  What hinders this to happen is us.  We get in the way of God with our “rights” and our own “understanding” and “values”.  Ones that should be disregarded perhaps, or lined up to confirm to God’s “values”, and truths.

“Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you,but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.” Rom. 12:2 (TPT)

So, in conclusion, “The April Effect” isn’t really her, but what is happening when people encounter her is “The God Effect”.  May we all grow, in our hearts, an enormous amount of the love of God that it effects people.  It moves them closer to him then where they were before we entered their world.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

A New Chapter

America.  She changed today.  Maybe the reality is, she changed a long time ago from the innocent days I once knew, but this truth is obvious today.  I grew up in Oklahoma, in a middle class family that somehow, always seem to have enough and then some.  I watched as my parents made good decisions and choices who worked hard for what they wanted.  “The American Dream”.  I believed in this dream and I too sought it out.  I wanted to own my own house, well after paying 30 years of payments.  I desired a good job, a loving wife, 2.5 kids, one of each sex, and to be a happy family.

The truth is, it took me 35 years to buy the house that will be mine in 26 and 1/2 years.  I have two kids, one of each sex, who don’t talk to me, and, their mother divorced me after she made a huge mistake, but convinced everyone our marriage failed solely due to me.  As a result, my biological family doesn’t want to have anything to do with me, so you could say I don’t have the happy family I desired.  Many Christmas days have been spent filling the empty stocking with tears.

After years of checking the “Divorced” box on forms I met and then married a Filipino woman.  I thought perhaps now I would get the happy family I desired.  You know what?  There are cynical, greedy, lying family members in all cultures, but the woman I married is the exception to a few members of her own family.  I have written about it a few times; my wife lives out God’s definition of love.

After our wedding, I was with her for seven months in the Philippines, until I needed a medical procedure, so I left her there thinking immigration wouldn’t take that long and she would come to America on my heels.  There was some delay in the process, but as we were reaching the finish line Covid hit.  Another year without her, another moist Christmas day.  A lot of crying out to God, and asking, “Why?”  The big three set in: Discouragement, Disappointment and yes, even Depression.  As I crawled through those dark days way down, deep inside me, was a mustard seed of faith that was whispering, “God knows what He is doing.”  In full disclosure, my mind was asking, “Are you sure?”

January 7th, we received an email stating my wife has her long awaited interview with the U.S. embassy in Manila.  LIGHT pierced our darkness.  I wanted to wait to share this until she was actually here, but someone needs to read these words now.  We are hoping we will be together by Valentine’s Day.  What a time to reunite our love for each other and for our God who loves us beyond belief.

When my wife is in our home in Oklahoma a new chapter of our lives together will begin.  Unfortunately, she will never know the “America” I grew up in.  Today, those with money want more, and those who “think” they have power want total control.  I sense days may be coming that perhaps will not be comfortable.  Standing up for what is true, for what is right could prove to be difficult.  There will most likely be a separation of those who have a solid relationship with God from those who were pretending, because in the America I grew up in, it was popular to say you were a “Christian”, but not anymore.

Yes a new chapter will be starting soon in my life, but also a new chapter in the life of America.  Our country’s slogan, printed on our currency, may no longer be, “In God We Trust”. Sometimes I wonder who is really holding the pen, writing each chapter.  As for my life, I want God to, because whether I understand his ways or not, He does know what He is doing!

Isaiah 55:8-11(MSG)

8-11 “I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
        God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

I Need the Rainbow

080212TB 228This year, 2020, has proven to be one big storm that won’t stop.  It has harmed so many people, in so many ways.  Interview them, and you would hear different versions of the same story, “Hurt”.  Whether it’s a lost job, drowning in debt, the death of a loved one due to Covid, keeping family and friends from gathering as they once did, or new challenges no one saw coming.  When will it end?

Isaiah 61:3  The Passion Translation

to strengthen those crushed by despair who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful bouquet in the place of ashes,
    the oil of bliss instead of tears,
    and the mantle of joyous praise
    instead of the spirit of heaviness.
    Because of this, they will be known as
    Mighty Oaks of Righteousness,
    planted by Yahweh as a living display of his glory.

You see, the only way to get through the storm, to silence the thunder, to calm fear when lightning flashes, is to look up, see God, and put on the mantle of joyous praise.  Praise him with full throat.  A friend, who lives in Taiwan, said he was singing praises to God while riding his scooter the other day.  Not caring who heard him, but unless they knew English, they probably didn’t even know what he was saying anyway.

The last few blogs have had this theme, of looking only at God, so I know this is the message of heaven to all for this time, but especially to those who love God.  The storm will end and when it does people will come out to survey the damage, and even if they see what harm has come upon you, but then look at your face they will see peace, love, God.  They may ask, “How can you still love God?  How is it you can still smile?”  Your answer will be, “I’m a tree planted by Yahweh as a living display of His glory!”

The storm will end, and when it does, I hope you are still standing, and still looking up, because only then will you see the rainbow.  The symbol from God, signaling, the storm is over.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.