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.

Drive thru God

Then Eliphaz from Teman spoke up:

“Would you mind if I said something to you?
    Under the circumstances it’s hard to keep quiet.
You yourself have done this plenty of times, spoken words
    that clarify, encouraged those who were about to quit.
Your words have put stumbling people on their feet,
    put fresh hope in people about to collapse.
But now you’re the one in trouble—you’re hurting!
    You’ve been hit hard and you’re reeling from the blow.
But shouldn’t your devout life give you confidence now?
    Shouldn’t your exemplary life give you hope?  Job 4:1-6 (MSG)

Do you find it difficult to encourage yourself, even with the very words you have used with others?  I do.  At times it seems impossible to find hope and peace when you look at your own life.  Funny, how sure you are of the power of the words you spoke to another, but when it comes to applying them to your situation, not so much.  They seem empty.

In the above portion of scripture, Job’s friend, Eliphaz (it’s ok, I don’t know how to pronounce it either) was trying to remind him of what he has done to help others.  What he has said that encouraged, lifted up, and gave them hope.  Then he asked two very good questions. “Shouldn’t your devout life give you confidence now?  Shouldn’t your exemplary life give you hope?”

The answer is, “YES!”  It should, and will if you allow it.  God hasn’t changed, just your current situation has.  I struggled with this myself as I have described in recent post.  Yes, I knew better, and after giving it a lot of thought I think I have figured out partly why.  Time.

We live in such an instant gratification world that we expect everything to get resolved fast.  I mean, we have fast food, Prime same day delivery, one hour photos, why not “Fast God”?  Would it be asking too much for God to open up a drive thru?

Time seems to do a work in us.  Someone once said, “Time heals all wounds.”  Not sure about that.  It does seem to make us take survey of our lives though.  I think there are some things we go through when God gives us the time we need to know the bottom line is, we need him to do his best work in the situation.  I know the end of Job’s story and that is what happened in his life.  God did a work in the heart of Job by allowing tragedy to strike.

God really does work all things to his glory.

“That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”  Rom. 8:26-28 (MSG)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The “Who’s” In Your Life

“So no one told you life was going to be this way.
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, you’re love life’s DOA.
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear,
Well, it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.”

Do you recognize those words?  The famous opening lyrics to the hit TV show, “Friends”.  There are a lot of different people in your life.  Some you choose and, well, others you didn’t, but we’ll ignore them for now.  The ones you chose are your friends.  You picked them and got to know them because you were like minded, for the most part, and yet even if their lifestyle and choices are different than yours, you enjoy being around them.  They make you laugh, they make you feel important, and perhaps, even loved.

As I write this post I am recounting the past few days.  I have had the privilege of getting to spend time with 10 different friends in different ways.

My friend Steve:  He called me and we caught up.  We laughed, we remembered, and we encouraged each other.  He and I used to spend Saturday nights, after church, at McWillows talking, laughing, and wondering what to do with our love lives, or the lack of.  It felt so good to hear his voice again.  Steve is the man God used to get me writing.  He simply asked, “What’s keeping you from writing?”  Three days later I found the answer, and decided to take the risk.

My friend Roger:  I worked with him on his current home remolding project.  Blood, sweat and the prevention of tears.  My friend needed help, and encouragement and I got to be there for him.  There is nothing as satisfying as finishing a day’s work, stepping back and saying, “It is good.”  I think God coined that phrase.

My friend John:  It had been a while since I had spoken to John, who I used to work with, so I called him.  His company is closing his department and I was concerned about his future, but he informed me he will be okay as he is transferring to a new department that supports the State Farm Insurance Company and my friend will now be known as “Jake, from State Farm”.  I asked him what he was wearing.  If you are aware of the TV commercial then you are laughing.

My friends Andrew and Debra:  I met Andrew on the commuter train that ran in and out of Chicago.  After very little communication, I saw his wrist band, and asked about it.  Since that day the communication hasn’t ended.  God used Andrew to help me learn about opportunities where my skills in writing could grow.  I later met his wife Debra.  This past week they came to visit me where we applied Covid safety.  We had a great time catching up as I had not seen them in four years.

My friend Michael:  The next day Michael made a stop with his friend as they are exploring Route 66.  Michael was a summer intern at AT&T some years ago, and we became friends.  Again, it was good to catch up and spend time together while respecting Covid.

My friend Chris:  We are staying in touch, especially after he fought a hard bout with Covid and with God’s help, won!  Chris is a good man who cares about others.

My friends Russ and Ginger:  I received a letter (a piece of paper written on and then folded and placed in an envelope, addressed, and stamped, then placed in the mail) from them that caught me up and touched my heart.

My favorite friend:  Every night, I get to see and talk to my wife via Messenger.  Lately, we have gotten excited about our future and we have been dreaming concerning how it will work out.  So many things are coming together that were once a mystery.

A man who has good friends is rich beyond measure.

The friends mentioned above have been so helpful, encouraging, and uplifting over the years, each in their own way.  Jesus is also our friend and He will stay with you closer than a brother.  That is if you have invited him to be one of the Who’s in your life.  Having good friends requires you be a good friend.  Some friends may come and go in and out of your life, but the good ones stay and are there for your day, your week, your month, or even your year.  And this year has proven to be one that requires good friends.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved. 

I Heard God

081420“The voice of the Spirit of God is as gentle as a summer breeze— so gentle that unless you are living in complete fellowship and oneness with God, you will never hear it.” – Oswald Chambers

I had two dreams, in the same night, several days ago that was kind of strange, and no, they weren’t brought on by late night pizza.  In both dreams, I was being instructed on how to write this blog.  I was told to make it more, “grunge”.  What is “grunge” I asked myself.  I had heard of it before.  Webster says, “The untidy fashions typical of fans of grunge”.  Okay, so how does that relate to writing my blog, I asked God.  Is that writing wearing casual Friday clothing on steroids? I sensed as though it meant to write more “raw”, “revealing”, if you will.  I draw from my life for inspiration or examples, but not always in detail that reveals personal feelings.

A week ago or so, I was feeling down, and depressed, because Covid has caused my wife and me to remain apart longer than needed.  I haven’t held her in my arms for over a year now, and that hurts.  With the current conditions, I could not see a path for us to be together any time soon.  We are done with the immigration process, and she just needs her medical exam and her interview at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.  Then she would get her Visa and come home.  It is difficult to be apart from one you love, and even harder when that person loves you back.  I have tried everything I could, even emailing the embassy to see if they would do a “tele-interview”.  They said, “No.”

I cried out to God, I begged, and I pleaded.  To make things worse, He wasn’t saying a thing, or if He was, his answer was so soft I couldn’t hear it.  Then, I confessed my attitude to a friend, who listened and didn’t just quote scriptures I had heard so many times before, but he assured me God knew and then he prayed for me.

An hour later, as I was writing a blog, I came across a scripture in God’s word, and I realized God was speaking to me and to my circumstances.  My smile came back, and my heart felt like a ton of bricks had been unloaded, the heaviness was gone.

God does hear us, and yes he cares about what his children are going through, but it is so reassuring to hear his voice.  He can speak to us in many different ways, like through his word, dreams, through others, blog post, and that still small voice inside, if we calm down enough to hear it.  God also knows what we have need of, before we even ask. (Matthew 6:8)  Remember this: If you aren’t hearing God right now, it has nothing to do with him loving you less.  He’s just waiting for the right time, for when it will make sense.

Has God miraculously made a way for my wife to come to America? No, but now I have understanding as to how He plans on using this for his Glory., I’m okay with that.  My friend called me back a few days later and I told him, “Through a scripture, I heard God, and I am good now!”

Copyright © 2020 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.

The Best Four Letter Word

072420 3There are lots of four letter words, and when we say, “four letter word” some go to a dark place and think of the ones that have a dirty meaning.  (No, I’m not going to give you an example.)

The best four letter word is: agape

You see, agape is so profound it knows no limits or boundaries in how far, wide, high, and deep it will go to show itself to its recipient. If necessary, agape will even sacrifice itself for the sake of that object or person it so deeply cherishes.

Agape is the highest form of love,
a self-sacrificial type of love that moves the lover to action.

“Agape is a love that has no strings attached. It isn’t looking for what it can get, but for what it can give . Its awe of the one who is loved is so deep that it is compelled to shower love upon that object or person regardless of the response. This is the profound love God has for the human race, for He loved man when he was still lost in sin with no ability to love Him back. God simply loved mankind without any thought or expectation of receiving love in return.

When you love with such a pure love that you expect nothing back in return, it is impossible for you to feel hurt or let down by the response of the recipients of your love. You don’t love them for the purpose of getting something in return; you shower them with love simply because you love them. This kind of love is much higher than eros love that is based on selfishness; stergo love that is restricted by limitations; or phileo love that is rooted in mutual satisfaction. These three types of love are what I call low-level love, but agape is high-level love. It is a love that has no strings attached, a love that loves simply and purely –

– the God-kind of love.

Further explaining the role of agape in our lives, John said, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but indeed and in truth” (John 3:18). The word “love” is again the word agape, which tells us that when agape is at work, it is a force so strong that it demonstrates itself with deeds and actions. This is not an empty love that talks but does nothing. It is a love that does something, just as God loved us and then did something to save us from our lost and sinful condition.

This is the love that Paul urged us to follow after when he wrote in First Corinthians 14:1, “Follow after charity [agape love].…” The word “follow” is the Greek word dioko , which means to hotly pursue . It was a hunting term that pictured a hunter following the tracks of an animal until he finally gets his game. This means that attaining this high-level love doesn’t come easy. If we want to attain agape love and regularly walk in it, we must hotly pursue it! It must be the focus and the aim of our lives.

If agape is the basis of your sexual relationship with your spouse instead of eros , you will always seek to serve and please your spouse rather than being self-centered and focused only on your needs.

If agape is the basis of your family relationships rather than stergo , you will always remain devoted to your family, regardless of the disappointments that may occur along the way. And if agape is the basis of your friendships rather than phileo , you will be a faithful, immovable friend for life rather than a come-and-go friend who is faithful only as long as you get what you want out of the relationship. In fact, if agape is the driving motivation of your life and the force behind all your relationships, it will make you to be the best, most devoted, faithful, and reliable friend anyone has ever known.” (From, “Sparkling Gems From The Greek 1” Rick Renner)

Therefore, the best four letter word is: LOVE  the agape kind.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.