Celebration of Life

I have attended several funerals in my lifetime. I have noticed people are starting to call them “Celebration of Life” services. I attended another one this past weekend. (This post is being written on Dec. 21st.) It’s a nice gesture. Family and friends gather, quiet music is played, then there is a briefly given Wikipedia-type history of one’s life. A list of the loved one’s accomplishments, activities, interests, and community involvements. Then, again with music, photos are displayed.

The gathering I went to had a twist. The one being celebrated was still alive. He knows his days are numbered due to being terminally ill with stomach cancer. He told his wife he did not want a funeral but asked her to gather his friends and family to say their goodbyes in person. She did, and they came. Some traveled long distances to be there.

I like the man’s approach, appreciation, and perspective on life. He knows that life is best with people. He expressed his love to each friend and family member. Stories were told, usually followed by laughter, and of course, food was shared as well.

The man is also ready for the moment he journeys from earth to heaven, where he will look up and find himself standing before God and then give an account of his life. I know he has accepted Jesus into his heart, and his life produced good fruit.

If you have not accepted Jesus into your life, and haven’t asked him to forgive you of your sins, now would be a great time to do so. My friend has an idea of when he will pass, but most of us don’t know. With that said, you should take care of this now! And what a way to start the new year but with a new outlook on your relationship with God.

So Happy New Year, everyone. May you be blessed by God abundantly and discover an exciting and adventurous life with Him. Go live life God’s way and celebrate every moment.

13 Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil. Ecc. 12:13-14 (NIV)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Telling The Truth Can Cost You

A father was acting out concerning a relationship. He was unhappy about how it was going, and the other person was not acting the way “he” wanted them to, which upset him to no end. There were some names spoken that were not flattering. The father talked about the situation over the phone with his son, and his son listened, but when he tried to correct his father’s attitude, the father got mad and hung up the phone. When the son called back again, he was rudely hung up on by his father.

The son’s motivation was pure as he wrote his father a letter. He tried to get his father to understand how he was treating people in several relationships and was pushing them away, and people did not want to be around him anymore. The son tried to tell his father the truth as lovingly as possible.

The father went ballistic and set out to get revenge on his son. He lied to his son and tricked him into going down to the bank to get him to sign a document that would remove him from all of his accounts and his safety deposit box. Then he removed his son from the deed to his house and even cut him out of his will. Apparently, he really did not like hearing the truth!

When Jesus walked the earth, he successfully told people the truth. Some heard him and accepted his message, changing how they lived, but others did not. They chose to get enraged.

People may not want to lose control over their life, so they will not accept the truth. Or they may fear not knowing what life will be like if they change. Others are deceived into thinking they are fine the way they are, and some feel they will lose status or power if they change. Then there are those who blame others for their actions instead of accepting the truth.

The truth is; the truth will set you free! (John 8:32)

I know of one pastor who won’t share with his wife what the word of God says about how marriage and the home should be set up. On this matter, he once told me, “You may be right, but you will be alone!” What he was saying is that “he” feared being alone if he dared to share the truth with his wife. The sad thing is the problem in their home of the wrong person being the head of the household transferred into their ministry. Whenever the home is not set up right, or the ministry, people get hurt! And in the case of their church, there is a very long list of people who have gotten hurt and have left. If the truth were accepted, their home life would be different, and the wall preventing their church from becoming a world leader would finally be lifted.

Yes, telling the truth can cost you. It could cost you thousands of dollars, your inheritance, a job, or family relationships It cost Jesus his life which is the ultimate price to pay for sharing the truth. Jesus wasn’t afraid of being alone. You may be isolated from friends and family, but you will live in freedom. If you find yourself alone, know that you are not, for you are in the company and presence of God.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

They Lost It!

I know there are several people who absolutely LOVE Christmas. If it was more socially accepted they would leave the tree and the decorations up all year and they would probably go as far as to leave the lights on the house, lit! I know one particular person who has been posting on Facebook a countdown of how many days till Christmas. I think she started it on January 1st.

One Christmas lover does leave ornaments out in various rooms around the house. I heard that one day a friend who wanted to play a joke removed one of the ornaments that were displayed in the guest bathroom. They hung on to it for a few weeks expecting to get a call that would be accompanied by an accusation. The call never came.

Apparently, when the missing ornament was discovered the one who seriously loves Christmas went on a rampage trying to find out what happened to it or who took it. I guess they got quite upset over the ordeal. One family member tried their best to find or order a replacement in order to restore peace in the home but learned the ornament was no longer being made.

It happens. A person’s “joy” can be taken, or even stolen if they let it. It doesn’t take much at times. What we should do is calmly evaluate the situation and realize “no one got hurt”, “it’s only a thing”, and recognize that though it may bother you or hurt it’s not the end of the world. That it was simply an item and not a person. It certainly isn’t worth hurting a relationship over!

My brothers, you will have many kinds of troubles. But when these things happen, you should be very happy (joyful). You know that these things are testing your faith. And this will give you patience. James 1:2-3 (ICB)
[The “joyful” in the parenthesis was inserted by me.]

The joy of the Lord is my strength. Neh. 8:10

The person who took the ornament eventually gave it back and though the Christmas lover laughed and said they were okay they ended the friendship. They lost more than an ornament for a time, they lost a friend. Sad end to the story especially when the ornament (pictured) shared “joy” and was an emblem of love and happiness expressed at Christmas.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

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.

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.

Seeing Them

What is that a shadow of? I asked myself.  I turned slowly to see it was being made by a man.  A young, tall, thin man sporting a “man bun”.  He just stood there and starred while I completed my task.  I felt weirded out, to say the least.  I saw him at other times and made a decision that I didn’t like him.  Why?  Because of how he looked?  Because he didn’t say anything?  Perhaps.

About a month later he was in front of me with a young man.  He asked if his son could mow the lawn.  At first I was tempted to flee the scene as fast as possible by responding with a kind, “No thank you.”  But inside, I knew that wouldn’t do.  I introduced myself and learned their names. I told the father I noticed he was new to the neighborhood, and asked why if he didn’t mind sharing.  He said, “I’ve been away for a while.”  Instantly I had the gift of knowledge as I heard in my spirit, “prison”.  I didn’t mention it to him.

After the lawn was mowed, trimmed, and cleaned up I went outside to pay the young man.  After handing the money to him I turned to the father and felt as if I was to honor him.  I said, “I respect the fact that you are teaching your son the value of hard work and of earning money.”  He smiled.  I wondered if anyone had ever honored him before.  Judging by the surprise look on his face I am guessing not.  I think it made him feel warm and fuzzy inside.  I know listening to the Holy Spirit lead me in the situation and conversation made me feel that way.  Later on I saw him outside and asked, “Would you like some tomatoes?  We have more than we can use from our harvest.”  When I gave them to him and some chili peppers he smiled again.  He told me he loves spicy food.

Later that night I was reflecting on the events, and the conversation with him of the day.  I realized this was the beginning of what I call, “Life style evangelism.”  You come across normal when they first encounter you.  You help them, bless them, or simply give them your time.  Then, after a while, they will notice there is something different about you than in others, and they ask, “What makes you different?”  They always ask.  It is in that moment you can tell them about the love of Jesus Christ that dwells within you, and that He is the Hope of the world.

“the mere sound of his name will signal hope, even
        among far-off unbelievers.”  Mat. 12:21 (MSG)

Because they have first seen “love in action” they will listen.  And hopefully they will respond to the Holy Spirit working within them and accept that love, accept Jesus.  But all of this has to start with an action. That action is seeing them!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

“One Friend Coming Up!”

This is not a continuation of my last post about friends.  This is different.

Do you ever find yourself saying something like, “God, if I only had …”   Or something along the line of, “I wish I had a …”   I’m sure you have no problem filling in those blanks.  You are not alone.  A lot of people will “wish” they had something they feel they need or want.

What if you could speak what you strongly desire into existence?  Guess what, you can.  And how much would you pay for that?  But wait, there’s more.  A few years ago I heard a story of a lady who was up in her years of life.  She decided one day she would start looking into the mirror and declaring, “I look younger every day.”  Crazy?  Perhaps.  Until you hear the rest of the story.  After some time, her friends and family started telling her that she keeps looking younger and younger instead of aging as she would in the natural.

When I heard her testimony I was intrigued.  I knew the way God did it for her probably wouldn’t work for me, but the principle is the same, and here it is:

Speak, out loud, what you want, or desire.

Some call it making declarations, I think God calls it, “Speaking it into existence.”  I started doing this.  Whenever I would think of it I would stop and say out loud what I wanted.  I’m not going to list them, because they are personal.  What they are doesn’t matter, but what does matter is this; it works.  The things I have spoken out loud are coming to past. They are coming into existence!

This is not the same as sitting in a restaurant and going over a menu selecting what you want.  What you are declaring should be submitted to God, for He knows if this is a need or a want.  Will this help you, or hurt you in your relationship with Him or with others. As well, this is not “name it and claim it” type of faith either.

The mouth is a very powerful tool.  And the words that come out of our mouth are critical.  In a nut shell, every time we speak, we are either creating or tearing down.  We are building up, or destroying something, or worse, someone.

So a friend of mine, the other day, talked about wanting a friend to hang out with.  His other friends have moved away, or have transitioned into new chapters of their lives.  I challenged him to begin speaking out loud what he wanted.

I can only imagine God looking at him and saying, “One friend coming up!”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.