Heaven or Hell?

My friend and I were riding the commuter train, from Chicago, home after a long day. Somehow, the conversation turned to God and each of us shared our beliefs on what happens to us when we die.

He said he was convinced, after we die, we are reincarnated.

Then I shared my belief that if we have accepted Jesus Christ, as God’s son, and have invited him to forgive us of our sin, wrong doing, then when we die we spend eternity in heaven. If we don’t accept Jesus Christ, then we spend eternity in hell.

We were able to listen to each other, with respect, but then I told my friend this; “If you are right, then I have nothing to be concerned about. If I am correct, you may have a long time to regret it.

We exited the train, and before heading to our cars, he said, “You sure have given me something to think about.” I hope and pray he has now accepted Jesus, but on that day, he wasn’t ready.

You have to choose one or the other. There is no way around it. There are no excuses for not selecting. You can’t say it is impossible to know, for God reveals himself to everyone.

Romans 1:19-25 (TPT)

19 In reality, the truth of God is known instinctively, for God has embedded this knowledge inside every human heart. 20 Opposition to truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance because from the creation of the world, the invisible qualities of God’s nature have been made visible, such as his eternal power and transcendence. He has made his wonderful attributes easily perceived, for seeing the visible makes us understand the invisible. So then, this leaves everyone without excuse.

21 Throughout human history the fingerprints of God were upon them, yet they refused to honor him as God or even be thankful for his kindness. Instead, they entertained corrupt and foolish thoughts about what God was like. This left them with nothing but misguided hearts, steeped in moral darkness. 22 Although claiming to be super-intelligent, they were in fact shallow fools. 23 For only a fool would trade the unfading splendor of the immortal God to worship the fading image of other humans, idols made to look like people, animals, birds, and even creeping reptiles!

24 This is why God lifted off his restraining hand and let them have full expression of their sinful and shameful desires. They were given over to moral depravity, dishonoring their bodies by sexual perversion among themselves— 25 all because they traded the truth of God for a lie. They worshiped and served the things God made rather than the God who made all things—glory and praises to him for eternity of eternities! Amen!

Choose God before it is too late. He has already chosen you, and He loves you more than you will ever know.

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. 

The Fruit Section of Life

Your life has come to an end.  As happens after every death, people will reflect on what kind of person you were, or at least what kind of person you were to them.  Without a doubt, their decision will be based solely on how you treated them, or responded to their behavior.  There are times though when you will be judged, and remembered unfairly.  A person’s mind is powerful, so much so, it can bend truth.

What is it people see that makes up one’s mind considering you?  It’s the fruit your life bears.  Is that fruit sweet, or sour?  Does your life, your words, your actions leave a good taste in the mouths of others, or do they want to spit them out?  Jesus even eluded to the fact people are known by the fruit their life bears.

And I don’t mean like, someone is bananas!

I’m referring to the fruit of the spirit.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

If there is no law against these fruits, then they cannot be judged.

The way for the fruit of your life to be, and stay healthy is for you to always stay connected to the vine.  Jesus instructs us with these words in John 15 from The Passion Translation:

Jesus the Living Vine

“I am a true sprouting vine, and the farmer who tends the vine is my Father. He cares for the branches connected to me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruning every fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest. The words I have spoken over you have already cleansed you. So you must remain in life-union with me, for I remain in life-union with you. For as a branch severed from the vine will not bear fruit, so your life will be fruitless unless you live your life intimately joined to mine.

“I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless. If a person is separated from me, he is discarded; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire to be burned. But if you live in life-union with me and if my words live powerfully within you—then you can ask whatever you desire and it will be done. When your lives bear abundant fruit, you demonstrate that you are my mature disciples who glorify my Father!

The purpose of operating in the fruit of the Spirit of God isn’t so people will know us as good, or even great, but that God will be glorified.  If you are in need of getting back to the vine, Jesus, then by all means do it.  There are too many people out there who are not connected to Jesus and they do a lot of damage in the lives of others.  And if you need some help, I’ve heard of a product called, “Miracle Grow”.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved. 

Wife of the Month

090120I would like to nominate April for “Wife of the Month”.  For the month of September, she can use the special parking space.  That is, if she was here in America, and if she could drive.  She has completed the immigration process, but can’t take the final step because her country is still in “lock down” mode, so the U.S. Embassy isn’t doing interviews.  Being separated is difficult, but I can see how God has used it for His glory thus far.

Last week, I sent her the following message, and though it is personal, she agreed to let me share it:

Baby, I love you! I simply love you, because you have God’s DNA in you, and it shows. In you is peace, joy, faith, hope and love. Of course the greatest of these is, love. Because love, never fails! Baby, when you look back over our short marriage, you can see a trail of love that has dripped over the mountains we have overcome, and across the ocean that separates us now. Without love, God’s love, we would not have come this far. The story of “Mark and April” would have been a short one, but as it is, our story, is still being written.

I couldn’t wait any longer Baby April. I know our 18 month anniversary isn’t until next week, September 1st, but I just had to let the words above out. I was unable to contain them any longer. So Happy Anniversary, April. I am so happy to be known as the American, who married April Joy Santiago Cruz, and has so far, survived.  I am a lucky man who is blessed by God. He loved me so much that He hid you from the eyes of others, for such a time as this. I know two, maybe three of those men looked your way, but because of your wonderful faithfulness to God they gave up in their pursuit.

Our story, feels like it is taking forever to be written, but I know we are steadily moving every day toward his destination for our lives. Baby April, each day it gets easier to love you, because you, like God, are love.

To you April, the love of my life,
Mark

I am grateful for God’s love, and for his tender nudge to try marriage again, after checking the “Divorced” box for 24 years.  April struggled with her singleness a lot, and most who knew her started believing  “marriage” had passed her by.  But God had a plan that took years to connect two individuals who were 8,149 miles apart.  It’s like He set her on a shelf, so she would be available for me that one Friday afternoon, in October 2018, when I first saw her face on a Filipino dating site.

It’s hard to trust God, who doesn’t always share what He is up to, but when you do, it’s worth it!  God is so amazing, and I am so grateful, He first loved us.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Like Today!

clockOne of the hardest things, about walking with God, is knowing, “when”.

You are trusting God to do something in your life.  You have asked for it more than a child asking for candy.  Whether you are waiting for your spouse, or waiting for the correct time to start that business that has been brewing in your heart for 10 years.  Or in my case, when am I going to win an Oscar award for the New York Times best seller I wrote?  Some maybe hanging on to the promise that one day they will be debt free.  We want to know “when”, and when we focus on the not knowing it distracts us from living today.

A father and mother knew they were taking their two daughters to Disneyland, but also knew there was no way they could tell them until that day had come.  Why?  Because those wise parents knew that every day before would be a disappointment to those girls if “that” day wasn’t “the” day they got to go.

Do you see now why God can’t tell us “when” what He has already commissioned to take place in our life will happen, because if He did it would ruin “today” if “today” wasn’t the “day” it came about.

If God told a man who his wife was going to be before it was time, that same man would most likely get a restraining order from that woman, because he would get caught stalking her simply because he wanted to see her, and get to know her.  A woman’s business may fail because she opened it too early, or in the wrong place.  Then she might be tempted to walk away from God, thinking, “Well God you said I would have my own business!”  I probably wouldn’t enjoy writing any book if I only focused on, “Is this the one?”

I would rather be a mile behind God,
than one inch in front of him.

Enjoy the journey.  Enjoy today.  Like today!  See God’s hand in your life today. You might be saying to yourself, “I haven’t seen God today at all.”  My reply would be, “You woke up didn’t you?”  Last year I went through a time of asking God for more money to pay the extra bills we had.  I remember God asking me, “Okay, how much money do you need today?”  I thought about it and realized the bills for the whole month had already been paid and “today” I didn’t need any.  God could have said, “Well then shut up!” but He didn’t.  He didn’t have to, because by his question I knew He had met all my needs for “today”.

TRUST will help you overcome the word, “when”.  Trust doesn’t mean you throw your hands up and say, “I don’t have to do anything.”  But it can calm you down knowing God will work it out when it is time.

This is the day which the Lord has brought about; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:24 AMPC)

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 Want to Speak to the One in Charge

071120“I demand a new pair of jeans,” said the man holding a pair of Levis.

I had to ask, “What’s wrong with those?”

“Their flawed.  The fabric has come apart.  See?”  he replied.

I looked at the spot he was pointing to.  “Sir,” I responded, “Those are ripped.  You must have gotten them caught on something.”

“I did no such thing,” he insisted as he started stomping around displaying his anger.

I was about to enlighten this man that when denim rips, it does so in an “L” pattern, like the one on his blue jeans.  But before I could get the words out of my mouth I heard, “Mark, I’ll take it from here.”  The words were spoken by the store manager, Jim.

Jim looked at the jeans.  His fingers rubbed across the ripped area feeling the loose strings.  He then looked at the tag over the right back pocket taking in the waist size and the length.  He looked at the man square in the eyes, and said, “One moment.”  Jim walked over to where we kept the Levis and he retrieved a brand new pair.  When he returned to the sales counter he placed them in a shopping bag and handed them to the man.  He smiled at him and said, “Here you go sir.  Thank you for your business.”

I didn’t understand and started to ask Jim, “Why”, but Jim said to me, “Wait.”  After the man left the small clothing store, in the small town, Jim turned and said to me, “Sometimes it is better to give a customer what they want, even when you know they are lying.  You see, that man is satisfied.  He knows he made a mistake, but he didn’t want to pay for it.  He will return to do more shopping here.”  I stood there, letting the words sink in, and then Jim said, with an old, wrinkled smile on his face, “And besides, I can send those jeans back and get refunded.”  Jim was the man in charge, and Jim knew what could be done, and when.

Here’s the thing, all of us have made mistakes we don’t want to pay for.  Some even deny it.  God is the one in charge of everything.  He will run his finger over the rip in your life feeling the loose disconnected strings.  He will walk you over to a shelf where your new life sits.  He will smile and offer it to you.  You may be wondering how you can pay for it.  Will your good deeds be enough?  No, so how can you take it?

God will tell you how he gave his only son, Jesus to die on a cross and how his death pays for your new life.  Then he will encourage you to accept this free gift.  So if you are feeling lost, depressed, forgotten, or hopeless ask to speak to the one in charge.  Receive his free gift of salvation.  After doing so, I assure you, things will look up, and you will feel satisfied.

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.