Because He Does It

For the last several years, God has been nudging me to learn how to love unconditionally. What that boils down to is this; accepting someone just the way they are. That can be extremely hard to do, especially when you are around them. You might live with them, work with them, or be connected to them in another way. You might even know them through the church.

They probably don’t think like you and certainly don’t do everything the way you do or the way you think it should be done. They might even have personal habits that discuss you or you choose to get angry about. It’s hard and, at times, extremely hard! Especially when you are tired or low on patience and understanding. The problem may be with you. Like you may have high expectations. Or you might have arrogance issues thinking your way is the only way.

So how do you love the one that is so different than you? First, you have to make a willful decision to love them. To accept them as they are. They’re most likely not ever going to change, but you can. Then you have to remind yourself what real love is constantly.

Real love demonstrates patience, and genuine love is kind to the other person. Unconditional love puts up with the other person for a long time. It also forgets when they make the same mistake again and again. This kind of love means not having to have everything your way and it wants the best for the other person. That kind of love also does what it can to encourage them. If you practice this kind of love, you will not show how frustrated you are with your face or body language but will smile and assure them everything is alright.

Showing another person the kind of love above, God’s love, will make them feel loved. It might even change them, but that should not be your motive. Love them because it’s the right thing to do. It’s hard, but you can do it because He does it.

Psalms 36:7

7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Psalms 109:26

26 Help me, LORD my God; save me according to your unfailing love.

Romans 5:8

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 4:7

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Romans 5:5

5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

1 John 4:8

8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:16

16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

1 John 4:18

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:19

19 We love because he first loved us.

Jeremiah 31:3

3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Psalms 86:15

15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Psalms 136:26

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.

Romans 8:37-39

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,

39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 3:17-19

17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,

18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,

19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

John 13:34-35

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 15:12

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

1 Corinthians 13:8a

Love never ends.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

But it Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas

I was flipping through radio stations last week and came across Christmas music. Yeah, one whole week before Thanksgiving, even. Why not? Stores have had Christmas items for sale displayed since Labor Day. But it doesn’t feel like Christmas.

Does it take party invitations or Christmas cards arriving? Making lots of plans for gatherings with family to make it feel like Christmas? How about putting up the Christmas tree? Or hanging some lights on the house? Going around and looking at other homes that put up lights? Do these activities make it feel like Christmas?

What if “Christmas” wasn’t a feeling but an attitude?

at·ti·tude

[ˈadəˌt(y)o͞od]

NOUN

a settled way of thinking about someone or something

So using the definition of “attitude,” I should have a settled way of thinking about Christmas. How does one do that? It starts with a healthy view of who Jesus Christ is. Yes, the baby that was born in a manger who we celebrate at Christmas. But that same child continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. And he started his public ministry that wound up killing him. That baby one day hung on the cross and died for our sins.

Having the right attitude of who Jesus is, generates the right attitude about Jesus and Christmas. That means you can get excited about Christmas all year long because that is where God’s love began: He loved us so much that He gave us his only son. And ya know, I can “feel” God’s love; therefore, it can feel like Christmas!

Let us look only to Jesus. He is the one who began our faith, and he makes our faith perfect. Jesus suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame of the cross as if it were nothing. He did this because of the joy that God put before him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God’s throne.
Heb. 12:2 (ICB)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Why “MB4384?”

Our home WIFI was upgraded the other day, receiving a new gateway. “MB4384” was the name of our old network name, but for a specific reason, we could no longer use it. As I was getting all of our devices reconnected to the WIFI via the gateway’s default name and password, I told April we needed to come up with a network name and password. Of course, something easy to remember.

We discussed many options for both. We finally settled on “KUYA_MARK,” Tagalog for “Brother Mark.” We assumed no one in the neighborhood was using that for a network name. Then we came up with a password we could recall without having to look it up. Again, I reconnected all of our devices to the new network. That’s almost worst than having to turn all of your clocks backward.

“MB4384” became my company user name 17 years ago after SBC purchased AT&T. It took some time to get used to it. I had no idea how in the world they came up with that pattern of letters and numbers, but now I do. God had his hand in it!

Being extraordinarily vulnerable and transparent, getting married again after 24 some years of being single hasn’t been easy. There have been times I have wondered if I did the right thing. I know there were several events and moments of confirmation, but nothing beats what I am about to tell you.

As we were discussing possible names, April disclosed that she thought I changed my WIFI network name to “MB4384” after I met her. She didn’t know it was my AT&T user ID. I was confused, but I told her I used that name when I moved into the house five years ago. Thirteen months before I ever met April. Then I asked her, “Why did you think I changed it after meeting you?” She replied, are you ready for this? “Because that is my birthday.”

Yeah, that’s right. April was born on April 3, 1984, or 04/03/84 or 4384.

I teared up. Then I laughed as I thought about how funny God is. He knew 17 years ago (well, honestly forever) I would need another confirmation that no matter how hard getting used to being married again is for me, it is worth it because God ordained it. When you see that kind of love in action, it’s almost impossible not to trust that God knows what He is doing and that He has to have a purpose for us.

Thank you, God, for loving me.

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jer. 29:11 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

I Was Begging for God

Photo by: Timur Weber

I knew how life was supposed to be lived, but I struggled every day to meet that challenge. I failed to finish high school, failed at being a husband, and now, as a father. So I found myself, despite the weather, on the side of an off-ramp, begging for money.

I understood it was hard for passers-by to give. They didn’t know my story. I looked normal; therefore, they wondered why I didn’t have a job instead of sitting there. As if I liked doing it. They probably thought I was just lazy and didn’t know about the mental illness I struggled with, which made it difficult to concentrate. Employers expect so much, and I found it hard to remember what I should be doing—I needed help!

One bright and sunny Sunday morning, a couple waiting for a green light gave me a $10 bill. I remember thinking, “Oh wow, they’re generous.” The following Sunday, they did the same thing. Now they had my attention. Whether they knew or understood me, they reached out to help me. They gave me the ten dollars the third week and asked, “Hey, we’re on our way to church. Would you like to go with us? They have free snacks, good music, and you’ll hear a positive message from the word of God.” I replied, “Church people don’t want me in their building.” They quickly came back with, “Our church accepts everyone.” I thought, Why not? I could at least get some food and use the bathroom.

The people at this church were friendly, and they actually shook my hand. I used the bathroom, grabbed some snacks, and my hosts got some for me, also. We found our seats, and the service started. The music was loud, upbeat, and positive. I didn’t know the words, but I liked it. Then they took up the offering. But this church was different and announced that if you needed help, feel free to take any cash out of the bucket when it came by. I couldn’t believe what I had heard.

Then they showed a video of the senior pastor. He preached a message about love, God’s love, and how it was for anyone, even people like me. For the first time in my life, I felt hope. I responded to the pastor’s invitation to accept this loving God into my life. There were tears, but they were cleansing. After the service, my hosts had me meet the local branch pastor. I told him what I did, and he hugged me and welcomed me to the family of God. Then he paused, looked at me, and said the church had developed a new program to help people in my situation.

Now I have a job, working for the church, working for people that understand me and my struggles. I contacted my ex-wife, and she is happy for me. She is even considering allowing me to see my kids. I still see the couple who used to give me $10 but giving me the opportunity to hear a message from God was worth so much more than the money.

The above story flashed through my mind while sitting in church last Sunday. April and I had just given a man sitting on the side of an off-ramp $10. I suggested inviting him to church, and April wisely said, “Build up a relationship with him for a couple of weeks.” I’ve been praying for him and looking forward to the coming weeks. Who knows what can happen by meeting someone’s physical needs first? After doing so, they might be open to an invitation to come and hear about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. There are many ways to build the kingdom of God.

But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? Romans 10:14 (MSG)

“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)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

He Knew

Photo by: Pixabay

I don’t usually open with scriptures, but I need to today to set the stage. I love this true story from the Bible. It speaks of love in action and adequately uses of “words of knowledge.”

John 8:1-11 Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

One could write about a lot from this passage, but I want to focus on one part. Most theologians, of which I do not consider myself to be one, honestly I had to look up how to spell it, agree that when Jesus bent down and wrote in the dust, he was writing the sins of the woman’s accusers.

So one might ask, “How did Jesus know their sins?” Yes, Jesus was the son of God, but he was the son of man when he walked the earth. Here is the answer; Jesus was filled with the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

16-17 The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened up and he saw God’s Spirit—it looked like a dove—descending and landing on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.” Mat. 3:16-17 (MSG)

The Holy Spirit filled Jesus the moment the dove landed on him. With the infilling comes power, as Jesus foretold his disciples before he ascended into heaven. Part of that power is knowing things about people. Sometimes, something they don’t want you to know. This is called; “word of knowledge.” This gift of the Spirit is sometimes needed to lead you on how to pray for someone, to get someone’s attention, so they will hear what comes after the supernatural event. One should not focus or get hung up on the gift when it is demonstrated but instead focus on what God wants to do.

I once got word of knowledge concerning a man and a woman in our church who weren’t married to each other. The Holy Spirit whispered, “affair.” After the initial shock, and I didn’t tell anyone in the church, which would have hurt them tremendously, but I prayed for them. A few weeks later, the woman’s husband was offered a job out of state, and they moved. God wanted me to pray, potentially preventing their desires from overtaking them. Am I special? Am I a saint? Am I a super Christian? No! The Holy Spirit chooses who to give this gift to, when, and where. (see 1 Cor. 12:11 but not now. After you finish this post.)

It is humbling to know things, to be used of God. So take it seriously, and be responsible with what you know. Jesus used his knowledge of the woman’s accusers to demonstrate forgiveness and love. Do you think the woman went away unchanged? No. She left forever changed, and no doubt shared her story with everyone. Be filled with the Spirit of God, and be open to being used by God to help change lives for eternity.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

An Eternal Mistake

April’s mistake might change where a young woman spends eternity.

My wife, April, enjoys creating videos and posting them on her YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxCVluI_lWrk-bwaie1QF7w

When we married, she was doing all the work to produce such a video using only her phone. I suggested we get her a laptop and better editing software to make this passion easier. We have slowly been investing in her hobby. Purchasing a wireless mic, a GoPro camera, and even a green screen background. Our dining room is now a mini studio.

After receiving her new laptop, powerful enough to run editing software, she did her research and picked one to purchase and download onto her PC. She thought she was selecting the option to have lifetime access to this software, but either in her excitement or it was kind of small, she neglected to see a box “pre-checked” that also included a monthly subscription.

I was looking at April’s checking account the other evening when I saw a charge I wasn’t expecting to see. I asked April about it; she didn’t know why it was there either. I logged into her editing software account and saw that she had a monthly subscription. Thinking this was a mistake or a scam, I felt we needed to call our bank. I was going to call after the Labor Day Holiday, but something inside me kept whispering, “Call now.”

While talking to the young woman in the bank’s Fraudulent Charges Department (say that three times), something came up about birthdays. She informed me that she would never celebrate another birthday. Honestly, I thought she didn’t even sound old enough to be 29 and, like many women, never want to turn 30 for reasons unbeknownst to me.

I inquired with curiosity as to why and it was then she told me that this past July, her only brother died the day before her birthday. I know! My heart sank, became heavy, and tears filled my eyes. What do you say after hearing something like that? Fortunately, the Holy Spirit knew what to say and started prompting me in my spirit as to the words she needed to hear.

She thought my calling was a coincidence, but I immediately corrected her and shared that it was God. He wanted her to know how much He loves her and her grieving family and that He knows exactly how she feels and that He cares. She seemed interested in checking out a recent sermon by my pastor online, and she seemed open to accepting God’s love which I pray will lead her to accept his son, Jesus. Once she does, she will then spend eternity in heaven.

April’s mistake may cost us financially, but it’s nothing compared to what Jesus paid so this young woman, you, and I can live forever in heaven. Thank you, God, for going out of your way to love us and to show just how much you love us.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.
Luke 19:10 (AMPC)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

The Greatest Moment in the History of Sportsmanship

Photo by: Tima Miroshnichenko

It happened in the very first inning of the Southwest Region championship. Two boys who when they woke up this morning only cared about one thing… get to Williamsport. Suddenly everything changed, because in real life things happen just like that … things change in a heartbeat.

Kaiden Shelton is the big man on the powerful Pearland team, their big pitcher, their big hitter. Isiah Jarvis is the shortstop on the scrappy Oklahoma team that had through incredible perseverance made it to the championship game . One team has already been to Williamsport, the other has never been.

The Pearland team scored 3 runs in the top of the first, but Oklahoma came right back at them in the bottom of the inning , they scored 2 runs and had a big rally going on, there was noise everywhere, coaches were yelling for the pitcher Shelton and the batter Jarvis to ”Battle” “win the battle.”

Then it happened, a twist of fate, Shelton lost control of a fastball and hit Jarvis right in the helmet, and Jarvis fell in a heap at home plate

Suddenly nobody was thinking about Williamsport anymore. With Isiah laying there and coaches and medical staff rushing to his prone body, Shelton kind of circled around the area between home and the pitchers mound. The staduim was silent. Jarvis’s mom stood in the stands , one hand clasped to her face, the other to her heart. And every mom who has ever sent their boys into these games was right there with her.

The Pearland players took a knee, eventually so did Shelton. Seconds seemed like hours. On one knee, Shelton was totally alone with his thoughts. But going through his mind were the words of the umpire immediately after Jarvis had gone down .”Oh my God” the umpire had said.

Finally they helped Jarvis to his feet , on replay you could see how the ball had hit his helmet in a good spot , it got more helmet then anything, Jarvis had been more frightened then anything . He trotted down to first , but now the trouble was with Shelton.

Before that pitch he had only one thought – Battle… win the battle … the words of coaches…now the only words he could hear in his mind… were the words of the umpire: “Oh my god.”

And just like that he started to cry. He was standing on the mound crying, and nobody went to him, not his teammates, not his coaches . Then one person did go to him… Isiah Jarvis left first base threw his helmet off, walked right to him and hugged him. That hug said… it’s okay. It was just what Shelton needed at that particular moment , I am sure his mom had wanted to Rush out there and hug her boy, Isiah took care of that for her , because Shelton was a big kid with a big heart and he didn’t want to hurt anybody , he didn’t want to hear an umpire say “Oh my god” over something he did . He was there to play baseball and make new friends, he hadn’t bargained for this

The game resumed , somebody won , somebody lost, one team went to Williamsport, the other packed their bags for home, it will all be forgotten , but that moment of perfect sportsmanship will live for as long as there is human competition

Before the tournament Isiah Jarvis said his biggest dream was to make sports center . I think it’s going to happen.

His name is Isiah and in the book of Isiah there is a famous passage about coming quickly to the rescue “I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” It’s almost perfectly symbolic that a boy named Isiah would come quickly to the rescue and do it when it was most needed.

(I searched but could not find the author of the above post.)

Hundreds reacted to this post with comments they were fighting tears. This true story touches our hearts because for a moment love was displayed. We don’t always see it sadly, these days, but when we do we sit up and pay attention. Whether a person is a child of God or not their spirit man sees the love of God in action and is drawn to it.

You see, in real life, we are the pitcher who throws a foul ball but in our case sins and hurts a real person. The batter is Jesus Christ. And like in this story He comes over to the mound and offers us forgiveness. If you were touched by this story then perhaps the Holy Spirit is tugging at your heart. Saying, “It’s okay. Don’t get hung up on what you did that was wrong, that hurt people, or yourself. There is One who has already paid the price for your foul ball. His name is Jesus and He died on a cross for you, because he wanted to demonstrate just how much He loves you and cares.” I pray you will react to the Holy Spirit by accepting that forgiveness and accepting Jesus into your life.

for all have sinned (thrown a foul ball) and fall short of the glory of God, Rom. 3:23 (NKJV  Italics are mine)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Registered Mail

A woman entered the area of life called “Grief!” This time hurt worse, for it was her mother. She had cared for her mother for the last several years, doing her best to meet her needs even while struggling to take care of her own.

About a week after celebrating her mother’s life and laying her to rest, a friend felt prompted to send her a message. A love letter from God. They prayed, typed out the message, and sent it via “Messenger.” If you are unaware, Messenger lets you see if your message has been read. The friend felt another prompting and went into the app only to see the note from God had not been opened yet.

They cut and pasted the words of love and, this time, sent it as a text message to the friend’s phone. It worked, and the message was read and received. Here is the grieving daughter’s response to God’s message:

“I want you to know your message is very timely and divine. It feels like God himself is speaking to me.”

The friend replied, “God was speaking to you. He likes to partner with those who take time to listen to his still small voice and then take action—obeying his promptings. God wanted you to know you have been on his mind, and he loves you, cares for you, and knows what you are going through. He wanted to wrap you up in his favorite comforter, the Holy Spirit”

It’s essential to be an agent of God, a messenger for those who struggle to hear his voice for themselves due to a number of potential reasons. It does take time to receive the message and then transmit it to the individual. But then go the extra mile to ensure the message was received and opened. Just like sending “registered mail.”

Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he’ll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!
1 Peter 4:10-11 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Hearing Aid

As a follower of Jesus Christ for many years, there can still be circumstances that can weigh us down to the point that even for us there can be moments where we might still ask, “Does God exist?” It’s okay when that happens as long as those “moments” aren’t too often and last too long.

Imagine then how difficult it can be for one who has never accepted God and has not had the experience of walking with Him. They are not aware of His goodness and His faithfulness. They have not witnessed His miracle-working power for themselves in their lives. They have not seen God make a way when their back is up against the wall and in the natural world, there is no way! They need help, they need an aid.

May I propose they could benefit from a “hearing aid”? The one who doesn’t know God intimately yet needs you to “tell” them about Him. They need you to list His credentials and share His character. They desperately need to know now and therefore they need you now.

13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord [in prayer] will be saved.”

14 But how will people call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how will they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher (messenger)? 15 And how will they preach unless they are commissioned and sent [for that purpose]? Just as it is written and forever remains written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” Romans 10:13-15 (AMP)

People are desiring help, guidance, and direction. They want to know what to do and where to turn. They are listening. Unfortunately, if they don’t hear about the hope of Jesus Christ they will listen to the world, and the media, and for the most part their message is not a positive one.

Allow God to use you to be a “hearing aid” for someone. Don’t think you have to know the word of God like a preacher does simply share your testimony and share what God means to you. Tell them of His unbelievable love. They’ll listen.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Counterfeit

Life is hard sometimes. Lately, it seems like, for April and me, things have been more difficult than usual. Perhaps I had gotten too used to God pouring out his blessings regularly because life was easy. Direction came easy, and so did His provisions.

I know what the scriptures say about trials and patients but that doesn’t mean I have to like them! It can be extremely challenging to wait on God. To accept the idea that it is better to live according to the watch that He wears. Some people give up hope and decide to settle for Satan’s substitutes.  Their “knock-offs” of God’s original designs. “Counterfeits.”

“Satan can’t give you the fruits of the Spirit!”

Sadie Robertson Huff of Duck Dynasty fame.

He can’t give you love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, goodness, kindness, gentleness, or self-control. If you think he can, examine it thoroughly because it’s a fake!

You know, perhaps God’s pouring out His blessings from a higher dimension, and that is why it is taking longer to get here but when it does it will be abundant, more than enough, overflowing. “Okay, God. I’ll wait for your originals in my life. Thanks and I love you!”

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.