You Have a Friend in Me

friend

  1. a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.

So what’s your definition of a friend?  A true friend is difficult to find.  And when you think you have found one, it can take more time to know if you can completely trust them.  Do you have such a friend?

The Bible talks about, “Confess your sins one to another.” (James 5:16)  After becoming aware of this scripture I first thought, “No way!”  And for many years I didn’t.  How in the world could you trust someone with the darkest side of you?  Here is a good test to see if you can trust a friend with something you did wrong.  You tell them something, that if it got out would be embarrassing, but not career ending.  Then, you can feel safe confessing your sins.

I have such a friend.  It took a few years of getting to know him before I knew I could trust him with anything.  I have told him things I have not spoken of to any other living person.  He has shared likewise.  I value my friendship with him very much.  We talk to each other every week.  As well, we pray, intercede, and there are times when one of us has to correct the other’s attitude toward another person or situation.  I thank God for him, for he is a sure gift from God.

The great philosopher Woody, from the movie “Toy Story” put it like this:

You’ve got troubles, and I’ve got ’em, too
There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you
We stick together and we see it through
‘Cause you’ve got a friend in me

I hope you have such a friend.  If not I pray you would find one, and if you don’t, you should ask God to help you find one.  You will be glad you did.  I should also add, if someone opens up their heart, and confesses a sin in their life to you, please do not speak of it to anyone else.  The damage you could cause may take years to heal in them, if they ever do.

Like my trusted friend once said, after revealing a sin in his life, “Wow, I feel so much better, and lighter after sharing that with you.”  That is something you can’t put a price tag on.  It’s priceless!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

First Church of Walmart

A few weeks ago, we were in a small town, in Oklahoma, on a Sunday morning, and there weren’t many people stirring around.  There were a couple of gas stations open and one donut shop.

A few days later we were warned not to go to the Walmart in that town on a Sunday morning, because all of the crazies are there at that time, instead of being in church.  Now there are a few crazies at church too, I’ve met them, but I’m talking about the ones that make the front page of Facebook as to how they dress when they go to Walmart.  Oh come on, you know what I’m talking about, and you have laughed probably harder than I have!

We went to church this past Sunday.  Yes, in person, where previously we had attended online.  My first time since January of 2020.  I said I wouldn’t go back until my toilet paper hoarding pile was used up. (kidding) I got to say, It felt good, to be with others worshiping God.  I definitely sensed the presence of God among us, but I must add there were plenty of times I sensed his presence here at home as well.

You see, “going to church” doesn’t save you.  Just “going” won’t get you into heaven. You have to accept God’s son, Jesus as the Lord of your life and the one who paid the price for you sins, wrong doing. To my knowledge, God doesn’t take attendance.  You go to church to be with others who believe like you do.  To be encouraged, and to encourage others.  To develop friendships that help each other through life.  You know, the ups, as well as the downs. God’s word mentions how he will tell some, who even did great things in his name, “Depart from me. I never knew you.” You can go to church every time the doors are open, but unless it changes your heart and fills you with the love of God, then you are probably taking a seat that could be used by one who is serious, devoted about living for God, a true believer and follower. By someone who will let “love” rule in their life.

One can feel God where ever they are, if they know him, and have a relationship with him.  In a way, God got rid of the formal church when his son, Jesus died on the cross.  For in that moment, God ripped the veil from top to bottom ever inviting mankind into an intimate relationship with him, for the purification process was taken on by his son.

So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. Hebrews 10:22-25 (MSG)

The photo was taken inside a “Life Church”.  I love their attitude, position, and inventiveness.  In the meantime, go to church as much as you go to Walmart, and don’t forget “the bread”.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Graffiti

Graffiti Building – Tulsa
Gum Wall – Seattle

I was driving my wife, April around downtown Tulsa the other day.  It was her first tour of the big city.  We went under a bridge and as in most urban areas, there was graffiti painted on the sides.  There was also a couple of buildings with it as well.  One building’s graffiti has become a little famous, but it’s nothing compared to the “Gum Wall” in Seattle, Washington.

A couple of days later, while I was having a moment with God, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “What kind of graffiti have you allowed to be written on the walls of your heart?”  Ouch!

I began to think about the messages I see, hear, and the stuff that shows up on TV.  Those messages affect us more than we realize they do.  For example, we may start accepting the lifestyle as okay, or normal that some choose to live that God calls sin.  We will always love the individual, but never the sin in their life.  That’s God’s approach.  We might chose to stay quiet instead of calling it out for what it is, “destructive lifestyles”, or accepting Satan’s substitute for what God has for us.

I realize now, I need to wash the walls of my heart from time to time.  To get the, what some may call, “expressive freedom” removed and put things back to having only the words of God written there.

Proverbs 7:3, talks about writing God’s words upon the walls of your heart:

“…etch it on the chambers of your heart.”

We are also instructed to guard our hearts.  Why all this care about our hearts?  Because what is in our hearts is what we believe to be true, and that belief comes out of our mouths.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

God Day

Okay, I do realize that this coming Sunday is Mother’s Day, but at the time of this writing it is the anniversary of my father’s death, so I was thinking about him as well.  Then a thought came flying down the big brain bypass.  I say “big brain” not because I am smart, but because I am always thinking.  The thought was, “What would God want for “God Day”?

Pastor Robert Morris says, “To find Biblical answers, you must look in the Bible.”

“I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Deu. 30:19-20 MSG.

God wants you to have life now and for eternity.  He wants to talk, yes talk to you.  He has a lot to say.  He created man in the first place to have someone who would choose to love him back by their own doing.  He wants to have a great relationship with you.  He hopes you will choose him, which is choosing life.

God is amazing.  He made us, therefore we belonged to him, but He gave us the freedom to choose to love him.  Then, after Adam and Eve sinned and mankind was doomed to eternal death, God gave us his only son to die a brutal death on a cross that purchased us back to God.  But then He did the most unselfish thing one could do afterwards, He gave us that freewill again to decide for ourselves if we want to love him.

God wants us to have a life full of the fruit of the spirit.  You know, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  That means, no one can police them, regulate them, market them, or stop them, but all mankind can profit from them.

Don’t you see?  God wants nothing but good for you, but the only thing He wants from you, is your heart.  I hope you have already given it to him, or you will, soon, perhaps even today.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Vacancy, For Rent, or Move In?

Charlie 032420Is your heart a hotel for God?  Let’s face it, some let God check in, but then tell him when check out time is.  Worse, others may even post a “No Vacancy” sign.

Or perhaps you rent your heart to God.  You let God in for a particular term of time.  You specify the rules, and how things should be left when He moves out.  It wouldn’t surprise me if you even asked for references.

Why are so many people afraid to give their heart to God?  Because they are afraid he will make changes.  Like clean up the dirt, get rid of the clutter and even rearrange the furniture.  “No!  Not the furniture!”  So many people aren’t happy, but they don’t want to give up control.

If one wants God to do his best work they must sign over the deed to their heart.  Allow him to clean, declutter and yes, even rearrange the furniture.  I assure you, if you trust him to do what needs to be done in order for you to have a better life you will like the improvements.

Rick Renner, from his book “Sparkling Gems from the Greek” reminds us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor. 6:19)  He leads us in a prayer and a confession:

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY  Lord, I am so excited to think that You made my heart Your home. It is so overwhelming to think that You want to live inside me. Help me see myself as Your dwelling place and to honor Your Presence inside me by the kind of life I lead. I want to bless You and honor You, so please help me do the right things that bring You the greatest pleasure and joy. I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY  I gratefully acknowledge that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Yes, the Holy Spirit lives inside me. My heart is not a hotel where He occasionally visits; rather, my heart has become His home. He has invested His power, His gifts, His fruit, and the life of Jesus Christ in me. Inwardly I am highly adorned with the goodness of God. My spirit is so marvelously created in Christ Jesus that God Himself is comfortable to live inside me! I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

No Plan “B”

NoPlanB-01What if Mary had said, “No” to God when he asked her to have his Son?  After all, many have said, “No” to God perhaps out of fear, or not wanting to risk, or sacrifice anything.  Did He have a plan “B”?  Was there an understudy waiting in the wings for her big chance?

I heard a story of a man who grew up very different from the rest of his family.  You see, they all went to the same church, but the others, in his family, resisted when God tried to change them from the inside out.  They evidently, just wanted enough of Jesus to escape hell.  He wondered, and so did those who heard his story of the way his family treated him and others, how, or why he didn’t turn out like them.  His father passed away, and as he was walking through the now empty house, he felt God’s Spirit whisper to him, “While you were growing up in this house, I kept my hand tight around your heart, because I knew one day, you would give it to me.”

“So God, who knows the heart,…”
Acts 15:8 (NKJV)

God knew He didn’t need a plan “B”, because He knew Mary would agree to his will. God knew Mary’s heart belonged to him, so Christmas went off without a hitch, and the rest of God’s plan did as well.  What, or who have you given your heart to?

Copyright © 2019 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

But They Go to Church

Charlie 33There it is.  Another ugly, races, hateful, hurtful word from one I know very well.  “I don’t understand,” has been cried out to God many times after one of their zingers comes out of their mouth.  “God, why do they still feel, act, and say these things?  After all, they go to church!”

Just the other day, when this happened again, I questioned heaven for understanding, I sensed the Lord spoke and said, “But church doesn’t go to them.”  It was in that moment I realized that even though they go to church every time the doors are open, the doors to their heart are closed!  They might even be locked, boarded up with a sign posted, “No Trespassing”.

Jane Rubietta writes, in her book, Come Closer,

“After all, what difference does the gospel make if it doesn’t make a difference, right?”

The word of God should change us, and make us more like Jesus.  It should soften our heart toward others.  Does that mean be tolerant of their sins?  Not at all, but give us understanding as to why they act out like they do.

So what do we do when someone we kind of have to be around says or does something that hurts?  We pray for them as we stand up for Truth, and then we surround them with love.  God’s love, perfect love, is the only key to opening the doors to their wounded hearts.  They must see love, hear love, and feel loved even after they hurt us or others.

If the message they hear at church isn’t getting through, then the love they witness from us just might.

Copyright © 2019 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Spiritual Heart Murmurs

20180723_140043Doctor:  “Sit up straight and breathe normal.”  The doctor moved his stethoscope across my chest, and then around my back.  “Deep breaths.”  He listened.  For what?  Did he hear anything out of the ordinary?  Perhaps a murmur?  Was there reason for concern?

God:  What if God did that?  Listened to our hearts, and actually He does.  What would He hear?  A murmur?  Would there be any reason for concern?  So what would be a spiritual heart murmur?  Hatred?  Un-forgiveness?  Idolatry?  Lying?  A hurt?  Someone wronged you?

Search me, O God, and know my heart:  (Psa 139:23 KJV+)

Us:  What if we, God’s people, were walking around with spiritual stethoscopes?  Meaning; if we were talking to someone, we would take time to listen to their heart.  To actually hear if and what is causing them pain.  Then, what if we prayed with them right there, or promised to at a later time, and actually did?

Ask God to help you detect murmurs.  Your clue to stop and ask, “What’s wrong?”  Or, “How are you really doing?”  Doing this simple act might reduce the number of walking wounded around us.  Even better, would be to detect the problem early enough to prevent more serious heart damage.  Will you try?  Doing so, would show the other person you care, because God cares.

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved