CSI

Charlie 89I used to drive fast.  I mean, really fast, or perhaps I should say, “stupidly fast!”  In the early eighties, in Massachusetts, I was driving my Chevette.  Okay, you can stop laughing now.  As I was going up a hill and into a sharp turn to my left I saw a car coming fast, straight for me in my lane.  It was going to be a head on collision and I said to myself, Oh this is going to hurt!  But right before the point of impact I shut my eyes hard, and screamed, “Oh God!”

My car kept moving around the bend in the road, but my body moved back into the seat and then forward.  I remember thinking, what?  When I looked in my rear view mirror, the car was so close behind me I couldn’t see the license plate.  Did the other car go through me?

If you could go back and examine the scenes of your life.  The ones that astounded you, surprised you, or perhaps hurt you the most.  You might be compelled to look for clues to answer those nagging, lingering questions like, “How did this happen?”

If you could dust the scene for finger prints to find out who all was involved, you know like a crime scene investigator, would it surprise you if you detected God’s fingerprints?

Not that He was the one who did the damage, but that He was there.  Most likely keeping you from being killed, or injured more severely.  Perhaps it was him who got you out of there or got you help in a timely manner.  How many times have you shared your story and have actually heard people respond something like, “Wow, God was definitely with you.”

I think we will all be surprised when we learn, how involved in our lives, God was.  Either he did it because he loves those who call him Father, or he did it hoping you would feel his love and involvement and choose to love him back.  Either way, he loved!

“The Lord your God is in your midst;
he is a warrior who can deliver.
He takes great delight in you;
he renews you by his love;
he shouts for joy over you.”
Zephaniah 3:17 (NET Bible)

Copyright © 2019 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Low on Love

Charlie 800They didn’t get enough love,
so they act ugly to you and me.
Their words hurt, and penetrate
their actions hinder us from being free.

Pull their dip stick, and I bet its low,
no wonder, in their life, love doesn’t flow.
They too probably got hurt years ago,
their stained by evil but it doesn’t show.

When you encounter one, it can catch you off guard,
like a snake striking from the weeds the bite hits hard.
Don’t hate them back, for further harm will be done,
instead, pray for them, and try to lead them to the One.

The One, Jesus, can heal their hurts and sooth their pain,
and he knows when it happened, because he knows their name.
He wants to see them set free, accept his love and be all healed up,
because they were once low on love, but now love, can be overflowing their cup.

Copyright © 2019 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Jesus Wept

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“Jesus Wept” statue at the site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK. 4-19-1995

As a child growing up in church, the title of this post, John 11:35, was my favorite verse to quote.  I think the reason is obvious.  Saying it with accuracy would help earn me a candy bar, or something.  But these days, it has a whole new meaning.

These days, I know why Jesus wept.  I was taught it was because his good friend Lazarus had died, but I don’t believe that anymore, for Jesus already knew he was going to raise him from the dead.  Verse 4; When Jesus heard this, he said, “This sickness will not lead to death, but to God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (NET)

Jesus wept because the people, and his friends, who had lost their loved one were hurting.  My point to telling you this is Jesus hurts when you are hurting too, even today.  Jesus sees you, knows your name and knows what you are going through now and will go through in the future.

Verse 32 Now when Mary came to the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the people who had come with her weeping, he was intensely moved in spirit and greatly distressed. (NET)

When you are hurting, distressed, be confident that Jesus knows, he cares, and he can’t wait for you to invite him to do something about it.  It’s true, he holds the whole world in his hands, but he’s holding you as well.  Now rest in that knowledge.

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.

God, I Promise I will …, If You Will …

PowerAfter living here four months, it finally happened!  I got very sick this past week from being an American and being careless with the water here in the Philippines.  While I was lying in my hospital bed, there was a series of thoughts like, “Is God punishing me?  Am I not praying enough?  What lesson is God wanting me to learn?  Should I be praying more?”  Then there are those who try to bargain with God like, “God, I will go to church, if you get me out of this.”

Then, the Holy Spirit whispered to me, “No.”

The truth is, we live in a world of sin, pain, grief, hurt, and disease.  But we are so superstitious, or think we control God by what “we” do.  Bad things happen to good people.  Why does God allow it?  Only He knows.  “I don’t think the way you think.  The way you work isn’t the way I work.”  God’s Decree.” (Isaiah 55:8 MSG)

I like what Mitch Teemley (https://mitchteemley.com) posted this week in his blog: “Faith doesn’t do miracles, God does.”

Did I still pray for healing?  Yes, and I did get better and got to come home.  Accepting God, and believing in him means trusting him, 100%.  Accepting his will is best.

Copyright © 2019 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

No One Ever Treated Me That Way

Charlie55

tricycle

I am a middle aged man, and have been driving a tricycle in Baliuag, Philippines for many years, but today, today I experienced something for the first time.  I’m not sure what to call it, but it felt good.  You see, this couple, I picked up for fare, while on their way to their destination wanted to stop at 7 Eleven and get something to drink.  Just before the man entered the store he stopped, turned to me, and asked, “Would you like something to drink?”

I didn’t know how to respond, and before I could think about it, I responded with a, “Yes.  Whatever you are getting.”  When he returned he handed me a large bottle of a soft drink.  In fact, my drink was larger than his.  I was shocked, stunned, and didn’t know what to think or say.  “Thank you,” I finally said.

As I dropped them off at their final destination, the man asked me, “How much?”  I wanted to say, “No charge,” but the truth is I really needed the money for my family.  He said, “I’ll decide how much.”, and he handed me a lot more than the fare should have been.  I watched with stunned feelings as the nice couple walked away.  His last words still echoing in my head, “Sir, I bless you today, because God blesses me.  He loves me, and he loves you too!”  Perhaps I should get to know such a loving God.

 

We never know who we will encounter each day.  It is important to be lead by the Holy Spirit to know what to say, or do, when He prompts us to, and then to be obedient.  James 3:10 refers to curses and blessing coming out of the same mouth and how this shouldn’t be, but also be aware that the same hands can hurt, or give blessings.  Let’s bless others with our mouths, and with our hands.

Copyright © 2019 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Risky Business

DSC_7833One of the hardest decisions to make, after having your heart ran through a shredder, is to try again.  You have said, “No way!” “I could never trust again.” “I can’t take the chance, or I never want to feel that kind of pain again!”

Me?  What did I used to say?  “God, it’s too hard.”

I once quoted, to a lady,  a line from a song, “All my ex’s live in Texas.”  After she got done laughing, she asked, “My God, how many do you have?”  “One,” I replied, “But that’s all of them!”  Through the many years since my divorce I have learned what real love is, by becoming intimate with my Heavenly Father, and also when man fell out with God, he fell out with women as well.  I have the vertical connection, with God, in place, and now I am open and willing, to take a risk, to try again, with the horizontal connection with a woman.

Notice the cross?  Yes, that one.  The one Jesus died on because he took the ultimate risk of love coming here to die for our sins.  I’m sure his heart aches when people reject him.  If a relationship is based on loving Jesus, then together you will have the vertical and the horizontal connections in place that will support a healthy, loving relationship.

Love is a “risky business”, but when done the way God intended, I’m trusting it will be one more thing God will look at and say, “It is good.”

Copyright © 2018 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

The Confession

20180618_161958Confession:  I have never been inside a confessional booth.  I grew up in a church where doing so was not part of our spiritual practice.  I am at a temple where there is one.  I am writing this blog post while sitting inside it.  Not intended, but in order to see I brought a small, but bright LED light.  It is casting such a white glow I think it scared a couple checking out the temple.

Here I sit, in this small, wooden structure.  It smells old, musty, perhaps from tears soaking the carpeted board beneath my feet.  There is carpet on the walls as well.  I guess to absorb the sound, but aren’t confessions meant to be heard?

I think there is also supposed to be a man in the booth next door.  A man to hear my sins?  My wrong doing?  What if he is actually a newspaper reporter?  Wait, when Jesus died on the cross, didn’t his selfless act of love cut out the middle man?  After all, the veil in the temple was ripped from top to bottom.  The veil that once separated man from God.  Now Jesus is our High Priest.

I guess while I am in here I might as well start talking.  Heavenly Father bless me.  It has been 23 minutes since my last confession.  You remember.  Oh, you don’t?  Then maybe I should choose to forget it also.

Now, I confess all my sins.  The ones that denied you, dissatisfied you, destroyed me and demolished others.  The sins that dishonored you, discomforted you.  The ones that would disqualify me from your presence, if it were not for your Son.  The sins that diminished others, disgruntled my employers, and devalued my wife and children.  And don’t forget the one that deflowered me before I was with the proper one at the proper time.  The ones that delayed me from being obedient unto you and your plans.  I also confess the times I digested things that defiled my body, your temple.  The words I spoke that derailed others on track to finding you.  The times my actions denounced you.  The sins that I allowed that wound up discouraging me and damaging my faith.

Forgive me Father.  I ask for your mercy and grace.  Thank you for not deleting my name from your Book of Life.  Thank you for forgiveness, and for your Son, Jesus who gives life through his death.

Now what do I do Lord God?  “Go and sin no more.”

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved

Have You Considered?

dome 1

Covering of protection

Have you ever considered what your breaking point would be in life?  How much you could take?  What could you handle, but what is too much?  Severe sickness of you, or of the ones you love the most?  Losing your entire net worth?  Being abandoned by the very ones you thought cared the most about you?

“And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job?”  Satan replied, “Have You not put a hedge (a covering) about him and his house and all that he has, on every side?” (Job 1:8 & 10 AMP)

God, because of Job’s relationship with him, had put a covering over him, or had his hand over him, so the results of a fallen, sinful, world could not affect Job, his family, or his possessions.  Once I got really angry at one of my neighbors.  I was so mad, I wanted to harm her, but I didn’t.  Instead I prayed and asked God to take revenge on her for hurting me,  After all, “Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” (Rom. 12:19 MSG)  One day I asked God what happens when he gets vengeance on someone.  He whispered back, “I slowly remove my hand from their life.”

I shuttered!  As time went on, I witnessed my neighbor losing her job, experiencing vandalism, and worst yet, the death of her oldest daughter.  I prayed for her.  I know God was hoping she would stop resisting him, and in turn, run to him.  She finally did.

Job resisted the temptation to blame God for his troubles and die, but eventually repented of his prideful way of thinking.  Then God restored everything back to him and doubled what he had lost.  Could you have handled such loss?  Or perhaps the better question is this, would God ever say to Satan, “Have you considered my servant: __________?“ (fill in blank with your name)

Copyright © 2018 Mark Brady, All rights reserved