This Side of Heaven

I was “Two Way Journaling” this morning, a spiritual practice I don’t do enough of.  It’s writing out your conversation to God, and then waiting to hear in your spirit what God would say to you.  I was thanking him for using me to be his “Man on the street” if you will.  In other words, it seems as if whenever I am out in public I come across a soul that needs encouragement, acceptance, love, or to be introduced to God.

It humbles me knowing that God would work with me, or I should say through me for I don’t do life in a perfect manner all the time.  I think one reason He does reach people through people is to put a physical dimension to the encounter the person is having, for after all, we are made in God’s image, and I strive to be made in his nature.

I often think about those God directed me to, and I wonder, how is their relationship with God now?  Are they closer to accepting Truth?  Have they learned to take God’s hand and overcome with him their struggles?  Below is a comment from one of my faithful readers of this blog, and what she said about a woman God directed her to in a coffee shop.  (You can also get to her blog posts by clicking on the link.)

From seekingdivineperspective:

“Thanks for taking the time to write, Mark, and especially for praying. We’ll probably never know this side of heaven what happened to that young woman, but God knows, and I hope we will meet her when we all get there.”

There are a few times we do get to know how things turn out, but those are seldom.  For instance; did the lady at a Quick Trip get reacquainted with God and go back to the church her grandmother took her to, or is she still living with the guy she was with that day, hoping for real love?  Will a woman at work accept God and his love and allow him to comfort her in the loss of her mother?  Did the gentleman I talked to while sitting on a cold sidewalk give God a chance to restore his life and his relationship with his wife and kids?

So it’s important to not hurry out there to run our errands and then hurry back home, or to just go to work and only do what is expected of you,

but while living life, look for opportunities to give life.

For as Life Church declares all the time,

“Whoever finds God, finds life.”

You may not know the results, this side of heaven, but something will happen, and one day, when you get to that side of heaven, you will know, and if the results were good you will probably tear up, and give thanks to God for using you, and be thankful for the work God did in the life of the other person.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

It’s Not My Fault

One thing that gets me upset faster than most is encountering someone with a self-righteous attitude.  You’ve met them too I’m sure somewhere in life.  It doesn’t take long to discover them.  As soon as they tell you their life story, or if they hit your car and jump out and say it was your fault even though it wasn’t.

Well, I had another run in this past week with such a person.  I have known them for a few months now and have heard how their current life issues are a result of everyone else.  Sure, other’s actions do affect us, I get that, but at the same time we have to take responsibility for our part, and for our decisions.

After the person blamed me for their current displeasure I will be honest and say, I got mad!  Very mad, and I made enough noise to let them know of my displeasure.  I’m trying to learn how to respond to everyone and in every situation with one or more of the fruit of the Spirit, but I failed that day. I didn’t say a word, but they knew I didn’t like it.  I decided the best thing to do was to remove myself from their presence.  Being honest, I was concerned I would say something that they would use against me in the future.

But the whole time I was stewing I kept thinking this:

“When you stand before God, are you going to try to blame someone else for not accepting Jesus?”

These self-righteous individuals may think they are getting by with it here on earth, but in heaven I’m confident it will be a different situation.  I’ve often wondered if their attitude makes them feel better about themselves.  I mean what’s so bad about being wrong?  Apologize and then move on.  We are human after all, and in heaven, if you have accepted Jesus Christ then your wrong doing have been forgiven.

I feel sorry for people like the one I encountered this past week.  They are believing lies the devil puts in their mind, and those lies may, someday, determine where they spend eternity.  That’s a long time to regret your decisions! It’s possible that blaming others most of your life will make it difficult to identify as someone who does this, but perhaps there is a sliver of truth in you somewhere.

If you consider yourself self-righteous then I pray you will learn to be bold and brave and stop believing the lies, and face the reality of the truth and stop hurting others, but also stop hurting yourself.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

What Does Your Sign Say?

She’s 19 years old.  Engaged to the man of her dreams, so she thinks, but the longer our conversation went it became obvious to me she’s marrying this guy to escape her mother’s prison.  She’s not happy, not satisfied, and not fulfilled.  I tried to, in a gentle way, point out the flaws in her plans,

but I had forgotten;

19 year olds know everything.

I was asked how my weekend went, and I replied, ”Good.  I enjoyed it.  How was yours?”  “Oh, not so good,” said my friend.  I was surprised.  On the outside his life looks as if it is going well.  Apparently it’s not.  Who knew?  Later I offered to get together and be a sounding post if he wanted to vent, or share.  He said he appreciated that.

It seems, as if most of my life, others have shared with me what is going on in their lives.  Especially when it is not going well.  I was perplexed by this phenomenon for several years until one day I was told that it seems as if I have a shepard’s heart.  I should have known for many people have asked me if I was a pastor.  The truth is, I was supposed to be.  I was on the path to becoming one when I took a wrong turn in that fork in the road of life.

I could have taken the road on the right, and kept going, but I didn’t, and, well, the consequences took me out of ministry, but it didn’t change my heart.  I repented, and tried to get back on track, but it didn’t happen, but I digress.

I ask you today, “What message are you giving others?”  When someone meets you what are you saying to them?  Are you open to listening?  Does your sign tell them that you are only interested in your plans and goals?

There are people all around us that need hope, light in their dark world, they might just need someone to listen, to know someone cares, or more importantly, they might need God.

I try to imitate the life of Christ, and one thing I noticed is this; he took time for people.  I hope you do too.  I hope the message on your sign says, “Welcome.”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

A New Chapter

America.  She changed today.  Maybe the reality is, she changed a long time ago from the innocent days I once knew, but this truth is obvious today.  I grew up in Oklahoma, in a middle class family that somehow, always seem to have enough and then some.  I watched as my parents made good decisions and choices who worked hard for what they wanted.  “The American Dream”.  I believed in this dream and I too sought it out.  I wanted to own my own house, well after paying 30 years of payments.  I desired a good job, a loving wife, 2.5 kids, one of each sex, and to be a happy family.

The truth is, it took me 35 years to buy the house that will be mine in 26 and 1/2 years.  I have two kids, one of each sex, who don’t talk to me, and, their mother divorced me after she made a huge mistake, but convinced everyone our marriage failed solely due to me.  As a result, my biological family doesn’t want to have anything to do with me, so you could say I don’t have the happy family I desired.  Many Christmas days have been spent filling the empty stocking with tears.

After years of checking the “Divorced” box on forms I met and then married a Filipino woman.  I thought perhaps now I would get the happy family I desired.  You know what?  There are cynical, greedy, lying family members in all cultures, but the woman I married is the exception to a few members of her own family.  I have written about it a few times; my wife lives out God’s definition of love.

After our wedding, I was with her for seven months in the Philippines, until I needed a medical procedure, so I left her there thinking immigration wouldn’t take that long and she would come to America on my heels.  There was some delay in the process, but as we were reaching the finish line Covid hit.  Another year without her, another moist Christmas day.  A lot of crying out to God, and asking, “Why?”  The big three set in: Discouragement, Disappointment and yes, even Depression.  As I crawled through those dark days way down, deep inside me, was a mustard seed of faith that was whispering, “God knows what He is doing.”  In full disclosure, my mind was asking, “Are you sure?”

January 7th, we received an email stating my wife has her long awaited interview with the U.S. embassy in Manila.  LIGHT pierced our darkness.  I wanted to wait to share this until she was actually here, but someone needs to read these words now.  We are hoping we will be together by Valentine’s Day.  What a time to reunite our love for each other and for our God who loves us beyond belief.

When my wife is in our home in Oklahoma a new chapter of our lives together will begin.  Unfortunately, she will never know the “America” I grew up in.  Today, those with money want more, and those who “think” they have power want total control.  I sense days may be coming that perhaps will not be comfortable.  Standing up for what is true, for what is right could prove to be difficult.  There will most likely be a separation of those who have a solid relationship with God from those who were pretending, because in the America I grew up in, it was popular to say you were a “Christian”, but not anymore.

Yes a new chapter will be starting soon in my life, but also a new chapter in the life of America.  Our country’s slogan, printed on our currency, may no longer be, “In God We Trust”. Sometimes I wonder who is really holding the pen, writing each chapter.  As for my life, I want God to, because whether I understand his ways or not, He does know what He is doing!

Isaiah 55:8-11(MSG)

8-11 “I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
        God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Peace of Mind

One doesn’t have to look around very far, or watch the news very long to see there is a lack of peace in our world.  And social media, these days, should come with a pain scale.

When I try to watch the news I find myself yelling at the so called “leaders” of our country.  You know, just because they control the media doesn’t mean they are speaking truth.  I don’t like how I feel when that happens, or when I witness unrest.

I don’t think I am alone when I say, what I desire most, right now, is peace.  Last year, 2020, kept us on edge.  “What’s going to happen?”  “What do I need to do?”  “How can I stay safe?”  “Where can I find toilet paper?” “How do I keep those I love healthy?”

When Jesus found himself in a storm, he simply said, “Peace be still.”  Is that all it takes?  Well, sort of.  It’s a start.  It’s declaring, I’m not going to get caught up in all of the unrest.  I don’t have to state my position or opinions on social media.  I can turn on the TV in time to get my weather update and then turn it off again, and make an effort to stay away from world news.

Jesus offered us peace by trusting in him.

“I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!” John 14:27 (TPT)

Instead, I can commit to fill my mind, my time, my world with things I enjoy.  With things that build up, instead of teardown.  With activities, words, relationships that inspire, or bring peace.  It’s my world after all.  I do have a say so, and so do you.  Take control of your own life, when and where you can.  You will find more peace that way, and feel better too.

Peace out!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Let There Be

I love it that God spoke the world into existence, and it started with him saying, “Let there be light.”  Before he said those words the earth was there, and it was dark and shapeless, but the Holy Spirit was hovering above.

I think a lot of people are going through a very difficult time right now.  One might say, dark and shapeless, but know this, the Spirit of God is hovering above.  Keeping an eye on you, so you are not alone in the darkness although it may feel like it.

What if, in your darkness, someone said,
“Let there be light”?

Your healing could be separated from the darkness.  Your employment situation could be brighter.  Your long awaited spouse steps out of the shadows into full sight.  Whatever it is, in the time it takes for God to say, “Let there be light”, your whole situation can change.  So what is God waiting on?  When the moment is right.  When you are right, or when the other person is ready, or the employment connection is made.

In the meantime, we wait, as patiently as we can, knowing that while life is dark the Holy Spirit is hovering overhead.  Remember, light dispels darkness immediately, in an instant.  Light over powers darkness.  It cast it aside.

After God spoke light into existence he looked at it said, “It is good.”  When God speaks into your life, your situation, your darkness afterwards he will say, “It is good.”  And it will be.  Your darkness will be over.  It will be gone, and you see your new day dawning.  You will breathe in and out like you never have before for the weight of the darkness will have lifted.  If you place your hope and trust in God I promise you will see the end of the doom and gloom.

So lift your head and say, “Let there be light.”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The End is Here

If you are reading this, in a few days you will be able to say, “I survived 2020.”  You might even be able to say that you beat Covid.  My friend in Chicago did.  I give the glory to God for that one, because he got close to the edge, but God escorted him back to give him another opportunity to accept him and his love.  I also know of a few people who didn’t.  Others have lost jobs, while some have lost their freedom to visit family, or attend a church service in person.

Yes, it’s been an especially tough year, but as I opened the mail today, and read what a friend went through in the two previous years. It was in that moment, I was reminded;

any year can be a difficult year!

That truth is a result of sin, brought into the world by the original sinners, Adam and Eve.  So even today, mankind is born into sin.  Therefore, God sent us a Savior to rescue us from ourselves.  If our greatest need had been education He would have given us a teacher.  If our greatest need would have been money then God would have given us a financial wizard.  But God, who loves us so much, and wants nothing more than to commune with us daily, gave us his son, his only son.

I have noticed the Holy Spirit has led me all year to write about God’s love, God’s son, and the free gift of salvation.  That tells me that He, God, wants to be reunited with everyone, before the end of the earth comes as we know it.

The Bible is true, and as the last book in it, Revelation, tells us in detail what is about to happen.  We are on the very threshold of the days, and events mentioned in the book of Revelation, coming true.  Please don’t dismiss God calling you home.  Don’t let another year go by without acting on his call to come into the family of God.  Life may get even harder than it was in 2020, and I tell you this, the only way I survived this current year was by doing life with God.  Drawing even closer to him like a child afraid of people they just met.

Please, I beseech you, accept Jesus into your life.  You will not die regretting it, but live forever rejoicing you did.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Looking For Jesus (Part 6)

Simeon.  He was righteous and devout, looking for the restoration of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  The Holy Spirit revealed to him he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

What the scriptures don’t share with us is how long Simeon had to wait for that promise to be fulfilled.  Did he have days where he doubted if he had really heard God, or perhaps wanted something so bad to happen that he made it up?  We don’t know, but we do know this, he never gave up.

Walking with God can be a challenging journey at times.  Especially after receiving direction, a word, a promise from God.  Day after day goes by and you lay your head on the pillow again with your heart feeling empty, because that day, wasn’t THE day what God spoke to you came true.

But know this; you are one more step closer!

I just paused from writing this post and sat in one of my favorite chairs and cried.  I too am waiting.  I know and feel your pain!  I am waiting to be reunited with my wife.  Due to slow immigration and now Covid we are separated.  I told a friend, “It’s like knowing what you are getting for Christmas, but then all the clocks stop, and Christmas never arrives!”  It’s been one year, 4 months, 15 days, or 12,048 hours since I last held my wife in my arms, smelled her hair, and felt the warmth of her love.  But I know this; when we are together again, every one of those new embraces will contain that much more value. Instead of looking at what I don’t have yet, I choose to focus on what I do have, Jesus.

Okay. I got it together again, so lets go on.

The Holy Spirit led Simeon into the temple courts on the day Mary and Joseph brought baby Jesus to do what was customary to the law.  Simeon took the child into his arms and blessed God saying, “Lord and Master, I am your loving servant, and now I can die content, for your promise to me has been fulfilled.  With my own eyes I have seen your Word, the Savior you sent into the world. He will be glory for your people Israel, and the Revelation Light for all people everywhere!” Luke 2:29-32 (MSG)

Simeon was looking for Jesus, and before he died, he not only saw God’s son, but held him in his arms, and spoke a blessing over him.  What an honor, to play an important part in the life of Christ.  What role does God want you to play in the life of someone else?

I close this post with a link to Michael Card’s beautiful singing of this story from scripture.  This holiday season, it’s not too late to look for Jesus.  It’s not too late to take him in your arms and as this song says, “Your life will never end.”

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Why Do You Love God?

A true story:

One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan, who was the Designated Accuser, came along with them. God singled out Satan and said, “What have you been up to?”

Satan answered God, “Going here and there, checking things out on earth.”

God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him—honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil.”

Satan retorted, “So do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does—he can’t lose!

“But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He’d curse you right to your face, that’s what.”

God replied, “We’ll see. Go ahead—do what you want with all that is his. Just don’t hurt him.” Then Satan left the presence of God.

Sometime later, while Job’s children were having one of their parties at the home of the oldest son, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys grazing in the field next to us when Sabeans attacked. They stole the animals and killed the field hands. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”

While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Bolts of lightning struck the sheep and the shepherds and fried them—burned them to a crisp. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”

While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Chaldeans coming from three directions raided the camels and massacred the camel drivers. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”

While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Your children were having a party at the home of the oldest brother when a tornado swept in off the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they died. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”

Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshiped:

Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth.
God gives, God takes.
    God’s name be ever blessed.

Not once through all this did Job sin; not once did he blame God. Job 1:6-22 (MSG)

Wow!  What would your response be if this happened to you?  Many people blame God for evil, and pain in this world, but we can see here God doesn’t cause it, the devil does.  2020 has been a very painful year for a lot of people around the world.  Have people, or you blamed God, or the men that created the virus for evil?  Do those who on January 1st, 2020 who praised God and confessed their love for Him still do?  Do you only love God when He is good to you?

It is so important, no, it is vital that we keep our perspective true when facing difficult times.  To know God didn’t bring, or cause the pain although He did allow it knowing that if we keep our focus on him we will get through it.  Job loved God simply because, He is God!

We don’t know when the events of 2020 are going to end.  We don’t know who will still be above ground and the totality of it all, but don’t for one second take your eyes off of God.  Know He is still God, and love him accordingly.

The end of Job’s story:

God blessed Job’s later life even more than his earlier life. Job 42:12 (MSG)

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

You May Not Like It

“I’ve been crying out to God, for an answer to my current marriage situation,” said the lady I had just met earlier that day.  I have never understood, exactly why, but people feel comfortable opening up to me, even after moments of talking.  Sometimes I wonder if I am wearing a sign that says, “Will listen to you for food.”  I’ve been told I have the heart of a shepherd, a pastor.  If that’s the case, my congregation doesn’t meet under one roof, but where ever I happen to be in this world.

She went on to share that after 16 years of being married her husband had a moment of indiscretion.  Perhaps the stress of 2020 has caused a lot of people to do things they wouldn’t dare do before.  I encouraged her to speak out loud and demand the demonic forces, that are trying to tear her home apart, to get out, in the name of Jesus.  Then flip the environment and invite God’s presence into the home.  I instructed her to speak the fruit of the spirit over her family.  Love, joy, peace, etc.  I told her it was her home, her family, her life and not to give up hope.  She smiled through teary eyes and agreed to take action.

I went back to my task which brought us together in the first place.  It’s a task I don’t like, but it is an answer to one of my prayers.  I was reflecting upon the encounter, and praying for her, and the family.  It was in that moment I sensed God speak to me and say,

“I brought you here as a result of your prayers, but I also brought you here as a result of her prayers.”

You see, God delights in using his servants to do his business.  God is in the people business because He loves us so much.  We, believers in God, are co-laborers with Jesus.

“He [Jesus] came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

God’s Spirit is on me;
    he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
    recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
    to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”  Luke 4:16-21 (MSG)

We are all called of God to do the same as Jesus did.  To be in the business of people.  To be there to see them, listen to them, and then to speak life giving words that can set them free, or say a prayer that can heal them.  Sometimes, a home needs to be healed, or a marriage.

You may not like it, where God has you at the moment, but look around, He has you there for a purpose, his!

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.