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.

I Was Found Guilty!

“Mark, you have the right to remain silent. In fact, just don’t say anything at all unless I ask you to. Anything you do say will definitely be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you can’t afford an attorney, and at the age of seven I doubt you can, one will be appointed for you, but you won’t find any available.”

I appealed to have my hearing moved to the neighbor’s house, hoping that would allow for a fair trial, or at least a lighter sentence. The judge denied my request. As we begin, I looked around and failed to see a jury of my six, seven, and eight-year-old peers.

“Mark, where were you on the morning of July 7th?” asked my mother.

“I was in my bedroom, building a new train station,” I replied.

“Did you or did you not take cookies from the cookie jar after being told not to?” she persisted while raising her voice hoping I would crack.

Sweat began to bubble up on my back. “No. It wasn’t me.”

“You sure?”

“Yes!”

“That’s odd because I have an eyewitness that says you did.”

Gees! My accuser struck again. Seems like my older sister always caught me doing what I wasn’t supposed to be doing, and then she would run and tell my mother. In this case I was found guilty as charged. I would forever be known as a convicted cookie thief.

We all will stand before God one day. And the accuser of the brethren will be there telling on us. Informing God what we did wrong, our sins while we were on earth. We will be found guilty. But then, Jesus Christ will step forward and say to his Heavenly Father, “No punishment will be necessary. I have already paid the wages of their sin. We will escape eternal damnation, and not spend eternity in hell.

Jesus Christ did that for every one of us, out of love. Out of obedience to his Heavenly Father, God. It’s there for the asking, and it’s free. His forgiveness of our wrongdoing means we can no longer be known as a cookie thief or be forced to wear any other degrading title. We will be known as children of God and invited to enter heaven, and live happily ever after.

Salvation and power are established!
    Kingdom of our God, authority of his Messiah!
The Accuser of our brothers and sisters thrown out,
    who accused them day and night before God.
They defeated him through the blood of the Lamb
    and the bold word of their witness. Rev. 12:10-11 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Crumbs of Rumors

“I admit I once lived by rumors of you;
    now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears!
I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!
    I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”

Job 43:5-6 (MSG)

There are a lot of people who only hear about God, but they have never “experienced” God for themselves!  They “go” to church thinking that He takes attendance, or something. He doesn’t! As if their “going to church” is the only thing required of them in order to go to heaven. I would think after hearing how great God is, how marvelous, how wonderful, and how loving they would want to spend time getting to know him. You know, reading his number one, bestselling, book, and talk to him on a regular basis.

I find it difficult to understand why they only want to “hear” about God. Perhaps they attend a church service that is lifeless, an hour of following the same rules week after week, therefore thinking that knowing God is not life at all? On the contrary, knowing God is really living! The most exciting adventure you will ever experience!

I have heard others say their priest or minister has told them the Bible is too difficult to understand. The truth is, the gospel of Jesus Christ is so simplistic that even a child can understand and accept it. Don’t over complicate the Word of God, or his plan of salvation. It’s all about an “invitation of the dying love”. That sounds like a book’s subtitle I once heard of.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The Yolk, The White, The Shell

A lot of people recognize God.  Some will acknowledge Jesus as God’s son.  Few though, it seems, mention the third member of the trinity, the Holy Spirit.  I am so thankful for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.  For it was He who drew me to God in the first place.  It was He who convicted me of sin.  Though I was only 7 years old, I knew right from wrong, and my pastor preached with God’s authority, that being wrong was sin, and that sin lead to eternal death in hell.

I am thankful, for now I will not be lost forever in the pitch darkness of eternal damnation, alone, and with the feeling of falling forever.  For the pit of hell is bottomless.  Mankind needs two things to feel human, time, and gravity.  Time provides a schedule, a rhythm to life, and gravity helps us feel grounded.  In hell neither exist.

Many years ago, I spent a few hours in jail.  Shocked? Yeah, well, whatever. It happened. Anyway, I noticed there were no clocks, and I didn’t like not knowing what time it was.  The only way to know was by what food items they served us.  Pancakes; must be morning.  Bologna sandwich and chips; has to be afternoon.  Chicken; it’s got to be evening now.

The Holy Spirit also provides great comfort in the times when I don’t understand what is going on with life, or when my heart is breaking for one reason or another. He may not calm the storm, but He calms me down, and helps me know I will get through it.

More than leading me to Jesus, which accepting his work on the cross grants me access to the throne room of God, the Holy Spirit gives me power.  Like Jesus promised us in Acts 1:8. The power I need to speak, and minister to someone in need.  Honestly, many times I wouldn’t have a clue what to say, but I rely on the Holy Spirit.  I open my heart to be willing, and then I open my mouth and God’s words come out.  I know it is God, through the Holy Spirit, because I am usually just as amazed as the one I am speaking to at the wisdom, or love of the words spoken.

But I promise you this—the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be filled with power. And you will be my messengers to Jerusalem, throughout Judea, the distant provinces—even to the remotest places on earth!”  Acts 1:8 (TPT)

Every person who believes in God should ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  It is a separate event from salvation and water baptism.  For the scriptures say that when Jesus came up out of the water, meaning after his baptism, then the Holy Spirit lit upon him.  It was the work of the Holy Spirit that empowered Jesus to endure the cross.  In his own human strength it was more than He could bear.

Just like there are three parts to an egg, the yolk, the white, and the shell, it is still only one egg.  So there is Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God, but there is still only one God.  The three are one, and I will be forever grateful for all three, and the work they have done in my one life. If you choose not to believe in the trinity of God, you may find yourself someday with egg on your face.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.