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.

Hemmed In

Your back is up against the wall.  You have found yourself in a corner, or down an ally with no apparent way out.  Your mind is limited on how to resolve your situation.  You cannot see any reasonable way out.  Your resources are gone.  Your bank account, savings, or 401 has been depleted.

Now what?

Such was the story of a woman in the Bible.  She is one of my favorite heroes, for she was a woman of great faith who despite what she saw with her natural eyes she believed, “My situation doesn’t have to be this way.”  She knew when to tie a knot and hang on.  She was hemmed in, her back was up against the wall.

Yes, I’m talking about the woman with the issue of blood.  She suffered from a physical aliment that lasted for 12 whole years.  She spent every dime she had visiting multiple doctors trying to find a cure.  What’s even worse, those who knew her, called her, “Unclean”.  I’m sure they assumed God was punishing her for some sin in her life.  You think the thought, “I want to die!” never entered her mine?  Or, how many times did she question God, “Why?  Why God is this happening to me?”

People, who haven’t earned the right to put on a robe,
judge anyway.

What are you facing?  What challenges are you dealing with?  Can you identify with this woman?  I too am facing a situation today as I write these words that I honestly cannot see how the situation is going to end.  My emotions got on a roller coaster today, and I did not enjoy the ride at all.  Then I saw one of my friends, Jeff Lossau, posted a new blog. (https://jefflossau.com/)  As I read God’s words, from Psalms 34, I cried.

Listen to my testimony: I cried to God in my distress
and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears!
Gaze upon him, join your life with his, and joy will come.
Your faces will glisten with glory.
You’ll never wear that shame-face again.
When I had nothing, desperate and defeated,
I cried out to the Lord and he heard me,
bringing his miracle-deliverance when I needed it most.
The angel of the Lord stooped down to listen as I prayed,
encircling me, empowering me, and showing me how to escape.
He will do this for everyone who fears God.
Drink deeply of the pleasures of this God.
Experience for yourself the joyous mercies he gives
to all who turn to hide themselves in him.
Worship in awe and wonder, all you who’ve been made holy!
For all who fear him will feast with plenty.
10 Even the strong and the wealthy grow weak and hungry,
but those who passionately pursue the Lord
will never lack any good thing.
11 Come, children of God, and listen to me.
I’ll share the lesson I’ve learned of fearing the Lord.
12–13 Do you want to live a long, good life,
enjoying the beauty that fills each day?
Then never speak a lie or allow wicked words
to come from your mouth.
14 Keep turning your back on every sin,
and make “peace” your life motto.
Practice being at peace with everyone.
15 The Lord sees all we do;
he watches over his friends day and night.
His godly ones receive the answers they seek
whenever they cry out to him.
16 But the Lord has made up his mind to oppose evildoers
and to wipe out even the memory of them
from the face of the earth.
17 Yet when holy lovers of God cry out
to him with all their hearts,
the Lord will hear them and come to rescue them
from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to all whose hearts are crushed by pain,
and he is always ready to restore the repentant one.
19 Even when bad things happen to the good and godly ones,
the Lord will save them and not let them be defeated
by what they face.
20 God will be your bodyguard to protect you
when trouble is near.
Not one bone will be broken.
21 But the wicked commit slow suicide.
For they hate and persecute the lovers of God.
Make no mistake about it,
God will hold them guilty and punish them;
they will pay the penalty!
22 But the Lord has paid for the freedom of his servants,
and he will freely pardon those who love him.
He will declare them free and innocent
when they turn to hide themselves in him. (from, The Passion Translation)

The woman with the issue of blood risked everything, and went into a crowd. She pushed her way through it until she was where Jesus would pass by.  She even violated her society’s rules, because she knew with what little faith she had left, if she could just touch the hem of his garment she would be healed.  She no doubt had heard the testimonies of his healing power.  She did, He passed by, and she bowed to touch the hem of his garment, and she was healed instantly.  In a single moment, that she never could have foreseen, her issue went away, and so can yours! (Mark 5:25-34)

THEN, you can proclaim the first part of Psalms 34:

Lord! I’m bursting with joy over what you’ve done for me!
My lips are full of perpetual praise.
I’m boasting of you and all your works,
so let all who are discouraged take heart.
Join me, everyone! Let’s praise the Lord together.
Let’s make him famous!
Let’s make his name glorious to all.

The woman made God famous, and I’m willing to endure what my wife and I are going through, for someone else, so I can make God famous.

How about you?

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Why We Have Christmas

The Virgin Mary, accepted God’s plan, by opening up her heart,
her fiancé Joseph opened up his mind, to do his part.
Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth bore John the Baptist, though she was old,
He lived God’s call to roll out the red carpet for Salvation; freely given, not sold.

The shepherds worshiped baby Jesus, and offered him gifts, as he laid in the hay,
but their gifts wouldn’t compare to the one He would be give us some day.
The wise men searched for him, and even consulted the king,
but being warned of his plan, they went home a different way, after doing their thing.

Satan tried to use King Herod to take out Jesus, before he could live his life,
all the children in the area, under two were killed, probably with the use of a knife.
Mary and Joseph escaped to Egypt, as God is always one step ahead of Satan.
Not knowing if he was successful the devil must have been haten!

Jesus grew in stature, and knowledge of his heavenly Father’s plan,
to show the world real love, to offer freedom from sin and death to every man.
He succeeded, but had to die a horrific death on a cross with big nails,
but three days later, Jesus arose from the grave, God’s plan did not fail.

So that’s why we have Christmas day.
The beginning of God’s perfect way.
It rescued mankind from himself, as you now know.
If you accept this free gift, and do your best to be love, heaven you will go.

Merry Christmas one and all!

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Looking For Jesus (Part 7)

You.  If you have read the previous parts of this series, you have seen, most of those who played a part in the birth and early days of Jesus, were people God found to have good morals.  They were set apart from the majority of those around them in the world at that time.

Perhaps as you read those post, you thought, “I’m not righteous.  I’m not in right standing with God.”  Maybe you even had the thought, “God would never choose me, or even want me.”  Guess what?  That thought was a lie from hell, yes the devil.  He wants you to believe you have no value, no worth, to God, or even to others.  NOT TRUE! See yourself, as God sees you. Everyone, yes even you, has something to give, to offer to another person.  It’s no accident you are reading this post, or that you have read the previous 6.  Christmas will be here in a few days.

I heard a commercial on TV this morning say, “We need to rescue Christmas, for others.”  The truth of the matter is this:

We needed Christmas to rescue us!

You see Jesus IS the reason for the season.  It’s more than a cliché, and so much more than a Christmas card.  It is truth.  Without the birth of Jesus, we would be born, sin, and be destined to eternal damnation, for God is Holy, and cannot have sin in his presence.  That’s why God gave us the greatest gift, his only son.  And so we have Christmas, to celebrate Jesus’ birth.

It’s sad, how so many have lost focus of why we have Christmas, and they rush around trying to buy some happiness for those on their “nice” list, or family.  A friend of mine, who has believed the lies of the devil, and has walked away from any relationship with God in order to do his own thing, which he calls, “party” texted me the other day, “You can’t say, ‘Merry Christmas anymore’.”  I texted back, “I can, and will never stop.”  I mean come on, without Jesus there’s no “merry”, no hope, no joy, and certainly no real, agape, unselfish love, as Jesus demonstrated through his life and death on the cross.

Merry Christmas!

Okay, so now you know you have value.  Surly there is something you can do for someone else.  Even if it’s sit and listen to an elderly person retell their favorite stories, because that is the only thing they can still do, talk.  God loves you so much.  He wants you to have the kind of life He designed for you.  Living in a garden and not in a dump!

This Christmas, look for Jesus.  He has already found you, and is waiting for you to open your arms to welcome him into your life.  He opened his on the cross to welcome you into eternal life, if you only believe.  Don’t be concerned about how your life may change if you stop listening to the devil who hates you, and wants to destroy you to get back at God.  Get to know God through his word, and talk to him, just like you would talk to me.

Know I just prayed for you.  This current year, 2020 has truly opened up people’s eyes to the fight between good and evil, and to how precious life is.  A new year is coming soon, and it could be the greatest year of your life.  Look for Jesus to save you, and to deliver you out from your current struggles that weigh you down.

This Christmas, open God’s gift first.  His son Jesus, and throw away the box others try so hard to put, or keep him in.

Thank you so much for reading this blog.  I was just a kid from Oklahoma who accepted God’s gift, Jesus into his heart at an early age, and then has tried his best to live according to the word of God, the Bible.  Then to say, “Here I am Lord, use me.”  I trust He has, by speaking words of life into your heart.

Blessings,
Mark

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.

Looking For Jesus (Part 5)

The shepherds.  The evening started as normal as any other.  The shepherds had done their duty of setting their night watches over their sheep.  Then, out of nowhere, an angel stood among them, and said, “Don’t be afraid.  I’m here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David’s town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master. This is what you’re to look for: a baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12 (MSG)

Soon after, they no doubt, took a selfie of them with the angel to post on Biblebook, then decided to go over to Bethlehem as quick as they could to see for themselves what God had revealed to them.  Sure enough, seeing was believing, and they told everyone what the angel had said to them.

They left looking for Jesus.  Not believing, at first, what God had revealed to them, but after seeing Jesus they praised and worshipped him.

There are several truths here:

  1. God shows up with good news when least expected.  On the normal days.
  2. God can show up when you are going about your regular duties.
  3. There are times when his presence will catch you off guard.  When you are not looking for Him.
  4. God will use the least expected to do his work.
  5. Jesus’ birth was meant for everybody, worldwide.
  6. Some people have to see Jesus to believe, but it was still faith that got the shepherds to go to Bethlehem in the first place.

And the greatest truth in this post:

All, everyone, even you, will praise and worship Jesus when he is seen.  In that moment, everything you or they have heard, all their life, about God, and his son Jesus will be confirmed.

In everyday life, do what you need to do, but always be looking for Jesus to show up, to give you a message, forgiveness, an answer to prayer, or a gift.  And most important, be willing to share what Jesus gives you with others.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Looking For Jesus (Part 4)

King Herod.  He was not looking for Jesus, at first.  But after the wise men came to him asking, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” King Herod became interested.  In fact, the scriptures say, “he was alarmed, and all of Jerusalem with him.”  They must have liked things the way they were.

This is one of the main reasons why people don’t look for Jesus.  They like things the way they are.

King Herod gathered all the chief priest and experts in the law.  They knew the scriptures, the Old Testament and told the king exactly where Jesus would be born.  He then schemed to use the wise men to be his spies, and after finding the Christ child to report back.  Even as a child, Jesus threatened the status quo.  When the wise men found Jesus in Bethlehem they were warned not to return to the king, so they went back home via a different route.

An angel warned Joseph to take his family to Egypt so he did.  Soon after King Herod saw he had been tricked by the wise men, he became enraged.  He then sent men to kill all the children in Bethlehem and throughout the surrounding region from the age of two and under.

So now King Herod was looking for Jesus, but only because he was influenced by Satan.  The devil did not, and still doesn’t know God’s plans, but because he was once in heaven he knew the name of Jesus.  Satan, the devil used Herod to apply a shotgun approach to kill Jesus before he could grow up and do the will of God, and that was to defeat sin and death.

Satan will never win over God.  And he doesn’t know what God is doing in your life either.  Life with God is so much better than without him.  When you surrender your life to God, and ask him to lead you and guide you, I assure you, life will be so much better.  This season, look for Jesus for the right reasons.  You will soon be glad you did.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Looking For Jesus (Part 2)

Joseph.  A good man, in fact, a righteous man.  “Righteous”, a $12 dollar word which means, in right standing with God.  A smart man, reasonable in his dealing with people.  How do I know this?  Simple.  By reading the scriptures.

You see, when Mary told him she was pregnant, he of course was shocked and bewildered.  How could she do this to him?  And before they were to get married.  Did she truly love him, or was she marrying him for some other reason?  Men seem to have a hard time trusting women ever since the fall of Adam and Eve.  Due to the curse of sin men and women have had issues relating.

Back to him being a good man, he decided to end the engagement privately hoping it would save Mary and her family public embarrassment, but people talk and would have found out anyway.  Especially when Mary would start showing from her pregnancy.  But then:

20-23 While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term:

Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;
They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).

24-25 Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus. Mat. 1:20-25 (MSG)

Because Joseph was a God fearing man, he obeyed, and he too begin looking for Jesus.  Can you imagine what he was going through?  A new husband to a woman who has found favor with the God of the universe and is now carrying His son.  I’m sure Joseph had more questions than answers.  What do I do with him? Do I teach him how to be a carpenter, like me? Teach him about wood and nails? Many people have questions when they accept Jesus, and that’s okay, but Joseph accepted Jesus, and he accepted God’s plan.

Look for Jesus.  You will find him, because He has already found you. Don’t get hung up on the details. Don’t try to figure out God’s plan with your mind, because you never will fully understand it, but trust me, it’s all about love. Love for the people of the world. Love for you.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Looking For Jesus (Part 1)

Mary.  Singing.  Dreaming of her upcoming life as the young bride of Joseph.  Tending to the laundry.  What would have been another typical day, of her life, turned into the most extraordinary day of her life.  An angel appeared.  “Fear not.”  Yeah, right.  If it happened to me I would have had to do some more laundry.

“You have found favor with God.  You will become pregnant with a Son, and you will name him, Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  God will give him the throne of his father, David.  He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.”

Mary questioned God’s plan, considering she had never been with a man.

But the angel explained, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  Therefore the child to be born will be holy, in fact he will be called, the Son of God.” (Luke 1)

From that day forward, Mary found herself looking for Jesus.  As he grew inside her, when he turned, kicked, and did all the things babies do inside the womb, she had to have wondered, what will he look like it?  Will I see the face of God, or will he look like me?  Time would reveal that Jesus looked just like God in all ways.  For he always said, “I only do what I have seen my Father in heaven do.”

I’m sure Mary wasn’t the perfect parent, but Jesus forgave her for that.  His death on the cross not only forgave her, but all of us who accept him for who he is, the Son of God.  And guess what, he’s coming back.  He’s coming to gather those who believe and call him, Lord.  To take us to his home now, heaven to be with him forever.  I’m living my life in a manner to be invited for the second greatest coming in the history of the earth!  I’m looking for Jesus, are you?

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Heaven or Hell?

My friend and I were riding the commuter train, from Chicago, home after a long day. Somehow, the conversation turned to God and each of us shared our beliefs on what happens to us when we die.

He said he was convinced, after we die, we are reincarnated.

Then I shared my belief that if we have accepted Jesus Christ, as God’s son, and have invited him to forgive us of our sin, wrong doing, then when we die we spend eternity in heaven. If we don’t accept Jesus Christ, then we spend eternity in hell.

We were able to listen to each other, with respect, but then I told my friend this; “If you are right, then I have nothing to be concerned about. If I am correct, you may have a long time to regret it.

We exited the train, and before heading to our cars, he said, “You sure have given me something to think about.” I hope and pray he has now accepted Jesus, but on that day, he wasn’t ready.

You have to choose one or the other. There is no way around it. There are no excuses for not selecting. You can’t say it is impossible to know, for God reveals himself to everyone.

Romans 1:19-25 (TPT)

19 In reality, the truth of God is known instinctively, for God has embedded this knowledge inside every human heart. 20 Opposition to truth cannot be excused on the basis of ignorance because from the creation of the world, the invisible qualities of God’s nature have been made visible, such as his eternal power and transcendence. He has made his wonderful attributes easily perceived, for seeing the visible makes us understand the invisible. So then, this leaves everyone without excuse.

21 Throughout human history the fingerprints of God were upon them, yet they refused to honor him as God or even be thankful for his kindness. Instead, they entertained corrupt and foolish thoughts about what God was like. This left them with nothing but misguided hearts, steeped in moral darkness. 22 Although claiming to be super-intelligent, they were in fact shallow fools. 23 For only a fool would trade the unfading splendor of the immortal God to worship the fading image of other humans, idols made to look like people, animals, birds, and even creeping reptiles!

24 This is why God lifted off his restraining hand and let them have full expression of their sinful and shameful desires. They were given over to moral depravity, dishonoring their bodies by sexual perversion among themselves— 25 all because they traded the truth of God for a lie. They worshiped and served the things God made rather than the God who made all things—glory and praises to him for eternity of eternities! Amen!

Choose God before it is too late. He has already chosen you, and He loves you more than you will ever know.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.