The Fruit Section of Life

Your life has come to an end.  As happens after every death, people will reflect on what kind of person you were, or at least what kind of person you were to them.  Without a doubt, their decision will be based solely on how you treated them, or responded to their behavior.  There are times though when you will be judged, and remembered unfairly.  A person’s mind is powerful, so much so, it can bend truth.

What is it people see that makes up one’s mind considering you?  It’s the fruit your life bears.  Is that fruit sweet, or sour?  Does your life, your words, your actions leave a good taste in the mouths of others, or do they want to spit them out?  Jesus even eluded to the fact people are known by the fruit their life bears.

And I don’t mean like, someone is bananas!

I’m referring to the fruit of the spirit.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

If there is no law against these fruits, then they cannot be judged.

The way for the fruit of your life to be, and stay healthy is for you to always stay connected to the vine.  Jesus instructs us with these words in John 15 from The Passion Translation:

Jesus the Living Vine

“I am a true sprouting vine, and the farmer who tends the vine is my Father. He cares for the branches connected to me by lifting and propping up the fruitless branches and pruning every fruitful branch to yield a greater harvest. The words I have spoken over you have already cleansed you. So you must remain in life-union with me, for I remain in life-union with you. For as a branch severed from the vine will not bear fruit, so your life will be fruitless unless you live your life intimately joined to mine.

“I am the sprouting vine and you’re my branches. As you live in union with me as your source, fruitfulness will stream from within you—but when you live separated from me you are powerless. If a person is separated from me, he is discarded; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire to be burned. But if you live in life-union with me and if my words live powerfully within you—then you can ask whatever you desire and it will be done. When your lives bear abundant fruit, you demonstrate that you are my mature disciples who glorify my Father!

The purpose of operating in the fruit of the Spirit of God isn’t so people will know us as good, or even great, but that God will be glorified.  If you are in need of getting back to the vine, Jesus, then by all means do it.  There are too many people out there who are not connected to Jesus and they do a lot of damage in the lives of others.  And if you need some help, I’ve heard of a product called, “Miracle Grow”.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved. 

Life Is No Game

A man was walking through an art museum, when he suddenly stopped.  In front of him was a painting that portrayed two individuals playing the game of chess.  The man, being a chess champion was intrigued, and studied the piece of art with intense focus.  The title of the painting was “Checkmate”.  In the game of chess that means the king is about to be overcome, and there is nothing he can do about it.  “Checkmate”, is a word that indicates or announces, you’re done.  It’s over.  It may even invoke fear.

Do you feel as though someone, or circumstances has recently said, “Checkmate” to you?  Is your heart being gripped by fear?  I was watching the news the other day, and heard how many people are still unemployed, and are being threatened of losing their dwelling place, and worst yet, are hunger challenged.  I don’t like to see anyone suffer, and if it hurts me I know it must hurt God.  Yes, God has emotions.  Where do you think we got ours as we are created in his image.

There is truth in saying that “some” people create their own problem(s) by how they live, or by what they do with their money, but now is not the time to give a lecture when they are already on their knees.  We can only hope they dislike their circumstances so much they make drastic change as soon as they can.  In other words, they find a glimmer of hope, and they hang on to that hope, because truth is, there may not be anything else to hold on to.  The kind of hope that can eliminate fear.  The kind of hope that can only be found in Jesus who is the King of Kings!

The chess expert in the museum cried out,

“This painting is incorrectly titled!”

The museum curator came rushing over to see why the man was making such an outrageous claim.  “Sir, why do you claim it is titled wrong?” asked the curator.  “Because I have looked at every possibility, and the king has one more move that will cause his opponent to be checkmated!”  The piece of art is now in a private collection.

You see, when you place your hope, your trust and faith in the King, you don’t ever have to worry about it being over, for the King of Kings always has one more move.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved. 

Say His Name

082520A minister shared the story of his daughter, who was very young at the time, and in Africa, by herself.  There was a native mother having trouble birthing her child.  She was in great agony and screaming out.  The village, female, witch doctor had her candles burning, incents smoking, while she recited “hocus pocus” chants.  The young woman had enough and begged someone to go retrieve the American, who earlier had made her faith in God, known.  The minister told us his daughter went there and surveyed the situation.  She was barely 21 years old, and the only thing she could think of to do was sing the song, “In the Name of Jesus”.  The witch doctor had a fit, and stormed out, at which point peace entered, the woman’s pain subsided, and she delivered her baby.

There have been some very powerful, or influential people throughout history, and in current times.  Some have used their influence for good, while others, not so much.  Yet there is one, and only one who has affected the world like no one else.  Who, you might be asking?  Jesus Christ.

There is power in the name of Jesus!

One can be in the middle of any jam, any sickness, or any upsetting storm of life and call on the name of Jesus.  Jesus, showed up on the scene at the right time, and still does today.  It is important though, to believe, in the name of Jesus.  The lyrics to the song she sang:

In the name of Jesus,
We have the victory.
In the name of Jesus,
Satan will have to flee.
Tell me who can stand before us
when we call on this great name
JESUS, JESUS, JESUS, JESUS
We have the victory!

There are no hours limiting when you can call his name.  There are no “Terms or Conditions”.  No fine print to squint at before using his name.  No shoes, No shirt?  No problem, you can still call his name.  You see, in a world where everyone tries to protect themselves with “agreements” that only benefit them, calling upon the name of Jesus benefits you.  Jesus came along and shook things up.  He showed, by example, there is a better way to do things.  What is that way?  Love!

God gave us his son, because He loved!  Jesus chose to die on a cross for you, because He loved!  Jesus is right there ready to step in when you invite him to, by calling his name, because He still loves!

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

How Much More?

052620How do you convince someone you love them?  You could tell them over and over perhaps.  You could show them in every way possible.  You could do everything you can think of.  You could even learn their love language, and speak it fluently.  After all the effort you would expect them to accept you, to accept your love, but what if they don’t?  Can you imagine the frustration you would feel?  Then, what if you told them, “In order to prove how much I love you, I’ll die for you.”  They might still reject your offer, and even say, “You’re crazy!”

Choose Love!

The truth is, God did this very thing, but He even went one step further.  He gave us his only son to die for us.  It is never right for a child to die before the parent.  It’s not natural.  To think this was God’s plan, ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed him in the Garden of Eden.  I mean, how much more can God do to prove how much He loves us?

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” John 3:16-18 (MSG)

In these days we are living in, everyone who hasn’t, should run to God and accept his free gift.  Are you afraid of being obligated of loving God back?  Are you concerned you might have to live in a way you would rather not?  You know it doesn’t matter what you have done in your past, his forgiveness will cover it.  If you disagree then you are listening to the one, Satan, who wants you to die for eternity.  Living for eternity is better, and there is only one way, God’s.  How much more can He do?

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

False Advertising?

052220I attended a funeral this week.  My aunt.  She was the last sibling to pass on, from my father’s side.  There were 10 of them.  After the grave side service I walked over to my father’s grave.  I cleaned it off and told him I missed him, even though he was a handful to deal with in the last years of his life.

My father was 82 when he passed away.  As I was looking at his tombstone, I saw his favorite photo attached to it.  (See photo)  I laughed as I recalled teasing him, before he passed, about ripping it off of there, with a crowbar.  He’s the one who glued it on there in the first place.  It dawned on me, toward the end of his life, this is how he saw himself, still 21 and a, “Lady’s Man”.  At 70, divorced, he even had wallet size copies made up with his phone number written on the back of them.  He would hand them out to women he met at the dance halls.  I would say to my father, “That’s false advertising!”  He didn’t see the humor in it.

This brings me to a point:  Is how you see yourself, the same as others see you?  Do you think more highly of yourself than you should?  Do you consider yourself to be a better person than others would say you are?  Or, would others say more good things about you than you would say about yourself?  What about when you are at home?  Are you the same person others see in public?  At church?  Ouch!  I’ll admit, at times my wife sees my temper when it takes a lot for it to show up in public.  Reminds me of the book, “Who You Are (When No One is Looking)”.  The title alone was convicting.

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think,…” Romains 12:3a (NKJV)

Having an accurate, positive, balanced, and God focused image of yourself is very healthy.  I think it helps you relax, as well as those around you.  Anything more could be considered, “false advertising”.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Two Can do More Than One

051220Considering the challenges, it’s understandable why my wife and I had a difficult time in the beginning adjusting to each other.  An American who didn’t understand Filipino culture, and a Filipino who wasn’t used to a man making decisions.  My wife’s father left the family when she was young.

We had several, heated discussions to say the least.  Many times, either of us wanted to say, “Forget it!”  But one thing kept us trying to figure it out.  We both had to admit there was no doubt God wanted us to be together.  There were too many strong confirmations this marriage was being formed in heaven.

The one line that always got us to stop fighting and take a breath was this,

“We can’t let Satan win!”

It seems as if we were battled by fierce forces unseen, and the truth was, we were!  Satan wanted to put asunder what God had joined together.  “Asunder”, means interfere.

Today, we are doing great.  My wife has only messed up once in the last three months.  Did I say, “My wife”?  I meant me.  The other night we were talking, and I said something about helping others, more than we currently are.  It was then, my wife opened up and shared her dream of helping lives in tangible ways ever since she was a little girl.  I had no idea.  We then dreamed about what that would look like.

The next day I had the opportunity to help a young father, who had relocated to Tulsa from the Covid hot spot of Boston.  They arrived in an old vehicle with only the things they could pack in it.  After he pulled away I was moved to tears as I thought about the shoes he walks in, and I was thankful I was not wearing them.  I don’t have a lot of “extra” right now, as our own budget is tight, but the things he really needed, I had.  It was while thinking on what had just transpired, I said to myself, “Two can do more than one.”  Walking out my wife’s dream had just begun.

I am thankful to God for his many blessings, and I look forward to seeing what and how God will do more through us together as his Spirit leads.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

If I Could Just Touch

050820 3I love the story, in the Bible, of the woman with the issue of blood.  Not because of her sickness, but because of her faith.  In case you don’t know it, she bled for 12 years.  Broke, and tired of being considered, “unclean” she thought, “If I could just touch the hem of his garment, I would be healed.”  She did, and she was.

To share some personal reflections concerning the time we are living in: you hear some talking about we are in “end times”.  “End times”, meaning the last days on earth as we enter into the days described in a book of the Bible, “Revelation”.  It’s easy to see a path where the world will try to come together and form a “One World Order”.  Using one currency, anywhere in the world.  Buying and selling by placing a chip in one’s hand or forehead.  They would first tell us this is how we have to have our Coronavirus vaccination.  Of course some call that chip, “The Mark of the Beast”.  Crazy?  No.  The Bible talks about it and it may not look exactly like that, but it will happen.

I also think after this first round of the virus you will see a lot of people move out of the “hot spots” and into smaller cities.  Especially now, realizing they can work remotely.

What does all that have to do with those who still believe in God, and the women mentioned at the top of this post?

We will need to have the kind of faith the woman had.  To believe God, no matter what so many others may be trying to convince us of.  To ignore their passion, beliefs, and convictions so we can concentrate on what God says.  Provisions could get scarce tempting us to cave and go along with the multitudes just to survive.  Could we put the carcass of a chicken in a pot at night and believe God for a whole chicken in that pot by the next morning?  Why not?  I heard a testimony of this actually happening.  Is that any harder to believe for than thinking you would be healed just because you managed to touch only the hem of Jesus’ garment?

My point is this:  As the days get harder, and on the outside scarier, will we maintain our faith?  Will we do what it takes to go against the crowd and reach out to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment?  I say this, When you reach out and touch Jesus’ garment don’t let go!  Hang on till the very end.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

I Was a Pig!

050520A pig is very selfish.  Also, it will kick and scream to live until the very last drop of blood drips out of its body.  Pigs will do anything it takes to survive, and to get theirs.  Sound like anyone you know?

Okay, I would like to say I haven’t been that bad, but still, I too was a pig, until, God started converting me, patiently, and lovingly, to be a lamb.

Arthur Katz, in his book, “Reality: The Hope of Glory” writes about the difference in a lamb and a pig.  A lamb is quiet while it gives up its life, but a pig, will squeal and fight to the very end and will not choose, of its own will, to lay down its life for any reason, especially, for the benefit of another.

Art wrote about the experience he was given to take the life of a pig they were planning to roast.  After giving it some thought, he thought it was better to hand the knife to one who knew how to use it with surgical precision.

I don’t want to be a pig.  I don’t want to live the kind of life that would be considered selfish, dirty, self seeking just so my needs can be met.  I want to be a lamb.  In order to become a lamb, I must exercise my free will, and hand God the knife.  I must ask him to cut away, until everything inside of me that resembles a pig, will be removed.  Ouch!

What is my motivation for this desire?  Being a follower of Jesus Christ, and knowing the Bible talks about Jesus being a lamb.

John 1:36 (NET Bible)

Gazing at Jesus as he walked by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

Isaiah 53:7 (NET Bible)

He was treated harshly and afflicted,
but he did not even open his mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block,
like a sheep silent before her shearers,
he did not even open his mouth.

The scripture in Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus.  Like Jesus did, I too desire to quietly give my life to God, for whatever purpose he has for me.  I don’t want to do it reluctantly, but with gladness in my heart.  Knowing that any personal suffering is only for a moment, but the effects will last forever.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Because He Went Looking

050120 4I had a conversation with one of my neighbors today.  He conveyed a story of one of his, and his wife’s travels back to the U.S. from Uganda.  He shared how the plane developed some trouble and they landed safely in the middle of the night un-expectantly.

After a few hours of mass confusion and people cutting to get in front of him and his wife, they finally got to their hotel room the airlines placed them in.  Ironically, by being one of the last to be taken care of, they found themselves in a five star hotel, and in a plush room.  The airlines does not give out the expensive rooms first!

“Here it is again, the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.” (Mat. 20:16 MSG)

But my neighbor’s story got even better.  They expected to have reached their destination, instead they found themselves delayed, and hungry.  He said he set out to find some food.  When he went back to the main floor of the hotel, he found in a room an impressive spread of food.

The next day they got word the plane was ready.  While in line boarding, a passenger who had spent the night at the same hotel he was at, mentioned how they starved, and how she had to beg a maid for some crackers.  The difference?  My neighbor went looking.

You may be delayed in life, and not sure what the problem is.  You may even be hungry, not for food, but for something that truly satisfies.  I write about it a lot in this blog, but knowing God better than anyone else does satisfy.  God is so loving, funny, comforting, and caring.  You won’t be able to understand my claims unless you go looking for him.  But the truth is this, God has already found you.

Right there where you are, you can make his acquaintance by recognizing Jesus is his Son, realizing he died on a cross to forgive you of your mistakes, and then inviting him into your life.  Afterwards, hang out with God.  Talk to him like he is right beside you, because he is.  A good way of getting to know God is to read the Bible.  I suggest a translation to start with like, “The Message” or “The Passion Translation”.

God already loves you, if you do your part to get to know him, you will fall in love with him.  You will, become satisfied.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Can You Endure?

050120Jobs have disappeared,
God is now worshiped online,
but Love endures.

401s have dried up,
social clubs perhaps have gone viral,
but Love endures.

School, now taught at home,
what jobs remain, are in the room next door,
but Love endures.

Hairstyles have changed,
celebrations have too,
but Love endures.

Handshakes are what?
Careful, stay six feet away,
but Love endures.

N95s are worth more than gold,
liters of water cost more than gas,
but Love endures.

Can’t go here,
can’t go there,
but Love endures.

All of this, because of an unseen villain.
Yet another unseen villain is denied to exist,
but Love endures.

As all the world is fighting Corona,
the other villain has already been defeated,
because Love endured.

Yes, Corona has come and will go,
as will Satan, you should know,
because Love endured.

When Jesus died upon the cross,
he became the perfect sacrifice for us all,
Because Love endured.

There is life after Corona coming soon,
there is eternal life after death if you accept Love, Jesus,
because Love endured.

Satan was defeated, by Love,
Because Love never fails,
and Love endured.

You too can endure to the very end,
by believing, and trusting in Jesus,
Because Jesus endured.

Hebrews 12:2 The Passion Translation (TPT)

We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.