The 99

I heard of a teacher who was nervous about her first year. As the school year went on she became aware of one child who did not like her. As a result, the child’s mother did not like her and in her slight way, made it known.

As you might have guessed this upset the new teacher to no end. She focused on trying to win the one over and became very frustrated as her efforts fell on the green speckled tile floor. She talked about it and complained about it a lot!

At the end of the school year, the new teacher received an outpouring of cards, flowers, gifts, and gift cards. The written words spoke of love and appreciation because they witnessed how hard this new teacher taught their children, of how she showed her concern for them. Even the other teachers tangibly showed their appreciation, but there was that one child, that one mother.

It is just like Satan to try to get us to place our focus on the wrong person or in the wrong direction. He wants that discontentment to fester and grow in our hearts until it chokes out any remaining love of God that was once in us. We must not allow this to happen!

The teacher’s husband spoke gentle words that turned her head to see the 99. To take note of the mighty outpouring of love and appreciation for a job well done. He challenged her to never think of the “one” ever again.

Yes, there are times to not go after the “one”, but to leave them lost and behind. Truth is, no amount of words will change their mind anyway. Trying to get them to see what the others see so easily is a waste of time and energy. In Matthew 18, Jesus talked about leaving the 99 and searching for the one that was lost, but in the new teacher’s case, the one that was lost purposed in their heart to sow hate and discord of their own free will. A lost soul has not heard about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. There is a distinct difference between the two.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

What To Do

A whole lot is going on these days in our world, in America, and most likely in your private lives. It would be easy for one to look at others and focus on what they are saying or doing. One may be invading a country another maybe ignoring that a lot of Americans are financially struggling, and a lot of people are more concerned about their own selfish rights than the life of a child who can’t yet protest their opinion of wanting to live.

I can just see the devil having a hay day laughing while so many people are running around screaming trying to get their view heard. He is behind these evil things, unjust actions, and selfish rights.

Instead of joining those trying to be heard I implore you to keep your eyes on Jesus! To keep a good, strong, and tight connection to the vine. Continue to bear, produce much fruit, the fresh fruit of God.

Psalm 1   The Message

How well God must like you—
    you don’t walk in the ruts of those blind-as-bats,
    you don’t stand with the good-for-nothings,
    you don’t take your seat among the know-it-alls.

2-3 Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
    you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
    bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
    always in blossom.

4-5 You’re not at all like the wicked,
    who are mere windblown dust—
Without defense in court,
    unfit company for innocent people.

God charts the road you take.
The road they take leads to nowhere.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

What Happened?

Have you ever wondered, where did it all go wrong? Or, how did they end up like this? I have. You look at someone’s life and you can’t quite figure out how they got where they are today.

I heard it said the other day, “I made a wrong turn on the way to church!” That kind of says it all. Somehow the individual took their eyes off of Jesus and looked instead at what was around them. Kind of like Peter when he was walking on the water. He let his circumstances disrupt his fixed gaze on the Master, on Jesus.

“Church” doesn’t save you, or even just “going to church” doesn’t either! I know a couple of women who “go to church” every time the doors are open, but there is no love of God in their hearts! As a result, people get hurt.

Back to the people who have strayed from the truth; they started looking at what Satan was offering them “now” that would fulfill that longing desire in their heart instead of waiting on God to provide something or someone pure, holy, and a part of Him.

The wonderful truth is this; it’s never too late to backtrack and take the right street to the church. In other words, it’s never too late to return to God. Most likely there is someone who is praying you would and God is sitting on the front porch staring down the road as far as He can hoping to see you come over the horizon toward him! He is waiting with open arms.

Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living
    and reorder our lives under God. Lam. 3:40 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Despite What May Be

One of the hardest things on this journey we call, “life” is overcoming. It seems as if it will never happen. Either the hole of debt we have dug is too deep, or the struggle with the one we once loved hurts too much. Perhaps the sickness seems as if it will never get better. You know, all too well, what I am talking about, and so do I.

When Jesus taught the multitudes he would often direct their attention to nature to emphasize the point he was trying to make. He didn’t have a “whiteboard” or a “PowerPoint” presentation. He used what he had, and it worked!

To borrow this method from the great Teacher, let me show you some illustrations from nature about overcoming.   Notice this Ferris wheel will someday be totally overcome by this growth in nature. It has probably taken a few years to get this to this point, but what one might of once thought was impossible, has become possible.

Consider this pile of rubble. One may make the comparison that this mess is similar to their own life. I know I once did, after making, what I thought, was a mistake that would end my service to God forever. Turns out, I was wrong on that point. In the midst of my personal, broken pile of a mess life, He slowly began to rebuild me and make me useable to him and others once again.

Then there is this tree. It found life close to disaster. It lives on the edge. Some may consider that exciting, while others would find it nerve-racking realizing that at any moment, a strong storm could come and it would lose its grip. The tree seems confident trusting the hold it has on the unmovable rock.

One can learn from this tree that finds itself so close to falling, so close to going over the edge, from becoming firewood.  Burnt up and consumed, yet today, it stands tall. If we trust our “Rock and salvation” we too could stand tall no matter what storms may come.

Admire this flower. It bloomed and grew despite not being in a beautiful garden. It has no dedicated gardener to provide daily watering, plant food, or bend down and remove any weeds that may try to enter its territory. Yet it survives and fragrances the environment around it with a sweet smell.

Maybe you’re not currently living in a garden, and maybe you struggle to have your basic needs met. Take a lesson from this flower; bloom, grow and be a pleasant odor in your world.

With God’s help, you can grow and survive despite your past, or present situation. Regardless if you have a lot or a little. Make it part of your mind to be an overcomer. Set it in your heart and mind despite what may be today.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
James 1:2-4 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Magkano?

I heard it said the other day, “Every relationship is a transaction.” This expression caught my attention, and I have thought a lot about it. What the man who said those words went on to share was this, “In each relationship, you are either giving or taking.”

In my lifetime, I have been in a lot of different types of relationships. Working relationships, family relationships, friendships, general acquaintances, and marriage to name just a few. So what the man was saying was that in each one of those relationships, one was giving and one was taking, or at least some percentage of both.

Was I the giver? Or was I the taker? Or somehow did I manage the relationship to give and take? Did I take more than I gave? In some of those encounters with those individuals was I fair? Was I ever starving for so much that I partook first before considering the other’s needs?

I know me and in full disclosure, I have to consciously make an effort to stop talking and purposely make myself ask the other person questions about them. I like to talk, I like to tell stories, after all, I am a writer. But there are times when it is best to not say a word about me, and to listen, to inquire, and show that I care about them.

Jesus certainly was a giver in every relationship. He gave comfort, hope, and teachings on how to live an abundant life, and He still does! He also gave his life so that we may live eternally with Him in heaven.

Are you a giver, or a taker? Magkano (ma-con-o) in Tagalog (language of the Philippines) means “how much?” A phrase I learned to ask my tricycle driver when he would taxi me into town, or back home. It wasn’t long for the local ones to not answer me when I asked them, “Magkano?” I think word had gotten out that the American who had married April Joy Santiago Cruz was generous, and he would often pay more than the actual cost. This was a good reputation to have.

Be a giver. When meeting someone, ask yourself on the inside, magkano? Meaning how much is this going to cost me? You may have a lot of untold stories pent up inside, but investing in another person is always a good investment to make. They will certainly be richer for it, and in many ways, so will you! This will be a good reputation to have.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

God, Crazy?

If you created something, perfected it, and then gave it away, most would call you crazy!

If you gave your only child’s life, so that someone else could live, most would call you crazy!

God did those very things. He made you, and then gave you away to exercise your own freewill! And when you failed, and would then die for eternity in hell, he gave you his only Son, Jesus to pay for your failures, sins. Jesus’ blood was spilled for you. God’s only Son purchased you back, so you could live for eternity in heaven with your maker. BUT then he gave you away again, because He wants you to CHOOSE to love him, and accept him.

Some might call what God did, “crazy”,
but He calls it, “love”!

Yes, God loves you that much! It doesn’t matter what you have done, He loves you regardless.

“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)

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Rom. 8:37-39 (MSG)

“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.  Isaiah 55:8-9 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

It’s Not Me, it’s You

Have you ever found yourself in one of those relationships where the other person does something that offends you, or hurts you? And then when you tried to share with them how it bothered you they act out and try to turn things around as if it was your fault. What the heck? Right? It can be extremely frustrating.

I was thinking about this scenario and feeling exasperated. I asked God about it as I do now when I am in need of wisdom and understanding. He is so faithful to provide an answer. He shared with me that when you speak “truth” it can convict. This can make them uncomfortable and they can get defensive. The other thing that may happen is they will distance themselves from you.

It may be they come up with excuses as to why they can’t get together anymore, or stop inviting you to events, or family gatherings. What makes it hard on you is they convince themselves and others that “you” are the problem, but it is NOT you, it’s them!

I know it hurts. It’s not right. It’s an injustice. So how do we handle it? As difficult as it is, we must still love them, and pray for them. Realize you are in good company! Jesus was falsely accused. Some of the people around him, religious leaders of that day, etc. were confronted with Truth. It convicted how they should be living. To push Jesus out of their lives they crucified him. I don’t think your family and friends will go to that extreme so don’t despair.

Keep in mind when Jesus wants to enter a person’s life, heart, He stands at the door and knocks. He waits for an invitation to enter. We cannot force someone to change. Continue to speak the truth in love, and hope that your loving actions will be used by the Holy Spirit to work into their hearts.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me. Rev. 3:20 (AMPC)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

You Know What?

Big news!  I have been invited to Washington D.C. to meet with President Biden and a commission he is putting together on creativity.  I think I was selected because of this blog.  The President wants to find different ways to get young people to express themselves, to set goals, and have dreams to live for.  Okay, April’s fool.

To be honest, I have never understood this day.
It’s lying.

One year I was asked to be at a wedding.  I traveled hundreds of miles to get there and the next day, as I was on my way to where the event was to be held, it dawned on me the date was April 1st.  When I saw the engaged couple I said, “If this is an April fool’s joke you’re dead!”  They laughed and then assured me it wasn’t.  I guess it does make it easier to remember the wedding date.

You know what?  There are fools year round, not just in April, and people do foolish things all the time.  Believe it or not, I’ve been known to do a foolish thing here and there, but that’s another blog I don’t want to write!  The most foolish person is the one who does not believe in God.

“The fool says in his heart, there is no God.”
Psalm 14:1 (NIV)

There are people who say, “There is no God.”  I wonder what they will say when they stand in front of him?  How do they arrive to this opinion?  I’m not sure, but the Bible says God gave everyone a measure of faith.  I tend to think when these people boast about their opinion they have a measure of doubt.  I’m sure they hope they are right.

One might live like a fool, but you don’t have to die a fool.  You can believe in God, accept his Son, and then ask him to help your unbelief.  You know what?  He will.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Know Him

If you find yourself deciding to trust God, then you must also trust in all of his nature.  Going all classic Amplified Bible on ya; knowing, being confident, non-wavering, on the very issue that God runs the universe and nothing happens that He doesn’t make or at the very least, allow!

Who could confront me and get by with it?
    I’m in charge of all this—I run this universe!

Job 41:11 (MSG)

One who is trust worthy demonstrates certain qualities. They are:

Integrity, Sincerity, Reliability, Consistency, Commitment, Competent

The list above are not qualities of God, but part of his very nature! This is just simply who He is! When you get to know him, by talking to him in prayer, and reading his word, the Holy Bible, his nature is revealed to you. Just as important is knowing that God doesn’t ever change who He is due to what is happening around us, but forever the same.

For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.

Heb. 13:8 (MSG)

Keep in mind, Jesus repeated often, in the gospels, that he does what He sees his heavenly Father do, therefore we can know that God doesn’t change either! Spending time with someone is the best way to get to KNOW THEM. So I challenge to do just that.  Spend time with God, and perhaps his nature will rub off on you. Umm, not such a bad idea.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Fun for all ages

Have you ever met someone for the very first time, and you immediately like them? They are usually smiling, relaxed, mild mannered, and you just begin to match their level of gel.  You find yourself feeling like they value you, and they aren’t in a hurry to get away from you. As if in that very moment, you are the only thing and one that matters.

I believe Jesus was just that kind of person. I think this is why he appealed to men, women, some high ranking officials, sinners and children. Honestly, the only ones that he didn’t appeal to were the ones who felt as if his way of living threatened their livelihood, or power.

It was this kind of appeal that gave him the ability to talk about “love”, “forgiveness”, and “the Kingdom of God”. Because of how he made them feel they listened! And many times they responded positively. Would we get the same results if we drew people toward us as he did?  That should be the goal anyway.

It was Paul who said, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Cor.11:1) Paul obviously recognized this about Jesus and strived to imitate him. Three practical steps to living this kind of life:

  1. See the people.  Be observant to the people around you while being attentive to the Holy Spirit who may prompt you to speak to them.
  2. .See the need in their life.  You do this step by listening to them. Not just talking about yourself. It’s not always about you!
  3. .See the path they should take to find God. Whether they need forgiveness, healing, or some other type of ministry, we should then lead them along that path.

Ask God to help you declutter your own life so you will have the time to spend with people. One thing I learned from my father is this; spending time with people is a gift. We should be generous.”

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.