First Church of Walmart

A few weeks ago, we were in a small town, in Oklahoma, on a Sunday morning, and there weren’t many people stirring around.  There were a couple of gas stations open and one donut shop.

A few days later we were warned not to go to the Walmart in that town on a Sunday morning, because all of the crazies are there at that time, instead of being in church.  Now there are a few crazies at church too, I’ve met them, but I’m talking about the ones that make the front page of Facebook as to how they dress when they go to Walmart.  Oh come on, you know what I’m talking about, and you have laughed probably harder than I have!

We went to church this past Sunday.  Yes, in person, where previously we had attended online.  My first time since January of 2020.  I said I wouldn’t go back until my toilet paper hoarding pile was used up. (kidding) I got to say, It felt good, to be with others worshiping God.  I definitely sensed the presence of God among us, but I must add there were plenty of times I sensed his presence here at home as well.

You see, “going to church” doesn’t save you.  Just “going” won’t get you into heaven. You have to accept God’s son, Jesus as the Lord of your life and the one who paid the price for you sins, wrong doing. To my knowledge, God doesn’t take attendance.  You go to church to be with others who believe like you do.  To be encouraged, and to encourage others.  To develop friendships that help each other through life.  You know, the ups, as well as the downs. God’s word mentions how he will tell some, who even did great things in his name, “Depart from me. I never knew you.” You can go to church every time the doors are open, but unless it changes your heart and fills you with the love of God, then you are probably taking a seat that could be used by one who is serious, devoted about living for God, a true believer and follower. By someone who will let “love” rule in their life.

One can feel God where ever they are, if they know him, and have a relationship with him.  In a way, God got rid of the formal church when his son, Jesus died on the cross.  For in that moment, God ripped the veil from top to bottom ever inviting mankind into an intimate relationship with him, for the purification process was taken on by his son.

So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. Hebrews 10:22-25 (MSG)

The photo was taken inside a “Life Church”.  I love their attitude, position, and inventiveness.  In the meantime, go to church as much as you go to Walmart, and don’t forget “the bread”.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Choices

Life is full of making choices.  We do it every day, all day.  The first one is; “Do I want to get out of bed?”  Having bills to pay usually answers that one for us. Then, there is, “What am I going to wear today?”  My wife and I have a friend who confessed on the average day, it would take her an hour to decide what to wear.  It bothered her, and frustrated her husband, because her final decision was most of the time the first thing he told her she looked nice in.  She prayed and God directed her to limit her choices to only four colors, and only a few items to mix and match.  Wisdom, from on high!

“What am I going to eat?” is one of my favorite choices to make each day, and it is becoming more and more important as I age.  There are so many things to decide that affect our time, who is in charge of our city, our state, and our federal government.  The type of vehicle we drive, where to live, our marital status, and how many children to have, if any?

So, it’s clear.  Some choices are a lot more important than other ones, but there is one choice to make before we leave this earth and that is;

where do you want to spend eternity?

God’s word makes it clear and easy to understand, but for some, it is so difficult to make.  That may be because they think they will give up their freewill, their freedom, or become like some of the weird “Christian” friends! I made that decision when I was 7 years old.  Others take a risk and make it on their death bed.

Not making that decision is the same as making it.  You either confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and ask him to forgive you of all the bad choices you have ever made in your life, or you don’t.  Doing so gives you life and gives it to you in abundance.  (John 10:10)   No one can make this choice for you, not even God.  He desires that everyone be in a full and rich relationship with him, personally, having discussions all during the day.

Please, take this seriously, for no one knows the day or hour they might die.  I speak from personal experience when I say;

life with God is rich in love.

“If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve—and do it today. …  As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.” Joshua 24:15 (MSG)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Put it into Practice

Have you ever met a dreamer?  They come up with all of these great ideas, and sometimes they actually put those ideas on paper, but they never seem to carry them out.  Then there are those that move slower than a glacier.  They have to have all the “I”s dotted and the “T”s crossed before they are free to move on.

Neither kind of individual is particularly bad, just not very productive.  Kind of like working with a committee where all the members think their way is best.  Not much gets accomplished.

I have often thought, what would the earth look like if it had been designed by a committee?  And would God’s son, Jesus have ever made it to earth at all?

God was clear about what He wanted to do and how He wanted it done.  With creative, artistic, beauty.  With grandeur and microscopic details.  Every aspect functioning in pure balance with the rest of creation.  God was also clear about his son coming to save us from our sins:

“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)

The above was God’s mission statement and vision, and I would say, it is still working!

I saw this the other day in an email and I thought, that should be my mission statement and vision:

Practicing the presence of God.
Operating in the gifts of the Spirit.
Demonstrating the fruit of the Spirit.
Drawing the people of God into the glory of God.

I hope I am as successful as God in living out the above declarations.  But instead of hanging them on a wall as a nice plaque I’ll have to put them into practice.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

God, My Enemy?

Have you ever heard someone blame God for their troubles?  Or insurance companies label calamities as an “Act of God”?  I have.  Job, from the Bible, he certainly did.  In fact, he went so far as to accuse God as his enemy.  (Job 16:9)  I have also heard people say this, “When I get out of the hospital I am going to start living for God.”  Yeah, as you might have guessed, months later they are still living life in the same manner before they went into the hospital.

I was cleaning a stain from the ottoman we recently picked up with a chair for our new “Conference Room” where we go to meet with God.  I looked at the can of “stain remover” and couldn’t help thinking about God removing stains from our own lives.  The foam that comes oozing out of the can is white, and because Jesus died for our stains, our sins, he makes us white as snow.

Though your sins have stained you like the color red,
you can become white like snow;
though they are as easy to see as the color scarlet,
you can become white like wool. Isaiah 1:18

Did you notice who makes the stain remover?  “Woolite”.  Did you also see the brush on the end of the can?  Even after our sins are forgiven when we accept Jesus and ask for that forgiveness there can be consequences of wrong doing in our life.  And sometimes it takes a lot of work, or “scrubbing” for those results to be removed.  It can take time and commitment to clean up the mess we have previously made with our lives.  Max Lucado once wrote,

“My mess, is His message.”

I also liked on the can where it said, “Triple Action”.  As you know the Trinity is made of God the Father, Jesus, God’s son, and the Holy Spirit.  All three work together to bring us to the saving grace of God.  I am so thankful to know that when I make mistakes I can be forgiven.  Being clean, free from sin, is a good feeling. God is not our enemy, but our friend and loving father.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The Lies about Lies

Job, from the Bible says, “Your lies might convince a jury – but would they convince God?” Ch. 13 (MSG) Then he goes on to say, “… they’re for nothing but gathering dust.”

It amazes me how often people lie.  What amazes me more is when the liar will defend themselves knowing they had lied.  Of course the first lie ever told was by Satan to Eve in the Garden of Eden when he said to her, “You will not surely die.”  Some lies have half trues embedded in them.  No, Eve did not die immediately, this was true, but she did die spiritually in the moment she took that first bite, ever separating her from God.

  • There is no such thing as a “white” lie.  Where did that even come from?
  • There is no such thing as a “little” lie.  A lie is deception no matter what.
  • A lie is okay if it protects someone else’s feelings. Nope!
  • They will never know.

The truth always comes out in the end.  I used to teach my children, “Tell me the truth, for the truth can always be dealt with.”  Lies hurt people, create distrust, and can cause division.  A lie, no matter how small one may think it is brings about destruction.

Real harm is when people lie to themselves.  Some lie so often they can’t even remember who they have lied to and what lie they told, so they tell more lies to attempt to cover themselves.  The truth is this; there will come a day, when we all stand before God and all truth will be revealed.  Your lies might convince a jury – but would they convince God? There will be no denying the truth as God knows it, and certainly no defense mounted that can hold up to the truth.  Scriptures tell us that the truth sets us free, and the real Truth, Jesus, sets us free indeed.  Free from eternal damnation in hell.

Now you know the truth.  Please accept it, and live free, now and forevermore.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

From Hope, to Reality

As you faithful readers of this blog know, I have been waiting for my wife’s immigration to America for two years.  Those were very difficult, trying, and long years, but the one thing that kept us going was hope!

Hope is recognizing there is very little you can do, while wanting a certain result.

Well, if all went as planned, I met my wife yesterday at an airport in America.  Waiting for her just outside the doors to the immigration section.  This process has been such a challenge that I have said, “I won’t believe it until I see her.”  But yesterday, my hope turned into reality.  God is so good.  He kept us close to his heart especially on the days when our hearts were breaking, aching, and we struggled to see us crossing the finish line.

I know we are not alone.  Many of you are facing your own struggles where all you can do is hope.  Don’t give up.  Don’t let go of God’s hand.  I know He will never let go of yours.  I recently posted a blog where I wrote about the women with the issue of blood, from the Bible.  Her reality took 12 years to arrive.  Her sickness bankrupted her, but she never gave up hope.  Then the day came where Jesus appeared on the scene.  She was healed by simply touching the hem of his garment as he walked by.  It was her faith in Jesus that healed her and not the robe he was wearing.

“So because our hope is set on what is yet to be seen, we patiently keep on waiting for its fulfillment.”
Rom. 8:25 (TPT)

So whatever it is you are hoping for, a job, a healing, a spouse, or salvation for a loved one don’t stop hoping.  You never know the day when Jesus may show up on the scene.  It would be a tragedy to give up the day before he passes by. For Jesus passing by in the life of me and my wife I am so grateful.  Praising and worshipping his mighty name all the way across the finish line.  Thank you God.  Thank you Jesus, and thank you Holy Spirit.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

He Did it For Me

My father came from a large family.  At an early age he learned how to catch fish, and not just go fishing.  He realized he was helping to put food on the table for his family, but he also discovered how much he enjoyed it.  He became a good fisherman.

When I got old enough to go with him he started teaching me.  One of my father’s favorite places to fish was on a creek.  You wade in the water from fishing hole to the next fishing hole.  Along the way nature is all around you, including the occasional snake.  I watched as my father remained calm and deal with them, so though I learned which ones were poisonous I also learned how to stay safe.  I respect snakes, but I do not have a fear of them.  Now, I come across a tiny spider in the house, I’m squealing like a school girl and yelling for my wife to come kill it!

One night, while we were in the creek catching our bait I said, “Dad, I’ve got a snake up against my left leg.”  “Okay, I’ll be there in a minute,” he replied as he continued picking up crawdads.  He moved in behind me and grabbed the snake by the tale and gave it a good toss.  It was not poisonous and the ones that were, he killed.  My father was my hero, my deliverer.

Several years later, we were on the creek, and dad was in some deep water when a snake came at him.  He tried like crazy to push the snake away with his fishing pole, but the snake kept coming and getting closer.  Dad started screaming while I remained safe on the bank laughing.  After he got the snake to go away from him he expressed his displeasure of my reaction to, according to him, “his close call with death”.  (The snake was not even poisonous.)

“Dad, why are you so angry?  You’re not afraid of snakes,” I said.
“Are you kidding me?  I hate those things.  I am horribly afraid of them!” he replied.
All those years I had no idea.  My father faced one of his greatest fears.  He did that for me.

God, my Heavenly Father, doesn’t fear anything at all, but He too had to do something He didn’t want to.  He allowed his only son, Jesus die on a cross to take on the sins of all of humanity.  It grieved him, and in the final hour, because God is Holy and cannot even look at sin, had to turn away from his son while he was dying a horrible death.  He did it for me, but He also did for you.  That’s how much God loves us.  Here it is, in its simplest form:

“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)

God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit are my heroes, my deliverers.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Tempting, Isn’t it?

I once wrote a parody of Genesis 3:1-7, where Satan tempted Eve.  I expressed the idea of Satan not being successful in his first, or second attempt.  He soon realized he had to step up his game and be the best salesman there ever was or will be.  He begin convincing Eve the fruit would complete her ensemble (a word I learned from my first wife) and the forbidden fruit went well with the shoes she was wearing.  As you know, the rest of the story, it worked.

I had a Chinese friend, a few years ago, who referred to temptation as,

“her favorite sin”,

and she was convinced the devil knew what it was and how to use it against her.

What is yours?  What does your snake say to you?

But now I’m afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s clever lies, your thoughts may be corrupted and you may lose your single-hearted devotion and pure love for Christ. 2 Cor. 11:3 (TPT)

One of the greatest tools we have is knowing how Satan comes against us using the same temptation usually every time.

“so that we would not be exploited by the adversary, Satan, for we know his clever schemes.” 2 Cor. 2:11 (TPT)

So now we come freely and boldly to where love is enthroned, to receive mercy’s kiss and discover the grace we urgently need to strengthen us in our time of weakness.” Heb. 4:16 (TPT)

“We all experience times of testing, which is normal for every human being. But God will be faithful to you. He will screen and filter the severity, nature, and timing of every test or trial you face so that you can bear it. And each test is an opportunity to trust him more, for along with every trial God has provided for you a way of escape that will bring you out of it victoriously. 1 Cor. 10:13 (TPT)

The tempter wants you to fail,

but the tester wants you to succeed.

Remember Jesus has already overcome the evil one, and He is there to help you do the same.  Call upon his name, and trust He hears you and will show you the way to be an overcomer.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Initial Words

“What’s that symbol tattooed on your back?” I asked the girl I worked with.  I knew, I thought, what it was, but had not seen one that elaborate.  “It’s a pentagram,” she replied.  “I’m a Pagan.”  “Oh, well I don’t judge,” were my initial words.  She said, “I know.”  I wasn’t exactly sure why she said that, but she did.

Because of my cautious and prayerfully planned out approach to the inquisition, I found out later it’s what I “didn’t say” that allowed for an ongoing conversation concerning her beliefs and spiritual practices vs. my own to take place.

Now, you may find it odd knowing a Christian is even talking to a Pagan, but I ask you, “Why?”  Jesus was misunderstood for talking to tax collectors, or prostitutes, and he about gave the so called “religious leaders” of his day, a heart attack if he dined with them.

Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and misfits?”

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” Mat. 9:10-13 (MSG)

Why venture outside of your comfort zone, and talk with those who choose to live a different lifestyle than you?

Because they need to know, see, and hear the love of Jesus as much as anyone else, perhaps more!

They need to feel what is authentic and that might help them reject, cast off, Satan’s cheap substitutes or imitations of what is real.

So what was it that I “didn’t” say to the self-proclaimed Pagan?  After hearing what she was, I didn’t say, “Oh, I’ll be praying for you.”  She explained hearing those words infuriates her, and she refuses to listen to anything else a person who says that has to say.  She said it immediately makes her feel as if her choice is wrong.

Say a prayer before engaging one that you know is living a life less than what God intended.  Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your tongue, as you dare, or take a risk to speak words of life to them.  Your initial words may be the only ones they hear, but hopefully they’ll stick around to hear more, and perhaps even dine with you.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Who Do You Say I Am?

Some time ago I met a lady at work, and the first thing she started informing me was she was the best one, on our shift, doing the job.  She wanted me to know that her “rate per hour” never dipped below 500, and even on the day she poked herself in the eye she maintained her excellence.  For reference, the average rate per hour is around 270.  I must confess, her boasting was a turn off.  Later I thought, if you are that great at your job then why haven’t I heard about you from others?

The second time I encountered this same woman she was bragging to some other coworkers, in the break room, of her greatness in doing her job.  The third time I crossed her path she was wearing a shirt that proclaimed, “The Boss”.  The very next day she wore a T-shirt stating, “World’s Best Mom”.

It got me to thinking, perhaps she is extremely insecure in who she truly is, and tries to command respect by telling everyone who she wants to be?

After thinking about this for a while I heard in my mind a question Jesus once asked;

“But you—who do you say that I am?” Jesus asked.
Mat. 16:15 (TPT)

Jesus knew who he was, and didn’t go bragging about it to anyone, or ware a tunic stating it.  In fact, God declared who Jesus was when he rose up from the water after being baptized.  God said, “This is my Son, whom I am well pleased.”

It’s important to know who Jesus is.  He’s a healer, a brother that never leaves you, a calming source in any storm, but most important, he’s a savior whose death on the cross saves your soul from hell, if you accept who he is and ask him to forgive you for your sins, wrong doing.  Your eternal life depends on this because one day you will stand before Jesus, and He will ask you, “Who do you say I am?”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.