They Lost It!

I know there are several people who absolutely LOVE Christmas. If it was more socially accepted they would leave the tree and the decorations up all year and they would probably go as far as to leave the lights on the house, lit! I know one particular person who has been posting on Facebook a countdown of how many days till Christmas. I think she started it on January 1st.

One Christmas lover does leave ornaments out in various rooms around the house. I heard that one day a friend who wanted to play a joke removed one of the ornaments that were displayed in the guest bathroom. They hung on to it for a few weeks expecting to get a call that would be accompanied by an accusation. The call never came.

Apparently, when the missing ornament was discovered the one who seriously loves Christmas went on a rampage trying to find out what happened to it or who took it. I guess they got quite upset over the ordeal. One family member tried their best to find or order a replacement in order to restore peace in the home but learned the ornament was no longer being made.

It happens. A person’s “joy” can be taken, or even stolen if they let it. It doesn’t take much at times. What we should do is calmly evaluate the situation and realize “no one got hurt”, “it’s only a thing”, and recognize that though it may bother you or hurt it’s not the end of the world. That it was simply an item and not a person. It certainly isn’t worth hurting a relationship over!

My brothers, you will have many kinds of troubles. But when these things happen, you should be very happy (joyful). You know that these things are testing your faith. And this will give you patience. James 1:2-3 (ICB)
[The “joyful” in the parenthesis was inserted by me.]

The joy of the Lord is my strength. Neh. 8:10

The person who took the ornament eventually gave it back and though the Christmas lover laughed and said they were okay they ended the friendship. They lost more than an ornament for a time, they lost a friend. Sad end to the story especially when the ornament (pictured) shared “joy” and was an emblem of love and happiness expressed at Christmas.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Circus Town

I have lived in Oklahoma for at least half my life, but I learned something new the other day. “Circus Town” Back when circuses were popular, and traveled from town to town 22 different ones wintered in Hugo, Oklahoma. Hugo, came to be known as “Circus Town”.

I know what you are saying, “Now Mark, how in the world are you going to share a kingdom principle out of this?” Watch me.

In this town, the circus people became one. They married, they had families, children, and yes, they even died there.  Others would be out on the road and when they died, they had asked to be buried in the “Circus Town” cemetery. From the three ring leaders, to the clowns, bearded ladies, and lion trainers they were family. They had a common interest in life, unity, and such as it was, they wanted to be buried together in their final resting place.  The town’s cemetery is filled with unique tomb stones to say the least! As pictured above the markers typically mentioned what the person did in the circus.

Believers, those who follow Jesus Christ also have common interest and expect to be together, not in their final resting place, but in eternity with Jesus.

So I’m asking you, my friends, that you be joined together in perfect unity—with one heart, one passion, and united in one love. Walk together with one harmonious purpose and you will fill my heart with unbounded joy. Phi. 2:2 (TPT)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1

The ball drops in Times Square, of New York City.  As this blog is posted at 6:00PM CST, it will drop five hours from now.  When it reaches the bottom it will be a new year; 2022!  I’ve mentioned before how much I like “new”.  New is fresh and clean, at least for a while.  How long will it take for me to put a spot, or blemish on the New Year coming?  Knowing me, not long.

But life isn’t always about counting down to a celebration.  In real life, when the ball drops it can mean a lost job, the unexpected death of a family member, a bad medical report, the end of marriage, or some other unexpected, unpleasant event.

I have also mentioned before how I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.  I, like so many others, break them in the first week.  But there is something I want to change in me.  That is how I react to people, things, and even unexpected ball drops.  I want to operate in one, or multiple “fruits of the Spirit”.  You know them;

 Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Gal. 5:22-23.

My favorite part of verse 23 is this, “against such things, there is no law.”  I take this as to mean that this fruit is from God, and no one can affect them, change them, or remove them!  With God’s help, I can renew my mind and my first reaction to anything said, or done will be one of these fruits.  Fruit, as we know, provides nutrients that are good for us, and others.  Fruit tends to be sweet, delicious, and full of flavor.  When this type of change comes about, all will be better for it.

So come on 2022!  I’m ready to change!

Happy New Year!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Joy to the World

I notice things.  Annoying to April, but I think it helps me as a writer. Regardless, this holiday season I have noticed the word, “joy” everywhere.  On buttons worn by Walmart employees, in TV commercials, in print, and placed on products.  It almost seems as if after the last two years we have had experienced people are desperate for some “joy” in their lives!

They want it bad, so they declare it, they proclaim it, and they even wear it.  People want “joy”, they need “joy”.  But saying it, wishing for it, doesn’t make “joy” appear.  Not real joy anyway.  Real, lasting “joy” can only be found in Jesus Christ.  By giving your life to him and recognizing that He gave his life to you.  To die for you, as a sacrifice for every little thing you have ever done wrong in your life, otherwise known as “sin”.  Real joy is:

J = Jesus
O = others
Y = you

You accept Jesus, make him the most important person in your life, read the book his father wrote, and learn to take on his nature, then “joy” begins.  The next step in finding real “joy” is putting others before yourself.

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.
Mat. 22:37-39 (MSG)

This is the formula for finding “joy”, not just at Christmas time, but all year round.  Serving others brings “joy” as well.  Another way to find “joy” is to marry it.  You see I was divorced for 24 years.  I was content with that, well most of the time, but I longed for joy.  My first marriage had its good moments, but I always felt in my heart that it could be better.  And now I know I was right.  You see my second wife’s name is, “April Joy”.  I have said it before, but when I am doing my part, to love her as Christ loves the church, then she fills my life with so much “joy” words cannot describe.  She knows the formula for “joy”, and she is so full of the love of God in her life.  That love oozes out and covers others.

Yes, it’s Christmas, and certainly “Joy to the World” indeed, but if you want real “joy” that can last a lifetime then pursue Jesus, love others, and love yourself.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

God Day

Okay, I do realize that this coming Sunday is Mother’s Day, but at the time of this writing it is the anniversary of my father’s death, so I was thinking about him as well.  Then a thought came flying down the big brain bypass.  I say “big brain” not because I am smart, but because I am always thinking.  The thought was, “What would God want for “God Day”?

Pastor Robert Morris says, “To find Biblical answers, you must look in the Bible.”

“I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
Deu. 30:19-20 MSG.

God wants you to have life now and for eternity.  He wants to talk, yes talk to you.  He has a lot to say.  He created man in the first place to have someone who would choose to love him back by their own doing.  He wants to have a great relationship with you.  He hopes you will choose him, which is choosing life.

God is amazing.  He made us, therefore we belonged to him, but He gave us the freedom to choose to love him.  Then, after Adam and Eve sinned and mankind was doomed to eternal death, God gave us his only son to die a brutal death on a cross that purchased us back to God.  But then He did the most unselfish thing one could do afterwards, He gave us that freewill again to decide for ourselves if we want to love him.

God wants us to have a life full of the fruit of the spirit.  You know, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  That means, no one can police them, regulate them, market them, or stop them, but all mankind can profit from them.

Don’t you see?  God wants nothing but good for you, but the only thing He wants from you, is your heart.  I hope you have already given it to him, or you will, soon, perhaps even today.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

You Were That, but Now You Are This

“You’re such a nice person,” said the new co-worker.  The woman had been hurt by many men in the past and so naturally she was leery of any man who seemed, “nice” in the beginning of a new relationship.  Evidently, trusting a nice man and letting her guard down has put her in the position to get hurt in the past, but this guy was different.  His attitude seemed real, genuine.  She wondered how this could be.

After meeting Jesus Christ, and accepting who he is as God’s son, that encounter should change you.  It changed Saul, who was later named “Paul”.  You see after Saul’s salvation, or conversion he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and into him entered the fruit of the Spirit.

13-14 Ananias protested, “Master, you can’t be serious. Everybody’s talking about this man [Saul] and the terrible things he’s been doing, his reign of terror against your people in Jerusalem! And now he’s shown up here with papers from the Chief Priest that give him license to do the same to us.”

26-27 Back in Jerusalem he [Saul] tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. They didn’t trust him one bit. Then Barnabas took him under his wing. He introduced him to the apostles and stood up for him, told them how Saul had seen and spoken to the Master on the Damascus Road and how in Damascus itself he had laid his life on the line with his bold preaching in Jesus’ name.

28-30 After that he was accepted as one of them, going in and out of Jerusalem with no questions asked, uninhibited as he preached in the Master’s name.  Acts 9:13-14, 26-30 (MSG)

So what changes a person so drastically?  It’s the fruit of the Spirit.  Each attribute of the Spirit replaces one(s) in the flesh:

Love replaces hate.

Joy replaces sadness, depression.

Peace replaces nervousness, anxiety, fears.

Longsuffering replaces quick tempers.  Gives time for understanding.

Gentleness replaces anger, rage.

Goodness replaces selfishness.

Faith replaces worry, and hopelessness.

Having the fruit of the Spirit within you provides life, real life, the way God intended it.  People will see the difference and be drawn to you, but what they are really being drawn to is the heart of God.  If you have not been filled with the Spirit of God then ask God to fill you with his Spirit.  Then allow it to perfect your walk with God, and affect the world, the people around you.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Wife of the Month

090120I would like to nominate April for “Wife of the Month”.  For the month of September, she can use the special parking space.  That is, if she was here in America, and if she could drive.  She has completed the immigration process, but can’t take the final step because her country is still in “lock down” mode, so the U.S. Embassy isn’t doing interviews.  Being separated is difficult, but I can see how God has used it for His glory thus far.

Last week, I sent her the following message, and though it is personal, she agreed to let me share it:

Baby, I love you! I simply love you, because you have God’s DNA in you, and it shows. In you is peace, joy, faith, hope and love. Of course the greatest of these is, love. Because love, never fails! Baby, when you look back over our short marriage, you can see a trail of love that has dripped over the mountains we have overcome, and across the ocean that separates us now. Without love, God’s love, we would not have come this far. The story of “Mark and April” would have been a short one, but as it is, our story, is still being written.

I couldn’t wait any longer Baby April. I know our 18 month anniversary isn’t until next week, September 1st, but I just had to let the words above out. I was unable to contain them any longer. So Happy Anniversary, April. I am so happy to be known as the American, who married April Joy Santiago Cruz, and has so far, survived.  I am a lucky man who is blessed by God. He loved me so much that He hid you from the eyes of others, for such a time as this. I know two, maybe three of those men looked your way, but because of your wonderful faithfulness to God they gave up in their pursuit.

Our story, feels like it is taking forever to be written, but I know we are steadily moving every day toward his destination for our lives. Baby April, each day it gets easier to love you, because you, like God, are love.

To you April, the love of my life,
Mark

I am grateful for God’s love, and for his tender nudge to try marriage again, after checking the “Divorced” box for 24 years.  April struggled with her singleness a lot, and most who knew her started believing  “marriage” had passed her by.  But God had a plan that took years to connect two individuals who were 8,149 miles apart.  It’s like He set her on a shelf, so she would be available for me that one Friday afternoon, in October 2018, when I first saw her face on a Filipino dating site.

It’s hard to trust God, who doesn’t always share what He is up to, but when you do, it’s worth it!  God is so amazing, and I am so grateful, He first loved us.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Do You Have God’s DNA?

082820 2God’s love, flowing over your soul is like a soft quilt.  You feel warmth, and soothing comfort.  There does seem to be a reverent amount of satisfaction in saying, “I’m a child of God.”  Walking around as if wearing a robe, a mantle, when once seen by others they know immediately you are royalty.  They respond either with respect, or jealously, envy.  They put themselves in a position to help you, or fight you.  People can sense your anointing.  Some are drawn to it, yet others run from it.  It’s not in your control, it just happens.

Pray for both.  Pray that God will bless, lead, and strengthen the ones that are attracted to the anointing on you, and pray God will help align a proper attitude in the ones who resist you, reject you, and simply try to hurt you.

Bless others with your position of power.  Do not use it to cause harm.  Wear the ring which displays the family crest, as a symbol to all that in you, is the mighty, unfailing love of God.  In you they see peace, they see joy, and they see in you a calming spirit despite the turmoil around us.  A spirit of confidence as if you have looked around the corner and somehow you know what is coming next, yet you are not moved.  They see a rock that protrudes out of the stormy waters.  A place of solitude where safety can be found.  You have what you are in need of.  You may not have an abundance, but you have enough, and even some to share with another.  You may stumble, but you do not fall.  You walk with your head up, facing what comes your way, because you know where your next step is, and you take it without fear.

This is what it means to be a child of God, to have his DNA inside of you.  If you can identify, then simply smile.  If you can’t, then I pray you will be drawn to this kind of life.  It can be attained with a simple request of God to come into your life, to make your heart right.  Then, and this next step is vital, get to know your heavenly Father, because the things you want to become, are found in him.  Jesus said, “I only do what I see my Father in heaven do.” (John 5:19-20)

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Be the Movie

A month ago I was the guest speaker at a writer’s group meeting.  It was an honor, but this speaking engagement was different.  You see with Covid-19 still a great risk, the group currently meets on-line.  I had never done that before.

I was using my phone to attend the meeting, and the way it was set up, whoever was speaking is the person I viewed.  The president of this group introduced me, so she was the last person I saw.

About 20 minutes into my talk, she gets up and goes elsewhere, leaving me with no one to look at while I was speaking.  Normally, a speaker will scan the attendees, making eye contact, and looking for positive feedback at what is being said.

A few minutes later, she came back with a bowl of what looked like popcorn, and a drink.  I thought, wow! now I know what it feels like to be a movie.

The truth is this; if you are open and outspoken about your faith, your relationship with God, then people are watching you.  They listen to what you say, about current issues, our government leaders, and others around us.  They watch how we respond to troubling times.

Would the people watching you give a positive review on “Rotten Tomatoes”?  What if we had “Yelp” for humans?  Would you, would I, receive a thumbs up, or down?  Would people want to visit us after reading an accurate review on one of these platforms?  Probably not, if it was negative.

“So I give you now a new commandment: Love each other just as much as I have loved you. For when you demonstrate the same love I have for you by loving one another, everyone will know that you’re my true followers.”
John 13:34-35 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Jesus knew people will watch us, for they watched him.  He was ever aware that he could only display the qualities of his father, God.  Those would be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

So be aware of this no matter where you are, whether at work, out and about, or at home.  You want your life to be a movie people want to see over and over again.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Establish the Mood

062320What happens when you walk into a room of people?  Are they glad to see you, or do they cringe?  Do they come up to you and greet you, or do they pretend to be busy, and walk away hoping to avoid you?  I had a boss that every morning when I saw her enter our department, I knew my peace was about to leave.

What kind of mood encompasses us, goes with us and enters, when we do?  Does your very presence change the environment, the atmosphere of a place?  It should.

Back when I worked in an office building, in Chicago, I took on the challenge of trying my best to put a smile on my fellow passenger’s faces while we were in the elevator.  Difficult, because some of them got off on the lower floors, giving me only seconds to come up with something to do or say that would change them.  That would leave them better when they got off the elevator than when they got on.  Pun intended, my words could lift them up, or let them down.

Once there were several people entering the elevator.  I said, “Call out the floor you need.”  They did, then I announced, “I like pushing people’s buttons.”  I wonder if that was some’s only laugh for the whole day?

As the years went by, people would get on the elevator, see me, and smile immediately.  I’m not boasting, because I knew two things:

  1. The love and joy in my life, I shared with others, only came from God.

  2. I entered the elevator on purpose, with a purpose.

For those who have accepted God, have his love, his truth, and his life inside, we can change, or flip the environment of a home, office, church, store, or wherever we go, just by walking in.  Oh, how the world needs us to enter their lives and shatter the darkness they dwell in with the light of God!  “Let there be light!”  Offer them the hope of Jesus.  When we welcome the presence of God in our lives He goes with us.  People sense it, and are either drawn to it, or openly resist it.

No matter where your feet take you, take God.

Be there on purpose, with a purpose.  Be mindful of those around you.  Roger, a good friend of mine, does this every day when he goes to work.  Share hope, peace, faith and love.  Scatter lots of joy.  Show everyone there is a better way to live.  Make them curious how you can still be smiling despite all that is going on around us.  Establish the mood!

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.