Three Men, One Opinion

Recently, I shared with three different men, at three different times, what was going on lately with April and me. Meaning, what God has us doing and why, as best as we understand it. I will admit it is not conventional, but when did God do things that made sense to us anyway?

In their own way, they proceeded to comment, share, or lecture me with their opinions on the matter. Needless to say, I didn’t like what they said, but I found it funny when one concluded with, “But the bottom line is between you, April and God.” If that’s the bottom line, then why did he feel the need to comment? Another said, “This is just a suggestion as a brother in the Lord.” It didn’t feel like it! The difference with the third one was that I could tell he wanted to comment on the situation, and I gave him an opportunity to by inviting him to speak into my life. He did. I still didn’t like what he said, but it didn’t hurt or offend me because I gave him an invitation.

The truth is this, none of them are walking in my shoes. What they see on the outside looks bizarre to them, and they don’t understand it perhaps. But why they felt they had to comment bothered me, so I asked God why. I woke up in the middle of the night, and their comments were still on my mind. Then, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper, “They commented because what you have they want. They are jealous of your situation.” I couldn’t believe it.

If God has directed you to do something, then it is best to be obedient no matter what it may look like to others. No matter if they understand it or not. They may criticize you out of jealousy but continue to walk in the way God leads. God loves obedience, and he rewards it by blessing you by, at times, making your path easy.

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 1 Sam. 15:22 (NIV)

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

He Knows (cont.)

Photo by: ambermb

Have you ever heard someone say, “I am just worried sick!” “I am so afraid something is going to happen.” “Well, what if?”

All of these statements are rooted in fear. Fear is like a disease because it can become so powerful that it can actually cripple or debilitate someone. Fear stops people and can even prevent God from moving on your behalf. He may have the plan to help you with what you need, but if you have fear in your heart, you will most likely never try it.

I have been to countries where “fear” seemed to be one of the controlling spirits of the land. The people there would try to do things independently instead of trusting God. It was sad to witness their struggle.

I know one lady, shortly after meeting her, said to me, “My greatest fear is getting a knock on the door at 3 AM informing us that our son has been killed in an auto accident.” About three years later, her fear became a reality. The Bible addresses fear. One scripture says, The worst of my fears has come true, what I’ve dreaded most has happened.” Job 3:25 (MSG)

The only thing greater than “fear” is “hope”! That is why the devil wants you to believe the lie that you have no hope.

“As long as you are alive, you have hope.”

Pastor Robert Morris

This is why I place my hope in the Lord, for He is the author and finisher of my faith. For God is Love, and perfect love drives out fear!

17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God, and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home, and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. 1 John 4:17-18 (MSG).

God knows what you fear and wants to help you trust him with it. Allow him so, and then his perfect love will drive it out of you as you learn to count on him.

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

He Knows

When I was a teenager, I worked in a grocery store. Next to the time clock was a sign that read, “Sometimes doing a good job at work is like wetting your pants while wearing a dark suit. You get a warm feeling, but no one else notices.”

There have been many times in my life when I feel good about the job I have done, whether in the natural sense or for God. But as I wait for an “At a boy” or a “Thank you” at the very least, I often get disappointed when it never comes. I know we should work unto the Lord and be good and faithful servants and probably never desire approval, but there is something inside me that wants to hear it once in a while. I’ll still go on and do an excellent job on future tasks, but it would be nice to be recognized once in a while for using the gifts and talents God has blessed me with.

I strive to do the very best I can. To serve others and to provide what is needed. Is getting a little appreciation for that asking too much? I don’t think so. Yet it seems as if others just don’t notice or take the time to stop what is important to them to say, “Thanks.”

I move on. I continue. I keep doing my best, knowing that one of these days, when I stand before God, all will be seen. All those big and little things I did for people, whether publicly or in secret. Afterward, I will receive the crown of life as one who has accepted Jesus into my life. Then I will gladly lay it down before my King, Jesus. For none of what I did would even matter if it was not for what He did for us. Giving his very life, that is.

I do realize that seeking recognition is of the flesh. It is the very desire that got Satan kicked out of heaven. Therefore it should come with a warning label: “Seeking recognition from others could be hazardous to where you spend eternity.” The desire is most likely based on pride, so it would be good to ignore that feeling anyway.

So do your best with everything you do, even if no one notices. It might not be what you want, but at least it will provide a warm feeling.

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

But the Menu Board is Lit

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know April and I went to Louisville, Kentucky, for Christmas. April’s sister had to work the day shift at the hospital, so she wasn’t hosting Christmas lunch, and her family had prior plans with a friend. So after we left the church, we had no place to go for dinner.

There were several eating establishments by our hotel, but none appeared to be open. Then I noticed cars in line at the drive-through for McDonald’s. We both looked at each other and said, “Nothing else is open!” We took our place at the end of one of the split lines. We started reviewing our choices on the lit-up menu board. Then I noticed no muffled voices were speaking to the people in the cars ahead of us. I commented to April, “I don’t think they’re open.” She replied, “Well then, why are cars in line?” “Because the menu board is lit,” I replied.

Apparently, when McDonald’s closed, they forgot to turn off the menu boards. I have noticed Americans will get in a line even if it is not the right line. I know I am guilty of that. I recall what my senior year English teacher, Ms. Tibbs, once said, “Drive your own bus! You don’t know where someone else driving their bus may be going.” I think she was trying to teach us not to follow the crowd.

We got out of the line, went next door to a gas station, and bought some noodles. But on the way back to our hotel, we noticed Waffle House was open. We went in. Being there on Christmas day reminded me of Randy Stonehill’s song, “Christmas At Denny’s.” Considering it was the only restaurant open, the food was outstanding! Later that night, we had dinner with April’s sister and family. On our way there, we noticed new cars in the drive-through line at McDonald’s. Yes, the menu board was still lit!

Tragically, too many people mindlessly follow the crowd. Whatever the multitude is doing or just bought, they too must do or have.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Mat. 7:13 (NKJV)

Sometimes it may feel you are alone if you have chosen to accept God and His gift of forgiveness for your sins. But you aren’t alone. Don’t fall into the temptation to be accepted by being a part of the crowd. You can ask God to help you stand alone if needed, and He will. Jesus went to the cross alone. He knows what it feels like to be rejected, despised, and hated. The menu board may be lit up, but you don’t have to place an order. Doing so could cost you where you spend eternity.

Copyright © 2023 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Celebration of Life

I have attended several funerals in my lifetime. I have noticed people are starting to call them “Celebration of Life” services. I attended another one this past weekend. (This post is being written on Dec. 21st.) It’s a nice gesture. Family and friends gather, quiet music is played, then there is a briefly given Wikipedia-type history of one’s life. A list of the loved one’s accomplishments, activities, interests, and community involvements. Then, again with music, photos are displayed.

The gathering I went to had a twist. The one being celebrated was still alive. He knows his days are numbered due to being terminally ill with stomach cancer. He told his wife he did not want a funeral but asked her to gather his friends and family to say their goodbyes in person. She did, and they came. Some traveled long distances to be there.

I like the man’s approach, appreciation, and perspective on life. He knows that life is best with people. He expressed his love to each friend and family member. Stories were told, usually followed by laughter, and of course, food was shared as well.

The man is also ready for the moment he journeys from earth to heaven, where he will look up and find himself standing before God and then give an account of his life. I know he has accepted Jesus into his heart, and his life produced good fruit.

If you have not accepted Jesus into your life, and haven’t asked him to forgive you of your sins, now would be a great time to do so. My friend has an idea of when he will pass, but most of us don’t know. With that said, you should take care of this now! And what a way to start the new year but with a new outlook on your relationship with God.

So Happy New Year, everyone. May you be blessed by God abundantly and discover an exciting and adventurous life with Him. Go live life God’s way and celebrate every moment.

13 Now all has been heard;
    here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
    for this is the duty of all mankind.
14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,
    including every hidden thing,
    whether it is good or evil. Ecc. 12:13-14 (NIV)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

It Happened Again

It happened again. Yesterday. We learned that someone who seemed to have it all together. Someone who had a bright future. Someone who appeared happy committed suicide. Why? And people seem to be shocked.

It should go without saying that success, money, family, and friends are not enough to fill a hole in our hearts that can only be filled by knowing and accepting God. And those that are shocked by the sudden end of one’s life by one’s own hands, believe that real life is also found in having these things. They don’t understand because they don’t know the truth. They have bought into the lie(s) this world spreads.

Nothing but God can satisfy you. NOTHING! People struggle trying to do life their way on their terms. What happens is they wind up accepting Satan’s substitutes. Meaning a job that isn’t the best fit for them. A life partner of the same sex when they could have so much more! They fall for “Get Rich Quick” schemes instead of working hard for honest money. Or they believe the lie that fame and fortune will satisfy.

Jesus said in John 10:10 that Satan comes to kill, steal, and destroy. But He had come to give us life and to give it more abundantly. God wants the best for you. That is why He gave us his only son and allowed him to die on the cross as a perfect sacrifice that pays for anything and everything WE do wrong. All we have to do is ask him into our life.

Humanity is nothing more than a mere pawn to the devil. He doesn’t care about you at all. His only interest in you is using you to get even with God. He hates God so much that he will say anything and do anything to destroy people and their lives. Jesus once said that Satan is the father of lies. (John 8:44)

That’s what Christmas is all about. God did things His way, and it baffles the mind of mortal men. They would not have started their campaign of salvation with a baby born of a virgin! But you see, for Jesus to be able to say that He went through everything we have, then He even had to enter the way we do.

If you have tried everything else in life but submitting your will to God and accepting his son, Jesus, then you haven’t tried everything. You have to take that step of faith before you die. It’s too late to decide when you are standing before Almighty God, giving Him an account of your life. Your balance sheet will be in the red, meaning your blood will have to be poured out. Yet it still won’t be enough to pay for your sins. But if you have accepted Jesus, then the accounting of your life’s bottom line will say, “Paid in Full by Jesus Christ,” and you will enter into eternity forever more to live.

Don’t let it happen again. Don’t let Satan use you. Stop believing his lies. Stop accepting his substitutes for your life and go after what God has for you. Choose life! Choose heaven and not hell. You will never regret it.

Merry Christmas,
Mark

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Ready

Painting by: Chas Anderson

My grandmother had a painting in the hallway of her house that captivated my attention on more than one occasion. I would stand there and study the details of it, thinking, “Boy! That day is going to be something.” It portrayed the rapture. The moment when Jesus came back to earth to call his bride home. The painting showed people ascending into heaven from cars, an airplane, fields, and houses. The plane crashed because the pilots were both Christians. Some of the vehicles crashed too. It was as if the earth went chaotic in a moment. (The photo displayed is similar to the one my grandmother had.)

Since Jesus ascended into heaven, men have been looking for and anticipating his return. After all, He said he would. The Bible contains at least 100 scriptures concerning his return. There have been many books written about it and even some movies made. Countless sermons have been preached, encouraging people to watch, and pray, but most of all, be ready! I remember a word given in our church when I was about eight years old. The man said that Jesus’ return was so close it was as if He was already standing up. I got excited and put my shoes back on!

Matthew 24:36 – “But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.” (MSG)

1 Corinthians 15:52 – We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. (MSG)

Matthew 25:13 – “So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive.” (MSG)

Matthew 24:37-44 – “The Arrival of the Son of Man will take place in times like Noah’s. Before the great flood everyone was carrying on as usual, having a good time right up to the day Noah boarded the ark. They knew nothing—until the flood hit and swept everything away.

“The Son of Man’s Arrival will be like that: Two men will be working in the field—one will be taken, one left behind; two women will be grinding at the mill—one will be taken, one left behind. So stay awake, alert. You have no idea what day your Master will show up. But you do know this: You know that if the homeowner had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been there with his dogs to prevent the break-in. Be vigilant just like that. You have no idea when the Son of Man is going to show up. (MSG)

I look around and definitely see individuals preoccupied with life. They are more concerned with current politics with striving to be successful or famous. Trying so hard to earn more money or where their next meal may come from. They might even be more concerned with their relationship status. Satan loves this. He wants us to forget that Jesus Christ is coming back for us. He wants anything for us other than to be ready. It takes focus on our part. It takes keeping God first in our minds, hearts, and life.

In the days of Noah, very few believed that it would rain one day. It had never rained before, so why should they? Today, there are probably very few that believe Jesus will return for believers, for He has never returned previously, but we have been told that He is going to. We have a choice to either believe it and live accordingly or not.

I pray that you choose to believe me and, more importantly, believe God’s word and live your life ready to be caught up in the air with Jesus. If you don’t, you will definitely know the truth when the rapture occurs. There will be mass destruction and confusion everywhere around you. People will disappear right before your eyes. I, for one, have no desire to be here when that happens. I mark myself as “Ready!”

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Why “MB4384?”

Our home WIFI was upgraded the other day, receiving a new gateway. “MB4384” was the name of our old network name, but for a specific reason, we could no longer use it. As I was getting all of our devices reconnected to the WIFI via the gateway’s default name and password, I told April we needed to come up with a network name and password. Of course, something easy to remember.

We discussed many options for both. We finally settled on “KUYA_MARK,” Tagalog for “Brother Mark.” We assumed no one in the neighborhood was using that for a network name. Then we came up with a password we could recall without having to look it up. Again, I reconnected all of our devices to the new network. That’s almost worst than having to turn all of your clocks backward.

“MB4384” became my company user name 17 years ago after SBC purchased AT&T. It took some time to get used to it. I had no idea how in the world they came up with that pattern of letters and numbers, but now I do. God had his hand in it!

Being extraordinarily vulnerable and transparent, getting married again after 24 some years of being single hasn’t been easy. There have been times I have wondered if I did the right thing. I know there were several events and moments of confirmation, but nothing beats what I am about to tell you.

As we were discussing possible names, April disclosed that she thought I changed my WIFI network name to “MB4384” after I met her. She didn’t know it was my AT&T user ID. I was confused, but I told her I used that name when I moved into the house five years ago. Thirteen months before I ever met April. Then I asked her, “Why did you think I changed it after meeting you?” She replied, are you ready for this? “Because that is my birthday.”

Yeah, that’s right. April was born on April 3, 1984, or 04/03/84 or 4384.

I teared up. Then I laughed as I thought about how funny God is. He knew 17 years ago (well, honestly forever) I would need another confirmation that no matter how hard getting used to being married again is for me, it is worth it because God ordained it. When you see that kind of love in action, it’s almost impossible not to trust that God knows what He is doing and that He has to have a purpose for us.

Thank you, God, for loving me.

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. Jer. 29:11 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

When is it Okay to Sin?

Wages of sin is death.

How desperate do you have to be before you make a deliberate decision to sin? Do you tell a lie to cover something you did wrong, so you don’t lose your job or your spouse? Do you take money that isn’t yours because you don’t know how you will make it financially? Are you that desperately lonely that you get into the wrong relationship?

King David had an affair with Bathsheba. Then he had her husband placed on the front line of the battlefield, knowing he would most likely be killed. Why? An attempt to hide his sin.

I know a minister who recently told his daughter it was okay to live with her fiancé before marriage. Why? I believe he is counting on them getting married so his new son-in-law would support them. He probably wants a more comfortable life.

  1. It is never okay to willfully sin. Sin as defined by God’s word. If God says no and you do it anyway, it’s a sin. A big problem today is humanity is trying to make their own definitions of what sin is.
  2. The truth always comes out! (Numbers 32:23) King David’s sins were revealed when the prophet Nathan brought them into the light of day. (2 Sam. 12)
  3. God is faithful to forgive us of sin when we ask for it. (1 John 1:9) There is nothing we can do that prevents us from being forgiven.
  4. Whenever someone sins, people get hurt. King David, though forgiven, still had to pay a price for his sin. I have had to pay big time for some of the sins I have committed. Several people have been hurt too.

The minister I mentioned earlier is already paying a price for blessing sin. Some members of his family are now not speaking to him. And what will happen when the people in his church hear of what he allowed his daughter to do? He might say, “Well. She wouldn’t have listened and have done it anyway.” Then that’s on his adult daughter to pay for her sin. Until she is married, there is no guarantee he will marry her.

God doesn’t list certain parts of life as “sins” to prevent us from enjoying life, but ironically the opposite. A life obeying God brings about an abundant life. A good life full of God’s blessings and provisions.

Do your best to live according to God’s word. Ask Him to help you because keeping our flesh in check is difficult. It is too easy to justify why circumstances call for us to sin. God loves obedient children and rewards them accordingly.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Happily Ever After?

Rooster Cogburn: Boots, I got Hayes and some youngster outside with Moon and Quincy. I want you to bury ’em for me. I’m in a hurry.

Capt. Boots Finch: They’re dead?

Rooster Cogburn: Well, I wouldn’t want you to bury ’em if they wasn’t.

The above are famous lines from the 1969 movie “True Grit.” It starred John Wayne, Glen Campbell, and Kim Darby. It was the first movie I ever saw at a theater. I was seven years old. The Bellaire Drive-In, Tulsa, OK. opened in 1953 with Gregory Peck in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.” It was a single screen with a 600-car capacity. It closed in 1979 and was demolished later. A car dealership now occupies the land.

I love watching movies. I gained that appreciation from my parents. I watched one last weekend and was shocked by what I said when it ended. I said, “Wow, I wish that was my life.” That’s the problem with movies, especially those dealing with relationships. We start believing that’s how life should be and when our real life looks nothing like a movie, we can get disgruntled, and some relationships have probably ended because one’s real life was not happily ever after.

It’s important to remember that movies have directors, scripted lines, and makeup artists, and the actors keep doing several takes until they perfect the scene. There is also a team of professionals to get the lighting right and the costumes perfect, and real life doesn’t have an Oscar-winning soundtrack playing in the background!

It can be difficult to accept “real” life sometimes. I have found trusting God helps. If you are living with his guidance, then you are most likely where you are supposed to be and doing what you are supposed to be despite what you see around you or how hard some of the relationships are that you are in. One must find peace in their situation and contentment, knowing that it is all part of God’s master plan.

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you. Phi. 1:6 (AMPC)

If you are living life the way God wants you to, then you will live happily ever after!

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.