This Side of Heaven

I was “Two Way Journaling” this morning, a spiritual practice I don’t do enough of.  It’s writing out your conversation to God, and then waiting to hear in your spirit what God would say to you.  I was thanking him for using me to be his “Man on the street” if you will.  In other words, it seems as if whenever I am out in public I come across a soul that needs encouragement, acceptance, love, or to be introduced to God.

It humbles me knowing that God would work with me, or I should say through me for I don’t do life in a perfect manner all the time.  I think one reason He does reach people through people is to put a physical dimension to the encounter the person is having, for after all, we are made in God’s image, and I strive to be made in his nature.

I often think about those God directed me to, and I wonder, how is their relationship with God now?  Are they closer to accepting Truth?  Have they learned to take God’s hand and overcome with him their struggles?  Below is a comment from one of my faithful readers of this blog, and what she said about a woman God directed her to in a coffee shop.  (You can also get to her blog posts by clicking on the link.)

From seekingdivineperspective:

“Thanks for taking the time to write, Mark, and especially for praying. We’ll probably never know this side of heaven what happened to that young woman, but God knows, and I hope we will meet her when we all get there.”

There are a few times we do get to know how things turn out, but those are seldom.  For instance; did the lady at a Quick Trip get reacquainted with God and go back to the church her grandmother took her to, or is she still living with the guy she was with that day, hoping for real love?  Will a woman at work accept God and his love and allow him to comfort her in the loss of her mother?  Did the gentleman I talked to while sitting on a cold sidewalk give God a chance to restore his life and his relationship with his wife and kids?

So it’s important to not hurry out there to run our errands and then hurry back home, or to just go to work and only do what is expected of you,

but while living life, look for opportunities to give life.

For as Life Church declares all the time,

“Whoever finds God, finds life.”

You may not know the results, this side of heaven, but something will happen, and one day, when you get to that side of heaven, you will know, and if the results were good you will probably tear up, and give thanks to God for using you, and be thankful for the work God did in the life of the other person.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Looking For Jesus (Part 2)

Joseph.  A good man, in fact, a righteous man.  “Righteous”, a $12 dollar word which means, in right standing with God.  A smart man, reasonable in his dealing with people.  How do I know this?  Simple.  By reading the scriptures.

You see, when Mary told him she was pregnant, he of course was shocked and bewildered.  How could she do this to him?  And before they were to get married.  Did she truly love him, or was she marrying him for some other reason?  Men seem to have a hard time trusting women ever since the fall of Adam and Eve.  Due to the curse of sin men and women have had issues relating.

Back to him being a good man, he decided to end the engagement privately hoping it would save Mary and her family public embarrassment, but people talk and would have found out anyway.  Especially when Mary would start showing from her pregnancy.  But then:

20-23 While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term:

Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;
They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).

24-25 Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus. Mat. 1:20-25 (MSG)

Because Joseph was a God fearing man, he obeyed, and he too begin looking for Jesus.  Can you imagine what he was going through?  A new husband to a woman who has found favor with the God of the universe and is now carrying His son.  I’m sure Joseph had more questions than answers.  What do I do with him? Do I teach him how to be a carpenter, like me? Teach him about wood and nails? Many people have questions when they accept Jesus, and that’s okay, but Joseph accepted Jesus, and he accepted God’s plan.

Look for Jesus.  You will find him, because He has already found you. Don’t get hung up on the details. Don’t try to figure out God’s plan with your mind, because you never will fully understand it, but trust me, it’s all about love. Love for the people of the world. Love for you.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Why Do You Love God?

A true story:

One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan, who was the Designated Accuser, came along with them. God singled out Satan and said, “What have you been up to?”

Satan answered God, “Going here and there, checking things out on earth.”

God said to Satan, “Have you noticed my friend Job? There’s no one quite like him—honest and true to his word, totally devoted to God and hating evil.”

Satan retorted, “So do you think Job does all that out of the sheer goodness of his heart? Why, no one ever had it so good! You pamper him like a pet, make sure nothing bad ever happens to him or his family or his possessions, bless everything he does—he can’t lose!

“But what do you think would happen if you reached down and took away everything that is his? He’d curse you right to your face, that’s what.”

God replied, “We’ll see. Go ahead—do what you want with all that is his. Just don’t hurt him.” Then Satan left the presence of God.

Sometime later, while Job’s children were having one of their parties at the home of the oldest son, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys grazing in the field next to us when Sabeans attacked. They stole the animals and killed the field hands. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”

While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Bolts of lightning struck the sheep and the shepherds and fried them—burned them to a crisp. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”

While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Chaldeans coming from three directions raided the camels and massacred the camel drivers. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”

While he was still talking, another messenger arrived and said, “Your children were having a party at the home of the oldest brother when a tornado swept in off the desert and struck the house. It collapsed on the young people and they died. I’m the only one to get out alive and tell you what happened.”

Job got to his feet, ripped his robe, shaved his head, then fell to the ground and worshiped:

Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    naked I’ll return to the womb of the earth.
God gives, God takes.
    God’s name be ever blessed.

Not once through all this did Job sin; not once did he blame God. Job 1:6-22 (MSG)

Wow!  What would your response be if this happened to you?  Many people blame God for evil, and pain in this world, but we can see here God doesn’t cause it, the devil does.  2020 has been a very painful year for a lot of people around the world.  Have people, or you blamed God, or the men that created the virus for evil?  Do those who on January 1st, 2020 who praised God and confessed their love for Him still do?  Do you only love God when He is good to you?

It is so important, no, it is vital that we keep our perspective true when facing difficult times.  To know God didn’t bring, or cause the pain although He did allow it knowing that if we keep our focus on him we will get through it.  Job loved God simply because, He is God!

We don’t know when the events of 2020 are going to end.  We don’t know who will still be above ground and the totality of it all, but don’t for one second take your eyes off of God.  Know He is still God, and love him accordingly.

The end of Job’s story:

God blessed Job’s later life even more than his earlier life. Job 42:12 (MSG)

Copyright © 2020 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.

Home

“Here ya go, Mommy,” said the young son.

“Oh, thanks.  What is this?” inquired his mother.

“You said you got lost last night in the big building you now work in, so I drew you a map to help you find your way out.”

According to his mother, he also drew her a map, to guide her home, in the shape of a heart.  He obviously loves his mother very much and wants to make sure she comes home, where it is safe, warm, and love abides.

Grab a tissue, right?

When Adam and Eve sinned they were banished from their home. The Garden of Eden. A beautiful, warm place. Peaceful and full of love, visited by God daily. Man was doomed to be lost forever, unless someone provided mankind with a plan, with a map to find their way home again.

God drew a map. The starting point is wherever you currently are in life, You make your way to the cross where God’s only son died for us for He was the perfect sacrifice to make atonement for our sins, (wrong doing).  Jesus, the ultimate gift, exhibiting the ultimate kind of love.

Once there at the cross you turn right and go straight by reading God’s word which shows us how to live our lives, so we are guaranteed to find our way home, where it is safe, warm, and love abides.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved. 

The “Who’s” In Your Life

“So no one told you life was going to be this way.
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, you’re love life’s DOA.
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear,
Well, it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year.”

Do you recognize those words?  The famous opening lyrics to the hit TV show, “Friends”.  There are a lot of different people in your life.  Some you choose and, well, others you didn’t, but we’ll ignore them for now.  The ones you chose are your friends.  You picked them and got to know them because you were like minded, for the most part, and yet even if their lifestyle and choices are different than yours, you enjoy being around them.  They make you laugh, they make you feel important, and perhaps, even loved.

As I write this post I am recounting the past few days.  I have had the privilege of getting to spend time with 10 different friends in different ways.

My friend Steve:  He called me and we caught up.  We laughed, we remembered, and we encouraged each other.  He and I used to spend Saturday nights, after church, at McWillows talking, laughing, and wondering what to do with our love lives, or the lack of.  It felt so good to hear his voice again.  Steve is the man God used to get me writing.  He simply asked, “What’s keeping you from writing?”  Three days later I found the answer, and decided to take the risk.

My friend Roger:  I worked with him on his current home remolding project.  Blood, sweat and the prevention of tears.  My friend needed help, and encouragement and I got to be there for him.  There is nothing as satisfying as finishing a day’s work, stepping back and saying, “It is good.”  I think God coined that phrase.

My friend John:  It had been a while since I had spoken to John, who I used to work with, so I called him.  His company is closing his department and I was concerned about his future, but he informed me he will be okay as he is transferring to a new department that supports the State Farm Insurance Company and my friend will now be known as “Jake, from State Farm”.  I asked him what he was wearing.  If you are aware of the TV commercial then you are laughing.

My friends Andrew and Debra:  I met Andrew on the commuter train that ran in and out of Chicago.  After very little communication, I saw his wrist band, and asked about it.  Since that day the communication hasn’t ended.  God used Andrew to help me learn about opportunities where my skills in writing could grow.  I later met his wife Debra.  This past week they came to visit me where we applied Covid safety.  We had a great time catching up as I had not seen them in four years.

My friend Michael:  The next day Michael made a stop with his friend as they are exploring Route 66.  Michael was a summer intern at AT&T some years ago, and we became friends.  Again, it was good to catch up and spend time together while respecting Covid.

My friend Chris:  We are staying in touch, especially after he fought a hard bout with Covid and with God’s help, won!  Chris is a good man who cares about others.

My friends Russ and Ginger:  I received a letter (a piece of paper written on and then folded and placed in an envelope, addressed, and stamped, then placed in the mail) from them that caught me up and touched my heart.

My favorite friend:  Every night, I get to see and talk to my wife via Messenger.  Lately, we have gotten excited about our future and we have been dreaming concerning how it will work out.  So many things are coming together that were once a mystery.

A man who has good friends is rich beyond measure.

The friends mentioned above have been so helpful, encouraging, and uplifting over the years, each in their own way.  Jesus is also our friend and He will stay with you closer than a brother.  That is if you have invited him to be one of the Who’s in your life.  Having good friends requires you be a good friend.  Some friends may come and go in and out of your life, but the good ones stay and are there for your day, your week, your month, or even your year.  And this year has proven to be one that requires good friends.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved. 

I Had To

This week I choose to do something I didn’t want to do.  My heart was restless as the date approached.  I discussed the situation with a friend, and also with my wife.  Then two days before the event my wife, my helpmate, said one word.  As soon as I heard it, I knew.  I knew what I had to do.  I was thankful for her hearing God where I struggled.

You see, there are times when someone hurts you, and the pain goes deep into your heart.  You tell them what they did, but they don’t care at all, and their pride keeps them from admitting wrong and apologizing.  When this happens, you find yourself wanting to avoid them to protect your heart from future pain.  As well, you don’t want to do anything for them, as you feel they do not deserve it.  I had forgiven them, but I didn’t want to see them.  I don’t mean to be so secret about the details, but I don’t want to give any clues that might identify the perp.

God’s word tells how to handle hurt:

Lay aside bitter words, temper tantrums, revenge, profanity, and insults. But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love. Ephesians 4:31-32 TPT

Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. Luke 6:28 NLT

I did do the right thing, but I had to pray, a lot, and ask God for help.  I also asked him to protect me, and help me not bring up the past while I was there.  They did do one thing that bothered me while I was in their presence, but I left before the pain erupted.  God is good at helping us in our time of need. His specialty is loving those who don’t deserve it.

If you are facing a similar situation, pray, and ask God to help you do the right thing that will glorify Him.  You never know, but your loving kindness might just be the catalyst to change things around.

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.

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.