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.

I Heard God

081420“The voice of the Spirit of God is as gentle as a summer breeze— so gentle that unless you are living in complete fellowship and oneness with God, you will never hear it.” – Oswald Chambers

I had two dreams, in the same night, several days ago that was kind of strange, and no, they weren’t brought on by late night pizza.  In both dreams, I was being instructed on how to write this blog.  I was told to make it more, “grunge”.  What is “grunge” I asked myself.  I had heard of it before.  Webster says, “The untidy fashions typical of fans of grunge”.  Okay, so how does that relate to writing my blog, I asked God.  Is that writing wearing casual Friday clothing on steroids? I sensed as though it meant to write more “raw”, “revealing”, if you will.  I draw from my life for inspiration or examples, but not always in detail that reveals personal feelings.

A week ago or so, I was feeling down, and depressed, because Covid has caused my wife and me to remain apart longer than needed.  I haven’t held her in my arms for over a year now, and that hurts.  With the current conditions, I could not see a path for us to be together any time soon.  We are done with the immigration process, and she just needs her medical exam and her interview at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.  Then she would get her Visa and come home.  It is difficult to be apart from one you love, and even harder when that person loves you back.  I have tried everything I could, even emailing the embassy to see if they would do a “tele-interview”.  They said, “No.”

I cried out to God, I begged, and I pleaded.  To make things worse, He wasn’t saying a thing, or if He was, his answer was so soft I couldn’t hear it.  Then, I confessed my attitude to a friend, who listened and didn’t just quote scriptures I had heard so many times before, but he assured me God knew and then he prayed for me.

An hour later, as I was writing a blog, I came across a scripture in God’s word, and I realized God was speaking to me and to my circumstances.  My smile came back, and my heart felt like a ton of bricks had been unloaded, the heaviness was gone.

God does hear us, and yes he cares about what his children are going through, but it is so reassuring to hear his voice.  He can speak to us in many different ways, like through his word, dreams, through others, blog post, and that still small voice inside, if we calm down enough to hear it.  God also knows what we have need of, before we even ask. (Matthew 6:8)  Remember this: If you aren’t hearing God right now, it has nothing to do with him loving you less.  He’s just waiting for the right time, for when it will make sense.

Has God miraculously made a way for my wife to come to America? No, but now I have understanding as to how He plans on using this for his Glory., I’m okay with that.  My friend called me back a few days later and I told him, “Through a scripture, I heard God, and I am good now!”

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The Best Four Letter Word

072420 3There are lots of four letter words, and when we say, “four letter word” some go to a dark place and think of the ones that have a dirty meaning.  (No, I’m not going to give you an example.)

The best four letter word is: agape

You see, agape is so profound it knows no limits or boundaries in how far, wide, high, and deep it will go to show itself to its recipient. If necessary, agape will even sacrifice itself for the sake of that object or person it so deeply cherishes.

Agape is the highest form of love,
a self-sacrificial type of love that moves the lover to action.

“Agape is a love that has no strings attached. It isn’t looking for what it can get, but for what it can give . Its awe of the one who is loved is so deep that it is compelled to shower love upon that object or person regardless of the response. This is the profound love God has for the human race, for He loved man when he was still lost in sin with no ability to love Him back. God simply loved mankind without any thought or expectation of receiving love in return.

When you love with such a pure love that you expect nothing back in return, it is impossible for you to feel hurt or let down by the response of the recipients of your love. You don’t love them for the purpose of getting something in return; you shower them with love simply because you love them. This kind of love is much higher than eros love that is based on selfishness; stergo love that is restricted by limitations; or phileo love that is rooted in mutual satisfaction. These three types of love are what I call low-level love, but agape is high-level love. It is a love that has no strings attached, a love that loves simply and purely –

– the God-kind of love.

Further explaining the role of agape in our lives, John said, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but indeed and in truth” (John 3:18). The word “love” is again the word agape, which tells us that when agape is at work, it is a force so strong that it demonstrates itself with deeds and actions. This is not an empty love that talks but does nothing. It is a love that does something, just as God loved us and then did something to save us from our lost and sinful condition.

This is the love that Paul urged us to follow after when he wrote in First Corinthians 14:1, “Follow after charity [agape love].…” The word “follow” is the Greek word dioko , which means to hotly pursue . It was a hunting term that pictured a hunter following the tracks of an animal until he finally gets his game. This means that attaining this high-level love doesn’t come easy. If we want to attain agape love and regularly walk in it, we must hotly pursue it! It must be the focus and the aim of our lives.

If agape is the basis of your sexual relationship with your spouse instead of eros , you will always seek to serve and please your spouse rather than being self-centered and focused only on your needs.

If agape is the basis of your family relationships rather than stergo , you will always remain devoted to your family, regardless of the disappointments that may occur along the way. And if agape is the basis of your friendships rather than phileo , you will be a faithful, immovable friend for life rather than a come-and-go friend who is faithful only as long as you get what you want out of the relationship. In fact, if agape is the driving motivation of your life and the force behind all your relationships, it will make you to be the best, most devoted, faithful, and reliable friend anyone has ever known.” (From, “Sparkling Gems From The Greek 1” Rick Renner)

Therefore, the best four letter word is: LOVE  the agape kind.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Kiss it!

072120Remember going to your mother, or father, and asking them to kiss your boo boo?  To make it go away?  Or do you remember your own child asking you?  My son, when he was about one year old, fell on some hard plastic toys, and hurt his bum.  He cried as he climbed up on the sofa, laid back holding his legs up in the air and said, “Mommy, kiss my butt.”  We know a kiss from a loving parent didn’t do anything, but there is something comforting knowing one who loves you, knows you are hurting.

Technically, I’m okay, but there is a something going on in my life right now, and it hurts.  I don’t like it, and whether it is my fault or not I have blamed myself.  I want to fix it, and have tried everything I can, to do just that, but the issue is still there.  My wife responded with accuracy, “All we really need is help from God, not from anybody else.”  So that leaves me with only one thing to do, cry out to God.

“God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, but you may be aware of only three of them.” John Piper

It’s okay to cry out to God.  It’s okay so tell him how much it hurts, how much you don’t like it and how bad you want it gone, or over. God loves spending time with you and hearing from his children, because it gives him the opportunity to hug you, to comfort you, to kiss it, and make it go away.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Be the Movie

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationA 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.

The Other Tree

071420 3Most people recall Adam and Eve ate of the, Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil, but there was another tree.  It was the Tree-of-Life.

God said, “The Man has become like one of us, capable of knowing everything, ranging from good to evil. What if he now should reach out and take fruit from the Tree-of-Life and eat, and live forever? Never—this cannot happen!”

So God expelled them from the Garden of Eden and sent them to work the ground, the same dirt out of which they’d been made. He threw them out of the garden and stationed angel-cherubim and a revolving sword of fire east of it, guarding the path to the Tree-of-Life.” Genesis 22-24 (MSG)

The garden disappeared, and so did the Tree-of-Life, but because mankind disobeyed God, and sinned when he dies he would be dead for eternity.  This was never what God intended, so He knew a sacrifice needed to be provided, so man could live for ever with him.

Because of this, Jesus is now, The Tree of Life, and we can partake of him after accepting his free gift of salvation.  His love for us lead him to the cross and because he was without sin, his death became the sacrifice, or payment for our sins.

So what God wouldn’t let us have in a sinful state, eternal life, he now freely gives us through his son, who became the Tree of Life.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.