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.

Healing River

What would it take for you to say, “I’ll never forgive them!”?

This past weekend I watched a great movie titled, “Healing River”.  Here is my (un)professional review:

In a world, where it is easier to hate, than to love, where it is easier to give up, than to accept, comes the movie “Healing River”.  An amazing story, of amazing grace.  “Healing River” will not only touch your heart, but tug at it as well.  Mitch Teemley, and his crew, did an awesome job of allowing the movie to flow naturally as real life does.

You will be glad you watched “Healing River”, a powerful story you will not forget as the credits are rolling, but a story which will stay with you for a long time.  It’s a movie everyone needs to see, especially in the current days we are living.  “Healing Rivers” demonstrates the strength, and guts it takes to let go of the past, accept the present, and look forward to a brighter future.  In the difficult act of forgiveness, one finds the beginning of healing.

Forgiveness doesn’t set them free, but you.  Holding onto un-forgiveness keeps you locked up in a cell of your own making.  Jesus died a painful death, to provide forgiveness, for everyone, no matter what they have done, if they only ask him to.  Yes, even those man considers the worse.  Not fair?  They deserve the same kind of forgiveness you do.  “For all have sinned and have fallen short of the Glory of God.” Romans 3:23

Go for forgiveness, for you and for others.

Living life healed is the best way to live.

Delve further into the creative, talented, funny mind of Mitch Teemley at: https://mitchteemley.com/

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.

How It All Began

061620August 1969.  I would celebrate my seventh birthday in September.  I didn’t want to go to hell for being a liar, and a convicted cookie thief, and according to the big man, wearing a black suit, speaking loud, if I died without accepting Jesus in my heart, I would have.  Pictured here, his name was H.D. Pieratt.  He was a fine example of a man, after God’s own heart.

You might say, I first confessed I was a sinner and recognized Jesus as God’s son, then asked him to forgive me of my wrong doing, because I was scared of hell.  That viewpoint stayed with me for several years, until I learned about God’s love.

What might have started out as a fire escape plan turned into a loving relationship with God as I got to know him.  Ten years after making his acquaintance, I dedicated my life to going, doing, and saying whatever He wants me to.

It’s sad, but there are individuals who have only accepted enough Jesus to keep them out of hell.  Their more afraid of eternal damnation than they love God.  You have probably encountered one of them, because they don’t reflect the love of God.  The light, the truth, the hope in them is dull, and in fact, they might have hurt you.  I’m sorry if you have encountered one, and have gotten hurt.  Also, I feel bad when I let situations get to me and I choose to extinguish the light of God in me if only long enough to let my flesh rule.  I always regret those moments and ask God to forgive me and help me not to do it again.

I feel like Paul, when he wrote in Romans 7:15:
I’m a mystery to myself, for I want to do what is right, but end up doing what my moral instincts condemn. (TPT)

Training will help me to love first in those situations, and in all others.  The only way to act, and react with love is to continue to get to know the source of love, God.  For God is love.  1 John 4:8.  It comes down to your heart’s desire, and God knows what those are, so he will help you be more like him.  The light of God, in Rev. Pieratt, shined upon my heart when I was a child, and I’m so thankful.  I was drawn to it, I was drawn to God, and that is how it all began.

Be love.  Our world needs a lot more Truth, light, and love!

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Love Laws

060520Last week I mentioned how my new life with my Filipino wife wasn’t easy in the beginning.  There were obvious things to overcome.  Cultural differences being a big one, and even though she can speak English, our language has enough quirks to rattle anyone.  I’m glad I don’t have to learn English.  A friend once told me she had ESL and I asked her if it was terminal.  (English, Second Language)

I knew if our marriage was going to survive, it had to be built on love.  I got the bright idea to post the characteristics of love from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a all over our apartment in the Philippines.  I thought seeing the Post-it Notes would always remind us to be loving.

In the midst of one heated battle I went around and removed, ripped, and threw the Post-its away.  I thought, “Love isn’t working!”  But the honest truth is this, I wasn’t working love.

God’s word tells us that love never fails, so the problem wasn’t love, but me.  I had the love laws in my head, but they had not made their way into my heart.  Once things are in your heart they come out of your mouth.  The words that come out of your mouth affects how you live, because they are based on what you believe to be true.

In practical terms, once the laws of love were in my heart it caused me to act and react, then say things to my wife in a loving way more consistently.  That made all the difference in the world.  One thing that also helped was believing she really loved me unconditionally.  Reminds me of God.  Her love to me has replaced past hurts.  I’m still learning to let my first reaction be love, but it’s getting easier.  My wife gives me lots of opportunities to practice.  Kidding.  (Well sort of.)

I encourage you to learn the love laws for yourself, and then place them into your heart.  Life is better when you love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (NET Bible)

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up.

It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful.

It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends.

 

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Simply Love

060220 1Racism.  Injustice.  Hate.  Protest.  Peace rallies turned into riots.  You know what I am talking about, or referring to.  It’s sad to see so many unhappy, hurting, people.  They can’t take it anymore, and their hearts are crying out for something to believe in that won’t cause anymore pain.  Ever since Adam and Eve, mankind has been saying, “I know what is good and what is evil.”  You see, before they ate the fruit God told them what was good, and He told them what was evil, but they were deceived.

Today, mankind is still being deceived, thinking “they” know what is right, and that “they” know what is evil.  Like Adam and Eve, they won’t be told by anyone else, especially by God.  Can we all agree on the fact each man defining good and evil, on his own terms, isn’t working?

So what’s the solution?

Love.  It’s the only answer.  You see, love, love for others helps you listen to someone else.  It empowers you to understand their views, their values.  Not adopt them, but listen to them.  People just want to be heard.  When I was doing church security, we sometimes had someone come in and interrupt the service.  After I escorted them out, I would always give them a chance to say what they wanted us to hear.  I didn’t care, or really listened, but it was amazing how it calmed them down.

Love says, I accept you no matter where you are from, what color your skin is, or what you believe.  Love helps you not get angry if their views are a lot different than yours.  Love strengthens you to not remember what one might say that hurts you.  Love empowers you to be kind, patient, and not to become easily angered.  Love allows you to want the best for someone else.

The truth is this; love works and will work, because it never fails.  That’s why God puts a big emphasis on accepting love and in fact, God is love.

Can we all try love?  Please?

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Good, But Best

good, better and best word written by 3d hand“The greatest enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but good choices which are not quite good enough.” (Oswald Chambers – My Utmost for His Highest – May 25)

Confused?  Let me explain.

We can be confident, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]”. 2 Tim. 1:7 (AMP)

Therefore, with our free will, we should be able to make good, sound, decisions for our own lives.  I felt like I had done that.  I retired from AT&T, at the age of 55, and instead of buying an RV and traveling, I decided to move back to my home town to take care of my father, to write, and occasionally speak publically.  I was happy with these good, sound decisions.

Not my will, but thine be done.

Life was, and would have remained good, but I always yield my choices and decisions to God.  Before my father passed, not long after I had moved back, we had some great moments fishing again.  (Not to tell a fish story, but we managed to “keep” 167 fish in only 3 outings.)  I bought a house I really enjoyed living in.  I was getting used to my new, good life, but God wanted “his best life for me”.  (Kind of sounds like something Joel Osteen would say.)

You see, I had been divorced for 24 years.  I kind of wanted to be married again, but was content being single.  Looking back, I see all the people God had put in front of me to work on my heart toward marriage.  One Friday I found myself filling out a profile on a dating website.  I submitted it and there she was.  From all of the women presented, the one, who would later become my wife, stood out.  I could see the love of God radiating from her postage stamp size photo.

To make a long story short, I contacted her, we texted, then talked, and then video chatted via Messenger.  I went to the Philippines to visit her and the family.  One month after returning home from the trip, I put everything in storage, rented my house out, and moved there to marry her.  It has not been a “cake walk”, but we always had love to build on.

While waiting for her immigration process to be completed, we have grown together, and lately started dreaming about our future.  There are several things beginning to open up, and reveal to us the will of God, for us, as a couple.  I love it!

You see, I could have continued to be single and have a good life, but because I surrendered my will to God, I am now living the best life I could ever have.  I thank God for loving me so much.  And ya know what?  He loves you too, just as much!

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.