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.

It’s Not Them, It’s Him

A woman’s friend stopped talking to her after being her best friend for 30 years. A man’s children disowned him. Another man’s own mother and sister have nothing to do with him. One woman doesn’t get invited to the family’s Christmas gathering.

What is it about these individuals? Why would people not want to be around them? Are they bad people? Rude? Inconsiderate? I know them, and the answer is not at all. But the one thing they all have in common is this; they all walk with God, and God’s presence surrounding them is strong.

People can sense God’s presence even though they do not see it. The funny thing about this is; when they are in that moment, there is a reaction. Some might sense it and celebrate, praise Him, or feel His love and be joyful. Others might sense guilt or conviction. It is this second reaction that drives people away. Little do they know that God isn’t condemning them but drawing them to accept His love, His Son, Jesus, and experience freedom. Yet they do not accept this truth but continue to believe the enemy’s lies that their way is better. Like a magnet, they repel from the one who walks with God.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. John 3:17 (NET)

A fellow blogger and I were discussing this recently. She commented on the price of picking up your cross and following Him. She’s right, but it hurts to be rejected. Jesus knows all too well about that. Yet it is only for a season because, in the end, we will be surrounded by those who love and choose God. So it really isn’t them, but Him.


If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. John 15:18 (NIV)

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. John 1:11 (NIV)

But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason. John 15:25 (NIV)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Because He Does It

For the last several years, God has been nudging me to learn how to love unconditionally. What that boils down to is this; accepting someone just the way they are. That can be extremely hard to do, especially when you are around them. You might live with them, work with them, or be connected to them in another way. You might even know them through the church.

They probably don’t think like you and certainly don’t do everything the way you do or the way you think it should be done. They might even have personal habits that discuss you or you choose to get angry about. It’s hard and, at times, extremely hard! Especially when you are tired or low on patience and understanding. The problem may be with you. Like you may have high expectations. Or you might have arrogance issues thinking your way is the only way.

So how do you love the one that is so different than you? First, you have to make a willful decision to love them. To accept them as they are. They’re most likely not ever going to change, but you can. Then you have to remind yourself what real love is constantly.

Real love demonstrates patience, and genuine love is kind to the other person. Unconditional love puts up with the other person for a long time. It also forgets when they make the same mistake again and again. This kind of love means not having to have everything your way and it wants the best for the other person. That kind of love also does what it can to encourage them. If you practice this kind of love, you will not show how frustrated you are with your face or body language but will smile and assure them everything is alright.

Showing another person the kind of love above, God’s love, will make them feel loved. It might even change them, but that should not be your motive. Love them because it’s the right thing to do. It’s hard, but you can do it because He does it.

Psalms 36:7

7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Psalms 109:26

26 Help me, LORD my God; save me according to your unfailing love.

Romans 5:8

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 John 4:7

7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

Romans 5:5

5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

1 John 4:8

8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

1 John 4:16

16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

1 John 4:18

18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:19

19 We love because he first loved us.

Jeremiah 31:3

3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Psalms 86:15

15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.

Psalms 136:26

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.

Romans 8:37-39

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,

39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 3:17-19

17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,

18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,

19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

John 13:34-35

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 15:12

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

1 Corinthians 13:8a

Love never ends.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

I’m Not God

I’m not God. That’s for sure!
For He is Holy. For He is pure.
I have moments where I imitate him,
but not consistently because of sin.

I want to be, for He is love.
His Spirit is gentle as a dove.
He accepts everyone for who they are.
I have expectations that hurt and leave scars.

I don’t like it when my attempts to be like him fail.
It makes me feel as though I want to die and deserve hell.
Is that what God meant when He said, “You eat this fruit, you will die.”?
Satan certainly didn’t want us to believe that and said, “it’s a lie.”

I’m grateful for second, third, fourth, and more chances to get it right.
It’s a daily challenge, a yearly struggle, and a lifetime fight.
There is grace for the times I fall short of the Glory of God,
It’s for everyone through Jesus. I know his grace is so odd.

We don’t deserve it, yet it is there for us to receive,
if upon Jesus Christ and his forgiveness, we believe.
I’ll keep trying with his help to be like him, for God is love.
The world needs me to obtain, conquer sin, and rise above.


Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

What Makes God Smile

We call God “Father,” and He calls us his children. Many scriptures talk about this relationship, this connection we have with the creator of the universe and with the One true God. It is a bond that encompasses security, true love, and joy. At times it can be overwhelming when you sense his presence. Many times it will be so strong I will tear up. It often feels like God hugging me.

“I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Corinthians 6:18 

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, He gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12 

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11 

Like our earthly parent-child relationships, there are times when other emotions rise up. Sometimes, God gets angry with us, usually if we are acting out. You know, trying to do things our way. Or if we are blatantly disobeying him. We might be angry at God. Like in times when we feel He is not listening to us. And it’s okay to express that anger with him. But there are other times when we laugh with God and express tremendous joy, especially when we see him answering our prayers. I felt this emotion yesterday as I realized God was moving on my behalf in a relationship that has been challenging.

Sometimes, God needs to discipline us, but He does so with perfect love. And because He loves us, He takes the time to correct us.

For whom the Lord loves He corrects, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. Prov. 3:12 (AMPC)

But God can smile too. Like a loving parent, it is when we, his children, obey his commandments, which are only there to guide us into a better life. What makes Him smile big is when we walk in faith. When we dare take Him at His word and step out to do something we don’t think we can do, accomplish or overcome.

But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]. Heb. 11:6 (AMPC)

It pleases him because He knows we believe him, believe in him, and trust him. Obedience shows we are mindful enough of his power, authority as God, and might to act on what He speaks into our souls. Our action with him to do of his will and good pleasure. To actively advance the kingdom of heaven and watch it prevail. Being witnesses and testifying of his greatness.

This is what makes God smile! May you make him smile daily as you walk in your relationship with him.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

I Was Begging for God

Photo by: Timur Weber

I knew how life was supposed to be lived, but I struggled every day to meet that challenge. I failed to finish high school, failed at being a husband, and now, as a father. So I found myself, despite the weather, on the side of an off-ramp, begging for money.

I understood it was hard for passers-by to give. They didn’t know my story. I looked normal; therefore, they wondered why I didn’t have a job instead of sitting there. As if I liked doing it. They probably thought I was just lazy and didn’t know about the mental illness I struggled with, which made it difficult to concentrate. Employers expect so much, and I found it hard to remember what I should be doing—I needed help!

One bright and sunny Sunday morning, a couple waiting for a green light gave me a $10 bill. I remember thinking, “Oh wow, they’re generous.” The following Sunday, they did the same thing. Now they had my attention. Whether they knew or understood me, they reached out to help me. They gave me the ten dollars the third week and asked, “Hey, we’re on our way to church. Would you like to go with us? They have free snacks, good music, and you’ll hear a positive message from the word of God.” I replied, “Church people don’t want me in their building.” They quickly came back with, “Our church accepts everyone.” I thought, Why not? I could at least get some food and use the bathroom.

The people at this church were friendly, and they actually shook my hand. I used the bathroom, grabbed some snacks, and my hosts got some for me, also. We found our seats, and the service started. The music was loud, upbeat, and positive. I didn’t know the words, but I liked it. Then they took up the offering. But this church was different and announced that if you needed help, feel free to take any cash out of the bucket when it came by. I couldn’t believe what I had heard.

Then they showed a video of the senior pastor. He preached a message about love, God’s love, and how it was for anyone, even people like me. For the first time in my life, I felt hope. I responded to the pastor’s invitation to accept this loving God into my life. There were tears, but they were cleansing. After the service, my hosts had me meet the local branch pastor. I told him what I did, and he hugged me and welcomed me to the family of God. Then he paused, looked at me, and said the church had developed a new program to help people in my situation.

Now I have a job, working for the church, working for people that understand me and my struggles. I contacted my ex-wife, and she is happy for me. She is even considering allowing me to see my kids. I still see the couple who used to give me $10 but giving me the opportunity to hear a message from God was worth so much more than the money.

The above story flashed through my mind while sitting in church last Sunday. April and I had just given a man sitting on the side of an off-ramp $10. I suggested inviting him to church, and April wisely said, “Build up a relationship with him for a couple of weeks.” I’ve been praying for him and looking forward to the coming weeks. Who knows what can happen by meeting someone’s physical needs first? After doing so, they might be open to an invitation to come and hear about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. There are many ways to build the kingdom of God.

But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? Romans 10:14 (MSG)

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. John 3:16-18 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Grace is Enough

What reason do I have to wake up with the rising sun
And not be held down by the weight of all the things I’ve done?
What reason do I have to feel this hope instead of hurt?
How can it be I don’t receive the judgement I deserve?

How can you see me at my worst and still say I am loved?
What promise can I stand on when I don’t feel good enough?
When the enemy’s reminding me of all that I’ve done wrong
What freedom do I have to sing this new creation song?

I know the only reason I can stand here free of all my shame
Is wave upon wave of grace upon grace
Wave upon wave of grace upon grace
Upon grace

I have done so many things wrong in my life and, at times, still do. I’m not too fond of it when my wife, who is full of love and grace herself, sees the darkest side of me. There are times I am ashamed of my behavior. I thought by now, with God’s help, all my personal struggles would have been defeated. I can only continue to ask for forgiveness, ask for help, receive God’s grace, and continue fighting the good fight of faith. God’s grace is for you too!

But you, Timothy, man of God: Run for your life from all this. Pursue a righteous life—a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy. Run hard and fast in the faith. Seize the eternal life, the life you were called to, the life you so fervently embraced in the presence of so many witnesses. 1 Tim. 6:12 (MSG)


Parts of the song “Grace Upon Grace” were used.
Songwriters: Matthew West, Aj Pruis

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Me? Grumpy?

Photo by: George Desipris

I recently hit a milestone in age. Stop singing. I’m not happy about it. In fact, I was glad April didn’t feel up to celebrating it due to recovering from surgery two days earlier. (Her recovery is going well.) I’ll confess, I scheduled her surgery knowing she wouldn’t feel up to it. Okay, I’ll tell ya, I turned 60.

Combining my age with my current attitude toward others and their behavior, one could call me Walter. As in “Walter Matthau.” As in, from the movie “Grumpy Old Men.” Especially when it comes to how people drive these days. It seems as if I can’t even go two blocks from my house, and I’m disgruntled. If you are the lead dog at the intersection, please pay attention to the light. When it turns green, GO!

Two days ago, at 4:56 AM: I was heading home after dropping April off at work, and I almost slammed into the back of an older pickup truck. It was parked in the driving lane of an exit ramp with no lights on. The area of that highway is under construction, and the new highway lights aren’t on yet. And there was room for the broken down driver to have pulled in between construction barrels. My grumpiness isn’t just with drivers. It seems to be with anyone exhibiting behavior I don’t like.

April diagnosed the problem accurately. She said I get upset when others don’t treat me the way I treat them. You see, I grew up having learned the “Golden Rule.” You know, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Based on; Luke 6:31) The problem is, they do unto me things I wouldn’t do unto them. It seems these days as if they don’t care about others, only themselves. And they know when they have done wrong, but they will make it seem as if you are the one who committed a crime.

I know my grumpiness isn’t of God. I should love like He is to us. I need to show everyone “love,” and here is why. These are some of the qualities of genuine love:

  • Love is patient – True love can tolerate pain or suffering without complaining or getting angry.
  • Love is humble – True love is not proud and boastful. It is humble enough to admit its own mistakes and strive to correct them. It also forgives to get rid of hatred and enjoy peacefulness.
  • Love is respectful.
  • Love is calm – True love always maintains the mind’s clarity and the heart’s softness. Its heart is deep, and its mind is not narrow.
  • Love is persistent – True love doesn’t easily give up. True love transforms you into a whole new and better person.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
1 John 3:18-19 (NIV)

 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” – Colossians 3:12-14 (NIV)

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.” – Luke 6:27-33 (NIV)

“Dear God, please help me, love, as you love us. I certainly don’t want to be known as a ‘grumpy old man’ but as a ‘man of God’. A man of love.”

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

The Greatest Moment in the History of Sportsmanship

Photo by: Tima Miroshnichenko

It happened in the very first inning of the Southwest Region championship. Two boys who when they woke up this morning only cared about one thing… get to Williamsport. Suddenly everything changed, because in real life things happen just like that … things change in a heartbeat.

Kaiden Shelton is the big man on the powerful Pearland team, their big pitcher, their big hitter. Isiah Jarvis is the shortstop on the scrappy Oklahoma team that had through incredible perseverance made it to the championship game . One team has already been to Williamsport, the other has never been.

The Pearland team scored 3 runs in the top of the first, but Oklahoma came right back at them in the bottom of the inning , they scored 2 runs and had a big rally going on, there was noise everywhere, coaches were yelling for the pitcher Shelton and the batter Jarvis to ”Battle” “win the battle.”

Then it happened, a twist of fate, Shelton lost control of a fastball and hit Jarvis right in the helmet, and Jarvis fell in a heap at home plate

Suddenly nobody was thinking about Williamsport anymore. With Isiah laying there and coaches and medical staff rushing to his prone body, Shelton kind of circled around the area between home and the pitchers mound. The staduim was silent. Jarvis’s mom stood in the stands , one hand clasped to her face, the other to her heart. And every mom who has ever sent their boys into these games was right there with her.

The Pearland players took a knee, eventually so did Shelton. Seconds seemed like hours. On one knee, Shelton was totally alone with his thoughts. But going through his mind were the words of the umpire immediately after Jarvis had gone down .”Oh my God” the umpire had said.

Finally they helped Jarvis to his feet , on replay you could see how the ball had hit his helmet in a good spot , it got more helmet then anything, Jarvis had been more frightened then anything . He trotted down to first , but now the trouble was with Shelton.

Before that pitch he had only one thought – Battle… win the battle … the words of coaches…now the only words he could hear in his mind… were the words of the umpire: “Oh my god.”

And just like that he started to cry. He was standing on the mound crying, and nobody went to him, not his teammates, not his coaches . Then one person did go to him… Isiah Jarvis left first base threw his helmet off, walked right to him and hugged him. That hug said… it’s okay. It was just what Shelton needed at that particular moment , I am sure his mom had wanted to Rush out there and hug her boy, Isiah took care of that for her , because Shelton was a big kid with a big heart and he didn’t want to hurt anybody , he didn’t want to hear an umpire say “Oh my god” over something he did . He was there to play baseball and make new friends, he hadn’t bargained for this

The game resumed , somebody won , somebody lost, one team went to Williamsport, the other packed their bags for home, it will all be forgotten , but that moment of perfect sportsmanship will live for as long as there is human competition

Before the tournament Isiah Jarvis said his biggest dream was to make sports center . I think it’s going to happen.

His name is Isiah and in the book of Isiah there is a famous passage about coming quickly to the rescue “I will sustain you and I will rescue you.” It’s almost perfectly symbolic that a boy named Isiah would come quickly to the rescue and do it when it was most needed.

(I searched but could not find the author of the above post.)

Hundreds reacted to this post with comments they were fighting tears. This true story touches our hearts because for a moment love was displayed. We don’t always see it sadly, these days, but when we do we sit up and pay attention. Whether a person is a child of God or not their spirit man sees the love of God in action and is drawn to it.

You see, in real life, we are the pitcher who throws a foul ball but in our case sins and hurts a real person. The batter is Jesus Christ. And like in this story He comes over to the mound and offers us forgiveness. If you were touched by this story then perhaps the Holy Spirit is tugging at your heart. Saying, “It’s okay. Don’t get hung up on what you did that was wrong, that hurt people, or yourself. There is One who has already paid the price for your foul ball. His name is Jesus and He died on a cross for you, because he wanted to demonstrate just how much He loves you and cares.” I pray you will react to the Holy Spirit by accepting that forgiveness and accepting Jesus into your life.

for all have sinned (thrown a foul ball) and fall short of the glory of God, Rom. 3:23 (NKJV  Italics are mine)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.