A Foreign Language

Her parents just immigrated to America from India.  She was three years old, and didn’t know any English.  Now, a few months later, and being enrolled in a preschool she is learning a few words at a time.  But when one of her co-students said to her, “I don’t like you and I don’t want to play with you” the toddler simply smiled and used body language to invite her to swing with her on the tire.

When I heard this true story I realized the beauty of not being able to speak or understand the language of hate, or of racism.  To have the capacity to smile in the face of evil is a special gift.  I could learn from the little precious girl from India.

I think, no, I know Jesus had this special gift.  For when He was falsely accused, hated, spit upon, and betrayed He still managed to say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

A worthy goal that will take lots of practice to perfect, but think of the message it sends to the one spouting toxic words.  A message of love. In any language!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

He Forgot

Photo by: Bob Vander Roest

He was driving his young, observant, daughter to school.  The sun shined bright in the early morning causing sharp glares all about them.  While waiting for the light to turn green his daughter announced, “Daddy look,” as she pointed up in the sky toward the western horizon, “God forgot to turn the moon off this morning after he used it.”  A rule her father most likely preached in their household.

The little girl made a cute declaration, but we know the truth is; the moon is always on.  And just like the moon, God is always there too.  There are times we may not see him though we are desperately looking for his presence.  At other times we may only see a sliver of Him in our lives.  I think our favorite times are when we see God big, and bright, and fully present in our lives.

But the real test of our faith is moving forward in the darkest times of our lives.  Perhaps proceeding slowly, reaching out, grasping for something familiar so we know where we are and where we are going.  Knowing full well God is there even though we may not see him.  It is in those days that our faith is on exhibit for all to see.  Others are most likely watching to see how we cope with a lost job, a lost loved one, or a less than favorable medical report.

Those dark days are not the days our faith is grown, but relied upon to get us through the storm.

Hopefully we filled up our faith tank before this journey begin.

Something that is done by spending time with God in the “things are going great” days.  Talking to him on a regular basis, learning his nature, and his character.  Being confident He is always there.

38 So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles,[a] fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. 39 There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! Rom. 8:38-39 (TPT)

The little girl will continue to grow, and learn.  She will study astronomy, and realize the moon is not an object that is turned on or off, but forever present, used, and needed somewhere around the globe.  And hopefully she will learn about God, and that He doesn’t waste anything, especially the people He makes.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Diabolical

In pouring through the case file I came across a photo of the woman, we were after, and her young son.  As I studied the photograph I saw he was holding a large, light blue teddy bear.  The photo was old because the bear was almost as big as he was back then, but now he is much older.  “That’s it!” I thought.  “We’ve got her now.”

A few hours later, we were in place.  The woman was hiding out in an old abandoned warehouse.  She had been on the run for a few years now.  She made no purchases herself or appeared in public.  She had help, a support network to keep her whereabouts secret.  That is until one of those with her turned against her and disclosed her location to one of my associates.

I walked up to the front of the warehouse carrying the bear.  The same one her son used to have.  I walked away and then we announced over a bullhorn that we had her son.  A few minutes later the door to the warehouse opened and someone, other than her, reached through it and grabbed the bear.  About fifteen minutes later the woman gave herself up.

This peaceful capture of a fugitive worked because we hit her where she was weak.  We realized she probably struggled every day with the guilt of leaving her son behind in order to live a life of crime, and to stay hidden so she could be what she thought was free.  But what kind of freedom is it to never be able to show your face in public, or hug your son?

Okay, in full disclosure, I borrowed the above plot, with a little bit of tweaking from a well written, popular TV drama on Netflix.  I did so to make a couple of points:

  1. Satan knows where you are weak, and he will do anything to attack you in that place.  He does not play fair at all. His operation is completely diabolical. He hates God, and to him, you are nothing but a pawn in the battle over souls.  The devil lies, steals, and cheats to build his kingdom.  God uses love to build his kingdom. And He gave as well.  He gave us his only Son to die for us, so we could live.
  2. True freedom is in Christ Jesus.  Having your sins forgiven, your wrong doing wiped away by the action of Jesus on the cross.  You see, when your sins are forgiven there is nothing the devil can use to attack you.  You don’t live with guilt, or regret.  You have the word of God that can be used against the devil to resist temptation as well.  But wait, there’s more!  You have the power of all of heaven on your side to help fight the battle and to stand firm.

Stop the sneaky attacks of Satan once and for all.  Accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and enter into a realm of living in freedom.  Bask in the love of God and share this Truth with others, so they too can experience God, experience life the way God intended it to be.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The Power of Praise

Okay.  I’m going to go all Steven Furtick on ya now:
You think you are all ALONE, but God is right there with you!
You believe the lie that your MARRIAGE is over, but God says, “Commit it to me!
”You think your JOB is going nowhere, but God wants to show you why you are there!
You were promised a PALACE, but you are in a PIT, God says, “Its part of the journey!”

Yes, LIVING is hard, but God is greater!
Yes HEAVEN seems so far away, but it is closer than you think!
One way to overcome life is through the power of praise.  It works.  It lifts your spirit, it strengthens your faith.  Whether you simply praise God with just words, or if you add music.

From the song, “Praise Him”
Let praise be a weapon that conquers all anxiety
We sing your name in the dark and it changes everything
Let it rise, let praise arise.
We’ll watch the giants fall

Fear cannot survive when we praise You
The God of breakthrough’s on our side
Forever lift Him high
With all creation cry,
God we praise You

Oh, we praise You, oh

Let faith be the song that overcomes the raging sea
Let faith be the song that calms the storm inside of me
Let it rise, let praise arise

This is what living looks like
This is what heaven sounds like
We praise You, we praise You

Try praising God despite what you see, or hear in the natural.  Then witness the power that comes with it, or through it, for yourself.  You will be glad you did.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

How Fortunate!

I seldom get down, and depressed, but it happened the other day.  I knew what all was bothering me, but I could not come up with an answer to the problem.

I asked God, “What should I do?”

I sensed He whispered, “Love”.

I thought for a moment and said, “What else you got?”

His answer seemed impossible considering the circumstances, so I continued to remain quiet, and sad.

I wrote, just last week, how God gets creative whenever He communicates with us.  Last night, He just showed off!  A friend texted with a request to help her and so we agreed and went over to a different neighborhood than ours and took care of her need.  I could have completed the task by myself, but thought about the restaurants in that area and asked my wife if she would go with me.  I didn’t tell her what I was planning, but I knew one of her favorite eating establishments was close by.

I took care of the deed, and then drove about a block to the Chinese restaurant.  The look on my wife’s face of pure excitement and joy was worth the trip alone.  We ordered and she went and found us a place to sit to enjoy our meal.  I, on the other hand, got our drink, plastic ware, napkins, soy sauce, and of course a fortune cookie.  There was a whole basket of cookies, but I randomly picked one.

We ate and then I cracked opened the cookie.  Now, I am not one to believe in fortunes, or horoscopes, or the like, but when I read the message inside, I knew it was meant to be.  It read,

“Hope is the most precious treasure to a person.”

As the, so called, “random” message sunk in, I sensed a feeling of love, and God saying, “Gottcha!”  I believe in hope, I write about the importance of hope, and of the power of hope.  In that moment all of my depression left, and I knew the situation was going to be okay, and yes, his earlier message of “Love” was going to be the key.

God speaks.  Look for his words, seek them out, expect them, and listen when He does whisper to your soul.  He communicates because He loves us so much.

God always answers, one way or another,
    even when people don’t recognize his presence.
Job 33:14 (MSG)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Love at First Sight

“No!  I won’t allow it,” said the editor of my novel, “Kill the Preacher Man”.  (Not yet published.)  “I write romance novels, and love doesn’t happen that fast,” she went on to say.  I considered her chastising comments and thought, I’m not writing a romance novel!  Besides, over my many years, I have heard several stories where one, or the other of a married couple knew early on they had met their mate.  I myself have fallen in love with a woman at first sight.  Twice!  The second one, I married.

My current wife, I first saw a postage size photo of her, and said, “Wow!  Who is that?”  I wanted to click on her profile first and find out more about her.  I know now, what I saw that Friday afternoon, was the love of God in her.  I have written about it before in a post titled, “The April Affect”.  God’s love is so strong in her that people who have never met her are attracted to her.  Especially children.

So if it is possible to fall in love with someone at first sight, then shouldn’t it be possible to fall in love with God at first sight?  After all, we are made in his image.  Now not everyone acts like God, but that’s the individual’s fault, not Gods.

Yes, there are some that are crazy about God right after they meet him.  They accept his free gift of salvation and feel instant relief from the burden of sin, and they go around telling everybody about their new love.

For others, it seems as if their love of God grows as the relationship grows.  As they learn, or discover the benefits of being in a relationship with God they appreciate and their love for him grows.

A popular church proclaims, “For whoever finds God, finds life.”  I like to say, “For whoever finds God, finds love.”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

First Church of Walmart

A few weeks ago, we were in a small town, in Oklahoma, on a Sunday morning, and there weren’t many people stirring around.  There were a couple of gas stations open and one donut shop.

A few days later we were warned not to go to the Walmart in that town on a Sunday morning, because all of the crazies are there at that time, instead of being in church.  Now there are a few crazies at church too, I’ve met them, but I’m talking about the ones that make the front page of Facebook as to how they dress when they go to Walmart.  Oh come on, you know what I’m talking about, and you have laughed probably harder than I have!

We went to church this past Sunday.  Yes, in person, where previously we had attended online.  My first time since January of 2020.  I said I wouldn’t go back until my toilet paper hoarding pile was used up. (kidding) I got to say, It felt good, to be with others worshiping God.  I definitely sensed the presence of God among us, but I must add there were plenty of times I sensed his presence here at home as well.

You see, “going to church” doesn’t save you.  Just “going” won’t get you into heaven. You have to accept God’s son, Jesus as the Lord of your life and the one who paid the price for you sins, wrong doing. To my knowledge, God doesn’t take attendance.  You go to church to be with others who believe like you do.  To be encouraged, and to encourage others.  To develop friendships that help each other through life.  You know, the ups, as well as the downs. God’s word mentions how he will tell some, who even did great things in his name, “Depart from me. I never knew you.” You can go to church every time the doors are open, but unless it changes your heart and fills you with the love of God, then you are probably taking a seat that could be used by one who is serious, devoted about living for God, a true believer and follower. By someone who will let “love” rule in their life.

One can feel God where ever they are, if they know him, and have a relationship with him.  In a way, God got rid of the formal church when his son, Jesus died on the cross.  For in that moment, God ripped the veil from top to bottom ever inviting mankind into an intimate relationship with him, for the purification process was taken on by his son.

So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. Hebrews 10:22-25 (MSG)

The photo was taken inside a “Life Church”.  I love their attitude, position, and inventiveness.  In the meantime, go to church as much as you go to Walmart, and don’t forget “the bread”.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Hard of Hearing, or Hard Headed?

I’m still reading through the book of Job, in the Bible.  I think he is both, hard of hearing and hard headed.  He is not listening to what his friends are trying to say to him.  As well, he is hard headed enough to not realize how arrogant he is.  I’ve had a taste of that lately.  The arrogance, I mean.

You see God instructed me on how to handle a situation, and I would have sworn to you that I heard him.  But in the sad reality of things, I wasn’t applying it, and of course people got hurt.  Then I felt like a jerk, and I was acting like one.  I thought I was right though and in some things, I was, but how I chose to express my being right, was wrong.

I should have remembered the verse, Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.” (MSG)

So I don’t want to be “hard of hearing” when it comes to receiving wisdom, understanding, and instructions from God.  And I really don’t want to be “hard headed” when it is time to apply those words from God.  I don’t want to be a jerk, and I don’t want to hurt anyone, so I find myself asking God to help me to; pause, think, and respond with one of the fruits of the Spirit, and I think that will do the job just fine.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

The Cost of Appearances

The eight year old girl had just visited her father in his downtown office.  The elevator stopped a floor below her father’s and a gentleman got on.  The young girl got scared.  By the time they reached the lobby she was in full tears and screamed as she ran out.  Those who were in the building lobby that day looked and saw the man standing in the elevator.  They imagined the worse, but the real horror was about to come.

Most likely the black gentleman didn’t do anything to the little girl, but those in lobby held an impromptu court hearing found the man guilty, and sentenced him to an immediate death.  But they didn’t stop there.  Word, their version, of what had taken place quickly spread, and the next thing everyone knew, Black people were being killed.

Today, as I write this post, it is the 100 year anniversary of the worst race riot in America.  Some call it, “The Tulsa Race Massacre”.  Even our own air force was brought in to bomb Black Wall Street and the surrounding area where most Black people lived in Tulsa.  I remember seeing, in one of my early history books, a photo of two flat train cars with bodies stacked high across it.  They took them out of town and buried them somewhere, most likely, in a mass grave.

I was born and raised in Tulsa.  I am proud to call it, my hometown, yet that day in my eighth grade history class, I bowed my head in shame.  Later, when I was in college, my history professor told us the event had been removed from the books, but he told us the above story anyway.

It does no one any good to try to hide the past.  If you do, you and or others can’t learn from it.  The saddest part of this story is how it begin.  That men looked at the skin of another and assumed the worse.  Most will say they aren’t a racist, but aren’t there times when you see someone, who perhaps looks different from you and you adjust your speech, your actions, or at the very least, your thoughts?  Racism, despite the individual generating it, is an ugly thing.  I think it makes God so sick to his stomach.

We were all made by God, and are descendants of Adam and Eve, so honestly, how can anyone be a racist toward their own family member?  And if we all had the love of God within us, there would be no room for racism.  To those who died 100 years ago today, I am so sorry.  It was wrong, and I will never forget.

“Above all continue to love one another fervently, for love throws a veil over a multitude of faults.” 1 Pt. 4:8 (WNT)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Roll the Dice

The title of this blog post, “Roll the Dice” is a phrase that comes from gambling.  A similar phrase is, “Let the chips fall where they may.”  Both of these phrases were spoken to me today by a believer in God.  I shared with my friend, who said them, “I don’t like either phrase.”  He replied, “Why not?”

I know he meant well, but he was talking about a situation that he does have authority over, because God gave it to him.  You see, when you are walking in the will of God, and He places you in a position that He wants you to have, and you pray giving the situation over to God, to be God in, then it is not up to “chance”!

Things will not fall where they may, or be decided by the roll of dice, or by any half hazard means of chance, but will work out for good for those who love God. This brings glory to God. His word says so.

 “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose,” Rom. 8:28 (NET)

This verse is well known, so why don’t those who know it, believe it?  And better yet, why don’t they live according to that knowledge?  It’s powerful!  Its life changing, and situation changing as well.

So the next time you are in a pickle, or dealing with a difficult situation, pray!  Give it to God!  Then walk with your head up, knowing, and trusting God has heard you and that it will work out just the way He wants it to in order to do a good and perfect work in the lives of all who are involved.

“Amen!”  Now that’s good preaching if I do say so myself.  Where’s the offering plate?  This message is worthy of an offering!

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.