A 4:46 AM Meeting

Photo by: Blaz Erzetic

My wife, April, starts her work day early in the mornings. Sometimes, due to the number of pending orders to get out, she has to be there by 4 AM. The other day was one of those mornings. Because I drive her to and from work, I also have to get up early.

“I would like mornings better if they started later.” Garfield

I certainly agree with Garfield. So, as a result, I do not have the best demeanor that early. As is usually the case, now I can’t even recall what April did that I chose to get upset about. I dropped her off without a proper “Goodbye” and proceeded home.

On the drive home, I remember the Holy Spirit whispering, “Watch Steven Furtick.” He comes on a local TV channel at 4:30 AM. I responded with a, “No! I don’t want to.” When I got home, I knew I needed to do as God instructed me, so I did. Sure enough, Rev. Furtick was delivering a message that had to do with attitudes. The word of God ministered to me as well as convicted me. I prayed and asked God for forgiveness and to help catch those situations before they escalated.

Later that morning, April texted me about something going on in our life. I responded with the requested information and included some humor with a “Love you!” After reading my reply, she texted back, “What happened? Your attitude is much better.” I wrote back, “God called a meeting.”

I don’t like it when my attitude gets out of alignment, but when it does, I am so thankful that God is right there and quick to make the necessary adjustments. That’s the work of a loving Father.

19-21 Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. James 1:19-21 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

When It Matters

Figuring out life can be difficult at times, but as I have learned, it is even more challenging when your “money meter” displays, “LOW!” At least the “Fuel” light is not on, not yet anyway. When funds are abundant, it seems like you just do what needs to be done almost without considering the cost. The line between “want” and “need” gets dimmer. It’s easy, at times, to convince yourself that you “need” something that honestly is a “want.”

Whether you have a lot of money or not, it is always best to take your thoughts to the Lord. If He truly is the “Lord” over all things in your life, then decisions about how or where to spend should be guided by him. After all, those financial resources came from Him and are His.

The part of Him leading me I appreciate the most is in deciding what to buy, what brand, and what product. And at times, from where. I have found that if I feel uneasy about pulling the trigger on something, the best thing to do is wait.

“I am God, your God,
    who teaches you how to live right and well.
    I show you what to do, where to go. Isa. 48:17 (MSG)

Submit your plans unto the Lord. Trust Him to accept and hear your proposal and thoughts; what you have determined in your mind is good. It also is a good idea to talk about matters of life with your spouse. After all, they are to be your “helpmate.” And when they share their thoughts, be sure not to make fun of what they say. Their words and insights might just be what you need to hear; and who knows, it may very well be the words of the Lord speaking through them. Another source is with a trusted friend who you know walks with God. Finding a friend like that is like finding gold. Value them, express how much they mean to you, and appreciate them.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady. All rights reserved.

Despite What May Be

One of the hardest things on this journey we call, “life” is overcoming. It seems as if it will never happen. Either the hole of debt we have dug is too deep, or the struggle with the one we once loved hurts too much. Perhaps the sickness seems as if it will never get better. You know, all too well, what I am talking about, and so do I.

When Jesus taught the multitudes he would often direct their attention to nature to emphasize the point he was trying to make. He didn’t have a “whiteboard” or a “PowerPoint” presentation. He used what he had, and it worked!

To borrow this method from the great Teacher, let me show you some illustrations from nature about overcoming.   Notice this Ferris wheel will someday be totally overcome by this growth in nature. It has probably taken a few years to get this to this point, but what one might of once thought was impossible, has become possible.

Consider this pile of rubble. One may make the comparison that this mess is similar to their own life. I know I once did, after making, what I thought, was a mistake that would end my service to God forever. Turns out, I was wrong on that point. In the midst of my personal, broken pile of a mess life, He slowly began to rebuild me and make me useable to him and others once again.

Then there is this tree. It found life close to disaster. It lives on the edge. Some may consider that exciting, while others would find it nerve-racking realizing that at any moment, a strong storm could come and it would lose its grip. The tree seems confident trusting the hold it has on the unmovable rock.

One can learn from this tree that finds itself so close to falling, so close to going over the edge, from becoming firewood.  Burnt up and consumed, yet today, it stands tall. If we trust our “Rock and salvation” we too could stand tall no matter what storms may come.

Admire this flower. It bloomed and grew despite not being in a beautiful garden. It has no dedicated gardener to provide daily watering, plant food, or bend down and remove any weeds that may try to enter its territory. Yet it survives and fragrances the environment around it with a sweet smell.

Maybe you’re not currently living in a garden, and maybe you struggle to have your basic needs met. Take a lesson from this flower; bloom, grow and be a pleasant odor in your world.

With God’s help, you can grow and survive despite your past, or present situation. Regardless if you have a lot or a little. Make it part of your mind to be an overcomer. Set it in your heart and mind despite what may be today.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
James 1:2-4 (MSG)

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Magkano?

I heard it said the other day, “Every relationship is a transaction.” This expression caught my attention, and I have thought a lot about it. What the man who said those words went on to share was this, “In each relationship, you are either giving or taking.”

In my lifetime, I have been in a lot of different types of relationships. Working relationships, family relationships, friendships, general acquaintances, and marriage to name just a few. So what the man was saying was that in each one of those relationships, one was giving and one was taking, or at least some percentage of both.

Was I the giver? Or was I the taker? Or somehow did I manage the relationship to give and take? Did I take more than I gave? In some of those encounters with those individuals was I fair? Was I ever starving for so much that I partook first before considering the other’s needs?

I know me and in full disclosure, I have to consciously make an effort to stop talking and purposely make myself ask the other person questions about them. I like to talk, I like to tell stories, after all, I am a writer. But there are times when it is best to not say a word about me, and to listen, to inquire, and show that I care about them.

Jesus certainly was a giver in every relationship. He gave comfort, hope, and teachings on how to live an abundant life, and He still does! He also gave his life so that we may live eternally with Him in heaven.

Are you a giver, or a taker? Magkano (ma-con-o) in Tagalog (language of the Philippines) means “how much?” A phrase I learned to ask my tricycle driver when he would taxi me into town, or back home. It wasn’t long for the local ones to not answer me when I asked them, “Magkano?” I think word had gotten out that the American who had married April Joy Santiago Cruz was generous, and he would often pay more than the actual cost. This was a good reputation to have.

Be a giver. When meeting someone, ask yourself on the inside, magkano? Meaning how much is this going to cost me? You may have a lot of untold stories pent up inside, but investing in another person is always a good investment to make. They will certainly be richer for it, and in many ways, so will you! This will be a good reputation to have.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Who’s it For?

“Hi. How can I help you?”

“I need to…”  “Sorry.”

“It’s quite alright.”

“I need to pick out a casket.”

“Okay. I’m so sorry for your loss.”

“Thanks.”

“Step this way. Did you have something in mind?”

“Yeah. Nothing ‘over the top’. It should be simple, but natural looking. Not that there is anything ‘natural’ about dying. I think it should reflect the kind of life the one lived who will be using it.”

“I understand. What do you think of this model over here?”

“Model? Gees! You make it sound like they are vehicles that transport the dead into eternity. Is this the newest model or a late model?”

“My apologies sir. It’s a particular style of casket. It’s in our ‘Wood Grain’ family.”

“Umm, not bad. May I see the interior, please?”

“Of course.”

“No squeaks. That’s good. Wouldn’t want to scare any children that may be at the funeral. I guess that one will do.”

“Very good, sir. Why don’t we go back to my office now and we can start the paper work.”

“You mean loan papers don’t you? With what these cost and everything.”

“Sir, they must be paid for upfront. We certainly don’t have a ‘Lay-a-way’ plan here.”

“Is that supposed to be funny?”

“It was.”

“Oh. Well I guess it kind of was. I’m just not in a laughing mood.”

“My apologies, sir.”

“Yeah, don’t worry about it.”

“Ok. Tell me about the deceased.”

“In general, all his life he tried his best to be a good man. To live according to God’s words, and overall, live a life pleasing to God. He was born here in this town, reared here also, but lived in several other places as an adult. He loved to travel. He was married twice, to two different women, had two children and two grandchildren. His first wife poisoned his children about him though, so after they became young adults they told their father he was a horrible man, and they never wanted to see him ever again.”

“Was he?”

“What?”

“A bad man.”

“No. Not perfect, but not bad either. He provided everything he possibly could for his children. Even though he was paying child support, if he saw his kids had a need, he met it. He took them places in America too. They loved traveling as much as he did. He also took them to church. He introduced them to the loving, one, true, God of the universe. He was faithful in taking them there so their faith could grow.

I guess it has become obvious which force won his kids over. They chose ‘evil’ over ‘good’. They know that their sins will cost them their life for eternity, but even though they saw ‘God” at work in the life of their father, it didn’t make the impact it should have. That broke his heart more than not getting to see and spoil his grandchildren.”

“That’s too bad. Seeing, or hearing from their father most likely brought on guilt, and the Holy Spirit bringing to their mind they should be living for God, instead of for themselves. By the way, I’ll also need where all he went to school, and the primary places he lived and worked, and for how many years. Any affiliations he was associated with and any other hobbies he had. Oh! One thing I failed to ask, who’s the casket for?”

“Sir?”

“Sir?”

“Who’s the casket for?”

“Me.”

Hebrews 9:27 (MSG) Everyone has to die once, then face the consequences.

Copyright © 2022 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Joy to the World

I notice things.  Annoying to April, but I think it helps me as a writer. Regardless, this holiday season I have noticed the word, “joy” everywhere.  On buttons worn by Walmart employees, in TV commercials, in print, and placed on products.  It almost seems as if after the last two years we have had experienced people are desperate for some “joy” in their lives!

They want it bad, so they declare it, they proclaim it, and they even wear it.  People want “joy”, they need “joy”.  But saying it, wishing for it, doesn’t make “joy” appear.  Not real joy anyway.  Real, lasting “joy” can only be found in Jesus Christ.  By giving your life to him and recognizing that He gave his life to you.  To die for you, as a sacrifice for every little thing you have ever done wrong in your life, otherwise known as “sin”.  Real joy is:

J = Jesus
O = others
Y = you

You accept Jesus, make him the most important person in your life, read the book his father wrote, and learn to take on his nature, then “joy” begins.  The next step in finding real “joy” is putting others before yourself.

Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.
Mat. 22:37-39 (MSG)

This is the formula for finding “joy”, not just at Christmas time, but all year round.  Serving others brings “joy” as well.  Another way to find “joy” is to marry it.  You see I was divorced for 24 years.  I was content with that, well most of the time, but I longed for joy.  My first marriage had its good moments, but I always felt in my heart that it could be better.  And now I know I was right.  You see my second wife’s name is, “April Joy”.  I have said it before, but when I am doing my part, to love her as Christ loves the church, then she fills my life with so much “joy” words cannot describe.  She knows the formula for “joy”, and she is so full of the love of God in her life.  That love oozes out and covers others.

Yes, it’s Christmas, and certainly “Joy to the World” indeed, but if you want real “joy” that can last a lifetime then pursue Jesus, love others, and love yourself.

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.

Choices

Life is full of making choices.  We do it every day, all day.  The first one is; “Do I want to get out of bed?”  Having bills to pay usually answers that one for us. Then, there is, “What am I going to wear today?”  My wife and I have a friend who confessed on the average day, it would take her an hour to decide what to wear.  It bothered her, and frustrated her husband, because her final decision was most of the time the first thing he told her she looked nice in.  She prayed and God directed her to limit her choices to only four colors, and only a few items to mix and match.  Wisdom, from on high!

“What am I going to eat?” is one of my favorite choices to make each day, and it is becoming more and more important as I age.  There are so many things to decide that affect our time, who is in charge of our city, our state, and our federal government.  The type of vehicle we drive, where to live, our marital status, and how many children to have, if any?

So, it’s clear.  Some choices are a lot more important than other ones, but there is one choice to make before we leave this earth and that is;

where do you want to spend eternity?

God’s word makes it clear and easy to understand, but for some, it is so difficult to make.  That may be because they think they will give up their freewill, their freedom, or become like some of the weird “Christian” friends! I made that decision when I was 7 years old.  Others take a risk and make it on their death bed.

Not making that decision is the same as making it.  You either confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and ask him to forgive you of all the bad choices you have ever made in your life, or you don’t.  Doing so gives you life and gives it to you in abundance.  (John 10:10)   No one can make this choice for you, not even God.  He desires that everyone be in a full and rich relationship with him, personally, having discussions all during the day.

Please, take this seriously, for no one knows the day or hour they might die.  I speak from personal experience when I say;

life with God is rich in love.

“If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve—and do it today. …  As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.” Joshua 24:15 (MSG)

Copyright © 2021 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.