The Unexpected Sermon

“It’s okay.  It’s all in the past,” said my great niece as she waved her hands back and forth down low by her side.  She had gotten caught doing something that turned out okay, but would not had been sanctioned by either of her parents.

We laughed as my mother shared the story of the incident with my wife and me, but later in the week my wife quoted my great niece after doing something I did not appreciate.  Yes it’s true, I’m a recovering control freak, and I always argue that I like things done a certain way, because to me it seems like the fastest and easiest way to accomplish that task.  I know, there are many ways to doing some things, and there are times when someone would rather do it their way.

It may seem silly, but my four year old great niece preached with conviction a sermon I needed to hear, but more than that, live out!  I have spent the last several days practicing to let things go and not to mention that my wife may have done or said something that turned out okay, but not something I would have done.  And you know what?  Our marriage is better for it!

In those times when we mess up, do things that God would rather we hadn’t, and we go to him and ask for forgiveness, he always says, “Its okay.  You’re forgiven.  It’s now in the past.”

God makes everything come out right;
    he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
    opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
    not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
    nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
    nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
    so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
    he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
    God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
    keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long;
    like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
    leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always,
    eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
    as they follow his Covenant ways
    and remember to do whatever he said. (Psalms 103:6-18 MSG)

Forgiveness is not a license to go sin more, or even again, but it lifts the burden of guilt off of us, and allows us to go on, living life in peace.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Be Like God

Most of her life she heard, “You’re so stupid.”  “You can’t do anything right.”  “You’ll never amount to anything.”  “Why can’t you get this?  It’s not hard.”  She heard messages that she wasn’t good enough and that she never would be.  One negative message after another, and the worst thing happened…she believed them.

Thirty some years later, after thinking that life was just okay, and it couldn’t get any better, because she was taught not to expect anything special, it happened.  She moved away from those she loved, and into the arms of man, who loved her, but more importantly, loved God.  After a while he recognized her insecurities, but he knew how to reverse the years of damage and pain done to her.

He begin being gentle with his deeds, and especially with his words.  He had to make sure he didn’t expect perfection out of every task, as he had been raised to.  He needed to find the capacity to let her do things her way, and then to compliment her on a job well done.  She needed to know he trusted her, and believed in her.  He had to speak love to her and to speak life. He would hide notes and things around the house for her to find that reinforced what he was verbally telling her.

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.  (Prov. 18:21 MSG)

Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.  (Prov. 15:4 MSG)

Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.  (Col. 4:6 MSG)

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.  (Eph. 4:29 MSG)

Over time, because he will be like God to her (and not “a god” over her) she will heal.  Her mind will be cleansed of all of those negative comments.  Each day, she will grow in confidence.  She will soon stand up straight and hold her head up high.  She will begin to believe that she is a child of the most high God and that He loves her, and she will start acting like she knows it.  She will seek out God’s plan and design for her life and purse it with strong conviction.  One day she will be God, or be like God to someone else who is currently walking where she once did.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

There is More Than This

How much effort does it take to “hope”?  Hoping for a life that is better than the one you are currently living.  I think most don’t say, “I hope I …”, but instead they say, “I wish I …”.

Hope definition is – to cherish a desire with anticipation: to want something to happen or be true

Wish definition is – feel or express a strong desire for something that is not easily attainable; want something that cannot or probably will not happen.

Do you see it?  Do you see the difference in “wishing” and “hoping”?  “Hoping” comes with anticipation, because it can actually happen!  This is why “hope” is so powerful.  Hope can restore a marriage.  Hope can lead to someone getting their health back.  Hope can get you a better job.  Hope causes things to happen. 

God’s word says, “These three remain: faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13)  I like what “The Message” translation says, “Trust steadily in God (that’s faith), hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.”

Hope, can help you go from where you are to the kind of life God intended for you all along.  I mean seriously, he started man and woman out living in a garden.  It’s a lie from hell to accept, “Well, this is as good as its ever going to get.”  NO!  You can have what God wants for you.  How?  Ask for it.  Ask God to help you achieve that life.  Believe it can happen.  Start today renewing the way you think, for what you think is what you believe, and what you believe is what you say, and what you say comes to pass for words have a lot of power.

Every time you speak, generally, you are speaking life, or death.  Start listening to how you talk, and pay attention to the kind of words you use the most.  Especially those words you say to other people.  Those words matter, but also what you say to yourself in your mind.  Changing those words can change your life.

God loves you, and wants you to have his best.  He doesn’t want you living in a dump, but in a garden.  He wants you to live above your current situation.  He wants you looking up, for something better, for there is more than this, and when you are looking up he can see you smile.  God wants so much love, happiness, and joy for his children, who love him, and He does work “all” things out for good, for those who love him. (Rom. 8:28)

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

When Your Spouse Preaches

The best preachers are the ones who receive a particular word, message for their upcoming audience.  Then, at the given time, they deliver those special words from God.  If this person shouted and screamed you might be tempted to leave, or at least tune them out.  So how words are spoken is everything.

What if that preacher is your spouse?  I know.  It’s harder to hear the words being spoken because they are coming from someone who you might also hear nagging, complaining, or gripping from.  You may be thinking, don’t lecture me!  Or, why are you on my case?  But if the words are spoken in a loving way then you should probably listen.  After all, this is your helpmate.  He or she is there to be used of God to guide you, direct you, comfort you, and yes even speak words of life into your soul.

This happened to me recently.  We were driving in the construction zone I have spoken of a few posts ago.  I was trying to merge into the line of cars, and I got cut off.  I started fussing and my wife gently, and in a loving way said, “Your problem is this; you expect others to treat, or do for you the way you treat or do for them.  And when they don’t, you get mad or hurt.”  Her words made sense, because they were true, but because they came from her I dismissed them somewhat.

Fast forward to last night:

I couldn’t fall asleep, so I got up and came into our home office and turned on the TV.  I soon sensed God directing me to watch Joel Osteen.  I tuned in.  Wouldn’t you know he started preaching similar words that my wife was speaking just a few days earlier?  Coming from him it seemed easier to hear and accept.  Then some guilt creeped in, so this morning I confessed to my wife what had happened and that I was sorry I had not heard God’s message from her first, but I vowed to begin listening to the one on earth who loves me when she begins to speak words of life into my soul.

The lesson here is to listen to the message God is trying to say to us despite the vessel he chooses to use.  God likes to work with people to do his business.  They don’t have to be on TV either or come with credentials in order to deserve your time and respect.  If the message is on target then listen with your heart wide open.  It’s God loving on you, because He cares about you so much.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Feeling Loved

There are a lot of emotions when it comes to living life.  There are lots of feelings as well, but the best feeling is when you feel loved.  It’s like the warmth when sitting in front of a fireplace, the surrounding of a warm bath, or the natural softness when wrapped up in a quilt.

There is no guessing, or wondering, you know.  Being loved is confidence that somebody cares deeply about you.  They care about your past, your present and your future.  They do all they can to protect you, to serve you, and to give good things to you.  The ones that do it best are the ones that do it with no strings attached.  It’s called unconditional love.

It’s hard to find someone with those qualities, with that kind of deep concern, but when you do, hang on to them, for they are indeed a rare find.  Gold. A precious jewel.  I’m reminded of the parable in the Bible of the man who found a great treasure in a field.  He re-hid it and then sold all he had to buy that field, so the treasure would be his forever.  If and when you find someone who loves you unconditionally, you have found a valuable gift.

Here are the partial lyrics to an older Amy Grant song titled, “Doubly Good to You”:

You can thank the Father
For the things that He has done.
And thank Him for the things He’s yet to do.
And if you find a love that’s tender,
if you find someone who’s true,
Thank the Lord —
He’s been doubly good to you.

I am so thankful to God for my wife.  She loves unconditionally.  She’s a love that’s tender, she’s a love that is true.  I told her mother, “I have searched all my life for a woman like your daughter, April, and up till now I didn’t think she existed, but God lead me to her.”  April is not perfect, but certainly created in the image of God.  For God is love, and He loves with perfection.  His love to us is unconditional, and nothing can separate us from his love.

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, 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)

Seek God and his unending, unconditional love.  Recognize its value and treasure it.  His love is not hard to find, for it is right there waiting for you, for feeling loved, is a wonderful thing.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

From Hope, to Reality

As you faithful readers of this blog know, I have been waiting for my wife’s immigration to America for two years.  Those were very difficult, trying, and long years, but the one thing that kept us going was hope!

Hope is recognizing there is very little you can do, while wanting a certain result.

Well, if all went as planned, I met my wife yesterday at an airport in America.  Waiting for her just outside the doors to the immigration section.  This process has been such a challenge that I have said, “I won’t believe it until I see her.”  But yesterday, my hope turned into reality.  God is so good.  He kept us close to his heart especially on the days when our hearts were breaking, aching, and we struggled to see us crossing the finish line.

I know we are not alone.  Many of you are facing your own struggles where all you can do is hope.  Don’t give up.  Don’t let go of God’s hand.  I know He will never let go of yours.  I recently posted a blog where I wrote about the women with the issue of blood, from the Bible.  Her reality took 12 years to arrive.  Her sickness bankrupted her, but she never gave up hope.  Then the day came where Jesus appeared on the scene.  She was healed by simply touching the hem of his garment as he walked by.  It was her faith in Jesus that healed her and not the robe he was wearing.

“So because our hope is set on what is yet to be seen, we patiently keep on waiting for its fulfillment.”
Rom. 8:25 (TPT)

So whatever it is you are hoping for, a job, a healing, a spouse, or salvation for a loved one don’t stop hoping.  You never know the day when Jesus may show up on the scene.  It would be a tragedy to give up the day before he passes by. For Jesus passing by in the life of me and my wife I am so grateful.  Praising and worshipping his mighty name all the way across the finish line.  Thank you God.  Thank you Jesus, and thank you Holy Spirit.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Road Construction

At the entrance to my subdivision there is road construction.  I can only exit and enter by going one way while they upgrade the infrastructure, water, electric, and sewer that runs along the road, or under it.  Then, they will put down a new road, with new lane stripes and new signs.  They say it will take 6 months to complete.  It has already been two and a half.

If that wasn’t enough to endure, they have torn up a major highway interchange just blocks from the road I mentioned above.  It is reported to take two years to finish.  The officials say, “Go slow.  Proceed with caution.  Be patient.  It will be worth it in the end.”

As I have shared in previous posts, I married a Filipino woman in 2019.  Soon after the wedding, we worked with an immigration attorney to get the process started to bring my wife to America.  I lived in the Philippines for several months until I needed an eye procedure.  We discussed the situation and felt it was best if I came back to America to have it done here.  Thinking her immigration process wouldn’t take that long and she would follow me here shortly.  It seemed as if they had missed placed her file and then shortly after they started working on her case, Covid hit.

At the time of this writing, my wife is still not here with me.  There have been lots of conversations with God about the process and questions of, “Why is it taking so long?”  Walking with God in life is definitely a journey.  As we are now getting toward the end of the immigration process I can look back and see with greater understanding.  I can see how God has updated power lines in our lives making sure that in the future we look to him for uninterrupted power to live by.  He has put in a new sewer system to remove the waste and potentially toxic aspects of our personalities away safely and quickly.  My wife compares my temper to passing gas.  She says, “It stinks at first, but it doesn’t last long.”  She has learned to let me vent and then we can return to our regularly scheduled life already in progress.

If God didn’t take the time to pour new pavement in our lives we would be traveling with him on dirt, and when the storms come get bogged down in mud.  Yuk!  If he only put down stones travel would be easier but it would be a bumpy and rough ride.  Not enjoyable at all.  But God has used the time, while waiting for her immigration to be completed, to put down nice smooth pavement.  When the final touches are completed my wife and I will be able to come and go quickly in any direction with ease.  We will be able to see the lanes we should stay in so we avoid head on collisions and harm.

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

Yes, walking with God is difficult at times, and it is hard to see what He is doing, because some improvements are below the surface. At times it’s hard to understand why it is taking so long, but He would say, “Go slow.  Proceed with caution.  Be patient.  It will be worth it in the end.”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Which Way Do I Go?

Direction.  We seek it a lot, especially for those who have a strong and thriving relationship with God.  We want to go in the correct direction and not waste time or resources.  I sure messed up the other night.  I live in a city that doesn’t receive huge amounts of snow that often and as a result the city doesn’t have the equipment to remove it as say, Chicago does.  So when the meteorologist were predicting 6, 8 to 10 inches of snow, and hyped it up, I left where I was sooner than I needed to in order to get home safe.

I realize now I could have asked God for direction on when to leave, but I didn’t.  I acted out of fear instead.  At times, it’s hard not to.  There is something innate about us that wants to be moving.  This inward motivation makes it difficult to sit and wait, and when it comes to waiting on God for direction it is even harder.  Do we not trust Him?  We should!  We have His word we can go to and read of His promise to guide us:

1–2 I look up to the mountains and hills, longing for God’s help.
But then I realize that our true help and protection
come only from the Lord,
our Creator who made the heavens and the earth.
He will guard and guide me, never letting me stumble or fall.
God is my keeper; he will never forget nor ignore me.
He will never slumber nor sleep;
he is the Guardian-God for his people, Israel.
Jehovah himself will watch over you;
he’s always at your side to shelter you safely in his presence.
He’s protecting you from all danger both day and night.
He will keep you from every form of evil or calamity
as he continually watches over you.
You will be guarded by God himself.
You will be safe when you leave your home
and safely you will return.
He will protect you now,
and he’ll protect you forevermore!  Psalms 121 (TPT)

I was having a conversation this morning, with a friend, about this very topic.  He has been asking God for direction when it comes to finding his spouse.  There are a few potential mates and he has been trying to discern God’s will on the matter.  As we continued to speak, it became obvious to both of us that he needs to stay in “neutral” right now.  If you think about the gear shift on a car from neutral you can go forward or backwards, but you can move in an instant.  Your only other option is “Park”.

A parked car doesn’t need to be steered,

because it isn’t going anywhere!

So I challenge you, if you find yourself needing direction, guidance from God, be patient and be willing to sit in neutral for a while.  Keep your foot on the brake. You are ready to move, and you will, when the time and direction is right, therefore not wasting either time or resources, and when it comes to matters of love, possibly not suffering another heartbreak.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

A New Chapter

America.  She changed today.  Maybe the reality is, she changed a long time ago from the innocent days I once knew, but this truth is obvious today.  I grew up in Oklahoma, in a middle class family that somehow, always seem to have enough and then some.  I watched as my parents made good decisions and choices who worked hard for what they wanted.  “The American Dream”.  I believed in this dream and I too sought it out.  I wanted to own my own house, well after paying 30 years of payments.  I desired a good job, a loving wife, 2.5 kids, one of each sex, and to be a happy family.

The truth is, it took me 35 years to buy the house that will be mine in 26 and 1/2 years.  I have two kids, one of each sex, who don’t talk to me, and, their mother divorced me after she made a huge mistake, but convinced everyone our marriage failed solely due to me.  As a result, my biological family doesn’t want to have anything to do with me, so you could say I don’t have the happy family I desired.  Many Christmas days have been spent filling the empty stocking with tears.

After years of checking the “Divorced” box on forms I met and then married a Filipino woman.  I thought perhaps now I would get the happy family I desired.  You know what?  There are cynical, greedy, lying family members in all cultures, but the woman I married is the exception to a few members of her own family.  I have written about it a few times; my wife lives out God’s definition of love.

After our wedding, I was with her for seven months in the Philippines, until I needed a medical procedure, so I left her there thinking immigration wouldn’t take that long and she would come to America on my heels.  There was some delay in the process, but as we were reaching the finish line Covid hit.  Another year without her, another moist Christmas day.  A lot of crying out to God, and asking, “Why?”  The big three set in: Discouragement, Disappointment and yes, even Depression.  As I crawled through those dark days way down, deep inside me, was a mustard seed of faith that was whispering, “God knows what He is doing.”  In full disclosure, my mind was asking, “Are you sure?”

January 7th, we received an email stating my wife has her long awaited interview with the U.S. embassy in Manila.  LIGHT pierced our darkness.  I wanted to wait to share this until she was actually here, but someone needs to read these words now.  We are hoping we will be together by Valentine’s Day.  What a time to reunite our love for each other and for our God who loves us beyond belief.

When my wife is in our home in Oklahoma a new chapter of our lives together will begin.  Unfortunately, she will never know the “America” I grew up in.  Today, those with money want more, and those who “think” they have power want total control.  I sense days may be coming that perhaps will not be comfortable.  Standing up for what is true, for what is right could prove to be difficult.  There will most likely be a separation of those who have a solid relationship with God from those who were pretending, because in the America I grew up in, it was popular to say you were a “Christian”, but not anymore.

Yes a new chapter will be starting soon in my life, but also a new chapter in the life of America.  Our country’s slogan, printed on our currency, may no longer be, “In God We Trust”. Sometimes I wonder who is really holding the pen, writing each chapter.  As for my life, I want God to, because whether I understand his ways or not, He does know what He is doing!

Isaiah 55:8-11(MSG)

8-11 “I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
        God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Let There Be

I love it that God spoke the world into existence, and it started with him saying, “Let there be light.”  Before he said those words the earth was there, and it was dark and shapeless, but the Holy Spirit was hovering above.

I think a lot of people are going through a very difficult time right now.  One might say, dark and shapeless, but know this, the Spirit of God is hovering above.  Keeping an eye on you, so you are not alone in the darkness although it may feel like it.

What if, in your darkness, someone said,
“Let there be light”?

Your healing could be separated from the darkness.  Your employment situation could be brighter.  Your long awaited spouse steps out of the shadows into full sight.  Whatever it is, in the time it takes for God to say, “Let there be light”, your whole situation can change.  So what is God waiting on?  When the moment is right.  When you are right, or when the other person is ready, or the employment connection is made.

In the meantime, we wait, as patiently as we can, knowing that while life is dark the Holy Spirit is hovering overhead.  Remember, light dispels darkness immediately, in an instant.  Light over powers darkness.  It cast it aside.

After God spoke light into existence he looked at it said, “It is good.”  When God speaks into your life, your situation, your darkness afterwards he will say, “It is good.”  And it will be.  Your darkness will be over.  It will be gone, and you see your new day dawning.  You will breathe in and out like you never have before for the weight of the darkness will have lifted.  If you place your hope and trust in God I promise you will see the end of the doom and gloom.

So lift your head and say, “Let there be light.”

Copyright © 2021 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.