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.

You May Not Like It

“I’ve been crying out to God, for an answer to my current marriage situation,” said the lady I had just met earlier that day.  I have never understood, exactly why, but people feel comfortable opening up to me, even after moments of talking.  Sometimes I wonder if I am wearing a sign that says, “Will listen to you for food.”  I’ve been told I have the heart of a shepherd, a pastor.  If that’s the case, my congregation doesn’t meet under one roof, but where ever I happen to be in this world.

She went on to share that after 16 years of being married her husband had a moment of indiscretion.  Perhaps the stress of 2020 has caused a lot of people to do things they wouldn’t dare do before.  I encouraged her to speak out loud and demand the demonic forces, that are trying to tear her home apart, to get out, in the name of Jesus.  Then flip the environment and invite God’s presence into the home.  I instructed her to speak the fruit of the spirit over her family.  Love, joy, peace, etc.  I told her it was her home, her family, her life and not to give up hope.  She smiled through teary eyes and agreed to take action.

I went back to my task which brought us together in the first place.  It’s a task I don’t like, but it is an answer to one of my prayers.  I was reflecting upon the encounter, and praying for her, and the family.  It was in that moment I sensed God speak to me and say,

“I brought you here as a result of your prayers, but I also brought you here as a result of her prayers.”

You see, God delights in using his servants to do his business.  God is in the people business because He loves us so much.  We, believers in God, are co-laborers with Jesus.

“He [Jesus] came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

God’s Spirit is on me;
    he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor,
Sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and
    recovery of sight to the blind,
To set the burdened and battered free,
    to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.”  Luke 4:16-21 (MSG)

We are all called of God to do the same as Jesus did.  To be in the business of people.  To be there to see them, listen to them, and then to speak life giving words that can set them free, or say a prayer that can heal them.  Sometimes, a home needs to be healed, or a marriage.

You may not like it, where God has you at the moment, but look around, He has you there for a purpose, his!

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Give it to Me

A child grows up believing they’re an awful person, because their parent told them so.  The only time they heard words come out of their parent’s mouth was when it was a complaint.  And perhaps the volume was turned up way too high when those words were spoken.  The parent’s own hurt created a toxic mess in the child’s heart.  Know this; it wasn’t your fault.  You didn’t do anything wrong.

Jesus says, “Give it to me.”

Years go by, and that ungodly belief sticks to the heart of the child, and it actually affects every future relationship that child grows up to have.  One way to relate to hurt people is to wear a hazmat suit when around them, but those things are hot and heavy, and not readily available.  So what is the answer?

Jesus says, “Give it to me.”

That beaten down and battered child grows up denying the pain exist.  Even saying things like, “Oh, its okay.  That’s just the way my parent was.”  Yet they walk on in life struggling to carry the weight of it all, believing the lies.  At times they buckle under the load and they wind up hurting someone else.  Perhaps their own child, or spouse.  Those hit by friendly fire walk away questioning, “What did I do?”

Jesus says, “Give it to me.”

There is only one way to fix it, to get delivered from the burden.  In case you haven’t noticed I’ll repeat it one more time, give it to Jesus.  He wants to take the load from you.  He has been there your whole life, patiently waiting, but his heart broke when you wouldn’t surrender it to him.  He has felt your pain, and every time you hurt he did too.  Jesus doesn’t like to see those he died for hurting, and he died for everyone.  Every time you have cried most likely he did too.

Jesus says, “Give it to me.”

Please, you have carried it way too long.  It’s time to give it to Jesus.  He can handle it.  Don’t go another day living with the pain and trying to carry the load.  Don’t fall asleep one more night on a wet pillow.  Simply ask, “Jesus, will you take this from me, and heal my heart.”  Then trust that he has heard you and will do just that.  You will feel so much better.  Your steps will be lighter, and you will see your world in living color.

“Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.  Mat. 11:28 (TPT)

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Wife of the Month

090120I would like to nominate April for “Wife of the Month”.  For the month of September, she can use the special parking space.  That is, if she was here in America, and if she could drive.  She has completed the immigration process, but can’t take the final step because her country is still in “lock down” mode, so the U.S. Embassy isn’t doing interviews.  Being separated is difficult, but I can see how God has used it for His glory thus far.

Last week, I sent her the following message, and though it is personal, she agreed to let me share it:

Baby, I love you! I simply love you, because you have God’s DNA in you, and it shows. In you is peace, joy, faith, hope and love. Of course the greatest of these is, love. Because love, never fails! Baby, when you look back over our short marriage, you can see a trail of love that has dripped over the mountains we have overcome, and across the ocean that separates us now. Without love, God’s love, we would not have come this far. The story of “Mark and April” would have been a short one, but as it is, our story, is still being written.

I couldn’t wait any longer Baby April. I know our 18 month anniversary isn’t until next week, September 1st, but I just had to let the words above out. I was unable to contain them any longer. So Happy Anniversary, April. I am so happy to be known as the American, who married April Joy Santiago Cruz, and has so far, survived.  I am a lucky man who is blessed by God. He loved me so much that He hid you from the eyes of others, for such a time as this. I know two, maybe three of those men looked your way, but because of your wonderful faithfulness to God they gave up in their pursuit.

Our story, feels like it is taking forever to be written, but I know we are steadily moving every day toward his destination for our lives. Baby April, each day it gets easier to love you, because you, like God, are love.

To you April, the love of my life,
Mark

I am grateful for God’s love, and for his tender nudge to try marriage again, after checking the “Divorced” box for 24 years.  April struggled with her singleness a lot, and most who knew her started believing  “marriage” had passed her by.  But God had a plan that took years to connect two individuals who were 8,149 miles apart.  It’s like He set her on a shelf, so she would be available for me that one Friday afternoon, in October 2018, when I first saw her face on a Filipino dating site.

It’s hard to trust God, who doesn’t always share what He is up to, but when you do, it’s worth it!  God is so amazing, and I am so grateful, He first loved us.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Like Today!

clockOne of the hardest things, about walking with God, is knowing, “when”.

You are trusting God to do something in your life.  You have asked for it more than a child asking for candy.  Whether you are waiting for your spouse, or waiting for the correct time to start that business that has been brewing in your heart for 10 years.  Or in my case, when am I going to win an Oscar award for the New York Times best seller I wrote?  Some maybe hanging on to the promise that one day they will be debt free.  We want to know “when”, and when we focus on the not knowing it distracts us from living today.

A father and mother knew they were taking their two daughters to Disneyland, but also knew there was no way they could tell them until that day had come.  Why?  Because those wise parents knew that every day before would be a disappointment to those girls if “that” day wasn’t “the” day they got to go.

Do you see now why God can’t tell us “when” what He has already commissioned to take place in our life will happen, because if He did it would ruin “today” if “today” wasn’t the “day” it came about.

If God told a man who his wife was going to be before it was time, that same man would most likely get a restraining order from that woman, because he would get caught stalking her simply because he wanted to see her, and get to know her.  A woman’s business may fail because she opened it too early, or in the wrong place.  Then she might be tempted to walk away from God, thinking, “Well God you said I would have my own business!”  I probably wouldn’t enjoy writing any book if I only focused on, “Is this the one?”

I would rather be a mile behind God,
than one inch in front of him.

Enjoy the journey.  Enjoy today.  Like today!  See God’s hand in your life today. You might be saying to yourself, “I haven’t seen God today at all.”  My reply would be, “You woke up didn’t you?”  Last year I went through a time of asking God for more money to pay the extra bills we had.  I remember God asking me, “Okay, how much money do you need today?”  I thought about it and realized the bills for the whole month had already been paid and “today” I didn’t need any.  God could have said, “Well then shut up!” but He didn’t.  He didn’t have to, because by his question I knew He had met all my needs for “today”.

TRUST will help you overcome the word, “when”.  Trust doesn’t mean you throw your hands up and say, “I don’t have to do anything.”  But it can calm you down knowing God will work it out when it is time.

This is the day which the Lord has brought about; we will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:24 AMPC)

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

What Day is This?

061220I notice patterns.  I also see common denominators.  I can’t help it.  It’s the way I am made.  I think I could have that disorder: Denoterns.  Anyway, perhaps many others have it as well, but I have noticed several times in the Bible where it took three days to change someone, or something.

Take Jonah.  God gave him direct instructions to go to Nineveh and share whatever message God told him to.  I think Jonah took it upon himself to judge the people there, and he boarded a ship going the opposite direction.  Perhaps his heart was full of hurt he associated with the people there and he wanted God to wipe them off the map.  You can read the whole story for yourself in the book of Jonah in the Bible, but after he was thrown overboard and spending three days in the stomach of a great fish, his heart changed.

Three days!

There are many other instances whether they journeyed, stayed or not ate for three days.  Three days can seem like eternity when you are hungry, thirsty, hurting, or desperate for an answer from God.

Jesus in the tomb is probably the most famous story of a three day ordeal in the Bible, but after his third day, anyone in the world can have their wrong doing forgiven, just by accepting Jesus.

On a personal note, three days after my wife gave up on hoping, asking, and believing God to send her a husband I sent her a message.  On the fourth day, her life changed.  It seems as if it takes three days to work out the flesh.  In other words, it takes that long to realize that when your situation changes it wasn’t you, but had to be God.

I don’t like going through a three day ordeal, but I hang on, because I love the fourth day.

If you are going through something, and you have turned it over to God, realizing you can’t do anything about it otherwise, then know this; your forth day is coming!

CONFESSION:  I made up the disorder Denoterns.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Love Laws

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love never ends.

 

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.

Two Can do More Than One

051220Considering the challenges, it’s understandable why my wife and I had a difficult time in the beginning adjusting to each other.  An American who didn’t understand Filipino culture, and a Filipino who wasn’t used to a man making decisions.  My wife’s father left the family when she was young.

We had several, heated discussions to say the least.  Many times, either of us wanted to say, “Forget it!”  But one thing kept us trying to figure it out.  We both had to admit there was no doubt God wanted us to be together.  There were too many strong confirmations this marriage was being formed in heaven.

The one line that always got us to stop fighting and take a breath was this,

“We can’t let Satan win!”

It seems as if we were battled by fierce forces unseen, and the truth was, we were!  Satan wanted to put asunder what God had joined together.  “Asunder”, means interfere.

Today, we are doing great.  My wife has only messed up once in the last three months.  Did I say, “My wife”?  I meant me.  The other night we were talking, and I said something about helping others, more than we currently are.  It was then, my wife opened up and shared her dream of helping lives in tangible ways ever since she was a little girl.  I had no idea.  We then dreamed about what that would look like.

The next day I had the opportunity to help a young father, who had relocated to Tulsa from the Covid hot spot of Boston.  They arrived in an old vehicle with only the things they could pack in it.  After he pulled away I was moved to tears as I thought about the shoes he walks in, and I was thankful I was not wearing them.  I don’t have a lot of “extra” right now, as our own budget is tight, but the things he really needed, I had.  It was while thinking on what had just transpired, I said to myself, “Two can do more than one.”  Walking out my wife’s dream had just begun.

I am thankful to God for his many blessings, and I look forward to seeing what and how God will do more through us together as his Spirit leads.

Copyright © 2020 Mark Brady.  All rights reserved.